This week's comic shop shipment is slated to include the following new titles. Read on to see what comics-blog commentators and web-savvy comic shops are saying about them (more to be added as they appear), check out our previews at the links, and contact your local shop to confirm availability.
288-page black & white 8" x 10" hardcover • $29.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-351-4
"Maudlin's World War 2-era comics were fully realized depictions of combat soldiers because he, like his characters, was in the war. And as much as he conveyed the situation of the American fighting man in this new one-volume softcover collection of The WWII Years, his new, hardcover Back Home collection also poignantly relates the trials of the vet in the post-war years." – Benn Ray (Atomic Books), Largehearted Boy
"You need all the books featuring American Hero Bill Mauldin your shelves can handle, but the Back Home collection is doubly recommended for telling on one of the most startling stories in the history of cartooning: how Mauldin basically destroyed his own potentially lucrative syndicated panel offering by pulling no punches on what he saw as a curdling of the American spirit after World War 2: a multi-month act of creative self-immolation I'm not sure has ever been seen before or since. It's an amazing thing to witness those cartoons first-hand." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
"Fantagraphics is re-releasing their Willie & Joe WWII collection by Bill Mauldin ($39.99) as a paperback and also introducing a collection of post-war Madulin cartoons, titled Back Home ($29.99)." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• List:The Hooded Utilitarian, continuing to roll out the top 10 results in their International Best Comics Poll, reveals the Locas stories of Jaime Hernandez at #7, with an appreciation by Derik Badman
• Review: "I am seriously finding it difficult, if not impossible, to review [Love and Rockets: New Stories #4] without simply hitting the bullets-and-numbering button and whipping up a list of everything in it that amazed me. It would be a long list, too.... The fact of the matter is that while reading this book I discovered that I’m at least as attached to Ray Dominguez and Fritz Martinez, the protagonists of Jaime and Gilbert’s contributions respectively, as I am to a decent number of real people in my life. ...[I]n the end, how it looks pales in insignificance next to what happens, because making it look that good is a means to the end of imparting just how much what happens matters. Ray’s shirt and Fritz’s legs, the shadow of the vampire and the structure of the montage — they’re just landmarks to remind you where you were when you found out if Ray and Fritz and Maggie were going to get happy endings, or not. It’s the easiest thing in the world to understand, and it’s the hardest thing in the world to do, and it’s magic, pure magic, to do it this well." – Sean T. Collins, Attentiondeficitdisorderly
• Review: "Maybe it seems as if I’ve told you the whole story [of Congress of the Animals] already. Not to worry, as I am only giving a basic outline of what Jim Woodring has rendered (without a single word!) in inspirationally meticulous ink drawings. You’ll really have no idea of this book’s content until you pick it up and view sights that are organically bizarre, beautifully horrific, cryptically disturbing, and genuinely heartwarming." – Chris Gray, San Mateo County Library blog
• Review: "Crumb’s subtle mastery of his art-form and obsessive need to reveal his most hidden depths and every perceived defect — in himself and the world around him — has always been a unquenchable wellspring of challenging comedy and riotous rumination. This superb series [The Complete Crumb Comics] charting the perplexing pen-and-ink pilgrim’s progress is the perfect vehicle to introduce any (definitively over 18) newcomers of your acquaintance to the world of grown up comics. And if you need a way in yourself, snatch up this book [Vol. 15] and the other sixteen as soon as conceivably possible." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
Anders gave a lovely slideshow presentation on the history of his comic Big Questions, in promotion of the 600-page collection just released by our pals at Drawn & Quarterly. I was kinda surprised to learn he used to be the frontman for a band (!), and one of his first self-published zines was a lyric booklet they would hand-out at shows (as seen above!).
