During WW II, the closest most Americans ever came to combat was through the cartoons of Bill Mauldin, the most beloved enlisted man in the U.S. Army.
This new paperback edition of the 2008 two-volume, deluxe hardcover set brings together Mauldin’s complete works from 1940 through the end of the war under one cover. This collection of over 600 cartoons, most never before reprinted, is more than the record of a great artist: it is an essential chronicle of America’s citizen-soldiers from peace through war to victory.
Bill Mauldin knew war because he was in it. He had created his characters, Willie and Joe, at age 18, before Pearl Harbor, while training with the 45th Infantry Division and cartooning part-time for the camp newspaper. His brilliant send-ups of officers were pure infantry, and the men loved it. Mauldin’s cartoons and captions recreated on paper the fully realized world of the American combat soldier.
Willie & Joe is edited by Todd DePastino, Mauldin’s official biographer. Willie & Joe contains an introduction and running commentary by DePastino, providing context for the drawings, pertinent biographical details of Mauldin’s life, and occasional background on specific cartoons (such as the ones that made Patton howl).
• Review: "Congress of the Animals is a beautifully illustrated modern fable, which manages to say more without words, than most graphic novels can with hundreds of words. The tale rewards repeat readings, with each successive exposure to the story revealing new and interesting details that were not at first apparent. Woodring has really outdone himself here, and has created the finest work of his career. This is a strong contender for graphic novel of the year, if not the decade!" – Edward Kaye, Hypergeek
• Plug: "...Jim Woodring has created a universe that is as unique as it is brilliant.... Congress of the Animals is due out at the end of May and without knowing anything about it I’m certain that it will be worth owning. If his last book Weathercraft is anything to go by you’ll probably read through the full book in one sitting and then spend weeks thinking about the terrifying images that you saw there." – Phillip Buchan, Starburst Magazine (registration required)
• Review: "Approximate Continuum Comics is a black and white collection of stories that feel different, but are still distinctly Trondheim.... The fact is, there aren't too many cartoonists who can do this kind of work today, period. And there weren't many who could do it a decade ago, which is how old this material is.... At $19 for 144 pages' worth of material, the book is worth the price. As usual, Fantagraphics goes out of its way to design something nice here..." – Augie De Blieck Jr., Comic Book Resources
• Review: "...[T]he adventures [in Take a Joke] start at an outrageousness level that’s over-the-top and go north of there, until they climb higher, then scale a wall, then take an elevator, then an escalator, and finally jump real high. They never, ever come down.... In any other artist’s hands, I’d probably hate the damn thing. But Ryan’s cartoon style... makes the filth seem innocent, as if the deviant behavior within his panels [is] perfectly acceptable.... While I admit I found some it very, very funny, I’ll never be able to look at a bottle of A-1 sauce the same way again. Or Robert Crumb, Yogi Bear and The New Yorker, all of whom take quite the licking. Licking just what, I leave to you to discover on your own. – Rod Lott, Bookgasm
• Review: "The protagonist in Fantagraphics Books new Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse: Race to Death Valley isn't your father's Mickey Mouse. It's your grandfather's. These early newspaper strips, beginning in 1930, by Floyd Gottfredson... show a character who seeks out adventure, gets in fights, jumps from speeding trains, steals a car and chases after bad guys out west.... Gottfredson's drawings are just about perfect.... The artist could capture both the excitement... and the wit..." – Michael Chevy Castranova, The Sparrow Papers
• Review: "...[O]ne could not have asked for a better presentation, with the reproduction about as good as it gets for 80-year-old comic strips, and a veritable plethora of extras.... It's rather startling... to see the amount of depth we get in these comic strips presented here.... I also found the language in these strips extraordinary.... To sum up, anyone who likes Disney, cartoons, or comic strips will find tons of things to love about [Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Vol. 1: Race to Death Valley]. The comics are exciting adventure strips for the most part, though there's a lot of standard 'gag' stuff as well.... A terrific book, highly recommended." – Sean Gaffney, A Case Suitable for Treatment (via The Comics Reporter)
• Plug: At the Forbidden Planet International blog, Wim Lockefeer comments on our Guy Peellaert publishing news: "You don’t need to know that Jodelle and Pravda were based respectively on French chanseuses Sylvie Vartan and Françoise Hardy to enjoy these books, and I think they will prove to be a very good addition to Fantagraphics’ continually growing library of classic comics from round the world."
