THE BLOG AT THE CROSSROADS
Posted: February 27, 2014
I am really looking forward to talking again with the award-winning German graphic novelist Reinhard Kleist (above), acclaimed for his graphic biographies of Johnny Cash and Fidel Castro. He is over again to launch the riveting life-story of the Holocaust survivor and champion prizefighter Harry Haft in The Boxer published by SelfMadeHero.
Kleist explains on his website: “The story of Hertzko Haft is a drawn biography of the life of Hertzko “Harry” Haft. In the year 1940 he was deported by the Nazis from his hometown in Poland and survived four and a half years in concentration camps like Auschwitz and Flossenbürg. In the camps, he was used as a smuggler and boxer, where he had to fight against other prisoners. After the war he went to America and started a career as a professional boxer. Partly because he didn’t learn anything else, but mainly because he wanted to become as popular as possible so that his girlfriend from Poland, that he was supposed to marry, would find him. Hertzko Haft’s prose biography was first published in the States by Syracuse Press. It was told by his son Alan Scott Haft from interviews that he did in the year 2002.”
This is Kleist’s exclusive London speaking engagemernt presented in association with SelfMadeHero, the Goethe Institut and Comica Festival at the Goethe Institut London in South Kensington on Thursday March 6th from 7pm. Admission is free and refreshments are provided, but please RSVP on info[at]london.goethe.org or phone 020 7596 4000. See you there!
Posted: February 22, 2014
It’s a great big, ginormous Comics Planet and a few more of my international correspondents and my fellow reviewers for 1001 Comics You Must Read Before You Die have reported in with their recommendations for the very best comics published during 2013 in Australia, Belgium, Denmark and Sweden for starters. Let our voyage of discovery around the globe continue!.... Read their selections here…
Posted: February 22, 2014
It was a pleasure to re-connect with American comics journalist, connoisseur and ComixAce news blogger at The Beat, Heidi MacDonald a few weeks ago at the Angoulême International Comics Festival, on her first trip to this Cannes of Comics. And out of this came the invitation for her to interview me for Publishers Weekly as part of their ‘More To Come’ podcasts. Our whole forty-minute Skype chat is online here, covering my latest book Comics Art, out now in the US from Yale, and the upcoming British Library exhibition I am co-curating with John Harris Dunning, Comics Unmasked, among many other things. And yes, I do let Heidi get a few words in edgeways - and thanks again for inviting me!
Posted: February 20, 2014
Next Wednesday, February 26th, American expert Ryan Holmberg is giving a free illustrated talk about the remarkable magazine Garo, started in 1964, which revolutionised alternative manga in Japan. Holmberg has written and exhibited widely about this subject, most recently in the collection Gold Pollen and other stories by modern master Seiichi Hayashi, published last year by PictureBox (see image above, 1972). Don’t miss what promises to be a fascinating insight into this rich area of Japanese comics. It’s at SOAS, College Buildings, Room G50, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG from 5.05-7.00pm. Tickets are free. Full details here…
Posted: February 15, 2014
Comics and communism haven’t always mixed. While Chairman Mao’s China pumped out millions of lianhuanhua, palm-sized propaganda mini-comics with one panel per page, Hungary was one of several East European nations to forbid comics as capitalist Western trash, apart from their own worthy, wordy graphic novelisations of classic novels, and obviously imports of Vaillant, later Pif Gadget, published by the French Communist Party.
After the change of system in Hungary in 1989, activists formed the grand-sounding but since disbanded Hungarian Comics Academy, while the free underground arts and literature magazine Roham encouraged experimental, self-expressive comics. It was in its pages that András Baranyai published his first forays into the medium, drawing on influences from his country’s fine art, illustration and graphic design from the past to conceive his own daring visual narrative constructions. Read the rest of my new Article here…
Posted: February 12, 2014
STORIES FROM THE FRONT LINE is an innovative graphic medicine commission for a public space installation as part of Sick Festival 2014 in Brighton. Four fantastic comics artists present four stories from the Front Line of medical practice in Brighton. Four patients and four doctors share their stories, giving their own accounts of true events that are moving, revealing, honest and challenging. Ian Williams, ILYA, Nicola Streeten and Woodrow Phoenix (above) illuminate the personal and ethical issues of illness and healthcare through individual’s experiences. The resulting graphic narratives are presented in a large-scale light-box installation outdoors and for free in Jubilee Square, Brighton in the lead-up to, and throughout the festival from February 10th to March 31st 2014. Go take a look and a read, storms permitting!
