Tag: cartoonists

Saul Steinberg’s horizontal line

At Apollo magazine, artist Martin Rowson writes about a newly published edition of 1960’s The Labyrinth, from cartoonist Saul Steinberg:

Collecting published and unpublished drawings, and meticulously arranged by Steinberg himself, the book begins with a horizontal line, bisected initially by some geometry, and then providing a platform for one of Steinberg’s trademark ragged crocodiles (he was nearly eaten by a crocodile on a trip to Kenya with Saul Bellow). What we can expect, turning the page, is to not know what on earth we can expect. As a writer who draws, he might be about to wrangle this line into a letter and then into a line of words; or it might become a horizon, the reflecting surface of a lake, a washing line, a collar, the edge of a room, a strand of a labyrinth exploding up and down the page. But then you turn the page to a procession of talking heads, each producing vast, abstract yet baroque speech-bubbles. This is so much more than Paul Klee’s ‘taking a line for a walk’: Steinberg takes it on a forced march, a drunken lurch and a frenzied fandango.

The Labyrinth is available from New York Review Books. In December, The Paris Review published the new book’s afterword, which originally appeared as an essay by art critic Harold Rosenberg in 1966. Read Rowson’s whole piece at Apollo.

Pierre on Plath

Cartoonist Summer Pierre reviews for The New Yorker‘s site two collections of letters from poet and novelist Sylvia Plath, who suffered from depression and took her own life in 1963. For her drawn consideration of the books, Pierre works in color, sharing context and her reaction to Plath’s letters by way of a long scrolling column of single panels organized vertically. The focus swings between the artist-as-critic in her Hudson Valley area home—digesting these volumes that have her both spellbound and heartbroken—and renderings of Plath, frequently at the typewriter, preparing what is “over fifteen hundred letters” she sent to her mother, her brother, and others. Read “Sylvia Plath’s Last Plan” here.

Also this month, Pierre spoke about her process and the making of All the Sad Songs, her new graphic memoir, in detail with Gil Roth on his Virtual Memories Show podcast.

I wrote about Pierre’s ongoing autobiographical Paper Pencil Life comics/zine series as well as her brand new graphic memoir All the Sad Songs. It’s great to see her A) working in color and B) doing long(er)-form stuff. Her books and art are available at her Etsy store.

Liana Finck on Longform

Cartoonist Liana Finck, who has a comic-based advice column at The New Yorker and a new graphic memoir out called Passing for Human, is interviewed on one of the only podcasts I regularly listen to. On the Longform Podcast, Finck talked about Passing for Human, which took her six years to produce before she looked for an editor. It began as a comics adaptation of Vladimir Nabokov’s The Real Life of Sebastian Knight before it became clear that it should be a memoir:

By the time I heard from Nabokov’s estate that I wasn’t allowed to do that, I was maybe very five hard-worked pages in, so I slowly started changing that into fiction that was just based on The Real Life of Sebastian Knight. It turned the two brothers…one is a brilliant writer who has died and the other one is telling his story; it takes place in, I don’t know, 1930 or something…and I changed those to two sisters who were growing up in the 80s, and I set it in my childhood house. And that’s how it became a memoir.

Listen to the whole episode here, and see a recent comic from Finck at Catapult.

Note: I love the Longform Podcast. The interviews, which are usually conducted with a writer of nonfiction—such as a contracted magazine writer or a reporter—about the path to said writing job, the way that she/he tells a story, etc., can be really riveting.

Gabrielle Bell is only partially present

gabrielle bell cartoonist spiralbound

There is a short but very worthwhile dialogue at “What Should We Do?” with New York City-based cartoonist Gabrielle Bell.

Bell talks about her affecting work a bit, but I appreciated the conversation around the term “willingness” as it refers to “embracing” women as trailblazing creators within the comics industry as well as the discussion of the subtle (and not subtle) sexism, “ghettoization” in general:

WSWD: Over the course of your career, how have you seen the landscape change for women creators in comics?
Bell: It has altered significantly. Sexism in general has become more subtle. There are a lot more women artists and writers in the field, but that’s not always reflected by representation. You’ll have “autobiographic comics” panels at conventions that will be all women, and that will be it for female creators. By not calling it “women in comics,” there’s a presumption of progress, but it’s still an industry that’s prone to ghettoization no matter what you call it.

WSWD: Are you detecting a greater willingness for women to be embraced as important figures in the field? As an example, there’s been a turn of late to view Aline Kominsky-Crumb as a canonical creator.
Bell: I think it’s great that women artists are being embraced, but “willingness”? I find the use of that word kind of ridiculous. With Kominsky-Crumb, you’re talking about a great comics artist who has dedicated her life to the work and has changed the field in fundamental ways. Why wouldn’t she be canonized or embraced? To be frank, I am just tired of having the conversation in those terms.

Read the whole interview here.

Bell is making comics regularly for Spiralbound at Medium and elsewhere. Her latest is “Her Life to Live.” Back in 2014, I wrote about Truth is Fragmentary: Travelogues & Diaries, a mostly black & white collection of Bell’s travel comics, introspective strips, and more.

Image: © 2018 Gabrielle Bell. Buy her books—all of them.