Today's hot batch of Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: "...[T]he furtive griminess that Jason wrings from his stock character designs is impressive to behold... [Y]ou'll enjoy any number of his typical moments of storytelling grace..." - otherwise Tom Spurgeon is unfortunately somewhat sparing in praise for Jason's Low Moon at The Comics Reporter
• Review: "Miss [Lasko-Gross]' previous book, Escape from 'Special,' launched her fearless plan to produce an autobiographical trilogy. [A] Mess [of Everything]tackles the high-school years, which involve mean girls, mean boys and plenty of awkward social situations. Each anecdote is super-short with cringeworthy dialogue that you'll identify with and will remind you of how fortunate you are to have lived through that rough period." - Whitney Matheson, "Three Graphic Novels You Should Read Immediately," USA Today Pop Candy
• Review: "I’ve read some crazy comix, and while he won’t scare you under the sheets like S. Clay Wilson, [John] Kerschbaum can be as raw as R. Crumb, Peter Bagge, and [Johnny] Ryan, who may be his closest comix cousins... No fan of adult funny animal comics (like Fritz the Cat) will want to miss Petey & Pussy... Petey & Pussy is some funny shit." - Leroy Douresseaux, Comic Book Bin
• Plug: "Fantagraphics is shortly to publish a new edition of Prince Valiant, Hal Foster's legendary, Golden Age comic strip of knights, swashbuckling, romance and chivalry... Foster's artwork is amazing. Foster was an exceptional talent in an era of exceptional talents." - OK Erok
• Plug: "The fifth issue of Tales Designed to Thrizzle is in and it's even weirder than the last one. See aliens give a bloke sexy lady legs! Twain plus Einstein plus enraged badger! Hobo fashion! If you've not read any of Michael Kupperman's stuff before now's yer chance..." - Gosh! Comics
Because paraphrasing takes time, here's the scoop ripped straight from Paul's blog, where you should go to see the print in higher-res:
Raising awareness one high five at a time: featuring the mouthless, deity-esque Huge Suit with Mister Hidden (who will join Huge Suit in the pages of the upcoming All and Sundry collection [which just went to the printer - Ed.]).
I'll be signing this print (and books) when I'm at Brooklyn's own Desert Island on June 5th, prior to joining the throngs of cartoon and comics enthusiasts at MoCCA. Desert Island has the print available for pre-order and has limited it to an edition of forty, so have at it.
Boing Boing reports that a fairly substantial collection of original art from Humbug is now up for auction. It's well worth checking out just for the images, even if you're not Uncle or Aunt Moneybags.
Of course, you can see more original Humbug art in our Flickr sets here and here.
The ever-tech-savvy Strand Bookstore has posted video of last night's event with Miss Lasko-Gross and Gabrielle Bell. Just click the link in the embedded player below; if some time has passed and the link isn't on the main screen, click the "Highlights" tab and scroll for it there -- or just head over to the Strand website to watch.
[Embedded player removed because it was auto-playing a later live event. Please view the video at the link above.]
We sent this press release out this morning, and I thought I should share it with Flog readers as well:
FANTAGRAPHICS BOOKS ANNOUNCES THE ACQUISITION OF THIS SIDE OF JORDAN, A NOVEL BY MONTE SCHULZ
THIS SIDE OF JORDAN, by MONTE SCHULZ, will be unveiled at the 2009 Book Expo America in New York City, May 29-31, with an appearance by the author on Saturday, May 30, at 2:30PM in the Autographing Area.
SEATTLE, WA, MAY 20, 2009 --- This September, Fantagraphics Books is proud to publish This Side of Jordan, by Monte Schulz, only the second original prose novel (following 2007's Laura Warholic by Alexander Theroux) in the company's 33-year history.
This Side of Jordan is a tapestry of American life in the summer before the economic crash of 1929, and a quintessential novel of the rural Midwest offered unexpectedly as a crime thriller. Full of American landscapes and totems, images and notions, foibles and fables, beasts and the blessed, it follows the experiences of 19-year-old tubercular farm boy Alvin Pendergast. The novel begins with an ill-fated dance marathon and a chance encounter with a slick con artist and gangster named Chester Burke. Fearing relapse of his consumption and a return to the sanitarium that had already stolen a year of his life, Alvin imprudently follows Chester across the Mississippi River only to enter a vortex of criminal violence and deceit.
With Alvin in tow, Chester's insouciant disregard for life serves him well during a series of bank robberies and senseless murders, the sociopathic gangster assuming the role of a dark angel on Judgment Day, cleansing the scrolls of those whose sad fortune draws them across his path. Too ill to flee, too morally weak to object, Alvin resigns himself to what seems like certain doom. Fortunately, Alvin finds another companion on the road, a lonely, eccentric, and grandiloquent dwarf named Rascal, whose own infirmity binds their destinies together. Eventually, the young farm boy must make a decision: stick with Chester, who will surely kill him at the slightest hint of betrayal, or muster the courage to stake his life on faith in Rascal's clever plan to save them both.
Monte Schulz is the son of Charles M. Schulz, creator of Peanuts, and in This Side of Jordan one of his ambitions was to recreate the time of his mother's and father's Jazz Age childhood, when America was making the irresistible transition from rural to urban life.
"When I was in my early twenties, and Dad saw that I was developing an interest in writing, he showed me some of the beautiful passages of Thomas Wolfe and John Steinbeck, and lent me his copies of Complete Poems by Carl Sandburg and Edgar Lee Masters' Spoon River Anthology, and Joan Didion's Slouching Towards Bethlehem. He told me the writer's gift is to be able to express for people certain ideas and emotions they cannot express for themselves," says Schulz.
