CBABIH 0.7 - Show Notes

Being a belated and somewhat smaller-than-usual series of comments -- owing to my present tenancy at the historic Overlook Hotel -- on Episode 0.7 of Comic Books Are Burning In Hell, a podcast by Matt Seneca, Tucker Stone, Chris Mautner and myself.

00:00: A hearty "welcome back" to our beloved Satan running joke, and [ASSIDUOUSLY NEUTRAL NATIONAL FEDERATION OF INDEPENDENT BUSINESS v. SEBELIUS JOKE]! I hereby pledge not to allow my present circumstances to detract whatsoever from the quality of these notes!

00:14: This particular session was recorded on Sunday, June 24, with the crew again divided into teams of two, again split between a basement in Elizabethtown, PA, and a dangerous sweat box in Brooklyn, NY. Seriously, Tucker and Matt forgo even the distraction of air conditioning to better focus on top-notch comic book discussion content, much like the ascetics of old breaking down the Battle of Hastings action choreography on the Bayeux tapestry while podcasting into thin air (which is basically what Chris and I do anyway - no mics for these E-Town cats).

01:16: Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths and NonNonBa, by Shigeru Mizuki. Both published in English by Drawn and Quarterly, the former well over a year ago, hence my joke about everyone getting there before me. I get into the differing stories/narrative stances of each in the show, so I won't summarize them here.

01:33: The Bart Beaty review to which I refer is here. It actually took him eight days to choke down the book. Critical passage:

"Ultimately the problem here is that the book is simply its concept: an autobiographical work combining an element of the fantastic, a book that says 'hey, youth is a magical time of imagination'. Thanks, got it. NonNonBa really exists on a very shallow level where nothing further is made of that simplistic observation. Once you get past the obvious moral of the story, you realize that this big book is really paper thin."

This is the crux of my disagreement with Beaty; with all due respect, I think it's his reading that's shallow, insofar as he misidentifies the work's engine as a 'magic' inherent to childhood rather than a learned means of processing the often-mortal peril of same.

That said, I'm probably misstating Beaty's relative unfamiliarity with manga, in that he does specifically cite two other Japanese comics from the '07 Angoulême competition as superior: Kazuichi Hanawa's Doing Time (released in English by Fanfare/Ponent Mon) and Hideki Arai's Ki-itchi!! (not officially in English, although I recall his violent '90s seinen series The World is Mine becoming a minor thing on the scanlation circuit a few years back). I'd actually agree on the superiority of Doing Time, a dryly obsessive chronicle of three years the artist spent in prison on weapons possession charges.

(Also, the specific prize NonNonBa won was the Fauve d'Or, awarded to the year's best album.)

03:28: Beaty's review of Christophe Blain's Gus and His Gang is here (not as harsh as my crap memory made it out to be); I've linked to Matthias Wivel's opening salvo before, but here it is again.

04:06: I should have said I mostly know of Thomas Thorhauge's English-language criticism via the Metabunker, where he recently authored a scathing take on Kramers Ergot 8. Xavier Guilbert springs to mind through his work at du9. Bart Croonenborghs has done a lot of online work for The Comics Journal, although he mainly writes online now at Broken Frontier. Had I known Chris was going to bring up comments sections -- and were I equipped to react to things without prompting akin to the laserdisc playback on an arcade gunfighting game coming to full pause on 'easy' mode -- I'd have thrown out some mention of "Tony" from my own column at the Journal, who just recently dusted off an April thing I did on mangaka Kazumasa Takayama (of quintessential Studio Proteus/Dark Horse obscurity Chronowar) with some great new info

I also beg the forgiveness of Pedro Bouça for getting his familial name completely wrong. UGH.

05:16: It's always worthwhile to return to the source texts, such as François Truffaut's A Certain Tendency of the French Cinema, known as the traditional birthplace of auteur theory, but also significantly a political reaction to the anti-clericalism Truffaut noted in the so-called Tradition of Quality.

06:36: Full title - Unpopular Culture: Transforming the European Comic Book in the 1990s. From the University of Toronto Press.

10:31: Onwards Toward Our Noble Deaths was 1973; NonNonBa was 1977. If you want to compare & contrast the art styles involved, sample images are here and here.

11:00: The Drawn and Quarterly release of GeGeGe no Kitarō (serialized 1959-69) will simply be titled Kitaro, once again revealing the New Age musical tastes of our neighbors to the north. I'm really glad the Mizuki books have done well for them. 

13:56: For more on the history of kamishibai -- which I appear to have confused with kamibashi string dolls, not that I even pronounced that right -- I'll recommend Abrams' profusely illustrated 2009 release of Manga Kamishibai: The Art of Japanese Paper Theater, by Eric P. Nash. "The Lone Wolf and Cub guy" Tucker mentions is artist Goseki Kojima, whom we might also call an accidental godfather of the '80s superhero upheavals, owing to his influence on Frank Miller.

18:37: Not only did Mizuki indeed employ art assistants, one of them was none other than art manga legend Yoshiharu Tsuge, whose own visual approach in works like Screw-Style was directly influenced by Mizuki's example.

20:57: In Scott McCloud's limited defense, I've always read Understanding Comics as less an attempt at a definitive statement on the makeup the form than a necessary effort at collating various theories and suppositions into book form, perhaps as a means of bypassing the usual turnover in comics crit/theory - while comic book readers don't always flip themselves to some other area of interest to make way for the next reading generation every five years, as went the received wisdom, comics critics often do, forcing each new crew of obsessives to study up on the past and learn the same damn lessons over and over. That Understanding Comics is even still widely read is a major victory in that regard.

22:06: Tucker wrote a bit more about Onwards Toward Our Noble Deaths here. For a more abashed take, I'll recommend Sean T. Collins' review, which raises an interesting potential problem with the book: that Mizuki's emphasis on the humanity-as-lived of his soldier cast renders the whole ethos of the honorable death somewhat inexplicable, and seemingly the province of a diseased few, a perspective that does not hold up to history. In response, I'd note that Mizuki's primary audience, however, was a Japanese readership a little over one quarter of a century removed from the events depicted, which would benefit more, perhaps, from a display of shared burden than any explication of an attitude most readers would be familiar with anyway - in this way, depicting the attitude as aberrational might be a deliberate artistic (or even political) goal, though query, of course, whether this doesn't stand as an elaborate excuse for the very real, prolific atrocities committed by the Japanese imperial machine in the time period.

29:34: Matt's mention of Kōbō Abe suggests the writer's (also 1973!) novel The Box Man, which brings to mind artist Imiri Sakabashira, who did a surreal manga also titled The Box Man, which Drawn and Quarterly released to booming silence in 2010. Like when a mangaka throws in a gigantic sound effect to indicate SILENCE in a cave or something? Such was the reaction to that book. I don't know how well Seiichi Hayashi's Red Colored Elegy did, but it's probably the single best thing in D&Q's entire manga line; here's an appreciation by Eddie Campbell.

