06/23/2017

Sally here with plenty of things to dig into this week – Jenny Zervakis’ The Complete Strange Growths; the new Warmer anthology; a lively discussion of “youth-comics”; and much more.

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The Complete Strange Growths 1991-1997 by Jenny Zervakis (lovingly published by John Porcellino via Spit and a Half Distro, 2017) is one of the best collections of comics that I have read in some time. The 13 issues capture the story arc of a few years of Jenny’s life, finding and illuminating incidental moments and making a world out of visits to botanical gardens, a trouble-making brother, the war-time Spam eaten by a Greek father, road trips, comic con visits, and fever dreams.

The drawing isn’t interested in itself, it is merely a vessel there to hold and pour out stories – and therefore the drawing is full of life and perfect small details. The collection also captures the time it was made in and for – 90’s mini-comic culture, the rush of making and giving away zines on a regular basis, the fun of mailing a letter and a stamp to a maker and getting back their latest effort. Influenced by the work of Harvey Pekar, and an inspiration to the likes of John Porcellino, Jenny was riding some quality currents.

A Visit to the Botanical Gardens – Jenny Zervakis

In a way Strange Growths is also a comic that I feel like I’ve been searching for since I embarked on a study of alternative comics (and ones made by women, specifically). The poetry, the thoughtfulness, the desire to capture the mood of a moment…I was certain that there were women who were making work like this in the 90’s, who were making comics that weren’t as focused on the body and the blunt reality of being female. While I am interested in comics about sex, body image, and self-esteem, I’m even more interested in what the bus driver has to share, dreams about grandmothers, and interactions with nature. There is a different mystery and truth to discover there, and Jenny is tapped into that font of wisdom in a way that I aspire to.

I loved The Complete Strange Growths, and put it immediately on my shelf next to Today Is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life by Ulli Lust, Gast by Carol Swain, and One Hundred Demons by Lynda Barry. You can get a copy of the comic from Copacetic Comics, or from Spit and a Half.

For a much less subjective review of the book, check out Rob Kirby’s thoughts over on The Comics Journal.

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A scene from Drama by Raina Telgemeier

Abraham Riesman writes about the rise of “youth-comics” on Vulture, citing them as the driving force behind sales and interest in the medium at the moment.

Eva Volin, a librarian based in Alameda, California, told me, “We’re in the middle of a graphic-novel renaissance inasmuch as not only are kids reading comics, but comics are being written for kids.”

At a glance, it all makes perfect sense. Why wouldn’t young readers gravitate toward a medium that can so brilliantly mix visuals and text in a way that makes a story relatively easy to digest? And why wouldn’t publishers cater to them? And yet, up until recently, there was a near-total disconnect between kids and comics.

Riesman notes that the shift began with manga, the forever disdained comics medium which many (librarians) turned their noses up at. In a Twitter response to thoughts along these lines, Landry Q. Walker (creator of many “youth-comics”) affirmed that it was manga that made the difference – although the effect wasn’t felt immediately because…manga.

Over 15 years ago I spoke to a comics club at a high school – all girls. I talked about this at a panel at SDCC, and the crowd got angry. The consensus of the crowd was that these girls weren’t reading “real comics”. Just manga. And for some reason, this was “bad”. All those years of discussion on “how do we get girls to read comics”. They were, but apparently they were doing it “wrong”? WTF? It’s this failure to embrace trends that is choking the life out of the mainstream comics industry. The fear of change.

It took the appearance of Bone by Jeff Smith and Babymouse by Jennifer L. Holm and her brother Matthew Holm to really start the engine in the mid-2000’s. Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese was the first comic-book finalist for the National Book Award. And then came Raina.

Abraham Riesman likens Raina Telgemeier to Elvis – and makes a good argument for it. Read the rest of his excellent article on the “youth-comics explosion” HERE.

Over on The Comics Beat Heidi MacDonald is also looking at the numbers, and seeing similar trends in comics readership. She offers up the top 5 bestsellers on the Bookscan chart for last week:

“1. BITCH PLANET, VOLUME 2: PRESIDENT BITCH
2. MY LESBIAN EXPERIENCE WITH LONELINESS
3. WONDER WOMAN VOL. 1: THE LIES
4. WONDER WOMAN VOL. 2: YEAR ONE
5. MARCH: BOOK ONE”

Delving into the intricacies of each publication for a minute, and quoting Abraham Riesman’s article a bit, Heidi then offers up her own response (with me in the background waving pompoms and punching the air):

Let me spell it out for you: girls and women, black and white, cis and trans alike, are the driving force behind comics readership expansion. This has been happening for a while, but it’s a full on avalanche now. It’s also something I saw coming 25 years ago.  (No one else is gonna pat me on the back so I gotta do it myself.) Seeing the devoted fandoms that female content-consumers developed for anything that interested them, ESPECIALLY genre material like paranormal romance, horror  and fantasy – I had a hunch that once they turned their spotlight on comics, the full force of female fandom would bowl over the fragile shreds of male safe spaces like a Mack truck through a pile of empty Axe cartons.

What does this shift mean? Well, for one thing, it means that Marvel–and DC too! – had better start paying attention to new readers instead of pandering to the dwindling ranks of AARP-card carrying pap-pap Bronze Agers. I mean, I know it’s hard to move beyond  your own viewpoint, but business is business.

Read the rest of Heidi’s thoughts HERE.

As for me, I’m off to CCS in a week to attend a workshop/think-tank with New Yorker art editor Françoise Mouly, who among numerous other ventures, is the driving force behind the publishing company for early readers called Toon Books. I plan to spend a lot more time and energy thinking about this stuff and probably making comics for, and with kids in the future.

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The Huffington Post featured the comics anthology Warmer which is being edited by Madeleine Witt and Andrew White.

In an interview with HuffPost, White said, “As co-editors of Warmer, Madeleine and I wanted to make a book to offer comfort for those already fearful about climate change. So for the most part, Warmer doesn’t aim to convince anyone of anything. We imagined Warmer in part as a book that will function to encourage and support activists; to comfort those who, like ourselves, are wrestling with the grief of climate change.”

There is an excerpt from the collection accompanying the feature, with comments from the makers. Check it out HERE.

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Detail of a comics page by Dori Seda

Noticed via Facebook – Caitlin McGurk was unpacking a new collection of art recently donated to the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum.

…incredible collection of original cartoon art just donated. Phoebe Gloeckner! Dori Seda! Carol Lay! Lynda Barry! Roberta Gregory! Mary Fleener! And more! 113 original pages by 15 amazing women.

I could spend the rest of my career writing about the stuff in this collection that was just donated to The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum… maybe I will!” – Cairlin McGurk

I smell a new exhibit, and it’s one I will be at the opening for…!

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Fish and Chips

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Suzy and Cecil – 6-23-2017 – by Gabriella Tito

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Joanie and Jordie – 6-23-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio

06/22/2017

Sam Ombiri brings thoughts on C.F.’s Powr Mastrs 3 – plus other links and comics for your Thursday!

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From CF’s Powr Mastrs 3

Sam Ombiri here: I read Powr Mastrs 3 by CF very often. Very, very often. Even more often than Powr Mastrs 2, but that could just be a result of me lending it to someone else. Powr Mastrs is the type of book you lend to other people.

I’m more invested in Powr Mastrs 3 than 2, maybe as a result of the pace at which the characters are moving. The story doesn’t have a fast moving energy, but a slower more contemplative progression – not to say that this wasn’t the case for Powr Mastrs 2, it’s just there was only one real moment of action in 3 that I can think of. Only one complete, concrete, certain action that transformed the landscape of other events to come. So then, with 3 more so than 2, a certain weight is added to the momentum that was fueled by what had happened before 3. Of course I haven’t read 1 because I was kind of late to the party with CF.

He begins the book by telling those who mimic him to “follow your own star.” Can you, the reader, draw like CF does? The way he draws seems impossible. It’s a very stubborn way to draw.

He drew amazing characters – an amazing cast that you can imagine doing various things even before the story begins. So then it’s a real thrill to be seeing them moving in the story, mixing with your presumptions and what you imagined them to be like, and acting in accordance to their committed role.

The beginning with the Circuit Runner feels like, as the reader, you’re being told to travel with the Circuit Runner. The beginning hints to us about what will come to fruition. The characters are quiet before they address us. They occupy their own moments before they address the reader, if at all. The first person who addresses us is Jim Bored, who is stretching his imagination to his limits. He asks “what was entertainment?” while stuck in his prison in Mosfet’s lab. Really similar to like what we do with art and stuff I guess – I wonder what question CF is asking here?

Maybe it’s something about what symbolically happens when our deteriorating memory and alienated imagination reaches its limit. I felt that Jim Bored is still making stories that attempt to keep the mind going when trapped in an inescapable pit. Meanwhile, CF is drawing a reconstruction of perception after perception is lost or is slipping away.

New China is an easy place to navigate, thanks to the way CF guides the reader from panel to panel. One moment floating gently into the next moment without any scheme to rush, beyond what feels like the needed pacing. The reveals that happen are slow as we pan to some hidden factor in New China of some unrevealed element that hasn’t come fully into fruition but is sure to be big when it does. The people we meet in New China are reduced to a fetishization of action figures.

It’s a bit dizzying, the intense encounters with what feel like mirrors reflecting an energy present in our lives, but CF catches that energy in a jar and releases it in every page. The ways the characters look, and the way color comes in, is that similar feeling to when you’re a kid and the colors of packs of candy stick out to you, and part of the candy and enjoying the candy is the bright colors of the wrappers and the bags you rip – or all those cool action figures that you could never have and imagine playing with. – Sam Ombiri

Get a copy of Powr Mastrs 3 HERE.

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6-22-2017 – by Sam Ombiri

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Ariell R. Johnson, owner of Amalgam Comics & Coffee Shop in Philly

Sally here – Ariell R. Johnson has been in business for over a year now, and her plans for Amalgam Comics & Coffee Shop are only getting grander. The Knight Foundation recently picked Johnson out of over 4,500 applicants to receive a grant of $50,000 – she will be expanding her space, and implementing more educational opportunities for the local community. Read more about her shop and her plans HERE.

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There’s a review of Space Riders: Galaxy of Brutality #2 on Nothing But Comics – they write:

I can’t say enough about Ziritt’s art, as it really is unlike any other style you see in comics now. It’s like the album art you saw on 70’s covers, bright and glaring, its subject matter seizing your eyes. On reflection, Ziritt’s style is like a spiritual continuation of Jack Kirby and Jim Steranko’s work in the 60’s. The bold body shapes, the sublime color combinations, and the geometric technology, it all was prominent in the heyday of comics and its mostly vanished in modern times.

Read the rest HERE.

Get a copy of Alexis Ziritt’s and Fabian Rangel Jr.’s other new comic, Tarantula, HERE from AdHouse Books.

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Work by Jim Pluk – he recently had a solo show in Mexico at the gallery TOBA. Check out more of Jim’s work HERE – and get a copy of his most recent comic Canosa’s Welcome HERE.

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Frank was the guest on Episode 219 of of Brian Heater’s RiYL podcast:

…unlike the Bay, his hometown is actually livable for an artist. In fact, he own two houses on the same street.  The second, a mirror image of his own residence, is the headquarters of the Rowhouse Residency, an off-shoot of his long standing comics correspondence course that he likens to “a dojo for students much like a martial arts academy.” It’s an immersive school from which Santoro broadcasts lessons and publishes the work of the artist in residence, fueled by home cooked meals prepared by his mother who lives up the street. Santoro and I met up at his row house to discuss Pittsburgh comics, self-publishing and the shadow of Andy Warhol.

Give it a listen HERE!

Learn more about the Comics Workbook Rowhouse Residency HERE.

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Suzy and Cecil – 6-22-2017 – by Sally Ingraham

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Joanie and Jordie – 6-22-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio

06/16/2017

Sally here with Tatiana Gill; graphic medicine; the new superwomen and their fresh talk; Karen Green’s life in comics.

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Adam Griffiths attended “FRESH TALK: Who are the new superwomen of the universe?” at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in D.C., on June 14th, 2017. He sent these notes for me to share with you:

FRESH TALK: Who are the new superwomen of the universe?

tag: #freshtalk4change

Panelists:
Carolyn Cocca : Author of “Superwomen: Gender, Power and Representation.”
Ariell Johnson : Owner of Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse, Inc.
Gabby Rivera : Writer for Marvel’s AMERICA series.
Ashley A. Woods : Artist for the Stranger Comics series, “NIOBE: She is Life.”

Moderated by Emily Whitten.

Tonight’s panel at NMWA was crowded with curious onlookers, geeks, comics fanatics and well-wishers for the comics medium, which has barely had a presence in the thirty-year old museum’s programs or collection. I have to admit I was a little nervous for the panelists; the selection of speakers intimated that the program would serve as a sort of general survey of this contemporaneous moment, where the concept of women and comics are discussed in a women-positive environment, on women’s terms. The fact of the matter is that this discussion has been going on for the past two decades. Like pulp fiction, comics has emerged from the margins of popular literature as a force that even Hollywood has had trouble quantifying. We’re learning that comic-book movies are made with all hands on deck. One misstep in storytelling or context can unleash a digital herd of comics aficionados. They are protective of their stories, passionate about cinematic interpretations of their heroes, and uncannily heeded by the industries that create this type of entertainment, probably because these fans are primarily men.

When comics shop owner Ariell Johnson is discussing her first forays into comics, she mentions a male friend with a great collection of comics. She was always borrowing his, but when an image of Storm from the X-men pops up during her slide presentation, she lights up: “This woman was the one who started it all for me,” she says. There seems to be a little guilt there – the collection that she had access to ended at some point and perhaps could have ended her relationship with comics. Instead, she started her own shop.

When Gabby Rivera begins discussing her writing, she’s still overwhelmed by the influx of community support she got for her early work, and how that motivated her to continue. Artist Ashley Woods remembers getting to comic conventions with no money, sometimes even arriving without her own book in hand to sell. There’s a thread here that’s tough to follow if you choose to really feel it; Gabby Rivera wants you to know that her mom is awesome. When Rivera’s mother calls she asks: “Gabby have you eaten something?” “eatsome’neat.” It’s something about how women hold fast to their communities, sometimes needfully breaking themselves in order to advance.

Speaker Carolyn Cocca suggested that the cult of domesticity in the United States is responsible for sluggish progress for women in the comics industry. Within that history, we do know that there were women creators in comics. We also know that there were tons of women colorists, women letterers, women running printing presses. The standout artists and writers however are the ones that there are few of, seemingly.

The mise-en-scène here is that women comics creators are piggybacking on each other towards an enhanced presence in the comics field. Last night, the room was very warm with this prevailing outlook.

sketches: Ashley A. Woods, Carolyn Cocca

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Tonight the reception for the 2017 Comics & Medicine Conference: Access Points will be held at the Fantagraphics Bookstore – featuring a book signing by Tatiana Gill. She will be presenting her new collection, Wombgenda; fierce feminist comix” to all reports. Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery is located at 1201 S. Vale Street and the event will be from 6-9 PM.

The Seattle Review of Books writes about Tatiana Gill’s new comic:

The three long pieces in Wombgenda address Gill’s journey to developing a positive body image, her abortion story, and an account of getting a new IUD at Country Doctor. Her style in these strips is very reminiscent of Seattle cartoonist Roberta Gregory’s autobiographical comics from the 1990s — simple figures, little to no backgrounds, and a lot of words packed into every panel. They feel something like handwritten letters from a friend — confessional, intimate, exuberant, and heartfelt.

Read the rest of the review HERE.

Artwork by RT Russian

This is the eight annual Comics & Medicine Conference, the bulk of which will be held at the Seattle Public Library Central Branch (June 15th-17th). This year the event features keynote speakers Hillary Chute, Georgia Webber, and Rupert Kinnard. Learn more about the event HERE.

Seattle Weekly profiled the event, and spoke to co-founder MK Czerwiec about the importance of comics in health care.

“Comics have the power to convey important information in ways that people who are dealing with issues in health care and caregiving find appealing to absorb,” Czerwiec explains. Comics have been used in public health situations for decades to make information accessible in ways that can “transcend language barriers,” but they also provide patients with a “form of reflection and … storytelling” that can help in the healing process. They also help others empathize with patients. For those reasons, she says, nursing and medical schools are beginning to use comics to teach students.

Czerwiec says that Seattle has existed on this intersection between comics and medicine for a very long time. Cartoonist Mita Mahato, who has helped to organize this year’s Comics & Medicine conference, has long been a booster. Ellen Forney’s memoir about life as an artist with bipolar disorder, Marbles, has fast become a classic in mental health circles. And “of course, Meredith Li-Vollmer at the King County Public Health Department has come to our conferences in the past and presented projects that she’s done with David Lasky in the public health arena.” Li-Vollmer and Lasky worked on the comic No Ordinary Flu, which saw a print run of over half a million copies translated into a dozen languages and distributed around the country.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

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Karen Green‘s life as a comic, by Nick Sousanis – or, “How a Butler librarian became Columbia’s first curator for comics and cartoons“. Check out the whole thing HERE.

Nick Sousanis wrote about the experience of making the comic:

While only six pages long, this proved to be a huge undertaking – i was working on it December through March, and it was just published this week. When first approached to do this project, I was hesitant. Although I’m good friends with Karen and she was a great colleague while I was doing my doctoral work, biographies are not really the sort of comic I make. But then I got the idea to tell her story through homages to all the comics she read growing up and through adulthood – and that got me excited for the challenge (I did do one autobiographical piece a long time back that touched upon somewhat similar terrain). And it was a challenge – the amount of reference material for this short piece are kind of ridiculous but once you’ve committed to this path – can’t really stop walking. The comic draws on her lifelong fascination with Alice in Wonderland in a few places, the New Yorker, the Bayeux Tapestry, Archie, Little Nemo, Charles Burns, and the crowning achievement of the piece – a riff on Al Jaffee’s legendary Mad Fold-Ins! (See a recent interview with Jaffee here.) Although this final page was the quickest to draw in the end, it was by far the hardest to figure out.

