08/18/2017

Sally here with new work by Ulli Lust, Redlands #1 by Jordie Bellaire and Vanesa Del Rey, a look at Simon Hanselmann’s character Booger, and more!

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I have really enjoyed all of the New York Review Comics as they have come out, so I was THRILLED to discover that new work from Ulli Lust will be in my hands soon via NYRC! Look for Voices in the Dark (an adaptation of the novel The Karnau Tapes by Marcel Beyer) in October 2017. The site has a good write-up of the book and some excerpts from it – view them HERE.

From Publishers Weekly:

The narrative switches between two small cogs in the relentless machinery of the Reich: Hermann Karnau, a sound engineer who progresses from arranging the speakers at Nazi rallies to conducting bizarre aural experiments on concentration camp prisoners, and Helga, the eldest daughter of Joseph Goebbels, who, along with her siblings, is destined to be murdered by her parents in Hitler’s bunker. Lust’s loose, deceptively simple art, tinted in washes of faded color, creates a mood of deepening claustrophobia as the complicit Karnau and the innocent Helga descend toward the same fate. It’s a rare adaptation that, rather than simply transcribing the source material, transcends it.

This is the English version of the comic Flughunde (Airports) which came out in Berlin in 2013. It was well received there – here’s some of the press that Ulli has collected on her website.

An excerpt from the original version:

The comic that Ulli Lust has been working on for the past 3 or 4 years will be released in Germany and France this autumn…which means we probably won’t see it in the States until 2018 if not later. Sad face.

That makes the NYRC edition of Voices in the Dark that much more exciting of course!

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Vanesa Del Rey and Jordie Bellaire bring fury and flame in the opening chapter of Redlands. I like the rich red and gold and black coloring of the comic, and the way it crashes straight into a violent moment of pain and power, as a coven of witches wrenches a Floridian town out of the hands of the patriarchy.

The intentions of the creators are definitely on display in the first issue, and I can get behind the “righteous anger” that Jordie Bellaire has spoken of a couple of times. I am curious to see where the story goes, how the wrath of the first issue transitions into something more nuanced – what the “calm center” of the storm will be.

I believe I linked to this interview on Multiversity Comics with Jordie Bellaire and Vanesa Del Rey before, but reading through it again today after having seen Redlands #1 myself is interesting. This bit rings true for sure:

Without giving too much away, this issue read completely unlike anything I was expecting. What’s it like trying to create a sense of horror in the reader when what most of the characters in the issue are afraid of are your main characters?

JB: I wanted the characters to appear very morally ambiguous and again, tie into the trope that men fear educated, strong, liberated women. If the readers are afraid of the main characters (the witches), that’s great! But they should also be afraid or at the very least disgusted by the rest of the cast. It’s a pretty upsetting place, as is the world. Everyone is an enemy of someone, anyone could be a villain.

Read the rest of the interview HERE. And hustle to your comics shop to pick up Redlands #1 if you haven’t already!

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From “Megg, Booger, and Warewolf Jones” by Simon Hanselmann

I found this article by Sam Riedel on Medium to be a thoughtful read – Let’s Talk Comics: Booger, Gender, and Simon Hanselmann’s “One More Year”. Booger doesn’t get a lot of press time, generally, but she is one of the more complex characters in Simon Hanselmann’s wild world. Unlike many transfem characters, she is not “virtuous”. Riedel addresses that point:

On the still-uncommon occasions that transfem characters show up in fiction (and aren’t two-dimensional stereotypes), they’re often forced to be virtuous because they represent all trans people everywhere. Who wants to be represented by a douchebag? Other marginalized communities also suffer from this tendency, an unintended consequence of “diversity casting” that maintains structural whiteness, cisnormativity, and so on. … Since our stories are so often misunderstood, there’s an implicit demand that we be shown in the most palatable light, but that robs our stories of the all-important shades of grey.

Booger has the shades of grey covered. She is never quite as actively “bad” as the other characters, but her particular ways of being messed up are, in a way, more brutal. Read the rest of Sam Riedel’s thoughts on Booger HERE.

Get a copy of One More Year HERE.

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Other News in Brief

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Suzy and Cecil – 8-18-2017 – by Gabriella Tito

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Joanie and Jordie – 8-18-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio

 

08/17/2017

Sally here with work by Indian cartoonists Sarnath Banerjee, and Appupen – plus a few other comics news notes!

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A recent Comics Workbook Rowhouse resident – Javed Haque – brought along a copy of Corridor by Sarnath Banerjee to show us. This comic has been loudly touted as India’s first graphic novel – a masterful publicity move, which, although it is untrue, helped get international eyes on the book and brought good attention and energy to the alt-comics scene in India. The River of Stories by Orijit Sen was published in 1994, and is actually the first Indian graphic novel.

