National Book Award nominee, critic and one of America’s least compromising satirists, Alexander Theroux takes a comprehensive look at the colorful language of pop lyrics and the realm of rock music in general in The Grammar of Rock: silly song titles; maddening instrumentals; shrieking divas; clunker lines; the worst (and best) songs ever written; geniuses of the art; movie stars who should never have raised their voice in song but who were too shameless to refuse a mic; and the excesses of awful Christmas recordings. Praising (and critiquing) the gems of lyricists both highbrow and low, Theroux does due reverence to classic word-masters like Ira Gershwin, Jimmy Van Heusen, Cole Porter, and Sammy Cahn, lyricists as diverse as Hank Williams, Buck Ram, the Moody Blues, and Randy Newman, Dylan and the Beatles, of course, and more outré ones like the Sex Pistols, the Clash, Patti Smith, the Fall (even Ghostface Killah), but he considers stupid rhymes, as well — nonsense lyrics, chop logic, the uses and abuses of irony, country music macho, verbal howlers, how voices sound alike and why, and much more.
In a way that no one else has ever done, with his usual encyclopedic insights into the state of the modern lyric, Theroux focuses on the state of language — the power of words and the nature of syntax — in The Grammar of Rock. He analyzes its assaults on listeners’ impulses by investigating singers’ styles, pondering illogical lunacies in lyrics, and deconstructing the nature of diction and presentation in the language. This is that rare book of discernment and probing wit (and not exclusively one that is a critical defense of quality) that positively evaluates the very nature of a pop song, and why one over another has an effect on the listener.
Joe Kubert sealed his reputation as one of the greatest American comicbook cartoonists of all time with the four-color adventures of Sgt. Rock of Easy Company, Enemy Ace, and Tarzan, all done for DC Comics during the 1960s and 1970s (themselves already the subject of archival editions)... but he had been working in comics since the 1940s. In fact, young Kubert produced an exciting, significant body of work as a freelance artist for a variety of comic book publishers in the postwar era, in a glorious variety of non-super hero genres: horror, crime, science fiction, western, romance, humor, and more.
For the first time, 33 of the best of these stories have been collected in one full-color volume, with a special emphasis on horror and crime. The Kubert work in this book is that of a burgeoning talent attacking the work with tremendous panache, and in the process, developing a style that became one of the most distinctive in the medium.
Since these stories were written and drawn in the pre-Comics Code era, they are more thrilling, violent and sexy (by contemporary standards) than much of his later, Code-constrained work. And just the titles of the comic books from which these stories are taken are wonderfully evocative of a bygone era of four-color fun: Cowpuncher, Abbott and Costello Comics, Three Stooges, Eerie, Planet Comics, Meet Miss Pepper, Strange Terrors, Green Hornet Comics, Whack, Jesse James, Out of This World, Crime Does Not Pay, Weird Thrillers, Police Lineup, and Hollywood Confessions.
As with Fantagraphics’ acclaimed Steve Ditko and Bill Everett Archives series, Weird Horrors and Daring Adventures boasts state-of-the-art restoration and retouching, and an extensive set of historical notes and an essay by the book’s editor Bill Schelly, author of the Art of Joe Kubert art book and Man of Rock Kubert biography.
A mysterious traveler gets off the train in a small village surrounded by a thick sinister forest. He is searching for Delphine, who vanished with only a scrawled-out address on a scrap of paper as a trace.
Richard Sala takes the tale of Snow White and stands it on its head, retelling it from Prince Charming's perspective (the unnamed traveler) in a contemporary setting. This twisted tale includes all the elements of terror from the original fairy tale, with none of the insipid saccharine coating of the Disney animated adaptation: Yes, there will be blood.
Originally serialized as part of the acclaimed international "Ignatz" series, Delphine is executed in a rich and ominous duotone that shows off Sala's virtuosity — punctuated with stunning full-color chapter breaks.
Beyond Palomar collects two of Gilbert's groundbreaking works about the Central American hamlet of Palomar in one affordable book."Poison River" is a dizzying period piece often hailed as one of Hernandez's masterpieces. It traces the pre-Palomar childhood of Luba, her teenage marriage to gangster Peter Rio, the secrets behind her mysterious mother, all the way up to her subsequent escape and arrival in Palomar.
Meanwhile, "Love and Rockets X," set in the early 1990s (in the waning years of Bush I's post-Reagan hangover, with Gulf War I in the background), takes us from plush Beverly Hills to the dangerous east side and introduces us to a dizzyingly diverse cast of characters, including a lowlife rock 'n' roll band, a "posse" of black youths, a ditzy Hollywood mom and her spoiled son, a gay activist filmmaker and his rebellious, half-Iraqi daughter, and a group of racist thugs whose violent attack on an older woman sets the plot in motion. These fantastic stories are now a swipe of the finger away on comiXology, 260 pages of fantastic comics at $14.99. A steal of a deal.
