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Friday, August 31, 2007

Doug Wright

Over the past year or two, Seth, Brad MacKay and I have been going through thousands of pieces of artwork, photographs, and related ephemera regarding the great Canadian cartoonist Doug Wright (1917-1983).

If you haven't heard of Wright before it's probably because his work never really appeared outside the borders of Canada during his lifetime. And since his weekly strip ended in 1980, few Canadians under the age of 40 or 45 have any recollection of Wright's comics. That's too bad, because I'd easily place Wright among the greatest and most accomplished cartoonists of the 20th century. As a master storyteller working with challenging constraints (he did a weekly pantomime strip for three decades) and, in particular, as draughtsman, Wright had few peers.

In his day, Wright was well known in Canada, but he was working in an era when work did not travel easily outside of borders. In books and comics, few Canadians who didn't leave the country could find an outlet for their work in the United States. For cartoonists things began to change by the late 1970s (the debut of Dave Sim's Cerebus in 1977 was a seminal point in the early rise of the independent comics movement, and two years later Lynn Johnston began a daily strip that went on to become one of the most successful newspaper comics ever).

But all of that happened too late for Wright; he was in his sixties by then and his skills were sadly in decline. His strip, Doug Wright's Family, was cancelled in 1980, and, in an event that eerily foreshadowed what would later happen to Charles Schulz, he suffered a stroke on exactly the same day his final strip appeared in national newspapers.

The work of Doug Wright is now gradually receiving some of the attention it deserves. In recent years The Doug Wright Awards were inaugurated to honour the best works in Canadian publishing. Over the next month Seth will be designing volume one of a series of comprehensive books that D+Q will be publishing on the life and work of Wright. The first volume will be out by this time next year, and we hope it will go a long away to establishing Doug Wright as one of the finest cartoonists of his era.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Southern Cross - a woodcut novel

In early 1951 artist Laurence Hyde showed his proposed woodcut novel Southern Cross to several New York publishers and they all passed on the project. "We don't publish picture books for adults" was the most common refrain given.
Later that year Southern Cross was published in a limited edition of 1,000 copies by Ward Ritchie Press. Jump ahead 56 years and now Drawn & Quarterly is publishing a facsimile edition of the 1951 printing, complete with the original introduction by Rockwell Kent and with an added forward by woodcut novel historian David Berona.
Southern Cross came about as a result of Hyde's outrage at the United States' testing of atomic bombs in the Bikini Atoll and here he creates a narrative, told in single-page woodblock drawings, of the destruction of the islands and its inhabitants. It's a powerful political and artistic document. Look for it in stores in early October.
Friday, August 24, 2007

Red Colored Elegy

I'm pretty excited about this comic even though it's something like nine months away from arriving in stores but I've been working on it recently. Red Colored Elegy is a true cornerstone of the Japanese underground scene of the early 1970s.

Seiichi Hayashi produced Red Colored Elegy between 1970 and 1971, in the aftermath of a politically turbulent and culturally vibrant decade that promised but failed to deliver new possibilities. With a combination of sparse line work and visual codes borrowed from animation and film, the quiet melancholy lives of a young couple struggling to make ends meet are beautifully captured in this poetic masterpiece. Uninvolved with the political movements of the time, Ichiro and Sachiko hope for something better, but they're no revolutionaries; their spare time is spent drinking, smoking, daydreaming, and sleeping—together and at times with others. While Ichiro attempts to make a living from his comics, Sachiko's parents are eager to arrange a marriage for her, but Ichiro doesn't seem interested. Both in their relationship and at work, Ichiro and Sachiko are unable to say the things they need to say, and like any couple, at times say things to each other that they do not mean, ultimately communicating as much with their body language and what remains unsaid as with words.

Red Colored Elegy is informed as much by underground Japanese comics of the time as it is by the French Nouvelle Vague, and its cultural referents range from James Dean to Ken Takakura. Its influence in Japan was so large that Morio Agata, a prominent Japanese folk musician and singer songwriter, debuted with a love song written and named after it.

"I wanted to live like Sachiko and Ichiro; to have aspirations even while living stoically and humbly." – Morio Agata (from obi)

Interns. Still awesome.

Chuck Forsman. CCS student. D+Q summer intern. Awesome. Unlike previous interns (I won't name names, SF), he maintains a deferential air about him at all times. This coffee is delish!

Glowing praise for John P.

Julie Walters from the Montreal Mirror positively gushes over John's King Cat Classix collection.

A coarse approximation

We got this from Mr. F. C. Ware the other day. I think it's best to let Mr. Ware describe it himself:

Cartoonist and Walt and Skeezix co-editor Chris Ware fakes his way through a wretchedly "low-fi" home recording of the 1923 Skeezix song in a coarse approximation of what the average American pianist might've been able to make of this completely forgotten composition 75 years ago. He does not honor the repeats, nor does anyone sing the lyrics; however, a complete pdf of the sheet music may be downloaded here.

