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Archive >> June 2009
STOP! Instead of clicking "Add to Cart" below, call in your order to our toll-free customer service line at 1-800-657-1100 and you will get FREE standard shipping within the U.S. on your order of this plus any other books and comics by Peter Bagge! Offer only valid for phone orders, NOT for web orders, within the U.S., through July 31, 2009. What are you waiting for?? Call now, and don't forget to mention this offer to our friendly operators!
Fans of Peter Bagge’s generation-defining, satirical fiction may not realize this, but the cartoonist doubles as an opinionated cuss, and has been contributing provocative (but still hilarious) comic-strip opinion pieces to Reason magazine for the last several years... finally collected in this volume.
Although a libertarian by inclination (hence the Reason gig), Bagge (who lives in the fuzzy-headed, liberal capital of the Northwest, Seattle) is hardly dogmatic, and many of the pieces undermine traditional party lines in favor of a rather personal, rational and informed take on hot-button issues that will force partisan Democrats and Republicans alike to rethink them. And of course, Bagge’s well-researched comic strip “essays” crackle with the same energy and wit that propelled him into the collective Gen X consciousness with his comic book series Hate.
Favorite topics include the erosion of our civil liberties (whether the post-9/11 Bush administration's gradual erosion of the Bill of Rights, the insanity of the war on drugs, or nanny-state meddling), ongoing boondoggles of the American public (for professional sports stadiums or ineffective public transportation systems), the Iraq war (Bagge is vociferously against it), so-called art and so-called entertainment, the homeless, the mall-ification of America, politicians both in general and in particular (including the 2008 presidential race and a revelatory one-on-one with Republican not-so-hopeful Ron Paul that soured Bagge on the candidate forever), the conservative/religious war on sex and drugs, and whether citizens should be allowed to own bazookas. Each piece features the voluble Bagge himself front and center as the puzzled, indignant, or deeply conflicted everyman-on-the-street trying to make sense of this 21st Century.
And of course, every panel is delineated in Bagge’s glorious, laugh-out-loud stretchy 4-color cartoon style, making even his disquisitions on some very serious topics go down as smoothly as Buddy Bradley’s latest escapade.
HAROLD FOSTER’S LEGENDARY MEDIEVAL EPIC, FINALLY IN ITS DEFINITIVE EDITION
Universally acclaimed as the most stunningly gorgeous adventure comic strip of all time, Prince Valiant ran for 35 years under the virtuoso pen of its creator, Hal Foster. (Such was its popularity that today, decades after Foster’s death, it continues to run under different hands.)
The giant Sunday-funnies pages (Valiant ran only on Sundays) gave Foster a huge canvas upon which he was able to limn epic swordfights, stunning scenes of pomp and pageantry, and some of the most beautiful human beings — male and female — ever to appear in comics. And he matched his nonpareil visual sense with the narrative instincts of a born storyteller, propelling his daring young hero from one crisis to another with barely a panel to catch one’s breath.
Prince Valiant has previously been widely available only in re-colored, somewhat degraded editions (now out of print and fetching collectors’ prices). Thanks to advances in production technology and newly available original proof sheets, this new series from the industry leader in quality strip classics is the first to feature superb restored artwork that captures every delicate line and chromatic nuance of Foster’s original masterpiece. Comic strip aficionados will be ecstatic, and younger readers who enjoy a classic adventure yarn will be bowled over.
Volume One is rounded out with a rare, in-depth classic Foster interview previously available only in a long out-of-print issue of The Comics Journal, as well as an informative Afterword detailing the production and restoration of this edition, which you can read in its entirety right here on our website.
A third collection of amusing nightmares from the demonic wand of Jim Flora
Jim Flora (1914-1998), long admired for boisterous 1940s and '50s record cover illustrations and a later series of best-selling children's books, has been rediscovered in recent years as an alchemist of bizarre and politely disturbing imagery. The Sweetly Diabolic Art of Jim Flora burnishes the reputation of one of the great overlooked paintbox fantasists of the twentieth century.
Like its two predecessors (The Mischievous Art of Jim Flora and The Curiously Sinister Art of Jim Flora), this anthology celebrates a visionary whose work is steeped in vari-hued paradox. Flora's figures are fun while threatening; playful yet dangerous; humorous but deadly. His helter-skelter arabesques are clustered with strangely contorted critters of no identifiable species, juxtaposed amid toothpick towers and trombones twisted into stevedore knots. Down his streets lurch demonic mutants sporting fried-egg eyes, dagger noses, and bonus limbs. Yet, despite the raucous energy projected in these hyperactive mosaics, a typical Flora freak circus often projects harmony and balance — an ordered chaos.
Like the first two volumes of Floriana, The Sweetly Diabolic Art of Jim Flora features paintings, drawings, and sketches from the 1940s through the 1990s — many never previously published or exhibited; more artifacts from the artist's 1940s tenure in the Columbia Records art department; and vintage newspaper and magazine illustrations.
This collection also heralds the first publication of an early, abandoned book for youngsters, "The X-Ray Eye of Wallingford Hume," which Flora drafted in 1943. Equally fascinating are original roughs, overlays, and concept images for his 1950s and '60s published kid-lit. In a curious inversion from art to objet d'art, these partial illustrations — intended to be layered for a printer's composite — are impressive, in their curious minimalism, as stand-alone masterpieces.
A gallery of 1940s pen and pencil sketches invokes a catacomb of nightmarish apparitions and inscrutable petroglyphs. Sweetly Diabolic also collects for the first time between covers a sideshow of science widgetry from a short-lived, now-obscure mid-1950s monthly, Research & Engineering, for which Flora served as art director. Chronicles of Flora's career, personal vignettes, and mementos from the family archives augment the images.
Although a lot of his work appears cartoonish, Flora didn't draw comics. He always projected a veneer of sophistication that elevated his images to the level of fine art, even when grinding out topical illustrations for newsstand weeklies. Flora deftly merged the well mannered with the maniacal — eyeball jazz that bops and bounces in unfathomable meters.
BONUS! Download an EXCLUSIVE 14-page PDF excerpt (2.7 MB) comprising the heavily illustrated Introduction, "The Flora Aura."
A fresh heap of Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: "You Shall Die By Your Own Evil Creation!... collects all the [Fletcher] Hanks material not included in the first book. Hanks' hyperactive, colorful, robust, and crazily disproportionate art is perfectly matched to his over-the-top storytelling... There are few artists, from the Golden Age to today, that so deftly blended goofy dialogue with terrifying violence and surreal situations; for better or worse, Hanks was a real original. [Grade] B+" - The A.V. Club
• Review: "[Ho! The Morally Questionable Cartoons of Ivan Brunetti] is a brutally funny and disturbing attempt to push some buttons, either uncomfortably or comfortably mired in taboo. The aesthetic of freaks, geeks, nerds and ugly men and women, all with dark pasts, dirty fetishes, sociopathic tendencies, and murderous habits all play out over 120 odd pages of frenetic cartoon violence, sometimes sexual, sometimes suicidal, sometimes offensive, but always funny." - Geek Pie
• Review: "Explainers [is] a veritable Bible of middle class American dysfunction... [Jules] Feiffer reveals the depths of his subject not only through the dialogue — which are filled with psychological, social and politic depths that few cartoonists have ever plumbed — but also through an amazing skill to capture the body language so crucial to human communication... Explainers is 500 pages of startling truth captured in sequential squiggles on paper, a real masterpiece worth delving into." - John E. Mitchell, North Adams Transcript
• Review: "[Nell] Brinkley was an amazing artist and craftsman and there are pages here [in The Brinkley Girls: The Best of Nell Brinkley's Cartoons 1913-1940] that will stun you in their detail and composition." - Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Profile/Review: Robert Birnbaum of The Morning News proposes "a Mount Rushmore of American illustration" consisting of Bill Mauldin, Jules Feiffer, Ed Sorel, Seymour Chwast, and David Levine, adding "American Presidents is a 128-page compilation that assembles Levine’s survey of American leaders and their coteries and skewers them with delightful results. It should be a required text in American history courses—Levine’s images powerfully expose the venality, duplicity, and hypocrisy of the upper reaches of our government."
• Interviews: Inkstuds presents a two-fer of audio talks with newly-minted Mome contributors: first up, it's Noah Van Sciver (whose comics "read like they came from the mind of a crazed hobo. Seriously, they are great"); up second, it's T. Edward Bak (described simply as "great")
Above: cover of Amazing Heroes #117, published by Fantagraphics Books, May 1987 (artwork by Tom Yeates, I think; scan from Comic Collectors Live). Below: MJ strip by Paul Hornschemeier from the Wall Street Journal, 2008, as collected in the forthcoming book All and Sundry. Yes, Jackson's cultural influence extends all the way to Fantagraphics.
A quiet day for Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: "There's always a touch of melancholy in everything that Jason writes, but there's a bleakness in some of these stories [in Low Moon] that I haven't seen since Hey, Wait.... All told, this is still a book every Jason fan should read..." - Rob Clough
Ellen Forney makes a triumphant return to the pages of our hometown newsweekly The Stranger in the new annual "Queer Issue" with the full-page strip "How to Have a Mind-Blowing, Decadent, All-Day Threesome!" They've made it available as a downloadable PDF file, enabling you to print out one copy to laminate for future reference and one to insert with her other "how-to" strips in your copy of I Love Led Zeppelin.
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The Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery is located at 1201 S. Vale St., Seattle WA 98108. Tel: 206-658-0110.