Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Roy Lichtenstein and the Art of Letters

I talk about the artist, comic books, and lettering at The Comics Journal:

http://www.tcj.com/lichtenstein-and-the-art-of-letters/

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Sunday, February 26, 2017

Entombed


I was honored to have a page of my original art included in a donation by Annie Koyama of Koyama Press of more than 250 pieces by a cross-section of great cartoonists to the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum in Ohio. There's a brief interview with her on Comics Reporter today about the transaction.

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Saturday, February 11, 2017

Alvin Buenaventura


When I’m reading a comic — especially some weak 1970s’ DC or Marvel book — I’ll often imagine Alvin watching over my shoulder, not at all happy with what he’s seeing. In a soft monotone voice he condemns me for wasting time on crap when there’s genuinely engaging, idiosyncratic work out there, waiting.

He never actually judged me this way. If I mentioned a comic that I liked and he didn’t, he’d reply with a barely audible “Hmm” or a disbelieving “Really?” and move on. But I was always aware that Alvin, unlike me, had ‘preternatural aesthetic discernment.’ Put less pretentiously, he was busy finding, supporting, and publishing great artists (often the first to discern their merits) and had no time for garbage. His dedication to great work was inspirational.

Sometimes I’ll read a comic and imagine how much Alvin would’ve dug it, such as Simon Hanselmann’s brutally funny mini-comic Landscape, which dismantles the little worlds of art comics and art-comics criticism. Alvin would’ve found its mean-spirited insight uplifting and its cartooning immaculate. (It’s 2016’s best work of comics criticism.)

Then there are times I’ll read a comic and be unsure about Alvin’s reaction — this realization makes me uncomfortable, uncertain about the validity of my own response. He’s become my ‘comic-book assessment super-ego’ . . .

Without Alvin around (he left us one year ago today), I feel a little lost. He was my lifeline to important new work, an advance scout taking a sharp machete to the garbage of Comicdom and telling me, and the rest of us, what was vital. He had an unerring sixth sense for Good Comics, as the books he published proves.

Yet I miss him most as a friend and collaborator. Our collaborations weren’t always easy: one time he tested my patience beyond its breaking point (and I his), but we eventually got past it. (I still feel guilty for failing that test and wish I’d handled things better.) But so many collaborations were a real joy. The two largest projects I did with him — The Art of Daniel Clowes: Modern Cartoonist and The Daniel Clowes Reader — remain the work I’m most proud of. 

*
A few months after Alvin died, I was looking through the “back-issue bins” at a local comic-book shop and came across several issues of the 1959 Dell series Alvin. Normally I’d buy one issue to check out a title, but this time felt that, though I wasn’t sure I wanted to, I had to get them all. The feeling was odd, like an embarrassing compulsion driven by the weakness of superstition: it would be wrong to leave them there. (Alvin wouldn’t have bothered with such comics and certainly would've said “Really?” if I told him I’d bought them.) But they were Comics, and their covers said "Alvin." So I left with them all.


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(Alvin might've liked this.)

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Monday, January 9, 2017

The Most SUV of 2016


I have a cameo in the giant Fantagraphics Moto Hagiography "We Told You So," where Tom Spurgeon and Michael Dean exercise some kind of inside baseball wisdom of Solomon culling from the relentless expanse of Fantagraphics' toil and dramatis personae.

It's hard for me to say whether it will hold as much interest for someone unfamiliar with the topic, especially since I lived through some of it so contentedly as a consumer and partial content provider.
It's kind of like a big issue of The Comics Journal about The Comics Journal or receiving a yearbook and never graduating.

Sir Alfred No. 3 was released and did pretty well considering the significant roadblocks in its way.
I added a price tag to the Gumroad download page now that we're out of 2016.
I did manage to retrieve the printer files from Alvin's computer last month thanks to the goodwill of his parents, so another print edition might appear somewhere down the line.

I see I was also fortunate enough to end up on some end of the year lists.
I am very grateful for these mentions. I sort of feel like I've aged out of what is most current in comics these days, so I appreciate that some folks enjoyed my work.

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Friday, October 7, 2016

Original Art For Sale


I am selling some of my original art on Etsy.
Sir Alfred No. 3 is now available to download on Gumroad; damaged print copies are still available at Fantagraphics. 
I missed linking to another review of Sir Alfred No. 3 by Abhay Khosla.

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Thursday, October 6, 2016

S-u-per-man

(Photos: Y. Yeto)

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Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Diapason


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Monday, October 3, 2016

Apt Bldg


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Friday, September 2, 2016

In the Realms of the Lightly Damaged



The final remaining stock of Sir Alfred No. 3 is described as "lightly damaged" and offered at a discount on the website of Fantagraphics.

I love this expression, "lightly damaged." Isn't everyone? What it also means is the undamaged books are now gone--souled out. With a thousand already in the ether, a second printing is asking for too much trouble.

