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All This And A Life Lesson From Ramses Luther, Too

The biggest missed opportunity of my life was when I attended the Chris Onstad/Great Outdoor Fight signing at Bergen Street Comics (RIP) and Clover Club, and when he asked who I wanted sketched in my copy I neglected to say Ramses Luther Smuckles. True story.¹ Anyway, The Man With The Blood On His Hands is back, with inner piece and advice for safer motoring.

  • I’ve been obsessively reading and re-reading each installment of Kate Beaton’s latest reminiscence of her time in the Alberta tar sands, Ducks, as they’ve been released over the past week or so. All five parts are now collected in one place and they are mandatory reading.

    The tar sands are fraught with political controversy and subtext (in both Canada and the US, as it’s tar sands oil that will be shipped if the Keystone XL pipeline is approved), but Beaton’s story is — as always — focused on the people who find themselves at the center of the great events rather than the events themselves:

    It is a complicated place, it is not the same for all, and these are only my own experiences there. It is a sketch because I want to test how I would tell these stories, and how I feel about sharing them. A larger work gets talked about from time to time. It is not a place I could describe in one or two stories. Ducks is about a lot of things, and among these, it is about environmental destruction in an environment that includes humans.

    As much as I love her takes on history and literature (I don’t think better one-off comics exist than Beaton’s takes on on Musashi and Henson), the autobio comics are the pinnacle of Beaton’s craft. I could read her conversations with her younger self, or the small moments with her parents, or stories from Fort McMurray (which read like a war veteran’s tales of survival) for the rest of my life and never grow tired of them.

  • Happy Tenthiversary to Chris Yates, who has been constructing the world’s most colorful, creative, and baffling puzzles for ten years now. To share the joy, it’s free shipping (US & Canada; discounted elsewhere) on Baffler!s all month, with free lucky cactus toys in every order. And as long as we’re doing the numbers, it appears that the highest-numbered Baffler! on Yates’s site is #2899, meaning just about 290 puzzles a year for ten years, or an average of one Baffler! every 30 hours. Watch them fingers around the scroll-saw blade, Chris, and keep puzzlecutting like a madman.
  • The Harvey Awards are now accepting nominations for the best of comics produced in 2013; I’m sure that you can think of some that deserve consideration, but allow me a moment of politicking if you will — if you sumbitches don’t nominate Something Terrible for every damn category that it would qualify for, you suck.

    A quick scan of the ballot would suggest Best Cartoonist, Best Letterer, Best Inker, Best Colorist, Best Cover Artist, Best Single Issue or Story, Best Online Comics Work, Best Biographical, Historical, or Journalistic Presentation (Any Book, Magazine, Film, or Video That Contributes to the Understanding of Comics as an Artform), and Most Promising New Talent² as plausible categories. I’m sure you can think of other works deserving of notice, but this one’s an imperative. Go. Do.

¹ I did get a very nice sketch of Cornelius Bear so that’s all good; it’s just … I could have had a sketch of Ramses Luther Smuckles!

² Okay, Dean Trippe’s not exactly a new talent here, but that hasn’t stopped anybody in the past.

No regrets from me — I got Beef saying “My code is a dog’s code.” cf.

Well duh — your code is a dog’s code.

I completely agree with you on Beaton’s autobio stuff. I like her history comics, of course, but when she gets “real” her work seems to hit an entirely new level.

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