Articles Published the Week of July 23rd

Cory Thomas on Watch Your Head and more

Like a lot of people I read Cory Thomas' comics essay in fusion late last year, The Weirdness of Being Black in White Spaces After the Election. He did a great job of capturing the moment and what a lot of people were feeling, and his ability to capture complex moments might not be surprising to people who know Watch Your Head, his comic strip turned webcomic. We spoke about that, his book with James Patterson and other topics.

Rosanna Bruno on The Slanted Life of Emily Dickinson

I'm a huge Emily Dickinson fan (who isn't?) and I really enjoyed Rosanna Bruno's playful look at the poet, her work, and the myths around her in the book The Slanted Life of Emily Dickinson and so we had a fun chat about poetry and art and painting and color, how much did she worry that people who didn't know Dickinson wouldn't get the humor, and is she afraid of being attacked by a crazed academic?

No articles this week (or, Who Am I Without Work?)

It's a foolish question to ask, am I more than the work I do? Am I more than my job? And yet, it's not. Because I know that I still exist even if nothing gets published, even if nothing has been completed. And yet, my life is centered around work. I say to people, without irony or humor, that all I do is work. That's an exaggeration, of course, but there is a lot of truth to it. After all I'm alone, I don't date, I don't go out much. I measure my day by work completed, words written, books read, miles walked.

I believe on many levels that I exist outside and independent of the work that I do and the things that I accomplish. I do because I think that it's impossible to logically think otherwise. And yet, my life does not seem to extend past those boundaries.

Sometimes I feel as though I'm simultaneously living my life and considering it through a philosophical lens which may or may not have anything to do with my day to day.  Which I suppose could be argued is the nature of a lot of philosophy.

And so of course part of me thinks that nothing was published because quite simply I'm not working hard enough. We can blame it on the Protestant ethic and all that. Even though half a dozen publications have more than a dozen articles from me. To say nothing of the articles that are in progress. To say nothing of the agent who has my novel. To say nothing of all the work I did last week. I still feel lazy with nothing to show for it.

Would doing more and doing other things negate this feeling? Or would that feeling still exist but I would have other feelings that would allow me to shrug it off better? To be able to accept that some aspects of my life did not go great but other parts did? I don't know. I suppose in the same way that having a network on family and friends and relationships with people who serve different purposes and roles in our lives is a healthier and better way to live than simply have one primary person who shoulders much of that psychic weight.

Or perhaps this is merely a physical manifestation of how loneliness damages one's health? (Something I am writing about)

News From San Diego!

I haven't been to the San Diego Comic-Con for many years. One hears that the place has gotten even bigger, even crazier, even more crowded. But it also means that projects get announced and rumors get spread, and stories get told and dissected online. I don't want to say that I don't care about any of them but the truth is that I don't care much.But amidst all the noise and nonsense, there is news that stands out.

Ed Piskor is writing, drawing, coloring and lettering a six issue miniseries for Marvel, X-Men: Grand Design. Now I love Ed Piskor's work and so I'm excited. If Marvel announced, we are making a series which will retell X-Men #1-280 as a compact story, I would not care. But Ed doing it? I'm on board.

Marvel has done this a few times, let creators go nuts at the company and do something really interesting. It's often just a one off project, mostly because we're dealing with busy people who have projects of their own to do and they have better things than spending years working for Marvel, but it's yielded some truly great work. James Sturm and Guy Davis' Unstable Molecules and Jonathan Lethem and Farel Dalrymple's Omega the Unknown come to mind as examples of that freedom and also two of the best things Marvel has published in the past two decades. I can't wait to see what Ed does.

Drawn and Quarterly made a few announcements. They'll be publishing a collection of Lisa Hanawalt's Coyote Doggirl next fall. I've asked Lisa about the project a few times over the years. She's been posting a few pages at a time on her website for years now and I'm thrilled it's finally going to come out. And I think it was pretty inevitable that it would be published at D&Q.

D&Q is also publishing a new edition of Love That Bunch by Aline Komisky-Crumb in the spring, and in the fall, Dirty Plotte: The Complete Julie Doucet. Both of which are important comics by important (if not transformational) creators that everyone should buy.

Next year Scholastic's Graphix imprint will be publishing Jeff Smith's first picture book, Smiley's Dream Book. The first of two picture books from Smith. I know he's been having some health issues which have slowed down his drawing, but glad to see he's back. And I'm sure there's a new issue of Tuki coming out soon as well.

Dynamite is publishing a new Barbarella series this fall written by Mike Carey and overseen by Jean-Marc Lofficier. I love Carey, I think the character is fascinating and interesting and I'm curious what he'll do. No word on the artist, though. And the artist's interpretation will be key.

There's a new League of Extraordinary Gentlemen series coming out. The Tempest will be six issues, launch next year, and according to the press release:

After an epic seventeen-year journey through the entirety of human culture – the biggest cross-continuity ‘universe’ that is conceivable – Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill will conclude both their legendary League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and their equally legendary comic-book careers with the series’ spectacular fourth and final volume, The Tempest.



Articles Published the Week of July 9th

An interview with Keiler Roberts on Sunburning

I'm a huge fan of Keiler Roberts, who I think is making some of the best autobiographical comics around right now. I spoke with her about her new book Sunburning and her work more generally including depicting her daughter, how unsparing she is towards herself,

Vito Delsante's exit interview of The Purple Heart

The Purple Heart has been running as a free webcomic on LINE Webtoon, as part of the The New Brooklyn project that Dean Haspiel created and is the third series after The Red Hook and The Brooklynite, with a fourth - War Cry - on the way this fall. I talked with writer Vito Delsante about the project, which wrapped up this week.

Noah Van Sciver Brings Humor to Failure in Fante Bukowski Two

Noah Van Sciver's new book is a sequel to his earlier book Fante Bukowski, about a horrible writer with delusions of grandeur. The new book continues his story and it is funny and strange and it's a lot of fun. We spoke about the crazed main character, cringe-worthy humor, and Columbus, Ohio.

Ahead Of Its Time, The John Larroquette Show was Brilliant

Some people learn about Thomas Pynchon in school, others on the street, but I learned about him from Don Reo and John Larroquette. Kidding aside, I wrote about the first season of The John Larroquette Show, which came out back when I was in middle school and was a big influence on me. This was a show that talked about Beckett and Kafka, referenced Miles Davis and Edward Hopper, and had an episode that centered around Pynchon. It was dark and moody and complicated and brilliant.

Articles Published the Week of July 2nd

Color is a Language in Itself: Mahtem Shiferraw discusses Fuschia

This month The Rumpus is running a long series of articles re-claiming the idea of patriotism, and as part of that, they ran an interview I did with Mahtem Shiferraw, an amazing young poet whose first book Fuschia was published last year.

An interview with Sophie Yanow

Sophie Yanow's first book War of Streets and Houses made a splash and since then she's been making nonfiction comicsand teaching and she translated Dominique Goblet's graphic novel Pretending is Lying, which was published in the US this year from NYRC. We spoke about this career model, translation, life in Vermont, and about the new collection of her short work from Retrofit.

An interview with Elizabeth Beier

Right now on kickstarter, Northwest Press is running a campaign to collect Elizabeth Beier's comics into The Big Book of Bisexual Trials and Errors. I've been a fan of her work since I came across it a few years back and we spoke about her work, about the value of personal narratives, and finding community while finding oneself.

James Tynion IV's Eugenic Triggers an Apocalypse

James Tynion IV has become a well known comics writer for his work on Batman and other DC Comics, but his most interesting work has been at Boom! where he's written a number of stories about the apocalypse from different angles. His new book is Eugenic, and we spoke about the book, body horror, technology and fear of death.

