|Things to See: Another page from Jason's Athos in America|
|Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Things to see, Jason, Coming Attractions||30 Dec 2010 5:52 PM|
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Archive >> December 2010
After all these years we're still blown away when fans have their favorite Fantagraphics characters inked permanently on themselves. Here's a few fan tattoos that have been shared with us via the Fantagraphics and Love and Rockets Facebook pages over the last couple of months:
Today's Online Commentary & Diversions:
• List: At Entertainment Weekly, Ken Tucker names The 10 Best Graphic Novels and Comics of 2010, including:
"Ostensibly Japanese comics aimed at the adolescent-girl market, these so-called Ten Stories of the Human Heart are lush mixtures of dreamlike imagery and realistic depictions of young people’s yearnings, hopes, reveries, and fears. Gathering representative work from four decades of publication, A Drunken Dream [and Other Stories] exerts a hypnotic pull on the reader, Moto Hagio knows both her commercial audience and her ideal audience — which is to say, the world."
"A long-form narrative about the decline of her parents’ health, Special Exits avoids cheap pity and piousness by doing what any good art should: focusing on specifics — the ways in which Farmer’s parents slide into old age and ill health; the care they require and receive. That this is also a portrait of a strong marriage is an added benefit. Frank, never shying away from the awkward indignities of aging, Special Exits illuminates two lives, as well as that of the author’s."
"The best volume since Los Bros went with this yearly anthology, New Stories #3 has exemplary work from both, but Jamie's story of the young Hoppers is one of his best comics ever." – Timothy Callahan
"Love and Rockets properly hits its stride and the two brothers use their unique approach to do something quite insane. Surrealism and realism in equal doses." – Sonia Harris
"This year, I read nearly every comic ever created by Los Bros Hernandez; what a pleasure to discover at the end of my immersion that their two most recent comics are also two of their best, and thus two of the best comics by anyone. Gilbert and Jaime both tear furiously into love and sex; what they find inside is ugly; what they do with it is beautiful. I'll never forget that panel." – Sean T. Collins
• Review: "Is there a comic that's run longer than Love and Rockets and maintained the same level of quality? ...[T]his year's annual is as good or better than anything Los Bros. have yet produced. It starts off with a strange sci-fi story — fans will recognize this as one of Rosalba 'Fritz' Martinez's many B-movies, but you don't have to be in on the gag to find Gilbert's story weird and funny and disturbing. Jaime's contribution to the volume is a story about would-be couple Maggie and Ray having a first date, with an interstitial tale about Maggie's childhood that sheds heartbreaking light on her relationship with her brother. ...Los Bros. are plain-spoken and sympathetic, finding pathos in even the grimiest character." – Sam Thielman, Newsday
• List: Josh Blair of Candy or Medicine names Newave: The Underground Mini Comix of the 1980s one of the Top Ten Mini Comics of 2010: "Ok, ok, I realize this isn't actually a mini-comic, rather than a gigantic collection of mini-comics, but it's definitely a book worth owning."
• Interview: At The Comics Journal, part 2 of Chris Mautner's Q&A with Mome editor Eric Reynolds (part 1): "I’m not a real ballbuster when it comes to deadlines from issue to issue, so I’ll invite people to contribute and they’ll take their time, whether they hit the next issue or the following issue. They’re just juggling all these things, and it happens to come together every issue."
Roy Crane created the adventure comic strip with Wash Tubbs, and many a superhero owes a debt to Crane’s square-jawed, hard-hitting adventurer Captain Easy. But during World War II, he left the Captain Easy strip to create a more realistic fighting man, a Navy pilot named John Singer Sawyer, who fought in the Pacific Theater from 1943 until V-J Day in 1945.
This book, the first in a series reprinting the Buz Sawyer strip, reprints all of the daily strips published during World War II. Buz serves aboard an aircraft carrier, flies combat missions against the notorious Japanese Zeros, crash lands behind enemy lines, and is captured by a Japanese submarine.
The book also includes a selection of the best of the Sunday strips, which featured Buz Sawyer’s pal and gunner, Rosco Sweeney, presented as fold-out pages.
Everywhere Buz goes, he finds high adventure and beautiful women—in fact, his fellow flyers kid him about his ability to find romance on even the most hostile Pacific island, where he meets a dangerous spy named Sultry (!). And when he goes home on leave, it is only to be caught up in a rivalry between rich heiress Tot Winter and girl-next-door Christy Jameson.
It features some of Crane’s most atmospheric drawing, aided by his expert use of Craftint tones, luscious romance, and exciting action scenes. These stories amply illustrate why Peanuts artist Charles Schulz called Roy Crane “a treasure.”
Also featured in this handsome archival volume: an introductory essay by comics historian Jeet Heer and a selection letters to and from Roy Crane (including one from "Al Toth").
