“What is Obscenity?”

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A recent addition to the Schulz library, in the deluge of Slate Prize books, is What Is Obscenity?: The Story of a Good-For-Nothing Artist and Her Pussy by Rokudenashiko. This is a ridiculously timely comic by a Japanese artist who was arrested and prosecuted for art made from molds of her vulva, her manko art. She was (and is) using her cute artistic take to address a serious issue—it boils down to sexism. Even though the events take place in Japan, we can all see the same issues all over the world.

Spread-comic

The story is told in first person using classic manga-style story telling, reminding me on occasion of the more emotional moments in Full Metal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa.  But Rokudenashiko also includes, between chapters, essays and photos explaining some of the more nuanced details of the story that a standard American audience might not know. Like what is Mammy?

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Rokudenashiko uses the same method to fight for what she believes is good and right in her comics as she does with her manko art. The story is sweet and enraging and sad. The art is adorable. The story is clear. Rokudenashiko is fighting the best way a cartoonist knows how, through comics.

Librarian Jarad Greene taking a quick peruse

Librarian Jarad Greene (’17) taking a quick peruse

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Senior Presentations: Class of 2017

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Each year, the senior class gives presentations on their thesis projects at the end of the first semester. The class of 2016 presented theirs in December.

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Hedj is creating a comic about a Sullivan, a young frog whose magical powers go unrecognized by society, called All Frogs Are Witches. Hedj is also working on autobio journal comics and is being advised by Melanie Gillman, creator of As the Crow Flies.

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Catherine Garbarino is working on the story of a female wrestler, Eva, in By Any Means. This is the start of a much larger work. Her thesis adviser, very appropriately, is Box Brown, creator of the graphic novel biography Andre the Giant: Life and Legend and found of Retrofit Comics.

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Steve Thueson is creating a punk, vegan, quest-based world that is full of high-jinks and action, Quest Mania. His thesis adviser is time-management extraordinaire Alec Longstreth, creator of Phase 7 and Basewood.

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Sandra Bartholomew is documenting her final year at CCS in autobio comics as well as other projects. Her thesis adviser is also Alec Longstreth.

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Robyn Smith is working on some auto-bio comics in The Things I’ve Lost. She is being advised by K. L. Ricks.

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Moss Bastille is working on a fictional mystic travelogue, The Obscure Road, and a monthly zine, Glass Eye. His adviser is Max de Radigues, creator of Moose.

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Laura Martin is working on a fantasy graphic novel about family, The Scarlet Thread, and is being advised by Jake Wyatt, creator of the web comic Necropolis.

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Jarad Greene‘s comic, Scullion, is an action-adventure comedy of errors. As a young adult book, his adviser is appropriately Dave Roman.

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Jacob Bussiere is working on two projects. Bubblegum is “a series of different comics but by one person.” Nimrod is a horror story about campers. His adviser is Josh Simmons, creator of Black River.

Photos courtesy of Abe Olson.

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Visiting Artist: Jeremy Sorese

Jeremy's name board as drawn by Luke Howard.

Jeremy’s name board as drawn by Luke Howard.

Jeremy Sorese is a cartoonist currently based out of Brooklyn, NYC, graduated with a BFA from the Savannah College of Art and Design in 2010.

Jeremy giving his talk.

Jeremy giving his talk.

Jeremy was accepted to the La Maison des Auteurs, a comics-specific residency program in Angouleme, France, where he lived and worked from 2012-2013. He greatly enjoyed the experience.

Jeremy discusses his hands.

Jeremy discusses his hands.

His first book, Curveball, published with Nobrow, came out in 2015 and was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award.  In his comics, he tries to focus on stories at the micro-level of life because that is what makes the characters’ experiences real and relateable.

Jeremy in discussion with Jess Johnson ('18)

Jeremy in discussion with Jess Johnson (’18)

He is also really interested in background characters because in just a scene or two, a character can come alive and imply an entire life, which makes the whole world have a depth and reality it wouldn’t otherwise have.

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Jeremy in discussion with Erienne McCray (’18), Kazimir Iskander (’16), Rainer Kannenstine (’18), and Ben Wright-Heuman (’16).

His favorite character in Star Wars is C3P0, who he thinks should have his own movie.

