Sunday, May 20, 2018

Catching up with Sage Stossel for Mother's Day in The Post

Inside Moebius Part 1


by RM Rhodes

There is a vast gulf between the way English speaking audiences and French speaking audiences regard the comics artist Moebius. English speaking audiences know him primarily as “that Heavy Metal guy” who produced a number of visionary science fiction works and eventually drifted off to get work in Hollywood. The books that were translated into English went out of print in the 80s and are his other works are only now starting to show up in English. But there are an awful lot of single images of his floating around on Tumblr.


One of the more famous illustrations by Moebius

To French audiences, Moebius was the artist on Blueberry in the 60s who went by a different name and went on to help found one of the most influential experimental comics companies of the 70s. He drew a phenomenal amount of beautiful work in a variety of different genres. But his most commercial popular work would always be the westerns that he worked on in his youth – the work that he had spent his life rebelling against.

Details like this are important if one wants to get the most out of the recent translation of Inside Moebius, published by Dark Horse in 2018. It’s a beautiful hardback printing of what is essential an autobiographical comic from one of France’s dearly departed comics heroes. Moebius died in 2012, and these began publication in French in the early 2000s, so they are not new, just new to an English-speaking audience.
The Foreword to the first volume of Inside Moebius is written by Isabelle Giraud, his widow, and awkwardly describes the origins of this book in such a way that it would be easy to miss it. The Translator’s Notes in the back of the book provide some of the context, as well. However, what these notes fail to mention is that Inside Moebius is, first and foremost, a metafictional story. As with all metafictional stories, the more references the reader can understand, the better the story becomes.

In 1999, Moebius decided to stop smoking pot after decades of consumption. However, he was worried about a corresponding loss of creativity so he decided to produce a drawing a day for seventy days. He chose the desert as a repeating motif because Desert B sounds like désherber – the French verb for “pulling weeds” or “de-weeding.” From there, the project became known as 40 Jours Dans le Desert B or Forty Days in the Desert B.

From 40 Jours Dans le Desert B

The illustrations that Moebius did during this period are beautiful – among his best work. They show the clean, confident lines of a master who is obviously enjoying himself while he works. They were published in a limited edition collection called 40 Jours Dans le Desert B, which was the obvious title. The subtitle was la stratégie de la démence, which translates as the strategy of dementia.
As beautiful as the books were, the print run was relatively small. Copies of the book go for hundreds on dollars, but Moebius didn’t see that money.

In 2001, Moebius started making diary comics. He had experimented with the form before, in a short story called La Deviation, when he was very clearly enjoying psychedelic narcotics. This is his first extended return.

Moebius diary comics from the early 70s

Inside Moebius is, then, a follow-on to a basically unobtainable product that heavily informs what the reader is holding. The introduction makes a game attempt to provide some of the things to watch out for, but in my opinion, it shirks some of the foundational information that gives an English-language reader the ability to enjoy the depth of the book. 

Moebius diary comics from the early 2000s

For example, the story starts with Moebius struggling with a Blueberry script. Other characters of his – Arzach and Major Gruber – show up to laugh at his frustration. If you knew who any of those three characters are, congratulations for being more informed than the vast majority of Americans. A canny reader could deduce that these are fictional characters, but may not have enough contextual clues to pick up on the fact that these are existing properties and not something made up for the sake of the story. Moebius expects that you will know these things, otherwise why are you bothering to read his diary comics?



Blueberry is a character from the western comic by the same name that first brought him to public attention in the 60s and early 70s. Originally written by Jean-Michel Charlier and published episodically in Pilote magazine, Blueberry is arguably Moebius’s best known work and most commercially successful. Most of it is done under his legal name Jean Giraud. He stopped working on Blueberry in 1974 because he wanted to explore the kind of work that he was producing under the name Moebius. In effect, Blueberry is the property that he desperately wants to leave behind.

Unfortunately, we are told that an elder Moebius is struggling with the knowledge that a new Blueberry book will sell more copies than a limited edition art book like 40 Jours Dans le Desert B (although the specific title isn’t mentioned). This struggle becomes the early driver of what could charitably be described as plot.