34:48: I had a different Mizuki-to-Wolverine segue in mind, which I'm 99% sure involved some man/beast yōkai comparison, but I actually couldn't get it out when the time came, it was so ridiculous. As the philosopher put it: "You can write this shit, George, but you can't say it."

35:29: I really do find this shit interesting! The Comic@ mailing list was a private electronic thingy Comics Journal contributors (and others, I suppose) used in the '90s to chat casually and gossip, much like EVERYONE is doing RIGHT NOW about ME on SECRET FORUMS where they say I SUCK from behind PASSWORD LOCKS and their SMILES are all FAKE and

35:55: Weapon X, by Barry Windsor-Smith (serialized in Marvel Comics Presents #72-84). SYNOPSIS: The doctor was a disgrace, looking for a way out. The technician was pleased at first to find well-paying work. The professor spoke, sometimes, to voices nobody else could hear. The other men would prove expendable, though they surely would not have considered themselves as such over their idle chatter in the laboratory. Nobody knew Logan, the drunk who could heal himself. But they'd all learn something soon, down in that deep complex, far out in the snow.

(Uh, it's not the most plot-heavy superhero comic.)

38:33: Specifically, that was Wolverine #166, released in the unfortunate month of September, 2011, which is maybe why nobody seems to remember this brief BWS appearance. The colorist on the flashback was Raymund Lee. Frank Tieri's Weapon X ongoing lasted from 2002-04, with a short revival in 2005; truthfully, it was just another Wolverine comic, branded to match the switchover of Deadpool to Agent X and Cable to Soldier X as an attention-grabbing scheme (new #1s!) - those first eight Darko Macan/Igor Kordey Soldier X issues are terrific, btw.

42:47: At this point I'm hoping our frequent references to Wolverine as a religious character have already escaped their original context and just read like some weird belief we cherish.

46:19: Abhay Khosla initially directed me to Michael Peterson's Comics Column back in 2008; Peterson is presently writer of the webcomic Project: Ballad.

49:11: En Español, due to copyright claims.

49:30: Monsters is the title of Windsor-Smith's (perpetually?) forthcoming project; official site.

53:28: The Mark Millar reassessment was definitely going to redefine superhero criticism forever and make us into immortal kings, possibly blasting our readership well into the upper triple digits, but it unfortunately had to be cut short because, in Tucker's words, "I didn't expect you to go balls-deep in Weapon X." The extended Enemy of the State storyline ran from Wolverine #20-31 (obviously not the same Wolverine as the Frank Tieri run, this is the 2003 iteration). Also of note is Millar's issue #32, which is... let's say exactly the sort of X-Men Holocaust metaphor that Weapon X is not. 

01:01:00: I'd like to take this opportunity to formally apologize to Bart Beaty, as well as the nations of Canada and Japan. I hereby pledge we will never so much as mention a foreign land again. NEXT WEEK: Dutch comics - weird?


CBABIH 0.6 - Show Notes

Being an extended homage to the annotations of Chester Brown, in the form of a series of comments on Episode 0.6 of Comic Books Are Burning In Hell, a podcast by Matt Seneca, Tucker Stone, Chris Mautner and myself.

00:00: The sonorous voice of Chris Mautner whisks us away to another exciting episode, now clocking in at a wholly elephantine one hour and eleven and a half minutes. It is taken from the same June 10 session as last week's episode, and in fact runs in continuity with just the same topics and secret, aching qualms. "...did we go too hard on Chip Kidd?" I thought, at the theme song rose and the audience exploded in applause. Oh, heavy is the head that bears the crown!

01:18: Definitely the comedy highlight of the episode right up front, as I treat us all to some half-decade old Craig Ferguson we-tape-these-in-blocks humor; I think you can actually hear Tucker turning to Matt in disbelief while he cuts loose with the most meta guffaw in American media. I eagerly await our People's Choice Podcast Awards nomination, in the category of Religion/Inspiration.

01:51: Again: Nicholas Roerich; Lyonel Feininger. The latter had an art school background prior to his 1906 fling with newspaper comics, and indeed had exhibited as early as '01 -- and, like Brian Michael Bendis, took work as a caricaturist, albeit not of the live drawing variety -- but Matt is correct that he didn't really click with the German fine art scene until later. He was supposedly the first faculty appointment at Bauhaus, named by Walter Gropius (not to be confused with comics' own Wally Gropius; we're serious about our 'fine' art here on Comic Books Are Burning In Hell).

03:44: Ray Pettibon. He's supposedly a huge fan of Josh Bayer, among the masterminds behind Tucker Stone favorite Suspect Device. Here's Goo. Vice has some duly-labeled comics here.

05:17: Ben Marra's American Psycho booklets can now be purchased in collected form -- newspaper broadsheet-style! -- from Floating World Comics.

05:45: I think Last Gasp might have actually acted as US distributor (or even just a prominent stockist) for  Raymond Pettibon, a 2001 release from UK art book publisher Phaidon Press (dare I recommend their Jean-Jacques Sempé library? Monsieur Lambert is an honest-to-god early '60s French graphic album in English, which is the kind of shit that bumps you 1/3 to sainthood in Rome, and the Nicolas storybooks are written by Asterix co-creator René Goscinny.) Rizzoli New York is apparently planning a huge slipcased Pettibon image collection for later this year; it is also titled Raymond Pettibon.

06:48: Yuichi Yokoyama's comics & drawing wares can be purchased in English from PictureBox, Inc., where he also maintains a weekly-ish image blog. I didn't make a list or anything, but Color Engineering was tied with Jim Woodring's Congress of the Animals for my best comic of 2011.

07:28: It's not just an old legend I'm describing here, mind you; last year's UK multi-artist anthology extravaganza Nelson comes fully equipped with sneers 'n jeers at those awful, stuffy art college beardos who just don't get the appeal of rich cartoon curves filled with bold-ass colors. Granted, this is in the mid-'80s section of the book's history-spanning narrative, so we might be dealing with autobiography there.

08:54: Teen idol Piero della Francesca, of The Flagellation of Christ (1455-60ish) and the Brera Madonna (1472-74 or so). That's totally Den in the white tatters.

(And in case you think I'm totally out to lunch on this Corben stuff, the artist himself commented on the matter in his 1990 Fantagor Press release Richard Corben's Art Book, in reference to a 1986 oil panting, Under the Oak:

"Occasionally, I question the direction my art has taken. Are all these narrative visions of absurdly idealized figures and monsters the most meaningful things I can do? Making it as a 'fine' artist has got to be much tougher than what I've done. During periods of such introspection, I try to produce work with higher pretensions. What better way to study art than to study a master? So, fans of Michelangelo might recognize the familiar pose of the man in UNDER THE OAK. Even with such refined intentions, I still deal with monsters. Where's the monster here? The undefined white, the unknown, unformed, the symbol of oblivion."

