Simmer Down, Dave…

During the late Spring/Early Summer of 2010, Jon Mathewson (whose recent book of poetry can be purchased HERE) corresponded with, Cerebus creator, Dave Sim via fax.  That interview, which Jon has titled The General in His Labyrinth, is previewed here for your enjoyment.  If you’d like to read more, and there is a whole lot more, please support Panel to Panel over at Kickstarter.com and pre-order your copy today.  As I write this, there are less than 20 days left in our fundraiser, and we still have a lot of ground to cover.  Please take a look at the excellent rewards we are offering, and find the pledge level which best suits your budget.  We here at Panel to Panel are eternally grateful for your support.

Jon Mathewson: You are a patient guy.  One thing that has always impressed me about you is your ability to see the sweep of time, and your place in it.  A the age of, what, twenty-three?, you saw how to turn Cerebus from a series of monthly satires to an epic encompassing politics, religion, and “dangerous philosophy.”  You saw Cerebus life ahead of you, and spent the next couple of decades telling it.

So: I read Glamourpuss in 2010, and enjoy your examinations of photo-realism and comics’ internecine fights of yore, but I wonder, where do you see Glamourpuss, and where you are now, in the greater sweep of your career?

Do you see any similarities between your pariah status and the way Ezra Pound was treated by the literary establishment of his day?

Dave Sim: Ha Ha.

Oh, sorry, you’re serious.  Or pretending to be, anyway.  No. Ezra Pound was a Nazi sympathizer and dupe.  In the context of our present age, I’m the only one who ISN’T advocating the Marxist-Feminist totalitarian dictatorship, the only one who DOESN’T think that capitulation to the “one right way to think” is the correct course for a civilization.  I’m being treated the way I’m being treated because I’m enunciating common sense – the impossible things to believe before breakfast are as impossible now as they were when I came up with them.

In the same way that the good Germans persevered through the 1930s and 1940s, I have persevered through the 1970s, the 1980s, the 1990s and the first decade of the 21st century basically living the way they lived: waiting to be arrested for not thinking the right way, hauled before a human rights commission or, basically, waiting for the other shoe to drop on a daily basis.

I do good work.  I do the best work that I can, just as if it would be given a fair hearing – which it isn’t since it doesn’t conform to the only way we are allowed to think in the 21st century – that the Marxist-Feminist dictatorship is the only way to think: if you aren’t a Marxist-Feminist you’re a misogynist.  I like to think that fifty or a hundred years after I’m dead there might be a restoration of common sense, in which case my hard work will be appreciated.  I think it unlikely that it will happen in my lifetime.

I work from the moment I get up in the morning until I go to bed at night.  I pray five times a day.  I observe a Sabbath.  I fast nine days out of ten.  I do Glamourpuss, Cerebus Archive and Cerebus TV.

I have preserved a daily record of the ongoing campaign by Marxist-Feminists to destroy me.  On the other side of things, it documents my perseverance in the name of freedom of expression and the wide spectrum of viewpoints which exist in our society in spite of the dictatorship we all labour under.

My best guess is that all traces of my passing will be eliminated at the point of my death, or at least the attempt will be made.  It’s all totalitarians are capable of doing, whether you’re talking about Nazis, communists, Marxist-Feminists, al-Qaeda or the Taliban.

Where am I now?  I haven’t been destroyed yet, but not for want of trying on the part of those trying to destroy me.  That’s the situation I’m in, which is the same situation I’ve been in for sixteen years.

Kickstarter

“It’s totally fantastic and unique as Hell. Pretty high-and-lowbrow book, with no wishy washy middle! Can’t wait to get it in my hands!” -Mort Todd (Cracked Magazine, Marvel Music, comicfix.com)

Panel to Panel has just launched a fund raising campaign on kickstarter.com!  That means that for the next thirty days, I’ll be hustling and bustling and spreading the word about Panel to Panel in hopes of raising a considerable amount of cash to help cover the initial start-up and printing costs for this massive project.  The book is finished and ready to go, and by supporting this project on kickstarter you’ll be pre-ordering yourself a copy and helping to get the book printed at the same time!  Review copies have been sent out to various creators within the comics industry, and response has been overwhelmingly positive!  Once the kickstarter campaign is launched, I’ll be updating this blog, as well as the facebook page, more often with updates on it’s progress and all the cool rewards P2P will be offering it’s supporters.  One reward I’m happy to reveal tonight, is the rockin’ t-shirt design by comic great, Mort Todd!  Mort has been a great supporter of this project from the very start, and it’s a real honor to have him design our shirt.

Strange Bedfellows

 

Artwork © Jim Woodring

It was nearly a year ago now that Daniel Barlow sat down and chatted with Jim Woodring, via email, for the upcoming inaugural volume of Panel to Panel.  Here’s a look at a portion of that conversation.

Daniel Barlow: You recently completed an artist-in-residence for the Rasmuson Foundation in Alaska. During that time you worked in a little town called Homer and stayed at a place called the Mermaid B&B, both of which sound like they could be right out of a Frank comic. What was this experience like?