Corridor, created by Sarnath Banerjee in 2004, it is set in contemporary Delhi and follows the adventures of 4 characters. At the center of the group is Jehangir Rangoonwala, something of a Socrates wannabe who owns the second hand bookshop where the other characters meet and mingle. Brighu is searching for rare books and maybe an even rarer love. Digital Dutta meanders among his own dreams and ambitions, but makes little progress. Shintu is recently married, and quite caught up in keeping his domestic life spicy.

Written and drawn by Sarnath Banerjee (who grew up in Calcutta and Delhi in the 70’s) the artwork is a mixture of black and white drawings, color work, and collage. Banerjee captures Delhi street life and “the psyche of middle-class India” deftly, and with compassionate humor.

He has gone on to publish 3 more comics – The Barn Owl’s Wondrous Capers (2007), The Harappa Files (2011), and All Quiet in Vikaspuri (2016).

In a great interview from last year on Guernica Magazine, Sarnath Banerjee talks about how he came to make Corridor. He was more of a documentary film maker, but through a string of small miracles he received a version of the McArthur Genius Award, and suddenly had to produce the graphic novel he had accidentally pitched. He actually went to Orijit Sen (who if you recall made India’s true first graphic novel) in the hope that Sen would draw the stories Banerjee had written. He got encouragement and support, but not an artist. So he drew Corridor himself.

I started at the deep end. I learned while writing the book. I started drawing all the time after that. Like a maniac. My ex-wife recently told me that when she was cleaning up our house she found trunks—I had forgotten about this—trunks and trunks full of notebooks on which every surface had been drawn. I drew everything. I drew toasters, air conditioners, chairs, people and flowers. I was a maniac. I drew, drew, drew, drew, drew. And that’s how I learned. Purely by doing. In Japan there’s a phrase for it, it’s called aware karada, which basically means learning through your body. You practice something to the point where you don’t think anymore about it. It just comes out. The brain and hand barrier is absolutely taken out. So I think now I don’t think about my drawing at all. It just comes the way it comes. Another thing that was good about working in this entirely new medium—new to India at least—and not getting published was that it makes you learn everything from scratch. Which is why I feel that every graphic novelist from India—Amruta Patil, Vishwajyoti Ghosh, Orijit Sen, Appupen—is phenomenally original.

I highly recommend reading the rest of this interview. Banerjee is a very thoughtful and interesting person and there is a crash course on Indian comics, film, and other pop culture to be had just by perusing this conversation. Read it HERE.

I’ll be tracking down Banerjee’s other comics asap – and also looking for Orijit Sen’s comic. Sen has been making a ruckus lately with politically charged artwork – a recent article about his work and life can be found HERE.

While I’m at it, I may as well link you up to the other comics makers Banerjee mentioned above – here’s Amruta Patil; Vishwajyoti Ghoshan interview on TCJ; and Appupen.

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My research sucked me in and I discovered this comic by AppupenDedshort #7: The Ring of the Lordoriginally published on Brainded. Appupen wrote: “This classic story has stood the test of time in Halahala. You can clearly see their influence on some popular stories of our world.

More on Appupen, from his website: “Appupen is a comics creator, visual artist and musician who tells stories from a mythical world called Halahala. Armed with a skewed view of the world and a sarcastic bite, he is a unique voice in Indian comics and comics in general. God recently appeared to him and said he needs to push out his comics more and hence this effort. Please help him.” As per this stated mission, there are tons more comics on his site – check them out HERE.

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Other News of Note

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Suzy and Cecil – 8-17-2017 – by Sally Ingraham

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Joanie and Jordie – 8-17-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio

 

 

08/11/2017

Sally here with Jenny Zervakis and Jackie Ormes, plus other comics and news from the wide world of #VisibleWomen!

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Strange Growths #14 by Jenny Zervakis

 

This comic turned up in the latest box we received at Copacetic Comics from Spit and a Half Distro and I couldn’t have been happier. I loved the Strange Growths collection that John Porcellino put out for Jenny Zervakis earlier this year, which covered the comics she made from 1991 to 1997 (issues 1-13 – get a copy of the book HERE!)

Strange Growths #14 (1998) carries on with 7 short stories and a lengthy letter from the brother who showed up in more than a few of her earlier comics. The collection showcases the poetic way that Jenny captures the weirdness of life, with overheard conversations, dream sequences, housing woes and tragic animal deaths, and the shortness and sweetness of it all.

I particularly enjoyed the story Like a Butterfly With One Wing. Simple drawings, no text, and the mysteries of nature and humans.

Get a copy of Strange Growths #14 from Spit and a Half, and pick up issues #15 and #16 as well.

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I read Nancy Goldstein’s biography of Jackie Ormes a few years ago (Jackie Ormes: The First African American Woman Cartoonist), and ever since then I’ve been meaning to visit the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh to take a look at Jackie’s comics in The Pittsburgh Courier. I finally made it last week, and was thrilled to discover the debut of her very first published strip – Torchy Brown in “Dixie to Harlem” – in the May 1st, 1937 copy of the paper. Jackie had been a proofreader and reporter for the Courier right out of high school, but with the debut of her comic strip she became the first Black woman to become a professional newspaper cartoonist.

