Shaner, Gaiman, Schulz

It’s Sunday, it’s cold outside and I’m huddled up with books. Can’t really think of anything better to post today than this old Evan “Doc” Shaner piece from before he was a hot shot artist. It’s got the Morpheus and Death and Charlie Brown and Lucy and it all fits. What’s not to like? Sometimes an image does say more than a thousand words.

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Dan Clowes loves Apple

Before they went into smartphones and tablets and whatnot and became a global media company, Apple liked to cater for what may be called the creative industry. And so they created ads with representatives from said creative industry to promote the quality of their computers. Such as one Daniel Clowes, hip cartoonist and self-proclaimed psychotic artist.

With enthusiastic fans like these, who needs critics?

(short note – I tried to embed a small mov file of this ad that I had lying around, but couldn’t get it to play. So for the sake of completeness, I’m including it like so)

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We’re not going out

The tagline for this New York Times January 17, 2021 supplement may be “We’re thinking outside the box”, Giacomo Gambineri‘s intricate full page illustration comic seems to be predominantly screaming “We’re not going out”, expressing the melancholic frustration of being stuck inside due to the well-known circumstances, and wondering how things might be different.

A wonderful piece that looks like it has more meanings than it seems on first glance, and that proves Gambineri to clearly be more than just another Chris Ware-like miniaturist.

Illustration © 2021 The New York Times Company, with thanks to Mike Rhode for the photograph – why is this gem not available online anywhere?

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Michael Cho covers return to Marvel

I’m a big fan of designer and cartoonist Michael Cho, almost enough to make me want to go and  buy the numerous special editions he does for various publishers. Take, for example, these Marvel Comics issues announced for March, 2021, with special two-tone Cho covers.  I won’t buy them in the end, because I know that the characters mean nothing to me beyond their iconicity. I don’t know their current storyline, their backstories or who’s currently in charge of writing and art. 

But I like what Cho does with them. His heavy brushstroke is reminiscent of a classic 60s comics style, but with a certain sophistication that is most definitely from the Twenty-First century. In my opinion, the best of this series is the Immortal Hulk #44 cover, which could just have been a pinup insert in a bronze age book.

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Real Bommel sneakers

They have nothing in common but their name: the colourful and flashy shoes made by Dutch designer Floris Van Bommel, and cartoonist Marten Toonder most celebrated creation, honored gentleman Olivier B. Bommel (or Bumble, as he is known in English).

But as the french say, les extrêmes se touchent, and so Floris delighted everybody recently by announcing a new sneaker, dedicated to the noble bear. The shoe will be available from March, 2021 and will feature Bommel’s trademark red-and-yellow checked coat design, as well as his very likeness on the tongue.

All proceeds from the shoes will be donated to the Toonder Compagnie, dedicated to perserving and promoting Marten Toonder’s legacy. Van Bommel presented the organisation also with the bommel.nl domain, but that is currently not (yet) in use.

So, if you’re willing to spend € 219 ($ 265) on these sneakers, you will be bang on trend when the official Olivier B. Bommel themepark is scheduled to open…

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Cleveland comics!

The 2021 edition of Cleveland Scene‘s annual comics issue is currently available in Issuu format on their website. The magazine was curated by Vagabond Comics‘s Sequoia Bostick and Amalia Degirolamo, who also provided the cover. Comics on the theme “What if” were provided by Kelly Bahmer-Brouse, Matt Haberbusch, Grace LaPrade, Samantha Nunoo, Abriana Rosu and Gabby Zematis, and generally reflect the current climate of exasperation with that pandemic, already!

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Many Panels : Concrete

Earlier this week I wrote about an attempt to translate Paul Chadwick’s comic Concrete to film. That reminded me that early on in the early Concrete run, Chadwick created what is probably one of the ultimate Pages Of Many Panels.

In the story The Great Transatlantic Swim, which first appeared in Concrete #2 (1987), Concrete does an attempt at swimming the Atlantic Ocean as a promotional stunt. Things go not as planned, but then they wouldn’t or you would not have a story.

Early in his narrative, Chadwick includes a page with no less than 150 panels showing Concrete swimming through the night, with the sun only rising in panel 144. The effect is totally different than in the other examples we’ve seen thus far: comedy is very far away here. Chadwick perfectly shows the tediousness and utter boredom (and thus pointlessness) of the feat that his hero is undertaking.

By the same token, it’s as if he is starting to doubt the viability of his subject matter, and wants to get rid of the swimming as soon as possible, just to get to the good part when things go belly up (literally).

Also interesting is that this page is in fact an elongated echo from a similar, much shorter, fragment three pages earlier, showing Concrete swimming during the day. The automatic pilot that Captain Vance refers to may as well be what Chadwick tries to avoid by getting the swimming out of the way for the benefit of the story.

Imagery reprinted from Concrete Vol. 2, “Heights” (Dark Horse Comics, 2005) © Paul Chadwick and Dark Horse Comics. Used for reference purposes.

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Build your own Smurfs home

Hot on the trail of our animated Daltons toy, here is a new project from yesteryear. Why not build a Smurfs house of your own? In fact, why not print out 99 and make yourself a real Smurfs village? These plates were published On October 5, 1961 as a free supplement to Spirou magazine nr. 1225, and according to the instructions they make for super-easy construction as long as you use scotch tape. En avant, les amis!

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Moving Concrete

I’ve always been a fan of Paul Chadwick‘s Concrete. It was one of the first American comics I picked up after I got tired of what I thought of as the grind of European bandes dessinées, but also was a bit weary of the tights-and-capes world of superheroes. Concrete showed me the potential of superheroes beyond capes and powers, and how poetry and empathy could find a place in a story of superpowers

In 2001 CGI animator Zeke Norton, then the CGI Animation Director for Mainframe Entertainment, created an animation test for a possible film based on the Concrete comics. Even though the footage is 20 years old, and the character design looks a little slick to me, it made me wonder what a Concrete film would look like. Or even a series — an off-beat hero with sensibilities would be perfect for this streaming world.

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Let me read you from the comics!

I have wonderful friends who share the most amazing things. This ad from the Ft. Lauderdale Sunday News announces a Sunday radio show where “Uncle Bill Smith” reads the comics over the radio for kids who either don’t have the paper, or who can’t read yet.

This brilliantly old-fashioned thing reminded another friend of Fiorello Mayor La Guardia of New York City, who read the funnies over the radio during newspaper strikes of the 1930s, and “The Comic Weekly Man” (which ran on Mutual 1947-1954), with Lon Clark and Cecil Roy.

I was reminded of this photograph, with Flemish comics superstar Willy Vandersteen reading one of his Suske en Wiske books to his eldest children, Lenie and Robert. And of course of the countless hours that my granddad and parents used to read comics to me, until long after I was able to read myself. I don’t think I did this often with my children — I read lots of books and stories to them, but comics I thought a bit difficult.

Ah well, another good reason to open a bottle of melancholy.

(Vandersteen photograph from “Ik vier het elke dag” by Erik Durnez © 1978, NV Scriptoria Antwerpen)

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