Thursday comics news! Sam Ombiri on Yokoyama and Lane Graff, plus the latest from Ben Passmore and Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse.


Sam Ombiri here: I was reading Yokoyama recently – I remember first seeing his comics aaaand there was an attraction that’s a tad unutterable. Many others seem to have nailed down what it is – I myself can’t specify. It’s kind of like how sometimes Yokoyama’s explanation of his work is simple. Like, for example, he draws someone paying a clerk at a kiosk because it’s just beautiful. I think that’s what his explanation was for this one sequence he did. Now I wonder if his idea, or attempt, at “drawing as if a bird is watching” applies to this? Well, he might’ve not been talking about the work I’m talking about when speaking of this idea of drawing a bird’s objective view. He’s perceiving the beauty which is apart from the drawing I’ve seen, and still see in memory, or at least feel like I’ve seen – a different version of this, literally speaking.

There’s also another meaning to me of this phrase; a different version of something I’ve seen. This version is perceived maybe as a scent that comes with nostalgia, or like when you dream and then think you’ve seen something before, even though you haven’t necessarily seen it before. You end up asking yourself for days where you saw this thing, and you continue to do that – for maybe weeks, maybe months – and then one day you admit that it was in the dream and never existed, hesitantly.

This is maybe not a good comparison – but a thing I like a lot about FLCL is the ambiance, and the very familiar mundane evening – or opening up a can to drink from…it’s very familiar, and it’s like this mecha anime I perceived in my mind watching at one time, when in fact I never did. Like when this one character in World Map Room – I think his name is EXPRESS – pulls out a laser gun to show a blast he previously shot.

Lane Graff’s Heart of Gold

I talked about this with Lane Graff – about how his work has this quality or properties that I’ve read before. I don’t mean that it’s cliche – or maybe it’s a cliche that’s not tired. It’s a very welcomed cliche. Or “cliche” is maybe the wrong word. It’s a similar in the sense that it’s a cliche of a thing I think I experienced, but didn’t. If I was better at writing I could straighten all these thoughts out! It’s the way the cutesy misadventures in Lane’s work, and the sudden horror, all feels “right” and distinctly familiar from a specific place. I’m mostly bringing Lane up because I tried to explain this to him, and without much success, haha. I’m not saying the works mentioned are similar – it’s just a quality that they posses, that I’ve sensed, that I can’t properly render. – Sam Ombiri

3-9-2017 – Sam Ombiri


New Orleans-based cartoonist Ben Passmore spoke to Newsarama about his comic Your Black Friend (which AdHouse Books will be distributing starting in May 2017). The mini-comic (originally published by Silver Sprocket last September) is a “necessary contribution to the dialogue around race in the United States…an open letter from your black friend to you about race, racism, friendship and alienation.” Ben talks about the origin of the comic, the effect it has had on others and himself in recent months, and current/future projects.

Passmore: …if my survival is on the line it’s not really a conversation. In my own life, I only really talk about “race issues” with friends, I’m not invested in coming to an understanding with anyone that isn’t already invested in my well-being. I have to prioritize myself and I’m not trying to teach anyone anything. Comics are a nice way to communicate without some of the tensions that make discussing race annoying.

Nrama: Has doing this comic as a means to communicate this without teaching someone changed how you view comic books? Has the process of doing it affected what you think about for future works?

Passmore: Before Your Black Friend I think I tried my own comics as an exercise for my own brain and I didn’t really think about how other people were going to receive them. I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from individuals and the comics industry, which is tight, but the thing I’ve enjoyed the most is how the book has engaged other black cartoonists. I feel like there’s a burgeoning radical black comics milieu, which is right on time given the political environment.  Now that I feel like I’m part of a national conversation I’m more excited to write with other people in mind. It’s been nice doing pieces for The Nib because I get to do stories along that continuum of black struggle.

Read the rest HERE.


Wendy Browne of Women Write About Comics sat down with Ariell Johnson, who found herself in the spotlight last year when she became “the first black woman to open and manage a comic shop on the East Coast. In an industry that too often has pushed back against diversity, Philadelphia’s Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse, Inc. has made diversity the foundation that it is built on.

After a whirlwind first year, Ariell Johnson isn’t slowing down – she sees 2017 as a time to really get herself and the shop organized, after reaching more milestones in her first bout than she could have ever imagined. Having established a reputation as a community space and a safe haven that celebrates geek culture (where you can also enjoy a good cup of coffee) Ariell knows her focus for the present has to be simply maintaining and finding balance.

Anyone who has been involved in operating a small business can relate – and we’re all cheering her on. Read more about the shop HERE and send Ariell some good luck vibes!


Check out the Comics Workbook Rowhouse Residency! Now in our 2nd year, the 2017 schedule is already filling up. Aspiring and professional cartoonists alike are coming to work on comics in Pittsburgh, plugging into the vibrant local scene, infusing it with fresh energy, and taking their comics making skills to a new level.

Interested in joining us for a week or more? Email santoroschool@gmail.com to learn how to apply. There are still openings in April and May, with a wait list available for the summer months. After a break for show season we will be picking up scheduling once again in late October. 500 bux for a week and a life-changing experience.

Read some of our Residency Reports HERE. Email santoroschool@gmail.com for more info.


Blinkers – 3-9-2017 – by Jack Brougham


Suzy and Cecil – 3-9-2017 – by  Gabriella Tito


Joanie and Jordie – 3-9-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio


Cozytown – 3-9-2017 – by Juan Fernandez

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