Read more of his thoughts HERE – and see the “fold-in” page in action!

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Blinkers – 6-16-2017 – by Jack Brougham

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Suzy and Cecil – 6-16-2017 – by Sally Ingraham (based on a sketch by Gloria Rivera)

06/15/2017

Sally here with Shannon Wright, Jillian Tamaki, Adam Griffiths, and James Baldwin to get your Thursday morning started!

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Shannon Wright made this comic to share with her followers on Instagram this week (@shannondrewthis) and it speaks volumes to her recent experiences as a young, talented artist who has recently gained a lot of attention. Her illustrations have appeared in numerous national publications and her comics have been featured on The Nib among other places. Her Black hair illustration series, mentioned in the comic above, is an ongoing project that touches on many recent discussions about cultural appropriation and the image of Black women in history and pop culture. I appreciate Shannon’s honesty and blunt politeness in embracing her new fans and dealing with her (probable) frustration with other folks’ demands and expectations for her time and art – this comic is cute and classy. Good luck Shannon!

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Adam Griffiths continues his web comic American Cryo – the 7th strip is seen above – check out the rest HERE.

Get a copy of Adam’s comic The Permanent Night – which he worked on during a Comics Workbook Rowhouse Residency earlier this year – HERE.

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There is a James Baldwin celebration going on in Harlem – 77 boxes of Baldwin’s manuscripts, photos, letters, notes and more, have come back to where it all started – the contents are on display at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture on Malcolm X Boulevard, just a few doors down from the elementary school that Baldwin attended. Other bookstores in the area are featuring Baldwin’s work and churches and schools will be hosting lectures and other events in the next few weeks. More detail HERE.

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Jillian Tamaki speaks to The Guardian about her new comics collection Boundless.

The stories in Boundless often started as thought experiments, for which Tamaki would conjure up the domino sequence that follows. Half Life exemplifies her simultaneously deadpan and sensitive voice: protagonist Helen slowly shrinks in size, as if possessed by an intractable force. “If [the concept] gets pushed and pushed and pushed, it is relentless. There’s no changing her path,” explains Tamaki. But it is Helen’s reactions that are the focus of the story. “I think the story is quite fantastical, obviously, but it’s also fantastical in that she is completely calm about it. She’s not afraid, she’s not freaking out – people around her are freaking out – but she is completely adapting to the new circumstances.” “

More HERE.

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Blinkers – 6-15-2017 – by Jack Brougham

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Suzy and Cecil – 6-15-2017 – by Sally Ingraham

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Joanie and Jordie – 6-15-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio

06/09/2017

Friday with the cool kids – Rhoda Kellogg, Eleanor Davis, Trina Robbins, Katie Skelly, Lisa Lim, Gabrielle Bell, and more!

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The “in-situ classroom where neighborhood youngsters are learning about draftsmanship, self-portraiture, and printmaking” – part of an exhibition by Brian Belott called “Dr. Kid President Jr.,” at the Harlem outpost of Gavin Brown’s enterprise

Brian Belott has designed an exhibition inspired by the work of Rhoda Kellogg, “one of the foremost, undersung researchers of the doodles, wiggles, and dreams that kids draw.” Among his varied art projects, over the last 15 years Belott has been studying children’s art and he repeatedly bumped into Rhoda Kellogg’s name. Her work as a child psychologist and scholar led her to collect over a million pieces of children’s art between 1948 and 1981, but it all wound up in a storage unit in Connecticut until Brian Belott took an interest in the collection. The show he put together includes 300 pieces from Kellogg’s collection, his own work and attempts at making child-like art (or “forgeries” as he calls them, of his favorite kid-produced originals), and the classroom component (pictured above), which is staffed by his friends and peers during weekend workshops.

As a teacher of kids myself, and someone who is experiencing a growing fascination with how kids process the world through art, I recognize the “natural force” that Belott describes and am eager to see this show if it does travel (as he hopes) and will certainly be picking up some of the books that Rhoda Kellogg wrote on the subject of children’s art. Learn more about her HERE.

Find out more about the “Dr. Kid President Jr.” show via this article on Artsy.

This Mandala designed by Rhoda Kellogg shows the evolution of children’s non-pictorial into pictorial drawing

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From Eleanor Davis’ new comic You & a Bike & a Road

Hillary Brown chats with Eleanor Davis about her new comic You & a Bike & a Road (Koyama Press, May 2017) for Paste Magazine, starting off by wondering if she is perhaps “the most renowned comics artist of her generation“. Eleanor talks about the process of making the book:

I started out drawing every day of my trip because I always wish I was the sort of person who draws every day on a trip. (I’m not). And I was nervous about essentially taking a two-month vacation—what if everyone forgot who I was, what if I lost all my clients, etc. So I wanted something to post online. I kept drawing, however, because my knees were slowing me down, and that meant I was spending less time biking and more time resting and bored. Otherwise I might have let the journal peter out, like most of my journals tend to.

When I got home, I wanted to collect the comics because I’m not productive enough to draw 100 pages of comics and then just let them blow away in the wind. At first I only wanted to put out a mini comic, but it was too many pages. I felt very upset about the idea of making it into a book because I didn’t think it had the merit to be a book. The comics are sloppy and self-indulgent, and collected together they have real life’s irritating lack of narrative structure. But once I filled it out a little it came together a little bit. And folks seemed to respond to the comics emotionally, so I thought it might work out.

Read the rest of the interview HERE. Get a copy of the book HERE.

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Trina Robbins

I have yet to see the new Wonder Woman film, and in an effort to not spoil it by reading too much about it, I have found myself reading about other takes on the character – from Trina Robbins’ solidly Amazonian Diana (no fancy flying or special powers, just TRAINING) to George Perez’s vision, which brought the “wonder” back to Wonder Woman.

