Before the Amazing Spider-Man, before the mysterious Dr. Strange, before the black-and-white world of the Ayn Rand-inspired Mr. A, the legendary comic book artist Steve Ditko was conjuring all manners of horrors at his drawing table. In his first two years in the industry (1953 and 1954), Ditko drew tales of macabre suspense that were not yet hobbled by the imminent Comics Code Authority (adopted in Oct. 1954). These stories featured graphic bloodshed, dismemberment and blood-curdling acid baths as the ugly end to the lives of the dark and twisted inhabitants of Steve Ditko’s imagination.
Following up on Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko, Blake Bell’s 2008 best-selling critical retrospective of Ditko’s career, Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 1 features, for the first time, spectacular full-color reprints of every story from those first two years of his career. Beginning with Ditko’s very first story to Ditko’s short stint in the Joe Simon/Jack Kirby studio, to Ditko’s eventual encampment at the Charlton Comics operation in 1954, readers will see the initial works of an artist already at a level of craftsmanship that exceeded most of his peers. The book also features editor Bell’s insightful introduction, providing historical background and speaking to Ditko's influence and his unique craft.
"I'm so excited by Fantagraphics bringing us a complete version of witzend... That's a bunch of interesting cartoonists doing work at the far frontier of their creative impulses that weren't given that opportunity a whole lot." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
"Witzend is a gem." – iFanboy
"[Witzend's] salient point, that comic artists were entitled to more control and ownership of their own work, would eventually be recognized by the publishers of comic books, but it is hard to argue that witzend itself was a key factor in that development. Like so many other visionary endeavors, it may simply have been ahead of its time." – Rick Spanier
"Wally Wood is one of the best comic book artists that ever lived." – Mark Frauenfelder, Boing Boing
Get your glitter and your cowboy boots, Esther Pearl Watson is a-coming home to Texas. Specifically, the spacious Webb Gallery in Waxahachie (remember when we visited a few years ago?). Esther's got a whole new line of paintings created just for this show and the opening reception is Sunday, June 1st from 4-7pm. She'll also be signing copies of her brand-spanking-new book Unlovable 3 starring the most endearing Tammy Pierce. Live in Dallas or Austin? Waxahachie is one sweet easy road trip away.
Can't make the signing? Contact
ahead of time to order your copy of a sketched-in and signed Unlovable 3! Below is a glimpse of the amazing Webb Gallery with their permanent installation of old carnival and freak show canvas signs juxtaposed perfectly next to Watson's paintings. Dog included!
Webb Gallery 209-211 W. Franklin Street Waxahachie, TX 75165 Opening Saturdays and Sunday, 1-5pm http://www.webbartgallery.com/
Time to unveil your first glimpse of a finished bound copy of the new paperback edition of Joyce Farmer's acclaimed, award-winning graphic memoir Special Exits. A moving, uncompromisingly realistic look at the declining health and impending death of the author's parents, Special Exits was a true labor of love for Farmer, and we're pleased to make it available in this accessible softcover format. Arrival is expected in late July with in-store availability by early August. Read an excerpt and pre-order your copy right here.
"The minute you looked at his artwork you knew you were looking at a John Severin illustration; it could be no one else. Besides his inimitable style, there was a feeling of total authenticity to whatever he drew, whether it was a Western, a crime story, a superhero saga or a science fiction yarn." – Stan Lee
"All of these books are essential purchases for comics fans… These are the books that best show off how EC took genre stories seriously, striving to create comics that didn't treat readers as naive or ignorant." – Los Angeles Times
"Fantagraphics' current series of handsome hardcovers makes familiar material fresh by focusing on individual artists... it's never been easier to appreciate the contributions of these iconic inkslingers." – Chicago Tribune
"These collections show comics in a pure, unadulterated form. Before the Superhero frenzy, before '60s cynicism, and just before the Comics Code Authority started trimming all the gory and sexy fun from the pages with their seal of approval." – Under the Radar
The great Carol Swain is back with a new solo graphic novel due out in August. Gast is her longest story to date and continues the body of work that led Time Out to dub her "the Raymond Carver of British comics."
