Ted Rall is a journalist, cartoonist, and columnist. Ted Rall’s new graphic novel, THE STRINGER, is a political thriller that will appeal to readers who enjoy a full-bodied story with twists and turns. Bringing in his own experience as a war correspondent, Rall’s book has a gripping authentic voice that takes the reader on a wild ride with food for thought.
After so much hard luck, Mark Scribner could really use a lucky break. Be careful what you wish for.
A movie version of The Stringer would be something like George Clooney in Three Kings or Jeremy Renner in Kill the Messenger. It’s a gritty vibe; a fable for our overly-disruptive times. Here is an interview with Ted Rall where we cover the creative process and discuss Rall’s collaboration with artist Pablo Callejo as well as tackle the media and political landscape. Today was a particularly interesting news day with President Biden’s first formal press conference. Rall has some observations on that too. This is a guy who takes on the left with as much gusto as he does the right. It depends upon the issue and who is in power. One way or another, you may disagree with him but you can’t say his thinking is sloppy and he’s just phoning it in.
Forget the old tropes. A younger woman and an older man who are just friends.
There’s a friendship that Mark strikes up with Margreet, a female reporter half his age. Running counter to the old romance tropes, they remain just friends. It’s not something that’s emphasized. It just is. And it’s nice to see. Rall is highly opinionated but that doesn’t mean his work is heavy-handed. Often, what I see in Rall is someone who is simply daring to talk about a better world–and that can run against various interests; and a lot of people’s tendency to leave well enough alone. Rall’s attitude is “don’t settle for the lesser of two evils.” Don’t settle on corporate lies. Just don’t settle. That approach is what fuels the best of Rall’s work and that’s what you’ll find in The Stringer.
To the tell the story of a writer and the writing process is quite a unique challenge. Sure, you want to include some scenes of the writer in the act of writing but then what do you do next? This new graphic novel, Philip K. Dick: A Comics Biography, published by NBM, solves the problem very nicely. French writer Laurent Queyssi and Italian artist Mauro Marchesi bring to life a very unusual person, famous writer or not. The appeal of this book comes from how both writer and artist tease out for the reader a portrait of very delicate, chaotic, and brilliant individual. Let the details fall into place as events unfold. See how one person can be so blind to his own destiny while bursting with intelligence and creative output. After a while, you don’t care what he’s famous for. You’re just rooting for him to survive another night as the walls start to cave in all around him.
It’s perhaps helpful for me to mention that I’m putting together a book that parallels this book on Philip K. Dick in very interesting ways. My book is about another science fiction writer, George Clayton Johnson, who was born in 1929, roughly the same year as Dick but who enjoyed a happy and long life. Dick’s life was relatively short and not without its tragedy. Johnson and Dick are very different writers but they both were part of a certain time and sensibility. Even though Dick was somewhat of a recluse, he did enjoy connecting with people on occasion. Like Johnson, he got to know some of his heroes and colleagues in science fiction, like Harlan Ellison and A.E.van Vogt. Both Johnson and Dick had high ambitions. While Johnson generally flourished among people, Dick would much rather recede into the background. Both dared to be as nonconformist as possible. Dick was darker, stranger, and willing to open more doors into the unknown.
An honest assessment, that’s what we crave from a biography. NBM is certainly amassing quite an impressive collection of them. The trickiest to get right, and probably the most satisfying, is the exploration of a creative person and the creative process. That classic writer’s block is on full view on more than one occasion in this book as is the overall struggle in a person’s life. We get a very clear and precise picture that manages to keep to a steady chronological order with necessary temporal detours. This is Philip K. Dick under the microscope. Backed my thoughtful planning, Queyssi provides a script that seems to effortlessly bring into play a myriad of carefully researched dates, places, and times. When you think of it, Dick was essentially an enigma. You didn’t necessary go see Blade Runner with a clear picture of the author of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Mauro Marchesi’s artwork is as clean and crisp as Queyssi’s well-chosen words. Marchesi solves another challenge: finding just the right ways to evoke the fantastical in a story about a writer writing weird and strange content. You don’t just want to play with scale and have a scene with Dick reduced to the size of an insect just because you can! But that sort of thing is irresistible so you make the most of it and, when the time is right, Marchesi pulls out all the stops. He has some beautiful wordless sequences that definitely balance out a narrative that, at times, needs to rely more on text. One that really packs in just the right dose of mystery and ambiguity has Dick seated at a park bench trading in a gem for a book with a total stranger. Like spies passing through the night, they discretely make the switch, one finely polished gem for a book that points towards another book in Dick’s future.