This article at The Fresh Toast details Trina Robbins’ adventures with Diana. Trina was the first woman to draw a Wonder Woman series, digging into The Legend of Wonder Woman in 1986 (with writer Kurt Busiek). Trina’s artwork in this 4-issue series brought back the Golden Age, and the little girl whom Wonder Woman saves looks more than a bit like Trina as a child.

George Perez’s relaunch of Wonder Woman in 1987 was admittedly a bit more exciting. There is an excellent article on Vulture about Perez and what he brought to the continuing saga of the character.

Now that a badass female director has made a Wonder Woman film that folks are pretty delighted by (despite it being a DC flick!), I can only hope that good things are in store for Diana and her creators down the road.

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And Also

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Suzy and Cecil – 6-9-2017 – by Gabriella Tito

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Joanie and Jordie – 6-9-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio

06/08/2017

Sam Ombiri on Josh Bayer’s RAW POWER, a Tarantula, and chain-breaking Wonder Woman for your Thursday.

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Sam Ombiri here: Raw Power by Josh Bayer is a barrage of one moment after the other, that never ends. Every time I tried reading the book before, it wasn’t so accommodating. I’d try to follow the story, and then as I was going from panel to panel I’d find that my eyes were thrown away from the book. Whenever I read Raw Power, I feel a sense of guilt, because I can’t read with the same energy that it seems to have been produced with. Meanwhile I’ve been reading Kirby and Simon’s romance comics – I don’t feel the same threat when reading Kirby’s comics or for that matter really any other comic artists who are known to have intense drafting. I think it maybe comes from reading the title RAW POWER and seeing the cover. The title almost just flat out says no matter how you read this you won’t possibly match the energy that this was made with. This is regardless of whether the book was drawn with that supposed energy.

I remember Austin English talking about Raw Power in a review on The Comics Journal, and saying that it probably wasn’t drawn how it feels, but it exudes this specific energy, which up until the the first issue of Raw Power came out, Austin hadn’t seen in Bayer’s other comics. Despite the dizzy frantic drawing, there’s a really dogmatic nature present in the book. Maybe this surfaces from him being a teacher and the way he talks in interviews, so as I approach reading it, I read it with a dogmatic voice in my head.

I’m going to contradict what I previously said, by saying that it IS a very accommodating book. The feeling of the book changed as I was reading it. Reading Raw Power felt more like I had to hang on tight, and not fall off. A real Paper Rodeo. It sometimes felt like Bayer was trying to kick me off the pages, and then invite me back in. I’m experiencing an overload of moments, and a lot is being explored, and the art doesn’t do me any favors in terms of recovering from my dizziness. It’s about obsession with figures who make work that spur to extreme degrees, and then there’s this comic Josh is covering, and he’s bringing for me as a reader interest in what he’s modified, and he managed to wrap a really engrossing story around it. Most of all, it’s great how, despite the extremely fun tirades Josh goes on, it always comes back to the original path it was on and elements resurface with major twists. I think that the most satisfying thing is the story. I truly truly think that. In the end I got my fill. – Sam Ombiri

6-8-2017 – Sam Ombiri

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Sally here – I’m eager to get my hands on the new comic by Alexis Ziritt, Fabian Rangel Jr., and Evelyn Rangel – Tarantula (AdHouse Books, June 2017)! It was recently on Paste Magazine‘s list of required reading for the month:

“Looking like a vintage pulp novel straight off the dollar racks at your local used book store, Tarantula promises “Satanic noir” from the same creative team that brought the world the psychedelic Space Riders. Artist Alexis Ziritt is a grindhouse force to be reckoned with, channeling Kirby and Dan Brereton in equal parts for this tale of supernatural agents of order standing strong against the forces of chaos. Writer Fabian Rangel, Jr., by now a staple of most non-Big Two publishers, knows how to set Ziritt up for a home run and get out of his way. Adhouse Books is a new home for these two, but the handsome throwback hardcover they’ve produced should sit nicely next to Black Mask’s Space Riders and Rangel and Logan Faerber’s Albatross Funnybooks Vietnam-era lycanthrope tale,‘Namwolf. ” -Steve Foxe

Get a copy of the comic HERE.

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With all the excitement of the new Wonder Woman film going around, I remembered that Gilbert Hernandez drew a Wonder Woman story in 2014, which appeared in Sensation Comics #3 and #4. Although it may not be the most “wondrous” Wonder Woman tale (Supergirl gets a lot of the glory), it is certainly one of the most powerful depictions of Diana – see more of the comic HERE.

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Suzy and Cecil – 6-8-2017 – by Sally Ingraham

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Joanie and Jordie – 6-8-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio

06/02/2017

Sally here with some Wonder Women for your weekend – Lynda Barry, Annie Koyama, Teresa Roberts Logan, G. Willow Wilson, Trina Robbins, and more!

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Aww…look at the tiny fabulous Lynda Barry, making a guest appearance in Bil Keane’s Family Circus…! Over on The Comics Beat Heidi MacDonald writes joyously about how this came about:

The other night at the Reuben Awards, cartoonist Lynda Barry was presented with the Milton Caniff award for her lifetime achievement because, after all, she is funk queen of the universe.

But at the NCS annual meeting where she got the award, she also met a hero of her own, Jeff Keane, the artist on Family Circus and son of the original creator, Bil Keane. Barry explains what happened on her tumblr in her own inimitable way, but the short version is that Family Circus was very important to her growing up as a child from a troubled family. Upon meeting Keane she burst into tears. And then she found out she had a guest spot in the comic.

Read the story in Lynda’s own words HERE.

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Comics publisher extraordinaire Annie Koyama is the featured “Type Reader for June” on Type. She answered a special comics-themed questionnaire, where she admitted to reading comics “unabashedly” on public transportation, and owning but never finishing Chris Ware’s Building Stories. Also:

If you weren’t running a Canadian comics empire, what would you be doing right now?

I’d be planting a vegetable garden and frolicking with woodland creatures. Ideally somewhere with really spotty Internet.

