Significant Objects began in 2009 as a bold online inquiry into the relationship between narrative and the value of everyday objects. It has been the subject of speculation by everyone from NPR to litbloggers to The New York Times’ Freakonomics crew. Some theorized about the project’s hypothesis, others about its methods and results. Others just wanted to know if there would be a book collection. The answer is yes. A collection of one hundred Significant Objects stories is published in this hardcover volume.
This represents the latest plot twist yet to the story of a very unlikely project that began as an experiment, turned into an experimental literary magazine secretly published on eBay, and currently raises money for youth tutoring nonprofits.
Founded by Joshua Glenn and Rob Walker, SignificantObjects.com has published an extraordinary series of 200 stories and counting — by William Gibson, Curtis Sittenfeld, Sheila Heti, Colson Whitehead, Nicholson Baker, Meg Cabot, Gary Panter, Ben Katchor, Lydia Millet, Jonathan Lethem, and other talented writers — about ordinary stuff like novelty items, discarded souvenirs, and tasteless kitchenware picked up cheap at thrift stores and yard sales. The goal: To see if commissioning great stories about these insignificant things would increase their value — as measured in actual eBay auctions.
The experiment, in short, was a smash hit. As will be the Significant Objects book, which features 100 moving, absurd, surprising, and always entertaining stories from the project’s three volumes. It will change the way you look at things, forever.
•Review: The long-awaited Comics Journal review of Gabriella Giandelli's graphic novel Interiorae is online. Sean T. Collins: "As the rabbit floats from one [apartment] to another, a sort of soporific rhythm sets in, a familiarity with the emotional and visual palette that allows individual moments to stand out. It’s not just the weird or grand stuff . . . but thoughtful and attractive details as well."
•Plug: The Stumptown Trade Review is as pumped as Fantagraphics is have the all-ages graphic novel The Adventures of Venus by Gilbert Hernandez. "Luba’s niece [Venus] creates and collects comic books, walks through a scary forest, plays soccer, schemes to get the cute boy she likes, laments the snowlessness of a California Christmas, catches measles, and travels to a distant planet. . ."
•Plug:Comics Alliance lists the Best Comic Covers of June 2012 and Jacques Tardi's New York Mon Amour makes the grade. Andrew Wheeler says, "romance is not the vibe evoked by this menacing red sky over Tardi's exquisitely rendered New York street. This cover tells you that this is not a love story."
I gotta say, even after 9 years of this (well, at least for 6, which is how long I've been here), it's still a pretty big thrill when the advance copies of the new volume of The Complete Peanuts show up at the office. Here's Vol. 18, 1985-1986, and the 1983-1986 Box Set, fresh out of the box. As a long-time Spike fan I love Seth's design for these, and as a big Patton Oswalt fan I'm excited about the new volume's introduction. These guys'll be available in a couple of months — stay tuned for previews!
Order this or any other Love and Rockets book and receive this FBI•MINI comic shown at left as a FREE bonus! Click here for details. Limit one per customer while supplies last.
Originally serialized in Love and Rockets: New Stories, “Ti-Girls Adventures” managed to be both a rollickingly creative super-hero joyride (featuring three separate super-teams and over two dozen characters) that ranged from the other side of the universe to Maggie’s shabby apartment, and a genuinely dramatic fable about madness, grief, and motherhood as Penny Century’s decades-long quest to become a genuine super-heroine are finally, and tragically, fulfilled.
In addition to introducing a plethora of wild new characters, God and Science brings in many older characters from Jaime’s universe, some from seemingly throwaway shorter strips and some from Maggie’s day-to-day world (including some real surprises). The main heroine of the story, forming a bridge between the “realistic” Maggie stories and the super-heroic extravaganza is “Angel,” Maggie’s sweet-tempered and athletic new roommate and best friend, and now herself an aspiring super-heroine.
Aside from being presented in a large format that really displays Jaime Hernandez’s stunning art, God and Science will be a “director’s cut” version that includes a full 30 new pages in addition to the original 100-page epic, including four new full-color faux Ti-Girls covers, several expansions of scenes, an epilogue set back in Maggie’s apartment, and a long fantasy/timewarp sequence that draws the focus back on Penny’s awful predicament.
