Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Cat-Eyed Boy

I'm putting together a manga piece for Forbidden Planet's Blog, that I hope they'll use. It's not just about manga it's also about the people behind some of the titles. In particular, I'll be looking inside the studios of some Mangaka (I'm just sorting out the screenshots). But I can't resist putting this up here. Unless I'm mistaken the young women here was in Sexy Voice and Robo, or Akihabara (at) Deep, certainly something I've seen quite recently.

This movie version of Umezu's classic, Cat Eyed Boy, which Viz has recently released in two thick volumes (great idea) is as cheesey looking as Lion Maru, but it is great fun. Released in Japan in 2006, it was directed by Noboru Iguchi, and of course written by Kazuo Umezu (see Same Hat! Same Hat! link), with Mana Yasuda responsible for the screenplay.

The mange, available from Forbidden Planet, of course, is awesome. Volume 1 is over 500 pages thick.

I've put up some screen shots in case the trailer, which I had a job squeezing to this size, gets moved. I would like to have compared it with the anime that Same Hat! Same Hat!, which has long been a champion of Kazuo Umezu’s work (they introduced the likes of me to Umezo's Drifting Classroom), and the man himself, has a broken link where the link once was. I'm thinking this is better though; but I love this sort of thing. Look out for that maurading turd.

I'm going to shoot for copyright of the original characters belonging to Kazuo Umezu, and the movie copyright having something to do with Nekome Kozo. Certainly Euro Space, Euro Space, one of the pioneers of art-house cinema in Tokyo in the early 80's was in some way involved with the movie.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Dreamer by Lora Innes

Web comics don't come much more 'pro' than The Dreamer. What Lora Innes has set-up is really something quite special, and it's the sort of, in today-speak, 'brand identity' that cynical companies might try to create, but get hopelessly wrong. That's because the ingredient that such a company would lack, and which Innes provides in abundance, is passion; and that passion really shows not just in the work and the attention to detail, but also in the way the world of Beatrice (Bea) Whalley is presented and promoted by her creator.

One of the things I really like about The Dreamer is that it could easily be a story from an old classic British comic like Judy or Bunty, which of course means that it would fit comfortably into any current manga collection. What maybe looks at first glance as simply a period piece, is on closer inspection a much more complex and interesting premise that is mirrored, in many ways, in the current US TV version of the BBC hit show, Life on Mars:

Beatrice “Bea” Whaley seems to have it all; the seventeen year old high school senior is beautiful, wealthy and the star performer of the drama club. And with her uncle’s connections to Broadway theater, the future looks bright ahead of her. Little does she know that her future might actually be brighter behind her.

Bea begins having vivid dreams about a brave and handsome soldier named Alan Warren–a member of an elite group known as Knowlton’s Rangers that served during the Revolutionary War. Prone to keeping her head in the clouds, Bea welcomes her nightly adventures in 1776; filled with danger and romance they give her much to muse about the next day. But it is not long before Beatrice questions whether her dreams are simply dreams or something more. Each night they pick up exactly where the last one ended. And the senses–the smell of musket shots and cannons, the screams of soldiers in agony, and that kiss–are all far more real than any dream she can remember.

I have to admit that The Dreamer is what I think a web comic should be. It's not that my ideal online strip has to be a serial, or that it shouldn't be funny, it's just that the web is an ideal medium for experimentation. It is also the ideal medium for telling a long story over time that can, as new technologies become available, take advantage of those elements and perhaps incorporate them into its delivery. Yet for some reason, a lot of the stuff on the web is in the same restricted and restricting format that we find in newspapers. Why? For some reason, a lot of online comics appear not just as faux-newspaper strips, but they also appear as tiny little graphics as though their creators are blissfully unaware that quite a lot of surfers now have broadband.

Honestly, I think quite a few of us could learn a lesson or two by just looking at Lora Innes's site, but you'll be missing out if you don't stop off at The Dreamer archive and catch up with volumes one, two, three and the current volume, volume 4.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Business of Art

Two things have caught my eye recently, one is the debate about plagiarising your own work, which Wiley Miller has pointed out that, strictly speaking, you cannot do - and Mike Lynch, an all-round good guy and someone who is surely a superhero in a parallel dimension, has once again pointed out some helpful hints for newbies on his excellent blog.

What I though I'd do, since I am actually beavering away on some cartoons again, is post something that sort of combines the two things - copying your own work and tips for newbies.

