Archive for November, 2009

Jamaica Dyer interview

November 25, 2009

I love Jamaica Dyer’s comic Weird Fishes. Nothing else is exactly like this strange surreal tale of adolescence, imaginary friends and a guy walking around in bunny suits who decides that he wants to fit in. I love the substance, the style and the way she serializes it and how that method forces her to think about it differently than other comics. One of my fav webcomics and something to check out. Plus there’s now a book.

Peter Kuper Interview

November 25, 2009

There’s no cartoonist quite like Peter Kuper. The man has been a force in comics for the past three decades, co-creating and editing the anthology World War 3 Illustrated, there’s the fiction, the autobiographical fiction, the travel books, the syndicated comic strip, the picture book, the adaptations of Kafka and Upton Sinclair, the memoir, the illustrations and covers for Newsweek and Time and Harper’s. Plus there’s Spy vs Spy in Mad Magazine which he took over in 1997.

He has a new book out from PM Press. Diario de Oaxaca is a collection of journal entries and sketchbook pages from the years Kuper and his family spent in Oaxaca in 2006-2008, a time that encompassed the drawn-out teachers strike, the police attacks on the strikers and the death of a journalist followed by the Mexican army being called in to restore order.

Matt Phelan interview

November 20, 2009

I got to talk with Matt Phelan recently about his new graphic novel “The Storm in the Barn.” It’s a gorgeous book illustrated in delicate watercolors about a young boy growing up during the Dust Bowl.

Sesame Street is over 40

November 20, 2009

Wow that’s old. It’s interesting to watch the show now and see just how much it’s changed since I used to watch it. Even more shocking to watch the episodes from the 70’s. The show’s defining moment was probably the death of Mr. Hooper. When the actor Will Lee died, the producers chose to address the issue head-on by having the adults explain death to Big Bird and why Mr. Hooper wouldn’t be coming back.

I still have songs from the show that I think about from time to time (does anyone else remember the “Honker-Ducker-Dinger Jamboree” or “Born to Add”?). There’s Kermit singing his now-immortal song “Bein’ Green.” Monsterpiece Theater and Alistair Cookie. I remember the specials like the Christmas special where Big Bird waits on the rooftop for Santa Claus, or when Big Bird and Snuffy get lost in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, or the trips to China or Japan. I remember when Big Bird’s imaginary friend Mr. Snufflupagus was shown to be real and was introduced to everyone. Ernie and Hoots the Owl sining “Put Down the Duckie.” Ernie’s song about not wanting to live on the moon.

They still do great work and have sketches and guests with great parodies. Feist’s “1234” parody is brilliant. The Desperate Houseplants parody. Then of course there’s the now-classic Ricky Gervais and Elmo interview out takes (look it up on youtube – not suitable for kids!)

It was Mr. Hooper, though who changed the show. It’s easy to be jaded and cynical about television, but every now and again we’re reminded what is possible. Here’s to forty more years.

Angora Napkin cartoon

November 4, 2009

Earlier this year I talked with the Canadian cartoonist and animator Troy Little about his new graphic novel “Angora Napkin.” At the time he was working on the animated pilot of “Angora Napkin” which he described as “Nightmare on Elm Street” meets “Hello Kitty.” It’s fabulous and twisted and funny and unlike a lot of cartoons that might fit that description, it doesn’t look cheap. It’s only online for a few more days. Go vote. This is what the world needs right now. More Angora Napkin.

Dave Roman and Raina Telgemeier interview

November 4, 2009

Dave and Raina, besides being an incredibly cute couple, are fearsome cartoonists. Besides the many projects both of them are working on separately they’re co-writing a new X-men manga series. It’s as if they put years of X-men comics into a blender and hit frappe and this is what they ended up with. Not to everyone’s taste but it’s worth it just for the character designs.

Tony Lee interview

November 4, 2009

Most comics fans know Tony Lee as the writer of IDW’s ongoing “Doctor Who” series, but this fall there’s a new graphic novel “Outlaw” which is Lee’s take on Robin Hood and it’s an enjoyable mix of familiar elements and some new takes on the material. We talked about that and his other projects including his big graphic novel project for next year about King Arthur.

Walter Kirn interview

November 4, 2009

A while back I talked with Walter Kirn. The ostensible topic was his new book “Lost in the Meritocracy” and its translation from a short essay in the Atlantic magazine to a book, but we went off on different tangents touching on his novels, education, the upcoming film version of his book “Up in the Air” and other topics. Kirn is in some ways the kind of writer I aspire to be, a successful novelist and journalist who lives in Montana. It was a great conversation.