Articles Published the Week of December 20th

Lee Marrs Reflects on a Storied Career

I think of Lee Marrs as the Zelig of the comics world. She's a legend of the comics underground - she was a co-founder of the Wimmen's Comix collective and the woman behind Pudge, Girl Blimp. She worked as Tex Blaisdell's assistant on a number of comic strips while she was still in school. While in college, her editorial cartoons impressed the legendary cartoonist Herblock that he invited her to lunch to offer career advice. She worked for Joe Orlando on both horror/mystery stories for various Dc anthologies and the humor comic Plop!. She worked on a lot of humor series over the years - though not Mad, because back then they didn't hire women. She was in a lot of anthologies ranging from Heavy Metal and Epic Illustrated to Star*Reach to Gay Comix. She wrote Wonder Woman and Indiana Jones comics. She wrote and drew a TMNT knockoff. There was a Vertigo miniseries back in the 90s. She started working in computer animation starting in the early 1980's.

I had the the pleasure of meeting Lee earlier this year at the Queers and Comics Conference in New York City. She had just retired from her teaching position at Berkeley City College. She made clear at the conference and in our conversation, that she has a lot planned and won't be slowing down. Which is good news for comics and comics readers.


Articles Published the Week of December 13th

Riad Sattouf Tells the Tale of "The Arab of the Future"

Riad Sattouf is one of the biggest cartoonists in the world right now. The two time winner of the best book at the Festival International de la Bande Desinee in Angouleme, he won for the second time for his book The Arab of the Future, which has just been published in the United States. His best book, it's an incredible memoir looking at his childhood which was spent in Libya and Syria. We spoke about the book, why so many people are wrong about Charlie Hebdo and why he was working at the magazine for years, and the importance of complicating the Middle East.

An Interview with Samandal

For years Samandal has been one of the most interesting and most important comics publications in the world. It emerged earlier this year that the magazine has spent the past few years in court, battling censorship in Lebanon. The case has been finished and the result is a massive fine. I spoke with the editors of the magazine about what they've been doing, the background of the case, their current crowdfunding campaign to continue, and their hopes and plans for the future.

Articles Published the Week of November 8th

Ivan Velez, Jr. Sings the Epic Multicultural "Ballad of Wham Kabam!"

Velez has been making comics for years now. We crossed paths earlier this year at the Queers and Comics Conference at City University in New York. Velez is now in the midst of his biggest project, a historical volume of superheroes, race, and the history of the Americas. We spoke about "The Ballad of Wham Kabam!" and his career which goes from Tales of the Closet and Blood Syndicate, Howard Cruse and Dwayne McDuffie, and more.

John Leguizamo takes "Ghetto Klown" From the Stage To the Page

I've been a fan of Leguizamo for years. A fabulous writer and actor, his play Ghetto Klown is now a graphic novel. He spoke about why he decided to go this route, the process involved, talked a little about Seagal and De Palma and others, and talked about his next play which premieres in the spring.

Articles Published the Week of November 1st

Bill Griffith investigates his mother' affair in "Invisible Ink"

I've long been a great admirer of Griffith, the cartoonist behind "Zippy the Pinhead." His new book, a graphic memoir, looks into the lives of his parents and specifically the lengthy affair his mother had with a noted cartoonist.

Harlem has a teenage hero to call its own in "Ajala"

This series from Robert Garrett and N. Steven Harris really stands out in a number of ways and four issues in - with a collection coming soon - I'm intrigued to see what they'll do with the character and the series going forward but they do good work (and I've been a fan of Harris since Aztek back in the day) and we could use more politically minded fiction in this vein.

Horror, Humor and Sci-Fi Collide in "Intro to Alien Invasion"

Owen King, Mark Jude Poirer and Nancy Ahn deliver this graphic novel about an invasion on a college campus during spring break that's one part humor, one part dark drama, one part b-movie. (Full disclosure: I knew Owen very slightly as we overlapped in college by a year, where he was widely seen as a talented writer going places)

"The Comic Book Story of Beer" Creators Brew Up a Refreshing History

Jonathan Hennessey, Mike Smith and Aaron McConnell tell the story of beer - or maybe it's the story of human civilization - in this graphic novel which looks at a few thousand years of history and is a pretty interesting look at my favorite alcoholic beverage of choice.


Articles Published the Week of October 25th

Jennifer Hayden shares her breast cancer survival tale in "The Story of My Tits"

I'm a huge fan of Jennifer Hayden's new graphic novel which is more than just the story of her battle with breast cancer but the story of a her life, in a way that is ultimately thoughtful and profound in a way that really affected me. Her previous work like the book "Underwire" has been interesting, but this is one of the best graphic novels of the year and I'm so glad that we could have a conversation about the book.

Anders Nilsen Argues that "Poetry is Useless"

Every Anders Nilsen book I've ever read has stuck in my head. I'm not going to claim that every one of his books are my favorites, but each has stayed with me long after I read them. His new book "Poetry is Useless" is no different. It's ostensibly a sketchbook, but plays with the form in some really interesting ways. For Nilsen, drawing is a way of thinking and that has never been so evident as in this new book.

Carla Speed McNeil Illustrates the horror of "Harrow County"

I've long been a fan of Carla Speed McNeil (the woman behind the brilliant "Finder") and I got to break the news about her next project, a fill in issue of Dark Horse's series Harrow County. I'm a fan of the series (written by Cullen Bunn and drawn by Tyler Crook) and


Articles Published the Week of October 18th

Jessica Abel on the Intersection of Comics and Radio and the Limitations of Art

I've long been a fan of Jessica Abel's work since she was making "Artbabe" many years ago. We talk about her two new books out this new but in particular "Out on the Wire" which is a nonfiction graphic novel about narrative radio. (Something I am also obsessed with)

An Interview with Tom Palmer

I had the privilege to talk with Tom Palmer, who among comics fans is one of those legendary figures who's been working in the industry for nearly 50 years. In a career that long you can only scratch the surface, but we spoke about Jack Kamen and Gene Colan and tools of the trade and how the comics industry has changed and advertising and other topics.

The Colin McEnroe Show Book Club: Purity

I spent an hour of my day at WNPR in Hartford where along with some other people we discussed Jonathan Franzen's new novel Purity. Of the four of us in studio, we all had decidedly mixed feelings about the book. Which may be a polite way to phrase it. But we had a good conversation that bounced around a lot and we had fun.

Articles Published the Week of October 11th

Maggie Thrash on Honor Girl, Queer Invisibility, and the Crush That Could Have Been a Scandal

I was thrilled to talk with Rookie writer Maggie Thrash about her graphic memoir, Honor Girl. We had a great conversation and shifted from laughing about the "Civil War reenactments" at Camp Bellflower and the camp's isolation, to a more serious conversation about queer invisibility, how these events shaped her life, and the ways that we've seen LGBTQ acceptance change within our lifetimes. We also spoke about how she just sat down and made a comic, and how she thinks about comics vs prose.


Articles Published the Week of September 27th

Chaykin, Hama, Levitz, Groth and more Discuss the Legacy of Wally Wood

Wally Wood remains, decades after his death, one of the great comics artists and one of the great artistic figures in American comics. Right now it's easier than ever see just why that is because of the incredible projects being reprinted by a number of companies. I spoke with a few people about Wood and his artistic legacy. Some of them, like Groth and Catron and Dunbier and Spurlock, are publishing Wood's work, some of them like Howard Chaykin, Larry Hama, Paul Levitz, collaborated with Wood in various forms. Some of them had their differences with Wood, some dislike a lot of his work, but all think that he was one of the giants of the form.

Articles Published the Week of September 13th

Will Tracy and Gabe Koplowitz tell the tale of "Allen: Son of Hellcock"

I spoke with Will Tracy and Gabe Koplowitz, two Vassar grads (go Brewers!) who have teamed up to write a new comic coming out this fall, Allen: Son of Hellcock. It's a comedic take on the fantasy epic and the two are clearly having fun with medieval hipsters and their takes on other tropes. It's also one of the debut projects from Z2 Comics, which is launching a new line of comics starting this fall.


