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.
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!
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.
R.C. Harvey, who seemingly knows everything about everything, once again shared the expanse of his knowledge in his annotations for our latest collection of Walt Kelly's Pogo strips and once again we had to bleed the red pen dry and carve Harv's original text down considerably from the original 10,000 (or so) words to print it in the allotted space in Pogo: The Complete Syndicated Comic Strips Vol. 2 - Bona Fide Balderdash. But again, since the internet knows no such space limitations, we are pleased to present the unadulterated, unedited Harv here on our website. (And if you've just picked up the new box set of Vols. 1 and 2, you can find his unexpurgated Vol. 1 notes here.)
So get comfy, maybe fix yourself a nice mug of cocoa. We'll start with the intro here, and then you can carry on to the notes themselves. If you know Harv, you know that his loquaciousness and erudition is matched only by his delightfully readable prose. Enjoy! – Ed.
Swamp Talk Annotations and Historical Data By R.C. Harvey
lthough celebrated for his political allegory and satire, Walt Kelly laced Pogo with allusions to other aspects of contemporary life in America, plus literary references and snatches of poetry. In our less than literate society of 140-character communiques, many of Kelly’s nods at literature are obscure to the point of irrelevance, and the targets of much of his political sniping are no longer visible: sixty years after the fact, the events he so gleefully mocked have long been forgotten. My assignment here at the back of the book is to pull back the veil that the passage of time has drawn over the Pogo proceedings by reminding us of some of those things we’ve lost sight of.
Harmless drudgery though it is, I take heart at the words of comics afficionado and cartooner Clay Geerdes, who once said: “Probably only a handful of people, cartoonists among them, understand the many levels Kelly worked on in a single strip. He was to comics what William Faulkner was to the psychological novel” — an insight that doubtless justifies a few more generations of copiously footnoted articles about Pogo.
And so I plunge once again to a swirl of elucidation (clarifying explanation) the tedium of which will no doubt yield an ennui (listless boredom) greater than the enervating (paralyzing) effect of the bafflement that might otherwise prevail.
The period embraced by this volume (1951-52) provides a happy sample of the sort of crowd-pleasing antics that Kelly was staging in those days just before he turned the spotlight on political commentary; instead, we have unrelenting vaudevillian nonsense, mostly untinged by any topicalities whatsoever. His objective, he said, was to be funny. "I come from a school of old-time cartooning," he went on. "In the old days, we tried to make a buck out of drawing. I go after whatever seems funny to me."
In his pursuit of funny, Kelly eschewed plots. Plots, to Kelly, were not realistic. "The plot is an invention of storytellers," he said. And if none of his characters ever accomplishes anything or achieves whatever goal may have inspired the commencement of an action, that's realistic. "There are no pay-offs in real life," Kelly explained. "Besides, it always rings untrue when you try to wind up with a specific conclusion."
Consequently (in case you haven't noticed already), in Pogo things happen in much the same fashion as a ball of yarn unravels if rolled across the floor by a playful kitten. Pogo and the rest of "nature's screechers" that populate the swamp may begin with one thing in mind, but they are easily distracted (by misapprehended speeches or actions, by puns or other word play, by the arrival of a newcomer in their midst) into following an internal logic of their own that bears little or no resemblance to the meaning the rest of us fabricate for the world around us. And all the time, Kelly was honing his skill at political satire — as we can see in the pages to the fore, illuminated, we trust, by these notes at the aft. We begin with the daily strips; then, the Sundays.
News of our upcoming Graham Chaffee book Good Dog has been warmly received by everyone who's been waiting for Chaffee's return to comics. For months now Graham has posting process art for the entire book on his blog, from rough character drawings to script notes to layouts done in his sketchbook. It so happens he just posted the last page (so spoiler warnings apply) so now's the time to dive on in!
Hal Foster's masterpiece of adventure enters its second decade as Valiant and Aleta journey to "The New World," a 16-month epic that allows Foster to draw some of his spectacular native Canadian backgrounds, and during which Aleta gives birth to Arn and acquires her Indian nurse, Tillicum. Most of the rest of the book is taken up with the action-packed five-month sequence "The Mad King," during which Val, back at Camelot, confronts the evil, fat little King Tourien of Cornwall.
This volume is rounded off with an essay by Foster scholar Brian M. Kane (The Prince Valiant Companion) discussing Foster's depiction of "Indians" as it relates to other interpretations of the times, accompanied by various graphic goodies including our most spectacular bonus feature yet — a double-sized fold-out page reproducing a strip hand-colored by Foster — plus a previously unpublished camping cartoon by Foster from circa 1915, some of Foster's Mountie paintings, Foster's own map of Val's voyage to/from the New World, and more rare photos and art.
As always, this volume is shot directly from Foster's personal collection of syndicate proofs, their glorious colors restored to create an unprecedentedly sumptuous reading experience.
Another fascinating collection of early work from one of America's most original, trenchant, and uncompromising artists. "Some More Early Years of Bitter Struggle" features several key stories from Crumb’s pre-underground, homemade comics of the early 1960s (such as Farb and Arcade), with stories featuring early Crumb characters Fritz the Cat, Jim, Mabel, and Little Billy Bean. It also includes "Roberta Smith, Office Girl," Crumb's charming 4-panel strip for the American Greetings employee newsletter; a full-color section of cover illustrations; copious reproductions from Crumb's sketchbooks; and more of the biographical introduction by Crumb confidant Marty Pahls.
1989 Harvey Award Winner, Best Domestic Reprint Project
Starring Fritz the Cat includes Crumb's classic original Fritz stories from 1965, including "Fritz Bugs Out" and "Fritz the Cat, Special Agent for the CIA," the first two "real" stories in the Fritz canon, as well as "Fritz the Cat, Ace Statesman," four pages of a previously unpublished Fritz story, and several Fritz illos never before printed in color. Plus: Crumb's first published work from Help! and Yell, including the "Harlem Sketchbook" and the "Bulgarian Sketchbook," most never before reprinted; two dozen of his Topps trading cards, plus extremely rare promotional items, as well as many creeting cards done for American Greetings, several in full color; and many pages of strips from Crumb's 20-year-old sketchbooks. Plus more of Marty Pahls's ongoing Crumb biography, including the story of Crumb's first acid trip, with more rare photos of the young Crumb!
1989 Harvey Award Winner, Best Domestic Reprint Project
Buy Two, Get One Half Off! When ordering either of these volumes, add any two other available volumes from The Complete Crumb Comicsseries and the third volume will be half price! (Note that you will receive all 3 books in one shipment when they are all available in our warehouse.) See product pages for more details.
Register and Login to receive full member benefits, including members-only special offers, commenting privileges on Flog! The Fantagraphics Blog, newsletters and special announcements via email, and stuff we haven't even thought of yet. Membership is free and spam-free, so Sign Up Today!