Friday, September 2, 2016
The final remaining stock of Sir Alfred No. 3 is described as "lightly damaged" and offered at a discount on the website of Fantagraphics.
I love this expression, "lightly damaged." Isn't everyone? What it also means is the undamaged books are now gone--souled out. With a thousand already in the ether, a second printing is asking for too much trouble.
Since Alvin's death, he's been in many dreams; in one, he was showing me a non-existent graffiti spray paint mural he did on Vermont near Santa Monica Boulevard in my old neighborhood. As we were crossing the street, a fleet of military aircraft swooped down at a 45 degree angle into the pavement and passed through us the way ghosts do. On the corner near the bus stop, there was a felled squirming cow covered in afterbirth.
I then started binge watching Kurt Cobain suicide conspiracy movies on Netflix, comforted by their distracting ability to explain "what really happened" because there is not going to be a way to know.
Recently there was a fire in Santa Clarita, and although it was not so near where Alvin is buried, I started to wonder what the temperature would be like under the ground and whether it might be stuffy wearing a suit inside a padded coffin when there are flames overhead.
So buy today, argh. I feel mostly like sleeping for a good while, but I am so indebted to Fantagraphics and John Porcellino for agreeing to make the books available for purchase.
Posted by Tim Hensley at 2:21 PM
Tuesday, July 26, 2016
This review luckily coincided with the San Diego Comic Convention, where the book was for sale.
It looks increasingly like Sir Alfred No. 3 will sell out.
There are no plans for a second printing, so order today, etc.
Posted by Tim Hensley at 8:45 AM
Tuesday, July 12, 2016
Joe McCulloch and Matt Seneca discuss Sir Alfred No. 3 on the podcast "Comic Books Are Burning in Hell." I believe the title is meant to be salutary, in the same sense one might say, "Those twelve bars by Drake are fire." I actually don't know if Drake is fire or not.
I'm very flattered to be the subject of this broadcast.
Normally on their podcast they are joined by Chris Mautner, who may have recused himself because he recently weighed in on Sir Alfred No. 3 with a review in The Comics Journal.
Posted by Tim Hensley at 9:10 AM
Monday, June 6, 2016
|Having the time of my life|
I feel like I do better with the written word, but instead fate has presented my second podcast interview.
This time it’s the show with the ironic misnomer "Inkstuds." It was host Robin McConnell’s inspired idea to have me interviewed instead by Roman Muradov.
Roman is a great cartoonist whose work for me has echoes of midcentury modernist art. He's, like, I don't know, a fauve painter, but one who has also assimilated someone like Syd Hoff? He combines that with an elevated wordplay, arguably that of an amused and/or appalled emigre?
It often occurred to me I should’ve been interviewing him. He has a new book coming out called Jacob Bladders; the sample art I’ve seen looks great.
He also has a book coming out in France, “Aujourd’hui, demain, hier,” I’m curious to see.
He’s also an extremely erudite fellow, to the point where I often felt like one of the scientists confronted with Cliff Robertson’s Charly at full apex. Whenever I say, “Oh, okay,” in the interview after he mentions an author like, say, César Aira, chances are I may be aware of who he’s talking about, but haven’t read the book in question.
(I was lucky he didn’t push me about my non-fiction reading habits, or I’d have to admit checking out Rod Stewart’s autobiography.)
Last I heard, Sir Alfred No. 3 is now past half gone. Order now [Space echo].
Fellow Blog Flume inmate Ken Parille puts Sir Alfred No. 3 under the electron microscope.
Chris Anthony Diaz publishes an interview on ComicsWorkbook we did way back in the halcyon days of 2014.
Posted by Tim Hensley at 11:02 AM
Tuesday, May 10, 2016
|"Diploma" shades purchased at Target for $3.00.|
Listen to me drone here.
The hosts are Ticket Stub publisher/cartoonist Rina Ayuyang and cartoonist Thien Pham.
They have entertaining good cop/bad cop chemistry.
Josh Frankel also checks in at the top to discuss new releases.
In other news, here's a page from Mujeres Celebres No. 69, Grace Kelly, published in 1966 in Mexico:
My Spanish is bad enough that I thought, "Cool, a comic called Dead Celebrities!"
