Netflix has a lot of original series, and not all of them get as much attention as Luke Cage. Easy is a new anthology about relationships and sex, and once you know that it features a whole show where Malin Ackerman and Orlando Bloom go at it, you may want to check it out. But this show also marks something of a cultural watershed for Our Kind, as one episode stars Marc Maron as an autobiographical cartoonist! Yes finally, the archetype of the self-loathing comics artist has been portrayed by a self loathing comic. As for the plot, hijinx ensue! Indiewire ranked it as the worst episode, but the plot may interest you:
In a rather predictable turn of events, Mark Maron’s Jacob, a graphic novelist who uses his personal experiences with women for artistic inspiration, sleeps with a young fan (Emily Ratajkowski) and is later mortified when she uses him as a subject of her own art.
I haven’t watched the episode yet, but I understand that Bob (Minimum Wage) Fingerman, who is pals with Maron and appeared on his WTF podcast, was a consultant; Jeffrey Brown drew the actual comics; and Chris Ware makes a cameo appearance!!! The show is set in Chicago, which helps explain that and there are also harrowing scenes, such as a signing where no one shows up.
This is not the first movie or TV show to have a cartoonist as a character, of course. Off the top of my head (and feel free to berate my poor memory in the comments)
• Jack Lemmon portrayed a strip cartoonist in the film How to Murder Your Wife (!) where he’s saddened to wake up and learn he’s married to Virni Lisi, a situation few cartoonists of his time would have found objectionable.
• Ted Knight’s character was a cartoonist in Too Close For Comfort, the show which launched
Deborah van Valkenburgh to stardom. I had totally forgotten than until I started to write this piece.
• Bob Newhart played a cartoonist whose career is stalled by the Comics Code, then revived by the 80s comics boom in Bob, the third and shortest of his sitcoms. (Mark Evanier was one of the writers, which accounted for the high degree of accuracy in the details of comics life.)
• Lea Thompson played Caroline Duffy, a Cathy Guisewaite-type cartoonist in Caroline in the City which ran for four years after Seinfeld. It is not as well remembered as Seinfeld.
• Michael Caine played a cartoonist who draw sword and sorcery comics in horror film The Hand, directed by Oliver Stone. Barry Windsor Smith drew the art used in the movie.
• Brendan Fraser portrayed a comic strip creator whose strip starts taking over his life in Monkeybone.
• In Save the Date, Lizzy Caplan played a cartoon-type, and Jeffrey Brown (Him again) who co-wrote the script, provided the art.
• Chasing Amy. Nuff said.
Hm, my knowledge of this topic does not extend beyond the 90s! What have I forgotten!
It was the most heavy-handed episode of what is otherwise a really good (if narrowly focused) series. It was unusual because it was the only episode where the main character was middle-aged–almost everyone else in the series is relatively young–singles or young marrieds.
The main conflct is that Maron has alienated many of the people in his life by including them in his autobio comics. When a similar thing happens to him, he becomes unreasonably angry. This may seem like a natural subject to alternative comics fans because so many of the best comics since the 80s have been autobiographical. But I was just listening to Mary Karr interviewed on Fresh Air, and it made me realize that if would have been just as reasonable for Maron’s character to be a literary memoirist like Karr. I’m interested why film-maker Joe Swanberg chose a comics artist instead.
The Chris Ware cameo was notable because he wasn’t playing himself or even playing a cartoonist. He’s playing a journalist who is interviewing Maron. It is not a particularly challenging role, but Ware is completely convincing in it. Who knows–this could be a second career for him!
Kate Micucci (who also makes out with Malin Akermanand Orlando Bloom in Easy) played an Eisner award winning cartoonist turned improviser recently in Mike Birbiglia’s Don’t Think Twice.
Jemaine Clement played a cartoonist in People Places Things. His character was also a teacher of an SVA cartooning class that also has Jessica Williams playing a student of his. Even one scene was filmed at the now closed Bergen Street Comics. Art in the movie was provided by Gray Williams, Dash Shaw, and Lauren Weinstein.
In the movie ATL, the rapper T.I. plays a character who aspires to cartoon and ends up as a newspaper cartoonist in Atlanta.
Does it count if a film is based on real life? Jake Gyllenhaal plays newspaper cartoonist turned true crime writer Robert Greysmith in the 2007 thriller by David Fincher.
Of course if you include that you might as well also count American Splendour, in which case you might as well include Crumb. All good films!
In Three Men and a Baby, Michael is a creator of the comic strip Johnny Cool. (Should I be proud or ashamed that this is the first one I thought about?)
On Mad Men, Lou Avery creates a comic strip titled Scout’s Honor.
While this example is a mere cameo, it is nonetheless satisfying to see an artist (presumably intended to be Jack Kirby) handing Ben Affleck’s character some artwork in the film Argo.
Bel Powley plays an aspiring cartoonist in Diary of a Teenage Girl. It’s kind of based on Phoebe Gloeckner’s semi-autobiographical work of the same title and Aline Kominsky is a minor character in it.
My World and Welcome To It (1969-70) starred William Windom as a sort of James Thurber cartoonist and the show was based on Thurber’s cartoons. I think no one in the country watched this show except me, and I was 11 years old.
Artists And Models 1955. A Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis satire with the duo playing a comic book artist and writer team that takes place right in the middle of the Senate Hearings on Comic Books influence on Juvenile Delinquency era. Frank Tashlin a cartoonist and animator in his own right, was the director. A very young Shirley McClain is featured as the life-model for a character called The Bat-lady .
Zach Galifianakis also played a cartoonist in Bored To Death. Great series.
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