Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

January 31, 2014

Go, Look: Ulli Lust

posted 3:00 am PST | Permalink

Euro-Comics Special: Paul Karasik In Angouleme 03

imageBy Paul Karasik

Angouleme Sans Comics

If you are now on your second day of the Angouleme Festival, you may be ready to get away from anything resembling comics and comics fans. How about ducking into a church?

In the grand tradition of most small cities in Europe, Angouleme has a lot of churches. Wasn't there a Donald Barthelme story about a town that was nothing but churches? Angouleme comes close, edged out only by the ratio per capita of bakeries. On the 12-minute walk from my hotel to my local Angouleme supermarket, there are six bakeries. Believe me, I know.

So during the Festival, if you are looking for some mid-day solitude from the rumble of the foot traffic, why not stop into one of these churches to take time off from comics and silently contemplate your deep moral personal questions (such as, exactly how are you going to explain the credit card charges for comics to the wife once you get back to the States)?

Uh-oh... you are merde-out-of-luck! Even the churches are filled with comics exhibits and fans!

Hmmm... maybe the prestigious Angouleme Museum might be worth a quiet side-trip to avoid the crowds?

Uh-oh... they are running an exhibit on the first floor of COMICS! Unless you are fans of something called Ernest & Rebecca, a comic for the kiddies that appears to feature a petulant brat with purple hair ("Rebecca") and a cute green something with big eyes ("Ernest"), dash past the throngs of Ernest & Rebecca fans and climb upstairs.

Never mind. I'll let you in on a secret. During the Festival the Angouleme Museum is one of the best places to get away from comics throngs... once you go upstairs. Chances are you'll have the place to yourself.

"But, Paul," you protest, "I came to Angouleme 'cause I'm a comics fan! I don’t go for that high-brow museum art! I like my art to be filled with sex, violence, scatology, and weird stupid stuff!"

Mathilde, one of my students from the EESI school, grew up in Angouleme and was an Angouleme Museum guard. She cued me into a couple of secrets to delight the typical crass comics fan. I now share these secrets with you!

Seems like a typical rustic genre scene, yes? ["Scene d'auberge," by David Teniers, 1610-1690].

Look closer! It's rustic, alrighty! There's a guy, painted about an inch tall, dropping his Flemish drawers next to the skating rink.

This next one I discovered all by myself ["Scene de Patinage," by Claes Molenaer, 1660]:

Different artists, but the same rascal picture-bombed into both paintings! This time he is taking a leak.

This is how they are displayed on the wall. Don't tell me that the Angouleme Museum curator does not have a jolly sense of humor!

O.K.... so much for the scatology category. Now for the sex and violence. The Magred collection was assembled by Dr. Jules Lhomme, a resident of Angouleme who never set foot in Africa yet amassed one of the finest collection of 19th century African artifacts in any museum. Just how he assembled this collection during the so-called Colonial Period, I leave up to your 21st century imagination.

You want violence?

You want sex?

You want explicit sex?

I have been to this museum on numerous occasions but never noticed this odd composition until Mathilde pointed it out to me.

Back in the day, before Photoshop, if you wanted to delete someone from the family portrait, you just used a scissors and bought a smaller frame!

Now a close-up of the above by Barthelemy Van Der Helst, 1655. It is titled, "Portrait of a gentleman from Pays-Bas and his Wife," but a more accurate title might be, "Portrait of a gentleman from Pays-Bas and his Wife and their Ungrateful Daughter Who Grew Up and Ran Off with the Baker's Son."


Finally, everyone whom I speak to in Angouleme about the museum mentions this mysteriously charming painting... so it would be a severe oversight to overlook "Jeune Taureau" ("Young Bull") by Rosa Bonheur (1822-1899). Why is the bull jumping over the fence and why does it bear that delightful smile and why was it ever painted in the first place? Some mysteries are better left for the ages.


