If you are one of the fortunate thousands who enjoy untangling the enigmatic images that fill Jim Woodring's comics and drawings, Problematic is just the book for you to put under your pillow and dream on.
Woodring is a devotee of the pocket-sized Moleskine sketchbook and has filled at least one per month since 2004. Quick concept sketches, figure studies, self-challenges, finished drawings, revenge portraits and caricatures, scene tryouts... everything goes into these idea batteries.
Problematic provides the adventurous viewer with a bounty of unfiltered, hand-captured glimpses of life by an artist that Publishers Weekly called "a modern master of hallucinatory cartoon fables." Lots of this material re-emerges in the form of pictures and storylines but much of it is just too baffling to be harnessed for any practical use. Of course, these untamable notions are the best and most interesting ones; and there are plenty of them here in the 300-page brick of Problematic.
Problematic is a rollicking amalgam of reportage (i.e. the man who blew his arm off), speculative anatomy, fancy women, make-a-face games, picture-puzzles, gags, riffs and burlesques. Catalogue and exhibition simultaneously, Problematic is your best bet for a brief, energizing stroll in a distinctively enjoyable neighborhood.
The setting: A boys' boarding school in Germany, sometime in the mid-20th Century. One winter day, fourteen year-old Thomas Werner falls from a lonely pedestrian overpass to his death, immediately after sending a single, brief letter to another boy at the school:
To Juli, one last time. This is my love. This is the sound of my heart. Surely you must understand.
Thus begins Moto Hagio's The Heart of Thomas — one of the most compelling and enigmatic manga graphic novels ever created, and a pioneer in the popular boys'-romance "shounen-ai" genre. Thomas's death (was it an accident? Suicide? Or even murder?) immediately throws the school into turmoil, while his letter sets off a chain of emotional upheaval both for the recipient and an ever-expanding circle of friends, family, and teachers, as secrets are revealed and shared. And then a new boy who looks exactly like Thomas shows up at school…
Unabashedly romantic and emotionally complex, The Heart of Thomas features an unusual, richly imagined setting and a cast of memorable characters. This timeless masterpiece is now finally available to American readers.
Castle Waiting is the story of an isolated, abandoned castle, and the eccentric inhabitants who bring it back to life. A fable for modern times, it is a fairy tale that’s not about rescuing the princess, saving the kingdom, or fighting the ultimate war between Good and Evil — but about being a hero in your own home. The opening chapter tells the origin of the castle itself, which is abandoned by its princess in a comic twist on “Sleeping Beauty” when she rides off into the sunset with her Prince Charming. The castle becomes a refuge for misfits, outcasts, and others seeking sanctuary, playing host to a lively and colorful cast of characters that inhabits the subsequent stories, including a talking anthropomorphic horse, a mysteriously pregnant Lady on the run, and a bearded nun.
Linda Medley lavishly illustrates Castle Waiting in a classic visual style reminiscent of Arthur Rackham and William Heath Robinson. Blending elements from a variety of sources — fairy tales, folklore, nursery rhymes — Medley tells the story of the everyday lives of fantastic characters with humor, intelligence, and insight into human nature. Castle Waiting can be read on multiple levels and can be enjoyed by readers of all ages.
We missed this in the holiday rush of making sure you got those beautiful Peanuts books but Saturday Night Live created a laugh-and-fart-out-loud parody of the beloved characters created by Charles M. Schulz. Hats off to Bill Hader's Al Pacino as Charlie Brown and Martin Short's Larry David as Linus.
Also, a friend sent us this odd text-based adventure of a future society that learned how to be through a Peanuts filter. Walk around the world in your mind (live an hut made of baseball gloves)! Read a little bit of Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the gang before immersing yourself.
Curators Kathleen Calderwood, associate professor, and David Cowles, lecturer, invited each participant to choose the illustration they think is their best work to date. Here's what Drew chose, but really, how can you possibly choose?!!:
The opening reception for the show is Friday, January 18th from 5:00 to 8:00 PM, and the exhibit runs through March 1st.
Woodring is rarely without a pocket-sized Moleskine sketchbook, in which he captures character studies, sight gags, emblems, dream motifs, and other fugitive impressions. He has filled at least one a month for the past 8 years. Problematic collects random images from these sketchbooks from 2004 – 2012. The resulting book is, in Woodring’s words, "an idea battery loaded with shorthand references to long game insights." The exhibition includes drawings, notes, and related ephemera from the collection, resulting in revealing insight into the artist’s creative process.