Now, those of you who are familiar with this blog will know I have gone back-to-basics with cartoons, and I just don't bother sending to some markets. I do send to publications that pay well and value cartoonists, and that work from pencil drawings or use that rough to decide what they want. I'm just not inclined to sit inking literally hundreds of cartoons and then send those out on spec to low-paying markets - that's all. I don't think it is economically viable and it is, even for the best cartoonists out there, soul-destroying. So I do what I like to think of as 'drawing smart'. I create less work, and I sell less work, but I make about the same money.

The cartoons I do draw are pencil roughs, with some detail, even solid blacks and often some wash. I scan these pencil roughs into the computer and print out as many copies as I need and post those to the publications, or email or fax the things. Here's one (minus the punchline of course).

Okay, what I'm doing with this is I am writing 4 different punchlines for this drawing, and I hope to sell it to 4 different publications because it will, essentially, be a different cartoon in each case. In fact in one case, I will remove the salmon going in the opposite direction, using Photoshop. Of course what you are saying to yourself is, there is only one original pencil drawing. Well, yes there is, but then I may only sell the thing once and the publication I sell it to may work from the copy they have. Any publication wanting the original inked will get back to me and ask me to do so and they will say, 'as long as the finished drawing is completed to our satisfaction you will be paid x amount. You get it? I stand a good chance of being paid, so that's when I now use the ink. It works for me.

Here's a close-up of the salmon so you can see the wash and the paper I'm using. It's not very expensive and although it is a high-cotton rag content paper, Neenah, made by a Native American company, I did manage to find a source in England. If you click through you'll see the linen weave of the paper and that wash is essentially dirty inky water, which this thin paper holds very well indeed:

Monday, June 16, 2008

Rod Blog at Forbidden Planet

Hey, Joe from the Forbidden Planet International blog emailed me to say that my first FPI post is online.

I'm hoping to post one or two pieces and reviews once we get the introduction posts out the way. - if the gang over at FPI will let me. Pop over and take a look-see.

The Forbidden Planet International Blog

(be prepared for a long stay, there's an awful lot of good stuff )

Takeo Saito's Golgo13, Kimonos and Bad Sons

I have a great memory for many things. I can remember dialogue from TV shows I saw 20 years ago, I can remember all the lines of Annie Hall, every song from the Rocky Horror Picture Show (even though I now wish I couldn't), lots of poems, lots of Wodehouse, some of Shakespeare, some of Burns, and if I had a conversation with you in 1982, I may well bring it up next time we meet - particularly if you said something that has been getting on my wick for 26 years. But I still forgot to send my old man a Father's Day card, so I've sent him a belated one. Sorry it's late, Happy Father's Day, Bill - from your ungrateful and stupid son.

It also doesn't work well in this respect:

(the following two items are related but they are separated by 3 years so you have to make the leap with me)

in the Art and Architecture edition of The New Yorker, Oct. 17, 2005 I read an article about a Kimono painter and it made an impression on me. It was called Letter from Japan, The Kimono Painter.

(now you should be able to tell by that very accurate date that I have gone and hunted down that edition of The New Yorker from my little library so that I can be completely accurate)

So now I can be very precise, it's called Letter From Japan, The Kimono Painter, A modern master of venerable art, and it's by Judith Thurman. The article is about the master yuzen Kimono maker Kunihiko Moriguchi, and it is accompanied by a gorgeous illustration by Ruben Toledo. If it's online at the New Yorker archive, I recommend you read it, it's marvelous.

Ah, ha, I found an extract in the New Yorker archives; click here.

(so now we launch forward to Father's Day 2008 to discover why this particular article came to mind)

Well, I been watching some Japanese TV shows featuring Mangaka of all ages, and it struck me that the description of the Kimono painter's apprenticeship, as described in Judith Thurman's story about Kunihiko Moriguchi, the Kimono painter, is much like the apprenticeship of a cartoonist studying under a Mangaka. Even the description of the artist's studio, with its library of books, tools and its computer station, sounds similar to the studio of the Mangaka. And what Moriguchi says about the job itself, that "...no one becomes a yuzen painter just, or primarily, for the livelihood. It is a way of life.", struck a chord as it would with any illustrator; in fact with anyone involved in any way with a comic strip, comic book, graphic novels, or daily cartooning. The more I watched the Mangaka in their studios, the more I was convinced of this, and the more I came to understand why the job of a cartoonist, especially a manga cartoonist or Mangaka in particular, is so revered in Japan.

