Children and God Vol. 1-2 by Kelly Clancy

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Children and God Vol. 1-2
by Kelly Clancy

I am like a pile of warmed butter for this series by Kelly Clancy. Children and God parallels the lives of people living in post-communist Central Asia and modern day Middle America. Through nearly imperceptible changes, Clancy transitions between vignettes that span time and space and paint an overall image of sadness, progress, cultural disparity, innocence, ignorance, nostalgia, and religious fanaticism.

There’s something unique and beautiful on every page, but Clancy also cleverly employs devices reminiscent of other cartoonists’ work: Jeremy Tinder teardrop-shaped word bubbles, Lilli Carré-esque scrolling narration through the panels, Craig Thompson triple-bump noses, and large almond-shaped Sam Hiti-ish eyes. I make these comparisons only to help you visualize the humble curves that make up her artwork, which can be seen here, but there are also completely new aspects to her work. Overall, her comics have a fresh new feel and are more than pleasant to look at as well as read.

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Interview: Jews and American Comics Editor, Paul Buhle

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Released earlier this week by The New Press, Brown professor Paul Buhle’s Jews in American Comics could have easily been yet another rehash of a long line of academic treatises on the subject of Jewish-American involvement in the creation of the superhero, most recently exemplified by Danny Fingeroth’s Superman Disguised as Clark Kent.

Fortunately for us, however, Buhle considers himself something of a peer to artists like Robert Crumb and Art Spiegelman. A spiritual descendant of Harvey Kurtzman and his ilk, the realm of capes and tights never really did all that much for the author.

Instead, the book maps the role of Jewish creators from the early days of syndicated comics through the innovations brought forth by EC/MAD, and ultimately through the explosion of the underground and its subsequent repercussions.

For a more complete review of the book, check the most recent issue of The New York Press. After the jump you’ll find a full—if short—interview conducted with Buhle for the publication.

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Interview: Nate Powell Pt. 2

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Swallow Me Whole is one of the year’s most powerful graphic meditations on both adolesence and mental disorder. Author Nate Powell walks a tightrope between imagination and hallucination for the duration of the book, effectively generating as many questions as he attempts to answer, a method that is frustrating, to be sure, but also imbues the book with a sense of fascination that commands repeat readings.

In this second part of our interview with Powell, we delve deeper into this heady topic of childhood schizophrenia, and hit on some equally troubling questions about the role that gender politics play in the diagnosis of mental disorders.

[Part One]

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Cory Doctorow Pt. 2 [of 2]

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Cory Doctorow’s direct involvement with the comics world is a relatively recent occurrence, beginning earlier in the year, when the author leant a number of his works to IDW, for sequential adaptations. Few people in his position, however, have proven quite so vocal and articulate about issues of free speech, the blogger and sci-fi novelist having become one of the most outspoken proponents of the non-profit intellectual property licensing group, Creative Commons, which has published all but on of his works.

With that in mind, the Little Brother author was an ideal fit as the host of a fundraiser for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, a title he happily shared last Thursday with turntablist, DJ Spooky.

We spoke with Doctorow shortly before the Manhattan event. In this second part, we discuss the author’s comic book ambitions, the merits of fanfiction, and why Docotorow may have glorified terrorism, just a smidge.

[Part One]

[Doctorow and Spooky speak at CBLDF Fundraiser.]

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Cory Doctorow and DJ Spooky at CBLDF Fundraiser 8/21/08

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[Flickr Set]
[YouTube Clips]
[Full audio of the event]

Sometimes these little accidents work out for the best. Three months after he was originally scheduled to appear in New York City, science fiction novelist, Boing Boing staffer, and, of course, staunch defender of all things First Amendment, Cory Doctorow finally found himself on the subterranean at Manhattan’s Helen Mills Theater, the star of a fundraising event for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

Thanks in part to rescheduling at the hands of unspecified health issues on the part of a CBLDF staffer, the second attempt at a Doctorow-centric fundraiser for the cause came complete with a the added bonus of a co-headliner—turntablist, published author, and fellow part-time culture jammer, Paul “DJ Spooky” Miller, whose recently-issued second book, Sound Unbound features media essays by a number of prominent counter-cultural theorists, Doctorow included.