Posted: February 10, 2014
Amongst the many commemorations of The Great War this year, and several through comics and graphic novels, Line of Fire truly stands out as a remarkable piece. French writer and artist Barroux (above) rescued a old tatty diary from a rubbish skip in Paris and discovered it contained searingly honest and moving entries made by a First World War soldier. Barroux has adapted these into the graphic novel Line of Fire, published in English by Phoenix Yard Books at £10.99 with an intro by Michael Morpurgo. You can meet Barroux and the book’s translator Sarah Ardizzone in conversation this coming Thursday February 13th at Waterstones Piccadilly from 6.30pm. Tickets cost £5 or £3 for Waterstones Cardholders and include a glass of wine of soft drink. To book ring 020 7851 2400 or email events.piccadilly[at]waterstones.com
Barroux is also hosting a free drop-in drawing workshop at Heffers Bookshop, Cambridge from 2:30pm on Friday February 14th, and another workshop at the Imagine children’s festival on London’s South Bank on Sunday February 16th.
Posted: February 10, 2014
Apologies once more, I am about to blow your budget and overfill your bookshelves with another of my monthly gleanings of what I suggest are the best in graphic narratives on the horizon. These continue to be amazing times we’re living through, as creators fulfil and exceed their ambitions, as great works from around the globe crossover into English, as masterpieces from the past come back into print, sometimes even better than before, and as studies of comics grow richer and deeper. Enjoy! Read my PG Previews for April 2014 here…
Posted: February 6, 2014
I’ve already predicted that Just So Happens from Jonathan Cape would be one of the UK graphic novels of 2014. It’s the debut graphic novel by Japanese-born, UK-based comics creator and animator Fumio Obata. I first met Fumio when he was studying in London at the Royal College of Art and have followed his work ever since. The seed of this story was his four-page entry which was shortlisted for the ObserverCape/Comica Graphic Short Story Prize. Don’t miss the chance to get the very first copies and have Fumio sign yours at the Launch Party this Friday February 7th 7-9pm at Gosh! Comics, 1 Berwick Street, London W1F 0DR - see you there!
Posted: February 5, 2014
Gil Roth’s 80+ minute interview with me on The Virtual Memories Show went live yesterday. Take a listen - here’s Gil’s intro and some quotes!
“Comics is a medium that isn’t going to go away. It may just now finally be coming into its own in the 21st century. In this internet era, there’s something very special about what comics do, no matter how much they get warped and changed by technology.”
Decades ago, cartoonist Eddie Campbell immortalized Paul Gravett as The Man at the Crossroads of the British comics scene. More than 30 years after taking on that role, Paul remains at the center even as the scene has gone global. We had an in-depth conversation about the growth of comics as an art form, the surprise of seeing local manga in Algeria, why he considers himself less of a comics historian or curator than a comics activist, and how it feels to have been the first publisher of some of the finest cartoonists of our time! Give it a listen!
“I’m probably slightly insane for wanting to go on looking and searching and questioning and provoking myself, trying to find stuff that doesn’t give me what I know already.”
Along the way, we also talk about his new book, Comics Art (out this week in the USA from Yale University Press), the new exhibition he’s curating for the British Library, Comics Unmasked: Art & Anarchy in the UK, the history of the British comics scene and his history within it, and the way virtually every lifelong comics reader’s home winds up resembling an episode of Hoarders.
The new episode of The Virtual Memories Show with Paul Gravett is available on iTunes and at our website, where you can download it or listen through the in-browser player. This one’s about 80 minutes long. You can also visit the archives for past episodes, or subscribe on iTunes so you’ll never miss an episode! (or skip all that and download the 43mb MP3 file directly from here).