Whether you choose to call them “comics lit,” “graphic novels,” or just “thick comic books,” book-length narratives told in words and pictures confidently elbowed their way into the cultural spotlight in the first decade of this new millennium — beginning with the simultaneous 2001 release of Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth and Daniel Clowes’ David Boring, and continuing on through ground-breaking and best-selling works such as Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, Robert Crumb’s Genesis, Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, and Joe Sacco’s Palestine.
This renaissance in turn brought forth a chorus of critical commentary that not only addressed these recent works, but also initiated a much-needed look back at the previous century’s neglected and forgotten masterpieces.
This chorus, as presented in The Best American Comics Criticism, comprises both criticism (Douglas Wolk on Frank Miller and Will Eisner, Robert C. Harvey on Fun Home, Donald Phelps on Steve Ditko and Phoebe Gloeckner) and history (David Hajdu on the 1950s comic-book burnings, Jeet Heer on Gasoline Alley, Ben Schwartz on Little Orphan Annie, Gerard Jones on the birth of the comic-book business), as well as revelatory peer-on-peer essays by novelists (Jonathan Franzen on Peanuts, John Updike on James Thurber) and cartoonists (Chris Ware on Rodolphe Töpffer, Clowes on Mad’s Will Elder, and Seth on John Stanley).
Add in still more voices (The Daily Show’s John Hodgman on Jack Kirby, Sarah Boxer on Krazy Kat, Ken Parille with a meticulous deconstruction of Clowes’s David Boring), and a selection of revelatory interviews with comics masters (Kim Deitch, Yoshihiro Tatsumi, Marjane Satrapi, Will Elder, Chester Brown) and cartoonist tête-à-têtes (Eisner/Miller, Jonatham Lethem/Clowes, Dan Nadel/Sammy Harkham), and The Best American Comics Criticism offers a riveting and comprehensive look at a medium finally come into its own—not just creatively, but in terms of the respect and prominence within American culture it has so long deserved.
The Best American Comics Criticism is edited by Ben Schwartz, a contributor to The New York Times, The Washington Post, Salon, The Atlantic On-Line, and Bookforum.
See the full Table of Contents and read Ben Schwartz's Introduction in this EXCLUSIVE 15-page PDF download (193 KB).
We forgot to mention, the new second printing of The Wolverton Bible is currently in stock and features an updated color scheme for the cover — what was shades of green on the sold-out first printing is now various rust colors as seen above. Purty! We're still offering a free set of Wolvertoons Postcards with all direct orders, so get yours today!
• Review: "Newave! The Underground Mini Comix Of The 1980s is a small but substantial celebration of the movement, an era during which creators let their ids run riot on the page without worrying about sales, censors, editors, or an audience. Many newave mini-comics had print runs as low as a dozen or so, while others became relative bestsellers; in Newave!, one of the form’s pioneers, Michael Dowers, has edited a gorgeous, utterly essential document of these artifacts, a thick-as-a-fist tome full of stark, crude, obscene, nihilistic, and at times genius comics. Everything from grotesque pornography and freeform surrealism to pop-culture parody and post-hippie rage dwell within, and each turn of the page is a delightful new assault on the visual cortex—not to mention propriety. ... Interspersed with brief interviews with the artists, the compact Newave! is not only an ideal package for such an anthology, it’s done an immeasurable service to the comics medium as a whole. Beyond that, it also just might realign your synapses… [Grade] A" – The A.V. Club
• Profile: The latest "Comics College" feature at Robot 6 focuses on Chris Ware: "Simply put, he's the most influential contemporary cartoonist to come out of the indie scene of the '80s and '90s, perhaps even the most influential cartoonist alive today. Love him or hate him, there's no denying Ware changed the way people think about comics, both on the shallow 'wait, you mean these funnybooks are real literature' level and on the 'wow, he's completely made me rethink what comics are capable of' level."
• Interview:Ho Che Anderson talks about past and future projects in the second part of Alex Dueben's Q&A with him at The Comics Journal: "Right now I’m doing an omnibus book that will collect a bunch of my stuff from hither and yon over the years, and I’m taking the opportunity to complete Miles From Home, a sequel to I Want To Be Your Dog that I started literally 20 years ago, published some of in Pop Life in the ’90s, but never got a chance to finish. But once that page is done and the rest of the book is assembled, I’m focusing on this other thing to the exclusion of all else."
