Due to the somewhat obsessive nature of my link gathering, I had the idea to start calling these posts "Daily OCD: Online Commentary & Diversions." What do you think, readers? Too cutesy-poo? Offensive to sufferers of real OCD?
• List: The Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon names "The Ten All-Time Best Long-Running Comics Series," with Love and Rockets Vol. I at #2 ("The best long-running and organic artistic achievement in serial comic book form... The Hernandez Brothers inspired and outworked a greatest generation of comics auteurs. Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez are each among that handful of artists who must be given serious consideration when talking about the best cartoonists working. In Love & Rockets each created fictional worlds for the ages and used them as a vehicle for enormous artistic development, lapping the majority of their peer group. One so inclined could argue with seriousness a top 25 of American graphic novels where 1/3 of the titles listed came from this series") and Acme Novelty Library at #8 ("...a mind-bending achievement... ACME punched right in the scrotum the notion that every issue of a single comic book series had to look like the others... Its primary value is that it presented [Chris] Ware's giant talent to enough of an audience to bring him thousands of hardcore fans... Ware can dream up a single-page that if it were the only thing he ever published people might still know his name")
• List: The A.V. Club's Noel Murray offers commentary on Spurge's list ("There’s no one definitive L&R storyline; it’s just story after amazing story, accumulating over the past three decades like personal correspondence. [...] Ware... turn[ed] comic books into a kind of readable sculpture...") and lobbies for the inclusion of Johnny Ryan's Angry Youth Comix
• Review: "Miss Lasko-Gross' self-caricature in her autobio stories [in A Mess of Everything] is an interesting mash-up of a typical teen with low self-esteem and that of an indignant outsider determined to make her increasingly confident voice heard -- and loudly. [...] Lasko-Gross' greatest strengths as an artist are her character design, gesture and use of body language. It's the way she stages her characters that makes looking at each page interesting... I love the touch of the exaggerated and the grotesque that she injects into her drawings, distorting faces and bodies to reflect emotional tumult." - Rob Clough
• Review: "Formerly-suppressed, entirely classic, these stories [in Blazing Combat] are all solid examples of comic storytelling and craftsmanship... [T]he teams here make things look too easy. Not surprising since we’re talking about master artists like Toth, Frazetta, Severin, Crandall and others. The stories have all aged surprisingly well... Highly recommended..." - Matt Maxwell, Robot 6
• Events: Portland, your Free Comic Book Day cup runneth over, as Andrice Arp and the other contributors to the excellent free anthology comic Bird Hurdler will be appearing at various locations throughout town -- Andrice has the full itinerary and details on her blog
The kids search for safe ground in this week's installment of Steven Weissman's in-progress pages from "Blue Jay," an epic 51-page story from Chocolate Cheeks, the next collection of the Yikes! gang's adventures....
And in our current 5-day chunk of Martin Kellerman's Rocky, we take a break from the daily strips to present a story running 4 full pages, starting yesterday and continuing through Tuesday of next week. Be sure to come back Tuesday to catch the full story before it disappears!
• Review: "If war is hell, Blazing Combat is heaven. ...[A]lthough the subject matter is bleak, the presentation it’s been given is beautiful. This is as good as war comics get." - Rod Lott, Bookgasm
• Review: "Adam Grano’s bold cover design is the perfect complement to Fantagraphics’ comprehensive collection of [Blazing Combat]... It’s remarkable how little these stories have aged, as many cover thematic ground that resonates to this day." - Kevin Church
• Review: "Anders Nilsen's comics have the rare power to generate queasy laughter... Random cruelty, futility, ennui, and an implied assault on human complacency are the order of the day [in Monologues for Calculating the Density of Black Holes]. When Nilsen wants you to feel his boredom, or taunt you for your own, he's merciless... Nilsen is a relentlessly interesting comics creator. ...I'm looking forward to his next performance in the wasteland." - Byron Kerman, PLAYBACK:stl
• Review: "The Lagoon is a peculiar book, continually confounding the reader's expectations. It starts out in many ways like a mystery or thriller novel does... But as the book progresses, it turns into a very different beast (no pun intended); a hidden romance, a story about longings, and family relationships... [T]his is a story that feels lush and moody in a way that comics often try to be but rarely succeed... The art in The Lagoon is a beautiful, lush, textured affair from [Lilli] Carré. It's almost like a cross between Charles Burns and Craig Thompson... The Lagoon is a beautiful graphic novel, ...a very solid, well-crafted book, and whatever Carré’s next project is, it’ll be one to keep an eye out for." - Greg McElhatton, Read About Comics
• Review: "I love love love Unlovable... The cover has glitter, too. LOVE it!... [Tammy] Pierce's earnest attempts to fit in at school and with her friends [are] funny and endearing, and sometimes embarrassing... Those days were such a pain in the ass, but they were the best." - MacKenzieLand
• Interview: SciFiPulse.Net talks to Greg Sadowski, editor of Supermen! The First Wave of Comic Book Heroes 1936-1941. Choice quote: "Some have written that I chose artists strictly for their name value, but the truth is that after you’ve gone through hundreds of golden age books, the same guys stop you time after time: Cole, Eisner, Everett, Fine, Hanks, Kirby, Wolverton, and every now and then a few others. That’s how they became 'name' artists in the first place - because they were the best."
