Articles Published the Week of June 19th

Simon Hanselmann on Megg and Mogg in Amsterdam

Simon Hanselmann made a splash a couple years back with Megahex, and now the cartoonist and Vice Magazine contributor is back with another book, Megg and Mogg in Amsterdam. I love the way he blends the wild outrageous humor with darker elements of depression and abuse and getting older and he continues that in this new book. he also opened up about his work, what he's trying to do next and what he's nervous about doing.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar comes to comics with Mycroft Holmes

I was a big fan of Abdul-Jabbar's novel Mycroft Holmes, which was released last year from Titan Books and now Titan Comics is publishing the miniseries Mycroft Holmes and the Apocalypse Handbook. I'm sure people don't often expect possibly the greatest basketball player to be a noted Sherlockian, a columnist for Time magazine, or to be able shout out the comics writers and named drop Earth-2 like he does in this interview, but Abdul-Jabbar isn't just any legendary athlete. He's also an airplane pilot.

Articles Published the Week of June 12th

Cullen Bunn, Brian Hurtt, and Bill Crabtree celebrate The Sixth Gun's 50th and Final Issue

I've spoken with the guys behind the series The Sixth Gun a few times over the years, individually and in a group. I was thrilled that we were able to sit down one last time to talk about the series' ending. Not a lot of independent comics last 50 issues and get to tell a beginning, middle and end of a story in a way they decide. That alone is worth noting, but it's always been a good comic and

The Comics Journal interview with Michael Maslin

Michael Maslin has been contributing cartoons to The New Yorker for decades, published numerous books, but his new book is something different, a biography of Peter Arno. It's the first bio of the legendary cartoonist and illustrator and we spoke about Arno and his influence, Maslin's own work and his time at the New Yorker, and related topics.

Bojack Horseman's Lisa Hanawalt is Hungry for more comics with Hot Dog Taste Test

I've been reading Lisa Hanawalt for years and was thrilled that we could talk about her new book, Hot Dog Taste Test, which is out this week. She's best known now for her work on the show Bojack Horseman - and I asked a few questions about it - but we spoke about her comics work and various projects.

MariNaomi explores being young and Turning Japanese

MariNaomi is a great cartoonist and I was thrilled to get to talk with her again about her new book Turning Japanese which is about her experiences in her 20's in California and in Japan, but it's about growing up, about understanding family, trying to find identity and what that means. It's one of those great memoirs where her experience is so different from mine, but on one level, I could relate to her so completely.


Is The Longest Shortest Time the best comics podcast out there?

I don't have kids, but I do occasionally listen to Hillary Frank's podcast The Longest Shortest Time. Part of this is simply because I enjoy Frank, a novelist and radio producer. An interesting host whose sensibility dominates the show can make any show interesting. Of course she also has some great conversations with people.

I was struck last week, though, when Frank released a new episode, which was a great conversation with CeCe Bell. Like Frank's daughter I really loved the graphic novel El Deafo (okay, Frank's daughter likes it more than I do, it sounds like, but still) which was an amazing book and she and Frank had a great conversation. Earlier in the year, Frank sat down with Dennis and Jessie Hopeless and they spoke about Spider-Woman and life and twins and marriage and all these related issues.

What struck me is that Frank is better than a lot of comics journalists at covering the form. And maybe one reason is that she's not immersed in the form so much so that she can ask about a thousand other things which she sees and thinks about and bring to the larger conversation we're having about comics.

There are conversations among people who write about comics about how there's no money, how people burn out and move onto other things, how so many people and sites are spending more time and energy on clickbait nonsense (how many dumb posts about movies that haven't come out yet repeating the same rumor will people read?). But I think that what gets lost in this conversation is that by framing the conversation in these narrow terms, we're missing a lot of what's happening in the world. Admittedly I don't think the New York Times covers comics well, but they do cover them. I hear Glen Weldon every week on NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour. I hear Hillary Frank tackling a topic she probably didn't give much thought to but she covers it well in thoughtful and interesting ways.

I'm sure someone will attack me for the hyperbolic headline, but my point is that more people than ever are writing about comics in really interesting ways. And comics–and all of us–are better for it.

Carol Tyler honored with a gold medal by the Society of Illustrators

My admiration of and respect for Carol Tyler is immense and I believe that her book Soldier's Heart is one of the best comics created so far in the 21st Century. It's an immensely powerful book, personal, sociological, and important.

The Society of Illustrators awarded a Gold Medal to the book Soldier's Heart. I'm sorry that I can't be there for the awards, but the book deserves every award it receives. It's an immense piece of work.


Articles Published the Week of June 5th

Filling a Vacuum: Kwame Dawes on directing the African Poetry Book Fund

I'm a great admirer of Kwame Dawes' work, but in recent years he's also shown himself to be a great editor, in large part through his work on the African Poetry Book Fund. For people who read poetry in English, the series has become essential, publishing some great young writers and established writers as well, and we discussed his work.

