Guest Strip: Noah Van Sciver

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noahvctzNo doubt, the recent Cross Hatch review of Noah Van Sciver’s Blammo 2 hangs fresh on your brain.  So I’m happy to report that not only is the lastest issue – Blammo 3 – available through Van Sciver’s website, but just below the cut is a fresh Van Sciver comic, penned exclusively for the Daily Cross Hatch.

Julia Wertz, it should be noted that Van Sciver wants to be friends with you.  As do we all.

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SPX 2008: The Cross Hatch Rehash

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[Flickr Set Here] [YouTube Videos Here]

News travels quickly in alternative comics circles. You’re greeted with reminders of this, from time to time.When the when the half of the North Bethesda Marriot conference room devoted to the Small Press Expo opened, just after 11 AM on Saturday, I soon discovered that tales of our roadside culinary misadventures had managed to arrive at the showroom floor far ahead of my fellow passengers. The reactions, strangely, were mixed between an outpouring of gastrointestinal sympathy and a defense of that American South chain that unrepentantly displays the words “scattered, smothered, and covered” at every imaginable opportunity.

The evening before, the decision was unanimous—some combination of morbid curiosity and the desire to sample the local cuisine, knowing full well that neither desire would be appeased by the next two days’ food consumption, which would likely revolve largely around the quasi-swank ambiance of the restaurant just down the hall from the North Bethesda Marriott lobby. Really, it was the same desire that drove Heidi MacDonald to purchase a bag of crab-flavored potato chips, a touch of the Maryland seasoning that she was immediately forbidden from opening within the confines of the maroon SUV thoughtfully rented by one Jeff Newelt.

As we sat down beneath the neon yellow glow of the Waffle House, moments before our waiter smiled to reveal a pair of brown filmy incisors, Ben McCool uttered cheerfully like a ravenous harbinger of impending doom, “you know, I think may be the greatest decision that’s ever been made, ever.” The tale of distress that followed that evening (and, troublingly, into the next morning, for me), is one which will live on in roadside lore, for years to come (though, for the record, so far as I can tell, The Beat’s reports of “explosive diarrhea” have been somewhat exaggerated). I mention it here for it was precisely because of that unfortunate decision that we missed the pre-SPX festivities occurring that evening at Atomic Books, featuring an impressive lineup of familiar names, like Brian Ralph, Lauren Weinstein, Jesse Reklaw, Julia Wertz, Laura Park, Theo Ellsworth, Austin English, Ken Dahl, and Ben Claassen III.

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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: Ralph Bakshi Pt. 2

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Released in 1972, Ralph Bakshi still considers Fritz the Cat to be the major turning point in his career, the breakthrough film that helped the animator make the blind leap from the Heckle and Jeckle cartoons of his early career at TerryToons to gritty urban underground work like Heavy Traffic and Coonskin, which, to this day, are largely considered Bakshi’s masterpieces.

Adapted from a series of Robert Crumb strips, Fritz the Cat became the first animated film to be tagged with an X Rating, courtesy of the MPAA. Despite, or more likely because of this, the film also did gangbusters, becoming the first animated film to rack up more than $100 million at the box office.

In the wake of the film’s release, Crumb made public his aggressive disdain for the adaptation well-known, going so far as to file a suit to have his name removed from its credits and later killing off his reluctant Hollywood star in a subsequent strip.

Bakshi, for the record, would like it known that the feeling is mutual. As our conversation transitions from questions about his own jump from kids cartoons to the topic of Fritz’s subversive nature (or, to a degree, he might argue, lack thereof), Bakshi’s own feelings about Crumb quickly take the reigns of the conversation, along with a commentary how the press has long opted to report Crumb’s feelings on the matter while neglecting his own. And while, despite a bit of finger pointing at me on Bakshi’s part (referring to said press as a collective “you”), I can’t honestly take an credit for this perceived lopsided account (though, for the record, at the top of the interview I did mention Crumb’s name amongst a list of cartoonists whose work I admire).

That said, it’s hard to argue with Bakshi’s assessment that the press have been far more eager to print Crumb’s opinions on the subject than his own. The matter is certainly not due to a lack of passion on Bakshi’s part. A few months shy of 70, the animator is still more than happy to let his feelings be known, with a force that, to be totally honest, is a little frightening when sitting a few feet away.

I agree to print his opinions on the matter during the conversation, and to break some of the tension, I make some off-handed joke about having momentarily lost control of my bladder in the face of the fury that’s still alive and well in the heart of the Brooklyn animator,

Bakshi pauses for a moment and then smiles, “I like him.”

[Part One].

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