And on that "note" (heh), here, upon request, is the setlist to the "Big Questions Mega-Mix" that I DJ'ed at Anders's signing. In honor of his new collection, all the songs I played were questions, natch:
1. "What In It For?" - Avi Buffalo 2. "Who Is Moving?" - Lilys 3. "Don't Ask Me to Explain" - Of Montreal 4. "Where Do You Run To?" - Vivian Girls 5. "Why Is It Always This Way?" - The Ramones 6. "What'cha Gonna Do About It?" - Condo Fucks 7. "What Else Is New?" - Dinosaur Jr. 8. "What Is" - Wipers 9. "Why?" - T. Lance & the Coctails 10. "What More Can I Do?" - The Zombies 11. "Who Loves the Sun?" - Teenage Fanclub, covering The Velvet Underground 12. "Ask" - The Go-Betweens 13. "What Do You Say?" - Pulp (for Steph H.) 14. "Why Won't You Make Up Your Mind?" - Tame Impala (for Eric B.) 15. "What Was That Thing?" - Able Tasmans (for Martin I.) 16. "Where Do You Wanna Go?" - Super Furry Animals 17. "Where Did My Spring Go? - The Kinks 18. "What Am I Supposed to Do?" - Papas Fritas 19. "What Am I Going to Do?" - Pop Art Toasters 20. "Ask" - The Smiths 21. "Hideous Towns" - The Sundays 22. "What's Happening?!?!" - The Byrds 23. "Who Do You Think I Am?" - Woods 24. "What Do We Do With Love?" - Chris Knox 25. "How Loft I Am?" - Guided By Voices 26. "To Where" - Grass Widow
(Oh, believe me, there were other songs I just didn't get to...)
David B., the creator of the acclaimed Epileptic, gives full rein to his fascination with history, magic and gods, not to mention grand battles, in this literate, witty, and absorbing collection of stories — all based on historical fact, or at least historical legend, and delineated in a striking stylized two-color format.
“The Veiled Prophet”: During the 8th century (the time of Harun al-Rashid, the Caliph of 1001 Nights fame), Hakim al-Muqanna, the lowly Persian fabric dyer, is assaulted and enveloped by a piece of white cloth come from the sky. When a bystander recognizes in the folds of the cloth the visage of Abu-Muslim, defender of the oppressed, al-Muqanna becomes a prophet and great leader — and within a year his followers have defeated seven armies sent to stop him!
“The Armed Garden,” set in the 15th century, tells the story of the bloody quest for a Paradise on Earth. Rohan, a humble Prague blacksmith, is visited by Adam and Eve, who urge him lead his fol- lowers, soon dubbed “Adamites,” on this mission. They soon must contend, bloodily, with the rival Paradise-seekers the “Taborites,” led by John Zizka.
“The Drum Who Fell in Love,” a sequel of sorts, begins with Zizka’s death: His people have him skinned and his skin stripped onto a drum, and the drum, speaking in Zizka’s voice, leads the Taborites into battle anew. But the touch of a beautiful girl softens Zizka’s spirit, and the unlikely couple begin a journey together…
Download and read Part 1 of "The Veiled Prophet" in this 10-page PDF excerpt (5.7 MB).
Alex Toth’s influence on the art of comic books is incalculable. As his generation was the first to grow up with the new 10-cent full-color pamphlets, he came to the medium with a fresh eye, and enough talent and discipline to graphically strip it down its to its bare essentials. His efforts reached fruition at Standard Comics, creating an entire school of imitators and establishing Toth as the “comic book artist’s artist.” Setting the Standard collects the entirety of this highly influential body of work in one substantial volume.
Toth began his professional career at fifteen in 1945 for Heroic Comics, but quickly advanced to superhero work for DC. Responding to the endless criticism of editor Sheldon Mayer and production chief Sol Harrison, the young artist strove toward a technique free of “showoff surface tricks, clutter, and distracting picture elements.” Simply put, he learned “how to tell a story, to the exclusion of all else.”
After falling out with DC in 1952, Toth moved west. He freelanced almost exclusively for Standard over the next two years, contributing classic work for its crime, horror, science fiction, and war titles. But perhaps most revelatory to the reader will be the romance collaborations with writer Kim Ammodt, Toth’s personal favorites. “I came to prefer them for the quieter, more credible, natural human equations they dealt with — emotions, subtleties of gesture, expression, attitude.”