R.A. Salvatore at the Mark Twain House

The director of Communications at the Mark Twain House in Hartford has more than once jokingly called me their resident nerd. But I love running events there and was thrilled that I got to interview R.A. Salvatore on stage this week.  I so rarely get to run live events but Bob was just an incredibly nice, easy to talk to guy. He opened up and spoke about The Sundering, what was going on in his life while he was writing Mortalis (which he thinks is his best book and I'm inclined to agree), the genius of James Joyce's The Dead, how Terry Brooks has helped him over the years, shared some George Lucas stories, how he approaches writing the Drizzit books, and more. (I also complained about the lack of a map in Archmage...what's a fantasy book without a map!)

He also revealed that there are two Drizzit books coming out next year - Maestro in the spring and a third (as yet untitled) book in the Homecoming trilogy in the fall - and then he's going to stop writing two Drizzit novels a year and write another Demonwars book.

It was a great crowd who asked a lot of fabulous questions. Bob was incredible and was there late talking to everyone and signing books and posing for pictures. An incredible evening.

Articles Published the Week of September 6th

Zita the Spacegirl's Ben Hatke builds a Little Robot

With Zita the Spacegirl and his recent picture book, Ben Hatke has put together a good body of work for younger readers. His new book Little Robot is a lot of fun. It's the adorable story of a young girl who comes across a robot on a lazy summer day. There are also fighting robots. In other words, it's a book with something for kids of all ages. I met Ben before the first Zita book was released and it's been great to see his work get the attention it deserves and it was great to chat with him about his new book.


Articles Published the Week of August 30th

"Batman: Second Chances" writer recalls editorial clashes, reaction to Robin's death

I am an avowed fan of Max Allan Collins' work - the fact that I've interviewed him a number of times over the years will attest to that if nothing else - and I spoke with him about the collection of his 1980's run on Batman, why it was short-lived, and his difficult relationships with others on the book. And then because he's Max Allan Collins and is always working on many things I ask about the upcoming Nate Heller novel, the collection of his Wild Dog series, when we'll see Ms. Tree, Mike Danger. I also ask about the upcoming Quarry TV series which is out in January and I'm very excited about. Collins also drops that he may be writing a Quarry graphic novel soon.


Articles Published the Week of August 23rd

Liz Suburbia Gets Rid of Adults, Lets Teens Rule in "Sacred Heart"

Liz Suburbia's first graphic novel is a great tale of adolescence, and a terrifying story of a community of teenagers after all the adults of the town go off on a religious retreat and they're left to their own devices.


Articles Published the Week of August 16th

How Sea Tea Improv Built a Comedy Scene from Scratch

If you live in greater Hartford and you haven't been to a Sea Tea Improv show, well, you're missing out. Over the past five years the troupe has done some really impressive work not just making good comedy, but in creating a community and fostering it in a way that I think is valuable and important for the city of Hartford and is something that a lot of people can look at as a model.

Ed Piskor: Hip Hop Family Tree

One of the best comics being produced today is Hip Hop Family Tree. Piskor has been putting out the comic online at boinboing,net and books have been coming out yearly and now he has a monthly comic book.

Living Tradition: Clare Cavanagh on the joys and challenges of translation

Like a lot of people I've long been a great lover of the poetry of Wislawa Szymborska. Clare Cavanagh has translated or co-translated her poetry into English for decades and this year she edited Map, which is Szymborska's collected poetry. I spoke with her about how she works, how she came to translation and related topics in a conversation that was a true joy.

Alex Simmons Celebrates the Return of the Globetrotting Blackjack

Alex Simmons has long been telling stories in comics and prose of Blackjack, a 1930's adventurer who happens to be black. He's not a black Indiana Jones, but if that makes you check it out, then hell, Blackjack is a black Indiana Jones. Simmons has also been great as far as building communities, finding new audiences for comics and art and working with children and we spoke about his many projects including an upcoming class he'll be teaching connecting kids from Harlem (in NYC) with Haarlem (in Holland).


Articles Published the Week of August 9th

J.M. DeMatteis on "Mercy" and creating personal work in comics

I've long been a fan of the work of J.M. DeMatteis. As I mention in the article, he's written so many different kinds of comics - and written them well - that he remains hard to easily summarize or analyze. Starting in the 1980's though he was one of the leading lights creating comics for adults in the United States. "Moonshadow" was a huge influence on me and how I thought about comics when I first read it in the nineties. There's also books like "Brooklyn Dreams" and "Blood" and then more recent books like "The Adventures of Augusta Wind" (to my mind the closest anyone in comics has come to matching the genius of Lewis Carroll). We spoke about an older book, "Mercy," which I didn't read when it first came out, and this aspect of his vast career in comics.

Zeina Abirached on Remembering and Forgetting Beirut

I'm a huge fan of Zeina Abirached's comics and her recent book "I Remember Beirut" looks at her memories of Beirut during and after the Civil War and we talk about her next project - which comes out in France this fall. Of course we had to do the interview in English - my Arabic and French aren't good enough. I think her work is always brilliant and this book is no exception. And I'm thrilled to have the piece on Arablit, which is one of the sites I check at least once a week and read all the time.

Nik Guerra takes on mystery and sensuality in "Magenta: Noir Fatale"

Guerra is an Italian artist and writer and his recent book is an entertaining book, a noir thriller set in London in the sixties. He's intentionally crafting a fetish book. The characters are dressed very deliberately, and yet it's less exploitive than a lot of mainstream comics and in the end has a lot more in common with comics like "Sin City." Definitely not a book for everybody, but those who don't mind the sex - and I should note that it doesn't have much violence - you'll find it worth reading.

Articles Published the Week of August 2nd

Kate Beaton Unleashed "The Princess and the Pony"

Like just about everybody, I'm a fan of cartoonist Kate Beaton and Scholastic just published her first book for kids, "The Princess and the Pony," which stars everyone's favorite Beaton character - the fat pony.

A conversation with Marguerite Van Cook and James Romberger

I've long been a fan of Marguerite Van Cook and James Romberger and their recent book, "The Late Child and Other Animals" is their best work to date. I spoke with them in New York City where we discussed the book, art, punk and much more.

(The article also contains one of my favorite first lines: The new book The Late Child and Other Animals opens at the height of World War II with the co-author’s mother and aunt on top of Portsdown Hill, watching the city of Portsmouth burn.)

Eddie Campbell returns to the world of "Bacchus"

Campbell has long been one of the most interesting, imaginative and innovative creators working in comics and we spoke recently about the new omnibus edition of his long running series "Bacchus"


Articles Published the Week of May 17th

Mike Zeck on joining the Artist's Edition family

Mike Zeck is one of the great superhero artists of his generation. He's the penciler behind projects like the original "Secret Wars" from Marvel, "The Punisher," which defined the character, plus "Kraven's Last Hunt," which is one of the best - if not the best - Spider-man stories ever. Plus there were runs on "Captain America" and "Master of Kung Fu" and the great crime drama "Damned."

IDW is releasing an Artists Edition of some of his Marvel work this summer and I spoke with him about his long career, and what he's working on now.


Drawn & Quarterly 25

This year Drawn and Quarterly is celebrating 25 years.

Now like most people, I didn't know anything about D&Q for the first years of its life - I encountered it sometime in the nineties, though I can't pin down a date. But in the course of 25 years, they've become one of the most important comics publishers in North America. I say that without exaggeration or hyperbole. Chris Oliveros has run an important company that I think likely became successful and influential beyond what he could have envisioned.

Now after 25 years, Oliveros is stepping down as publisher and he's turning over the reins of the company to Peggy Burns, who will become Publisher. Tom Devlin will become Executive Editor.

