Dutch artist and designer Femke Hiemstra has a unique style and vision that evokes the work of Robert Williams and Mark Ryden, but with a less cynical worldview that invites the viewer to enter the magic spaces she creates. Rock Candy is the artist’s first retrospective and fully spotlights her talent, whimsy and wit in a deluxe package certain to catapult her to the forefront of the Pop Surrealism movement.
Hiemstra’s paintings and illustrations are united by a meticulous attention to craft that gives life to her dark, lush, fairytale landscapes where inanimate objects come to life and frolic with anthropomorphs of all types. She incorporates mixed media, found objects, typography, and a variety of influences ranging from fireworks packaging to Japanese woodblock prints.
Rock Candy presents Hiemstra’s entire life and career under one cover. In addition to over 100 gorgeous reproductions of her paintings and illustrations, Rock Candy includes photographs and reproductions of her studio, her influences, her family and much more. The book also includes an introduction by Kirsten Anderson, author of Pop Surrealism: The Rise of Underground Art and proprietor of the Roq La Rue Gallery (Seattle, WA), as well as an interview with Hiemstra, statements about the works by the artist, and many other surprises that are certain to make Hiemstra a household name amongst fans of Pop Surrealism.
Set in sun-drenched Cape Town, South Africa, The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book — featuring two full-length stories, “The Leaking Cello Case” and “John Wesley Harding” — is stuffed to the gills with mystery, suspense, action, adventure, conspiracy theories, cool cars, and excellent weed as Dave and his freeloading pal Paul, well-meaning stoners in the tradition of Cheech & Chong and Harold & Kumar, thwart criminal malfeasance even as they ponder the larger questions, such as, “What steps can I personally take to help protect the Earth and the species that inhabit it?” (though most people’s answers to these questions don’t involve sword fights and hovercrafts).
Joe Daly brings a refreshingly original — and utterly hilarious — voice to the comics medium, a dry, deadpan wit anchored in everyday reality combined with unnervingly deranged plots, rendered with a hyper-detailed, half-realistic and half-cartoony Tintin-style crispness.
Prison Pit is an original graphic novel from the pen of Johnny Ryan, best known for his humor comic, Angry Youth Comix. Prison Pit represents a marked departure from AYC or his Blecky Yuckerella weekly comic strip, combining his love for WWE wrestling, Gary Panter’s “Jimbo” comics, and Kentaro Miura’s “Berserk” Manga into a brutal showcase of violence, survival and revenge. Imagine a blend of old-fashioned role playing fantasy games like Dungeons & Dragons crossed with contemporary adult video games like Grand Theft Auto, filtered through Ryan’s sense of humor.
The book begins with C.F. (his full name would be too horrifying to reveal here) being thrown into the Prison Pit, a barren negative-zone populated by intergalactic, violent monster criminals. In this first volume, C.F. gets into a bloody slorge war (a slorge is a giant slug that excretes a steroid-like drug called “fecid” that all the monster men are addicted to) with ultraprisoner Rottweiler Herpes and his henchmen Rabies Bloodbath and Assrat. The ensuing bloodbath is an over-the-top, hyperviolent yet hilarious farce worthy of Ryan’s inspiration, Kentaro Miura.
The Hernandez Brothers are back with the second eye-popping volume of Love and Rockets: New Stories, your annual 100-page dollop of all-new L&R material.
In the concluding 50-page half of Jaime’s outrageous, acclaimed, full-on superhero mash-up “Ti-Girls Adventures,” our protagonist, rookie do-gooder Boot Angel, learns more hard lessons about becoming a superheroine. Eventually, just about the entire cast gets together in a big family reunion that unexpectedly takes place in Maggie’s tiny, messy one-bedroom apartment.
Sandwiched between the concluding chapters of Jaime's story, Gilbert turns in two mind-benders of his own. “Hypnotwist” is Gilbert’s 39-page epic story of a beautiful, leggy redhead’s surreal journey into a night filled with mysterious shady characters, dreamlike violence, and sparkling retro spike heels. But is it real, or something else? For readers trying to parse the truth, Gilbert ups the ante by telling the whole story without using a single word. And "Sad Girl" (previewed in our 2009 Free Comic Book Day offering) is the tale of a disaffected young bombshell actress nicknamed "Killer" and the web of jealousy, gossip, notoriety and mystery that surrounds her.