In 2011’s Dungeon Quest Book Two, we left our heroes, Millennium Boy, Steve, Lash and Nerdgirl, in the Temple of Bromedes as they began their initiation into the mysteries of Atlantis under the tutelage of the androgynous forest mystic, Bromedes. In this third book, our heroes complete their learning with Bromedes and are guided towards further quests in Rufford Park and beyond, to the Zuur Plateau. However, they are not yet clear of the hazards of Fireburg Forest. Resurfacing to the forest floor (after hitting the strongest weed in the universe, “Orangutan Daydream”), they must survive a perilous cliff path, discover moon shrines, battle wild Womraxes, endure knock-out gas, hypnagogic visions, nakedness and deprivation and, finally, embark on a desperate and courageous mission to rescue Nerdgirl from cruel Forest Bandits and retrieve their stolen equipment.
In this third book, by far the longest installment of the series so far (288 pages!), the reader is also introduced to the history and mysticism of The Romish Book of the Dead, a sexually avant-garde “little forest man” (who becomes the fifth member of the crew), Steve’s newly discovered “battle warping” abilities (which Millennium Boy dismisses as being a mere “kundalini spasm”), weapons and armor upgrades and a whole new level of bizarre comedy, rousing adventure and ass-kicking action — all staged in front of fantastic backdrops replete with strange vegetation, ancient ruins and steampunk imagery.
Since Fantagraphics’ first release in this series focused on Donald Duck, it is only right that the second focus on Carl Barks’s other great protagonist, and his greatest creation: The miserly, excessively wealthy Scrooge McDuck, whose giant money bin, lucky dime, and constant wrangles with his nemeses the Beagle Boys are well-known to, and beloved by, young and old.
This volume starts off with “Only a Poor Old Man,” the defining Scrooge yarn (in fact his first big starring story) in which Scrooge’s plan to hide his money in a lake goes terribly wrong. Two other long-form classics in this volume include “Tralla La La” (also known as “the bottlecap story,” in which Scrooge’s intrusion has terrible consequences for a money-less eden) and “Back to the Klondike” (Barks disciple Don Rosa’s favorite story, a crucial addition to Scrooge’s early history, and famous for a censored bar brawl that was restored in later editions). Each of these three stories is famous enough to have its own lengthy Wikipedia page.
Also in this volume are the full-length “The Secret of Atlantis,” and over two dozen more shorter stories and one-page gags.
Newly recolored in a version that combines the warm, friendly, slightly muted feeling of the beloved classic original comic books with state-of-the-art crispness and reproduction quality, the stories are joined by another volume’s worth of extensive “Liner Notes,” featuring fascinating behind-the-panels essays about the creation of the stories and analyses of their content from a world’s worth of Disney and Barks experts.
This week's comic shop shipment is slated to include the following new titles. Read on to see what comics-blog commentators and web-savvy comic shops are saying about them (more to be added as they appear), check out our previews at the links, and contact your local shop to confirm availability.
128-page full-color 14" x 18" hardcover • $75.00 ISBN: 978-1-60699-411-5
"I have the name Johnny Gruelle permanently stuck in my memory from the Raggedy Ann & Andy books I used to look at as a kid. He was a comic-strip artist, too, and Mr. Twee Deedle ran from 1911 to 1914 after he won a New York Herald competition. It's gorgeous stuff, given the Sunday Press-style super-oversize treatment in this $75 hardcover -- those who like 'Little Nemo in Slumberland' and/or 'Maakies'... should certainly have a look at it." – Douglas Wolk, ComicsAlliance
"...I have fond memories of reading my mother’s old, frayed Raggedy Ann and Andy books as a child, so I’m curious to see Mr. Twee Deedle, a collection of strips done by Raggedy creator Johnny Gruelle prior to his seminal children’s series." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"Mr. Twee Deedle: Raggedy Ann’s Sprightly Cousin – The Forgotten Fantasy Masterpiece of Johnny Gruelle may run a fair risk of getting buried this week, but I’ve had my eye on the strip since Tony Millionaire started referencing it years ago, and these 128 pages are reproduced in a 14″ x 18″ format, so they should be fairly easy to spot, even above the din of stuff that escorts our June into history; $75.00." – Joe McCulloch, The Comics Journal
"This is a staggering-looking book of work from the cartoonist Johnny Gruelle that I think ran concurrently to the Raggedy Ann stuff that found more of a place in the pop-culture firmament. You could see this as a way of exploring where someone like Tony Millionaire came from, or as a precursor to the Peter Wheat book someone out there has to be doing." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
Jewish Images in the Comics showcases more than 150 comic strips, comic books and graphic novels from all over the world, stretching over the last five centuries and featuring Jewish characters and Jewish themes.
