1. I hesitate to use the formulation “more than just a comic” in describing “Configurations”, the recent webcomic series Aidan Koch published through TCJ contributor Frank Santoro’s Comics Workbook tumblr. Comics are whatever you put into them, and “Configurations,” certainly a comic, puts in plenty. But it feels less like a strip you read and more like a participatory event. It’s the rare experimental work that makes you feel as though you’re there in the lab with its creator, conducting that experiment yourself.

    I reviewed “Configurations” by Aidan Koch, originally published in comicsworkbook, for The Comics Journal.


  2. I’m done


    I’m done reading people who write about comics who don’t make comics.


  3. At the beginning of This One Summer, its main character, Rose, splashes down into her bed, holding her nose and falling backwards as if leaping off a dock into the lake nearby. At the end she and a friend dig a hole in the beach big enough to contain her, and she lies in it, posing for her last picture of the summer — this is how she wants to remember it. In between, nature, as drawn with preposterous skill by Jillian Tamaki, proves capable of enveloping her without her help. Big summer-night skies, full of stars and moonlight. Bright summer sun, hanging overhead like it will never set again. Wet, heavy summer rain, seemingly just as endless, pouring into puddles drop after drop. Trees and vines and bushes and grass and undergrowth, verdant, overripe to the point of hysteria. The lake, which is alternately drawn dominating a spread vertically like a monolith, suspending the joyous bodies of tumbling teenagers in its inviting murk, and enveloping them like a sunlit shroud when they no longer wish to be found. Against this brush-stroke backdrop stand Rose and the other impeccably cartooned characters, whose stylized simplicity (relatively speaking; no sense that these are real people is lost) when juxtaposed with those wall-of-sound environments makes them feel like inner tubes bobbing in the water, or stones tossed in it. Immersion is This One Summer‘s strength, and it works alarmingly well for the story that cousin-collaborators Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki are telling. It’s a young-adult graphic novel, and young adults are constantly tossed into new circumstances by forces beyond their control, from puberty to parents. Out of their depth, do they sink or swim?
    I reviewed This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki for The Comics Journal.

  4. Anonymous said: yooo not only are your fucking strips unappealing as fuck to look at, they're wordy and end up going nowhere. this is total shit, and i can't believe people buy your shit. have fun never being remembered for anything worth-while.



    The nonsensical anger attached to the criticism in this message makes it my favorite present.

    sum1 is mad that they are not as cool as dane

    but srsly internet strangers always b getting mad over dumb shit. i get mad over genocide and suffering and people in power looking away from it all but w/e

    Never trust any critic whose primary mode of engagement with art is fury

  5. franksantoro:

    for new followers - thnx


    I thought Pompeii would be all airy, open images like Frank’s Incanto and Chimera.  Instead, he gave us a great character play, about an artist’s bond with his mentor and how it affects his romantic relationship.  The character’s faces are all 100% real and expressive in a way that’s absent in nearly every other comic I’ve ever read.  Most cartoon character’s faces are made out of cardboard.  The people in Pompeii actually seem to have a soul behind their eyes.  Incredible.  It’s an amazing, heartfelt book.  

    (above image from Pompeii)

    The thing about flat, uncommunicative faces in comics is on point. I say uncommunicative rather than inexpressive because an expressionless face can obviously communicate something as a drawing; often, though, the inertness of comics faces comes across as a lack of consideration of how a face can be made to work within the larger context of the artist’s style. That’s a surrender of a huge amount of potentially useful territory.

  6. The first moment — but certainly not the last — that made me stop reading How to Be Happy, turn back the pages, and immediately re-read them came early. “In Our Eden”, the lead-off piece in Eleanor Davis’s masterful new collection of short stories, concerns a back-to-nature commune driven to dissent and dissolution by its founder’s purity of vision. Some members chafe at the convention by which every man is called Adam, every woman Eve. Others fall away when the leader, a towering and barrel-chested figure with a ferocious black beard like something out of a David B. comic, takes away all of their prefab tools. The rest depart when he insists they neither farm nor kill for food, literalizing and reversing the Fall’s allegory of humanity’s move from hunter-gatherer to agrarian societies. At last it’s just this one Adam and the Eve he loves. By the next time we see them, Adam’s gargantuan physique has been pared away, his ribs visible, his nose reddened for a sickly effect, demonstrating Davis’s remarkable ability to wring detail and expressive power out of the simple color-block style of the piece. He comes across Eve, nude and stork-skinny, washing her long hair in a river. He goes to her, nude himself. “I’m ready for the bliss to come,” he says right to us in one of the recurring panels of first-person narration that have been peppered through the comic. They embrace. “I’m ready for the weight to lift.” They kiss.

    I turned the page, curious as to how the story would end. Some final irony? Some subtle but biting indictment of utopian folly? A widening of the view to deny the lovers centrality in their world? None of the above: the story had already ended. The build-up I’d read into it — a crescendo of extremism that would end with Adam’s hubris exposed and exploited — didn’t exist. The easy climax, the stacked-deck scenario so common in stories about true believers in which author and audience get over at the expense of the characters when the latter are made to look foolish for foibles the former recognize instantly, never comes. The climax had come two pages before, when I turned from one page to the next and reached a splash-page image of the moment when Eve turns to see her Adam. This moment of connection is the story’s resolution. The use of Adam and Eve’s human bodies to communicate to one another, to seek the bliss that’s coming, to lift that weight, is the image Davis wants us to leave with. No moral, no punchline, no muted epiphany — discarded along with all the other distractions, they leave only Edenic bliss behind.

    I reviewed Eleanor Davis’s masterful comics collection How to Be Happy for The Comics Journal.


  7. "

    Sorry Kid folds out like a 22×17 broadsheet. When examined closely, it reveals itself to be two 11×17 pages, their surface murky with black xerox ink, joined together by sparkly rainbow-silver tape. This juxtaposition in its construction encapsulates the eight-page whole, which sees Clark alternate heartrending grappling with the overpowering grief of her father’s death and small welcome gestures in the direction of comfort.

    All of the text is borrowed from apparently much-loved sources: Inside, writer Hélène Cixous’s novel on this theme; Ursula K. Le Guin’s fantasy classic The Farthest Shore; the Cocteau Twins song “Know Who You Are at Any Age”. It’s a tacit acknowledgement that recognition of your pain in painful work is often as comforting as can be.


    Sorry Kid | The Comics Journal

    I reviewed my first comic in ages, Sorry Kid by Katrina Silander Clark, for The Comics Journal.

    (via boiledleather)

    (via boiledleather)

  9. thetrueblack:

    What Is Nigeria?

    Sean T. Collins, script

    Colin Panetta, art

    based on "9 Questions About Nigeria You Were Too Embarrassed to Ask" by Max Fisher, vox.com

  10. doopliss:

    "I think this might be the bleakest thing you’ve ever written, kid, and that’s really saying something." (Sean T. Collins)

    Palm Ash is my new minicomc zine about brutality and compassion, the very real threat of being gored to death by a bull, and the bad habit of martyrdom, both interpersonal and religious, set during the Diocletianic Persecution. Xerox printed on lime green text weight paper, 20 pages, $5. Buy it from me this weekend at CAKE, table 68A.

    If you can’t make it to CAKE this weekend, you can preorder Palm Ash from my etsy store and I’ll send you a copy on Tuesday when I get back.