Cross Hatch Dispatch 3/30/2007

Categories:  The Cross Hatch Dispatch

peter-blegvad.gifWhat is this? Sweeps for comics links?

  • Put aside that calculator for a moment and haul out your box of comic books. It’s time to file your Harvey Awards nominations! The awards might be set for September, but don’t let the late date fool you. The selection committee will need all spring and summer to get through the hopefuls so quit your lollygagging. Nominations are due next Wednesday, April 4.
  • Meanwhile, Fumetto, an international comics festival held in Switzerland, is wrapping up. Their site is chock full of beautiful exhibition samples, including a gallery for winners of their comics competition. Today’s picture is from exhibitor Peter Blegved. (via Fabrica)
  • Our own Brian Heater, on assignment for New York Press, finds a tough-as-nails Adrian Tomine facing “bushels of hate mail” head on and living to talk about it.
  • In a short and bittersweet memoir about her memoir Fun Home, Alison Bechdel writes about why her own mother is not her biggest fan. (via Bookslut)
  • I still don’t really know what is going on with Harlan Ellison and Fantagraphics, but it’s a little like watching your parents fight. Brian Miller of Seattle Weekly gives the situation some historical context.
  • And while we’re listening to the grown-ups talk, here’s a Publisher’s Weekly interview of Slave Labor Graphics founder Dan Vado.
  • Are you ready for some modern day Victorian sci-fi adventures, steam-punk style? Jeff Lemire’s new online serial, Soft Instruments, opens with an investigator sporting a handlebar mustache drawn up in the author’s trademark scratchy ink strokes waltzing into a troubled town.
  • A journalist working in Pakistan takes a graduate level media class at MIT. For homework, she turns in an interview with Joe Sacco. A+. Part One, Part Two (via Newsarama)
  • Le Gun Magazine from London is pop graphics galore, with special emphasis on comics-style drawings. (via Comics Reporter)

-Elizabeth Chou

Interview: Will Vinton Pt. 2 (of 2)

Categories:  Interviews

Will VintonWill Vinton is one of those names that you likely don’t know too well, unless you’ve found yourself immersed in his specific field. His creations on the other hand, have become so ingrained in popular culture over the past twenty years, that the man’s work has been virtually impossible to escape.

Vinton has done all manner of work for television, movies, and music videos, but it’s his commercial portfolio that has really captured the public’s imagination. Creators like the Domino’s Noid, the red and yellow M&M, and perhaps most notably, The California Raisins become phenomenons in their own right, taking on lives that far outlast thirty second commercials.

 Since leaving his own eponymous studio earlier in the decade, Vinton has taken a more personal approach to his own work, choosing projects over which he could maintain full creative control. Most recently, Vinton has begun his own series of graphic novels, based on the exploit of a 10-inch spy named Jack Hightower.

For more info on that project, please check out the first part of our interview with Vinton. In part two, we’re going all the way back to the beginning.

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Fox Bunny Funny by Andy Hartzell

Categories:  Reviews

Fox Bunny Funny
By Andy Hartzell
Top Shelf

Andy HartzellIt’s always an achievement, in and of itself, when an artist can execute a cohesive and intelligible work of sequential art without the use of any text. It’s an admirable skill that newcomer Andy Hartzell executes with a surprising amount of ease and finesse, over the course of the three mini comics that make up Fox Bunny Funny. Hartzell’s tale is alternately funny, fascinated, and surprisingly brutal, given the book’s title, and publisher Top Shelf’s penchant for lighthearted and cuddly furry animal stories.

Fox Bunny Funny follows the story an unnamed anthropomorphic fox protagonist, growing up in a world foxes and rabbits are continually at war—a war that, for the most part, involves violent rabbit death at the hands of their fox counterparts, trained as youths via mediums such as video games and groups akin to a furry version of the Boy Scouts of America, to love the hunt of their equally civilized herbivorous neighbors.

It’s difficult to pin down a concrete real-life situation for which the story might serve as a direct metaphor, but one particularly vivid image, involving a pack of rabbits, fleeing the attic of a house, for fear of the Fox Scouts’ grappling guns, evokes images of the cats and mice in Art Spiegelman’s famous holocaust allegory.

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Army@Love by Veitch and Erskine

Categories:  Reviews

By Rick Veitch and Gary Erskine

Depending on how susceptible they are to Fox News, readers will doubtless either be shouting “Too soon, too soon!” or “Not soon enough, not soon enough!” when they’re assaulted by the premier issue of Rick Veitch and Gary Erskine’s sharp new black-humor comic from Vertigo, Army@Love. Veitch rubbishes the idea of maintaining dignified front on “something as catastrophic as a misconceived war,” and turns a viciously satiric pen on the “Afbaghistan” conflict, imagining just how absurd it’ll be five years from now.

The formula for satire–as Veitch quotes Lenny Bruce, in the afterward to the first issue–used to be “tragedy plus time.” Not any more: There’s no more waiting twenty years for a M*A*S*H that uses one war (The Korean War) to comment on the absurdity of another (The Vietnam War). In the era of the Internet and epidemic ADD, this war is already so old most Americans (including those who started it, apparently) are already hazy as to why we even invaded. So Veitch uses this war to comment on itself.

