Every year during the baseball season, when the All-Star teams are announced, some beat writer will put together a team of non All-Stars that could potentially rival the quality of the actual All-Stars. To that end, here's my non-Eisner Nominee Fanta Heavy Hitter starting line-up for 2009, with their non-nominated 2008 books in paretheses:
Written by Archie Goodwin and drawn by such luminaries as Frank Frazetta, Wally Wood, John Severin, Alex Toth, Al Williamson, Russ Heath, Reed Crandall, and Gene Colan, Blazing Combat was originally published by independent comics publisher James Warren in 1965 and ’66. Following in the tradition of Harvey Kurtzman’s Two-Fisted Tales and Frontline Combat, Goodwin’s stories reflected the human realities and personal costs of war rather than exploiting the clichés of the traditional men’s adventure genre. They were among the best comics stories about war ever published.
Blazing Combat ended after its fourth issue when military post exchanges refused to sell the title due to their perception that it was an anti-war comic. Their hostility was fueled by the depiction of the then-current Vietnam War, especially a story entitled “Landscape,” which follows the thoughts of a simple Vietnamese peasant rice-farmer who pays the ultimate price simply for living where he does — and which was considered anti-war agitprop by the more hawkish members of the business community.
Writer Archie Goodwin and the original publisher James Warren discuss the death of Blazing Combat and market censorship as well as the creative gestation of the series in exclusive interviews.
Thrizzle #5 is the Old People's issue, dedicated to the Greatiest Generations! Aliens give an innocent man sexy woman's legs, and Twain and Einstein have many, many adventures, including a journey through multiple dreamscapes, a superhero/private eye caper, and a meeting with an enraged badger. Plus noir arts & crafts, hobo fashions, the birth of the Monkees and other old-timey favorites.
• Plug: In an interview with Newsarama, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Junot Diaz says "I adore that Richard Sala miniseries Delphine that he's putting out through Fantagraphics" (new issue out this summer!)
• List/reviews: The Metabunker names and reviews their selections for the best comics of 2008, including Explainers by Jules Feiffer ("After half a century, Jules Feiffer’s classic Village Voice strips read at once as a succinct period portrait and an eloquent portrayal of everyday human affairs at any time... His nervous line captures well both the specific anxieties of the time, and the more general ones of simply being alive, with empathy and humour, while his unadorned, precise language captures with precision the way we continue to verbalise these problems to each other and ourselves, most of the time without making much sense. Revelatory and funny human white noise.") and Bottomless Belly Button by Dash Shaw ("...such a rare example of a young artist pulling out all the stops — as a young artist should — creating a vibrant cacophony of formal experiments and engrossing storytelling.")
Seattle's most festive monthly cultural encounter continues on April 11 from 6:00 to 9:00 PM. The Georgetown Second Saturday Art Attack features unexpected visual and performing arts presentations throughout the historic neighborhood. The public is invited to explore this charming, creative cultural enclave, which has been repeatedly selected by area publications as the city's most vibrant community.
Also on April 11, the Georgetown Second Saturday Art Attack welcomes the annual Honk Fest West featuring a lively array of unorthodox marching bands from 5 states and Canada. Over 20 bands will perform at Calamity Jane's, Smarty Pants, The Stables, Squid & Ink, in the streets and elsewhere. Don't miss this delightfully raucous event.
The Georgetown Second Saturday Art Attack is a monthly promotion of the Georgetown Merchants' Association. For more information contact GMA chair Kathy Nyland or Art Attack coordinator Larry Reid. Or visit: www.georgetownartattck.com.
I stumbled across a copy of Jeff Levine's old Destroy All Comics zine from 1996 and was re-reading a classic interview with Drawn & Quarterly Publisher Chris Oliveros, which contained the following exchange that was interesting to me insofar as it underscored just how much has changed in the world of comics in a little over a decade:
Q: Do you think it's possible that there could be more work in the future where the artist could sit and draw for two years, and release the entire story, or do you think just the way the industry is set up, and with history on the side of the periodical nature of comics...
Oliveros: I think the periodical approach is a good thing. In order for comics to be released in book form, where an author would take two or three or five years to complete this novel, the medium would have to attain this sort of popularity you have in general fiction, where you have fifty or a hundred thousand readers, and your best-sellers have five hundred thousand readers, where because you have this guaranteed income, you can get this advance from a publisher of, I don't know fifty or one hundred thousand dollars, and then you can afford to work on just your own project for a couple years. That obviously will never come to be in comics, so I think, for better or worse we're left with this set-up we have here, where the work is gradually being serialized, which in turn allows the author to collect a royalty on those issues. Without that, comics just wouldn't exist. Whether you like it or not, it allows these works to exist, and it allows the author to make some kind of living while the story is being produced.
Mind you, I would have agreed entirely with Oliveros at the time. And in a lot of ways, I think it still underscores a fundamental challenge facing publishers vis a vis the increasing inevitability of graphic novels supplanting periodicals as the chosen format.
This preliminary sketch for the cover of Mome Vol. 17 can be found on Flickr. Sez Nate: "Even though the image says vol. 16, Fantagraphics says that it must be used (if it is) for vol. 17...the story in that volume will connect to the cover image."
The nominees for the 2009 Eisner Awards have been announced and we are pleased to report that our publications have received 7 nominations in various categories. To celebrate, for a limited time we're offering 15% off nominated titles -- click here to browse and buy! And the nominees are:
Best Short Story • "Glenn Ganges in 'Pulverize,'" by Kevin Huizenga, in Ganges #2