To explain his take on comics, Toth would quote such proverbs as “To add to truth distracts from it,” or “The beauty of the simple thing.” He employed these axioms “to make clear how universal this pursuit of truth, clarity, simplicity, economy, in all the arts and many other disciplines really is — and has been for 6,000 years.” These and other observations regarding the comic book form will be collected in an essay based on Toth’s published and unpublished letters and interviews.
Every page of Setting the Standard is restored to bring Toth’s unsurpassed graphics and page designs into full clarity, making this an essential edition for anyone with an appreciation of the art of graphic storytelling.
Given a classroom assignment to create a toy design, Love and Rockets fan Ali Akbar sensibly thought, "Why not BEM?" Thus, this 3D rendering of everyone's favorite Gilbert Hernandez-created robo-gorilla-mecha-suit (as seen in the collection Amor y Cohetes). I'd buy wunna these... anna Roy action figure... anna Rocky & Fumble playset... anna Rena Titañon wrasslin' action doll... Thanks to Ali for sharing these images on the Love and Rockets Facebook page!
• Review: "Originally appearing from 1958 to 1960, these insouciant, stylish, and thrilling dramas should appeal to readers of all ages. If they don't hook a whole new batch of bande dessinée fans, France needs to take back the Statue of Liberty in a huff.... Both stories zip by with nary a dull patch. Confections lacking in gravitas, they nevertheless own the supreme virtues of lightness and panache. Tillieux's art is always easy on the eye.... If Spielberg is looking for a second franchise after Tintin, he couldn't go wrong with Gil Jordan." – Paul Di Filippo, The Barnes & Noble Review
• Review: "Thanks to well known translator Matt Thorn, this volume is a very smooth read. I don’t often comment on such things, but Thorn took great care in interpreting and presenting this book, and it pays off in a very pleasing flow of text. The art is also quite lovely, very simplistic, and flows well from panel to panel. The color pages in the beginning have a beautiful, water color look to them. Fantagraphics has put out a gorgeous hardcover book with Wandering Son." – Kristin Bomba, ComicAttack.net
• Review: "Fantagraphics’ The Pin-Up Art of Humorama collects hundreds of racy cartoons from the once-ubiquitous tasteless humor mag.... The Fantagraphics edition, edited by Alex Chun and Jacob Covey, 'remasters' these toons with a two-color treatment that really captures the graphic feel of the mouldering pulps that still grace the ends of yard-sale tables in cities across America. It must be said that none of these are very funny, but they’re often quite beautiful and nostalgic." – Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing
• Review: "Every once in a while, a book comes along that is simply spectacular. This collection of [Mickey Mouse] comic strips by Floyd Gottfredson is a perfect example of how to present, analyze and reconstruct subject matter that is viewed differently today. The series editors (David Gerstein and Gary Groth) pull no punches in discussing why Mickey was carrying a gun or the use of slang that is noticeably offensive by today's standards. This is a wonderful vehicle for presenting historically accurate art. Other companies should take notice.... This is a stunning work. The historical presentation is flawless, as is the artwork." – George Taylor, Imaginerding
• Review: "[In Celluloid], McKean is attempting to subvert hardened notions of both comics and pornography. It's a book that gets the blood racing just as it raises questions that just won't go away about the nature of art, porn, and the male gaze.... By painting an erotic sequence with a surrealist's brush, McKean reveals the raw sexual current that underscores all pornography." – Peter Bebergal, Bookslut
• Review: "An unapologetically hard-core hardcover, Celluloid follows a young woman’s sexual epiphany... and feels almost like a silent, erotic Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, with the White Rabbit and the rabbit-hole replaced by an ancient movie camera and a doorway to…somewhere else. By itself, typically, McKean’s technical mastery (beginning with pen and ink and finishing with photography) steals the breath away; ditto his visual motifs — involving fruit, say, or eyes. A bravura performance, Celluloid (which ends, by the way, with signal wit) constitutes an astounding fusion of the Dionysiac and the Apolline, in Nietzschean terms, and less invites reading than demands rereading." – Bryan A. Hollerbach, PLAYBACK:stl
• Review: "In the oneiric power of his work as a writer/artist, Jim Woodring enjoys few rivals in contemporary comics... Within the first ten pages of Congress of the Animals, calamity literally descends on poor Frank in the form of a wood-boxed croquet set. In the next ten, our bucktoothed, bobtail boyo suffers both a labor dispute and a credit crisis, and thereafter, in the U.S. in 2011, it should come as no surprise that things fast go from bad to worse; just for starters, Frank has to enter the working world. Ameliorating all of his tribulations, at least from readers’ vantage, are his creator’s nonpareil pen and undulant line — a quivery visual seduction courtesy of Higgins. Moreover, by the finale, Frank’s [spoiler redacted – Ed.] — so the little guy ain’t doin’ too bad, y’know?" – Bryan A. Hollerbach, PLAYBACK:stl
• Review: "LikeWeathercraft, this new work [Congress of the Animals] is completely silent, showcasing Woodring's amazing talent to convey a story without a word, with seemingly little effort. It's just an eye-popping visual feast of amazing illustrations in this crazy world where Woodring can put whatever he wants on the page, to a stunning end result." – Dave Ferraro, Comics-and-More (via the SPX Tumblr)
• Review: "How wrong I was to underestimate the powerful storytelling medium of the emerging graphic novel platform, especially when masterfully rendered by an author and artist as remarkably talented as Santiago. I expected an exciting visual presentation, and was not disappointed, as Santiago’s heavy-lined, representational graphic style was, in turn whimsical, arresting, quirky, and most of all, emotional. But I wasn’t prepared for the wonderfully passionate portrayal of the human side of Clemente’s legendary journey from Puerto Rico into baseball immortality.... Captivating, revealing, and dramatic, 21 accomplished through art, creative use of informed imagination, and pure passion, far more than I thought possible from a graphic novel. I believe I now have a more complete picture of Roberto Clemente, but not of his statistics, or even his style of play, or of his place in baseball history. I have a truer sense of his heart." – Mark W. Schraf, Spitball
Gracie: Charlie Brown! He's the one who thinks, "Life is going bad... I'm an awful person... Nothing good ever happens to me..." Dad: Would you be friends with him? Gracie: I would. I love him. My love for him goes to the ceiling of a skyscraper. But nothing good ever happens to him ever. Once he won a race -- that's probably the only thing he's ever won. And the prize was 5 free haircuts... Dad: Ha! Gracie: He's only got a twist of hair in front. And he's like, "Five free hair cuts? I don't have much hair to cut! And even if I did... my dad is a barber!" Dad: Poor Charlie Brown. Gracie: Yeah, nothing good ever happens to him. He's always getting teased for his perfectly round head.
• Interview:The Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon talks with Stan Sakai: "Usagi was first published 27 years ago, and that time I just concentrated on the next story. It was around maybe... I would say with book four, The Dragon Bellow Conspiracy. That was the first major storyline. It took maybe 10 issues or something, I'm not exactly sure. Maybe eight issues.... Before then, I was thinking, 'Usagi's going to be canceled any month.' [laughter] 'I can't spend too much time devoting myself to a long storyline.' But once I did that and got over that hurdle, that's when I realized that hey, this could go on for a long time."
• List:The Hooded Utilitarian begins revealing the top 10 results in their International Best Comics Poll, with Walt Kelly's Pogo coming in at #8
• Plug: "A trip to the comics shop yesterday netted me a copy of Drew Weing’s Set to Sea. It’s pure indulgence, because I have already read the story online, but Fantagraphics’ small, almost jewel-like presentation is really beautiful. Weing tells his story one panel at a time, and each panel could be framed as a work of art in itself, so having it in a book, without the clutter of the web, is a worthy investment." – Brigid Alverson, Robot 6
• Scene:Comic Book Resources' Marlan Harris gives a recap of our 35th Anniversary panel at Comic-Con — unfortunately it contains several factual errors, some of which I have endeavored to correct in the comments thread
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