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P.S....
Written by Eric Reynolds | Filed under misc 1 Jan 2009 9:32 PM

This cover totally pissed me off when I was a kid and perhaps single-handedly introduced to me the notion of "false advertising":

John Byrne's Sunday Funnies
Written by Eric Reynolds | Filed under misc 1 Jan 2009 8:48 PM

This month I've mostly been home with my six-month-old daughter, which doesn't leave a lot of time for heavy reading (or watching, for that matter). Short attention span entertainment is where it's at. To the point where I've found myself doing something I haven't done in years: re-reading a bunch of old (mostly Marvel) comics from my youth that have been gathering dust in the basement for 20 years. Comics by John Byrne, Michael Golden, Bill Sienkiewicz, etc. I think I was partially inspired by Frank Santoro's effusive love for the comics he grew up with. He and I are about exactly the same age, I think, so a lot of what he writes about 1980s comics resonates with me even when I disagree with him. One of the 'runs' I just (partially) re-read was a true favorite of my childhood: John Byrne's Fantastic Four (from somewhere around issues 220-something through 293). I was surprised to enjoy these comics again (as long as I don't read most of the dialogue and just skim things rather briskly, anyway), because I don't think of Byrne with the same reverence I do of other mainstream creators of that era, even though at the time I thought he was the greatest. Yeah, he's got a total tin ear for female characters, his inking is pretty lousy, etc., but he also came closest to the high-adventure, soap-opera spirit of the original Lee-Kirby FFs as anyone ever has. He got the gist of what made the FF tick, in a way that kids could totally dig. Anyway, a few random things I particularly enjoyed from this run:

1) The Jerry Ordway inked issues in the 280s-290s. Seriously, these were very cool looking superhero comics for the era:

2) The John Byrne-lettered issue (#273):

Thought not actually credited, I am pretty certain Byrne himself lettered this issue of FF all by himself -- it harkens back to his old Doomsday Squad comics for Charlton. I like the weird 'indie' look of this issue, the way Byrne's lettering plays off his own art. Lettering is the most underrated and egregiously ignored skill in comics these days. You don't have to be a technical whiz like Chris WareJaime Hernandez has a wonderfully simple style that makes his pages much more organic wholes than they would be with, say, a font. 

3) Crazy Byrne pop culture references like this:

  

Byrne seemed to have a little more free-reign than a lot of writers/artists behind the Shooter Curtain of Marvel 1980s. Not that he used it as innovatively as, say, Miller and Mazzucchelli, but lately I've been enjoying goofy stuff like the panel above, depicting a scene of a Connecticut dinner party attended by Reed and Sue as their short-lived alter egos, "Reed and Sue Benjamin" (the most believable alter-ego since Superman put on glasses), with guests named "Hi", "Lois," "Walt," etc. This all no doubt flew completely over my 13-year-old head. 

Anyway, let this post be a loud rejoinder to the notion that we at Fantagraphics are a bunch of elitist jerks. I've been reading 1970s/1980s Fantastic Four, Moon Knight, Master of Kung-Fu, The 'Nam, and Defenders comics all month, fer crissakes.  

John Byrne is not a Neal Adams fan.
Written by Eric Reynolds | Filed under misc 1 Jan 2009 8:40 AM

From Fantastic Four #263 (1984):

P.S. If this post makes no sense to you, be grateful. 

UPDATE: My pal Robert Goodin pointed out to me that the name of the character referred to in this panel, a Mr. Alden Maas, is an anagram for Neal Adams. John Byrne was a good 20 years ahead of the curve of the science community when it came to dismissing a crackpot! I knew re-reading these comics would pay dividends.

Happy New Year to All
Written by Eric Reynolds | Filed under Fletcher Hanks 1 Jan 2009 8:37 AM

One. Hundred. BEASTS!
Written by Jacob Covey | Filed under Beastsart shows 31 Dec 2008 9:03 PM

San Francisco, you will be overwhelmed. Details at the Beasts blog.