Peggy Burns is an incredible woman (even if she doesn't always answer her e-mail) and it's been really interesting to see what she's done and how the company has grown since she joined the company. Devlin is a great editor. One time when I interviewed him, I joked about when he was going to make more comics - he's been such a successful editor for so long that most people likely don't know that he sued to make comics, as well. Devlin joked that he and Oliveros have a bet on who will next produce a comic.

Well, Oliveros has a new comic coming out in January. I know that like everyone else who acres about comics, I can't wait to see what he does. And I can't wait to see what Burns does next.

Long live Drawn and Quarterly.

Here's to 25 more years!

Articles Published the Week of May 3rd

Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez discusses career, influences, and Superman's hair

It's always exciting when I get to talk with one of the great modern masters of comics and in North America, by pretty much any standard, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez is one of them. He jumps between genres and approaches with dizzying ease as can be seen by the three books DC published last year that Garc-alOpez drew. One was new (Batman '66: The Lost Episode) and two were reprints (Twilight and Cinder&Ashe) and they couldn't be more different and they couldn't be more well done.

He's also an incredibly nice man.

Seth discusses his return to "Palookaville"

I love Seth's work - and have for years - and I think a new book from him is always worth mentioning and celebrating. In this case, there's a new volume of "Palookaville" and I spoke with him about the format and the approach he's using with these hardcover volumes, the serialized stories he's telling in them, "Clyde Fans," memoir and more.


Charlie Hebdo

I'm very disappointed in so many writers.

(This is what they mean when they say that you shouldn't meet your heroes)

The PEN International Festival in New York got interesting this week when a number of writers protested the fact that Charlie Hebdo will be given the PEN/Toni and James C. Goodale Freedom of Expression Courage Award

Among the protestors are a number of writers whose books I would eat before I would ever read.

There are also a number of writers who I think are some of the most thoughtful and talented working in the world today (A list that includes Chris Abani, Sinan Antoon, Russell Banks, Junot Diaz, Geoff Dyer, Deborah Eisenberg, Eve Ensler, Frances FitzGerald, Janet Malcolm, Michael Ondaatje, Luc Sante, Wallace Shawn).

I do think that Charlie Hebdo deserves a courage award and I'm troubled by many of the arguments against the magazine.

First I do want to say that I believe that a lot of the furor is because we are talking about cartoons. A lot of people don't take comics seriously. Many think that the people who make them are too talentless to be real artists and too illiterate to write novels. (Don't get me started on what they think about the people who READ comics...)

I say this because if we were talking about prose, and individuals grabbed a few sentences or paragraphs out of context and presented it as evidence to condemn the creator, these individuals from PEN would be on the front lines explaining why that was wrong. They would say that it can't be taken out of the context of the work and the context of the culture. But they're more than happy to treat comics in a way they would never treat prose.

But I digress...

There are a few comments and arguments being made against CH and I would like to share a few thoughts about it. In the interest of full disclosure, I am not a member of PEN, I don't know any of these people. I speak and read French poorly. I speak and read Arabic poorly.

1. PEN should not give out an award to CH. They typically recognize individuals and groups who face attacks from governments. This is something very different. It's an issue that Peter Carey raised and I understand his point, but being threatened with death - whether by a government or organized private group - seems more a question of nuance than a radically different situation and a totally different organization to oppose it

2. Other people risk more and the award should be given to them. There are two ways to read this argument. On the one hand, it's easy to praise Charlie Hebdo and so giving them an award like this is like the media coverage of the attacks where there is a certain amount of self-congradulation. When it involves banquets and galas, well, there has to be someone well known and famous at the event.

Now I will admit, there are people who live in countries where they risk their lives to writes stories or paint pictures or draw cartoons. I do think it is notable that no one says, what about these cartoonists? No, they never name cartoonists (who are killed and jailed and attacked by governments). Cartoonists don't deserve such attention - or at least none are worthy of acknowledgement even if they are beaten and jailed and exiled and killed. That's not to say that the journalists and activists being named don't deserve notice, but the fact that no one is suggesting a more acceptance cartoonist or cartoonists, I think is very telling.

3. The letter mentioned earlier that was sent to PEN by a number of writers makes the point that CH made a point of attacking everyone and having no sacred cows but "in an unequal society, equal opportunity offence does not have an equal effect."

They're right. They are completely right. This is one thing that I and many of the letter writers agree with completely and whole heartedly.

There is a marked difference between attacking the Catholic faith and the Muslim faith, particularly in France. The difference is not just millions of followers, not just wealth or property, it is also a question of institutional power. It is hard to get a mosque built in many countries (including the United States) and simply having a place of worship is a fairly basic request from an organized religion. Particularly a large one.

I am not a person of faith. I have a lot of respect for those who do and I have seen the way that it offers a great deal to people in the hours of need. I have no desire to mock their faith or their beliefs. But I do draw a distinction between mocking the faith and the life of an ordinary Muslim and much of the humor of CH. I understand that many Muslims are offended by the cartoons of the Prophet. Many cartoons drawn of the prophet in recent years have been purposely offensive. I would not do such a thing out of respect for my friends and acquaintances.

However, I do believe that it is protected speech. The same way that mocking priests or rabbis or ministers is protected. The way it's possible to mock the way that some clergy live much better than their flock. To mock the hypocracies of religion. To mock how offensive it is that religions protect child molesters while lecturing about morality. I see this as something very different from mocking the faith of my friends and relatives. I know that some people disagree.

There are many problems in France with regards to the status of Muslims. I do not however believe that CH has mocked those individual citizens. They have in many cartoons taken aim at the politicians and public figures who seek to exploit the public's fear and anger towards immigrants and Muslims.

4. In her piece in the Guardian explaining her condemnation of the award, Francine Prose, the former President of PEN wrote: "The narrative of the Charlie Hebdo murders – white Europeans killed in their offices by Muslim extremists – is one that feeds neatly into the cultural prejudices that have allowed our government to make so many disastrous mistakes in the Middle East."

Now to the first point, I feel that in the interest of accuracy I should state that the staff of Charlie Hebdo is not - and was not - just white Europeans. I feel that's important. If one aspect of this conversation is power and erasure, I feel that this is something worth mentioning.

To the second point, I understand, happened.

5. Francine Prose clearly thinks that CH is a racist rag. I think that she is sincere in this belief. She compared the magazine to Neo Nazis. I could cite the many notices the magazine has received for being anti-racist for fighting for equal rights. I could pull links to articles. But the truth is that all of this information is freely available. Prose presumably looked at all this information before making such a provocative statement. I would hope that she wouldn't make such a statement without a deep understanding of the publication and after reading dozens if not hundreds of issues in their entirety because to compare them to Nazis requires a lot of research and supportive evidence. I truly do not know how she could come to this conclusion.

Look, ultimately I'm not a member of PEN. They can give an award to whomever they want. But I think that many of the arguments against Charlie Hebdo are troubling. Truthfully I think some people want to scream, they're stupid cartoons, who cares! I wish they did. It would be easier to have a conversation when people say what they mean. If PEN doesn't want to give awards to cartoonists, that's fine, too. But don't say because France is racist, CH is racist and so that makes them unworthy.

There are serious, troubling issues that face our Muslim brothers and sisters in France. Calling CH racist and comparing them to Neo Nazis is unhelpful and inaccurate and is not helping anyone - any more than some of Salman Rushdie's insults to the protesting writers are. There is important and serious work that needs to be done. It's a serious and important issue. One that we have to fight and work for.

“The Charlie Hebdo PEN award is for courage. The courage to work after the 2011 firebombing of the offices, the courage to put out their magazine in the face of murder,” said Neil Gaiman in an email to The Times. “If we cannot applaud that, then we might as well go home…I’ll be proud to host a table on Tuesday night.”

I stand with Charlie Hebdo because I believe in freedom of speech and because they have crafted important, valuable work and I hope that they will continue to do so. And because we should not be intimidated in doing such work.

I stand with my brothers and sisters in this country, in France and around the world, who are denied opportunities and equal protection under the law because of the color of their skin, because of their faith, because someone considers them in some way shape or form, to be "different," to be "other".

These are not contradictory positions. I'm troubled that anyone thinks otherwise.


Articles Published the Week of April 26th

Nina Bunjevac explores the life of her terrorist father and Yugoslavia's history in "Fatherland"

I was thrilled to be able to sit down with Nina Bunjevac this year and talk about her book "Fatherland." An account of her father and an examination of her family's history and the history of Yugoslavia, I learned a great deal from the book and from our conversation. It's a story that's moving and heartbreaking and important. We live in a time where extremist ideology and terrorism are on the rise and

Chuck Palahniuk talks "Fight Club 2"

I've long been a Chuck Palahniuk fan, but I suppose that's not much of a surprise. When the opportunity to talk with him about "Fight Club 2" came up, well, I had to take it.

Odd story: I have a signed copy of Palahniuk's nonfiction collection "Stranger Than Fiction." I got it when I worked at a bookstore in Los Angeles years ago. He was on book tour and came in to sign books and I asked if he would sign a copy to me. He asked if I got teeth whitened. (I don't my teeth are that white...but anyway) I said no. He asked if I would actually admit to it and I said I would tell him, but, pointing to my manager, I wouldn't tell him. Anyway I have a copy signed to me which mentions all my sparkling white teeth and Aaron has a copy which mentions that he would tell Aaron if he got his teeth whitened.

Paige Braddock gets gross with "Stinky Cecil" and talks the "Peanuts movie and comics

A lot of people know Paige Braddock's work as a cartoonist from "Jane's World" but she's also creative director of Charles M. Schulz Associates, which means that she helps to oversee "Peanuts." There's a movie coming out, an ongoing comic book series that she helps work on, merchandizing, advertising, and she still manages to create a new graphic novel series for kids. I don't know how she does it, to be honest. But she's good at it.


Articles Published the Week of April 19th

Danielle Corsetto on "Girls with Slingshots" finale: "I'm ready to do the next thing"

I've been a huge fan of Danielle Corsetto's webcomic "Girls with Slingshots" for years. I spoke with her about it years back and after the strip ended last month, we talked again about ending the strip after more than a decade and her plans for the future. I can't wait to see what she comes up with next.

Roy Thomas talks creating Avengers villain Ultron and 50 years in comics

It's hard to underestimate Roy Thomas' influence on American comics. Fifty years ago this summer, he started working in comics and just listing the characters he created, the comics he wrote, the films he worked on would take pages. Among other things he co-created Ultron and Vision, two characters who appear in Avengers: Age of Ultron and he was kind enough to take the time out to talk with me


Articles Published the Week of April 12th

Meredith Gran finds herself adrift with "Adventure Time," finishing "Octopus Pie"

"Octopus Pie" remains one of my favorite webcomics after all these years. I've spoken with Meredith Gran in the past and we talked recently about the changes that have gone on in the strip, from color to the new dimensions of the page, to the characters growing older and the nature and meaning of their experiences changing.

Ryan Burton plots a return to the horrific future of "Dark Engine"

I spoke with my CBR colleague Ryan Burton about his Image Comics series "Dark Engine" which is a strange Lovecraftian horror series set in a bleak and strange future. He and artist John Bivens have done some really interesting things with the second story arc in a way that really expands the world they established in the first arc.

Tom DeFalco says he's lucky to write the last issue of "Archie"

Tom DeFalco has worked on a lot of high profile in his long career in comics and this year he's writing "Archie" #666, aka, the last issue before the series gets relaunched by Mark Waid and Fiona Staples. I spoke with DeFalco about the issue, starting his career at Archie Comics, what the characters mean to him and some larger thoughts about reinventing characters and comic series.


Congrats to Kerry Roeder for winning the Rollins Book Prize

I was thrilled to learn that Katherine Roeder received a 2015 Rollins Book Award. (Admittedly I'm a few weeks late on this, but I'm still catching up from being sick)
The Rollins Book Awards are given by the Southwest Popular and American Culture Association to scholarly books in three topics. Roeder was given the award for "Sequential Art/Comics and Animation Studies" for her book Wide Awake in Slumberland: Fantasy, Mass Culture and Modernism in the Art of Windsor McCay. Previous winners have included Philip Nel (for his great book Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss) and Jeet Herr and Kent Worchester (for A Comics Studies Reader)

I was a huge fan of the book, which I think it's an incredibly thoughtful and important book about McCay's work and a really important project in the ongoing effort to build a library of comics scholarship. I had the chance to talk with Roeder last year when the book came out and we had a great conversation about the book and McCay, Freud, modernism and related topics.



R.I.P. Herb Trimpe

I was sad to hear that Herb Trimpe died recently.

I had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Trimpe in 2011 and we talked about his education, his early years at Marvel, some of the major projects on which he worked. He shared some stories of Stan Lee and Roy Thomas and Tom DeFalco. We barely even scratched the surface, though, of all that he had done both inside and outside of comics. I do regret that we never had the opportunity to talk again. I would have loved to speak more about a few different projects, leaving Marvel after thirty years and going back to school, teaching, his volunteer work at Ground Zero after 9/11.

What struck me re-reading the interview today was how there was so much more that he wanted to do, how much energy he had, but also how content and happy he was. It's an annoying cliche that artists are grumpy and dissatisfied people. Admittedly it's common. I won't argue that, but Mr. Trimpe was a man who wasn't a superstar artist. He wasn't huge then and he isn't huge now, though he is deeply respected and admired by so many of us who work in comics. But he was a man who felt that he had nothing left to prove to anyone–including himself. There was still plenty he wanted to do. I remember when we spoke he was talking about taking lessons to learn to fly a helicopter and he wanted to write. Maybe he was always a well-natured, kind-hearted guy, but it's always nice to encounter that among people.

He was a talented artist, a thoughtful person, and a kind man. I don't know what more I can say. Or what higher compliment I can say about anyone.


Articles Published the Week of April 5th

The Rumpus Interview with Jennifer Michael Hecht

I've long been a great admirer and reader of Jennifer Michael Hecht. Her nonfiction books have been a great influence on my life. Doubt is one of the great books about atheism and the history of doubt and questioning in the Western cultural tradition. The Happiness Myth is a thoughtful and fascinating portrait about how happiness has been defined and redefined by one culture after another over the centuries. She's also a gifted poet who has published three books including most recently, Who Said.

Her most recent book Stay is a book about suicide. It is a look at how cultures have considered suicide and the reasons against suicide - which recur time and again across cultures. As one who has struggled with depression for much of my life, there's a lot in the book that spoke to me and that I could relate to. It's a book that I think everyone should read because people should have to address these ideas in their own lives. It should be something we carry with us, even in those times that are hard–especially in those times where it's so hard to continue.

In the end, the book is a plea, asking all of us, to stay.

Articles Published the Week of March 22nd

Stan Sakai prepares for the long-awaited return of "Usagi Yojimbo"

I've long been a fan of "Usagi Yojimbo,"and after two years the series is returning this year. I was thrilled that I was asked to talk with him about the book and we had a god conversation about returning to the book, what he's been doing for the past two years and how it's affected his work, and more.

David Michelinie talks Ant-Man, Iron Man's alcoholism, "BOZZ Chronicles" and more

Michelinie has had an incredible career in comics. There are long runs writing "Action Comics" and  "The Amazing Spider-Man," two of the biggest, most iconic comics in the world. He wrote or co-wrote the definitive run on "Iron Man." If all you know about the character is what you know from the Robert Downey Jr. movies, then that character owes a lot to what he did. He also created Scott Lang (aka Ant-Man, aka Paul Rudd in this summer's movie). He also created a really interesting short-lived series from the 1980's, "The BOZZ Chronicles" about an alien in Victorian England, which is finally being collected this summer.

Peter Bagge revisits his joke-telling, cartoon-making "Sweatshop"

Peter Bagge has been one of the funniest people in comics longer than I've been reading comics. Fantagraphics has published a collection of the short-lived series that DC published. "Sweatshop" is about the young cartoonists who do the actual work of creating a bad comic strip which is credited to an aging hack. It's a lot of fun

Articles Published the Week of March 15th

The Afterlife of the Voice: An Interview with Peter Gizzi

I've long been a fan of Peter Gizzi's poetry - and as I relate in the article's introduction, Gizzi and I met once many years ago - and we had the chance to talk about his new book, In Defense of Nothing, a selected volume of his poetry which Gizzi himself selected. We spoke about how he found a new context and order for the poems and the idea of a poem as a journey, and considering the life of a writer.

Rhianna Pratchett: Tomb Raider

Rhianna Pratchett has been writing video games for years and her work on Tomb Raider has been a huge hit. She's currently writing the Dark Horse comic series Tomb Raider, which will lead into the new video game Rise of the Tomb Raider, which will come out at the end of the year. We spoke about comics, video games, and since I had her, I asked a little about The Watch and Wee Free Men.

Doug TenNapel talks unearthing the sprawling epic of "Nnewts"

TenNapel has been making comics and working in video games and animation for years. Right now the man is as busy as he's ever been. Scholastic is publishing a new series of graphic novels, "Nnewts," the first volume of which is out now. He's also executive producer of the new "VeggieTales in the House" series from Netflix and Dreamworks. He's also the designer of "Armikrog," the video game which will be coming out later this year.


Articles Published the Week of March 8th

The Rumpus interview with LaShonda Katrice Barnett

I really loved Jam on the Vine, the debut novel of LaShonda Katrice Barnett, who has crafted an incredible novel about the early 20th Century, the black press, Red Summer of 1919, the way that incarceration has always been a part of African-American life. It's an incredible portrait of a time period and a place, but it's also incredibly contemporary in its concerns and values.

It's an incredible book, one of the best new books I've read so far this year, and I was so thrilled that I had the opportunity to speak with her about the book and the many issues embedded within the novel. We also spoke about her play, L'Echange, which will be staged in New York in May, interviewing and much more. I love the book and Barnett is someone whose name will be coming up a lot in the years to come.


Slate Cartoonist Studio Prize Finalists

Slate is one of those publications that does a good job of covering comics and the Slate Book Review and the Center for Cartoon Studies just announced the nominees for the third annual Cartoonist Studio Prize.

There's some incredible, brilliant people on this list. (Also, I notice that I've interviewed more than half of them in the past year). I'll admit that I prefer Kerascoet's other 2014 release, Beauty to Beautiful Darkness, but that may just be a question of my own taste - both books are excellent. The winners will be announced in next month's Slate Book Review.

The Cartoonist Studio Prize for Best Print Comic of the Year:

The Cartoonist Studio Prize for Best Web Comic of the Year:

Colin McEnroe and The Tournament of Books

Every year the website The Morning News holds "The Tournament of Books" which puts sixteen works of fiction from the previous year up against each other in brackets.

What makes it really interesting is the fact that most awards just present a winner, but here at every stage of the process, the judges have to explain and articulate their thoughts.

Colin McEnroe, who hosts an hour long show every weekday at WNPR in Hartford invited three of us onto the show - after having read all the books - to talk about them. So Julia Pistell and Rand Richards Cooper and I read a lot this calendar year.

We were asked at the end to name our pick for which book should win and I selected The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. I'm a huge David Mitchell fan as I said on the show and as many people know. I would have loved to have had a long conversation about the fifth section of the book, which I think it's so clearly the book's weak spot.

Still, it was a lot of fun to talk books with other people. Colin said that if there's any blame, then I deserve some of it, and I'm happy to take it.

Articles published the week of March1st

John Bolton reveals the unusual macabre of "Shame"

John Bolton is one of those incredible painters in comics. He's been producing some of the most beautiful pages in comics for more than three decades. Recent years there have been some great new editions of books like "Marada the She-Wolf," "The Black Dragon," "Someplace Strange." Bolton hasn't stopped working, though. He's been painting the miniseries "Shame," the third volume of which has just been released.

Nadja Spiegelman shares how she got "Lost in NYC"

Nadja Spiegelman has a new graphic novel she wrote coming out in April from Toon Books. "Lost in NYC" is a gorgeous collaboration with the Spanish artist Sergio Garcia Sanchez that centers around the subway and features an incredibly designed page layouts making for a book that's designed for kids but is something that adults will find incredible.

The book is also being released in a simultaneous Spanish-language edition and the duo will be on tour for the book next month:


Articles Published the Week of February 22nd

Erika Moen reveals the secrets behind the funny, educational "Oh Joy, Sex Toy"

I'm a huge fan of Erika Moen's work. This dates back to "DAR," her autobiographical webcomic, which to my mind remains one of the really important and influential works of American comics in the 21st century. Her current project is "Oh Joy, Sex Toy," which is funny and educational and a really interesting work that I always read. I've met Erika a few times over the years and I always get a feel for her in her work

JP Ahonen on drawing bears, "Sing No Evil" and the Finnish Comics Scene

Way back in the fall I got to sit down with JP Ahonen and we spoke about his great graphic novel "Sing No Evil" which is incredibly fun and really interesting. We spoke about the book - and he's currently working on a sequel - working on weekly comic strips and how they differe from the graphic novel, and what the Finnish comics scene is like. (He gives a few shout outs and recommendations of people we should be reading)

John Romita, Sr. reflects on his Spider-Man legacy, Gwen Stacy's death and Stan Lee

One of the defining artists of the Silver Age of American Comics, and next only to Jack Kirby, the artist who defined Marvel Comics, John Romita, Sr. doesn't draw much anymore, but I had the opportunity to speak with him shortly after his 85th birthday. A fabulous artist, a true gentleman

Lisa Unger: Crazy Love You

I like supernatural thrillers, but honestly, I tend to like them more in theory than in practice. It's more about taste, really, but I loved Lisa Unger's new novel "Crazy Love You." Part of the reason is that the book is as much a character drama as it is a thriller. I read the entire book in about a day and it was just a fabulous book so we spoke about how she works and the way this book was a change form her typical approach.



I suffer from depression. And when I saw that, I mean that I regularly suffer from agonizing physical and emotional symptoms . And I've spent the majority of February in the midst of one of the more brutal bouts of depression I've ever experienced. There were a few days where I was unable to do much of anything besides boil water, and not go back to bed, because I was so overwhelmed with feelings of worthlessness. That I was a middle aged failure who is alone and will always be alone and that there's no reason to continue living.

This reinforced itself because I don't have anyone I could turn to who would lend a hand. And thus helping my sense of worthlessness. There is something about being alone which can be difficult. And of course being alone and depressed makes it difficult to go out and meet people which just means you're alone and so that.... It's a reinforcing loop.

And so I remain alone. I don't really see that changing any time soon, to be honest. But I have managed to get out of the brutal black pit of my depression. That's not to say that I'm a happy person. Though I have smiled this week.  That's a start.

Articles Published the Week of February 15th


February: Ray Billingsley

Ray Billingsley is the man behind Curtis, the daily comic strip that launched from King Features in 1988. Before that point the School of Visual Arts graduate had worked in animation, was a freelance illustrator, and had a short-lived syndicated strip in the early eighties. While in high school he worked for Kids magazine, which back in the 1970's was overseen by Jeanette Kahn before she went on to become President of DC Comics.

Curtis is a family strip for the most part. That's certainly not the only thing that the strip is, but I think I'm on safe ground as describing that as the typical strip. The story of Curtis, who is an eleven year old growing up dealing with a younger brother, two parents, and various strict teachers, bullies, girls who don't share his crushes, and various other friends, enemies and neighbors.

