• List:Time Out New York names the "50 Funniest New Yorkers," and coming in at #16: "Cartoonist Michael Kupperman transports his readers to another world altogether. In the recurring comic Tales Designed to Thrizzle and book-length parody Mark Twain's Autobiography 1910–2010, Kupperman perverts antiquated cultural signifiers into a jungle of foreplay robots, nut bras and absurd character concoctions such as the Mannister (a man whose superpower is turning into a bannister). Even in his live appearances — during which he occasionally appears as Twain — Kupperman has the same sort of folksy okey-doke quality as his pulpy '50s source material; but make no mistake, there's an uncanny comedy brain teeming underneath his cool exterior." – Matthew Love
• Review: "...Swarte’s work does have that free-wheeling and even irreverent feel that you’ll find in the best work of Gilbert Sheldon and Robert Crumb. Chris Ware writes the introduction to this book, and he does a good job of setting up the collection. As he points out, Is That All There Is?contains most of Swarte’s work, which has me wondering what comics were left out, and why. Regardless, this is an incredible collection that spans Swarte’s career from the early 1970s to today." – Derek Parker Royal, Ph.D.
• Review: "Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, the marquee team of the early days of comics, pioneered the romance genre in 1947 with this title, and, as you'd expect from the creators of Captain America, Young Romance wasn't bad. It had its fair share of melodramatic tear-jerkers, and occasional forays into misogyny (stupid women who need a man to teach them how to live), but Simon & Kirby also flirted with social issues like class distinctions and religious conflicts. And they didn't restrict themselves to small towns or big cities, like most romance stories, finding romance out West or in the Korean War. Young Romance offers 21 of the best of Simon & Kirby's romance stories, and that's probably just the right amount." – Andrew A. Smith, Scripps Howard News Service
• Analysis: At The Hooded Utilitarian, Robert Stanley Martin presents "one comics critic’s analysis and judgments of [Robert] Crumb’s career. I hope it’s of more interest than a pronouncement that his work is a single big project and one should just read all of it. Breaking his work down into distinct periods does, I think, help one to get a better handle on Crumb, no matter what one’s opinion of this or that individual effort. I certainly don’t think this essay is the last word. With Crumb, no essay ever is."
"They were all there, the pimps, the fags, the whores, the curious, the alcoholic, the weird of the late ’50s... blues lovers, Canadian bikers, thrill seekers, junkies, insomniacs, hepcats...” So begins “Down at the Kitty Kat,” one of the 20-plus never-before-collected memoirs and yarns by Spain Rodriguez, one of the original gang of Zap Comix provocateurs.
Although he’s best known for his two-fisted tales of the chopper-riding Trashman, Spain’s blunt graphic style and uncompromising gift for caricature, rendered in eye-punishing slabs of black and white, work equally well for more subtle fare — such as these memoirs of his misspent youth.
Cruisin’ with the Hound ranges from Spain’s days as an innocent young churchgoer to his time as a member of the Road Vultures motorcycle gang, with stops along the way for his discoveries of science fiction and other, more adult pursuits (“The Birth of Porn”) — as well as the “The Education of an Underground Cartoonist,” describing his journey from a pimply Captain Marvel-reading scribbler to his arrival as a professional artist.
But the heart of this collection is a cycle of stories (originally published in the acclaimed Blab! magazine) set during Spain’s teenage days in the 1950s, often featuring the doomed, dot-eyed Fred Tooté, a wild, flaky character in whose company some of his wildest escapades occurred.
Raunchy, hilarious, and often violent as hell, Cruisin’ with the Hound is an unsentimentally nostalgic trip to half a century ago — the anti- Happy Days, set to a true rock ’n’ roll beat.
