Articles Published the Week of December 15th

Tim Lane Explores "The Lonesome Go"

Tim Lane crafts some incredible short comics and now Fantagraphics has a new collection, his second, of those comics. It's a mixture of styles and approaches and forms, but the result is something incredible.

Shannon Watters blasts her BOOM! Box

I talked to BOOM! Senior Editor Shannon Watters - who's in charge of titles like Adventure Time, Lumberjanes and many others. She talks about overseeing the KaBOOM! and BOOM! Box imprints.

Donald Hall: At Eagle Pond

I've long been a fan of Donald Hall's work. I read his picture book The Ox-Cart Man when I was around 5, started reading his poetry as a teenager, and have had the opportunity to hear him read on two occasions over the years. We spoke recently about his new essay collection "Essays After Eighty."

Josh Neufeld tackles big data and privacy in "Terms of Service"

Ever since the release of "A.D.: New Orleans after the Deluge," Josh Neufeld has had a great few years working as a comics journalist and telling nonfiction stories. We spoke about his new project, "Terms of Service," a collaboration with Al-Jazeera journalist Michael Keller on a look at privacy and big data.

Celebrating the centennial of Moomin creator Tove Jansson with Drawn and Quarterly

I always love talking with Tom Devlin at Drawn and Quarterly and we spoke about the new book "Moomin: The Deluxe Edition" which is an incredible collection of Jansson's run of the Moomin comic strip. Devlin argues that this is one of the great comic strips of all time. Even if you disagree, it's an incredibly written, beautiful drawn collection of comics. One of the biggest and most important books of the year.

I feel bad for Ayelet Waldman

I feel sorry for Ayelet Waldman.

She reacted on social media to her most recent novel not being included in the New York Times Book Review's list of Top 100 Books of the year. She wasn't happy. Many writers felt that this was a sentiment that most writers have had about something - they just don't say it out loud and in a public forum the way that Waldman did.

Others felt that given that Waldman has published more than a dozen novels form big publishers, been a bestseller, been adapted to film, had Hollywood deals...that complaining about this was a little like a wall street broker complaining that he couldn't buy a yacht to go with his beach house because his bonus was cut because the global economy collapsed.

Don't get me wrong, I'm very sympathetic to the latter perspective.

We're always taught that external factors should not overly influence us. That other's approval and opinions should not define our well-being and our sense of self-worth. This is especially important for writers who will say that you should not be defined by sales or awards.

I look at Waldman. She's happily married, she has children, they have a house (in one of the most expensive places in the United States), she is doing incredibly well as an author by every metric. She's acclaimed, she's a bestseller.

Then I consider my own life. I am alone. I have no children. I do not own property. I am neither a critical nor financial success. I would love to be married - to a successful and highly intelligent person, no less. I would love to have children. I would love to be able to own a home.

I feel bad for her because she has what seems like a picture perfect life. I don't begrudge her any of this success, but I do envy it. She has a life that I envy - and it does not make her happy. It does not make her satisfied. It does not fulfill her. She has a loving spouse, children, material success, and a successful career - and none of it matters to her.

I know that getting married or becoming successful will not make me happy. But if I get everything I want, will I remain just a sad, depressed individual who is insecure and anxious and now and again is crushed by the world and wishes for my life to end? Maybe I will always be like this. There is nothing that I will ever do, nothing that I can ever do, that will help me to change, to transform myself, to make myself satisfied as a human being. No matter what, I will always be sad and depressed and unhappy.

I do loathe taking other people's problems and turning it into something about oneself. It's the epitome of narcissism: To negate other people's thoughts and opinions and feelings, because what's really important is me. I fear I may be doing that here. I wouldn't have expressed what Waldman expressed - I'm far too insecure to ever voice it, though I might think it - and I certainly wouldn't have talked about it at length online, but I know where that feeling came from.

I could laugh at Waldman, but I know the bell tolls for me.

Articles Published the Week of December 1st

Jim Woodring returns to "Jim"

I've long been a fan of Jim Woodring, whose comics work really is unique and strange. I've spoken with him in the past and our conversations are always fascinating. We spoke about the collection of "Jim," his earliest work in comics, which is strange and interesting. What's also fascinating is that the early issues were done while Woodring was working in animation (on some of the worst cartoons ever made, as he himself admits).