The strip remains primarily about family, and that is the center of the strip. Curtis' father was for many years a smoker, which was a running gag and source of frustration and education, until he finally quit. It does offer the sidestep into the fantastic from time to time. Curtis is a daydreamer and has his superhero fantasies. Additionally Curtis' best friend Gunk is from Flyspeck Island and his stories of what life is like or when the island's native creatures come to New York are much more surreal and fantastic than the ordinary life of the strip.

Billingsley has also made a point of using the strip as an educational tool, using the space to mark Kwanzaa each year by telling a fable in the tradition of old African folktales. He's used the strip to talk about the life and work of Dr. King, taking a look at influential or forgotten African-American figures. If seeing an African-American family on the comics pages isn't unusual enough, the ways that he tries to broaden the scope of the strip is even rarer.

It's clear that Billingsley designed a strip that would allow him to use his many creative muscles. After more than a quarter century, Curtis has become an institution on the comics page, but after years of reading the strip, it's clear that Billingsley is interested in more than just continuing to maintain his real estate on the comic pages. I don't know what he'll do in the years to come, and he may not either, but I'm sure he'll find a way to push against our expectations and experiment artistically.

February: Keith Knight

Keith Knight first got attention for his weekly comic The K Chronicles. The weekly strip varied a lot. At time it was political, at times focused on funny stories about "Keef" and his circle of friends and family, "Life's little victories" which were often submitted by readers. Like a lot of people, I first discovered the comic when it was a regular feature on

One weekly strip wasn't enough, so Knight created a second, (th)ink, which is more political and designed as a one panel cartoon that manages to be sharper and smarter than most political cartoons.

Knight also contributed to Mad Magazine and has been working on a graphic novel which would detail his brief stint as a Michael Jackson impersonator. Knight launched a kickstarter to help fund the book, and has since also crafted a guide to creating and running a successful kickstarter campaign.

The Knight Life is a syndicated daily strip from United Media that Knight started in 2008 which was focused on Keef and presented as a look at his daily life, and though it was clearly over the top in the same way that Louis CK's show is not an ordinary life, between the gag strips, Knight really managed to build characters and convey a real feel for ordinary life

Knight is a great political cartoonist and one of the main reasons for this is that he is very funny and he sees the world in a way that is funny and very political. But what really makes him stand out is the way that he is able to make the political part of daily life. He looks at the world through a political lens and if one approaches the world like that, it's not possible to ignore it. Knight manages to make a family strip that has politics baked into its very DNA, and yet it never becomes a political strip and it's very rarely a lecturing series. It's simply part of the strip's worldview and the characters' worldview in a way that's not seen a great deal, and done well even less.

Articles Published the Week of February 1st

Checking in with Dean Mullaney

I'm a big fan of Dean Mullaney and his publishing efforts at the Library of American Comics, where he's been reprinting some of the greatest comics ever made. This year he's launching a new imprint at IDW, EuroComics, which will reprint a number of series from Europe. It launches with Corto Maltese by Hugo Pratt, widely considered one of the great comics series of all time. In this interview we mostly spoke about two of the big releases he's putting out this month, the first collection of Corto Maltese, and Secret Agent X-9, which collects the first few years of the comic strip which was written and co-created by Dashiell Hammett and drawn and co-created by Alex Raymond. There's also talk of George Evans, Spider-Man, the second EuroComics series, and more.

February: Afua Richardson

Afua Richardson has drawn very few comics, which makes it all the more impressive that the ones she has drawn have been so good. It's not just a question of the fact that she seems to have emerged with a unique style of her own fully formed, but that she has a sense of storytelling, an understanding of how to tell a story in comics, which is of course a very different things form simply drawing well.

Wen Genius, which was first published by Top Cow Comics as part of their "First Look" the single issue made an impression. Written by Marc Bernadin and Adam Freeman, the book tells the story of the world's greatest military tactician, who is a teenage girl from a run down neighborhood in Los Angeles. She's not going to join the army, she's going to declare war on the United States.

It is not your typical comicbook, and so it seems appropriate that the artist of the book shouldn't easily fit into any box. There's a definite influence of anime and manga, but she has her own approach in a way that's really interesting.

Of course she's busy doing a lot of other things including making music, but hopefully comics will remain a major concern because while she's been putting out covers or some short work, it would be great to see so more longer work from her, where she really gets the chance to visually shape the world. Genius was very much set in the contemporary world, though she was able to still bring her own definite angle to the story. I'd be interested to see what she could do when given the opportunity to craft a world from the ground up. Hopefully we'll find out soon.

February: Jamal Igle

Jamal Igle's work is hard to sum up in a few sentences. A lot of that is intentional. He's spent much of his career over more than two decades trying to be indispensable, moving from one project to another, a lot of short runs and fill-ins for various companies. That didn't necessarily help him develop a style or a following among fans, but it did help him hone his skill and it made him a valuable artist to editors.

Igle's work has been defined by only a handful of long runs on books. With Firestorm and Supergirl, he was able to carve out a run on books where he was able to define the characters and the visual world. It was his run on Supergirl that really helped to establish him as a masterful artist. While his earlier work may not have had a particular "Igle style," the truth is that when given the room, Igle was able to demonstrate his skill and his style with ease.

Igle moved on to draw The Ray, a four issue miniseries from DC Comics written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, relaunching the Golden Age hero. The book was incredibly fun and the three managed to craft an incredible book, which unfortunately, has yet to be collected.

Since then Igle has been branching out. His book Molly Danger is  a passion project that he wrote and illustrated, was kickstarted by Igle and eventually published by Action Labs. Meanwhile Igle has also been working on various other work for hire projects including KISS and Terminator: Enemy of my Enemy. He's been talking about the next Molly Danger book as well as other creator owned projects he wants to work on in the next few years.

One of his goals with Molly Danger was to make a book that he could share with his young daughter. It's an interesting concept, though the first book only hints at what seems possible with this character and this world. The sense of fun and playfulness that Igle brinsg to his creations, and yet the seriousness with which he treats the characters' feelings and concerns, are very powerful, and something that we could use more of in comics.


February: Shawn Martinbrough

Shawn Martinbrough was inking comics for many years on comics including "Static," "Shadow Cabinet," and others. As a penciler he first made a mark when he and writer Greg Rucka took over "Detective Comics" in 2000.

He drew the Gary Phillips-written miniseries "Angeltown," "Punisher: Hot Rods of Death," "Luke Cage Noir," "Bullseye: The Perfect Game," "Black Panther: The Most Dangerous Man Alive" and a number of other miniseries or short projects.

Along the way he also wrote the textbook, How To Draw Noir Comics: The Art and Technique of Visual Storytelling." As the subtitle suggests the book isn't about a style of drawing so much as it explores the thinking and approach behind the style to reveal more about possibilities and approaches to storytelling in a way that a lot of storytelling could benefit from even if noir isn't a style they utilize or even like.

When Robert Kirkman launched the series "Thief of Thieves" a lot of talk was about how a rotating series of writers would be working on the book, but Martinbrough has been on the series from the beginning. His masterful noir drawing style makes him a natural choice, but after twenty-something issues, it's clear that he's really defined the series in a way that I would argue no one else in the creative team has. Not that there any shortcomings on the team, but Martinbrough's style has really shaped the series as much as anything and the consistent style - and Martinbrough's skill at drawing the action scenes, the quiet interpersonal scenes, and everything in between, has made

I would really love to read a Martinbrough drawn comic that's printed in black and white. I think on "Thief of Thieves" the coloring is good, but I love his inked pages and while I certainly understand why the publisher would wnat a full color style, one of these years I would love to see how Martinbrough could utilize a black and white book. Ideally in an oversize format to show off his eye for detail a little more.

Martinbrough's other current project is "The Ren." A graphic novel coming out form First Second Books, Martinbrough is co-writing with Joseph Illidge and drawn by Grey Williamson.The book i set during the Harlem Renaissance and is about love and art and violence and young artists and it's a book I'm really looking forward to. Hopefully the first of many more books with a new take, a slightly different direction that we'll see from Martinbrough in the coming years.


February: Brian Stelfreeze

Brian Stelfreeze is one of those artists who's best known for his covers and design work more than his interior comics art. His covers to "Shadow of the Bat" were iconic and his fifty issue run covering the book certainly stands out both for that time period and since. The fact that there hasn't been a book which would collect the covers and various sketches, process drawings, and other "Batman" work that Stelfreeze has drawn seems idiotic.

Stelfreeze was a founding member of Gaijin Studio, which was home to a great lineup of artists including Cully Hamner, Tony Harris, Adam Hughes, Dave Johnson and Jason Pearson, among others.

For the most part, the projects that Stelfreeze has worked on are ones that he co-wrote or was deeply involved with the story process, which is not typical. He collaborated with Doug Wagner a number of times, writers like Joe Pruett and Devin Grayson, and more than just playing a role in the writing the projects he was often pencilling, inking and even coloring the stories.

In these projects he would alter his style to suit each project. He wasn't taking this heavy-handed approach to his career, but he was taking an interest in the work and being very proactive as a collaborator and storyteller. Some stories were more cartoony, some more realistic, some darker, some lighter. And at the same time, each story very much shows hallmarks of the writer's work. Matador feels like a Devin Grayson comic. "Gun Candy" feels like a Doug Wagner comic. The story in "Wednesday Comics" feels like something that Walt Simonson would write.

I've never met Stelfreeze, I don't know what it's like working with him, but as a reader, that is the definition of a good collaboration and a good collaborator.

Boom! made a splash when Stelfreeze signed onto draw the series "Day Men" for the publisher. Written by Michael Alan Nelson and Matt Gagnon, the book very much plays into Stelfreeze's strengths as an artist, and at a time when vampires have become almost ordinary, the book stands out with a very different take on the mythos, both in terms of the actual content of the series but also the ways that the series approaches it.

Boom launched a new occasional project, "Pen & Ink" last year where they print the inked pages of artists in an oversize format. It's not for everyone, but seeing two issues reproduced like this is an incredible thing for fans of artists and process junkies (and people who love looking at original art but can't afford them). Stelfreeze's first two issues of "Day Men" made up the first "Pen & Ink" and there will be a publication of the third and fourth issues coming up this year.

Stelfreeze is also a noted designer who is perhaps best known for his redesign of Nightwing many years ago, but he has posted online some sketches and redesigns over the years. His redesign of DC's Crime Syndicate was an elegant and interesting take on the characters which was done in a way that was really striking. Stelfreeze captured the essence of the characters while completing redesigning them from scratch and using a style that owed much more to people like Alex Toth than many of the overly busy designs that are so commonplace and popular nowadays.

"Day Men" has had some trouble keeping to a monthly schedule, but when I spoke with Stelfreeze last year he spoke about the lengthy back and forth that he and the writers engage in with every issue, making the book far more collaborative than most ongoing comic series, and it isn't shocking that the book doesn't come out monthly. This criticism is unfortunate because it is a beautiful book with a very unique take on the genre. It also spotlights just what Stelfreeze is able to do. Like a lot of artists, it's easy to forget about people and how good they are, when they haven't been producing a lot of work regularly. I get the sense that Stelfreeze understands this and that it was one of the reasons that he wanted to draw an ongoing series

I'm perfectly happy with the pace of "Day Men," though I'll be honest that I'm one who tends to read the collections of comics. In a more ideal world, I'd like many more issues of "Day Men" each year with a new "Pen & Ink" every year showcasing more of Stelfreeze's work. I'd also love to see him do more cover artwork and experiment with more styles and approaches. More than anything else, though, I want to see more Stelfreeze artwork. However it ends up looking.

February: Denys Cowan

Denys Cowan is a bit young to be a comic book legend, but for a lot of readers, it's hard to find another way to describe the man. He started working in comics as a teenager, working under Rick Buckler and Neal Adams. His first great comics work was "The Question." Written by Denny O'Neill, the series had a very different perspective on crime, corruption and city life than most comics. It was a much more nuanced and complicated notion of how cities function and what one man could do when confromnted with these concerns, particularly one who was enmeshed in the city. In that sense it was very much an assault on how comics have typically portrayed these issues and how to solve them.

Cowan went onto draw the "Blind Justice" story arc of Batman written by Sam Hamm (who scripted the 1989 Batman movie) and draw "Deathlok" at Marvel, which is how he met Dwayne McDuffie. Cowan was one of the founders of Milestone Media. While there he designed a number of characters, drew the zero issue of "Xombi" and is best known for the long run of "Hardware" that he drew. He went worked in animation for many years, producing shows like "Static Shock" and "Boondocks," working as an executive at BET where he oversaw the "Black Panther" and a series of animated shorts including the acclaimed and controversial "Read a Book" PSA.

In recent years he's drawn a lot more comics like the miniseries "Captain America/Black Panther: Flags of our Fathers," "Fight for Tomorrow," "Batman Confidential," various short comics, and the short-lived series "Dominique Leveau: Voodoo Child," which had a few problems but was a fascinating series with a lot of great texture and didn't feel like any other comic out there.

It was announced last month that Cowan and fellow Milestone co-founder Derek Dingle would be teaming up with Reginald Hudlin to form Milestone Media, or Milestone 2.0 as they've referred to it in various interviews. The two have spoken about a live action Static Shock project that's in development.

Another thing that I hope they look into and focus on is reprinting and making available the original Milestone books. Quality reprints of "Static Shock" and "Hardware," especially, would be much appreciated. There's a number of other quality books and story lines that I would love to see available both in digital forms and in quality trade paperback collections.

But as much as people want to see more stories of "Static" and many other characters, as much as they'll reinvent some of the old comics they did, which I think offer a lot of material, and have a lot of relevance to today, I do hope that they'll also make as much a push on new projects and new ideas. After all this was very much a company that came about because of how the creators were treated within the comics industry.

It doesn't take much imagination of insider knowledge to read "Hardware," which was written by McDuffie and drawn by Cowan, as an attack on how Marvel treated them. Image Comics may have talked about how they were treated horribly by Marvel and struck out on their own, but the creators at Milestone took what happened and turned it into art. McDuffie and Cowan and others tackled contemporary events and issues and made drama out of them. I hope that Milestone 2.0 will not shy away from this legacy at all. While other companies have run away from such things, I hope that they embrace it.

Denys Cowan has been a masterful artist and designer and storyteller for decades. How many pages of comics he's drawn has changed from year to year depending on what he's working on, but he's always been one of the great storytellers of his generation and I think that sense of storytelling, even more than his art (which I LOVE) is what has drawn so many people to his work and what has made so many writers excited about collaborating with him.

I'm excited about a live action "Static Shock," I want a beautiful series of books collecting the McDuffie-Cowan run of "Hardware," I want a masterful art book showcasing the work of Cowan in various fields. But what I want more than anything, is another new comic drawn by Denys Cowan. That has ALWAYS been worth the wait. And I have no doubt that it will continue to be so for years to come - and for a whole new generation of readers.


Articles Published the Week of January 25th

Two older articles were published online this week. I conducted both interviews way back in 2014 (which feels like it happened a very long time ago). They were with two men who are immensely talented.

Dylan Horrocks deconstructs the fantasy behind "Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen"

Horrocks' book isn't just one of the best graphic novels of the year (it is and I have yet to meet anyone who's read it who disagrees) but it's also a thoughtful and powerful look at story, fantasy and how they play out in our lives, both for good and ill.

