Seeing Enid and Rebecca on the cover of the current issue of Juxtapoz art journal reminded me of a similar feature I wrote on Daniel Clowes in the same publication in March of 2001. The Ghost World film was about to be released. Clowes was thrilled at the artistic freedom he and filmmaker Terry Zwigoff enjoyed. "We're below the radar at MGM," he observed. I was unfamiliar with young Scarlett Johansson, describing her as "a former child actress who played opposite Robert Redford in The Horse Whisperer."
Who would've guessed that Clowes and Ghost World would go on to have such a profound effect on American pop culture? Not me.
Residents of this charming coastal town in Oregon need not fear: it's not an environmental disaster heading your way, merely the writer and artist behind the acclaimed graphic novel, Oil & Water!
Steve Duin and Shannon Wheeler will be the special guests at the Manzanita Writers’ Series on Saturday, September 15th, to discuss what happened to other coastal towns after the Deepwater Horizon spill with a reading and discussion of the book starting at 7:00 PM.
In 1970, William S. Burroughs and artist Malcolm McNeill began a small collaborative project on a comic entitled The Unspeakable Mr. Hart, which appeared in the first four issues of Cyclops, England’s first comics magazine for an adult readership. Soon after, Burroughs and McNeill agreed to collaborate on a book-length meditation on time, power, control, and corruption that evoked the Mayan codices and specifically, the Mayan god of death, Ah Pook. Ah Pook Is Here was to include their character Mr. Hart, but stray from the conventional comics form to explore different juxtapositions of images and words.
Ah Pook was never finished in its intended form. In a 1979 prose collection that included only the words from the collaboration, Ah Pook is Here and Other Texts (Calder, 1979), Burroughs explains in the preface that they envisioned the work to be “one that falls into neither the category of the conventional illustrated book nor that of a comix publication.” Rather, the work was to include “about a hundred pages of artwork with text (thirty in full-color) and about fifty pages of text alone.” The book was conceived as a single painting in which text and images were combined in whatever form seemed appropriate to the narrative. It was conceived as 120 continuous pages that would "fold out." Such a book was, at the time, unprecedented, and no publisher was willing to take a chance and publish a “graphic novel.”
However, Malcolm McNeill created nearly a hundred paintings, illustrations, and sketches for the book, and these, finally, are seeing the light of day in The Lost Art of Ah Pook. (Burroughs’ text will not be included.) McNeill himself is an exemplary craftsman and visionary painter whose images have languished for over 30 years, unseen. Even in a context divorced from the words, they represent a stunning precursor to the graphic novel form to come.
Sara J. Van Ness contributes an historical essay chronicling the long history of Burroughs’ and McNeill’s work together, including its incomplete publishing history with Rolling Stone’s Straight Arrow Press, the excerpt that ran in Rush magazine, and the text that was published without pictures.
Observed While Falling is an account of the personal and creative interaction that defined the collaboration between the writer William S. Burroughs and the artist Malcolm McNeill on the graphic novel Ah Pook Is Here. The memoir chronicles the events that surrounded it, the reasons it was abandoned and the unusual circumstances that brought it back to life. McNeill describes his growing friendship with Burroughs and how their personal relationship affected their creative partnership. The book is written with insight and humor, and is liberally sprinkled with the kind of outré anecdotes one would expect working with a writer as original and eccentric as Burroughs. It confirms Burroughs’ and McNeill’s prescience, the place of Ah Pook in relation to the contemporary graphic novel, and its anticipation of the events surrounding 2012. The book offers new insights into Burroughs’ working methods as well as how the two explored the possibilities of words and images working together to form the ambitious literary hybrid that they didn’t know, at the time, was a harbinger of the 21st century “graphic novel.” McNeill expounds on the lessons of that experience to bring Ah Pook into present time. In light of current events, Ah Pook is unquestionably Here now.
Observed While Falling presents a unique view of the creative process that will be of interest to artists, writers and general readers alike. A perspective evoked by a literary experiment that has endured for forty years and still continues to “happen.”
The ink is still wet on these Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review: Andrew Wheeler of the Antick Musings rolls the dice with Dungeon Quest Vol. 3 by Joe Daly. "Dungeon Quest is so mellow and stoner-joyful that there's nothing to do but go along with it. . . it's an entirely amiable, perfectly cromulent wander through well-emulated quest-fantasy tropes, enlivened by cursing, drugs, and just a hint of sex."
