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Body: From the radio program of the same name, Robin McConnell has done almost 300 interviews with all manner of comic book masters. Collected in this volume are 27 of the best. Everyone's here, from pinnacles of the graphic novel like Jamie Hernandez, to the Canadian pioneer of online comics, Kate Beaton, and the all have their immensely interesting brains picked and put on display.

I've always loved getting an insider perspective on the workings of the artists I admire, and while not many people other than artists have any reason to care what kind of sketchbooks Gary Panter uses, the material in Inkstuds is pretty wide ranging and unpredictable and not at all limited to the arcana of the craft. The subjects discuss their inspirations and artistic visions, as readily as they discuss the tools of their trade and their personal lives. The skillful casualness of the interviewer draws reams of intriguing material from the subject, of value to those who are coming at an interest in comics from any level of experience or involvement.

Inkstuds can be a circle jerk of comic nerdery, but rather than being annoying it offers an exciting way in through the minds of people who know the history of comics inside and out. In a panel discussion with guests Tom Spurgeon, Dan Nadel, and Jeet Heer the subjects discuss the changing form of comics throughout their entire history, the connection between the art and commerce, and they offer up a plethora of fantastic, little-known artists whose work spans the last century.

Reading Inkstuds is a bit of a challenge as the interviews are verbatim transcripts of the radio interviews, including all interruption and run on sentences. However, this book captures a significant discourse around a major art form at a time when its place in contemporary culture is undeniably important, though still uncertain. (Ian Sullivan Cant)

Robin McConnell, 186 pgs, Conundrum Press,, $18

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