Mimi Pond: "MAD was our communist manifesto"

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Original art from the greatest private comic collection on earth

One evening several years ago my friend, the artist Coop, took me to the San Fernando Valley house of comic book art collector Glenn Bray. I was somewhat familiar with Bray, having read bits and pieces about his large collection. I knew that he was the first person to seek out and collect the work of the great Donald Duck comic book artist writer Carl Barks back in the 1960s, that he published some small books about grotesque-artist Basil Wolverton, and that he was the champion of forgotten genius Stanislav Szukalski (read my Wink review about Szukalski here). He was probably the first real comic book art collector, buying original work in an era when everyone else considered it to be worthless.

So I felt I was somewhat prepared for what was in store for me at Bray’s house. But when I stepped inside, I realized that I’d greatly underestimated the size and quality of his collection. Bray’s walls were covered with original art and paintings by the greatest comic book artists in history: Robert Crumb, Robert Williams, Jack Davis, Wally Wood, and dozens more. The second floor of his large house looked nothing like a home. It was a clean, organized library/museum dedicated to comic book art. I was stunned, not only by the amount of art Bray had amassed over the last 50 years of collecting, but by his aesthetic sensibility, which matched mine to a T. Like me, he was completely uninterested in superhero comics, concentrating mainly on old EC science fiction comics, MAD, and underground comics. That evening I studied the original art from many iconic comic book covers, but barely scratched the surface of his collection.

The Blighted Eye is a massive book containing samples from Bray’s collection. Arranged from A-Z by artist, it represents the tip of a comic art iceberg. The book also includes a long interview with Bray and many photographs of Bray with the artists he’s befriended over the decades.

The Blighted Eye, by Glenn Bray

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Peter Kuper, cartoonist

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In the latest episode of the RiYL podcast, Brian Heater interviews the author of multiple Kafka adaptations and a sketchbook diary chronicling his time in Mexico.

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New Disruptors 70: Puzzle Maker Chris Yates

Chris Yates is a polymath. A sculptor, artist, woodworker, cartoonist, entrepreneur, dog-kennel assembler, musician, and more. He's best known now for his handmade jigsaw puzzles. He's on the show to talk about his zigzag path to making a niche for himself.

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Documentary "Stripped" shows the past and future of comic strips

Glenn Fleishman on a crowdfunded journey into the history of comics in America

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Incredibly Interesting Authors 006: Encyclopedia of Early Earth author Isabel Greenberg

Isabel Greenberg is a writer and illustrator who lives and works in North London. In her graphic novel The Encyclopedia of Early Earth, Greenberg combines art, mythology, and humor to tell a story of star-crossed love. It takes readers back to a time before history began, when another—now forgotten—civilization thrived. The people who roamed Early Earth were much like us: curious, emotional, funny, ambitious, and vulnerable. In this series of illustrated and linked tales, Greenberg chronicles the explorations of a young man as he paddles from his home in the North Pole to the South Pole in search of a missing piece of his soul. There, he meets his true love, but their romance is ill-fated. Early Earth's unusual and finicky polarity means the lovers can never touch.

Buy a copy of The Encyclopedia of Early Earth on Amazon.

Read Cory's review of The Encyclopedia of Early Earth.

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You can listen to Incredibly Interesting Authors and other Boing Boing podcasts on Swell, a cool streaming smartphone app. Visit swell.am to download the free app.

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Giveaway! The Art of Rube Goldberg

Earlier this week David reviewed and previewed the large-format book, The Art of Rube Goldberg: (A) Inventive (B) Cartoon (C) Genius by Jennifer George. The publisher, Abrams ComicArts, has kindly offered to give a copy to one lucky Boing Boing reader. To enter the giveaway, all you have to do is use the above form to "like" Boing Boing's Facebook page (and if you already have liked Boing Boing's Facebook page, you are in the running to win.) Good luck!

Note: if you aren't on Facebook, don't despair. We will hold more giveaways in the future that don't require Facebook membership.

UPDATE: The winner will also get a redeem code for the iOS app, Rube Works: The Official Rube Goldberg Invention Game

David Rees is getting bored sharpening pencils at $35 apiece

David Rees, author of How to Sharpen Pencils: A Practical & Theoretical Treatise on the Artisanal Craft of Pencil Sharpening, has a pencil sharpening service. He charges $35 to sharpen each pencil. To date he has sharpened 1,804 pencils. But he is growing weary of the work and is thinking about closing the business.

"The whole point of the business is to remind people to appreciate yellow, No. 2 pencils because they're really cool and interesting," he said. "And to make a ton of money."

But at this point, work feels like work.

"You do anything long enough for money, it just starts to become a job," he said.

So as he nears the nice round number of 2,000 sharpenings, Rees suggested that soon he'd like to clean out his sharpeners for good, leaving the world a much duller place.

New York man sharpens pencils for $35 a pop

Cartoonist Adrian Tomine - "everyone we know is moving" out of New York

Adrian Tomine's New Yorker cover is called "Crossroads." He was interviewed about it on the New Yorker's website.

When asked how being a father affects New York living, he says, “We live in a notoriously kid-centric neighborhood, so it’s not like I’m walking around, gritting my teeth, and thinking, Oh, the sacrifices I make for this kid! Most of the things that become difficult or impossible when you have kids, I was never really into anyway.” As for the teeth-gritting moments? “You can definitely drive yourself crazy thinking about the cost of living here, but I try to remind myself that the monthly check I send off is giving me access to a lot of great things beyond our apartment.