“[Roy Crane] is a treasure. There is still no one around who draws any better.” — Charles Schulz
“Every time I thought I had come up with something that I had thought no one else had done, damn it, I’d find that Crane or Foster had already done it!” — Al Williamson
“Roy Crane did adventure with a beautiful combination of cartooning and storytelling. Every panel was an entertaining panel, with something to look at. When you combine his storytelling ability, with or without balloons, with his action and those great panels, you can’t fail.” — John Severin
Download an EXCLUSIVE 12-page PDF excerpt (3 MB)!
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Today's Online Commentary & Diversions gets crazy with the Best-Of lists:
• List: At comiXology, Tucker Stone counts down the top 20 Best Comics of 2010:
#19: Wally Gropius by Tim Hensley: "In a more unstable world, Wally Gropius would end up shelved alongside the Harvey/Dell comics it's so visually reminiscent of, working like a diabolical physical delivery device for absurdism: Dick and Jane couldn't ask for better."
#8: Prison Pit Book 2 by Johnny Ryan: "...Ryan's nasty tech-mammal beatdown looked like baby's first cyberpunk Kamandi, and it ably maintained the promise of this comic's initial volume. This, as they should say, is what we all should be getting down with: pure comics."
#5: It Was the War of the Trenches by Jacques Tardi: "Trenches was the angriest comic released this year, and while the specifics of its subject matter may be historical, its philosophy hasn't aged a day. War is a brutal, ugly thing, and while some may excel at depicting its horrors with excited doses of adrenaline, Tardi's tale never allows for a moment of escape. For him, political extermination destroys us all, and there's no reason why the bystander should be permitted to participate merely as casual audience."
#3: Weathercraft by Jim Woodring: "It's a comic that stays behind when it's closed, twisting in memory until you're not sure you caught what it said, a demanding experience that's unusual and unique. There's no other medium that could tell the kinds of stories that Woodring prefers; luckily, he's come back to stay."
#2: Love and Rockets: New Stories #3 by the Hernandez Bros.: "An incomparable installment in their storied career, New Stories 3 saw Gilbert attacking his oldest obsessions with more humor than ever before, while Jaimie shocked a legion of fans with the most refined (and masterful) chapter in his Locas saga to date..."
• List: NPR's Glen Weldon lists "The Most Memorable Comics and Graphic Novels of 2010," including (with links to his past reviews):
Werewolves of Montpelier by Jason: "The deadest of deadpan cartoonists returns with a meditation on relationships, burglary and lycanthropy. In France."
Temperance by Cathy Malkasian: "I've said my piece on this ambitious, wonderfully unpredictable fantasy epic grounded in very real, and not altogether pleasant, emotions."
Set to Sea by Drew Weing: "Weing's largely wordless pages of maritime adventure are gorgeous things, and the tale they tell unfolds with the lulling, implacable rhythm of the sea."
Tales Designed to Thrizzle #6 by Michael Kupperman: "I attempted to verbalize my deep, abiding love for Kupperman's series on one of the first episodes of NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour. Not sure I did it justice, so let me take another whack at it: PICK UP THIS BOOK. VOLUME ONE IS ONCE AGAIN IN PRINT. IT IS FUNNY. BUY IT BUY IT BUY IT."
You’ll Never Know, Book 2: Collateral Damage by C. Tyler: "Volume I of Tyler's comics memoir was one of the books I singled out for praise last year at this time, and the next volume only deepens and enriches the work she did in that book. What's more, volume II sees her opening up her scrapbook-style approach, pushing at its boundaries in small, satisfying ways."
A Drunken Dream by Moto Hagio: "For the first time, the shorter works of this master of shojo manga ('comics for girls') have been published in English, and it's a deeply impressive — and immersive — piece of work that's full of complex emotional truths. And deep weirdness."
It Was the War of the Trenches by Jacques Tardi: "Tardi constructs a series of vignettes around World War I, inspired by battlefield photographs. Finally available in English, the work is harrowing and ruthlessly affecting."