Read the rest HERE.

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Teresa Roberts Logan – or, The Laughing Redhead and a recent arrival to Pittsburgh – has officially made a career change from stand-up comedian to cartoonist. She spoke to The Daily Press recently about the different challenges the two mediums presented her with.

When you tell a joke as a stand-up, you get to deliver that — play with the voice, emphasize certain words, play with the timing.

When it’s for print, you have to write a little more cleanly because you don’t have the benefit of being able to perform it. Putting it on paper is the performance.

With stand-up comedy, people are judging more about you than just the joke — what you look like, how you’re dressed, your personality. On paper, they’re just judging what’s on paper — the joke itself.

Her comic The Grim Reaper will be syndicated on gocomics.com starting June 26th. Read more of her story HERE.

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Feminist Frequency has an interview with G. Willow Wilson, author of the Ms Marvel series. After controversial comments were made by a Marvel rep about diversity killing the bottom line of a number of stories, she weighed in with her own thoughts on diversity in comics – and the topic has continued to up.

I think diversity has become this catch-all word that is used by a lot of different groups in different ways, not all of them positive and not all of them furthering the cause of good comics. For some people in the more conservative segment of the comic book population, diversity has become sort of a dog whistle. But I’ve also heard very valid critiques of it on the left, that diversity by itself does not change the underlying structures that lead to inequality, so just having photo op diversity doesn’t actually change things. But stories that focus on authenticity and specific experiences can be very successful because it’s not about box checking. It’s about reflecting—as closely as you can in pulp fiction—a real lived experience. Because the things that makes us different are not just cosmetic. They change how we experience the world in some pretty critical ways. The stories that have done that well have really found solid fanbases. And some that do it less well. But when those stories fail, it inevitably becomes about the diversity issue when the real cause may be diversity done poorly. Or it may just be that like 90% of books, it simply fails and we don’t tend to think as hard about the mainstream same-old stories when they fail. There’s sort of a selective reading of the reasons why books, diverse or not, fail.

To read the rest of the interview you will have to subscribe to the monthly Feminist Frequency newsletter, FREQ – do so HERE.

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Just a few “Wonder Women” at the movie premier after party – Valerie Perez (Wonder Woman cosplayer and actress), Trina Robbins (artist for numerous issues of Wonder Woman), Lynda Carter (the original on-screen Wonder Woman), Christie Marston (grand daughter of Wonder Woman creator William Moulton Marston), and Susan Eisenberg (the voice of Wonder Woman in the Justice League animated series).

The Comics Beat reports that DC’s new Wonder Woman movie is actually pretty good. Elsewhere, Joe Wos reports on Wonder Woman for the Trib Live, and chats briefly with Trina Robbins:

“In my opinion, she is the perfect mythic hero,” says legendary comics “Herstorian” Trina Robbins of San Francisco. “According to Joseph Campbell’s writings in ‘The Hero With a Thousand Faces,’ the hero is always the child of a virgin and a deity. She’s the child of the virgin Queen Hippolyta and a deity who, in this case, is the goddess Aphrodite, who breathes life into the baby that Hippolyta sculpts from clay. Can there be a more feminist origin story? Little Diana has two mommies!”

Read the rest of the article HERE.

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Extra Toppings

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Blinkers – 6-2-2017 – by Jack Brougham

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Suzy and Cecil – 6-2-2017 – by Sally Ingraham

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Joanie and Jordie – 6-2-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio

06/01/2017

Sam Ombiri on Joe Daly’s Highbone Theater, an international zine roundup, Wonder Woman dreams, and news from Berliac.

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Sam Ombiri here: I read Highbone Theater by Joe Daly recently. I began it awhile back when Joe Daly was posting it online, but the way Daly set up his website for Highbone Theater made it hard to find where you left off at. The funny thing with that was that I’d just end up re-reading the same pages. The same really good pages. I guess it was maybe a selling point, because it feels very real. I’m not sure if it’s part autobiographical, because it’s not so apparent and that makes me more keen to apply what’s happened to me, myself, and relate it with Palmer (the main character).

The dialogue is so natural, and the way Daly guides you through what’s being said seems like it’s collaborating with life. It’s so mundane that it becomes all too real.  It seems like it’s way more dense than it is really, because of the size of the book, but it’s so rhythmic, and it sucks the reader in so that you barely even notice that you’re flipping the pages. You start it, and you keep going, and you don’t feel the big obligation to take note of anything. Or that may be inaccurate, since you are supposed to, as a reader, take note of what’s happening in the narrative. I didn’t catch so much that the colored pages were adding an extra meaning to the atmosphere changing, other than, something’s up, tonally and design wise. Color is the equivalent of sound design. I once heard Joe Daly cite Naked Lunch as a movie he’s really impressed with, so this was at the back of my mind while reading Highbone Theater. It’s a very cinematic comic, which may be attributed to Daly studying animation. Whatever it was that caused it, I’m glad.

Palmer is into the things he’s into, him and his friends are into the things they’re into, and every now and then the friends comment on Palmer’s eccentric interests. While they see less reason in Palmer, Palmer sees less reason in the world he’s living in, and while many others can reason with him, he finds he can’t reason with anyone besides his friend Billy. The way Daly portrays Palmer is as someone who isn’t an unreasonable guy – but when Palmer talks, the way he portrays himself when talking about himself (which is part of why the book feels like it’s autobio) comes off as unreasonable – but that doesn’t hinder him from performing what he perceives as his duty. That was the defining characteristic I found with Palmer.

What set this apart is that the book seems so casual, as if it’s ideas are taking place with no regard to your opinion of them. Yet they are coming from a very disciplined story teller. Everything that sets this book apart doesn’t come off as overly intentional, or meant to be set apart. What’s taking place seems independent of the reader’s thoughts on them. This only strengthens the potency of the events as perceived by the reader. What seems more intentional is to engage with the reader in a way that’s very familiar to them. Or maybe it’s just that this form happens to be familiar. It reminded me of reading Chester Brown’s autobio stuff, or Crumb, or it’s as if I was told that one of the characters is the Reid Fleming of this universe.

