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Saul Steinberg’s horizontal line

At Apollo magazine, artist Martin Rowson writes about a newly published edition of 1960’s The Labyrinth, from cartoonist Saul Steinberg:

Collecting published and unpublished drawings, and meticulously arranged by Steinberg himself, the book begins with a horizontal line, bisected initially by some geometry, and then providing a platform for one of Steinberg’s trademark ragged crocodiles (he was nearly eaten by a crocodile on a trip to Kenya with Saul Bellow). What we can expect, turning the page, is to not know what on earth we can expect. As a writer who draws, he might be about to wrangle this line into a letter and then into a line of words; or it might become a horizon, the reflecting surface of a lake, a washing line, a collar, the edge of a room, a strand of a labyrinth exploding up and down the page. But then you turn the page to a procession of talking heads, each producing vast, abstract yet baroque speech-bubbles. This is so much more than Paul Klee’s ‘taking a line for a walk’: Steinberg takes it on a forced march, a drunken lurch and a frenzied fandango.

The Labyrinth is available from New York Review Books. In December, The Paris Review published the new book’s afterword, which originally appeared as an essay by art critic Harold Rosenberg in 1966. Read Rowson’s whole piece at Apollo.

A comic shaped by trauma

As I mentioned on Twitter in October, I would totally read a longform magazine piece from cartoonist and writer Michael Kupperman about making All the Answers, his graphic memoir that was published by Simon & Schuster’s Gallery 13 in 2018. A book that was initially projected to be an examination of his father Joel’s life as a famous child prodigy, All the Answers became something wholly different after Kupperman discovered some hidden scrapbooks at his parents’ Connecticut home. During a recent, heavily illustrated talk at Google, the cartoonist discussed how finding these scrapbooks meant that he would be creating a memoir about his relationship with his father and how Joel’s past had affected that relationship.

A 21st Century moviegoer

If I were to sit down and actively mine which magazine stories or longform reporting of 2018 stayed with me (I sorta did but the results are very East Coast-heavy and I’m ashamed of that; although last year’s was just as bad, it turns out), critic A.S. Hamrah’s Bookforum essay on Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and a new chronology of the film would’ve made the cut.

As part of their print issue retrospective on 1968, Hamrah front-loads his review of Michael Benson’s Space Odyssey: Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C. Clarke, and the Making of a Masterpiece with an assessment of American cinema fifty years ago, when the Hollywood’s stale condition was overturned by a work starring “a deadly computer, a trippy acid freak-out, and an intergalactic hotel room.” From Bookforum:

Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey was not a flop when it came out. It was a big hit and ended up the highest-grossing film of 1968. It was especially popular with acidheads and pot smokers, science geeks, budding filmmakers, and people under forty in general. The critics in New York, however, all hated it (except for Penelope Gilliatt in the New Yorker), and it had not done well in preview screenings with studio execs and celebrities, who found it boring and confusing. Those preview screenings and early reviews have become part of the film’s legend. People love to remember how the snobs got it wrong.

At Guernica, writer Kyle Paoletta reviews The Earth Dies Streaming: Film Writing, 2002-2018, a new collection of Hamrah’s essays on film, “columns (that) stand alone in their ability to evoke what it feels like to go to the movies in the 21st Century.”