Partially penned by popular ragtime composer Egbert Van Alstyne (who also wrote the well-known "In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree" as well as sharing dubious co-credit with Afro-American composer and performer Tony Jackson for the jazz (ne⁄ ragtime) standard "Pretty Baby".) This song was apparently never phonographically recorded, at least until now. The circumstances surrounding King's association with the composers are uncertain, but King clearly drew the cover artwork. (It should also be noted that Jerome Remick was one of the most respectable publishers of popular songs of his day.) Other tunes based on cartoon characters were not uncommon, including "Bringing Up Father in Society" (1918), King's friend and colleague Sidney Smith's "Oh! Min" (1918) and the "Andy Gump Fox Trot" (1923) and, of course, the still-sung "Barney Google" (1923).
Wednesday, August 22, 2007

TCAF photos

Friday night kicked off the fest with the Doug Wright awards and a spotlight on Joe Matt & his new book Spent, reunited on stage with Seth & Chester Brown.

It turns out that Seth would never have banged his head on the table,

would never have said
"That's just the way it is,"

and definitely did not lick any bread.

So just how truthful is Joe Matt in his autobiographical book? Despite his inclinations to lay it all honestly on the page, the story is his first priority. But after seeing the three together in conversation, it's clear that Joe represents their pecking order perfectly: Seth gives Joe the gears, Chester backs him up, Joe gets defensive... and it's all hilarious. So let's just say that Spent is "truthy."

Rebecca Kraatz took home the Doug Wright award for best emerging talent, for House of Sugar, (Tulip Tree Press). I haven't read it yet, but I did get a copy and am looking forward to it! Joe Ollmann won Best Book, for This Will All End in Tears.

The rest of the weekend unfolded as one would expect..

Chris Oliveros, Seth, Joe Matt, Kevin Huizenga, and Peter Thompson behind the tables..

Randy Chang drinks coffee and chats with Tom Neely and Dylan, while Kevin and Anders-Nilsen-doppelganger Casey work the Bodega table upstairs..

Buenaventura's looking good.. the table yeah, but especially Alvin's t-shirts! awesome!

Seth, Peter Birkemoe (of The Beguiling) and comics historian Jeet Heer talk about.. um.. probably comics...

And Rebecca watches over things back at the D+Q table.

Thanks to all the fans, cartoonists, organizers and everyone else involved!

Rutu Modan interview on the BBC!

Check out Rutu Modan's interview with the BBC. Then, when you've watched that, have a gander at what they have to say about her and her new book, Exit Wounds.
Monday, August 20, 2007

What happened at TCAF 2007?

Beats me, I didn't go. But here's a couple photos I found on the office camera:

See how Kevin Huizenga tries not to look at the revealing holes in Alvin Buenaventura's shirt while Peter Thompson locks right in.

Books loom over the triumphantly returning Joe Matt as he draws himself on the "terlet" for a fan.

Doug Wright's wife Phyllis, Chris Oliveros and Seth post Doug Wright awards. {this last photo was swiped from Brad Mackay's Flickr set.}
Sunday, August 19, 2007

L.A. = Awesome Comics Town

This summer, the L.A. Weekly contacted me to excerpt Adrian Tomine's Shortcomings. I said yes right away. Why? I'm hard pressed to name another city with as many comic stores and comic friendly bookstores. Sure, there are other cities with great stores, but collectively? Ok, I'm bound to forget one, but let's try in alphabetical order: Booksoup, Duttons, Family, Giant Robot, Golden Apple, Hammer, Hi De Ho, House of Secrets, Meltdown, Secret Headquarters, Skylight Books, Third Planet, Vromans, and...? Email me to let me know if I forgot anyone. It's Sunday night, go easy on me.

The excerpt ran on Thursday: "His crisp, almost gestural line work is both modern and retro, and each painstakingly composed individual panel comes across like a scene from a movie. It's pure story done in a pure style..."
Thursday, August 16, 2007

Joe Matt Shoot-Out

Sorry, Seth, but not while Joe Matt's Spent is the topic of conversation. Newsarama contributors Michael C. Lorah and J. Caleb Mozzocco engage in an online shoot-out about Spent during which Caleb meditates on the aforementioned subject:
"Like, everyone feels like a failure sometimes. I know if I've just, um, pleasured myself after an hour of looking at free Internet porn, I'll have this horrible feeling that I've wasted a significant portion of time on something that's really kinda sad, when I could have been doing something more productive, like drawing my own dusty comics project that spiders are building webs on atop my drawing board, or gone out and tried to meet a girl."
Thankfully, it's not all bad news:
"Sure, I might jerk off twice daily, but I've never done it 20 times in one day, like Matt. I might not own a house or live in a posh pad with a girlfriend, but hey, at least I'm not pissing in a bottle in my closet to avoid running into a housemate I despise, like Matt."

