Interview: R. Sikoryak Pt. 3 [of 3]

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In light of his successful debut at San Diego Comic Con this past weekend, we may well be seeing a slew of new Masterpiece Comics strips debut from the R. Sikoryak camp. Of course, given that the first book took roughly 20 years to produce, perhaps it’s best not to hold our collective breath for another anthology.

In the meantime, I’d like to take this opportunity to encourage the artist to instate some manner of Internet-based suggestion box—not because I expect or even really hope he’ll elect to tackle proposed strips, but rather because proposing theoretical pairings of literature and comics is, simply put, a lot of fun.

Heck, I couldn’t help suggesting one of my own in the third part of our interview, and while Marma Dick wasn’t a creative high point for me personally, once you put yourself in that mindset, such suggestions can’t be helped. But ultimately, I suppose there’s a reason why Sikoryak is the master behind Masterpiece Comics.

[Part One]
[Part Two]
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Interview: R. Sikoryak Pt. 2 [of 3]

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What do Dostoyevsky, David Heatley, Demi Moore, and the guy who drew Bazooka Joe have in common? Why the second part of our interview with Masterpiece Comics Author R. Sikoryak, of course.

[Part One]

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Interview: R. Sikoryak Pt. 1 [of 3]

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It took Michelangelo four years to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Beethoven composed his 9th Symphony over course of six. Jonas Salk, meanwhile,  spent eight years chasing the cure for Polio. According to the copyright on the inside cover of Drawn & Quarterly’s Masterpiece Comics, the book’s 13 strips were created by R. Sikoryak over the course of 20 years—roughly the same period of time it took tens of thousands of workers to complete the Great Pyramid of Giza.

While it would, perhaps, be a bit of a stretch to suggest that the work were an accomplishment on par with, say, that big triangular structure in the middle of the Egyptian desert, the collection has certainly been eagerly awaited for all of those who’ve followed the New York-based artist’s work, which, over the past two decades, has appeared everywhere from RAW to The New Yorker to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

But while Sikoryak has certainly built an impressive portfolio by way of his freelance output, the strips that comprise Masterpiece Comics are his masterwork, filtering some of the greatest works of literature through some of 20th century sequential art’s most iconic figures. The cast of Bazooka Joe plays out Dante’s Inferno, Garfield becomes Mephistopheles to Jon Arbuckle’s Dr. Faustus, and Beavis and Butthead wait patiently for Godot.

These 13 strips are not straight comic satire, however. Sikoryak’s Masterpiece Comics are defined by two key factors. First is the artist’s devotion to his source material—never straying too far from Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, even as Bruce Wayne’s alter-ego adopts the role of Raskolnikov. Second is Sikoryak’s commitment to aesthetics, switching gracefully from Winsor McCay to Charles Schulz to Joe Shuster.

In honor of the book’s release in September (with early editions available at San Diego), we sat down with Sikoryak to discuss the book’s secret origins.

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Interview: Craig Yoe Pt. 2 [of 2]

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In part two of our interview with cartoon art historian Craig Yoe. We discuss the roles that Fredrick Wertham, a Brooklyn-based gang of Jewish Nazis, and the Supreme Court judge who helped found the ACLU played in Joe Shuster’s post-Superman SM drawings.

[Part One]

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Interview: Craig Yoe Pt. 1 [of 2]

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Given the breadth and diversity of Craig Yoe’s career, from My Little Pony employee to creative director of the Muppets to self-made comics historian, it might be easier to define him by those seemingly few things he hasn’t done in the entertainment industry. Or better yet, we’ll simply focus on those aspects of Yoe’s career that are particularly important to us, at the moment, beginning with the 2005 publication of Modern Arf.

The first in the Fantagraphic series—which now includes Art Museum and Arf Forum—the anthology helped established Yoe a first-class documenter of sequential art’s secret history, a position echoed in the near simultaneous publication of Boody, the Fantagraphics-published love letter largely forgotten master, Boody Rogers and Abrams’ Secret Identity.

We sat down with Yoe at the recent MoCCA Festival in midtown Manhattan for a conversation that largely revolved around the latter, a book devoted to the long lost SM drawings of Superman artist, Joe Shuster, which Yoe happened to stumble upon at a rare art sale.

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