Lucy Knisley’s Relish: My Life in the Kitchen has been one of the most talked about graphic novels of the year since its debut in April at the MoCCA Arts Festival. That’s not too surprising, as the emotional pull of food and the way it intermingles with family and other relationships often makes for compelling reading. In Relish, Knisley has put together a series of short stories about her foodie parents and her own experiences in and out of the kitchen and accompanied them with some favorite recipes, all illustrated in her loose, colorful style.
For a while it seemed like everyone in the world was interviewing Knisley, and as someone who enjoys a good food story, I didn’t want to be left out.
Brigid Alverson: Obviously food is very important to your family, but why did you think it was a good theme for a memoir?
Lucy Knisley: Sense memory is a great connection to our past! I grew up with a family that cares a lot about food, and learned from them how to care about food. I have so many wonderful memories associated with foods, it makes perfect sense to tell these stories centered around the food I love.
In the prose world, food writing has become its own genre. Do you have any favorite food writers?
Lately I love David Lebovitz‘s food writing — he has a great (and hilarious) voice, and writes quite a bit about Paris (which I love) and chocolate (ditto).
Editorial cartoons | The Cartoonists Rights International has given its 2013 Courage in Editorial Cartooning award to Syrian cartoonist Akram Raslan, who was arrested in his newspaper office in Hama, Syria, about six months ago and has been held incommunicado since then; reliable sources report that he has been tortured while in prison. Raslan will be tried on Monday in a special court on an array of charges, including insulting the president and incitement to sedition, stemming from his cartoons. [Cartoonist Rights Network International]
Creators | Meanwhile, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette cartoonist Rob Rogers is donating the prize money from the Thomas Nast Award he recently received to the CRNI. Rogers’ donation will go directly to a cartoonist who’s in hiding for fear of being deported to his home country of Syria. [Cartoonist Rights Network International]
I walked into MoCCA Arts Fest a few minutes after it opened, with my friend Erica Friedman, and we noticed the difference right away: The last two shows have had an improvised, “Let’s have a comics show! We can use my father’s barn!” kind of feeling. They weren’t disorganized, exactly, and the talent has always been top-notch, but the show floor felt crowded, cluttered, and confusing.
This was the first year that the Society of Illustrators was running the event. Organizers had a lot to prove, and they proved it. The show felt professional. The aisles were wider. A very simple addition — a bright red backdrop that ran behind the tables — made a huge difference, giving visitors more focus and eliminating the distraction of looking out across that cavernous space. The red curtains also set off a small gallery at the back of the armory that featured original comics art from the Society’s collection, a gentle reminder that they have been welcoming comics creators for more than 100 years. Visitors could buy a slick, nicely produced catalog for $5, and there was a modest cafe downstairs, a pleasant addition that allowed friends who met at the show to sit down and have a bite and a chat without disrupting the experience too much.
Welcome to “Cheat Sheet,” ROBOT 6′s guide to the week ahead. After an almost-uninterrupted string of U.S. conventions, from Emerald City Comicon and Fabletown & Beyond to WonderCon and MoCCA Arts Fest, eyes turn to Europe this weekend for the Torino Comics festival.
Meanwhile, our contributors select their picks for the best comics going on sale Wednesday, including Batman: Li’l Gotham #1, Relish and The Flash Chronicles, Vol. 4.
