THE TRUE STORY OF HOW MICHEL CHOQUETTE (ALMOST) ASSEMBLED THE MOST STUPENDOUS COMIC BOOK IN THE WORLD
Issue No. 299 of The Comics Journal [in-stores August 2009, premiering at the 2009 San Diego Comic-Con] unearths a long-lost treasure: Way back in 1970, satirist/editor Michel Choquette conceived a mammoth anthology of new comics from all over the world by just about every cartoonist imaginable circa 1970 (as well as such unimaginable cultural icons as Federico Fellini and Frank Zappa). All of the contributors were to riff on the 1960s, creating a comics snapshot of that decade, but the project kept growing in ambition until it reached a scale that scared off its publishers. Today, bookstore shelves are filled with comics collections and graphic novels, but in 1970, there was no Watchmen or Persepolis. Even Art Spiegelman's Pulitzer-winning Maus had yet to be published. To publishers of the time, Choquette's dream book was an enormous folly and one by one they backed out of negotiations, leaving Choquette, who had spent all his book advances traveling the globe enlisting contributors, to disappear into relative obscurity.
But by the time publishers had gotten cold feet, Choquette had already assembled an astounding array of comics contributions from 190 of the most influential comics creators and cultural figures of the 1960s and '70s, including: Jack Kirby, William Burroughs, Harvey Kurtzman, Art Spiegelman, Will Eisner, Arnold Roth, Don Martin, Michael O'Donoghue, Ralph Steadman, Tom Wolfe, Wally Wood, Bill Griffith, Barry Windsor-Smith, Gahan Wilson, Moebius, C.C. Beck, Vaughn Bodé, Harlan Ellison, Shary Flenniken, Albert Uderzo and René Goscinny, Russ Heath, Doug Kenney, Patrice Leconte, Chris Miller, Denny O'Neil, Roy Thomas, as well as the aforementioned Fellini and Zappa. It was a legendary compilation of the comic art form that would give heart palpitations to anyone who ever loved comics or was alive in 1970, but no one has seen it all except for Choquette.
Comics Journal writer Bob Levin tracked Choquette down and discovered that this long-lost El Dorado of comics still exists in storage. In an epic article, Levin follows Choquette's path across continents and countries as the would-be anthologizer encounters a cultural Who's Who of the '60s and '70s (Salvador Dali! Gloria Steinem! Jann Wenner! Jorge Luis Borges! Bianca Jagger!), collecting art that will, in part, see print FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER in the pages of this issue.
TCJ #299 also features an interview with SKYSCRAPERS OF THE MIDWEST creator Josh Cotter, a gallery of MYRON WALDMAN AND EVE strips with an introduction by Mark Newgarden, essays by Noah Berlatsky, R.C. Harvey, Matthias Wivel, and the usual assortment of reviews (KRAMERS ERGOT 7!), news and criticism from the best writers-about-comics in the field.
THE COMICS JOURNAL #299 [August 2009] • 208 pages • $11.99 U.S. • ISBN 978-1-60699-147-3
Anyone know of anything happening this week? Oh, right. There is a "comic book" convention!
Yes, Fantagraphics will be returning to Comic-Con in San Diego (BOOTH #1716), as we do every year like the swallows in San Juan Capistrano. We will have a slew of new books, signings all weekend long, and a bunch of freebies for everyone who buys something from us.
First up, the signings. We are hosting signings all weekend long, and although these times are mostly finalized, we will likely have even more lined up between now and the start of the show, so check our schedule on the floor and don't be surprised when you see even more happening than what's listed here. Here's our authors with scheduled times, in alphabetical order:
Next up: NEW BOOKS! We have a slew of new books debuting at the show; you heard it here first. To wit:
LOVE & ROCKETS NEW STORIES #2 by Gilbert, Jaime & Mario Hernandez. It wouldn't be a Comic-Con without a new LOVE & ROCKETS from the brothers Hernandez, and this year is no exception, as we present the second issue of the new, annual L&R that debuted at last year's show.
LOCAS II by Jaime Hernandez. The second hardcover opus of Maggie, Hopey & Ray's adventures. Over 400 pages of Hernandez's sprawling saga under one cover for the first time. The book features material originally published in Love & Rockets Vol. II issues 1-20.
WEST COAST BLUES by Jacques Tardi and Jean-Patrick Manchette. Our first Tardi book finally hits, and it's a sizzling crime thriller that's already earning raves from modern crime masters like Ed Brubaker and Howard Chaykin.
PRISON PIT by Johnny Ryan. You think you know Johnny Ryan? You don't know this Johnny Ryan. Ryan's first original graphic novel is a hyperviolent fantasy tour de force inspired by Kentaro Miura's BERSERK Manga, but filtered through Ryan's singularly twisted sense of humor.
SQUIRREL MACHINE by Hans Rickheit. An amazing, original graphic novel debut with a strong steampunk-ish bent. The gist? Two brothers in 19th Century New England invent a number of fantastic musical instruments from strange technologies... and scavenged animal carcasses. Driven to conceal their work for fear of recrimination, they make a startling discovery in... the Squirrel Machine.
