A funny thing happened on the way to comic-strip immortality.
For many years, Ernie Bushmiller’s Nancy, with its odd-looking, squat heroine, nearly abstract art, and often super-corny gags, was perceived as the stodgiest, squarest comic strip in the world. Popular with newspaper read- ers, true — but definitely not a strip embraced by comic-strip connoisseurs, like Krazy Kat, Dick Tracy or Terry and the Pirates.
But then those connoisseurs took a closer look, and began to realize that Bushmiller’s art approached its own kind of cartoon perfection, and those corny gags often achieved a striking zen quality. In its own way, it turned out Nancy was in fact the most iconic comic strip of all. (The American Heritage Dictionary actually uses a Nancy strip to illustrate its entry on “comic strip.”)
Charter members of the Nancy revival include Art Spiegelman, who published Mark Newgarden’s famous “Love’s Savage Fury” (featuring Nancy and Bazooka Joe) in an early issue of RAW; Fletcher Hanks anthologist Paul Karasik; Zippy the Pinhead creator Bill Griffith; underground publisher Denis Kitchen, who released several volumes of Nancy collections in the 1980s; Understanding Comics’ Scott McCloud, who created the “Five-Card Nancy” card game; Joe Brainard, who produced an entire Nancy Book of paintings in 2008; and Andy Warhol, who produced a painting based on Nancy.
Beginning in the Winter of 2011, fans will be dancing with joy as Fantagraphics unveils an ongoing Nancy reprint project. Each volume will contain a whopping full three years of daily Nancy strips (a Sunday Nancy project looms in the future), collected in a fat, square (what else, for the “squarest” strip in the world?) package designed by Jacob (Popeye, Beasts!, Willie and Joe) Covey.
This first volume will collect every daily strip from 1943 to 1945. (Fantagraphics will eventually release Nancy’s first five years, 1938-1942, but given the scarcity of archival material for these years we are giving ourselves some extra time to collate it all.)
This first Nancy volume will feature an introduction by another stellar Bushmiller fan, Daniel Clowes (from whose collection most of the strips in this volume were scanned), a biography of the artist, and much more.
• Interview:The Believer presents the fourth and concluding part of Ross Simonini's 2008 interview with Jim Woodring (which can be read in its entirety here): "I don’t believe in art like I used to. I believe in something beyond it, something that contains art and everything else. But I just don’t quite have the nerve to chuck drawing and painting. Part of it is that I enjoy IT too much, and part is that I don’t have the courage to renounce the world. I don’t want to move out of this nice neighborhood so that I can live in a shed and devote myself to meditating and touching something I can’t feel. I’m addicted to the fun of playing in the world."
• Review: "Fantagraphics is giving us another opportunity to revisit R. Crumb's iconic character in a hardcover edition of his collected adventures, called The Life and Death of Fritz the Cat.... Despite Fritz's demise 40 years ago, these stories maintain their wit, satirical edge, and their ability to offend and shock. The earlier stories are funny and bizarre..., and the later ones are funny and angry... Even the final story can be viewed as funny in an extraordinarily dark context, although it helps to be aware of Crumb's intentions. To read 'Fritz the Cat, Superstar' first, or without knowledge of Crumb, would feel a lot like confronting a knife-wielding lunatic in a dark alley.... Fantagraphics' new hardcover edition of the Fritz portfolio is unburdened by editorial commentary or contextual material of any kind. This encourages readers to experience the comics as if for the first time -- and find that the acid in Crumb's humor still stings." – Casey Burchby, SF Weekly
• Review: "Just released by Fantagraphics, [Action! Mystery! Thrills!] is one the best books yet done on Golden Age Comics! Sadowski is by far my favorite editor of compilations/retrospectives on comic book art!... A fascinating and important look at an exceptional period of American art! My highest recommendation to anyone interested in 20th Century illustration and of course the comics!" – Golden Age Comic Book Stories (via The Comics Reporter)
• Review: "[Athos in America]'s the usual collection of laconic oddness and outright weirdness.... Yes, it would be fair to say if you're looking for examples of dark humour in comics, Jason probably would be a very good place to start." – Jonathan Rigby, Page 45