The cover is really cool – it reflects what you’re in for. Of course most covers do that, but as you open this book it’s with these specific images that come later on in the book. The front cover – while it’s an image that shows up through the course of the book – seems to be there more so to sell you on the book. The image that follows, however, before the story has started, has been ingrained in the reader. Right now I’m talking about the coffin Billy crafted for his mother. When it comes into the story later on and makes another appearance, there was something big that went off in my mind. While the turns the book takes are huge, there’s a subdued element to it, right? While it may seem disorienting, it’s a really well oriented form of disorienting. Palmer has this look on his face that says this must be done, and that’s reflected with every action he performs. He has a no nonsense approach to everything. He sees the task before him, he tries to find what needs to be done above all his other concerns, and what he needs to do is a growing question mark. – Sam Ombiri

Get a copy if this book at Copacetic Comics!

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6-1-2017 – by Sam Ombiri

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Copies of The Hye-Phen

Sally here – check out this roundup of 8 zines made by people of color from around the world, showcased on Artsy – a true example of why the medium remains relevant and important.

The black literary zine, Fire!! created during the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s by writers such as Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston is an early example. Self-publishing continued through the decades, with the Black Panther Party Newspaper and the Chilean women’s magazine Aquelarre. Still, the history of zine culture remains largely dominated by narratives of white men and women.

Utilizing both the tangibility of print and the connectedness afforded by the internet, today’s artists and writers of color are continuing to create spaces for dialogue, pioneering conversations through zines—a medium that allows them to exchange ideas, opinions, and art on their own terms. These eight zines are just a few of the notable print publications claiming space and reinvigorating a decades-long tradition of collective healing through communal expression.

Read more HERE.

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Christy Radecic

Maya Rupert writes movingly for The Atlantic about her lifelong connection to Wonder Woman and her feeling that maybe the character makes more sense as a black woman.

Wonder Woman and I were both outsiders on two levels. Her powers set her apart from other humans, but among the other members of the Justice League, she was relegated to secretary. My race set me apart from my white classmates, but I learned at a young age that within the black community my gender marked me as inferior. I remember as a child being told by my hairdresser that feminism wasn’t for black women. “For us,” she explained, “the man is here, and we’re here,” she said gesturing with her hands to illustrate that to be a black woman meant that a man I had never met would always be stationed above me. As I got older, I became better able to name my double displacement; I was frustrated with the racism I saw in feminist circles and with the misogyny I saw among racial-justice advocates. And Wonder Woman’s state of constant otherness only became more meaningful.

But as a girl, I most commiserated with Wonder Woman when she sought to reconcile her inner strength and ferocity with the need of others to see her as peaceful and feminine. I had learned early on that it wouldn’t take a lot for me to be viewed as angry and deemed unlikeable. Images of neck-rolling, finger-snapping, gum-popping black women caricatured in movies and TV shows showed me exactly what people expected from me.

Read more HERE – and go see the new Wonder Woman movie (opens June 2nd!), which does star a white woman, but there is perhaps some hope for the flick and the story –

Yes, a white actress, Gal Gadot, had been cast as the lead. But, I wondered, would the creators see in her what I had all these years? Would Wonder Woman still chafe at the forced dichotomy between her strength and her womanhood, her peaceful demeanor and her righteous anger? Would they infuse her story with enough of mine that a little black girl who sees the movie might get to wonder, maybe?

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Drawn & Quarterly will publish Berliac’s Sadbøi in January 2018. “Drawn in a unique style that’s an homage to gekiga and film noir, Berliac’s first English graphic novel is an exploration of how we treat immigrants, and the impossible situation of being expected to conform to society’s ideals when the world has already decided you’re guilty.” More of the announcement and an excerpt from the book can be found HERE.

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Blinkers – 6-1-2017 – by Jack Brougham

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Suzy and Cecil – 6-1-2017 – by Gabriella Tito

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Joanie and Jordie – 6-1-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio

05/26/2017

Sally here with work by Gloria Rivera and Vreni Stollberger, a reality check from Hannah Berry, an update on the Resist! and Comics 4 Choice anthologies, and wisdom from Hellen Jo and Jessica Abel.

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Hellen Jo is interviewed on Giant Robot Media. She talks about making comics vs paintings, moving away from being an animator, Korean ghosts, and the political climate’s effect on her work.

GR: Can you tell me where the strong women aspect of your work comes from?

HJ: When I started self-publishing comics, I was disturbed by how little representation of Asian and Asian American women I could find in comics that I could really get behind. Nearly every character I came across was either hyper-kawaii-infantile-cute, or dragon-lady yellow fever sexualized. Where the hell were the strong minded butch girls and tomboys who were gross, dirty, mean, violent, powerful? When I was a young adult, I desperately needed to see that kind of characterization; it was my aspiration, my purest personal desire, to become that type of woman, and if I wasn’t gonna find it anywhere, I was determined to build it myself. Selfishly, I also made this art to help me express this desire and to grow into this cooler version of myself; it’s a work in progress but so far so good, I think.

Read more HERE.

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The L.A. Zine Fest is this Sunday, May 28th, from 10-6 at the California Market Center. Comics Workbook student and comics maker-extraordinaire Gloria Rivera will be tabling – find her at 34B. She will be debuting her comic We come from a desert (above) at the festival. She drew some of this comic while in Pittsburgh, PA, for her Comics Workbook Rowhouse Residency in March of this year.

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Michael Cavna’s Comic Riffs on the Washington Post checks in on the progress of the second issue of Resist!, the political zine that was “co-founded by New Yorker art director Françoise Mouly to spotlight female creators and issues they view as important” following the election of President Trump. Instead of simply being a free newspaper to pass out at the Women’s March in Washington, Resist! quickly became part of a growing movement.

“While everywhere else there may be protest fatigue, from our standpoint it seems to be an exciting moment of rebirth for comics as political activity,” Mouly tells The Post’s Comic Riffs. “It feels like a return to the Charlie Hebdo of my youth in May 1968,” during the Paris student riots.