The Courier ran Torchy Brown for a year. It’s the story of an adventurous girl from Mississippi who decides to venture north with the aim of becoming a star at the Cotton Club. Here is the first month’s worth of strips:

I’m blown away by how good Jackie was at cartooning right off the bat. She’s a terrific artist, great at characterizations, and the strip is quite funny. Action and adventure, physical humor, glamour – it’s all there in the first 5 strips.

Jackie moved with her husband to Chicago shortly afterward, and published a few shorter running strips in The Chicago Defender (most notably Candy, about a wise-cracking domestic worker, which ran for 4 months). By September 1945 she was back in the Courier however, with Patty-Jo ‘n’ Ginger, which ran for 11 years and featured the snappy political commentary of little sister Patty-Jo, and the silent foil of gorgeous big sister Ginger. I’ll be heading back to the library to catch up with those ladies! Torchy Brown made a second appearance later in Jackie’s career, in Torchy in Heartbeats (1950 – ran for 4 years).

I highly recommend Nancy Goldstein’s bio if you’re at all curious about Jackie Ormes – it’s thorough, and full of pictures.

For further reading at the moment, check out this article from the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum on Jackie.

No matter the strip, Ormes was presenting African American women in a way that no other cartoonist in the papers had done previously. Her characters were demure and dynamic, involved in and commenting on current events, sporting the latest fashions. They were upper class women.” – Caitlin McGurk

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In Other Words

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Suzy and Cecil – 8-11-2017 – by Sally Ingraham

 

08/10/2017

Sam Ombiri shares thoughts on Taiyo Matsumoto’s Sunny; plus work by E. Simms Campbell, George Lee, and other comics and news.

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Sam Ombiri here. I am about 100 pages into volume one of Sunny by Taiyo Matsumoto. It is about a group of kids living in a Japanese orphanage, who turn an old car – “Sunny” – into their clubhouse or refuge. It’s such a rich experience – I keep finding myself rereading what I’ve already read. Sunny has really great sequences that transition from moment to moment, inflicting emotion. I really like getting this from comics. It is like having a really good song stuck in your head. I am not just given information – I am inflicted with it. You can tell that certain interactions aren’t meant to happen naturally, as the characters stubbornly stick to their established personality. This is not done in a hockey way. The way the characters’ personalities show up feel especially real. You can sense if a certain interaction pans a certain way, and can tell that it is a special occasion for the interaction to go this way. So the characters almost have to swim through a current going against them, to be talking as they are.

When we are introduced to Haruo and Kiko’s relationship to each other, it is quickly established that there’s no reason for them to be getting along. There’s a point when Haruo – otherwise known as White – is asking Kiko who this other girl called Megumu likes. White knows how odd of a question it is to ask, as he often likes to mess with Megumu. He can’t admit that he likes Megumu, but by asking he’s clearly admitting that he likes her. So with every question, he keeps saying “Not that I care“. When White asks Kiko, she just giggles and doesn’t tell White, instead opting to confess to White her feelings for him. We don’t get a response for that confession from White.

It feels like miraculous story telling, and I’m amazed that comics can go this far. It’s what many people try to do, and rarely succeed in – having this much sentimentality, and then diving further into it, with fitting situations coming out of it. What is the consequence of all this sentimentality, what happens as a result? Well we ever get a response from Kiko’s confession at that moment? The next few moments show the response as this other character, Junsuke, really loudly interrupts. He’s telling White’s he’s being called to be sent on an errand and White agrees to go. The next panel shows a laying bike, which is both a transition and a break for the reader in that empty space to consider what had happened, how it happened, and what it all means. The bike isn’t calling attention, it’s just laying there as it would because White isn’t riding it yet to do his errand. Then White during that errand runs into Megumu, who’s bummed out about a forgotten dead cat, and she feels forgotten as a result. White gets the cat upon Megumu’s request and they carry it to the orphanage where they stay.

The characters have real flavor to them. I am excited to read their exploits and re-read their exploits, especially when they’re doing things that don’t matter and aren’t of much consequence to the rest of the story – they’re just being themselves. Like when Junsuke obnoxiously plays his harmonica loudly to everyone else’s frustration, or when he’s drawn with a pencil up his nose, conspiring to steal really nice chopsticks. The situations that surface are a joy to read. (Even if you feel at the back of your mind that this scene is overly sentimental.) When I reread other moments I get a lot out of the overly sentimental parts. For example, when I see White’s hesitation to exist in that emotional space, when he’s told “Sometimes you can be a real good kid,” after bringing that dead stray home. He tries to just scoff at the idea of being this good kid. (Or maybe it’s because White is jealous of the person who said that, because they are who Megumu likes, but I really doubt that.) – Sam Ombiri

Check out Sunny Vol. 1 by Taiyo Matsumoto HERE.

