On the occasion of our impending release of Nancy Is Happy: Complete Dailies 1943-1945 by Ernie Bushmiller, our pal and colleague Ben Schwartz has penned an excellent essay on the strip for the current issue of Bookforum. Do get a copy if you can; click the scan above for a larger, legible version and we've taken the liberty of excerpting the parts where he heaps praise on the book below:
"In this, the reading public has a rare opportunity. No, make that a rare challenge — to read Bushmiller without the benefit of recontextualization of any sort. The fact that you laugh at a Nancy gag — and you will — is all on you. There will be no downtown doyenne to comfort you in the know ledge that the gag about, oh, bathroom plungers, or cotton candy, or squirt guns, is an ironically loaded statement on anything at all. No, you'll be stuck in a room alone with Ernie Bushmiller, who will force you to confront your inner stoopid like no other American artist. Indeed, it is genuine, nonironic praise to say of Bushmiller that if you don't get a Nancy joke, you are a moron.... Now, Nancy Is Happy arrives after three decades of pro-Nancy revival and mainstream humor often as archly silly and unreal as Bushmiller's — Letterman, Conan, Pee-wee Herman, The Mighty Boosh, or the grown-up fan base of Yo Gabba Gabba! It bodes well for Bushmiller's legacy that there's finally an audience educated enough to appreciate his brand of dumb."
• Review: "And now, Fantagraphics has packaged some of the best movie parodies in this ripely-colored book [The Sincerest Form of Parody]. But these aren't Mad comics. They're the imitators which popped up on newsstands in the 1950s -- comic books like Whack, Nuts!, Crazy, Bughouse and Unsane.... Most of the comics in the pages of this book are understandably dated for today's web-weaned generation who may have never heard of I, Jury ('My Gun Is the Jury by Melvie Splane'), What's My Line? ('What's My Crime?'), or Come Back, Little Sheba ('Come Back Bathsheba'), but that doesn't drain these parodies of their punch." – David Abrams, The Quivering Pen
• Plug: "Most of the 21 stories in this great new book collection [Young Romance] haven't been compiled before, and if you're not familiar with them, you're in for thrill after melodramatic thrill. My favorite: 'Norma, Queen of the Hot Dogs.'" – Michael Galucci, Cleveland Scene
• Interview:Mark Kalesniko talks about his latest graphic novel Freeway at the FLIP animation blog; that site's Steve Moore says "Mark Kalesniko’s graphic novel Freeway is a truly brilliant, hilarious look at the hunched and goofy lifestyle in our industry's ground zero. His humor is wickedly honest, his storytelling unflinching."
This week's comic shop shipment is slated to include the following 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.
208-page full-color 7.75" x 10" hardcover • $29.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-502-0
"Usually the splurge category is where I go for thick, colorful books of classic comics, and... this looks like a Fantagraphics week, with two compilations that span opposite ends of the love spectrum: Young Romance: The Best of Simon & Kirby’s Romance Comics ($29.99), and The Life and Death of Fritz the Cat ($19.99). That’s a whole lotta reading for $50." – Brigid Alverson, Robot 6
"On the historical front, Fantagraphics continues its excellent classic reprints with Young Romance: The Best of Simon & Kirby’s Romance Comics. Jack Kirby and Joe Simon created the genre, and this book is reported to include 21 stories, 200 pages of 'never-before reprinted material.'" – Johanna Draper Carlson, Comics Worth Reading
"Joe Simon and Jack Kirby invented the romance comic book with 1947's Young Romance #1, and cranked them out together for the next twelve years. This collection, edited by Michael Gagné, surveys stories from Young Romance, Young Love and the shorter-lived genre-hybrid titles Western Love and Real West Romances. (Gagné notes that he deliberately didn't include any material that would have overlapped with the 1988 collection Real Love: The Best of the Simon and Kirby Romance Comics.)" – Douglas Wolk, ComicsAlliance
"Casual Robert Crumb fans might be interested in The Life and Death of Fritz the Cat. Jack Kirby fans will definitely be interested in Young Romance, a collection of heartthrob tales from Simon and Kirby (see my review)." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"...The Life and Death of Fritz the Cat returns one the artist’s best-known creations to the comprehensive format, now in hardcover; $19.99. Also hard as nails is Young Romance: The Best of Simon and Kirby’s Romance Comics, a 208-page Michel Gagné-edited compilation of turmoil and ecstasy from the pre- and post-Code eras by a pair of genre architects you might recognize; $29.99." – Joe McCulloch, The Comics Journal
"Work you probably have in one form or another. If you don't have [it], you should probably want [it]. The Fritz book is handsome; I haven't cracked my copy yet.... I have a decided lack of reading experience with romance comics, so I'm hoping the Young Romance book is effectively curated." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
"Joe Simon and Jack Kirby doing romance comics. That’s all you need to know. ...Simon and Kirby redefined comics with their tales of romance which opened up the audience far beyond young boys who wanted to wear towels and punch each other. With talents like these on any comics, you are guaranteed that they are going to be well written and beautifully drawn." – Geeks of Doom
By appropriating and subverting Tintin creator Hergé’s classic “clear line” style, Joost Swarte revitalized European alternative comics in the 1970s with a series of satirical, musically elegant, supremely beautifully drawn short stories — often featuring his innocent, magnificently-quiffed Jopo de Pojo, or his orotund scientist character, Anton Makassar.