Also mentioned is The Drawn & Quarterly Universe, which you can see with your own eyes in Toronto on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival. D+Q characters scheduled to make an appearance include Seth, Joe Matt and Chester Burns. Er, Brown.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Drawn and Quarterly at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival!

Toronto Comic Arts Festival
Featuring a spotlight on Joe Matt hosted by Chester Brown and Seth

With Special Guests: Joe Matt, Seth, Chester Brown, and Kevin Huizenga.

TCAF Kick-Off Events - Friday, August 17th:

@ Innis Town Hall
2 Sussex Avenue
Toronto, ON

(located within Innis College on the U of T's downtown campus, at the NW corner of St. George Street and Sussex Avenue, just south of Bloor. St. George subway).

Featuring the presentation of the 2007 Doug Wright Awards, AND Seth, Chester Brown, and Joe Matt reunited on stage as Joe returns to Toronto from Hollywood! Seth & Chester put the spotlight on Joe Matt in light of his latest graphic novel Spent

6:30 programming starts, signing with Joe Matt, Chester Brown, and Seth follows!

9:00 after party (details TBC)

Saturday, August 18th

festival hours 10AM - 7PM

Old Victoria College
93 Charles St. West

12:30 - 1:30 Seth (@ D+Q table)

1:30 - 2:30 Chester Brown (@ D+Q table)

3:00 - 4:00 Joe Matt, Chester Brown, & Seth signing in the Beguiling-sponsored signing room

2:30 - 4:30 Kevin Huizenga (@ D+Q table)

4:30 - 5:30 Joe Matt (@ D+Q table)

Sunday, August 19th

festival hours 10AM - 6PM

Old Victoria College
93 Charles St. West

11:30 - 12:30 Chester Brown (@ D+Q table)

1:00 - 2:00 Joe Matt, Chester Brown, & Seth signing in the Beguiling-sponsored signing room

12:30 - 2:30 Kevin Huizenga (@ D+Q table)

2:30 - 3:30 Joe Matt (@ D+Q table)

3:30 - 4:30 Seth (@ D+Q table)

Eric Reynolds -- 25 years at Comic-con

I am almost certain that this is Eric and his mom at his very first Comic-con 25 years ago.

Thank you Mike Baehr for pointing this amazing Alan Light Flickr set out.

{Photo by Alan Light.}
Friday, August 10, 2007

There is no way that a new issue of Crickets is coming out!!

Here's my usual post where I make fun of how slowly one of our cartoonists works. Yeah, it's a great joke and never gets boring, right?

Still, I've seen about half of the second issue of Crickets and what I've seen is amazing. Sammy Harkham, You've done it again.
Wednesday, August 08, 2007

PopMatters matters a lot.

There are increasingly fewer places in print or on the web that will devote a single review to one comic title. PopMatters may be the only non-comics site that regularly devotes upwards of 1000 words on a single title. Reviewing, deconstructing and critiquing, PopMatters spends the time to completely delve into the book. This week, Brian Bethel, who recently reviewed Paul Karasik's I Shall Destroy All Civilized Planets, reviews Spent. Whether you agree with the reviews or not, it is refreshing to see such detailed attention given to one title.
Monday, August 06, 2007

Marc Jette Superstar

Marc Jette of our favorite local english comic retailer, Studio 9, is featured in today's Montreal Gazette in a huge above and below the fold (publicist talk) front page business feature. Check it out.

Joe Matt's San Diego Recap...So Long Suckers!

So let's recap Joe's pretty awesome recap of San Diego Comic-Con. 1) he meets Sergio Aragones 2) hangs with Matt Groening and 3) sells all of his original artwork at San Diego and close to 200 books. Well, you should read it yourself as no one can really recap Joe Matt.

For anyone who missed Joe on tour (one more stop at TCAF in two weeks!) we have 25 signed paperbacks (above) of the back-in-print, once-greenlit-for-tv, The Poor Bastard in the office that are now for sale until we run out.

And here is a fan's account with pictures of meeting Joe Matt at San Diego.

Moomin Goes To Fourth Printing

Avid comic site readers may have seen the news last week that our Moomin: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic Strip has gone back press for a fourth printing in less than one year. Coincidentally, Paul Gravett reviewed the book for the Independent UK on Friday stating "Their belated recovery from crumbling newsprint into five eventual volumes seems almost as fantastical and life-affirming as the Moomin fables themselves."

