• Review: "...Artichoke Tales and The Squirrel Mother have established Kelso as one of the most original talents in comics. The dozen stories in Queen of the Black Black show an emerging talent, but not a fully-formed one; Kelso tries out a variety of styles here, from primitivist to expressionistic, and tries out a variety of genres too, from slice-of-life to historical fantasy. This book isn’t the best introduction to Kelso — that would be The Squirrel Mother — but it’s essential for fans..." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "Now collected and translated into English, Approximate Continuum Comics is almost more valuable now than it was at the time, serving as a historical document of one of some of the most significant cartoonists in Eurocomics. The book also exemplifies Trondheim’s distinctive autobiographical style, which allows plenty of room for dream sequences, slapstick, digressions, and all the virtues that make his fiction work such a delight." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "For Isle of 100,000 Graves, Norwegian cartoonist Jason works his animal-headed characters into a rip-roaring pirate tale written by Fabien Vehlmann. The result is a little more dialogue-heavy and a little less existential than Jason’s usual books, but it’s still funny and imaginative, telling the story of a young girl who joins a band of buccaneers to look for her father and ends up meeting a hapless lad who’s enrolled in school for executioners. The action barrels straight ahead to a sweet finish, but the highlights of Isle of 100,000 Graves come in that school, where kids dispassionately learn to maim and torture in ways that perfectly suit Jason’s deadpan style." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "Isle of 100,000 Graves is the first work of Jason's to be written by someone other than himself. Boy, did he choose a good one!... Visually it is much the same as Jason's other works, which in my opinion are stunning in their simplicity. The sparse composition of the panels, the 'ligne claire' art style (yeah, I just got pretentious on yo' ass) and the fantastic use of negative space all add to the understated, dead pan wit of the tale. A fun and entertaining adventure that just goes towards further proving the talent of these men." – 2 Bad Guys from an 80s Movie
• Review: "...Woodring returns with Congress of the Animals, a 100-page book focused on Frank. The style and format will be familiar to Woodring devotees — wordless and surreal, with each panel packed with thick, squiggly lines — but the story’s more clearly allegorical than usual, following the buck-toothed, easygoing Frank as he moves into a new home and learns what it means to work a soul-crushing job to maintain a standard of living. The theme is heavy, but there’s a strong slapstick comedy element too, which endures right up to the point where things take a turn from the merely weird to the mind-meltingly weird." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "If Mauldin’s World War II strips were a needed corrective to the public’s glorification of war, then his post WWII work fulfilled the same function for those who thought of post-war America as some kind of euphoric utopia.... The production values for this volume, like the hardcover edition for The WWII Years, are impeccable.... DePastino’s introduction is jammed with illustrative biographical details and is livened up with promotional materials.... Back Home is a study of an artist in transition, both in terms of his art and his life. At the same time, it’s a study of a nation in transition, where the political and cultural ground was shifting and a battle over the nature of that national discourse was being waged." – Rob Clough, The Comics Journal
• Plug: "I re-read both the Hernanadez brothers collected works about once a year and there’s not a lot between them. But somehow the subject matter and sheer storytelling verve of Locas tips the balance for me. I’m constantly in awe of how they both can chronicle the lives of huge casts of characters. The hardback collections of Locas and Palomar are absolutely essential." – Oli Barratt, Lost At E Minor
Gary Panter's collected Dal Tokyo is on our spring list and production on the book is proceeding apace. Here, courtesy of Raymond Sohn, who is working on the book with Gary P., is a sneak peek at the new, much much improved (from the "horrible protocover" — Gary's words — that we used for our catalogs last time) cover.
If we publish the first Pogo book, the Joost Swarte collection, and this one all within about six months of each other, then, dear readers, what will you have left to complain about in terms of superlate books from Fantagraphics by next summer?
Don't answer that; we know there's a bunch. (B. Krigstein Vol. 2, for one.) Allow us our moment of relative triumph here.
Drew Weing gave an illuminating talk about his career and the creation of his debut graphic novel Set to Sea a short while ago at the behest of the Pennsylvania Center for the Book in Philadelphia after the book received the 2011 Lynd Ward Prize for Best Graphic Novel Honor Award (runner-up to the main prize) earlier this year. Watch the complete talk, with introduction and follow-up Q&A session, embedded above or on YouTube here; also, in this video, you can watch the jurors for the Lynd Ward Prize discuss their selection of the book.
You've got another chance to bid on the eye-popping Josh Kirby print set The Voyage of the Ayeguy, now listed at a reduced price on eBay. Our eBay jockey Eric Buckler tells me he's got an onslaught of more treasures from our attic to be listed over the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned to our seller page and add us to your favorite sellers to keep on top of it all.
Look for this stunning portrait of Groucho Marx by Drew Friedman on "the forthcoming second edition of Raised Eyebrows: My Years Inside Groucho's House, Steve Stoliar's memoir of working for the comedian during the mid-1970s" — or hanging on your wall if you're one of the lucky 15 to pick up one of the ultra-limited-edition prints of the artwork from the Drew Friedman Art shop.
• Review: "There is no one remotely like Jim Woodring. I admire dozens of living cartoonists, but Jim's wordless comic book stories... are some of the most mindbending books I've ever read.... Is there a lesson to be learned from Congress of the Animals? What is the meaning behind it, and Woodring's other books? That's the question I'm unable to answer. His comics affect the part of my brain that can think and feel, but cannot verbalize. His comics change me, but I can't say why or how." – Mark Frauenfelder, Boing Boing
• Review: "Every step along the way is documented thoroughly and honestly, effectively killing any romantic notions I still had about my final years.... Reading [Special Exits] was like watching an incredibly slow train wreck, where you got to know everyone on board before it crashed... Laura was inspiring in that she continued to respond with love and wanted to help." – Dawn Rutherford, The Unshelved Book Club
• Review: "Fantagraphics Books has put out a lot of amazing collections. Most notably, their year-by-year reprinting of the works of America’s greatest philosopher: Charles Schulz. But my new favorite project of theirs has to be the multi-volume Steve Ditko Archives.... The Steve Ditko Archives lovingly and chronologically reproduce large swaths of both Ditko’s pre- and post-code output, highlighting his ability to draw gallons of emotion and inner turmoil in tiny sequential frames.... Ditko is one of the most elusive and complex characters of comics’ golden age, but these volumes (two so far, Strange Suspense and Unexplored Worlds, both with illuminating forwards by Blake Bell) at least give a compelling glimpse into the creative development of the man behind the panels." – singer/songwriter Chris Mills, guest editor at Magnet
Delve into the peculiar mysteries of the Unifactor as Seattle artist Jim Woodring unveils the secrets behind his brand new graphic novel Congress of the Animals, released this month by Fantagraphics Books Inc. Congress of the Animals is the highly-anticipated follow-up to last year’s Weathercraft, and in 2010, Woodring was awarded the Stranger Genius Award for literature.
Join us at the Elliott Bay Book Companyat 7:00 pm on Thursday, June 30th as Woodring himself takes us page by page through his latest creation, with explanations and anecdotes on his first full-length graphic novel to star his signature character, Frank. Attendees will also get a rare glimpse at sketches and drawings that Woodring left out of his latest tome.
Woodring teases: “I'm going to talk about how I changed the basic formula of the Frank stories with Congress of the Animals, and how I didn't anticipate how strongly those changes would affect not only Frank's world, but mine.”
What mysteries will unfold? What will become of Frank? Will Woodring bring the giant 7’ dip pen??? All these questions, and more, will be answered on Thursday, June 30th at the Elliott Bay Book Company.
Congress of the Animals presentation & signing with Jim Woodring Co-Sponsored by Fantagraphics Books & The Elliott Bay Book Company Thursday, June 30th at 7:00 pm
The Elliott Bay Book Company 1521 Tenth Avenue Seattle WA 98122 This event is free and all ages
[In this installment of our series of Editors Notes, Kim Thompson interviews himself (in a format he's dubbed "AutoChat") aboutLike a Sniper Lining Up His Shotby Jacques Tardi and Jean-Patrick Manchette, now available to pre-order from us and coming soon to a comics shop near you. – Ed.]
Okay, if I already have West Coast Blues, why should I buy Like a Sniper Lining Up His Shot?
My promotional tagline for Sniper is, “For those who thought West Coast Blues wasn’t violent enough.”
Seriously? West Coast Blues was pretty brutal.
Sniper mops the floor with it. It was the last novel Jean-Patrick Manchette completed before he died in 1995, and to some degree it’s an exercise in technique. He himself said this, and he also said he wanted it to feel like the Aldrich movie version of Kiss Me Deadly, I assume in terms of velocity, brutality, and the sheer amount of virtuoso set pieces. That’s a high standard (Kiss Me Deadly is one of my top five favorite movies ever), which I think he hits. It also ends with an apocalypse, albeit just inside the protagonist’s brain.
It’s also probably the most extreme example of what Manchette called his “hyperbehaviorist” style, which is a complete refusal to go inside any of the characters’ heads: It’s all purely observational. “He does this. He does that. Then this happens.” It sounds alienating, but your own conjectures as to what’s going on in every character’s head become far more interesting than anything Manchette could have written. The blankness of Tardi’s character faces adds immeasurably to it, by the way, which is one reason they’re such a good team.
What does the title mean? Why is the protagonist “like” a sniper lining up his shot, isn’t he a sniper and doesn’t he line up his shots? Isn’t that that like calling a boxing movie “like a guy about to punch another guy in the face”?
It’s the very last sentence of the novel, and the last sentence of the graphic novel. Trust me, it makes sense.
This is Tardi’s most recent book, right?
Yeah. At this point in his career Tardi is a zen master. Every panel is designed with such confidence, every line laid down with almost arrogant unfussiness… I can’t praise it enough. I know there are people who pine for the more anal, detailed, “clean” look of some of his earlier books, and it’s not an unreasonable aesthetic preference to have. But to me this is just pure cartooning. And it adds another level of dark wit to what is already a blackly funny book.
There’s a four-page scene where the protagonist, Martin Terrier, catches up with some poor patsy who’s shadowing him, tortures the information out of him, and kills him, and the sheer nonchalant professional viciousness of Terrier (as rendered in one of those inexpressive mask-like Tardi faces I just mentioned) and squirm-inducing nature of the scene topples over into funny… as I’m absolutely sure Manchette intended. If you’re reading a noir interrogation scene set in a car and the sentence “he pushed in the cigarette lighter” comes up, your “Oh, NO…!” reaction is supposed to be overlaid with a nervous giggle.
Sounds like the infamous “fingers” interrogation scene in Man on Fire.
I would not be at all surprised to learn that Brian Helgeland, who wrote Man on Fire — one of the more satisfyingly uncompromising revenge thrillers of the past 20 years — had read the original novel, which is available in English (under the title The Prone Gunman). Am I the only one who found that scene in Man on Fire funny too?
Blecchh. Maybe you and Quentin Tarantino. I hope to God so, or I despair for humanity. Let’s end with a double-barreled “what’s next?” question, namely what’s the next Tardi book you’re doing and will there be any more Manchette/Tardi books?
The next Tardi book we’re committed to is the second Adèle Blanc-Sec book (collecting the third and fourth French volume), and while my current plan is to follow that with the “expanded” Roach Killer (i.e. with three or four short stories also set in New York added to it, including “Manhattan” from RAW Vol. 1, titled New York Mon Amour), this may change. As for Manchette/Tardi, there is of course Griffu which we serialized in Pictopia and could throw out there as a graphic novel some season when I’m feeling lazy and not up to adding a translation to my schedule, but I think we'll be able to make another Manchette/Tardi-related announcement soon.
One more thing: Those who would like to read an actual Manchette novel should be advised that New York Review Books just recently released an English-language edition of Manchette’s Fatale, which is a nifty hitwoman thriller. (Tardi started an adaptation of it back in the 1970s and abandoned it.) Go here to order it on Amazon.com.
I would also add that Manchette’s prose is the most fun to translate. I’m not saying it’s the best (nor am I saying it’s NOT the best) in terms of quality, I’m saying it’s just a blast. When I’m working on a Manchette book I can barely wait to finish dinner to run down and knock out a few more Manchette pages. Translation is sort of like literary karaoke and “singing” in Manchette’s voice is pure joy, even when the protagonist is ripping someone’s ear off for no good reason. Maybe especially when the protagonist is ripping someone’s ear off for no good reason. In fact I’m sad I’m done with this one.
One more thing, if you love cats… uh, never mind. There are a lot of cat lovers out there and I’ll just let them have their own little surprise.
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