Paul Karasik is a cartoonist, author and educator best known for his work on the graphic novel version of City Of Glass and for bringing to a wider audience the work of Golden Age cartoonist Fletcher Hanks.



posted 2:30 am PST | Permalink

OTBP: Leslie Stein Selling Original Art

This is a note primarily for those that are already Leslie Stein fans, because this (hopefully) involves an original art purchase, but if you're not familiar with her work you might check it out. It's routinely strong, and I don't think it has found its audience even by the unfortunately diminished standard of comics-makers finding their audiences.
posted 2:10 am PST | Permalink

International Group Of Cartoonists Send Letter To Angouleme Festival Director Concerning SodaStream

Nearly four dozen comics-maker from an array of countries has published an open letter to the director of Festival Internationale De La Bande Dessinee, Franck Bondoux, asking that the Festival sever ties with Israel drink manufacturer SodaStream. SodaStream has been the recent target of a cascading, international boycott because of the presence of its primary factory in the Ma'ale Adumim settlement.

A number of US cartoonists were included in those signing: Eric Drooker, Joe Sacco, Ben Katchor, Susie Cagle, Peter Kuper and Sue Coe among them. Non-US cartoonists include Carlos Latuff and Baudoin.

Full text of the letter in English:
We, cartoonists and illustrators from all countries, are surprised, disappointed and angry to find out that SodaStream is an official sponsor of the Angoulême International Comics Festival.

As you must know, SodaStream is the target of an international boycott call for its contribution to the colonization of Palestinian land, due to its factory in the illegal settlement of Ma'ale Adumim, its exploitation of Palestinian workers, and its theft of Palestinian resources, in violation of international law and contravening international principles of human rights.

Angouleme has had an important role in the appreciation of comics as an art form for over 40 years. It would be sad if SodaStream were able to use this event to whitewash their crimes.

We ask you to cut all ties between the Festival and this shameful company.


Khalid Albaih (Sudan)
Leila Abdelrazaq (USA)
Avoine (France)
Edd Baldry (UK/France)
Edmond Baudoin (France)
Steve Brodner (USA)
Berth (France)
Susie Cagle (USA)
Jennifer Camper (USA)
Carali (France)
Chimulus (France)
Sue Coe (USA)
Gianluca Costantini (Italy)
Jean-Luc Coudray (France)
Philippe Coudray (France)
Marguerite Dabaie (USA)
Eric Drooker (USA)
Elchicotriste (Spain)
Jenny Gonzalez-Blitz (USA)
Ethan Heitner (USA)
Paula Hewitt Amram (USA)
Hatem Imam (Lebanon)
Jiho (France)
Ben Katchor (USA)
Mazen Kerbaj (Lebanon)
Lolo Krokaga (France)
Nat Krokaga (France)
Peter Kuper (USA)
Carlos Latuff (Brazil)
Lasserpe (France)
Lerouge (France)
Matt Madden (USA/France)
Mric (France)
Barrack Rima (Lebanon/Belgium)
James Romberger (USA)
Puig Rosado (France)
Mohammad Saba'aneh (Palestine)
Joe Sacco (USA)
Malik Sajad (Kashmir)
Amitai Sandy (Israel)
Siné (France)
Seth Tobocman (USA)
Eli Valley (USA)
Willis From Tunis (Tunisie/France)
Jordan Worley (USA)
The group has set up a tumblr here and is asking any cartoonist that wants to endorse the letter
posted 2:05 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: More Wash-Technique Covers From DC Comics

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Euro-Comics Special: Jen Vaughn In Angouleme 01


By Jen Vaughn

* the slowest day of Angouleme is the most relaxing one for the cartoonists and publishers.

* the general buzz around the Festival is the that the Tardi show is absolutely beautiful, that you go in thinking one thing and come out complete differently. I'll know for sure by Saturday. Most of the cartoonists are making time -- with their free entry, thanks to their badges -- to visit.