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It Rhymes With Lust By Arnold Drake, Leslie Waller, & Matt Baker

Categories:  Reviews

It Rhymes With Lust
By Arnold Drake, Leslie Waller, and Matt Baker
Darkhorse Press

Arnold DrakeRust is the answer to that most obvious of questions. Rust Masson. The moral, if there’s any to be had, is, simply put: don’t go around messing with women named whose names rhyme with lust. It’s a lesson that takes newspaperman Hal Weber 120-odd pages to sufficiently discover, but by the close of this early graphic novel prototype (a ‘picture novel,’ if the cover is to be believed), the point seems to have been fairly well driven home.

Dark Horse, bless their hearts, have gone and resurrected this nearly 60-year-old masterpiece of melodrama, whose intense, if oft over-the-top borderline gothic romantic plotline seems as much an inspiration for a contemporary romance novels as it is for the graphic novel.

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Interview: Jim Woodring Pt. 2 (of 2)

Categories:  Interviews

Jim WoodringJim Woodring is alternative comics’ latest casualty. Despite the consistent brilliance of the artist’s work, throughout titles such as The Book of Jim and his most popular creation, Frank, Woodring is leaving the comics world behind—at least for the time being—instead focusing on his largely charcoal-based paintings, of the variety found in the recently released Fantagraphics collection, Seeing Things, as well as freelance design for Japanese toy firms—a country far more attuned to Woodring’s dreamlike and borderline psychedelic imagery.

We spoke to Woodring, and did our best not to cry for the sad state of underground comics in contemporary American society. Oh, also we talked about Star Wars a bit. All that and more, after this here jump.

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Journey Into Mohawk Country by Van den Bogaert & O’Connor

Categories:  Reviews

Journey into Mohawk Country
By Messrs Van den Bogaert & O’Connor
First Second Books


MohawkLots of comics are collaborations between artists and writers who never actually meet face to face, communicating instead via e-mail and telephone. Probably not many artists get as few notes to work with, however, as George O’Connor did on his collaboration with writer Harmen Meyndertsz Van den Bogaert, since Journey into Mohawk Country is, you see, the graphic novelization of the Dutchman’s actual journal, written in 1634-35. It seems unlikely he left O’Connor any rough layouts or character sketches.

Journey was clearly a labor of love for O’Connor, who dedicates the book to his father, “who loves the Mohawk.” It’s also a testament to First Second Books’ sticking to its mission of putting out quality books for readers of all ages and tastes. The question is, however, exactly who is Journey’s target reader? After all, it’s not often you hear someone in a comic-book store shout, “Sweet! A comic-book adaptation of an unabridged seventeenth-century travelogue! I’ve got to have this.”
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The Daily Rock Hatch: The Posies’ Ken Stringfellow

Categories:  The Daily Rock Hatch

Ken Stringfellow

In which members of the rock community tearfully reveal their geeky comic obsessions, beneath their hardened irony-based exoskeleton.

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Interview: Shannon Wheeler Pt. 1

Categories:  Interviews

Shannon WheelerThe greatest testament to Shannon Wheeler’s skills is the fact that the cartoonist has the uncanny ability to make you forget that you are reading a story about a guy wearing a coffee mug on his head. Some of this, no doubt has to do with the fact that, as far as superheroes go, Too Much Coffee Man doesn’t have much to offer to the world. After all, the guy’s main powers seem to be the ability to consume large quantities of caffeine and chain smoke.

Fighting crime, if it were ever a concern (Too Much Coffee Man’s early years have long been forgotten in a hazy fog of caffeinated excess), has since fallen into the background, eclipsed by more pressing concerns, such as doing errands and regularly lamenting his own existential crises. As far as marketable fodder for a long lasting comic book is concerned, it’s about as feasible as a guy getting bitten by a glowing spider.

Wheeler has managed to make it work, thus far, utilizing Too Much Coffee Man as the primary vehicle for his own sequential expression, while parlaying the character into a beloved, if not incredibly profitable magazine, and more recently, a successful opera. And then there was the time that Hollywood came knocking. We’ll get to that in time, of course.

For now, check out Part One, after the jump.

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Shazam: The Monster Society of Evil by Jeff Smith

Categories:  Reviews

Shazam: The Monster Society of Evil
By Jeff Smith
DC Comics

Jeff SmithThe world of superheroes deserves a good kick in the tights, every now and again. These days, such attempts are made by the boatload, by injecting risqué subject matter into the storylines of ancient heroes—gritty par for the course that has seemingly become nearly as worn as the hero genre itself, in the last couple of decades since Moore, Miller, and a handful of their most talented contemporaries actually managed to breath fresh air into the style.

While an ever-decreasing number of talented writers (Grant Morrison comes to mind) can still keep the style from falling too far out of reach into the pit of clichés, most whittle away their days rehashing the same worn anti-hero versions of decades old heroes, a trend only solidified as Hollywood sees larger and larger profit margins rediscovering the graphic novel trends and titles of 20 years ago. For far too long, journalists have been bandying about taglines like ‘comics aren’t just for kids anymore’ as if they invented the phrase. With that mystery sufficiently cleared up, it becomes time to move on to the next logical question: what the hell happened to all of the comics for kids?

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