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E. Simms Campbell

Sally here. Take a look at the work of E. Simms Campbell, a celebrated black cartoonist for nearly 4 decades who has since been obscured by history. Back in the 1930’s his full-color comics in the pages of Esquire played a huge role in the popularity of the magazine – and catapulted him across the color line in mass-market publications. Fame and fortune followed – to some extent (his race was kept a secret more often than not – one story goes that when he went out on the town with other cartoonists, they got him into bars with them by introducing him as an “Arabian” prince…!)

This article on Print by Michael Dooley (from 2015) shares info on E. Simms Campbell and an interview with Robert C. Harvey, who had just published Insider Histories of Cartooning: Rediscovering Forgotten Famous Comics and Their Creators, where Campbell was featured extensively.

Dooley: What’s Campbell’s primary appeal for you?

Harvey: I’m interested in Campbell more for his personal history and career than because of his art, although he’s obviously a fine artist. He’s probably the first famous African American cartoonist, but he wasn’t known at the time as being African American. He was known for harem girls – and other representatives of the curvaceous gender – but not at all for his race.

Campbell and his publisher and the syndicate that distributed his cartoons had kept his race a secret, so Southerners wouldn’t reject the publications in which his work appeared. By a perverse extension of logic, then, they also kept him a secret, or – at least, I suppose – never much mentioned him, in order to avoid revealing his race.

Read more of the article and interview HERE and see plenty more comics and illustrations by E. Simms Campbell.

Things to track down – Campell’s nationally syndicated cartoon strip Cuties, and his famous “A Night-Club Map of 1930s Harlem”.

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In the interview mentioned above, Robert C. Harvey talks about another Black cartoonist he came across in his research:

…I’m eager to read George Lee’s 1989 book – which I just learned about – Interesting People: Black American History Makers. Lee was an African American cartoonist who did portraits in words and pictures of famous black Americans, which were syndicated to newspapers in the 1930s and 1940s.

When I was at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh recently, looking for comics by Oliver Harrington and Jackie Ormes in old copies of The Pittsburgh Courier, I was delighted to come across one of George Lee‘s “strips” in a May 1937 newspaper. (Apologies for a photograph of microfilm on the screen!)

I’m sure there are many more in the papers – I will keep an eye out for them next time I am digging for comics!

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In Other News

  • The Cartoonists Of Color Database has a new user interface, and is way more searchable now – check it out!
  • Ariell Johnson – Philly’s comics and coffee shop superhero – has an interview on The Root – watch it here.
  • Women Who Write About Comics has a long interview with Taneka Stotts – she talks about publishing and promoting queer POC work, discusses the new anthology Elements: Fire, and clarifies that Nilah Magruder was in fact the first black woman to write for Marvel (that story HERE). Read the interview with Taneka Stotts HERE.

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Suzy and Cecil – 8-10-2017 – by Gabriella Tito

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08/04/2017

Sally here to finish the week with the focus on Flo Steinberg, and Lynda Barry – plus other news and comics by fabulous women!

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Fabulous Flo Steinburg

Flo Steinberg, longtime secretary of Marvel’s Stan Lee, and underground comics publisher extraordinaire, died last week. Any number of obituaries and tributes have shown up since then, but I especially enjoyed the memories of Michael J. Vassallo, who was a friend as well as a fan of Flo’s. He wrote about her life and work and their friendship on his blog Timely-Atlas-Comics – read all about her HERE (via The Comics Reporter).

Jonah Jameson’s secretary Betty Brant, as drawn by Steve Ditko (left) looks a lot like Flo! (right)

Flo’s escapades at Marvel are well known – her work ethic, her enjoyment of the form, and her support and interest in the creators inspired devotion and respect from everyone she met. When she left Marvel in 1968 she dove into the world of underground comics, and produced one of the very first independent comics EVER – Big Apple Comix (1975).

The one-shot featured work by Wally Wood, Neil Adams, Al Williamson, Denny O’Neil, Archie Goodwin, Ralph Reese, Marie Severin, Paul Kirchner, Stu Schwartzberg, Alan Weiss, Herb Trimpe, Mike Ploog and Larry Hama. Linda Fite contributed a strip and helped with the production, alongside John Verpoorten and Michele Brand. Flo was the editor. She printed 20,000 copies (some stories say) and Warren Publishing helped her store and distribute it. The comic helped build the wave of direct market publications which led to the thriving alternative and underground comics scene of the 80’s.

Read more about Big Apple Comix HERE.

As one of the stewards of the comics community and a bridge between the mainstream and underground worlds, “Fabulous” Flo earned her status as a “legend” and is certainly an inspiration to those of us who feel compelled to till the earth and look to the tending of this scene. I hope she continues to turn that beautiful smile on us from wherever she is now – and keep us on target as well!

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If you were to only read comics by Lynda Barry, and no one else, for a year, you would learn just as much about living – with yourself and with others, and in this weird world – and about the craft of making comics, as you would by reading widely and deeply all across the medium.

