Sunday, February 26, 2017

Entombed


I was honored to have a page of my original art included in a donation by Annie Koyama of Koyama Press of more than 250 pieces by a cross-section of great cartoonists to the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum in Ohio. There's a brief interview with her on Comics Reporter today about the transaction.

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Saturday, February 11, 2017

Alvin Buenaventura


When I’m reading a comic — especially some weak 1970s’ DC or Marvel book — I’ll often imagine Alvin watching over my shoulder, not at all happy with what he’s seeing. In a soft monotone voice he condemns me for wasting time on crap when there’s genuinely engaging, idiosyncratic work out there, waiting.

He never actually judged me this way. If I mentioned a comic that I liked and he didn’t, he’d reply with a barely audible “Hmm” or a disbelieving “Really?” and move on. But I was always aware that Alvin, unlike me, had ‘preternatural aesthetic discernment.’ Put less pretentiously, he was busy finding, supporting, and publishing great artists (often the first to discern their merits) and had no time for garbage. His dedication to great work was inspirational.

Sometimes I’ll read a comic and imagine how much Alvin would’ve dug it, such as Simon Hanselmann’s brutally funny mini-comic Landscape, which dismantles the little worlds of art comics and art-comics criticism. Alvin would’ve found its mean-spirited insight uplifting and its cartooning immaculate. (It’s 2016’s best work of comics criticism.)

Then there are times I’ll read a comic and be unsure about Alvin’s reaction — this realization makes me uncomfortable, uncertain about the validity of my own response. He’s become my ‘comic-book assessment super-ego’ . . .

Without Alvin around (he left us one year ago today), I feel a little lost. He was my lifeline to important new work, an advance scout taking a sharp machete to the garbage of Comicdom and telling me, and the rest of us, what was vital. He had an unerring sixth sense for Good Comics, as the books he published proves.

Yet I miss him most as a friend and collaborator. Our collaborations weren’t always easy: one time he tested my patience beyond its breaking point (and I his), but we eventually got past it. (I still feel guilty for failing that test and wish I’d handled things better.) But so many collaborations were a real joy. The two largest projects I did with him — The Art of Daniel Clowes: Modern Cartoonist and The Daniel Clowes Reader — remain the work I’m most proud of. 

*
A few months after Alvin died, I was looking through the “back-issue bins” at a local comic-book shop and came across several issues of the 1959 Dell series Alvin. Normally I’d buy one issue to check out a title, but this time felt that, though I wasn’t sure I wanted to, I had to get them all. The feeling was odd, like an embarrassing compulsion driven by the weakness of superstition: it would be wrong to leave them there. (Alvin wouldn’t have bothered with such comics and certainly would've said “Really?” if I told him I’d bought them.) But they were Comics, and their covers said "Alvin." So I left with them all.


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(Alvin might've liked this.)

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Monday, January 9, 2017

The Most SUV of 2016


I have a cameo in the giant Fantagraphics Moto Hagiography "We Told You So," where Tom Spurgeon and Michael Dean exercise some kind of inside baseball wisdom of Solomon culling from the relentless expanse of Fantagraphics' toil and dramatis personae.

It's hard for me to say whether it will hold as much interest for someone unfamiliar with the topic, especially since I lived through some of it so contentedly as a consumer and partial content provider.
It's kind of like a big issue of The Comics Journal about The Comics Journal or receiving a yearbook and never graduating.

Sir Alfred No. 3 was released and did pretty well considering the significant roadblocks in its way.
I added a price tag to the Gumroad download page now that we're out of 2016.
I did manage to retrieve the printer files from Alvin's computer last month thanks to the goodwill of his parents, so another print edition might appear somewhere down the line.

I see I was also fortunate enough to end up on some end of the year lists.
I am very grateful for these mentions. I sort of feel like I've aged out of what is most current in comics these days, so I appreciate that some folks enjoyed my work.

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