"In a real world, not the screwed-up world we have now, [Gilbert Hernandez] would be considered one of the greatest American storytellers. It's so hard to do funny, tragic, local and epic, and he does all simultaneously, and with great aplomb." – Junot Diaz
"In Gilbert's Palomar stories, there's a rawness that dominates the proceedings: raw anger, raw sexuality, raw passion for life, death and art." – Rob Clough, High-Low
It's been even more extra-heartbreaking to write this FLOG post in the wake of yesterday's tragedy at the Clackamas Town Center mall near Portland, Oregon. Earlier this year, Seattle had its own tragic shooting at beloved local hang-out Café Racer.
This Thursday, December 13th, Café Racer and Brown Paper Tickets are hosting a very special benefit for the victims' families and the lone survivor of the shootings that took place on May 30, 2012, claiming five victims and impacting everyone involved in the Seattle artistic community.
Brown Paper Tickets will be debuting their Artist Ticket Program, where a limited edition of event tickets are imprinted with original artwork for an extra fee, with proceeds donated to charity. For this inaugural event, Brown Paper Tickets chose our own Ellen Forney and Jim Woodring, two artists who were very much a part of Café Racer community. Ellen and Jim will perform readings, and will also be available to personally sign your Artist Ticket.
Doors are at 6:00 PM, with the event kicking off at 7:00 PM. Cover is "pay-what-you-can" and advanced tickets are highly recommended as space is limited. There will be some tickets available at the door the day of the event but are first-come, first-served. Café Racer is located at 5828 Roosevelt Way NE.
If you can't make the event but want to donate to the Victims of the Café Racer Shooting Memorial Fund, click here to visit the donation page.
The first* glass of spiked eggnog of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review: Metroland'sSimcoe reviews Walt Disney's Donald Duck: A Christmas for Shacktown by Carl Barks and The Complete Peanuts: 1985 to 1986 by Charles M. Schulz. Glenn Perrett states, "Reading Carl Bark's "Donald Duck" stories from 60 years ago was entertaining. The animation and colours are excellent and sections such as "Story Notes" [etc.] . . . complement the wonderful comics making this book a nice addition to any library." And "The Complete Peanuts: 1985 to 1986 are sure to make the holidays more entertaining and makes a nice gift and keepsake."
• Review: Noel Murray of The AV Club continues the Christmas coverage with Schulz's Charlie Brown's Christmas Stocking which "is mainly meant to serve as a nice little accessory to holiday decorations, to be brought out every December with the ornaments and Andy Williams records. For that reason, it’s hard to humbug it…" With Walt Disney's Donald Duck: "A Christmas for Shacktown" by Carl Barks, Murray notes "These stories—nearly all published in the early ’50s—are mostly non-Christmas-y, but the title tale is a sweet one. . . For those who do want a surefire present for the comics buff in their lives."
• Review: School Library Journal goes over some of the favorite holiday graphic novels of 2012 like Charlie Brown's Christmas Stocking by Charles Schulz. J. Caleb Mozzocco states "It’s beautifully designed, a breezy, five-minute read, and about the size of a Christmas card, making it a pretty great gift. And, this being Schulz’s Peanuts, it’s the sort of gift you’ll never grow out of." As for Carl Barks' holiday and title story in Walt Disney's Donald Duck: "A Christmas for Shacktown", "It’s one of about 20 of the top-notch comics in the book, which range from one-page gags to the sort of sprawling adventures Barks was best-known for."
• Review: Noel Murray of The AV Club takes a peak at Heads or Tails by Lilli Carré. "Carré loves to constrict her characters, because she knows that limiting their options won’t necessarily limit their imaginations. . . her comics work often has the feel of avant-garde cinema, as she weds surreal images to everyday situations to enchant audiences and spark ideas. . . "
• Review: Christopher Borrelli of The Chicago Tribune writes a loooong article on Lilli Carré and her new book Heads or Tails "that best captures the range, humor and vague sense of ennui she's made her name on. . . "
• Review: Noel Murray of The AV Club enjoys Tom Kacynski's Beta Testing the Apocalypse. "Kaczynski’s comics are frequently nightmarish, starting from a slightly askew place and then tipping further into darkness. . . But while his stories have characters and plots—often with haunting endings—they’re more like essays than conventional narratives."
• Review: Noel Murray of The AV Club finished the You'll Never Know series with Book 3: A Soldier's Heart by Carol Tyler. "This is Tyler’s magnum opus: her thoughts on art, work, relationships, music, war, and anything else that came to her mind while she was piecing together her dad’s story."
• Plug:About.com fills in the blanks of their Christmas Sex Book List by adding our most recent titles. On No Straight Lines: Four Decades of Queer Comics edited by Justin Hall, Cory Silverberg slyly states "given the diversity of artists working today it's not a definitive collection, but it's sexy and joyful and difficult in parts, and definitely one to own." Meanwhile, Naked Cartoonists (edited by Gary Groth) contains "a number of stand outs among this overwhelmingly white, male collection of artists. And I imagine this could be a perfect gift for the right kind of comic nerd."