• Interview: At Comics Bulletin, Jason Sacks talks to Shannon Wheeler about Oil & Water and shares some never-before-seen artwork from the book: "A lot of our goals had to do with keeping the environmental disaster on the radar nationally, saying 'This is something that what we did that's a travesty,' basically, and 'How do we keep paying attention to it so it gets cleaned up and never happens again?' It's a big deal."
• Book Club: If you would like to take part in a recorded podcast discussion about Jason & Fabien Vehlmann's Isle of 100,000 Graves on Saturday, head over to Inkstuds to find out the details (and of course we'll let you know when the recording is posted)
If you just can't wait until 2016 for the next collected installment of Josh Simmons's insane 50-year page-a-month epic Jessica Farm (or were just wondering whether he was keeping up with it — of course he is!), he's just put together a 40-page minicomic with pages spanning January 2008 through April 2011. You can order it for $8 postpaid via the Paypal link on his blog.
Esperanza, the fifth volume of “Locas” stories by Jaime Hernandez, collects the remainder of the stories from the acclaimed Love and Rockets Volume II, picking up where 2010’s Penny Century collection left off.
Taking its title from Hopey Glass's birth name, Esperanza follows the somewhat settled-down ex-punkette in her new life as a schoolteacher's assistant — which doesn't mean that her romantic travails have gotten any simpler. Speaking of romantic travails, Maggie's former squeeze Ray Dominguez meets, and becomes obsessed with, the unhinged but fiendishly sexy "Frogmouth," even as he becomes peripherally involved in a brutal murder. But the longest story in the collection focuses on an older and wiser Maggie, facing down her demons in a cataclysmically eventful return to Hoppers.
Esperanza is also available as part of Love and Rockets Library: The Locas Collection — 5 volumes at a savings of nearly $20! This new set contains every story from the "Locas" saga from Love and Rockets Volumes 1 and 2 and Jaime's solo series. The ultimate Jaime collection, and a great gift idea! Click for details and to order.
• Review: "Like last year’s Weathercraft, Congress [of the Animals] is an all-original book-length tale of goings-on around Woodring’s distinctive universe, a kind of fussily malevolent Eden.... Frank is no longer simply the prototypical funny-animal; he has now become the everyman, too. It is in this capacity that we root for the rascal: his struggles against the workaday world are our own, as are his temptations, his trials, his longing for home and for some kind of domestic bliss." – Sean Rogers, The Comics Journal
* Other People's Publications ** Yeah, You Know Me.
Is it a cheat to spotlight Life with Mr. DangerousbyPaul Hornschemeier? I mean, technically, the book was released last month by Random House/Villard, but we did serialize it first in Mome.
Obviously, I think it still counts, as there's something different about reading Life with Mr. Dangerous collected in this stylish hard-bound edition. Without the stops-and-starts of serialization, I found myself far more immersed in the world of Amy Breis, a lonely 26-year-old stuck in a dead-end job, living alone with her cat, and obsessed with the TV show "Mr. Dangerous."
And, honestly, I love this character, and I love this book. It truly belongs on your shelf, next to your well-worn copy of Ghost World. I was even suspicious of whether "Amy Breis" was an anagram of "Hornschemeier" somehow. Like Clowes, Hornschemeier is able to craft a character who's painfully relatable, and ultimately, well... loveable.
Oh, and whaddaya know! You can pick up a copy and get it signed this coming Saturday, June 18th at the Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery, as Hornschemeier will be here from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Seattle’s own Eroyn Franklin will also be debuting her highly anticipated book, Detained, for an evening of artists with hard-to-spell names.
Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery is located at 1201 S. Vale Street in Seattle's Georgetown district. Open daily 11:30 to 8:00 PM, Sundays until 5:00 PM. Phone: (206) 658-0110. See you there!
