The biographical 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente is a human drama of courage, faith and dignity, inspired by the life of baseball star Roberto Clemente.
No other baseball player dominated the 1960s like Roberto Clemente and no other Latin American player achieved his numbers. Born in 1924 in Puerto Rico, Clemente excelled in track and field and loved baseball. By the age of 17 he was playing in the PR Winter league. Spotted by the big-league scouts because of his hitting, fielding, and throwing abilities, he joined the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1954. A fierce competitor, within two seasons he was hitting above .300 consistently. He played like a man possessed, fielding superbly, unleashing his rifle arm, and hitting in clutch situations. Despite his aesthetic brilliance, he faced prejudice throughout his career and was given his due only after his unexpected and tragic death in a 1972 plane crash.
Although baseball was his obsession, Clemente never lost sight of his dreams and his greater responsibilities outside the game. This sense of urgency is what came to define him beyond that of a grand athlete. His eventual success and accompanying celebrity gave him the opportunity to engage his conscience in public life. He died when his plane went down in the Caribbean Sea on a relief mission to earthquake-torn Nicaragua that he personally directed.
21 chronicles Clemente’s life from his early days growing up in rural Puerto Rico, the highlights of his career (including the 1960s World Series where he helped the Pirates win its first victory in 33 years, and his 3000th hit in 1972 during the last official at-bat of his life) as well as his private life and public mission off the field.
After his death, Major League Baseball declared September 18 to be “Roberto Clemente Day,” and in 1999, Pittsburgh’s Sixth Street Bridge was renamed the Roberto Clemente Bridge in honor of the greatest Latino ballplayer in history.
Wilfred Santiago captures the grit of Clemente’s rise from his impoverished Puerto Rican childhood, to the majesty of his performance on the field, to his fundamental decency as a human being in a drawing style that combines realistic attention to detail and expressive cartooning.
"Wilfred Santiago's 21 is brilliant and beautiful, challenging and lyrical ... which seems exactly right, as Roberto Clemente was all those things and more." – Rob Neyer, ESPN.com
"A kaleidoscopic look at the life of the great Clemente. Santiago's artwork is superb and the depth of his passion for the subject and incredible preparation comes through on every page." – Steven Goldman, author of Forging Genius: The Making of Casey Stengel and editor of Baseball Prospectus
"I'll admit, being a baseball player often feels like a comic book experience: the costumes, the origins, the battles for great victories and inspiration it conjures in our fellow man. This book captures the essence of one of our sport's greatest heroes, and it does so in a way that engages the imaginations as much as it reveals the heart, ink, color, style, and character; I can think of no better way to share a tale of a true legend." – Dirk Hayhurst, Toronto Blue Jays pitcher and author of The Bullpen Gospels
Download an EXCLUSIVE 18-page PDF excerpt (6.6 MB). See the trailer, get more information, and download wallpapers and buddy icons at 21comix.com.
• List/Coming Attractions: On Publishers Weekly's "Spring 2011 Adult Announcements" preview, the following upcoming titles rank on The Top 10: Comics & Graphic Novels:
"Many recent comics biographies have been presented as educational material, but Wilfred Santiago's 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente uses a more expressionist style to tell the story of the baseball superstar who rose from poverty to the top of the game and died a hero's death. Long in the making, it arrives just in time for opening day."
"The comic strip gets a much needed new edition of the first volume of Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse, Vol. 1: Race to Death Valley. While perhaps an unexpected gem, Floyd Gottfredson's tough, bold mouse is a seasoned adventurer and these are driving, hard-boiled tales. After reading this volume, you'll never look at Mickey, the tuxedo-clad corporate spokesmouse, the same again."
• List:Carve Your Name Comics' Greg Townley (a.k.a. "Johnny") names his top 20 favorite comics and graphic novels of 2010:
"14) Werewolves of Montpellier by Jason — Jason’s work is haunting and surreal. I love all his books, but this one earns high points for including a character based on Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffany’s. [...] Jason’s allusion to the complex film icon really elevates this book."
"17) Wally Gropius by Tim Hensley — This book is like Richie Rich on acid – one of the most original, visually exciting books I’ve read this year."
"20) King of the Flies- 1. Hallorave by Mezzo and Pirus — King of the Flies, the first part of a proposed trilogy, is surreal and unsettling. It requires repeat readings to unearth the interwoven secrets at play."
• List: At his X-Ray Spex blog Will Pfeifer names Love and Rockets: New Stories #3 one of his Graphic Novels of the Year: "Gilbert's stuff is a lot of fun (and a lot of weird, too), but it's Jaime's shattering look back at Maggie's troubled past that elevates this book above even Love and Rockets' normally stellar standards. 'Browntown' is one of the best stories ever to appear in Love and Rockets, and if you know how brilliant the book is — easily one of the best comic series ever — you know that's high praise indeed."
• List: Also at X-Ray Spex, Pfeifer lists his best Books About Comics of the Year, including:
From Shadow to Light: The Life and Art of Mort Meskin by Steven Brower: "...[W]hen I started collecting in the late 1970s[,] Meskin's art stood out, mostly because his figures and compositions always seemed to explode off the page. And now there's an elaborate book that (a) examines his whole life (b) reprints lots of vintage art and (c) includes plenty of originals? Tell me this isn't the best time — ever — to be a comic book fan."
Four Color Fear: Forgotten Horror Comics of the 1950s: "...[T]his is a great collection, with vintage work from Basil Wolverton, Joe Kubert, Howard Nostrand, Bob Powell and especially Jack Cole, who delivers a couple of twisted masterpieces here. Also, there are fascinating, detailed end notes and a lurid collection of covers in the middle."
• Review: "Jacques Tardi’s It Was the War of the Trenches is pretty brutal. [...] It’s one thing to read about the brutality of trench warfare, another entirely to experience it in the way Tardi details it here. This wasn’t an easy read — I alternated between anger and horror the whole time — but it was a good one." – Brigid Alverson, Robot 6
• Review: "It's all very well told, with realistic details coming through even when the art takes such a cartoony style, but being the first half of a two-volume series, [Lucky in Love Book 1] is somewhat incomplete, setting up themes that will presumably be dealt with later. Still, it's quite good. However, there was one scene that I thought was excellent on its own and stood out in the memory the most. [...] War is hell, with effects reaching far outside and long beyond the actual conflict, and this scene manages to illustrate that rather effectively." – Matthew J. Brady, Warren Peace Sings the Blues
• Plug: "Ray Fenwick's Mascots is... narrated by Cthulu... I think. [...] What Fenwick paints is funny and punny, but also unexpectedly observant with just a little bit of metaphysical musing thrown in. I know that doesn't make too much sense as a combination, so just read these pages and maybe you'll understand." – Julia Pohl-Miranda, 211 Bernard (Librairie Drawn & Quarterly)
"I am teaching at the Masters School in Angouleme and next Friday I will be making a presentation at the Festival on Friday at 4:30 about the process of adaptation in comics with a City of Glass focus... Since it is an event sponsored by the museum, it does not appear in any festival literature..."
The Comics Reporter, from whom I lifted this item, comments: "Since Karasik is one of the most thoughtful and articulate cartoonists going, this is bound to be a fun way to spend your time and if you make the time for it I'm betting you'll be rewarded."
Michael Kupperman joins fellow cartoonists Emily Flake, Lisa Hanawalt and David Rees along with musical guest Andy Friedman for Tell Your Friends!, a Tuesday-night comedy show at Lolita Bar in NYC, tomorrow evening at 8:00. Guaranteed funny! See the Facebook invitation for more info.
If you were one of the fans crushed in the crowd when Charles Burns visited the store back in November, then hopefully you caught his discussion about the similarities in his latest novel X'ed Out and Hergé's classic The Adventures of Tintin. (Ken Parille has a great run-down on those similarities on The Comics Journal blog here.)
And in a nod to the bootleg Hergé titles that float around, Burns has created his own "bootleg" of X'ed Out, re-arranging the panels and adding brand-new artwork to create Johnny 23. French publisher Le Dernier Cri printed only a few thousand copies of this one, and from what I understand, it ain't getting reprinted, so you should get yours now.
Oh, and did I mention it's written in ALIEN? 'Cause... yeah. And Burns has said, it's not a translation of the text from X'ed Out. Apparently, there are keys online somewhere, or maybe you can send some cereal box proof-of-purchases and get a decoder ring. But just think, once you learn the language, won't that look impressive on future job resumes for our eventual alien overlords?
Johnny 23, and many, many, many other Charles Burns titles, are currently in stock 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. See you soon!
It is with great sadness that we have learned, and feel we should pass along, that one of the members of the Fantagraphics family died last year. CRAIG MAYNARD, who worked on staff here in Seattle in the early 1990s, passed away last September and we just learned about it from his family (through a reply to a rerouted Christmas card).
Craig had been suffering from a number of debilitating illnesses for years and the news was not exactly a shock, but all of us from that era who worked with Craig (Gary G. and me, of course, and also Dale Yarger, Pat Moriarity, Roberta Gregory, Michelle Byrd, Jim Blanchard, Frank Young, among others) were still saddened.
Craig, who worked in the production department doing design and paste-up (as well as lettering — a number of our earlier, pre-digital-font foreign-translated EROS books feature spectacular Maynard lettering) was a delightfully upbeat, energetic presence in the office, with a guffaw that would rattle the windows. A fine cartoonist in his own right, he channeled his experiences and concerns as a proudly out gay man into a handful of EROS comics, including the off-the-hook outrageous LEATHERBOY and the furious, despairing one-shot UP FROM BONDAGE ("a powerful example of politically conscious homoerotica," a critic rightly called it at the time).
But like many others who knew and loved Craig, I prefer to remember him for "Minor Memories and the Art of Adolescence," a series of beautifully-realized, touching autobiographical short stories that graced the pages of PRIME CUTS and GRAPHIC STORY MONTHLY. (We have posted a sample story here.) Sadly his illnesses put an end to his cartooning career as such (he eventually became literally unable to hold a brush or pen), leaving an ambitious project he had been working on unfinished.
Craig deserved far, far better from life than he got, and those of us who knew and loved him were and are humbled by his fortitude and perseverance in the face of adversity. We are grateful for the time we had with him — fortunately much of it in better times, as the accompanying photo shows (thanks to Jim Blanchard) — and he will be missed.
Kristian Williams continues to explore the cloudy world of Garth Ennis' aerial warfare stories; Sean Michael Robinson talks to attorneys on both sides of the obscenity case of an Idaho schoolteacher imprisoned for possession of sexually explicit cartoon parodies of The Simpsons; R.C. Harvey stakes out Secret Agent Corrigan; Rob Clough tackles Anders Nislen’s Big Questions and John Brodowski's Curio Cabinet; a new Latin American blog by Jesse Tangen-Mills; and much more!
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