[In this installment of our series of Editors Notes, Kim Thompson interviews himself (in a format he's dubbed "AutoChat") about The Arctic Marauder by Jacques Tardi, now available to pre-order from us and coming soon to a comics shop near you. – Ed.]
Hey, whoa, another Tardi book? Didn't the last one come out like three months ago?
Not that I'm complaining. So, what made you select this one out of the dozens of Tardi books that are available to you?
Three reasons. First, I like the idea of picking from all periods of Tardi's career and this, being just his third graphic novel, nicely extends the range. (The one after that will be literally his most recent book.) Second, I like the fact that it's so visually distinctive, and I like its historical importance as an early steampunk — or "icepunk" as I like to call it — work of comics. And third... well, the third reason I can't actually tell you. It will become clear eventually.
Oka-ayyy... Speaking of the distinctive style, what is that? Scratchboard?
Yeah. As a kid, Tardi had some old Jules Verne books featuring woodcut illustrations, and he set out to try to duplicate that look, which he thought would be cool and appropriate for this book.
It looks like a hellacious amount of work.
Oh, it was. From what I gather, Tardi had to draw the foreground characters, then ink in all the backgrounds where he was going to do woodcut effects in solid black and then, using these knives and comb-like utensils, carve them back to white. And those were super-detailed pages! Having finished, he swore "never again" and has certainly been true to his promise.
So when the book says "The Adventures of Jérôme Plumier" that's kind of a joke, we'll never see another album in this series? Even though it's really pushed as a bit of a cliffhanger?
In this series, no — and the cliffhanger, like the rest of the book, is very much tongue in cheek. Then again, whether you've seen the last of Plumier and his acolytes, that's not as cut and dried.
You've said that you tweaked the dialogue in the Adèle Blanc-Sec book to make it more "retro," more purple in the U.S. edition. This one is even more outrageously ornate in its captions and dialogue...
Yes, but in this case I was actually following the original quite scrupulously. Tardi wrote it that way himself to begin with.
So what's the next Tardi book after this?
Like a Sniper Lining up His Shot, another Jean-Patrick Manchette adaptation. I just got my copy of the French edition a few weeks ago and it's great, it's like West Coast Blues except far more violent...
Uh, "FAR more violent"...? West Coast Blues wasn't exactly namby-pamby...
Oh, yes! This one is just savage: Even crows and cats get it, in the worst way. All quite faithful to the original book, I might add. After that, well, I just sat down with Tardi's bibliography and there are at least a half-dozen equally worthy candidates so far as I'm concerned, although since the first Adèle Blanc-Sec book is doing really well, I've decided to slot the second one in for later this year. After that, I don't know.
Tardi's working on another Manchette adaptation right now, isn't he?
Yes, although not the one we announced. He started adapting a book called Nada but (in a weird repeat of what happened back in the 1970s when he started working on yet another Manchette book and gave up partway through) dropped it and has now started on one called O Dingos, O Châteaux (Easy Prey), which I think is actually a better candidate for comics adaptation. It has an apocalyptically climactic shootout set in a supermarket that I can't wait to see done in comics form.
How does "O Dingos, O Châteaux" translate to "Easy Prey"?
It doesn't. It's an incredibly abstruse original title that's a punning parody of a Victor Hugo verse and I was baffled as to how I could translate it, until Manchette's son Doug told me that I could just use Manchette's original French title, "La Proie Facile," which translates without any fuss as "Easy Prey." Actually, from what I understand it's possible the Tardi adaptation may use even a different title from that since it is so goofy.
What is going on with the Luc Besson Adèle Blanc-Sec movie so far as getting U.S. distribution?
Damned if I know. It didn't set the French box office on fire, and it was a very expensive movie by European standards, so maybe they just can't get a mutually satisfactory deal with an American distributor. I ordered my copy of the French DVD just in case, and it arrived a couple of days ago. I'm getting ready to watch it with a mixture of anticipation and a little bit of dread, it looks like Besson may have let his goofier side (the Chris-Tucker-in-The-Fifth-Element side as opposed to the Jean-Reno-in-The-Professional side) run a bit rampant. It looks pretty, though. I expect it'll show up on Pay-Per-View or as a DVD Stateside eventually.