Mark Evanier talks Groo, Garfield, and "The Art of the Simon and Kirby Studio"

Mark Evanier doesn't need me to introduce him. He's a great writer, talented editor and as anyone who reads his blog knows, a man of impeccable taste. I spoke with him back in the fall about a number of different projects. One of the biggest was "The Art of the Simon and Kirby Studio" from Abrams, which anyone who's seen the book knows is one of the most beautiful books to be published in 2014. Another is "Hollywood Superstars," a short-lived comic that was originally edited by Archie Goodwin and drawn by Dan Spiegle. The collection was published by About Comics last year. We also talked about Groo (which is back this year), Garfield, Stan Freberg and more.


Musing about Robin Williams, depression and suicide

In the course of cleaning through things, digitally and otherwise, I've been sorting through papers and came across this piece I wrote months ago shortly after Robin Williams committed suicide. I was a big fan of Williams. His comedy was great. His movies were admittedly uneven (like anyone who makes movies) and his most recent TV show, The Crazy Ones, wasn't a great show, but I watched it and I think it could have been better. Sadly it never got the chance.

It's not an optimistic essay. Sorry about that.

So Robin Williams killed himself.

When depressed people commit suicide, it tends to to have an impact. For those of us who deal with depression, we know a little of what he was going through. Often we've had those thoughts. Some people have even attempted suicide. But it hits close to the bone.

There are a few problems with how people have talked about his death. One is that people should get help. Well, Williams was getting help. He had gotten help. He had fought with this for decades, for his entire life, and he still couldn't get through it. He was 63 years old and he had been self-medicating and he went to rehab and he had family and friends and he was getting help. This idea that he was selfish and if only he could have gotten help, he would be alive, but that's just not true sadly.

Two is this idea that he's free. There's the obnoxious image on social media of the Genie and Aladdin from the animated movie where Aladdin tells the genie he's free now. The idea presumably being that now Williams is free from the pain and torment he went through in life. I fucking hate that sentiment.

Of course I find some people who talk about suicide to be agonizingly self-aggrandizing and obnoxious and painful to listen to. Not the medical professionals who do deal with patients, who see these symptoms, treat individuals and live with their illness. I think we don't appreciate that. How for many of the doctors who treat such conditions, they choose to live with this in a way that we don't - in a way that very people would. I'm talking about people who don't have medical training, who often don't have experience with depression and pain, but who feel the need to hector and lecture about how suicide is always wrong and I suppose it's no coincidence that many of these people are so narcissistic that they've had little self-doubt in their lives and tend not to be nice about their other opinions either. They may think they're important and doing good by taking such a hard line but the truth is they're just being un-empathetic.

Let me put it this way, if I tell you that I feel worthless and am in pain and thinking about suicide, should your response be, your thoughts and feelings are stupid and wrong? Then to badger and lecture me without an understanding of or concern for how I feel? Moreover so many of these people are selfish and casually cruel.

Depression is a strange thing because it attacks your very sense of sense. It does so in ways that you might not even think about because for some of they're such a common part of life. I'm not going to claim that my experience with depression is universal. In truth I have no idea just how universal my experience is.

It begins by telling you that you're a failure. That all you've done is fail and when you haven't actually failed, it's been because of dumb luck or something else that prevented you from being revealed a the complete worthless failure you are. You are one move from being revealed for what you really are. You know what you are, though. These are not thoughts that appear out of nowhere, they are thoughts that we've all had, the kinds of thoughts

Then it goes further and informs views of not just you but others. There's a reason you're alone. You have friends and acquaintances, sure, but only because they don't know you. The real you. If they did, they wouldn't want anything to do with you. Hell, some of them don't even bother to get back to you. They have a sense of what you are and what you're really like. That's why you're single. You sound fine on paper but once they get to know you, they run away.

These thoughts grow slowly and the chilling thing that depression offers you (or at least me) is something like satori. Or at least what i imagine satori to be like. For those who don't know, satori in Zen Buddhism is the experience of seeing one's true essence. The idea that you are seeing yourself clearly. Depression is dangerous and scary because these thoughts are not foreign to you. They are a part of you.


I'd like to write something positive and hopeful and encouraging about depression. I can't.

I'm mildly successful in terms of work - which is to say that people tell me i have a cool job. I'm a joke financially. I've tried to sell out and get a boring office job with a steady paycheck and the possibility of not having to worry constantly about money, but no one's ever been interested in hiring me.

I'm alone. I often think - as most people who are single and over thirty do - that I'll be alone forever. It wouldn't surprise me if I never had a serious relationship - I've gotten this far without one. I haven't had a birthday party since elementary school. I stopped having them because I didn't think anyone would show up. I still don't think anyone would show up if I threw a party.

One thing that makes suicide relatively rare is the fact that it's so hard to pull off. I've often wished for a switch or level where I could just end it, shut down my heart and painlessly stop. Just stop. I suppose that makes a certain sense. I'm not a violent person. But stopping...that sounds like relief.

I'm writing this because I know that I have all the signs of depression. Some people would be troubled by all this. The truth is though that this part of my daily life. I live with these thoughts on an almost daily basis. I'm constantly unsatisfied with every piece of work I do. It's what keeps me trying new things. I'm constantly worried and frustrated. I'm alone - and I probably always will be.

In her magnificent book "Stay," Jennifer Michael Hecht writes about "hope for our future selves" and I understand that. I believe in that. But I also remember what it was like to be depressed. I remember what it was like to not feel as though I had a future self - there was only the present. The present was painful and the pain would never end.

I'm writing this to say that I have all these thoughts, but I'm staying. I'm not going anywhere. I don't know for how long. I'm going to try to stay for as long as I can. But if there comes a point where I can't stay anymore...please try to understand.

Richard McGuire's Here in Publishers Weekly

Richard McGuire published one of the most awe-inspiring books of 2014. Trying to explain his book "Here" is a challenge. I could tell you that it takes place in the corner of his parent's living room in Perth-Amboy, New Jersey, but that doesn't capture why so many people are obsessed with this book. One reason is because it takes place in this corner of the room over the course of the planet. Further looking at the page designs, with windows and insets capturing moments and images from over time.

It's an amazing book and one that people will be reading and pondering for a long time. I was thrilled that I got to interview him. And I'm excited that the piece has appeared in Publishers Weekly.


Looking back on 2014

So it was an interesting year. I managed to talk to a few cultural figures (at least in the sub cultures I move in) like William Gibson, George Romero, and Chris Claremont.

There were interviews with Amanda Palmer, Cory Doctorow, Alena Smith, Robert Boswell, Gerald Vizenor

I had some great poetic conversations with Donald Hall, Mary Szybist, Patricia Lockwood, Peter Gizzi, and Carol Muske-Dukes.

I interviewed some of the great living cartoonists - Jules Feiffer, Roz Chast, Lewis Trondheim, Jim Woodring, Mimi Pond, Gilbert Hernandez, Don Rosa, John Porcellino, Gabrielle Bell, P Craig Russell, Charles Burns, Eleanor Davis, Stan Sakai, Richard Thompson, Zeina Abirached, Mana Neyestani, Olivier Schrauwen, Simon Hanselmann, Ed Piskor, Richard McGuire, and others I've forgotten.

All in all, not a bad list of people.

Goals for the new year:

1. More interviews! Of course when I say more, I mean more people. I'd love to be able to just spend time on interviews. With few exceptions, I never spend more than a couple hours on any single profile. I read profiles in glossy magazines and about how people spend days with the subject and weeks on the article and I just cannot imagine being able to do that. I would love to, though.

2. More reviews. I write very few reviews. I should write more.

3. More time looking abroad. I want to spend more time reading work from the Middle East in particular. Also more from South America.

4. More articles about non-comics topics. I spend far too much time on comics, which quite frankly, yields very little in the sense of....well, anything. There's something incredibly disheartening about putting in as much time and energy as I did to write about a field and get so little in return.Maybe it's because I'm no good. Maybe it's because no one cares. Maybe...I don't know.

Let's just hope 2015 works out better.