Adrian has a book of his New Yorker and other NY-themed illustrations, called New York Drawings. Here's an excerpt.

Adrian Tomine's Crossroads

Cartoonist Ed Piskor interviewed

Here's our own cartoonist Ed Piskor being interviewed at Columbus Museum of Art by Jared Gardner on March 24, 2013. It's great to hear him talk about his influences and interests in this hour long conversation.

Ed Piskor is the recipient of the Columbus Museum of Art and Thurber House 2013 Graphic Novelist Residency. He has drawn stories for underground comics legend Harvey Pekar, and published the book Wizzywig about the history of hacking. His current comic, Hip Hop Family Tree, is serialized at Boingboing.net. The first volume of Hip Hop Family Tree will be published this year by Fantagraphics.

Jared Gardner is Professor of English and Film Studies at The Ohio State University and director of the Pop Culture Studies program. He published the book Projections: Comics and Twenty-First Century Storytelling in 2012.

The Rise of Web Comics: a short PBS documentary

It was fun to see the faces behind some of my favorite web comics in this brief PBS documentary.

The internet has given birth to yet another new medium: web comics. Moving beyond the restrictions of print, web comic artists interact directly with audiences who share their own unique worldview, and create stories that are often embedded in innovative formats only possible online. Sometimes funny, sometimes personal, and almost always weird, web comic creators have taken the comic strip form to new, mature, and artistic heights.

Cartoonists interviewed:

Christina Xu, Breadpig

Nick Gurewitch, Perry Bible Fellowship

Sam Brown, Exploding Dog

Lucy Knisley, Stop Paying Attention

Andrew Hussie, Homestuck

Terrific new biography of Li'l Abner creator Al Capp

Here's a preview from Michael Schumacher and Denis Kitchen's excellent new biography, Al Capp, A Life to the Contrary.

More than thirty years have passed since Al Capp's death, and he may no longer be a household name. But at the height of his career, his groundbreaking comic strip, Li'l Abner, reached ninety million readers. The strip ran for forty-three years, spawned two movies and a Broadway musical, and originated such expressions as "hogwash" and "double-whammy." Capp himself was a familiar personality on TV and radio; as a satirist, he was frequently compared to Mark Twain.

Though Li'l Abner brought millions joy, the man behind the strip was a complicated and often unpleasant person. A childhood accident cost him a leg -- leading him to art as a means of distinguishing himself. His apprenticeship with Ham Fisher, creator of Joe Palooka, started a twenty-year feud that ended in Fisher's suicide. Capp enjoyed outsized publicity for a cartoonist, but his status abetted sexual misconduct and protected him from the severest repercussions. Late in life, his politics became extremely conservative; he counted Richard Nixon as a friend, and his gift for satire was redirected at targets like John Lennon, Joan Baez, and anti-war protesters on campuses across the country.

With unprecedented access to Capp's archives and a wealth of new material, Michael Schumacher and Denis Kitchen have written a probing biography. Capp's story is one of incredible highs and lows, of popularity and villainy, of success and failure-told here with authority and heart.

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Wally Wood's incredible "Fully Computerized" illustration

Thom Buchanan of The Pictorial Arts says of this mind-boggling Wally Wood illustration:

This piece by Wally Wood, which I don't think was for EC [the comic book company that published MAD, Weird Science, and Tales from the Crypt], is genius for its organized complexity—seemingly effortless in its execution. Zoom in on the figures and see how fully realized they are! I cannot overuse the word when it comes to EC guys—they were geniuses!

Wally Wood's incredible "Fully Computerized" illustration

Cartoonist group photo in Toronto restaurant


A gaggle of devastatingly handsome cartoonists pose for a group portrait in a Toronto restaurant. Left to right: Chris Ware, Charles Burns, Seth, Chester Brown, Anouk Ricard, Peter Birkemoe, Adrian Tomine. (photo: Nathalie Atkinson)

Taschen announces $1000 Robert Crumb sketchbook set

NewImage

I love R. Crumb's sketchbooks. I have three of them, which are facsimile editions of his sketchbooks from the 60s and 70s. I paid about $100 per volume. This six volume set for Taschen is $1000. It looks great, but I don't think I'm going to plunk down that much cash.

This six-book boxed set is the first collection of Robert Crumb sketches to be printed from the original art since the hard-bound, slipcased, seven volume series issued by the German publisher Zweitausendeins between 1981 and 1997. Unlike the Zweitausendeins edition, which included every doodle ever made by the preeminent underground artist, our best-of edition has been personally edited by the notoriously picky artist to include only what he considers his finest work, including hundreds of late period drawings not published in previous sketchbook collections. Robert Crumb requested that the books representing the second half of his career be published first due to fan demand for new Crumb material (Volumes 7-12 cover the period 1982-2011, and the forthcoming Volumes 1-6 will cover the period 1964-1981).

In the last 20 years Crumb's artistic output has slowed considerably, making new works more rare and highly prized. This collection of over 600 unseen drawings created between 1982 and 2011 makes this a must-have collectible for every Crumb fan.

Robert Crumb: The Sketchbooks: 1981 - 2012, 6 Vol.