Lewis Trondheim and "The End of Dungeon"

Lewis Trondheim is one of the great cartoonists in the world today. Honestly I think the hardest part of this interview was just trying to summarize in brief his career and why he is one of the most important artists in the world today in a brief introduction. One reason I love him - Dungeon. Of course he and Joann Sfar have wrapped the series up and we spoke about it recently - with the help of a French translator because my French is atrocious (and that's on a good day).

Articles Published the Week of November 24th

William Gibson: The Peripheral

I'm a huge fan of William Gibson's work. This is the second time I've interviewed over the years (the first interview is included in "Conversations with Williams Gibson" which came out this year from the University Press of Mississippi) and I was thrilled we could chat about his first novel in five years and his visions of the near and far future presented in its pages.

Shawn Martinbrough: Thief of Thieves

I love Shawn Martinbrough's work. A fabulous artist with a great sense of style and his art is really the highlight of Thief of Thieves for me and we talked about the first 25 issues of the comic. Of course I also want a black and white uncolored book from him (hopefully one of these years) and I can't wait for"The Ren," the graphic he co-wrote, when it comes out next year.

Bobby London: Popeye

I admit that I'd never heard of London or his short-lived run on Popeye until earlier this year when the first of two books collecting his run on the daily strip was published. The second volume is out now and we spoke about his time on the strip and his career in comics. I'd rank his best Popeye stories among the best Popeye stories of all-time just behind Segar himself.

Hillary Chute and Patrick Jagoda: Critical Inquiry

I talked with Hillary Chute and Patrick Jagoda about the recent issue of Critical Inquiry they edited which is all about comics and even features a cover by Robert Crumb with new comics inside of it in addition to essays and interviews and panel transcripts. It's a crazy thing and while it's easy to nitpick or complain about many aspects of the issue (I have plenty of criticisms) what they did with the scholarly journal is interesting and innovative and puzzling in the very best ways.

The Most Evil Corporations in Comics

Just in time for Small Business Saturday, I made a partial list of evil corporations in comics. There are a lot of them and this is just a small sampling. What's funny is that all the comments about the article that I've read either say "but you forgot X" or they say, "these companies are still less evil than Walmart/Comcast/fill in the blank".

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.

Pete Sickman-Garner returns to "Hey, Mister"

I loved Pete Sickman-Garner's series "hey, Mister." For years it was the book I would give people to test their sense of humor - something that led to some people thinking of me as nuts, no doubt. It's been 14 years since his last book but now Sickman-Garner is back with a new graphic novel "Hey, Mister: Come Hell or Highwater Pants." I loved the book and had a great time talking with Sickman-Garner who's an incredibly thoughtful and intelligent guy particularly when we talk about religion and his own work.

Mariko and Jillian Tamaki on the story of "This One Summer"

As a fan of "Skim," the first book by cousins Mariko and Jillian Tamaki, I was thrilled when word came down that the two were teaming up for another book. The result, "This One Summer," is a fabulous book  that honestly makes me want it to be summer soon. It was a book that was well worth the wait and definitely one worth re-reading.

Don Hertzfeldt on "The End of the World"

It's hard to under-emphasize just how influential Don Hertzfeldt has been in animation so needless to say when I heard that he had created a full-length graphic novel, well, I had to read it and I wanted to find a way to talk with him about the book.

Mimi Pond is "Over Easy"

I love Mimi Pond's artwork. She's created a lot of comics for The National Lampoon, The Village Voice and many other publications, she's written books (The Valley Girl's Guide to Life, Shoes Never Lie, Splitting Hairs), wrote for TV (Pee-Wee's Playhouse, The Simpsons). Now she's just come out with her first full-length graphic novel, "Over Easy." It's a great book, a fictionalized look at the late seventies and early eighties when she worked as a waitress in Oakland and I was thrilled to be able to talk with her about the book.

