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The Streisand effect is alive and well

To date, Mr. Queen is the only artist who has taken this kind of action - other artists and publishers seem to understand Escher Girls & other similar sites are fair use and criticism, and that fan discussion, positive or negative, is important and helpful to their business. (In fact, the creators I’ve interacted with are either fans of EG, or expressed disagreement but know that it’s fan criticism.)
Escher Girls is a blog that exists to criticise and point out the more egregious examples of bad anatomy and sexy contortions to be found in American comics. It was subjected to DMCA takedown notices by cartoonist Randy Queen, perhaps best known for nineties Image Comics classic Darkchylde. Once the news spread, he doubled down by threatening legal action for defamation. As an attempt to stifle criticism, it failed miserably.
posted by MartinWisse on Aug 4, 2014 - 87 comments

Comics has an outrage problem

We use the presence of passion to first diminish and then dismiss arguments. The offended must play by the rules of the unoffended, or even worse, the offenders, in order to be heard. You have to tamp down that pain if you want to get help or fix it. You can see it when people say things like “Thank you for being civil” when arguing something heated with someone they disagree with. Civility is great, sure, but we’re forcing people who feel like they’re under attack to meet us on our own terms. In reality, passion shouldn’t be dismissed. Passion has a purpose.
David Brothers on outrage, passion, civility and being made to feel welcome or unwelcome in the comics community.
posted by MartinWisse on Jul 18, 2014 - 46 comments

Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s Akira

Ever wonder what some very well known anime/manga characters would look like had they been designed by American cartoonists?
posted by MartinWisse on Jul 14, 2014 - 16 comments

Orientation Police

"I’m gay. I date men. Some of those men have vaginas."
A short comic about dating trans men by cartoonist Bill Roundy, previously featured for his Brooklyn bar review comics. (You may also like his gay romance comics, e.g. this unauthorised Northstar romance.)
posted by MartinWisse on Jul 11, 2014 - 86 comments

On quitting superhero comics

Like…I don’t eat pork. I quit swine in ‘99. I could tear up some porkchops and bacon as a kid, but it wasn’t a struggle to quit pork. I don’t think back like “man, remember how good that porkchop was back in ‘97, second week a May?” But I do that with Spider-Man—the Return of the Goblin arc, his first meeting with Luke Cage, that time Betty Brant said something nice about him and he was like “Dang, i never noticed her before, but she’s cute AND she’s on my side” like a doggone teenaged idiot, Mary Jane going Sibyl to get a soap opera job and dodging stalkers…I can recite it chapter and verse. So cold turkey wasn’t really an option, or rather, I wasn’t in a position where cold turkey was feasible.
On his Tumblr, David Brothers talks how hard and easy it was to give up reading Marvel and DC comics (edited version from his blog)
posted by MartinWisse on Jun 17, 2014 - 70 comments

Logan, even as head chef using your claws to cut vegetables is wrong

That time Wolverine teamed up with "celebrity" chef Chris Cosentino and made fun of vegetarians.
posted by MartinWisse on Jun 5, 2014 - 27 comments

Arnie Roth

Remember when Captain America had a gay best friend?
posted by MartinWisse on May 30, 2014 - 74 comments

When comics were weird and progressive

These days, there’s a broad consensus that the Comics Code — which has been endlessly discussed and condemned by comics historians — was disastrous, and that it damaged comics. But nearly all of the critiques of the Code focus primarily on its dire consequences for white men’s artistic freedom, or the disservice done to readers in coddlingly denying them explicit sex and violence. What’s less discussed is the fact that independent women, and people of color, and all sorts of stories that didn’t fit with the compulsory patriotism and cop-worship of the 1950s, essentially vanished from comics for decades. This is a loss that comics are still wrangling with.
Saladin Ahmed explains how censors killed the weird, experimental, progressive golden age Of comics [more inside]
posted by MartinWisse on May 16, 2014 - 28 comments

"Everybody dies someday - At least I saw Provence first"