Robyn Smith ('17), Jarad Greene ('17), and Moss Bastille ('17) study Jeremy's work closely

Robyn Smith (’17), Jarad Greene (’17), and Moss Bastille (’17) study Jeremy’s work closely

Jeremy also showed some movie clips that exemplify his take on storytelling. Specifically, he examined a scene from Jupiter Ascending where the queen is interacting with bureaucrats who are just shoving her around. This interaction enhances her humanity. He is even more intrigued by her robot assistant, who he would love to see a whole movie about.  This one robot rolled off the assembly line with millions of other robots with the same face. How does this one robot have a different life from all those others?

We'll see you again soon, Jeremy?

We’ll see you again soon, Jeremy?

Photos courtesy of Abe Olson.

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Alumni Spotlight: Josh Kramer

Josh Kramer ’11 is a cartoonist and reporter. He lives in Washington, DC, but is currently a Knight-Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan. He runs The Cartoon Picayune, a nonfiction comics anthology; and The CoJo List, a newsletter of nonfiction comics. He most recently published “Nuclear Neighbors” at Hakai Magazine.

Josh says, “I want to mention that along my CoJo List co-creator Em DeMarco, I’ll be teaching a week-long comics journalism summer course at The Center for Cartoon Studies (CCS) from July 24-28. It’s the first one ever, and it should be really hands-on and built around real skills and techniques. Please join us!”

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Who was your thesis advisor and why did you pick them?
My thesis advisor was Josh Neufeld, who makes awesome nonfiction comics and teaches comics in New York City including at School of Visual Arts.

If you could choose any cartoonists living or dead as your thesis advisor, who would you have picked and why?
I really think it’s important to pick a thesis advisor who has some insight into the kinds of things you want to do and also is someone you can get along with well. So honestly I’m really glad I picked Josh, even though we still get a lot of “too many Josh’s” jokes. He’s also a big part of why I made it into the Knight-Wallace Fellowship at the University of Michigan, which is one of the best journalism fellowships in the world and just impossibly awesome.

What’s your favorite thing to draw? 
I love drawing buildings and structures. Give me a ruler or straight-edge and I’m happy.

Josh's art

Josh’s art

How did you come up with the idea for The CoJo List? Why do you think it is important?
I knew that there were a lot of amazing nonfiction and journalistic comics being drawn and published online, and figured that an email newsletter would be the perfect medium to share them. I teamed up with Em DeMarco, a great cartoonist in her own right, and started sending them out. We’re on hiatus until my fellowship’s done, but if you care about the future of comics and journalism or just want to a learn a little more about the world, I really encourage you to sign up here. Also, submit your work!

Why did you decide to start the annual journalism anthology The Cartoon Picayune?
The Cartoon Picayune is my comicbook that I self-publish yearly. It’s anthology of nonfiction comics that I edit, and it actually grew out of my thesis at CCS!

What’s your editing process with the comics in The Cartoon Picayune?
Often, cartoonists write scripts and then we work on them together to make them as strong and correct as possible. After all the drawing is done, I have friends/peers/family who help me copy-edit and fact-check. For cartoonists who have only worked in fiction before, it can be a bit of an adjustment, but I think most people enjoy the process and are very proud of the end result.

Josh's art of the Half Smoked Benedict at Ten 01

Josh’s art of the Half Smoked Benedict at Ten 01

What are you focusing on during your time as a Knight-Wallace fellow?
I’m studying the best practices and ethics of comics journalism. We’re about a decade into this most recent wave of nonfiction comics, and I want to take a closer look at visual authenticity and how we as cartoonists can function as documentarians and journalists.

What has been your favorite experience so far as a Knight-Wallace fellow?
This Fellowship is a dream: I’m paid to hangout with amazing journalists, take classes at one of the best public universities (Go Blue!), and go on amazing international trips. We just back from South Korea, and it was mind-bending. It’s a culture with deep paper-craft and design traditions and there was a lot to see.

What’s your favorite comic and why?
So hard to pick! Safe Area Goražde, by Joe Sacco, is probably the most meaningful to me. It really got me started on the path of becoming a cartoonist and visual journalist.