Clearly, the fact that the creations of the Mangaka are creator-controlled in a way they often are not in the West, is at least partly responsible for the way the studio set-up of the Mangaka has evolved. The entire project is imagined and put together by the team in the studio, headed by the Mangaka, who sits in a position at the head of affairs, his desk approachable from all sides so that the work can easily be handed to him to check quality control. The work rate of some of these masters is truly awe-inspiring and as you will see from the movie clips (for as long as they are allowed to stay here) the projects they work on benefit from this team approach - which helps us greatly in understanding how one man or woman can create several series with 100 or more volumes. It should also go some way to dispelling the myth that the 'creator' credit suggests little or no involvement by the great man (you know who you are - you might want to go back to your review and change that suggestion).

Whilst we do have creative teams working on projects in the West, even on creator-controlled projects they tend to be geographically spread around, rather than all working together in the one studio. And although the advent of faxes and computer networking and Skype and the like has sped up the process beyond the old snail-mail methods, this Western system is still markedly slower than the Japanese equivalent.

In some studios the Mangaka will only pencil the work, with others in the studio handling the inking. In others studios the Mangaka will ink only the main characters and the apprentices will rule lines, ink backgrounds, handle toning and burnishing, scanning and all the other parts of the process.

The show, in particular, that I was watching as I thought about this is a sort of 'This is your life' or at least a 'This is your Character's Life' of Golgo13 creator Takao Saito. Born in 1936, Takao Saito, is older than the two other Mangaka I've been watching recently, which is nice because I was beginning to fear that everyone creating the manga I enjoy was younger than me - which would just fill me with despair about my pathetically low artistic output. Having said that, I don't think even another 100 years would allow me enough time to produce a body of work as consistently stunning as Takao Saitou has produced.

From his debut in 1955, with Kuuki Danshaku (Air Baron) the man has barely paused to take a breath. In 1959, he helped to establish the comic studio "Gekiga Koubou" which in 1960 became Saito-Productions. In 1964, Saito began the 007 Series, based, of course, on Ian Fleming's famous character. In 1967, Muyonosuke started serialization, and 1968 this series was followed by his magnum-opus, Golgo 13 which is still running today. Never one to rest on his laurels, the Seventies marked the debuts of the serials Barom One, Kagegari , and Survival and since then Kumotori Jinpei, Onihei Hanka-Chou and Shikakenin Fujieda Baian have all been given birth by Saito-Productions. One of the most respected cartoonists in Japan, Takeo Saito won the 21st Shogakukan Manga Award, the Grand Prize of the 31st Japan Cartoonist Awards, the Jury’s Special Award at the 50th Shogakukan Manga Awards and in 2003 he received a Purple Ribbon Medal. He is a director of the Japan Cartoonists Association .

It's also nice because it makes this first film of a Mangaka's studio, providing it is the first time you have seen inside such a studio, seems more in touch with the rituals and traditions of the venerable occupation, whereas the studio of one of the younger creators could look, out of context, like a much more modern set-up; rather than what it is - a modern variation of a traditional Mangaka workplace.

So, hopefully TokyoTV will allow us to keep these parts of the show as essential research and for the purposes of studying and reviewing a rich part of Japanese cultural heritage. I hope they won't mind me doing so, but I've chopped the show into smallish sections, and left out the interview and audience parts so that we, over here, can concentrate on the action in the studio. I've also left in the section about Japanese manga readers increasingly reading their manga on their (much cooler than our) phones.

You can pick up a few volumes of Golgo13 from Viz Media.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Wally Wood's Witzend

Okay, this has been slimmed down because Bill Pearson, the publisher of Witzend, has expressed fears that by appearing here, on this blog, I may have inadvertently, in the eyes of some misguided soul, possibly placed the work in the public domain.
I trust you not to assume that is the case.

When I named a graphic panel that Rex May and I put together, Witzend, I was completely unaware of Wally Wood's publication of the same name. Of course, after I did become aware of it, I got hold of a few copies, but it would be safe to say I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I mean, I was hoping for maybe some Vaughn Bode, but I certainly wasn't anticipating a full Mr A by Ditko. I suppose it would be redundant to announce that a magazine put together by Wally Wood and featuring work by the man himself, and Steve Ditko and Frank Frazetta, et al, is still one of the greatest self-published anthologies you can imagine - especially for the princely sum of one dollar?