• Review: "Mixing illustrated text pieces with short comic strips, Kupperman uses [an] oddball conceit [in Mark Twain's Autobiography 1910-2010] to deliver a wacky, adventure-filled romp that sends you laughing your way through the twentieth century.... The thick, precise lines of Kupperman’s drawing style bring a much needed dead-pan expression to a book that might otherwise feel out of control. The text pieces are often well-used, giving Kupperman more room to play with Twain’s voice and toss in frequent verbal puns." – Matthew L. Moffett, No Flying No Tights
344-page black & white 8.5" x 7" hardcover • $28.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-523-5
Ships in: March 2012 (subject to change)
As Peanuts reaches the mid-1980s, Charles Schulz is still creating and playing with new characters, and in this volume Snoopy’s deadpan, droopy-mustached brother Spike takes center stage: Surrounded by coyotes in the desert where he lives and who are attacking him with rubber bands, he sends a frantic message to Snoopy who launches an expedition to save him. Then, he makes the long trek back to Snoopy’s neck of the woods accompanied by his only friend (a cactus, of course)… and throughout the rest of the book, pops up in hilarious, Waiting for Godot-style vignettes set in his native Needles.
In romantic news, the Peppermint Patty-Marcie-Charlie Brown love triangle of overlapping unrequited love heats up (well, kind of), while Linus continues to vociferously deny that he is Sally’s “Sweet Babboo”; of course, Lucy’s unsuccessful pursuit of Schroeder remains unabated. Also, a romance blossoms between two of Snoopy’s “Beagle Scout” birds. (We will pass over Spike’s brief attraction to one of the coyotes.)
In what is probably his most baroque and hilarious baseball-involved humiliation yet, Charlie Brown agrees to join Peppermint Patty’s team the “Pelicans” only to discover that he’s wanted not as a player but as a mascot… Linus gives up his security blanket and forms a support group for other kids who are trying to do the same… and Peppermint Patty manages to be held back in school (leaving a “Snoring Ghost” to take her place in the rest of the class that has advanced) and yet get to go on a European trip with her dad, sending back periodic dispatches from the road. All this plus appearances from Franklin, Rerun, and the rest of the gang in these strips from a period of Peanuts that’s far less well-known than the endlessly-collected 1960s and 1970s eras…
Download and read a 17-page PDF excerpt (3.1 MB) with all the strips from January 1983.
• Feature:The Stranger's Dave Segal talks to Pat Thomas about the creation of Listen, Whitey! The Sights and Sounds of Black Power 1965-1975 and says of the book, "Listen, Whitey! presents Black Power's volatile ups and downs with stunning imagery. Designed by Fantagraphics' Jacob Covey, the copiously illustrated Listen, Whitey! is a joy to behold as well as to read.... Ultimately, Thomas captures the revolutionary spirit of myriad vital strands of the movement and stokes your desire to hear these recordings."
• Review: "...Action! Mystery! Thrills! Comic Book Covers of the Golden Age 1933-1945 [is] wonderful. ...Sadowski offers up an incredibly diverse gallery of forgotten superheroes, pistol-toting gangsters, cartoonish Nazis, and talking animals. Each cover has been painstakingly restored to pristine condition, and is presented in full color on glossy paper. It’s as close to browsing the comics rack of a World War II-era drugstore as most of us will ever get.... Sadowski... is one of the most adept chroniclers of comic-book history working today. He offers succinct but informative notes on each cover, but his most notable achievement in this volume is his selection of covers. The notes are helpful and fun, but it’s the progression of images itself that is the most telling.... At a perfectly reasonable $29.99, it’s a must for any comic-book fan’s library." – April Snellings, Knoxville Metro Pulse
• Review: "Set to Sea is a book to read and contemplate on, a book to look at and think about, a book to read slowly and then to read again. It's a lovely graphic novel from a creator I hope to see a lot more from as the years go on, and I hope his own busy life affords him enough leisure and time to continue to make gemlike, poetic stories like this one." – Andrew Wheeler, The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.
