“Cu-cut,” Catalan political cartoon journal

"Cu-cut," 7 December 1910, front cover

When I was in Barcelona in 2013, I bought two copies (dated 26 November 1908 & 7 December, 1910) of Cu-cut, the Catalan satirical magazine at a flea market. I didn’t realize until much later that the language was Catalan, as I mostly just looked at the cartoons.  I won’t pretend to understand the early 20th century Catalan politics, except to conjecture that probably many of the issues linger to this day.  For more on the journal: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C2%A1Cu-Cut!

The journal was published between 1902 and 1912, and featured as a mascot this character, known as “The Catalan” (on the covers his hat, bow-tie and nose are bright red).

Cu-cut's mascot, "The Catalan."
Cu-cut’s mascot, “The Catalan.”

Cu-Cut, which is Catalan for “cuckoo,”  was at the center of civil unrest in December 1905 when, after publishing a cover satirizing the military, its offices were attacked and trashed by some 200 army officers.  The incident resulted in curtailment of freedom of the press and had a major impact on Catalan politics and on the power of the military in Spanish civil affairs.  Continue reading →

Pedro Moura revisits “Comics: a Global History”

Comics scholar Pedro Moura has posted an English-language summary of his 2014 Portuguese review of Comics: a Global History, 1968 to the Present. He describes the book as offering “an English-language map of worldwide comics’ production, and one which presents, as I wrote, ‘a smooth and broad sailing.’ Moura’s recap also includes a link to an interview he did with me and my co-author Alexander Danner.


“Lunatic” process: chapter 4

(A diary of the making of this chapter, which begins with the first day’s work at the bottom, and moves up)

September 20: Page one, at last!

After the slow process of the last few chapters, I’ve resolved to be more spontaneous, and allow myself fewer “re-do’s.”  Here’s the first page, drawn in one try, without any additional rough versions.  I changed the composition from the rough I’d done for the mockup, from this: 1

To this, the pencils for the final page:

1 - pencils only - 9-20

Before diving straight into the washes, I did a little digital experiment with tones, just to see how it might look, leaving the ground white and darkening the gate in the FG almost to black:

1 -digital tones- 9-20

Good enough, so I did the same thing with washes.  I made some other changes first.  I added the professorial figure with the cane, on the right, to reinforce the academic setting.  Then, digitally, I adjusted the lettering on the gate a little, because it felt out of perspective to me (by the way, that’s Latin for “knowledge is power.”)  Final page:

1 - washes touchups

Looking at it now, I think I might digitally darken the washes, and erase the pavement lines, to leave the ground a solid white shape with darker figures against it — more like the digital-tone version above.  That’s more of the graphic look I’d like for this.

Continue reading →

“Palindramas” Returns

My first new “Palindrama” in 8 years! Between 2007 and 2009 I did a weekly webcomic, “Palindramas: Palindromes, Cartoonified.” Each week I created a cartoon built around an original palindrome. The entire text of the cartoon might be a palindrome, or just the punchline or caption. Formats varied between strips, panel gags, and full comics-pages (or even multi-page stories), and even a couple of animated GIFs.  You can see some of them here.  After a while, my brain started to hurt from coming up with these things, so I retired Palindramas. But this year, seeking a submission for the anthology, “One Page Stinkers,” I decided to try my hand at palindrome comics again. I came up with two Palindramas, to fit the theme “heat wave.” You can see it in the latest issue of the anthology… or right here:

Mazur - Heat Wave Palindramas

“Lunatic” process: chapter 3

(This is a diary of the process of creating chapter 3, updated bottom-to-top.  So, if you want to follow the whole thing beginning to end, start at the bottom and scroll up)

July 10-13: page 7

For once, this page worked out on the first try.  Here are the finished inks, as the kiss commences:

3-7 7-10

July 5-6 (and peeking ahead to July 23): page 6

This is relatively straightforward compared to what came before, because it’s a “closer-up” view of the couple, meaning less background (phew!).  The boy leans in for a kiss, puckering up.

My last rough in the mock-up was extremely close, but I decided to move back to a medium view, so as not to lose the body language.   Started with a couple of sketches/roughs:

3-6 sketch 7-5

3-6 rough 7-5

Then launch into a final version…

3-6 abandoned 7-6

Not happy with this so I abandoned it.  It felt to me a little like the direction of his “lunge” was wrong, like he was going to miss her.  Also I had him too close, and I didn’t like the way his nose overlapped with her hair.  So try again:

3-6 v1 7-6 B

I decided also to not make the background shading a uniform gradation (referencing the lamplight from above-right, and getting darker as it moves to the lower right corner), but left light between their faces, so as not to mess up their contours, and let the “light” between them work emotionally.Continue reading →

“Hoshizora ni uta e ba” by Masai Akiyosha

A 1950s shojo manga I bought online from a Japanese auction site, a relic of the era of kashihon, inexpensive rental libraries through which many manga books were distributed in impoverished, post-war Japan..   “Hoshizora ni uta e ba (If You Sing to the Starry Sky”) by Masai Akiyosha. Here are select pages, and my  non-Japanese-reading commentary/ guesses at what’s going on.   First, the cover and page one of the story.


The cover appears to be by a different artist than the interior.  Perhaps 勝山ひろし – KATSUYAMA Hiroshi?


Continue reading →

“Lunatic” – Chapter 2 – The Process

p13b gray

This post will contain all the material that I produce while working on the 2nd chapter of my comic Lunatic: from thumbnails and sketches to finished pages.  Lunatic is a wordless story, with one image-per-page.  I’ll add new material to the top of the post as I do it.

April 19-May 5: Crawling to the Finish Line

Other nuisances of life interfered, and it took me ages to do the last page I had to do.  Not actually the last page of the story, but a transition page, to indicate that it’s morning in the last sequence.  It’s a repeat of an image I’ve drawn twice now, of the exterior of the girl’s house, roof, chimneys etc.  I’m getting kind of bored of drawing it, so I want to come up with something fun to do with this “morning” version.   A different angle, to begin with.  First, a light pencil sketch, just for composition:

p13 pencilsketch 4-19

Then, 10 DAYS LATER (!) (Really, I had other things to do.  Or was it the boringness of the page that kept me from getting to it)…. a couple more sketches: p13 pencilsketch 2 4-29p13 pencilsketch 3 4-29

Thinking of ways to make it interesting, I think of using masking fluid to define the clouds, with a light wash for the sky, shading the clouds to show the dramatic light of the sunrise.   A bunch of wash studies:p 13 wash studies 4-30

Letting the ink wash pool up at the bottom (on the tilted drawing table) accidentally makes that “burst” effect happen when it dries.  I decide to try and make use of that for the sunrise itself.

p13 wash studies 2 5-1

On to the final version.  The masking fluid is gooey stuff and hard to apply with precision.  I don’t really want to muck up a brush with it, so I used a pencil eraser to draw the cloud shapes with it:


Brush on the washes, sloppily so that it pools up just above the roofline.


Et voila!


Once this is all dry, I peel off the masking fluid, so that there is a white edge to the clouds, with the darker shading in the middle.

Washes added to the building:p13 scan 1 gray

Ilm not sure if the wash effect feels like a sunrise… or is the building on fire?  But I’ll go with it for now.  It doesn’t have the dramatic lighting that I want, though… so I add more gray wash to the front of the building, and some cast shadows on the roof:p13b gray

Good morning, right?Continue reading →

BOOK REPORT: “Juliette: les fantômes reviennent au printemps” by Camille Jourdy

IMG_20170210_111255169Juliette: les fantômes reviennent au printemps (Juliette: the ghosts return in spring) is a 240-page French graphic novel, published by Actes Sud in 2016.  I don’t know much about Camille Jourdy : she’s done a lot of children’s books, and had a previous series of bd albums, Rosalie Blum, which I guess was successful, since it was adapted as a film as well.Continue reading →

“Lunatic” process 1/23/17: The Last Baby

8-2 grayscale

As I said, I wasn’t satisfied with the baby’s expression on page 8, so I drew it over.  I could have just redrawn the face and paste it in on Photoshop, but I really want the pages to be presentable as originals as well.

Anyway, this marks the end of the first chapter of “Lunatic,” in which the main character is an infant. I’ll now move on to Chapter 2, which will start with a lot of thumbnails and studies…

“Lunatic” process progress – 1/19/17

Okay, enough prep… ready to start on those last two pages of the chapter.

Actually, one more sketch:baby reach 1-19-17

…and NOW ready to go.  I will do the two-page sequence, of baby seeing the moon / baby reaching for it. Pencil, conte crayon and India ink, with white acrylic for corrections: Drew the second page first (page 9, in the current layout), because it was the one I was more nervous about getting right:9-1 FLAT

…and I think I did get it right.   I wanted them to be exactly alike in terms of composition, so I used the light table to lightly outline, then took it off the light box and went ahead with conte crayon and ink on page 8:

8-1 FLAT

I like the picture, in and of itself… but I don’t think I got the expression right.  The transition from 8 to 9 is to much.  The first page should show her beginning to react to what she’s seeing, leading in to the gesture on the next page.