Dear Comic Booklings,
How's it going? Oh, really? OK, don't actually care. Here are the things of import happening right now in the world of drawings, paintings, inkings, and drawings with words in them.
Look at this beautiful drawing by Jack Kirby of the Invisible Girl. This is a beautiful composition. We see the Invisible Girl sitting next to what appears to be her friend the Thing, but is really just a bust. Behind her are human-size puppets. This drawing seems to be about the realness of fictional characters.
Johnny Ryan has been taking the Christian comics by Jack Chick and amending them so they are all gross and Johnny Ryany. Here are a handful of them that I'm allowed to post on VICE. Check out the really dirty ones over at his Tumblr.
I can't read Japanese, so I have no idea what these beautiful magazine covers are from. Probably some early Manga form of Sasquatch porn. Check it out.
Here's a horrifying prank poster that James Harvey made and put up in Tokyo a few years back. Well, enough sharing. Here are reviews of comics:
Men's Group / The Video
Picturebox published a new spiral-bound book of Ben Jones stuff, and it's so cool. It's like if McSweeney's weren't for uptight nerds/by uptight nerds (FUNBUN).
The book starts with screengrabs of photos that people posted on Instagram from Ben Jones's Roadtrip 2012—the giant video painting that looked like psychedlic Mario Kart. It is mentioned that Ben Jones didn't ask their permission since it is in the spirit of the thing. The thing being Instagram, not art.
So then there's a series of essays about the nature of manliness by Dan Nadel, Gary Panter, Peter Saul, Joe Bradley, Phil Grauer, David Kramer, Keith McCulloch, and Nicole Rudick all printed on thick, pink paper.
And then there's a section that's completely a different size and paper stock with stills of video-projected moving paintings that Ben made.
Then there's some drawings printed on green paper.
Then there's some drawings on yellow paper. That's the book.
I asked Ben Jones a few questions about this book. He has a show coming up at Ace Gallery in January 2014, and he wanted me to mention that.
VICE: Tell me about how you first became aware of Dan Nadel.
Ben Jones: I saw a brown book (The Ganzfeld) that had an essay on The Simpsons in it. I remember thinking, This book is both ahead of its time and is so nerdy that it will never register in most people's reality, a.k.a. this book "doesn't give a fuck." I also remember that it had a comic which had been blurred in Photoshop. A blurred comic... wow. Dan's book "had" me at hello.
Do you remember your early impressions of him?
He and I have an eternal, Highlander-esque friendship. I knew exactly who, what, and why he was when we met. I think we got down to making a book in the first 40 seconds after meeting.
Can you tell me about the previous projects that you two have done together?
Men's Group was supposed to come out two years ago. We had wanted it to have a denim cover and nude photos of women. And before that, we were in Switzerland doing a festival. It was like the movie In Bruges, a movie about being stuck in a beautiful European tourist town with another dude.
Your book starts with photos that other people posted of your show to Instagram. Do you feel like people's tendency to use their phone to share everything they see on the internet is changing the kind of art that people make?
Good question. That thing I made (Roadtrip) wasn't art. It was a rave mixed with a Vega auto-show kiosk. I think the thing that is changing what kinda art people make are midsize galleries in New York, who want to be on the cutting edge, financially, of whatever the next "splatter paint" is—so much so, they curate, promote, and synthesize a false culture of creativity.
If you could add more things to this book without having to worry about price what would you have added?
An interactive CD-ROM with a blueprint of the Wu-Tang house. And the denim cover.... with splatter paint on it.
I also did an interview with the book's publisher, Dan Nadel. Here it is.
VICE: Can you tell me about how you were introduced to Ben's work?
Dan Nadel: I first saw Ben's work at the Small Press Expo in September 2000. I was there debuting The Ganzfeld, an anthology I started with Tim Hodler and Patrick Smith. Ben was sitting behind a table, maybe with Ted May, and was giving away his comics. Those comics were (and are) really great.
Tell me about getting to know Ben personally and your previous creative activities together.
Ben did some animations for The Ganzfeld website somewhere around 2001 and then I used to send away for all his and Paper Rad's zines. In 2004, he did some comics for The Ganzfeld 4, and in 2005, we met up at the opening of his Super Mario/Cory Arcangel collaboration. I offered to publish a book of his work, he agreed, and we enjoyed working together.
