04/28/2017

Sally here to close the week, joined by some of the cornerstones, gatekeepers, and “keepers of the flame” of the comics community – Lucy Caswell, Caitlin McGurk, Karen Berger, Dash Shaw, Frank Santoro, and more!

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From the April 25th 2017 screening of Dash Shaw’s film My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea, at the Row House Cinema in Pittsburgh, PA

Some weeks you get to meet and hang out with your heroes. Here in Pittsburgh we were lucky enough to not only get a screening of Dash Shaw’s new film My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea, but Dash himself came to town for a few days. He and Frank Santoro, who created the main exterior background paintings for the film, were interviewed onstage before a special screening at the Row House Cinema, and then there was a meet and greet after the film (photos from the event are above).

I had been eagerly anticipating seeing the film, and it exceeded all my expectations. It’s beautiful and funny, with characters that I immediately identified with. I plan to see it in the theater several more times before it leaves town, and will be harassing all my friends into going as well.

It plays in Pittsburgh at the Row House Cinema April 28th-May 4th. For a complete list of showings around the country, visit the official website HERE.

It was cool to hear Dash talk about this type of animation and storytelling, dig into his inspirations and plans for future projects, and hear Frank’s take on being part – for a unique moment – of an animation “studio”.

Most of the comics community in Pittsburgh came out for the special screening. This support of Dash and Frank was well deserved, of course – but I was even more excited that one of my comics students – a 9 year old boy – was in the audience as well. I heard afterward how much he liked the film and how thrilled he was to see the creators in real life. I can only hope that he will be inspired to keep making his own work and really invest his energy in the things he’s passionate about. Maybe he’ll be the next torchbearer. Who knows?

It’s an interesting moment in the timeline of comics history, and Dash’s film, and Frank’s school, and the Pittsburgh scene, and my 9-year old student are all part of that moment. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

In the meantime, go see My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea – go meet your heroes – go make your comics.

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Lucy Caswell (photo by Tim Johnson)

In other news (and following a theme here, in a way), Columbus Alive celebrates the 40th anniversary of of the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum with a nice feature piece. They spoke to Lucy Caswell, founding curator of the museum, about the collection’s origins.

…Caniff himself dubbed [Lucy Caswell] “the keeper of the flame.”

“We were very fortunate that Milton Caniff … lived until 1988 and was a wonderful advocate for us. I can’t emphasize how important that was,” she added.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

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Caitlin McGurk

Congratulations to Caitlin McGurk, Assistant Professor and Curator for Outreach for the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum – she is the recipient of the Annual Award in Teaching Excellence for 2016 from Ohio State University!

Caitlin’s agility in teaching across a wide range of courses demonstrates her adaptability and resourcefulness in bringing the unique resources of the BICLM collections to life for many faculty and students, and for others in the local community. Her outreach role has brought increasing national attention to the resources of the BICLM and to their potential for enriching curricula and deepening community engagement, and for enhancing the creativity of students and community members themselves. 

I am as much a fan of the work Caitlin does for the comics community as I am of any of my favorite cartoonists – so thanks Caitlin, and good luck as you continue!

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John Porcellino is working hard to bring the work of Jenny Zervakis back to the attention of the comics world – he has been raising funds to print The Complete Strange Growths, 1991-1997, which he hopes to debut at CAKE this year. Jenny is one of his favorite cartoonists, and this is a publishing project that he has hoped to do for over 20 years. He writes:

Jenny Zervakis is one of the great unsung creators of 1990’s DIY comics. Her zine Strange Growths was gentle and sincere at a time when most alt-comics were loud and sarcastic. They were poetic and allusive, delving into the heart of the human experience, and they were one of my biggest influences as a cartoonist.

John P. is currently selling old and rare copies of his own work in order to fund the printing of this book – check it out HERE.

You can see work from some of the Strange Growth issues and hear another glowing opinion from Kevin Bramer over on Optical Sloth.

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Karen Berger

Karen Berger, editor extraordinaire, is starting her own imprint – Berger Books – under the banner of Dark Horse Comics.

As founder and head of DC Entertainment’s Vertigo imprint, Karen Berger brought ambitious, outré series like “Sandman” and “Preacher” to mass audiences, helped prove that comics weren’t limited to superhero adventures and kickstarted the careers of writers like Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore.

Karen was at DC for 30 years – she left in 2013, but is now returning – to the sound of trumpets and general fanfare. Considering that she likes “weird shit“, and that part of her incentive for returning to comics stems from the need she sees for an artistic response to the Trump election, I can only imagine her line of graphic novels are going to be exciting!

In the next few months, Berger Books will announce its first titles. “I think I’ve been known for not publishing expected stuff,” Ms. Berger said, “and I think people will see that the first few books I’m publishing are not expected.” Among the first batch of titles, she hints, are “a near-future eco-fiction love story, a psychological crime horror thriller, a personal tale of race and identity, (and) an unseen side of a notorious legendary figure.”

The Wall Street Journal has the rest of the details – HERE.

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Extra, extra!

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Blinkers – 4-28-2017 – by Jack Brougham

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Suzy and Cecil – 4-28-2017 – by Gabriella Tito

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Joanie and Jordie – 4-28-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio

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