• Review: "Ghost World feels like a really apt bit of social history to me now, rather than a piercing look at real life. I believe it, but I believe it happened, not that it happens, at least not quite this way, at the age shown here. But, what is timeless is the theme that crops up towards the end: the unsettling feeling one gets when contemplating the lurch into adulthood." – Christopher King, Timmy's House of Sprinkles
• Plugs: The bloggers at Comics And... Other Imaginary Tales comment on our offerings in the current issue of Previews, including Four Color Fear ("This will be awesome!"), Grotesque #4 ("This is a great story with great art and well worth the money"), and Wally Gropius ("The dichotomy between the clean and wholesome lines and the dirtyness of the story is what's pulling me in.")
• Profile: Christina Whiting of the Homer News reports on Jim Woodring's current residency at the Bunnell Street Arts Center: "The Bunnell gallery space has been transformed into an exhibition of Woodring's art and into a working studio. His work table is covered with pads of paper, bottles of ink, quill pens and unfinished drawings — basic tools of his trade. ... Throughout the month, Woodring also has been working on a 100-page graphic novel, which he plans to publish. The first 20 pages are currently displayed in the gallery exhibit area, and he is adding a new page to the wall every couple of days. 'I'll likely create ten new pages while I'm here,' Woodring said."
• Interview: At The Comics Journal, Alex Dueben talks to Ho Che Anderson about his new book Sand & Fury: "I’ve always been highly, highly influenced by movies, as much if not more so than comics. There were certainly comic book influences on S&F, like Richard Sala’s work and also Richard Corben whom I’m a big fan of, and even a little Jason Lutes though it’d be difficult to see. But it’s true that the majority of the influences were cinematic, particularly Dario Argento and David Lynch."
Monte Beauchamp's annual darling of the graphic design and illustration world is a spectacular collection of cutting-edge comics, illustration, and graphic design. Blab!'s list of contributors past and present reads like a Who's Who of the contemporary visual art world. We're pleased to present the following seven volumes together for one low price: $12 per volume — around 40% off the combined cover prices.
Below is a brief description of the contents of each included volume; click the cover thumbnails for more information about each volume.
Vol. 11: Mark Ryden's spectacular cover is the gateway to this issue's visual feast, starring Spain, Richard Sala, Doug Allen, Stephane Blanquet, Peter Kuper, Drew Friedman, Lloyd Dangle, the first part of the Jonathon Rosen sketchbook, and much more!
Vol. 12: Blanquet, Walter Minus, Peter Kuper, Peter Hoey, Spain, Doug Allen, Matti Hagleberg, Greg Clarke, Drew Friedman, Baseman, DEVO's Mark Mothersbaugh, vintage French nudie photos, Krampus cards, plus covers and a story by the Clayton Brothers!
Vol. 13: Peter and Maria Hoey, the Clayton Bros., Sue Coe, Peter Kuper, Drew Friedman, Marc Rosenthal, Spain, Laura Levine, Baseman, Walter Minus, Blanquet, David Goldin, Christian Northeast, Johnson & Smith novelty ads, and a cover by George Eisner!
Vol. 15: Covers by Pop Art virtuoso Lou Brooks, Christian Northeast, Sue Coe on the so-called bird flu, Matti Hagelberg's undead President of Finland, Jeffrey Steele on the Black Dahlia, Peter Kuper's Little Nemo-inspired fantasy, Baseman, and Kilroy.
Vol. 16: Geoffrey Grahn, Laura Levine, Peter and Maria Hoey, Sue Coe, Judith Brody, Sergio Ruzzier, Mats!, Spain, Peter Kuper, Marc Rosenthal, Gary Baseman, The Clayton Brothers, Bob Staake and more. Covers by Tim Biskup.
Vol. 17 Cover by Jonathon Rosen, Shag!, Bazooka Joe, Sue Coe, Greg Clarke, Drew Friedman, Peter Kuper, Mark Landman, Max Vesta, Lou Brooks, Peter and Maria Hoey, Tim Biskup, Gary Baseman, Fred Stonehouse, Marc Rosenthal, Spain, Mats!, and Sergio Ruzzier.
Vol. 18: Paco Alcazar, Ryan Heshka, Skip Williamson, Steven Guarnaccia, Xavier & Helge, Mark Frauenfelder; newbies Travis Louie, Nora Krug, Travis Lampe, Mark Zingarelli, Richard Bears, Randall Enos; regulars Baseman, Biskup, Coe, Kuper, Shag; more!
"Always, always, always worth your consideration." – The Comics Reporter
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