In keeping with his athletic goal of issuing a volume of his occasionally lauded ACME series once every new autumn, volume 18 finds cartoonist Chris Ware abandoning the engaging serialization of his "Rusty Brown" and instead focusing upon his ongoing and more experimentally grim narrative , "Building Stories."
Collecting pages unseen except in obscure alternative weekly periodicals and sophisticated expensive coffee table magazines, The ACME Novelty Library #18 re-introduces the characters which New York Times readers found "dry" and "deeply depressing" when one chapter of the work (not included here) was presented in its pages during 2005 and 2006. Set in a Chicago apartment building more or less in the year 2000, the stories move from the straightforward to the mnemonically complex, invading character's memories and personal ambitions with a text point size likely unreadable to human beings over the age of 45. Reformatted to accommodate this different material, readers will be pleased by the volume's vertical shape and tasteful design, which, unlike Ware's earlier volumes, should discreetly blend into any stack or shelf of real books.
56-page full-color 8" x 10.75" hardcover $18.95 Order Now!
Straggling behind the mild 2003 success of cartoonist Chris Ware's first facsimile collection of his miscellaneous sketches, notes, and adolescent fantasies arrives this second volume, updating weary readers with the last ten years of Ware's clichéd and outmoded insights.
Working directly in pen and ink, watercolor, and white-out whenever he makes a mistake, Ware has cannily edited out all legally sensitive and personally incriminating material from his private journals, carefully recomposing each page to simulate the appearance of an ordered mind and established aesthetic directive. All phone numbers, references to ex-girlfriends, "false starts," and embarrassing experiments with unfamiliar drawing media have been generously excised to present the reader with the most pleasant and colorful sketchbook reading experience available. Included are Ware's frustrated doodles for his book covers, angry personal assaults on friends, half-finished comic strips, lengthy and tiresome fulminations of personal disappointments both social and sexual, as well as his now-beloved drawings of the generally miserable inhabitants of the city of Chicago. All in all, a necessary volume for fans of fine art, water-based media, and personal diatribe. Hardcover, attractively designed, and easy to resell.
208-page 7" x 9.5" full-color hardcover $39.95 Order Now!
... regarding Chris Ware's recent output. From the aforementioned publications earlier this week, to the recent film poster for The Savages, and now to obscure midwestern literary journals, he continues to shame underachievers everywhere. More here. Tip 'o the Floghat to reader A.T.
In the conclusion to Matt Broersma's noir triptych... Miles Anderson lives in a safe, predictable world defined by his job as an L.A. television producer, his affairs with girls from the office and the shopping trips of his beautiful wife, Elena. Then, one evening, Elena disappears. Is she off on another trip? With a man? In mortal danger? As the days pass, and the suspense mounts, Miles Anderson's search for answers leads him instead deeper and deeper into an abyss of mystery, until at last he's forced to confront the unthinkable...
After his existential thriller (Why Are You Doing This?), his Parisian famous-writers crime caper (The Left Bank Gang), and his time-travel story (I Killed Adolf Hitler), Jason's fourth full-color album may feature his loopiest premise yet. Set in the present time, The Last Musketeer stars the by-now centuries old musketeer Athos, who has been reduced to a suavely dressed but useless near-panhandler trading on his now almost extinct fame. All this changes when one day the Martians attack Earth. Suddenly there is a need for swashes to be buckled, and Athos leaps back into the fray with a vengeance. The Last Musketeer is a vintage sci-fi adventure with a unique twist from an internationally acclaimed cartoonist.
48-page 7" x 10" full-color softcover $12.95 Order Now!
MOME Winter/Spring 2008 (Vol. 10) By various artists; edited by Gary Groth & Eric Reynolds
Critically acclaimed for its compilation of dynamic young cartoonists, this volume of Mome showcases the vibrant newbies and a few of the more established artistes. Mome Vol. 10 features the 20 page conclusion to the Jim Woodring graphic novella, "The Lute String." This story, previously published only in Japan, features Woodring's signature characters — Frank, Pupshaw, and Pushpaw — in a universe-bending saga that finds the trio in a very unexpected world of flying, shrieking demons and bulbous-faced monsters. Also featuring the work of Tom Kaczynski (and an interview with him with Gary Groth), Robert Goodin, Dash Shaw, Ray Fenwick, John Hankiewicz, Sophie Crumb, Tim Hensley, and Jonathan Bennett, plus a surprise Mome debut from Jeremy Eaton. The reclusive Al Columbia emerges once again, this time providing the cover.
120-page 7" x 9" b&w/color softcover $14.95 Order Now!
Lust: Kinky Online Personal Ads from Seattle's The Stranger By Ellen Forney
Ellen Forney's follow-up to her wildly popular I Love Led Zeppelin is a collection of cartoons celebrating the sometimes stunningly crude, sometimes surprisingly sweet online world of personal classifieds. Forney has for several years been illustrating the Seattle alt-weekly The Stranger's "Lustlab" classified ads by interpreting the most interesting, outrageous, or idiosyncratic ad in that week's paper. To cap it off, the collection includes frank, revealing interviews with some of the advertisers conducted by Forney, plus an introduction by the notorious sex advice columnist and novelist (and Stranger editor), Dan Savage.
168-page 6" x 6.5" black & white hardcover $19.95 Order Now!
I like to play cards, so I was stoked to get this set from our pals at The Stranger. It instantly vaults past the nudie deck as my favorite. Each card features a classic cover from Strangers past, and they've had some great ones, including a bunch by Fantagraphics-published cartoonists like Jim Blanchard (who is featured on three cards, I think more than anyone), Ellen Forney, Jeremy Eaton, Charles Burns (colored by yours truly, coincidentally), and Tony Millionaire. I have no idea how to get this or if it's even for sale, so good luck. And neener-neener.
If you're in L.A. this Saturday, TRACK 16 GALLERY is hosting the opening reception of the L.A. WEEKLY BIENNIAL, featuring a four foot flying saucer painting by Esther Pearl Watson, along with a lot of other great stuff.
I was glad to hear about this show because it gives me an excuse to mention Esther on this blog. One of the books I'm most excited about for 2008 is a book collection of Esther's UNLOVABLE minicomics (also seen every month in BUST magazine). I was only peripherally aware of UNLOVABLE until last summer's San Diego Comic-Con, when Jordan Crane pretty much shoved all of Esther's minis at me and told me I had to read them. I was hooked immediately, as was just about everyone else I've forced them on since, and now we're doing the book collection at the end of 2008. UNLOVABLE is an adaptation of a diary of a teenage girl that Watson found some years ago (or so the story goes, anyway). The simple version is that it mines similar adolescent territory as some of, say, Lynda Barry or Lauren Weinstein's comics, but that kind of simplification is a disservice to all three of those exceptional artists, so excuse my laziness. But it is very funny and moving stuff, and it reads better than ever in book form. A lot of the material in the UNLOVABLE minis was presented out of chronological order, focusing on stand-alone scenes more than the longer narrative. The material in the book will be presented in the proper order, and the whole story just gets even better with the additional context.
Anyway, don't forget the art show this weekend if you're in the southland:
"SOME PAINTINGS" THE THIRD LA WEEKLY BIENNIAL curated by doug harvey January 12 - February 16, 2008 Opening reception Saturday, January 12, from 7-11 P.M.