Articles Published the Week of June 11th

Famed Spanish Cartoonist Paco Roca Talks About History, Memory and Dreams

Paco Roca is a star of European cartoonists and in the past year two of his books have been published here in the US. Wrinkles is an amazing book about dementia and old age and was turned into an award winning animated film. The Lighthouse is a fable about a soldier fleeing the Spanish Civil War. Both are incredible and I recently had the chance to talk with Roca about his work, memory, the Spanish Civil War and its long shadow, and his forays into animation.

You Might Be an Artist If...You Find Lauren Purje's book all too relatable

I love Lauren Purje's comics, which I call the equivalent of editorial cartoons about the art world. Top Shelf has collected a lot of them into the book "You Might Be An Artist If..." and it is smart and funny and relatable and cringeworthy and just a great read.

Reflections on Bloomsday

Last week I did an event with Sea Tea Improv for Bloomsday. Which yes, means that a group of improvisors made comedy out of James Joyce's epic novel. They were very funny and there were a few truly inspired scenes in the show. Anyway I wrote up a few thoughts about Joyce and Ulysses and posted them on medium.

Articles Published The Week of June 4th

Y; The Last Man Artist Pia Guerra Talks Trump, Politics and Editorial Cartooning

Lately Pia Guerra, the penciller and co-creator of the acclaimed Y: The Last Man has been working as a political cartoonist. Weekly on The Nib and more frequently on her own site she's been taking aim at the current administration and American politics. We spoke recently about her work, politics, and the very different mindset required compared to drawing Black Canary.

Mike Norton Takes on Trump, Guests on Astro City

Mike Norton is at an interesting career crossroads. He's finished a number of longform projects and he announced that he wants a different career going forward. So he's writing and drawing a Battlepug comic, he's collaborating with Sean McKeever on a project that isn't out yet (and doesn't have a publisher - HINT HINT), and he launched a webcomic Lil' Donnie, to work out some of frustration about the state of the country. He's also drawing an upcoming issue of Astro City so we talked about politics, frustration, art, and more.

Articles Published the Week of May 28th

In Conversation with Mai Der Vang

Mai Der Vang's debut collection has a lot of truly exceptional poems and I talked with her for The Brooklyn Rail and we covered a lot of ground - like her poetry - about personal history and collective memory and audiences and I'm so glad that it's now out.

The Rumpus Mini-Interview Project: Max Allan Collins

I've interviewed Max Allan Collins a few times over the years, but in April he was named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America, their lifetime achievement award. To mark the occasion I spoke to him for The Rumpus and we didn't talk about specific books so much or what he's working on now, but on his time at the University of Iowa Writers Workshop, Richard Yates, the Vietnam war, the influence of music on his life, and how his recent health issues and becoming a grandfather has changed him and what he wants to do next.


Lynda Barry in The Family Circus

Last weekend at the National Cartoonists Society held the 71st annual Reuben Awards in Portland, Oregon. Lynda Barry was given the Milton Caniff Lifetime Achievement Award. It's chosen by a unanimous vote of the society board and it places her in good company - Charles Schulz, Jules Feiffer, Sandra Boynton, Frank Frazetta, Jack Davis, Ralph Steadman.

(I know, it's eclectic company, but if you hang around cartoonists long enough, you'll see they'll pretty eclectic people)

But I think it's worth noting that while she may have been given that award by her peers in a black tie event, an award presented by her longtime friend Matt Groening, it's not the biggest honor she received last weekend. You see, she appeared in The Family Circus:

The Family Circus is a comic strip that people like to laugh at and be snarky towards, but Lynda Barry has spoken very eloquently about how much the strip meant to her as a child. How it was this stable, happy world where parents loved their children and it was so unlike her world as a child.

The strip was created by Bill Keane and it's now written and drawn by his son Jeff - who was the original inspiration for Jeffy in the strip. So in the strip, Jeffy is bringing Lynda home and making his friend part of the family. And there's something so very touching and sweet and meaningful and loving about that. Because Jeff Keane knows what this means.

Lynda Barry commented on this the other day on her tumblr page:

"Know this: Love is ALWAYS cool."


Articles Published the Week of May 21st

Ivan Brunetti Returns to Comics with his First Graphic Novel for Kids

Like most people I love Ivan Brunetti's New Yorker covers. It's been a while since he's made comics, though, but this year he's back with an all new book, Wordplay. His first book for kids, it's published by Toon Books and edited by his longtime New Yorker editor, the legendary Francoise Mouly. We talked about his new book, what's been behind his other projects, and his own experiences with learning English.


Sonya Walger should be Modesty Blaise

Sonya Walger should be Modesty Blaise.

To backtrack for a second, Sonya Walger - the actor perhaps best known for her roles in Lost and FlashForward and Tell Me You Love Me and Common Law and the first The Librarian movie - was one of the stars of the show The Catch, which was just cancelled by ABC after two seasons.

Now it was cancelled because it wasn't especially good - for a variety of reasons - but one of the best things about the show was Walger. In particular her character of Margot Bishop. As initially introduced, the character is a con artist working with a small team in Los Angeles, but then it becomes clear in the first season that she is in fact the daughter of a major crime lord, with criminal operations in many countries across the globe. But not in America. And so when she left the family business along with her partner, they went to where the organization wasn't.

Though her brother (played by John Simm, who's a joy) and her mother arrive in Los Angeles with plans for expansion and then Margot takes the helm of the company by pushing the two of them out...

The point is that she managed to play a character who was a woman who was in her thirties or forties, but looking fabulous, who has relationship drama and familial issues, but she was also cold blooded, dangerous, had a sense of humor, was sexual, could be wounded and vulnerable, and in each episode was very dangerous. She was in short, a really interesting character.