Fans of Corben will note the prolific use of "undefined" backgrounds in his work as a means of emphasizing dread, most recently in his just-concluded Ragemoor with writer Jan Strnad.)  

11:05: Matt's raising the issue of triptych painting here as a further example of 'potential' panelization in classical art.

11:22: Richard Diebenkorn, whose landscape works in fact faintly remind me of the great French comics artist Jacques de Loustal, although if we're gonna talk Loustal we'd have to talk David Hockney first. Incidentally, Loustal's approach to comics art -- particularly in collaboration with writer Philippe Paringaux -- tends to frustrate expectations of comics "pace," in that individual panels tend to freeze discreet locations and moments in time with no concern for animation or spatial exploration, while copious text narrates to a sometimes counter-intuitive effect. If you can find the old Catalan Communications albums Love Shots and New York/Miami, you will find yourself awash in quality.

13:20: Philip Guston, whose late '60s journey toward figurative work perhaps captures something of the underground comics' blow-back to abstraction in more than simple iconography.

14:22: Barbara Kruger (Mautner bête noire), Henry Darger (ironically, the only dude in here I didn't feel like I needed to link), Wassily Kandinsky (whose works provided a key inspiration for the bomb-ass Dreamcast/PS2/Xbox Live Arcade game Rez) and Barnet Newman (wait a minute, is Blaise Larmee trafficking in homage?!) - note what while Chris was expounding on Newman, Chris' wife was across the room attempting to sketch the gallery layout of the artist's Stations of the Cross on a sheet of paper, bringing my jokes about cue cards uncomfortably close to praxis.

17:03: Matt compares Venetian school master Titian's Diana and Actaeon (1556-59) to The Death of Actaeon (1559-75, slow jam).

19:00: With "trophy economy" I'm referencing a much-linked 2010 essay by the aforementioned Blaise Larmee, which primarily implicated the destabilizing force digital comics have on the self-perpetuating 'value' of print.

19:33: I totally thought Chris was gonna say "Boris Vallejo" (joke TM & © Michel Fiffe) but he instead referenced William Hogarth's A Harlot's Progress (1731) and A Rake's Progress (1732-33). Then I snapped the conversation back to my own topic like a total dick.

22:24: Michel Fiffe's article on One-Artist Anthology Comics was for the Comics Journal; commentary on formats continues at that site via this Rob Clough roundup of recent comics periodicals.

23:59: By This You Shall Know Him, by Jesse Jacobs. SYNOPSIS: Poor Ablavar is having an awful time at art school; his fondness for working in carbon does not lend itself to adequate articulation of his intentions, and his creation of "dinosaurs" is derided as "aesthetic curiosities." But significant progress is noted in the smooth contours of ani-mals, prompting jealous silicon-based particle specialist Zantek to sabotage the project with the consumptive stain of, ugh, humanity. A archetypical snobs vs. slobs conflict plays out in heavens over some classical terrestrial narratives, particularly that of a boy who sacrificed plants and whose brother gladly killed beasts...

25:18: Of course, given the suggestion above, I mean Abel is cruel toward animals while Cain respects creation; these hardwired dichotomies are tough to shake!


26:43: Tucker means dense like:

28:59: It's not a spoiler if its mythic:

Damn, Cain is looking pretty Yoshikazu Ebisu there.

29:35: Domino Books. I was mainly thinking of Molly Colleen O'Connell's Difficult Loves. Uh, I have a tiny text thing in Rub the Blood... full disclosure.

32:58: Indeed, Jacobs never shows the animals eating anything, though they do bite when provoked - maybe we can presume those choppers are solely protective.

34:08: Did you notice that none of us seem to remember that it's the snobby, evil student that actually creates humankind? That stacks the deck ever further. Anyway, here's that White Stripes video.

39:45: Okay, one more (it's a cool-looking book!):

42:18: NICE SEGUE. I am all about the segues, and that one was just for me.

42:24: Ed the Happy Clown, by Chester Brown. SYNOPSIS: Ed would like to be happy, it's true, but the very state of the universe is prone to violent slapstick jokes, and it's the lot of a clown to be carried along on this improvisatory vaudeville flight of acute religiosity, cunning pygmies, ghosts, vampires, alternate realities and President Ronald Reagan of the United States of America, an odyssey stretching from the abyssal depths of the anus to the furthest reaches of penis envy. But is this a tale of man, or God?

42:37: Begun in 1983 as a self-published minicomic, Yummy Fur went on to become one of the defining one-artist anthologies (see above) of the first great wave of post-underground alternative comics. It was also the original serializing vehicle for Ed the Happy Clown, along with his later books The Playboy and I Never Liked You, as well as the initial forum for most of the stories in The Little Man and a bunch of uncollected adaptations of the Gospels of Mark and Matthew.

44:21: There's no way I could raise such mighty issues without a link to the all-time greatest work of Canadian broadcasting, a 1988 CBC report on how a poor newspaper delivery boy's world was irrevocably shattered by Mike Grell's Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters, prompting his pocket-protected pops to sputter up a luxuriously censorious froth at the new snuff porn whilst sonny sneers at the "bunch of bull" justifications of his good lady shopkeep. What the hell is going on with comics, indeed! A Goofus to this Gallant soon appears in the form of a young dude in a leather jacket seen scarfing up Howard Chaykin's Blackhawk and turning a friend on to Jamie Delano-era Hellblazer - THAT KID IS PROBABLY LISTENING TO THIS PODCAST RIGHT NOW. Special guest appearances by a Watchmen button (totally not merchandise) and Canada's own Chester Brown, wearing what can only be called exactly the hairstyle the artist of Ed the Happy Clown would have. Please delete your entire schedule and memorize this video clip.

51:04: I mean, right now that kid's probably shouting "Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron you hosers!!" (he's Canadian). Although I think that might've been more a case of dreams inspiring a story solidified into larger chunks beforehand. Yeah, take that, Socratic device!

54:42: Paying for It was actually the subject of the harshest review Matt ever wrote - and Matt has cooked and eaten other books. Just a lil' joke explanation for those of you without MAs or higher in 21st century funnybook reviews online.

55:54: That episode of Inkstuds is right here.

01:04:12: So, from:


And, in that around this time in the episode Tucker is emailing me to try and wrap it because we've run over, I think I'll leave it on that.    


CBABIH 0.5 - Show Notes

Being a series of comments on Episode 0.5 of Comic Books Are Burning In Hell, a podcast by Matt Seneca, Tucker Stone and, in a surprise twist, Chris Mautner, as well as myself.

00:00: In retrospect, this sounds like some sort of haplessly self-aggrandizing mock warning about the tone of the discussion to follow -- better put the kids to bed, we got a barn burner folks -- but actually I'm just acknowledging the fact that children really are sleeping elsewhere in the Pennsylvania studios of Comic Books Are Burning In Hell, so we can't just start screaming and jumping around over the Civil War prose novel (our unexpurgated dramatization of which can be expected in your local movie theater via Fathom Events as soon as they send the contracts over). As always, I trust the humor value of a joke is directly proportional to its literalism.

