“I can express something [with animals] that is different from what I put into my work about humans... I can put more nonsense, more satire and fantasy into the animals...” — R. Crumb
Created by an adolescent R. Crumb in the late 1950s, Fritz the Cat rose to fame — along with his creator — during the underground comix revolution of the 1960s, and remains Crumb’s most well-known character and an internationally recognized icon of 1960s culture.
Fritz is a feline, freewheeling chiseler who allowed Crumb to express some of his most acidic commentary on American culture. Tragicomedy, farce and satire all rolled into one, The Life and Death of Fritz the Cat chronicles the very best of Fritz's adventures from his early days as an idealistic college student to his ultimate fate as a jaded, burned-out superstar, including Crumb’s infamous send-off of the character in the wake of Ralph Bakshi’s animated feature film, an experience and project that completely dissatisfied Crumb.
Finally collected in a single volume, these Fritz stories are a funny, insightful, authentic record of a tumultuous period in American life, with humor and compassion by the most well-respected cartoonist of all time.
• Review: "This collection of strips [The Frank Book] doesn’t have much of a thread running through it, apart from the characters and their surroundings. Like classic cartoons and newspaper strips, they are there to have situations inflicted upon them. In his afterword, Woodring suggests that each strip is intended to be a mystery but that one concept runs through each one, like a sort of moral or statement. Finding these can, at times, be challenging, but this obscurity and strangeness is a large part of what gives the book it’s charm." – Grovel
• Review:Novi Magazine's Jona gives a spoiler-filled and tipsy run-through of The Left Bank Gang by Jason: "This book is basically the original Midnight in Paris. It features Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound, and James Joyce living in France, but as cartoonists (instead of writers) in the mid 1920’s. It’s presented in Jason’s signature 'animal people' style, with consistent 3x3 conventional grids, and an immaculate sense of pacing. In short, the whole thing reeks of Jason, and I love it. I mean, seriously. All literature has been replaced with comics in this universe. What’s not to love?"
• Commentary: At Robot 6, J. Caleb Mozzocco examines the racial depictions in Walt Disney's Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes by Carl Barks: "Because so many of Barks’ stories dealt with the Ducks visiting exotic lands, because the stories in this collection were produced between 1948 and 1949 and because Disney doesn’t exactly have the most sterling reputation when it comes to representing diverse nationalities or ethnicities, I was sort of concerned about what the lily-white ducks would be faced with when they journeyed to South America or Africa. Or, more precisely, how Barks would present what they would be faced with."
• Commentary: At The Webcomic Overlook, Larry Cruz looks at Hal Foster's Prince Valiant for his "Know Thy History" column: " Foster was a fantastic all-around artist. His strip boasted some great looking architecture, meticulously detailed clothing, and epic clashes. He had a keen eye for adding shadows to heighten drama. Hal Foster is said to have put 50 to 60 hours working on a single strip, and it shows." (via Robot 6)
FUNNY VALENTINES: A TRIBUTE TO JACK DAVIS Group art exhibition opens February 11 at Fantagraphics Bookstore
Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery celebrates the legacy of legendary artist Jack Davis with a group exhibition "Funny Valentines: A Tribute to Jack Davis" opening Saturday, February 11 from 6:00 to 9:00 PM. Davis is among the most influential American artists of his time. He created comics art for the seminal EC imprint and contributed to subversive magazines like MAD, as well as illustrating popular record albums, memorable movie posters, trading cards, mainstream magazines, and advertising campaigns.
Seattle-based Fantagraphics Books recently published the career retrospective Jack Davis: Drawing American Pop Culture. To commemorate the occasion, a stellar group of accomplished artists from diverse disciplines have created works demonstrating the influence of this prolific artist. Between 1959 and 1963 Davis drew four sets of "Funny Valentines" for the Topps trading card company. This series provided the inspiration the show featuring two-dozen contemporary cartoonists, illustrators, graphic designers, and fine artists. Exhibiting artists include Peter Bagge, Nikki Burch, Art Chantry, Tom Dougherty, Jesse Edwards, Ellen Forney, Art Garcia, Roberta Gregory, Charles Krafft, Jason T. Miles, Pat Moriarity, Tom Neely, Joe Newton, Ries Niemi, John Ohannesian, Augie Pagan, Eric Reynolds, Bob Rini, Johnny Ryan, Frank Santoro, SHAG, Matthew Southworth, and Jim Woodring. Original works by Jack Davis will also be displayed.