Bishop reminded me of another character, Modesty Blaise. Created by Peter O'Donnell, the character grew up in an IDP camp in the aftermath of World War II, assembled a criminal operation and then gave it up to live a life of quiet and luxury. Which she found boring and then took cases from British intelligence to do the kind of wetwork and quiet operations that the government would of course never condone or assign to anyone. Or just take up doing favors for people or take care of business that crept up from her criminal past.

The novels and short stories are fabulous - even better than the long-running comic strip where she first debuted, at least to my mind. The films aren't as good. That's a story for another time.

But I do think that a Modesty Blaise series starring Walger as Modesty would be amazing. An ex-criminal mastermind who now does criminal things but for the government. Powerful, intelligent, colorful, dangerous. Walger could nail the character. All that's needed is a good actor to play Willie Garvin...although John Simm was funny and dangerous and great on The Catch...and the two actors already have chemistry...Simm isn't necessarily who I might have thought of it, but I do think Simm is brilliant and can do just about anything.

It would be great fun. Someone really needs to make this show. (I mean, I'd watch it...)


Articles Published the Week of May 14th

Thi Bui's The Best We Could Do Already Among Comics' Best Memoirs

One of the best new books I've read this year is Thi Bui's graphic memoir The Best We Could Do. I'm honestly not sure what I can say that I didn't put in the article except that this is a great book and I think it's a great conversation and I'm so glad that this is in the world.

Articles Published the Week of May 7th

La Cucaracha Cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz uses Humor as Resistence

I've long thought Lalo Alcaraz is one of he funniest cartoonists on the comics page. His strip La Cucaracha is one of the best strips of the 21st Century. He's also drawing political cartoons, has illustrated books, teaches, hosts a radio show, works in TV and film. We sat down to talk about the strip, about political cartooning, but also about the current administration, what happened back in the nineties in California during the Pete Wilson administration, how he hasn't changed but the national conversation has changed, and more.


Articles Published the Week of April 30th

An Interview with David Wiesner

Wiesner is one of the great picture book artists of all time. He has three Caldecott Medals among a long list of other awards. I think his Three Little Pigs book is especially brilliant. He's long talked about the influence that comics, and Jack Kirby in particular, has had on his work, and he just released his first graphic novel, Fish Girl. We talked about the many choices that were involved in the project, delve into his process and how he thinks, and whether this long project has made him excited to try it again, or if he wants to run away and never try it again.


Articles Published the Week of April 23rd

My Favorite Thing is Monsters' Author Talks 2017's Buzziest Graphic Novel

Emil Ferris' debut graphic novel My Favorite Thing Is Monsters is not just one of the best graphic novels of the year, it's one of the best books of the year and should go on the long list of the great all-time graphic novels. I had a great, lengthy conversation with Emil, which I think shows in the text, and I'm so proud to present this interview.

1942's Woman of the Year Remains a Contemporary Romantic Comedy, But Not Necessarily for Good Reasons

I have long loved Katherine Hepburn. The characters she played in films like Bringing Up Baby, Holiday, the Philadelphia Story and others are some of the funniest I know – and my love of screwball comedy has likely played a role in shaping my idea of what a perfect mate should be. When it comes to Woman of the Year, the 1942 comedy she starred in with Spencer Tracy - the film where they met, and their legendary love affair began - is one I have mixed feelings about. On the one hand it is a more mature and subtler comedy than the earlier screwball films I mentioned, and there are many elements and moments I loved. But it remains troubling contemporary in some ways. The film is just out from Criterion and Splitsider let me talk about the film.

Articles Published the Week of April 16th

First Time Creator Explores Deserted Cities in Imagine Wanting Only This

One of my favorite comics to come out so far this year has to be Imagine Wanting Only This by Kristen Radtke. It's her first book and she makes it clear that she doesn't come from a cartooning background. She went to art school and then got an MFA in writing and combining the two came later, but she's an immensely talented writer and artist and this book hits so many of my fields of interest. I got to talk with her about the book, which is the kind of essay-istic comic that I think that comics needs more of.


Only You Can Stop Celebrity Prom Proposal Videos!

What the hell is wrong with kids today?

Okay now that I sound like an old man, let me start by admitting that I never went to prom. I'm sure that in the mind of someone, that will color my ability to comment on this.

What the hell is wrong with people inviting celebrities to prom via videos they post online? Because no one sane or well-raised would do such a thing. It's a rude, narcissistic act that needs to stop.

A few points:

One, if you want to go to prom, ask a friend.

Two, you want to f*** a celebrity? Good for you. You think that makes you unique? It doesn't. No one should care.

Three, you want to ask out a total stranger? That's creepy. No one wants to date a total stranger! If you're all I don't know anything about you and we've never talked before but I think you're hot, wanna go out? Because that is what you're asking. It's weird, it's creepy.

Four, you're asking someone older to prom. Hard no. Seriously, what adult wants to go to prom with an underage kid? (Answer: an adult you don't want to be around)

Five, get some ****ing manners. Were you raised by wolves? Demanding a stranger's time and attention like this? You're showing no class and no respect for others and demanding that they respond to you. It's rude and manipulative.

Six, Some people have called this sexual harassment. Not sure I'd go that far, but I do understand it.

Seven, I also blame the media for covering it. This is what happens when we have fifty million channels filling hour after hour every day. they cover a lot of nonsense that they really should not be covering simply to avoid having dead air. They should just say no.

Eight, I'm sure people will go, oh women do this to guys. Yes, they do. It's obnoxious and inappropriate then, as well.

Nine, I still don't get prom. I blame the media and this idea that prom is wonderful and special and blah blah blah.

Ten, just because it still needs to be said - even if a person isn't a celebrity, they don't owe you a yes, and even if they say yes, they don't you owe you anything. I say it because clearly it's not a widely enough held belief.