"For most of my life my everyday choices were based on the assumption that I could not trust other people. I thought it was my job to foresee and prevent all harms from befalling me. [...] My life has been better since I've accepted two simple facts. ONE: everybody dies (sorry). TWO: I would like to live a little first." -- Don't let fear stop you from traveling, a cautionary comic by Natalie Nourigat, part of her webcomic/travel blog about living in France for a year. You may know Nourigat from her Oregon Book Award nominated autobio college comic Between Gears.
posted by MartinWisse on Apr 22, 2014 - 58 comments

"A place to start a conversation about inequalities of representation"

"The Harvey/Renee Index doesn’t distinguish between the different types of Renees. Any character who can be identified with one or more groups that are currently marginalized based on race, ethnicity, sexuality, or gender is a Renee. Anyone who is white, non-Hispanic, cisgender, straight, and male is a Harvey." -- Diversity in the Big Two's superhero comics being a perennial hot topic, Comics Alliance comes up with a novel way to quickly establish a diversity baseline: the Harvey/Renee index. (Named of course for Gotham's greatest cops Harvey Bullock and Renee Montoya.)
posted by MartinWisse on Mar 18, 2014 - 31 comments

"Ireland at this time had a largely cow-based economy"

"I’ve said this many times before and I’ll say it many times again, but one of the joys of webcomics is their ability to cover every possible subject and fill every conceivable niche. Say, for example, you’re into early Irish literature and you want to read it in comics form. Webcomics are happy to help you out. At this very moment, in fact, there are at least two ongoing webcomics based on the Táin Bó Cúailnge, or Cattle Raid of Cooley, the central epic of the Ulster cycle: Patrick Brown’s The Cattle Raid of Cooley and M.K. Reed’s About a Bull. Thank you, webcomics! You’ve justified the existence of the Internet yet again!" -- Shaenon Garrity reviews two niche webcomics.
posted by MartinWisse on Mar 16, 2014 - 17 comments

"the first manga to be released stateside"

In 1931, at a time when the American comic book barely existed, Henry (Yoshitaka) Kiyama wrote and drew the semi-autobiographical Manga Yonin Shosei, possibly not just the first graphic novel, but certainly the first manga published in the US, written in a mixture of Japanese and English. [more inside]
posted by MartinWisse on Feb 26, 2014 - 3 comments

All the bees for my necklace of enemies

Morally ambiguous honey badgers, or what happens when creative people get bored on Twitter.
posted by MartinWisse on Feb 16, 2014 - 18 comments

Morrie Turner, December 11, 1923 – January 25, 2014

"Morrie Turner, a cartoonist who broke the color barrier twice — as the first African-American comic strip artist whose work was widely syndicated in mainstream newspapers, and as the creator of the first syndicated strip with a racially and ethnically mixed cast of characters — died on Saturday in Sacramento. He was 90. " [more inside]
posted by MartinWisse on Feb 13, 2014 - 20 comments

What's next? Criticial attention to videogames?

Ng Suat Tong presents the best online comics criticism of 2013. Particularly recommended (by me): who white washes the Watchmen.
posted by MartinWisse on Feb 11, 2014 - 23 comments

What's it really like to be in comics

Throughout February, comics blogging giant David Brothers is doing a twice weekly series of interviews for the Inkstuds podcast, talking about "what cartoonists, academics, bloggers, critics, and other people in or adjacent to comics do". The first episode, in which he talks to Jimmie Robinson about Bomb Queen, Five Weapons and surviving in comics, is up now at Inkstuds and Comics Alliance. (Which has a lot of Five Weapons artwork up, so you might want to use that.)
posted by MartinWisse on Feb 6, 2014 - 4 comments

Every morning she reads the comic and kinda gives me critique

Ordinary Bill is a perfectly good comic strip loosely based on creator Will Wilson's and his girlfriend's lives. Last Sunday that connection was more noticable than usual, as Wilson used his cartoon stand-in to propose to her. Fortunately, she said yes.
posted by MartinWisse on Feb 4, 2014 - 35 comments

