Articles Published the Week of November 17th

Roz Chast Asks "Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?"

I'm a huge fan of Roz Chast and her work. Hell, who isn't? Her recent book, "Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?" is one of her best works. It's funny and heartbreaking and an incredibly moving experience. I was glad to be able to talk with her. We ran the article before the National Book Award ceremony and though she didn't win,

Lisa Hanawalt is Riding High with "BoJack Horseman"

I love Lisa Hanawalt's work and I'm a big fan of "BoJack Horseman," the animated show on Netflix she works on. She's the show's production designer (I ask about what exactly that means) and I spoke with her about the show, Coyote Doggirl, and her other work.

Reading List: Harlan Ellison's Greatest (Comic Book) Hits

Harlan Ellison is a writer I've been reading for a long time and I can honestly say that the man's work has helped shaped my sensibility. When I lived in Los Angeles many years ago I had the chance to meet Mr. Ellison and while when he was talking he was every bit the funny, crazy, irritable and profane persona that he's put forward. Afterwards though I was lingering in the bookstore with a friend - we were looking over some other books after Ellison signed our books. Before he left with his wife and some friends Ellison came over and was very nice, we shook his hand, we all thanked each other, and it was the kind of nice, genuine moment that people might not expect, but this kindness is at the heart of all his work.

This week, "Batman '66: The Lost Episode" comes out from DC. The comic is based on an episode of the old Batman TV show that Ellison had outlined and pitched. The episode would have introduced Two-Face and now Len Wein and Jose Luis Garcia Lopez have adapted the story to comics. To mark the occasion, we listed a lot of the comics work Ellison has written over the years.

Articles Published the Week of November 10th

Frank Cho and Tom Sniegoski talk about "Drawing Beautiful Women" and "World of Payne"

Cho and Sniegoski make each other (and me) laugh, and then they talk about Cho's new art instruction book "Drawing Beautiful Women," their series "World of Payne" which debuts next year,  and Cho gives a rundown of his upcoming projects over the next few years including "Skybourne," "Guns and Dinos" and "Liberty Meadows."

Aisha Franz blasts off with "Earthling"

I loved Franz's debut graphic novel about two girls and their mother in the suburbs and the flights of fancy the three engage in, in ways that's fun and strange and a little heartbreaking.

Amanda Palmer talks "The Art of Asking"

Amanda Palmer's book really moved me and I was glad to get the chance to talk with her and share that with her. I'm usually not this open about my own feelings in an interview, but Palmer talks about what it means to be an artist and isn't afraid to be brutally honest about her own relationship in the process.

Articles Published the Week of November 3rd

Jill Lepore reveals "The Secret History of Wonder Woman"

I'm a huge fan of Lepore and have read most of her books. I'm a particular fan of her first book, "The Name of War," about King Philip's War. I had the chance to talk with her about her new book which looks at the creator of Wonder Woman, influences on the creation of the character, the history of 20th century feminism and many other related topics.

Michel Fiffe unleashes "Copra: Round One"

Fiffe writes "All-New Ultimates" at Marvel Comics, but he's the writer/artist/colorist/publisher of "Copra," which is one of the best, most innovative superhero comics being published right now. I got to talk with him about the new collection of the first six issues of the comic. I got to meet him over the weekend at Comic Art Brooklyn and he's also an incredibly nice guy.

Scott McCloud and Bill Kartolopoulos choose "The Best American Comics 2014"

Two incredibly smart people talking to me about some of the best comics being published this year. We talk about Allie Brosh, Hawkeye, Sam Sharpe, Erin Curry, Sam Alden, Richard Thompson and the state of comics in 2014.

Musing: The Diversity Unicorn

So my colleague (and boss) Albert Ching reviewed the movie Guardians of the Galaxy the other week. Apparently it's a movie. Anyway he really liked the movie but made a comment about how yet again we have a superhero movie where it's all centered around a white guy. Well, some people didn't like that. So he wrote a piece about that. And the trolls came out yet again.

I occasionally forget how many people believe it to be racist to say things like, why does the lead actor almost always have to be white?

Maybe the serious, thoughtful tone of the piece offended them. Or maybe "the diversity unicorn" in the article bothered them.

I would like to quote from Albert's followup piece, because i think it's worth re-reading:

"The idea that the only reason to have these discussion is to "appease" some nebulous entity reduces the importance of these matters to a false "us vs. them" mentality. There's nothing inherently political about wanting to see positive, diverse representation in popular entertainment, be it movies, television, video games or the comic books themselves that so much of them are based on. It's life. It's reality. It doesn't have a left or right wing bias. I don't want to see minorities in a superhero movie because I'm a minority; I want to see it because I live in society" 

As a cisgender white guy, I'd like to second that.


March receives RFK Book Award

I'm a huge fan and admirer of the book March which was released last year. The fact that it's being recognized by the RFK Center is well-deserved and very appropriate.

According to the Robert F. Kennedy Center's website:

Each year the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights presents an award to the book which "most faithfully and forcefully reflects Robert Kennedy's purposes - his concern for the poor and the powerless, his struggle for honest and even-handed justice, his conviction that a decent society must assure all young people a fair chance, and his faith that a free democracy can act to remedy disparities of power and opportunity."

Congressman Lewis previously received the book award with Michael D'Orso in 1999 for his memoir "Walking with the Wind." Previous recipients of the book award include Jonathan Kozol, Neil Sheehan, Al Gore, George Packer, Samantha Power, John Hope Franklin, Jane Mayer.

It's good to see comics getting greater recognition and it's good to see an important book like March getting attention.

Possibly the world's coolest bus shelters

Over at, there's a fun article about Krumbach, a small Austrian town that has really interesting bus shelters. And they are interesting, though I don't think some of them are particularly practical. I mean one has little shelter from the elements, which seems to go against the whole reason for the structure to exist place. Maybe I'm wrong?

I'd love to see a city here in US have an open competition for bus, train or trolley shelters. Let's figure out a number of what the average shelter costs. Then issue an open invitation to everyone on the planet. If you have this budget, design a bus shelter.

This would force people to be practical - you only have so much money, it does have to fit on the sidewalk. People are going to use it constantly so it won't be a museum piece, but see if you can create something that's more than what we have now.

This is one of the most annoying things about development in the post-war era. All these early 20th century buildings are beautiful. The New Deal was responsible for even more projects many of which are still in use today. But then we stopped caring about design. Look at a post office built in the first half of the century - they tend to be beautiful stone buildings, often still in use today, if not as post offices than renovated to other uses. More recent post offices have less character than the average cardboard box and they're only slightly better built.

This is what's been so frustrating about CTFastrak here in Connecticut. The stations and the designs and the shelters are so boring it's not even funny. It's easy to cynically assume that they chose to work with the same firms they always work with and always get the state contracts (who also happen to contribute massive amounts to both political parties). The truth is far simpler, though, I think. They're so used to doing things one way - and know so little about public transit, this being CT - that they chose the dullest possible option. They just don't know how to think otherwise.


I haven't been much of a blogger lately...

I haven't been much of a blogger lately...

That may be an understatement, but regardless the truth is that I've been avoiding posting anything over the past couple months. One reason is simply that I've been busy. Life has been a little crazy and there's been moving and job craziness. It leaves less time for things like this. And part of it is that if I'm going to be honest, blogging is not high on my list of priorities, so when overwhelmed, it gets left off my to-do list.

I've been writing a lot of articles, struggling financially, had longer projects that just are not coming together. The result has been a lot of frustration and a lot of exhaustion. I like what I do. I really do. But I'm not sure that I believe in what I do. I believe that it exists, I'm just not entirely certain that it matters. And yet when I try to do something else, whether get a different kind of job or apply to go back to school, I get rejected. It's disheartening.

I don't have an answer. I don't have a solution. No solution has presented itself. So right now I keep doing what I'm doing - though with some more blogging than I have been doing (though lately any blogging would be a major upgrade over the past couple months).

We'll see what happens next.

Conversations with William Gibson

I'm a huge fan of William Gibson. Neuromancer, The Difference Engine, Pattern Recognition and plenty of other of his books have blown me away over the years. I was thrilled years ago when I had the chance to interview Gibson. It was relatively early in my career. I remember interviewing him in the backroom at Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena. I was nervous and hopped up on adrenaline. He was tired after a long day and in need of caffeine. My parents were actually on vacation in Los Angeles for a few days and hung around the bookstore while I conducted the interview and we went out to dinner afterwards.

When Patrick Smith asked to include the interview in the book he was editing, part of the Conversations series that the University Press of Mississippi has been publishing, I was thrilled and honored and overwhelmed. Holding a copy in my hands, I can't quite believe it. Besides the thrill of being a part of such a project I'm thrilled to be in the book alongside Antony Johnston (fabulous writer and comics scribe and an old editor of mine) and many of the other interviewers.

Also it makes me really excited for Gibson's new novel coming out this fall!

Peter Kuper and Seth Tobocman reflect on WW3

I'm a big fan of both Peter Kuper and Seth Tobocman. I've interviewed Kuper a few times in the past, always for one of his books, but a project that's always in the background of his career that I ask a question or two about each time, is World War 3. The anthology was started by Kuper and Tobocman as an outlet for political artwork and it continues to go strong. PM Press has put out an incredible book celebrating the 35th anniversary of the anthology and I was thrilled and honored to talk with Peter and Seth about the book and this long journey they've been on.

Reinhard Kleist grapples with "The Boxer"

Reinhard Kleist is a fabulous German cartoonist whose new book "The Boxer" tells the story of Hertzko "Harry" Haft who was born in Poland, survived Auschwitz and became a boxer in the U.S. after the end of WW II. It's an amazing story and an amazing life but also a complicated one that doesn't offer any easy lessons and Kleist does a great job.

Johnston and Mitten re-team to complete "Wasteland"

I know Antony Johnston. He was my editor years ago and we've kept in touch now and again over the years and saw each other in person in Seattle in March for the first time in a while. So when I say that I like him and his work, some will take it with a grain of salt, but he's a guy who's always trying new things, working with different genres, attempting new projects.

Antony and Christopher Mitten have re-teamed to complete the ongoing series "Wasteland" which the two created at Oni Press. If that weren't enough, they've already started putting out their followup project, "Umbral," which is coming out at Image Comics.

Eric Hobbs and Noel Tuazon take on Alaskan crime in "Family Ties"

Eric Hobbs and Noel Tuazon previously collaborated on the graphic novel "The Broadcast" which came out a few years ago at NBM. Now the duo have worked together on a followup, a very different book which retells the story of King Lear as an Alaskan crime family and I spoke with the two about Shakeapeare, dementia and how the two have never met.