Ran out of time on Friday's Online Commentary & Diversions, so it's combined with links from the weekend:
• Review: "Now Fantagraphics has risen to the fore with [Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Vol. 1:] Race to Death Valley... It’s a pretty spiffy package, sharply designed and full of smart, well-written essays that provide a rich portrait of the artist and his times, as well as some great comics.... As impressive as Gottfredson's work is, it's in the ancillary materials or 'special features' that makes this book really shine. Editors Gary Groth and David Gerstein have gone the extra mile here... With its shameless abundance of riches, Mickey Mouse Vol. 1 sets a new standard in reprint publication." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Plug: "Only a small handful of Gottfredson's collected works have been published and most are out of print. He pioneered a trendsetting style of adventure comics, though in his lifetime remained largely unrecognized.... Fantagraphics has kindly republished a bit of the Gottfredson Mickey run in their new book [Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Vol. 1:] Race to Death Valley, beautifully restored [and] repackaged..." – Green Apple Books
• Review: "The latest volume of The Complete Peanuts: 1979-1980 continues with Charles Schulz’s herculean output of his beloved comic strip. Schulz supplies the customary laughs in stand-alone gag strips and some short 'continuing' storylines.... As I have said in previous reviews, Fantagraphics does such a marvelous job with these hardcover Peanuts volumes. From the cover by designer Seth, to the crisp black-and-white reprinting (3 dailies per page, 1 Sunday per page), to the handy index to help you find your favorite strip, Fantagraphics takes creating a permanent archive of this beloved humor strip very seriously. Children of all ages should all get their hands on this American treasure." – Rich Clabaugh, The Christian Science Monitor
• Commentary: Mike Sterling makes a few observations about The Complete Peanuts 1979-1980: "SPOILER ALERT: Peppermint Patty gathers evidence and uses skeptical, critical thinking to resolve her particular issue here."
• Review: "Some of the very first autobiographical works on the French bande dessinée scene, these little gems were a genuine game-changer for cartoonists and storytellers... Superbly skilled at switching imperceptibly from broad self-parody to cripplingly painful personal revelation, wild surrealism to powerful reportage and from clever humorous observation to howling existentialist inquisition, Trondheim’s cartoon interior catalogue is always a supremely rewarding and enjoyable experience and, as these ancient texts [Approximate Continuum Comics] prove, always has been." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Review: "[Blake] Bell is our guide into this rich history of Bill Everett... Bell includes several pieces of artwork and comics that has rarely been seen. A true testament to a man who lived comics throughout his entire life and loved it with a passion...[I]t’s important not only to remember the characters, but the men behind them. Bell’s book here on the life and times of Bill Everett [Fire & Water], and his other biographical material on Steve Ditko, is a testament to that." – Chris Marshall, Collected Comics Library
• Interview: Hillary Chute talks to Joe Sacco for The Believer; I'll use their pullquote: "When you draw, you can always capture that moment. You can always have that exact, precise moment when someone’s got the club raised, when someone’s going down. I realize now there’s a lot of power in that."
• Interview:The A.V. Club's Sam Adams talks to Joe Sacco: "I think if I hadn’t studied journalism I might have taken a different approach, and I’m not saying my approach is the only way you can tell a story journalistically. But because I actually studied it, detail is important and accuracy is really important, so it’s not just about having an accurate quote. The problem with doing things the way I try to do them is that it’s not just an accurate quote, it’s an accurate image of what a place looks like. An absolute literal group of images? You might as well go to a photographer for that. But whatever interpretation I do of it, it has to be informed by reality."
• Profile:HiLobrow's Joshua Glenn on Dame Darcy: "If she sounds like too much to handle, that’s because she is; now you know why her comic is called Meat Cake — they’re two decadent foods, so why not combine them? Darcy’s world is a child’s garden of verses overrun by drunken mermaids, grave-robbing French maids, and Vitalis-groomed cads. If this sort of thing sounds like your cup of spooky-kooky tea, read Meat Cake..."
• Profile: "I made my quarterly pilgrimage down to the Fantagraphics store in Seattle yesterday, and that store never ceases to amaze anyone who walks into it. From the curator/owner to the punk rock pictures on the wall, to the awesome collection of Fantagraphics titles, traditional comics, underground comics, and some adult stuff tucked away in the back room under the stairs, the entire store is a place to go explore the darker side of comic books." – Dan Morrill, Comics Forge
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