Book Two arrives in October!
Friday, August 03, 2007

New amazing book available from D+Q online

UnInked: Paintings, Sculptures and Graphic Works by Five Cartoonists

This exhibit runs from April 21st through August 19th, 2007 at the Phoenix Art Musuem. A 112 page full-color hardcover catalog edited and designed by the show's curator, Chris Ware, picturing works from the exhibit as well as selected samples of each artists' published work, is now for sale for a limited time only.

UnInked presents the work of Kim Deitch, Jerry Moriarty, Gary Panter, Ron Rege Jr. and Seth; the catalog beautifully documents some of Seth's meticulously constructed cardboard Palooka-Ville buildings and Ron Rege's sculptures to name just a couple of its many delights.

The catalogue is a limited edition, which won't be available through other stores or distributors -- so if you'd like one for your personal collection, don't delay.
{ADDED 8/6/07: Secret Headquarters contacted us to let us know that they expect to have a few copies so if you live in the Silver Lake neighborhood or just any-old-where in Los Angeles, check them out.}

San Diego Con report (part two)

Man, I don't know what I did to piss Tom Spurgeon off but he just won't list this blog on his SDCC wrapup list. That free dinner meant nothing!! (above: A pin promoting Josh Simmon's forthcoming Psychedelic Racewar.)

So Saturday:


Okay, enough.

Me and Miriam taking a "candid." See how she's reading what I'm pointing at while I look at the camera. This took hours to nail.

Jordan Crane does some Tom Waits cosplay.

Yes, Klara life does have dignity.

I don't know where these masks came from but Miriam was dedicated to this picture. And then she went right back to making fun of Joe Matt.

This is from a graphic novel panel with Joe, Miriam, and Guy. The gentleman on the left is Rick Geary. Boy, did I screw up a panel of his on Thursday. He had a panel after Miriam and was setting up his computer and didn't have the proper cord so I thought "hey, it'll be nice to help out Rick Geary. I like his comics. Let me offer him my nerd expertise." Oh, it just went downhill. I decided to let him use my computer since his didn't have a cord and then my computer was taking forever to boot and then I had to go to the bathroom so I pretended to be looking for help while I ran the bathroom and then when I came back the computer finally booted and there was a giant picture of a newborn Georgina up on the screen while he was talking about serial killers. So I tried to load up his pictures but the files were corrupt. I didn't corrupt them, I think something happened when he loaded them onto his computer but, what, I'm going to stop the panel to tell him that his tech skills were lacking. Oh, lordy, it was bad. And it took like half an hour and then this woman kept shoving a phone at me to talk to the convention tech guys but I knew they couldn't help so I kept telling her to get away from me. Finally I just bailed and Rick was very nice about it and said "thanks anyways" and I walked past the woman and she snorted "yeah, thanks." And I was thinking "who is the mean lady?" I saw her at the Eisners later. It was Rick Geary's wife. Right, I was rude to Rick Geary's wife in front of an audience while he was doing a panel. Awesome.

On my way to that panel I picked up what turned out to be my favorite comic of the show (above). I would say that this is in the Reid Fleming genre of pissed off ordinary guy comics. Strangely, each issue only contains 8 pages of comics. I couldn't bring myself to buy all five at $3 each because of that. Seriously, pal, you made one issue. Don't try to fool us. The Crying Macho Man guy is keeping it real, why can't you? I should say that sports loving comics people like James Sturm, Tom Spurgeon (link me!!) and Will Dennis (name dropped!) were unimpressed. Will pointed out that the artist used the old hands in pockets to avoid drawing them shortcut.

Boy, I would love it if Giant Robot was next to us but there's a Heavy Metal between us. This is Eric Nakamura. He's a good guy.

Here's Tom Spurgeon again making fun of Alison Bechdel for her completely chaste kiss with Ellen Forney the previous night at the Eisners.


Here's Jacob Covey and Dan Nadel talking about wet proofs or plotter proofs or xerox proofs. Also, I think pantones were mentioned. Die-cuts, oddly enough, were not.

Can you smell the power crackling off the table?!? Also, don't forget that I'm there. This is something like my fourth meal at SD hotspot Pokez. Pictured: Dan Nadel, Eric Reynolds, Rory Root (Comic Relief), Eric Kirsammer (Chicago Comics and Quimby's owner).

Hong Kong Niteclub. Oh, there was a beach party but I am old. Here we see Dave from Secret Headquarters looking at Jacob's TMNT sketchbook. I would say the sketchbook winner was Levon Jihanian. A really great drawing, maybe Covey will post it in his final Con wrapup that Spurgeon will almost certainly link to. I, on the other hand, drunkenly ruined the whole good vibe of the project.

It's like they actually prepared something ahead of time. That's not in the spirit!

The night is almost over. Who told Tom Neely about the Hong Kong? Dammit! Somewhere in there is Josh Simmons looking like a young Gary Groth.

That's all I got.


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