A UNIQUE TAKE ON THE SUMMER OF LOVE GENERATION, THROUGH THE EYES OF AN ACCLAIMED GRAPHIC NOVELIST AND HER PARTNER, WHO LIVED IT
Bruce Paley turned 18 in 1967 during the Summer of Love, putting him on the front lines of the late-1960s youth movement. Paley’s tumultuous journey took him from being a Jack Kerouac-loving hippie in the 1960s, on the road with his 17-year-old girlfriend, dropping acid at Disneyland, living in a car, and crashing with armed Black Panthers at the infamous 1968 Democratic National Convention, to hanging out at Max’s Kansas City, shooting heroin and cocaine with the likes of rock star Johnny Thunders, and frequenting Times Square’s seedy brothels — a journey that mirrored the changing times as the optimism of the ’60s gave way to the nihilism of the punk years. Over a dozen years, Bruce crossed paths with hippies, violent cops, rednecks, rock stars, and Black Panthers... and ended up a heroin addict for much of the 1970s.
These stories are vividly brought to life in Giraffes in My Hair (A Rock ’N’ Roll Life) by the compelling visual storytelling of Bruce’s partner, the cartoonist Carol Swain.
Swain’s trademark visual approach to comics, typified by exquisitely composed panels that vividly capture both anomie and pathos, is perfectly suited to dramatizing Paley’s life during that confusing, tumultuous period of American history — a life lived in the countercultural margins, amidst personal chaos and social dissolution. Swain’s storytelling rhythms are contemplative and breathes inner life into Paley’s turbulent stories, creating a perceptive prism to view the vast possibilities and endless pitfalls as experienced by a kid growing up in America in the late 1960s and early ’70s.
We received the list of our nominees for this year's Ignatz Awards. It's a good lookin' list, and we're especially proud to have staffer Jason T. Miles nominated for Outstanding Comic! As is traditional, we've put all of our nominated titles on sale -- 15% off for a limited time! Click here to browse & buy. Recipients of the brick will be announced at SPX on September 26. For all the nominees, head to the SPX website for the official announcement.
Tim Hensley, Mome (Fantagraphics), Kramer's Ergot #7 (Buenaventura)
Congratulations to everybody, including T. Edward Bak, nominated for Outstanding New Talent even before his amazing Mome story was eligible, and Dash Shaw, nominated for Outstanding Online Comic for Bodyworld.
A new week brings an avalanche of new Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Profile: For the Philadelphia Inquirer, Tirdad Derakhshani looks at the past, present, and future of Prince Valiant: "The release Tuesday of Prince Valiant, Vol. 1: 1937-1938, the first in a new series of gorgeously printed, hardcover Valiant collections from Fantagraphics Books, served as a bittersweet reminder of the century-long rise and eventual decline of a great American art form, the comic strip."
