BLAB! comics anthology (2023) review

Cover: art by Ryan Heshka

BLAB! Editor: Monte Beauchamp, Dark Horse Books, pp 112, $19.99

Guest Review by Paul Buhle

BLAB!, a creation of the pleasingly twisted mind of Monte Beauchamp and his artists, has been around for quite some time. In fact, the first two issues (1986–87) were published by Beauchamp’s own imprint, Monte Comix. A genius at low-brow art anthologies, Beauchamp began this venture back in the transition or ditch between underground comix and alternative (what might later be called “art”) comics. But art, for Beauchamp, of an almost inexplicable kind.

The title has bounced from his own personal operation, Monte Comix, to Kitchen Sink Press to Fantagraphics and Last Gasp to Dark Horse, where it has become, for reasons known only to Beauchamp, “Blab World!” It was always a planet by itself, and the suspiciously camp rocket-firing goddess on the cover, by Hershka, is clearly interplanetary proof.

Excerpt from “The Death of Comics,” by Noah Van Sciver

Oh, yes, there is some truly understandable stuff here, a lot of it pages by Noah Van Sciver, at 38, the book’s youngest contributor. Louis Wain, a mad artist of cat images in  Victorian Age Britain,  could be a precursive Beauchamp, obsessed with images until he loses his mind. Van Sciver comes back again with a whopper, “The Death of Comics,” aka the story of the best-selling Crime Does Not Pay series. The genius money-making series created by leftwing publisher Ralph Gleason, it encompassed the noir sentiment of the later, disillusioned 1940s as the dreams of antifascist democracy melted into individualism and war-wounded minds that could not be healed.

Excerpt from “The Death of Comics,” by Noah Van Sciver

Van Sciver focuses in on the lives of the Crime Does Not Pay artists, and in particular the genius of graphic sex-and-sadism, Charles Biro. His triumph leads him and the rest of comics into the hands of would-be censors and especially best-selling author Dr. Frederick Wertham. It’s a familiar story to comics devotees, and involves a wider plot of horror comics, MAD’s publisher William M. Gaines, and Congressional hearings that mirrored the hearings held on the purported Communist threat,with near-identical warnings of dangerous Jews poisoning the minds of young Christians. Van Sciver allows himself only a glimpse of the larger picture, because he is following Biro to his own private doom.

Excerpt from “The Death of Comics,” by Noah Van Sciver

A considerable amount of the rest of BLAB! takes us to other strange places in the pulp past, comic book back pages of the 1940s-50s selling miracle hair-replacement liquids, pocket-size miniature monkeys, and other far-fetched hustles aimed at young (or low-capacity) minds. Or to the pulp treatments of great apes, “discovered” only in the mid-19th century, treated as fantastic King Kong types with their hands around near-nude (white) women, or as a link to the link of the “missing link” to the human race, a link that has never been found.  Beauchamp is asking the unasked question, why the obsession, and answering not in prose but by throwing the question back at the reader. Another section offers pages and pages of 19th century attacks on Catholicism, the dangerous threat to everything truly American. Great flying saucer illustrations by Ryan Heshka take us back to the late 1940s and 1950s, the golden era of interplanetary visitations and expectations.

There’s more: Heshka and Beauchamp’s story on Superman’s inventors Siegel and Schuster, taken from Beauchamp’s own anthology Masterful Marks (on great comic artists) is wonderfully weird. He has created no iconic comic figures, neither prompted the empire of capital in comics or been cheated out of it, but he is so much a part of the history, one way or another, that one can hardly tell the larger story without him.

Paul Buhle’s latest comic is an adaptation of W.E.B. Du Bois’s classic Souls of Black Folk, by artist Paul Peart Smith (Rutgers University Press).


Filed under Anthologies, Blab! Magazine, Comics

David Crownson Talks About Hard Work, Luck and Harriet Tubman

cover by Courtland L. Ellis

Harriet Tubman: Demon Slayer is a red hot comics title and will be coming to you soon as a series on Disney. I think there are a lot of folks that are still new to this while many can’t wait to see the series kick off. With that in mind, I wanted to interview David Crownson, the creator and writer of this project, as well as other great titles like Killer Bee and Nightmare in Newark, part of his storytelling business, Kingwood Comics. I want to share this remarkable story of a determined creative person who gets things done. I refer you back to my review for this comic book series. This is a case of the making-of-story being as fascinating as anything else about this unique comic. At the end of the day, Crownson wanted to equip his comic book with the energy of Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained within a world like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And Crownson undoubtedly succeeds.