• Analysis:Buz Sawyer administers a spanking (and a beatdown) and Robot 6’s Matt Seneca analyzes the action in an October 1944 Roy Crane strip
Folks have been clamoring for The Girl from H.O.P.P.E.R.S., the second trade paperback collection of Jaime Hernandez 's complete "Locas" stories from Love and Rockets Vol. 1, which is out of print (for now). We have a load of slightly damaged copies sitting in storage, so we're now making them available for our mailorder customers at half cover price! These aren't too torn up — just some light dings and scuffs from transit, storage and handling — so if you're not too concerned with the condition of the book and just want a readable copy, and/or you love bargains, it's your lucky day!
Some great reports have been flowing in about Gary Groth and Robert Crumb's appearance at Comic Con India in New Delhi this past weekend, both from individuals and press — here are a few that have come to our attention. Above and below, photos of Gary giving his presentation in front of the Jumbotron while Crumb listens in rapt attention from illustrator Samia Singh, who has more pics and a brief writeup on her blog.
Mohita Nagpal of Delhi English-language daily newspaper The Pioneer talked to Gary: "There is something here for everybody who loves comics. It’s a very nice intimate event. Haven’t been to something quite like this."
Vishad Sharma of music site NH7 wrote up the event, including a brief report on Gary's presentation: "What made the talk especially priceless for me was two things – the fact that Robert Crumb was sitting about two chairs away from me (glee!), who was extremely disappointed with the questions people were asking Groth and a lady sitting behind me who pointed to Groth and asked the man next to her, 'Does this man make comics? Why is he talking if he doesn’t?'"
Even The Hollywood Reporter was there, with Nyay Bhushan getting this soundbites: "'This is our first time in India and perhaps this could inspire us to create something based on our visit,' said Crumb. 'It is great to be here because this reminds me of the exciting times when comic conventions first started out in the sixties and seventies in the U.S.,' added Groth."
And last but not least, Chris Oliveros, "The Chief" over at our esteemed colleagues Drawn & Quarterly, posts his own first-hand account and some great photos, including Aline Kominsky-Crumb and hubby Robert at the opening ceremonies and Gary's on-stage interview with Crumb:
We're hoping to squeeze a first-person recap out of Gary when he gets back this afternoon, but chances are he'll be needing to put his nose right back to the grindstone. *WHIP-CRACK!*
Dear sweet mercy this week's comic shop shipment is slated to include the following truckload of new titles. Read on to see what comics-blog commentators and web-savvy comic shops are saying about them (more to be added as they appear), check out our previews at the links, and contact your local shop to confirm availability.
144-page full-color 7" x 9.5" hardcover • $35.00 ISBN: 978-1-60699-510-5
"The semi-complete comics works of the remarkable Dutch cartoonist (and designer, and architect, and Tintin aficionado, and the guy who came up with the term 'ligne claire') Joost Swarte. Fantagraphics originally announced this project for 2007 (under the name Modern Swarte), and its scope has gradually expanded since then. There are, in fact, some deliberate omissions--this volume doesn't include his kids' book series 'Katoen en Pinbal,' and mail-order copies from Fantagraphics come with an extra 12-page minicomic of early material called 'Actually, That Wasn't All There Was.'" – Douglas Wolk, ComicsAlliance
"A whole lot of Fantagraphics books are dropping... this week — if you see a book of Joost Swarte: no, it’s not a mirage..." – Joe McCulloch, The Comics Journal
"The... long-anticipated collection of Joost Swarte's comics work... is one of those things you're grateful to see finally come out even if you can't afford to buy it right away." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
"...Fantagraphics must have sat down and designated this Scandinavian Comics Week… Adding a touch of influential Denmark [sic] work for good measure. Besides Kolor Klimax... the publisher has also released the first English language translation from Dutch alternative comics master Joost Swarte, entitled Is That All There Is? ...[T]hat’s one company betting on a lot of 'love' from fans of European alternative work in the same week." – "Insideman's Pull List," Inveterate Media Junkies
"[This] is one of those anthologies with tons of cartoonists you've never heard of but probably wish you had." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
204-page full-color 10" x 10" hardcover • $39.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-507-5