Jim Woodring: Well, it was heavenly. Homer is a strange little shangri-la of a town. It has a cosmic charm. I can’t begin to describe it. Everyone I’ve met who has been to Homer has felt that strange magic. The scenery, the people, the small-town atmosphere… it was just great, a memorable experience.

Barlow: Were you working on your comics while in Homer? Did that environment affect your comics at all?

Woodring: Yeah, I think so. I drew ten pages of Congress of the Animals there and they came out pretty good.

Barlow: I’ve never been to Alaska. Did anyone say, “Sorry for Sarah Palin?”

Woodring: Yes. Everyone I talked to thought she was a disgrace. I never brought her up myself, out of courtesy, but she was much on their minds. Alaska is very conservative overall, but the people who live there are relatively tough and no-nonsense, and the ones I talked to, at least, didn’t approve of her flightiness and empty rhetoric.

Sacré bleu!!

These, and many other, images of the infamous censoring of Marvel Comics by the French Government appear in the upcoming Panel to Panel.  In an article written by Jean-Emmanuel Deluxe, MARVEL 14: The Incredible History of France’s Censorship of Marvel Comics discusses the sad history of how an entire country’s perception of these early and dynamic comic books would be watered down and made more “palatable” by government officials; all in the name of protecting it’s youth.  Crazy, huh?

Thanks so much to Jean Depelley for providing us with these extraordinary images.

Teenage Wildlife

© Archie Comic Publications, Inc.

One of my favorite features in Panel to Panel is an article entitled, “Deft Mastery: The Genius of Early 1960’s Archie Comics” by Philip Charles Crawford.  Now I’ve never been a huge Archie Comics fan, but these 10 pages by Philip have forever changed my opinion of Archie Andrews and his fun loving gang of friends.  After initially reading “Deft Mastery”, I’d decided to send a copy out to cartoonist, designer and author Craig Yoe.  Who better than Craig to view this article and give us a little feedback as we wrapped up the editing process?  Well that feedback turned into an interview, which will now run along side “Deft Mastery”.  It was a great opportunity to pick Craig’s brain and discuss, in detail, his feelings about Archie Comics.  You see back in November 2010 when we spoke, Craig was also wrapping up a project, his recently released book,  Archie: A Celebration of America’s Favorite Teenagers.

I hope you enjoy this preview, as much as I enjoyed chatting with Craig.

John Rovnak: In the past, you’ve written about fetish art (Secret Identity: The Fetish Art of Superman’s Co-Creator Joe Shuster) and good girl art (Dan DeCarlo’s Jetta) in comics, would you also include Betty and Veronica on the continuum of good-girl art?

Craig Yoe: Oh absolutely. I think nobody had sexier girls than the Archie Company.  They’re just drawn in such a beautiful way.  They’re buoyant and wholesome, yet a little sexy.  They’re teenage girls that anybody with blood flowing through their veins would want to date. [Laughs] Well maybe there are a few exceptions and some people that don’t swing that way; but if you like the female species, then Betty and Veronica are at the top of my list of hot looking girls.  As an elderly gentleman I can say I appreciate them, but they are after all teenagers, so I‘ll be sure to appreciate them from afar. [Laughs]

Rovnak: Who do you prefer, Betty or Veronica?

Yoe: Definitely, there’s no doubt about it, I’m a Veronica guy!  I’ve always gone for girls like Bettie Page, Morticia Addams, and Annette Funicello; and maybe topping that list would be Veronica Lodge.  Definitely.

Ain’t That A Kick In The Balls!

In the fall of 2010, I had the privilege of interviewing Mark Bodé.  This was an extreme honor, and I couldn’t be happier with the results of our conversations.  Here’s a sample…

John Rovnak: Whether it’s the Cartoon Concerts, mural events, tattooing, or just comic conventions, the Bodé’s seem to be “showmen.”  This is a rarity in comics; our industry doesn’t have many outspoken talents; ones who can rattle the cage a bit, or ones who push many envelopes.  The music industry has them, the book industry has them, and the film industry has them.  Why not comics?

Mark Bodé: There are many degrees of being an entertainer. I figure whenever a comic artist draws in front of people at benefits or auctions it’s a showman thing. The flash, the style, the quickness.  But really no one goes for a full-blown stage show or stand-up routine like my father and I have done.  My dad hated being a hermit, day in and day out over a drawing board, never seeing the public’s reaction to the hard work being done. So after some thought he came up with pictography format which had the balloons separate from the panels so he could do a reading of the art without having people read ahead of you. A kind of ultra cheap animation if you will.  I took it on as I saw it as another promotional tool that kept us in the public eye and I understood the voices and genetically I have the same voice as my father.  All these showmen acts are promotional tools which adds up to making a living as an artist…   When I do a mural I send out a press release and make sure it’s a media event, spray can murals can unfold before your eyes unlike brush painted murals which take lots of time… so its exciting to watch an artist or artists get down with spray cans. I’m unsure why there are not more performing comic artists out there, it comes down to its a solitaire business and you get used to being a hermit and just showing up at conventions when you want to come out of that shell.

