History posts

Blazing Combat

Posted by on March 15th, 2010 at 10:00 AM
Archie Goodwin, et al.; Fantagraphics Books; 216 pp., $22.99 (hardcover), $19.99 (paperback); B&W (Hardcover ISBN: 9781560979654, Paperback: 9781606993668) A major goal of publisher James Warren’s 1960s comics was to recreate the glory of the 1950s EC line for a new generation. Blazing Combat was his answer to the Harvey Kurtzman-edited Two-Fisted Tales and Frontline Combat, the war comics that were EC’s most highly regarded titles after Kurtzman’s Mad. The series’ writer/editor, Archie Goodwin, followed Kurtzman’s approach very closely. The stories were set in various wars throughout history, and they emphasized human drama over jingoism and sensationalism. Goodwin even corralled several of Kurtzman’s illustrators, including John Severin and Wallace Wood, to contribute work. The series only lasted four issues, but it is among the high points of 1960s comics, and this handsome collection is one of the most welcome reprint volumes of the last few years.

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.

The Moto Hagio Interview conducted by Matt Thorn (Part Four of Four)

Posted by on March 12th, 2010 at 12:01 AM
The conclusion of the Hagio interview, in which she talks about layout, dramatic adaptations of her work, and comes to some realizations about the impact that her family life has on her work.
Part One, Part TwoPart Three.

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The Moto Hagio Interview conducted by Matt Thorn (Part Three of Four)

Posted by on March 11th, 2010 at 12:01 AM
Hagio on the formation of the Forty-Niners and the Boy's Love genre, themes in her work, repackaging comics in trades and male teenage vampires. Part One, Part Two.

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The Moto Hagio Interview conducted by Matt Thorn (Part Two of Four)

Posted by on March 10th, 2010 at 12:01 AM
Hagio on what she read as a child and teenager, her influences, breaking in and the O-izumi Salon. Part One.

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The Moto Hagio Interview conducted by Matt Thorn (Part One of Four)

Posted by on March 9th, 2010 at 1:40 PM
Due to yesterday's announcement, tcj.com is reprinting the Moto Hagio interview from TCJ #269 in four parts.

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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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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.”

Preface to Mid-Life Creative Imperatives (Part 1 of 3)

Posted by on February 24th, 2010 at 12:01 AM
A few days ago Jeet Heer posted a historical-speculative essay over at Comics Comics titled “The Mid-Life Crises of The Great Commercial Cartoonists” that caught my attention. His premise is that a move from working within the paternalistic corporate structure of commercial comics to more independent creative work formed a pattern “common to commercial comic book artists of [Wally Wood’s]’s era.” His examples of this pattern were Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Gil Kane, and Will Eisner. Heer refines his premise thusly: “All these cartoonists started off as journeymen artists, had a mid-life crisis which made them try do more artistically ambitious work, but ended up being thwarted either by the limits of their talent or the constraints of marketplace.” After I read Heer’s piece, something was tugging at me, and I realized I’d touched on a similar theme in a piece I’d written 15 years ago.

A Comics Journal History of the Direct Market, Part Three

Posted by on February 17th, 2010 at 5:20 AM
Concluding the three-part series with a look at the one-two punch that nearly destroyed the United States comic-book industry in the 1990s.

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