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JULY -- Listen, I know it’s hard to resist the lure of Powell’s on a trip to Portland (believe me, I was there twice in a three-day period), but if don't visit Floating World Comics when you’re in the Rose City, it’s time to sit down and take a serious look at your life. I went to both places, of course. We hit Seattle and San Francisco on the trip as well, so my suitcase was around 10 to 20 pounds heavier than it was on the way in. It’s a sickness, really. I mean, I’m writing a comics column to partially pay for a comics habit. Maybe it’s time for me to have a serious look in the mirror, as well -- but if you really thought I was going to leave that store without picking up the new issue of Henry & Glenn Forever, you’re just kidding yourself, really. We all fill the hole of missing Comic Con in our own way.
Okay, I’m about six months behind on this one -- and I also learned an important lesson about reading comics on a Kindle (don’t), but man, I liked the hell out of Nicole Georges’s book. Her artwork has improved by leaps and bounds from the scribbled early days of her wonderful Invincible Summer zine, which I also revisited on a recent trip to Portland, to bone up before an interview with her for an upcoming episode of my RiYL podcast. In that volume, Georges expressed interest in working on something book-length, if only she could find the right story -- at the time she was considering doing something about dogs, I think.
The early 1980s were an exciting time for alternative comics. Shortly out of high school I discovered RAW, which was launched by the husband-and-wife team of Art Spiegelman and Françoise Mouly, and Weirdo, launched by the husband-and-wife team of Robert Crumb and Aline Kominsky-Crumb. It was in the pages of Weirdo that I discovered The Church of the SubGenius, Stanislav Szukalski, and a bunch of great cartoonists.
Crumb wrote and drew at least one story in each issue of Weirdo (which was published by Last Gasp from 1981 to 1993) and drew every cover. The covers are reminiscent of Humbug, a late-1950s humor magazine created by Crumb's mentor, Harvey Kurtzman (also the creator of MAD):
Some of Crumb's best work came out during his Weirdo period. In Weirdo #17, Crumb illustrated an 8-page story called "The Religious Experience of Philip K. Dick," based on a 1978 undelivered speech Dick wrote called "How to Build a Universe That Doesn't Fall Apart Two Days Later" and from passages in an out-of-print book called Philip K. Dick: The Last Testament.
Crumb's story focuses on Dick's bizarre hallucinatory experience of March 1974, in which Dick went back in time to the era of the apostolic Christians. Dick spent the rest of his life trying to figure out what these visions meant. Here's the first page:
Rob Liefeld is the creator of Deadpool, Cable, X-Force, Youngblood, Supreme, Bloodstrike, Prophet, and Glory! He founded Image Comics in 1992 with Jim Lee, Todd McFarlane, Erik Larsen, Jim Valentino, and Marc Silvestri. Currently he oversees the Extreme Universe titles at Image. Follow Rob on Twitter @robertliefeld and see more of his art on robliefeldcreations.com.
Al Feldstein began working at EC comics, publishers of Weird Science, Weird Fantasy, Tales from the Crypt, The Vault of Horror, and The Haunt of Fear in 1948. Soon he became editor of most of EC's titles. He typically wrote and illustrated a story in each title and drew many of the covers, a mind-bogglingly prolific output. Eventually he stopped doing the art for stories and stuck with editing, writing, and cover illustrations. According to Wikipedia, from "late 1950 through 1953, he edited and wrote stories for seven EC titles." I've always loved his signature, which features elongated horizontals on the F and the T, and an extended vertical on the N.
After MAD creator Harvey Kurtzman got in a fight with publisher William Gaines over ownership of the comic and left EC in 1956, Gaines put Feldstein in charge of the humor magazine, where he remained as editor until 1985.
Told in a series of one- and two-page comic strips, Boey describes his life growing up in Malaysia: finding a condom in his parents' bedside drawers, "fishing" for his dogs by tying a biscuit to a string and dangling it off a stick while standing on his balcony, making a tiny matchstick kite with his dad, fighting with his sister in the backseat of the family car while his mother reaches back to try to pinch their legs to make them stop, learning how to use a plastic bag to catch spiders, crying until his mother retrieves his favorite (but worn-out) pillow from the trash where she'd tossed it, falling out of love with his He-Man doll when he gets his first computer, and and dozens of other funny and sometimes poignant slices of life.
The art is simple, but effective, and I finished the book hoping he'll do a sequel. Read a sample story below.