I had originally bought issue number 76, but Alfred Hitchcock wasn't in it:
Posted by Tim Hensley at 10:56 AM
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
The final Pigeon Press publication Sir Alfred No. 3 is now available for purchase on the website of Fantagraphics:
and through John Porcellino's Spit and a Half distribution arm:
Or it can likely be found in a few select comic shops soon enough.
Thanks to Manuel and Josie Buenaventura for facilitating the distribution and John P. and Fantagraphics for taking the book on.
Also thanks to Chris Anthony Diaz and Thien Pham who physically transported the boxes from Alvin's to UPS. Chris sent me this in-transit cell phone photo, which calmed my nerves a bit:
Thanks to everyone I spoke with who offered their help or took interest in the proceedings.
In other news, Tippi Hedren is on the cover of Life After 50 magazine this month:
Posted by Tim Hensley at 5:24 AM
Thursday, February 18, 2016
Alvin was absurdly generous. I’m writing this in a room filled with stuff he gave me: comics, magazines, letterpress prints, original art, obscure minicomics, button collections, cartoon masks, European exhibition catalogs, foreign editions of books by cartoonists we liked, and so much more. When Alvin travelled, he must have been thinking “What would Ken want?” Then he got it. His gifts frequently arrived unannounced.
Once, when he attended a conference featuring a dizzying, never-to-be-repeated line-up of cartoonists (Crumb, Barry, Clowes, Ware, Bechdel, Brunetti, Panter, Sacco, Burns, Spiegelman, Gloeckner, Green, Tyler, Katchor, Seth), Alvin got every one of them to sign a program for me. It arrived unannounced.
|A gift from Alvin with a note.|
Alvin had the softest voice of anyone I ever knew. When we’d talk on the phone, I had to press it as hard as I could against my ear; and even then I often couldn’t hear him. It seemed a perversely perfect, Alvin-like irony that someone so soft-spoken would choose to live with two screaming birds, who frequently turned our phone conversations into farces.
Collaborating with Alvin was a real joy, though it wasn’t always easy (a habitually disappearing phantom can test any collaboration). I was happy to help him in any way I could. I’d talk with him about projects, write press releases, edit comic books, touch-up website copy, and write text that appeared on Buenaventura Press and Pigeon Press comics. Writing wasn’t Alvin’s strength, but collaborating was. When I’d put together some copy I thought was pretty good, he was always able to make it better, to get it to say just what it needed to say. I felt lucky to play a part in the forward-thinking art he released.
|Me, Alvin, and Daniel Clowes at SPX 2012.|
Posted by Ken Parille at 3:01 PM
Tuesday, February 16, 2016
At The Comics Reporter, Daniel Clowes offers a remembrance of Alvin Buenaventura.
Other recent posts found about Alvin: Jonathan Barli, Anders Nilsen.
And here is Alvin's obituary by Chris Mautner and Joe McCulloch in the The Comics Journal.
Posted by Tim Hensley at 4:09 PM
Saturday, February 13, 2016
Early Friday morning, I received an email from my friend Rina informing me Alvin Buenaventura had passed away. She had no specifics about what happened.
I later got a phone call from Alvin’s friend Dylan, who informed me what I was hoping was some kind of elaborate hoax was true.
The previous evening I had received a package with the final comp copies of the comic book Sir Alfred No. 3 that we had just finished. There was no note. There were also some uncropped front cover prints he had wanted me to sign and send back to use as an incentive for initial orders of the book.
We had recently been through the usual round of emails and phone conversations resulting from the production process.
He was overworked on many other things besides our project and generally mentioned some health problems, both physical and mental.
He described having some autoimmune issues he said were making it difficult for him to use his hands? Severe arthritis? He said he was taking some kind of medication with unpleasant side effects?
Another time he apologized for being out of contact by saying he had a breakdown. He didn’t seem willing to go into any more details.
He had also got back from a trip to Hawaii and told me he had thought about not coming back.
But the things people always say after a suicide were true as well. His last email was upbeat about the mylar sleeves arriving. Things were looking up, he seemed so pleased, all those usual things.
In general though, most of our conversations were more about stuff like moire patterns on a dot screen, final trim size, file corrections…
Alvin sometimes reminded me of the type of manic/depressive I had read about in Kay Jamison’s book Touched With Fire. He also sometimes reminded me of a Hollywood agent with his Swifty Lazar type glasses and that kind of gifted orientation toward creative personalities.