Richard Thompson and "The Complete Cul de Sac"

Richard Thompson is one of the best cartoonists of the 21st Century. I'll be blunt with my bias at the outset. Thompson is an incredible talent and a very thoughtful guy and it's always a pleasure to talk with him. Andrews McMeel is releasing a new two volume slipcased collection of "The Complete Cul de Sac." We also talk a little about the recent art exhibition at The Billy Ireland Museum, his book coming out this fall - "The Art of Richard Thompson," I ask a kind-hearted but possibly rude question about his health and Thompson cracks some jokes.

Stefano Raffaele is "Loving Dead"

I've been a fan of artist Stefano Raffaele for years. I first encountered his work in American comics like "The Blackburne Covenant." Since then he turned his attention to working in Europe where he's been publishing multiple books each year. Right now he's collaborating with Christophe Bec on three different series.

Humanoids just released a new edition of a book that Raffaele wrote and illustrated, "Loving Dead." It's a zombie story but it's also a love story and one that's darkly comic. A great read. Humanoids also announced that in November they'll be releasing the Bec-Raffaele collaboration "The Shadows of Salamanca" which was published in France as "Sarah."

Rich Stevens explaining why Bacon is a Vegetable

Over at The Splitsider, a great website about comedy, I spoke with Rich Stevens, the great cartoonist behind Diesel Sweeties. He has a new book out from Oni Press, "Bacon is a Vegetable; Coffee is a Vitamin." First of all, it's a great title. It's also a funny book about food and how we think about about food. It's also weird and snarky and loud out funny.

Jimmy Gownley's "Dumbest Idea Ever!"

Jimmy Gownley became a best-selling cartoonist with his series "Amelia Rules" but he had been making comics for years by that point. He started in high school, in fact. The circumstances - and most importantly to him, the why - of how he became a cartoonist is the subject of his new book "The Dumbest Idea Ever!" It's a great young adult book and a definite must read for aspiring artists.


Thinking about "Almost Human"

"Almost Human" recently wrapped up its first season. Possibly its only season, as the ratings were not particularly impressive. When I watched the pilot months ago, I had mixed feelings towards the show and after thirteen episodes, my feelings haven’t changed much. It’s interesting but still I hesitate to describe it as good.

The show has a good cast and in fact the cast has been the best part of the show. In particular, Michael Ealy who plays the android Dorian is the best thing about the show. He’s managed to give a performance that is filled with life and curiosity, color and humor and yet, he also manages to convey that he’s not human. It’s a striking performance. He’s a good actor as anyone who’s seen him in other roles can attest but this performance is incredible in a way that will likely not get the degree of recognition and acclaim that he deserves.

The rest of the cast is good, but the bigger problem is that they don’t have a lot to do to move beyond the stereotypical/archetypal character types that they’re playing.

That relates to the show’s bigger problem which is that it suggests and has underlying the cases each week some interesting or potentially interesting ideas, but then the show never explores them in depth.

Creator and showrunner J.H. Wyman is best known for his work as Executive Producer and showrunner of “Fringe” which was produced by Bad Robot and ran on Fox for five years. It’s dangerous to compare very different shows and different projects but it’s hard not to think of the two, particularly the first season of “Fringe.”

The first season of “Fringe” was a mixed bag, but it’s best remembered for being a procedural with a larger mythology in the background. This would change in later seasons as the procedural aspect was largely abandoned. At the end of the first season, in its final seconds in fact, “Fringe” made its big reveal which would define the show for the rest of its run–the existence of a parallel universe and the ability of people to move between them.

Perhaps because of this, I expected something similar in the final episode of “Almost Human.” The fact that the episode was just okay made me think that something would happen to end the season on something of a cliffhanger, but no, it was just an okay episode that ended the season with a “meh.”

This is more frustrating considering everything that has gone on this season. For example Kennex’s ex-girlfriend and the terrorist organization she belonged to. We haven’t heard much of them for a while since Kennex discovered that there was a listening device that she planted in his apartment. It’s the kind of thing most viewers assumed would be followed up on. There’s the episode where we met John Larroquette who created Dorian and many other androids and has a larger plot at work. There’s “The Wall.” There’s the fact that many of the plots involve the ways that the wealthy have protected and insulated themselves and inequality. There’s the fact that the cops seems to regularly operate as though there is no Bill of Rights, functioning in something more like a fascist state than the contemporary United States.

