The creator of ‘How To Be Happy’ discusses her latest book from Koyama Press, which details her cycling trip from Arizona to Georgia.
In 2014, Fantagraphics published How To Be Happy, a collection of short comics by Eleanor Davis, which immediately established the cartoonist as one of the major figures of her generation. In the book, Davis jumped between styles and approaches, telling different kinds of stories ranging from the fantastic to realistic. Since then she made a children’s book with Drew Weing, Flop To The Top, for Toon Books. She also made the comics novella Libby’s Dad, which came out last fall from Retrofit Comics, and was recently awarded the Slate Book Review 2017 Cartoonist Studio Prize for Best Print Comic.
Davis’ new book, out now from Koyama Press, is You & A Bike & A Road. The book is a series of comics about a bike trip that Davis undertook from Tucson, Arizona, where she grew up, to her home in Athens, Georgia. We spoke recently about the book, the journey, agitprop and more.
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When Spaniel Rage was first published in 2005, the collection of diary comics made a splash. Vanessa Davis didn’t come from a comics background, and she had a unique way of laying out and designing pages and her own sensibility. A few years later when Drawn & Quarterly collected many of her short comics in the book Make Me a Woman, it established Davis’ reputation as one of the great cartoonists of her generation.
Since then Davis has been making short comics and illustrations for many publications, including The New York Times, Tablet, Lucky Peach, and elsewhere. Her work has appeared in Fairy Tale Comics, Nursery Rhyme Comics, Kramer’s Ergot, and Best American Comics. D&Q has just reissued Spaniel Rage with a new introduction by Davis. The book remains a striking and vivid book about life in one’s 20s, about New York City, about the life of the young artist. Davis spoke about revisiting her work, what she’s working on now, and The Terry Southern, which she was just awarded for her work for The Paris Review.
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Alex Dueben talks to Mark Fertig about his latest book from Fantagraphics, World War II, graphic design and more.
In his recent book Take That, Adolf!, Mark Fertig looks at Golden Age comics and how World War II transformed the industry and the content. While for many people, the appeal of the book may be the hundreds of comic book covers that feature Adolf Hitler being punched and Nazis thwarted, the highlight is Fertig’s long essay.
In that piece Fertig examines race and gender; he looks at how the comics industry was changed, the ways that it’s impossible to think about the business and many characters without the influence of the war, and many more issues. Fertig is an Associate Professor at Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania, where he teaches graphic design, and we spoke about the book, World War II, graphic design and comics in the classroom.
I enjoyed the book – who doesn’t like seeing Hitler get punched repeatedly? When you conceived the book, I’m sure you never imagined that the media would be discussing when it’s acceptable to punch nazis.
Yeah, I did a Twitter search the other day, and the book showed up. I don’t think the book has really worked its way into the public consciousness on any level, and yet it showed up in a political tweet where somebody had linked to the book and said, “This is our book.” I thought that was pretty fascinating. When I wrote it I thought I was writing it for comic book people and World War II people, but if it’s interesting to other people, that’s fine by me.
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