Desert Island Strips

With Watchmen, The Dark Knight Returns and Maus taken as given, which comics would you take to a desert Island? (part 2)
posted by MartinWisse on Jan 24, 2014 - 63 comments

Forget technique, tricks, cheating, faking

Back in 1986, comics legend Alex Toth did a thorough critique of a Steve Rude Johnny Quest story. He didn't mince his words. (About Toth, Rude)
posted by MartinWisse on Jan 22, 2014 - 15 comments

If you're sick of Garfield and Mary Worth

If the funnies in your local paper have gotten you down, with their limited space and xeroxed gags, why not take the wayback machine to the Golden Age of newspaper strips, courtesy of Gocomics' Origins of the Sunday comics? Started July last year and curated by Peter Maresca, it shows off how sophisticated and beautiful the American comic strip was almost from its birth in the 1890ties .
posted by MartinWisse on Jan 19, 2014 - 15 comments

Bureaucrats and grunts

"One series that I’ve kept up with, however, that doesn’t get enough credit for its cast of active, intelligent females, is B.P.R.D., written by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi, and currently drawn by a rotating group of artists, including Tyler Crook, James Harren and Laurence Campbell." -- Craig Fischer explores some of the female characters in Hellboy and B.P.R.D
posted by MartinWisse on Jan 16, 2014 - 8 comments

The Politics of the Superhero

"This symposium explores the relationship of superheroes to questions of power, ideology, social relations, and political culture. It represents the first time that a political science journal has devoted sustained attention to the superhero genre as it is reflected in the pages of comic books and graphic novels, and on the big screen." -- PS: Political Science & Politics holds a symposium on The Politics of the Superhero. [more inside]
posted by MartinWisse on Jan 14, 2014 - 43 comments

Where does he get those wonderful toys?

"When I first saw Oliver had something called a "Stickum-Shaft Arrow," I worried that it was some kind of Silver Age, Native American racist caricature arrow. Nope! It's just a long, hard shaft he fires at his eventual lover Black Canary, which covers her in sticky goo. No problems there!" -- Rob Bricken looks at Green Arrow and his less than useful trick arrows. Not that Hawkeye does better.
posted by MartinWisse on Jan 9, 2014 - 75 comments

Apparantly I'm now a world champion

"That is not to say that Oglaf depicts a perfect world. There is a dark side to its humor and it can depict humiliations and sex coerced through magic and subterfuge and through dominance. When a king wants his court wizard to transform him to look like the duke so he can sleep with the duke’s wife (a variation on a scene from Excalibur), he realizes it is easier to order the court wizard to transform himself into the duke’s wife and the king fucks him instead." -- Osvaldo Oyola explains the timeless appeal of Oglaf. Not remotely safe for work.
posted by MartinWisse on Jan 8, 2014 - 72 comments

Hands up who wants to see the thriumphant return of Jaxxon?

"Now, nerds have a long memory. I am dead certain that somewhere out there in the great world there are fans who are looking forward to once again buying "real" Star Wars comics. There are probably even a few brave souls who entertain the notion that Marvel will simply pick up with issue #108 (in spirit if not in deed) as if the subsequent thirty years were just a bad dream. " -- As long expected, Marvel will start publishing Star Wars comics again next year. Tim O'Neil looks at what this means from a fannish point of view.
posted by MartinWisse on Jan 7, 2014 - 40 comments

The X-Men are curious (black)

"Simply changing the skin color of the mutants obviously doesn’t address all of the issues around privilege in the Marvel Universe. The visual and narrative sexism that permeates superhero comics remains intact. Some characteristics of white characters also become negative stereotypes when applied to non-white characters. Wolverine is a symbol of wild, untamed, white male power, but when I recolor his skin to imagine him as a person of color, his snarling, predatory aggression reads as a stereotype of wild black men." -- Orion Martin reimagines the X-Men as mutants of colour to make clear why the idea of mutant discrimination as standin for real world issues is problematic. He does so by recolouring some famous X-men images. [more inside]
posted by MartinWisse on Dec 18, 2013 - 104 comments

It’s a Midwestern strip

From 1989, when Calvin & Hobbes was still pretty new, The Comics Journal's interview with Bill Watterson. The interviewer was Richard Samuel West.
posted by MartinWisse on Dec 6, 2013 - 18 comments

What could be better than seeing your favourite wrestlers in comics?