Admittedly many shows on television right now–Hawaii 5-0 among others–operate as though they’re taking place in a fascist country where there is no Bill of Rights, so it’s hard to say to what degree it’s just being lazy about police work and to what degree this is intentional. The fact that Karl Urban is coming off “Dredd” though does add something to the reading that it operates in a very different country.

What’s most frustrating is the fact that so many of these sub plots and threads are so much more interesting than the cases they investigate. Just as Fringe suddenly made a great deal more sense and had a greater cohesion for those of us watching the show after the reveal of the parallel universe, it feels as though there are facts about the world of Almost Human which would help us to understand what’s happening more which are being kept from the audience. It’s frustrating.

A few suggestions for second two (assuming that the show gets renewed):

Explain what the hell the freaking wall is! Seriously, there’s a large wall in the city. What is it, why is it there, what hellscape exists on the other side. Seriously, you need to explain significantly more than has thusfar been explained.

Kennex’s girlfriend and her terrorist comrades. So his girlfriend was a terrorist and then she disappeared and so did the group. Who is she, what’s this group, what are their goals.

Give Lili Taylor, Minka Kelly and Michael Irby something to do. Seriously.

There are plenty of other mysteries, but really, it would be nice if the show made an effort to address the issues it’s raised. It’s one thing to have dangling plot threads, but it’s another thing to have frustrating writing which refuses to explain anything in the hopes of paying it off years down the road.

Carrie Vaughn's Dreams of the Golden Age

Carrie Vaughn is a novelist and short story writer best known for her urban fantasy series featuring Kitty Norville. She just published the second book of a series which features a world of superheroes. Dreams of the Golden Age follows her first book After the Golden Age, and it's a fascinating read. The first book captivated me more than I thought it would and the second one is even better. She spoke with me about the books, how she approached them differently than her urban fantasy series, and accountants (seriously).

Chuck Dixon and Tim Truman on Airboy

I'm a longtime fan of both Chuck Dixon and Tim Truman (Truman is one of my favorite comics artists of all time) and spoke with the two about their collaboration from the 1980's, Airboy. It was a revival of an old Golden Age character and the series is being reprinted in a series of collections this years from IDW. James Robinson is also reviving the series this year at Image Comics, though taking a very different approach to it. It was a great chance to talk with the two and I'm very excited about the books. Plus Truman was kind enough to show off the penciled and final covers for the second book.

Isabel Greenberg's Encyclopedia of Early Earth

When Isabel Greenberg's Encyclopedia of Early Earth came out at the end of 2013, it made a splash. Time Magazine named it one of the best books of the year, among its other awards and acclaim. I'm a bit late to the game, but I was thrilled to talk with Isabel, who is annoyingly young and unbelievably talented. It's a great book, one of my favorites of 2013, and is the first book of what will hopefully be a long and productive career.

Jed McGowan shows the beauty of science and exploration

Jed McGowan isn't a big name in comics, but to my mind, he made two of the best comics of 2013, "Voyager" and "Hawaii." They're beautiful comics that McGowan posted on his website - There are no words in the comics, rather McGowan uses the images and conveys a narrative as the Voyager spacecraft moves through the solar system and then as the Hawaiian islands are formed through volcanic activity. It's incredible work and I can't wait to read McGowan's next comic.

Kevin Pyle and Scott Cunningham examine what's "Bad For You"

I'm a huge fan of Kevin Pyle's comics work but the graphic novels like Katman and Blindspot are only part of what he does. He also makes a lot of great nonfiction comics and in his new book he teams up with Scott Cunningham on a new book to look at how people have been attacking fun - and looking at how adults have always been outraged and disgusted by what kids are doing - forever. The book covers everything from video games to dungeons and dragons to chess. It's funny, it's educational and by the end, it's a little exhausting. A great book.

