I'm honored to have my story "The Curse" included in the wonderful Anthology of Graphic Fiction, volume 2. Here's a link to a promotional video where Ivan Brunetti talks about how comics force us to have empathy for the entire universe.


Leon Scoops ABC News

"...Faulk says he and others in his section of the NSA facility at Fort Gordon routinely shared salacious or tantalizing phone calls that had been intercepted, alerting office mates to certain time codes of "cuts" that were available on each operator's computer.

"Hey, check this out," Faulk says he would be told, "there's good phone sex or there's some pillow talk, pull up this call, it's really funny, go check it out. It would be some colonel making pillow talk and we would say, 'Wow, this was crazy'," Faulk told ABC News."

ABC News would have known about this had they read The Leon Tapes.


The Factoids of Life

The Factoids of Life
Amazing Facts...and Beyond! with Leon Beyond
Treasury of Triviastrips
- with Beyondex and silk-screened cover.

Available at SPX, APE, and on the web
in a few weeks.


New Construction #2: St.L THUM

New book
"a newsletter of cartooning issues and concerns"
Available at SPX and APE
and on the web in the next few weeks.

This issue contains a short article about "thumbnailing"
and an exhibition of thumbz by Dan Zettwoch, Ted May, and me.


Holy Negative Capability

"...In the responses to The Dark Knight I posted here, it was Wayne Wedge who captured the way that the film functions as a hyper-object in late capitalism. The very multivalence of The Dark Knight, its capacity to generate radically different interpretations, to elicit discourse, is what makes it a highly efficient meta-commodity. A text with a single monologic Message, even supposing such a thing could exist, would not be able to 'provoke the debate' which capitalist culture now feeds upon.
It not only that a cultural object can be opposed to capitalism on the level of content, but it serve it on the level of form; one could convincingly go further and argue that the ideology of capitalism is now 'anti-capitalist' (sic)..."

-The nefarious kritical kriminal k-punk traps the Batman in his trickiest trap yet! Will this mean curtains for capitalism? Tune in next time, same Bat Time, same...Bat...Cha[click]

(img via)



Or Else 5

Almost in the can...on the table, next to the can...

Revelation Offers Hope

Here's the original. It came in the mail back in 2002 or so.


Using Diagrams

While trying to read and make sense of Gravity's Rainbow, Caleb Crain made some diagrams, and he recently posted some of those here. It's not that the results are in themselves are particularly link-worthy, it's that diagramming is good and we should all use diagrams as tools for brain work, and so let's remember to use 'em! Crain explains that even though the diagrams probably won't "be useful to any other readers, but they were useful to me back then, partly as a memory aid, but mostly in the way of channeling and venting what felt like a possession."


The Adventure of the Earth

I've been meaning to do this for a long time...here's a look at the beautiful and bewildering cover to The Wonderful World : The Adventure of the Earth We Live On. by James Fisher. Art Editor FHK Henrion. (1954, Hanover). Many grateful thanks to Alex Holden for sending me a copy of this book that's in much better shape than my old one.

Judging by the cover, Earth sure has some crazy adventures!

Here's a link to some more scans from this book. I hope to add more soon.

This Sentence


On "Pure Cartooning"

From "Krazy! The Delirious World of Anime + Comics + Video Games + Art" (exhibition catalogue)

"Herriman's Krazy Kat is pure cartooning. It's an art form that can't exist anywhere else, that can't be applied, understood or responded to in any other way or in any other context that that of the daily comic strip. With all its vivacity, slapstick and sublimely quiet moments intact and interwoven, Krazy Kat is a pure expression of what cartooning is about. "

-p. 29.

"And the drawing itself, just the way the figures are constructed – this is vital, exciting, pure cartooning."

-p. 32, last line of article about Harvey Kurtzman.

"Both Chris Ware and George Herriman draw on their personal lives without making them the fodder for their work, and both use the cartoon language to produce highly personal art. They both have created remarkably real cartoon worlds that only exist at the end of a brush. This is cartooning in its purest form, the creation of a cartoon language that is infused with the actual sensibility of the artist's life and experience in the world right now."

-p. 48.

I admit it's not really fair for me to demand too much from these quotations, since the book says they were "excerpted from conversation with..." Art Spiegelman and Seth. They were probably somewhat off-the-cuff. But after the third "pure" I wondered just what do Spiegelman and Seth (though I think we can assume it's Spiegelman talking here) mean by "pure cartooning?"

