Articles Published the Week of April 23rd

My Favorite Thing is Monsters' Author Talks 2017's Buzziest Graphic Novel

Emil Ferris' debut graphic novel My Favorite Thing Is Monsters is not just one of the best graphic novels of the year, it's one of the best books of the year and should go on the long list of the great all-time graphic novels. I had a great, lengthy conversation with Emil, which I think shows in the text, and I'm so proud to present this interview.

1942's Woman of the Year Remains a Contemporary Romantic Comedy, But Not Necessarily for Good Reasons

I have long loved Katherine Hepburn. The characters she played in films like Bringing Up Baby, Holiday, the Philadelphia Story and others are some of the funniest I know – and my love of screwball comedy has likely played a role in shaping my idea of what a perfect mate should be. When it comes to Woman of the Year, the 1942 comedy she starred in with Spencer Tracy - the film where they met, and their legendary love affair began - is one I have mixed feelings about. On the one hand it is a more mature and subtler comedy than the earlier screwball films I mentioned, and there are many elements and moments I loved. But it remains troubling contemporary in some ways. The film is just out from Criterion and Splitsider let me talk about the film.

Articles Published the Week of April 16th

First Time Creator Explores Deserted Cities in Imagine Wanting Only This

One of my favorite comics to come out so far this year has to be Imagine Wanting Only This by Kristen Radtke. It's her first book and she makes it clear that she doesn't come from a cartooning background. She went to art school and then got an MFA in writing and combining the two came later, but she's an immensely talented writer and artist and this book hits so many of my fields of interest. I got to talk with her about the book, which is the kind of essay-istic comic that I think that comics needs more of.


Only You Can Stop Celebrity Prom Proposal Videos!

What the hell is wrong with kids today?

Okay now that I sound like an old man, let me start by admitting that I never went to prom. I'm sure that in the mind of someone, that will color my ability to comment on this.

What the hell is wrong with people inviting celebrities to prom via videos they post online? Because no one sane or well-raised would do such a thing. It's a rude, narcissistic act that needs to stop.

A few points:

One, if you want to go to prom, ask a friend.

Two, you want to f*** a celebrity? Good for you. You think that makes you unique? It doesn't. No one should care.

Three, you want to ask out a total stranger? That's creepy. No one wants to date a total stranger! If you're all I don't know anything about you and we've never talked before but I think you're hot, wanna go out? Because that is what you're asking. It's weird, it's creepy.

Four, you're asking someone older to prom. Hard no. Seriously, what adult wants to go to prom with an underage kid? (Answer: an adult you don't want to be around)

Five, get some ****ing manners. Were you raised by wolves? Demanding a stranger's time and attention like this? You're showing no class and no respect for others and demanding that they respond to you. It's rude and manipulative.

Six, Some people have called this sexual harassment. Not sure I'd go that far, but I do understand it.

Seven, I also blame the media for covering it. This is what happens when we have fifty million channels filling hour after hour every day. they cover a lot of nonsense that they really should not be covering simply to avoid having dead air. They should just say no.

Eight, I'm sure people will go, oh women do this to guys. Yes, they do. It's obnoxious and inappropriate then, as well.

Nine, I still don't get prom. I blame the media and this idea that prom is wonderful and special and blah blah blah.

Ten, just because it still needs to be said - even if a person isn't a celebrity, they don't owe you a yes, and even if they say yes, they don't you owe you anything. I say it because clearly it's not a widely enough held belief.


Articles Published the Week of April 9th

Pulitzer finalist Jen Sorensen talks about the True Horrors of DeVos and Trump-era Political Comics

This might seem to be topical since this week cartoonist Jen Sorensen was named a finalist for this year's Pulitzer Prize. It's the most recent of a long list of awards. Of course we talked a couple weeks back so it's all just coincidence. I just have really good taste in comics.And Sorensen is just that good.