Mouly and Spiegelman Grab Back with a second, angrier issue of Resist!

Maybe you read RESIST at one of the protests back in January the day after the election. It was a free comics newspaper created for the event that was planned as a one time project, but now editors Fran├žoise Mouly and Nadja Spiegelman have returned with a second free issue to mark the 4th of July. We spoke about the project, why this one time event has continued, and what changed this time around. "Grab back!"


Review: Black Wave by Michelle Tea

Michelle Tea is one of those writers whose work has always punched me in the gut. She doesn't write pretty, she has no distance, her characters may act in an ironic fashion, but her stories never are.

The book starts out as a seeming memoir. For people who have read Tea in the past (Valencia, The Chelsea Whistle, How To Grow Up, etc) some of this ground seems familiar. A character named Michelle who grew up in Chelsea, Massachusetts and moved to San Francisco. Then the character moves to Los Angeles and the narrative takes a turn. It's 1999 and the narrative becomes a tale of the end of the world. Which is also about the end of a relationship. Which is also about alcoholism and addiction. It's also about love.

The character of Michelle is a writer and the book is very interested in storytelling and what it means. She ponders about making her story and experiences "universal" - because they aren't, by literary standards, because she's a woman and queer. And of course she's making a point - and it's a very good point - but I remember thinking throughout how familiar so much of the story was. From the observations about working in a bookstore, about living in Los Angeles, the strangeness of seeing celebrities in casual locations, living in a small studio apartment, unease with off color wall to wall carpeting, walking hungover. I repeatedly kept thinking how she perfectly nailed so many moments and so many feelings and experiences. Of course I'm not an alcoholic and never did as many drugs as Michelle did. I also didn't have as much sex as she did, either. (I'm not proud of that last point, it's just a fact)

I can't spoil the ending, but I will say that my favorite moments appear near the end of the book. One is Michelle's encounter with Ashley. And I will be honestly, I felt the wind knocked out of me by the end of that chapter.

And then not many pages later, Chapter 26 left me breathless, but in a different way for different reasons. "the ocean streaming from her eyes." This moment of great beauty in the face of everything going on.

Black Wave is Michelle Tea's best book to date and it is an immense work. A great addition to the canon of great Los Angeles disaster literature. A great book about the end of the world.

Right now we're overwhelmed with books depicting humanity sliding into destruction. It's a trend that's becomes more exhausting and annoying and cliche-ridden every year and I can't wait for it to end. Mostly because these books have so little to say about human nature and society and the state of the world. Well Michelle Tea's Black Wave is a book about the end of the world that actually has something to say about people and humanity and the world. It is a beautiful, moving, amazing book and I cannot wait to reread it.

Articles Published the Week of June 25th

Mark Fertig on Take that, Adolf!

On the one hand, a book full of superheroes punching Adolf Hitler and going after Nazis sound like something fun and enjoyable for all ages. And it is. But Mark Fertig's book is something more because he's also writing about how the comics industry was forever transformed by World War II, by what that meant, looks at the many racist and sexist portrayals that were so common then, and how to read them now. An excellent art book featuring covers by some great Golden Age artists, and a great look at the history of comics.

Vanessa Davis on Spaniel Rage, Then and Now

I love Vanessa Davis, and spoke with her about the new edition of her first book Spaniel Rage, which Drawn and Quarterly brought back into print. I never read the book when it first came out, and did so only after her second book was published a few years back, so we talked about The Paris Review and the practice of art, living in Los Angeles vs New York, and thinking bout comics and art and time and life.

Eleanor Davis on You & A Bike & A Road

Last year Eleanor Davis decided to buy a bike in Arizona, where her parents live, and bike home to Georgia. For part of the trip she kept a comics diary using the paper and pen she had with her, and then afterwards drew more about the people and places and scenery she passed. We spoke about depression and art, about traveling solo and traveling on this scale. We also spoke about politics and agitprop.