News about the premier academic journal devoted to all aspects of cartooning and comics -- the International Journal of Comic Art (ISSN 1531-6793) published and edited by John Lent.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Review: The Art of Richard Thompson, from the next issue

Book Reviews

Apatoff, David, Nick Galifianakis, Mike Rhode, Chris Sparks, and Bill Watterson. The Art of Richard Thompson. Kansas City, MO: Andrews McMeel, 2014. 224 pp. $35. 978-1-4494-4795-3.

            Richard Thompson is one of the United States' premier cartoonists, having received accolades from stalwarts such as Pat Oliphant, who called him "Michelangelo with a sense of humor"; Edward Sorel, who thinks of him as "one of the best comic artists of his time"; and Arnold Roth, who "salutes" him for the "delightful absolute excellence of [his] artwork and thinking." Anyone familiar with Thompson's subtle and cerebral humor cartoons knows he is more than deserving of these remarks.

            Certainly the authors of The Art of Richard Thompson (David Apatoff, Nick Galifianakis, Mike Rhode, Chris Sparks, and Bill Watterson), all friends, feel that way as they assess his career, work habits, and personality, through observations of, interviews and discussions with, him, his own delightful essays, and many examples of his varied styles and forms of comic art.

            Thompson's oeuvre consists of, at least, illustrations, summary-type cartoons (his long-running "Richard's Poor Almanac" in the Washington Post), caricatures, and an award-winning comic strip ("Cul de Sac"), portrait-paintings, humorous writing, and rhyming ditties. The authors (pushed by self-named "The Enforcer" Mike Rhode) write in a light-hearted, humorous manner that fits Thompson's personality and work. Though they justifiably heap praise on him, they do so with levity and much admiration. The images chosen to supplement the text reflect Thompson's exquisite art, deep literary, history, music, and trivia knowledge, and brilliant use of language in captions containing silly rhymes, bon mots, and well-thought-out parodies. A few examples: an illustration labeled "Manhattan, 240, 193 B.C." showing a graffiti-splattered mammoth; subversive and cynical satirical everyday events, such as "Benjamin Franklin Cartoonist," showing his political contemporaries not understanding the symbolism of his "Join, or Die" cartoon, or "An Introduction to Electronic Voting," where the technology fails miserably; and, to the surprise of this reviewer, refined (or simply-drawn) and artistically, often contextually-funny caricatures that interviewer and acclaimed caricaturist John Kascht said, "capture(s) a likeness in a new way. Your drawing isn't like him, it is him."

            A number of Thompson's caricatures are of classical music maestros that he liked and whose works he played earlier when he was a pianist; others were of politicians (Ross Perot emerging mole-like on the White House lawn or Bill Clinton discretely discarding his wedding band upon laying eyes on a scantily-clad lass), entertainers (Elizabeth Taylor loaded down with a slew of expensive fur coats on a blistering hot day -- even the head of one of the furry animals she wears pleads for water), literati, sports figures, and more. In the interview, Thompson explained he draws people he likes or admires (exceptions George W. Bush and Jesse Helms), without anger, from memory, seeking to find his subject's "emotion."

            Seeing that Thompson's "Cul de Sac" has been favorably compared to the classic "Calvin & Hobbes," it seems natural that Bill Watterson would interview him. (To get Watterson to come out of seclusion for the occasion was a feat in itself.) The interview serves a double usage, mixing Watterson's experiences and views with those of his interviewee. Obviously, Thompson knows and appreciates the works of fellow comic strip artists, slipping into "Cul de Sac" an occasional "Little Neuro in Slumberland" or a subtle reference to a "Peanuts" character.

            The Art of Richard Thompson is a masterpiece, beautifully designed, intelligently planned, and craftily written. It will bring joy and laughter to the casual reader, knowledge about the whos, whys, and hows of cartooning to practitioners and scholars, and aesthetic pleasure to the art-inclined. It is a book that can comfortably grace a coffee table, fill a slot in a library reference section, or sit on the drawing table of a cartoonist.

            John A. Lent


Sunday, February 15, 2015

Call For Papers: The Future in Comics, Stockholm, Sweden

Call For Papers: The Future in Comics


Organizers: The research group on comics at the English Department, Stockholm University


Where and When: Stockholm, 3rd-5th September


Call for papers, deadline/ Notification of acceptance: 15th of April, 2015/10th of May, 2015




E-mail for submissions: Submissions will be handled via easychair:


This conference aims to investigate ways in which comics explore the idea of "future." Its goal is to gather scholars from the field of comic studies and related fields, such as linguistics, philosophy, literary studies, cultural studies, sociology, anthropology, film studies as well as others that can discover a conceptual connection to the rigorous study of comics. Given our broad and yet specific purpose, we aim to discuss work on comics originating from all major traditions: French bande desineé, American and British comics, Italian fumetti, Japanese manga, and so on. In pursuing this cross-cultural approach, we wish to discuss not only how different conceptions of the future in comics can be compared and analysed, but also how comics offer unorthodox modes of representation that allow for creative, intellectual freedom that may be different from literature and cinema. In particular, we are interested in, but not limited to, discussing these themes:


·         The cross-roads between utopia and dystopia (e.g. Gundam's Universal Century, Transmetropolitan's representation of life in "the city", Harlock's 30th century, the world of Rogue Trooper);

·         Apocalypses and new beginnings (e.g. Nausicaä's tragic millennium, Authority's new world, X-Men's days of future past, El eternauta's alien invasion);

·         The cities of the future (e.g. Dredd's Mega city one; Akira's neo-Tokyo; RanXeroX's Rome);

·         The humans of the future: mutants, augmented humans and cyborgs (e.g. Major Kusanagi in Ghost in the Shell, Tony Stark in Iron Man; 2000 A.D.'s ABC Warriors);

·         The politics of the future (e.g. Bilal's Nicopol Trilogy; Oshi's Patlabor trilogy; Marvel's Civil War);

·         Time and history (e.g. Watchmen; Planetary, Neon Genesis Evangelion)

·         Nostalgia for future pasts (e.g. Nadia, Arzach, Tom Strong, Satellite Sam);

·         Elaborations and revisitations of futures in comics (Pluto, Time2, Le Transperceneige);

·         Futures set in stone, and how to avoid or reach them (X-Men's days of future past; AppleSeed, The Invisibles).


We hope to create a conference that not only discusses these topics and uncovers how they have been addressed in comics about the future, but also to lay the foundations of future research on these topics and develop new tools for advanced comics studies. We welcome abstracts between 400 and 500 words, excluding references and title. At the moment, we are aiming at securing publishing rights for selected papers from this conference, aiming at publication in December 2016.


For further information, please contact us at: or

Electronic registration will start by the 15th of May.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

IJOCA 16:2 Correction

Pedro Moura informs us that the review of Dale Jacobs' book Graphic Encounters, Comics and the Sponshorship of Multimodal Literacy on pages 667-670 credited to him was co-written with Conceição Pereira. The editors regret the omission.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Statement on the murders at Charlie Hebdo

Statement on the murders at Charlie Hebdo

Photo (cc) Flickr user Birgit Speulman

Photo (cc) Flickr user Birgit Speulman

The Comic Art Working Group of the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR) and the International Journal of Comic Art (IJOCA) strongly condemn the murders of cartoonists, journalists, and other staff members of Charlie Hebdo and loudly applaud the Je suis Charlie demonstrations and other actions and statements supportive of the magazine. We believe that the sword (or gun) can never be permitted to be mightier than the pen.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Looking for that perfect gift for a comics uber-scholar?

At Lulu, there's a couple of items that may be of interest:

International Journal of Comic Art 1:1

International Journal of Comic Art 1:1 (reprint)

By John Lent

Biographical Sketches of Cartoonists & Illustrators in the Swann Collection of the Library of Congress

Biographical Sketches of Cartoonists & Illustrators in the Swann Collection of the Library of Congress

By Sara Duke

Here's the 30% off message:

We're just as excited about the season as you are, so we're offering you one last chance to get 30% off all print books.

Use promo code KRBM2 now until 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 15, and get great reads for everyone you know.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

New Book - Asian Comics by John Lent

Asian Comics
By John A. Lent
University Press of Mississippi
ISBN 978-1-62846-158-9, hardback, $60

For Immediate Release

The first comprehensive overview of comics production and creativity in Asia

Asian Comics (University Press of Mississippi) dispels the myth that outside of Japan, the continent is nearly devoid of comic strips and comic books. Relying on his fifty years of Asian mass communication and comic art research, during which he traveled to Asia at least seventy-eight times, and visited many studios and workplaces, John A. Lent  shows that nearly every country had a golden age of cartooning and, recently, has witnessed a rejuvenation of the art form.

Organized by regions of East, Southeast, and South Asia, Asian Comics provides detailed information on comics of sixteen countries including their histories, key personnel, characters, contemporary status, problems, trends, and issues. As only Japanese comics output has received close and by now voluminous scrutiny, Asian Comics tells the story of the major comics creators outside of Japan.  The nations covered here include China, Hong Kong, Korea, Taiwan, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.

This book is the first comprehensive overview of Asian comics books and magazines (both mainstream and alternative), graphic novels, newspaper comic strips and gag panels, and cartoon/humor magazines. Lent has done exhaustive research on the subject and the volume is crammed with facts, fascinating anecdotes, and interview quotes from many pioneering masters, as well as younger artists.

Readers may be surprised to learn that Indonesia had a self-named graphic novel in 1965, that the revered King of Thailand solicited the drawing skills of a famous cartoonist to illustrate his books, that sexual and scatological cartoon magazines have thrived during Nepal's annual Cow Festival, or that a member of royalty, a national leader, and the founding heads of state in four countries drew those nations' first cartoons.

Liberally illustrated in some cases, with rarely seen images, and well documented with plentiful bibliographies, Asian Comics is a rich resource that will be of much interest to many types of audiences.

John A. Lent has founded and chaired or edited numerous organizations and periodicals, including Asia and Pacific Animation and Comics Association, Asian Research Center on Animation and Comic Art, Asian Popular Culture group of the Popular Culture Association, Asian Cinema Studies Society, Malaysia/Singapore/Brunei Studies Group, the International Journal of Comic Art, and Asian Cinema. He is the author or editor of seventy-six books.


For more information contact Clint Kimberling, Publicist,
Read more about Asian Comics at