October 19th, 2004

smokin'

Cartoonist clippings

A few places where you'll find cartoonists and cartooning off the beaten track:

In the latest issue of American Heritage, the annual "Overrated/Underrated" edition, you'll find (under an Edward Sorel cover), a piece on comic strips by Ron Goulart (the guy who insulted me at an art Spiegelman talk but has apparently not linked me to the incident, as he was very nice to me at the last MOCCA, much to my surprise). His pick for Overrated is Peanuts, he admires the early strips and plugs the Fantagraphics editions, but points to the strips later years, his opinion being that Shulz should've pulled the plug ala Calvin and Hobbes yearsbefore he did. I can understand the point, what strip is more revered and deified by cartoonists and the general public alike, it had a looong run and was arguably weak-to-awful for a long time. For me, it jumped the shark with the coup of Peppermint Patty and Marcy, then there's Woodstock and his attendant cutesiness, later still the horror of Rerun, and the unbearable hell of Spike from needles. There were still great strips and extended riffs amidst the lameness, but I can see his point (although I think Bloom County was grossly overrated, and don't get me started on The Boondocks). His underrated strip was barnaby by Crockett Johnson, and he'll get little argument from me on that one. If there was any strip I'd like to see reprinted in its entirety, Barnaby is the one. I'm fortunate in having the two Holt Howard books, but I regret, I must admit, buying the paperback reprints as a gift for a friend in San Diego one year. I didn't realize at the time they contained more material than the original hardcovers. If I'd known I would've kept them, sorry Brian, but it's the truth. The complete Barnaby, someone? Hello? Helloooo?

Mort Drucker pops up with a Mr. Clean ad running in Better Homes and Gardens (and other publications, I'm sure). A watercolor piece with our favorite closeted interior expert and two teenagers, done up as a fake kid's flick ad. Prettier than his modern Mad work, he really can draw, that guy. He still has the goods.

Ben Katchor (Julius Knipl, The Jew of New York, et al), contributed a one page color strip to the Nov 2004 issue of Metropolitan magazine, a hoity toidy architectural publication we got for free because of airline miles or a promotional stunt or somesuch deal. It's called "The Life of a Chair Breaker" and is typical Katchor, meaning, it's good. I like his usual wash work more than the color work used here, but no harm done.

BTW, I finally finished up the McSweeney's comic edition, and Katchor's stuff stood out for me as the strongest material. Just my opinion. The book, for the most part, confirmed my likes and dislikes as far as the contributors go. I still sit in awe of Katchor, Woodring, Brown, Sacco and others, and still sit and scratch my head over the continued celebration of a one-noter like Joe Matt. I liked the Jeffrey Brown stuff. The pieces by Clowes and Ware, the two people everyone probably turned to first, didn't knock me out. Not terrible stuff my any means, but...eh. Of course, their "eh" is better than most folks scrabbling, deperate attempts at creating their masterpieces. The only person I'm really still on a fence about is Kaz, I can sit still through pages of his cartoons without blinking, then laugh like crazy at a single strip. Rinse. Repeat. Maybe it's just me.

Nothing much else happening other than a lot of monotonous house crap. Our bathroom sink is clogged again, and one of the cats threw up on the couch (again). The door under the sink fell off (again). The fridge is out of whack (again). We were able to get into the garage with Sarah's dad's help (and a drill), but we need to replace both of our doors, they're shot. We had some trees removed from the yard because they were planted in some dopey places by the previous homeowners. One tree was all over the neighbor's house, another all over ours, providing a nice ladder for ants seeking cat food on the second floor. The surviving part of the tree that cracked last year (and collapsed in the neighbor's yard), was trimmed back, we were afraid it would collapse on our house this winter, and the extended branches may have helped cause the damage to the roof that led to the leaks and my ceiling collapse. Which Sarah got an estimate on. Insurance will cover some of this, but it's become a real financial corker, especially with Baby X on the way. And I'm useless with this stuff, so Sarah's had to handle it all while carrying this baby around and trying to do her own work. I just doodle and bitch about the election. In-between all this we did actually get some work done, and we attend birthing classes. Last night's class covered some stuff that made me very, very queasy. If I had to go through labor I'd probably throw myself out of a window.

Back to work for me. Doodling and bitching, bitching and doodling...