Since Alvin's death, he's been in many dreams; in one, he was showing me a non-existent graffiti spray paint mural he did on Vermont near Santa Monica Boulevard in my old neighborhood. As we were crossing the street, a fleet of military aircraft swooped down at a 45 degree angle into the pavement and passed through us the way ghosts do. On the corner near the bus stop, there was a felled squirming cow covered in afterbirth.

I then started binge watching Kurt Cobain suicide conspiracy movies on Netflix, comforted by their distracting ability to explain "what really happened" because there is not going to be a way to know.

Recently there was a fire in Santa Clarita, and although it was not so near where Alvin is buried, I started to wonder what the temperature would be like under the ground and whether it might be stuffy wearing a suit inside a padded coffin when there are flames overhead.

So buy today, argh. I feel mostly like sleeping for a good while, but I am so indebted to Fantagraphics and John Porcellino for agreeing to make the books available for purchase.




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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Comics Reporter Review

Before

After (Alternate)
Tom Spurgeon at The Comics Reporter has posted a review of Sir Alfred No. 3.
This review luckily coincided with the San Diego Comic Convention, where the book was for sale.
It looks increasingly like Sir Alfred No. 3 will sell out.
There are no plans for a second printing, so order today, etc.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Podcast Trifecta

Photo reference.

Joe McCulloch and Matt Seneca discuss Sir Alfred No. 3 on the podcast "Comic Books Are Burning in Hell." I believe the title is meant to be salutary, in the same sense one might say, "Those twelve bars by Drake are fire." I actually don't know if Drake is fire or not. 
I'm very flattered to be the subject of this broadcast.

Normally on their podcast they are joined by Chris Mautner, who may have recused himself because he recently weighed in on Sir Alfred No. 3 with a review in The Comics Journal.


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Monday, June 6, 2016

More Link Blogging

Having the time of my life

I feel like I do better with the written word, but instead fate has presented my second podcast interview.
This time it’s the show with the ironic misnomer "Inkstuds." It was host Robin McConnell’s inspired idea to have me interviewed instead by Roman Muradov.

Roman is a great cartoonist whose work for me has echoes of midcentury modernist art. He's, like, I don't know, a fauve painter, but one who has also assimilated someone like Syd Hoff? He combines that with an elevated wordplay, arguably that of an amused and/or appalled emigre?

It often occurred to me I should’ve been interviewing him. He has a new book coming out called Jacob Bladders; the sample art I’ve seen looks great.
He also has a book coming out in France, “Aujourd’hui, demain, hier,” I’m curious to see.
He’s also an extremely erudite fellow, to the point where I often felt like one of the scientists confronted with Cliff Robertson’s Charly at full apex. Whenever I say, “Oh, okay,” in the interview after he mentions an author like, say, C├ęsar Aira, chances are I may be aware of who he’s talking about, but haven’t read the book in question.
(I was lucky he didn’t push me about my non-fiction reading habits, or I’d have to admit checking out Rod Stewart’s autobiography.)

Last I heard, Sir Alfred No. 3 is now past half gone. Order now [Space echo].

Also:

Fellow Blog Flume inmate Ken Parille puts Sir Alfred No. 3 under the electron microscope.
Chris Anthony Diaz publishes an interview on ComicsWorkbook we did way back in the halcyon days of 2014.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Comix Claptrap

"Diploma" shades purchased at Target for $3.00.
I was recently a guest on the podcast The Comix Claptrap.
Listen to me drone here.
The hosts are Ticket Stub publisher/cartoonist Rina Ayuyang and cartoonist Thien Pham.
They have entertaining good cop/bad cop chemistry.
Josh Frankel also checks in at the top to discuss new releases.
In other news, here's a page from Mujeres Celebres No. 69, Grace Kelly, published in 1966 in Mexico:


My Spanish is bad enough that I thought, "Cool, a comic called Dead Celebrities!"
I had originally bought issue number 76, but Alfred Hitchcock wasn't in it:


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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Sir Alfred No. 3 Now Available

The final Pigeon Press publication Sir Alfred No. 3 is now available for purchase on the website of Fantagraphics:
http://www.fantagraphics.com/siralfred
and through John Porcellino's Spit and a Half distribution arm:
http://www.spitandahalf.com


Or it can likely be found in a few select comic shops soon enough.

Thanks to Manuel and Josie Buenaventura for facilitating the distribution and John P. and Fantagraphics for taking the book on.
Also thanks to Chris Anthony Diaz and Thien Pham who physically transported the boxes from Alvin's to UPS. Chris sent me this in-transit cell phone photo, which calmed my nerves a bit:


Thanks to everyone I spoke with who offered their help or took interest in the proceedings.
In other news, Tippi Hedren is on the cover of Life After 50 magazine this month:


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