A longtime Seattle resident, Jim Woodring's idiosyncratic approach to art and storytelling has made him an influential figure in the fields of fine art and alternative comix. His work has been exhibited worldwide and published in several popular volumes by Fantagraphics Books, including The Frank Book, Seeing Things, Weathercraft, and Congress of the Animals.
Please join us on Saturday, January 12 from 6:00 to 9:00 PM, as we celebrate the work of this remarkable artist at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery, located at 1201 S. Vale Street in the heart of Seattle’s historic Georgetown arts community. This event coincides with the colorful Georgetown Art Attack featuring challenging visual and performing arts presentations throughout the neighborhood.
Jim Woodring’s Problematic art show and book signing Opening reception Saturday, January 12, 6:00 to 9:00 PM Exhibition continues through February 6, 2013 Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery 1201 S. Vale Street, Seattle 206.659.0110 Open daily 11:30 to 8:00 PM. Sundays until 5:00 PM www.fantagraphics.com
Fantagraphics and comiXology release R. Kikuo Johnson's debut graphic novel, Night Fisher , which tells the intimate tale of young teens verging into the alien territory of adulthood.
The setting? First-rate prep school, S.U.V., and a dream house in the heights: This was the island paradise handed to Loren Foster when he moved to Hawaii with his father six years ago. Now, with the end of high school just around the corner, his best friend, Shane, has grown distant. The rumors say it's hard drugs, and Loren suspects that Shane has left him behind for a new group of friends. What sets Johnson's drama apart is the naturalistic ease with which he explores the relationships of his characters. It is at once an unsentimental portrait of that most awkward period between adolescence and young adulthood and that rarest of things: a mature depiction of immature lives.
Visually, Johnson captures the languid tropical climate and strip mall tackiness of Hawaii in a rich chiaroscuro style reminiscent of Milton Caniff combined with the sensual ink work of Paul Pope or Jessica Abel. You can purchase this 145 page beauty over at comiXology today.
"Johnson's debut is not only remarkably assured but astonishingly fresh, one that refuses to trade in the usual hoary high-school cliches... Panels are shuffled together with a cinematic flair that highlights the florid emotions of adolescence far better than any battery of melodrama could. A dark, grand, sweeping dream of a book." – Kirkus Review
"The gritty coming-of-age story also delivers strong plot and dialog like a fistful of poi." – Book Collector
A home with a drawbridge awaits you, troubled merchant or peasant. Fantagraphics and comiXology release the fairy tale with a twist, Castle Waiting by Linda Medley, for digital download or 'magical reading'! Castle Waiting is the story of an isolated, abandoned castle, and the eccentric inhabitants who bring it back to life. A fable for modern times, it is a fairy tale that’s not about rescuing the princess, saving the kingdom, or fighting the ultimate war between Good and Evil — but about being a hero in your own home.
Linda Medley lavishly illustrates Castle Waiting in a classic visual style reminiscent of Arthur Rackham and William Heath Robinson. Blending elements from a variety of sources — fairy tales, folklore, nursery rhymes — Medley tells the story of the everyday lives of fantastic characters with humor, intelligence, and insight into human nature. Castle Waiting can be read on multiple levels and can be enjoyed by readers of all ages.For those in need for Middle-earth style immersion, look no further than Medley's beautiful and complex world. 460 pages of magic are available at comiXology.
"Castle Waiting creates a vibrant fantasy world not unlike The Lord of the Rings' Middle-earth but with a focus on the lives of women. Gorgeously illustrated in black and white, the book combines Christian and mythological imagery, including a bearded female saint, Rumpelstiltskin and various animal-headed characters. Fun to read and look at, Castle Waiting will enthrall fantasy readers of both genders." – Time
"Medley’s big book ranks with Jeff Smith’s Bone as a nearly-all-ages graphic-novel triumph." – Booklist "Core Collection: Graphic Women"
Happy New Year's! Here's to a great year of books and the next year and the year after that. We salute you and thank you for your friendship and purchases. Some of you sent in photos reading books from this year (and a few past ones).
What are new years for if not second chances? In this spirit, we're giving you a second chance to save 20% on everything we offer, hot on the heels of our previous post-Xmas sale. Missed it the first time? Get another paycheck between then and now? Just not satisfied? Let's do it again! Just use coupon code DEJAVU when checking out for 20% off your entire order now through Saturday, January 5, 2013! (If you prefer to shop by phone, just mention this offer when you call — 1-800-657-1100 or 206-524-1967 outside the U.S., 9 AM to 5 PM Pacific time Wednesday-Friday.) Once again, 20/20 Club members get a double-shot discount of 36%, so join up if you haven't already.
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