In our downloadable excerpt, which consists of 3 brief chapters, a young woman in the Welsh countryside observes swallows building a nest in the eaves of a barn and returns home for dinner, where she learns of the suicide of a "rare bird" at a neighboring farm. Being an avid birdwatcher, she makes plans to investigate the mystery.
Jim Vadeboncoeur is one of our greatest comics historians and archivists, a mean publisher, whose ImageS magazine is a monument of good taste and curatorial excellence for the past 13 years, and a friend to Fantagraphics and consultant and contributor to many of our books, including Four Color Fear, Alex Toth's Setting the Standard, The Sincerest Form of Parody, Jack Davis: Drawing American Pop Culture, and the gigantic George Carlson retrospectivePerfect Nonsense. He is currently running a Kickstarter to print Issue #13, a full color one, and is less than $2,000 from his goal! So as Gary Groth would say, "He's a good guy, so send him money now."
It may be Spring but we have Autumn holidays on the mind, as we're putting the final touches on two new seasonal Peanuts gift books. Waiting for the Great Pumpkin presents some of Linus's greatest Halloween hopes and humiliations in the ol' pumpkin patch, and Snoopy's Thanksgiving finds everyone's favorite beagle and his feathered pal Woodstock facing the holiday with different degrees of disappointment and dread. Both books are comprised of classic strips by Charles M. Schulz in spiffy little square hardcovers. Look for Great Pumpkin in stores in September and Thanksgiving in October, or just pre-order now so you don't have to worry about forgetting!
This week's offerings from the digital realm of comics. Richard Sala's DIGITAL exclusive comic, Violenzia, is now on sale along with his other available titles in the Sala Bundle on comiXology. You get Delphine, The Hidden, Peculia, Peculia and the Groon Grove Vampires, and The Grave Robber's Daughter for only $24.99 saving you a total of 56%. That sounds like some dark magic but it's worth your time if the grim and gory are your kind of story.
The two Fantagraphics titles from Free Comic Book Day HAVE ARRIVED. More like Hip Hop Family FREE! This two-in-one comic by Ed Piskor was a hot item on May 3rd so a lot of you missed it. Fear no more, the digital edition is just as good AND *drumroll* just as free. For mature audiences only so please do a read through before passing it to kiddo next to you (did you know that kid also stole a cigarette from your glovebox?!). Something for kids of all ages is the Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck: "A Matter of Serious Gravity". This is merely to whet your appetite for more of Don Rosa's Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck series coming soon.
Meanwhile over at Sequential, they've rolled out the titles such as Today Is The Last Day of the Rest of Your Life by Ulli Lust. This too hot to handle title Ulli Lust's primal yet thoughtful graphic novel Today is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life about a 17 year old's trek through Europe, no money, no extra clothes is ready to read digitally at Sequential!
Universally considered one of the very finest examples of the new breed of graphic novels coming from Europe, Today Is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life won the 2011 Angoulême "Revelation" prize, and Fantagraphics is proud to bring it to English speaking readers.
Sequential also added to the Gilbert Hernandez train with Julio's Day,Amor Y Cohetes(along with Jaime) plus the best Abraham Lincoln biography you'll read pre-presidency by Noah Van Sciver: The Hypo.
PublisherGary Groth was the happy recipient of a chocolate cake this week as alt-weekly paper, The Stranger, let him know he is on a very short list of nominees for the Genius Award in Seattle. Gary's up against some fierce local competition in the literature category but he's held a guiding light for Fantagraphics and comics long enough for us to know he's a genius (read: crazy, mad genius). Fantagraphics' cartoonists Jim Woodring and Ellen Forney have had the privilege of being on the short list as well (Woodring won!) so Gary will have some good company no matter what.
To find out who the genius is you'll have to grab the summer issue of A&P-out June 11-to find out. The Stranger plans on hosting a series of interviews with Genius Award finalists at the Frye Art Museum in August and September, and the Genius Awards are October 18 at the Moore Theatre. They've promised other amazing performers and the Seattle Rock Orchestra! For free!
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