• Review: "...Al [Columbia] decided to dredge up old ghosts, unfinished pieces, trifles he had thrown away then reconsidered and offered them up to us as proof that he hasn’t forgotten us. This 240-page book [Pim and Francie: The Golden Bear Days, Fall 2009]... has certainly filled in some gaps for me as to what goes on in Columbia’s mind... There seems to be something both amazing and horrifying around every corner, in any dark space, in the thick of the forest, in the bulbous eyes of maniacal creatures and the straight realistic lines of buildings that all have a dark window somewhere... It is truly a viscous treat and I am sure this one will never wash off." - Rachael M Rollson, Panel to Panel
• Review: "Though Low Moon doesn’t have the slow-building impact of Jason’s longer works, he’s still one of comics’ best storytellers, and it’s always a treat to spend time in his world of off-brand pulp clichés and not-always-so-funny animals. [Grade] B+" - The A.V. Club
• Review: "Jason is an immensely skilled artist capable of manipulating his self-restricted vocabulary to stretch space and time. Low Moon moves in a slow burn as the two antagonists move closer to their eventual showdown. In what is probably the best story in the book You Are Here, time moves more quickly as a father and son attempt to deal with the alien abduction of the father's wife. The father builds a rocket while the son grows up and has a life of his own. Eventually they pile into the rocket, and things end badly, but perhaps a bit more emotionally than with the other stories." - Michael Buntag, NonSensical Words
• Review: "Rage of a different kind in Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me and Other Astute Observations by Peter Bagge. This collection of satirical rants from the American libertarian magazine Reason... is philosophically more about punk individualism than Ayn Rand, and artistically the heir to 1980s indie comics. Indeed, Bagge is an indie star, famous for his wonderfully elastic cartooning style and punk-inflected comedies." - Roger Sabin, The Observer
• Review: "These are good comics [in Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me and Other Astute Observations], fun to read and definitely funny, definitely searing and when he hits a target he gets it right. Also there’s something to be said for the journalist tone of the writing and the structure of the strips would translate well into a proper newspaper, were he so inclined." - Ibrow
• Review: "For fresh talent in comics, you have to go to the anthologies and there's none better at the moment than Mome... the highlight [of Vol. 15] is Dash Shaw's hallucinatory story about a tidal wave, which uses swaths of colour and elongated panels to create a sense of vertigo." - Roger Sabin, The Observer (same link as above)
• Review: "Schulz had gone from a fairly grounded sense of consensus reality to Snoopy's flights of fancy to outright weirdness... That seems to be the essence of Sparky Schulz to me: even with the pressure of the daily grind and his position as the lynchpin of what had become a vast empire, Schulz wrote to amuse himself... At his best in this volume [The Complete Peanuts 1973-1974], Schulz gave the readers some of the best stories of his career." - Rob Clough
• Review: "Ace cartoonist Jordan Crane makes a curious split comic choice. The first half [of Uptight #3 ], 'Vicissitude,' is the opening chapter of a brooding adult tale of marital dysfunction and deceit, while the second, 'Freeze Out,' is a kid’s story, the further adventures of Simon and his cat Jack, who were featured in Crane’s great graphic novel, The Clouds Above. Miraculously, the pairing works — each is superior in its own genre — but you might want to wait until 'Freeze Out' is collected on its own before showing it to your kids." - John Seven, Worcester Magazine
• Review: "Blazing Combat (Fantagraphics, 2009) collects the entire run in a beautiful, incredibly well-bound hardcover book... The stories' tone is very 1960s, ironic with a cynicism stemming from brokenhearted humanism." - Carol Borden, The Cultural Gutter
• Review: "Needless to say, I love the streak of darkness that permeates [Charles] Burns' work. I mean that both figuratively and literally, as his one-of-a-kind illustration style is at-a-glance recognizable because of his heavy use of black ink... That starkness emphasizes the cruel features on the faces of his characters - deep wrinkles, harsh teeth, beady eyes and unflattering noses, to say nothing of the occasional freak. Like the look of his characters, Burns is one of a kind, and Skin Deep is a good introduction to the man's singular vision - a good way to get your toe wet before diving in." - Rod Lott, Bookgasm
• Review: "[A.B.] Frost looked like he was painting with the line…on a half-dozen cups of coffee. Trust me, that’s hard to do... Also, it looks like Fanta-Graphic Books might have brought Stuff and Nonsense back in print in 2003. [Yes. -Ed.] Pick up and copy and be ready to weep - this work is untouchable." - Tony DiTerlizzi
• Plug: "Carol Tyler's You'll Never Know is my favorite book of the year thus far. This memoir/biography/scrapbook is both formally challenging and emotionally devastating. Any critic serious about compiling a year-end list needs to keep this book under consideration." - Rob Clough, Robot 6 (guest contributor)
• Tweet: "Still, the most beautifully designed bk so far this yr is still IMO Fantagraphics 'The Brinkley Girls': http://bit.ly/CSYpH Swoon-worthy." - bookjones
If you've been trying to hunt down the early, out-of-print issues of Dame Darcy's Meat Cake, they'll soon be available as self-published individual issues and the 3-issue compilation pictured above. More info and ordering links are on Dame Darcy's blog.
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