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.