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".