I revisited One! Hundred! Demons! (2002) recently and it was like being picked up by a tornado full of bright objects, spun round roughly, and spat back out a few blocks away from where I’d started, dizzy and bruised, but laughing. Lynda’s ability to delve into her own memories of childhood, to summon the demons and put them in their place, is frightening and beautiful. Lyda reminds one that childhood is a wild place, and how you felt then is not so different from how you feel now – and that’s okay.

I appreciate that Lynda stuck to some formal restraints in the making of this comic – all square panels, arranged in a row of 4 across a spread – which makes for a comforting beat as you move through the somewhat tumultuous story. The black line (made with a brush) and the colors are very satisfying. Her figures are somewhat grotesque at times – even the “pretty” ones – but they are wonderfully alive and vivid. This is great cartooning, in the proper sense of the word, not just lovely illustrations in sequence with word balloons.

Groundbreaking at it’s time of publication, and still just as good. Get a copy of One! Hundred! Demons! HERE.

Lynda is one of my greatest inspirations as a master cartoonist and a woman. Her teaching and lecturing has impacted numerous creatives and non-creatives alike – as this New York Times Magazine article from 2011 proclaimed, “Cartoonist Lynda Barry Will Make You Believe in Yourself“.

For another dose of passion and drive, check out this Ink Talk about how “the answer is in the picture“:

Lynda Barry lives and teaches in Wisconsin. She created a comic strip that was nationally syndicated for 2-decades (Ernie Pook’s Comeek), and has created numerous graphic novels, prose novels, plays, and how-to books. She was recently given the National Cartooning Society’s Milton Caniff Lifetime Achievement Award, and is in the Will Eisner Hall of Fame.

She doesn’t mess around, and she doesn’t keep quiet – Lynda is a force of nature and we are lucky as cartoonists to count her among us.

Keep up with Lynda Barry HERE – and with “the Near-Sighted Monkey” version of Lynda HERE.

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The Rest of the Party

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Suzy and Cecil – 8-4-17 – by Gabriella Tito

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Joanie and Jordie – 8-4-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio

08/03/2017

Sally here with comics from The Pittsburgh Courier and Oliver Harrington, plus other comics and persons of interest.

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Oliver Harrington

I came across a great article on Blavity from earlier this year about our mostly forgotten black political cartoonists – including Oliver Harrington (his work seen above) who some consider to be the greatest political cartoonist of all time. In the 1940’s and ’50s many black political cartoonists voiced powerful and unpopular opinions in publications like The Amsterdam News and The Chicago Defender. Strong anti-racist views made artists like Harrington targets during the McCarthy era however, and like many artists before him, he went into self-exile in Paris. Other cartoonists from that period to remember are Bill Chase and Jan Jackson.

Jan Jackson

Jan Jackson’s cartoon of two American soldiers running across the Atlantic Ocean to save a European white woman in chains as they turn their back to an American black woman in chains speaks to the selective grieving and racism which were both rampant during the WWII era.” – Orit Mohamed via Blavity

Demanding the necessary viewpoint of the black political cartoonist – needed now more than ever before – and bemoaning the lack of a single full-time black cartoonist in any American daily newspapers (as pointed out earlier by Michael Cavna in The Washington Post), the author of the article presents a list of artists working today, including Keith Knight, Cory Thomas, Darrin Bell, Chris Kindred, and Shannon Wright.

Read the whole article HERE.

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I knew that The Pittsburgh Courier was another famous Black newspaper from the 20th century, so I went to the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh to look at copies of the paper on microfilm. “I’m here for the comics!” I told the librarian who helped me out.

I picked a roll of film somewhat at random, and was soon browsing through 1945 newspapers. I found comics by Oliver Harrington, as well as other cartoonists of the time. Here’s the “funny pages” from March 31st, 1945:

And here is the same paper’s edition of Harrington’s Dark Laughter comic, staring Bootsie:

Later on in Harrington’s Jive Gray strip, the pilot (Jive Gray) has been shot down, but he runs into the person he was sent on mission to find – a female Colonel!

I’ll have to go back to the library soon and get printouts of some of these comics – apologies for bad photos of microfilm! But it is a real treat to see these comics “in person” at my local library and get a sense of the time and cartoonists who were being published in national newspapers.

More to come next week, including some of Jackie Ormes‘ comics!

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Yona Harvey pausing to consider the arrangement of a comics page, at the Pittsburgh Comics Salon – Aug. 2nd 2017

Yona Harvey was kind enough to stop by the monthly meeting of the Pittsburgh Comics Salon last night, and I had the pleasure of running her and the other attendees through a classic Comics Workbook drill.

The comics community in Pittsburgh is constantly evolving, and is full of an energy that is pretty unique. It’s a place where a talented poet like Yona (who has written stories set in the world of Marvel’s The Black Panther) can spar with Jonas Goonface (currently finishing up a comic series with Boom! Studios) and I (who is publishing the 248th Suzy and Cecil strip below!)  and each one of us can challenge and inspire the other. The entire city of Pittsburgh is a comics academy. Join us!