Conventions | The Tokyo Big Sight convention center in May will lift the ban on events associated with the manga Kuroko’s Basketball. Creator Tadatoshi Fujimaki and numerous venues that were hosting manga and doujinshi (fan comics) shows have received threatening letters, some containing liquid or powder, and as a result, Kuroko’s Basketball fan events have been canceled and doujinshi tables have been banned from several comics events. (More background here.) [Kotaku]
Passings | French cartoonist Theodor Friedrich Otto Aristidès, aka Fred, passed away Tuesday in a Paris hospital at age 82. He was best known for Philémon, his surrealistic comic about a French farm boy who fell down a well into a fantasy world akin to Wonderland. Fred was awarded the Grand Prix de la ville d’Angoulême in 1980, and had been the oldest living recipient. [L'Observateu de Beauvais]
Creators | John Layman, who’s writing the 900th issue of Detective Comics (No. 19 in the New 52 continuity) talks about his plans for that and his creator-owned series Chew, and contrasts the two: “Well, the cases are weirder in Chew. There is an element that’s the same – you introduce a conflict, and then you have a detective with a certain skill set resolving it. … Batman’s just happen to be gadgets and fists. I guess if there’s a formula in the skeletal layer, it’s probably the same.” [Hero Complex]
Conventions | With just a day to go until WonderCon kicks off in Anaheim, California, Saturday and three-day passes have sold out. Although Friday and Sunday badges are still available, organizers recommend they be purchased in advance online, rather than at the door. Additional passes will likely become available as cancellations and refunds are processed. [Toucan]
Conventions | Renatt Kuenzi files a report on this month’s Fumetto International Comix Festival, which co-director Marta Nawrocka describes as “a festival for exhibitors and artists – not a fair with stands and people dressed in suits.” Part of the challenge for organizers of the festival, which featured work by Art Spiegelman, Joe Sacco, Swiss artist Bastien Gachet, and Arab artists Mohamed Shennawy and Lena Merhej, among others, was to combat the German-Swiss prejudice that comics are “juvenile.” [SwissInfo]
Have you ever wondered what goes through the mind of Nicholas Gurewitch as he is creating The Perry Bible Fellowship, or Andrew Hussie when he works on Homestuck? Check out the short (7:39) video The Rise of Webcomics, part of PBS’s “Off Book” series, that features interviews with Gurewitch, Hussie, Christina Xu (Breadpig), Sam Brown (Exploding Dog) and Lucy Knisley (Stop Paying Attention), along with snippets from lots of other webcomics.
It’s fast-paced and entertaining, and there are some interesting insights from the creators as well as some webcomics you may not have seen before.
Since its launch in 2006, First Second has built a solid reputation as a publisher of high-quality graphic novels: Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese, Emmanuel Guibert’s The Photographer, Mark Siegel’s Sailor Twain, and Jorge Aguirre and Rafael Rosado’s Giants Beware testify to both the breadth and the quality of the company’s line.
I was offered the opportunity to interview editor Calista Brill and designer Colleen AF Venable about the past year at First Second and what we can expect in 2013, but I couldn’t resist the temptation to sneak in some questions about the nuts and bolts of working with creators and editing graphic novels.
Conventions | Comic-Con International organizers have issued a statement regarding the technical problems many experienced Saturday while attempting to purchase badges for this year’s event: “Comic-Con badge sales opened this past Saturday and while the allotted badges were processed there was clearly an issue with some customers experiencing a frozen screen. We, along with Epic registration, are in the process of investigating this and hope to have an answer as to what occurred. Please know that we take this issue very seriously and offer our sincere apology for those who found themselves in this predicament. Thank you for your understanding in what we know was a very difficult experience for many.” Badges sold out in a little more than 90 minutes. [Comic-Con International]
It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics. We’ve each picked the five comics we’re most anticipating in order to create a list of the best new stuff coming out two months from now.
As usual, please feel free to play along in the comments. Tell us what we missed that you’re looking forward to or – if you’re a comics creator – mention your own stuff.
Crater XV HC (Top Shelf, $19.95): I’ve been following (and loving) the serialization of Kevin Cannon’s follow-up to Far Arden in the digital pages of Double Barrel, but I know that I’ll be picking up this hardcover collection of the further adventures of sea dog Rusty Shanks nonetheless. The Canadian space program deserves no less.
In The Days of the Mob HC (DC Comics, $39.99): To say that Kirby’s 1970s take on the organized-crime world of the 1930s is something I’ve been longing to read since I first discovered its existence would be an understatement, so I’m definitely looking forward to this deluxe reprint, complete with material that wasn’t in the original edition.
Indigo Prime: Anthropocalypse TP (Rebellion/2000AD, $24.99): John Smith’s cosmic authorities are one of comics’ most secret treasures, I think, especially when he’s paired with an artist like Edmund Bagwell, who brings a wonderful Euro-Kirby influence to the stories in this collection. Really looking forward to this one.