How The Odyssey of Sergeant Jack Brennan uses marines to start a dialogue about trauma

Bryan Doerries and his project, Theater of War, has been doing some amazing work in the past decade, presenting Greek drama for military audiences and using the performances to help start a dialogue about war and pain, and we spoke about his work and his new book, which adapts The Odyssey.

Drew Ford on Sam Glanzman's Red Range and the new comics imprint It's Alive

There are many highlights to Drew Ford's time on the Dover graphic novel imprint, but one has to be collecting the work of Sam Glanzman. Now that Ford is starting his own imprint, It's Alive, he's launching it with another Glanzman book, and kickstarting the project.

The Rumpus Interview with Shawn Vestal 

I really liked Shawn Vestal's novel Daredevils, and I was thrilled to conduct the Rumpus interview with him to talk about his debut novel, faith, and the myth of the American West.

When Muhammad Ali and Superman saved the world

Muhammad Ali passed away recently and I wrote about one of the stranger comics ever published - 1978's Superman vs Muhammad Ali, and what it meant. Really, I wrote about Ali and how he was because he was an amazing man, and it's hard to imagine anyone else would could have stood next to Superman.


Articles Published the Week of May 29th

Mike Mignola: Hellboy in Hell

One of my favorite comics creators is Mike Mignola. There are a lot of reasons why I like Hellboy - more than I can probably list here - but the series is an amazing one and has been a success for more than two decades. A few years ago Mignola killed the character and sent him to hell where he's been wandering around, and now Mignola has concluded the series with Hellboy in Hell #10. I'm curious how people will read it. I think the issue worked well and i think that it's a fitting conclusion. We'll have to wait a while for what comes next, as Mignola is taking a year off to paint and think about what he's going to do for the rest of his life, as he said in our conversation, but i'll stand in line to see it.


Articles Published the Week of May 22nd

Carol Tyler: Soldier's Heart

I've long been a reader of the Los Angeles Review of Books and I'm thrilled to write for them. I'm even more thrilled that it's an interview with Carol Tyler, who is one of our great cartoonists and we spoke about her book Soldier's Heart, which

Farel Dalrymple on Pop Gun War: Gift, New York, and Brandon Graham's Island

Pop Gun War is a book that I fell in love with years ago when Dark Horse first collected it. Now Image Comics has published a new edition of the book and Dalrymple is working on a sequel and I got to speak with him about the project and his career.

The Carlos Gimenez Interview

Carlos Gimenez's Paracuellos is one of the most important comics that will be published this year. The book is about his youth, growing up in a home run by Spain's fascist government and the Church. It is not an easy book, but it is among the most moving, powerful graphic novels I know, and I can only hope that this book finds the audience that it so deserves.

Everything is teeth explores Novelist Evie Wyld's Childhood Fear of Sharks

I discovered Evie Wyld's novels last year and fell in love with the two. Now she has written a graphic memoir and I was thrilled to get to speak with her about the project, which is similar but very different from her fictional work. Hopefully I managed to convey that many of us think she's one of the great novelists of our generation. (And she talks a little about her novel in progress)

Belgian Cartoonist Brecht Evens Invokes Fear with a Handful of Colors in Panther

Brecht Evens creates unbelievably beautiful comics. He's a fabulous with a great sense of color and design. In Panther, his new book out now, he tells a very disturbing and haunting story, that if you glance at it, might seem like a children's book.


Review: We'll Always Have Paris by Jennifer Coburn

I don't get to travel very much, and so travel books are the way I get to live vicariously through others. I've never read Jennifer Coburn before so I literally just stumbled across the book on the shelf and I read the back of the book just based on the title. I'm a sucker for a book about Paris.

The book details a series of trips that Coburn took with her daughter Katie over a period of years starting when she was young. Coburn always believed that she would die at a young age - she discusses that and her relationship with her father and other issues in the course of the book, which is ultimately as much about that aspect of her life as it is about traveling, about the experience of travel, and about learning about her child through these experiences.

Coburn manages to convey the romance and the excitement and the awe of travel in a way that I could ultimately relate to. Having said that she never shies away from her own shortcomings or failings or how she gets sick almost every trip and while delirious and puking, thinks that this was all a horrible idea and she never should have come.

It helps that her daughter comes off as the greatest travel companion ever and an easy-going child who must be the envy of most adults. There's a scene early on where Coburn describes the arrival of a hamburger at a cafe in Paris, which is topped with a sunny side up egg. The eight year old shrugs and eats it. Later she's wearing a pink beret around Paris and sketching at the museums and honestly just comes across as a lot of fun. (Truthfully if all children were like her, more people would probably have kids).

In the end the book's main shortcoming is that the memoir sections of Coburn's youth, her relationship with her father, while insightful and thoughtful, in some ways felt like a different book. Reading it, I understood why it was there, I understood the relationship between the two sections of the book, structurally it made sense, but I didn't feel it. I honestly just enjoyed and was engaged much more with the "present" as Coburn is traveling and dealing with her daughter.