For fans of Philip K. Dick, as well as new readers, this will prove to be an engaging read. As I say, after a while, you’re not thinking of Dick as just a famous writer. No, he’s got some pretty compelling ordinary problems of his own along with the extraordinary ones! One of the most fascinating aspects, however, does have to do with being a famous writer. Time and again you see Dick fighting against being known as a science fiction writer. Back then in what was its golden age, science fiction was snubbed as only being “genre.” You would think someone as smart as Dick could have seen through the snobbery of the literary establishment. But, no, even Philip K. Dick wasted precious time and energy desperately trying to fit in!
Philip K. Dick: A Comics Biography is a 144-page full color hardcover. For more details, visit NBM Publishing right here.
If you are looking for a fun and light all-ages graphic novel that tackles the big questions, then consider “Look,” by Jon Nielsen, published by NBM Publishing.
This is quite an engaging story told in a gentle tone with wry humor. Jon Nielsen has a fantastic track record with his webcomic, Massive Pwnage. This latest work provides a similar mix of goofy humor and thoughtful observation.
So, what goes on in this book? Well, plenty. First of all, if you can’t empathize with a sensitive robot seeking an epiphany, then I can’t help you. But, if you are, then you’re in luck. This story also includes a robot vulture sidekick!
Page excerpt from LOOK
Drawn in a very clean and spare style, Nielsen presents a comic that is easy on the eyes with a sharp style sense. If you enjoyed the misadventures of Wall-E, then you will definitely have a place in your heart for the misadventures of R-TY, or “Artie,” to his friends. And you’ll love this vulture bot, O-WN, or “Owen,” to his friends. These two don’t really know much outside of a rigorous routine they’ve been following for years until one day…the big questions have to be asked, like, “Why are we here?”
LOOK by Jon Nielsen
LOOK is a 144-page hardcover, priced at $15.99 US, available as of April 1st. For more details, visit NBM Publishing right here.
I would love to know the details on the Louvre series published by NBM. This latest installment, “Guardians of the Louvre,” by acclaimed manga artist Jirô Taniguchi just goes to show once again how unique this subject is and the endless possibilities for it. What a great cartoonist wants in a project, especially one who both writes and draws and has done so for many years, is a task worthy of the enormous effort. And, to sweeten the deal, make it something heroic. A cartoonist loves it when he or she can make a grand gesture.
Reading Guardians of the Louvre
What I’m saying about the grand gesture is so very true. Look at how Taniguchi responds to the task: his main character/alter ego is reduced to a little heap in comparison to the Louvre and its many treasures, opportunities, and mysteries. He arrives in Paris completely spent from a bad case of the flu. He is completely overwhelmed, out of his element, his observations through a fever dream. Like Little Nemo on his magic flying bed, we set off on a most unusual journey.
The Louvre, outside of any known realm.
Our hero, due to a bad rabbit stew or some such mishap, is now in tune with the supernatural elements of the Louvre. When you consider that we are talking about a museum that is over 200 years old, as large as ten football fields, holding 70,000 pieces of art going back to antiquity, well, it would not be surprising to find that it has many tales to tell and that it is at least a bit haunted, right? Taniguchi asks that you run with that idea.
And so one grand gesture leads to another. We see poltergeist in all their gloopy glory floating about. We meet a beautiful ghost, presumably the Winged Victory. And, it just goes on from there as we go in and out of time, meet various artists long gone expect very much alive in this moment. The Louvre is a House of Leaves. It is a place that insists you shed your normal skin and walk amongst it. You inhabit a place such as the Louvre and you can’t help but let it inhabit you.
“Guardians of the Louvre” is the latest in the NBM Louvre series. It is a full color hardcover, right to left reading manga-style, 8 x 11, 136 pages. For more details, go right here.
Paris, and the Louvre, are beacons to artists and art lovers and will always be. What we know is that such things matter dearly, are a deeply essential part of life. Now, in the aftershock of the horror of the terrorist attack in Brussels, we choose to remain alert and vigilant but we also choose to remain steadfast in our celebration of humanity at its best. There is no other way. So, with that in mind, it gives me added resolve and passion, as I share with you this latest item. Oh, yes, this is such a relevant book with that heightened sense of timelessness. Look at this book and you’ve met a good friend, David Prudhomme’s new graphic novel, “Cruising Through the Louvre,” published by NBM Publishing.
With old pal, Rembrandt
David Prudhomme is a man to watch, indeed. He is a fellow cartoonist who I would love to meet sometime. I’m sure we’d have plenty to talk about. I see his work as full of a zest for life in all its lusty and gritty splendor. Now, take a cartoonist such as this and set him loose in the Louvre. Well, Mr. Prudhomme certainly lives up to the challenge. I know that, if I was set loose in the Louvre, I would have my own idiosyncratic view, and so it certainly is with this masterful artist. It may seem easy but to throw down the scenario of an offbeat observer wandering through some of the greatest art of all time is quite a mind-bending proposition. This requires a steady hand, brain, and hours of editing as all these impressions that come to mind must finally adhere to some coherent narrative.