Relish: My Life in the Kitchen GN (First Second, $17.99): As a sucker for good autobiographical comics and also good food writing, the idea of Lucy Knisley creating a food-centric memoir — complete with recipes! — is far too good to ignore. I love that publishers like First Second are publishing work like this.
Solo Deluxe Edition HC (DC Comics, $49.99): Even though I own most of these issues from their original appearance, the oversized hardcover format is waaaay too tempting when you consider some of the material this book has up its 500+ page sleeve: Paul Pope covering Kirby! Brendan McCarthy channeling Ditko as only he could! The amazing Darwyn Cooke issue! The only thing that could make this better would be if it included work completed on follow-up issues before the plug had been pulled … But maybe that can appear in a second volume, one day…
Lucy Knisley has three things to delight us this week.
First, a new episode of her seldom-updated webocomic Stop Paying Attention, in which little Lucy asks the big questions while playing with her toys. It’s a wonderful comic, philosophical without being dry or boring.
Second, she has written and illustrated an essay on The New Life of the Comic Book for The American Reader, which is a nice overview of the whole world of comics, sharpened with her own experiences.
And third, she has a process post explaining how she did the main illustration for the article, from concept (and unflattering photo) to finished product. It’s a fun peek at her work process, and a nice addition to the article.
Today is Free Comic Book Day, and here’s a rundown of some of the comics that caught my interest. If you want to check ‘em out before you go, CBR has previews of many of the FCBD titles. (My FCBD comics came from my favorite Boston comics shop, Comicopia.)
Hands down, the one comic everybody wants is Archaia’s hardback anthology, which includes brand-new stories from six of their titles: Mouse Guard, Labyrinth, Return of the Dapper Men, Rust, Cursed Pirate Girl, and Cow Boy. The stories stand on their own but also tie in to the books in clever ways; the Mouse Guard story is a puppet show, and the Rust story features a boy writing a letter to his father (as his older brother does in the book). This book is a keeper; it even has a nameplate inside the front cover. Here’s a list of where Archaia creators will be doing book signings this FCBD.
BOOM! Studios has a nice flipbook with several Adventure Time comics on one side and Peanuts on the other. The Peanuts comics are mildly funny, but the Adventure Time side is edgier and features extra stories by Lucy Knisley and Michael DeForge. The stories are colorful and lively, and DeForge’s contribution, about a bacon ecosystem that supports tiny breakfast organisms, is downright surreal.
As a former editor myself, I was naturally drawn to Calista Brill’s first-hand account of a day in the life of a First Second editor at the company blog. But as I was reading it, I kept going, “Hey, wait! They’re publishing that?!”
Like, I didn’t realize First Second was publishing a new book by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki, the creators of Skim. But here it is: Awago Beach Babies, due out next year. And Calista shows off some tiny samples of art from the book she is currently editing, Relish, a book about food by Lucy Knisley, which seems like the perfect project for Lucy and a bit of a departure for First Second.
Another project I didn’t know about — but that I’ll be following from now on — is Jerusalem, written by filmmaker Boaz Yakin and illustrated by Nick Bertozzi. It’s the story of a Jewish family at the time when Israel was just becoming an independent country. Also coming up: new books from Gene Luen Yang and Paul Pope and a sequel to their popular anthology Nursery Rhyme Comics, this one featuring fairy tales.
With a lineup like that, being an editor at First Second is my new dream job, even if the microwave in their kitchen isn’t working properly. (Here’s a recent CBR interview with Calista and her boss, Mark Siegel, that mentions a few of these projects.)
Getting into the Halloween spirit, Lucy Knisley has posted a terrific two-page comic called “Scaredcited,” a crowdsourcing experiment. “I asked my twitter followers (LucyKnisley) to send me a deep fear of theirs along with their photo in order to incorporate them into the second page,” she writes. “It’s sort-of auto-bio-for-everyone. [...] One thing that struck me as I was drawing out the page was that so many of us share specific fears. Drawing everyone in a place where we all faced our fears was really comforting. At least we’re all in it together.”