Here’s a thought about the apparent mutual exclusion of artistry and cartoonistry


[Marc Bell] says his M.O. is to deconstruct and make novel use of “comics language” for his drawings, collages and mixed media works. Whether it’s the drawing style, the inclusion of text or use of grid forms, the influence of comics is fundamental and pervasive. “I see comics and drawing as all the same thing, anyway,” Bell says. Yet he insists he’s no Warhol or Lichtenstein: “I’m a cartoonist creating art, not the other way around.”

— From The Art of Compression: Comic Conversations on the Canadian Art website

re: last


In reply to Liked!♥Easy IndieWeb interactions on Android | Allan Haverholm:

A little behind-the-curtains here, I’m messing around with the site setup to conform with IndieWeb standards. With a bundle of extensions, and the above linked phone app, I’m getting a little closer to having my data and tweeting it, too. Once I have made the necessary errors (and hopefully learned from them) I’ll post a step-by-step post to hopefully liberate some more souls — or whatever the internet equivalent is; profile pics?

For those who may have been worried at the increasing twitter-like posts here: Yes, that will probably continue; yes, I’m looking into possible filtering measures; and don’t worry, I’m also working on a major site overhaul that will make the whole thing more accessible and cater it to different visitors’ needs.

I’m not sure who I’m apologising to, I only have a handful of regular visitors here :)

Comics scholars, fancy going to Paris and talk about my work?

The Sixth International Graphic Novel and Comics Conference / Ninth International Bande Dessinée Society Conference, which takes place in Paris in June next year has put out a last Cal For Papers – with a deadline of the end of this month.

Taking place Monday 22nd – Saturday 27th June 2015, the theme of the conference is “Voyages”…

—From the announcement on Down The Tubes

Given the subject, I figure my Kōan book would be obvious to give a talk on, but I’m not sure how well presentations of one’s own work sit with academia. Oh well, maybe they’ll want an exhibition instead.

#reading on the bus

Jillian Tamaki: Gilded lilies (2006)

Xmas came early this year: I found my copy of this the other day, thought it was long lost but it had just been pushed behind a row of books on the shelf.

Gilded lilies is a collection of early work by Tamaki, prior to her graphic novel debut Skim, and I get the feeling much of the material has been culled from minicomics and sketchbooks, and her art here is still sort of art school-influenced, which would normally be a harsh critique.

Not in this case, though: The thing is, Tamaki is a wonderfully skilled artist, with a keen eye for detail and the gesture and facial expression of human subjects. No amount of schooling ruins that (as is often the case), it has merely honed her craft, and here we see her toeing the line between illustration and visual storytelling.

In Gilded Lilies, Tamaki works partially in a brittle pen line that almost disappears on the page one moment, only to burst back in a jagged electricity the next; partially in grey washes of brush and ink that mostly look like highly accomplished sketchbook drawings. She distorts the subject matter to her heart’s delight, alternating between minimalist rendering, supple brush textures, and detailed hatching — sometimes in the same image. The choice of focus seems odd at times, but adds an irregular beat to the reading experience that makes these works stand out.

There’s a mass of material here, in a range of techniques and expressions, but one formal comics experiment that stands out is the closing short story Tape-Mines, that has been drawn as a friese yet takes into consideration the page format. My guess is it was made for an accordion book that accommodates both views.

The story rushes by in a dreamlike flow of consciousness, narrated without those classic panel divisions (who needs ‘em?) except of course when Tamaki decides they serve her purpose — a spread of tightly paced rectangular panels, a traditional comic within the experimental comic, seems to half shift the pace with full intent, half point Tamaki’s nose at the reader that no way is she going to follow any rules or expectations, least of all the expectation that she break the rules.

I did say it’s all wonderfully drawn? Gilded lilies stands out as a precursor to mature(r) works such as Skim, Indoor Voice, this year’s This one summer — and yes, goofball gag comics like the Tumblr original SuperMutant Magic Academy. The free jam feeling of the collected early work does carry over into SMMA to a degree, but there is something to that peek over the shoulder at a sprawling sketchbook that can go absolutely any which direction.

Jillian Tamaki’s work has hardly been reigned in by the intervening years, it just developed and synthesized into one artistic vision that she applies with confidence to different projects.

Buy Gilded lilies from Conundrum Press or Amazon.
Jillian Tamaki’s homepage, blog, tumblr and, at your own discretion, her twitter account.