10/03/2016

CXC - 2016



You can find me next week at Cartoon Crossroads Columbus (CXC). I'm honored to chair a session of the scholarly symposium portion of the programming.

CXC Day One: Thursday,  October 13, 2016
10:30am - 12:00pm Panel I: Institutions

I'm excited to visit OSU again. I'm looking forward to seeing some old friends!


8/30/2016

Rushmore Peanuts

Here’s a little Rushmore drawing. I saw a submissions call for Wes Anderson zine content, and wanted to do this drawing. I’ll probably get around to coloring it sometime. The call was for B&W, so that’s where I ended up.

(L-R): Max Fischer (Charlie Brown), Magnus Buchan and Sidekick (Pig Pen), Dr. Gugenheim (Schroeder), Ronny Blume (3), Bert Fischer (Freda), Mr. Little Jeans (Snoopy), Margaret Yang (Violet), Dirk Calloway (Shermy), Dr. Flynn (5), Herman Blume (Linus), Donny (4), Rosemary Cross (Sally). 


There are quite a few Peanuts/Charlie Brown references within Wes Anderson’s films. Matt Zoller Seitz correlated the final shot of Rushmore with the dance sequence in A Charlie Brown Christmas—something I haven’t thought about.


Certainly not an original trope. A google search will yield fan art of various character sets arranged in the Peanuts format. At least mine has some sort of vague scholarly basis—albeit a “look, a thing like a thing” methodology. 

7/13/2016

Having Read: Three Biographies of Children’s Book Authors.

I’ve been trying to do as much (non-research) reading as possible lately--it makes me a better person. I’ve always loved reading artist biographies. It’s been a downward spiral over the last few months though. I read three recently: one about Ruth Krauss and Crockett Johnson, one about Shel Silverstein, and one about Tomie DePaola. Each one worse than the one before.

Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss: How an Unlikely Couple Found Love, Dodged the FBI, and Transformed Children's Literature (2012) by Philip Nel is one of the greatest biographies I’ve ever read. I received this book for christmas from Kristie’s uncle a few years ago (thanks Robert!). It was so thoroughly and lovingly researched, I can hardly express how much I appreciated this book. An inspiration on a variety of levels. It makes be want to write biographies. It’s one of very few books that caused me to write the author a note. I’m a slow reader (usually keeping a variety of books in play for years) so it took me a year to read. I told him that it was tough letting go of Krauss and Johnson after spending a year with them. He said he spent 12 years researching/writing so he knew how I felt. The book is thorough, insightful, and well-written. More of a scholarly work than an over-the-counter biography. This is the only one of the three books that I didn’t have to look up the biographer’s name. Obviously I love Crockett Johnson, but I only knew a little about Krauss before this book. I’m not even inclined to mention the content, only the extoll the excellence of the writing. That’s how great this book was to read.

I then read A Boy Named Shel: The Life and Times of Shel Silverstein (2009) by Lisa Rogak right after the Johnson/Krauss one. I had it for a few years before picking it up to read. I found it at a used bookstore (one of those that dump old library books at Outlet Malls). I put it next to our nearly complete set of Silverstein books where it sat for a while. I honestly read it because I was so hyped after reading Krauss/Johnson, so I have to admit how biased my perception of this book was when I got to it. While reading it I became so disappointed because I truly love the subject (Silverstein is a personal favorite) and my expectations were soaring after reading the Krauss/Johnson. This isn’t a bad book -- I just get the feeling that she couldn’t find as many sources as she wanted (certainly not as many as would elevate the book to an exceptional status). Also, I mostly think of Silverstein as an author and Rogak seems mostly interested in the music side of his career. That might very well be the truth of the subject: he was a musician who made books on the side. I enjoyed learning more about his life, though it always seemed biased. The bio even seems defensive or excusatory at times, which was off-putting. I realize that biographers depend heavily on access and permission--things that the Silverstein estate notoriously protect. I am reminded of the David Michaelis book on Charles Schulz, where he reportedly betrayed the trust of the family after falsely presenting the nature of his biography (writing about things that the family did not like).