BD/Main Tent
* Casterman has an impressive selection of new albums; most are available in bookstores near you. What appeared to be a new Hugo Pratt book was absolutely a Corto Maltese *game* featuring art by said cartoonist.

* Delcourt has one of the more impressive setups, reminiscent of Random House at a BEA/ALA convention with hundreds of copies of the same book. To get to the many signings you must first cross through Delcourt and Soleil. Thierry Mornet pulled myself, Moritat and Joe Keatinge into the VIP room which was hosting some movie house lights = everyone sweating and looking good. [Moritat and Thierry pictured directly above.] Boulet was being interviewed, Rebecca Morse of the new album Alyssa was charming and warm.

* Guy Delcourt came out eventually to say high to everyone and gave me his respects to Kim Thompson.

* many of the Selection Officielle books are available for purchase and parked so in the main tent.

Para-BD Tent

* lots of sellers were hawking comics, art and more. The sketchbook table Sketchbook Buro was making hand over fist with people like Mara, Valp and Richard Valley signing.

* ran into former Angouleme prize winner, Ulli Lust of Today is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life; she was outside, with Joe Keatinge.

Indie Tent

* L'Employe du Moi is featuring a lot of American cartoonists like Alec Longstreth and Chuck Forsman.

* these 14 year old kids from Angouleme came up to me and tried to sell me their anthology comic. Loved the hustle Eric and Karamba were trying.

* Vianello was also signing and drawing amazing things in books, as a Hugo Pratt apprentice for years, he has a vast array of knowledge on and off the page. This was the longest line I saw today.

* The vanguard of comics experimentalism and fantastic storytelling lie in the hands of Dash Shaw, Joe Lambert and Frank Santoro -- all seen during their signings.

* ran into some more familiar faces like Sean Azzopardi, an SPX regular. He had a new comic or two... I bought one!

* Scott Eder was selling a ton of pages from American artists like Gary Panter, Peter Bagge and Jim Woodring.

* finally, MK Reed shows off her big purchase, a beautiful album called Milady.


* Jen Vaughn is a Seattle-based cartoonist and graduate of The Center For Cartoon Studies. You can read her blogging on behalf of her employer Fantagraphics Books here. You can read her digital comic Avery Fatbottom here. You can follow her on Twitter here.




posted 1:55 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Cover Gallery For T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #1-17

posted 1:50 am PST | Permalink

Go, Listen: Inkstuds Podcast 500th Episode


Congratulations to my peer Robin McConnell for making it to episode of his podcast Inkstuds. The 500th episode features David Brothers, Brandon Graham and Frank Santoro. It is bound to be very entertaining.
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Go, Look: Classic Covers At The Bristol Board

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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital

By Tom Spurgeon

* Tapastic secured a couple of million dollars in funding in the way that companies with some sort of potential return are funded. It looks like the model for the webcomics portal is a South Korean webcomics portal rather than some of the failed attempts to do something similar based out of the US. I would imagine that nearly every model of how these things are going to work is still on the table.

* I was sad to see that Greg McElhatton is going to scale back mightily on his reviewing -- or at least more fully embrace the scaling back that has already occurred. I wish him luck in everything he wants to do from here on out.

* I'm not sure how to get to it that isn't one of these weird cross-postings, but that's a nice article about things to consider before using the Submit program at the digital retailer comiXology. I would have to think that you'd want to maximize your chances there, I'd have to imagine that it is very tough to make yourself noticed given the number of comics they published, and I have to imagine that hitting your marks with an opportunity like that one is something that will be good for you to get in the habit of doing over the lifetime of making comics.

* one webcomics-oriented cartoonist, Miluette, writes about putting the over-one's-lifetime project aside for a while and all the reasons that this might be done.