• Review: "Here’s the thing about Pogo. There’s never been anything like it. It’s utterly unique and individual in the same fashion that Peanuts, or Calvin and Hobbes or Little Nemo or any other of the great 20th century comic strips are.... It’s a much weirder strip than I think most people give it credit for and that is certainly something worth both recognizing and admiring." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "I highly recommend anyone who has an interest in LGBT issues to pick up Wandering Son, regardless of whether or not you read a lot of manga. It is, in many ways, distinctly Japanese, but its straightforward and honest deception of gender issues is rare in any medium, and it shines equally as a coming-of-age tale, especially for anyone who's ever felt they never quite fit in." – Anne Lee, Chic Pixel
• Review: "Prior to 1947, romance existed in comics but primarily as the humorous teenage variety for young readers, typified by the gang from Riverdale in Archie Comics. Simon and Kirby re-imagined the concept with mature stories aimed at adults, primarily women.... Fantagraphics recently collected many of these stories in the handsome hardcover Young Romance: The Best of Simon & Kirby's Romance Comics. Within the true artistic mastery of Kirby becomes evident. The same man, well known at the time for his bombastic stories, delivers these subtle, very human tales of angst, betrayal, and of course love. The volume's essays place these tales within the proper historical context. The beautiful reproductions were completely restored and unlike some of the Marvel Kirby reprints, nothing was recolored." – Rick Klaw, The SF Site: Nexus Graphica
• Interview:Drew Friedman writes us: "I wanted to share. This is the new online issue of INK, SVA's Student run comics mag, featuring an interview with me, also an article about WFMU radio's connection to cartoonists. This is pretty impressive I think. Enjoy!"
• Interview:Robot 6's Tim O'Shea has a Q&A with Kevin Huizenga: "Seems to me like you’re doing something wrong as a writer if you’re not affected or surprised by your own work. But it’s not something to talk about. You’re not supposed to laugh at your own jokes. The author at his desk, deeply moved by his own work is a pretty funny image."
• Scene: "In the exhibition, titled, 'Modern Cartoonist: The Art of Daniel Clowes,' we find the artist revealing the weird underbelly of America through quick and methodical strokes of a pen. Furrowed brows, sneers, and nervous beads of sweat accompany many of Clowes' odes to anxiety, causing us to acknowledge the strange and desperately sad state of his characters, who are striving to fit in." – Kathleen Massara, The Huffington Post
Finally back in print, Any Similarity... is a collection of Drew Friedman’s earliest comic strips and illustrations, featuring his most obsessively stippled black-and-white panels and his most hilarious wise-guy takes on the stars and demi-stars and never-quite-stars of that swamp we like to call showbiz.
In these strips, many of them written by his brother Josh Alan Friedman (both are sons of the legendary Bruce Jay Friedman: humor genes will tell!), the artist works out his obsession with such celebrities as Jim Nabors, Frank Sinatra Jr., Joe Franklin, Bob Hope, Andy Griffith... and Ed Wood, Jr. film star Tor Johnson, whom Friedman actually catapulted back into some sort of semi-fame when these strips were first published in the 1980s.
Friedman is the kind of pop-culture aficionado whose Three Stooges worship is focused not on Moe, Larry or Curly but on Shemp (whose unmistakable mug graces the new cover of this edition), and whose teasing adoration can often be mistaken for mockery or contempt. But who but a worshipful fan would lavish quite so many dots on the loving delineation of these greats’ every pimple and wrinkle?
“I stand in awe of Drew Friedman’s technique and the certain flavor of sad old America he captures.” – R. Crumb
Today's (and yesterday's when it was slow) Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: "The Dutch artist and designer Joost Swarte has a tremendous reputation among cartoon-art aficionados, given his tiny body of comics work. The answer to the title of his 40-year retrospective, Is That All There Is?, is: 'Pretty much, yeah.'... Plot is beside the point. Swarte is more concerned with formal purity, and with making the deep structures of cartooning visible. He pares his art to mechanical, hard-edged vectors and curves: caricature triple-distilled into symbolic visual shorthand, with every line canted just so. His geometrically precise, nearly architectural drawings are the bridge between the Tintin creator Hergé and contemporary artists like Chris Ware, who wrote this volume’s foreword." – Douglas Wolk, The New York Times