00:22: Chris was actually privy to the planning of this pounding pustule of a podcast, true believer, but our eventual decision to just say fuck it and start up with these 0.whatever episodes happened so quickly we didn't immediately have a way to work him in. Episode 0.5, thus, was recorded on the night of June 10, in the basement of Chris' home, so that he and I were on one side and Tucker & Matt were on the other. The audio quality is actually pretty good, save for a few drops in the Brooklyn pickup, though we're still not officially launching; I personally think the addition of another person to the conversation stretched the topics out a little ways beyond where we'd expected, and probably encouraged a bit too much individual speaking and not enough interaction. No word from my therapist on what all of these basement locations mean, but the smart money is always on my penis (which makes grocery shopping fun).

00:40: Memories: The Collection, by Katsuhiro Otomo. Since Tucker's gonna bring it up later, the ISBN number is 0 7493 9687 3. Copies used to be kind of crazy-expensive, but they either dropped in value a bunch lately or I happened to get lucky - I snagged one for just over $20.00 after shipping. The contents are:

Sound of Sand (1979)
Hair (1979)
Electric Bird Land (1980)
Minor Swing (1977)
That's Amazing World Part I & II (1981)
Memories (1980)
Flower (1979)
Farewell to Weapons (1981)
Chronicle of the Planet Tako Part II (1982)
Chronicle of the Planet Tako (1981)
Fireball (1979)
That's Amazing World Part III & IV (1981)

All years come courtesy of this excellent French-language Otomo fansite, which identifies the book as a direct localization of Otomo Katsuhiro Anthology 1, a 1990 Japanese release, albeit with the addition of Marvel/Epic's 1992 Steve Oliff colorizations of Memories and Farewell to Weapons, which I suppose required some reorientation of the contents for technical accommodation, although I still have no idea why the Chronicle of Planet Tako sequel comes before the original. Hair, however -- a parody of Fireball -- went before its inspiration in the Japanese edition as well.

01:15: For the life of me, I still can't recall where I heard of Otomo's antipathy toward English publication of his earlier works; it's probably received wisdom passed along by superfans and publisher reps on message boards. Some of his earlier Japanese collections do appear to remain in print today, though others have vanished; in the interests of clarity, Otomo Katsuhiro Collection 1 was not a repackaging of earlier books, but apparently the start of an effort to compile Otomo's remaining short form works. A second volume was released in 1996, and has not been translated; I couldn't tell you why, save for another vague gesture in the direction of the licensor's reluctance.

01:31: I'm referring here to Yoshiharu Tsuge, one of the titans of alternative manga, and absolutely notorious for his lack of interest in foreign editions of his work. So far the entirety of his formally published oeuvre in English appears in RAW Vol. 1 #7 (Red Flowers), RAW Vol. 2 #2 (Oba's Electroplate Factory) and The Comics Journal #250 (the immortal Screw-Style), although some online translations are out there. Ego comme X also released a French-language edition of Tsuge's Munô no Hito (as L’Homme sans talent) in 2004, which Tsuge purportedly disliked (again: anecdotal).

02:20: The Memories anime actually came out in 1995. It consists of three segments: Magnetic Rose (freely adapted from the Memories manga by the late Satoshi Kon; directed by Koji Morimoto); Stink Bomb (written by Otomo and directed by Tensai Okamura, under the supervision of action maestro Yoshiaki Kawajiri; I like how I dropped fucking Wolf's Rain in there like ANYONE remembers it); and Cannon Fodder (written & directed by Otomo himself).

03:14: I'd like to formally apologize again and in writing to the nation of Germany, and the very kind German man who gave me such a good price on my book. Still, shit takes forever, this isn't the first time!

04:15: Of course, I mean the Kodansha edition of Akira Vol.1, not the Dark Horse version or anything relating to Ghost in the Shell - just settle in, this ain't the last correction today.

04:40: Specifically, for Chronicle of the Planet Tako, Otomo writes:

"Looking at it, I seem to remember that I wrote this with someone else. But as to who it was... Who drew the pictures? If they happen to read it here, would they please contact me. Well, whatever I say, they'll be annoyed. Sorry!"

That's the entire introduction. Tucker is thinking of the intro to Memories, where Otomo alludes to someone named "Takadera" who apparently drew a major splash image for the story... unless Otomo is talking about a much smaller rose image in a different splash. As the "wrote" and "drew" in the above quote indicates, the translation quality of Memories: The Collection is slightly dubious, beginning with a bit in Otomo's Introduction where he's translated as stating:

"This is my seventh collection of short stories in eight years."

and, shortly thereafter:

"Yes, I know, that's a hell of a gap between issues. Truth is, I've been working on Akira all this time, but if things had gone a little more smoothly, it would have been nice to publish some different work before beginning Akira..."

Going off the publication histories of these books -- Boogie Woogie Waltz was released in 1982, the same year Akira began serialization -- it's evident that Otomo is actually saying something to the effect of 'This is my seventh collection of short stories, and the first in eight years.' Not that I'm a brilliant editor or anything, or even that these publication dates were widely available to English speakers in '94, but it does tend to raise doubts about the whole enterprise, at least commentary-wise.

"...I decided to write about sand 'cause it's simple" is a direct quote from the intro to Sound of Sand.

05:59: If I can expand on this a little, it now occurs to me that Otomo's work does have a unifying concern: the inscrutability of vast power. Just as the poor astronauts in Sound of Sand are devoured by the very ground of an alien world, so are the yet poorer astronauts in Memories compressed by the magnetic rose into the nostalgia of the derelict spaceship: a literal pulp sci-fi threat ensconced in metaphor, 'memories' as the obliteration of everything real and current in the nostalgist's wake. Minor Swing, which Tucker later mentions, destroys its protagonist through pollution, which is represented as an endless, unstoppable river of oil. From such industrial calamities it's only a short jump to the computerized cities of Hair and Electric Bird Land, and the most perfect expression of this device: explosive psychic power a la Fireball, Domu: A Child's Dream, and Akira.

Interestingly, Otomo becomes more willing to allow the peril of such power to be challenged in his longer works, in that heroic characters eventually manifest incredible power of their own. The deranged old man of Domu is dispatched with nearly comedic ease once he's faced with his child rival on fair ground, and the youth gangs of Akira eventually cope with the collapse of their dystopian society and the release of incredible psychic force by setting up their own isolationist collective; the potential for revolution, then, embodied by Otomo's many revolutionaries, is the countervailing power that manifests in a more focused state to defeat the capriciousness of older energies.

