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Today’s cutest news of the day ever: superstar comic artist James Kochalka, of American Elf fame, has just been named the Cartoonist Laureate of Vermont. He is the second Cartoonist Laureate in the United States; the only other state to have one is Alaska. Random? Yes. Awesome? Definitely.
If you don’t know him from his daily diary comic American Elf, maybe you’ve heard of him because of his books, or his music. Not only has James Kochalka written and drawn a whole bunch of comic compilations, including Super F*ckers, Johnny Boo and Dragon Puncher, he also plays in a rockin’ band and wrote Hockey Monkey, which became the theme song of Fox’s The Loop, as well as Pizza Rocket, which anyone born in the 80s will recognize from Nickelodeon (but I sadly can’t find a video of).
According to the state’s press release, “the cartoonist laureate is a person whose primary residence is Vermont, whose work manifests a high degree of excellence, who has produced a critically acclaimed body of work, and who has a long association with Vermont.” Well, Kochalka was born in Vermont, went to the University of Vermont and now lives in Burlington. I’d say he fits the bill.
Kochalka deserves the award, though, because he is a genre-changing cartoonist. American Elf is consistently cited as the first serious diary comic; he began the epic work in 1998 and plans to continue it for the foreseeable future. I have no doubt that historians or alien civilizations will some day encounter Kochalka’s work and use it to study our era and culture, it’s that good. An entrancing writer as well as a great draftsman (and colorist, seriously) the artist’s comics chronicle every-day adventures with the eye and ear of a poet, occasionally rhapsodizing over nature, veering off into weird dreams or writing from the perspective of his cat.
In an interview on Vermont Public Radio, Kochalka explained his interpretation of the post: “in the same way that a poet can explore the depths of their humanity, a cartoonist can explore the depths of their humanity in comics.” No one explores the depths of an incredibly human existence quite as well as James Kochalka, and for me, that’s more than enough to make him laureate of pretty much anything.
“Black infants in America are now more than twice as likely to die as white infants—11.3 per 1,000 black babies, compared with 4.9 per 1,000 white babies, according to the most recent government data—a racial disparity that is actually wider than in 1850, 15 years before the end of slavery, when most black women were…
he ownership of images has a long and nuanced legal history, which has evolved dramatically in recent years as cultural standards and photographic technologies have rapidly advanced
The show, which honors the 50th anniversary of an exhibition history once ignored, continues a series of projects documenting Wilmington’s contemporary art scene.
Renty and his daughter Delia. Renty was an enslaved African, kidnapped from the Congo, sold and forced into slave labor on the South Carolina plantation of B.F. Taylor
What is the relation between possessing a person, possessing their image, and dispossessing their progeny
As a scholar of African American history and photography whose work has focused on the status of violent images in museums and archives, I fully support the validity of Ms. Tamara Lanier’s claim and the amicus brief.
Two K-12 art teachers will each receive a $1,000 cash gift and an additional $500 to put toward classroom art supplies. Nominations are due October 31.
The daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor, Delia, Drana, Alfred, Jack, George Fassena, and Jem remained in an unused storage cabinet until 1975, when it was discovered by an employee of the Peabody Museum.
I am writing in support of the amicus curiae brief submitted by Professor Ariella Aïsha Azoulay of Brown University for the full restitution of the daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor and his daughter Delia, currently held by Harvard University, to their familial descendant, Tamara Lanier.
We cannot be indifferent to the long-lasting effects of photography. The photographs at the center of Lanier v. Harvard are relentless in making Renty and Delia Taylor work and perform as slaves. The pain inflicted on them has not ceased. Photography has the capacity to propagate harm, and we have the moral obligation to interrupt…