Sunday, May 15, 2016


Several weeks ago the cartoon editor of The New Yorker, Bob Mankoff, sent out an APB to cartoonists to submit Donald Trump gags. For the first time in the magazine's history, all of the cartoons in an edition were aimed at a common target.

None of mine were chosen, so I present some of the rejects here.

BTW: Drawing Trump's hair is an interesting problem. Googleimaging "Trump caricature" results in a variety of approaches for tackling his coiffure. Nobody seems to understand exactly how it works.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Teaching in Italy

The Scuola Internatzionale di Comics is run by some very nice people in Florence, Jesi, and Pescara: Marco Bianchini, Raphaela Massacesi,Vanessa Petrucci, Graziella Santinelli and  Sara Sasi. 

Here is one of the videos that they made of me teaching:


Sunday, April 17, 2016

HYPE: Join me in Umbria

I will be holding a week long Graphic Novel Workshop in Umbria at the end of August. 

Got an idea for a graphic novel that is stalled and needs a jump start? Maybe what you need is a chance to get away and recharge the creative battery? 

And when I say get  away...I mean FAR away! 

Our host, Michael La Placa, owns the largest palazzo in the small hilltown of Bettona. Just take a look at the rooms in the link above to see how spectacularly he has renovated and furnished the joint. Plus, word on la strada is that Michael is a hell of a chef. Comics? Comfort? Italian cooking? Vino? What else could you ask for?

Well, let's toss in a few side trips to nearby Assisi and Orvieto to uncover the tricks of Renaissance “cartoonists” like Giotto, Perugino, Pinturicchio, and Signorelli. 

Sign up today!

La dolce vita!!!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Angouleme 2016 Postscript

Angoulême 2016 postscript

I left the international comics festival in Angoulême this past February pretty much resolved not to return. By most accounts the festival was a disaster. Others have reported, much more succinctly than I, how out of step, out of touch, and out of decent coffee this event has become.

This year’s blatant misogyny and insensitivity revealed the uncomfortable truth that the festival is tired and stodgy.

Going to Angoulême is like going to the elephant’s birthday party only to be stomped on by the elephant who does not know why people are making such a fuss over getting ground into the mud as he greedily finishes off the entire birthday cake.

...And yet, in the midst of this narrow-minded sediment for members of the boys' club, there are nuggets of shiny comics-related expertise and esoterica. Things happen to me there that could only happen in Angoulême

A few days before the festival began, Jean-Pierre Mercier, the Director of the Musée de la Bande Dessinée, invited me out to lunch. We took the short cut through the museum and out the back door, passing, along the way, the frantic last-minute hanging of the Morris exhibit.

Morris was a cartoonist who created a much-beloved character named Lucky Luke and in doing so cemented some fundamental rules for 20th century French cartoonists, namely to make comics about the American West and limit yourself to only one name.

Most of such cartoonists beloved by generations of Europeans leave me cold. And I mean truly beloved. While suggesting that the festival be burnt to the ground may elicit a complicit shrug from a French comics fan, to dismiss Franquin, Gotlib, and Moebius is heresy punishable by being burnt to the ground, yourself.

Morris, however, is to me a different kettle of ink. I kinda like his stuff. He knows how to stage an action and design a page so that every gag pays off and in all sorts of unexpected ways. And here he was, as a part of this festival.

Morris was also one of those guys who did nothing but make comics…well, almost nothing but make comics. In his spare time, he carved little wooden toy figures of his creations…little toy figures that move.

As Jean-Pierre and I trotted through the mounting of the exhibit, we stopped at a glass case not yet sealed and Jean-Pierre delicately reached in and demonstrated Morris’ handiwork in action. Amazing.




Another only-in-Angoulême moment occurred in the Press Room, which, as you may recall from 1930’s movies, is supposed to be a crowded, smoke-filled room lit by a dangling light bulb and badly in need of a paint job. In Angoulême, the Press Room has 15 ft. high windows snuggled by velvet drapes. You can just make out the chandelier in this photo:

(l to r) Paul Gravett, Jean Mardikian, Paul Karasik, and 
someone trying to actually file a story in the Press Room.

And here is where I found comics historian, Paul Gravett, chatting merrily to Jean Mardikian, one of the guys who founded the festival. Gravett’s usual way of chatting to anyone is merrily and he has the uncanny ability to be everywhere at the Festival simultaneously.

The two men were flipping through photostats of pages of British romance comics from the 1970s featuring Carnaby Street ingénues with panda eye-makeup, straight hair, and white hip boots and guys all wielding sideburns that a mouse could get lost in. Not really my cup of tea, but these particular pages were weirdly notable.

On top of each page sat a transparent sheet of acetate bearing a reduced copy of the line art but with the translated English lettered in French inside the word balloons. They had been sitting in Mardikian‘s attic for decades and the transparencies had become semi-attached to the photstats creating an unintentionally wonderful gestalt. Again, only in Angoulême.

So, OK guys (and I do mean guys): get rid of the stodginess of Angoulême. Burn it to the ground, but in its ashes allow for a new festival to arise. Move the commerce to the sides and give the art events some breathing room. Bring the artists into the planning stages to create a new model for the entire festival. And, while you’re at it, skip the whole awards charade. Shake the whole thing up. I really want to like this festival ‘cause things occur to me there that simply do not happen anywhere else on the planet. But some big things must change.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Angouleme 2016

I came to Angouleme a week and a half ago to teach a Masters class on comics and stayed on for the Festival. I have done this several times before but skipped last year. The only notable difference between this year and past years when I attended is the presence of Security Forces everywhere. Two gendarmes stand at the entrance to each tent to check backpacks and wand bodies.

The psychological effect of this is hard to assess, but the physical effect is painfully apparent. Checking backpacks and wanding bodies takes time hence the lines to get into any tent have become  sluggish, especially on the final day of the Festival. Throw some ink-wash gray drizzle on top of this and the mood is far from festive.

This may actually be a good thing for commerce. After waiting an eternity for entrance, once inside where all those comics are for sale, pent up Festival-goers let loose a torrent of repressed euros.

The Festival began with the sexist debacle described in a previous post where women were not included (also known as “excluded”) from the list of possible Grand Prix recipients. Reinforcing this masculine slant, the three blockbuster exhibits feature the works of two dead titans of European comics, and one living Japanese master: all men.

For me, the high point of the festival was discovering the work of Li Chi-tak, yes, also a man, who has been working in Hong Kong comics since 1984 when he was 17. His works range from fairly straight-forward genres (he drew a series called “Black Mask” about a guy who wore a black mask that was made into a film starring Jet Li wearing a black mask), to surreal. My favorite stuff that was on display in a small exhibition of his work at the festival is the surreal series that he drew as a weekly newspaper series.

Here are some pics taken through glass at Li Chi-tak's exhibit:

...and here's a little movie of Li Chi-tak entertaining the masses with a guest appearance by one of my favorite French cartoonists, Vincent Perriot: (hmmm...for some reason this video only appears to work on Firefox browser, sorry.)