Yet as short anime like Stink Bomb or the Otomo-written Roujin Z demonstrate, the new power can just as often function as a chaotic element, while the denizens of Cannon Fodder simply march through their endless war against an equally aged (if not imaginary) foe; more specifically politicized critiques can be found in Otomo's segments of the Robot Carnival anthology and his 2012 short comic DJ Teck * Morning Attack, where the forces of the first world raise cloyingly good-intentioned hell in Arabesque locales. Perhaps it takes a while for revolution to concentrate; in this way, Otomo's longer works perhaps analogize a sense of hope to his sad vignettes.

The depth of Farewell to Weapons, then, is in the ambiguity as to whether the drone attack is an old or new power, and the suggestion that it may not matter in such a militarized scene.

09:57: Just to illustrate, here's Oliff:

and Otomo, on the following page:

10:52: As promised (detail; the binding's tough):

11:17: Ah, what the hell:

Otomo and/or his editor helpfully note(s) in the introduction that the word balloons translate to "HAARGHH" and "GURRGK," respectively.

11:58: This is completely wrong, as evidenced above; all the stories in Memories: The Collection come from a five-year stretch from 1977-1982. I kept thinking Memories itself was made in 1990, which is the year Jason Thompson's Manga: The Complete Guide attributes it to, although it seems that was actually the year it was first collected into book form. Unless my new information is also wrong; this is the problem with not reading Japanese, you're drastically limited in your sources.

13:23: Otomo's Batman story, The Third Mask, first appeared in Batman: Black and White #4, Sept. 1996, and (obviously) appears in the various Batman: Black and White hardback and softcover collections. It has apparently been reprinted again, in some form, via Otomo's 2012 art book Kaba2.  

14:32: Here's the UK edition front cover (did you like how we totally set up our cliffhanger ending?):

Matt is correct, it was originally a wraparound image; the full version can be seen here.

18:51: My comments on Otomo's relative 'mainstream' appeal in Japan are somewhat speculative, since I don't have any first or secondary sources on his work's domestic reception in the '70s. I can say, though, that we was part of a small wave with Jirô Taniguchi (another eventual Moebius cohort) and Yukinobu Hoshino (fellow traveler in pulp sci-fi kicks), or even the '60s Garo-bred Ryoichi Ikegami (who initially worked in a considerably cartoonier style) in pursuing a comparatively 'realist' visual approach that might be deemed Western - a deliberate effort in Otomo's case, at least.

Otomo did work on a few shorter serials prior to Akira (which began in '82); besides Domu, there was Sayonara Nippon (1977-78, a karate instructor in New York) and Seijaga Machini Yattekiru (1979, tales of jazz), which were presented together in the 1981 Sayonara Nippon collection. Not in English, of course!

20:07: That's 1991 for World Apartment Horror. Please consider my participation in this episode as a work of conceptual art challenging the presumption of authority in critical dialogue.

22:22: Supervillain fans will note that Mort Weisinger is the other guy in Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters and the Birth of the Comic Book that comes off as completely horrible, although the stories just don't compare to Kane's. There's a great bit where Arnold Drake finds out that an artist is suing Kane for her anonymous work on clown paintings he'd been slinging around Hollywood, and Drake goes "He even had a ghost for the fucking clowns!"

23:25: Batman: Death by Design, by Chip Kidd & Dave Taylor. SYNOPSIS: A whole lot of major stuff is going wrong in an early 20th century design wonderland-ish Gotham, like cranes toppling over and shit, so Batman is on the case while some lady who wants Bruce Wayne to preserve a Penn Station-style historical landmark routinely gets herself into trouble. A crusading newspaper critic, a blowhard aesthete, a veritably top-hatted mustache-twirling union boss and the Joker (as: the Joker) are all involved, as is a mystery superhero(?) who might have a hidden connection to a recently-disappeared, long-disgraced architectural genius...

Did you like that? I keep feeling like we don't lay out what these comics are about before we dig into them, so I might just start putting that stuff in the show notes...

24:10: Taylor's Riddler project with Matt Wagner was 1995's Batman: Riddler - The Riddle Factory, colored by Linda Medley of the imminent Castle Waiting. Listener Michel Fiffe also draws attention to a 1999-2000 series Taylor did with writer Karl Kesel, Batman and Superman: World's Finest, where the artist was eventually joined by fellow Judge Dredd alum Peter Doherty (although Taylor didn't work on Dredd until afterward). The Alan Grant stuff I'm thinking of is a slew of Batman: Shadow of the Bat issues from '96-'97, #50-64, barring #55 and #61 (which was pencilled by Tucker Stone favorite Jim Aparo).

24:36: I feel the need to clarify that the character in question is not named "Chip Kidd," though it is obviously using Kidd as its photo reference basis.

31:22: The Journal's archives are down, and my Google cache wizardry isn't sufficient to locate the ¡Journalista! link to which Tucker refers. Anyone have it on hand?

34:14: If you'll allow it -- and of course you will, I've chloroformed you and I'm whispering into your ear, that's why you can't control the words -- I can probably offer a more sympathetic reading of Batman: Death by Design going off Matt's thought balloon comment. Because: thought balloons! Not always popular, and Kidd feels the urge to not only partake, but chow down on especially rich and cheesy variations, in which characters' most intimate, true feelings expound pregnantly above their heads, in pained silence.

You could argue, perhaps, that it's not so much what's written here as what you can see, or even feel - a pleasure of the delicious artifice itself, like sleek art deco buildings are pleasurable, like Ayn Rand superheroes are barking and smart, like old movies are textural, sensual, like how the photographs in Chip Kidd's books always seek to isolate every grain of the paper, every dot of that fine classic coloring, every nick and spot on a beat tin toy. This stuff is cool, the book says, because it's so fucking cool. Look at it! This is what I love, and here's its fictive-curatorial presentation, shorn of distracting context and dressed in only the socio-political implications you bring yourself - this is design, its function to glow inside you. Maybe this is a uniquely powerful function in superhero comics. Maybe its the very basis of superhero momentism, with the idea of cool characters and cool action transubstantiated into cool looks; not a common trick in a genre that's come to value plot over anything else. 

The most immediate problem, however, with this type of reading, is that an adequate response is to say nothing more than "I've seen cooler."

40:16: That's Planetary #7. As is becoming a recurring motif in this week's notes, I can't recall where I heard Ellis relate this anecdote; it was likely on one of his message boards. Jesus, I totally shouldn't have made fun of Otomo's notes...

42:23: Matt's saying "Josh Simmons," in reference to that artist's unofficial... 'fan' comic, presently collected in The Furry Trap from Fantagraphics. Batman: Absolution was a hardcover (later softcover) graphic novel from 2002, painted by Brian Ashmore; if you were in the room with us, you'd have seen Chris' ears perk up at the very mention of J.M. DeMatteis, who wrote many favorites of his youth. "NO, WHICH ONE IS THAT?"

45:06: Before I could even sit down to write this post, an alert listener/potential Norm Breyfogle fanatic wrote in to mention that 1991's Batman: Holy Terror -- not to be confused with Frank Miller's 2011 Holy Terror, initially drawn in part as a Batman comic -- was in fact written by Alan Brennert, "actually a pretty good writer of that time period," who went down in history as the very first writer to follow... Frank Miller, on Daredevil; he later gave some assistance to Dennis O'Neil, whose own run as writer included a Matt Seneca favorite. I love it when a note comes together.

