Thursday, October 30, 2014

{Scattershot 6}


where my big takeaways from the Comics Workbook competition this year. I am glad both artists won. You can view all the other winners, along with the special mentions, here.

Chris Ware is up to page six (seven if you count the prologue) on his weekly webcomic The Last Saturday. It feels very Rust Brown to me right now, which i take to mean it feels like a Chris Ware comic.

Julia Gfrorer teams up with Sean T. Collins again, this time in an exploration of what lies under the sea. You can read Why We Fear The Ocean here.

Emily Carroll has a new webcomic up. Based on her previous work I assume it is scary.


Chris Mautner conducted a career spanning interview with Michel Fiffe. I really enjoy reading Fiffe talk about old comics.

Katie Skelly posted a transcript of the panel she moderated at SPX Sex, Humor and the Grotesque which included Eleanor Davis, Julia Gfrorer and Meghan Turbitt. (The second half of that talk, where Skelly moved away from individual artists talking about their work and into a general discussion was particularly interesting.)

I liked this section from Gfrorer:

Well, first, of the staining thing, a lot of my work is preoccupied with residue, evidence of non-physical experiences and how it kind of erupts through to become manifest. I suppose the one-sidedness of it… there’s definitely always an examination of different types of power dynamics. Partly I think because I’m not writing about it for fun. I’m not writing about sex for it to be fun, like, “Hey guys, did you know sex is really fun? Surprise!” That’s not productive, to me. I want to find the thing that is challenging. And something like this, where it’s erotic, it could be read as porn, but to use this awful word, “problematic” … it’s problematic. And I don’t want there to be a comfortable place where you’re pretty sure you’re supposed to know how you feel about it, because I hate that.”

Blaise Larmee was interviewed by Nicole Reber. From interviews and talks i’ve seen done with Larmee he has a very calculated mischievous side, which you can see sparks of here, but luckily it is reigned in enough to still be fully readable. (Larmee has a tendincey to deliberately tank interviews, which while enjoyable on some level aren't always the funnest thing to read.)

Anne Ishii interviews Jillian Tamaki on various things including her newest book This One Summer.

“AI:  What’s the color psychology there? You just said that the purple harkens back to vintage manga.

JT: Not in any symbolic way. I mean, Rose reads manga and she is a manga fan because she’s like… 12. But I just thought it made the book feel a little warmer. Plus it looked different and unusual. Just on a formal level, it adds something undefinable—something nostalgic and a little bit warm.”

Vice interviews Breakdown Press, which seems to be stepping into the void left by Picturebox. At least with there continuation of Ryan Holmberg’s vintage manga line. (The only reason i’ve yet to read their output is shipping costs, hopefully CAB resolves this problem.)

Cynthia Rose profiles Nine Antico, who i have never heard of before this but based on the artwork shown I should immediately become acquainted with.

John Porcellino interviewed by TJC.


Jeet Heer reviews a new book on the origins of Wonder Woman. Those early Marston comics (or as the book make clear Marston/Holloway/Byrne comics) always seemed like the most interesting things to come out of the golden age of comics. At least when it comes to gender and sexuality.


Every Chris Ware New Yorker cover. Most of what i’ve read concerning Moley’s editorial process surrounding New Yorker covers, and why i assume so many comic artists seem to draw them, is that each cover has to tell a complete story on its own. What is interesting with Ware’s covers are that while each of them tell their own story, when they are groped like this they begin to tell a greater narrative between them. Shifting in and out of generational perspectives and the role technology place within each. A few of these comprised Acme Novelty 18.5 so i assume Ware thought so to.

CAB is Pre-Selling tickets for their sunday panel schedules. Tickets are free so i assume this has more to do with making everything orderly, along with them not having a big enough venue for some of the talks.

Issue Six of Comics Workbook Magazine was announced as debuting at CAB. I’m glad that i’ve yet to see one of those issues where i’ve heard of more than half of the titles or artists being discussed.