David was on a trip, a pretty important one, in Ghana, West Africa, for a few months. David is an actor by trade. It was around 2014. He was auditioning for a part in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and almost got it. David has family in Ghana so he was in a contemplative and comfortable place. He happened to catch a documentary on Harriet Tubman and discovered she is revered in Ghana due to her strong family roots there. Later, David viewed two movies: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters. And it was that combination of things when it first clicked for him: Harriet Tubman: Demon Slayer. Okay, so that’s the first part: a natural eureka moment. I won’t spoil it by going over every subsequent detail. You’ll want to check out my interview, which you can click to right below.

I think that’s what really struck me about David: along with being very determined, he is also very generous. He genuinely wanted to share his story and was happy to take that leap with me and follow the flow of the conversation. That’s what storytelling is about: being in tune with who you are, what you want to say, and connecting with your audience. That’s what makes Harriet Tubman: Demon Slayer work. Here is a character on the right side of history, fighting the good fight, seeking the light at the end of the tunnel. Okay, so there’s the core factor to success: solid content. And then there’s all the other elements that need to line up. Just when David needed to secure compelling and iconic cover art for his proposed series, he found the perfect artist in Courtland L. Ellis. Now, you’ve got an instant calling card that is as memorable as anything you can think of. Instant recognition.

It pays to create good content every step of the way when you’re promoting your work. You never know who might be watching. That’s exactly what happened to David after he took the time to create a very cool commercial. It was such a good live action version of the comic that it looked like it was a real show. Prentice Penny happened to see it and that led to Harriet Tubman: Demon Slayer being tapped for a series on Disney. All you can do is keep the faith. That’s what David Crownson has done and keeps doing. For more details, and how to purchase Harriet Tubman: Demon Slayer, visit Kingwood Comics.

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Signe Baumane is a significant animator, right up there with Bill Plympton. I’m so happy to see her film at Seattle International Film Festival this year. And, if you are in Seattle, you must go! Details on this funny and frank flick follow including how to seek it out in Seattle:

My Love Affair With Marriage uses music and science to examine the biological chemistry of love and gender, as well as the societal pressures on an individual to conform to social mores.

Go to the official movie website here.

Seattle International Film Festival takes place Thu, May 11, 2023 thru Sun, May 21, 2023.

My Love Affair With Marriage at SIFF takes place May 20th and May 21st. Details are right here.

A battle between Zelma’s prefrontal cortex and her nucleus accumbens.

Signe Baumane’s work has been accepted in over 300 film festivals around the world and received many awards. She was also awarded a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship in 2017.


Filed under animation, SIFF

#nationaltwilightzoneday David Weiner Interview with GEORGE’S RUN Creator Henry Chamberlain

Happy National Twilight Zone Day! I have no idea why it’s today but it is. If you happen to know anything about it, let me know!

That said, it’s a perfect day to announce the book launch of GEORGE’S RUN tomorrow.

And to make it all the more grand, journalist and filmmaker David Weiner honored me with an interview.

I get a chance to go into some detail as to what this book is about. I invite you to check it out at IT CAME FROM.

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COVID COP by Dean Haspiel review

COVID COP. Art & script by Dean Haspiel. Dean Haspiel Deep Cuts. 28 pp. $15.

Dean Haspiel is in fine form with this short work in comics that transforms the Covid pandemic into a surreal parody of a sci-fi/horror story. In this scenario, the virus has completely taken over to the point that the government has clamped down hard on anyone disobeying protocol. It’s a take-no-prisoners battle plan and one police officer, Lincoln Bio, is doing his best to follow orders. If you’re a fan of Dean Haspiel, then you can expect that kooky sense of humor, bathed in pathos, made famous in the Billy Dogma comics series.

Our anti-hero Lincoln Bio is aware that he’s living in very strange times making very strange demands on him. How he comes to terms with his marching orders and how he confronts an insurgent group out to kill everyone makes up a good part of this dark comedy. Drawn in the mock heroic style that Haspiel is known for, this comic book will deliver a weird and entertaining jolt right to the jugular and then some. You probably won’t have nightmares from reading this but I can’t guarantee it. And, if there’s a sequel, all bets are off. This comic, by the way, is the first in the developing line of indie comics, Dean Haspiel Deep Cuts.

This comic will defy your expectations, especially if you don’t really know what to expect, and offers up the most recent example of a cartoonist at the top of his game. The winner of a recent Kickstarter campaign, this comic book is making its way to its backers and will make its way to you. Keep up with Dean Haspiel for more details.