Email Problems

Okay, it looks like my email addy is screwed and I'm not the only one getting email from me. What seems to have happened is that someone was bulk-spamming using my email address and when I emailed anyone I got that email back because my email addy had been blocked.

Naturally I tried to fix the problem and I think that has caused the mail that didn't previously get through to get through now, all at once, so it's been kind of an emailing-self-fulfilling prophecy. So, time, I think, to abandon that address, completely. Anyone looking to get in touch with me use the following address:


In the meantime, if you get any mail from "me" from 'rodmckie (at) lycos.com' just bin it. It'll no doubt be full of ads. I have no idea what is going on.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Nostalgia or Wonderstuff?

Some time back, when we were chatting on Darrin Bell's old Toon Talk site, we got to talking about how uninspiring a lot of today's comic strips are in comparison to what came before. Of course it isn't really a fair comparison, Winsor McCay and Herriman and Frank King and the other master cartoonists of the past had the huge canvas of the full-page Sunday Funnies to dazzle us with. It goes without saying that if Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend, Krazy Kat and Little Nemo were being produced to be read in a format around 3/4" x 6" and about 3" x 6" on Sundays, they would not look the way they do. They would be paired-down and much of the sumptuous imagery would have to be sacrificed and Krazy Kat in particular would be very wordy, at times. All things considered, given the restrictions that are in place today, strips that some people do not consider to be well drawn, Dilbert and Pearls before Swine, are perfectly drawn cartoons for the age in which we live, and unlikely as it may seem to some people, they will one day also be viewed as classics of the genre.

The conversation also highlighted a worry amongst some of us old farts that the younger web cartoonists were simply aping the style of successful web strips like PVP and Penny Arcade, and the cartoonists creating the comics had little or no idea knowledge or interest in comic strips of past, for instance those seminal examples listed above. Which was why, I think, a lot of web-cartoonists were producing small newspaper-sized cartoons on a vast web page, instead of using the freedom of the web to produce something closer to the giant Sunday Funny pages of the past. Since then, of course, the marvelous Chris Ware edited book of Frank King's work, Walt and Skeezix, has appeared, as has the gorgeous Little Nemo collection So Many Splendid Sundays (Many More Splendid Sundays is released next month), and I'm confident that publications like those have already and will continue to inspire tomorrow's web-cartoonists to think on a much larger scale.

The worries we shared back then about the role of TV shows have also been expressed on the UK cartoonists site, and at first glance they could probably be dismissed as a form of nostalgia. Perhaps a little like the Victorians nostalgia for the pre-industrial idyll. After all, kids can have wall-to-wall kiddy programmes and cartoons today, if they have cable at home. If anything, thanks to The Simpsons and Family Guy and King of the Hill, all by Fox Broadcasting, cartoons are more popular than ever and can even be seen after 5.30 pm. On the face of it, there is no lack of the sort of kiddy programmes and cartoons that used to enrapture so many of us while we ate our 'tea in front of the telly', and which inspired us to go on and become cartoonists and writers and animators and illustrators. It's just that, well, I don't know, they just seem to lack that sense of wonder.

That is what is so odd, really, if you think about it. Whilst the newspaper comic strips that used to appear in the Sunday Funnies were huge, the size of a broadsheet 'Beezer comic' page, and in full colour, and then they were replaced by strips a third or a quarter of their size, you can easily see how some of that magic could be perceived to be lost. With the TV shows though, the opposite should be true, the shows were often really ropey, badly put together, poorly dubbed, sometimes black and white rather than colour, and they appeared and disappeared and then appeared again, depending on your aerial and the strength of the TV valves, on a tiny screen. Today's shows by contrast are beautifully produced, perfectly dubbed, their budgets are enormous and they appear on TVs 2, 3 and even 4 times and more, larger than our old sets. Some of the shows are even in Hi-Definition, with colours so sharp they make the flowers in the window box look positively dull by comparison, and yet, and yet for some reason the old shows still look better in our mind's eye than the high-gloss productions look on even the most impressive Plasma screen. For some reason, the introduction to Gigantor and Marine Boy and later, Wait Till your Father Gets Home, even in poor resolution on tiny little screens on a web-page, still thrill us more than anything they make today.