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Another way to jump into our floating comics academy is to participate in thee Comics Workbook Composition Competition 2017. Now in it’s 5th year, this iteration is a riff on the 6-panel grid, in the traditional North American comic book size – but with a twist!

Full details HERE.

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Suzy and Cecil – 8-3-2017 – by Sally Ingraham

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Joanie and Jordie – 8-3-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio

07/28/2017

Sally here with Lale Westvind’s work at Printed Matter, Ellen Forney’s Virtual Memories, Fabulous “Flo” Steinburg, and more.

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Lale Westvind – Joan the Drone Pilot & Mary the Drone (2017)

You have just a few days left to catch the “Something Unusual Is Happening” show at Printer Matter – it is up until July 31st 2017. Featuring work by 15 international comics artists, it delves into experimental comics and the art of visual narrative. More details about the show HERE.

Over on the LA Review of Books Megan N. Liberty writes about the show and features the work of some of the specific makers.

Lale Westvind’sJoan the Drone Pilot & Mary the Drone (2017), printed with blue ink on pink pages (except the cover which is red ink on cream), is the story of a world that exists in several dimensions, with those in charge controlling those trapped in the lesser plane for profit, until Mary arrives and attempts to escape. A heavy-handed metaphor for our use of technology, or technology’s use of us when in the hands of advertisers, it has a more traditional structure, with spreads divided into panels and text in word bubbles and boxes. But its dense imagery, heavy lines, and block shading, reminiscent of ‘70s and ‘80s pulp comics, make it at times visually dizzying and challenging.”

Read the rest of the report HERE.

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Gil Roth of Virtual Memories sat down with another female cartoonist of note recently, inviting Ellen Forney onto the show for Episode 228.

The great Seattle cartoonist Ellen Forney joins the show to talk about comics, civic art, being bipolar, and the challenges of maintaining! We get into her 2012 graphic memoir,Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me, finding a graphic representation of her depressive states, the evolution in her drawing style, the letter she stole from Michael Dougan, the process of going from comics panels to enormous murals for a light-rail station in Seattle, the influence of the Moosewood Cookbook, the importance of a psychology stats class she took in college, how she learned to teach comics, the moment when she felt she was using all her artistic tools, and why she needed Kaz to design her back-tattoo!

Listen HERE.

I went back through some of the past episodes and bookmarked shows with Posy Simmonds, Leslie Stein, Jennifer Hayden and Summer Pierre, Phoebe Gloeckner, Glynnis Fawkes, and Karen Green. I’m sure there are more good ones to dig up as well!

Check out The Virtual Memories Show every Tuesday for a new interview about books and life.

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Flo Steinburg, longtime secretary to Marvel’s Stan Lee, died this week. She was 78, and still fabulous.

At the San Diego Comic Con 2017 there was a panel on “Women of Marvel” which understandably kicked off with a remembrance of Flo. Rachel Maurer reported for The Comics Beat:

Many of the panelists have worked directly with Flo at some point in their Marvel careers, noting that she was more than Stan Lee’s assistant – she was the original Woman of Marvel, someone who forged a path for female comics creators and whose legacy will continue to do so. One major indicator of this is the panel itself, a useful benchmark for progress in gender equality. Nine years ago Marvel had zero female-led titles, while this year’s panel had nearly 20 on the roster.

Read more about how these women are walking in Flo’s footprints – HERE.

Comic Book Artist Magazine #18 cover drawn by Marie Severin

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New page from Iona Fox‘s Almanaccheck out more of her work HERE and keep an eye out for her strips in Burlington, VT’s alt paper Seven Days.

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Supplemental

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Here it is – get ready to comic your socks off – thee Comics Workbook Composition Competition 2017 has been announced! This year it’s a riff on the 6-panel grid, in the traditional North American comic book size – but with a twist!

Full details HERE.

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Suzy and Cecil – 7-28-2017 – by Sally Ingraham

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Joanie and Jordie – 7-28-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio

07/27/2017

Sam Ombiri on Gabrielle Bell’s Everything is Flammable – plus other comics and news!

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Sam Ombiri here: The reason for my enthusiasm for Everything Is Flammable by Gabrielle Bell is hard to pin down – but I’ll try! I liked how everything flows without interruptions. There’s a seamless transition between what’s going on in her head and what’s happening around her, in what’s treated by her as her reality. She doesn’t treat any incoming moment with more reverence than the last.

I got a surprising amount from the book – I just expected to have some fun reading another Gabrielle Bell book, but I kept feeling a lot from panel to panel. I’d read it and keep reading it, and I’d savor it. Gabrielle throws you these incredibly insightful things about life, but they are given no more weight than what was happening earlier. What’s great is that they are open ended insights – ones that you as the reader continue to work out as her stories continue.

