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January 17, 2008


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Great post, Craig, and a reminder, if one were needed, of what a great (and sorely under-recognized) cartoonist Tyler is. I look forward to her forthcoming book!

What I especially like about your post is your attention to variations in the drawing: the way Tyler changes from densely-rendered, richly-textured forms to spare, untextured forms even within a single panel. It's simple and brave; why don't more cartoonists do this?

I also like the observations about layout. Dig how the tiers above and below the central panel(s) are focused on walking feet.

Another thing I like about your reading of Tyler is a poignancy that I assume comes from your own experience; "Migrant Mother" is certainly a story I read differently now, after years and years of parenting. I remember enjoying the story the first time I read it, probably in one of Fantagraphics's two BEST COMICS OF THE DECADE collections (circa 1990), but rereading it in LATE BLOOMER was something else again. Tyler is marvelous at capturing these bittersweet aspects of life ("Once, We Ran" in particular reminds me of Linda Pastan's fine poem, "To a Daughter Leaving Home," from THE IMPERFECT PARADISE, 1988).

The simple availability of long out-of-print comics like these is one reason why I think LATE BLOOMER is such a terrific book.

Sandy Bilus

Wonderful post, and it certainly got me interested in Tyler's work. You two are doing a great job here - keep up the good work!


Sandy, thank you for the very encouraging words! Craig and I are excited about keeping TB going and covering comics of all sorts. Look out for more and different features as we go forward!

Tyler is wonderful. For me, her LATE BLOOMER was like a long-overdue holiday present.

Craig Fischer

I'm as crazy about LATE BLOOMER as Charles is, but if I had to pick my favorite Tyler, it'd be "The Hannah Story," a wonderful tale about her mother and sister published in DRAWN AND QUARTERLY Vol. 2, #1 (1994). "The Hannah Story" isn't included in LATE BLOOMER. In BLOOMER's introduction, Tyler announces that the Hannah material will be incorporated into a future book. Which makes me a little sad, actually--"The Hannah Story" seems pretty perfect in its original version.

That entire issue of D & Q is magnificent: painted Seth cover, funny short strips by Maurice Vellekoop and Marcellus Hall, a chapter of Jacques Tardi's "It Was the War of the Trenches" (all of which desperately needs to be translated into English and collected in a single book), a stylish mute strip by French cartoonists Avril and Petit-Roulet...really, an embarrassment of riches. Maybe my favorite single comics anthology ever.

And thanks for the compliment, Sandy.


Oh, God, yes. I have used that issue of D&Q (Vol. 2, No. 1) in my classes many times, usually early in the term as a sampler of the artistic possibilities of comics. For a small price, the book can't be beat as a sampler for students new to the field. Not only is "The Hannah Story" one of the best comics stories I've read, but the whole book presents an incredible range: rich color, graytones, and black-and-white; word-centric and wordless; near-photorealism (Tardi's settings) versus drastically stripped-down cartooning (Avril & Petit-Roulet); consistent, static layouts (Tardi and Vellekoop) versus dynamic, ever-changing ones (Tyler); humor, historical fiction (again, Tardi AND Vellekoop) and autobiography; North American and European. All of this in just a small handful of stories. It's just an incredible (for students, often eye-opening) package.

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