47:20: Much more about François Schuiten's & Benoît Peeters' Les Cités obscures can be found at the (French-language) Urbicande site, while Sequart's Julian Darius has been gradually updating a series overview for the English reader. I love these comics to pieces, though they've fallen into the Moebius zone of 'not enough readers on hand to justify the licensing costs, too many readers for used copies to accommodate,' resulting in high prices for NBM's mostly out-of-print English editions.      

48:38: One thing I forgot to mention is that Taylor does use color in a somewhat similar way to Schuiten on one of the Les Cités books, 1987's The Tower -- if you can't find the NBM album, Dark Horse serialized the story in issues #9-14 of its Cheval Noir anthology though be warned that Schuiten does not shrink well -- where color is used sparingly as both a striking visual and a seemingly diegetic source of illumination. Granted, Schuiten does this in an 'impossible' way, so that color appears to radiate onto characters' b&w faces in furtherance of his and Peeters' themes, while Taylor adopts a more realistic approach of city lights and flame, etc., but the slight similarity is nonetheless interesting, given the architectural theme.

50:30: "[T]he whole controversy thing with Bat-Manga" refers to a small eruption of internet chatter upon the release of Kidd's Bat-Manga!: The Secret History of Batman in Japan, a presentation of 8 Man co-creator Jiro Kuwata's '60s Batman comics in a manner that some felt downplayed Kuwata's authorship and/or the comics-as-comics in favor of a more generalist framing of the material as exotic period stuff, akin to Adam West-inspired toys and merchandise (lovingly photographed as well) - Kidd eventually responded to the criticisms with a statement of his own. A nice summary by Leigh Walton is here; I babbled here.

52:39: This should be the book cover to which Matt refers.

58:41: I swear on my immortal soul that I launched into this baffling monologue on graphic adventure games -- which were in my head anyway from studying up for my Tuesday column -- fully intending to segue into a proper discussion of 'fine' artists working in comics, but I had not seen the time, and anyway I suspect after the first minute everyone thought it'd be funny to leave the episode on a shaggy dog story involving keys and paper. The GOG sale is over, but AmerZone can still be bought; Benoît Sokal had two of his Inspector Canardo funny animal noir albums released in English in the early '90s: Shaggy Dog Story from Rijperman/Fantagraphics and Blue Angel from NBM. The same books (with the first now called Shabby Dog Story) were released in the UK by Xpresso, Fleetway's short-lived attempt to branch out into Euro-style graphic albums as an adjunct to 2000 AD; an additional Sokal short appeared in Crisis Presents #2 around the same time.

01:03:06: I love the little song outros, like we're in a radio station or something. What really happened was that Chris' wife came downstairs, having listened in for most of the show. We asked her what she thought. "Well...you went pretty hard on Chip Kidd..."


CBABIH 0.4 - Show Notes

Being a series of comments on Episode 0.4 of Comic Books Are Burning In Hell, a podcast by Matt Seneca, Tucker Stone and myself.

00:00: You might have noticed that Satan sounds different this week. That's because it's a completely different person! Specifically, this is the Satan of Chautauqua County, NY, whereas last week's Satan was Hamblen County, TN; it's an elected office typically established on the constitutional level, and the only explicitly evil function in American local governance. Explicitly

00:14: This episode's material was culled from the same May 31, 2012 session as last week; I am still in my mother's basement, though the serious audio dropouts (much like the comedy value) had ceased, leaving only an occasional stuttering quality in aggravation of my Shatneresque tendencies. For the completists among you, my mother didn't know what a podcast was, so I told her I was on Internet Radio. We're on between SILENCE! and Wait, What? on Total Irrelevance FM.

00:53: I wouldn't be so bold to ascribe a fixed motive to Comic Books Are Burning In Hell on behalf of my colleagues, but my personal opinion is that we should present differing aspects of the comics form in conversation, so that the idea of 'following' superhero comic book characters might segue into essayistic graphic novel considerations of the financial dimension of those corporate-owned properties, which themselves are primarily comprised of pictorial compositions which can be analyzed as still images or elements in a quasi-cinematographic arrangement. The idea is not to draw borders around different types of comics -- or different approaches to comics criticism -- but to leave exposed the fiber the connects them in the normal act of reading as many comics as we do. We probably won't be quite so cute again in following an 'art' episode with a bunch of superhero stuff, because what's ever cuter than infancy?

02:06: Carmine Infantino also figured prominently into Matt's comic Flash Roughs/In A Hole; he discussed the artist's run on The Flash in detail here.

05:43: Actually -- and boy, there's no way not to sound like a dick doing this -- the 1990 Adam Strange miniseries was drawn by Andy Kubert though Adam was indeed the colorist. The writer was Richard Bruning, a longtime visual designer and eventual executive at DC; he served as Senior Vice President & Creative Director for much of the '00s. I believe it was his only longform comics scripting work, although I kinda liked his rocket pack story in Vertigo's Flinch #1, aka Jim Lee's one and only Mature Readers comic.

06:51: On the other hand, Matt (and Tucker) are correct here - Jim Starlin's 2009 Strange Adventures series concerned Adam Strange, while his 2006-07 Mystery in Space revival starred Captain Comet, another all-time favorite I'm sure we'll get to in our next solid gold superheroes mega-special.

07:42: Interestingly enough, Scott McDaniel also worked on Strange Adventures with Starlin! This is how you know divinity itself is erupting from our mouths, even when I'm citing to all-time masterworks like Fall from Grace (and imagining chains on Daredevil's costume).

08:44: Specifically, I started out with Mickey Mouse #235; I was six years old. Or, rather, while somebody might have shown me comics outside of the newspaper funny pages beforehand -- six is kind of old -- that's the one I imprinted on as my first. Floyd Gottfredson, my sexy werewolf. Watchmen had, in fact, ended a few months prior.

09:42: I can most immediately recall telling this story to Chris Mautner on the Newsarama blog in 2007, back when the Newsarama blog was basically what Robot 6 is today at Comic Book Resources. I'm specifically referring to The Spectacular Spider-Man #143, written by Punisher co-creator Gerry Conway and drawn by Sal Buscema. Really, I couldn't have read this more than eight or nine months after that Mickey Mouse, but I was seven by then and ready for some proper fucking action.

12:23: I am, of course, aware that Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko is not Jewish, but I like my metaphors as I like my audio quality. MOM'S BASEMENT.