It's a Daily OCD Celebrity Endorsement Special Edition! Thanks to Leonard Maltin for this great writeup on his Movie Crazy blog:
"I'll be honest and say that I wasn't eagerly awaiting an encyclopedic directory of punks on screen, but Destroy All Movies!!! The Complete Guide to Punks on Film has come along just the same...and it's pretty impressive. [...] In addition to snarky and well-informed write-ups of such titles as Legend of the Roller Blade Seven and Crash ‘n' Burn there are interviews with such filmmakers and performers as Mary Woronov, Alex Cox, Susan Seidelman, Clint Howard, and the folks behind Rock ‘n' Roll High School, featuring The Ramones. If you're into anarchic cinema and its offshoots, this is a great reference-and a fun browse."
Mitch Schauer, Michael Lessa and Mike Vosburg sat down to discuss the creation of their graphic novel Rip M.D., from influences to art process to interacting with fans, in this short video. Informative!
In our ongoing quest to showcase the wide range of Jacques Tardi’s bibliography, Fantagraphics reaches all the way back to one of his earliest, and most distinctive graphic novels: A satirical, Jules Verne-esque “retro-sci-fi” yarn executed on scratchboard in a stunningly detailed faux-woodcut style perfectly chosen to render the Edwardian-era mechanical marvels on display. Created in 1972, The Arctic Marauder is a downright prescient example of proto-“steampunk” science fiction — or perhaps more accurately, and to coin a spinoff genre, “icepunk.”
In 1899, “L’Anjou,” a ship navigating the Arctic Ocean from Murmansk, Russia, to Le Havre, France comes across a stunning sight: A ghostly, abandoned vessel perched high atop an iceberg. But exploring this strange apparition is the last thing the sailors will ever do, as their own ship is soon dispatched to Davy Jones’ locker via a mysterious explosion.
Enter Jérôme Plumier, whose search for his missing uncle, the inventor Louis-Ferdinand Chapoutier, brings him into contact with the sinister, frigid forces behind this — and soon he too is headed towards the North Pole, where he will contend with mad scientists, monsters of the deep, and futuristic submarines and flying machines.
Told with brio in hilarious slabs of vintage purple prose, The Arctic Marauder works both as ripping good adventure story and parody of same, and, predating as it does the later and not dissimilar Adèle Blanc-Sec series, is a keystone in Tardi’s oeuvre in his fantastical mode.
Now that our woes with Diamond's weekly shipping list are resolved, the titles we expected to be on last week's list have shown up on this week's list. So while these books may have already arrived at comic shops, now we can bring you what comics-blog commentators are saying about them. As always, check out our previews at the link, and contact your local shop to confirm availability.
104-page black & white 5.5" x 7.25" softcover • $11.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-415-3
"The final collection of Johnny Ryan’s four-panel weekly sunshine, and a remnant of the artist’s interest in pursuing formerly mainstream avenues of cartooning, from magazine gags to comic strips to self-contained humor comics, and inhabiting them with his specific style." – Joe McCulloch, Comics Comics
"I think you should fill in the blanks, walk into your local comic store, go straight up to the person behind the counter and ask for it by name." – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
"If I had enough cash, I’d probably try to get my hands on some of the other books Fanta has out this week, including the fourth and final volume of Johnny Ryan’s Blecky Yuckarella strips, the charmingly titled F*** You A******..." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"The final collection of the hilarious Blecky strips by Johnny Ryan. Now, if only I could figure out what the title is supposed to spell out..." – Benn Ray (Atomic Books), Largehearted Boy
"The first volume of Mezzo & Pirus' European trilogy about suburban horror, sex, violence and drugs was one of the creepiest books of last year; its look owes rather a lot to Charles Burns' Black Hole, but it's also got a sick, surreal vibe of its own. In this follow-up, a bunch of the characters who died last time are still sort of hanging around; it's that kind of story." – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
"The first volume of King of the Flies is showing up on a lot of folks' 'under-appreciated' lists." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
"This is the middle chapter of creators Mezzo and Pirus’ planned trilogy, which publisher Fantagraphics describes as 'A French Twin Peaks graphic novel as written by Stephen King and drawn by Charles Burns.'" – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
"I neglected to mention the first volume when it arrived last year, but it has since gone on to be named one of Amazon’s Top 10 Graphic Novels of 2010. If I could retroactively add a paragraph and pretend I always thought so too, I would, but that would be cheating. [...] It looks like a lot of fun too, and there’s more going on in it that you might think." – The Gosh! Comics Blog