The opening reception on Saturday, February 11 promises to be a festive affair. Davis will appear at 6:30 PM via Skype from his home in Atlanta. Many exhibiting artists will also be present. A limited number of advance copies of Jack Davis: Drawing American Pop Culture will be available with a special signed bookplate. Please join us to pay homage to this extraordinary artist. This event coincides with the 4th anniversary installment of the colorful Georgetown Art Attack, featuring visual and performing arts presentations throughout the historic neighborhood.
FUNNY VALENTINES: A TRIBUTE TO JACK DAVIS
An exhibition featuring Peter Bagge, Nikki Burch, Art Chantry, Jack Davis, Tom Dougherty, Jesse Edwards, Ellen Forney, Art Garcia, Roberta Gregory, Charles Krafft, Jason T. Miles, Pat Moriarity, Tom Neely, Joe Newton, Ries Niemi, John Ohannesian, Augie Pagan, Eric Reynolds, Bob Rini, Johnny Ryan, Frank Santoro, SHAG, Matthew Southworth, and Jim Woodring.
Opening Reception Saturday, February 11, 6:00 to 9:00 PM
This long out-of-print first volume of the multiple Harvey and Eisner award- winning Complete Crumb Comics series has been one of our most demanded reprints. Now, this landmark volume of Robert Crumb’s formative years not only returns, but also boasts a major discovery not included in prior editions: a never-before-published, 60 page “home-made” Arcade comic from 1962.
Growing up, Robert and his brother Charles often created their own comic books. These “home-made” editions were usually produced in editions of one. As such, many have been lost to time or private collections. What hasn’t comprises much of the first two volumes of The Complete Crumb series. Their creation continued throughout the 1950s and into the early ’60s and eventually the content of Crumb’s work gradually matured from the light-hearted, funny animal antics of earlier years to stories that flashed signals of what we now recognize as “true Crumb.”
This previously undiscovered Arcade “issue,” from May, 1962, shows many flashes of where Crumb was heading (whereas Charles had all but abandoned drawing comics by the ’60s). The 17-page strip “Jim” is the most emotionally-charged work of Crumb’s young life to that point, a gentle and psychologically astute look at a boy who needs a mother, and also brimming with signs of his increasing frustration with Catholicism. It also features the first quintessential “Crumb girl,” Mabel.
This volume also includes several early Fritz the Cat stories (a.k.a. “Animal Town Comics”), and the classic “Treasure Island Days” (as seen in the Crumb film) and is rounded out with other strips, diary entries and sketches that will be a treasure trove for Crumb fans, all defining work from Crumb’s formative years as a cartoonist, spanning the years 1958-1962 (when Crumb was ages 15-19) and featuring material from other “home-made” comics of the era. This is Ground Zero for a man who may well be the greatest cartoonist who ever lived.
Download and read a PDF excerpt (10 MB) with 9 pages of previously unpublished material.
• Plug:USA Today Pop Candy's Whitney Matheson, posting that Wilco music video with Popeye & co. that's everywhere today, adds "If you're looking for more Popeye, I highly recommend the beautiful collections from Fantagraphics."
• Review: "And indeed, [Carl Barks's] work of c. 1948–54 ranks amongst the most consistently inspired, inventive, touching, and plain fun in the history of comics. Fantagraphics’ inaugural volume in their complete edition of Barks’s Disney comics [Walt Disney's Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes] drops the reader in right at the onset of this creative surge, covering the years 1948–49. ...[T]his is a series that finally promises Barks done right, promising a major revival of one of our greatest cartoonists." – Matthias Wivel, The Comics Journal
• Interview:The Believer blog presents part 1 of an interview with Jim Woodring conducted in 2008 by Ross Simonini: "There’s a Robinson Jeffers poem about a guy who has made wounds on the back of his hands and keeps them fresh by cutting them over and over again with a sharp piece of clean metal. That always struck me as being akin to what I do. I wouldn’t let those childhood wounds heal. The tunnel kept trying to close behind me, and I kept forcing it open so I could remember those primordial things, the way that the world seemed to me as a child. It’s been a vocation for me to keep that view intact."