Bleeding Cool ran a piece on how Zero #11 was rejected from Apples comics service presumably because of the opening sex scene. Which is stupid. What is also stupid is that Bleeding Cool picked the one panel in that opening sequence without any genetalia in it (the image they chose had a reaction shot covering Zero’s dicks while it was going into Siobhan’s mouth, which seemed oddly joke-y to me in the comic let alone in a article about its cencorship). Comics Alliance does this also, even post-AOL, where they discuss Apples prudishness towards sex while also displaying their own sites prudishness towards sex. Bleeding Cool being run by Avatar Comics makes the whole thing even more confusing. I’m not sure where this is going, i think i’d just like to see more dicks in comics.

In more dicks in comics related news though Fantagraphics put up a 16-page preview of Massive there anthology of “gay erotic manga”. Like its spiritual predecessor The Passion of Gengoroh Tagame there seems to be a heavy amount of scholarly and biographical information being included about each contributor, which was one of the strongest parts of the Tagame book. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

There's A Kid On The Street, One Up In Bed

(a reprint of an interview on a book you should buy.)

"This week, I am going to catch up with fellow C Box contributer, co-host of the greatest comic book podcast The Splash Page, and all around great human being Chad Nevett. Chad edited and contributed essays to the long awaited new Sequart book release 'Shot In The Dark: A Savage Journey to the Heart of Transmetropolitian' which is available to purchase from Amazon and other  fine book retailers right now. Here's a little info on that release...." - Joey Alusio

Shawn Starr: How did you come to edit a book about 'Transmetropolitan' for Sequart?

Chad Nevett: Blame that, like my other big writing gig (for CBR), on Tim Callahan. He wrote his Grant Morrison book for Sequart and they wanted him to do something for their website. He decided to do a discussion column and asked me to do it with him. That was January or February of 2008... the beginning of the Splash Page. We did that for Sequart's site and, in the process, I got added to their e-mail list when new projects would come up and they would open the call for essay pitches. I wound up doing three essays over a few years, one for their 'Watchmen' book and two for their 'Planetary' book. Shortly after the 'Planetary' book came out, I began talking with Mike Phillips about doing something for them, hopefully a book entirely by me. They had asked for three book ideas and I had two: one about Jim Starlin's cosmic work and an anthology about 'Hellblazer'. I figured that I'd give them one idea that's all me and one essay collection to increase my odds of actually getting something done. But, I needed a third idea. Really, those were the two projects that I was excited for at the time, so I threw in something about 'Transmetropolitan'. I'm a big Ellis fan and I had some ideas about the book and... well, I needed a third idea and I didn't think Joe Casey would sell, you know?

Turns out, "Warren Ellis" was the name to mention at Sequart at the time as they were looking to launch a bunch of projects surrounding Ellis. They already had the 'Planetary' book and the documentary about Ellis that Patrick Meaney had done would be coming out, and a couple of more books gave them their "Year of Ellis" project. They're a fan of the anthology books -- and I can see why given the variety of topics and writers you can utilize in anthologies -- and, since they already had a single-author Ellis book scheduled, I think they wanted another anthology to complement the 'Planetary' one. So, they asked if I'd be interested in editing it. I figured what the hell, should be fun...

Do you have a personal connection to 'Transmetropolitan'? It seems like a work that, if read at the right time in ones life, can have a lasting effect on you.

You can say that it came along at the right time in my life to make a lasting impression. I want to say that I began reading it in January 2000, so I was around 16/17 (my birthday is in January), I was politically minded, feeling trapped in a bit at Catholic school, feeling like I was smarter than everyone around me, and hungry for stuff like Transmet that would both validate and challenge what I was thinking and feeling. I had been an Ellis fan for years, first having my 12-year old mind blown when he took over Thor and, when I first tried out Transmet, was pissed off because he had just left 'The Authority', which was a comic that I was obsessed with in a big way when it was coming out. I literally carried the first four issues around in my backpack for months, randomly pulling them out and just re-reading and flipping through them. And Transmet went beyond that stuff.

