Fine Cartoon Art

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Archive for the ‘Graphic novels’ Category

What I’m Reading Now if Now Were Two Years Ago

Posted by jtebeau on September 15, 2012

Paul Madonna’s fabulous book

I picked up Paul Madonna’s All Over Coffee a couple years back during a visit to San Francisco. Bought it at the fabled City Lights Bookstore in fact, right there on Columbus Avenue in North Beach. Historic store, historic neighborhood.

Madonna’s brush and pen and ink work is revelatory. I’ve never seen anyone capture both the subtleties and the power of light so well USING ONLY BLACK AND WHITE FOR PETE’S SAKE. How does he do it? Practice. And a great eye. And practice. He describes his learning process (and much more) in the book. I appreciate an artist who shares his process. It’s both encouraging (because since he wasn’t always that great, there may be hope for us mortals) and enlightening (ahh… so THAT’S how he did it!).

Paul Madonna © 2007

This book is a collection of work Paul did for the San Francisco Chronicle. Ostensibly, it’s a comic strip in which disembodied voices provide text to go with gorgeously rendered scenes of San Francisco, arguably the most scenic city in the U.S.

Madonna nails the feeling of San Fran, sometimes with just a clipped view between buildings, or the very top gables of an unmistakeably San Franciscan Edwardian mansion. It’s absolutely uncanny how good he is. All Over Coffee. Check it out.


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Jaime Hernandez: One Helluva Fine Cartoon Artist

Posted by jtebeau on May 1, 2012

When you feel like you know a cartoon character, not just due to solid dialogue, but also due to little, visual things, like the way they hold their cigarette and shift their weight with their moods, then the cartoonist has done his job well. The cartoonist has transcended the medium of paper and pen and ink and created somebody bordering on real and meaningful. Jaime Hernandez has been doing that for years in “Love and Rockets,” and I’ve only recently been learning about him, thanks to this book.

Author Todd Hignite does an admirable job of fleshing out both Jaime and his recurring characters that will please longtime readers (and lookers… reader-lookers. This is comics, after all) as well as newbies like me. It came out a couple of years ago, published by the folks at Abrams Comicarts, but it’s new to me.

I picked this up at the good old Brooklyn Public Library (a tip o’ the cap to Andrew Carnegie, my favorite plutocrat), and have just been digging the bejesus out of it. It makes me want to do better work, and devote more time to art.

Thank you Mr. Hignite, and thank you Mr. Hernandez. Nice work, gentlemen.

Thanks for all the libarries!

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Fine Cartoonist-Artist Dan Clowes and Another Movie Deal….

Posted by jtebeau on November 24, 2010

He hit yon big screen a few years ago with Ghost World, and Daniel Clowes might do again with his latest book “Wilson.”

As reported by the blog Graphic Policy, it was “announced yesterday on, WILSON, Daniel Clowes’ critically acclaimed and New York Times bestselling original graphic novel, has secured a film deal at Fox Searchlight with Alexander Payne attached.” (full story is here)

Wilson, by Daniel Clowes

This is good news if you dig Clowes, and perhaps a chance at redemption after the ambitious but somewhat disjointed  Art School Confidential, the last effort to translate his work to the screen. At any rate, Clowes has been doing outstanding cartoon work for decades now, his stories often laid out like Hollywood story boards. It’s good to see him succeed, and I’m still surprised “Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron” hasn’t been adapted. David Lynch should be all over that one.


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Words? Lynd Ward Didn’ Need No Steenkin’ WORDS!

Posted by jtebeau on October 18, 2010

Lynd Ward from "Gods' Man"

I trucked on up to the Whitney Museum one day last spring. Made a special trip of it, too. It’s not every day I amble up the toniest precincts of Madison Avenue, winder-shoppin’ in my jeans and rope-belt. I like the Whitney (all American art, all the time!), and wanted to see what they had going that week. Always there will be some Hopper, and that’s worth the trip alone.

Anyway, it was closed. But NOT the GIFT SHOP! So I did a little book browsing, which, if you’re into that sort of thing, can be about as good as spending a couple of hours at a museum.

I happened upon a book about “wordless novels,” a trend in publishing from the first half of the 20th century. They were usually illustrated in a classic woodcut style and often told a story of the Common Man. Lots of melodrama, class inequity, despair, revelation, redemption, etc. A friend had recently given me two books by one of the featured artists, Lynd Ward (1905 – 1985), who illustrated a couple hundred books in his day, winning a Caldecott Medal for children’s book illustration in 1953.

His book Gods’ Man is mesmerizing, the tale of artistic integrity and the price paid to achieve it. If you look at no other work by Ward, check that one out at least.

from "Gods' Man"


So there’s a little about Mr. Ward for you. I’m inspired to write this post due to a new collection of Ward’s work released this month by the Library of America and edited by Art Spiegelman. The Times ran an excellent review of the two-volume set by Steven Heller, and it inspired me to do this little write up on Ward and re-read Gods’ Man. Excuse me: re-look.

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Blab! Blab! Blab! at the Society of Illustrators

Posted by jtebeau on April 5, 2010

Charles Burns, Daniel Clowes, Drew Friedman, Chris Wareearlier in their careers these esteemed cartoonists were all featured in the gutsy BLAB! periodical, founded in Chicago back in 1986 by graphic designer Monte Beauchamp. The striking little anthology is getting its due right now through May 1 at New York’s Society of Illustrators gallery (free of charge) at 128 E. 63rd Street (between Park and Lexington Avenues).

And if you’ve never been there, peek into the Society of Illustrators club house. Another gem in New York’s treasure chest of secret places. Maybe you can check out the original Norman Rockwell upstairs….

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Invader from North in New York: Seth at Adam Baumgold

Posted by jtebeau on March 12, 2010

Here’s one of your best chances to see a contemporary cartoon master’s work up close and personal. But hurry.

courtesy of Seth and Adam Baumgold Gallery

Seth’s “George Sprott 1894 – 1975” wraps up it’s run at the Adam Goldberg Gallery on March 13.

The exhibition includes drawings and architectural models from Seth’s graphic novel (the saga of a Canadian TV personality by Ontario’s own Seth, born Gregory Gallant), which originally ran as a serial in the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His style is clean, precise and rendered with heart and sensitivity. The work goes down smooth, and packs a punch, like cold a rye Manhattan served up with a twist of orange peel.

See it, savor it, feel it.

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In the Beginning There Was Paper and Ink: Robert Crumb’s “Book of Genesis” Opens in New York March 4

Posted by jtebeau on March 2, 2010

Y-H-W-Y by C-R-M-B

David Zwirner introduces an exciting exhibition in New York tomorrow: Robert Crumb’s “Genesis” show. This collection of original art from Crumb’s masterpiece Book of Genesis will show you what happens when the best-selling book of all times is taken on “as a straight illustration job” by the grand old man of alternative comics.

The art is historically and literally accurate. Crumb did his research and it shows. Architecture, clothing, rituals and the mundane details of every day life in the time of Abraham are represented properly… right down to get-ups that don’t resemble Jim Dine bathrobes, verbatim biblical depravity and the joys of circumcision before topical anesthetics.

The exhibition stays with Zwirner in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood through April 24, following a show at UCLA’s Hammer Museum.

Big thanks to Hammer and David Zwirner for giving Mr. Crumb his due.

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