Without a doubt, Jack Davis is one of the greatest cartoonists ever, and one of the most highly-recognizable. With a career that started before the early days of EC's MAD and its sci-fi and horror titles, Davis's distinctive work has appeared on movie posters, book covers, and on a famous poster of Frankenstein's monster. IDW's artist's edition is a 176-page, 11-pound monster-sized collection of Davis' comic book work, reprinted at the same size as drawn - the two-page spreads measure 30 x 22 inches!. (Shown above: the variant cover edition).
Shelton Drum is a first-generation outlier in the world of comics retail and convention organizing with his Charlotte NC store, Heroes Aren't Hard To Find, celebrating 30+ years in existence and Heroes Con growing stronger over a similar span of time. The TMSIDK gang traveled to Heroes Con 2013 to record the show live and the conversation spans the history of comics from the mid-60s forward through the eyes of a store owner who's seen it all.
In July I wrote that I'd ordered a copy of the giant-sized book, The Best of EC Artist's Edition, a collection of original arts scans from the great EC comics of the 1950s. I got my book and it's worth every penny. Below, some iPhone snaps of the book.
Bless Fantagraphics for publishing Carl Barks' duck comics. One of the three original inductees into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame (along with Eisner and Jack Kirby), Barks was known for many years only as the nameless "good duck artist" in Walt Disney comic books. His stories read like Indiana Jones adventures, and the art is superb. Just looking at a Barks page make me feel good. My kids and I read Barks' duck comics together, over and over again.
Walt Disney's Donald Duck: The Old Castle's Secret is the third book in Fantagraphics' Barks library, and it contains all of Barks' duck work from 1948, a very good year for duck comics. Fantagraphics went all out with the production quality: the pages were shot from the original art, and the re-coloring carefully matches the original colors in the comics. In addition to a number of great stories, like “The Old Castle’s Secret” (a 32-page story that marks Scrooge McDuck's second ever-appearance) and “Rocket Race to the Moon,” there are a number of nice essays from Barks' scholars and aficionados.
Daniel Clowes ranks among the top three of four greatest living cartoonists. I've been following his work since 1986, when I came across his Fantagraphics comic book Lloyd Llewellyn, about a retrofuturistic detective with a misanthropic streak.
I'm relishing all 358 art-laden pages. They include the entire Ghost World story (made into a movie directed by Terry Zwigoff) with annotations, plus a number of rarely seen stories. Several of the twelve essays about Clowes' work were new to me, and I enjoyed re-reading Joshua Glenn's sharp interview from a 1990 Hermenaut interview. This is an essential book for all serious readers of Clowes' work.
Jon M. Gibson is the co-founder/co-owner of iam8bit -– a production company, creative think tank, art exhibition, and gallery space in Los Angeles. iam8bit’s projects include a music video for Radiohead, A Really, Really Brief History of Donkey Kong for the King of Kong DVD, Street Fighter Club, a custom vinyl picture disc for Tron Evolution, and marketing and artwork for Mega Man 9. After the success of the initial iam8bit shows (hosted at Gallery Nineteen Eighty Eight), they opened their own space and have continued to produce a variety of art exhibitions in addition to their work in the video game, film, fashion, and music industries.
Tell Me Something I Don't Know is produced and hosted by three talented cartoonists and illustrators:
Water filters light. The more water that's above you, the more light is filtered out before it can reach your eyes. The deeper you go, the more this effect alters which colors you can see and how those colors appear, writes Andrew David Thaler at Southern Fried Science. Even at a depth of just 5 meters, reds and oranges become difficult to distinguish from one another. — Maggie
Cory and I have both raved about MAD: Artist's Edition, a massive hardcover book of high-fidelity scans of original MAD comic book art pages from the 1950s, complete with pencil lines, rubber stamps, Zip-A-Tone, pasted-over panels, yellowing Wite Out, notes in margins, and other markings that add interest to the pages. The paper used in the book was selected to closely match the bristol board of the original pages. (Here's Cory's review, and here's my discussion of the book on Gweek).
When I discovered that IDW, publisher of the MAD: Artist's Edition released The Best of EC: Artist's Edition, I immediately ordered it, too. EC is the same publisher that published MAD, and it used the same stable of virtuoso artists and writers in the 1950s to produce some of the best comic book titles in history, including Weird Science and Tales from the Crypt. This edition includes art by Frank Frazetta, Harvey Kurtzman, Johnny Craig, Roy Krenkel, Bernie Krigstein, Joe Orlando, Alex Toth, and Al Williamson. I haven't received The Best of EC: Artist's Edition yet, but to give you an idea of how big the book is and how nice the scans look in the Artist's Series editions, I asked Jane and Anna to pose with my MAD book.