Joost Swarte is a Dutch illustrator and cartoonist who updates the “clear line” style of earlier Franco-Belgian comic artists like Hergé (the creator of Tintin, boy reporter!) and Edgar Jacobs. For a little portfolio of Swarte’s art, go here; for a well-illustrated article about his many contributions to the New Yorker magazine—including the above image of an outer-space Leonardo da Vinci—go here.

 

On Saturday, April 10 at 11:30am EST, the wonderful NYC bookstore McNally Jackson is hosting a book launch for a new children’s book by the Argentine cartoonist Liniers. Titled Wildflowers, the book is a “celebration of the magical bonds that unite children. When her two big sisters embark on an adventure to explore a mysterious island, the youngest one doesn’t want to be left behind. What shines through from this funny story’s scary beginning (‘There was a terrible plane crash’), to its sweet and satisfying ending, is Liniers’ admiration for the imaginative powers of childhood.” The event is free, but you must R.S.V.P. here. And be sure to visit Liniers’ Instagram for more fun drawings, and the website of his publisher, Toon Books, for suggestions about more cartoony books available at libraries and bookstores. (Adults might also want to browse the McNally Jackson event calendar; there’s many interesting speakers scheduled for April and May.)

 

Gene Luen Yang is one of the most important and popular cartoonists in the United States. His book American Born Chinese (2006) is a contemporary classic taught in hundreds of classrooms, and his work (which also includes the ambitious graphic novels Boxers & Saints [2013] and Dragon Hoops [2020]) earned him membership in the prestigious MacArthur Fellows Program. And as a Chinese-American, Yang is dismayed by the recent violence directed at Asian-Americans, and made an Instagram comic commenting on the hashtag #AsiansAreHuman. (Parents should know that there are some disturbing and violent videos marked with that hashtag on Twitter.) Read Yang’s brief, impassioned, despairing comic, and then dive into his Instagram account further, to find images from projects like Superman Smashes the Klan (2019-20, a collaboration with D.C. Comics and artist team Girihiru) and Batman/Superman (a monthly title drawn by Ivan Reis).

 

In Playhouse Comics Club #42, we spotlighted the beautiful portraits of heroes like Supergirl and Batman that French cartoonist Elsa Charretier draws for fans at comic book conventions. Now begun this week: a new weekly YouTube series by Charretier and Pierrick Colinet about comic book art, “sequential storytelling,” and advice on creating a career in comics. The first episode features Charretier analyzing in depth a single panel from Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye #1 (Marvel, 2012); she argues that Aja is a master at directing the reader’s eye through figure placement, staging in depth, and use of shadows. A must-watch for any aspiring comics artist—and future episodes will drop on Fridays.

 

Episode 1 | Deeply Dave

Created by Mike Grover, and with music by Eric Robertson and web development by Andrew Jensen, Deeply Dave is an innovative webcomic that uses moving images to tell the story of a deep-sea diver who plunges into the ocean depths to find his Mom while avoiding the so-far-unidentified “BIG DOOM.” Two episodes are currently available, with more forthcoming. Some parents might find Deeply Dave’s sense of humor a little inappropriate—there’s some toilet jokes, and in Episode 2 Dave vomits twice from the Bends—but kids will love the way the strip requires their participation. Grover has other interactive strips on his Grovertoons site, though these should likewise be vetted by an adult; Arfer, for instance, is both a parody of the children’s books and PBS TV show about the aardvark and a comically violent pastiche of horror films. Not for everyone, but a blast for the right audience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The New Yorker posted on YouTube one of the films nominated for this year’s Best Animated Short Film Oscar: Yes-People, an Icelandic cartoon directed by Gísli Darri Halldórsson. On the New Yorker website, Kelsey Rexroat calls Halldórsson’s film “charming and poignant,” arguing that the film’s cynical perspective on the confining nature of routines is tempered by odd little epiphanies and fleeting moments of human contact: “Small moments of warmth between characters suggest deeper wells of connection, just as visual details impart special significance—a woman battling alcoholism has a hair style that floats above her head like a dark cloud; a music teacher has a nose like the beak of a songbird. These are figures slightly at odds with the world in which they live but who are searching out their way, day to day.”

 

This weekly blog post is written and compiled by Craig Fischer. To send along recommendations, ideas, and comments, contact Craig at craig_fschr@yahoo.com [.]

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Playhouse Comics Club, Issue #49 (April 2, 2021)Playhouse Comics Club, Issue #51 (April 16, 2021)

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