12:33: While I did understand all this stuff prior to the gala opening of the Clone Saga -- and like many then-high school aged kids, that was the straw that broke the camel's back of my weekly interface with the comics form for a bunch of years -- it took a good deal of later, '00s reading of Grant Morrison-scripted comics to solidify my attitudes about superhero universes; many of those works were in part about the function of superheroes as evolutionary potentials in the chaotic society of a shared universe molded by many hands. My conclusions are certainly not those drawn by Morrison in Supergods, his own key explanatory superhero text -- he's very big on the idea of superheroes spurring us to greatness, while I read the genre as a prolonged study of principled endurance -- but I can't deny the effect his works have had on my thinking.

13:01: On the off-chance that you need a whole lot of my Ditko writing in your life -- including sampled from the apparently hard-to-name Mysterious Suspense #1 (1968) -- I tried to describe the form-as-function of his recent art at Comics Comics last year. Internet Ditko fan #1 Neilalien called it a "massive missive," which made me so happy I almost burst. I'd recommend The Comics Journal #258 for further reading, particularly Mariko Wood's close reading of the Question story we're discussing.

22:44: Tucker is referring to the 2001 Hulk Smash miniseries by Garth Ennis, John McCrea and inker Klaus Janson, whom I find much more interesting with McCrea than Keith Burns, his co-artist on The Boys. There was also a crazy serial McCrea drew in 2000 AD last year (#1740-42) where the colorist, Andrew Elder, seemed to devour his lines to somewhat interesting effect.

28:58: The Lovely Horrible Stuff, by Eddie Campbell. No, it's not in stores just yet.

29:53: The earliest pertinent writing of Campbell's I can find online actually dates to 2001, on his prior website - a link a found via this text version of the anecdote from his comic. My own first exposure to his take on the subject would have been through Egomania #1 (also 2001), where he interviewed Lew Sayre Schwartz. Some blog posts are here. Campbell wrote two other Batman works I can recall: a short piece in (again) 2001's Bizarro Comics anthology (w' Hunt Emerson art), and 2006's Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #200 (Daren "not Dan" White, co-writer; Bart Sears, artist).

32:15: Oh god, why the fuck am I talking about Tropical Malady? To set up the walking through the jungle gag, like, three minutes later? Don't take me too seriously as a cinema snob, gang, if I really knew anything I wouldn't have faked the pronunciation of Apichatpong Weerasethakul's given name. On the other hand, I have it good authority that Tucker has a portrait of Michael Haneke literally hanging on his wall.

34:37: It's After the Snooter. Love, Show Notes XOXOXOXO

(I think that's my Jimmy Durante...?)

42:01: Your one-stop Nicholas Roerich source.

43:04: Unfortunately, Fantagraphics' 2007 edition of The Comic Strip Art of Lyonel Feininger -- a comprehensive collection of the artist's newspaper strip work originally published by Kitchen Sink in 1994 -- appears to be sold out. A number of samples, however, are viewable here, or you can hit the second-hand circuit... or shell out the $125.00 cover price for Sunday Press Books' Feininger-heavy, 16" x 21" Forgotten Fantasy: Sunday Comics 1900-1915, a veritable SWAT shield of whimsy.

48:35: Ex: (From Two-Fisted Tales #23)

49:35: "The entire drama of a situation must be contained in each and every panel within the sequence depicting it."

- Campbell, interviewed by Dirk Deppey, from The Comics Journal #273. 

53:19: I elaborated on this idea of 'drawn' reality at comiXology a couple years ago, in comparing the comic/movie Parker adaptations of Darwyn Cooke and Jean-Luc Godard, the former folding nostalgic design elements into a thematically fitting display while the latter marshals 'comic book' elements to distancing ends. I hope to later compare Cooke's segments of Before Watchmen to Godard's own Watchmen adaptation, directed under his "Zack Snyder" pseudonym in 2009.

01:04:34: That's right, "keep on burnin'." We'll never tell. Was Nina singing the theme song the whole time? We'll never tell. And who's "Chris Mautner"? We'll... I guess I did identify him above, though. I... hang on...      


Experiments in Overexposure

So... what if I did two podcasts in a week? That's just how it happened, thanks to the siren's call of Robin McConnell and Inkstuds - and how could I resist a show with Tom Spurgeon and Paul Gravett? All the fun and thrills are here, as we discuss a bevy of recent graphic novel releases and also this, which seems to have finally sold out through Amazon, although at least one new copy is still available for below cover price from the marketplace sellers. The Sempé revolution starts here, gang.


CBABIH 0.3 - Show Notes

Being a series of comments on Episode 0.3 of Comic Books Are Burning In Hell, a podcast by Matt Seneca, Tucker Stone and myself.


00:00: Because as the Bible tells us, nothing sets the stage for fifty-two minutes of quality art comics chat like 'Jon Bon Jovi cornered backstage by KROX at the Coors Light Pavilion,' joke-style. We did MULTIPLE TAKES of this, so rest assured that you're hearing only the most purestrain of audio gold, patient listener. This is where it all pays off.   

00:03: Our theme song! Devised and performed by Nina Stone, who has a new album of children's music you can support and is no doubt thrilled to have won the everlasting thanks of Hell(, Comic Books Are Burning In). Tucker played me this a few days before we recorded, and I suddenly realized we had started a podcast. It just hit me.

00:13: Additional everlasting thanks goes to Mr. David Dedrick of the Sneaky Dragon podcast, who provided sound-cleaning know-how. This particular episode was put together from material recorded on Sunday, May 31, as will be true for next week's show, unless we're so moved by Before Watchmen that we devote an entire hour to impromptu dramatic readings (please leave casting suggestions in the comments). Tucker and Matt are actually sitting at a shared mic here, while I'm speaking into a headset instead of shouting out into space at my computer screen and hoping the Internet hears me.

00:39: Sometimes I believe my own anti-hype and I start to feel like nobody at all listens to this show. And then, sometimes, within ten minutes of an episode getting posted, I get an email calling me on rap jokes. I really am in my mom's basement - I thought it'd get me in the mood, fulfilling such a classic stereotype, though it turned out to be a little more trouble than it was worth, as the show eventually demonstrates, and the continued 0.* episode designation gaily foreshadows.

01:20: The Blonde Woman, by Aiden Koch, hosted at Study Group Comics. Matt had been suggesting we discuss this since the very first episode we did; I'm glad we waited until now, since we're a bit more comfortable with the format, and we knew -- subconsciously, perhaps -- to put this kind of discussion right up front where it'd have some room. I also don't know if Matt deliberately chose a work you can read in full online, right now, via that title link right up there, as a means of 'illustrating' the discussion, but I'd nonetheless encourage you to visit the serial itself while we're talking, and consider your own impressions.

01:43: As a matter of fact, Matt named Koch's The Whale his best comic of 2010. It remains the one and only print offering of Blaise Larmee's Gaze Books, which in a way reflects Larmee's own ambivalence toward the trophy economy of print culture, although several non-digital works are available at his homepage.

