R.I.P. Anthony Shadid

I've been thinking about Anthony Shadid recently. I didn't know the man. He was a journalist whose work I sought out over the years, something that became easier to do when he left the Washington Post for the New York Times. I had a copy of his most recent book, Night Draws Near, sitting in a pile in my bedroom. I had actually written him a letter - a real letter, in ink, on paper. I was going to be studying in the region this summer and was hoping to spend a few more weeks in the region and was curious whether it might be possible to visit the Times bureau in Beirut and talk with him about the challenges he faced, advice he had for those interested in writing about the region, and gain some self-confidence by speaking with a man who never learned Arabic until an adult and demonstrate that it is possible to master the language. I was going to send the letter despite the fact that Shadid didn't seem to have much time to hang out in Beirut chatting with would-be journalists, but one never knows. (We won't even get into how my parents would have responded to plans to visit Lebanon - I would have told them afterwards)

What I liked about Shadid's writing - and this has been expressed by so many others - is his interest in people and stories and his concerns for the larger historical narrative. What I enjoy about journalism is talking with people. It's the voices of people and how they talk about things. About how their stories can be related to other, larger events. He found such poetry in how ordinary people speak and what they have to say, and I love that because so rarely do such voices get heard. He spent years in the Middle East and would have spend many more there.

I was struck by Steve Coll's thoughts about Shadid and his clear-eyed vision of what he wanted to do and the manner he wanted to go about it. We could use more great writers, but even more than that, we need more kind listeners.

Starstruck Available for Free Online

It likely comes as no surprise to those who know me that I'm fan of Starstruck, the comic series from writer Elaine Lee and artist Michael William Kaluta. I spoke to both when "Starstruck: The DEluxe Edition" a hardcover collection was released by IDW last year. If you only read that volume, though, you should know that there's a lot more to the story than just that.

Now Starstruck is being posted online on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays on :

The story is for mature readers, meaning violence, nudity, sex, and complex emotional, interpersonal and political themes. It is, quite simply, awesome. The hardcover collection is pricey, back issus can be hard to find, but now you don't have a reason not to read it.

Check it out.

Matthew Forsythe asks Jinchalo?

I spoke with a fabulous young cartoonist Matthew Forsythe about his new book Jinchalo, which is just out from Drawn and Quarterly. This comes on the heels of his comic Comics Class from Koyama Press and the picture book My Name is Elizabeth, both of which were released last fall. I'm excited to see what he comes up with next and reading any of the books will make it clear why.

Mark Siegel and Calista Brill talk First Second Books in 2012

I spoke with the Editorial Director and the Senior Editor of First Second Books about what we can expect from the publisher in 2012 and they offer a look at some of their upcoming titles including Legends of Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke, Baby's in Black by Arne Bellstorf, Broxo by Zach Giallongo, Marathon by Boaz Yakin and Joe Infurnari, and I ask them the question I ask whenever I see them - when will we see Paul Pope's next book??

Dan Parent on creating Kevin Keller and more

I spoke recently with Dan Parent, the writer and artist who works for Archie Comics and has been a key creative figure at the company in recent years. He's the artist on the Archie meets KISS storyline that's currently running, came up with the Archie and Valerie romance, illustrated the anniversary issue that came out last fall, but the reason we spoke and the reason he's getting so much attention is because he is the creator of Kevin Keller.

Keller, who is gay, is a pretty remarkable character. He's more than just a token figure, but one who fits in with the tone and tenor of Archie Comics. Plenty of people don't like Archie, which I can understand, but Keller's gayness has no angst or uncertainty. It's presented in a very matter-of-fact manner. In the first issue he stresses out about his first date and it feels like an Archie comic and there's something so wonderfully calming about reading it. Kevin Keller is just gay and no one feels the need to mention it. It happens, though not nearly as often as it should. It's a wonderfully comforting way to spend a few minutes.

Nate Powell and "The Silence of Our Friends"

I first came across Nate Powell's work a number of years ago when his book Tiny Giants was (barely) released by Soft Skull Press. In recent years he wrote and illustrated two great graphic novels, Swallow Me Whole and Any Empire, which was released last year. In a departure his new book The Silence of Our Friends, which has just been released by First Second Books, is one that he did not write. The story of a young white family who moved to the Houston in the late sixties and find themselves at the heart of the Civil Rights movement. The book feels like one of Powell's books in terms of the look and design and in speaking with Powell it was interesting to learn that he's now working as a full-time artist with a few more books in progress. I look forward to seeing what he comes up with next.


Courtnet Taylor-Taylor Talks One Model Nation

I've been listening to the Dany Warhols for years, so when the opportunity to interview Courtney Taylor-Taylor arose, I jumped at the chance. We talked about his new album One Model Nation and about the graphic novel of the same name.