The book is divided into chapters on Anti-Semitism, the Old Testament, the Holocaust, Israel, the Golem and much more, featuring everything from well-known comics like Art Spiegelman’s Maus and the work of Will Eisner to much more obscure (and in some cases far less savory) but no less culturally and historically interesting examples of how Jewish culture has been depicted in comics.
As with Strömberg’s previous two books for Fantagraphics, each strip, comic, or graphic novel is spotlighted via a short but informative 200-word essay and a representative illustration. The book is augmented by a context-setting introduction as well as an extensive source list and bibliography.
Jewish Images in the Comics is the third book in a series in which Strömberg examines different phenomena in our society, as mirrored in comics. Black Images in the Comics examines the way Black people have been portrayed in comics and The Comics Go to Hell looks at how the Devil has been used as a comics character.
The most recent ramblin' Online Commentaries & Diversions:
•Commentary:ABC News and Amy Bingham picked up a few quotes by a partial interview online by Gary Groth with Maurice Sendak. The full interview will be published in The Comics Journal #302 in December: “Bush was president, I thought, ‘Be brave. Tie a bomb to your shirt. Insist on going to the White House. And I want to have a big hug with the vice president, definitely."
•Commenary:MSNBC's Kurt Schlosser also writes on Maurice Sendak's TCJ #302 interview. In the article, associate publisher Eric Reynolds is also quoted, "[Sendak] was at the point in his life where he clearly didn't give a damn about propriety; he could speak his mind and clearly enjoyed provocation. I see these comments as part and parcel of his personality, not as a legitimate, actionable, treasonous threat."
•Review:The Washington Times takes a close look at Mr. Twee Deedle, edited by Rick Marschall. The long-forgotten artwork of Johnny Gruelle inspired writer Michael Taube: "Mr. Twee Deedle’s world is, quite simply, a series of innocent tales in a fantasyland that any child - and many adults - would have loved to experience, if but for a short while."
•Plug:The Frank Book by Jim Woodring gets a nice staff recommendation on theHarvard Book Store site. Craig H. says, "[Frank] takes us on his adventures through the psychedelic terrain of “The Unifactor,” a universe alive with rich pen-width and symmetrical, flying devices.
•Plug (audio): In the first few minutes of podcast Bullseye with Jesse Thorn, Angelman is recommended. Comics journalist Brian Heater of the Daily Crosshatch says, "it's Sergio Aragonés meets David Foster Wallace. . . about a little red winged superhero and his powers are good listening and empathy."
One of the reasons I came to work at Fantagraphics in 1991 was the presence of late art director Dale Yarger. We'd worked together at The Rocket, where he designed Bruce Pavitt's monthly Sub Pop column and refined the logo of the future record label. He later designed the catalog for the landmark Misfit Lit comix exhibition when I was curator at CoCA. He left Fantagraphics to join the fledgeling alternative newspaper The Stranger, creating a look that remains largely intact today.
I've always been fond of Dale's graphic sensibility - contemporary, yet absent fleeting trends of the moment. Timeless, in other words. Please join us on Sunday afternoon at Fantagraphics Bookstore as we remember this remarkable artist and dear friend. Gone too soon.
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