Filed under Comics, Comics Reviews, Dean Haspiel

Hurricane Nancy: Keep Dancing!

#453 “When they put you down keep on dancing.”

Hurricane Nancy honors us once again by sharing some of her art. This is #453, entitled, “When they put you down keep on dancing.” All sorts of people can try to put us down. They think they can mistreat others just for the fun of it. That’s when it takes those of us with grace and dignity to persevere, and keep on dancing.

Colorized version!

Be sure to visit Hurricane Nancy’s website where you can purchase her art!


Filed under Art, Comics, Hurricane Nancy

Pop Culture Super Sleuth: Episode 1

This is the first installment of . . .  Pop Culture Super Sleuth . . .

“I’ve been a blogger for almost as long as I’ve been a cartoonist. And then I became a pop culture super sleuth . . . “






I’m building up steam on this new project. And maybe a little shy. You’ll have to tell me what you think. The character isn’t necessarily me, per se, but a sort of alter ego. It’s fun and it’s all possible in the wonderful world of comics. Am I right? You betcha, I’m right!

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Filed under Barefoot, Comics, Feet, Henry Chamberlain, pop culture, Webcomics

MS DAVIS: a Graphic Biography review by Paul Buhle

Ms Davis: a Graphic Biography. By Amazing Ameziane and Sybrille titeux de la Croix, translated by Jenna Allen. Seattle: Fantagraphics, 2022. 185pp, $24.99.

Guest Review by Paul Buhle

This remarkable and challenging work, translated from the 2020 French edition, offers readers a study in the history of comic or political art by adapting past artists’ work into a new synthesis of narrative. It is not a “biography,” as in “graphic biography,” that readers would expect. We see only the dramatic bits and pieces of Angela Davis’s life, and virtually none of the long aftermath (from the early 1970s until now) that biography readers would expect. And yet capture the drama of Davis’s life, the work does in grand form.

Ms Davis might be contrasted with The Black Panther Party Comic, a well-selling, straightforward visual narrative that a fussy aestheticism of comic art might wrongly call “pedestrian.” This tells the story of the short-lived but extremely dramatic Black Panther Party with suitable details, and would be valuable for anyone who enjoys Ms Davis, which goes the precise opposite direction in so many ways.

In the globalization of comic art, artist Amazing Ameziane and collaborator Sybille Titeux de la Croix credit four American artists: Milton Glaser, Norman Rockwell, Emory Douglas and Bill English. What do they have in common? Less than they have by contrast. Rockwell, who famously celebrated the “American Way of Life” (overwhelmingly the white, middle class way of life in the twentieth century), had moments when he went beyond his assumptions, as in his famed poster art for “The Four Freedoms” proclaimed by Franklin D. Roosevelt in wartime, and still not realized (“Freedom from Want.”) Emory Douglas is the Black Panther Party artist supreme, with his stark, propagandistic drawings. William English, illustrating some of poet William Blake’s works, is as far from commercial illustrator Milton Glaser (best remembered for the 1966 poster for Bob Dylan) as imaginable. And so on. Amezianne/De la Croix pick and choose what they want, in art as well as story.

They invent characters to suit themselves. Angela Davis, growing up in the 1950s South, thereby has an invented black woman friend who stays in Atlanta when Davis moves to New York.  She also has a sympathetic and crypto-feminist journalist pal who struggles with her newspaper bosses to create a news story worthy or at least somewhat worthy of Angela Davis’s incredible life.

To describe the plot is grossly inadequate to the “look” of Ms Davis. Actress Helen Mirren, speaking at the San Diego Comicon after Harvey Pekar’s death, said (in her eloquent way) that Harvey had taught people to read comics “in a new way.”  That is, comics could be about ordinary people in the unprestigious blue collar world of that presumably most ordinary place, Cleveland, around Harvey himself, his troubles and joys, and most definitely his work at the VA Hospital. (That Pekar and his artistic collaborators did this in comic books was another point of originality, following the underground “nothing forbidden” comix.)

The story-telling daily strips, appearing in the Chicago Tribune just about a century ago, made the same artistic and narrative point, more or less. Before 1920, comics readers expected a joke climaxing in the last panel; the following day would begin the story anew. Now readers of the hugely popular dailies would look forward to daily lives that did not change very much, had precious few adventures, but offered a kind of assurance.