Told in the voice of a lost generation hurtling toward the Great Depression, This Side of Jordan evokes crowded Main Streets and tourist camps, miles of cornfields, rural churches and musty parlors, with the momentum of a freight train, but delivered in the seductive, rhythmic tradition of Southern lyricism reminiscent of Flannery O'Connor and Truman Capote.
Fantagraphics publisher Gary Groth said he was leery when Schulz asked him to read the novel "because, after all, how does the publisher of The Complete Peanuts reject a novel by Charles Schulz's son?" After reading it, however, he was "bowled over by the beauty of the prose and Monte's command over every aspect of the form. It isn't hyperbolic to say that Monte is as good a writer as his father is a cartoonist. That's why we wanted to publish it."
This Side of Jordan is Schulz's second novel. His first, Down by the River, was published by Viking in 1991. Library Journal raved that it compared to Stand by Me and Twin Peaks, and seemed "ready-made for Hollywood." He spent ten years writing Crossing Eden, from which This Side Of Jordan is drawn as the first of three interconnected novels; the second and third, Fields of Eden and The Big Town, will be published in 2010 and 2011. This Side of Jordan will be published as a jacketed hardcover this September by Fantagraphics Books, with a painted cover by noted cartoonist Al Columbia. Schulz will make his first public appearance promoting the novel at the 2009 Book Expo America, signing galleys on Saturday, May 30, at 2:30PM in the convention's autographing area. A West Coast tour will follow in the Fall (dates and locations t.b.a.).
Schulz received his M.A. in American Studies from the University of California at Santa Barbara. He lives in Northern California.
• News: Publishers Weekly has the scoop on RIP, MD, a new series of youth-oriented graphic novels we plan to start publishing next year in collaboration with animation studio Lincoln Butterfield
• Review: "[Miss] Lasko-Gross... us[es] a dark and biting humor that both self-deprecates and pokes fun at alterna-teens along the way... The art pulls everything together wonderfully, ...and each section receives a beautiful splash page or panel with an embedded title to welcome you into the vignette... Though Fantagraphics has billed A Mess of Everything as the second part of a trilogy, it stands well alone for new readers of Lasko-Gross’ work, like myself, who want to skip straight to the unique uneasiness of the teen problems we carry through adulthood. [Grade] 8/10" - Zane Austin Grant, PopMatters
• Review: "This lovingly restored collection of Humbug's five [sic - it's eleven] issues is accompanied by essays, interviews and annotations, providing a glimpse into what Mad had wrought." - Richard Pachter, The Miami Herald
• Plug: Socio-political blog Third Rate in the Tropics, prefacing a video examining the Israeli/Palestinian divide, says "One of the best works I've ever come across on the topic is Palestine, a graphic novel by Joe Sacco."
Tomorrow night: if you're in the Chicago area come out for The Show 'n Tell Show, a rare chance for designers and artists to get together (in front of an audience) and talk about their processes, successes, and failures. I'll be one of those failures, mainly presenting an evolution of the dozens of stages a couple of my books (especially the covers) went through before reaching their final versions.
Opening reception/event: Thursday, May 21, 7:00-9:00pm Free and open to the public
The Cartoon Art Museum presents The Brinkley Girls, a celebration of one of the most popular cartoonists of the early 20th century, Nell Brinkley. This retrospective, guest-curated by comics herstorian Trina Robbins, showcases over 30 lavishly illustrated newspaper tearsheets, magazine illustrations, original artworks and other highlights from Robbins's personal collection.
Details regarding the opening reception and a special presentation by Trina Robbins will be announced shortly.
About Nell Brinkley:
For over thirty years Nell Brinkley's beautiful girls waltzed, vamped and shimmied their way through the pages of William Randolph Hearst's newspapers, captivating the American public with their innocent sexuality.
In 1907, at the tender age of 22, Nell Brinkley came to New York to draw for the Hearst syndicate. Within a year, she had become a household name. Flo Ziegfeld dressed his dancers as "Brinkley Girls" in the Ziegfeld Follies. Three popular songs were written about her. Women, aspiring to the masses of curly hair with which Nell adorned her fetching and idealized creations, could buy Nell Brinkley Hair Curlers for ten cents a card. Young girls cut out and saved her drawings, copied them, colored them, and pasted them in scrapbooks.
Nell Brinkley widened her scope to include pen and ink depictions of working women. Brinkley used her fame to campaign for better working conditions and higher pay for women who had joined in the war effort, and who were suffering economic and social dislocation due to acting on their patriotism. Unlike most of her contemporaries, she drew women of different races and cultures.
Today, except for a small group of avid collectors, she is unjustly forgotten.
But no longer. The Fantagraphics Books publication The Brinkley Girls: The Best of Nell Brinkley's Cartoons from 1913-1940 collects Brinkley's exquisitely colored full page art from 1913 to 1940. Here are her earliest silent movie serial-inspired adventure series, "Golden Eyes and Her Hero, Bill;" her almost too romantic series, "Betty and Billy and Their Love Through the Ages;" her snappy flapper comics from the 1920s; her 1937 pulp magazine-inspired "Heroines of Today." Included are photos of Nell, reproductions of her hitherto unpublished paintings, and an informative introduction by the book‚s editor, Trina Robbins.
Retired cartoonist and current comics historian Trina Robbins has been writing graphic novels, comics, and books for over 30 years. Her subjects have ranged from Wonder Woman and the Powerpuff Girls to her own teenage superheroine, GoGirl!, and from women cartoonists and superheroines to women who kill. She lives in a moldering 103 year old house in San Francisco with her cats, shoes, and dust bunnies.