Arzach is one of the original characters Moebius experimented with when he first started drawing comics that seemed to straddle a line between science fiction and fantasy without really caring that such a divide mattered or even existed.



Major Gruber is the main character from an early masterpiece by Moebius – Le Garage Hermétique, translated into English as The Airtight Garage. Like Inside Moebius, The Airtight Garage was composed in one to three page segments and only had a loose thematic connection holding the episodes together. This makes it difficult to summarize The Airtight Garage, but the art is fantastic. Inside Moebius shows a better degree of control, but its structure is naturally a callback to that seminal work, for those that know what to look for.

From The Airtight Garage

A younger, cockier version of Moebius, from the early 80s, shows up as well. By that point, Moebius had quit high profile jobs to go create a publishing company with his hippy artist friends, dragged into designing movies with (and without) Alejandro Jodorowsky, but had not yet drawn the Silver Surfer for Marvel, which means that he had not yet tried and failed to conquer American comics markets.

These characters mingle with the older Moebius character. They sit and chat and eat dinner together, like something out of a Fellini film. Perhaps not coincidentally, Fellini provided the introduction to the Moebius special published by Heavy Metal in 1982.



One of the most notable things about Inside Moebius is the lack of polish on the art. Moebius was well-known for working in a variety of art styles, switching back and forth between them fluently, sometimes on the same page. Fans hoping to see beautiful psychedelic illustrations are likely to be disappointed. This is Moebius enjoying the looseness of cartooning and not sweating the small stuff. In fact, if you want to learn what a master cartoonist considers to be essential lines on the page, Inside Moebius is a great textbook.

The fact that the original diaries date back to 2001 becomes obvious when Moebius comments on the events of 9/11 and has an extended conversation with Osama Bin Laden (who died a year before Moebius did). Geronimo also shows up to compare and contrast his terrorist methodologies with Bin Laden. Another character from The Airtight Garage makes an appearance as well.



Even if you have more interest in geopolitics than the antics of an old master farting around with characters you’ve never heard of before, the book contains a very entertaining take on what were, at the time, considered to be Very Serious subjects.

If you consider yourself to be a fan of Moebius, this book is an essential work that your library would be incomplete without. Part two is due out in early June. I’m very much looking forward to picking up a copy.

__________________________________________________________

Why is this here? It's a long story. Mike Rhode first introduced himself to me when I first started vending at SPX. Over the years, we've talk to each other at Comic conventions around the DC area and never quite get around to sitting down for lunch. 

When I moved to Arlington two years ago, I didn't realize that Mike lived within a mile of my building. Nor did I realize that he lived next door to my girlfriend's friend from college. We also discovered, by accident that we work two buildings away from each other, because we work in adjacent organizations. The world is a very small place, sometimes. 

It really feels that way when I run into Mike at the local farmer's market. Naturally, that's when I pitch him article ideas. I'm reading the entire run of Heavy Metal in public (in blog format) because I happen to own the entire run of Heavy Metal. This means that I'm engaged in an ongoing study of the magazine. In addition, I have a diverse and idiosyncratic reading list that tends towards the weird corners of comics history. Sometimes one circumstance or another results in long articles that I don't really have anyplace to put. Mike has been gracious enough to let me publish them here.

In summary: this is an article about comics from someone in the DC area. 

Friday, May 18, 2018

Ignorant Bliss 70: Tom King at Fantom Comics November 2017

Ignorant Bliss 70: Tom King at Fantom Comics November 2017

 

Here is the recording of the Q&A I hosted at Fantom Comics in Washington DC where I talk to my friend Eisner Award-winning writer Tom King (Mister Miracle, Batman, The Vision, Sheriff of Babylon, Omega Men). We talk about all his works at the time from the current Mister Miracle and Batman to Vision. Enjoy!