Mouly underscores the publication’s embrace of star cartoonists and young unknowns alike. “What’s unique to Resist! is the way it mixes the voices of librarians and young girls and accountants together with that of Roz Chast, Cathy Malkasian, Miriam Katin, Daniel Clowes and Art Spiegelman,” she says.

The second issue, which received even more submissions than the first, is due to be released on Independence Day. Read more about it HERE.

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Here is an interesting piece by Hannah Berry (which I found through The Comics Reporter) – it ties into something that I’ve been thinking about and having conversations about a lot recently. Hannah writes that her recent graphic novel Livestock may very well be her last, and details her precarious financial situation and the hopeless reality/impossibility for most of making a “living” from being a working cartoonist. You can read more of Hannah’s thoughts HERE (scroll down a little bit).

One cannot doubt that her heart is in the right place:

Comics are the most sublime form of storytelling, and I will never, ever stop making them. They offer such a perfect balance of narrative freedom and restrictions, of clarity and subtlety, that whenever anyone asks me why I make comics I wonder if they shouldn’t be asking all other writers and filmmakers why they’re not, the cuckoos. Comics are everything.

Hannah, who has been published several times and won arts council grants in the UK, and managed to gain enough traction to pick up small supporting side-comic/art jobs…is one of the lucky ones. And she is STILL tempted to quit. You just can’t make a living doing this.

Her solution to the problem is to raise a clamor and demand more funding and attention for work like hers…and mine…and ours… And I agree – but in the reality I face here in the United States, where funding and support of the arts is actually dwindling visibly…I don’t see that as a solution any more viable than us all going out to dig holes at the bottom of rainbows.

I’m tired of talking about money. Most of us are never going to make any. And most of us didn’t get into this industry to do so – we did it because “comics are everything.” So let’s go with that. In the face of capitalism, to do something “for the love” is radical. We can create spaces, build an audience, be a community of organizers so that no one person is expected to find the funding. We can incubate, we can plant seeds. I think we have to stop demanding support from a limping industry propped against a broken capitalist system. We have to be better, more inventive, more giving, more dangerous than that.

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There is an excerpt from Vreni Stollberger‘s comic Nothing Feels Real on The Nibsee it HERE. You can see the rest of the story in the upcoming collection Comics for Choice: Anthology for Abortion Rights, edited by Hazel Newlevant. The collection will be about 250 pages, made by 60 writers and artists and featuring 41 stories. Learn more about the project HERE.

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Jessica Abel is offering a free online workshop this Sunday, May 28th 2017 – you can register HERE. Jessica’s line these days is that “being creative is not a state of mind” – her latest project is a book about finding/developing focus in your creative life. Check it out HERE.

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Just a few days left to apply for the summer semester of thee Santoro Correspondence Course for Comic Book Makers! The course starts June 1st. 8 weeks – $500 bux – the best comics coaching around. More details HERE or email santoroschool@gmail.com to apply.

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Blinkers – 5-26-2017 – by Jack Brougham

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Suzy and Cecil – 5-26-2017 – by Gabriella Tito

TCAF 2017 Recap – by Tyler Landry

Tyler Landry here: The Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF) is the only comics show I’ve ever attended, except for our local small-town con (held in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada) which I did for the very first time this year. There are a couple of reasons for this, and they all fall into the realm of “excuses”, but, that’s how my cookie crumbles. I have, however, been to TCAF every year since 2013, and have been told by con-hoppers of all stripes that it’s one of the best, if not THE best show of its type. To me, it’s always felt huge, diverse, and rewarding in a thousand ways – so I take those observations with considerable weight. I’ve met (and bought comics from) a huge majority of my favorite cartoonists, made loads of new comics friends, and tabled – both independently and with publishers.

I always like to arrive in Toronto early on Friday, settle in, walk around the city, have an eat and/or a drink with friends – and get comfortable before the chaos on Saturday morning.

Spent a veritable stack of cash on comics right away. Exciting new work from Anya Davidson, Ben Passmore, Connor Willumsen, and Sophie Yanow – to name only a few.

This year I spent time tabling with two publishers – signing some of last year’s comics with Study Group (The Coward’s Hole, and Lonesome), and with Retrofit, signing copies of the collected Shit and Piss, which debuted this year at TCAF. It was cool to meet some people who follow my work, and to see others discover it for the first time. This is why I attend TCAF. To participate in a significant way in the comics community, as a cartoonist, an enthusiast, and more recently as a (new) community leader and educator.

With that in mind, in addition to signing, I did something sorta new – I ran a Comics Workbook workshop on composing a comic spread. The workshop made use of a standardized 6-panel grid, a quick idea gathering on story cards, and heavy panel-by-panel editing with a printed spread in mind. It was geared towards beginners, but the process we explored is the basis for how I make comics, and can be useful to anyone telling stories in a visual medium.

Some of the essential materials I’d requested were missing from the room when we started (index cards, guys!), but we did have a fat stack of copy paper, and before long I had everyone in the (very full) room folding and tearing it into manageable chunks. I brought along some comics I’ve done, a few in-progress spreads, and the associated story cards as examples of the process from beginning to end. After a bit of discussion everyone began to get a sense of modular structure, the importance of editing oneself early, and some basic notions of pacing, dynamics thru motion, tone, and directionality across panels/the spread.

Because of our slightly later start, we didn’t delve as deep into the spread as I’d have liked – but everyone got a taste of quick drawing and editing, and at least the beginnings of controlling the flow of information across the spread. By the time we were being kicked out of the room, we were having huge open discussions about the different participants’ comics, talking in terms of pacing, making switcheroos for clarity, capitalizing on directional flow, etc. We could’ve easily spent another 2 hours together as a group and accomplished even more.

Being so busy during both days, I didn’t get to take in any additional programming, but Idid have a chance to share a few pints and meals with friends old and new. TCAF definitely does a great job of bringing us all together once a year to gush like fools about the things we love in comics.

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Check out more of Tyler’s work HERE and pick up a copy of his new book HERE.