Interview: Jason Pt. 1 [of 2]

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jasonhitlerspirals

Fantagraphics’ 2001 English translation of Hey, Wait… marked Jason’s American debut. It was a remarkably tight graphic novel—clean and funny and self-assured, as if the Norwegian artist had practically sprung into the world, fully-formed, sporting a cast of lean and stoic animal characters comprised of lines formed in the tradition of that much-celebrated European cartoonist, Herge.

In the past eight years, Jason has demonstrated a tremendous pace and consistency. Titles like Why Are You Doing This, The Left Bank Gang, and I Killed Adolf Hitler have helped him become one of the most popular European artists in the American indie comics scene.

The 2008 publication of Pocket Full of Rain shed some light on the artist that would become Jason, documenting his struggles to define himself visually through the collection of works from his early years as an artist.

Fittingly, in real life Jason is the quiet sort.  Seated behind a table at the end of Fantagraphics’ booth at MoCCA, he says very little, dutifully crafting ink drawings of his anthropomorphic animals in the front cover of his latest collection, Low Moon, for the long lines of fans eager to finally catch a glimpse of the mysterious Norwegian cartoonist with a single name.

When I pull him aside for a chat out in front of the Armory building, he’s a bit hesitant, not fully confident in his ability to speak English. For the record, the artist has a much firmer grasp on the language than many of the native speakers I know. His answers come slowly but thoughtfully, in spite of an admission that he really doesn’t like to talk about making comics.
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Interview: Michael Kupperman Pt. 3 [of 3]

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two-fisted_poe-758600

In this third and final part of our interview with the Tales Designed to Thrizzle author, we discuss comedy writing, the appeal of Webcomics, and Twitter, Twitter, Twitter.

[Part One][Part Two]

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Interview: Michael Kupperman Pt. 2 [of 3]

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michaelkuppermansnbshow

In this second part of our interview with the Tales Designed to Thrizzle artist, we discuss the premier of the first (and possibly last) episode of his Cartoon Network series, Snake ‘n’ Bacon, get some details on a new series he’s working on for an undisclosed network, and figure out how the hell a cartoonist can support a family in early 21st century New York.

[Part One]
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Interview: Michael Kupperman Pt. 1 [of 3]

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michaelkuppermansnakebaconpromo

Last Sunday night, Michael Kupperman followed in the hallowed footsteps of Tony Millionaire with the premier of Snake ‘n Bacon, a 12-minute-long adaptation of the cartoonist’s perennial favorite onomatopoeiac duo for Cartoon Network’s late-night Adult Swim comedy block.

The show is a mix of animation written and directed by Kupperman and live action bits penned by two Daily Show vets and starring James Urbaniak, Andy Blitz, Kristen Schaal, and Bill Hader. Despite the impressive comedic pedigrees, however, it seems we’re unlikely to see any more of the show in its current incarnation—at least not on Cartoon Network.

Kupperman, however, has plenty more to be excited about, including the recently released fifth issue of the absurdly comic series Tales Designed to Thrizzle for Fantagraphics, a peculiar and perpetually hilarious mélange of cartoon sketch comedy and pulpy aesthetic sensibilities. The previous four issues are also set for release as a collected hardcover edition in late-July.

We caught up with Kupperman during his daily hour of freedom.

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Al Jaffee, Arnold Roth, and Gary Groth Talk Humbug at The Strand

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[Left to Right: Arnold Roth, Gary Groth, and Al Jaffee]

Of course it takes a special occasion to get Art Spiegelman, Adriane Tomine, Evan Dorkin, Bob Fingerman, R. Sikoyak, and a handful of fellow New York comics luminaries to forgo the warmth of their respective burroughs, braving the mid-April drizzle to sit amongst The Strand bookstore’s folding chairs.

For his part, Fantagraphics head honcho Gary Groth flew in from the publisher’s home in the scenic northwest to emcee the event—a celebration of Humbug Magazine’s rerelease in the form of two hardbound volumes, the first time the short-lived humor magazine has seen the light of day since its original year-long run in the late-50s.
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Interview: Arnold Roth Pt. 3 [of 3]

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arnoldrothbear

In this final part of our interview with legendary cartoonist Arnold Roth, we discuss the his work creating covers for jazz LPs for artists like Dave Brubeck, his relationship with novelist John Updike, his connection to PG Wodehouse, and why not working for Playboy means you don’t want to live.

[Part One]
[Part Two]
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Interview: Arnold Roth Pt. 2 [of 2]

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arnoldrothdinner

Since first launching his career six decades ago, Arnold Roth has become one of the best know and most beloved cartoonists of the 20th century. His work has appeared on the cover of Time and in the pages of virtual every well-known American publication, from The New Yorker to Sports Illustrated to Playboy to The New York Times.

Of course, the cartoonist had to pay his dues, just like the rest of us. In this second part of our interview with the artist, we dig into Roth’s early career, before The New Yorker, before Playboy—even before Humbug and Trump—to discover how he went from being expelled from a Philadelphia commercial arts college to becoming one of the most celebrated cartoonists working today.

[Part One]
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Interview: Arnold Roth Pt. 1 [of 3]

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arnoldrothcrowd

Fantagraphics’ new two book Humbug set marks the first time that the long-defunct magazine’s material has been pulled together into a single collection.  Forty years after its initial publication, the magazine has largely been forgotten by all but the most devout cartooning fans. Its founders Harvey Kurtzman, Jack Davis, Al Jaffee and Will Elder, however, should be familiar to all of those who have a passing knowledge of that perennial favorite humor magazine, Mad. Jaffee, Davis, and Elder all followed Kurtzman as the editor made the jump from Mad to Hugh Hefner’s newly launched humor magazine, Trump.

After two issues, however, Trump’s increasing expenses and Hefner’s own economic troubles resulted in the closure of that magazine. Along the way, however, the four Mad refugees added yet another creative cartooning force to the team—a young Philadelphian named Arnold Roth. It was with Roth, funds culled together by the five artists, and some residual Hefner office space that Humbug was born.

Humbug, too folded quickly, completing a paltry print run of 11 issues. Roth, however, would go on to a diverse and successful career illustrating for Playboy; creating his own syndicated strip, Poor Arnold’s Almanac; designing album art for Dave Brubeck; and drawing book covers for John Updike.

We sat down with the artist, a month after his 80th birthday, to discuss Humbug and his early forays into the world of cartooning.

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Interview: Lilli Carre Pt. 3 [of 3]

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lillicarrewoodsmanwakeup

There’s a little bit of the future and the past in this quick final installment of our interview with The Lagoon author. We discuss the ways in which Lilli Caree’s fascination with sound has affected her comics, the power of a resolution-free ending, and why Hans Christian Andersen’s short story about a sad little Christmas tree is good fodder for a comic.

[Part One][Part Two]
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Interview: Lilli Carre Pt. 1 [of 3]

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lillicarrethelagoonwater

For a book so invested in the poetry of sound, The Lagoon seems somehow quiet. Siren songs and metronomes and the whooshing of wind fill the its pages, but the book’s important moments, more often than not, seem to exist in the spaces in between, those quiet panels when its cacophonies have been temporarily extinguished.

It’s fitting then, in a sense, that when I first approach the book’s author, Lilli Carre, about doing an interview, she was a bit hesitant. She soon admitted that she had never actually done one via phone, and while I finally convinced her to give it a shot, I largely expected that, like The Lagoon, Carre would keep many of her answers to herself.

As it turns out, however, for all of her fears of coming across as muddled, Carre had plenty to say with regards to her methods and works, from The Lagoon to its predecessor Woodsman Pete, to the more sporadic work she’s done in the field of animation.

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