Seems like: something that is not "corrupted" by outside influences, as not "cartooning + ___." I have strong doubts about whether such a thing actually exists, sui generis, ex nihilo, but I hope I can skate by without taking the time to prove that by analyzing something specific. Hard to prove a negative, anyhow. Surely this "purity" exists only in his mind. It doesn't actually measurably exist on the page.

In general I'm suspicious whenever "purity" comes up in some context like this, where we're not dealing with numbers or lab measurements. The language of "purity" can only be a metaphor in this messy cultural context--especially in the context of comics. What about "commix" ?

After "pure cartooning" gets mentioned for the third time, I wondered, "what are they afraid of?" Which barbarians are they trying to keep outside the gates? One can only (irresponsibly) guess. Manga? Or maybe "pure" is merely used here as a superlative. "These are the comics I REALLY like, that are my ideal." I don't think so--there's some trying to justify it with the talk about "only existing" here or there. Or maybe it arises from an artworld taste for work that has a strong identity, a "purity" of form and individuality and style that sets it apart from the messiness of lesser work that is "all over the place"--kind of like having a strong brand identity. Maybe "purity" is important especially since this exhibition is alongside "the delirious world of anime...video games + art."

Whatever may be the thinking behind this (maybe somebody could email someone and ask them), I'm against this sort of talk. As far as I'm concerned, "pure cartooning" and "pure comics" are both oxymorons, or at the very least not very useful ways to think about comics. Comics are inherently "impure," a mixture, (a system?) and the cartooning is just one part of the mix. There's no reason it needs to be "pure," even if that were actually possible. There are other ways to describe these guys' work, to compare and contrast their work to inferior work, besides the metaphor of purity.

(There is a mindset in some circles that, basically, Ernie Bushmiller's "Nancy" is THE "pure" comics, and those who approach the throne can be made holy. I understand and even share that taste for those sorts of comics, but I think it's good to take a step back and realize that Nancy is not some Platonic form of comics. This is merely a taste for a certain balance of formal qualities, which arose not for logical mathematical reasons, but because of one man's brilliant version of a style that grew in the messy hothouse of contingencies of daily newspaper comic strips at a particular time in history. There are other ways to draw comics. There is no inevitable historical march to Absolute Spirit of Nancy. Nancy is dead.)

On p. 91 of "Krazy!," there's this interesting bit:

"Shaun Tan' book offers a new synthesis that doesn't result in anything like what we've been calling the "graphic novel" up to this point. I think we've finally reached a stage in the evolution of the medium where all styles and approaches that mix graphic arts and narrative are open to consideration. In doing so, we create a productive confusion..."

That's more like how I see things. This way of telling the story of comics doesn't really allow for also telling the story in terms of "purity." The mix is more productive anyways, more fertile. Also, I would be more neutral and say "...a productive instability..." Comics have always been a mix of styles and approaches, with some periods maybe more stabile than others.


The Bankruptcy of the Imagination and Civilized Warfare

"Mr. Lloyd George, at the Peace Conference, said that he was persuaded to the League of Nations idea when recently he saw in France the innumerable graves of the fallen covering acres.

Perpend. The statement is worth considering. Note that it is at the end of the war he is speaking, that it is the number of graves he is moved by, and that what moves him to realise the horrors of war is the graves of dead men. What was Mr Lloyd George’s imagination doing before he went to France and saw the graves? Would it help on the League, think you, if someone took his child by the hand and showed him all the acres of all the graves in Europe; or all the mutilated in the hospitals when their wounds are being dressed; or all the asylums when the madmen are having their morning rave; or all the St Dunstan’s in the world; or all the dying and dead babies?

The war has beggared the imagination. If a woman loses five sons, she is not smitten five times as much as if she lost only one. All suffering has limits beyond which the heart is insensible. We are no more appalled at the death of ten million men than at that of ten thousand, or, indeed, if it be under our eyes, ten or one. It is a fact that we are forgetting the war- already — those who weren’t in it. Skating, dancing, political squabbles are all the go — pigs over their pannage. If a woman has lost a son, compensations are manifold — e.g., some gewgaw from the King’s hands at Buckingham Palace. What the son thought or suffered no one knows, because he’s dead. If he survives he wants to remain dumb, or lacks capacity to express his thought about the hell and damnation of war. If he had such a capacity, his hearers would lack the imaginative sympathy to be scalded by his boiling ink."

-WNP Barbellion, Feb. 16, 1919.

-Frank King, Feb. 16 1916 political cartoon

Update: Also see here.