Adam Griffiths with an intro to his Cartoon Crossroads Columbus 2017 notes, Sam Ombiri on work by Jason Lee, and more cool items found in the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum!
Adam Griffiths will be bringing us an extensive overview of Cartoon Crossroads Columbus 2017, starting later today. We offer a teaser now, in the form of his intro to what will be a 3-part series on the show.
“A Comics Id is Tenderness : Notes on Cartoon Crossroads 2017
The first book I purchased on the expo floor at this year’s CXC was Kyle Baker’s.
Earlier this year, I had seen Baker speak at the Schomburg Center in New York about his book, Nat Turner, to a roomful of kids. At the time, I had been struck by his ability to communicate; his engagement with the audience seemed intrinsically connected to his unabashed and explicitly mercantile use of language. Odd, how this seemed to captivate both his panel members and the audience, young and old.
The persona of the salesman is an American motif – a motif that, under our current political climate, is being reduced to prideless status by the huckster in the Oval Office. When exactly did Americans need to believe that a good businessman’s success is dependent upon rhetorical violence and winner-take-all bullishness? I chose the term ‘A Comics Id is Tenderness’ for this write-up because Baker’s work revisited me several times during this expo. Over the course of the week, it became more and more clear to me that Baker has been a creator who has deftly championed the stories he feels are important to him alongside of his commercial work, who has kindly informed peers of his intentions, who brushes from shoulder the allegedly unforgivable concept of sacrificing creativity for financial gain.“
Wow. Adam’s report, like the show as a whole, is terrific. Look for the rest of the Part 1 later today, and parts 2/3 over the weekend/next week!
Sam Ombiri here: At SPX Jason Lee, whom I see here in Pittsburgh every now and then, kindly gave me an installment of a new series he’s doing called Pyramid Inch (which appears in Sporgo 2, above). The title creates the feeling of a sharp, piercing, and somewhat distantly fading force. The comic reeled me in – it’s an amazingly accommodating comic.
It’s a relief to read something like this. For a comic this rough, so to speak, to actually be this structured (and to have a narrative that flows with such ease,) to emerge in a setting like SPX, is great. Especially with my expectation of what might entail when I get a mini comic in a setting seemingly informed by a redundant sense of design. (Not just at SPX, but in a good amount of mini comics I see.)
These rough drawings also work specifically well for Pyramid Inch. I’m grateful that the drawings don’t oversell the decadence that’s implied when the story is something like this: a character living in L. A. working on some art installation for Vice. With a setting like that, it would seem to demand that the design of the cartooning be a bit more posh, a bit more trendy and poppy. It’s very good that it doesn’t, because – as is written on the cover “a millennial gothic” – the dark underbelly is more readily apparent, especially towards the end where the main character is having a conversation.
To clarify, this dark underbelly isn’t what excited me most about the comic. It feels like a perfect marriage in this case, where the art raises awareness to what would be otherwise hidden in a setting like the one in the story. This setting, by the way, is very alive, and I can understand why the characters are affected in the way they are. What’s more satisfying is that the art style isn’t announcing itself (not that it’d be a bad thing if it did). For the direction this comic is headed though, it’s what feels most needed – for the art style to not keep announcing itself and telling me to see the darkness through it.
While the conversation toward the end of the comic is magnificent on the author’s part, the two characters’ conversation did test my patience. I was thinking to myself, “My god how long is this conversation gonna go on for?” That’s not to say that the conversation didn’t serve any purpose, or that I didn’t enjoy being forced to sit through it. It did tug on my heartstrings quite a bit at a certain point. It just feels that if the scene was redrawn another way it could’ve yielded a horrible reading experience.
What I’m saying is that there are drawings I’ve seen Jason do that are way better than what’s drawn here in this comic, but evidently he didn’t make the comic based on the best drawings he could do – he prioritized the story first, and it yields much better results. It’s a really comfortable comic to read through, but the drawings don’t make it too comfortable to the point where it becomes unbearable to read.
It’s also a really funny book. In fact it’s so funny that it doesn’t have to shove a gag down my throat every other panel, to remind me how funny it can be, at the expense of the story.
Jason has been putting these comics out as Laura Pallmall, which is a pretty funny name in the most subtle way, and it’s emblematic of the humor in the comic. It’s also emblematic of the tone too – by replacing Palmer with Pallmall it simultaneously evokes a gothic feeling, and the mall part speaks to the idea of a valley girl, but it’s Laura Palmer who is a “valley girl”.
Jason sets this tone by saying this “valley girl” version of Laura Palmer wrote this book – this book with fantastic drawings, sequences, dialogue, and a well told story. – Sam Ombiri
Sally here – above is a comic I found at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum last weekend during CXC – it was part of the Tales From the Vault: 40 Years/ 40 Stories exhibit, which pulls especially interesting, groundbreaking, or controversial comics from a 250 year span of items in the museum’s collection.
The comic above is a Luther strip, by Brumsic Brandon Jr., from 1973. Luther was launched the year after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated (1969), and was one of the first nationally syndicated comic strips made by an African American creator that featured a black main character. The strip ran until 1986.
Here’s a page of Krazy Kat, by the wondrous George Herriman, from 1943, also on view at the BICLM:
Suzy and Cecil – 10-5-2017 – by Gabriella Tito
Joanie and Jordie- 10-5-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio