Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Once upon a time I frequented the TCJ Message Boards (yes, when people still had message boards) but rarely if ever think to read the website now. But I think I was looking for an interview with someone and came across this excerpt from  "We Told You So: Comics as Art, the long-awaited oral history of Fantagraphics Books put together by Tom Spurgeon with Michael Dean." 
Have to say that this is the sort of shit I still love reading, and while I'm just as interested in the accounts of the bizarre TCJ office politics, that may have a limited audience. While the juicy anecdotes of mainstream icons like Barry Windsor-Smith maintain a broader appeal.

Barry Windsor-Smith, cartoonist: In the early 1990s, Jim Shooter, Bob Layton and I were traveling to a downtown restaurant. We were crowded in the back of a yellow cab, and the chat was inevitably about the world of comic books. I wasn’t interested, so I was tuned out, thinking of things other than comics.
But then, the mention of The Comics Journal caught my attention and I briefly tuned back into the conversation as Bob snorted, “Fuckers!” with Jim concurring — “Those bastards.” It’s rare for Shooter to curse. I guess he reserves his expletives for The Comics Journal.

Chiming in, I said, “The Journal is the only real magazine we’ve got.” In that context, where Jim and Bob were openly hostile, my use of the term “magazine” implied an arbiter of taste, criticism and intelligence, like The New Yorker, for instance. They both looked at me briefly, and, turning away, Shooter’s ass tightened so fast that it almost overtook the speed of Layton’s gall bladder stricture — what little air was in the back of the taxi was immediately sucked into each of their lower guts with a thunderous stereophonic whistling sound. Following through, I said, “Damned good thing they keep us on our toes, right?”
The rest of the short journey down Broadway passed in silence. Staring out the window while returning to my private musings, I coined the ungainly term Reverse Fart.

Windsor-Smith: One summer evening in 1971, young Gary Groth traveled into New York City, under the supervision of his father, to do an extensive interview with me at my glamorously expensive apartment with a stunning view of Manhattan on 72nd Street next to the Dakota. After completing the tape-recorded interview, during which the older Mr. Groth and I shared some genial chat and several mugs of good English tea, Gary assured me that he’d got a wonderful interview and would quickly transcribe it for his fledgling publication called Fantastic JournalComics Fanzine or some such title.
A few months later I received a printed and stapled copy through the mail. Imagine my upset at discovering that Gary had bumped my interview to a secondary slot in favor of a Sal Buscema cover depicting an awkwardly drawn Dr. Strange — that totally stupid version where he had no fucking face. Me, the unwitting golden cum-spot of the early 1970s, reduced to an afterthought by my youthful new pal Gary.
In 1996, I agreed to a second interview with Gary Groth, a quarter-century after the first, this time to be published in The Comics Journal. The interview went OK, I guess, and this time he didn’t toss my cover for some flavor-of-the week pissant penciler. But — and there is always a but with Gary — the letters column of the following issue published only one reader response to the GG/BWS interview. “Bullshit,” said the letter writer. And presumably the editor of The Comics Journal, older but only wiser by the default of time, must have agreed. I always meant to write Gary a nasty note about that, but, y’know, small things fall through the cracks.

Groth: A reader wrote a long letter excoriating Barry and my interview with him. It was so hostile it seemed personal. This prompted me to write a vociferous response defending Barry that was at least as long as the original letter.
[NOTE: I thought these anecdotes would be nothing less than fascinating ton the genuinely good-natured mainstream nostalgics who follow BACK ISSUE magazine's Facebook Forum. And I was gravely mistaken. Sure many found it interesting, but there were vociferously bitter responses directed at BWS (how dare he disparage Sal Buscema?) and the expected amount of vitriol for The Comics Journal ("yellow journalism"..."hateful pricks"). And finally some ardent defenders of none other than Jim Shooter including one who found Bill Willingham's TCJ cover which apparently over-emphasizes Shooter's infamously cratered skin, more offensive than everything Trump has said and done in the past year. Within less than an hour and a string of hyperbolic replies the post was summarily deleted with no explanation. For me, I simply find it fascinating that Barry Windsor-Smith (an artist revered in the mainstream) would ever be offended having not gotten the cover story of an unknown fanzine created by a kid whose father drove him to BWS house for the interview.]
[Oh and NOTE 2: I had numerous genuinely nasty and insulting arguments with Kim Thompson that got as personal as they could get between two people who didn't know one another. Some on the TCJ forums, but most on the old Comicon Forums run by Rick Vietch. So it came as a shock to me when I heard that Kim had died. I think contrary to the general perception, Kim wasn't really the "nice one" out of the pair of Groth/Thompson...but he was a worthy adversary and I still liked him for some reason. And apparently he died of lung cancer...and now I am suffering a similar fate. The moral of the story being: Arguing on internet forums in the early 2000's gives you cancer]

Monday, December 19, 2016

Al Williamson/Carlos Garzon's stunning artistic adaptation of Blade Runner.

And now it's time for the most intellectual Twinkies comic ad ever. Featuring the existential satire of "KWIRKEGARD, a philosophically sinister villain, aims his existential depression ray at New York City's water supply."
"OK, you maudlin monster; your depressing days of disaster are over."
"Never...Shellhead: your hide may be thick but your head is soft."
"Oh gosh! I feel too sad to even fight! But I must try."
Who at Marvel decided to create a Twinkies ad based on Kierkegaard? I definitely would have never gotten this as a kid (what kid would?), but like The Simpson's making Nixon jokes, it still worked on both adult and kid levels.
"People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use."
-- Soren Kierkegaard

Sunday, September 13, 2015

(short story collection now on Kindle for just $1.99)
Please make me rich .70 cents at a time. It's a fair trade.

Monday, May 19, 2014

M.I.A. Double Bubble Trouble Live on Seth Myers (fave TV performance in...awhile)

21451312828 by YardieGoals

Monday, October 29, 2012

FiveBooks Interviews > Tom Gauld on Comics


Why would adults read picture books?
Tom Gauld: People tend to think that when you’re an adult you don’t need pictures any more to enjoy a story. But it’s not as though when we’re adults we give up TV and only listen to radio. The relationship between words and pictures is an interesting relationship. A bad picture book obviously just repeats the pictures in words – ‘This is an apple’ – but a good one uses each medium to complement or sophisticate the other: ‘This is not a pipe’. And the more you read picture books, the better you get at reading them, the more you can get out of them. Interestingly, when I’m tired I tend only to read the words in a comic, instead of taking the time to slow down and look at the pictures.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Munko's Creepshot Portraits

Smile lady! You never know when eccentric billionaire David Choe is hastily sketching your portrait (and doing for your height and figure what Photoshop couldn't hope to do). The amazing thing is that this may very well be the most valuable piece of original art currently at New York Comicon.

Chris Ware in Poets & Writers

 Shockingly life-like self-portrait of the artist

Chip Kidd cover
Yes, one can actually read Poets & Writers magazine on a bimonthly basis AND still read comics as well. Although to be honest, I've paid more attention to P&W over the past several years than I have to most comics. That said it's always a pleasant surprise to see someone (anyone!) from the funnybook medium appear in an atypical venue like P&W, as Ware does in the Nov/Dec issue which just hit stands today (10/22/12). Even better is that the generous folks at P&W have already put the complete interview online (free for all). It also should be said that comics-folk in the personages of Ware, Chip Kidd, and Jim Tierney have far and away provided the most attractive covers for a magaziine notorious for heinously dull and often ugly extreme closeups of un-photogenic writers.
Jim Tierney cover


NOTE: It seems the only criticism I write these days is in email to a friend. So here is an excerpt in which I wonder if there is any negative impact to sites like TCJ.com embracing superheroes and genre comics now in a way they never would have in their heyday twenty years ago.

I think Kirby and Ditko can rightfully and deservedly be celebrated. Their weaknesses, be it Kirby's ham-fisted anatomy or Ditko's descent into fascist lunacy are so well-documented in TCJ's past, that they are only brought up anecdotally, and almost fondly, at this juncture. Film critics cover all sorts of movies from the most idiotic comedies to FX-laden blockbusters to quiet  indie films. Why shouldn't comics critics be able to do the same? The critics you're referring to who only read and heap praise on superhero or genre-heavy books, I would assume are not critics you wish to read or respect anyway. But there seem to be others out there who can write knowledgeably about Kevin Huizenga or Chris Ware, and also about Grant Morrison and Brian Azzarello or whomever. 

Thinking about this after you called it the "re-infantilization of comics," I thought perhaps it's actually a further maturation. In other words, when there really were little more than superhero comics everywhere and nothing remotely resembling an independent or literary strain of graphic fiction (in the US anyway), TCJ essentially existed to rail against these superhero comics and their oft-delusional creators. That went on for decades until at some point Groth/Thompson basically announced that the war had been won, and in effect they ceased to be relevant in the critical realm (still remaining relevant as publishers). So the new generation no longer sees that need (nor obviously feels brow-beaten into silence as the TCJ fans once did) to endlessly rail against superheroes. The need for hyper-defensiveness as related to perceptions the mainstream has about the comics medium may have come to an end. Obviously the 'critics" who only and ever write about and slavishly praise superhero books are easily ignored. Those same types of pseudo-crits work in film, music, literature as well.
I get the impression that you're annoyed and/or disillusioned with whoever has bastardized TCJ (and you may be right, I don't know. I was feeling that way going way back to Eric Evans editorship, though A.E. Moore's "highminded feminist" tenure was far far worse). 

