The third in Gilbert Hernandez’s line of original hardcovers featuring Love and Rockets’ “Fritz” in her guise as a Z-movie actress (the first two were Chance in Hell and The Troublemakers) is a trippy thriller that stars Fritz in no fewer than three roles.
A beautiful waitress (Fritz, of course) and her hospital nurse brother (also Fritz) visit their estranged father, a once successful but now retired writer (amazingly enough, also Fritz), in order to find out the true reason why their mother committed suicide. When dad’s health fails, the siblings are then more concerned with the money he might leave them.
The story weaves in and out of reality and hallucination and possibly back in forth in time, and to complicate things further, the sister is sexually obsessed with a mysterious man throughout the tale — or is it her brother (at one point posing as his sister so that he might gain his and her inheritance) that is so hot and bothered by this mystery stud? And that’s only the tip of the iceberg. There’s also a venture into ghost territory, with frauds bilking the gullible and Fritz’s character(s) right in the middle.
To complete the pulp gestalt, the book's cover illustration is a painting by Pulp Fiction artist Steven Martinez (he painted the portrait of Marsellus Wallace's wife Mia Wallace [Uma Thurman] that hangs in their house and which Vincent Vega [John Travolta] scrutinizes while he waits for Mia).
Houstonians, get ready for a double whammy with an amazing double bill: Jim Woodring and Marc Bell come together for Walpurgis Afternoon, a joint art show at Houston's Lawndale Art Center which opens on Friday, April 22, 2011. As part of the opening reception, Jim will give a demonstration of the mighty giant dip pen, only its second public performance and the first outside of Seattle. And the following day, Saturday, April 23, Jim and Marc appear at Domy Books in Houston for a comics signing from 6-8 PM. Unmissable!
Crickets #3 dedicates the bulk of its oversized pages to the first part of a new story, "Blood of the Virgin," which tracks the upside down world of exploitation movie making in Los Angeles in the early seventies through the eyes of an ambitious young film editor who catches a big break. Rounding at the issue are handful of short strips, letters and gags featuring Franz Kafka, boxing, Yale University, and pregnant wives. Crickets Lives!
Catching up on several days' worth of Online Commentary & Diversions:
• List/Plugs: In an article titled "Fantagraphics: The Greatest American Comics Publisher," GUY.com's Rob Gonsalves says "What the Criterion Collection is to DVDs, Fantagraphics is to comics. Any self-respecting collection of graphic novels, any library public or personal, needs to sport at least one Fantagraphics book," and recommends a nicely idiosyncratic top-20 list of our publications which includes some of our more obscure releases
• Review: "While there definitely were some hardships, Clemente’s life was as unique and joyful as his persona and ball playing skills were, and Wilfred Santiago’s 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente reflects this uniqueness and joy through its own unique retelling of Clemente’s life. [...] The simple joy conveyed in this book is universally appealing... Baseball is a game that is full of life and story, and every year the game blooms in the spring with the trees and flowers of the season. 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente celebrates life, and new life, as much as it does baseball." – Andy Frisk, Comic Book Bin
• Interview: Pittsburgh City Paper's David Davis, who says "In his new graphic novel 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente, the author of 2002's In My Darkest Hour uses Clemente's life to explore issues on and off the diamond. These include the thorny politics of Puerto Rico (statehood or commonwealth status?) as well as the racism Clemente faced in America as a dark-skinned Latino. The result is both a superhero cartoon and a lyrical time-machine, rendered in the regal black-gold-and-white of the Bucs' uni," has a brief Q&A with Wilfred Santiago: "I began my career working on superhero cartoons. That's the look I wanted to get -- somewhere between a cartoon and a painting. I wanted to get the camera right there with him and you're experiencing the action up close."