There’s a part in book where Gabrielle is saying how she is wanting to go see if her Mom is alright after a house fire, but it’s so that she can be a hero – it’s really funny and speaks to the spirit of the book, that spirit of celebrating these minor victories. I’m addicted to reading them. The quests aren’t minor, but the triumphs aren’t a bigger event than those small, small moments of failure we might experience. Everything moment is given the same weight as far as the way they are portrayed.

The stories in the comic aren’t desperate to build for “a moment”. For example, Gabrielle may have a part where she’s about to check on her mother after an accident happened, and she says “And I have to admit my own selfishness in wanting to go. First, to draw comics about it…” This attitude doesn’t show, exclusively, an attempt to exploit every possible event. Gabrielle tells very little and conveys a lot.

Take the little things you love about people – you don’t have to escape into fantasizing and romanticizing these things about people. You don’t have to look too far to find them, every detail in life doesn’t always lead to a climatic ending. It’s consistent in Gabrielle Bell’s fiction and her auto bio that she seems uninterested in big endings or big conclusions, based on the work I’ve read. I think, as a result, there’s more of what I can believe in the reality that Gabrielle Bell portrays.

Related to this: I’m thinking of Gabrielle’s segment in Tokyo! – the Interior Design part directed by Michel Gondry. In contrast to the rest of Gondry’s filmography, it felt like the most nuanced and layered portrayal of this certain (for lack of a better term) mysterious nature of life. Even Gondry commented, and this might be him speaking as a comics maker himself, on how much Gabrielle can convey in just one panel. – Sam Ombiri

Get a copy of Everything is Flammable by Gabrielle Bell HERE.

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7-27-2017 – by Sam Ombiri

on the eve of Microsoft Paint’s passing – more info HERE

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Sally here – Ronald Wimberly did some character designs (above) recently for LeSean Thomas’ new animated short Children of Ether. The Blerdgurl writes:

What I think makes Thomas’ Children of Ether so significant is that not only is he an African-American artist and director who worked exclusively with a Japanese team to create Children of Ether, the main character, Rhonda, is also woman of color, a rare image in the world of anime.

Read more HERE.

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Above is an excerpt from a comic about Abdi, part of a 14 comic series about various Somalian people published by PositiveNegative.

In collaboration with the Open Society Foundations (OSF) we produced a series of fourteen comics, based on personal testimonies, that highlight integration issues of the Somali communities across seven cities of Europe – London, Leicester, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Malmo, Oslo and Helsinki. The focus of the project was to accompany the OSF policy research on the same subjects and locations and to engage a wide, general audience and challenge negative media stereotyping of the Somali community.

Read all of the comics HERE.

Read about the Somali diaspora HERE.

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Thee Comics Workbook Composition Competition 2017 has been announced! This year it’s a riff on the 6-panel grid, in the traditional North American comic book size – but with a twist!

Full details HERE.

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Suzy and Cecil – 7-27-2017 – by Gabriella Tito

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Joanie and Jordie – 7-27-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio

07/21/2017

Sally here with Rachel Masilamani live from Pittsburgh, PA; Sophie Yanow saying “No!”; Florida witches at large thanks to Vanesa R. Del Rey and Jordie Bellaire; and much more.

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Rachel Masilamani, July 20th 2017

The Pittsburgh Comic Salon had the great pleasure of hosting Rachel Masilamani last night at the ToonSeum. She has been making comics since 1997 and has a veritable constellation of work in print and online publications, as well as a number of self published works. Her first comics collection – RPM Comics #1 – received a grant from the Xeric Foundation. Her ongoing graphic novel project – Non Partum – appears on MUTHA Magazine in installments. Her most recent pieces are the powerful Battleground, which was part of Illustrated PEN’s series “State of Emergency”, and Who Does He Favor? from this month on the LA Review of Books.

Rachel spoke eloquently about how she uses comics to control and contextualize her experiences and memories, how “lies” illuminate the truth, and her belief in the power of making good art. She relates to Lynda Barry’s term “autobiofictionography” and names her as a main source of inspiration. Rachel pushed through her first successes and then bitter disappointments with the realty of making comics (and not making a living) and now 20 years into the game she is confident in her work and herself, and is excited about the medium.

It was wonderful to hear her speak, and to see her address a crowd of mostly women last night. Sharing our work and experiences this way is more important than ever.

Check out more of Rachel’s work HERE.

Read Juan Fernandez’s discussion of Rachel’s foundational work HERE.

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Sophie Yanow has captured the constant struggle of many artists to maintain their space to make their work – and turned that “NO” (so often combined with wracking guilt and anxiety) into something glorious. Thank you Sophie! This comic should go above everyone’s desk – and she has made it available as a “pay what you want” downloadable PDF so get your copy HERE asap!

