Your must-read of the day: The Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon talks to our second-in-command Kim Thompson. This, from Kim's very first answer:
"...[I]t was more the one-two combination of [Carl] Barks's duck stories and the acquisition of the EC material that gave me a sort of 'holy shit' moment of realizing that if you take, say, the Comics Journal's Top 100 list of yore and go down it, Fantagraphics is now so dominant it becomes almost ridiculous. I think the current Fantagraphics list is unambiguously the greatest list of cartoonists ever to be assembled under one publishing roof, period. I'm open to rebuttal, but, y'know, c'mon."
Always modest, that Kim! The conversation covers general publishing matters and then gets into detail about our current slate of Eurocomics translations. I found it super-informative — and I work here!
You have all that Xmas cash burning a hole in your pocket. We've got teetering piles of books in our warehouse. Let's make a deal! We've put together a list of titles we have too many of and we've slashed the prices on these books by 40% for 4 days only — Tuesday December 27, 2011 through Friday, December 30. (Sale not in effect at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery.) This is a HUGE assortment including some primo stuff from your favorite artists: Bagge! Clowes! Cooper! Crane! Foster! Friedman! Hernandez! Herriman! Jason! Kelso! Millionaire! Ryan! Sacco! Sala! Sakai! Tyler! And many more. Big fat collectible hardcovers. Classic graphic novels. Stunning art books. Recent faves. Over 150 items to choose from! Buy buy buy!
(This is the best deal you'll get on these books and it won't last, but stay tuned for the triumphantly woozy return of our yearly post-New Year's Hangover Sale, when everything in stock will be marked down!)
50 years from now, if you say "I was at the Crimestoppers Club show in the East Village Dec 27th, 2011" your grandkids may stop kicking you! --Michael Kupperman
Protect your shins in the future, and be there at Luca Lounge [ 222 Avenue B, NYC ] for the latest installment in the monthly comedy series The Crime Stoppers Club, with your hosts Michael Kupperman and Kate Beaton!
All sorts of mid-holiday-week merriment is in store for Tuesday, December 27th, with special guests Julia Wertz, Anthony DeVito, Mitch Magee, and Mark Twain, star of the acclaimed Mark Twain's Autobiography 1910-2010!
Word has it, Twain will be teaming up with comedian Julie Klausner to read a scene from Shakespeare's lost play! You may recognize Klausner from the photocomic in Tales Designed to Thrizzle #7, and if you haven't gotten your copy yet, you might WIN ONE in some easy games of chance!
So, don't miss out! And make it your new year's resolution to fight crime with The Crime Stoppers Club every month in New York City -- you can follow them here on Facebook!
• List: Tucker Stone counts down The Best of 2011 at comiXology. and we sure like the looks of his top 5:
At #5, Jim Woodring's Congress of the Animals: "Deftly exploring the individual's relationship with labor, consequence and love, Congress of the Animals might be Woodring's least nightmarish work yet. (Although there's still a decent portion of it involving face-robbed humanoids that you shouldn't leave lying open if you have junkies visiting.)"
At #4, Prison Pit Book 3 by Johnny Ryan: "Back in 2009, when Ryan began Prison Pit, it was a revelation; a bone-crushing giant, born fully clothed.... Make no mistake: if Jack Kirby was born today, these are the kinds of comics he'd be drawing."
At #2, Ganges #4 by Kevin Huizenga: "While it has been two years since the release of Ganges #3, the only thing that could possibly have dulled would be the audience's memory of how extraordinary the series can be.... As with Yokoyama's Color Engineering, the audience becomes participatory witness, buried head to toe alongside Glenn, living and dying by his attempts to conquer. The shaggy dog ending -- weirder than the last one -- only seems cruel for the length of time it takes you to remember: being broken out of a trance is supposed to hurt."
And in the #1 spot, Love and Rockets: New Stories #4: "...Love and Rockets 4 saw Jaime Hernandez making good on the promise of decades. Resolving with as much finality as one could ask the question of 'how's this gonna end,' the final passage of this issue's Maggie story was without comparison. There was absolutely nothing else like reading those pages for the first time -- the gasp held tight in your throat, the 8 panel grids giving way only once, for a two page silent recap of the last 30 years of a life only we seem to know was well-lived."
