Author Archive

Jerry Robinson Interviewed by Chris Mautner

Posted by on November 1st, 2010 at 12:01 AM
Even if Jerry Robinson had initially left comics for a career in journalism as he had originally intended, he'd still be fondly remembered for his work on Batman, particularly in creating the arch-villain the Joker. Thankfully, the comics bug proved to hard to shake off, and Robinson subsequently spent the next 70 years or so working in some aspect of the industry — in comic books, in comic strips (Jet Scott and Flubbs & Fluffs), as an editorial cartoonist, as an author and biographer (The Comics) and as the head of his self-created Cartoonists and Writers Syndicate. Abrams' newest book, Jerry Robinson: Ambassador of Comics by N.C. Christopher Couch, covers his career and biography in detail, with scads of drawings, sketches, photography and paintings Robinson has done over the years. I talked with Robinson over the phone about the new book, how he got into comics and the current, miserable state of editorial cartooning.

Artichoke Tales

Posted by on August 16th, 2010 at 10:00 AM
Artichoke Tales There's been a real surge of interest in the fantasy genre among indy and small press cartoonists these days. To wit (and off the top of my head): Orc Stain by James Stokoe, Powr Mastrs by C.F., Dungeon Quest by Joe Daly, The Mourning Star by Kazimir Strzepek, Daybreak by Brian Ralph — I could go on. Megan Kelso's Artichoke Tales is another entry in that list, although to some degree it stands apart from it's sword-and-sandal brethren, both in terms of content and thematically. It's not as concerned with conveying thrilling quests and epic tales of fantastic civilizations at war as much as it is with exploring the consequences of such adventures.

Top Shelf’s Swedish Invasion

Posted by on July 26th, 2010 at 12:01 AM
The Troll KingIt sounds, on the face of it, like a great marketing idea. Find a country that has a thriving comics community, but yet isn’t well known for it by most North Americans comics readers, indy or otherwise (i.e. any place that’s not France or Japan). Then, translate and release a number of said country’s books to the American and Canadian public under the header of “The [name of country here] Invasion.” Voila! Almost half of your publishing catalog for the season is taken care of! OK, so it’s safe to say that Top Shelf likely had more sincere and idealistic goals in mind beyond merely filling slots in their schedule when they released their “Swedish Invasion” collection of books earlier this year. After all, it’s not like publishing these books doesn’t come with a certain amount of financial risk; there aren't that many readers clamoring to procure Scandinavian comics as far as I know.

The Splendid Magic of Penny Arcade: The 11 1/2 Anniversary Edition

Posted by on May 3rd, 2010 at 12:01 AM
The Splendid Magic of Penny Arcade: The 11 1/2 Anniversary Edition Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins; Del Rey; 176 pp., $24; Color, Hardcover; ISBN: 978-0345512260

The Splendid Magic of Penny Arcade Penny Arcade has grown on me over the years, I admit it. At first I found Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins’ thrice-weekly Web-comic devoted to all things videogamish to be sporadically funny at best, amateurish and insular at worst.

Time has improved my outlook. A large part of that is due to the fact that Holkins and Krahulik have stepped up their game considerably since they first began the strip 11-odd years ago. Krahulik’s art in particular has become a lot looser, wilder and more expressive. His initially stiff, awkward line has given way to a rounder, much more expressive one. In addition, Holkins’ writing and gags have become wittier, sharper and a lot less reliant on the sort of sophomoric, over- the-top violence that used to be their stock in trade.

Regardless of your opinion of the strip’s quality level, however, it’s hard not to be impressed by its success. Few comics in general — let alone Webcomics — can boast the sort of devoted readership and financial reward that Penny Arcade can.

Chris Mautner reviews Harvey Comics Classics Vols. 4: Baby Huey, 5: The Harvey Girls

Posted by on January 4th, 2010 at 9:00 AM
Comics aren’t for kids any more, the pundits like to say. Even though that’s not true (there are plenty of good contemporary comics for kids if you know where to look) parents needn’t worry since the classic comics of yesteryear are being reprinted all the time. Case in point is Dark Horse’s Harvey Comics Classics series, which offers up big, heaping slabs of elementary-school-age tales involving Casper, Richie Rich and other characters in the Harvey stable.

Chris Mautner reviews Pluto Vols. 1-3 By Naoki Urasawa

Posted by on December 29th, 2009 at 9:00 AM
Monster, 20th Century Boys and Pluto are obsessed with memory and attempting to correct the mistakes of the past.

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