02:36: The Tim Hodler blog post I'm referring to is here. By "a couple people" I apparently meant artist and critic Derik Badman. Unexpectedly, Benjamin Marra figured into the episode again a little later. I do agree with Sean Collins' explanation in the comments -- basically, that writers-on-'alternative'-comics work for so little remuneration for such a tiny audience that nobody really has the time or energy to write a lot of sustained negative criticism, which probably won't have a similarly palpable effect on art they don't like as promotion will have on work they do anyway -- but I wonder if this isn't also a side-effect of online culture providing exactly enough feedback and interaction within small-ish circles of interests that people feel their time is well and fully spent enough on things they already know they like, versus the possibility of wasted time on errant tryouts, which is surely a lousy bet. In addition to the other stuff we mention.

04:55: Tucker is referencing Matt's How to Read Art-Comix and Why from January of this year; I've found a lot of readers of my generation -- kids of the Image revolution, came of age in the early '90s -- tend to undergo some passionate experience with a 'weird' comic that overwrites their preconceptions about the predominant narrative means of comics art. For me that was Gerald Jablonski's Cryptic Wit #1, a post-millennial pickup via an ad in The Comics Journal which acted as a destructive force on the building complexities of narrative that had fascinated me since the similar evolutionary spark of ACME Novelty Library #4 (which I'd gotten in the late '90s as a free giveaway with a bunch of Jeff Smith comics). You can still enjoy this powerful and erotic tale in Comics Comics #4, but I suspect there's greater applicability in Matt's effort at triggering that same spark by illustrative means.

06:40: Two days after this recording, the universe, as has become its habit, once again celebrated our existence by offering a Blaise Larmee interview with Michelle Ollie, in which the artist reflects on the completion of a year-long fellowship at The Center for Cartoon Studies, which recently saw the exit of its sixth graduating class.

07:02: I guess it's worth noting, however, that a sign of a robust comics criticism might well be the presence of specified negative reviews of individual experimental works, confronted on their own terms. Getting off-topic a little, think to yourself: have you ever read a negative review of a particular 'abstract' comic? Rather than an address aimed at the approach as a whole? More likely you'll wonder who's even talking about 'abstract' comics beyond practitioners and part-timers, which goes less to the insularity of the art comics scene, I think, than its basic size, though it could be helpful in interfacing with the wider art world to develop a more systemic, intellectual approach to critique than... well, what I'm about to say.

07:51: Oh hell no, not AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL CRITICISM...! And yet, I do lack the academic firepower to place a semi-narrative work like The Blonde Woman in, say, a 'fine' arts context that would likely prove beneficial, both for the purposes of comparative analysis or basic historic study. It's something I work to improve. However, I feel that a no-frills account of the very act of reading the work can still prove worthwhile as a means of demonstrating engagement with narratively odd species of a non-cinematographic visual art form that still tends to compel a longing for narrative procession. Maybe this is a conservative, even reactionary approach -- and god knows I'm hardly credible as some master fucking navigator paternalistically guiding the naive eye -- yet at the same time I find myself drawn to this engagement over the consideration of colors-as-colors, marks-as-marks, or interdisciplinary potentials, or the formal attributes of the page, to name a few things, though of course these elements may well affect any reading.

08:17: Seriously. Am I poorly-read too? Please leave any summer reading suggestions in the comments, and for further information on my personal shortcomings do consult my still-available children's picture book/therapeutic exercise The Tainted Seed.

08:51: Andrei Molotiu is the mastermind behind the Abstract Comics blog and editor of 2009's Abstract Comics: The Anthology - note the definite article, as it was indeed the first dedication of its type. My thoughts on panels-as-narrative-grounding are detailed here, where I also get into Kevin Mutch's and Alex Rader's Blurred Vision anthologies.

09:48: Then again, talk of comics-as-language brings us right back around to Chris Ware; I believe his long interview in The Comics Journal #200 expands on the issue, though not with the taste of cyanide you'll only get here with your dangerous friends at Comic Books Are Burning In Hell.

10:46: More on Peter Greenaway and panelization here. Fruitful comments on that one.

11:59: What I'm describing is less a contemplative process than a continuous reorientation, where I'll back up mid-reading to read and re-read material. The Blonde Woman's vertical orientation -- where it becomes somewhat difficult to tell where one 'page' ends and another begins in the midst of reading -- seems to encourage this process as much as the simplicity of the scenario and the evocations of the drawing. Then again, I find scrolling to be a smoother (indeed, simpler) means of access than flipping, to cite a dichotomy suggested by Warren Ellis yesterday, as my eyes needn't ever quite break with the art until the chapter is over (or Koch is out of art to post, which, as Matt says, multiplies the experience with the work); this becomes a unique value in a work of this absorbent style... Matt's "specific engineer[ing]."

20:02: Video and photographs from Koch's 2009 thesis project with Paul Wagenblast at the Pacific NW College of Art can be viewed at her site.

20:39: Wax Cross, by Tin Can Forest. This comic was sent to me by the publisher, Koyama Press; it'll probably be easiest to obtain directly from the artists (along with their prior books) Darryl Ayo Brathwaite just posted his own review earlier today. Matt reviewed Baba Yaga and the Wolf in early 2011.

22:51: I'm searching for the word "Ukranian," per this 2010 interview.

23:09: An unforeseen side-effect of my hilarious plan to occupy my parents' cellar was that the wireless internet I was mooching didn't reach all that well underground, leading to sudden audio dropouts in our Skype connection. It got bad enough during this voice-over audition for the Cerebus kickstarter that what you're hearing is actually a second take, complete with Tucker faking his laughter at the end in an attempt to match his initial reaction. That's showbiz!

27:25: That would be The Sandman #38 (in the Fables & Reflections collection), drawn by Duncan Eagleson & Vince Locke.

28:32: Hellberta #2, by Michael Comeau. Those without access to Ben Marra will want to purchase it at the title link from the publisher, Colour Code Printing, which you'll note is separate from the aforementioned Koyama Press, publisher of issue #1 (by god that cover is still a holy fuck); a third and final issue is forthcoming, hopefully from Marvel's Icon line. Our prior coverage of issue #1 is here. The internet tells me that Comeau is not so much the basis for "Scott Pilgrim" as a character in the Scott Pilgrim series.

31:01: Aaron Cometbus also did lettering on Frank Santoro's & Ben Jones' mighty Cold Heat.

36:25: Is this the legendary moment they're talking about?

38:22: Deathzone!, by Michel Fiffe. Remember, you're actually buying a print. Both issues of Zegas are also available.

46:14: Wikipedia reminds me that John Romita, Sr. (Marvel's art director at the time) also played a role in designing Wolverine's original costume, much as he did with the Punisher. Of course, an amusing irony is that this Canadian folk hero was the concoction of solely U.S.-born creators...

46:43: Yeah, I think reading aloud from comics is going to be our thing. Dibs on Hooded Justice!

51:17: Specifically, "comic book culture" comes from Dirk Deppey's excellent 2006 interview with Eddie Campbell... which leads us into next week's episode quite nicely, as we will not only be talking about superheroes, but superhero money. See you then, tigers.