• Review (audio):Factual Opinion with Tucker Stone, Joe McCullogh and Chris Mautner rattle on about Dungeon Quest from the 5 minute mark on. They love Daly's descriptions of his characters like Steve's bulkiness is a "vest of fat" and the fight scenes play out like manga. "The rules of the world operate around the rules of the quest. . ."Listen to many reasons on why Dungeon Quest is a fun read.
• Review: Round table review of Noah Van Sciver's The Hypo on Comics Bulletin . Danny Djeljosevic writes ". . . most people perceive Lincoln not as a person, but as a series of signifiers: a stovepipe hat, a beard . . . a figure we put that much emphasis on could use a re-injection of humanity, and it appears that Van Sciver is just the man for the job." Jason Sacks reiterates, "Van Sciver takes Lincoln off of Mt. Rushmore and puts him on a human level."
• Plug:Fritz the Cat by Robert Crumb makes the Top 10 Cats of Comics at Comics Bulletin. Jason Sacks says, "Fritz always depicted himself as the downtrodden, yet always came off as the only character in the story that seemed to have it at least somewhat together. . . Crumb held a mirror up to youth culture and all they caught were the dick jokes."
• Plug: Speaking of the man himself, Crumb answers questions on other people at Crumb Products.
• Review: Gene Ambaum of Unshelved rates Wandering Son Vol. 2 by Shimura Takako which explores the lives of middle school kids who come to realize they enjoy wearing clothes typically reserved for the opposite sex. "Even though Shuichi and Yoshino keep one another’s secrets, I felt their embarrassment when hanging out and trying to decide how to address one another / refer to each other. The story felt even more real when their teacher asked them to share their dreams and neither could."
Creator of the seminal NANCY comic strip in addition to Fritzi Ritz, Ernie Bushmiller would have been 107 today. A truly 'algebraic' comic, the oddly yet perfectly balanced strip was and still is hugely popular with comic strip readers despite its squat protagonist and cornball comedy. A cartoonist who rarely took a day off, Bushmiller inspired generations of future cartoonists and Fantagraphics is proud to reprint the strips. As Tom Spurgeon was so nice to point out, when Fantagraphics was located in Stamford, Connecticut, our neighbor WAS Ernie Bushmiller! Celebrate the love of Bushmiller and read some Nancy today. The strip below was reformatted to fit the blog.
But why stop at reading Nancy in appreciation of Bushmiller, you could also a Nancy tattoo! OSU Librarian Caitlin McGurk sports Nancy's head while cartoonist and Fantagraphics intern Ben Horak flexes a Sluggo tattoo. But we're still looking for the elusive 'three rocks' tattoo. Happy Birthday, Mr. Bushmiller.
That's right, it's the first volume in an all-new, all-original fantasy saga by the great Lewis Trondheim! Advance copies of Ralph Azham Vol. 1: Why Would You Lie to Someone You Love? arrived here at HQ a couple days ago and here's your first peek at a copy. Ralph is an erstwhile "chosen one" who's gone to seed a little bit but is called back to adventure when his village is threatened by a horrific invasion force. Action and hilarity ensues! The book should be out in October — stay tuned for more previews, and be among the first to pre-order a copy now!
"R. Crumb's writing, a dimension of his comics that usually passes underappreciated, receives a welcome spotlight in these sparsely illustrated letters that exhibit the artist's ear for the American vernacular." — Rain Taxi Review of Books
“I feel that my work is but a feeble expression of something that in itself is vague and doubtful... Sometimes when I probe myself I find that my intentions in art aren’t as sincere as they should be... Subconsciously I want to make myself immortal among men, leave my mark on the earth to compensate for social inadequacy... So I draw.” — R. Crumb, 1961
Spanning the most formative era of his life, from the painful years of adolescence to the fame and fortune of early adulthood, this collection of personal correspondences with two near-lifelong friends sheds light on the artistic development, bitter struggle, and ultimate triumph of the world’s greatest living cartoonist.
Crumb writes about many key events in his life: the dissolution of his first marriage, the pain of being separated from his first child, his troubles with the IRS, and his obsessions with comics, music and women (including his earliest experiences with Aline Kominsky-Crumb, now his wife of over 30 years). An entertaining and revealing look into the mind of a great artist and thinker; this is Crumb’s sketchbook of words, featuring scores of rare art, including entire letters drawn in cartoon form.
Gary Panter’s Dal Tokyo exhibition and book signing at Fantagraphics Bookstore!
