Two Cul de Sac projects I'd love to see in 2013

I have a 2012 Cul de Sac page a day calendar and I always enjoy tearing off a new comic every day–especially since the retirement of Richard Thompson, though I am glad that when the strip concluded, started to rerun the strip from the beginning.

There are two Cul de Sac items I would like for 2013 and I'm asking Richard and his publishers, if they could make this happen. Admittedly I'd love to see a new project from Richard, but I know that he has more important concerns.

1. A Cul de Sac Treasury similar to the deluxe hardcover slipcased editions of Calvin and Hobbes and The Far Side that Andrews McMeel has published in recent years, this one would include the entire run of the strip along with annotations, tributes and whatever other material Richard might want to run in the book.

2. A "Twelve Dills of Christmas" poster. Maybe the name needs some work, but I'd love to see a poster of Dill with his many colorful winter hats. Something colorful and suitable for framing. Or conversely, an advent calendar-like object where there would be pictures of Dill in a hat and when the flap behind it opened, it would reveal another picture of Dill with one of his eminently quotable phrases.

I don't celebrate Advent, but I would put that up on my wall.

Most of all, though, in 2013 I hope that Richard remains healthy. The comics page isn't the same without him, but I hope him nothing but the best.


The Comics Reporter Holiday Interviews

Every year Tom Spurgeon runs a series of interviews–The Holiday Interviews–with cartoonists, editors and various other figures trying to get a sense of the year in comics and where things might be going in the year to come. It's interesting because Tom always gets a great lineup of people and he's a truly great interviewer. It's also a reminder that Tom should be doing more interviews (I say this as one who enjoys reading his interviews, and is at times jealous of who he gets and how well he does it).

Anyway the first interview this year is with Alison Bechdel, who is a lovely human being and a great cartoonist and memoirist. She's also a great interview. Essential reading.

James Romberger's Post York

I've been a fan of James Romberger's artwork for years, which can be seen in graphic novels like "Aaron and Ahmed," "2020 Visions" and "Bronx Kill," which are both available from Vertigo. I first encountered his work in "7 Miles a Second" a biographical comic about the late David Wojnarowicz, which is being reprinted by Fantagraphics early next year.

In recent years Romberger has been trying his hand at writing as well and now we have a new comic out from Uncivilized Books, "Post York." It was a little eerie to be buying this book about a future flooded NYC from him not long after Sandy came through the region. It's a great comic, beautifully drawn. Hopefully we'll get more comics work from Romberger soon.

Ellen Forney and Marbles

I've been a fan of Ellen Forney since her debut book, I Love Led Zeppelin, a great collection of short comics. Since then she's worked on other projects including illustrating Sherman Alexie's great novel "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian."

Her new book "Marbles" is also her most personal. The story of her diagnosis as bipolar, it is an exploration of what it means to live with illness, what it means to be an artist and exploring the toll that creating art can take. I was thrilled to be able to talk with Ellen about what I think is one of the best comics of the year.

The Sunday Conversation with Kaare Andrews

A few months back I spoke with Kaare Andrews, the writer/director/artist/writer/designer – there's probably a few skills I'm forgetting but the man has talent. In comics there's "Spider-man: Reign" which he wrote and drew, "Astonishing X-Men: Xenogenesis" which he drew and drawing the covers for relaunched Marvel Ultimate line of comics.

Andrews has directed a number of short films and television pilots. His debut feature film was 2010's "Altitude." He contributed one segment of the anthology film "The ABC's of Death" and also designed the poster for the film–a great movie poster, it should be said.

It was a fun conversation with an insanely talented guy.

Lilli Carre flips "Heads or Tails"

Lilli Carre's collection of short comics "Heads or Tails" is a great collection of work from the animator/illustrator/cartoonist perhaps best known for her graphic novels like "The Lagoon" and "Tales of Woodsman Pete", her animated shorts and her work as co-founder of the Eyeworks Festival of Experimental Animation. It's a great book, out now from Fantagraphics.


Tony Cliff's Delilah Dirk coming to print in Fall 2013

The headline says it all, really. I'm a fan of Cliff and his webcomic, which was probably obvious to everyone who read the interview I conducted with Cliff earlier this year:

Now the news that Cliff was talking about would be revealed has finally been revealed: the comic will be coming to print from First Second Books in Fall 2013.

I'll admit that I was a bit underwhelmed by the official announcement and first look, which was given to a website that failed to mention that the book will be reprinting the Eisner and Harvey nominated webcomic, which has seen print in France in two gorgeous oversize editions. It would have been nice if the people running this news knew a little more about who they're promoting.

It also failed to mention what the dimensions of the book will be - oversize like the French editions? The smaller size of most First Second books? The larger size of :01 titles like Lewis and Clark?

And according to twitter, there will be a dozen new pages.

It's great news. Congrats, Tony! And congrats to the people at First Second who have another great book coming out next year. Can't wait to read it in print.

PRI's RadioWest and comic fun

RadioWest, the daily radio show out of KUER in Salt Lake City is a fabulous program hosted by Doug Fabrizio. Last week he had a series of great shows including one devoted to Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique, which is a must even for people who are not fans of the composer of classical music in general.

He also had a Holiday Book Show where Ken Sanders of Ken Sanders Rare Books recommended collections of Carl Barks' Donald Duck and Floyd Gottfredson's Mickey Mouse (available now from Fantagraphics). While he didn't recommend the gorgeous new collections of Walt Kelly's Pogo (also from Fantagraphics), Sanders did sing Walt Kelly's holiday song "Deck Us All with Boston Charlie"on the radio, which for those who don't know the song, is a lot of fun. One of my favorite holiday songs (though admittedly, I don't have many)

If you have time, take a listen. There's plenty more great book suggestions.

Chris Ware and the New York Times Book Review's Best Books of the Year

A lot of the time when people talk about comics and the lack of respect that the medium gets, I just roll my eyes. Comics do get little respect, it's true, but that doesn't bother me. Though admittedly I do understand why many of the people who create such things would be bothered by it, I tend to ignore the people who just want more people to have the same taste that they do.

How does an art form gain acceptance and respect? It creates great work.

One of the best works this year (and one of the best works from most years) has been Chris Ware's Building Stories, which is a work that I'll admit after multiple readings, I'm still coming to terms with. I think it's brilliant and overwhelming. It's also a must-read for everyone interested in comics or graphic art. The editors of the book review mentioned that "the graphic novel achieved new heights of mastery in Chris Ware's Building Stories." In their description of the book, "it tackles universal themes including art, sex, family and existential loneliness in a way that's simultaneously playful and profound." I couldn't have said it better.

Among the books that were listed the previous week in the Book Review's lineup of the 100 best books of the year are a few other comics and comic-related titles:

Alison Bechdel's new memoir Are You My Mother? was named one of the year's notable books. It's interesting because many reviewers have compared the book negatively to her first book Fun Home, and I think that this one of the problems where people think you're brilliant and talented, you're always expected to be brilliant and talented. Are You My Mother? is less dramatic than Fun Home, but it's also more nuanced and complicated and I think in some ways less satisfying to readers because of this.

Deirdre Bair's new biography of the great artist Saul Steinberg was on the best of the year list and honestly a book by one of the great contemporary biographers and a talented artist who led a colorful, eventful life seems like a no-brainer and a guaranteed great book.

I was glad to see G. Willow Wilson's debut novel Alif the Unseen on the list, after a long run of comics including Cairo and Air. Despite the book's flaws, it remains a powerful look at the contemporary Middle East that ends where we are today.