Monday, November 23, 2009


Here is unused artwork by Daniel Clowes for Victor Banana's album Split. I think I may have pasted these up around the same time the Neil Smythe CD was being mastered. The Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron soundtrack had sold well enough to break even, so, drunk with power, I assumed I would be able to release a whole line of products. There's a panel in the Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron book this reminds me of--a character admonishes, "I'm sick of everybody using my store as a through street!" Since the formats are now forgotten, I've posted these templates for any old-timer who wants to make a cassette for their big rig. here to read the rest of this post...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Abner Dean's Notebook, Part III.

[Part one and part two . Click on images to enlarge. The commentary in italics below the cartoon is Dean's.]

Nearer to the heart’s desire

As long as there’s anyone making a more beautiful mud pie in a column of sunlight in the heart of despair -- there’s hope. Hope for a world reconstructed. Nothing has to be the way it is. Only the earth has continuity (or what we consider continuity in relation to our limits) -- man is not complete -- nor are his mores. He and they are changing. There is a slow and bloodless revolution in progress. None of our concepts or constructions are necessarily permanent. Out of a good mud pie may come a new world.

It would be easy to read this drawing as a condemnation of the character in the sunbeam, who seems completely oblivious to the suffering around him. (He looks at the dog, not at the parade of people). In this way, he seems to share the sense of self-delusion often possessed by Dean's main characters. But here, as elsewhere, Dean's comments show an appreciates for those who try to imagining new ways of seeing, thinking, and making art. Even if the result appears comical (an ordered mound of dirt and water), it shows a desire to imagine -- and to try to create -- a better reality, one that can have positive social consequences.

So rather than coming from above, it is as if the beam of light emerges (like the flower) from the mud pie, a comment on the generative power of art, and its ability to illuminate social realities in an abstract way. Perhaps Dean is telling us it's not that the main character ignores the suffering around him, but that the others overlook the hope in their midst.

[In the third to the last sentence, Dean writes (gradual) in a different pen above "and," suggesting that he may have wanted this sentence to read: There is a slow and gradual and bloodless revolution in progress.] here to read the rest of this post...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Unintentional Connections

I was reading a '70s issue of The Avengers and I thought about Ivan Brunetti. In his excellent book

he points out "some common pitfalls," one of which is "unintentional connections" between images in different panels:

A page in The Avengers #152 [1976] (pencils by John Buscema) seems to have this problem:

Two connections -- the leg in panel 1 'joining' the arm in 3, plus the torso in 2 'jutting' from the hip in 1 -- create some visual confusion and impede a clear reading of the fight scene.

On the first reading, the connections felt like a flaw to me, but looking at the sequence again, I'm not so sure. When you take in the page as a whole, they give the fight a sense of circular motion. Or they're a result of questionable planning. . . [The cover of the issue is by Kirby and Ayers] here to read the rest of this post...

Monday, November 9, 2009

Love Punishes the Guilty!

This story was originally published in The Comics Journal Special Edition of Winter 2004, but in black and white and on a single page measuring 12 by 12 inches. Reformatting it meant redrawing the opening:

Maybe this new version will appear years from now in a barrel scraper. here to read the rest of this post...

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Abner Dean's Notebook, Part II.

[See here for part 1, which explains some things.]________________________________________________

This thing has meaning [click on images to enlarge]

The beginnings of philosophy -- now if you can only find the meaning you have the all. But it’s good even if you only come to the point of suspecting a meaning. If you can be part of the flow and aware of it at the same time (which doesn’t seem apparent here) you can get out of your bucket. here to read the rest of this post...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Believer 2009 Art Issue!

We're pleased to announce that the new 2009 Art Issue of The Believer features:

  • The debut of the new monthly "Comics" spread, including all-new strips by Tim Hensley, Lisa Hanawalt, Matt Furie, Charles Burns, Al Columbia, Tom Gauld, and many more, edited by Alvin Buenaventura

  • A huge fold-out double sided poster with art by Jerry Moriarty
  • An interview with Aline Kominsky-Crumb by Hillary Chute
  • An interview with cartoonist and musician Peter Blegvad
  • and so much more... here to read the rest of this post...

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Unseen on Covers

A few days back, I wrote an appreciation-analysis of Moench, Jones, and Madsen's Batman Unseen #1 and #2. The comics racks at my local shop has somewhere around 70 new comics today -- and Batman Unseen #3 is the only cover to have a word balloon. This choice clearly seems to be part of the author's decision to evoke a retro feel, and though a word balloon on a cover shouldn't seem like a risk, given current trends, it almost seems a little subversive; and it's a small reason why this comic stands out to me . . . here to read the rest of this post...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Notebook

Abner Dean’s papers include notebooks in which he commented on dozens of cartoons from his 1947 collection What Am I Doing Here? In this commentary he adopts different personas: in some he talks as if he were a character in the drawing; in others he sympathizes with or scolds characters or the reader in his own voice; in many he offers either straightforward or obscure observations on the cartoon; and in others he moves between these approaches. Dean’s comments are a strange and compelling form of criticism on his own work, the kind that we don’t often get to hear from an artist. I don't know why Dean wrote these kind of notebooks, when they were written, or if he ever shared them with anyone . . .

I use quotations from the notebooks in an essay on Dean in Comic Art #9, but on the blog today (and in the next few weeks) I will post cartoons and writing from Dean that did not appear in that essay. [Dean's text is in italics below, in part because it's in cursive in the notebooks -- click images to enlarge.]

You can give too much of yourself

Of course you recognize yourself -- you're the man inside the lunch counter! Or are you someone else in this group? Look again -- inside yourself. here to read the rest of this post...

Sunday, November 1, 2009 here to read the rest of this post...