I just finished reading Tomie DePaula: His Art and His Stories (1999) by Barbara Elleman. This book disappointed me so much more than A Boy Named Shel. It wasn’t a biography by any stretch of the imagination. I didn’t know much about DePaula (still don’t after reading this book), but we have several of his children’s books. I love the way he draws and how he tells his stories. After inadvertently amassing a few of them because we liked the art, I began to notice his name and seek him out. We pick up his books at thrift stores, yard sales, and library sales.In fact, the latter is where I found this biography. The book is mostly an extended description of each of his books. It read more like a collection of reviews than evidence of any sort of significant research. The point of view is only that of the author, who describes each picture each line with only a shallow understanding of the subject. I do not mean to poo-poo this book (I desperately try to teach my students not to be assholes), but my interests are scholarly and research-driven.

One day I will write a biography of some cartoonist. I have several subjects in mind, but the time is long to come. I will strive toward the mark set by the Krauss/Johnson book, but will likely fall somewhere closer to A Boy Named Shel, which is nothing to be ashamed of--just nothing to be too boastful about. I am for certain that I will at least do more than the DePaula book.

I do not know if I should stop reading biographies for fear that the next one will suck even more, or if I should find one to redeem the genre for me. I’m tempted to re-read a biography of Edward Gorey (Ascending Peculiarity) that I read years ago, but can’t recall much about it. We have a few Jim Henson books around I could read, I guess. If anyone has a suggestion, please let me know.

5/31/2016

Boulet's Light: The Glow of Digital Media as a Tool for Sense-Memory in Franco-Belgian Webcomics

I wrote a paper for Professor Galvin's Media Art class. Given the nature of the course, I wasn't able to focus on the mid-century cartoonist that I usually write about. I gladly wrote about on of my favorite contemporary French cartoonists: Boulet


4/10/2016

UF Comics Conference - BD & the American Southwest

I gave a paper at the 2016 Conference on Comics and Graphic Novels at the University of Florida. 
It was a treat to see some old acquaintances and meet many scholars for the first time. 




http://www.english.ufl.edu/comics/Comics_TNC_ConferenceSchedule.shtml


4/02/2016

ICAF 2016, Columbia, SC

I am honored to be moderating a panel at this year's International Comics Art Forum (ICAF).


I'm running session 2a: Comics Form, Comics History
http://www.internationalcomicartsforum.org/2016-schedule.html

The list of presenters in my session:

Comics and Objecthood:
The Matter of Comics of David Mazzucchelli’s Asterios Polyp,
William Orchard, Queens College/CUNY

“The Stereotype is a Fact of Life”: Race, Iconography, and Stereotypes in American Comics,
Jeremy Carnes, University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee

Honoré Daumier: Caricature and the Conception/Reception of “Fine Art,”
Jasmin W. Cyril, Benedict College

2/29/2016

Will Eisner Week 2016 - Rousing Reading & Exhilarating Excerpts

My Theories and Practices for Sequential Art class and I have organized a special reading event in honor of this year's Will Eisner Week.

8/01/2015

Jijé's Atelier: The Gang of Four and a Few More.

I wrote a paper for Stephen Wagner's Summer class. The class was a sort of "greatest hits" of art history. Not surprisingly, I chose to write about the same group of mid-twentieth century franco-belgian cartoonists that I always try and write about.


5/01/2015

Lacoste Report Winter 2015

I was fortunate enough to spend a few months teaching in France for a second time. Here's my report from the Jan-March 2015 trip. There was so much that happened! I could never show it all.
































4/25/2015

Digging Up the Odd Lot - SwarmCon 2015


I'm giving a little talk at SwarmCon, if you'd like to come by and check out some weird old comics. Saturday April 25th, 2015. 1:30pm.