Josh's favorite book, by Joe Sacco

Josh’s favorite book, by Joe Sacco

What is your favorite cheese and why?
Again, too many excellent choices. But I want to remind the CCS community that some of the best cheese in the country is made in Vermont. It’s a small state, and visits to Jasper Hill Farms, Von Trapp Farmstead, or Vermont Creamery are fascinating and delicious. I love Winnimere, aged at Jasper. Check out the Vermont Cheese Trail!

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School Discussion: Political Comics

Jeff Danzinger and David Macaulay came to gather all the students in a group discussion of what journalism is in comics.

Whole class notes during a serious discussion

Whole-class notes during a serious discussion

Jeff Danzinger has won the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. His most recent book, The Conscience of a Cartoonist, is a collection of his political cartoons following the 9/11 attack, using satire to scold and guide.

A visitor explains his take.

Jeff Danzinger explains his take.

David Macaulay is an illustrator and writer, often explaining architecture, design, and engineering. In 1991, he won the Caldecott Medal for Black and White (1990), four separate stories told at the same time across spreads; and in 2006, he received the MacArthur Fellows Program award.

Sandra Bartholomew ('17) and Michelle Ollie listen to a visitor

Sandra Bartholomew (’17) and Michelle Ollie listen to David Macauly

They discussed how it’s important to not be partisan, what makes a political cartoon work or not, how simplicity is the key. Sometimes you can convey a location or part of the world with just a store front or a specific building. The students were encouraged to get involved with their questions and opinions, leading to a lively discussion.

Moss Bastille busy taking notes

Moss Bastille (’17) busy taking notes

Sandra Bartholomew's mad note-taking skillz

Sandra Bartholomew’s mad note-taking skillz

Discussion doesn't stop just because class does. Sophie Yanow, Darryl and Mary continue the conversation.

Discussion doesn’t stop just because class does. Sophie Yanow, Darryl and Mary continue the conversation.

Liniers, James Sturm, and Sophie Yanow eagerly listening.

Liniers, James Sturm, and Sophie Yanow eagerly listening.

Caleb Brown taking notes for everyone.

Caleb Brown taking notes for everyone.

Photos courtesy Abe Olson.

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Announcing The Fifth Annual Cartoonist Studio Prize!

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Submissions in both categories must be received by Jan. 31 2017.

Each year the Cartoonist Studio Prize will be awarded to work that exemplifies excellence in cartooning. The creators of two exceptional comics will be awarded $1000 each. Winners will be selected by Slate’s Jacob Brogan, the faculty and students of The Center for Cartoon Studies, and this year’s guest judge, Karen Green of the Columbia University Library.

The two award categories for the Cartoonist Studio Prize are Print Comic of the Year and Web Comic of the Year. Finalists for each category will be announced in early March. The two winning comics will be announced in early April.

Eligible print comics must be written in (or translated into) English and published between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31 of 2016.

For details, visit: cartoonstudies.org/studioprize

 

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Visiting Artist: A. K. Summers

A. K. Summers' name board drawn by Luke Howard

A. K. Summers’ name board drawn by Luke Howard

A. K. Summers is the creator of Pregnant Butch: Nine Long Months Spent in Drag. She also made the comic zine Negativa, and the animated shorts Topless Dickless Clueless and World Without Femmes.

© 2016 Abram B. Olson All Rights Reserved

A. K. Summers

Summers was an entertaining speaker. She discussed why she made Pregnant Butch: though she identifies as butch, pregnancy is identified as inherently girly. She wanted to explore that conflict and fictionalized autobio was the perfect medium.

© 2016 Abram B. Olson All Rights Reserved

Summers had a blast answering questions

A. K. Summers continued making comics to explore this dichotomy. In early 2015, she published a comic, “Nursing While Butch,” with Mutha Magazine, continuing the story of Pregnant Butch.

© 2016 Abram B. Olson All Rights Reserved

Summers and James Sturm in deep conversation

© 2016 Abram B. Olson All Rights Reserved

Gorgeous notes about A. K. Summers by Sandra Bartholomew (’17)

© 2016 Abram B. Olson All Rights Reserved

Summers is entertained while in discussion with Laura Martin (’17) and other students

© 2016 Abram B. Olson All Rights Reserved

Enraptured students Jarad Green (’17), Robyn Smith (’17), and Hedj (’17) along with many more.

A. K.'s fantastic graphic novel

A. K.’s fantastic graphic novel

Photos courtesy Abe Olson.

