"Justice League": Exploring How Superman Returns (Again)
Film, Comic Books
He’s gathered a Murderers’ Row of great contributors and collaborators to tell the life’s stories of 16 cartoonists, in the most obvious format to do so — comics, of course.
But what, exactly, constitutes a cartoonist? Some of those included might have worked at one point in the field, but made their greatest marks in other areas: people like Walt Disney, Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel and Hugh Hefner (whose inclusion will likely be the biggest surprise to more readers; and, make no mistake, the book is made as much for the casual reader as the expert, armchair or otherwise). Others you might not think of as cartoonists at all, like Edward Gorey or Al Hirschfeld.
And changing the world — the whole world?! — is a pretty bold claim, certainly bolder than changing, say, a genre, or a medium or an industry. Certainly Disney and Osamu Tezuka qualify, as do Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, who introduced the superhero as we know it, and Jack Kirby, who reimagined the superhero, made countless contributions to the form and who created or co-created characters and concepts that today make billions of dollars.
But what about Harvey Kurtzman, Robert Crumb and the aforementioned Hirschfeld? Are their influences and innovations on equal footing?
Here are three June releases from Drawn and Quarterly: Kevin Huizenga’s Gloriana, Chester Brown’s Ed The Happy Clown and Dan Zettwoch’s Birdseye Bristoe.
They have several things in common, aside from the fact that they are all hardcover releases from the same publisher. They are all handsomely designed, for example, they all make lovely coffee table and bookshelf-filling objects, and they are all more or less important comics releases.
One of them is different in several significant ways, however.
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.
If I had $15, I’d walk out of the comic store with one book this week Fatale, Vol. 1: Death Chases Me (Image, $14.99). I fell off this book after the first issue, preferring to read in trades, and now that time has come. I’m looking forward to being surprised at what Brubaker and Phillips have done in this first arc as the debut issue was very promising.
If I had $30, I’d load up at Image with Manhattan Projects #4 (Image, $3.50), Prophet #26 (Image, $2.99) and Hell Yeah #4 (Image, $2.99). Prophet is becoming my favorite Image book because it unites my comic heroes of childhood (Prophet!) and one of the top cartoonists out there (Brandon Graham) with a surprising introduction of BD-style science fiction. Hell Yeah is a fun romp reimagining the staples of ’80s and ’90s comics as if John Hughes were the eighth Image founder. Last up I’d get Wolverine and the X-Men #12 (Marvel, $3.99). I was worried this series would get derailed by Avengers Vs. X-Men, but Aaron and Co. have managed to keep it on point as best as conceivably possible. It’s an ideal opening to bring Rachel Summers to the forefront, and the smirking Kid Gladiator on the cover is full of win.
If I could splurge, I’d get Michel Rabagliati’s Song of Roland hardcover (Conundrum Press, $20). I’ll always admire Free Comic Book Day, because it was there that a little Drawn and Quarterly one-shot introduced me to Rabagliati’s work. I’m surprised to see this new volume of his work not published by D&Q, instead published by Canadian house Conundrum. Anyway, this book appears to deal with the death of the father-in-law of the lead character, Paul. It’s been extremely engaging to see Paul grow through the series, and having him deal with events like this as I myself grow up and experience similar events is really touching.
Another day, another link to Jordan Crane’s must-read What Things Do webcomics portal. This time it’s Dan Zettwoch’s “Crossfader,” which originally ran in the equally indispensable print anthology Kramers Ergot 6. Using Zettowch’s trademark diagram-style layouts, it’s a good-natured look at a fictional midwestern church’s Fall Festival “haunted house,” the centerpiece attraction of which is a lighting trick that transforms a girl into a gorilla. (I think this represents “the horrors of evolution.”) Chances are good you’ve never read comics quite like Zettwoch’s before — it’s no sin to check ‘em out.
Under the heading “Our Buffy,” Drawn and Quarterly posts a cover by Dan Zettwoch for an unfortunately not real Gilmore Girls comic –“That is, unless you demand it!!” Tom Devlin writes. If anything can get my mom reading comics, it might be this …
Elementary, my dear Ganges! Wildly acclaimed, prodigiously talented cartoonist Kevin Huizenga has taken a break from chronicling the vagaries of our daily existence in his series Ganges and (the late, lamented) Or Else to take on the greatest detective in literary history and his arch-nemesis. (No, not Batman and the Joker, but I like the way you think.)
At his blog, Huizenga has posted a two-page comic featuring the first and final face-to-face confrontations between none other than Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty. The strip is part of the Famous Fictional Villains show at St. Louis’s Mad Art Gallery, curated by Huizenga’s friend, fellow cartoonist, and occasional collaborator Dan Zettwoch. The opening reception for the show — which features baddies ranging from Macbeth‘s witches to Alien‘s facehugger, interpreted by Zettwoch, Huizenga and over a dozen other artists — takes place tonight from 7pm to 11pm.
I somehow missed this in Tucker Stone’s report from MoCCA last week, but luckily Heidi over at the Beat caught it — Stone spoke with John Kerschbaum about his future projects, and the creator revealed that he’s working on this year’s Bart Simpson’s Treehouse of Horror book for Bongo Comics.
Kerschbaum isn’t the only one working on the book, though; as you can see below in the solicitation copy that Bongo was kind enough to send us, they’ve recruited a Murderer’s Row of creators, including Jeffrey Brown, Kevin Huizenga, Matthew Thurber and many more, and it’s edited by Sammy Harkham of Kramers Ergot fame:
Bart Simpson’s Treehouse of Horror #15
Edited by Sammy Harkham
48 pages/standard format/color/humor
UPC: 01511 (7-98342-02851-5)
Guest edited by Sammy Harkham, the award-winning creator of the popular Kramers Ergot anthology, this year’s issue is a jam-packed with some of the most idiosyncratic (and weirdest) takes on “The Simpsons” universe ever. Among Halloween-inspired short strips by such visionary cartoonists as Jordan Crane (Uptight), C.F. (Powr Mastrs), Will Sweeney (Tales from Greenfuzz), Tim Hensley (MOME), and John Kerschbaum (Petey & Pussy), are four featured tales of inspired Simpsons lunacy: heralded artists Kevin Huizenga (Ganges, Or Else) and Matthew Thurber (1-800 Mice, Kramers Ergot) collaborate on a weird and wild story equal parts Lovecraftian eco-horror and Philip K. Dick identity comedy. Jeffrey Brown (Incredible Change-Bots, Clumsy) does a creepy and suitably pathetic story featuring Milhouse in a “Bad Ronald”-inspired tale of murder and crawl space living. Harkham and Ted May (INJURY) pull out all the stops for a tragic monster tale of unrequited love, bad karaoke, and body snatching at Moe’s Bar. Ben Jones (Paper Rad) does the comic of his life with an epic tale of how bootleg candy being sold at the Kwik-E-Mart rapidly spirals out of control into an Invasion of The Body Snatchers-like nightmare of a Springfield filled with cheap bootleg versions of familiar characters. And nobody does squishy, sweaty, and gross like up and coming cartoonist Jon Vermilyea (MOME), who outdoes himself with “C.H.U.M.M.,” a C.H.U.D.-inspired parody featuring everybody’s favorite senior citizen, Hans Moleman!
With a cover by Dan Zettwoch, Bart Simpson’s Treehouse of Horror #15 is like nothing you’ve ever seen, and is sure to be one of the most talked about comics of the year by alternative comic readers and Simpsons fans of all ages!
This goes on my “must buy” list.