The strange history of WWE wrestling comics.
posted by MartinWisse on Nov 22, 2013 - 1 comment

"Pop Art of a poor man’s country"

Poor Little Rich Boys: The Art of the Mumbai Circulating Library, by Ryan Holmberg, The Comics Journal's resident Indian comics specialist.
posted by MartinWisse on Nov 20, 2013 - 1 comment

From the Annex of Ideas

Starlogged is a "celebration" of all things British and geeky, with a focus on 1972 - 1995 and Marvel UK, especially their early nineties attempt at creating their own superhero line. A true nostalgiafest for people raised on dodgy black and white reprints of American comics and hardcover annuals.
posted by MartinWisse on Nov 5, 2013 - 8 comments

Graphing the Marvel Universe

"He calls this the Tao of Hawkeye. You can’t just have a database around Hawkeye, right? Not if you really want to understand Hawkeye over time. Because Hawkeye isn’t just Hawkeye. He’s also Ronin and Goliath and Clint Barton. Sometimes he’s dead. Oh, and by the way: he started as a villain. Who remembers that? -- Back in the eighties people like Mark Gruenwald and Peter Sanderson guarded Marvel Comics' continuity. These days Peter Olson tries to do the same for a much bigger Marvel using science and math.
posted by MartinWisse on Nov 4, 2013 - 62 comments

The Lighter Side of...

My Friend Dave, twentysix mini essays on Dave Berg, longtime Mad Magazine cartoonist, by Craig Fischer.
posted by MartinWisse on Oct 28, 2013 - 15 comments

No Spandex

Name Five Strong Female Characters Who Don't Wear Costumes And/Or Don't Have Superpowers.
posted by MartinWisse on Oct 20, 2013 - 119 comments

A different sort of hell

"Technically it’s not a book at all: The Great War is actually one continuous drawing, a 24ft-long panorama narrating the British forces’ experience of 1 July 1916, spatially and chronologically, from orderly morning approach to chaotic battlefield engagement to grim aftermath. There are no boxes of text or speech bubbles, no individuated characters, instead Sacco portrays a mass event in painstaking, monochrome, almost technical detail. It’s like a cross between Hergé and the Chapman brothers; the Bayeux Tapestry as a silent movie." -- Cartoonist Joe Sacco's latest project, The Great War is about one particular day in the War: 1 July, the start of the Battle of the Somme. [more inside]
posted by MartinWisse on Oct 18, 2013 - 20 comments

Figuring out George Carlson

"In the year 8113 A.D., the most remembered cartoonist of our time may not be any of our currently revered comics creators. Not Winsor McCay, George Herriman, Jack Kirby, Robert Crumb, Art Spiegelman, or Chris Ware. As incredible as it may seem, long after the last comic books of our time have crumpled into dust, the cartoonist of our era that People of The Future will dig (perhaps literally) could be a guy named George Carlson — an under-appreciated, largely overlooked cartoonist, illustrator, game designer, and graphic artist extraordinaire" -- In a two part series for The Comics Journal Paul Tumey explains why George Carlson is the best cartoonist you've never heard off.
posted by MartinWisse on Oct 16, 2013 - 10 comments

Of course Boomerbutt has a pet koala called Rebound

Like pets? Like DC superheroes? Like Art Baltazar's artwork on Tiny Titans and other kid friendly DC comics? Then you'll love the DC Super-Pets Character Encyclopedia, as reviewed by J. Caleb Mozzocco for Robot 6.
posted by MartinWisse on Oct 15, 2013 - 14 comments

"The Fantastic Four (1961-88) was The Great American Novel"

