Saturday, December 15, 2007

Publication: Conversations with Art Spiegelman

In 2002 I was invited to interview Art Spiegelman at the International Comic Arts Festival; the event was co-sponsored by the Small Press Expo. I admit to being a bit nervous at the time: It was the first time I'd interviewed anyone, let alone someone I'd written about in my dissertation. Doing so in front of a large crowd didn't help, either. But Spiegelman certainly did; he's not just a ready speaker, but very articulate about his (and others') work.

I made sure to record the interview (thanks for the help, Mark Nevins!), which was fortunate. Joseph Witek, author of Comic Books as History, later contacted me about including a transcript of the interview in his upcoming volume for the University Press of Mississippi entitled Art Spiegelman: Conversations.
The book was published earlier this year, and it's quite an impressive volume. It'll prove to be a valuable book to scholars, of course. But Spiegelman's gift for analysis (and of gab!) makes the book a great read for anyone interested in comics as an art form. It's a worthy addition to UPM's essential Conversations with Comics Artists Series. (Naturally, I'd say all of this even if I hadn't contributed to it.)

Click here for's listing for
Art Spiegelman: Conversations.

Image: Photo from The Comics Journal's coverage of ICAF/SPX. Although I had written for TCJ for many years, the caption-writer obviously felt that given the choice between identifying me or Spiegelman's cigarette, the smoke was the more well-known participant.

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Friday, October 13, 2006

Oh, I Wish I was in D.C. (ICAF and SPX)

What a weekend to be in the Washington, D.C. area! First up: Yesterday saw the start of the 11th annual International Comic Arts Festival, located at the Library of Congress and running through tomorrow. ICAF brings together scholars and cartoonists from the world over, this year featuring cartoonists like Jules Feiffer, Rupert Bazambanza, Ellen Yamshon, Phil Jiminez, and Denny O'Neil, and academic presentations and special events on topics as diverse as Cultural Exchanges in French Comics, Editorial Cartoons by Herb Block, step-by-step production of a mainstream US comic book (Firestorm), comic art concerning the Rawandan genocide, and much more.

I began attending ICAF from its 2nd meeting, joined its Executive Committee, and even Chaired the event in 1999 and 2000. In 2002 I had the great honor of interviewing Art Spiegelman at an evening program (as captured for posterity in The Comics Journal), an interview which will be published next year in a collection edited by Joseph Witek (Comic Book as History). I've not been able to attend the last two ICAFs, so I haven't had the opportunity to experience their new collaborations with the Library of Congress's Prints & Photographics Reading Room and especially its Swann Foundation for Caricature and Cartoon. I miss the presentations, the discussions, and all of my ICAF friends. Next year, though, I hope!

Also in the area - well, actually in Bethesda, MD, but close enough to do both - SPX, the Small Press Expo, runs today and tomorrow. A comics convention for alternative / small-press - self-published comics, SPX offers a one-stop wonderland of print, from the most obscure mini-comics to the latest offerings from publishers like Drawn & Quarterly, Top Shelf, Fantagraphics, and of course many, many more. ICAF and SPX were partners for several years, so I often experienced the sensory overloads, wallet-draining, and Ignatz-Award ceremonies that are SPX. Now on its own again, SPX also offers programming and guests, this year including Megan Kelso, Ted Rall, Scott McCloud, Gabrielle Bell, and lots of others.

It's wonderful that these two events run simultaneously, but think of the tough choices to make! Well, maybe next year I'll have the opportunity to face these difficult decisions...

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