On one hand I understand where you're coming from and maybe if I had been engaged in criticism all along and witnessed some sea-change and/or hated some of these critics, I would feel the same way. But my instincts nag me as to why we can watch all these genre films and enjoy them for what they are (or criticize them for the same), and yet we can't do so for genre comics? There are a lot of non-superhero GN's in the bookstores these days, so this misguided perception that that is all the medium can do is gone as regards most book publishers. Of course the irony is that most of these GN's I see look terrible and incomprehensibly dull. Making the superhero and manga books right beside them look infinitely more exciting and better executed.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Juxtapoz is known for its love of ugly art and its rudimentary, content-free interviews. So herein is the most interesting interview answer to appear in Juxtapoz in recent memory. Of course it involves David Choe and the interview subject in Dan Clowes.
Interviewer Kristin Farr: Do you have any crazy fan mail stories?

Dan Clowes: Back in the old days, when I actually used to get mail, I got all kinds of crazy stuff.  people would get pissed off at my comics. One time a guy ripped up all my comics and sent them to me.  People would write and draw twenty-page stories about coming to my house and killing me.

KF: What?!

Clowes: Yeah, in fact that guy David Choe did a story about coming to my house and beating me up. After he got all his Facebook money, I was trying to figure out if I could sue him for like, eight million dollars, retroactively. [laughs].

KF: Was it a joke about envying your skills or something?

Clowes: I don't know. At the time I'd never heard of him. He was just some art student.

[sadly nothing remotely this interesting ever made it into Clowes and Terry Zwigoff's DOA film Art School Confidential which was a fictional ripoff of many themes and philosophies shared by R. Crumb in the Zwigoff biography of Crumb.But of course dumbed down, unfunny, and with no characters even close to as interesting as Crumb himself.] 

But if anyone has any doubt about whether Choe is actually a fan of Clowes, he in fact listed him among his many influences nearly a decade ago.

PopImage: On the flipside, what influence have more traditional comics had on your work?

Choe: Comic guys like: Dan Clowes, Peter Kuper, Al Colombia, Bill Sienkiewicz, Dave Cooper, Todd McFarlane (Hulk and Spider-Man days), Rob Liefeld (New Mutants days), Frank Miller, the Preacher guys are rad, Alan Moore is rad. All the Highwater guys, Brian Ralph and Jordan Crane.

Both David Choe (top) and Dan CLowes (bottom) support our righteous President Barack Obama.
Let's just hope he's still our President two weeks from now. (Nov. 6, 2012)

The Top 5 Comic Book Cities (from Architects Journal UK)


Monday, October 8, 2012

TCI Still On Shelves...maybe

TCI on the shelves of a California comics shop just behind Kyoshi Nakazawa's long-running zine Drunken Master. This from Kyoshi's Facebook page.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


Holy shit! First it's revealed that DAVID CHOE  is the owner of perhaps $200 million in Facebook stock after Mark Zuckerberg's company went public last week. And now even bigger news (in my world)...Choe was on Howard Stern! [video HERE at Giant Robot] Don't be surprised if Choe's podcast doesn't now end up on Sirius...or hell he might just buy Sirius.

Choe gets a Munko on the walls of Sirius' ivory towers, and he didn't even have to sneek in.
Howards adopts him and dubs him Kim Jong Stern.

Choe knocks out a ghetto-detail of Howard Stern in his natural habitat.

Choe works the reception desk at Facebook under the watchful gaze of one of his own paintings and
Mark Zuckerberg's killer nanobots.

Friday, February 3, 2012


I've seen a LOT of James Jean imitators (and some blatant ripoffs) over the past five years (particularly in the many fine art/tech mags from the UK's Imagine Publishing (ImagineFX, Computer Arts Projects etc.). But the portfolio of young El Salvadorean artist Rodrigo Luff as seen in the latest issue of Blue Canvas takes the cake. Luff is obviously hugely talented and also hugely influenced to the point of slavish devotion to the techniques of James Jean. Often Jean's imitators can pull off many of his tricks of style and color traits but lack the imagination or certainly the immense chops in draftsmanship to replicate Jean's work. But Luff seems to have the chops and a fair amount of imagination. What he lacks now is a original thrust and anything resembling his own style. His graphite pencil work in particular looks like carbon copies of James Jean's (albeit Jean's work five years ago as JJ has since moved in a much darker, uglier direction with his work).