• Review: "Now we're talkin'! The first two volumes in Fantagraphics' Steve Ditko Archives (edited by Blake Bell) were rewarding collections of the offbeat auteur's early work, and among the best archival books of horror comics published in the last several years. But in volume 3, a.k.a. Mysterious Traveler, we see Ditko's lunacy reach its full maturation... The bold dynamism and moody linework that would characterize Ditko's Spider-Man and Dr. Strange work just a few years later, as well as his horror tales for Creepy and Eerie, is in evident throughout.... Volume 3 is essential for classic horror comics fans, and further cements Ditko's reputation as an artist without peer." – Joseph McCabe, FearNet
• Review: "Kevin Avery has compiled an incredibly thorough account of one of folk and rock music’s most important critics of the 20th Century: Paul Nelson. Avery reveals Paul Nelson as not just a music critic, but also a true writer who loved his subject matter possibly more than anything else. After reading, I felt that I knew more about Nelson than simply his life’s accomplishments—I knew him as the man he was: an observer who secluded himself with his books, film and music." – SLUG Magazine
• Review: "Madcap university mystery. Girl detective Judy Drood, with the hapless Kasper Keene, investigates the disappearances of girls on campus. Beautiful young women (some dressed like pirates), monstrous old men (some of them professors), photography, a puppet, and a misguided quest for eternal youth all figure in.... The dark edge in Sala’s other work is fully expressed here [in Mad Night]. The book is incredibly violent (though the dark, woodcut-like art makes it feel absurd). Here’s a body count by how victims meet their end..." – Gene Ambaum, The Unshelved Book Club
• Plug: "Published three years ago in an indie porn comic, Josh Simmons’ 'Cockbone' remains a high water mark for today’s horror comic.... The Furry Trap will collect that story, along with ten others being described by the publisher as 'hard-edged horror.' You already know if you can handle this stuff, so if you can, it’s time to start counting days. Eli is, most definitely, coming." – Tucker Stone, "Flavorpill's 10 Most Anticipated Comics Releases, April-July 2012"
• Plug: "While it’s a bit of an exaggeration to call Dal Tokyo Panter’s lost masterpiece, it certainly hasn’t been the easiest thing to come by. That’s to be the case for anything that’s serialized over the course of multiple years, multiple publications, and two different continents. Thankfully, the entire book has finally found a home at Fantagraphics, and those of us without access to early-’80s copies of the LA Reader can finally experience 'a future Mars that is terraformed by Texan and Japanese workers' as only Gary Panter — one of the most influential cartoonists alive — can provide. For some of us, this book has been a long time coming." – Tucker Stone, "Flavorpill's 10 Most Anticipated Comics Releases, April-July 2012"
• Interview (Audio): Yesterday's Pat Thomas radio guest spot to discuss and spin Listen, Whitey! on The Hear and Now on Berkeley's listener-powered KPFA can be streamed from their website for another couple of weeks
• Analysis (Video):At his blog, Paul Hornschemeier shares video of two "talks given during my recent graphic novelist's residency at Thurber House in Columbus, Ohio. Tammy Birk (Professor of English, Otterbein University) discusses themes in Mother, Come Home while Ryan Jordan (Department of Philosophy, The Ohio State University) examines the nature of paradoxes in general, using Zeno's paradoxes in The Three Paradoxes as a launching point."
• Analysis: At where else but The Hooded Utilitarian: "'Lightning Only Strikes Twice Once, Y'Know': Phallic Mothers, Fetishism, and Replacement in the Comics of Los Bros Hernandez," Part I (focusing on Gilbert's work) and Part II (focusing on Jaime), by Eric Berlatsky
Our final limited-edition deluxe Krazy hardcover (it's Volume 1, but the third to be published) collects the three Krazy & Ignatz softcover books which comprehensively compile the first nine years (1916 through 1924) of Krazy Kat Sunday strips, under hard covers. It's not a slipcase, it's a single hardcover book. The covers to the original three softcover books are NOT included, but literally everything else is, including nine years' worth of black-and-white masterpieces (and 10 color strips), plus all the bonuses (other rare strips, the entire Us Husbands). This is the one collectors have been waiting for, enabling you to complete your Krazy Sundays collection in three enormous, deluxe hardcover books designed by Chris Ware.
"The Krazy & Ignatz books have been a godsend to comics fans... Each book is bizarre, sweetly amusing, and blissfully continuity-free." – "The Best Comics of the '00s: The Archives," The A.V. Club
Krazy Kat, with its eternally beguiling love triangle of kat/dog/mouse, its fantastically inventive language, and its haunting, minimalist desert décor, has consistently been rated the best comic strip ever created, and Fantagraphics’ award-winning series one of the best classic comic-strip reprint series ever published.
With our 13th volume, Krazy & Ignatz 1922-1924, the decades-in-the- making project of publishing every single Krazy Kat Sunday created by Herriman comes to a close. (Next: The dailies!)