Follow my guest on social media:

https://twitter.com/TomKingTK

https://www.facebook.com/tomkingauthor

https://www.instagram.com/tomking_tk/

Amazon Author page – https://www.amazon.com/Tom-King/e/B0066F3XJS/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1524621299&sr=8-1

July 26: Mark Wheatley art on exhibit in Pittsburgh

Comic Riffs talks to John Cuneo

The New Yorker's cover shows Trump playing golf through the 'swamp'


Washington Post
Comic Riffs blog May 14 2018

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/comic-riffs/wp/2018/05/14/the-new-yorkers-cover-shows-trump-playing-golf-through-the-swamp/

The Post on Deadpool

'Deadpool 2' is a study in … kindness? [in print as Kill with kindness: Deadpool fights against despair].


Express May 18 2018, p. 28
online at https://www.washingtonpost.com/express/wp/2018/05/18/deadpool-2-is-a-study-in-kindness/

'Deadpool 2' is painfully self-referential. And that's why it's absolutely perfect. [in print as Deadpool's pledge: Eviscerating comedy].


Washington Post May 18 2018, p. Weekend 23
online at https://www.washingtonpost.com/goingoutguide/movies/deadpool-2-is-painfully-self-referential-and-thats-why-its-absolutely-perfect/2018/05/14/64ca087c-53f5-11e8-9c91-7dab596e8252_story.html


'Deadpool 2' does not care about your feelings. That's what makes it work.


Washington Post Comic Riffs blog May 15 2018
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/comic-riffs/wp/2018/05/15/deadpool-2-doesnt-care-about-your-feelings-and-thats-what-makes-it-work/
 

Ignatz Award submissions for SPX due to Dan Stafford by June 1

From SPX's email from Dan Stafford:

I wanted to remind you that all Ignatz submissions MUST be postmarked by June 1, 2018 to be considered for consideration. That gives you two weeks! You can do it! 

Here's all of the pertinent info: 

1. Send six copies - five for the jurors, and one for the Library of Congress (how cool is that?) 
2. Submitted work must have been published between 6/1/17 and 5/31/18
3. You must fill in this submission form (https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1rH-LJhzq8IPHGunH_M1CC1rnI9lhx17frJFDsJsOm-s/viewform?edit_requested=true) to ensure receipt and review of your work
4. All physical copies should be sent to: 
Ignatz Awards
c/o Dan Stafford
5010 Quebec St. 
College Park, MD 20740

All of our submissions guidelines and rules can be found at our new website, www.smallpressexpo.com

AND - I have a new email address. I am now at dan@smallpressexpo.com, so feel free to reach out with any questions/comments/concerns/compliments. 

Thanks, and we can't wait to see everything! 

Dan

June 6: Tom Angleberger at Politics and Prose

Tom Angleberger - Star Wars: The Mighty Chewbacca in the Forest of Fear! **In the Children & Teens Dept.

Wednesday, June 6, 7 p.m.
Politics and Prose bookstore
5015 Connecticut Ave NW

Star Wars: The Mighty Chewbacca in the Forest of Fear Cover Image
By Tom Angleberger, Andie Tong (Illustrator)
$13.99
ISBN: 9781368016292
Availability: Coming Soon—Pre-Order Now
Published: Disney Lucasfilm Press - May 25th, 2018

---

Note that only the writer is coming, but his wife is cartoonist Cece Bell who did the excellent book El Deafo.

About the Authors

Tom Angleberger, author of the New York Times best-selling Origami Yoda series, the Rocket and Groot series, Star Wars: The Mighty Chewbacca in the Forest of Fear!, and has been a Star Wars fan and collector since 1977. Growing up before the dawn of the VCR, Tom listened to Star Wars again and again on cassette tape. His first action figure was C-3PO and his most recent (very recent) was a sandtrooper. He lives in Virginia with his wife, author and illustrator Cece Bell. Andie Tong has worked on titles for various comic franchises, including Tron: Betrayal, Spectacular Spider-Man UK, The Batman Strikes, Smallville, Wheel of Time, TMNT, Masters of the Universe, and Starship Troopers, working for companies such as Disney, Marvel, D.C. Comics, Panini, Dark Horse, and Dynamite Entertainment, as well as commercial illustrations for numerous advertising agencies including Nike, Universal, CBS, Mattel, and Habsro. When he gets the chance, Andie concept designs for various companies, and also juggles illustration duties on a range of children's picture storybooks for Harper Collins. Malaysian born, Andie migrated to Australia at a young age, and then moved to London in 2005. In 2012, he journeyed back to Asia and currently resides in Singapore with this wife and two children.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