• Things to see: Speaking of Flickr, here's a photo of Andrice Arp posing with a blowup of her cover art for Mome Vol. 15 (which I'm going to get up on the site here for pre-order real soon, I promise) from the good folks at Tugboat Press
We hope you've enjoyed our sneak peek at our Fall 2009 - Winter 2010 schedule of releases! Today's final excerpt from our latest book distributor's catalog, taking you through March of next year, includes Temperance, Cathy Malkasian's follow-up to the acclaimed Percy Gloom; The Search for Smilin' Ed by Kim Deitch; and Our Gang Vol. 4, continuing to collect Walt Kelly's 1940s kids' comic. (Note that all the info in this catalog is subject to change along the way to the books' release, including release dates, prices, cover art, book specs, etc.) Click here to download the PDF!
Rivaling even the masterful European cartoonist Jason, Nicolas Mahler makes some of the most patiently deadpan comics around. A lot of cartoonists make use of padded out comic timing but Mahler takes it into a meditative state with a resolute willingness (or perhaps wilfullness) to draw and redraw a scene ad infinitum. He has, for example, hundreds of three-panel comics focused flatly on a man in a recliner wrapped in an electric blanket and his conversations with an alcoholic mother, wherein the only things that ever seem to change are whether the television set is on or the mother is conscious. And where most any other cartoonist would come off as self-indulgent or tedious Mahler pulls off an advent calendar of mundane windows on the world that pay off every time.
Mahler is Austrian and very little of his work has been available in the States. Top Shelf smartly published "Van Helsing's Day Off" (one of my favorite comics), and one other book, "Lone Racer". Otherwise it's been a matter of mail ordering his books, very few of which are even in English, which is the only language I can read. Still, I've collected all those French and German comics just to admire them. While I've heard complaints about his scratchy, abstracted forms, I love the unique, personal quality of the work that demands the viewer pay attention but not over-analyze.
I am also a big fan of "silent" comics that work and Mahler (who calls them "mute comics") is one of the best artists around with silence. "Van Helsing" is a prime example. So is a gorgeous upcoming book that I've seen a little of-- seven stories of the sea, which may be the title (I forget). Hilarious in the way of other minimalist European cartoonists like Jason or Tom Gauld, the thrust of Mahler's work is the absurd and mundane humor in the everyday. I have no idea why those three cartoonists aren't more appreciated by American audiences. (Though Jason has built up a formidable following, I can't help but wonder why he's not on every comic fan's shelf.)
Recently Mahler launched a blog to promote his latest book from Reprodukt, a collection of illustrations of junk emails he's received (such as that up top of this post). Check it out, then go to the Mahler Museum site and poke about to discover all kinds of gems, most of which are even more valuable.
But if, like me, you're an English-language-only fan hoping for more Mahler stateside, the editors of MOME (Eric Reynolds and Gary Groth) have good news: the Fantagraphics anthology will be serializing comics from his Austrian "Madame Goldgruber" books. These stories are the bizarre auto-biographical strips about Mahler's experiences as a cartoonist justifying his work to the IRS-equivalent of Austria (I think), as well as vignettes of time spent at European comic conventions with other cartoonists (such as the also-great Killoffer). Translated by Kim Thompson, these will eventually be collected in book form by Fantagraphics.
Mahler is making comics with all the immediacy, humor, and existential fixation that I most love in the medium. Just the fact that his main character in the Flaschko strips is solely defined by an electric blanket is so succinct, smart, and absurd that I would hope everyone reading this post would buy his books on principle.
Now older but perhaps not so very much wiser, the hammer-wielding matriarch Luba has relocated to the United States of America, where she continues to contend not only, as an immigrant, with a brand new and not always welcoming culture but also her tempestuous extended family — her eccentric sisters Fritz and Petra, her nurturing but often disapproving cousin Ofelia, her many children ranging from the fully grown (Guadalupe and Doralis) to the latest brood sired by her husband Khamo (Casimira, Socorro, Joselito, and Conchita) — many of them in turn each with her own network of family members, lovers, and friends (including a number of other escapees from Palomar).
These “America” stories — over 100 of them, ranging from quick one-page blackout sketches to bona fide graphic novellas — were originally published in a number of different comics and reprinted in a trilogy of oversized paperbacks. Luba finally collects in one compact, affordable hardcover the entirety of these tales, showcasing Gilbert Hernandez’s wicked wit, great compassion, and uncanny understanding of how human beings love, squabble, and ultimately find a way to make it through this life. Tales of sex, violence and rock and roll rub elbows with stories of love, sensitivity, and understanding — and thanks to the miraculous alchemy of Hernandez’s peerless storytelling, what emerges is a coherent, exciting, funny portrait of one of the richest group of fictional characters ever to spring from a cartoonist’s mind.
NOTE: Stay tuned for the future announcement of the Collectors Edition of Luba, signed by Gilbert Hernandez, with a special binding, and strictly limited to 30 copies, which will most likely be a convention exclusive starting this summer!
Video store clerk Darla Vogel is fed up — fed up with her job, fed up with her wake-and-bake roommate, fed up with everything. But when one of the customers at Kwok's Video offers her some of his meat-flavored candies, Darla takes a plunge down the rabbit hole into a surreal world of throbbing, veinous buildings, compulsory public nudity, weird creatures, and more. If William Burroughs, Lewis Carroll, H.P. Lovecraft, and Harvey Kurtzman ever collaborated, the result might resemble Bob Fingerman's bold confection of words and pictures — the copiously illustrated prose novel Connective Tissue.
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