GIRAFFES IN MY HAIR by Carol Swain and Bruce Paley. Acclaimed British cartoonist Carol Swain illustrates writer Bruce Paley's graphic novel memoir of the late-1960s, from dropping acid at Disneyland to crashing the 1968 Democratic Convention with armed Black Panthers, hanging out at Max's Kansas City, shooting heroin with Johnny Thunders and much more — a journey that mirrored the changing times as the optimism of the 1960s gave way to the nihilism of the punk years.
ROCK CANDY by Femke Hiemstra. A startlingly gorgeous art collection from a soon to be star on the pop surrealistic circuit, handsomely designed by Jacob Covey. Reminiscent of Mark Ryden, but wholly her own talent, just pick this one up and flip through it, but come prepared to be seduced.
THE RED MONKEY DOUBLE HAPPINESS BOOK by Joe Daly. The apotheosis of stoner comedy. Action, adventure, mystery, and copious bags of weed. I think this book is something of a masterpiece, which may say more about me than Joe Daly.
ALL AND SUNDRY by Paul Hornschemeier. This stunningly handsome collection corrals Paul's work from the last five years that has never been collected, or printed at all. Comics, illustrations, sketchbooks, and more, it's all presented with exquisite thought and detail in a way that adds up to the proverbial sum greater than its parts.
THIS SIDE OF JORDAN by Monte Schulz. Schulz (son of Charles M.) will be making his first-ever Comicon appearance to support the release of his new novel, a tapestry of American life in the summer before the economic crash of 1929, and a quintessential novel of the rural Midwest offered unexpectedly as a crime thriller. Come by and pick up the book and ask him questions about his life and family.
ABSTRACT COMICS edited by Andrei Molotiu. You've heard the buzz on this one already. A showcase spanning cartoonists new and old who have payed with the possibilities of comics featuring little to no representational imagery, and which tell no stories beyond those that result from the transformation and interactions of shapes across the page. Which doesn't do the handsomeness of this volume justice, lusciously packaged as it is by the aforementioned Mr. Covey. Featuring Crumb, Moscoso, Panter, Craghead, Kochalka, Overby and many more.
THE COMICS JOURNAL No. 299 edited by Gary Groth, Michael Dean & Kristy Valenti. This issue of TCJ features one of the most amazing stories I've read about comics, and it's one that I'd inexplicably never heard before. Bob Levin presents the story of Someday Funnies, or, "How Michel Choquette (Almost) Assembled the Most Stupendous Comic Book in the World." 30 years ago, The Someday Funnies almost became a book that would have made Kramer's Ergot #7 look like a minicomic, with contributions from names including Kurtzman, Kirby, Fellini, Burroughs, Steadman, Wenner, Beck, Dali, Eisner, Wolfe, Zappa and literally hundreds more. I'm not even remotely exaggerating the awesomeness of this piece.
This list doesn't even include a slew of other super recent releases like PRINCE VALIANT Vol. 1, YOU SHALL DIE BY YOUR OWN EVIL CREATION, TALES DESIGNED TO THRIZZLE Vol. 1, LOW MOON, LUBA, FROM WONDERLAND WITH LOVE, the new COMPLETE PEANUTS, the conclusion to Richard Sala's DELPHINE (#4), GROTESQUE #3, etc.
And last but not least: FREE STUFF!!!
Everyone who purchases something from Fantagraphics at the con is going to get a bag stuffed with freebies (while supplies last, anyway, but they should last most of the weekend). Every bag includes several free items, including:
• A back issue of THE COMICS JOURNAL
• An original back issue of the legendary LOVE & ROCKETS Vol. I
• One of our FREE COMIC BOOK DAY Samplers (Love & Rockets, I.G.N.A.T.Z., Funny Book, etc.)
• Our COMIC STRIP MASTERPIECES tabloid
• Plus postcards, stickers, and other surprises!
We look forward to seeing everyone next week, stop on by and say hi to the whole Fantagraphics crew (Gary, Kim, Eric, Mike, Zuniga, Jason, Janice, Kristy and Ajax the Conqueror).
Rest in peace to Walter Cronkite, who graciously embraced our Complete Peanuts series and provided the introduction to our second volume, and a man who could stand amongst Schulz as one of the great icons of 20th Century America.
Two of the biggest icons of 1990s Seattle: Peter Bagge and Ken Griffey, Jr. (along with the lovely Joanne Bagge) at a recent Mariners game at Safeco Field. All that's missing from this picture is Kurt Cobain and J.P. Patches.
The signing will take place after a screening of the W.C. Fields classic, So's Your Old Man at approximately 5:15 pm as part of the San Francisco Silent Film festival (admission is by Festival ticket). Zwigoff will also be introducing the film. See HERE for details.
Go HERE for a link to the complete author festival line up with further info.
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