I started out with "Year of the Bastard." My shop had all six issues in the back issue bin, so I plunked down my cash and was introduced to the world of Spider Jerusalem. I don't know if I had started reading the comic from the beginning if I would have been so taken with it. But, beginning with the big politics story arc was the perfect thing to hook me. And, in the process, Warren Ellis introduced me to Hunter Thompson. It's not coincidental that that's where I began the series and the essay that I wrote for 'Shot in the Face' is a look at the influence of Thompson upon 'Transmetropolitan'.

After I discovered Transmet, I'm sure the people around me found me a little more annoying. I covered my binder with quotes from the book and talked shit and talked politics like I knew what I was talking about... it was a good time. Transmet was the second half of high school for me along with Thompson and Mark Leyner (who I learned about from a Transmet letter page!) and all sorts of obnoxious self-righteousness that's yet to wear off entirely...

What was your editorial approach to the book. Do you see it as an academic piece of criticism or something more free flowing?

Well, Sequart's aim is more academic than anything and I have spent six years in the world of academia, so I think there's an academic approach/feeling that's hard to escape. However, that's not something that necessarily drives me in a project like this. I tend to be a bit more free flowing as a writer. Once you've got that smart, academic base, you should feel free to push things and chaff against it a bit. I was hoping for a book that contained a nice variety of voices rather than a more unified feel that you might find in an academic journal (though, there can be some nice variety there as well, don't get me wrong). If I had to choose between voice and adhering to an academic approach, I usually sided with voice. But, that's because I also knew that I had guys like Mike Phillips and Julian Darius backstopping me. I could afford to push things a little bit that way, because they (and the rest of their editorial team) would stop things from going too far outside of what they think fits with Sequart.

Did your opinion of 'Transmetropolitan' change during the process of working on the book? Was there any contributors whose essay’s changed how you thought about the work?

I have a pretty strong opinion/view when it comes to Transmet, so I wouldn't go so far as to say anything changed during the process of working on the book. I think it's more accurate to say that I was exposed to ideas that I hadn't previously considered. I didn't agree with all of them, but that's hardly the point. Julian's essay on the structure of the book made me rethink the way that the series was put together. Namely, I knew it could be broken down into six-issue chunks because that's how the trades were put together, but I never looked beyond that. I never noticed how Ellis used three-issue groupings throughout the run... except for year two. I never thought about how "Year of the Bastard" and "New Scum" are the only six-issue story arcs in the series. It was an angle that I had never considered that I really liked thinking about for a bit there.

Almost every essay had at least one moment like that where I saw some aspect of the book in a way that I hadn't before. I don't agree with the majority of Greg Burgas's essay (let the internet feud begin!), but he makes a good case and he made me consider the way that I viewed Spider's relationship with women. It influenced part of my essay comparing Hunter Thompson and Spider, and each of their relationships, not just with women but with men, too. That was a big appeal of the project and something that I hope readers take from the book. I know it's something that I've loved about the Sequart anthologies I've read.

The book seemed to be delayed for a while, was there a specific reason behind that?

There were two main reasons. The second one is an easy explanation: it took time to transcribe Warren Ellis' interviews for the documentary and we wanted to include what he said about 'Transmetropolitan' in this book. I love when books like these have some author interview and Sequart has a wealth of Ellis interview material in the footage that Patrick Meaney shot with him, and it's a great idea to cull the appropriate parts for books like these. Transcribing those interviews took time, so the book wound up getting delayed until those transcriptions were done.

The first reason for delay is a little tougher to explain. Basically, I learned that I like writing, but I don't like editing. It's not something that I find natural or comfortable. I can revise and rework things I've written, but handling things written by others is tough for me. I think my limit of comfort is reading an essay and making some notes on it. But, this project required more than that and it took me a long time to be able to do that. Far longer than it should have. Thankfully, Mike and Julian were both very understanding and very encouraging. I'm glad that I did this, but I definitely learned that editing is not something that I enjoy.