Clearly something else, other than than our critical faculties is guiding such thoughts. We can see that the things we liked back then were often badly made, amateurish even. We can clearly see that today's shows look better and we can hear that they are funnier, sharper, more ironic, more knowing. Even back then, Gigantor and Marine Boy were derided in the West for their obvious failings by the critics - nobody dreamed back then that Japan would become the major force in animation that is has become (except maybe the kids who raced home to watch those shows).

Is it all really just nostalgia for more innocent time? Well, I don't know, I tell you, I was watching Gigantor and Marine Boy and Fireball XL5 and Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet and Wait Till Your Father Gets Home and My World and Welcome to it and The Double Deckers and T.H.E Cat and Honey West and even an episode of the adventures of Hiram Holliday over the weekend (it's a dirty job but someone had to do it) and I was bowled over by the imagination on display. Add to those titles Batman, the Man from Uncle, The Avengers, The Prisoner, The Time Tunnel, Hogan's Heroes, Land of the Giants, Bewitched, Mister Ed, the Addams Family, the Munsters, the Banana Splits, the Monkees, HR Pufnstuff and you begin to build up a catalogue of the some of the most imaginative and inventive TV shows ever made. And compare it to today, where shows like Jeremy Kyle and Jerry Springer, Neighbours, Hollyoaks, Pop Idols, Big Brother and numerous cooking programmes and reality shows serve only to stunt the imaginations of the young and inspire them to seek an abstract notion of 'fame' at any cost.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Hey Pippa, Stubbs, soon

Hey Pippa, I'll be blogging a little on Stubbs soon, so you might be interested.

I haven't wondered down to Stockbridge in the last year or so, and I'd normally bump into him there. It has been years since we've spoken and I've no idea if he is still marching to and fro between the Scotsman newspaper and home. Many of the faces from that era have moved and he did move further along the crescent when he sold the old house; but I've no idea if he went further afield.

Sorry, scant on details.

But thanks for looking in.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Hokusai, Mangaka

1. Katsushika Hokusai's, Ejira in Suruga Province

From time to time we've looked at how difficult it can be to choose the precise moment to illustrate a situation. To be more precise we've seen many instances where illustrators sometimes seem to pick the exact moment before, or the exact moment after, but not the precise moment that sometimes looks like the artist has captured a moment in time.

Now I know what you're thinking: It's so ephemeral that capturing the perfect moment may be more down to chance than planning. Well no, I'd argue that can't be true, because some people manage to do it time after time, Turner for instance, and Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849).

We're not going to concentrate on Hokusai's ubiquitous Great Wave Off Kanagawa, we're going to look instead, at another work from Thirty-six Views of Mt. Fuji, Ejira in Suruga Province. And we're going to look at that woodblock print from 1831 because we can contrast it with a modern work by Canadian photographer, Jeff Wall, from 1993 called A Sudden Gust of Wind(after Hokusai).

You're likely to have noticed that 'A Sudden Gust of Wind' has 'foregrounded' the wind, and ignored the spiritual centre of Hokusai's work, Mount Fuji. Mount Fuji is the highest mountain in Japan and it is located in Honshu, Japan's largest island. Known locally as Fujisan (note:this shouldn't be confused with the male honorific 'San'), Mount Fuji is a sacred mountain, steeped in history and ringed by lakes and forests, and has, for centuries, been the traditional goal of pilgrimage. In his book, Hokusai said, "It struck me that it would be good to take one thing in life and regard it from many viewpoints, as a focus for my being, and perhaps as a penance for alternatives missed".

So let's look at Hokusai's work again in light of what we now know. Mount Fuji, the sacred object, is the focus of the work, and yet it is hardly catching our eye. It is barely a line, so slight it could be an afterthought. The foreground on the other hand, the blades of grass, the scribes clinging to their hats, and their modesty, are much more detailed. Fujisan, in the distance, seems like a benign influence on the composition, almost an afterthought.

It is a strange composition in many ways. It almost seems, at first glance, too subtle. Not for a moment, do we look at the paper that the wind has ripped from the hands of the people and scattered over the sky and think, 'ah ha, the artist is using the flying paper to balance the canvas'. Perhaps we feel that if Hokusai had wanted a more balanced drawing he would simply have shifted his perspective so that the twin-trees moved further to the right, balancing the drawing. That he has chosen not to manipulate the scene suggests even more that what we are seeing is a snapshot in time. A moment of real contemplation captured in a moment as time itself stood still.