* I'm always intrigued by posts like this one that talk about mainstreaming work on one's art into the course of a daily existence that may never see standard benefits like money as a return for that time invested, but I'm a creepy guy with no family who types all the time so part of that fixation may be due to the broken aspects of my own life where these things don't come up.
posted 1:35 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Mike Mignola Tagged On Alex Chung's Tumblr

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Collective Memory: Morrie Turner, RIP

this article has been archived

posted 1:25 am PST | Permalink

If I Were In France, I'd Go To This

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If I Were In Halifax, I'd Go To This

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If I Were In LA, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Judge Dredd IDW Covers

posted 1:10 am PST | Permalink

Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Steve Weissman draws Jim Davis and Garfield.

* I'm not sure why it ended up in my bookmarks, but this mother-box shell for a phone is awfully cute.

* not comics: this decades-old acting-era (I assume) Kelly Sue DeConnick headshot is the best.

* Niranjaya Iyer on Alif The Unseen. J. Caleb Mozzocco on a bunch of DC books and Wolverine And The X-Men Vol. 2. Henry Chamberlain on Fade Out: Painless Suicide. Richard Bruton on Drokk!. Whit Taylor on Lou and a bunch of Daryl Seitchik's mini-comics. Tom Murphy on Saga #18.

* not comics: the cartoonist Zander Cannon reposts something that's been going around the Internet in a form where it's not credited to him -- storytelling lessons from the original Star Wars trilogy.

* it's amazing to me that 20 years of being in comics and people are still passing around "how to do coloring in comics" sheets.

* Michael Dooley profiles Mike Diana. Whit Taylor talks to MariNaomi. Ron Marz talks to Laura Braga. J. Caleb Mozzocco talks to Lucy Knisley.

* speaking of MariNaomi, this post on apologies ropes in recent comics events.

* here's a photo of JT Dockery in front of his work.

* finally, Michael Cavna talks to Team March about their book being named a Coretta Scott King Honor book in a recent set of announced ALA awards.
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Happy 54th Birthday, Grant Morrison!

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Happy 41st Birthday, Jonathan Baylis!

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January 30, 2014

Euro-Comics Special: Paul Karasik In Angouleme 02


By Paul Karasik

imageJacques Tardi and The Goddamn War

The exhibition of work by Jacques Tardi in Angouleme this year is claustrophobic, poorly lit, and monotonous.

These very qualities make this a landmark exhibition, undoubtedly one of the best comics shows I have ever seen.

And believe me, I've seen plenty. In a minor fashion, I was involved in the Masters of American Comics exhibition that started at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, and so I have some insider's knowledge of how difficult it is to install a show of comic art.

Comics are meant for in-the-hand reading. The cartoonist works with that precept and the publisher obliges by making objects that you have to hold to read. The advent of electronic reading devices has made comics consumption an even more intimate experience.

This makes hanging comics on a wall a tricky proposition -- because you immediately objectify the original pages, whose design and function have been built on subjective manhandling.

The Tardi exhibition operates with a full understanding of this problem -- and uses that awareness to create a situation that forces the reader to embrace his powerful work in an intimate way.

Though the iconoclastic Tardi may not like to hear this, Tardi is an icon, an elder statesman of French comics who has worked successfully in many genres. But his most personal and forceful work are the hundreds of pages that he has spent chronologically chronicling the First World War in France.

The work is intense, brutal, gory, and unrelenting in its aim: to grab the reader by the lapels and lift him off the ground, shaking him out of the complacency that set in early after the Great War to matter-of-factly accept the unacceptable murder of thousands and the seismic ripple those deaths made through the generations.

And because of this, the Tardi exhibit is not a display of work but a continuation of one man's artistic mission.

At first the exhibit-goer may be put off by the space, which is claustrophobic. The walls are constructed of rough-hewn pine boards. The work is hung like lined-up dog tags. The lights emit a subdued incandescent glow, not dim, but not particularly illuminating. As you wander from space to space you may not be certain if you have already been in this gallery before. The soundtrack for the entire experience combines the sounds of a woman (Dominique Grange, Tardi's wife) singing songs of the era with a constant distant rumble of artillery.

Welcome to the trenches.

The work on the walls can be read as narrative sequences. In fact, each gallery space represents a different year of the war. But the experience can also be absorbed by tuning in and out of individual pieces: a body suspended in barbed wire, a child holding a pistol, smoke across the distant no-man's land. Either way, it's chilling.

2014 is the 100th anniversary of the start of the War, and Tardi will not let you forget it.


Paul Karasik is a cartoonist, author and educator best known for his work on the graphic novel version of City Of Glass and for bringing to a wider audience the work of Golden Age cartoonist Fletcher Hanks.


posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink

OTBP: Comic Book Babylon

This was a kickstarted project that I believe is primarily available as a kindle book right now for next to nothing.
posted 1:50 am PST | Permalink

Random Things I've Been Reading About Angouleme This Morning

FIBD in Angouleme begins today. Here are a few, brief notes about major stories developing over there, as well as one or two that simply caught my eye.

image* you're not going to find a more major legit-news story than the passing of the author and magazine editor Francois Cavanna yesterday. Cavanna helped create the satirical mainstays Hara Kiri and Charlie Hebdo at different ends of the 1960s, the latter initially springing forth as a weekly version of the more standard-magazine former. He later become a well-respected memoir writer.,108117.php

* I'm not finding a link for the PR, but comiXology is celebrating its one-year anniversary of "holy shit, comiXology!" moments that began last year when they basically swept up a deciding chunk of the French-language comics market via a publishing deal by announcing its completion of multiple-platform availability within that market. A heck of a year for those guys, and their strength in Europe makes them a major player in a way that just doing the US stuff wouldn't afford on its own. This might work as a link.

* for some reason my bookmarks folder yielded this tweet about the rapid growth in sales enjoyed by the Asterix albums in the 1960s. I've never seen it stated so plainly before, and it's fun to encounter figures like that.

* if I'm understanding this post correctly, there's a photographer set up at the Festival that takes handsome photos of comics-makers that they can then use for their own publicity purposes? Sign me up for some of that. If I have that wrong, you can still look at some nice photos, including a couple of cartoonists that I'm not sure I knew what they looked like.

* finally, this video of Lewis Trondheim announcing that a restriction of this year's 24-Hour comics will be the use of images from Boulet's instagram account, and Boulet's surprised reaction, is a very cute moment and the kind that sort of "makes" shows like this one. It also strikes me that we're going to start seeing instances like this routine captured on camera during events coverage. Here is a series of videos on this year's event within the larger event.
posted 1:45 am PST | Permalink

By Request Extra: Thought Bubble Sketch Auction For Charity


Explained through the link. It's very nice, and even if you can't afford to bid on a sketch you can look at the art and enjoy it.
posted 1:40 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Paul Kupperberg On Stan Lee Vs. Jack Kirby

imageThere are about 15 different things in this article by Paul Kupperberg on Stan Lee vs. Jack Kirby with which I'd disagree, but I thought it a fascinating snapshot of a certain kind of comics professional orientation towards these issues. He's right in that Jonathan Ross did everyone a favor by getting Stan Lee to step away from his usual line about this stuff and speak more plainly about his feelings regarding creative ownership. I think it's also always worth noting that one of the reasons that the specific act of creative authorship is so heavily debated in a way that similar acts of creation in other media aren't is because the value that Stan Lee placed on being an idea man that might be able to find work in Hollywood doing something similar, and the subsequent discovery a few decades later that these ideas had value as entertainment concepts in and of themselves. I'm probably also directly opposed to what I see as an underlying theme to these articles. I think if we're never going to know what really happened -- and we're not going to in a way that satisfies barring a remarkable change in story from Lee -- then a lot of combative back and forth that asserts the value of those historically left out is healthy, not a sign of fan pathology or general unpleasantness.
posted 1:35 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Marion Balac

posted 1:30 am PST | Permalink

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