NPR reviews Ellen Forney's new book on mental health

In 'Rock Steady,' Ellen Forney Combines Mental Health Advice, Artistry and Wit

May 17, 2018
https://www.npr.org/2018/05/17/609367492/in-rock-steady-ellen-forney-combines-mental-health-advice-artistry-and-wit

May 24: Artist Talk: Tony Lewis, poetry inspired by Calvin & Hobbes

Tony Lewis. Courtesy of the studio. Photo: Mark Poucher.

FREE
Get tickets
We strongly recommend claiming a ticket to ensure your seat. This program is expected to be at capacity.
Questions? Email Hirshhornexperience@si.edu
Hirshhorn Members, email HMSGdevelopment@si.edu

Tony Lewis is part of an exciting generation of artists working to collapse the boundaries between different art forms. He has quickly established himself in the contemporary art world by forming a distinct visual vocabulary that integrates poetry and text with the properties of abstraction. His monochromatic drawings pull from various visual and written sources, ranging from the personal to the political. Separating, rearranging, and erasing text, he shifts the way we read to open up new and unexpected meanings.

His current installation, Anthology 2014–2016, is comprised of thirty-four original collage-poems inspired by his favorite childhood comic book, Calvin and Hobbes, which the artist says was "a literary and artistic savior growing up in the '90s."

Lewis will join the Hirshhorn in conversation to delve into his practice of writing through drawing. He will discuss the inspiration for Anthology and how he deconstructed hundreds of comic strips, reordered them, and ultimately shaped them into poems through a process of erasing, editing, and rearranging dialogue to explore the collaborative nature of creativity and authorship, leaving meaning open to a range of interpretations.

Details

Date:
May 24, 2018
Time:
6:30 pm–7:30 pm
Event Category:

Organizer

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
Phone:
202-633-1000
Email:
hmsgevents@si.edu
Website:
hirshhorn.si.edu

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

May 19: Cartoonists at Gaithersburg Book Festival (UPDATED)

So, they have a children's panel of comics and a graphic novel panel, and they scheduled them for the same time. Well, at least you can get five book signed at one signing time. Local cartoonist Gareth Hinds is on slightly earlier in the day.

 

Paul Noth

Paul Noth is a writer and artist whose cartoons appear regularly in The New Yorker and occasionally in other publications, including The Wall Street Journal. He was a regular guest writer for “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” for which he created the cartoon “Pale Force,” and was an animation consultant for Saturday Night Live. He has also written for CBS’s “The Late Late Show” and other television programs.  His children’s book, “How to Sell Your Family to the Aliens,” is forthcoming in April 2018.
Twitter: @PaulNoth

Author Schedule:

Venue:
Willa Cather Pavilion
Presentation Start Time:
2:15 pm
Presentation End Time:
3:05 pm
Signing Time:
3:15 pm

 

Joe Flood

Michael Kupperman

Michael Kupperman's comic drawings and strips have appeared in dozens of publications and websites, including The New Yorker, Fortune, The New York Times, Nickelodeon Magazine, Forbes, Fast Company, Esquire, Heavy Metal, Vice and McSweeney's; comic books for DC, Marvel and others; and been collected in multiple books, including five of his own. They've also been animated for Saturday Night Live, Adult Swim, and Comedy Central. Conan O'Brian described him as "probably one of the greatest comedy brains on the planet." "All The Answers" is his first serious book. Michael lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., with his wife, Muire, and son, Ulysses.
Twitter: @MKupperman