Now take a look at this perfect photo of Fujisan itself, by Japan-based photographer, and perhaps one of the greatest living chroniclers of modern-day Japan, Everett Kennedy Brown:

Everett Kennedy Brown/EPA

It is striking is it not? And I think we can now see, with the benefit of Everett Kennedy Brown's photograph, that Hokusai's rendition of the mountain with that one iconic line is simply perfect. In Myths and Legends of Japan, F. Hadland Davis says:

"Fuji dominates life by it's silent beauty: sorrow is hushed, longing quieted, peace seems to flow down from that changeless home of peace, the peak of the white lotus."

All of which brings us back to Hokusai's most iconic work, Great Wave Off Kanagawa. Look at the print below (click the picture below for a very large copy - 2.5megs). Many people who own the print on calenders or mats or tea-towels are unaware that mighty Fujisan is even part of the picture. And yet, when you do know it is there, you become aware of its power. Fujisan stands there, behind the waves, anchored, impervious to the dangers all around. It is a solid immovable, dependable, sight. Whilst the humans in their little boats are small and frightened, and at the capricious whim of nature and the gods, the great Fujisan looks serenely on.

Not that Fujisan doesn't have a darker side. Its foothills provided a secluded location for the Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult, who carried out the Sarin gas attack on the Tokyo underground in the 1990s, and at the base of Fujisan lies the ancient forest Aokigahara, Japan's most infamous suicide spot.

2. Jeff Wall's, A Sudden Gust of Wind(after Hokusai).

A closer look at A Sudden Gust of Wind (after Hokusai) by Jeff Wall, informs us that this vacuous photo, lacking any depth or spiritual connotations, is a tribute to the Art World who have invested value in it. It can be found in London's Tate Gallery, if you have half a mind to look.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Jason Comics and Books

We never really see any work by Norwegian cartoonist Jason (John Arne Sæterøy) in the UK, much. Although, history tells us, with his recent comic, Low Moon, appearing weekly in The New York Times that before long either the Independent, the Observer or the Guardian will soon 'discover' him and run the comic along with a five-page article.

It is irritating that the British press have little or no idea what is actually going on in the world of cartoons, but it's hard to blame them. I suppose they resort to large articles about the cartoons of French cartoonists like Sempe and US cartoonists like Chris Ware because they don't see an equivalent in Britain itself - but then that's really because they have no idea where to look. Let's face it, the cartoonists they employ to draw the little single-panel cartoons and the like are not really 'cartoonists' they are 'gag drawers' - they don't create lasting work of any substance. At least not any that the British public gets to see. Behind the scenes though, some of those same cartoonists, who have to make a living producing the sort of inane rubbish the British press puts on its pages, do actually produce 'real' quality work - comic strips, mini-comics and even books - but it remains, thanks largely to the culture, hidden from view.

Hopefully, when the Independent or the Observer does finally 'discover' Jason, perhaps this time at least, the end will justify the means. That's because Jason almost always refers to himself as a 'European cartoonist', and that may well alert Britain's press to the fact that Europe, including Britain, houses cartoonists who do produce interesting work. And that 'cartoons' can be so much more than those ghastly little throwbacks to a by-gone age, the single-column gag cartoons (these are different from 'magazine cartoons'.

There is no such problem in the US however, where Fantagraphics have long championed Jason's work and the next month or so will see the award-winning cartoonist signing his new book in Canada and the US, and attending several other events including the annual MoCCA Festival Kick-Off Party, art show.

I think, on the whole, even though the line-up has been somewhat predictable with Jaime Hernandez, Chris Ware, Daniel Clowes, Megan Kelso, Seth, Jason, et al, that the New York Times Funny Pages has been a resounding success. Over here it did lead to a large newspaper reprinting Chris Ware's Building stories and that was good news because the papers had started to put the public off the idea of cartoons by publishing the drawings of people like David Shrigley, which merely mimic substance.

Anyway, just in case the British press haven't looked in on the Funny Pages at The New York Times recently, here's a look at some pages from Low Moon. You can download them here, at The Funny Pages, in pdf format, and you can also grab the opportunity to register for free and become a regular visitor.

Jason's latest book, Pocket Full of Rain, is, as usual, published by Fantagraphics who broke Jason's work in the US with the American edition of Hey, Wait..., which was nominated for two Harvey Awards, as well as being cited as the second best comic of 2001 by Time.com. You can order up some marvelous Jason titles from Fantagraphics, here: