Articles Published the Week of May 21st

Ivan Brunetti Returns to Comics with his First Graphic Novel for Kids

Like most people I love Ivan Brunetti's New Yorker covers. It's been a while since he's made comics, though, but this year he's back with an all new book, Wordplay. His first book for kids, it's published by Toon Books and edited by his longtime New Yorker editor, the legendary Francoise Mouly. We talked about his new book, what's been behind his other projects, and his own experiences with learning English.


Sonya Walger should be Modesty Blaise

Sonya Walger should be Modesty Blaise.

To backtrack for a second, Sonya Walger - the actor perhaps best known for her roles in Lost and FlashForward and Tell Me You Love Me and Common Law and the first The Librarian movie - was one of the stars of the show The Catch, which was just cancelled by ABC after two seasons.

Now it was cancelled because it wasn't especially good - for a variety of reasons - but one of the best things about the show was Walger. In particular her character of Margot Bishop. As initially introduced, the character is a con artist working with a small team in Los Angeles, but then it becomes clear in the first season that she is in fact the daughter of a major crime lord, with criminal operations in many countries across the globe. But not in America. And so when she left the family business along with her partner, they went to where the organization wasn't.

Though her brother (played by John Simm, who's a joy) and her mother arrive in Los Angeles with plans for expansion and then Margot takes the helm of the company by pushing the two of them out...

The point is that she managed to play a character who was a woman who was in her thirties or forties, but looking fabulous, who has relationship drama and familial issues, but she was also cold blooded, dangerous, had a sense of humor, was sexual, could be wounded and vulnerable, and in each episode was very dangerous. She was in short, a really interesting character.

Bishop reminded me of another character, Modesty Blaise. Created by Peter O'Donnell, the character grew up in an IDP camp in the aftermath of World War II, assembled a criminal operation and then gave it up to live a life of quiet and luxury. Which she found boring and then took cases from British intelligence to do the kind of wetwork and quiet operations that the government would of course never condone or assign to anyone. Or just take up doing favors for people or take care of business that crept up from her criminal past.

The novels and short stories are fabulous - even better than the long-running comic strip where she first debuted, at least to my mind. The films aren't as good. That's a story for another time.

But I do think that a Modesty Blaise series starring Walger as Modesty would be amazing. An ex-criminal mastermind who now does criminal things but for the government. Powerful, intelligent, colorful, dangerous. Walger could nail the character. All that's needed is a good actor to play Willie Garvin...although John Simm was funny and dangerous and great on The Catch...and the two actors already have chemistry...Simm isn't necessarily who I might have thought of it, but I do think Simm is brilliant and can do just about anything.

It would be great fun. Someone really needs to make this show. (I mean, I'd watch it...)


Articles Published the Week of May 14th

Thi Bui's The Best We Could Do Already Among Comics' Best Memoirs

One of the best new books I've read this year is Thi Bui's graphic memoir The Best We Could Do. I'm honestly not sure what I can say that I didn't put in the article except that this is a great book and I think it's a great conversation and I'm so glad that this is in the world.

Articles Published the Week of May 7th

La Cucaracha Cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz uses Humor as Resistence

I've long thought Lalo Alcaraz is one of he funniest cartoonists on the comics page. His strip La Cucaracha is one of the best strips of the 21st Century. He's also drawing political cartoons, has illustrated books, teaches, hosts a radio show, works in TV and film. We sat down to talk about the strip, about political cartooning, but also about the current administration, what happened back in the nineties in California during the Pete Wilson administration, how he hasn't changed but the national conversation has changed, and more.


Articles Published the Week of April 30th

An Interview with David Wiesner

Wiesner is one of the great picture book artists of all time. He has three Caldecott Medals among a long list of other awards. I think his Three Little Pigs book is especially brilliant. He's long talked about the influence that comics, and Jack Kirby in particular, has had on his work, and he just released his first graphic novel, Fish Girl. We talked about the many choices that were involved in the project, delve into his process and how he thinks, and whether this long project has made him excited to try it again, or if he wants to run away and never try it again.