Reading “Cruising Through the Louvre,” by David Prudhomme
Prudhomme has a beautifully loose style that evokes a stream of consciousness outlook. Prudhomme is in the Louvre ostensibly to find his girlfriend, Jeanne. This may or may never happen. That does not really matter. The guy is wearing a baggy coat, a huge Russian fur cap with ear flaps, and he’s got his cell phone at the ready. He gets to spend some time with his good pal, Rembrandt, and then he’s on the move, looking for Jeanne, marveling over art, and endlessly people-watching. The sensory overload is intoxicating. Soon he is recombining people with art: one tourist’s foot aligns with the foot from a sculpture; or one sleepy heap of museum patrons seamlessly fit as an extension of Théodore Géricault’s “The Raft of the Medusa.”
A zest for life
We enter into a whole other world when we inhabit such a place as the Louvre. It really isn’t something you want to leave for just a couple of hours. I would easily go each day for weeks, months, if not years. It would not take too much in the way of convincing for me to return to my old museum guard days. Roaming through such vast expression of sensual delight, it would also not take too much convincing for me to return to my days as a life drawing model. Ah, such is the power of the Louvre. But, most of all, it is a place that inspires me both as writer and artist. Everyone finds something to lose themselves in. Prudhomme is wonderfully uninhibited with his observations. He is keenly aware that, once out of one’s element, people can get in touch with content they would normally zone out. For instance, consider Prudhomme’s drawing of a tourist snapping a photo of an old warrior’s genitals. Well, within context, it makes total sense. Snap away!
What Mona Lisa saw
The Louvre has always been a place for the people. Give people a chance to enjoy art, and they will rise to it. Give them the Louvre, and you have provided heaven on earth. Prudhomme does not shun or ridicule the public’s hearty appetite for snapping photos and video. In fact, instead of shaking his head over what some might dismiss as the spectacle over viewing the Mona Lisa, he wonders what people do after they’ve gotten their good look. He also wonders what Mona Lisa would see if she bothered to look back at all her admirers. There’s no easy answer. There’s just too many people to consider. All that humanity enjoying their time in the Louvre for a multitude of reasons, no one reason being better or worse than the other! All this, Prudhomme manages to speak to in this quite remarkable book. Bravo! This is a keepsake that you will enjoy many times over.
“Cruising Through the Louvre,” by David Prudhomme
“Cruising Through the Louvre” is an 80-page full color hardcover. For more details, visit NBM Publishing right here.
The author of the bestselling Discovery in Comics series, including on Science and Philosophy, tackles a very sensitive subject. Dealing with religion often means walking on eggshells – that is what comic artist Margreet de Heer finds out in this book in which she presents the five major religions and modern spirituality in a colorful, personal yet serious manner. She explores religious history and practices with tact and an open mind, but can’t prevent a few eggs from breaking. Why is religion such a sensitive subject?
This book in comics is fun and informative for believers, non-believers and everyone in between. It offers a fresh look from different perspectives on the phenomenon of religion, the backgrounds and history of the five major world religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism) and makes the point that religion is something that should unite us, not drive us apart.
Walking Wounded: Uncut Stories from Iraq by Mael & Olivier Morel
For hundreds of thousands of young Americans, after the shock of 9/11, there was Ar Ramadi, Baghdad, Abu Ghraib… The war in Iraq. Then came the trauma. Olivier Morel gave them a voice in his compelling documentary On the Bridge. Walking Wounded isn’t the book of the documentary but the story of Morel getting close to the young vets, their troubled experience and lives. So close he could not avoid living their trauma himself, seeing all too clearly their vision of the world after their gut-wrenching experiences. From torment to reflection, Morel and artist Mael relate through these vets the impossible return of those who do aspire vividly to get back to a normal life. The effort is huge, some can’t make it, others score their own victory by finally turning the corner… a parable for our country’s war sickness.
SPX Details and Signing Schedule
September 19th-20th; Located at E 1-2
Appearing Saturday Only: Olivier Morel & Margreet de Heer
The Small Press Expo is North America’s premiere independent cartooning and comic arts festival. SPX brings together more than 4,000 cartoonists and comic arts enthusiasts every fall in Bethesda, Maryland.
Unlike many conventions that are geared toward pop culture or corporately owned comics, SPX was created in 1994 to promote artists and publishers who produce independent comics. SPX hosts an annual festival that provides a forum for artists, writers and publishers of comic art in its various forms to present to the public comic art not normally accessible through normal commercial channels.