It's a little weird to say that, because I did love working on this book. It was a pleasure working with Mike and Julian from discussing possible topics to reading essay pitches to reading the essays to working with Kevin Colden on cover ideas... It was a blast and I am really proud of the book. I just don't want to edit another book again. Ha.

Any cool stories involving a chick?

This one time, I got my wife pregnant...

(This interview originally appeared on The Chemical Box)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Heat Of The Light On My Face

My Name Is Martin Shears - Andrew White

My Name Is Martin Shears.There is an implied period at the end of that statement. Maybe even an exclamation point. But as the narrative moves forward the resolve it once had begins to falter. That implied exclamation point becomes an implied period, and that implied period becomes, at last, an implied question mark.

(My Name Is Martin Shears…?)

Martin Shears identity is always in doubt. His thoughts and image are in flux. From the very outset the cover, which bears Martin Shears portrait, is not even a constant. As every copy has a different image adorning it, each hand drawn by White in varying colors and styles. Making it so that every buyer is given there own, unique, image to identify with as Martin Shears. But one which is never be repeated. Never replicated.

From his presence on the cover forward Shears identity is never cemented for the reader. He has no defining traits, his hair, nose, and clothes all conspire panel by panel to make it impossible to nail him down. His thoughts are purposefully muddled and obscured by Whites choice to place them within his messy linework, overlaying them on top of Shears head and making them almost unreadable as they blend together into one single mass. White forces you to strain yourself to read Shears thoughts, and even then your efforts are largely unrewarded, as there is little information to glean from them.

White takes this purposeful confusion even further than merely knowing what Martin Shears is supposed to look like and think though. Shears own narrative isn't even allowed to stay consistent for each reader; as there exists four different versions of My Name Is Martin Shears each with added and subtracted pages and scenes that are placed in differing order, so that not even the pages sequencing rings true. Mixing the non-linear narrative into four distinct versions creates a near infinite number of iterations in practice though, creating, like each cover, a singular Martin Shear for each reader.  One that is unlikely to be read by anyone they know. Like Chris Ware’s Building Stories the narrative you are given is the one that you pick out of the stack. This randomness simply becomes another form of subterfuge in trying to identify the man named Martin Shear. There is no “true” Martin Shear though, but simply the one you are holding in your hand

This all culminates in the stories final page, not the final page of the comic, but the back cover which all but cements this fog. Depicting a piece of white paper sitting on top of a desk with the words Martin Shear scrawled across it. The name is repeated sixteen times, but following the third line the name begins to mutate. Letters morph or are dropped at random and the name being written becomes as cloudy as the narrative, until it ultimately turns into something with no bearing to the one which adorned the top of the page.

My Name Is Martin Shears is narrative game of Telephone, with every reader receiving their own prompt and answer.


Andrew Whites Tumbler can be found here.

Monday, October 6, 2014

{Scattershot 5}

Chris Ware is serializing his new “graphic novella” aka “comic” at The Guardian. The two big positives to this is that (a) new Chris Ware on a weekly basis and (b) you can zoom into the text to read it so you don’t feel quite so old and blind.

The long awaited new installment of the best 3-person anthology (DeForge, Patrick Kyle, Mickey Z) _____ Comics is out. This one is about Medicine.

But comics being an extension of yourself, or a heightened version of yourself, as you said, and then a therapist being able to read into it… maybe you don’t have to psychoanalyze your own self but what do you think has largely been the interpretation of you via your artwork? What do you hear people say about you vis-à-vis your artwork?
There are people who maybe have an idea of who I am based on what I draw, and I guess it’s maybe a funny version of it. Because I work on Thickness, and some of my comics have sexual content in them, and I do a lot of stories that are at least related to the horror genre… because of that, for a while I would get a lot of emails from people who would just send me just indiscriminately fucked up shit, which was a little upsetting. Because people knew I like horror manga, and I like Junji Ito, and I worked on porn…I would be like, I don’t just want to indiscriminately see fucked up things. I’m not into seeing urethras with needles in them without any context, and I think people assume that stuff about me, that I’m into that.

