The Wall Of Shame

Wall Of Shame by Gilbert Hernandez for the Village Voice

Whether the Wall will be built, and whether Mexico or the American public will pay for it, is still in the open. What’s certain, is that Gilbert Hernandez ended 2016 with a biting satire on the thing for the Village Voice.

I simply love how he manages to turn the whole sad affair into a scene that would be out of place in a García Márquez novel. And for comics scholars, the pages are reproduced in their raw state, drafts and all.

(via Hipertexto)

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Get away with anything, as long as you’re slim enough

Train Robbery by SoS Ideas

This is one weird campaign. To promote the benefits of Glow Zero, a slimming product by Glamour world, Indian agency SoS Ideas created a seven-episode comic about a female cat-burglar who manages to escape from prison after using slimming pills.

Not only is the comic’s premise laughable (why would anybody want to steal a train?), the execution may as well be a parody of what a comic should be, from the page layout (no wonder the train gets derailed,with all the slanted panels) to the actual copy (“Should I join? What if they kill me if I say ‘No’?”). Finally, and that may as well be the worst offence in this endeavour, the art requires a call out to the product, or you simply would not have seen it.

At least it provided a laugh. And it provided Indian cartoonist Harsho Mohan Chattoraj with an international platform.

(via Ads of the World)

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The transience of love with Adrian Tomine

New Yorker cover by Adrian Tomine

The cover for the New Yorker magazine’s first issue of the year was created by none other than my personal favorite Adrian Tomine. It focuses on the weird, international trend of solidifying your love for one another by fixing a padlock to a bridge.

In 2015 media reported that the part of the railing of the Pont Des Arts in Paris, where the tradition seems to have started, had collapsed under the weight of the locks. Paris city officials had started to remove the locks, an example that was swiftly followed by other cities around the world that saw their bridges beleaguered by loved-up couples, and started removing the mementoes. Which in turn may be read as an ironic take on the fleeting nature of symbols, as splendidly represented by Mr. Tomine in the above illustration.

Incidentally, in 2013 amateur lock pickers already started a campaign to free the Brooklyn Bridge from so-called “Love Locks”, in an attempt to prevent rust and premature decay.

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Dan Dare stamps

As long time readers of this little blog will recall, I am quite a fan of comics-related post stamps.I’ve been collecting them for some 30 years now, and wrote about the subject quite regularly in the past.

Recently, though, my attention has shifted somewhat to stamps that are not really stamps. They look the part, but they’re basically worthless and in any case should not be used as postage. I got interested by what philately calls cinderella stamps some years ago when I tracked down a sheet of stamps featuring the heroes of Spirou magazine that were published as a supplement to the magazine in 1961.

When I came across a similar sheet of Dan Dare themed stamps that looked quite similar, my interest was immediately peaked. They are labeled “Interplanetary essays – created and designed in Great Britain”, but also bear a 1958 copyright stating “H.E. MacIntosh, Springfield, Mass.” I’m not sure whether Dan Dare ever made it to the US, but the quality of the stamps is simply superb, and I got to wonder why someone would go to such lengths to create stamps for a property that is hardly known overseas.

As it turns out, H.E. MacIntosh was a stamp publisher who regularly published pamphlets to get young people enthusiastic about stamp and coin collecting, and also went as far as to create his own stamps and banknotes about these subjects. For these particular stamps, MacIntosh used designs (and most probably the original plates) that were created for a series of collectible stamps published in the UK in 1954, as part of a marketing campaign for Lifebuoy soap. Those are prohibitively expensive, but Mr. MacIntosh’s sheetlet regularly pops up on Ebay, and is quite affordable.

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The return of Ever

Cover to Humo 3982 by Ever Meulen

2016 may have been a real downer of a year in terms of people dying and other people winning, at least it ended with a flickering light of hope. The final issue of Flemish media magazine Humo sported a cover by none other than Ever Meulen, returning to the podium where he started in the early seventies.

It’s a brilliant piece in watercolour, promoting Humo’s campaign to support the homeless around Christmas.

Hello, again.

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So long, Master Cooke

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Earlier today it was announced that cartoonist Darwyn Cooke has died. Even though I never met the guy, I feel like I’ve lost a friend, somebody who was there when you needed him and offered advice and comfort.

Allow me to elaborate. I started reading comics fairly late in life, having been raised on Franco-belgian bandes dessinées for most of my youth. By the mid-80s I discovered American comics, which by then had decided that they didn’t have to cater to kids. And so super-heroes, those colorful mirages of the past, became broody and gritty and bloody. Computer coloring introduced a huge new palette of mostly greys and sombre tones. Any situation was threat to the very existence of human life and required intimate knowledge of some fifty years of backlog. Comics, in a word, became tiring and bland, the opposite of the excitement I’d felt when I read my first BDs.

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I kept reading Batman, though, and came across Ego, in my opinion the best Batman book ever written. And I mean ever. Ego is a child of its times, focusing on Batman’s (and Bruce Wayne’s) psychology and the almost freudian aspects of his motivation. But that art! Those layouts, those amazing settings, it was like a super-stylised noir movie had come to life to discuss Bergman.

And then came The New Frontier, Darwyn’s masterful retelling of the origin of the Justice League. Against the threat of ugly, dully colored flesh monsters, he put real humans in colorful costumes, with a background of slick 50s design, years before Mad Men made it mainstream. And like only a true genius can, he also managed to combine global political and social trends and evolutions with individual psychological strains and burdens of his character. But never, ever was this a dull comic. The moment the Martian Manhunter enters the story still gives me goosebumps.

I can go on. His Parker adaptation must be the only real hard-boiled crime book series I’ve ever read. And his take on the Minutemen was, in my opinion, about the only Before Watchmen story that actually was on a par with the original (again focusing on psychology and internal motivation).

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I simply love Darwyn’s pages, the way he draws his comics as if he’s directing a 70 mm cinemascope movie. The New Frontier‘s typical page only contains three frames, about the size of a widescreen TV, and still he manages to play with the rhythm of the story. The playful, almost sketched lines in Parker insinuate more than they show, and the single supporting color adds depth, meaning and atmosphere at the same time.

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A giant has passed, who was able to turn any “property” into something valuable again by adding a touch of humanity, history and pizzazz. Hats off, gentlemen!

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Niemann gets all animated on the New Yorker

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For the cover of the New Yorker magazine’s May 16 issue, illustrator and cartoon genius Christoph Niemann created an augmented reality animation that for once is actually good. When viewed through the lense of a smart phone with the special UnCovr app, the two versions of the cover, showing a New York city dweller boarding the subway, actually come to life with a vibrant animation of the city and the subway that runs through it like a blood stream through a beating heart.

I’d seen endeavours like this before, but never a stylish one like this. Which only shows that the tools don’t make the master, it’s the master using the tools.

ps – since Uncovr looks for the cover’s images to trigger the animation, you don’t really need the actual magazine to sample this little visual treat. All you need is an adequate image of the cover, and the app (iOS or Android).

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