Over all, though, the book was a joy.

Articles Published the Week of May 8th

Phoebe and Her Unicorn is funny, fantastical, and for creator Dana Simpson, personal.

I think Dana Simpson is making one of the best comic strips currently running. Phoebe and Her Unicorn is genius, quite simply. It's wild and fantastical. It's a strip that a lot of people have compared to Calvin and Hobbes - instead of a boy and a tiger it's a girl and a unicorn - but that doesn't get at the many elements of the strip, the ways that Dana balances them, the inspired mix of the mundane and fantastic, and Dana's sense of humor.

Steven Universe Creator Rebecca Sugar on crafting a show about family, love and aliens

Last month at the MoCCA Festival, I sat down with Rebecca Sugar, the woman behind the hit animated series Steven Universe. She doesn't spill anything about the new season, which launched this week, and I didn't ask for any spoilers, but we spoke about how she thinks about the show, science fiction, intersectional feminism and more.

Roberta Gregory on Mother Mountain, Wimmen's Comix and Bitchy Bitch

Roberta Gregory has long been a groundbreaking cartoonist. She's been creating great work since the 1970's, though she still remains best known for Bitchy Bitch, the protagonist of her long running series Naughty Bits. I spoke with her for my epic article about Wimmen's Comix for The Comics Journal and here we talk about her career and what she's working on now.

Azzarello, Bisley and Floyd craft a heavy metal quest in the violently funny Alpha King

I've heard about 3 Floyds Brewing Company, though never drank the beer - they're a regional brewery and I haven't been through Indiana for a while - and now Nick Floyd has teamed up with Brian Azzarello and Simon Bisley to make a comic book inspired by the labels, designs and mythology behind the brewery. I'm a fan of all of them so I got the chance to get them on the phone together and talk about the project.

Articles Published the Week of May 1st

Dean Haspiel's The Red Hook creates its own superhero ecosystem in Brooklyn

I'm a big fan of Dean Haspiel and I've interviewed him for years about a wide range of projects. His new big project is The Red Hook, a free weekly webcomic which is part of Haspiel's larger project of "New Brooklyn." I visited his studio in April and we sat down and talked about the project, how it began, the way his thinking about Brooklyn has changed over the years and trying to add some fun and romance into superhero comics.

Celebrate Free Comic Book Day with Wicks and Chad's "Science Comics"

First Second Books has launched a new imprint this year, Science Comics, and they're taking part in Free Comic Book Day this year to promote the line and asked two of their cartoonists - Maris Wicks and Jon Chad - to create new short comics about their books in the series, Coral Reefs and Volcanoes.


Review: What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding by Kristin Newman

Review: What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding by Kristin Newman

I'm a fan of travel books and I'm a fan of Kristin Newman (a sitcom writer whose work recently on The Muppets and Galavant was talented). Plus the book has a great title.

Admittedly as someone who is alone and childless (and has, due to not making nearly as much money, has been told that I've taken a few awesome trips) I can relate to both the boasting in the title and the annoyance and frustration that underlies it.

The book details the adventures that Newman took to Argentina and France, Brazil, Iceland and elsewhere. She traveled alone a lot, or with friends, she met people there, and besides being incredibly funny (so funny) it's a really impressive book about getting older, about traveling and dislocation. The book details a series of trips that take place over more than a decade and

Among Newman's many Hollywood credits are How I Met Your Mother (sidenote: Newman reveals why it was that Robin returned from Argentina with a boyfriend) but at its best, the show managed to convey in a funny but thoughtful way about what it meant to grow older. And that's precisely what this memoir does.

Also Newman is very sharp about what it means to travel - and travel solo - in your thirties. Some of them I knew, some I've experienced but never put into words, and others were just much funnier put than I can manage.

Really the only flaw in the book from my perspective is the ending. In short she meets a guy and finds happiness and yes, it's wonderful for her. It just felt like an unexciting ending. Newman admits as much in the text.

I do wish that one of Newman's TV projects which would feature life in hostels overseas or among travelers would make it on the air. That I would watch...maybe if there were muppets also working in the hostel...hmmm...

Articles Published the Week of April 10th

"MAD" Artist Al Jaffee Celebrates Turning 95 Years Young

One of the great privileges of my career was getting invited recently to Al Jaffee's 95th birthday. The legendary cartoonist - who remains perhaps best known as the creator of the Mad Magazine fold-in - celebrated with friends and colleagues (and a couple journalists). I got to speak with him early in the night and at 95 he's still active and creative - which is something we all can envy.

Garth Ennis Proves Everything Old is New at Image Comics with a Trio of Re-releases

I've long been a fan of Garth Ennis' comics work and I got to talk with him recently about three books coming out this year, reprinting three very different older projects of his.