02/09/2017

Sam Ombiri and Sally Ingraham bring the Thursday news – Sam riffs on books within books and title cards, and Sally shares news from John Jennings, Chris Ware (on George Herriman), Fantom Comics in D.C., Darrin Bell, and Ronald Wimberly and his new book.

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Sam Ombiri here: I was reading Infomaniacs [by Matthew Thurber] and at the same time I was reading The League of Divine Wind by a certain Tsunanori Yamao – they both addressed this one issue I feel all the time; it’s a really simple concept that’s often tackled. (To Be Or)Not to be still yapping about my petty frustration with what I was yapping about last week…but…it amazes me how a book by an imaginary author commands more respect than a real human being’s work. [Editor’s Note: In Runaway Horses by Yukio Mishima, a character is given a copy of the pamphlet The League of Divine Wind and part of the rest of the story involves him reading it…]

I think since The League of Divine Wind is a book within a book, the actual author can give his own book rave reviews in the narrative. (The author being who he is, I’m very, very sure he didn’t care about his reception whatsoever, or at least that’s what I’m guessing.) That might be a good solution to someone who keeps having bad reception. I think Matt Thurber said something like, “World building is a good solution for your frustration of getting lost all the time.

I was watching Simpsons Season 3 I think. There’s one episode where Homer saves the town from a meltdown – that was just amazing. It was broken down into what felt like seasons, or chapters of emotions running through Homer, but without giving this so much attention that it was nauseating. Like an example of that more recently would be in Moonlight – the way it’s chapters were broken down. It kind of felt like something that I couldn’t quite get with. I felt as I was watching it – and this was confirmed by an article I was reading (I think it was an interview) – that it was an attempt to be Claire Dennis.

It was while watching those title cards which broke down the chapters that I felt a little agitated – as his [Moonlight‘s director, Barry Jenkins] solution to what Claire Dennis accomplished was with the cheapest, most easy means possible.

It felt a bit dishonest, and of course it more than likely wasn’t – and to some effect it worked – but there’s something nagging at me, telling me that there is too little being accomplished in the way Barry Jenkins is biting Claire Dennis. Claire Dennis bites too of course, but it always feels earned. At least with what I’ve seen. The way Barry bit felt exploitative and a tad immature. It just felt that way. I’m not speaking of the whole movie, just the parts of the movie where the title cards of the chapter were forced in.

I remember in an essay about Sundays y Cybele it said something like, “Some feel the music in the movie is pretentious.” The writer of the essay came off as if he was in on it, and smart, and so down to earth that he could admit something – something that didn’t affect his enjoyment of the movie. Which is fine. The thought didn’t even cross my mind when watching Sundays y Cybele. While the aforementioned part of the essay bothered me, I feel it’s a bit of a similar thing going on here with those title cards, except it wasn’t a scenario where it didn’t effect my enjoyment. The music wasn’t what I despised, it was something else. It was the title cards and the music with the title cards. There were parts that were real impressive, but…I don’t know.

As an aside. I’m not a good writer by any means. By any means! Criterion has to do something about their essays, though, seriously. I’m not speaking about the one that came with Sundays y Cybele, and I’ve only read a few, (and it’s a pretty weird generalization to make, as the essays come from all over) but I’m real surprised at how bad they can be. There are some really good ones. (Like this one on Tarkovsky and Solaris by Akira Kurosawa.)

Anyway, it was really impressive the way the Simpsons did this thing they did. It starts off with Homer saying if they look up idiot in the dictionary my picture will be there, and then this picture comes to his head of him in the dictionary with the word idiot written there, and then it’s used the rest of the episode in this impressive way. – Sam Ombiri

Sam Ombiri – 2-9-2017

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Cover art by Ashley A. Woods (not the final text/logo design or layout!)

Sally here: Eight years after the publication of Black Comix – an anthology edited by Professor John Jennings and Dr. Damian Duffy that collected art and essays celebrating the African American independent comics community – we are excited to announce that Black Comix Returns will be hitting bookshelves soon! The original publication featured “over 50 contributors, including Dawud Anyabwile, Eric Battle, Kenji Marshall, Afua Richardson, Larry Stroman, Rob Stull, Lance Tooks, and many, many more.” It sold out with remarkable speed. The comics industry changed a bit over the last eight years, and many new creators have arrived on the scene, so instead of simply reprinting the book John and Damian are creating a whole new anthology.

Check out the Kickstarter campaign HERE. They made their first goal in a few days, and with almost a month left they have some big dreams and stretch goals to reach. They have over 100 artists and writers involved – including Kyle Baker, Keith Knight, Ronald Wimberly, Whit Taylor, Ben Passmore, Chris Visions, Tanna Tucker, and Ashley A. Woods – the book is guaranteed to be incredible! Back the project and look forward to the book.

Take a moment to get to know Professor John Jennings while you’re at it – he has been called “the soul of black comix” and is the co-founder/organizer of The Schomburg Center’s Black Comic Book Festival in Harlem, the co-founder and organizer of the MLK NorCal’s Black Comix Arts Festival in San Francisco and also SOL-CON: The Brown and Black Comix Expo at the Ohio State University. He earned an Eisner award for the collection The Blacker the Ink: Constructions of Black Identity in Comics and Sequential Art, which he co-edited. He is an artist and writer as well as an editor/scholar/educator – look for his most recent book, Blue Hand Mojo: Hard Times Road coming out in March 2017.

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A Krazy Kat strip left unfinished at Herriman’s death, April 1944 – from the collection of Chris Ware

We linked last week to the incredible piece on Krazy Kat that Chris Ware wrote for The New York Review of Books – but it deserves a second look. Adapted from an essay which will appear in the catalog of an exhibition on George Herriman at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, in Madrid, Spain (opening in October 2017), the piece is Chris Ware’s love letter to Krazy Kat and the strip’s mysterious author, George Herriman. Chris Ware theorizes that although Herriman successfully passed as white all his life, he voiced his true identity through his strip in not-so-subtle ways. The details that Ware delves into – Krazy’s banjo, for example (seen above) – are fascinating, and he writes beautifully about what might have gone through Herriman’s head as he drew the strip.

Lately, I’ve been wondering if Herriman knew that one day his secret-in-plain-sight would be uncovered, that America would change, adapt and grow up enough as a people to understand Krazy Kat in all of its psychological and poetic depth. I’m not sure if we’ve yet reached that point, but what myself and other cartoonists already knew—that the strip was already the greatest ever drawn—is now magnified, multiplied and maximized. Krazy Kat is not just one of the greatest comic strips, it’s one of the strangest, most inventive, emotional, and personal works of art of the twentieth century. In their admiration for Herriman, Philip Guston, Willem de Kooning, and Jack Kerouac sensed something in his line and voice that was endemically American, deeply felt. Herriman should now take his rightful place as one of the most original African-American voices of the early twentieth century, contemporary with, if not predating, Richard Wright and Zora Neale Hurston as one of the first writers to understand the racial animus of America and to try to fix the essence of black consciousness on paper. That Herriman made it come alive, sing, dance and suffer in an art form barely fifty years old is all the more astonishing. For decades, we’ve all been reading and laughing and, most of all, feeling for Krazy Kat, who passed right under our eyes as a living drawing on a page. But what we were really feeling came straight from the heart. It was the very soul of George Herriman himself.

Read the rest of the piece – To Walk in BeautyHERE.

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Fantom Comics in Washington, D.C., is hosting a rad event on February 15th 2017. Ronald Wimberly will be there signing Prince of Cats and Black History In Their Own Words, and there will also be a roundtable discussion with Ron, Chris Visions, Shannon Wright, and Chris Kindred. If you’re in the District be sure to check this out! Event details are HERE.

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Canderville – February 1st 2017 – Darrin Bell

Darrin Bell is an award-winning cartoonist whose work “navigates issues such as civil rights, pop culture, family, science fiction, scriptural wisdom and nihilist philosophy while often casting subjects in roles that are traditionally denied them. According to Darrin, “There’s nothing more fundamentally all-American than a square peg that insists on filling a round hole.”

He has a daily comic strip called Candervillecheck it out HERE – and is also the creator of Rudy Parkfollow it HERE.

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  • Wired lists Ronald Wimberly’s Black History In It’s Own Words among their 5 Comics You Absolutely Must Pick Up This Month.
  • The Comics Alliance is helping folks sort through The Best Comics Ever (This Week) – a.k.a. their recommendations on which comics to read as they come out – and their list also include’s Ronald Wimberly’s Black History In It’s Own Words this week, among others.

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Announcing the Spring Semester of thee Santoro Correspondence Course for Comic Book Makers!

The course starts March 7th 2017. Apply by February 26th to get 100 bux off!

The course is 8 weeks long – payment plans are available. 

Application guidelines:

– 3 figure drawings done on blank 3 x 5 index cards

– 3 landscape drawings done on blank 3 x 5 index cards

– 3 still life drawings done on blank 3 x 5 cards

– draw in a contour line style –think Matisse – no under-drawing – draw directly in ink – just send me small jpgs of images – dont post to your blog pls

– send specific url links to any comics work you have done. If you haven’t done comics before that is not a problem.

Email santoroschoolATgmail to apply!

More details HERE.

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2-9-2017 – by Jack Brougham

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Suzy and Cecil – 2-9-2017 – by Gabriella Tito

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Joanie and Jordie – 2-9-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio

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Cozytown – 2-9-2017 – by Juan Fernandez

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