Michael DeForge's Ant Colony

Michael DeForge seemed to appear out of nowhere a few years back, drawing a vast number of comics at an incredible pace. Now after years and hundreds of comics (and after being awarded 3 Ignatz Awards at SPX last fall) he's out with his debut graphic novel. Ant Colony feels like a DeForge comic, though detailing just what that means is a challenge, but it's strange and beautiful and grotesque and funny. And I was glad to finally get to talk with DeForge, which is something I haven't done before. I'm sure we'll do it again.


Is Bill Cosby coming back?

The word going around Hollywood is that Bill Cosby is looking to return to television. It's been 30 years since the Cosby Show debuted, and I'll be honest, like a lot of people I never did watch his last show, the sitcom Cosby, which ran for a number of years. But it has to be said that Cosby is a legend. I mean there aren't many people who are as talented and funny a comedian as he is - I mean he's clearly one of if not the best living comedians in the world. Plus you're talking about a man who's starred in two huge tv shows in two different decades - I Spy in the sixties and The Cosby Show in the eighties. Plus there were a few less successful projects like Cosby which ran for 4 or 5 seasons, another sitcom in the seventies which ran for a couple years. There was The Cosby Mysteries - which I liked - starring him, Rita Moreno, James Naughton, Mos Def. There's The Electric Company, which he appeared in. There's Fat Albert. He was one of the producers of A Different World. There's movies like Uptown Saturday Night.

So plenty of people I'm sure are all ready to write the show off, but I think it could be great. A thoughtful and emotional comedy about a multi-generational family. A great showcase for some funny people. If it gets on the air, I'll watch it.

Congrats to Lilli Carre

I was thrilled to see that Lilli Carre has been awarded the graphic novel residency by the Columbus Museum of Art and the James Thurber House. I interviewed Carre a little back about her book, Heads or Tails, a great collection of short work. She's a talented cartoonist, designer, illustrator, animator - and is more than adept but a great talent in working in multiple fields. It's great to see her get this kind of attention.

Jim Woodring gets frank about Fran

I love Jim Woodring's work and his new book Fran is no exception. I'd never interviewed him before this, but was thrilled to get the chance to talk about his new book and his work more generally in a conversation that ranged from autism to Edward Munch to keeping a sketchbook to the joy of painting.

J. Bone reveals The Saviors

I've been a fan of artist J. Bone for years and recently he's been doing some of his best work. He's just finished The Rocketeer/The Spirit miniseries from IDW, the third Rocketeer comic he's worked on. He also has a new series launching at Image Comics. The Saviors is written by James Robinson (Starman) and drawn by Bone. The ongoing series involves an alien invasion and opens in a small town and is something different than he's done before, which he said was part of the point.

20 Thoughts about The Wes Anderson Collection

Critic Matt Zoller Seitz has written one of the best film books of the year - and honestly a fantastic book that in various ways will serve as a model for people writing about filmmakers for years to come. The Wes Anderson Collection is a great look at one of today's great young filmmakers. I didn't get the answers to all my questions, and after reading the book, I can't help but think that I'm more critical of many aspects of Anderson's work than Seitz is, but it's hard to fault the book. Beautiful, intense and almost exhausting. It's not a book to read in one sitting.

Black is the Color for Julia Gfrorer

Julia Gfrorer is a great young cartoonist - perhaps even annoyingly young and annoyingly talented. Her new book is Black is the Color, which is an incredible, dark and beautiful tale about a group of sailors on a doomed voyage, a pack of mermaids, a ghost, and much more. It's haunting and beautifully drawn.

Sam Henderson and the Eternal Struggle of Man vs Bear in "Scene But Not Heard"

Sam Henderson is funny. He's worked on the tv show Spongebob Squarepants, he's the cartoonist behind the long running series Magic Whistle and he was a regular contributor to the late Nickelodeon Magazine. At Nick, he drew a regular feature, Scene But Not Heard, which has now been collected into a book published by Top Shelf. The strip has two characters, "man" and "bear" though as Henderson explained, he never really thought of the one character as a bear and otherwise, there were no rules for the strip. It's a great comic and it was great to talk with Henderson