Brooklyn Book Festival Details and Signing Schedule
September 20th; Located at Booth# 308
Appearing Sunday: Olivier Morel & Margreet de Heer
The Brooklyn Book Festival is the largest free literary event in New York City, presenting an array of national and international literary stars and emerging authors. One of America’s premier book festivals, this hip, smart diverse gathering attracts thousands of book lovers of all ages to enjoy authors and the festival’s lively literary marketplace.
11:30 am – 12:30 pm: Olivier Morel
12:30 pm – 1:30 pm: Margreet de Heer
1:30 pm – 2:30 pm: Olivier Morel
2:30 pm – 3:30 pm: Margreet de Heer
3:30 pm -4:30pm: Olivier Morel
4:30 pm – 5:30 pm: Margreet de Heer
Be sure to follow NBM on Twitter @nbmpub and visit our friends at NBM Publishing right here.
Christian Dior at work on a new collection at his country house.
Annie Goetzinger has quite a light touch to her drawings that manage to speak volumes. It is one thing to draw pretty women in chic settings and quite another to convey the humanity and complexity behind the story. Goetzinger’s graphic novel, “Girl in Dior,” does just that with her behind-the-scenes look at the life and work of legendary fashion designer Christian Dior.
The launch of a “New Look.”
The House of Dior, at 30 Avenue Montaigne, was meant to evoke a cross between Louis XVI and the dawn of the 20th Century. It was to be made up of white paneling, pearl gray satin, taffeta lampshades, and discretely placed bouquets and kentia palms. It was not based upon anyone’s reality but upon Dior’s own childhood daydreams. It was to be the perfect place, the epicenter for high fashion, beginning with the first Dior fashion show for the Spring-Summer collection for 1947.
Amid the refined mayhem that ensues, we meet our main character, Clara Nohant, a budding fashion columnist. It is through the fictional Clara that we can savor certain key moments and get a sense of the world of Dior. As only a graphic novel can offer, we can get very specific upon what you view and linger upon. In the right hands, this results in such a masterpiece as this. Goetzinger is a master cartoonist. She well knows that she cannot show you every last detail. Instead, she must pick and choose.
She spends a good portion of time simply reveling in that special moment that was the launch of the House of Dior. After all, it sent shockwaves throughout the fashion world and led women, around the world, to consider lowering their hemlines. Having given the reader a solid grounding on that event, she quickens the pace. Clara goes from one major blunder to landing herself the role as the latest model to join the Dior inner circle.
This book is a delight to read through and through. Some books you keep, and this one is a keeper. The art is stunning in how it works within the confines of elegant refinement. Goetzinger’s background in fashion illustration serves her well as she effortlessly captures the flow of fabric and the carriage and grace of the models. And her stylish line is complimented by her gorgeous use of watercolor. In her hands, the fashion world, while always cool and detached, never goes cold. In the end, there’s a warm human touch to this tale of high fashion.
“Girl in Dior” is a 128-page full color hardcover, priced at $27.99, published by NBM Publishing. For more details, visit our friends at NBM right here.
And, if you are in the New York metro area this weekend, be sure to visit the MoCCA Arts Festival and see Annie Goetzinger in person. You’ll be able to see her as part of a panel on writing about the lives of artists:
MoCCA 2015 Programming Spotlight
“Biography: The Lives of Artists”
Sunday, April 12 at the High Line Hotel
12:30 pm in the Rusack Room
Memoir, non-fiction and biography have emerged as significant categories in comics. Comics about artists represent a special challenge: the cartoonist must represent the work of an artist through his or her own visual approach, revealing points of disjunction and harmony. Hyperallergic Senior Editor Jillian Steinhauer will discuss these issues with French comics legend Annie Goetzinger, whose Girl in Dior chronicles the first season of the storied fashion house; James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook, whose 7 Miles a Second was both a biography of and a collaboration with David Wojnarowicz; and Dutch cartoonist Barbara Stok, whose Vincent makes Van Gogh approachable through a style completely unlike his own.
For more details on the MoCCA Arts Festival, go here.
The Reign of Terror is brought into focus in an unsettling and quite captivating way in “The Sky Over the Louvre,” our third book this week to consider in the NBM ComicsLit collection of Louvre-inpired books. Bernar Yslaire and Jean-Claude Carriere have created a most ambitious book here. The fight for liberty and justice championed by the Jacobins against the aristocracy was threatened by instability. Leave it to one mad zealot, Maximilien Robespierre, to pave the way to slaughter. This graphic novel provides great insight by balancing a story following the broad sweep of events along with intimate portraits.