• Review: Danel Olson of the Weird Fiction Volume 3 writes on Richard Sala and The Hidden . "Sala has become one of my favorite American sequential artists because of his subtle tributes and expansions to four of the most memorable twentieth century American cartoonists - Charles Addams, Edward Gorey, Gahan Wilson, and Basil Wolverton. . . Forbidding and weird seem like weak adjectives for Sala's The Hidden, and I urge you to open it. . . Give a standing order to Fantagraphics for any noirishly weird fictions forthcoming from Sala."
• Review: Chris Estey of KEXP reviews the Bill Griffith collection called Bill Griffith: Lost and Found - Comics 1969-2003. Chris Estey writes that it is "a luxurious and generous Fantagraphics big book collection of his non-Zippy work, is required reading for those who may have missed his parodies and punk rock operas in the past, or want them all bound together. It’s also for those like me who were never really that much into Zippy in the first place."
• Plug: Dave Segal recants the events immediately following his Stranger article on Listen, Whitey!by Pat Thomason the Stranger Slog. White supremacists got all sorts of angry at this history book and the white dude who wrote it.
• Plug: One step forward, two steps back. The Adele Blanc-Sec movie is inching along towards distribution in America. Johanna Draper Carlson gets the scoop on DVDs Worth Reading on Jacques Tardi's graphic novel adaptation.
• Plug:Negromancer reviews the film adaptation of Art School Confidentialdirected by Terry Zwigoff based on the comics of Daniel Clowes. "While Art School Confidential comes across as a satire of art schools, the faculty, and students, it is also a love story and youth relationship drama. It works well as all three."
*let's be real, it's like our tenth glass of that local dairy's eggnog
Hot on the heels of his acclaimed Mark Twain’s Autobiography 1910-2010 comes Michael Kupperman’s second all-comics collection of surreal slapstick and crazy non-sequitur goofiness, all from the pages of his beloved comic book series Tales Designed to Thrizzle.
Tales Designed to Thrizzle Volume Two features two of Kupperman’s recurring duos: America’s favorite mustachioed physicist/writer double team of Twain and Einstein (solving new crimes and barreling through exciting new adventures), and the crime-fighting team of Snake and Bacon ("Sssssssssssss!") who make a special return just to star in Reservoir Dogs 2.
Elsewhere in this volume the crusty Quincy, M.E. makes his comic book debut, struggling through the fantastic landscapes of his own dreams in "Quinception" (in which St. Peter also gets his own comic book). And learn the true story of the first lunar landing, guest starring Woodward & Bernstein, Lt. Columbo and... Quincy again??... in "Moon 69."
Also: The Jungle Princess battles rhino traders... A story of Broadway theatrics in "All About Drainage"... Slightly cursed merchandise and other dubious products... Cockney grave robbers... Cowboy Oscar Wilde... McArf the Crime Dog takes a bite out of scum... The origin of The Hamanimal... A photocomic starring comedian Julie Klausner, "Voyage To Narnia"... Break out your crayons for the highly educational "Train & Bus Coloring Book"... The story of French national hero "The Scythe"... and "Murder, She Goat."
Plus! This volume contains a full issue's worth of never-before-published, brand new Thrizzle material featuring "Mandate the Magician," "Fart Boobs," "The Odd Couple of Draculas," "Skull Groin," "Gladiator & Snivolus," "Mr. Flopears," "Gordon Ramsay's Fairy Tale Toilet Kitchen Nightmares," "McGritte the Surrealist Crime Dog," a new Twain & Einstein adventure and ever so much more!
The Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery is proud to present a homecoming event with artist Nathan Bulmer, former-Seattleite now-Brooklynite, on Sunday, December 30th, signing from 2:00 to 4:00 PM!
Bulmer has had work published in MAD Magazine, Time Out New York, Seattle Magazine, and The Comics Journal, and has a brand-new collection out now titled Eat More Bikes, from our dear friends at Koyama Press! Much like his web-comic of the same name, the all-new cartoons contained inside traffic in the same absurdist humour.
You can buy more comics like Eat More Bikes at the Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery, 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.
Behold, the new issue of The Comics Journal, an edition so awesome we made it a flip-book with TWO cover features: Gary Groth's newsmaking interview with the late Maurice Sendak on one side, and Kim Thompson's interview with Jacques Tardi on the other side. (To clarify, there aren't two separate covers; every copy has both covers and which one's the "front" depends on which way you turn it.) And there's a whooole lotta stuff in between. Look for excerpts to be posted on TCJ.com as the release date nears (early February being our current best guess). TCJ sets the agenda for intelligent comics conversation, so pre-order your copy today and don't get left behind.
Arriving in mailboxes imminently: the 2013 edition (we've lost count of how many of these things we've put out) of the Fantagraphics Ultimate Catalog of Comics! It's jam-packed with our 2012 releases, a few upcoming 2013 releases, and a bunch of backlist stuff. It also has an update on our FBI•MINI mail-order bonus program and some surprise exclusive money-saving offers! And, of course, there's a handy order form for ordering everything.
If you're not already on our mailing list, contact us to request your free copy, and if you just can't wait and/or want to have it on your computer or mobile device, we've also made it available as an 9 MB PDF download.
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