The Functional Founders

There’s general agreement that today’s Congress is totally dysfunctional. Conservatives and Tea Partiers proclaim that, if we go back to the time of the Founding Fathers and adhere to the Constitution, life would be simpler and better for everyone. They want us to believe that, while the Founders disagreed, they were like an a cappella singing group, hitting different notes, but basically in harmony:

Hardly! As you’ll see in my book, Taxes, The Tea Party, and Those Revolting Rebels, there was at least as much discord then as now. The different sides held diametrically opposing views of what was good for this country. They were suspicious, calculating, devious, bull-headed, and hostile towards each other:

However, the conservatives are on the right track: For all their acrimony, the Founders were ready to get things done for the good of the country.

Eventually, scarred and battle weary, they produced a document solid enough to have carried us forward for over 200 years:

Imagine if today’s Congress were transported back to 1787 and were the ones responsible for producing the Constitution:

Comic Con Haarlem

No, that’s not Harlem, but HAArlem with 2A’s – a picturesque village less than 10 miles from Amsterdam. The NY neighborhood was named after it in the time that New York was still New Amsterdam.

The town of Haarlem hosts the biggest and nicest comics festival of The Netherlands. Every two years, the whole inner city is buzzing with artists, expositions and comic-related activities.

Poster for the Stripdagen Haarlem, by Peter van Dongen

 

Of course I will be there – in a few places at the same time, even! I have my own special booth in theater De Philharmonie (stand 23, on the first floor), but I’m also present in the window of bookstore Coebergh in the main shopping street. This year, over 70 comic artists have been hooked up with stores and shops in Haarlem to provide window-dressing – a great way to make the city more “comicky” and bring artists and retailers together!

Me & my window at bookstore Coebergh, Haarlem

 

My husband Yiri T. Kohl, who is also a comic artist, was linked to tobacco-store Havana House. A great match, since Yiri’s underground comic characters, often likened to the Freak Brothers, have been spotted in the past with all kinds of addictive substances…

Tobacco-related art by my husband Yiri T. Kohl

 

In another comic incarnation, I am present at the exhibition ‘Ook van Jou’ (‘Love You Too’). This is a group exhibition featuring all kinds of relationships in comics. My long-running comic character Mijntje, a wild bisexual girl, was invited to join and she will be giving out kisses to everyone who comes to visit.

Kissable comic character Mijntje at the Haarlem comic festival

 

Most of the time, I will be at my booth selling my comics about philosophy, religion and friendship, and bragging about how “my publisher in New York” is promoting my book at the BEA, and showing original pages of my newest work, about science, which will be published in Holland in October.

So if you’re in the neighborhood, come and visit Haarlem this weekend! It will be a comic experience you’ll never forget!

Don’t miss the all-about Peyo book in stores now!

Today, better comics bookstores will have available “PEYO, the Life and Work of a Marvelous Storyteller”, a beautiful artbook featuring the creator of the Smurfs’ artwork over the decades of his career, imported directly from France. NOTE! this is a very limited import not available elsewhere, including Amazon.

It’s in English as well as French and chock full of comics pages, directly shot from his originals, sketches, pencils, etc. It covers not only the creation and evolution of the Smurfs but also his Johann and Peewit series where the Smurfs first appeared, Benoit Brisefer, a little kid with a beret and superhero like strength -as long as he doesn’t have a cold- and the wonderful cat strip “Poussy’.

It’s 250 pages full of discovery on one of Europe’s best and most talented artists and was done with the close cooperation of Peyo’s family for an exhibit of his originals in Europe as the movie came out . This means it’s also full of photos of Pierre Culliford (Peyo) with colleagues, family, celebrities…

Hey, it’s a wonderful souvenir book that’ll bring you close to Peyo.

If your comics bookstore doesn’t have it, they can order it from Diamond or you can order from us right here.

For the Pros: meet us at BEA

We’ll be in booth 3466, sharing it with sister co. Papercutz and we’ll be inaugurating our gorgeous little free sampler/catalog with many pages of previews on our books forthcoming this fall.

Besides the sampler, we’ll have full book previews to leaf through of Stan Mack’s revised revival of his GN on the American Revolution, the new Louvre collection entry, Margreet de Heer’s fun intro to Philosophy, Eisner nominated Dillies’ (“Bubbles & Gondola“) new lyrical GN “Abelard” and…

The very intriguing “The Ignorants” where the artist, a leading French graphic novelist, exchanges jobs with an organic vintner just to see what it’s like and compare notes. Both get to present their art and craft, both get to find out the essential similarities in their life-consuming devotion to being the best at what they do. WE get to find out how both are done! It’s going to be a beautiful 272 page hardcover. We’re very excited by it, come check it out! as well as the rest of course!

Looking forward to seeing you there.

How To Pick Those Pivotal Philosophers?

Philosophy: a Discovery in Comics

In May 2009 Kees Korenhof of Publishing House Meinema asked me to make a comic book about philosophy, and I had boldly agreed to have it finished in time for the Spring 2010, which meant a deadline in October. I had to sit down and produce.

I started out by drawing two introductory chapters to define the area. What Is Thinking? And what makes Thinking in humans so special, compared with the consciousness process in (other) animals? Along the way, I introduced myself, or rather my cartoon character, my husband Yiri and our two cats.

But then it was time to dive into solid philosophical history. Where to begin? Well, fortunately it was very obvious: Western philosophy starts with that illustrious trio Socrates, Plato and Aristotle.

If you would offer me a chance to meet one of these three, I would definitely pick Socrates. He lived in very turbulent times, went to war on several occasions, and was not afraid to speak his mind, even against the leaders of his own city-state. They didn’t thank him for that: he was sentenced for spoiling the younger generation and disregarding the gods, and was offered a choice: banishment or death by poison. It certainly speaks for his character that he chose the latter: he was not a man to be dismissed.

That was all in the fifth and fourth centuries B.C., in a land far away… which philosopher is next? The Roman Empire sure had some great thinkers, but not great enough to equal the influence of the Ancient Greek in the development of Western thought. Actually, we had to wait about 800 years before the next candidate emerged: Augustine.

By that time, Christianity was gaining power rapidly in Western Europe and Augustine was an enthusiastic convert – after he led a life of liberal licentiousness, which makes him one of the more interesting Christian philosophers, I think. He was smitten by the works of Plato.

After Augustine, Western philosophy had to wait another 800 years for an influential spokesman (Eastern philosophy, in the meantime, was benefitting big time from the young and fresh religion of Islam, which made the Arabic lands prosper and blossom in culture and science, compared to which the Westerners were mere boorish peasants). This spokesman was Thomas Aquinas, and he loved his Aristotle. Especially the idea of the Power of Human Reason, which elevated Man from a mere victim of Fate (and Faith) to a God-chosen Pinnacle of Creation.

And that’s how we emerged from the Dark Ages, philosophically: with the idea that Man surely had to be something special, being created with such awesome faculties of Understanding and Reasoning. What philosopher could top that?

I found it challenging to pinpoint the next pivotal philosophers and eventually stayed close to home, which in my case is The Netherlands, and the following three all had a strong connection with this country:

Desiderius Erasmus, René Descartes and Benedictus de Spinoza. Two of them born in the “low countries”, one of them lived here most of his adult life. They also had a strong connection with their Aristotelian heritage: all their philosophies were about Human Reason and what it can and cannot do.

Of these three I like Spinoza best. He was born in Amsterdam, the city where I live, and although history puts us 400 years apart, the times he lived in are not that radically different from now. In his day, Amsterdam was harboring, as it does now, many different nationalities and religions. It was a center of tolerance and culture. But with the country in a war and an economic recession, this tolerance eroded. Spinoza called for freedom of speech, a pamphlet he had to ironically publish anonymously.

Philosophy: a Discovery in Comics

It’s not all that different from current times. We’re in an economic recession again, minorities are being scape-goated and freedom of speech is being squelched by politicians who want it just for themselves. If Spinoza were alive today, his message would be the same. And he would probably be under fire for it, like Socrates was in his times.

Yes, the occupation of philosopher is not for the faint-hearted! You thought philosophers were dusty old men, smoking pipes and staring meaningfully out of the window of their aristocratic study-rooms, pondering ideas that have nothing to do with real life…? Think again!

You want some excitement in your life? Want to express your individuality and live life to the max? Forget bungee-jumping, become a philosopher!

There are more philosophers in the book, of course, we’ve just reached the somewhat modern age. But I’ll talk about them later, because I took a whole different turn there…

Stay tuned!

What we got on Comixology… and beyond.

Thanks, Sean, you beat us to our post about a whole lotta books of ours you can also order as e-books from Comixology. We make sure to have links on this site under each book’s cart button as an alternative for e-book versions. AND we also made sure from the start that they feature a free 12 page preview of each book offered!

As of today you can get Rick Geary’s Axe-Man of New Orleans there but they already have a number of Geary’s Treasury of Murder books: Victorian and 20th Century, including Jack the Ripper, The Lindbergh Child and more.

Besides that there’s now:

The Big Khan by Neil Kleid

Bluesman  and Castaways by Rob Vollmar and Pablo Callejo

A Home for Mr. Easter by exciting new talent Brooke Allen

Richard Moore’s whole Boneyard series is doing quite well there

The Broadcast

Joe & Azat

Networked

Trailers

Unholy Kinship.

And since last fall we’re getting more of our books up on all platforms from the iBookstore  to the Nook, Overdrive for libraries and others. We’ve been doing that through our general trade distributor IPG who gets us into all these 100+ channels of e-book distribution.

Next: watch for P. Craig Russell’s Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde going up on Comixology and all those other non-comics channels as mentioned above within the next few weeks!

 

Comixology NBM

Keep in mind folks that our book THE STORY OF LEE and many other NBM book are now also available from Comixology, the digital comics site for ipad, iphone, android, etc.

You can download the digital version for only $7.99 (a mere snip, the paper one costs $11.99). It’s my first English language digital book, although I have one out already in Japanese. 150 pages, mature manga story, art by Chie Kutuswada. There is also a 12 page free preview there on Comixology, as a taster. Nice!

https://comics.comixology.com/#/issue/18636/The-Story-of-Lee-Vol-1

True Age: 33

(This entry is not about my upcoming book ‘Philosophy: a Discovery in Comics’, but it does pose a philosophical question)

What is your true age? And I don’t mean in the sense of “If you smoke, you are really ten years older than you are”, but as in: “How old do you truly feel inside?” Men nearing 40 usually answer: 18. Women over 50 often say: 9. Both answers have to do something with the Child Within, I guess. Sometimes though, for some people, True Age is dictated by the Adult Within.

As for me, ever since my teenage years I have felt about 33 years old. This idea stuck with me after I read Lord of the Rings: 33 is the age at which hobbits reach maturity. The years before 33 are referred to as the Irresponsible Tweens – an individual has reached physical autonomy but not yet the wisdom and maturity of adulthood.

I had my share of the Irresponsible Tweens – but when I turned 33, I felt as if I had reached the age that has been appropriate for me as a person all along. 33 to me means that I have some experience, and the common sense to have learned from it. It also means not feeling pressured so much about What I Should Become, because I have found a place in life. 33 is immensely old when seen from the point of view of an 18-year-old, and incredibly young when you are 50. It is the perfect “free place” between youth and seniority. I don’t have to prove myself that much, and yet my existence is still full of promises and possibilities. And the best part: people started taking me seriously.

When I was in my early twenties, it often bothered me that my voice wasn’t heard, since I was a rather young and naive looking girl. When I reached my thirties, more people started to address me in a formal way, and looking to me for my opinion on things. I like that. I always have. For I was always truly 33.

This year I will turn 40 and I’m happy about it. Aging and maturing is an interesting process that we can steer and influence every day with our thoughts and behavior. Although I still feel 33 inside, I hope one day, when I reach 50 or so, the part of me that feels like a Grande Dame will awaken. Then I will recline on my sofa in my elegant home and receive many interesting visitors who long to hear my wit and wisdom… Ah, wouldn’t that be lovely!