Rolling Stone interviews Ware, Clowes, and Los Bros. Hernandez

Interesting interview by Sean T. Collins at Rolling Stone with the stalwarts of 1990s alternative comics Chris Ware, Dan Clowes and Jamie and Gilbert Hernandez. I particularly enjoyed the following comments on recent interest in Heavy Metal: 

Clowes: I have to say I have a recently rediscovered fondness for Heavy Metal. That was a big deal when it came out: “Wow, you can draw robots with tits!” It has a certain charm to it, especially the really weird, unpleasant stuff in it. All that Richard Corben stuff was so disturbing.

Gilbert: You can tell the difference between artists: Who’s the madman, and who’s the guy just doin’ it? That’s why guys like [Joe] Kubert and [John] Buscema and John Romita, who were really amazingly skilled artists, there’s just nothing there other than they’re just really skilled artists. Then you see Crumb, who was just a complete nut.

Clowes: Or [Jack] Kirby, who was the opposite.

Gilbert: Or [Steve] Ditko. They’re crazy men. “Who let them do this?” [Laughter]

Ware: When you talk about a pantheon . . . When I went to art school and I went to the art history classes, we were taught this very specific progression of where art came from and where it supposedly was going. It was almost like these pills you had to swallow that had been established by art critics and art writers. One of the things that appealed to me most about comics was that you can pick the ones you like and build your own personal pantheon. I’ve never met these younger kids who are more interested in – I just said “younger kids.” I can’t believe that. [Laughter] Younger artists are interested in Heavy Metal – that’s great. That’s something else completely to start from.

Gilbert: That’s what was missing from alternative comics after us: The art got less and less good.

Jaime: Less and less important.

Gilbert: It was more about the writing. Eventually people are gonna rebel and say, “Where’s the good drawings?” It’s in Heavy Metal! I think that’s what’s happened – a backlash against blandness.

For the rest of the interview, follow the link.

Daniel Clowes is Making the Rounds

The Oakland Museum of California is featuring an exhibit of Daniel Clowes’ comic art, which if I lived in the Golden State, I would definitely check out. However, those of us who cannot attend get the benefit of all of Clowes’ recent interviews with the media promoting the exhibit.

I was lucky enough in the fall of last year to catch Clowes do a Q&A with Canadian comic book artist Seth (author of It’s A Good Life if You Don’t Weaken and Clyde’s Fans) at Harbourfront’s International Festival of Authors. Both were funny, erudite artists and the talk was a blast.

If you aren’t familiar with Clowes’ work, I highly recommend that you check out all of his stuff. Most people recommend Ghost World for newcomers, but I think you can do just as well starting with the high melodrama  and depravity of David Boring or the Lynch-ian Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron. All of his collections of shorter pieces are great too (Caricature particularly). Retro fans will likely particularly enjoy his Lloyd Llewellyn stories, featuring his 1950/60s detective / lounge lizard Llewellyn.

On to the interviews:

New York Times:

While talking about his early days as a cartoonist, Mr. Clowes mentioned having “a lifetime of resentment to pour out.” When asked why he appears so easygoing, he guffawed. “I get a lot of it out in comics, you know?” he said.

Onion’s A.V. Club:

I had an older brother who bequeathed me his stack of comics when he moved on to Playboy and Zap and all that stuff. So I was very much obsessed with that. I had like a two-foot stack of old Marvel and DC and Archie Comics and Mad magazine, stuff like that. It was this very finite group of comics. Ones that I just read over and over and over and studied. I remember I read them before I could actually read, and trying to figure out the stories just based on the pictures, and that’s a really great thing for kids to have to do. To try and learn that language. I feel like I understood the language of comics. I had a real fluidity with that medium at a very early age.

Vice:

When you’re talking about a fictional book, what are you going to say? “Well, I did this book. It’s all in there. Everything I have to say is within that book. Read the book. I have no explanations.” Anything I would say is just going to obfuscate things or throw you off track. I’m only going to give non-committal answers for that reason. Whenever I hear fiction authors on NPR talking to Michael Krasny, explaining their book, I always think, How can you… don’t do that! Don’t talk about your characters like that. It’s so embarrassing.

L.A. Times:

One thing that really shocked me was to go through some of the fan mail I used to get in the pre-Internet days. Lots of people — like a truly surprising number of complete strangers — would write me 10- or 15-page letters, telling me all about the most mundane details of their twitterless existence. Pretty much inconceivable nowadays.

Of course, a post on Clowes should include some artwork. I’ll include his recent cover to the June 4 & 11 issue of the New Yorker (the science fiction issue as it turns out).