He was a secretive person who often seemed at odds with himself, a great source of his creativity.
The photos you see of him looking through a loupe on press are indicative of his focus. I asked him about the loupe, and he said it had filters so you could look at just cyan, magenta or yellow at a high magnification. I never knew anyone could do that or be willing to. If you look at even his most low-key books, you will see that kind of attention to the simple matter of the plate hitting the paper.
Because the size of my book meant the pages could not be ganged together, he did 22 press checks. Who does that? I wouldn’t have.
On the other side, he could be erratic. You could talk to him on the phone and the line would go dead, and he wouldn’t call back. There’d be odd absences in contact. He could be cold when he felt slighted, and you’d never quite know why. He was a man of indomitable alliances and longstanding grudges. I grew to not be so thrown by these things as we progressed. It’s even some of the things we had in common.
I do not know the fate of my comic, which I imagine is sitting in a bunch of boxes in Alvin’s place somewhere. It will depend on the disposition of his estate. I hope people get to see what a bang-up job he did on it.
Often in his emails he told me that working on my book meant a lot to him; I sure hope so.
I hope working on my project didn’t cause him any more stress than anyone usually encounters in the sometimes perilous compact of putting a book together.
I’m also remembering, among so many other memories which could fill many other posts, Alvin, after receiving my files, asking for “first refusal” of my next book in his business-like way…
My condolences to his friends and family.
Posted by Tim Hensley at 4:19 PM
Saturday, January 30, 2016
Thursday, June 25, 2015
Is Ware judging this scenario, or is he simply setting up a scene/series of ideas for our contemplation and enjoyment? If judgment is involved at all, might he have mixed feeling about the scene?
1. The discarded dolls are an imitative form (users pretend to be a care-giver, mother).
2. The ball near the image’s center (like the swing set) represents a non-imitative, less restrictive kind of play (in other words, it’s not programming kids for adult roles).
3. Minecraft represents both something imitative and more open-ended than what the dolls represent. Is Ware making a statement about a "hierarchy of play?" Maybe, but I doubt it. Ware doesn't seem like a "statement artist."
The yellow ball, which occupies an image's place of prominence (the center), does look a little lonely, though. (Note that the pink/red girl might be stepping on a ball.) Ware's work often communicates 'the pathos of objects': things can carry more emotional weight -- can even seem to 'feel' -- more than people do. At the risk of overstating things, there may be a 'spiritual materialism' at work here. This room is a curated collection -- and careful artistic rendering -- of objects that appear to have the kind of talismanic power that things have for children (and for nostalgic adults.) (Ware's work is kind of like that of the cartoonist Seth in this way; both show a lifelong collector's devotion to things.)
* What about gender and technology? Girls leaving dolls behind them to invent worlds? They appear to have just been playing tea and cake while dressing the dolls; cups are knocked over and three of the dolls’ four shoes are off. The girls seem to have left this play-world in a hurry . . . There’s a real sense of chaos toward the bottom of the image that’s replaced by an impression of order as we move up into the space of technology. Maybe Ware endorses their implicit ‘rejection of gender roles’ and the technology gender gap? (The cover is a male-free zone, with girls, girl-surrogates (female dolls), and girl avatars.) Or perhaps he's just documenting, with a kind of objectivity. something he's witnessed.
On the topic of matching colors: in a balancing design gesture, the partially-shown lamp on the left shares the two-color scheme of the outfit on the girl on the right, just as the colors of the partially-shown doll on the right -- atop the bookshelf -- resemble the outfit of the girl on the left. There's what appears to a skirt at the bottom/center of the image; it's blue and red, with the blue part 'gesturing' toward the blue girl and the red part toward the red girl. Some of this mirroring seems to be related to how Minecraft can be played.
Another odd detail: a shrub visible through the window is blue (you can have blue trees in Minecraft.)
Posted by Ken Parille at 2:57 PM
Monday, April 13, 2015
[Eight Excerpts from “Fear of Comics: Understanding the Comic-book Critic,” by Franz Moerike and Angela Schmidt. (From the journal Männlichkeit (34) II, 2009. pp. 167-196. Crowd-translated by The BF Critical Consortium and reprinted here with permission.)]