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Visiting Artist: Rebecca Roher

Rebecca Roher's board, drawn by Luke Howard

Rebecca Roher’s board, drawn by Luke Howard

Rebecca Roher is a Canadian cartoonist and illustrator who graduated from The Center for Cartoon Studies (CCS) in 2015. She recently returned as a visiting artist.

Rebecca Roher

Rebecca Roher

One of the first comics Rebecca became well-known for was Mom Body. It is about, as one would imagine, the changes her friend’s body goes through during pregnancy. It was nominated for the Doug Wright Award in 2016.

Reunion of Rebecca with Luke Howard and Jason Lutes

Reunion of Rebecca with Luke Howard and Jason Lutes

In Bird in a Cage, also started as part of her CCS thesis, Rebecca explores the changes in her grandmother as Alzheimer’s set in. It was first featured on The Nib, and then the mini comic won the Expozine Award. It has now been expanded to a full graphic novel and been published by Conundrum Press.

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With the success of these two comics, Rebecca has become sought out for work on women’s and mental health comics.

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She is also a proponent of healthy living, especially in regards to living an artistic life. During her talk, she discussed maintaining healthy working habits, such as taking breaks and stretching.

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She even treated the attendees to a watercolor demo.

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Photos courtesy Abe Olson.

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New Donation at the Schulz!

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Just got this amazing donation from ODOD! Musnet tells the story of Musnet the Mouse, a dedicated admirer of impressionism who strives to achieve artistic perfection while trying to make sense of his complex feelings for the critters he cares about. Sound familiar?

Its subdued and eloquent color palette, its beautifully dynamic and deceptively sparse lines and its earnest and touching homage to one of the most important moments in the History Western Art all work together to deliver a poignant and compelling children’s tale.

This series has been slated for the Grand Prix at Angouleme.  Help Dargaud and Uncivilized Books bring this jewel to American kids everywhere by backing this project at Kickstarter. Only 57 more hours to go!

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Visiting Artists: Kerascoet

Kerascoet board as drawn by Luke Howard

Kerascoet board as drawn by Luke Howard

Kerascoet are a husband-and-wife artist team, Marie Pommepuy and Sébastien Cosset, from France. They are best known in the United States for their comics Beautiful Darkness (written by Fabien) and Beauty (written by Hubert).

Sebastian and Marie have to try to answer Luke Howard's weird questions.

Sebastian and Marie have to try to answer Luke Howard’s weird questions.

They work with a variety of writers, working in close collaboration. And collaboration is the name of the game for this pair. They are masters of working on a team, maintaining a balance between an exacting vision and compromise.

Sebastian discusses making comics

Sebastian discusses making comics

Together and separately, they work on comics, illustrations, and animation. Their strengths compliment each other. Sébastien is a trained architect with mastery of perspective and design. Marie brings life to her subjects and stories.

Sebastian made sure Marie spoke up, not allowing her to hide behind the books.

Sebastian made sure Marie spoke up, not allowing her to hide behind the books.

They admire each other’s strengths. And where their skills overlap, there is absolute respect that allows them to work in tandem. Any given page could be work on either or both of them. And yet the art remains cohesive and consistent because of the trust and care they put into it.

Marie has something important to tell Moss Bastille ('17)

Marie has something important to tell Moss Bastille (’17)

With each comic, they also like to switch up their tools. Beautiful Darkness was created using pencil and watercolor. Miss Don’t Touch Me was originally drawn using a nib pen in a far looser style than Beauty. Another artist applied digital colors to their specifications.

After the talk, they were kind enough to sign books in the wonderful sketch tradition in Europe

After the talk, they were kind enough to sign books in the wonderful sketch tradition in Europe

Beauty was created using technical pens (in three sizes) and Uni Posca paint markers. The markers lay a flat, even layer of opaque color. The original use only two colors, black and the paint marker. The same colorist that worked on Miss Don’t Touch Me colored these pages, but with different specifications from Kerascoet. Instead of the dark monotone colors, they wanted more emotional vibrant colors.

Someone was talking beautiful notes

Sandra Bartholomew (’17) took beautiful notes

Kerascoet has created many comics, large and small. But most are not available in the United States. If you speak French, though, you are in luck!

Marie and Sebastian

Marie and Sebastian

Photos courtesy Abe Olson.

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