Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Will Eisner

Recently visited the Will Eisner exhibit at the BSC in Brussels.

My companion during the visit was the always nice Steven De Rie, who was told by some fellow cartoonist that the exhib was not all that great, also because it consisted of pages coming from a single private collection.

Well, I do not know what kind of show this other cartoonist expected, but the exhibit was really well done.
Ok, there was a relatively little gallery of "Spirit" pages, only a handful of splash-pages but there was a rather large and diverse selection form the master's later works such as dropsie Avenue, the name of the game, A contrazct with God not to mention practically the complete "The Dreamer", which has very special place in my heart.

The pieces exposed were accompanied by large panels of commentaries from the curators and some printed magazines froma lla over the world.

If any criticism can be made about the exhibition is the scarcity of prep material such as sketches and/or scripts (it would have been interesting to see how the Spirit stories were plotted, scripted and then realized, especially beacuse the process involved other artists or writers).
Some more photographs may have helped too and it would have been great to have a screen or two playing excerpts from the various Eisner docs that DO exist.

Anyway, this should not be missed by any comic book lover who has the chance to visit Brussels or its surroundings.

The exhibition lasts until March the 2nd 2014. Entrance fee is 8 euros, but it buys the access to the Whole museum (which is always worth the price)

PS: very very very nice chit-chat with Steven De Rie after the visit about all things comics. 

Steve Ditko

I first encountered Steve Ditko's art on the pages of Marvel Comic's Indiana Jones comic books in the late eighties.
Not much later I learned he was the creator, together with Stan Lee, of Spider-Man.

Still I was completely oblivious about his rather interesting career until this documentary aired on BBC.


Wednesday, 18 September 2013


There is very little I can say about Jean Giraud a.k.a. Moebius that hasn't been said already and better.

Just enjoy these wonderful docs.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Alberto Breccia

Alberto Breccia is one of the undisputed masters of Argentinian comics.
I must confess that if it weren’t for writer and friend Alessandro Ferrari, who suggested me to give a better look to the last Mort Cinder story (printed in an anthology collection that I lent to him!) I may have continued to consider him “one of the Argentinians”.
Breccia was a master of lighting and mood. Even if based on a very solid and “classical” drawing stile, his characters and backgrounds have a strong expressionistic look. He must also be remembered for experimenting a lot with mixed media techniques, comprising of photo collages, watercolors and zip-a-tones to create unique textures.
He has probably been a big influence on Frank Miller, both for themes (the final Mort Cinder story is a retelling of the battles of Thermopylae) and for the use of stark black and white contrasts.
An important collaboration in his life was with writer Héctor Oesterheld:  the duo collaborated on a number of series, besides Mort Cinder, and on the comic-book biography of Ernesto Che Guevara (co-illustrated by Breccia’s son, Enrique) which is generally considered the reason of Oesterheld’s disappearance in 1976.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Stephen R. Bissette

Sorry for the long hiatus.
Inkstuds.org is the blog that collects the interviews made by Robin McConnell on his show of the same name, on Vancuover radio station CitR. According to the program’s webpage “Inkstuds explores the underbelly of the comic world, interviewing some of today’s top creators. Inkstuds focuses on underground and indie comix from publishers like Fantagraphics, Top Shelf, Drawn and Quarterly and more. Each week, we interview a different creator to get their unique perspective on comix and discuss thier own interesting and upcoming works. No creator too big or too small to be interviewed. The talent interviewed, ranges from the legends of alternative comix, to some kid who has only put out a couple of mini’s, all with something new and interesting to share to the reading public.”

I’ve subscribed as soon as I discovered the site and these hour-long interviews have become one of the highlights of my web experience.
On the site you can also find an incredible archive of past interviews.
The show’s host Robin McConnell is sometimes a little too softspoken, but his knowledge of comics is pretty widespread (he must have a killer collection of books).

To me, one of the best interviews is the one to STEPHEN R. BISSETTE
Known mostly for his work on the SWAMP THING title during Alan Moore’s tenant, Steve Bissette has also been one of the "frontmen" of independent comics and spokesmen for creators rights in the 90s. He created and edited Taboo, a short-lived but very influential comic anthology where From Hell and Lost Girl made their debut.
A great lover of horror movies, Bissette later retired from both mainstream and independent comics (right after the outburst of the collector bubble)  and ventured in to the home video business , working for a video store he partially owned, right in time to witness the decline of the home video market too.
Bissette teaches now courses in Comic Art History, Drawing, and Film at Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, Vermont.

Many many topics are touched upon in this two hour interview: creators rights and livelihood (here and in other interviews Bissette is not afraid to talk about a very mundane but very hard issue: payments), Steve Ditko, the media conglomerates, Robert Altman’s The Long Goodbye, John Carter of Mars, self publishing and more.

Be sure to check Bissette’s own site: it’s a goldmine.

And here’s an interesting compendium the the Inkstuds interview.