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 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.