 How to Draw Buzz Sawyer (similar to Wally Wood’s 22 Panels that always work, this advice kind of relates to everyone) Part 1.Part 2. Part 3. + How to Draw Woman

On the heels of Batrika, Die Homer. A Die Hard / Simpsons mashup.

When I was young all i played was Crash Bandicoot and i feel like i missed out on some cultural touchstones. Additionally she also put the newest issue of her comic Sex Fantasy online. It is a very nicely drawn and funny / sad comic.

New James Stokoe Orc Stain. It’s about dicks. 

Bretch Evans draws Tintin 

SPX happened. I wasn’t there because I was attending a bachelor party, of which I remember only small tidbits of, so I guess i could have been at SPX and forgot all about it. Here are some photos of RIPExpo that I found on my phone to counteract my currently being out of the loop on alt-comics.

This was the entrance of RIPE, which was held in the Providence Library. I love New England because of all the old state buildings, they have a stature to them that newer buildings can't ever really match. I assume there's a strained metaphor that could be made comparing the institution of comics to the relative youth of the attendees (I don't think their was a person tabling over the age of 30) but i don't feel like making it. It was a cool venue though.

(I did find the lack of designated tables at the show a bit annoying, I found pretty much everything I wanted but it took a few more trips around the venue than if i were simply able to look up artists tables in the show brochure. From what I've heard the 'sit where you like' aspect was a deliberate choice for a more freewheeling set up and not laziness, so i can't fault it to much for that.)

Ines Estrda's table. In the corner you can see Sam Alden and the basic shape of the 2DCloud table. Alden drew one of the nicest dedications i've ever had in my copy of It Never Happened Again all in under a minute which amazed me. 

Blaise Larmee drew in my copy of Young Lions also but misspelt my last name which i found really funny. The drawing was really pretty though.

Mickey Z's table. I got the new issues of RAV which was great, plus I saw a galley of the Youth In Declines which is one of the books i'm looking forward to greatly this Fall. 

I regret not buying all the Mother News issues that where taking up the 2nd half of this table.

There was a sticker machine, which was filled with stickers from various attending cartoonists. I thought that was a really smart idea.

Annnnnnnnnd that's all the pictures i took. It was a good show, although i'm pretty much with everyone else in saying that it should have taken place during the RISD school year. But it seems like the people running it are already working on that problem.


“Are you planning to do the tour in drag?
Well, yeah, probably. You know, I guess I’m not going to travel like this because it’s kind of a hassle. And uh, just getting stared at relentlessly. I’m just shy really. I’ll get drunk and probably dress up for most of the occasions. Cohen has gently intimated, as a publicist, I think she’s like, “Dress up!” but you know, I’ll be nervous about it. It was really nerve-racking doing this at CAB, because this is a thing now. People are disappointed if I don’t, and they expect it in a way, the pageantry. It’s kind of hard to travel with all this stuff in my bag. Coming over to the States I got grilled at every security checkpoint, “What’s all this stuff?” Nervously explaining all these wigs and everything. It just makes me shy and nervous. It’s annoying that I am shy and nervous about it. I’m bad enough on the streets regularly. I’m still feeling it all out. But I’m going to try and dress up.

Her Name Was Prudence by Cathy G. Johnson. I really enjoyed this comic by the newly crowned “Most Promising New Talent” Ignatz recipient. Turns out she was at RIPE and I missed her, making my rule of missing at minimum one person who I was unaware of and now enjoy their work at every convention i attended stand. 

I liked this old poster for Breathless. 

