Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Exhibit Review: The Comic Art of Lynn Johnston

by Mike Rhode

The Comic Art of Lynn Johnston. Kate Grumbacher. Washington, DC: Embassy of Canada Art Gallery, September 13, 2019-January 31, 2020.

The Canadian Embassy on Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, between the White House and Congress is a striking setting for this small exhibit on For Better or For Worse, the long-running and popular comic strip. From 1979- 2008, the strip followed the lives of the Patterson family, a wife and husband (a dentist) and their three kids and dogs as they grew up in Canada. The strip is still running in reprints. The exhibit was originally shown in a gallery in Canada and modified by Grumbacher for exhibit in Washington. Johnston was in town for the exhibit opening, and also spoke at the Library of Congress the following day. She noted that she can no longer draw the strip due to tremors, but she’s being creative in other ways. On the back of the introductory plinth is fabric that she’s designed and goofy paintings of dogs and cats, but the exhibit largely concentrates on the comic strip.


As you walk into the exhibit, a large panel depicts a collage of her characters over the life of the strip, and has the title of the exhibit in French and English. The exhibit is bilingual throughout. In French, for the record the title is L’Art de la Bande Dessineé selon Lynn Johnston. Turning left from the title plinth, Johnston’s desk is featured along with some early drawings framed above it. The desk looks barely used compared to some other cartoonists’. The ‘office area’ is bounded by a small wall, and on the other side of that is a small interactive section where a visitor could color a sheet with characters from the strip, or create their own four-panel strip in a blank sheet of squares. A large set of labels explains the process of creating a comic strip. Next to that is a small enclosed exhibit case with family photos, toy cars and other materials she used as references to draw the strip. Next to the exhibit case is a group of several original Sunday strips matched with color prints to show how they 
 actually appeared in the newspaper. 


The main characters of the strip are introduced, and then large panels with purple headers explains the high points of the strip over the years. These included “Michael & Deanna” (the oldest son and his wife), “April’s Birth” (the third child), “Infidelity,” “Lawrence Comes Out” (when the character was revealed to be gay, it was a major controversy), “Mtigwaki” (the eldest daughter Elizabeth goes to work in a First Nations community), “Shannon Lake” (an autistic character introduced in a school setting), “Elizabeth’s Sexual Assault,” “Elizabeth’s Wedding,” “Death & Illness,” and “Farley’s Death” (also controversial when the family dog died saving April from a stream).

The exhibit concludes with a short film, a quilt of the characters (hanging up very high), and in a nod to our locality, reproductions from the Washington Post of a page of comic strips, and Michael Cavna’s article about the end of the strip. 

This is a celebratory exhibit. There is no deep analysis of the social or historical implications of the strip, beyond the purple panels’ basic claims, and that is fine. The exhibit is both a celebration of a Canadian artist and an enjoyable hour-long stop for Washington’s tourists, in a venue they would not normally see. More photographs of the exhibit are at and Johnston’s Library of Congress talk at

(This review was written for the International Journal of Comic Art 22:1, but this version appears on both the IJOCA and ComicsDC websites on January 8 2020, while the exhibit is still open for viewing.)



(This review was written for the International Journal of Comic Art 22:1, but this version appears on both the IJOCA and ComicsDC websites on January 8 2020, while the exhibit is still open for viewing.)

Jan 25: Philippe Lançon - Disturbance: Surviving Charlie Hebdo — at Politics and Prose at Union Market

Philippe Lançon - Disturbance: Surviving Charlie Hebdo — at Politics and Prose at Union Market, presented with the French Embassy

A French journalist, Lançon was gravely wounded in the 2015 terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo. His powerful memoir, an award-winning bestseller in France, confronts this experience neither as a critique of terrorism nor from the perspective of a witness, but as a life-changing event. In the year it took him to return to writing—he's still a cultural critic at Charlie Hebdo—Lançon focused on healing both physically and emotionally. As he endured grueling treatment for his maimed face while reading and rereading Proust, Mann, Kafka, and others in search of guidance, he also reassessed his relationship to the world, his work, and to love and friendship. In partnership with the French Embassy


This event is free to attend with no reservation required. Seating is available on a first come, first served basis.
Click here for more information.

Politics and Prose at Union Market   1270 5th Street NE   Washington   DC    20002

Tuesday, January 07, 2020

January 8: Jonathan Luna & Lauren Keely Store Signing 20XX

JAN 8 2020

Jonathan Luna & Lauren Keely Store Signing 20XX

· Hosted by Victory Comics

  • Tomorrow at 1 PM – 3 PM

  • Victory Comics
    586 S Washington St, Falls Church, Virginia 22046

Ultra-violent manga reprint has TWO area connections

Published by Big Planet Comics (aka Jared Smith) and translated by Ryan Holmberg.

Bloody Stumps Samurai

New Churchill bio coming from Dead Reckoning

[They've sent me a copy, but I haven't read it yet.]

Monday, January 06, 2020

Dmitry Pakhomov's short story about dementia

Semi-off-topic, here's Russian cartoonist Dmitry Pakhomov, creating "Out of the Fog," a dementia short story for a European contest.

I'm posting a link here because Dmitry was part of a State Dept-sponsored Russian cartoonist tour group that came over to meet American cartoonists last yeat.  I was lucky enough to be invited to talk to them about graphic medicine, along with the real cartoonists.It was a great pleasure meeting a bunch of talented artists whose work was completely new to me.

Rafer Roberts' Grumble on Diamond's comics of the decade list

Memorable Comics of the Decade

Gareth Hinds on top graphic novels for teens list

In the larger  "2020 Great Graphic Novels for Teens" list from the American Library Association, Gareth Hind's Iliad and Ebony Flowers' Hot Comb are included as are Panetta and Gharib's books

Two local authors make Top 10 for Teens librarian list

2020 Great Graphic Novels for Teens Top Ten

The list, produced by YALSA, includes Bloom by Kevin Panetta and Savanna Ganucheau and  I Was Their American Dream: a Graphic Memoir by Malaka Gharib.

Both are excellent books that I thoroughly enjoyed and recommend.

Saturday, January 04, 2020

Jan 4: Meet Uncanny X-Men writer Matt Rosenberg today!

Meet comics superstar Matthew Rosenberg (Uncanny X-Men, The Punisher) at our HAWKEYE FREEFALL #1 Launch Signing
Saturday 1/4/20

Read all about other projects by Matt by clicking here.
Third Eye Comics | 2027A WEST ST, Suite 102, Annapolis, MD 21401

Flugennock's Latest'n'Greatest: "DNC 2020: Whine Of The Century"

From DC's anarchist cartoonist, Mike Flugennock:

"DNC 2020: Whine Of The Century"

Here's one for all you "Blue No Matter Who" Kool-Aid guzzlers, in honor of our esteemed ex-Vice President. It's appalling, but it's not as if we already hadn't figured it out. At last the sons of bitches finally just came right out with it.

"Biden would consider Republican for VP 'but I can't think of one right now'" The Hill 12.30.2019

Thursday, January 02, 2020

Deaths in the comic arts field in 2019

(updates marked  with a *)

Deaths in 2019 (with thanks to DD Degg of the Daily Cartoonist) included Gerry Alanguilan, *animation voice actor Patricia Alice Albrecht, CrossGen founder Mark Alessi, Syrian political cartoonist Wahib al-Husseini, comics scholar Donald Ault, animation voice actor Robert Axelrod, Ken Bald, French cartoonist Alex Barbier, comics lawyer and editor Mitch Berger, stop-motion animator Bruce Bickford, co-owner of Dragon's Comics & Fantasy - San Antonio Cliff Bland, William F. Brown, Scottish cartoonist Russell Campbell, Ernie Colón, Journal-Advocate political cartoonist Robert Cope, Howard Cruse, Sudhir Dar, Rockford Register Star editorial cartoonist Coila Davis, editorial cartoonist Marian Del Vecchio, letterer Ellie DeVille, religious cartoonist Doug Dillard, tv animation writer Larry Ditillio, Steve DuQuette, Texas A&M's student newspaper cartoonist Jim Earle, comics gag writer Harold Emery, gag cartoonist James Estes, gag cartoonist Dana Fradon,  TV cartoonist 'Sailor Bob' Griggs, Canadian cancer cartoonist Teva Harrison, Pluggers contributor Reed Hoover, Larry Hubbell (aka Harry Lyrico), James Hudnall, animation voice Arte Johnson, Daniel Johnston, Nurit Karlin, Kazuhiko Katō (aka Monkey Punch), Ottawa Citizen editorial cartoonist Rusins Kaufmanis, Korean cartoonist Kim Sung-whan, Everett Raymond Kinstler, animator/gag cartoonist Stuart J. Knickerbocker, *Indonesian cartoonist Dwi Koendoro, Kazuo Koike, The Realist publisher Paul Krassner, 34 of Kyoto Animation's employees; including anime director Yasuhiro Takemoto, animation director Futoshi Nishiya, animator Yoshiji Kigami, Junichi Uda, Yuki Omura, Yuka Kasama, Ami Kuriki, Sachie Tsuda, Keisuke Yokota, and Mikiko Watanabe; editorial cartoonist Mike Lane, gag cartoonist Joe Lanier, Batton Lash, Canadian political cartoonist John Latham, animation voice actor Michael Lindsay, comic strip syndicator Lew Little, Spanish illustrator Jordi Longarón, animation background artist Art Lozzi, comic book artist Tom Lyle, Golden Age African-American comic book artist Cal Massey, Massimo Mattioli, Scottish cartoonist Malky McCormick, Daytona Beach News-Journal cartoonist Steve McLachlin, gag cartoonist Thomas F. McLaughlin, science fiction movie design illustrator Syd Mead, Peanuts animator Lee Mendelson, Disney CEO Ron Miller, Laurie Mitchell, 'father of Indian animation' Ram Mohan, Guillermo Mordillo, animator and Pogo artist Don Morgan, Skip Morrow, Belgian comics journalist Rik Pareit, fine artist Joyce Pensato, Topo Gigio's creator Maria Perego, comic book artist Robb Phipps, animator Suzan Pitt, colorist Justin Ponsor, political cartoonist Dwane Powell, animator Chris Reccardi, colorist James Rochelle, Donald Rooum, comics scholar Derek Royal, Joe Ruisi, TK Ryan, caricaturist Charles Santore, Lee Salem, comic book historian Bill Schelly, San Diego's Comickaze Comics store owner Robert Scott, gag cartoonist Skip Sedore, *Schoolhouse Rock animation singer Jack Sheldon, Mad writer Larry Siegel, Walt Disney archivist Dave Smith, "Judge Dredd" artist Ron Smith, Tom Spurgeon, Ted Stearn, female underground cartoonist Leslie Sternbergh, Patrick Tandiang, Greg Theakston, Percy Crosby's daughter and defender Joan Tibbetts, Lucca Comics Festival manager Rinaldo Traini, Tomi Ungerer, Saint Just Le Martel editorial cartooning festival founder Gérard Vandenbroucke, Washington, DC area fan Ellen Vartanoff, short-time Saturday Evening Post cartoonist Peter Vatsures, British animator Richard Williams, collector Malcolm Willits, Gahan Wilson, Kevin Wolf, Mary Zins …

Collection of Frank Cho's Jungle Girl coming

Collects All Three Seasons of Frank Cho's 'Jungle Girl' Comics
by Jeffrey Dohm-Sanchez on December 30, 2019

When did comic books start having seasons?

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Flugennock's Latest'n'Greatest: "The Other 'Thin Line' Flag"

From DC's anarchist cartoonist Mike Flugennock.

"The Other 'Thin Line' Flag"

820 Americans were shot and killed by police in 2019. Happy New Year.