• Interview (Audio): Matt Smith-Lahrman of New Books Network talks to Kevin Avery about Everything Is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson; in Smith-Lahrman's written introduction he says "In Avery’s biography, Nelson is a man who deeply believed in the idea of the American hero as a maverick: tough, brave, in touch with the essence of what it means to be human, and, importantly, alone. Nelson died in 2006, just as Avery was beginning to write this book. He died alone.... Nelson’s writing is deeply personal, inviting readers into the relationships he had with the people he wrote about. Avery’s biography similarly invites readers into Paul Nelson’s life, lonely as it was."
• Plug: "New from Fantagraphics, a decade spanning comics anthology from icon maker Bill Griffith. Griffith is surely best known as the creator of the polka-dot robe wearing daily strip character, Zippy the Pinhead, but Griffith's productivity reaches far beyond Zippy. Lost and Foundis a collection of comics, handpicked by the artist, many rare and out of print, from 1969-2003 (but with the first third of that time period, the heyday of the underground, occupying the majority of the book). Though most of the comics in Lost and Found aren't about Zippy, there are some unique and important Zippy moments included, like the icon's first appearance..." – 211 Bernard (Librairie Drawn & Quarterly)
• Plugs:Robot 6's Michael May & Graeme McMillan look ahead to a couple of our upcoming releases:
Angelman – I’ve not read much by Austrian cartoonist Nicolas Mahler, but I think I’m won over just by the idea of his new book, which satirizes not just superheroes, but the business behind them. [Graeme]
Interiorae – Lovely, lovely art by Gabriella Giandelli in this collection of his Ignatz series. (It’s also in full-color, unlike the original serialization, which is another win.) [Graeme]
I don’t know why it’s taken this long for Fantagraphics to collect the comics that got their cool Ignatz format a few years ago, but I’ll shut up and be grateful. I greatly enjoyed Giandelli’s creepy tale of an apartment building, its residents, the large rabbit who roams its halls, and the creature the rabbit seems to serve. What’s also exciting though is that this means Richard Sala’s Delphine will get a collection too. [Michael]
• Plug: "Malcolm McNeill was just finishing art school when he began his seven year collaboration with the author, William S. Burroughs. This work, which has never been published, is finally going to see the light of day. Fantagraphics has two books coming out this Spring by McNeill: one with his lost drawings and paintings, and the other a reflection on the relationship between word and image which has made an indelible mark on the artist and master draftsman." – Laura Williams, Lost at E Minor
Gung Hay Fat Choy! According to Chinese astrology, it is the Year of the Dragon, and our friends at Giant Robot are celebrating with a fiery dragon-themed show, featuring mythical creatures from our own Andrice Arp, Renee French, and Steven Weissman, among many others!
Astrologists say the Year of the Dragon is a year of change and mobility, so it's only appropriate that this event also serves as a farewell to Giant Robot's Michelle Borok, who is moving to Mongolia. I will miss seeing her and her awesome eyeglasses at conventions!
Year of the Dragon opens on Saturday, January 28th with a reception from 6:30 to 10:00 PM at GR2 [2062 Sawtelle Blvd. Los Angeles, CA], and the show runs until February 15th.
The great Frank Santoro (center, with Dash Shaw and Jon Vermilyea, back at APE 2009) is heading to the west coast for a Comic Book Layout Workshop that will have you flexing your mental muscles!
The Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery is thrilled to welcome this talented artist and TCJ Contributor for this FREE workshop on Saturday, February 11th! Everyone is welcome, whether you're an artist yourself, or just interested to discover how some of your favorite cartoonists map out their panels.
The workshop runs from 5:00 to 6:00 PM, right before the opening reception of our exhibit Funny Valentines: A Tribute to Jack Davis -- more exciting details about that to come -- so, head to Georgetown early for what's sure to be an excellent evening!
And for those of you outside of Seattle, here are the rest of Frank Santoro's Comic Book Layout Workshop tour dates:
Register and Login to receive full member benefits, including members-only special offers, commenting privileges on Flog! The Fantagraphics Blog, newsletters and special announcements via email, and stuff we haven't even thought of yet. Membership is free and spam-free, so Sign Up Today!