"If I had enough cash, I’d probably try to get my hands on some of the other books Fanta has out this week, including... the second volume of Pirus and Mezzo’s King of the Flies, a hip crime noir piece heavily influenced by Charles Burns." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"The second installment of Mezzo & Pirus' weird, French, suburban soap opera that's one part Twin Peaks, one part Charles Burns, one part Stephen King and all parts awesome. Here stories that seem unrelated become intricately intertwined." – Benn Ray (Atomic Books), Largehearted Boy
192-page black & white 7.25" x 9.25" hardcover • $19.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-409-2
"I’d be particularly interested in this new edition of a 1998 piece by the great Lorenzo Mattotti and writer Claudio Piersanti, looking to be a real fever of lines in the service of hardscrabble living." – Joe McCulloch, Comics Comics
"Lorenzo Mattotti is one of the great artists doing comics, period, and I can't imagine not snatching up everything he does. While this isn't the major work we're all still waiting for, it's obviously beautifully drawn and contains sequences reminiscent of the early 1990s works through which the Italian artist made his name." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
"This stunning-looking graphic novel about a man who experiences the title phenomenon is a collaboration between Italian cartoonist Lorenzo Mattotti and Italian screenwriter Claudio Piersanti." – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
"Fantagraphics’ incredible Stigmata gets top billing because it’s illustrated by an Italian artist we’d like to see a lot more of: Lorenzo Mattotti..., whose Ignatz book Chimera you’ve undoubtedly seen on our discerning shelves. The award-winning screenwriter Claudio Piersanti provides the bits in the balloons." – The Gosh! Comics Blog
"Fantagraphics has a lot of interesting books out this week, but Stigmata would have to be first on my list as I’ve loved the work of Lorenzo Mattotti ever since I got my hands on a worn copy of Murmur oh so many years ago. I’m happy to see Fantagraphics start to try to get more of his work released in the U.S. and hope this book — about a lug of a guy whose hands start to bleed in Christ-like fashion — encourages that." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• List:PopMatters names Four Color Fear to their Best Fiction of 2010 list. David Maine writes: "Four Color Fear is a lovingly accumulated and organized collection of... stories starring ghosts, ghouls, zombies, demons, and monsters of all stripes. [...] Some of the writers and artists are well known names from the era... Others are not as famous, but overall, the consistency of art and story is impressive. Four Color Fear offers some nice bonus features too, which elevate it from being a simple compilation of reprinted stories."
• List: On the Best Non-Fiction of 2010 side, PopMatters lists Destroy All Movies!!! The Complete Guide to Punks on Film. Chris Barsanti writes: "...Zack Carlson and Bryan Connolly’s insanely genius and improbably comprehensive guidebook... include[s] every film even remotely punk ever produced. While authentically underground creations... are given some pride of place..., the authors have a special love for straight-to-VHS exploitation trash of yore, where mohawked gutterpunks (sometimes postapocalyptic) terrorized the citizenry."
• Review: "When a man living a hardscrabble life suddenly exhibits signs of stigmata, his tumultuous journey to find — and accept — redemption is beautifully evoked by Italian screenwriter and novelist Piersanti... and graphic novelist Mattotti... With Mattotti's furious black and white illustrations perfectly reflecting the man's growing inner turmoil, Piersanti's morality tale is haunting yet hopeful." – Publishers Weekly
Following a fantastic holiday season — (thank you all very much!) — Fantagraphics Bookstore has undergone a minor makeover. Drop by to check out the great new displays, some awesome new arrivals, and view the amazing art exhibition "Medieval Thinkers."
Look forward to more phenomenal events in the coming weeks, including a Valentine's themed group art show by the Bureau of Drawers on Saturday, February 12 and the first in a series of "Comics Talks" on Wednesday, February 23 featuring Aaron Renier in conversation with Jason Shiga. Details to come.
With my home state of Vermont announcing that they've chosen a Cartoonist Laureate, The Stranger's Paul Constant polls Stranger blog readers for a hypothetical Washington State Cartoonist Laureate, offering a near-impossible choice of candidates: Ellen Forney, David Lasky and Jim Woodring. (Or "other." I'd decry the obvious omission of Peter Bagge, but maybe the political nature of much of his recent work would make him too divisive a candidate.)
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