This Friday Sally has got exciting news from John Porcellino, an update on Rokudenashiko, Lisa Lim in MUTHA Magazine, Anders Nilsen remembering Geneviève Castrée, a look at Shannon Wright and a past take on Okazaki Kyoko, plus the state of comics affairs in the Middle East, and Audra Stang at the Rowhouse. Dig in.
“Being in moving vehicles also calmed her nerves. We used to ride the trains just for fun. On the train, I would spread across the car seat, lay my head on my mother’s lap, as if I were in bed. We were as rude as the graffiti, spitters, and kids carrying boom boxers on their shoulders. What can I say? It was the ‘80s.” – Lisa Lim
This is an excerpt from a longer story called My Egyptian Fortune Cookie, which Lim originally published in the Nashville Review 2010 Fall Issue. You can view the whole comic on her website, and be sure to check out the other comics she features there.
The Huffington Post dug into the story of “How Rokudenashiko took on the Japanese patriarchy with her adorable lady parts” recently. Although most of the charges against her were dropped in May 2016, she was still fined 400,000 yen for distributing obscene images. Her book What is Obscenity? The Story of a Good For Nothing Artist and Her Pussy (Koyama Press, 2016) has been greeted with fascination and acclaim since it’s publication, and it looks like Rokudenashiko has zero plans of parting ways with her “revolutionary vagina“. From the article:
“What Is Obscenity? is an unbelievable true tale of one brave artist and her inspiring vagina, and just how much trouble the two of them have caused together. Through it all, Rokudenashiko has kept a tone of playfulness and resilience, showing there is nothing more threatening than a girl who is willing and ready to play rough.
“Since I’ve started my work in manko art, I’ve been fighting back against the old men who complain about it,” she writes. “I’ve decided to keep making even more ridiculous work, with all seriousness. Though this was kind of a joke at first, now I am joking around with every ounce of my body and soul.” – Rokudenashiko via The Huffington Post
“Without a doubt, the current world hot spot for underground and experimental comics is the Middle East and North Africa–a fact that might surprise many Americans. From Egypt’s Tok Tok to Lebanon’s Samandal to Nadia Khiari’s radical cartoon cat Willis from Tunis, creators across the region are reinventing the format, circumventing government censorship and publishing taboos through the use of crowdfunding and social media.” – Maren Williams via CBLDF
If this only whets your whistle, then good – because Williams is riffing on an article in the LA Review of Books by Jonathan Guyer – aptly titled Understanding Arab Comics – which delves in to the anthology Muqtatafat as well as the larger conversation about comics in the Middle East. Guyer writes:
“In the past decade, and especially since the 2011 uprisings, talented Arab artists have traded comics for comix. Alternative zines, web strips, graphic novels, and other underground publications encompass a diversity of aesthetics, narrative techniques, and political messages. Today, Beirut, Cairo, and Casablanca each have their own Crumbs, Spiegelmans, and Moulys.” – Jonathan Guyer via LARB
Guyer goes on to break down the Muqtatafat anthology, which after a 5 year struggle was finally published by American scholars A. David Lewis, Anna Mudd, and Paul Beran. While the anthology contains work by “the region’s most significant comic creators” –
“…Muqtatafat’s format inadvertently reproduces stereotypes about “artists from the Middle East region.” By grouping together contemporary works from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Palestine without explanation, Muqtatafat’s editors assert an underlying connection between these comics without acknowledging the debates about the comic movement’s identity. Muqtatafat avoids some of the most provocative questions surrounding the growing Arab comic movement.” – Johnathan Guyer via LARB
Guyer chooses not to avoid those questions, and the article is well worth a close read.
I was pleased to see Shannon Wright‘s name pop up on the Comics Workbook Daily News yesterday, and got myself caught up with her endeavors. An interview with Muse Milk from February 2016 proved a good read. She begins by speaking a little about how she got into comics:
“I grew up in Virginia and was the only girl among my brothers. I was very much a tomboy and consumed anything my older brother and older boy cousins were watching and that included a lot of cartoons and a lot of anime. So, when I became exposed to those two things, and realized people drew them, I knew instantly what I wanted to do for a living. There wasn’t a moment I wasn’t drawing my favorite characters or ideas from my head. Even growing up in a Christian household, I brought scraps of paper or composition notebooks to church to keep myself occupied. But it was like a game of trying not to get caught due to the fact my grandpa was the pastor. So yeah, as far as I know, I’ve been drawing since I was a little girl (4 years old as my parents like to stress).” – Shannon Wright
Wright is a Comics Workbook Correspondence Course graduate, and we are looking forward to featuring the comic she completed for the course here on the site very soon. Stay tuned!
From a bit further back in the vaults, the CW news team dug up an overview of Okazaki Kyoko‘s career via the blog Ceiling Gallery (from 2014). Dave Kracker wrote:
“When other artists stressed over deadlines Okazaki partied at the club. You know, for research. London Nite, the legendary new wave event at Shinjuku’s Tsubaki House, served as the backdrop for the semi-autobiographical Tokyo Girl’s Bravo. Music was a huge part of her life and she wrote what she knew. In Pink, when the boyfriend Haru “writes” a best-selling novel by copy and pasting lines from other books, the inspiration is more hip-hop sampling than the Beat Generation’s cut-up method.
Maybe she got away it because she wasn’t writing for traditional manga anthologies. She got her start in Pump, a zine of reader-submitted material that ran her high school doodles and short essays. After graduation she wrote a short one-shot, Girls At Our Best, for subculture magazine Tokyo Otona Club where she caught the eye of two editors, Ogata Katsuhiro and Otsuka Eiji, who brought her on board their magazine, Manga Burikko, in 1982.
Contemporary girl’s comics had lost their edge and Okazaki represented something raw.” – Dave Kracker
Audra Stang was at the Rowhouse this week doing a 3-day residency. Audra is already an accomplished cartoonist, with work that includes The Ice Ray (2014), a comic made for the Comics Workbook Correspondence Course, and Love Me Like An Autograph (2015). While she was in Pittsburgh, in between sparing bouts with Frank (and myself) in the Comics Workbook “dojo”, Audra also drew a new comic in it’s entirety (pictured above).
We will have a Residency Report from Audra to share soon, and of course the comic she made here in Pittsburgh to look forward to, as well as her new webcomic Star Valley, which will be launching at the end of this summer. You can preview it here.
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Go out this weekend and do something beautiful or make something beautiful with the people whom you love. If it’s a comic, all the better. Cheers – Sally