• Review: "...[The Armed Garden] is absolutely marvelous, a gorgeous and searing series of comics from an artist who earns the description 'freakishly talented' as completely as anyone this side of his trans-Atlantic fellow in crafting dreamy/nightmarish parables of violent spirituality, Jim Woodring. These comics are just as lovely and just as frightening, and just as singularly the work of their creator and no other." – Sean T. Collins, Attentiondeficitdisorderly
For perhaps obvious reasons, I invariably find myself re-reading Palestine this time of year. Twenty years ago, cartoonist Joe Sacco visited the biblical lands of the Middle East and reported his observations in a groundbreaking series of comic books that would help change our perceptions of the troubled occupied territories. It's a sad commentary that reading this book twenty years later, it seems like it could have been written yesterday. With every read — going on a dozen now — I find something new in Sacco's brilliant tale.
I recall not long after beginning work as Fantagraphics marketing and promotions director, co-publisher Kim Thompson handed me a blue-line copy of the first issue of Palestine. "This is amazing," I responded, "but you can't seriously expect me to sell this thing. It's not very funny at all!" (I believe I said something similar when Kim showed me the first issue of Chris Ware's Acme Novelty Library.) Well, after 10 printings of the collection and a special edition hardcover, Palestine seems to have found a readership.
If you haven't done so already, please get a copy of this book. Now's a perfect time to peruse its pages. Sacco visits Bethlehem and finds little evidence of the promise of peace we will celebrate this Sunday. But he does discover humanity amid the turmoil of the region. And with it — hope for a peaceful resolution.
If you find yourself in Seattle anytime soon, drop by Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery. We have a limited quantity of Palestine #1 first edition comic books signed by Sacco for only $2.95, as well as a large selection of his more recent works. Happy holidays.
For your shopping pleasure, Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery will remain open an extra hour until 9:00 PM this Friday, December 23. So sled down to Georgetown for some holiday cheer. We close at 5:00 PM on Saturday, December 24 and remain closed on Sunday, December 25. Come back and visit on Monday, December 26. We'll be open normal hours 11:30 to 8:00 PM the rest of the week.
In the second volume of Shimura Takako's superb coming-of-age story, our transgendered protagonists, Shuichi and Yoshino, have entered the sixth grade. Shuichi spends a precious gift of cash from his grandmother on a special present for himself, a purchase that triggers a chain of events in which his sister Maho learns his secret, and Shuichi inadvertently steals the heart of a boy Maho in interested in.
The “woman” who showed so much interest in Yoshino (when she was wear- ing a boy’s school uniform) in Volume One reappears with “her” boyfriend, and becomes a mentor and friend to the two children. And the kids go on a class trip that is a rite of passage Shuichi would rather pass up. Shuichi is called a “faggot” by another boy, and the dramatic nature in which Saori comes to Shuichi’s defense leads the two to discover a shared fondness for Anne of Green Gables. But despite his propensity to cry (a propensity noted repeatedly by his more outgoing sister), Shuichi finds strength and courage he didn’t know he had.
A sophisticated work translated with sensitivity by veteran translator and comics scholar Matt Thorn.
• List:NPR's Glen Weldon names The Best Comics of 2011, including Pogo Vol. 1 ("Walt Kelly's hugely influential strip gets the deluxe treatment it deserves"), Mark Twain's Autobiography 1910-2010 by Michael Kupperman ("The silliest, funniest, most bracing, and really-I-wasn't-kidding-when-I-said-silliest, book of the year"), and Wandering Son Vol. 1 by Shimura Takako ("An insightful, empathetic and deeply moving manga about a boy who wants to be a girl and a girl who wants to be a boy")
• List: Megamedia conglomerate music-video website VEVO names Everything Is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson by Kevin Avery one of 2011's Top Music Books: "Another key critic of rock’s early years, Paul Nelson had a deep skill for explaining artists’ intentions. He was also unafraid of point out their foibles. That makes for a good balance, and some of the portraits he crafted through the years... still resonate as luminous pieces of writing.... But as this combination of bio and anthology reminds us of superb work, it also sketches out his troubled life."
• Award: Thanks to the Well Watchers comics podcast for bestowing us their 2011 Golden Uatu award for Best Publisher
• Profile: At The Atlantic, Steven Heller talks to Bill Griffith about Zippy the Pinhead and his new "landmark book": "Who would have imagined in 1970 that Zippy the Pinhead would become a national icon, up there with Pogo, Charlie Brown, and Mr. Natural? 'Never in my wildest underground imaginings did I foresee Zippy as a continuing character, much less a nationally syndicated daily strip,' says Zippy’s creator, Bill Griffith (Griffy to his intimates). By 1970 he had a hit comic titled 'Young Lust,' an X-rated parody of girl's romance comics. He figured Zippy would take his place alongside other one-shot characters: 'I had no intention of giving him any further thought.' Yet 42 years later, this month marks the publication of an anthology of Zippy and other Griffith characters in Lost and Found - Comics 1969-2003."
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