Articles Published the Week of April 2nd

Joe Ollmann on The Abominable Mr. Seabrook

I've always enjoyed Joe Ollmann's comics, but his new book The Abominable Mr. Seabrook is really something else. A graphic biography of William Seabrook who is best known as the man who introduced zombie into the English language, but he was a writer and traveler in the vein of Hunter S. Thompson and the new journalists. He traveled through Haiti and Africa, talked about zombies (in a way which was considered over the top but many of his arguments and observations have been proven by others), was interested in voodoo and treated it seriously, wrote about alcoholism and drying out. He was immensely successful, but he was never the writer he wanted to be. It's a fascinating life and it's a fabulous book.


The 2017 Tournament of Books

In years past I've blogged daily during the month of March about The Tournament of Books run by The Morning News website. I'm a big fan of the competition and in years past I've written about each matchup. This year I didn't read all the books and one reason for that was simply that I lacked the same passion. The truth is that the past few months have knocked the wind out of me for a few reasons.

Another reason, though, is that in years past I've read all the books as part of an hour long episode of The Colin McEnroe Show. This year we picked four books (okay, I didn't pick the four...) but we only read four books and talked about those.

Moonglow by Michael Chabon
The Nix by Nathan Hill
Mister Monkey by Francine Prose
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

The results were of course different. We liked Moonglow by Michael Chabon, but it didn't survive the first round of the tournament. We thought that Mister Monkey was an interesting but unimpressive book and it made it to the quarterfinals. Both the show and the tournament did have The Nix face off against The Underground Railroad, with the same result.

Of course despite the fact that we did something entirely different, we did end up with the same winner, which is to say, Colson Whitehead's The Underground Railroad.

There is a reason that this book has become such a huge success. I've been a big fan of Whitehead since the beginning of his career. I met him years ago and got to talk about his second novel, John Henry Days, which I think more than anything else he's written is really the precursor to The Underground Railroad. It's interested in history and personal experience, it tries to be both precise and personal and at the same time mythic.

If you listen to the show I also admit that my knowledge of Jonathan Swift comes from cartoons and not from actually reading Gulliver's Travels. I made that point because I was told that the book is in many ways a model for The Underground Railroad - and I'm pretty sure that's true, or at least as sure as anyone who didn't read one book can say. I would have happily spent an hour talking about the Whitehead novel, but in the end it's a great hour where I talked with some very smart people.

Long Live the Rooster!


Articles Published the Week of March 26th

Marty Two Bulls, Sr. speaks out on DAPL and the role of journalism in an unstable time

Marty Two Bulls, Sr. is a great artist and cartoonist. He was the finalist for the Herblock Prize in large part for his comics and commentary about the DAPL protests. We spoke about his life and career, writing for a Native audience, and the role of journalism.

Jay Chandrasekhar on the Rhythm of Comedy

At Splitsider I talked with director-writer-actor-standup Jay Chandrasekhar, who remains best known as one of the comedy troupe Broken Lizard and the films he's directed like Super Troopers. He just wrote a memoir which is funny and weird and talks about growing up Indian-American in the Midwest, comedy, life in Hollywood, and more.

Corinne Lee on Finding an antidote to America's Toxicity

I hadn't heard of Corinne Lee before Penguin Poets published her book Plenty last year. Her second book, this is a book length project that looks at America and the environment, picks up on the ideas in Whitman's Leaves of Grass and continues them to the present, looking at the takeover of Hawaii, about ecological destruction, about what it means to love America when America is literally poisonous. It is a lyrical and haunting book.

Colleen Coover Revisits "Girly Porno" Comic Small Favors with New Collection

I've spoken with Colleen Coover in the past and this time we spoke about the new collection of her first comics project, Small Favors, which is being collected in a new definitive collection. We spoke about starting out as an artist, about pornography, and the challenges of making comics that are fun. 

Bringing Dick Tracy and The Spirit Together For The First Time

Mike Curtis and Joe Staton took over the Dick Tracy comic strip a few years ago and ever since they've been utilizing characters from other comic strips which are no longer around and making it a space where Little Orphan Annie and Daddy Warbucks and characters from Terry and the Pirates and others will pop up. This year to mark the Will Eisner centennial, they have The Spirit guest starring in a long story arc finishing this month. We spoke about Eisner, The Spirit and the strip.