The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

September 15, 2017
by Dan
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Jeet Heer on Jack Kirby

At the New Republic, Jeet Heer looks back at the work of Jack Kirby, the cartoonist who shaped the Marvel Universe and remade popular culture:  The superhero stories Kirby created or inspired have dominated American comic books for nearly 75 … Continue reading

March 15, 2017
by Dan
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Will Eisner Centenary

On the centenary of his birth, The Society of Illustrators in New York is celebrating the life of cartoonist Will Eisner with an exhibition of his work, including original artwork from his graphic novels A Contract with God (1978) and Life on Another Planet (1983), … Continue reading

February 7, 2017
by Dan
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Chris Ware on George Herriman and Krazy Kat

The New York Review of Books has an essay by cartoonist Chris Ware on George Herriman the creator Krazy Kat, one of the most beautiful, poetic and inventive comic strips ever created:     Krazy Kat has been described as a parable of love, … Continue reading

December 10, 2013
by Dan
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Beyond a Man’s Machines: The Art of Rube Goldberg

All else aside, though, it’s his Rube Goldberg inventions that made him a lasting cultural presence. Goldberg once said his machines — which he drafted with strict but rollicking precision — were a “symbol of man’s capacity for exerting maximum … Continue reading

August 1, 2012
by Dan
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Midweek Miscellany

Paul Gravett on piecing together the early history of comics: You’d think by now that the history of a medium as global and influential as comics would be fully researched and written, but this is not the case. In contrast to the … Continue reading

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