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Vanesa R. Del Rey and Jordie Bellaire talk Redlands over on Multiversity Comics in anticipation of the upcoming release of #1 (August 9th). I can’t wait for this comic, which will mix small town Florida with fed up witches, hopefully with wicked and wonderful results. Alice Castle interviewed the two makers about the work:

The idea of using witches as the protagonists in “Redlands” is fascinating to me. Witches have usually been cast as figures of impurity; the kind of women who refuse to adhere to patriarchal society. What was it that drew you to this idea? What made witches the right pick for this story?

Jordie Bellaire: Women and the archetypes of crones, witches, succubi, etc go hand-in-hand. If women were sexually liberated, educated or sought knowledge or were generally unfettered by whatever social construct was pushed upon them at the time, they were written about as evil, dark and inhuman. This was in an effort to push women down and make them seem as if they were against not only men, but against god as well. It dates back to the story of Adam and Eve. This is a compelling trope that I wanted to dive into it as I think it has really set the tone for how women are seen in our culture and in our media. Women have been taking back the idea of being a witch or she-devil and owning it. The women in my story are unapologetic, flawed but liberated and real.

Vanesa, you’ve dabbled in the world of horror comics before with “The Empty Man,” which was where I first discovered your artwork. “Redlands,” from what I’ve seen, seems even more somber and atmospheric. How would you describe your approach to this series?

Vanesa R. Del Rey: The visual tone for the series is inspired by turn of the 19th-century illustration and printmaking, mainly. But I was also visiting Goya’s etching works which are pretty dark in terms of the commentary he made with the work as well as the imagery he used. I thought a hatching technique would be appropriate to illustrate the uneasiness, distress and anxiety in this land we have created. It’s also very classical, with attention to details and line weight…. I’m playing with the energy of the line to express a feeling in all ways.

Things in “Redlands” are very strange and confusing, much like the place from which we are taking inspiration, Florida; it’s beautiful and colorful, but dark and unsettling too.

Read the rest of the interview HERE and get ye to a comics shoppe on August 9th to grab your copy of Redlands #1!

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Working the Circuit

  • Karen Berger announces the lineup of her new publishing imprint, Berger Books – Vulture has the details HERE.
  • Katie Skelly was on Inkstuds recently, interviewed by guest host Joe McCulloch – listen HERE.
  • Over on Comics Alternative Interviews Andy and Derek spoke with Gabrielle Bell about Everything is FlammableHERE.
  • Nicola Scott wades into the whys of how she’s drawing Wonder Woman for W Magazineread the interview HERE.
  • If you’re in the San Francisco area join Nicole J. Georges for an evening and celebrate the release of her new book Fetch on July 21st – part of the Comics in the City speaker series at California College of the Arts – details HERE.

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Suzy and Cecil – 7-21-2017 – by Gabriella Tito

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Joanie and Jordie – 7-21-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio

07/20/2017

Sally here with comics and commentary from Black cartoonists on The Nib, work by Sophia Zarders, insights from Seren Sensei, and more.

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Chris Kindred

The Nib is running a series of comics called Revolution in Our Lifetime: Black Cartoonists on Life Under Trump. it features work by Ben Passmore, Shannon Wright, Keith Knight, Chris Kindred, Whit Taylor, Ronald Wimberly, and Bianca Xunise. Each artist has two 4-panel strips which stand on their own, but of course together paint a picture of individual but closely shared experiences. Above and below you can see excerpts from the strips – go HERE for the full piece.

Keith Knight

Shannon Wright

Ben Passmore

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Check out work by Sophia Zarders – she is working on a graphic novel called Jesus Freak, and publishes a series of zines called Flossie/Dickie (above), among numerous other poster, mural, comics, and activism projects.

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On Nylon Seren Sensei writes about why black female critics are so important. She’s thinking about film, but her arguments easily transfer to comics, where criticism has long been the field of white men (along with everything else in comics…) Seren cites the clap back from black female critics responding to the new Wonder Woman film, which hit lots of marks for feminism but did little to combat “mainstream feminism’s disregard for intersectionality“, as Cameron Glover wrote recently for Harpers Bazaar.  Seren concludes her article with this:

…not only does diverse criticism benefit tone-deaf white cultural producers, it also provides black artists with critique from people that actually understand their culture. The lack of diversity in critique has been a disservice to creators of color who often find their work bafflingly misunderstood, from restaurant critics to art and beyond. In a field that gives white creators far too much leeway and creators of color far too little, the rise of black women critics is a shift that will only benefit the entertainment industry—and its audience.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

For an interesting new journal of arts criticism from Black perspectives check out Arts.Black.

And in the comics vein, Rob Clough kicked off a new series on his blog called “High Low Intersection” with guest writer Whit Taylor interviewing Miranda Harmoncheck it out HERE.

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It’s the middle of the summer and a great time to go to “summer school” – check out thee Santoro School’s Handbook for Making Better Comics and dig into the project you’ve been dreaming about. Don’t wait! Do it now. Check it out HERE.

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Suzy and Cecil – 7-20-2017 – by Sally Ingraham

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Joanie and Jordie – 7-20-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio