Discover David Lynch’s Bizarre & Minimalist Comic Strip, The Angriest Dog in the World (1983-1992)

Most David Lynch fans discover him through his films. But those of us who read alternative weekly newspapers in their 1980s and 90s heyday may well have first encountered his work in another medium entirely: the comic strip. Like many of the best-known examples of the form, Lynch's comic strip stars an animal, specifically a dog, but a dog "so angry he cannot move. He cannot eat. He cannot sleep. He can just barely growl. Bound so tightly with tension and anger, he approaches the state of rigor mortis." That text, which prepared readers for a reading experience some way from Marmaduke, introduced each and every edition of The Angriest Dog in the World, which ran between 1983 and 1992.

During that entire time, the strip's artwork never changed either: four panels in which the titular dog strains against a rope staked down in a suburban backyard, in the last of which night has fallen. The sole variation came in the word bubbles that occasionally emerged from the window of the house, presumably representing the voice of the dog's owners.




You can see a few examples at Lynchnet and also on this blog. "If everything is real... then nothing is real as well," it says one week. On another: "It must be clear to even the non-mathematician that the things in this world just don't add up to beans." Or, in a nod to the region of The Angriest Dog in the World's home paper the LA Reader: "Bill... who is this San Andreas? I can't believe it's all his fault."

"At some point David Lynch called up the editor at the time, James Vowell, and said, ‘Hi, I'd like to do a comic strip for you,’" says former Reader editor Richard Gehr as quoted by John F. Kelly at Spooky Comics. Every week thereafter, Lynch would phone the Reader to dictate the text of the latest strip. "We would give it to somebody in the production department and they would White Out the panels from the week before and write in a new, quote/unquote… gag.” The clip from The Incredibly Strange Film Show's 1990 episode on Lynch above shows the evolution of the process: someone, one of Lynch's assistants or perhaps Lynch himself, would regularly slip under the Reader's office door an envelope containing word balloons written and ready to paste into the strip. (Dangerous Minds finds an interview where Vowell describes another production method altogether, involving wax paper.)

Lynch came up with the words, but what about the images? "I assume he drew the first iteration," says Gehr as quoted by Kelly. "I don’t even know if the second and third [panels] were hand drawn. Those could have been mimeographed too or something." The style does bear a resemblance to that of the town map Lynch drew to pitch Twin Peaks to ABC. The attentive fan can also find a host of other connections between The Angriest Dog in the World and Lynch's other work. That factory in the background, for instance, looks like a place he'd photograph, or even a setting of Eraserhead, during whose frustrating years-long shoot he came up with the strip's concept in the first place. "I had tremendous anger," says Lynch in David Breskin's book Inner Views. "And I think when I began meditating, one of the first things that left was a great chunk of that." If only the Angriest Dog in the World could have found it in himself to do the same.

via Dangerous Minds

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

The Story of How David Jones Became David Bowie Gets Told in a New Graphic Novel

What, exactly, turned David Jones into David Bowie? Observers have been asking that question ever since the artistically inclined rock star — who, we might say, made rock stardom into a viable art form in the first place — began his high-profile experimentation with his own image in the early 1970s. Having put out his first big hit "Space Oddity" a few years before that, in 1969, he spent the period in between living, with his then-wife Angie, at a Victorian villa in South London called Haddon Hall. "The couple rented a ground-floor flat for £7 a week – the Spiders from Mars were, I think, sequestered around an upstairs landing – and in one of its cavernous rooms, their ceilings painted silver, Angie cut David’s hair and stitched the first Ziggy outfit."

Those words come from the Guardian's Rachel Cooke, reviewing the biographical graphic novel Haddon Hall: When David Invented Bowie. "Its author, the Tunisian-born French cartoonist Nejib, puts Bowie’s lost house centre stage, David and Angie having fallen instantly in love with its discreet decrepitude, its towers and mouldings and preposterously long corridors," she writes. "Nejib is wonderfully alive to the influences on Bowie in this crucial period, from the final illness of his father, John, to Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 film adaptation of A Clockwork Orange (leaving the cinema after seeing it, the still struggling Bowie suddenly sees what he should be: a rock star 'who’s all destruction and the future')."




A Bowie scholar could argue that his and Angie's Haddon Hall years provided the space for the most crucial gestation period and space in his career. In an interview with the Herald, Nejib relates his dissatisfaction with extant Bowie biographies, and how one biographer even admits that writing a satisfying one may be "rather impossible because Bowie is a fiction created by David Jones, a very secret man. I loved that idea and I consider Bowie as one of the most powerful fictional creations of this period. That was very liberating for me to make this 'portrait' of Bowie in a graphic novel," which he describes as "not a documentary, but a fiction," based on more than just facts and as a result "a mix of many things."

More fascinated by "fragility and doubt than success and stardom," Nejib — whose art style brings to mind cartoons seen in magazines of the late 1960s and early 1970s — focuses on a "gap" in Bowie's life as its story has previously been told: "The man is close to becoming the genius we know, but he is full of doubt. I was inspired by an interview in which he said that he felt that all his influences were merging and he felt that it was the moment for him to make the big jump!" And make the big jump he did, not just once but over and over again throughout the course of his life, reinventing himself both musically and as a persona whenever necessary. Whatever importance any given Bowie fan grants his time in Haddon Hall, they've got to admit that those years make for a tale best told visually.

You can pick up your own copy of Nejib's graphic novel, Haddon Hall: When David Invented Bowie.

via Hyperallergic

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Watch the Original Black Panther Animated Series Online: All Six Episodes Now Available Thanks to Marvel

Last month, I was thrilled to learn of a talk coming to my town called “The Writers of Wakanda.” I scored a (free) ticket, thinking that maybe the massive blockbuster movie’s director/writer Ryan Coogler might make an appearance (or his co-writer Joe Robert Cole), or maybe one or more of the high-profile writers who have expanded the comic’s world recently, like Ta-Nehisi Coates, Roxanne Gay, or Nnedi Okorafor. Well, either there was some kind of bait-and-switch at work or I naively failed to read the fine print. The event was a panel of devoted fans of the comic having a discussion about their lifelong fandom, the many iterations of the character through various Marvel writer’s hands, and the film’s huge cultural impact at home and abroad. It was slightly disappointing but also quite enjoyable and informative.

I learned, for example, that some of the most well-loved and highly-praised characters in the film appeared very late in the series’ run (which began with the character’s creation by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1966) and were introduced by its first black writers, the “chronically underappreciated” Christopher Priest and the filmmaker Reginald Hudlin.




In the late 90s, Priest invented the Dora Milaje, the elite all-female fighting force who protect Wakanda’s kings (who each take on the mantle of superhero Black Panther once they ascend the throne). Hudlin created the character of Shuri, King T’Challa’s younger sister and the scientific mastermind behind his high-tech empire of vibranium-powered gear and gadgetry. Which brings us, at last, to the subject of this post, the Black Panther animated series, co-produced by BET and Marvel, who have released all six episodes on Marvel's YouTube channel. Stream them all above.

Taking its story from Hudlin’s 2005 comics run, the series is less animation and more “a stop motion comic,” as Nerdist writes, “added to the artwork of John Romita, Jr.” This is all to its credit, as is its star-studded voice casting, with Kerry Washington as Shuri, Alfre Woodard as the Queen Mother, Jill Scott as Storm, and Djimon Hounsou as T’Challa/Black Panther. How does it compare to the blockbuster film? From its first salvo of Wakandan warrior prowess in a cold open set in the 5th century A.D., to its seventies-African-funk-inspired theme song, to a present-day scene in the White House, with a blustery racist army general (played by Stan Lee) who sounds like a member of the current administration, the first episode, above, suggests it will live up to Hudlin’s casting of the character as “an unapologetic African man,” as Todd Steven Burroughs writes at The Root, “openly opposed to white, Western supremacy.”

Hudlin wrote some of the comic’s most politically challenging stories, delving into “serious European colonization themes.” These themes are woven throughout the animated series, which features such characters now familiar to filmgoers as Everett Ross and the villain Klaw. Captain America parachutes in—in a flashback—meets an earlier Black Panther during World War II, and takes a beating. ("These are dangerous times," says Cap, "you need to choose a side." The reply: "We have, our own.") The X-Men’s Storm, formerly the first most-famous African superhero, plays a significant role. Not in the series, likely to many people’s disappointment, are the Dora Milaje, at least in starring roles, and the film’s primary antagonist Erik Killmonger.

But not to worry. The ass-kicking general Okoye and her cadre of warriors will soon get a spin-off comic written by Okorafor, and there’s been some speculation, at least, about whether Killmonger will return (resurrected, perhaps, as he was in the comics) in the inevitable Black Panther 2. In the meantime, both longtime and new fans of the character can get their fix in this six-episode series, which offers a thrilling, bloody, and historically fascinating take not only on the Black Panther himself, but on the complicated relationship of Wakanda to the machinations of the Western world throughout colonial history and into the present.

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Where Are They Now? An Animated Mockumentary Reveals What Happened to Your Favorite 1980s Cartoon Characters After Their Heyday

It's a cautionary tale about what happens when the world you prepared yourself for changes and leaves you behind. Coldly, and sometimes without warning.

Above, watch Steve Cutts' 2014 animated mockumentary, "Where Are They Now?". Starring Roger and Jessica Rabbit, and featuring cameos by Garfield and The Smurfs, the short film revisits cartoon characters who had it all in the 1980s. Then hit the skids in the early 90s. Hard. "We had done our jobs," says an aged Jessica Rabbit. "Now we were forgotten about. Obsolete." It's a bleak picture that Cutts paints. But, it's not all bad. He-Man became a wealthy lingerie designer. We could all use a well-thought-out Plan B.

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How to Draw in the Style of Japanese Manga: A Series of Free & Wildly Popular Video Tutorials from Artist Mark Crilley

In Japan, the word manga refers broadly to the art form we know in English as comics. But as used in the West, it refers to a comic art style with distinctive aesthetic and storytelling conventions of its own, originating from but now no longer limited to Japan. Just as the past century or so has seen the emergence of Western masters of such things thoroughly Japanese as sushi, judo, and even tea ceremony, the past few decades brought us the work of the Western mangaka, or manga artist. Mark Crilley stands as one of the best-known practitioners of that short tradition, thanks not only to his art but to his efforts to teach fans how to draw in the style of Japanese manga themselves as well.

Apart from comic-book series like Akiko, Miki Falls, and Brody's Ghost, the Detroit-born Crilley has also published a trilogy of Mastering Manga instructional books. In an interview with Wired, he frames his own manga-mastering process as a project similar to language-learning: "When I went to Taiwan to teach English after graduating from college, I threw myself into learning Chinese with a real 'tunnel vision' kind of dedication. As a result I became conversational in Mandarin within about a year. More recently I decided to teach myself how to draw in a manga-influenced style and thus focused exclusively on that for many months."

Crilley first took to Youtube to promote his then-new manga series, but he "soon found that people were watching my videos as drawing lessons. As more people watched I got hooked on passing on drawing tips to the next generation, and so I continued producing more and more instructional videos."




More youngsters seem to have an interest in drawing in the style of Japanese comics and animation than ever (at least if my friends' kids are generationally representative), and Crilley finds that they "appreciate having an art teacher who takes manga seriously, and doesn’t dismiss it as an inferior art form. I’m sure plenty of art teachers are all, 'Stop drawing those saucer-eyed characters! Draw this still life instead!'"

Not to say that Crilley doesn't appreciate realism: he's put out a whole book on the subject, and some of his instructional videos cover how to draw lifelike eyes (a tutorial that has drawn 27 million views and counting), leopards, mushrooms, and much else besides. But for the aspiring mangaka of any nationality, his Youtube channel offers a wealth of lessons on how to draw everything from faces to clothes to figures in motion to big eyes in the manga aesthetic. But as he surely knows — having cited in the Wired interview a wide range of influences from Star Wars to Mad magazine to Monty Python's Flying Circus — if you want to truly find your own style, you can't limit yourself to any one source of inspiration. Acquire the skills, of course, but then take them to new places.

You can see a playlist of 256 how-to-draw videos by Crilley here. Or a series of smaller drawing playlists here.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Underground Cartoonist Robert Crumb Creates an Illustrated Introduction to Franz Kafka’s Life and Work

The use of an author’s name as an adjective to describe some kind of general style can seem, well, lazy, in a wink-wink, “you know what I mean,” kind of way. One must leave it to readers to decide whether deploying a “Baldwinian” or a “Woolfian," or an “Orwellian” or “Dickensian," is justified. When it comes to “Kafkaesque,” we may find reason to consider abandoning the word altogether. Not because we don’t know what it means, but because we think it means what Kafka meant, rather than what he wrote. Maybe turning him into shorthand, “a clever reference,” writes Chris Barsanti, prepares us to seriously misunderstand his work.

The problem motivated author David Zane Mairowitz and underground comics legend Robert Crumb to create a graphic biography, first published in 1990 as Kafka for Beginners. “The book,” writes Barsanti of a 2007 Fantographics edition called Kafka, “states its case rather plain: ‘No writer of our time, and probably none since Shakespeare, has been so widely over-interpreted and pigeon holed… [Kafkaesque] is an adjective that takes on almost mythic proportions in our time, irrevocably tied to fantasies of doom and gloom, ignoring the intricate Jewish Joke that weaves itself through the bulk of Kafka’s work.’” Or, as Maria Popova puts it, “Kafka’s stories, however grim, are nearly always also… funny.”

Much of that humor derives from “the author’s coping mechanisms amid Prague’s anti-Semitic cultural climate.” Mairowitz describes Kafka’s Jewish humor as “healthy anti-Semitism.... but sooner or later, even the most hateful of Jewish self-hatreds has to turn around and laugh at itself.” Crumb provides graphic illustrations of Kafka’s especially mordant, absurdist humor in adaptations of The Metamorphosis, A Hunger Artist, In the Penal Colony, and The Judgement and brief sketches from The Trial, The Castle, and Amerika. These illustrations draw out the grotesque nature of Kafka’s humor from the start, Barstanti notes, “with a gruesome graphic rendering of Kafka’s nightmares of his own death.”

Kafka’s self-violence leaps out at us in its incredible specificity, which can produce horrors, like the ghoulish execution of “In the Penal Colony," and darkly funny fantasies like a “pork butcher’s knife” sending thin slices of Kafka flying around the room, "due to the speed of the work.” Turned into cold cuts, as it were. Crumb’s illustration (top), imagines this grisly joke with exquisite glee—halo of blood spurts like squiggly exclamation marks and bowler hat taking flight. Along with Mairowitz’s literary analysis and biographical detail, Crumb’s finely rendered illustrations make Kafka an “invaluable book,” Barsanti writes, one that gives Kafka “back his soul.”

One only wishes they had paid more attention to Kafka’s weird animal stories, some of the funniest he ever wrote. Stories like “Investigations of a Dog” and “In Our Synagogue” express with more vivid imagination and wicked humor Kafka's profoundly ambivalent relationship to Judaism and to himself as a “tortured, gentle, cruel, and brilliant," and yet very funny, outsider.

via Brain Pickings

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

How Art Spiegelman Designs Comic Books: A Breakdown of His Masterpiece, Maus

Maus, cartoonist Art Spiegelman’s groundbreaking, Pulitzer Prize-winning account of his complicated relationship with his Holocaust survivor father, is a story that lingers.

Spiegelman famously chose to depict the Jews as mice and the Nazis as cats. Non-Jewish civilians of his father’s native Poland were rendered as pigs. He flirted with the idea of depicting his French-born wife, the New Yorker’s art editor, Françoise Mouly, as a frog or a poodle, until she convinced him that her conversion to Judaism merited mousehood, too.




The characters’ anthropomorphism is not the only visual innovation, as the Nerdwriter, Evan Puschak, points out above.

Drawing on interviews in MetaMaus: A Look Inside a Modern Classic, taped conversations with Neil Gaiman, and the University of Washington’s Marcia Alvar, and other sources, the Nerdwriter pans an eight-panel page from the first chapter for maximum meaning.

On first glance, nothing much appears to be happening on that page—hoping to convince his elderly father to submit to interviews for the book that would eventually become Maus, Spiegelman trails him to his childhood bedroom, which the older man has equipped with an exercise bike that he pedals in dress shoes and black socks.

But, as Spiegelman himself once pointed out:

Those panels are each units of time. You see them simultaneously, so you have various moments in time simultaneously made present. 

Readers must force themselves to proceed slowly in order to fully appreciate the coexistence of all those moments.

Left to our own devices, we might pick up on the senior Spiegelman’s concentration camp tattoo, or the introduction of Art’s late mother via the framed photo he shows himself picking up.

But Puschak takes us on an even deeper dive, noting the significance of Art’s placement in the long mid-page panel. Watch out for the 4:30 mark, another visual stunner is teased out in a manner reminiscent of the revelation of a message written in invisible ink.

So Maus conferred commercial success upon its creator, while hanging onto some of the bold visual experiments from earlier in his career, when he and Mouly helped drive the underground comix scene—the past and present entwined yet again.

And this is just one page. Should you venture forth in search of further visual cues later in the text, please use the comments section to share your discoveries.

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

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