Showing posts with label cartoon journalism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cartoon journalism. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Catching up with Josh Kramer

by Mike Rhode

Next week, I'll be moderating a Nerds in NoMa panel on March 12th on "Comic Converts: The World of Comic Illustrators in D.C." One of the attendees will be Josh Kramer, and it's been 6 years since I talked to him for the City Paper, so it was time to check in with him again.

You've kept doing cartoon journalism in those years, although I think you moved to the midwest for a while. Is that correct?

Yes. I was a 2017 Knight-Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan, so I moved to Ann Arbor for nine months and got to learn up close from Phoebe Gloeckner and dive deeply into visual journalism. I just took a lot of different classes and tried different things. I did my own NaNoWriMo and drew a first draft of a fiction graphic novel I doubt anyone will ever read, but it was fun!

And you've started doing daily drawings on Instagram? What's your objective for those?

Yeah, I have this series, that I aspirationally draw once a day, where I just recreate something that sticks out to me and try to have fun with it. Nonfiction comics usually take a while and require lots of planning, so it's nice to just sit down and draw something in one go — they're easy to start and finish. I like the "first draft" quality of it, and I don't think people are expecting a masterpiece or perfect composition. I've always liked watercolor and colored pencil, and now I have an excuse to mess around with them a lot more. I'm already working on a freelance piece where I'm using this style, so it's creeping into my other work, in a good way.

You mentioned to me that you've moved on from concentrating on food stories to being interested in cities and transit. Can you give us more details?

Sure. I started as a generalist, moving from one weird, idiosyncratic story to the next. But a little while ago I noticed a pattern: I like drawing and writing about cities. So while I'll still write about cheese and other topics with no urban connection, I've been dialed into issues like transit, housing and architecture. I'm writing regularly for Mobility Lab and writing comics like this one that dig into urban policy. I've been doing a lot of drawn infographics, which have really focused me.

Is Cartoon Picayune, your zine collection of cartoon journalism still being published?

I don't have any plans to publish new issues, but you can still buy the old ones. I've very proud of those comics and think they hold up pretty well. Meanwhile, venues like The Nib have really unlocked the potential of nonfiction comics on the internet. There's so much good content being published online, that instead of editing a print publication, I write this newsletter and curate the best of what's out there.

I've seen your byline on some graphic novel reviews lately too. How did you get into that? What do you typically like to read?

Yeah I'm doing some writing about comics, mainly for The Comics Journal. I'm really leaning into the confusion about what "comics journalism" means. Since the Fellowship, I've been trying to live fulltime as a freelancer and that has meant trying to write and draw as much as I can, wherever I can. I'm new to comics criticism, but I'm hoping, as a working cartoonist, to bring more nuance and depth to the critical conversation around drawing and to write in an accessible way. My bread and butter is obviously nonfiction comics, but I like fiction as much as the next guy and grew up sitting on the floor at Borders, reading superhero comics and manga. So I'll read anything! For a little more about my recent journey in freelancing, I wrote about it here.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Meet a Local Cartoonist: A Chat with LA Johnson

by Mike Rhode
L.A. Johnson is one of the organizers of this weekend's DC Art Book Fair. It will take place on Saturday, November 12 (here's its blog.) We caught up to NPR's Johnson before the show to find out more about her work.

What type of comic work or cartooning do you do? -- Comics journalism, nonfiction, and absurdism.

How do you do it? Traditional pen and ink, computer or a combination? -- trad and mod.

When (within a decade is fine) and where were you born? -- Ohio, 1980s.

Why are you in Washington now? What neighborhood or area do you live in? -- Columbia Heights, this has been my home for the last 6 years!

What is your training and/or education in cartooning? -- I've always made comics, then I studied illustration at SCAD in Savannah, Ga.

Who are your influences? -- I love the storytelling from Guy Delisle, the freedom of Carol Tyler and the mind-fuck from Daniel Clowes. I also just got turned on to the Spanish site from Ana Galvan, and the work on there blows me away.

If you could, what in your career would you do-over or change? -- Nothing.

What work are you best-known for? -- Comics and illustration on

What work are you most proud of? -- A story I did about an amazing art teacher, Jimi Herd.

What would you like to do or work on in the future? -- I'm currently working on a comic book about my journey to find my birth mother and how adoption shapes us.

What do you do when you're in a rut or have writer's block? -- I try something completely different -- like pottery or rock climbing.

What do you think will be the future of your field? -- It's going to be amazing. Comics journalism is on the rise, and particularly for the work that I do. I believe it might just be the truest way to tell a radio story on the web. I have a personal goal to get newsrooms to notice and respect this form of storytelling.

What local cons do you attend? The Small Press Expo, Intervention, or others? Any comments about attending them? -- I went to SPX for the first time this year as a reporter and got to interview some amazing cartoonists like Daniel Clowes and Lisa Hanawalt. You can read excerpts on my illustration blog

What's your favorite thing about DC? -- That the city is enthusiastically moldable. You can come here and do anything you want and you will find support for it. Sometimes it is overwhelming how much there is to do here.

Least favorite? -- That we don't have statehood and people outside think I'm from Colombia when I hand them my ID. Also that people think there is no culture here... Way wrong!

What monument or museum do like to take visitors to? -- I love the Botanical Gardens and the Air and  Space Museum the most... I like seeing weird shit out of place and think it wakes up the imagination. I also love sitting on the back steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

How about a favorite local restaurant? -- My friend Ben's wife just opened a little place you might have heard of... it's called Bad Saint... ;) I don't know if there are any awards out there that they haven't won. Well deserved. I also hold a dear spot in my heart for Comet Ping Pong. That's where I got my start doing show posters here in DC 6 years ago and their pizza and wings are the best in the city. I'll fight you on that.

Do you have a website or blog? -- and

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Cartoon journalism in National Geographic's June issue

The magazine contains a two-page strip "Looting and Conflict: The Isis Antiquities Pipeline" by Matthew Twombly, looking at how the looting of historical sites is paying for war.

UPDATE: This isn't Twombly's first piece for them. According to his website, he also did "Fearless Rat" and "On Sinister Pond," for November 2014 issue of National Geographic. He's also done several illustrations for them.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Kal in Bermuda

From KAL:

In the summer of 2014 I had the honor of being the Artist-in-Residence at the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art. During my 3 month sojourn, I embarked on a quest to capture in satirical style my observations of the island. 
I have now posted on my website the collection of work I created while on the island. You will find some inside Bermuda jokes, but on the whole, I hope you will appreciate the gist of the narative. 
A limited edition set of the large cartoons have been produced by the Museum and are available for purchase. Have a read and let me know your thoughts!

Inquiries should be made directly with the Museum. The number of sets is quite small... I think maybe only 30...  for the set of high-quality 13 prints in a special box.  The person to contact is Kate Ross at the museum at


Kaltoons Team

Kal's New retrospective collection Daggers Drawn is now available to order.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Comics journalism in today's City Paper

The 1/27/2012 print edition has comic strip reportage by Josh Kramer on 'Two Years Without Plastic Bags'. Kramer apparently moved to the city in August and his website is 
He's got 2 issues of his Cartoon Picayune comic out, and you can find out more information on his website.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Comic Riffs revisits Occupy Movement cartoon journalism

OCCUPY COMICS: Cartoon Movement journalists sketch a multi-city composite
By Michael Cavna
Washington Post Comic Riffs blog October 15 2011

And you can read Stephanie McMillan's comic about being in DC at the Occupy movement here.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

OT: Redniss in NY Times recently

Check this out - it's cartoon journalism on gay soldiers in WW2...

Op-Art | Lauren Redniss
Camouflaged in Plain Sight
April 5, 2010

... I really like her work.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Post debuts new cartoon journalism feature

Michael Cavna and another cartoonist are illustrating "Our Town" in the Post's Magazine, starting tomorrow. I love comics journalism and I have high hopes for this feature.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Peter Bagge strips from DC's Reason magazine collected

Peter Bagge's strips from DC's Reason magazine have been collected, I like these strips a lot - they're mostly cartoon journalism. Bagge spoke at Reason about 2 years ago and I went to their Dupont Circle location and enjoyed the talk.

The book, which I bought this week, is: Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me and Other Astute Observations, Peter Bagge, Fantagraphics, softcover, 120 pages, 9781606991589 (ISBN13), 2009, $16.99.

For a good interview, see Tom Spurgeon, "CR Sunday Interview: Peter Bagge," Comics Reporter (July 12 2009)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Rob Tornoe in DC for inauguration too

Rob Tornoe, cartoonist for Editor and Publisher's online site, tells me he'll be in town for the inauguration. He's the second editorial cartoonist I know of coming in to observe and do direct cartoon journalism - Dave Horsey was mentioned here yesterday. Anyone else?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

OT: New York Times cartoon journalism wrap-up

Campbell Robertson ended up doing three pieces that the Times chopped up and put on their website as slideshows:

"Primary Pen & Ink: Asheville, N.C.," April 30 2008

"Primary Pen & Ink: Whiteville, N.C.," May 2 2008

"Primary Pen & Ink: Raleigh, N.C.," May 5 2008

These weren't too big and were nice pieces of cartoon journalism - it's too bad the Times couldn't squeeze them into print. Oddly enough, at this point I think the Times has the most mainstream coverage of comic art. Including their animation reviews, it's almost daily.

And thanks to PW Comics Week, here's an interview with him:

"Campbell Robertson, Sometimes Cartoonist; The New York Times does non-fiction, political, comics," by Clint Hendler, Columbia Journalism Review Fri 9 May 2008. And serendipity strikes! Robertson went to school in DC! "I did some cartooning in college. I did some stuff for the college paper, the Georgetown Hoya, but very little. I was an English major, and my thesis—and maybe this reflects badly on Georgetown—was a fiction comic book. But I hear they’re still accredited."

It's ComicsDC territory after all...

Here's the earlier article referenced in the CJR: "Yes, But Where's the Nut Graf? The New York Times does comics -- for a day, at least," By Robin Sloan, November 19 2003 and the first NYT piece on a paparazzo from November 2003.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

OT: New York Times cartoon journalism on website

Cartoon journalism is one of those minor interests of mine, and somewhere I've got a bibliography of it floating around. For a new example, see the New York Times' "Primary Pen & Ink: Asheville, N.C." - Campbell Robertson, a reporter for The Times, and an occasional cartoonist, is talking to voters around North Carolina in the week leading up to the state’s primary on Tuesday. His reports will be presented in graphic form.