The Comics Reporter says: "A boon for fans of a certain kind of energetic, restless, profane comic book making — for the rest of us it's an exquisitely curated, controlled visit to that particular comics world." Jog calls it "a distinctly old-fashioned scattershot alternative comics production" and "a louder, more comedic, more visually-driven" sibling to Mome.
• Review: "Whatever the case, [The Squirrel Machine] is a compelling, fascinating journey through an often creepy and always striking world, one that's regularly quite hilarious... What can one make of that sort of thing? You might be able to attempt an interpretation, one that will be just as valid as any, but it's just as legitimate to go along for the ride and see where Rickheit takes you. It won't be where you expect, that's for sure." – Matthew J. Brady
Blake Bell is plowing ahead with his forthcoming, highly-anticipated book Fire & Water: Bill Everett, The Sub-Mariner, and the Birth of Marvel Comics (preliminary cover art shown above subject to change), and you can track his progress on his Bill Everett Facebook page. In this update, he outlines the contents of each chapter and gives a general idea of what to expect in the book, which is on track for a September release.
Michael Kupperman is featured on Desktops of the Stars — look closely for what appears to be a teeny tiny icon of what might possibly be the cover to Tales Designed to Thrizzle#5 of course I meant #6 (enlarged above).
A bit late with the Online Commentary & Diversions today due to being a touch under the weather:
• Review: "OK, [Gahan Wilson: Fifty Years of Playboy Cartoons] is very expensive, but Wilson's a lot cheaper than Zoloft. Some people fly their inner freak flags as a sign of liberation. This strange dude isn't sure there's another type of flag out there. In his world, there's always something over the horizon ready to eat you, blow you up or turn you into a homicidal maniac. Sounds a lot like life." – Laurel Maury, San Francisco Chronicle
• Review: "...[An] exemplary republishing of Wilson’s Playboy cartoons... One of the many nice features of the new Fantagraphics book is that it is chronological and dated, so we can see Wilson responding to the changing social and political landscapes. ... As a physical object Gahan Wilson: Fifty Years of Playboy Cartoons cannot be praised highly enough. ...[L]ooking at Wilson’s work at length, eating it up with my eyes, I came to love his work. He is, in fact, a master. ...[F]or all their morbidity and ghoulishness, Wilson’s cartoons affirm the value of cherishing life. As inhuman as his characters often are, Wilson is a deeply humane cartoonist." – Jeet Heer, Comics Comics
• Review: "Published soon after the conflict that it documents, Safe Area Goradze is an intense reading experience and an active call for the condemnation of tribal and international leaders who put politics ahead of humanity." – Suzette Chan, Sequential Tart
• Review: "There’s a remarkably spare and lean quality to the plot and characterization cooked up by Jean-Patrick Manchette’s West Coast Blues. ... It’s a story that’s both grim and strangely detached (or at least restrained), eschewing the sort of cliches that an American might expect from a crime story. ... If the text felt a bit detached, then Jacques Tardi added muscle, bone and fat to it with his delightfully chunky line. ... It’s the first quotidian crime story that I’ve ever read, and Tardi’s commitment to the depiction of the everyday and the way nightmares crashed into daily life are what made this book work so well." – Rob Clough, The Comics Journal (warning: spoilers)
• Feature:Comic Book Resources' Brian Cronin spotlights Michael Kupperman's Tales Designed to Thrizzle as part of "A Year of Cool Comics": "Tales Designed to Thrizzle is one of those books where you might really need to see it to believe it. Michael Kupperman delivers thirty-odd pages of the most delightfully absurd ideas that you can imagine, to the point where I don't know if simply describing the comic would do it justice... I, for one, think it's one of the very best comics currently made."
• Interview:Graphic Novel Reporter's John Hogan has a Q&A about Sublife with John Pham: "I hope to have established a sort of model for the upcoming issues with Volumes 1 and 2. So basically, continuing serializations of either Sycamore St. or Deep Space, accompanied by various, shorter strips where I can experiment and joke around."