Under Swarte’s own exacting supervision, Is That All There Is? will collect virtually all of his alternative comics work from 1972 to date, including the RAW magazine stories that brought him fame among American comics aficionados in the 1980s. Especially great pains will be taken to match Swarte’s superb coloring, which includes stories executed in watercolor, comics printed in retro duotones, fiendishly clever use of Zip-a-Tone screens, and much more. (There’s even a story about how to color comics art using those screens, with Makassar as the teacher.)
Other noteworthy stories include Swarte’s take on an episode from Hergé’s early days, a Fats Domino story, a tribute to the legendary “Upside-Downs” strip, and a story titled simply “Modern Art.”
“I’ve loved Joost Swarte’s perfect cartoons, drawings and designs for decades and it’s nothing short of ridiculous that a comprehensive edition of this brilliant artist’s work has never been available in America until now. Swarte is considered a national treasure in his native Holland, and if you open this book, you’ll understand why.” — Chris Ware
The 1939 creation of the Sub-Mariner for the first issue of Marvel Comics assures Bill Everett a place in history. Co-creating Daredevil, the Man Without Fear, for Marvel Comics in 1964 gave Everett a link to one of the most popular superheroes of the past 50 years. And producing over 400 additional pages of superhero-related work in the very early days of the Golden Age of Comics (1938-42) makes Bill Everett a legend.
This book collects over 200 pages of this never-before-reprinted work from titles such as Amazing Mystery Funnies (1938), Amazing-Man Comics (1939), Target Comics (1940), Heroic Comics (1940), and Blue Bolt Comics (1940). These titles feature an endless array of great vintage Everett characters such as Amazing-Man, Hydroman, Skyrocket Steele, Sub-Zero, The Chameleon, and many more, all produced by Everett’s shop Funnies, Inc. for such clients as Centaur, Novelty Press, and Eastern Color, and all displaying Everett’s brilliant cartooning and energetic storytelling.
Edited and compiled by best-selling author and comic-book historian Blake Bell (Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko), Amazing Mysteries: The Bill Everett Archives is a stunning companion to Bell’s 2010 critically acclaimed Everett biography and art book, Fire and Water: Bill Everett, The Sub-Mariner and the Birth of Marvel Comics. This volume follows the format of Bell’s Steve Ditko Archives series (see page 54 of this catalog); never-before-reprinted, beautifully restored, full-color stories from one of comic books’ greatest visionaries and most accomplished artists. Also includes an introduction by Bell that delves even deeper into Everett’s life, fiery personality, and the history of the era. The resultant package enhances Everett’s place in history as one of the first and best comic-book creators of all time.
• Interview: At The Believer's blog, part 3 of Ross Simonini's 2008 chat with Jim Woodring: "[Frank]’s an agent representing my interests, my perspective. The world is never a settled matter to him. He’s always trying to discover what is really going on, and when he does find out, he gets a terrible jolt. Sometimes he is driven beyond the limits of sanity. As William Burroughs said: a schizophrenic is a guy who has just discovered what is really going on. That’s a paraphrase."
• Review: "The Peanuts of 1981 was an utterly professional entertainment machine, and still the pure product of Charles Schulz's own pen and mind. But its pleasures in the '80s were like those of watching a late-season baseball game between two teams out of contention: it doesn't mean anything, and won't have any real effect on anything, but it's a quite agreeable way to spend a few hours." – Andrew Wheeler, The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.
• Review: "While other colleagues have seen their short stories and graphic novels draw serious attention in literary circles, Griffith remains the 'Are we having fun yet?' guy to many. Perhaps the long-overdue collection Lost and Found: Comics 1969-2003 will change that. Leaning heavily on the stories Griffith drew in the early ’70s for undergrounds like Young Lust, Short Order Comix, and the revolutionary Arcade, Lost and Found shows off more facets of Griffith, putting his obsessions with Hollywood, suburbia, and a certain type of corporate cockiness into a larger context." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "Diane Noomin has seen her work scattered around anthologies like Wimmen’s Comix and Twisted Sisters since she made her comics debut in 1972, but has never received the dedicated study afforded by her new book Glitz-2-Go: Collected Stories, which brings together nearly 200 pages of Noomin’s work.... From the cluttered panels to the bracing honesty, these strips are very much of a piece with the original underground comics movement, and may not be immediately accessible to people unused to that tradition. But for those who fondly remember the glory years of Dori Seda, Aline Kominsky-Crumb, Joyce Farmer, and Roberta Gregory, it’s a pleasure to see Noomin get her own showcase." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "...Nancy possesses in spades the quality common to all great art — a singularity of vision.... The clarity and unity of purpose made it quite impossible to miss a single punch line. Nancy is simplistic, yes — but it is simplistic by design, a strip without clutter, diagrammatic in its relentless formalism. Set against today’s comic-strip landscape, where Doonesbury has the ambition and scope of the Great American Satirical Novel and even gentle family comedies like Zits and Foxtrot boast character casts expansive enough to baffle a new reader, the dumbness of Nancy starts to look like some kind of genius. The roly-poly, Brillo-mopped mischief-maker and her lowlife pal Sluggo stand eternal, as iconic as the puppets in a Punch and Judy show or the Columbines and Harlequins of commedia dell’arte." – Jack Feerick, Kirkus Reviews
• Review: "At 7.6% ABV, Nibiru is a beer that doesn’t pull any punches, but its potency is disguised by the refreshing herbal and citrus flavours on offer. Like its European cousin, Duvel, it's light enough to be easy-drinking, but the intensity of alcohol mean that it’s a beer that demands to be savoured." – Gavin Lees, Graphic Eye
• Interview (Audio): On the new episode of the Mostly Harmless Podcast, host "Dammit Damian" chats with Noah Van Sciver about "how Noah got into making comics, his family and making comics for a living," among other topics
• Scene (Video):Graphic Eye's Gavin Lees captured Jim Demonakos & Mark Long's slideshow presentation of their graphic novel (with Nate Powell) The Silence of Our Friends on video at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery this past Saturday
We are overjoyed to welcome two prodigal sons back to the Fantagraphics fold: Mike Catron (pictured), who co-founded Fantagraphics with Gary Groth in 1976, rejoins us as an editor, and O.G. staffer Preston White returns to our art department.
The Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon has all the scoop, and he also talked with Mike about what his new position entails and what he's been up to in the meantime: "So all of a sudden, the original four of us are together again, like the fabled Musketeers. (Everyone does know there were four, right?) The stars, after all these years, finally aligned once more. Call it the new Age of Aquarius for Fantagraphics." He also reveals his first major editorial project for us, a book which hasn't been revealed or reported elsewhere! Truly your must-read for the day.
• Review: "If Spielberg shed the skin of Hergé’s style in an effort to get to the heart of his stories, the compelling work of Dutch cartoonist Joost Swarte performs the procedure in reverse.... Swarte, equally inspired by the underground comix that emerged from the American counterculture of the 1960s and ’70s, adapted the clear line and reanimated it with subversive content unlike the perennially chipper Boy Scoutism of Hergé’s Tintin. ...Is That All There Is?, collecting the bulk of his comics oeuvre to date (excluding a body of children’s comics), provides an overdue opportunity to linger over and consider his narrative work.... Like a Rube Goldberg machine designed according to De Stijl aesthetics—with a rhythm and blues soundtrack—Swarte’s comics communicate a historically freighted, European sense of the absurd, poised toward a globalizing, postmodern present." – Bill Kartalopoulos, The Brooklyn Rail
• Review: "The real joy of Swarte’s work... is the architectural elegance of his illustrations and his fine ability to colour them using everything from watercolour to retro duo-tones. Looking at Swarte’s mostly 20th century work [in Is That All There Is?] now, what’s also — and tangentially — interesting is the retro-futuristic look of it: the settings are near-future, but everything’s styled circa the 1940s, much in the same way Ridley Scott imagined the future in Bladerunner. For sheer design swagger you need to check Swarte out." – Miles Fielder, The List
• Review: "These stories [in Athos in America] are a little less open-and-shut than Jason usually makes. His comics are always good, but I usually don't think about them too much after reading them. This one's more of a think stimulator than previous books.... It's a beautiful book. This is definitely Jason's best book yet. Good job, Jason." – Nick Gazin, VICE
• Interview:Chicago Publishes has an interview with Mome contributor Laura Park: "I’m really happy with the stories I did for MOME. I love short stories. Novels are the format now — it’s a selling format. You can have graphic novels in a bookstore, because non-comics people might buy them. Whenever you can get a comic from the comic shop into a bookstore, it’ll make more money. But short stories are kind of magical to me. My favorite writer is Flannery O’Connor. She has novels, but her short stories are the ones that linger and itch away through you."
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