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Fantasio #311 (January 1920)

Thursday, November 11th, 2010



If there’s one thing I love, it’s magazine illustration — the earlier it was drawn before my birth, the better. The late 1800s and early 1900s in particular were a golden age for commercial art, be it feature illustrations, covers or advertising art. I troll illustration blogs, museum and university websites, random Google searches; I buy books online, hunt through used bookstores and thrift shops, you name it. It seems like any time I have money, it somehow winds up on my living-room shelves in the form of old books and magazines.

Recently, my Internet wanderings led me to the art of a woman named Gerda Wegener, an artist perhaps best known for a series of scandalous erotic drawings but who achieved wide fame in her day as a magazine and book illustrator, and somehow this led to a search for a magazine to which she contributed, Fantasio.

There isn’t much information about it online, but I was able to learn a little. Fantasio Magazine was a satirical bi-monthly publication founded by Félix Juven in 1907, which catered to the Bohemian social scene in Paris. Juven’s magazine specialized in social commentary and political satire, and featured sometimes-risqué illustrations by a bevy of French artists, including Albert Guillaume, Metivet, Etienne Le Rallic, Fabiano, René Giffey and René Gontran Ranson (in addition to Ms. Wegener, of course). Every issue featured a cover drawn by Auguste Roubille. Fantasio remained in print until the late 1920s.

The other thing I learned was that, through the antiquarian-books website, there was a bookstore in Paris that sold back issues of Fantasio for $20-25 a copy — and like I said, I’m a total sucker for old commercial art. So I got out my credit card, ordered a random issue, and a week later was the proud owner of Fantasio #311. It’s 36 pages, and not only features a number of full-page color drawings but is also sprinkled with spot illustrations and lovely advertising art throughout.

Naturally, I scanned it, and am eager to share the spoils — you can download a complete scan of the magazine in PDF format at this link (12.1MB), or simply scroll down for a gallery of full-page illustrations. I should note that while the copy I acquired was in fairly decent condition, all things considered, its age is visible in the scans, with the paper having turned dark and muddy (and the occasional small stain). Finally, it should be noted that the sole multi-panel cartoon printed in this issue features the sort of embarrassing racial caricatures common to the period, both abroad in Europe as well as here in the United States.













Now at CAM: Graphic Details

Friday, October 1st, 2010

Is this the most narrowly-focused show the Cartoon Art Museum has ever done? Graphic Details: Confessional Comics by Jewish Women focuses on autobio comics by female Jewish cartoonists. If that sounds like a limited pool, click through for the massive lineup of American, Canadian, British, and Israeli cartoonists, including Ariel Schrag, Diane Noomin, Trina Robbins, Vanessa Davis, Miriam Katin, Miss Lasko-Gross, and Aline Kominsky-Crumb.

This is a big show for the Cartoon Art Museum, with a catalog and everything, thanks to the sponsorship of the Jewish weekly newspaper The Forward. It’ll be at the Museum until January, when it will travel to the Koffler Centre for the Arts in Toronto.

Now at CAM: Spotlight on Nina Paley

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

Latest show up at the Cartoon Art Museum: Before Sita Sang the Blues: Spotlight on Nina Paley.  The museum is also cohosting a benefit screening of Paley’s one-woman animated feature Sita Sings the Blues with the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

I moved to San Francisco and started volunteering at the Cartoon Art Museum when Nina Paley was still a regular at the museum’s monthly artist meetings.  Not long afterwards, she left the Bay Area and began the long journey that ultimately took her to New York City and Sita Sings the Blues.  I’ve been a fan of her comics and animation for ages, and the CAM show is long overdue.  Paley and I have differing ideas about intellectual property issues (we both use Creative Commons licenses rather than copyrights, but as someone who works for a manga publisher I can’t get on board with her idea that online piracy is a net good for artists, and as a webcartoonist I’m cynical about the entire Internet anyway), but Sita is a masterpiece and the museum show is cool as hell.

Steve Bell on the British General Election

Saturday, April 17th, 2010

The longtime Guardian cartoonist talks about – and sketches – the leaders of Britain’s three main parties – Gordon Brown (Labour), David Cameron (Conservative) and Nick Clegg (Liberal Democrat, pictured above).

“The interesting thing about Dave,” Steve Bell says, “are the folds in his neck.” The Conservative party leader looks “orange” when he stands in front of a blue backdrop (see below). Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg has a “high forehead,” and “two chins in one.” Gordon Brown, meanwhile, “has bags under his bags,” but “quite sensual lips.”

The election, which at this point is too close to call, is scheduled for May 6th.

Sakura Con 2010: Slideshow

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

Valerie Barclay: Spurned

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

From Complete Love (1954) published by Publishing House Inc.

Click to view larger images.

Angoulême 2010: Photos

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

Check in for the official Comics Journal/Metabunker photo reportage from this year’s Angoulême festival. Oh, and peep the Ruppert/Mulot Cent pour Cent show.

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The Sign Language of Steve Ditko

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

Panel from “…Corrector” in Ditko Package [©2001 Steve Ditko]

For TCJ #258 (February 2004), the Steve Ditko issue, Bill Randall wrote a piece entitled “Ditko’s Hands: An Appreciation.” He pointed out that the way in which Steve Ditko drew hands was especially meaningful: as a way to express emotional states; as a vital compositional element; and his characters interact with the world and the individuals within it via touch.

Though many of hand poses Ditko drew are not achievable by human digits (we tried), a band of intrepid Fantagraphics employees and interns (including our official office hand model) and I decided to experiment and see if we could reverse-engineer it: if Ditko hands are expressive enough in and of themselves to be interpreted without the rest of the panel for context. The goal of the following gallery is to study each photograph and see if you know, or can guess, the sign language of Steve Ditko. Then the hand pose will be revealed in context in the panel or sequence on the next page.

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