While the Krazy Kat Sundays were created and published in black and white until 1935 (and therefore the majority of strips in this book are black and white), Herriman’s publisher did briefly experiment with running the strip in color in 1924, and all 10 of these rare full-color strips are presented here. The book also includes more rare photographs of Herriman, a “DeBaffling” section explaining period references and in-jokes, and the usual surprise “goodies” each of these volumes springs on their readers.
Krazy & Ignatz 1922-1924 includes the entire runs of Herriman’s early strip “Little Tommy Tattles” and his very first daily strip “Mrs. Waitaminnit,” which haven’t been printed in over a century. Also featured is the entire run of Herriman’s hilarious mid-20’s domestic comedy Sunday strip Us Husbands. And for the 13th and final time, the cover is by Chris Ware.
Hot on the heels of its Eisner Award nomination for "Best Graphic Album – New," Mark Kalesniko's beautiful, ambitious and complex book Freeway has been named an honor book (i.e. runner-up) for the Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize by a jury representing the Pennsylvania Center for the Book at Penn State University.
From the judges' comments:
"Kalesniko's vivid existentialist drama of the dog and his artistic dream reassuringly demonstrates that in comics, at least, creativity and originality continue to flourish and (with this honor award) receive their rightful recognition." – Susan Squier
"With allusions to the history of the classic studio animation, the use of anthropomorphism and a great relationship story, Freeway is a fantastic graphic novel." – John Secreto
"How do we get to where we want to be — in the workplace, in love, in life, on LA's tangle of freeways? Kalesniko's dog-faced protagonist lives and imagines dozens of possibilities for us in this melange, which offers both a staccato pace and a gentle lyricism. How ironic that the pursuit of happiness turns out to be something of a demolition derby." – Henry Pisciotta
"Every nomination list needs one book that pays homage to the 1960s Existentialist movement.... The art work is perfect for this tale of hopeless desperation and despair. It's great to see this theme again." – Glenn Masuchika
Congratulations Mark! We're also pleased that Paul Hornschemeier's Life with Mr. Dangerous, originally serialized in Mome, has received the same honor this year, which last year was bestowed upon Drew Weing's Set to Sea.
• Review/Plug:City Weekly's Scott Renshaw previews Kevin Avery's appearance at The King's English Bookshop in Salt Lake City on Friday to sign Everything Is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson, saying "Avery crafts a biography of a largely self-taught thinker who immersed himself in his passions, whether that meant classic film, the detective fiction of Ross Macdonald or folk music. The author allows his subject to develop primarily through oral history, as his friends and contemporaries recall a quirky iconoclast who disappeared into obscurity and a lonely death in 2006. But the book is most compelling simply by bringing Nelson’s own distinctive writing voice to a new generation, a voice that burned with intelligence, unabashed pimping of the work he loved and a commitment to understanding what artists were trying to accomplish."
• Profile: Scott Iwasaki of The Park Record talks to Kevin Avery in advance of his signing at Dolly's Bookstore in Park City, UT on Saturday: "'Even though it started out as an anthology of Paul's work, as I started learning more about him and his life, I found there was a lot of Paul between the lines of the reviews and I knew the book I needed to do had to also be a biography,' Avery said. 'I thought it would be a great way to present his work and tell his story.'"
• Review: "...I like comics to be really crazy. Luckily there are people out there who share my deranged concept of what comics should be. One is Johnny Ryan, who understands comics at odds with artistic correctness and had already demonstrated his lack of respect towards his fellow artists in particular, and everything in general... The level of violence reaches insane levels of pure abstraction; the figures in Prison Pit cannibalize, maim, tear, break, eat and shit with such enthusiasm and rawness, it's like watching some amoebas evolving through the microscope.... A Stan Lee for the new millennium." – Alfonso Garcia, C (translated from Spanish)
• Interview: There's a seemingly-slightly-out-of-date but still fun Q&A (with acrostic Qs!) with Steven Weissman at Wall Drawing: "Nice colors help a lot. Black and white is tough, you know, I have to think more. Even when I’m drawing for fun I like to use markers, screentones and so forth."
March/April advance shipments bring May/June books... Our shelves are starting to groan with advance copies of upcoming arrivals that have come in over the last couple of weeks. Above, the softcover edition of Stephen Dixon's short story collection What Is All This? (it's prose, folks), the softcover edition of Fredrik Strömberg's Black Images in the Comics, and (also below) Nicolas Mahler's Angelman...
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