Dan Nadel’s trip to Providence from yesteryear. Post One. Post Two. Also The New York Times on his art installation ‘What Nerve!’, which I desperately need to take a trip down to Providence to see.

Hanselmann at AV Club

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Two Short Reviews

Melancholy Devil - Heather Benjamin

Four folds of a single sheet of pink paper. This is what makes up Heather Benjamins new comic Melancholy Devil. A front and back cover, each existing in the space of a fourth of a page. When folded outwards they show another image, this one inhabits the remaining space of the top half of the page that the front and back cover take up. Unfolded once more, for the last time, and a single image, which  takes up the entirety of the back page, is shown. Five images in total.  

Folding has a tactility to it which individual page turns cannot replicate. From the cover to final image Benjamin ups the ante, each fold revealing more, reflecting on the previous, while still extending the basic thought. You are pulling the piece of art apart, actively participating in its disassembly. This is more personal than flipping a page, a gust of wind could do that, pulling something apart though requires a deliberate act. It requires active participation.

Melancholy Devil is available at Heather Benjamins webstore here.

Palookaville #21 - Seth

The real takeaway from this issue is Seth’s Stamp Comics. In essence, what Seth did was create a series of 10-20 stamps with generic drawings on them, one of the sun, one of a series of buildings, a close up of his face, a shot of a him walking etc. He then used these to create a series of autobio comics about his days inserting generic stamps to quicken the process along with drawing a few images by hand when he didn’t have a stamp to represent an image.

What these distinct patterns bring to the surface is the inherent repetition of each day. Auto-bio strips deal with the unextraordinary on a daily basis much more than they do the extraordinary, for every Joe Sacco there is a hundred Jeffrey Browns. In the pre-existing images of each stamp there is inherently a finite number of combinations, and while that number is very high, they largely fall into a similar patterns. Seth goes outside, walks around, comments on the beauty of nature and then goes back home after something intrudes on his thoughts.He goes out for various reasons, but at all times it is a fleeting moment until he retreats back into his home, where he is safe in his thoughts and art.

You can purchase Palookaville at the Drawn & Quarterly site here.

Media Consumed In The Month of September

Color Engineering - Yuichi Yokoyama
War of Streets and Houses - Sophie Yanow
4th World Saga v2 - Jack Kirby
Alien Invasion 3 - Lala Alberts
Captain Easy v3 - Roy Crane
You Shall Die By Your Own Evil Creation! - Fletcher Hanks
Trip To Tulum - Milo Manara / Federico Fellini
Pompeii - Frank Santoro
Storyville - Frank Santoro
Cat Diary - Junji Ito
Palookaville #21 - Seth
Very Casual - Michael DeForge
Black Mass - Patrick Kyle
Tintin in Tibet - Herge
Number #2 - Box Brown
Young Lions - Blaise Larmee
Paying For It - Chester Brown
The Man Who Grew His Beard - Olivier Schrauwen
Wayward Girls - Michel Budel
Lose #6 - Michael DeForge
The Wrenchies - Farel Dalrymple
Faust: Communion Edition v1 - David Quinn / Tim Vigil
Fun Home - Alison Bechdel
Jeremiah - Cathy G. Johnson
Felony Comics - Various
The Shadow: Midnight in Moscow #1-#4 - Howard Chaykin
Tintin vs Batman - Hergi
Jan’s Atomic Heart and Other Stories - Simon Roy
Flash Forward - Jonny Negron / Sean T. Collins
Black Is The Color - Julia Gfrorer
Pink - Kyoko Okazaki
Change - Ales Kot / Morgan Jeske
World Map Room - Yuichi Yokoyama
The Strange Tale of Panorama Island - Suehiro Maruo
Louis Riel - Chester Brown
Life Zone - Simon Hanselmann

The League (Season 5)
Bonnie and Clyde
The Rover
The Longest Day
The Big Bird Cage
Obvious Child
The Fault In Our Stars