By the way if you can't discern which of the above peices belongs to which artist (and I know I couldn't): The piece on the left featuring a flutist, nude woman and elegant flora is by Rodrigo Luff. The piece on the right, set in pink, and featuring a nude female flutist and elegant flora is by James Jean circa 2006.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

I Can Finally Start Tossing Out My Back Issues of TCJ

I have easily avoided reading TCJ.Com for many years now but I was intrigued as to why Peggy Burns of D&Q posted a photo of Kevin Eastman on Facebook. Now I know it was in celebration of the digitalization of one of TCJ's juiciest and craziest interviews. From The Comics Journal #202 (March 1998)

The former co-creator of Ninja Turtles turned rich and extravagant publisher of failed vanity projects and current publisher of Heavy Metal (which somehow carries on with Ero-sex comics despite the endless availability of prurient things online).  READ HERE

And for all the buffoonery of days past, Eastman is still a very generous soul. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Jonathan Lethem's Top-Five Depressed Superheroes

Taken from Lethem's hilarious and brilliant collection of essays The Ecstasy of Influence (Doubleday) and appearing in full on his own website

1) Black Bolt: Isn't allowed to speak. "His wings resemble accordions, the most harmless and charming of instruments (apart from the kazoo). He never learned sign language and it can be infuriating waiting for him to scribble a note. In restaurants it takes Black Bolt hours to decide on the simplest order. His dog is ugly."

2)The Vision: "obsessed with his traumatic past: An evil android created him for dark purposes. This sort of hurt can be difficult to overcome and other superheroes have steered a respectful birth around The Vision." His former wife Scarlet Witch has recently been linked in British tabloids with Liam Gallagher of Oasis.

3) Deadman. "Deadman's problem is worn on the sleeve of his name: he's dead. He handles it pretty gracefully, having been a circus acrobat in his former life. Deadman rarely bothers to dress as a civilian, since his secret identity is a corpse. In earlier days Deadman regarded himself as The Spectre's protégé. However, The Spectre never proposed Deadman for membership in the Justice League of America. Deadman doesn't know how to raise the subject with the Spectre, so he never calls him anymore.

4)Ragman: "Ragman is the poverty superhero, unable to afford a costume other than a big pile of rags. He never fights villains who can afford costumes at all. Instead he rescues starving kittens and breaks up three-card monte games. Ragman keeps himself in White Castle hamburgers by buying cartons of cigarettes and selling singles for a nickel apiece."

5)Omega's priorities were very unclear, and so he had the power to depress others, as well as himself. Omega's comic book was so punishingly dull that Marvel began to put The Hulk and Spiderman on the cover, and once, in a measure of striking desperation, Scrooge McDuck made a guest appearance.After ten issues the title was cancelled anyway. After cancellation, Marvel was contacted by attorneys from Omega's home planet, which turned out not to be destroyed at all. This resulted in the first recall of the entire run of a published comic book in the industry's history."

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Nacho Picasso--Marvel"

The man goes deep deep...he references Beta Ray Bill for godsakes.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

NPR Goes MetaMaus with Spiegelman

Art Spiegelman talks about his new book about "the book" MetaMaus"on NPR's Talk of The Nation with the always excellent Neal Conan.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Grant Morrison: "Chris Ware's attitude stinks..."

I can't say I disagree with Morrison on this. Although he needn't be defensive or self-conscious when comparing his comics criticism to that of the 'college boys" at The Comics Journal, because TCJ really hasn't been relevant or even readable in print in some 15 years at least. I always thought the magazine would catch its second (third?) wind eventually under some fiery new editor but that certainly never happened and it lapsed into toothless dotage; finally little more than the Fantagraphics promotional arm so many people had accused it of being even when it wasn't.


There have been histories of comic books, but your book Supergods is all superheroes. It's a counter-narrative to the idea that comics need to outgrow this superhero stuff.
I can appreciate someone like Chris Ware for his artistry, which I think is beautiful, but I think his attitude stinks, it just seems to be the attitude of somebody really privileged, and honestly, try living here, try living on an Indian reservation and shut up, and really seeing all that nihilistic stuff, it really makes me angry, it's unhelpful to all of us, and it's coming from people who have money and success to talk  like that and bring those aspects of the way we live in favor of all the  others, and it's indefensible.

So I never liked that stuff, I  always thought that I had a real Scottish working class thing against  the fact that these were done by privileged American college kids, and  they were telling me the world was flat. "You're telling me the world is  flat, pal?" And it's not helpful, it doesn't get us anywhere. OK, so it  is, then what? What are you going to do about it, college kid? My book wasn't academic. I can't take on those Comics Journal guys, they flattened me, as they did, it's just defensive, smartass kids.

This is what I'm into, and here's how, through my eyes, it's exalted. You may look at the same thing and just see trash, toilet paper, I'm  looking at this and seeing William Blake angels. This is how it looks  through these eyes, this is all I've got, I can't talk about it in half  degrees, but I can talk about it in the sense of a practitioner of it,  someone who has thought about it intensely for an awful long time, and  again, I thought, "What can I make, a book that reads the way Nick Kent talks about music," those guys, it at least gives you a personal  connection to someone who takes this very seriously.