Author Schedule:

Venue:
Rachel Carson Pavilion
Presentation Start Time:
12:15 pm
Presentation End Time:
1:05 pm
Signing Time:
1:15 pm

Author Website:

http://michaelkupperman.com/

Dave Roman

Julian Voloj

Julian Voloj  is an award-winning author who specializes in non-fiction graphic novels and literary adaptations. His graphic novel "Ghetto Brother" (NBM, 2015) was named Booklist's 'Best Non-fiction Book of 2015' and praised by Junot Diaz in The New York Times as "superb" and "a gem." His new book, "The Joe Shuster Story," focuses on the life and struggles of the Superman co-creator. He lives with his wife Lisa and sons Leon and Simon in New York City's borough of Queens, not far from Joe Shuster's 1970s residence.
Facebook
Twitter: @WarriorPeacemak

Author Schedule:

Venue:
Rachel Carson Pavilion
Presentation Start Time:
12:15 pm
Presentation End Time:
1:05 pm
Signing Time:
1:15 pm

Tom Wolfe, cartoon collector

The Washington Post published an obituary of Tom Wolfe today. In the print edition of the paper, and in Ron Charles' video commentary, is a picture of Wolfe in his apartment in 1998. On one side of an archway is a cover of Simplicissimus, a pre-WWII German satirical magazine. On the other side is a comic strip, two pages of a comic book, and several caricatures, one of which looks to be Wolfe done by David Levine. You can see the image here -http://wvtf.org/post/listen-legacy-tom-wolfe

If anyone else can figure out the rest of the comics, let me know.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Margot "Lois Lane" Kidder obituary in today's Post

Margot Kidder, who played Lois Lane in blockbuster 'Superman,' dies at 69 [in print as Margot Kidder, 69; Actress flew to fame as reporter Lois Lane].

May 15 2018 p. B6
online at https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/margot-kidder-who-played-lois-lane-in-blockbuster-superman-dies-at-69/2018/05/14/918ddebc-5795-11e8-b656-a5f8c2a9295d_story.html
From the Vault of Artleytoons
Given recent events, thought I'd reprise this not-so-ancient cartoon from a few months earlier (click on image for larger view.


See more recent work by Steve Artley at Artleytoons



Flugennock's Latest'n'Greatest: "Bipartisanship No. 2"

From Mike Flugennock, DC's only anarchist cartoonist:

"Bipartisanship No. 2"
http://sinkers.org/stage/?p=2516

So, anyway, just so we're clear on this... the GOP are worried that defense contractors will lose their jobs if we aren't bombing Syria (or Yemen, or Iran); the Democrats are still "resisting" their weak little asses off, but when it comes to Syria "there's no one more red, white and blue", as ol' Phil Ochs says.

There, done.



Monday, May 14, 2018

Glen Weldon on Fandom Files podcast

Superman's legacy & what superheroes mean to culture, with Glen Weldon

Jordan Zakarin

Fandom Files podcast April 16, 2018
https://rss.art19.com/episodes/ad4634bf-78a1-4bc9-8004-b4bd22cc4d50.mp3

The Fandom Files is joined by Glen Weldon, the author, NPR contributor and all-around geek expert. Weldon talks to us about the history of Superman — it's the Man of Steel's 80th birthday! — and what Zach Snyder got wrong. Plus, we talk about Batman, Star Wars, and the highs and lows of geek culture as pop culture. All this and more in this episode of The Fandom Files! Follow us on Twitter: @FandomFilesSYFY! (Photo from Batman/Superman #14, 2014)

June 26: Scholastic Graphix writer Tui Sutherland at Poitics and Prose

Tui Sutherland - The Lost Continent: Wings of Fire Book 11 ** in the Children & Teens Dept.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018 - 7 p.m.

 

 

This event is free to attend with no reservation required. Seating is available on a first come, first served basis.
Click here for more information.
Politics and Prose bookstore
5015 Connecticut Ave NW   Washington   DC    20008

Sunday, May 13, 2018