"The Fantastic Four is the Great American Novel. It is therefore the modern Shakespeare.
The Fantastic Four is an allegory of the most powerful nation in the history of the world, during its triumphant phase: from its first man in space (1961) to the end of the cold war (1988-9). A nation is understood through its art, and the superhero comic is America's unique contribution to art." [more inside]
posted by MartinWisse on Sep 30, 2013 - 66 comments

"the greatest unlauded daily strip of the post war age"

Fawkes always noted that “the cartoonists know me as the one who plays the clarinet. The jazz people say I’m the one who does the cartoons.” -- TCJ's Adam Smith interviews British cartoonist & jazz musician Wally Fawkes, who played with the likes of Sidney Bechet and Humphrey "ISIHAC" Lyttelton. He gave up jazz for cartoons and for forty years was the artist on the classic UK newspaper comic Flook, which featured writing by a host of well known names like George Melly, Barry Took, Compton Mackenzie, Barry Norman and Humphrey Lyttelton again.
posted by MartinWisse on Sep 13, 2013 - 4 comments

Bring me the head of Boba Fett!

In 2002 the Eltingville comic-book-science-fiction-fantasy-horror and role playing club made the leap from the pages of Evan Dorkin's Dork comic into an animated pilot for Cartoon Network's Adult Swim, as Welcome to Eltingville. Sadly the series wasn't picked up, but the pilot is available on Youtube: part 1, part 2, part 3 (bonus title music by the Aquabats. Sadly so far the Northwest Comix Collective hasn't made the same leap.
posted by MartinWisse on Sep 4, 2013 - 21 comments

The Only Woman Caricaturist

"Mary Williams adopted the name “Kate Carew” and wrote candid, witty interviews with luminaries of the day, including Mark Twain, Pablo Picasso, and the Wright Brothers. She adorned her interviews with her unique “Carewatures,” and often drew herself into the scene. Imagine Oprah Winfrey as a liberated woman caricaturist-interviewer in 1900 and you have an idea of who Kate Carew was. -- The Comics Journal's Paul Tumey rediscovers a cartooning pioneer in the course of a review of a new book about early US comics. [more inside]
posted by MartinWisse on Aug 31, 2013 - 4 comments

How to draw comics the Charlton way

Hey kid! Are you a budding young talent anxious to present your work to the world, but not quite sure how the professionals draw comics? Well, the wise guys at Charlton are ready to help you with their 1973 comic book guide for the artist-writer-letterer.
posted by MartinWisse on Aug 30, 2013 - 21 comments

"The Hero who Created a Thousand Heroes."

"The reason I picked the over-used cliché “behind the lines” for this series is probably going to be pretty obvious. Each month I’m going to take a look at Jack Kirby original pencils and examples of Kirby original art — images that reveal information not in the final newsprint publications. I may also take a look at some scans of Jack’s pencils from the 70s and compare those to the printed books. Mainly I want to focus on Jack’s famous margin notes from his 1960s work so we can get a glimpse into the Jack Kirby/Stan Lee collaboration." -- On what should've been Jack Kirby's 96th birthday, Robert Steibel starts a new column at tcj.com looking at the King's artwork. [more inside]
posted by MartinWisse on Aug 28, 2013 - 16 comments

We're all waiting for the other kids' moms to throw theirs out first

"We talked about how it’s crazy that there is this generation of comics collectors that basically all have the same collection. Exactly the same. Like the one we just saw. And how it’s (basically) worthless. And how those collections were worth real money even ten years ago. Maybe more like 20 years ago. Remember G.I. Joe #2 from 1982? It used to be worth 40 bucks. Now, just a click away, there are 6 used from various sellers starting at 99 cents. Spahr joked that we should have all sold when the market was at its peak in the early ’90s." -- Bad news for those of us who wanted to fund our kids' college funds with our comics collection: even rare comics are worthless now.
posted by MartinWisse on Aug 23, 2013 - 128 comments

