THE BLOG AT THE CROSSROADS
Posted: April 18, 2014
What grabs your attention? What floats your boat? How do you choose what to pick up and what to put down? We all have our personal quirks and taste buds and these gleanings from the upcoming month’s new releases are clearly unapologetically biased. If you’ve seen a lot of comics, and believe me, I have, you see a lot of repetitious writing, drawing and above all thinking. Styles, compositions, poses, faces, ideas, that ring alarm bells, because they sure feel awfully familiar. What lies beneath the veneer, the tropes, the sheer unthinking? Sure, sometimes, but only sometimes, looks, first impressions, can be deceiving and there’s more there than meets the eye. And then there are those special times when you pick up a comic and almost immediately you start to see things you’ve never seen before, read texts and enter a story that catch you off-guard. You feel it as it forces you to think and feel afresh, and literally ignites your brain and starts building new synapses. Those sort of comics are rarer but they are out there and worth hunting down. They might well be among these PG Tips. Happy hunting! Read my PG Previews for June 2014 here…
Posted: April 10, 2014
Here’s the trailer for the revealing and inspiring documentary movie about the life and art of Bryan Talbot entitled Graphic Novel Man, directed by Russell Wall from Digital Story Engine. Be among the first to see this film as the opener for a Comics Unmasked event at The British Library on its opening day, Friday May 2nd. Book your tickets now and join Bryan and his wife and co-creator Mary Talbot, winners of the Costa Biography Prize, and Kate Charlesworth, artist on their brand new graphic novel Sally Heathcote Suffragette from Cape, in conversation with critic Rachel Cooke from The Observer.
Posted: April 10, 2014
This was one of the most delightful TV interviews I have ever done, a relaxed and fun 25 minutes chatting with Czech actor-presenter Marek Eben. I recorded it in Prague last November when I was over to help launch the Czech edition of 1001 Comics You Must Read Before You Die. It went out on Czech television a few weeks ago, dubbed into Czech of course, but you can listen to the original English version online here. I’m in pretty star-studded company actually, from Judi Dench to Sting!
Posted: April 1, 2014
It’s off to the printers in Italy today, Comics Unmasked: Art and Anarchy in the UK, the amazing large-format, 192-page, 6-chapter book by my co-curator pal John Harris Dunning and me to go with the British Library exhibition from May 2 to August 19! Here’s a sneak peak of the front and back covers illustrated by inimitable Jamie Hewlett. Published by The British Library, £25 paperback, £35 hardback. Look out for the exhibition posters going up all over London any day now!
Posted: April 1, 2014
When experimental Swedish comics artist Knut Larsson met up again with David Lynch in Stockholm in 2010, Lynch dedicated a copy of his Catching the Big Fish (2006) to him in big capitals as ‘KNUT the GREAT’. Akin to entering Lynch’s worlds, reading Larsson’s imagistic myth-making feels like a hypnotising dream, or perhaps a daydream. As Larsson admits, “I sometimes write my dreams down, but I don’t remember them very often. My comics are daydreaming primarily.”
In his graphic novel The City of Crocodiles (2014) from Borderline Press, Larson envisages the waterworld to come, when global warming and rising sea levels submerge and transform our planet into someplace strange. With landmasses flooded, cattle-farming has been replaced by crocodile-hunting, using every part to make into shoes, chess pieces, soup, burgers, ornaments and more. Stranger still are the masked cultists who tie the living beasts to their backs for ritual combat, and a siren with a crocodile tail who seduces a widower fisherman. His speechless, soundless ‘crocotopia’ brims over with eerie elegance and eloquence. Read the rest of my Article and Knut Larsson’s brand new strip here… (Photo portrait courtesy of & © Idha Lindhag).
