Life vs. Blog

22 05 2008

Catching up with reviews… The Onion AV Club’s Comics Panel covers Lewis Trondheim’s Kaput & Zösky and Cyril Pedrosa’s Three Shadows.

I read one of Trondheim’s Lapinot books (part of my NYCC swag pile). V. enjoyable: I’d put it on a par with a really clever sitcom, but edgier. Handles multiple storylines well, sustaining tension throughout. Quick and witty neurotic dialogue among citydwellers and, floating over it all, the delicious and slightly despairing nastiness of a pessimistic author toying with his characters.

Trondheim also had a funny sketchbook page on his blog presenting overheard conversation “traduit de l’américain”: “J’ai eu le mal de mer à cause des vagues.” Always amusing to have the redundancies of national speech patterns shoved in one’s face through the defamiliarizing mechanism of a foreign tongue. (I can’t link to it anymore; he fades old pages out and takes them down.)

So much for updating more regularly… the perennial life vs. blog conflict, you might say. Not to be mistaken for life vs. art , which is a matter of expectations–the former is purely a matter of time.





Con Town: NYCC Countdown

17 04 2008

Starting this Friday the 18th at 10am EST, you—yes, you too! Even you! No, except for you, in the back there—can find me at Booth 1960 of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center for the 2008 New York Comic Con, tending handsome Eurocomics for a consortium of French publishers (à savoir le Bureau International de l’Édition Française). I’ll be there till the madness winds down Sunday evening. Come one, come all, drop by and I’ll get someone French to turn his or her nose up at your Superman tee as we try to interest you in fine and lavish hardcovers for the discerning artiste. No, we won’t share cheese from our platters, but your food offerings are welcome.

As a result of the madness, I will not be answering emails. Stop sending me emails. Yes, that means you in the back there. I am on contact hiatus until the craziness is over.

That is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

Also check out the booths of my erstwhile employers Archaia Studios Press (1713) and First Second Books :01!





Three Shadows Update

14 02 2008

Dude, I’m in New York Magazine. Color me astonished. Between Lou Reed and Nicole Kidman. Check it.

Kudos and thanks to Mr. Pedrosa and the team at First Second.





Haste Post

7 02 2008

A Handsome Hardcover

A much belated announcement that the Okko hardcover, collecting the four gorgeous issues of the Cycle of Water, has been out for two months from Archaia Studios Press, so why don’t you own it yet? It is sumptuous, handsome, and in the right lighting, or understanding hands, even sensual, redolent of such Eastern spices as were bestowed upon the Lord by road-weary heathen kings. It fine binding creaks discreetly when you open it for the first time, and inside a voyage awaits like that of Keats looking into Chapman’s Homer. The dun and beige scheme of its covers mimics brass plate that gives burnished reflection of the wondering reader.  Preview the first issue of the next arc, the Cycle of Earth, here. Everything Archaia pretty much available here.  Support my colleagues and an indie comics company.

Maestro Alexis Siegel namechecks me in an insightful article, chock full of excellent examples, on the puns and pratfalls of comics translation, at the First Second blog. Love from the sensei humbles the student. An excellent link may be found therein to an Anthea Bell article from The Telegraph. This woman is responsible for the English rendition of one of my favorite books, Sebald’s Austerlitz. But before that, she was all about Asterix–in the comics world, translations legendary as Beckett’s own of Godot. There is something in these two pieces that points toward the hope and possibility of actually helpful essays on this admittedly very specialized subgenre of a marginalized literary activity. The possibility of saying anything useful in the field had defeated me, but once again, teacher shows the way. I liken it to the pointer-laden craft approach of this article.

Staying with First Second Books for a moment, my lucky editrix will be leaving the company to pursue a full-time children’s dream at Roaring Brook. Sniff! I’ll miss her. She’ll be gone by the time Cyril Pedrosa’s Three Shadows comes out in April, right before NY Comic-Con. Congrats to the French original which was one of five to pick up an audience favorite prize, the Must-Read, at Angouleme: the biggest comics festival in the world.

