Categories: The Cross Hatch Dispatch
[Above, junior elf Eli Kochalka does Bone, with Steve Kamker on color. Below, the Best Dispatch Week Ever!]
His own description: “It’s a children’s comic/picture book and the best thing I’ve ever done.” Apparently it was even worth “shamelessly submitting…[for a] caldecott award while I was loaded the other night.” Indeed! Well, I’ve read it and I liked it, but we’ll have to see about that Caldecott distinction.
If you want to keep the electric, heat and water running at Steinke’s apartment, buy some of his books through the distinguished Sparkplug Comic Books store. His latest book, The Super Crazy Cat Dance, can be purchased elsewhere through buyolympia.com. He has sent us this pinup to entice you.
By Phillipe Dupuy
Drawn & Quarterly
Uttered to your average American comics fan—even those well versed in the ways of the indie publishing salt mines—the name Philipe Dupuy will invoke, at best, a blank stare. It’s a shame, to be sure, but all in all, not too altogether surprising.
Like nearly every other frontier of American culture, popular or otherwise, the output of the rest of the world is largely ignored, or brushed aside into some specialty section. Perhaps it’s the lack of titles that actually make it to our comic store shelves, or maybe it’s just an embarrassment of riches, with foreign artist buried beneath the deluges of their homegrown counterparts.
Whatever the case may be, artists like Dupuy don’t suffer the same manner of indifference in their home countries. In fact, the artist, along with his long time collaborator, Charles Berberian, was awarded 2008’s prestigious Grand Prix de la ville d’Angoulême, putting them in such company as Robert Crumb and Will Eisner, helping establish them as the rightful heirs to France’s rich cartooning history.
The two artists have been collaborating for more than 20 years, producing, most notably, the long running Monsieur Jean, which has since become one of the most beloved series in contemporary French comics. That the artists collaborate in every step on the process, including stories, layouts, pencils, and inks, has lead to a good deal of speculations as to the individual talents of both parties. Released by Drawn & Quarterly in 2006, Maybe Later offered a unique glimpse into the individual talents of both artists, featuring a series of vignettes written seperately by Dupuy and Berberian.
Before his full-length debut, The Blot, most of us were largely unfamiliar with Tom Neely. In the past year, however, the artist has burst onto the underground comics scene, sporting two anchor tattooed forearms and an old school cartooning style to match. The book, which combined Neely’s affinity for the work of E.C. Segar and Carl Barks with his fascination for the surreality of mid-to-late 20th century painting, earned the artist an Ignatz and a healthly dose of notice from the comics world at large.
But what was Neely up to before he was charming the comics press with his self-published debut?
We address that question, talk about the future, and name drop everyone from Egon Schiele to The Melvins in this third and final part of our interview.
Tonoharu Part One
By Lars Martinson
Travelogues are supposed to be sweeping affairs—grand epics of countrysides painted with broad brush strokes, external manifestations foreshadowing the key character changes our protagonist will undergo over the course of our story. In life, however, as anyone who has spent any time traveling can tell you, such changes are not necessarily inevitable, and while it can certainly be argued, that our settings shape us as people, the assumption that massive shifts in scenery will beget equally large shifts in character seems a rather simplistic way of approaching matters.
On a base level, Tonoharu is a fairly straightforward story of a stranger in a strange land. At the center of the book is Daniel Welles, a recent college grad living in a small Japanese village for a year as junior high school assistant English teacher. In the book’s prologue, which serves to very concisely bring the reader up to speed (while condensing a good deal of plotpoints that are ultimately retread in greater detail over the course of the book), Welles asserts his own grand ambitions, stating simply and boldly, “[m]y legacy was to be monumental.” He would return fluent in Japanese, having transformed the school system he’d set out to work in—something of a Stand and Deliver for the tiny Southern Japanese village.
How to Understand Israel in Sixty Days or Less, Chapter 1: Orientation
By Sarah Glidden
We are having the same thought: this multi-part mini has an inordinately long title.
Forgive it though, because Sarah Glidden’s book How to Understand Israel in Sixty Days or Less, Chapter 1: Orientation (hereafter called Chapter 1) was perhaps the most impressive debut mini at SPX in 2007. In fact, I hope it’s one you’ve already heard about.
As an American-born Jew, Glidden is one of many Jewish people ages 18-26 who are entitled to a birthright trip to Israel. Through Taglit-Birthright Israel, Jews living outside Israel are brought in on donated funds to learn about the Holy Land. It’s an effort to strengthen the Jewish identity of Jews living worldwide and the program has been extremely successful since it began in 2000.
Yes, it’s a great program, but it’s not taken without risk. Israel has sadly been in a state of unrest throughout much of its history and in Chapter 1, Glidden’s autobigraphical travelogue, she is even shocked to learn that the an armed guard is required to accompany the travelers as they go. So far, he hasn’t needed to use his gun.
Self-published by an artist who had never moved far beyond the world of minis, no one really expected too much from Tom Neely’s The Blot. When the book finally made its way to critics’ mailboxes, we were greeted with a wonderfully surrealist story highlighted by Neely’s unique blend of pre-war cartooning and mid-century fine art.
The book ended up on several year-end lists, while its compellingly perplexing storyline has been subject to a broad range of creative interpretations. Fitting, given that, as Neely readily admitted in the first part of our interview, not even he was quite sure what it all meant.
In the second of our three part interview, we get down to business and discuss the process of self-publishing, why he turned down a deal from Top Shelf, and how Neely’s cartooning skills pay the cardstock bills. Read the rest of this entry »
The best autobiographical strips are often the most universal. They incrementally reveal small truths, which, while on a localized level are specific to their creator, speak to something inherent in all of us. It is, perhaps, not exactly the sort of grand insight most people are searching for when they first happen upon The Fart Party, while performing some late night Google keyword search [‘Did you mean: “Frat Party,”’ asks the search engine].
Still, there’s something in Julia Wertz’s Webcomic that keeps people coming back, garnering the author a sizable online following, multiple book deals, and accolades from some of the industry’s most notable names, like Peter Bagge, who penned the introduction to the first Fart Party collection, which arrived last year on Atomic Books.
Perhaps it’s the candid nature with which Wertz tackles scenes from her life, or maybe it’s her fairly consistent ability to milk punchlines from such experience—likely it’s some combination of the two, because it probably ain’t the artwork. We kid, we kid.
We sat down with Wertz at The Cake Shop, in Manhattan’s Lower East Side to discuss giant turds, back room coke hilarity, and how she was still standing, a day after getting hit by a car.