Our Gang

Artwork © Mark Masztal

Who is this amazingly attractive group of individuals?  Why that would be the core group of contributors to Panel to Panel.  Have you ever seen a better looking group in comics?  I think not.

What we have here are, P2P designer, Mark Masztal’s beautifully rendered pencils for the Contributors page in the upcoming Panel to Panel book.

Starting at the left of the top row, we have Mark Martin, Stephen R Bissette, Rachael M Rollson, and Philip Charles Crawford.  In the middle row, from the left there’s Daniel Barlow, Jean-Emmanuel Deluxe, and Experience Kring.  And finally from the left of the bottom row is Jon Mathewson, Me (John Rovnak), and Mark Masztal.

 

Keep Your Pants On!

Things are still moving ahead here at P2P central.  It’s getting very, very close to being wrapped up and completed.  It’s looking like the final page count will be 268 pages!  Have I mentioned that non of these pages are ads?  That’s right folks, 268 pages of full-color with NO ads.  And it’s all looking really nice, if I do say so myself.

32 of those pages are devoted to a single cartoonist.  A cartoonist who already wears a number of hats, and just recently added another to his hat rack; he was recently named Cartoonist Laureate for the state of Vermont.  That’s right, I’m talking about James Kochalka.  Panel to Panel is proud to be bringing you 32 pages of Mister Kochalka’s rock poster art, and here’s a sneak peek:

…but most of all, I’d like to thank the Lord of Darkness.

Artwork © Mark Masztal

Late last year I interviewed Glenn Danzig.  Yes, THE Glenn Danzig.  THE punk rock legend.  THE metal god.  THE comic publisher.  And the latter is exactly what we talked about.  We talked about comics.  His comics, and other people’s comics.

I’ll admit, he was a bit intimidating at first.  But once we got rolling, he really seemed to enjoy talking about words and pictures, and really seemed to be in his comfort zone.  He has lots of opinions, and he’s not afraid to share them, and that’s exactly why it was so much fun to talk with him.

After the interview was completed, I’d posted on the Panel to Panel facebook page that I was looking for a Danzig fan who could draw, because I needed an image to go alongside the interview.  Well I received a couple of responses, but among those responses was one which would end up making a much bigger impact on P2P than I could have ever initially imagined.  A gentleman by the name of Mark Masztal responded, and mentioned that he would love to come up with an image.  Now I knew Mark by way of mutual friends, and I was familiar with his small-press work in the mid 1990’s, and I’d even met him back in ’95 when he’d attended the Alternative Comics Expo (ACE) which was part of the Spirits of Independence Tour stop, which I’d helped organize.  So all that said, I told him what it was I was looking for, and waited patiently for the results.  Well the result was the image you see above, at the beginning of this post, and I was blown away!!

Now why was Mark’s response more important than I’d ever imagined?  Well, after he and inker Bill Anderson completed the Danzig image, Mark kindly offered his services in the way of lay out and design for P2P.  Now this all happened right as I was realizing that any plans I’d already had for a designer were disappearing quickly.  So I told Mark that I would love a little help, and any contribution would be appreciated.  Well that little turned into a lot, and his contribution to the look and feel to Panel to Panel has been astronomical!  Without Mark, there would be no Panel to Panel, and in the end I guess I have Glenn Danzig to thank for that.  Just another example of “everything happens for a reason”; which is quickly becoming Panel to Panel‘s mantra.

So enjoy a sneak preview of my conversation with Glenn.  And enjoy the sneak preview of Mark Masztal’s fabulous image for the article.  (If you think this is cool, wait until you see the inked and colored version!)

John Rovnak: Comics have a long history of struggling to be taken seriously and fighting for notoriety and acceptance.  Many people nowadays would say that with all the huge Hollywood blockbusters based on comics, and comics having cracked the book market, that comics now have achieved in a lot of ways what’s it’s been fighting for.  I disagree. I see comics becoming more of a “gateway drug” to Hollywood; a vehicle that exists solely to sell concepts to film producers, and the original comic gets pushed aside. What are your thoughts about this?

Glenn Danzig: I know that there are comics that are only put together to attract a movie or TV or video game deal.  Obviously that’s the wrong reason to do a comic.  But from a businessperson’s standpoint, it’s the right reason.  A lot of these companies, at the end of the day, are businesses.  So somebody like Paramount or 20th Century Fox, they don’t care about comics, they care about making money.  If that studio doesn’t make money, everybody is out on the street and everybody is fired.  The doors shut…  They have a bottom line that they have to think about, so I can’t fault them for that.  But on the same token, that’s not what Verotik does.  It is what it is, man.  You choose your bed, and then you gotta lie in it.  If nobody takes you seriously, then it’s your own fault.  Nobody else’s…