How many comics, thinking now on a global scale from the twentieth to the twenty-first century, have set out consciously or otherwise to teach readers to look at comics in new ways, and how many have succeeded? It is an imponderable, although claims could be made in many directions. Sybille Titeux de la Croix and Amazing Ameziane are struggling page by page to make their own large contribution. Their sincerity and their determination, perhaps even more than the expression of their talent, speak for this comic’s value and importance.

Amazing Ameziane: “Ms Davis is the third part of my first SOUL TRILOGY ( Ali / Attica /Angela).”

As history, it can be narrow and even flawed. In its last pages, we learn that Nikita Kruschev’s revelations of Stalin’s crimes, in 1956, sent Communism into its “final throes.”  This is more than a little too anticipative. Angela Davis would not have believed so (she resigned from the CPUSA in 1991). The Vietnam War, the survival of the Cuban Revolution, the Communist role in the South African struggle against Apartheid, the claims of China’s leadership….all these suggest something more than a detail absent in the overview. (On the following pages, the book turns our attention toward Neo-liberalism and here the book is accurate. Class society has grown worse.) Does this limitation harm Ms Davis? No, not much.

Perhaps we are not, after all, reading Ms Davis “as history,” but as an artistic statement about history and about the features in Angela Davis’s personal saga that are larger than herself. Drawing upon the most improbable sources of visual inspiration, changing formats almost page by page, Ms Davis is trying to teach us a different way of looking at comic art. Nothing, for me, is quite as stunning as the reuse of Emory Douglas’s styles, seen so vividly in the Black Panther newspaper of yore, so stripped of visual finery, so expressive in its message, artistically quite as if the artist, like the Panthers, invited death at the hands of violent authorities: revolution or martyrdom. How could Emory Douglas be combined with Norman Rockwell, the graphic artist of middle class contentment in “the best country in the world”? See for yourself.

Paul Buhle’s latest comic is an adaptation of W.E.B. Du Bois’s classic Souls of Black Folk, by artist Paul Peart Smith (Rutgers University Press).


Filed under Black Panther, Comics, Graphic Novel Reviews, Paul Buhle

MoCCA Arts Festival 2023: Notes & Observations

Busy and hectic inside and out.

MoCCA Arts Festival returned to the Metropolitan Pavilion in New York City earlier this month and I have some notes and observations to share with you.

Nonstop activity in a place to see and be seen.

MoCCA took place over a weekend, April 1-2, of which I was able to make it for Sunday. I’m not a New Yorker, at least not a resident but a lifelong fond visitor. As luck would have it, I sort of stumbled upon the event this year–although I have plans to participate next year. With that in mind, I was eager to make the most of my visit as well as share whatever insight I’ve collected over the years with a new friend thru comics, Zebadiah Keneally. Between my partner, the cartoonist and writer Jennifer Daydreamer, and myself, we enjoyed the event all the more with his company. We introduced Zeb to friends and colleagues as we came upon them. First off, we were charmed by two wonderful career cartoonists, Dean Haspiel and Gabrielle Bell. Dean chatted with us in an easygoing manner. He’s excited these days about his new comic, COVID COP, which looks fantastic. Gabrielle is doing great and was there to promote her work with Uncivilized Books.

RisoLab at MoCCA.

The last time I’d been to MoCCA was actually twenty years ago, and it was in full swing, riding an intense wave of interest in alt-comics, held at the grand ole Puck Building in SoHo. It was a huge show with a Who’s Who cavalcade of talent, a truly festive circus-like environment and completely free. I was rudely awakened to find that I needed to pay $25 admission for the day. And I literally had to beg for a program since they were nearly out. By comparison, Metropolitan Pavilion is a smaller venue. That said, I quickly got into the groove of things. There was much to see and, no wonder they were almost out of programs. It was nonstop activity.

Ellen Lindner is one of our great cartoonists. She is devoted to whatever project she takes on, like The Strumpet, which is one of the best comics anthologies I’ve had the pleasure to read. And I also know that lately she’s been devoted to a comics project about baseball. Part One and Two to Lost Diamonds are available now. It was fun to chat with her and introduce her to Jennifer and Zeb. Ellen made a wonderfully insightful comment having to do with the creation of comics and the navigating of a comics career: “Do what you want. Pace yourself. Making comics is hard!” Well, perhaps it was a little more nuanced than that but that’s the gist of it–and I must say that I agree. Comics are hard to make, at least the kind that are worth a hoot.

Joe Sikoryak and When We Were Trekkies.