Sand & Fury is a story of blood, of sex, of death — of sound and retribution. It opens as a girl by the side of a desert road accepts a ride from a stranger. How could she know that behind that wheel sits the angel of death?
Of course, even the angel of death once had a life. During that life, death was a successful business woman, with a great career and an even greater future. It’s true she could be a little cavalier with her innate gifts; she had, after all, broken the heart of everyone who had ever loved her.
And then, one day, the monster entered the woman’s life and changed everything forever.
Inspired by the work of filmmakers like David Lynch and Dario Argento and cartoonists like Richard Sala and Charles Burns, a spiritual cousin to Roman Polanski’s Repulsion and The Tenant, Sand & Fury is at once an homage to those classic horror sources and a contemporary romantic thriller, drawn in a stark, chiseled, expressionistic line that evokes modern attitudes and classic terror at the unknown and unknowable.
Download an EXCLUSIVE PDF excerpt containing the first 10 pages of the story (1.9 MB).
"In Sand & Fury, Ho Che Anderson has done what I would have previously regarded as impossible. He’s found the illegitimate child of Faulkner and Lovecraft buried alive in a paranoiac’s terrified vision of the desert of the American Southwest... in a grave uncovered by the shriek of his own degenerate perversion of a banshee, for fuck’s sake." – Howard Chaykin
"Anderson’s blocky figures and Expressionistic use of caricature are augmented by processed period photography, an approach that calls to mind the minimalist abstractions of Frank Miller. The characters are frequently depicted in high-contrast shadow, wherein features become flattened and skin colour is often difficult to determine. The resulting aesthetic is striking and symbolic." — The Guardian
Set in a suburb that is both nowhere and everywhere, King of the Flies is a glorious bastard, combining the intricacy and subtlety of the best European graphic novels with a hyperdetailed, controlled noir style derived from the finest American cartoonists.
Mezzo and Pirus, previously best known in Europe for a series of cynical, brutal gangster stories, have abandoned their guns and gals for this cycle of suburban stories, but in King of the Flies the violence has just (for the most part) been interiorized.
King of the Flies first appears to be a series of unrelated short stories, each starring (and narrated by) a different protagonist, but it soon becomes obvious that these seemingly disparate episodes weave together to form a single complex narrative, with events that are only glimpsed (or even referred to) revisited from different perspectives — revolving around Eric, a ne’er-do-well, drug-taking teenager at war with his stepfather and, apparently, the whole world. (He is the titular King.)
King of the Flies is designed as a trilogy of albums, which will combine to form a single graphic novel of stunning intricacy and intensity. (Vol. 2, “The Origin of the World,” will be released by Fantagraphics in Fall/Winter 2010.)
Download an EXCLUSIVE 7-page PDF excerpt containing the entire first chapter (3.1 MB).
A quick Online Commentary & Diversions update to close out the week:
• List:Popmatters names Portable Grindhouse: The Lost Art of the VHS Box one of The Best of Books 2009: Non-Fiction: "This awesome picture book... [is] filled with a delightfully odd array of vintage video covers... VHS cassettes may be treated like toxic waste in the age of the Blu-ray, but Portable Grindhouse offers that micro minority who still remain faithful to their trusty VCR a long overdue reprieve." – Ronald Hart
• Review: "Half the fun of [The Troublemakers] is trying to figure out just who is getting conned the worst? I zipped through this fun read, filled with backstabbing, double-crosses, and the spectacular art of Gilbert Hernandez. There is enough sex, violence, and treachery for any fan of pulp fiction. ... This offshoot of the Love and Rockets series is too much fun to miss." – Joseph Jay Franco, Bookrastination
• Plug: The Geeks of Doom flip through January's issue of Previews: "The next item I’ll definitely be picking up is It Was the War in the Trenches [by Jacques Tardi] from Fantagraphics. You know how I said before that I’m a fan of military history; well this book will scratch that same itch. This book takes a look at World War I from the eyes of the soldiers in the trenches. I’m very excited to read this one."
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