It’s difficult to hype your own work. I should know, I started a whole publishing company just to avoid hyping my own work! But, it’s very gratifying to see your own work on any best of list. When the list written by a writer you admire, well that’s even better! Cartoon Dialectics Vol. 3 makes it on the Best of 2018 list at Your Chicken Enemy. Here’s what they have to say:
Cartoon Dialectics #3 looks like a humble, unobtrusive work– it’s packaged like a zine, printed in purple, black and white with an occasional splash of yellow on somewhat thick, matte paper. But what Tom Kaczynski and Clara Jetsmark provide between its covers is powerful, invigorating stuff, connecting the dots between our society’s retromania and the rise of neo-fascism, while also acknowledging how easy it is for anyone to fall prey to the dangerous allure of nostalgia.
Bold in its aesthetic and literal simplicity and paradoxically educational and surreal, Cartoon Dialectics #3 did a far better job investigating where we are now and why in its few pages than the entirety of the New York Times this year.
A big thank you goes to The Nib for commissioning the piece in the first place. Another big thank you goes to Clara Jetsmark who bravely agreed to draw it on a very tight deadline when I ended swamped with other work.
Here’s a short few page preview of this comic for those who haven’t seen it yet:
I stumbled on the following a while ago on Blissblog:
“Along with the many cross-contaminations between rock-etc and s.f., one thing that Heller’s book reminded me of was that many of the very earliest rock criticism publications were started by people who had previously done science fiction fanzines.
Intensely self-reflexive fields, rock criticism and science fiction share a strange mix of inferiority and superiority complexes. Painfully aware of their marginal position vis-à-vis “proper” journalism and “respectable” literature, they nonetheless believe that they are doing the Most Crucial Writing of Our Time. I can remember from my own days as an adolescent s.f. fanatic being struck by the s.f. writer’s culture of workshops and conventions – by how the writers loved to write essays defining s.f. as a genre, proclaiming its unique contribution to literature. There were even a few volumes of essays by s.f. writers debating s.f. that I remember reading.
Simon Reynolds | Blissblog
This. This exactly describes me during High School. Except replace music with comics. I took pains to let everyone know that comics were the most important thing. I’m sure it was very annoying. Whenever I had to write essays about books in English class, I tried to convince my teachers to let me write about X-Men, Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, and whatever else I was reading at that time. Most of the time I was shut down, but a few teachers indulged as long as I could ‘prove’ to them that comics weren’t just kid’s stuff. Actually that was crucial. It challenged me to look at comics somewhat differently, and probably led to my actively seeking out better comics to impress my teachers.
Every Page a Painting
I have a pretty intense memory of showing Kid Eternity to my teacher. This is the Grant Morrison & Duncan Fegredo 90’s revamp with fully painted art. I remember challenging my teacher to look closely at the art. “It’s all painted” I’d say. “EVERY page is a full painting! Imagine if Michaelangelo had to paint the Sistine Chapel, over and over again, and tell the whole story in that famous painting.” I was definitely already a Science Fiction fan at this point. In Poland, I’d collected the magazine Fantasyka, which serialized sci-fi novels and comics. In the US, I read whatever sci-fi my library had on hand. Harry Harrison, Asimov, Pohl, Piers Anthony, David Eddings, Heinlein, Lem, etc.
Sub-Genre of Utopia
To speculate wildly here… if we follow Fredrick Jameson’s assertion from Archaeologies of the Future, and think of Science Fiction as a sub-genre of the utopian novel (not the other way around), then sci-fi retains a utopian imaginary somewhere underneath all of the technological dress up. Sci-fi at it’s core imagines and extrapolates different worlds/futures based on different customs, different technologies, different environments (planets), etc. It’s easy to imagine young brains blown to bits by science fictional speculations.
I don’t think that I was consciously doing this at the time, but in retrospect, I must have been thinking about comics as some kind of major human innovation. The comics I was reading were not perfect, but I imagined a different future, where comics were the dominant literature. It’s a science fictional extrapolation. Take something small and insignificant from today, and imagine it as a dominant form in the future. Or at least, as something that has the capacity to become that.
Inventing a Future
I imagine young Gary Groth in a similar mode. He takes over The Nostalgia Journal, a fantasy, sci-fi, comics, fanzine, and turns it into The Comics Journal, the most important magazine in the world. There was an inkling there already, a belligerent insistence on the importance of the medium. And all this without clear evidence for that importance, as The Comics Journal kept reminding us, while frequently berating the industry for failing to make great comics. It comes out of that same era. Sci-fi fanzines, pop/rock fan-zines, comics fanzines – popping up everywhere – creating new critical appreciation for debased art forms; art forms that were new and vital and popular. There was no rule book on how to write about these things. They had to invent it in real time. They were inventing the future in real time.
My brief was to do a poster for Highrise Mayhem, a double bill featuring Dredd (2012) and The Raid: Redemption (2011) (coming to the Trylon Jan 18-20)… it turned into a bit more of a Judge Dredd Poster.
I’d never seen The Raid, so I focused on Dredd. I wanted to show off the roots of Judge Dredd by drawing a more comic book version of him. Specifically, I was looking at the Brendan McCarthy version. McCarthy drew the Judge helmet much more flared out on the bottom. It has a bit more impossible look common to most comic book costumes. When they translate to film, they become ‘practical’ and often lose what made them distinctive in the first place.
In the background I just wanted to add some bonkers multistory ‘mayhem.’ It’s no secret I enjoy drawing large architectural scenes when I can find the time.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy looking at this Judge Dredd Poster as much as I enjoyed drawing it.