Essay posts

Thrown Gauntlet: Trophy Economy by Blaise Larmee

Posted by on March 29th, 2010 at 12:01 AM
This is the first of a semi-regular series. Under this Thrown Gauntlet header, you can expect to find statements, reviews, theses, judgments that you will almost certainly want to talk back to. UPDATE: Jared Gardner responds.

Manga, Anime and Trans-cultural Censorship

Posted by on March 23rd, 2010 at 12:01 AM
The sentencing last month of American Chris Handley for possession of 'obscene manga' in Iowa and this month's proposal by the Tokyo Govt. to censor 'virtual porn' (read: manga and anime) in Japan have too much in common for comfort.

The Moose and the Mirror: Or, Oliphant’s Palin

Posted by on March 22nd, 2010 at 5:37 AM
Sarah Palin shacking up with a moose. Why would anybody draw this?

Harvey Kurtzman and Modern American Satire (Part Two of Two)

Posted by on March 16th, 2010 at 12:01 AM
Even before Mad, Kurtzman had achieved an enviable reputation among comic-book artists and writers for the excellence of his work at EC comics, a firm that had been producing since 1950 what have been considered some of the best-written and drawn stories in comic-book history. He was especially noted for the careful research and meticulous detail of his work, as represented by the editing and writing that went into the Two-Fisted Tales and Frontline Combat titles. Disturbed by the lies and the ultra-patriotism he saw in the other war comic books at the time, just as the Korean conflict was under way, he set out to deglamourize combat by showing it to be the grim, debasing, and dehumanizing thing it was in reality.

Previously: PART ONE

Harvey Kurtzman and Modern American Satire (Part One of Two)

Posted by on March 15th, 2010 at 12:01 AM
Following his death in February of 1993, a good many fellow comic artists, critics, and commentators stepped forward to testify to the power and importance of Harvey Kurtzman’s example and influence on American culture.

Norman Pettingill: His Life

Posted by on March 9th, 2010 at 12:01 AM
In June, Fantagraphics Books will publish a collection of Norman Pettingill’s work. Comic fans may remember that Robert Crumb published some of Pettingill’s cartoon drawings in Weirdo in the mid-’80s. The idea of publishing an entire book collecting Pettingill’s work was first broached to me by Johnny Ryan, a Pettingill fan (and the cartoonist behind Angry Youth Comics and Prison Pit), a few years ago. The John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, is the repository for most of Pettingill’s work, and agreed to help us put together a book. Johnny wrote a brief appreciation; R. Crumb loved Pettingill’s work and wrote a brief introduction. But, so little is known about Pettingill himself that I felt the book required a short biography of the man — so I wrote one. There has been very little written about Pettingill, making it difficult to put together a story of his life. I had only previously read “A Visit with Norman Pettingill” by Rodney Shroeter from Comic Art # 3 (2003), which was useful but also problematic: it charted the broad arc of Pettingill’s life in desultory fashion, but also contained inaccuracies and internal discrepancies. I was able to separate fact from fiction by interviewing Pettingill’s sons, Bud and Jack, and by consulting a lifelong friend of Pettingill’s, Jim Pink, all of whom proved generous with their time and helpful. *This is the latest draft, which may be slightly revised for publication.

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Like a Mechanical Bird: The Peculiar Stoicism of David Wayne (Part Two of Two)

Posted by on March 3rd, 2010 at 12:01 AM
Besides Joseph Losey, one filmmaker, to my knowledge, provided David Wayne’s talents and presence with fully ample and honorable space: star stature. Previously: Part One.

Like a Mechanical Bird: The Peculiar Stoicism of David Wayne (Part One of Two)

Posted by on March 2nd, 2010 at 12:01 AM
An appreciation of character actor David Wayne.

Mid-Life Creative Imperatives Part 3 (of 3)

Posted by on February 26th, 2010 at 12:01 AM
The Journal began publishing almost the same month that Art Spiegelman and Bill Griffith’s underground comix anthology Arcade ended — as good an event as any to signal the last whimper of the underground movement.

Mid-Life Creative Imperatives Part 2 (of 3)

Posted by on February 25th, 2010 at 12:01 AM
The writer Benjamin Peret once raged that the United States represented “the most emphatic garbage, the ignoble sense of money, the indigence of ideas, the savage hypocrisy in morals, and altogether ... a loathsome swinishness pushed to the point of paroxysm.”

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