Last but definitely not least, the new February Words Without Borders, the second graphics issue in what may become a n annual tradition, is a treasure trove featuring an interview with Gipi and a Korean childhood favorite from Heinz Insu Fenkl.  Editor Samantha Schnee struts out two South American comics, and Dupuy (of Dupuy & Berberian, the team behind Monsieur Jean, who took Angouleme’s top prize this year), has a whimsical confection about a world-traveling rabbit.  I’m elated to have two new comics translations, collage from Lebanon and comedy from Gabon, appear amongst such riches (at this point there are still some typos in them).





We Are Not, in fact, Alone

1 02 2008

In fact, “We Are Not Alone,” the story by GB Tran and myself in last fall’s Awesome! anthology has drawn some praise.  Innumerable thanks to those reviewers who thought it worth mention:

Adam McGovern of Comiclist says “in ‘We Are Not Alone’ (a lifegiving urban fantasia of flying-saucer samaritans) [we] particularly make the most of the collection’s black-and-white format for a graphic brevity and painterly abundance of shadow and tone.” 

Matthew J. Brady at Indiepulp says we “contribute a really beautiful-looking story that I don’t understand at all which seems to be about alien water towers providing awesome water to a city.”

And with some help from Babelfish, the Greek site Comicdom (του Αριστείδη Κώτση) puts our tale among the “most impressive drawn comics the anthology [sic],” with Keith Champagne and Dev Madan, Jamie Burton, and Robin and Lawrence Etherington.

Two other reviews of Awesome and our fellow contributors to be found here and here.  Many thanks again to all reviewers.





I Jump Aboard…

3 11 2007

… translating Archaia Studios Press’ series The Killer by Jacamon (art!) and Matz (words!), with issue #5,

Archaia’s The Killer, Issue #5

released back to back two weeks ago with issue #6

Archaia’s The Killer, Issue #6: Part II of “The Debt”

to grateful exclamation. The start of this new arc, “The Debt”, is a good place for new readers to jump on. Reviews have been ecstatic, especially over the NY scenes in #6, though not a single critic has neglected to bewail Archaia’s lateness in delivering what seems their best-loved translated title. Nor am I privy to what editorial congestion held up timely publication–but it wasn’t this translator! Writer Matz provided Archaia with his own translations of his work, which they asked me to brush up. Working on this series has been a crash course in concise dialogue. The other two Archaia series I work on, Okko and The Secret History, the former with its flourishes of formal diction, and the latter with its historical freight, both allow more leeway in narration than the clipped tone of The Killer. The rule of thumb that English is 15% more concise than French does not apply to slang (and in my experience applies more to the formal French of nonfiction and newspapers than to the literary idiolects authors invent to express largely personal concepts). Read the rest of this entry »





Friday Night at Rocketship

20 10 2007

Continuing the series of places-I’m-already-back-from-but-forgot-to-mention-I-was-going begun with last weekend’s SPX, let me tell you about this party I went to Friday…

The launch party for the AWESOME anthology from ISR and Evil Twin was last night. I got a ride over from Jersey with Mark Smylie. We got a late start, even skipping dinner—I was late to Archaia from the PATH and Mark was wrapping up work—then idled predictably away where citybound Friday night traffic had plugged up the approach to the Holland Tunnel. When we got to Brooklyn, rain was still dripping from awnings where people huddled with their upturned collars, blinking in irritation, wet hair clinging to their skin.

I hadn’t been to this store for a year and a half, during which time the landlord had walled in what I remembered as a back patio, caged in chain link like a city schoolyard, where, in one corner of pitted concrete, a table of beer in plastic cups stood crookedly. The going explanation among disgruntled cartoonists was that neighbors had complained of the noise, which bare sheetrock walls, daubed here and there with white paint, now contained and amplified, so that the room echoed like a cheap venue from the early days of punk. High on the right, a few dusty cinderblocks peered from a ragged gap; above the only sofa, someone had hung the string of jalapeno-shaped lights that once adorned the chain link, tangled like a festive vine, but here did little either to spice up the new atmosphere or to bring back the old. There was still a drinks table in one corner: no longer aslant, but on a cement floor smooth as a garage’s. From behind the girl seated there, the kind of Frosty the Snowman you find on Christmas lawns lent its glow to the bottle of Pinot Grigio, though the reds filed beside remained opaque. I stuffed a dollar in the glass pitcher of tips, and she handed me a clear, hard tumbler of wine. Mr. Phil walked up to me with a Sharpie, proffering a name tag. In white, across a light blue strip on top, it proclaimed: I’m AWESOME. Read the rest of this entry »





Roundup

17 10 2007
  • The AWESOME anthology is getting nods, shout-outs, and a few reviews, the Flight blog, the Top Shelf SPX roundup. Reviews—one negative aside—have not mentioned “We Are Not Alone” yet, so I will chime in with a “GB, you did a f****n’ fantastic job!!!” The book ships today, Wednesday October 17th, so get your local comic shop to order you a copy, or just buy it yerself!

AWESOME at Midtown Comics

Have I not plugged this book enough yet? If not, how could you resist publishers like these?

Ryan Dunlavey and Fred Van Lente of Evil Twin Comics, courtesy of Jamie Tanner’s flickr Charlito of Indie Spinner Rack, courtesy of Jamie Tanner’s flickr

  • Mark Woods posts a link to the Châteaureynaud story, “A Life on Paper”, at AGNI Online.
  • Sam “Golden Rule” Jones links to Jean-Philippe Toussaint’s “Cap Corse”.

Many thanks!





Post SPX

14 10 2007

I have a new idea for my blog: instead of promoting upcoming events, which I never seem to get around to doing in time, whether because I don’t know what to say, or feel self-conscious about self-promoting, or harbor a secret resentment of deadlines and derive a dark joy from failing them, I’ll blog about events after they happened, and hopefully make you wish you’d been there.

This is the feeling I get, anyway, when I read other people’s blogs and find out about happenings I was stupid to have missed, shindigs I can kick myself for not having dragged myself to, or clambakes to which I wasn’t even invited but would very much like to have been a part of.

This plays to my natural nostalgic impulses: for someone so fundamentally wistful, memory is a constant component of daily perception, and instead of past, present, and future, time might better be divided for me into regret, disappointment, and anticipation.

The obvious downside to this is you’ll never know where I’m going to be. But how many people does that matter to, anyway?

I was, for example, at SPX. My first, and a fun time. Ha-hah! Bet you didn’t know that, did you? The AWESOME! anthology, which features the story that the header image above is taken from, debuted there.

Courtesy of Fred Van Lente and the ISR Forums Read the rest of this entry »





Sardine Emergency

10 10 2007

I’m not sure how I feel about this. I hope that doesn’t make me sound a grouch. It’s a mean cutlass, though. And it’s proof positive Sardine is being read, to say the least.

I’d wrapped the next Sardine, on which Guibert flies solo (no Sfar), a few weeks ago. Always a pleasure to see what puns can be smuggled across the language border. Got called in today for an emergency on-site translation of a last-second substitute story. This is about as exciting as the profession gets, folksfrantic editors and a sense of mission! Felt grateful I wasn’t halfway around the worldjust in Jersey. On the way into Manhattan, the train stalled twenty minutes for a drawbridge. This was a first. All around me, people shuffled papers, shifted briefcases, sighed, texted, left messages, ruffled their hair so they’d arrive, I suppose, looking frustrated in explanation for their lateness. Across the aisle, a girl bet her grandfather that the Amtrak stopped beside us would get to go first.

“See, I told you,” she said when it pulled away. I shared a smile with the old man.

Money makes the world go round. Read the rest of this entry »