Sally here with Jillian Fleck’s Lake Jehovah, comics from Glynnis Fawkes, Gabrielle Bell, and Leslie Stein, plus the latest word from Kelly Sue DeConnick – and plenty more!
I had a chance to read Jillian Fleck‘s first book – Lake Jehovah – yesterday, while hanging out at Copacetic Comics. I’ve been a fan of her work for awhile, keeping up with her web comic Bad Thoughtz, and other comics as they appeared on Tumblr.
Jillian began Lake Jehovah back in 2012, as a series of scenes, focusing on the visual elements that she was interested in drawing. When I opened the book what jumped out at me immediately was her use – most often – of the nine panel grid, which is a visual element that I am particularly drawn to. She is a student of the Santoro Correspondence Course for Comic Book Makers, so it’s not surprising that she would channel her story through a grid. The second thing that struck me was that this was a story that could only be told through the medium of comics.
It seem like a lot of comics may just as well be novels. The images and panels are incidental – they accompany the text as a happy bonus, but take them away and the words would still tell the story. With Lake Jehovah, Jillian has composed a comic where the images and panels tell the story, and words are used as a final detail that ties the rest together – but only where necessary. There are many pages where emotions and mental states are portrayed through image, color, and the careful yet playful use and breakdown of the grid. The way that Jillian uses the comics medium to describe mental anguish and illness is quite brilliant.
Lake Jehovah is a good example too of how a comic is an active relationship between the maker and the reader. There is a lot to figure out here, but between the images and panel structure Jillian leaves a trail of breadcrumbs. It’s a strange, post-post-post-apocalyptic world that we’ve stumbled into, but it’s not always clear what disasters are real and which ones take place in the mind of Jay, the genderqueer, thoroughly depressed main protagonist. There are demons in the woods and a bottomless lake that speaks, a fiancee who flees, a friend who wishes he was a spirit fox, and an actual wolf. It’s almost a funny comic, when it’s not horribly serious. And then there’s the whole poetry riff.
It’s apparent that Jillian has spent a lot of time thinking about the mechanics of comics, and she is startlingly capable of using the form to explore heavy ideas. The drawing is relatively lively, with some of her influences coming through but not distracting from the tale. The bright color palette is an effective/unsettling juxtaposition against the backdrop of a cold, dark, Northern Canadian setting.
Check this one out for sure (available from Conundrum Press if it’s not in your local shop), and you can also see Jillian’s most recent comic – Push Thru, made for the Comics Workbook Composition Competition 2017, HERE.
There’s an excellent interview with Kelly Sue DeConnick in the fall issue of the Matador Review. She is the badass creator/writer behind Bitch Planet, and Pretty Deadly, among numerous other works. She’s been consistently outspoken, especially in the last few years, about better female representation in the comics industry, and the interview dives right into that:
“Q: You’ve stated that, as a female creator pushing for female representation in comics, you’re willing to make people uncomfortable so that your daughter doesn’t have to. What can other artists do to make the world better for later generations?
KSD: My intention is to make work that expresses some kind of truth. I do so in the hopes that the work will connect me to myself, and to my humanity, my community, and have the same effect on the consumer. But sometimes, finding truths or speaking truths means making yourself and other people uncomfortable. No one likes to be uncomfortable, but I think it’s gotten easier for me with practice.
Everybody wants to be liked. Of course we want to be liked. I’m not aiming to be on anybody’s shitlist—but I’m willing to go there. A lot of people will thank you for it later.
There’s a difference between art and entertainment. If we hope to continue experiencing growth, we have to let ourselves stretch and get out of the familiar places. We must try to understand how our truths are different from other people’s truths—especially as a woman. On some level, our culture still wants women to be seen and not heard. When you’re not quiet, it makes people uncomfortable. They may not be able to articulate it directly, but they sort of wish you would just be quiet, decorative, agreeable—just smile. I think our culture tends to treat women as not fully human. That’s tragic. It limits human beings as a whole.“
Keep an eye on the Daily Shouts feature on The New Yorker – there have been lots of familiar names popping up there recently – just this week Glynnis Fawkes, Liana Finck, and Vanessa Davis have all had comics or illustrations featured. Above is work by Glynnis – see the rest of that comic HERE.
Earlier this month Gabrielle Bell had a comic on Daily Shout – see it HERE – along with Miss Lasko-Gross, and Hallie Bateman (a new-to-me cartoonist – check out The United States Post (Apocalyptic) Office).
Kudos to Emma Allen, The New Yorker‘s new cartoon editor, who stepped into the shoes of the iconic Robert Mankoff in May of this year – or rather, she brought her own shoes and is walking around in them quite well so far! I should note that she’s been the editor of Daily Shouts for three years, and only added being the cartoon editor to her already full plate. Here’s an article from The New York Times from earlier this year about Emma and her vision for comics in The New Yorker moving forward.
John Seven reviews Leslie Stein‘s new comic Present over on The Comics Beat.
“Stein’s narratives are short and qualify as slices of life, though they could just as easily qualify as single thoughts brought to conclusion. They cover small incidents like feeling guilty about not going home for Christmas, or trips to the museum to get away from her own art, or just an encounter with a particularly profound fortune cookie that ties everything together for her.
Stein is mostly a lone figure in her comics, which isn’t to say that other people don’t appear, but is to say that they come from the point of view of her, as a stylized figure, navigating the world. Other people might be next to Stein, but they never interfere with her or crowd her out. She is our the reader’s avatar, after all. And yet that doesn’t mean that she hogs the narrative. Not true at all. Stein listens, so we listen. But Stein helps us tie it all together, and in doing so, sometimes she comes off as alone in a crowded comic book.“
On the Grape Vine
- Hyperallergic has a review of GG‘s I’m Not Here (Koyama Press, 2017) – check it out.
- Nerds of Prey talks to Paloma Hernando and Sunmi, of Dandelion Wine Collective, about publishing marginalized voices and their new anthology project – read about it HERE.
- The New York Review of Books has a writeup on the Tove Jansson show that is hanging in the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London, through Jan. 28th 2018 – HERE.
- American Libraries interviews Emil Ferris – she talks monsters and memories.
- Jessica Plummer lists numerous cases of harassment in comics, over on BookRiot (in response to the recent story about veteran DC editor Eddie Berganza and his history of sexual harassment…)
- Eve Ewing MIGHT get asked to pick up writing Marvel’s Invincible Iron Man where Brian Michael Bendis left it off (as he switches over to DC, in a shocker/shakeup move!) – full (theoretical) story HERE.
Suzy and Cecil – 11-17-2017 – by Sally Ingraham
Joanie and Jordie – 11-17-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio