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Corto Maltese

Swashbuckling never goes out of style.

We’re thinking of Corto Maltese, the hero of a famous Italian comics series that swept through Europe alongside Fellini and Serge Gainsbourg. He’s basically an older, more rakish Tintin, dashing through the Pacific circa WWI, stirring up trouble.

The series never quite reached our side of the Atlantic, but between the nautical vibe and his easy continental charm, he’s inspired more than a few designers in his time. And more importantly, he’s mounting a comeback in the states. Maltese’s most famous book, The Ballad of the Salt Sea, gets a new edition from Rizzoli on Tuesday, complete with a fresh translation.

Fair warning: there will be male earrings.

The Comics Page


It’s been a while since we’ve gotten excited about a streetwear collab, but Stussy just managed quite a coup. They commissioned the mildly reclusive, notoriously prickly Dan Clowes for a set of three Stussy-branded t-shirts.

The shirts show a detective, spaceman and Karloff-esque monster, respectively, but the lovingly nerdy detachment the real prize here. It’s a higher brow than we’re used to in a t-shirt, but maybe we shouldn’t be surprised. Between this and their Love & Rockets collab, Stussy’s on their way to being the official t-shirt of underground comics.

Helen Korpak is the Bard of Heavy Petting

Stairway: The US Air Guitar Championships are happening right now, and if you’re reading this, that means you’re missing out. Sadly, the live video stream is down, but there should still be plenty of rock to go around. [World’s Best Ever]

But Do They Have Batman?: Portland’s Floating World Comics is our favorite store of the day. [WeJetSet]

Dog Day Icon: Apparently the “Facebook guy” who used to pop up on the upper left of the screen was actually Al Pacino. Hoo ah? [Mashable]

Lifetime Achievement: In honor of his 70th birthday, here’s some pictures of Alex Trebek being drunk, smug, and generally awesome. [Urlesque]

No Bullshit


We’re not much for posthumous praise, but now that he’s gone, it seems worth taking a moment to remember why everyone cared about Harvey Pekar in the first place.

When new art forms pop up, all sorts of strange voices can suddenly bubble up to the surface. In Pekar’s case, it was a kind of curmudgeonly skepticism, which happened to dovetail perfectly with the loving grotesque school of comics pioneered by R. Crumb. The result was funny, aggressive autobiography from someone who seemed to genuinely have no illusions about the world. (You can see good examples here, here and here.)

A lot of buzz today has focused on his ongoing Letterman feud—a tragedy in two acts— but it’s a pretty good example of what modern culture has lost. Unlike everyone else on the talk show game, he thought behind-the-curtain corporate shenanigans were more important than ever appearing on television again. It’s a high standard for honesty, and it’s unlikely anyone will live up to it again.

The New Pulp


One of the nice things about the rise of highbrow comics is the how many genuinely lurid entertainments a gentleman can get away with adding to his library.

For starters, we’d suggest Tim Lane’s Abandoned Cars. It’s the modern equivalent of the Raymond Chandler yarns that fill up the more exciting portion of your bookshelf—a string of police chases and back-alley fist fights with a surprisingly introspective thread running in the background. (Spoiler alert: it’s about America.) It might be a bit heavy for beach reading, but we’re always happy to spend a Sunday afternoon walking the line between art and pulp.

And as of next week, it won't be that hard to find. After a hardcover run in ’08 that sold out almost immediately, the paperback version should be hitting shelves any day now.

Anna Kendrick is Suspicious of her Stylist


The Beautiful People: Paper Mag unveils their roundup of the year’s beautiful people. Anna Kendrick, naturally, qualifies. [Paper Magazine]

Padded Out: John C. Abell gazes into the future, riffing on the iPad release. We’re guessing he’s not a flash fan… [Epicenter]

Understanding Comics: Tim Heffernan big ups the sprawling Love and Rockets series, quite possibly the Great American Underground Comic. Get on it, people. [Esquire]

Not Happening: We’re pretty open-minded, in general, but we just don’t see the coonskin cap coming back. Not ever. [Racked]

Masha Novoselova is an Action Painter


One Brush at a Time, Please: We’re pretty sure this is a Big Lebowski reference. [Fashion Gone Rogue]

A Coin and Box Cutter: Glenn O’Brien provides an inventory of his favorite objects. Unsurprisingly, they’re pretty sweet. [GQ Eye]

If Only They Could Get Batman In There: The internet has finally produced a webcomic pitting Winnie the Pooh against the alien from Alien. In retrospect, this was inevitable. [Boing Boing]

Let Them Know What Time it Is: Our new favorite wall clock, laser-cut from birch by the folks at Kitsune Noir. [Cool Hunting]

Caroline Winberg is Looking Very 2009


We Can Only Imagine What 2010 Will Be Like: Refinery29 rounds up the year’s most stirring editorials, and christens 2009 “the Year of the Boob.” It did seem like there were a lot of those around… [Refinery29]

Understanding Comics: Dan Kois counts down the year’s best comics—the term “graphic novel” is notably absent—including a gem from the artist behind Batman: Year One. [Vulture]

Free and Queasy: Stephen Marche also feels a little uncomfortable with all this Brittany Murphy stuff. Could everyone please stop dying? [Esquire]

Lost Opportunities: The trials and tribulations of The White Hotel. Who knew it was so hard to get a post-modern erotic holocaust movie greenlit? [Vanity Fair]

Put the Book Back on the Shelf


This coat might look a lot more familiar to French comics buffs, but on the off chance you aren’t a Corto Maltese fan, here’s a quick refresher course. Over the course of twelve graphic novels, he made a swashbuckling tour of the 20th century’s more exciting European wars, wearing an appropriately dashing series of nautical coats. And, thanks to his avid European readership, a few of those jackets are finally making it onto shelves.

Colette just offered up this nautical number on the heels of a Maltese-themed exhibition at the Museé National De La Marine. It’s not exactly seasonal, but we can never turn down a good nautical coat, and the gold stripe on the left cuff is the kind of detail that usually flourishes in fiction. Hopefully you can wear it in a suitably adventurous fashion.

Motion Pictures


Our favorite bowtie-glad pop artist is expanding into yet another field. Not satisfied with fantastic gallery work and the occasional high-fashion collab, Takashi Murakami is getting his Pixar on. Or should we say, his Miyazaki.

His latest project is an animation and film studio dedicated to the characters he’s produced. The trailer for the first major animated film kaikai & kiki debuted at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary art this year, and he’s already gone as far as setting up office space. Apparently he has a bit more faith in the economy than Mr. Hirst.

See the trailer and a few of Murakami’s economic musings»

Hello, Noto


Comic books have been growing steadily more legitimate since the 70s, but while writers like Alan Moore and Frank Miller have stumbled into mainstream recognition, comic book artists not named R. Crumb are still mostly viewed as doodlers with a voyeuristic streak.

Well, we’re doing our part (with a little help from Mr. Spear).

Phil Noto cut his teeth (and, presumably, earns a living) in the comic world doing art for titles like *Wonder Woman*, *Hellboy*, and the cult series *Jonah Hex*, but he also churns out oil paintings with surprising wit. He may not be ready for Sotheby’s just yet, but any man who devotes an entire canvas to depicting Bond and Goldfinger on the golf course has our vote.

See what we mean»