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Interview: Nate Powell Pt. 1

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Swallow Me Whole caught me off-guard. I was largely unfamiliar with Nate Powell’s work when I first picked up the Top Shelf book, and as such, didn’t have particularly high hopes, beyond his very clear talents as an artist.

More than just a standard tale of a brother and sister growing up in a southern town, the work skillfully weaves between the real and fantastic with little effort, whilst tackling the touchy subject of childhood schizophrenia in an uncharacteristically frank manner. The book also demonstrates Powell’s understated gift from graphic storytelling, effortlessly blending elements across panels and pages. It adds up to one of the most thoughtful and engrossing books that 2008 has offered up, thus far.

Powell, a Little Rock native and current resident of Bloomington, Indiana, wears a number of other hats, as a record label-owner, punk vocalist, and occasional, a hip-hop emcee. He also holds down a job working with developmentally disabled adults.

Clearly this is a man just begging to be interviewed.
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Burma Chronicles by Guy Delisle

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Burma Chronicles
By Guy Delisle
Drawn & Quarterly

If there’s a major complaint to be levied against Guy Delisle’s new book, it’s a simple matter of unfortunate timing. When the Myanmar’s government was reluctantly thrust into the world’s spotlight by outrightly refusing aid following the devastating effects of Cyclone Nargis, many US residents were sadly left to our own devices, cobbling together what small scraps of information about the region that had been gleaned from latter day episodes of Seinfeld and strangely-named Boston post-punk bands.

It would have, perhaps, given a few of our more comics-savvy residents a bit of relief in the face of their own geographical ignorance to know that, in a matter of months, Drawn & Quarterly would deliver a book by Delisle that does for the region what Pyongyang and Shenzhen had done for their respective cities.

Burma Chronicles is, in many ways, the logical successor to those volumes, detailing Delisle’s life under yet another politically oppressive regime. Things are, however, a touch different from the outset. Where both Pyongyang and Shenzhen found the artist traveling alone as part of his life as a supervisor of animation, this time out it’s his wife, an employee of Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), whose career prompted the move with their infant son Louise in tow.
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Interview: Cory Doctorow Pt. 1 [of 2]

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[Above, Doctorow poses as the XKCD version of himself, as found on Flickr.]

Three months after originally scheduled, Cory Doctorow will finally be landing in New York City this week, to hold court at a benefit for those tireless champions of First Amendment rights in the sequential art world, The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. The reason for the delay wasn’t Doctorow’s fault, of course—or anyone’s, really, but rather the sort of last minute misfortune that’s capable of derailing even the best of intentions.

Sometimes, however, these matters are blessings in disguise. When Doctorow appears at the Helen Mills Theater in midtown Manhattan, this Thursday, the event will be more than the simple book reading planned for his original appearance, which was more or less an extension of the North American tour for his latest novel, Little Brother. This time out, the writer will be joined on-stage by DJ Spooky, whose recent volume, Sound Unbound, features contributions from a number of prominent digital culture theorists, including Doctorow himself.

As a writer, Doctorow wears a number of different hats, including that of an award-winning science fiction novelist; staff writer for the mega-popular Boing Boing group blog; and most recently, graphic novelist, having released a number of works for IDW and contributed to Kitchen Sink’s Haunted Mansion anthology.

Doctorow’s credentials as a guest spokesperson for the CBLDF go beyond his writing expertise, however. The author is arguably equally well-known for his work with free speech groups, including, most prominently, Creative Commons, which has licensed all but one of his books.

When we sat down with Doctorow earlier today, we planned on discussing the CBLDF almost exclusively, only to embark on any number of tangents along the way. Fortunately, however, when it’s Doctorow talking, half the fun is in trying to guess where the conversation ultimately will end up.

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Interview: Gabrielle Bell Pt. 4 [of 4]

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The final story in the latest issue of Lucky stands quietly aside from the rest of the book. “When I Was Eleven” follows the story of a young Gabrielle Bell so enamored with her experiences in summer camp the year before that she steals away from the day to day grinds that come with being an 11-year-old, opting to live out her days at the camp in the off-season.

It’s quiet, reflective, and arguably the most powerful piece in the book—in its own way, the story also goes a ways toward defining the grownup Bell who occupies the remainder of the issue.

As such, a discussion of the piece seemed an ideal place to close out our interview with the artist.

[Part One][Part Two][Part Three]

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