• List: Comic Book Resources continues counting down their Top 100 Comics of 2010. In today's batch:
#36: Weathercraft by Jim Woodring: "It's a twisting, twisted, often bizarre, often disturbing but always gripping tale of one creature's self-redemption and ultimate sacrifice told without words and often as enigmatically as possible. If you had any doubt that Woodring could still deliver after laying low for so long, consider them erased." – Chris Mautner
#34: You’ll Never Know, Book 2: Collateral Damage by C. Tyler: "One of the most heartfelt books of the year and also one of the most beautiful." – Alex Dueben
#29: Special Exits by Joyce Farmer: "This is a magnum opus no one expected to read, a brutally frank depiction of what it's like for full lives you love to end, and it has the most painfully happy ending of the year. It made me cry. Don't do what I almost did and ignore one of the year's most moving comics." – Sean T. Collins
#28: Set to Sea by Drew Weing: "Weing strapped the heart-rending quest of a simple poet onto a book sporting the energy of a Popeye cartoon and the beastly human proportions of an R. Crumb comic. It's a book that manages to read with the lightness of a feather while simultaneously keeping its audience keenly aware of mortality and the fickle nature of fate on the high seas." – Brian Warmoth
#26: Wally Gropius by Tim Hensley: "The first great comic of the Great Recession. Tim Hensley's breakout graphic novel, previously serialized in the Mome anthology, seems like a send-up of silly '60s teen-comedy and kid-millionaire comics on the surface, but beneath lies as odd and accurate a cri de coeur about capitalism and consumerism as I've ever read. It also does things with body language I've never seen in comics, and is funny as hell to boot. There's nothing else out there like it." – Sean T. Collins
(The following 5 bullet points via Sandy Bilus at I Love Rob Liefeld:)
• Review: "The Littlest Pirate King is easily one of the best comics of 2010. [...] What sells it — what sells the whole tale, really — is David B’s superb art. These are overwhelmingly colorful pages, with scenes from strange angles in compressed perspective." – Joshua Malbin
• List/Review: "A brutal guts-and-all look at the short life of the average French soldier in the trenches, with gritty artwork that straddles the fence between cartooning and illustration perfectly, It Was the War of the Trenches ranks up there with All Quiet on the Western Front in the ranks of WWI literature." – ranked #3 on The Best Comics of 2010 by Brad Manfully at Memories Fade
• List: Love and Rockets: New Stories #3 tops The Institute of Idle Time's Top 5 Comics of 2010 list: "Thank god for the Hernandez brothers. Anytime I need to convert someone to the medium, I pull out a volume from the longest-running and most successful alternative comic series of all time. [...] These two cartoonists embody everything comics fans love about the medium. They are master storytellers first and foremost, and the language of comics is never more beautiful." – Mike DiGino
• List: Alicia K. of Wordnerdy includes Castle Waiting Vol. 2 by Linda Medley ("...Castle Waiting is a great look at... I don't know, the lighter side of fairy tales? It's very character based...") and Love and Rockets: New Stories #3 ("Jaime Hernandez's stories in this are his best work ever, and since he's one of my top-two all-time-favorite comics dudes, that is saying a lot") on her Best Comics of 2010 list
• Review: "The chief reason to recommend [The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec] is Tardi’s art. ...[H]is photorealistic vistas of early 20th Century Paris are lovely, especially in the pastels and autumnual hues used here, and his cartoonish characters with their bulbous noses and waxed moustaches are a treat. Best yet is the design of Adele, with her period pulled-up hair, slit eyes and only top lip visible, which makes her appear more business-like and asexual, yet somehow more alluring because of the barriers presented." – Christopher Allen, Trouble with Comics
• Review: "Created as a light-hearted and wittily arch tribute to Jack Kirby’s majestic pantheon of cosmic comic deities Young GODS and Friends... slowly builds and spreads into a mythico-graphic Waiting for Godot... On a purely artistic level this collection and extrapolation is a sheer delight; with superb art, splendid writing and all sorts of added extras, but the story-consumer in me can’t help but yearn for what might have been and how much has been lost. Beautiful wry, witty and completely enchanting — and tragically disappointing because of that." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Interview: In the intro to Alex Dueben's talk with Joyce Farmer about Special Exits at Comic Book Resources, he says of the book "It’s a story told without the fake, heartwarming nonsense that colors so many stories about this topic. The book is both funny and heartbreaking, sometimes on the same page, dealing with the quiet hopeful moments and the nerve-wracking agony that come from a situation that is all too common and spoken of far too little." Joyce goes in depth about the process of the book: "I had wanted to do a big project for a long time. A few months before, I had realized that maybe my parents’ story was a worthwhile project. I was on vacation and I decided to write out the various stories that I remembered. This was three years after they died, so I’d had some time for some stories to die away and other stories to stick in my mind. I had one hundred stories, approximately, and I thought well, this is a book."