Joe Sikoryak is a filmmaker who decided to follow his brother, R. Sikoryak, into the world of comics. Joe says that is was during the pandemic that he got the idea of a comics series based upon his early years of fandom. When We Were Trekkies follows the adventures of a group of teenagers back in the ’70s who witness, and take part in, the advent of comics fandom as we know it today, going back to the development of interest in reruns of the original Star Trek television series (1966–69) which would evolve into a pop culture phenomenon. The series will be collected into a graphic novel.

Artist Pan Terzis

Panayiotis (Pan) Terzis is an artist, printer and publisher based in New York. Terzis is the founder of the risograph publishing platform Mega Press. In 2015, Terzis co-founded the RisoLAB, a risograph studio based at the School of Visual Arts. The RisoLAB presence at MoCCA was certainly a hit. It was a pleasure to chat with Pan and to purchase one of his prints.

Nikkos Saviolis, a student at Syracuse University College of Visual and Performing Arts.

I got into a conversation with this young student from Syracuse University and lost his card. And then found it later after I had time to decompress. Your comics look great, Nikkos! I briefly got to speak with Frank Cammuso, the professor of Illustration, and was delighted to learn about the university’s comics courses.

Alex Segura

Alex Segura is a writer you may be familiar with, especially if you keep up with comics. Segura is the author of Star Wars Poe Dameron: Free Fall and the acclaimed Pete Fernandez Miami Mystery series, as well as a number of comics. He was at MoCCA in support of his new novel, Secret Identity, published by Flatiron Books.

MoCCA Arts Festival has survived the pandemic and looks to be on steady ground. I could see only happy and content customers in every direction. This festival began in 2002. I was there for its second year and fondly recall the excitement. Indie comics had crossed a significant threshold in the general public’s recognition and anything seemed possible. There was a giddy feeling crossing generations and everyone was there celebrating: Danny Hellman was there. Sophie Crumb was there. Denis Kitchen was there. Kramers Ergot was arguably at its height and flying high. It was fun. People were excited.

Now, a generation has had time to mature and reflect. Covid has robbed us all of that same innocent euphoria. If it’s there, it’s just not the same. It’s tempered. It’s battle-weary. I’m battle-weary but, as Ellen Lindner pointed out, you’ve got to pace yourself! So, I keep reminding myself that I’m an artist and I’m a cartoonist, even though I don’t really need to remind myself. And, before I made my exit, I stopped by and paid my respects to the Fantagraphics table and kissed the ring of Gary Groth. Well, I say that in jest. It was a pleasure to see him. I handed him a postcard of my new book, George’s Run, and tried my best to give him a fast pitch about it, just for the sake of conversation. You can consider this postcard a preview for my being at MoCCA next year. Anyway, it was a nice thing to do. And I couldn’t help but recalling doing a different pitch for a different book to him at MoCCA all those years ago. I was full of hope then and I’m full of hope now. That spirit is still around. It had better me. It never really left. It’s here. I know it is.

MoCCA Arts Festival returns next year, the weekend of March 16-17, 2024.


Filed under Comic Arts Festivals, Comics, MoCCA Arts Festival

Thaddeus Stevens: The Great Commoner comics review

Thaddeus Stevens: The Great Commoner. writer Ross Hetrick. artist Noah Van Sciver. editor Paul Buhle. Thaddeus Stevens Society of Pennsylvania. 18 pp. $5.

Thaddeus Stevens is an American historical figure who is brought to life in this remarkable mini-comic. You may not recall or recognize the name, and that is part of the reason this little book has come into existence. Stevens is one of the most significant players in the fight for human rights outside of Abraham Lincoln and, some may argue, there is no Lincoln without Stevens. These are the kind of issues dealt with in this pamphlet-sized comic.

Fans of the work of Noah Van Sciver will appreciate the distinctive style and masterful use of the comics medium. If you haven’t gotten a chance, you’ll want to check out Noah’s landmark book from last year, Joseph Smith and the Mormons. You can read our review here. That same intense level of scrutiny, combined with brevity, is on display for this tribute to Thaddeus Stevens. At a brisk and steady clip, each page here packs a punch. We see how pivotal Stevens was in securing freedom and rights for America’s former slaves. Yes, it’s safe to argue that we needed to have Stevens in order to have Lincoln. In other words, we all know and honor Lincoln but credit must be given to the man at the forefront for the fight for freedom and human dignity.

Paper copies are $5 and if you’d like one, send an email requesting one to and one will be sent to you with a self-addressed envelope to send back payment.

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