August 23, 2012 – Seattle, WA. Cartoonist Gary Panter has indelibly influenced four decades of American popular culture. Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery celebrates this remarkable artist with an exhibition of original drawings and colorful prints on Saturday, September 8, from 6:00 to 9:00 PM. Panter will appear to sign copies of his new collection Dal Tokyo, published by Seattle-based Fantagraphics Books.
Gary Panter’s manic “Jimbo” comix and dense illustrations were emblematic of California’s punk movement in the 1970s and later became fixtures in Art Spiegleman’s avant garde RAW Magazine anthology. In the 1980s, Panter cultivated a broader audience as set designer for the unlikely hit children’s television franchise Pee Wee’s Playhouse, where his singular aesthetic was recognized with multiple Emmy Awards. He is widely regarded as one on the most innovative artists in contemporary comix, and in 2006 was included in the sensational “Masters of American Comics” traveling exhibition. In recent years, his work has been published by Matt Groening’s Bongo Comics, Drawn & Quarterly, Picture Box, and two previous volumes from Fantagraphics Books: Jimbo in Purgatory and Jimbo’s Inferno. Panter was the recipient of the prestigious 2012 Klein Award, presented by the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art in New York.
The ambitious Dal Tokyo concept occurred to Panter in the early 1970s – (the title is an amalgam of Dallas in his native Texas, and Tokyo, which he once considered an exotic faraway land.) It imagines a frenetic future society on Mars combining cultural motifs from America and Japan. Visual puns, punk, and psychedelic imagery coalesce in this alluring allegory. The strip was serialized for a year in the weekly L. A. Reader and later published monthly in the Japanese magazine Riddum for more than a decade.
Please join us on Saturday, September 8 to welcome this extraordinary artist to Seattle. Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery is located at 1201 S. Vale Street in Seattle’s Georgetown arts community. This event coincides with the colorful Georgetown Art Attack featuring visual and performing arts throughout the historic neighborhood.
Questions? Contact store curator Larry Reid at 206.669.9059. The exhibition will continue through October 10th, 2012.
* Other People's Publications ** Yeah, You Know Me.
I'm super-excited to announce that the Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery is now carrying work from Koyama Press, one of my absolute favorite small press publishers, run by the lady I've deemed "The Nicest Woman in Comics"™, Ms. Annie Koyama.
And one of the titles we now have in stock is Root Rot, the forest-themed anthology edited by Annie and Michael DeForge last year, featuring Mome-vets like T. Edward Bak, Joseph Lambert, and Jon Vermilyea, alongside some other excellent artists like Derek M. Ballard, Dan Zettwoch, Hellen Jo, and many more.
Some of the contributions are singular drawings over two-spreads, like T. Edward's gorgeous opening piece, or Robin Nishio's hilarious squirrel sketches. Others submitted short strips, like Joe Lambert and Angie Wang's family portraits. They all do what a good anthology should do: which is leave you wanting more!
Get some Root Rot and other Koyama Press titles while supplies last at the Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery is located at 1201 S. Vale Street in Seattle's Georgetown district. Open daily 11:30 to 8:00 PM, Sundays until 5:00 PM. Phone: (206) 658-0110.
Gary Panter began imagining Dal Tokyo, a future Mars that is terraformed by Texan and Japanese workers, as far back as 1972, appropriating a friend’s idea about “cultural and temporal collision” (the “Dal” is short for Dallas).
Why Texan and Japanese? Panter says, “Because they are trapped in Texas, Texans are self-mythologizing. Because I was trapped in Texas at the time, I needed to believe that the broken tractor out back was a car of the future. Japanese, I’ll say, because of the exotic far-awayness of Japan from Texas, and because of the Japanese monster movies and woodblock prints that reached out to me in Texas. Japanese monster movies are part of the fabric of Texas.”
In 1983, Panter finally got a chance to fully explore this world, and share it with an audience, when the L.A. Reader published the first 63 strips. A few years later, the Japanese reggae magazine Riddim picked up the strip, and Panter continued the saga of Dal Tokyo in monthly installments for over a decade. But none of these conceptual descriptions will prepare the reader for the confounding visual and verbal richness of Dal Tokyo, as Panter’s famous “ratty line” collides and colludes with near-Joycean wordplay, veering from more or less intelligible jokes to dizzying non-sequiturs to surreal eruptions that can engulf the entire panel in scribbles. One doesn’t read Dal Tokyo; one is absorbed into it and spit out the other side.
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