• Review: "Slavishly documenting and lavishly illustrating through band flyers and set lists and rare record sides and marvelous photography, along with first-person textual accounts, this strange, excited dialogue between misfits in America through bands, venues, zines, and lives and how it was all done punk and how punk was done. [...] Taking Punk to the Masses’ gallant bridging of universal punk history with our own in Ecotopia is a reason to celebrate. Your eyes can gnaw on decades of delicious artwork while you read and watch stories you may have heard of, but after this, will never forget." – Chris Estey, The KEXP Blog
• Review: "In Hate Annual #9, Buddy returns to Seattle to meet the dysfunctional family of his wife Lisa who he has never met despite having been with Lisa for close to 20 years. In a tension-filled 72 hours, Buddy is subjected to senile parents, criminals, and drug addicts. Each page is filled with the sardonic humor and high drama that are staples of Bagge's work. [...] Read this issue slowly because once you're done laughing your head off, you are sure to be sad that you'll have to wait another year to check in with one of the best characters of alternative comics." – Rip Ransley, Stray Riffs
• Review: "The particular fascination in this early work [The Arctic Marauder] is seeing one of the unique individual styles in cartooning at a formative stage. [...] As for the subject matter: It’s an example of parody that continues on when the thing parodied has long faded away. [...] Part of the appeal is feeling superior to an earlier age, and another part is being engaged in the traces of the earlier form embedded in the parody, which you would normally feel yourself too sophisticated to enjoy." – R. Fiore, The Comics Journal
• Plug: "At once a parody and a tribute to late 19th, early 20th century mystery/adventure Jules Verne-esque fiction, this gorgeous one-shot [The Arctic Marauder] is masterfully drawn scratchboard style, as to echo the woodcuts of the era. The result is sumptuous, and look at those elegant art-nouveau panels! [...] Fans of concentrated mysteries, steam-operated machines, dramatic adventures and over-the-top vilains should be all over this!" – 211 Bernard (Librairie Drawn & Quarterly)
• Review: "With Woodring’s skill, I never found myself confused, at least, more than you’re supposed to be. I’ve never read a statement by Woodring saying this, but I always got the impression he wanted you to work for the meaning behind his stories. Even if it’s not the case, I highly enjoy the process. In one graphic novel [Weathercraft], I got what I think may have been a love story, a treatise on spiritual enlightenment and sometimes just a whole lot of fun." – Joe Keatinge, Joe Keatinge's Comics & Stories
• Review: "Weathercraft... [is a]nother volume of nightmarishly beautiful wordless comics by the remarkable Mr. Woodring. Even for those accustomed to his work, there is page after page that makes you say, 'I’ve never seen anything like that before!' And then hide under your bed." – M. Ace, Irregular Orbit
• Interview:Book By Its Cover's Jen Rothman, who says "Ray Fenwick has created yet another masterpiece. His second book, Mascots, hit shelves in the beginning of this year and it’s quite a beauty. It’s filled with his signature style that mixes ornate hand lettering and imagery, creating amusing little narratives," has a Q&A with Ray: "I thought of the idea of mascots because they’re these outrageous, often ridiculous figures, but they’re symbolic of something else. The thing they’re there to represent isn’t ridiculous at all. I thought that was similar in a lot of ways to the work in the book."
• Interview:One Two One Two Microphone Check has a cultural Q&A with our own Kim Thompson: "There is no movie I love but would be embarrassed to talk about in a serious, intellectual conversation, because if I love it, it is worth talking about by definition. (I concede this could be taken as arrogant.) That said, I am mildly embarrassed at how much I actually love Love, Actually."
• Interview: Alex Dueben's great interview with Daniel Clowes at Comic Book Resources touches on Dan's design work for our upcoming series of Crockett Johnson's Barnaby collections: "It's probably the best written comic strip of all time. The artwork is disarmingly simple. It's the kind of thing that I would normally not be attracted to. He uses typography instead of hand lettering and very simple diagrammatic drawings, yet they are perfect, and work beautifully in a way that anything added to it would detract from it. My goal with the design of the book is to follow his very severe minimal design style and try to live up to that."
• Interview: At TCJ.com, Sean T. Collins also talks to Clowes: "I was always baffled that people who liked mainstream comics seemed to really gravitate towards [Eightball #22]. I couldn’t quite figure out what it was about that one, specifically, that made them like that so much."
• Commentary:Tim Kreider pens an essay on the state of the cartooning industry for TCJ.com: "When you’re young, it’s exciting and fun just to have your work published in the local alternative weekly, or posted online, “liked” and commented on and linked to; but eventually you turn forty and realize you’ve given away a career’s worth of labor for nothing. What’s happening in comics now is what happened in the music industry in the last decade and what’ll happen to publishing in the next. Soon Don DeLillo will be peddling T-shirts too."
• Commentary:Robot 6 polled Gilbert Hernandez for their weekly "What Are You Reading?" feature: "The new comics I always enjoy are by R. Crumb, Dan Clowes, Richard Sala and Charles Burns. I haven’t seen Burns’ and Sala’s new books yet but I did read The Bible by Crumb, which I found tedious only because of the subject matter and Wilson by Clowes. That was hard to get through because the protagonist is so supremely hateful. Well executed, though."
The Comics Reporter broke the news that the next volume of Mome, number 22, will be the last. CR's Tom Spurgeon commented and spoke to Mome editor Eric Reynolds about ending the long-running anthology; Rob Clough talked to Eric at TCJ.com; and Sean T. Collins comments at Robot 6. We thank the three of them and everyone else who has been a proponent of the series. I for one will miss the publication and abhor the vacuum its departure will leave, but look forward to Eric's future editorial efforts and future work from Mome's long list of contributors.
Is this a panel from Ganges #4? Kevin Huizenga said that his preceding, now removed post specifically was not, so by inference… ? Or maybe it's a panel from something older that I can't immediately identify, which Kevin decided to post for his own inscrutable reasons. Good ol' Kevin "No Context" Huizenga. Sigh. Anyway, cool panel.
Presenting a brand new book from our good friends at Rosebud Archives: Skippy Vs. the Mob. "This important new book collects, for the first time, the only continuity Percy Crosby ever drew in his widely-syndicated Skippy comics, and features a comprehensive essay by the artist’s courageous daughter, chronicling an astonishing history of fraud, persecution, and betrayal. Here, for the first time, is a story ripped from the headlines — a spiraling saga that grew far too large for one man to handle." Rosebud's Jonathan Barli showed me a copy at the MoCCA fest last weekend and it is a beautifully produced package. Read more about the book and order your copy here. (And don't forget, you can order many Rosebud Archives products here on our website.)
Can Johnny Ryan's crack commando squad rescue a commercial pitch-man from the clutches of Satan's underworld? Find out at Vice Magazine. (And see more of Johnny's Vice comics in the new collection Take a Joke!)
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