"Not comics, by any stretch of the imagination; I'm listing it here because it's a Fantagraphics book and might be showing up in comics shops, and because it looks fantastic. This is Pat Thomas's long, extensively researched photo-and-essay book about where the Black Power movement intersected with the recording industry." – Douglas Wolk, ComicsAlliance
240-page full-color 7.25" x 10" hardcover • 39.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-488-7
"I'm a huge fiend for Bill Everett, one of the romantic figures of 20th Century comic book making for the fact that when his comics hit on a certain popular notion they contributed to the general development of that form as much as anyone's comics ever did, but when they didn't quite conform to the most popular efforts they super stuck out." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
180-page black & white/color 8" x 10" softcover • $19.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-481-8
"It's wonderful that Diane Noomin has a new collection out. I'm reading it right now as the book I keep in the back seat of the car as I wait for people to leave buildings where I'm picking them up.... I hope this one doesn't get lost in the flood of new material out. We desperately need to come to grips with more of the underground comix work, if only because so much of it was deeply compelling. I liked the support material in here, too, particularly Noomin's walking us through her career." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
"My splurge for the week would likely be one of the several books out from Fantagraphics. First up is Amazing Mysteries, a collection of early work by Bill Everett (reviewed here). Then there’s Glitz 2 Go, a collection of comics by underground-era cartoonist Diane Noomin, whom I simply don’t know enough about. The obvious choice though is the wittily titled Is That All There Is?, a kitchen-sink collection of the mighty Joost Swarte’s comic stories from the 1970s onward. You can never have enough Swarte." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"CONFLICT OF INTEREST RESERVOIR: There’s a pretty enormous amount of Fantagraphics stuff out this week, with nothing more anticipated I suspect than Is That All There Is?, a 144-page collection of almost all of Joost Swarte’s work in alternative comics, including eye-catching bits from RAW, Heavy Metal and elsewhere; $35.00. Then you can keep up your international airs with Kolor Klimax: Nordic Comics Now, a 250-page anthology of Scandinavian works edited by the Journal’s Matthias Wivel; $29.99. Editor Blake Bell returns with Amazing Mysteries: The Bill Everett Archives Vol. 1, a 240-page collection of Golden Age superhero comics from the titular artist; $39.99. Diane Noomin (of the Twisted Sisters anthology, the second volume of which I attribute to changing my entire perception of how the comics form could work at a crucial age) gets a 180-page anthology of her various works with Glitz-2-Go; $19.99. And finally, in case comics are just too much for ya, Listen, Whitey! The Sights and Sounds of Black Power 1965-1975 finds music producer and writer Pat Thomas tracking the recorded output of various black power groups of the designated time span, in glorious prose; $39.99." – Joe McCulloch, The Comics Journal
• Review: "Athos in America is a tour de force that showcases Jason’s immense talents as both an artist and a storyteller. These haunting stories will stick with you long after you’ve turned the last page. Rating: 10 out of 10" – Edward Kaye, Newsarama
• Interview:Comic Book Resources' Shaun Manning gets the inside scoop about the I Killed Adolf Hitler film project from Jason ("I hope it will be good. Or really bad. One of those. The disappointment would be if it's a mediocre film") and screenwriter D.C. Walker ("I viewed 'IKAH' as a jewel like the french short film 'La Jetee.' All the key themes were in place, it was just a matter of expanding on them like they did in 12 Monkeys (the film 'IKAH' will most resemble).")
• Plug: "I gotta say I'm not a big fan of the illustration on this [Kolor Klimax] cover, but the design, color, and font choice made me stand up and take notice. I 'klimaxed' a little when I first saw it. Uggh, sorry, that was too much information." – Dave Johnson, Johnson's Cover Hi-lo
"In addition to celebrating the anniversary of their works, this will mark the first time in the 21st century that previously announced guests Chris Ware and Dan Clowes will be at an event with Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez."
I don't think we need to tell you, in September Bethesda is going to be THE PLACE TO BE. Stay tuned for more news and announcements as the date approaches.
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