• List: "For giving us context, for showing us beautiful stories, and for delving into the work of a woman that changed girls comics forever, A Drunken Dream reaches #2 on my list." – Alexander Hoffman, Manga Widget "Top 10 of 2010"
• List: Named one of the Best Graphic Novels 2010 by Deb Walker of the Markham Public Library
• Plug: "The Prettiest, Shiniest Thing You Can Buy For That Special Someone Who Likes Pretty, Shiny Things: [...] It makes a fantastic read and an excellent coffee table book for someone who loves manga." – Daniella Orihuela-Gruber, All About Manga
• Plug: "This collection of short stories spanning the career of shoujo pioneer Moto Hagio offers a poignant look into the author’s mind, both as a young artist and an established creator, focusing especially on themes of family and personal identity." – Melinda Beasi, Manga Bookshelf
It was exactly 2 years ago today that I first reported on some mysterious Jim Woodring artwork that appeared to be for a Frank pinball machine. Today our very own pinball aficionado Larry Reid sent me a link which sheds light on that unexplained image! Pinball collector and Woodring fan Eli Curtz commissioned the artwork from Jim, and then commissioned Classic Playfield Reproductions to produce a custom backglass (the vertical backlit display above/behind the playfield) for a homebrew Frank machine that Eli is constructing. This is just about the coolest thing I've ever seen.
The backglass was produced in a small edition and Eli will have a few extras to sell off — information about that and the project as a whole can be found at Eli's website, with additional images, including the original artwork, here. More detailed images and additional information can be found at the Classic Playfield Reproductions website.
Our 3-day Inventory Reduction Sale ends tonight at midnight Pacific time and the response has been overwhelming! It's been working a little too well — a few items are now backordered, including Locas II, Luba, and the Krazy & Ignatz hardcover volumes. We have more on the way, so you can still order them at 40% off and we'll ship them to you in the 2nd week of January. Thanks everyone for the incredible response, and don't forget to get your order in before it's all over!
A pair of interviews with our staff have gone up today. First, The Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon chats with Jason T. Miles about his job here, his own comics, and his zine distro Profanity Hill. Next, at The Comics Journal, check out the first part of Chris Mautner's chat with Eric Reynolds about editing our quarterly anthology Mome. Good job, fellas!
UPDATE: Part 2 of the interview with Eric is up now.
The Strange Case of Edward Gorey (Expanded Hardcover Edition)
The Strange Case of Edward Gorey is the most authentic portrait yet of this truly enigmatic American artist and writer of macabre, ghoulish illustrated books. It is a respectful and insightful consideration not only of the intriguing pen-and-ink drawings but of the inventive, opinionated and eccentric person himself. A balletomane, cat-lover, unbelievably wide reader, collector of many and surprising objects, and mad filmgoer, Gorey had many selves. In this in-depth study of the man he had come to know over thirty years, Alexander Theroux, the novelist who has a literary genius all his own, examines every facet of this mysterious artist who left New York City to live year-round on Cape Cod for the last third of his life where for years, along with producing book after book, he found time to write and direct numerous evening-length entertainments, often featuring his own papier-mâché puppets in an ensemble known as La Theatricule Stoique.
No ordinary account could ever do justice to such an anomalous character, but Theroux with his depth of understanding, keen eye, literary gifts, and astonishing intelligence, never flinches and this loving but analytical account in its sympathy and range of one of America’s most complicated artists is unsparingly brilliant.
“Just read a few weeks ago your book on Gorey and enjoyed it very much.” – Cormac McCarthy, April, 2010
Download an EXCLUSIVE 15-page PDF excerpt (647 KB).
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We are pleased to be distributing the new self-published issue of Sammy Harkham's great comic book series Crickets to comics specialty shops, scheduled to arrive today!
We have a very limited number of copies available for order through our website for those of you who don't have a shop in your local area. (While we don't necessarily want to discourage you from ordering it from us, we do encorage you to obtain it from your local shop if at all possible.) We will also have a handful of copies available at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery starting tomorrow.
48-page duotone 8.5" x 11" comic book • $8.00
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!
"Being the latest comic book release by Sammy Harkham, now self-publisher of an oversized 48-page showcase for self-contained material, some of it published online by Vice. The showpiece is 'Blood of the Virgin,' a fascinating stretch of time from the life of a 1970s exploitation movie studio functionary, constantly seeing his desires swapped out like spicy footage cut from one picture for the benefit of another. Smartly detailed, keenly observed lit comics stuff. Note that the serial from issues #1 and #2 does not continue. I reviewed it here..." – Joe McCulloch, Comics Comics
"As somebody who's been known to call things 'Crickets' myself, I am extra-fond of Sammy Harkham's extra-intermittent anthology for all things Sammy Harkham-related." – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
"I picked up a copy of this at the Brooklyn show but if you weren’t there, then the third issue of Sammy Harkham’s Crickets is easily the pick of the week, at least as far as I’m concerned. Harkham has seemingly abandoned, at least for now, his tale of wandering golems and invulnerable men for two self-contained pieces, each with a decided literary bent (the first one is rather cheekily titled 'The New Yorker.'). Both tales show a slight movement towards more introspective, character building work, with the second tale 'Blood of the Virgin,' offering a nice homage of sorts to the late 1960s and early ’70s era of Roger Corman-style cheapie b-films, or at least how they were produced. Definitely one of the nicer surprises at the Brooklyn show this month and highly recommended." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
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