Saturday, May 31, 2014


After reading books by Daniel Clowes and seeing this -

and this -

one thing came to mind - I have to know what makes this guy tick!  Fortunately for Daniel Clowes fans, an exhibit of his work just opened at the Wexner Center for the Arts at the Ohio State University in Columbus.  The Wex is the next door neighbor of the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum.  It's a feast for comic fans in Columbus, with comic art exhibits at both the Ireland and the Wex.

There are two Clowes-centric exhibits: "Modern Cartoonist: The Art of Daniel Clowes" and "Eye of the Cartoonist: Daniel Clowes' Selections from Comics History."

"Modern Cartoonist"features original pages and covers by Clowes from throughout his career of 25+ years.  Viewers see not only the development of his art, but also the variety of comics styles he's explored over the years.  Cinephiles take note that it includes pages from his comics-turned-movies "Ghost World" and "Art School Confidential."  An interesting immersion in the work of this compelling cartoonist.

In the companion exhibit - "Eye of the Cartoonist" - Clowes was given free reign to explore the holdings of the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum.  He picked out examples of art from 22 cartoonists he considers influences and inspirations.  One of those he chose was Milton Caniff, represented by two "Terry and the Pirates" Sunday pages.

On May 17th, I attended a conversation between Dan Clowes and Hillary Chute, a college professor and author of two books examining comics as a narrative form.  Clowes spoke thoughtfully of his work and humorously of his artistic trials.  I also learned that his name rhymes with "cows" and not "hose" as I've been pronouncing it all this time.  I think it's too late for my brain to switch.

In this photo, they're discussing the font he created for the "Art School Confidential" movie, for which he also wrote the screenplay.  There was a Q&A as part of the program.  I asked him how he picked the Caniff pieces.  He said he laid several out on a table and squinted to see which had the greatest contrast of black and white, which he feels is Caniff's strength.  He said looking at Caniff art gives him that visceral feeling of wanting to put ink to paper.

Both Clowes exhibits run through August 3rd.  Click here for the hours.


To learn more about Dan Clowes, the Library of Matt recommends these books to our readers 18 and over:

Wilson by Daniel Clowes (2010, Drawn and Quarterly)

The Daniel Clowes Reader (2013, Fantagraphics)

These and many other interesting books are available at your local library and comic book store.  Visit them.  They'll be happy to help you read more about it.

Saturday, May 10, 2014


The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum had an exhibit of MAD Magazine art in 2005.  As part of the exhibit, they brought in longtime MAD editor Al Feldstein to give a speech at the opening.  My wife and I attended both, and it was my first encounter with this energetic force of a man.  He talked about his life and career at MAD, giving the inside dirt on the departure of MAD's founding editor Harvey Kurtzman.  Kurtzman, who founded MAD as a comic book, still garnered most of the critical kudos, even though he left after four years.  This still nagged at Feldstein, who went on to lead MAD for nearly three decades, presiding over its greatest popularity and its synonymy with subversive satire.

I got to meet and talk with Feldstein after the talk and at the opening.  I brought my copy of 'Foul Play' for him to sign.  'Foul Play' is Grant Geissman's history of EC Comics, of which Feldstein was an editor, writer and artist.  The book had just come out at the time of our meeting, and Feldstein hadn't received his copy yet.  Feldstein eagerly thumbed through my copy, enjoying the fresh take on work he had done fifty years previous.  It was gratifying to share the experience with him.

I next met Feldstein at a comic convention, probably a Mid-Ohio, either later that year or in '06.  He gave another talk, this time paired with a slideshow of his art work.  He not only included his recent landscape and wildlife art, but that he was giving it equal weight.  He clearly wanted to show he was retired but not dead, that his creative life didn't end when his comics' work did. I saw him again at a later convention, vibrant as ever and happy to greet fans and talk on any subject.  We talked briefly, but that was the last time I saw him.  He did send me an invitation two years ago to connect with him on LinkedIn.  I accepted.

Feldstein died on April 29th at his home in Paradise Valley, Montana.  He leaves behind as a legacy his hand in EC, perhaps the most revered line of comics ever created, and the fond MAD memories of the 12-year old boy in all of us.


To learn more about Al Feldstein, the Library of Matt suggests these books:

FELDSTEIN: The Mad Life and Fantastic Life of Al Feldstein! by Grant Geissman (2013, IDW)

Child of Tomorrow and other stories by Al Feldstein (the EC Comics Library) (2013, Fantagraphics)

These and many other interesting books are available at your local library and comic book store.  Visit them.  They'll be happy to help you read more about it.

Photo Credits:
2005 photo of Al Feldstein from the GLyph, the website of the Great Lakes chapter of the National Cartoonists Society
Al Feldstein's Owl painting, the Angelo Torres drawing of Al behind his MAD editor desk, and Feldstein's panel of he and Bill Gaines are all from FELDSTEIN: The Mad Life and Fantastic Art of Al Feldstein! by Grant Geissman.