Let's see… we've done a total of four books of Ben's work, a couple of newsprint publications (including his Batman collab with CF), prints, bags, shirts, DVDs, etc. Ben even designed and co-edited the final issue of The Ganzfeld back in 2008. I curated a show of his in Athens, Greece, and we did a gig together in Luzern, Switzerland. So yeah, we've worked together a lot. We sort of bring out each other's better artistic-conceptual instincts. Ben is good company. The kind of person you want in a foxhole with you.
Do you miss when Ben had long hair?
You really did something neat with your new book. Tell me about the design process. Did you plan on making it spiral-bound from the get-go?
Well, each book project we've done together has been an entirely new concept and design scheme. That's part of the fun. The initial idea of Men's Group was to make a normal book, but it became apparent that the wide variety of work and formats lent itself to something else entirely.
Everything good about that book design is due to Norman Hathaway, who designs a lot of PictureBox stuff and is the author of Overspray, and with whom I co-wrote Electrical Banana. Norman basically took a pile of material and wrestled it into shape. It was his idea to make it spiral-bound, and his idea to make it a kind of folio of different formats. He just plugged in his brain. Ask any artist who has worked with him: Norman rules without mercy.
What do you think of the McSweeney's books?
McSweeney's is one of the reasons we started working on The Ganzfeld in 2000. What Dave Eggers has done is really incredible on a bunch of levels, and I have a ton of respect for him. Just like any other company, they put out stuff I like and stuff I don't like. But who cares. That it exists and continues to prosper and innovate is only a good thing. Drag City, Dischord, McSweeney's, Fantagraphics.
Are you ever afraid that your design will draw attention away from the subject you're trying to present?
No. Luckily it's not my design—it's Norman's—but really, in the case of Ben's book, I think the design is all about foregrounding the content.
Do you and Chip Kidd know each other? Are you friends?
I do know Chip. He's just co-edited and designed a book for PictureBox called The Passion of Gengoroh Tagame: Master of Gay Erotic Manga.
Oh, God that sounds good. I had hoped there might be a video in the book. Are you hearing that a lot?
No. No more videos in books. That's what the internet is for.
The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec 2
Adele Blanc Sec is a female French adventurer in old-time Paris dealing with supernatural crimes. She scowls through her adventures—which are so full of dialogue that the word balloons cramp the page—and at the end of the book, she is shot and killed, which was strange and surprising. Though probably won't be for you.
Tardi is a master of comics, but this book's pacing is dragged down by every character saying everything they have on their minds at every moment. The drawings are very pretty, though.
Amazing Mysteries: The Bill Everett Archives Vol. 1
These are some crudely drawn, but often pretty comics from the late 30s. The stories were written for children a long time ago and aren't terribly gripping to me at 28 now, but the cover art and individual sequences of panels are pretty neat. I am 28.
Terry Dodson & D-P Filippi
This is a very well-drawn, very softly pornographic, steampunk fantasy comic about a big-titted blond lady who takes a job being a governess for a boy-inventor, who makes a lot of steampunky inventions. At night, she has strange, realistic dreams in which people try to seduce her and fail. The plot is sort of nonimportant.
The drawings are tight pencil lines that were darkened and then colored in digitally. The art is similar enough to Adam Hughes's work that if you didn't know who drew it, you might think it was by him. The only problem I have with the art is that the digital painting seems inconsistent with all the old-timery in the story.
This is basically a book for people who fetishize steampunk technology and drawings of a woman with big boobs, where you only see them naked occasionally, but most of the panels are centered on them. Which I guess makes this pornography for people turned on by antique technology but scared of seeing actual human sex or adult relationships. The boy does try to seduce an adult woman at one point, but sadly never effs her.
Arthur Bradford and Lisa Hanawalt
Lisa Hanawalt can make great stuff and usually does. McSweeney's usually makes overly designed books that have the illusion of class. They have come together to make a large children's book that Lisa drew and some guy who works with handicapped people wrote.
This is not Lisa's most pretty art. Her best stuff are her watercolors, to me. She did some nice watercolor stuff for the end papers and the dust jacket folds out into a neat poster. The final spread of the book has a lot of funny drawings of animals. My favorite thing in the book is that when you remove the dust jacket, there is a drawing of one slug observing another slug embossed into the cover.
Whoever put Lisa on this project was probably thinking, Lisa draws good animals, and we need some animals in this book. There are too many kids and not enough animals, though. Still needs more animals. Also, more watercolor. Too many drawings of kids. It feels like she didn't get that excited about this book.