an overly-rendered red boot stamping on the reader's disinterested face

"With two years' hindsight, it is more and more apparent that the true shift signified by the advent of the Nu52 was that individual characters no longer matter (to say nothing of creators). The most important brand is not Superman or Batman or Green Lantern and certainly not Shazam or John Constantine, but DC Comics - oops, sorry, DC Entertainment. The most important thing for them is that they have a cohesive universe that can be presented as a legible whole. The great triumphs of superhero comics have traditionally come as a result of the genre's strange, disreputable, tatterdemalion profligacy. But it's becoming harder and harder for companies to justify extending that kind of creative freedom in regards to characters who might each and every one of them (in the minds of Warner Brothers executives) end up as their next billion-dollar franchise. The cruel irony is that without being able to offer that kind of freedom and trust to individual creators, the stories become sterile and vapid, and the IP is degraded. Marvel for the time being have managed to figure out how to walk the tightrope between control and liberty, enough so that a not-insignificant percentage of their line is actually very good, and many more books are pleasantly readable. There just aren't that many DC books I'd stop to pick up for free off the street. " -- Tim O'Neil reviews DC Comics' latest crossover, original sin and why the NuDC is so anemic.
posted by MartinWisse on Aug 7, 2013 - 63 comments

Like the cuckoo clock, comics no longer a Swiss invention

So the Scots pride themselves on basically invented everything that makes modern life worth living and now they can add comics to their list. William Heath's The Glasgow Looking Glass was first published in 1825, twelve years before Rudolphe Töpffer's Histoire de M. Vieux Bois.
posted by MartinWisse on Jun 28, 2013 - 18 comments

But will the beliebers like it?

Back in the early nineties Harvey Comics published a series of licensed New Kids on the Block comics. Sadly for Justin Bieber, Harvey Comics no longer exists, so instead he has to make do with the very unlicensed and very nsfw Sean T. Collins/Michael Hawkins created Biebercomic.
posted by MartinWisse on Jun 18, 2013 - 9 comments

The Mouse from Uncl^h^hcanny valley

In 1966, with America in the grip of spy fever, some bright spark at Dell/Gold Keythought it would be a good idea to have the long running Mickey Mouse comic join the bandwagon. This didn't mean just getting Mickey to dress up as James Bond. It was much more bizarre than that. For three issues Mickey was running around in a human world, thwarting the plans of assorted evil villains, rescuing beautiful female agents, do all the things any other self respecting super spy would do, just as a cartoon mouse. The way they went about it was to have regular Mickey Mouse cartoonist Paul Murry draw Mickey and Goofy in his normal funny animal style, while Dan Spiegle, a much more realistic artist, drew the rest of the strip. The results were striking.
posted by MartinWisse on Jun 7, 2013 - 16 comments

I wouldn't say craft is the enemy, but it's no friend of mine

"I just felt suddenly like I had to write and say craft is the enemy! You could labor your whole life perfecting your “craft,” struggling to draw better, hoping one day to have the skills to produce a truly great comic. If this is how you’re thinking, you will never produce this great comic, this powerful work of art, that you dream of. There’s nothing wrong with trying to draw well, but that is not of primary importance." -- Back in 1996 a young James Kochalka made a name for himself by writing a screed against craftmanship to The Comic Journal's letterpage. Now the whole exchange, including responses by Jim Woodring and Scott McCloud, is online at the Journal's website.
posted by MartinWisse on Jun 6, 2013 - 46 comments

Happiness is having your own library card

Do you like libraries? Do you like comics? Then Library Cartoons, Comics and Drawings is relevant to your interests. Need more? There's always Libraries in Pop Culture. Not satisfied yet? Unshelved is the internet's longest running librarian comic, previously featured for its pimped out bookcarts contest, but also worth visiting for the regular Friday bookclub.
posted by MartinWisse on May 28, 2013 - 5 comments

A Frenchman in Brooklyn

In April, French cartoonist Boulet (previous, more previous) was invited to go on tour in the US, courtesy of the French embassy in New York. As a good 'webcomic', he kept a diary of his impressions of New York, the language barrier and going to the MoCCaFest, and also had a book to sell, a reworked edition of his 2012 24-hours comic Darkness (previous).
posted by MartinWisse on May 24, 2013 - 23 comments

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