GRSFlist2.jpg

25% off sale - FINAL HOURS!
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under sales specials 31 Dec 2008 4:17 PM

Oh my word, you have just a few hours left to get in your order and save 25% by using the coupon code 25OFF08, plus get free standard U.S. shipping! End your year right: with an orgy of comics shopping! Click here for more details about the sale.

Daily links: 12/31/08
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Zippy the PinheadMichael KuppermanLove and RocketsLos Bros HernandezJohn PhamBeasts 31 Dec 2008 1:32 PM

The Seattle Times casts a well-deserved spotlight on the often-overlooked writing in Beasts! Book 1 and Book 2

The Daily Blog's "10 for '08" includes Love and Rockets: New Stories #1 by the Hernandez Brothers

Comic Book Resources, counting down the "Best 100 Comics of 2008," slots in Sublife Vol. 1 by John Pham at #72 and Tales Designed to Thrizzle by Michael Kupperman at #70 (with #60-1 still TBA)

The Beat presents the Metro's R. Sikoryak's Frank Miller's Archie

The Stranger points out a recent in-strip visit to Seattle by Zippy the Pinhead

New Comics Day 1/2/09
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under new releasesNew Comics DayBeasts 31 Dec 2008 10:04 AM
Note that new comics are scheduled to arrive in comic shops on Friday this week, rather than the traditional Wednesday, due to the holiday. From us you can expect the new softcover edition of Beasts! Book 1 -- as always, you can find more info and previews of the book at the link.
Daily links: 12/30/08
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under reviewsLilli CarréJohn PhamBeasts 30 Dec 2008 1:40 PM

A shorty today:

The Oregonian presents excerpts from Beasts! Book 2

Angry Asian Man looks at John Pham's Sublife Vol. 1

• Here's a Lilli Carré illustration in The Chicago Reader (hat tip: Paul Hornschemeier)

Now in stock: Beasts! Book 1 (Softcover Edition)
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under new releasesBeasts 30 Dec 2008 11:17 AM

Beasts! Book 1 - Softcover Edition

Beasts! Book 1 (Softcover Edition)
By various artists; curated by Jacob Covey

After selling out two hardcover editions, Beasts! returns in a beautiful new softcover edition. Beasts! is a classic mythological menagerie, comprised only of creatures that were thought at one time to actually exist, depicted by about a hundred of the most acclaimed artists and cartoonists coming from the most avant-garde ambits of the art world. The Beasts project has fired the imaginations of luminaries such as Tony Millionaire, Souther Salazar, Jeff Soto, Dave Cooper, Tim Biskup, Seonna Hong, Jeremy Fish, James Jean, and Jay Ryan, who will present never-before-seen art completely original to this book, superbly laid out in breathtaking, full-color two-page spreads. Beasts! collects many of the best visual artists from the worlds of comics, skateboarding, rock graphics, science-fiction, children's books, commercial and fine art. The book is conceived and designed by Jacob Covey, lead art director for Fantagraphics (Dennis the Menace, Popeye, Willie & Joe, etc.) and a well-regarded designer and artist in his own right in the Northwest rock and arts community. Other contributors include: Amanda Visell, Anders Nilsen, Andrew Brandou, Art Chantry, Brian Ralph, Bwana Spoons, Dave Cooper, Deth P. Sun, Esther Pearl Watson, Jason, Jesse LeDoux, Johnny Ryan, Jordan Crane, Keith Shore, Little Friends of Printmaking, Marc Bell, Martin Cendreda, Martin Ontiveros, Mat Brinkman, R. Kikuo Johnson, Richard Sala, Sammy Harkham, Seonna Hong, Stan Sakai, S. britt, Stella Im Hultberg, Steven Weissman, Tom Gauld, Tyler Stout and many more.

200-page full-color 8" x 8" softcover • $24.99
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