1. The so-called “Rise of the Graphic Novel” has led to the emergence of a specialized class of readers: comic-book critics. This legitimation of a once-reviled “art form” has spawned a troubled personality formation, a subset of “comic-book critic” that we designate here, for the first time in the psychiatric literature, as “The Anti-Nostalgic” (AN). He (and it is almost always a male) needs to be distinguished from his peers, who, though they may be invested in reading and writing about children’s comic-strips and picture novels, exhibit no deviant traits. The AN, however, displays the following: a mania for “high standards”; an irrational suspicion of memory; an obsessive interest, not in art, but in competing with other critics to establish mastery; and most importantly, for our purposes, a fear of their own childhood selves. (Though relatively small in number as of this date [2009 - ed.], the AN needs to be added to future editions of the Uniform Catalogue of Personality Abnormalities so that, when encountered within a clinical setting, it can be properly identified, assessed, and treated. Indeed, Arno (1999) has shown success with disorders of this type, treating males who are over-invested in writing about toy culture in online fora. . . .)
2. The AN’s key dysfunction is this: he is suffering from what we designate as “pathological anti-nostalgia.” The AN is cognizant, almost paralyzing so, that comic books have long been associated with a nexus of subjects that inevitably evoke childhood: superheroes (and other forms of power-phantasies), collecting, fandom, and nostalgia. So, when writing about comics, the AN feels that he must do “all in his power” to “show the world” that he is by no means part of the fan community; indeed, he is the self-described “Foe of All Comicdom.” (He seems unaware that his language/ideology is comic-book inspired in its good vs. evil Manichean dualism.) Fans, he will often say, like what they like because they are blinded by nostalgia, whereas he, the AN, can see the object as it is, free from the physiological elation that the memory-driven fan experiences as he warmly recalls a simpler past in which comics ordered his life, providing a psychic escape from his developmental issues and current social problems. . . .
3. In his criticism and in the clinical setting, the AN displays a verbal repetition-compulsion syndrome (King 1957) when confronting self-identity issues. He will say, for example, “The comics world is driven by fan-boy insularity” and similar phrases dozens of times over the course of a year (and even in one particularly troubled client’s case, at least three times per week). His need to repeatedly define himself as “not a fan,” “not a nostalgic,” “not a collector,” and perhaps most puzzling as “not one who likes comics, but only the occasional graphic novel” suggests what C. Johnson has called a “personality void” (1987) that can be “filled” only by negative identities: “I am not a fan,” “not a collector,” etc. The AN displays a “reactionary formation” (Johnson and Addams 1992), and is capable only of seeing himself as, in essence, the phenomenological result of competition with the individuals he reacts against. What he is, he knows not, but he knows for certain that he’s “a lot fucking smarter than that fannish” Critic X. At the subconscious level, he fears that he is nothing in himself, but comforts himself with the fact that he is, at least, superior when assessed in relation to others. . . .
4. Fearing above all being labelled as “childish,” the AN has at his disposal a ready set of terms for attacking the tastes and arguments of those with whom he disagrees, especially when these critics are generally acknowledged as authorities (the AN’s rage-driven Oedipal anti-authoritarianism will be addressed subsequently in this essay’s treatment plan section [see excerpt 8 below - ed.]). These concepts reveal profound anxieties towards his childhood and the very idea of childhood itself:
“They only like that comic because they read it as a child. I have no such baggage and therefore can freely condemn it on objective grounds.”
“They are blinded by a fannish love of the comics medium. I have no such baggage.”
“No one can really like the work of _______ or _______; they just collect their pamphlets as a symbolic hedge against adulthood and its burdens. Children and stunted adults collect. I Critique.”
“They fetishize picture-stories: I formulate treatises.”
The AN fails to acknowledge that he fetishizes his own intellect and abstract concepts. He, it must be noted, is also a collector, amassing the quotations of authorities in order to demonstrate his erudition, just as a fan amasses consecutively-numbered pamphlets. “Note that I cited Benjamin and Foucault,” an AN repeatedly said to me while in therapy. He thinks that his collection, because somewhat abstract (and validated by the Western patriarchal notion of “Intellectual History”), is therefore better than the fan’s collection, which it is not.
5. As J. Lint has observed (1998), many of the AN’s self-expressive metaphors — the figurative language that broadcasts his neurosis— come from arenas of the male body and male violence, such as wrestling: “That was a powerful take-down of that comic!” His language shows the importance placed upon the phallus and/or the testes: “I’m glad you had the balls to go against the Comics Cognoscenti!”
6. The AN yearns for a phallocentric stability, a totalizing fictional narrative about himself that defeats temporality, which is the essential mechanism of nostalgia. In some instances, psychoanalysis reveals that he was abandoned or mistreated by a stern father he admired, even worshiped. This trauma, which happened during early childhood, has generated in him a revulsion toward things he considers childish (in one case, an AN’s sister was the family success story; the parents constantly bought her “funny animal” comics as rewards for proper behavior). As a child, the inchoate AN believed that, by engaging in what his father scorned as “childish” activities, he brought shame to the family; he wounded the father, who expected the child to “man-up” and spurn childhood, even though he was only yet a boy! A complete identification with the condemnatory and rejecting father (McManus 1956) takes place within the AN’s super-ego. It is no surprise, then, that this critic’s most crucial target, the object of his greatest venom, vitriol, and vituperation is the established male critic (G. Roth 1978, 1998, 2003), who stands in for the AN’s father. Ironically, when attacking these male critics, the AN will regress into name calling, a prominent tactic of the wounded child.
The AN seeks an ahistorical absolute (i.e., a critical standard true for all time) that he can use as a rhetorical cudgel against those who disagree with him, those whom he thinks are blinded by nostalgia. The Platonistic AN seeks the permanent, the timeless, searching relentlessly for a concept not inflected or infected by childhood. He finds this rhetorically, when he defines himself as an Adult – mature, discriminating, somehow miraculously free from “the stain” of nostalgia. The past, and memory itself, are nothing to him!, so he says. Yet he fails to integrate his present and past selves and accept a healthy nostalgia, which, as King (2000) argues, is an affective function that emerges from the inescapable time-bound, material embodiment of all persons. Fearing matter itself (and by extension his own body) — he especially hates the matter that is collectible paper ephemera — the AN adopts the anti-materialist stance of the puritanical religionist. Even though he rails against experts, he sees himself as a kind of priest, “a truth-teller reviled by all the fan-boys.” The more that comic readers attack him, the more he feels that his status as a non-conformist seer is affirmed and bolstered. . . .
7. In many instances, sometimes after several years of analysis, the AN will admit that he is interested in comics (in part or exclusively) precisely because it comes with the very “childish” history he pretends to repudiate!: this “history of childishness” makes it easy for him to assert his Adult Mastery, his superiority to, and refutation of, all things Comic Book. Given comic books’ relatively low standing in academic and fine art circles, he can position himself as a kind of demi-god who stands above and outside of “the comics industry,” like an adult who looks at a group of children playing and shouts: “Look at the babies playing with their baby toys! I reject baby toys!” He always talks of the comic’s community’s low standards because this rhetoric proves he embodies high standards, that he is the mature anti-nostalgic. In psycho-sexual-physiological terms, he views his rhetorical phallus as the standard by which all others must be judged (Partch 1967). His criticism is, as A. Peters noted, his “phallus in the world.”
Though nostalgia is a normal affect, it, above all else, is — and indeed must be — the AN’s mortal foe!
8. What follows is our clinical treatment plan […].
Posted by Ken Parille at 12:38 PM
Thursday, January 30, 2014
I've been updating it ever since.
That makes 13 years and a lot of information. While not complete (though it's close), it includes entries (most are annotated) for nearly 1500 items.
Please check it out.
Posted by Ken Parille at 1:16 PM
Monday, November 18, 2013
This Wednesday, November 20th, my next GRID column goes up at The Comics Journal. It's part two of a survey in which I talk about words in comics. This time I look at Bill Griffith, Gabrielle Bell, Grant Morrison, J. M. DeMatteis, Jerry Siegel, Jim Rugg, Joe Casey, John Byrne, Julia Gfrörer, Lynda Barry, Michael DeForge, Scott Snyder, Ted May, and a few others.
Posted by Ken Parille at 1:13 PM