11/02/2018

Sally Ingraham here with a look at Aminder Dhaliwal’s “Woman World”!

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The story behind Woman World by Aminder Dhaliwal is one that is starting to be almost normal in comics. It was a biweekly strip that appeared on Instagram, earning 25,000+ “likes” with each new installment. Drawn & Quarterly acquired the comic and made the excellent print version which was released earlier this fall. It includes new content which I believe creates a more complete narrative arc. The transition from scattered strips to a graphic novel is in this case pretty smooth, and Woman World is an entertaining and thoughtful read.

The premise, as you might guess, is a world without men. A birth defect gradually brought an end to them, and after a series of natural and man-made disasters, the world begins a new chapter in history with only women.

The comic is set in one particular village, and focuses on about a 1/2 dozen women there as they rally together and figure out how to move forward. They elect a mayor, build a hospital, make records, deal with anxiety and relationships, and learn how to continue reproducing. Grandmother is the only one left who remembers the world with men in it.

The relatively simple drawings hold a lot of emotion, and although the strips lend themselves to a mini-sitcom feel, there is plenty of character development and minor conflicts to overcome. The book is also hilarious – and in this moment in the present world where I sit reading it, there is something particularly satisfying – and comforting – about Woman World

Keep up with Aminder Dhaliwal HERE – and get a copy of the comic HERE!

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Cement Mixer – 11-2-18 – by Caleb Orecchio

10/26/2018

Sally here with some comics curiosities to fill your Friday lunch break!

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  • Abraham Riesman has a conversation with Julie Doucet on Vulture – he concludes by reminding us not to ever believe that we “know” her. Interesting and thoughtful read – HERE.
  • Abraham Riesman also interviews Fiona Staples for Vulture, talking Saga (of course) – check it out HERE.
  • The Comics Journal features a new interview with Ariell Johnson, owner of Philly’s Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse, which is now over 2 years old and still going strong – chart the progress HERE.
  • Catch up on the Dear Pepper advice column by Liana Finck that comes out every other Thursday on The New YorkerHERE.
  • Here’s a recent interview with Liana Finck on The Comics Beat, where she talks about her new book, Passing For Human.

The August 2018 issue of the Turkish Feminist Cartoon-magazine “Bayan-Yanı”

  • I found an article about female cartoonists in Turkey, including Ramize Erer, whose work is pictured above. Read about her HERE.
  • Check out the Publishers Weekly review of Mickey Z‘s Space Academy 123.
  • Gil Roth talked to Nora Krug on his Virtual Memories Show recently – she is the creator of the newly released memoir Belonging: A German Reckons with History and Home, which is on the top of my TBR pile at the moment. Listen HERE.

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Cement Mixer – 10-26-18 – by Caleb Orecchio

10/19/2018

Sally Ingraham here with two recent reads – Kate Gavino’s ‘Sanpaku’ and Maggie Umber’s ‘270º’!

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A summer interview in Paste Magazine with Kate Gavino put her new comic – Sanpako – on my radar. When it turned up at Copacetic Comics I read it eagerly. As I had suspected, the intricate backgrounds of each page (inspired by origami paper) were a compelling detail which I thoroughly enjoyed.

The patterned backgrounds made me think of quilt squares, and as such they really serve to tie the book together. I don’t always like comics where each page is a single panel. I find that they often have a feeling of “and then”…”and then”…”and then”…which lacks a certain rhythm. In Kate Gavino’s Sanpaku the patterns become the rhythm which carries the story along – and as I said, in my mind’s eye I can see the whole “quilt” of the story spreading out and holding space.

The story itself follows Marcine, a young Filipino girl growing up in the States around her Catholic immigrent family and their friends. It is inspired by Kate Gavino’s own similar childhood in Houston, TX, but there isn’t a strong sense of place in the comic. The characters float amid the patterns. Marcine is dealing with strong emotions, floating in her own head as she learns to question the things that she’s been taught, and begins to form her own opinions.

Pop culture and sainthood, macrobiotic diets and shoplifting all have their mysterious parts to play as Marcine navigates a school year, the death of her Lola, and the ever-present curse of Sanpaku. Get a copy of the comic HERE!

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Maggie Umber‘s new book – 270º – is a terrific example of the melding potential of comics and field guides. Being a birder myself, I have always appreciated Maggie’s bent toward ornithology (as seen in her 2017 offering, Sound of Snow Falling, which was also about owls).

270º (a reference to the turning ratio of an owls’ head) is a perfect combination of field notes on North American owls, and mixed-media artwork. The two come together to make an engrossing read.

Offering just a taste of each subject, the book is a pleasing overview of owl behavior, characteristics, and interesting facts. The pairing of detailed artwork with quickly sketched ink drawings is especially nice, bringing just enough sequencing into the mix to keep the book lively.

Maggie doesn’t need to wax poetic in this book to convey her deep love for the natural world. She is steeped in the wild, and it shows in each piece, whether it is a painting, print, etching, or collage.

Instructional and beautiful, 270º is my favorite book from Maggie Umber so far. Get a copy of it HERE.

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Cement Mixer – 10-19-2018 – by Caleb Orecchio

 10-19-2018 – by Niall Breen

10/12/2018

Sally Ingraham here with a look at Rina Ayuyang’s “Blame This on the Boogie”- plus other news of note!

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In Rina Ayuyang‘s new memoir – Blame This on the Boogie (Drawn + Quarterly Nov. 2018) – bright colors and glamorous dance moves leap off of the page. They’re a sort of dazzle camouflage, nearly disguising a difficult childhood and a bumpy transition into motherhood – and that’s the point. That’s what “the Boogie” did for Rina. Her love for music in its many forms helped her cope with the realities of growing up in Pittsburgh, PA, in the 80’s – as the youngest member of a Filipino American family.

Silver screen musical numbers saved her, and continued to bring her balance and comfort as she grew into an adult and became a mother. The story is a series of memories, pinned to the musical clothesline that ties everything together. Ordinary moments in life take on beautiful new proportions when they become mixed up with movie sequences. Is Rina dancing with a sibling or her husband or Fred Astaire?

There’s something about the chaos and colors of the pages that compels you along, and I found myself exploring spreads in every direction. It is more of an experience that you dive into than a book you read – and you might feel your toes start tapping and get the urge to leap up and boogie along.

The loose line work is joyful, even when Rina is describing postpartum depression or being ridiculed by classmates. And it is fascinating to me that while music has provided Rina with a means to escape or survive the rockiness of life, it is through comics that she processes those experiences. Hollywood musicals and TV shows like Dancing With the Stars can provide a “therapeutic distraction”, as the D+Q blurb puts it. In the end though it is comics that get Rina to the core of the matter. The rush and purge of these stories – the actual book in your hands – is her big theatrical number.

Dive into this song and dance in November when the book officially debuts – or pick up an advance copy through Copacetic Comics HERE.

Rina Ayuyang will be appearing at Short Run Comix and Arts Festival in Seattle on Nov. 3rd, along with Mimi Pond and Anna Haifisch. She will be releasing the comic in her hometown of Berkeley, CA, on Nov. 8th at Pegasus Books.

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Other News of Note

  • The 3rd ComiqueCon is taking place this weekend in Detroit at the Arab American National Museum. The Detroit Free Press has a feature on it – check it out!
  • Tegan O’Neil reviews Liana Finck‘s new comic Passing For Humanon The Comics Journal.
  • The Comics Beat chats with the creative team behind Devil’s Dye, the latest 4-issue mini series in the Black Mask Studios’ Black AF world – read the interview HERE.
  • The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum has announced an upcoming 2019 show featuring the work of Barbara Shermund. Read more about the show, titled “Tell Me A Story Where the Bad Girl Wins”, HERE.

 

 

10/05/2018

Sally here. Busy week. I’m working on completing, and starting, a couple of personal comics projects. I’m also (as usual) reading three different comics at once – Rina Ayuyang‘s Blame This on the Boogie, Emma RiosI.D., and Fun Home by Alison Bechdel. Whichever one I finish first I’ll write about next week!

For the time being, here’s a roundup of what everyone else has been writing and thinking about, comics-wise, lately.

  • Laura Howell (pictured above) was the first female cartoonist to produce a strip in The Beano (an 80-year old British children’s comic magazine) – 12 years later she is still working for them. Read about her HERE.
  • The mysterious “Olivia Jaimes“, current and much discussed artist behind the rebirth of the strip Nancy, made an appearance at CXC recently (in a disguise) – Rocko Jerome was there and offers a full report.

  • Annie Koyama announced the spring lineup of books for Koyama Press – including the latest from Emily Carroll (above). See what else is coming up HERE.
  • Joe McCulloch reviews Lale Westvind‘s Grip #1 over on The Comics Journaland words fail him.
  • The Washington Post compares notes on the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation process with Ann Telnaes and Signe Wilkinson, among other editorial cartoonists.
  • The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum is now accepting applications for the 2019 Lucy Shelton Caswell Research Awarddetails HERE.

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Sally Ingraham

 

09/28/2018

Sally here. I read most of the comics in Mickey Z‘s Space Academy 123 (Koyama Press, 2018) when they were appearing daily on her Instagram last year. However, downing the strip all together in one big gulp last night was very stimulating. I feel ZAPPED! (Very similar to how Ashley Forgiveness feels all the time – without the aid of caffeine – in the story.)

This comic appeals to me on many levels. There’s the whacky space academy setting, the characters making a whole lot out of not very much, the reflection on what school really is FOR anyway, the outrageously free drawing style…plus it’s really funny.

Knowing, as I was reading the book, that Mickey Z wrote and drew it daily, made the overarching plot lines more fun. Coming up with a new strip every day that is punchy and interesting is a lot of work. There really aren’t any duds in this collection. Each character follows their own bizarre journey, crashing into the others along the way. The simple life of the space station school slowly swings out of whack as Grandfather Computer takes over. Principle Summers is forced to make a big decision (despite the fact that all she ever wanted was to be a simple space chiropractor!)

Ashley bounces off walls, Andrew navigates his anxiety, Naomi explores the loneliness that turns her into a bully. Shandy (the youngest character in the story, aged somewhere between 9-12) will do anything to get out of Sunshine Storytime.

There’s something so powerful about comics making like this – pure on-the-fly storytelling, using whatever materials are on hand. Some might look at Space Academy 123 and call it sketchy, rough, unrefined. I beg to differ. Mickey Z is a really good cartoonist. To my eyes there is an elegance in these dashed off pages which only comes from practice and skill. Her timing is great. Her drawings contain and transmit the wild rush of strange emotions, the sick sense of failure, the fraying of sanity, and the bold realization of the total absurdity of life. The contrast between which characters experience what is where a lot of the humor lies. The final strip in the collection concludes the overall story magnificently, while summing up nothing at all.

It was a real delight to revisit Space Academy 123 and I recommend it, along with the rest of Mickey Z’s work, which you can navigate your way to HERE.

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09-28-2018 – by Niall Breen

09/21/2018

Sally Ingraham here with my Small Press Expo 2018 memories and pictures!

(See Juan Fernandez’s SPX report HERE, and read Caleb Orecchio’s thoughts HERE.)

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Little Lulu strip drawn by creator Marjorie Henderson Buell

I headed to Bethesda a day early and on Friday I was fortunate enough to tag along on SPX Director Warren Bernard’s annual field trip to the Library of Congress with some of the Expo’s special guests.

Some of the field trip attendees L-R – Emma Ríos, Kate Harmon, Fiona Smyth, Julie Doucet, Liv Strömquist and her travel companion, Ronald Wimberly, Karen Green (partially hidden behind me…) ME (Sally Ingraham), Dash Shaw, and Joshua Cotter – photo by Rina Ayuyang

At the Library of Congress we got to see some of the comics holdings that are kept in the Prints and Photographs collection. Here’s a few that I took note of:

Work by Rose O’Neill, from 1900

Detail of a piece by Nell Brinkley, from 1918

Karen Green and Julie Doucet with Warren Bernard, looking at several pieces by Anne Harnet Fish

A piece by Anne Harnet Fish, from 1920

After looking at the comics holding for a bit, Emma Ríos, Rina Ayuyang, Liv Strömquist and her son and their travel companion, Kate Harmon, and myself, made the long dangerous trek underground through the maze of the Library of Congress (there were tunnels involved!) to find the Jefferson Building and the Drawn To Purpose show.

There was a nice timeline of work made by female cartoonists and illustrators, including the Little Lulu strip I shared at the top of this post, and this Brenda Starr, Reporter piece by Dale Messick:

Brenda Starr, Reporter strip by Dale Messick

Liv Strömquist and her son checking out the Drawn To Purpose show

We found our way back to the Madison Building in time to catch Carol Tyler‘s big presentation on her life and comics.

Carol Tyler

Having formed a bond over the morning, Emma Ríos, Rina Ayuyang, Kate Harmon and I continued to hang out for the rest of the day. And as we were leaving the Library of Congress in search of lunch, who should we bump into but Congressman John Lewis…?! (Check out the March trilogy that Congressman John Lewis wrote with Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell HERE.)

L-R – Emma Ríos, me, Rina Ayuyang, Congressman John Lewis, Kate Harmon – photo taken by Adam Griffiths

It was a real treat to explore Washington D.C. with my dear friend Kate Harmon, guided by our pal Adam Griffiths, and get to know Emma Ríos and Rina Ayuyang along the way.

I knew Spanish cartoonist Emma Ríos‘ work from the Image titles Pretty Deadly, with Kelly Sue DeConnick, and Mirror, with Hwei Lim. In 2016 she put out a comic that she drew as well as wrote (the first comic she has written in English), called I.D., which I’ve been meaning to read (and I was so delighted later in the weekend when she gave me her last copy!) Here’s an interview with Emma from last year that details more of her comics adventures.

Rina Ayuyang is originally from Pittsburgh, PA, so we hit it off right away! I’m super excited to read her new book, just out from Drawn & Quarterly – Blame This on the Boogie (get a copy of it HERE).

Getting to meet cartoonists like Emma and Rina is why I come to SPX every year. I’m interested in the quick friendships that form because of the common interest that pulls us together. You’ve never met before, and may come from different career/publishing backgrounds, but especially in groups of women I have found that there is a powerful connection and a desire to support and celebrate all the varied comics-making paths that we’ve traversed. I felt that strongly with Emma and Rina, and although our encounter was more incidental, with Liv Strömquist as well. (Check out Liv’s powerful new book The Fruit of Knowledge HERE.)

By the end of day on Friday Kate Harmon and I were having dinner with Fiona Smyth, due to a quick invitation in the hotel elevator (another key part of the success of SPX – everyone is in the same hotel!) I am such a big fan of Fiona’s work, and was lucky enough to meet her during her visit to Pittsburgh, PA, a few years ago. It was terrific to catch up and congratulate her in person on her new book, just out from Koyama Press – Somnambulance.

Saturday and Sunday at SPX I was completely engrossed in running the Comics Workbook-hosted workshops. These workshops provided a veritable crash-course in comics making, beginning with Juan Fernandez‘s highly energetic intro to image-making as language. This was followed by Dash Shaw‘s in-depth exploration of comics writing, and Molly Ostertag‘s (standing room only!) session on digging a fresh story out of yourself. There were numerous other offerings (we ran 8 workshops this year!) including a clay sculpture workshop with Liz Reed and a Kickstarter intro course with Camilla Zhang.

Molly Ostertag presenting

(Big shoutout to Caleb Orecchio for being doorman on Saturday and wrangling the enthusiastic and lengthy lines of folks who attended – and for his own great workshop on Sunday! And to Kate Harmon for helping with supply runs and the door on Sunday!)

Saturday night is always bonkers – for me it’s a balance of hanging out with the Comics Workbook and Pittsburgh Comics Salon crew, and finding my more far-flung comics friends to catch up with (Andrew White, M. S. Harkness, Iona Fox!) But despite great conversations and late hours kept, I somehow got up on Sunday morning and drove 30 minutes to Great Falls Park, VA, to pursue the topic of all my own comics lately – BIRDS!

Me at Great Falls Park, VA

Sunday at SPX went by in a flash, and before I knew it we were packing up the workshop room, and I was making a last round of the Expo floor to find cartoonists I’d missed before they in turn packed up and took off. Dinner with Kate Harmon and Emma Ríos and Fiona Smyth, followed by late-night chats with Iona Fox, and then the show was officially over for me. I crawled into bed to sleep for a bit before racing back to Pittsburgh, PA, on Monday morning in time to work at 10 AM… Phew!

Thanks to Warren Bernard, Lynda Bernard, Rob Clough, Danethin Mejia, and Eden Miller for the organization behind the show, and especially their help in making the workshops happen. Thanks to Juan Fernandez, Liz Reed, Dash Shaw, Molly Ostertag, Jason Rodriguez and the Latin American Youth Council, Mosi, Camilla Zhang, and Caleb Orecchio for delivering such stellar workshops! And many, many thanks to all the folks who turned up to learn about comics with us over the weekend. See you next year for SPX 2019!

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09-21-2018 – by Niall Breen

09/14/2018

Sally here – in Bethesda, MD, for Small Press Expo 2018, that is! Once again Comics Workbook is running a series of free comics workshops for the show – see the details HERE and come check them out if you’re at SPX on Saturday or Sunday this weekend!

Follow our Instagram – @comicsworkbook – for updates and news from SPX, and maybe a sneak peak of some of the comics holdings at the Library of Congress.

I’ll be back with the regular comics news next week!

 

09/07/2018

Sally Ingraham here with work by Bronson Smillie and Cory Feder, plus other news and comics!

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Work made by Bronson Smillie during his Comics Workbook Rowhouse Residency

Here on the site we have a new Comics Workbook Rowhouse Residency Report, written by Bronson Smillie, who joined us in Pittsburgh in July of 2018. He’s currently based in Montreal, QC, where he is finishing a painting and drawing undergrad at Concordia University. Originally from Calgary, he organized and facilitated Calgary’s first ever Queer Zine Fair in 2017 – an event called We Are Not an Island that was presented in conjunction with Calgary’s Sled Island Festival. It was Calgary’s biggest zine fair ever and featured over 30 artists/collectives. Even with this rich experience in comics and community building under his belt, Bronson was able to find a lot to dig into with us in Pittsburgh.

The ! air conditioned ! bedroom/work-space was the perfect place to dive head first into my work. As someone that is easily distracted in new environments, it was nice to be able to shut myself into a quiet space. Each morning I would devour a handful of comics/zines selected from the extensive and ever-growing library at the Residency. I would recommend spending as much time reading comics as you do drawing them while you are a resident. They offer such an amazing resource and I got to read things that I had never had access to before. I worked on a 10 page mini-comic that I’ve since completed and took time to digitize my entire stamp collection (boring but satisfying). I wanted to explore a new way of image-making while I was at the residency and broke away from the more rigid, panel-based comic making I was used to in order to explore more experimental ideas I had been tossing around for a while.

Read the rest of his report HERE!

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Work by Cory Feder

The results of the 2018 Comics Workbook Composition Competition are in! Read all about it HERE!

Pictured above is the comic strip by Cory Feder which placed 1st in the competition. About her strip, the judges wrote:

Our decision to award Cory Feder First Place recognizes Feder’s creation of an ambitious yet simple, multi-layered poetic sequence that cuts through notions of language. This is the kind of strip that can be read and re-read ad infinitum to continue gleaning new meaning. Feder’s comic is the kind offhand remark, the cadence of which, you keep thinking about for years. This complex concoction of intuitive drawing and deft use of juxtaposition made for a winning combination.

See more of Cory Feder’s work HERE.

We look forward to hosting her at the Comics Workbook Rowhouse Residency sometime soon!

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Weekend Reading

  • The Comics Journal recently republished an interview with Marie Severin from 1986 – read it HERE. Marie Severin passed away last week at the age of 89. HERE is the Journal‘s tribute to her.
  • There are new reviews of Fiona Smyth‘s Somnambulance and Jessica Campbell‘s XTC69 over on Page 45.
  • Paste Magazine has an exclusive preview of Leah Moore, John Reppion, and Sally Jane Thompson‘s upcoming A Conspiracy of Ravens (out in early October) HERE.