Posted: March 27, 2014
As I touched in Comics Art, my latest book from Tate and Yale, in Korea ‘webtoons’ are a remarkable phenomenon, an addictive online version of Korean manhwa with some 10 million people downloading episodes of their favourite gags and serials every day onto their smartphones and while surfing the internet (example menu below). The ubiquity and speed of Wifi is a major factor in boosting this appetite for low- or no-cost, portable digital comics that you vertically scroll through. Might daily webtoons just be a wave of the future of comics reading and creation elsewhere?
So it’s a real pleasure and buzz to get the chance to talk with a top webtoonist Yoon Tae-ho (above), who is over next month as part of the Korean focus at this year’s London Book Fair. He is famous for his unique works such as Moss, later adapted into the successful film of the same name (below).
Last year his prequel to director Bong Joon-ho’s film Snowpiercer (based on the French graphic novel by Lob & Rochette, translated by Titan Comics) was released as a webtoon entitled The People who Board the Train. If you like the sample below, take a look at more of his great comics at online publisher Daum here.
Yoon will be at the Korean Cultural Centre off Trafalgar Square at Grand Buildings, 1-3 Strand, London WC2N 5BW on Tuesday April 8th, 7-8pm, for a ‘Toon Talk’ discussion with me and comics creator Ilya, author of Room for Love from SelfMadeHero. We’ll be exploring his career and techniques in both print and pixels and the mutability between online and print formats. There’s simultaneous translation, so it should be genuinely revealing exchange. Tickets are free but limited, so email info[at]kccuk.org.uk to reserve a place - book now! Join me and discover the comics of tomorrow!
Posted: March 12, 2014
Liam Geraghty from The Book Show on RTE Radio 1 in Ireland has just let me know that you can listen to his interview with me as part of their new feature on Tove Jansson & Moomins on Sound Cloud. It starts 8mins 48seconds in. She was born on August 9th 1914 so this year marks her centenary. Back in 2010 I was lucky to curate this tribute exhibition at the Belgian Comics Centre in Brussels - take a look!
Posted: March 10, 2014
As well as co-curating the Comics Unmasked: Art and Anarchy in the UK exhibition at The British Library in London from May 2nd till August 19th, and co-writing the accompanying book of the same name, I am also one of the judges for the exciting, international British Library x Arts Thread Comics Unmasked Competition. Among others on the jury are award-winning comic book artist Dave Gibbons (Watchmen, 2000 AD), managing director and publisher Emma Hayley (SelfMadeHero), and Salem Brownstone author and exhibition co-curator John Harris Dunning. It’s open to everyone worldwide aged 16+ who are students, graduates or professionals for less than 3 years in the design industry. Simply create a single-page 9-panel comic exploring one of the six themes in the British Library’s Comics Unmasked exhibition and you could win a £1,000 cash prize. The deadline is midnight on Sunday April 20th. Best of luck!
Posted: March 8, 2014
Famed for his distinctive takes on superhero icons X-Men, Superman and Batman and currently drawing Mark Miller’s Jupiter’s Legacy, Glaswegian comic-book illustrator extraordinaire Frank Quitely (pen-name of Vincent Deighan) is profiled in a fascinating 30-minute ‘fly-on-the-wall’ documentary, episode 9 of the series What Do Artists Do All Day?. It was shown last Tuesday March 4th on BBC Scotland, is available on BBC iPlayer till Monday 11th, and will be repeated on BBC Four on Tuesday March 18th at 10.50pm and Wednesday March 19th at 2.20am.
Posted: March 5, 2014
Hey, I hope you enjoy looking through the forthcoming brand-new titles I’ve picked out for you, as I do every month. It’s another heady mix of classics and moderns, English-language and translations. I just received the Spanish edition of Flesh and Steel, the Russ Heath exhibition catalogue, which is revelatory, seeing so many of pages (and complete stories) as crisply reproduced original artwork with perceptive commentary and biography by Florentino Flores. If I had to pick just one original graphic novel this month, I’d wholly recommend This One Summer by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki. They work magic on the page and in your heart. This will be a gem you’ll treasure. Read my PG Previews for May 2014 here…