• Review: "[The Complete Peanuts 1979-1980] is... a genius volume... Some of the pieces here – especially the longer storylines – are absolute classics. [...] Plus, there’s just the sheer kookiness of some of Schulz’s pop-cultural references and inventions, which continues to astound here... Schulz is at the height of his powers as a cartoonist here, as well. [...] Such graphic flair! Such economy of line! A Peanuts nut couldn’t ask for more, really." – Naomi Fry, The Comics Journal
• Review: "Littered with violence, inappropriate sexual innuendos, misguided bravado and infused with hilarity, Dungeon Quest (of which two 136 page volumes are available) promises a uniquely entertaining graphic novel experience." – Rick Klaw, The SF Site: Nexus Graphica
• Profile: Anthony Mostrom of the Los Angeles Times gives a brief history of E.C. Segar and the creation of Popeye: "Segar had no idea just how fat his checks would become after the invention of Popeye. Indeed, he flirted with the idea of dropping the character after the 'Dice Island' story ended. Who would have guessed that a character so grotesque of face would be so instantly loved, his fame so long-lived that he would become part of a Google logo 80 years later?" (Via Newsarama)
[The Comics Journal intern Laura Pieroni put together this series of discussion questions about Mark Kalesniko's Freeway for use in book clubs. As this is intended for those who have read the book and contains spoilers, the conclusion of the synopsis and the questions can be found behind the jump. – Ed.]
Alex, Mark Kalesniko's recurring dog-headed character, has been stuck in Los Angeles traffic for longer than he can remember. In fact, Alex has been stuck in traffic through multiple time periods and alternate lives.
Freeway is a non-linear compilation of various alternate realities centered on Alex and his dream of being an animator at Babbitt Jones Studios. Alex takes readers through his memories as a child dreaming of a career in animation and into his experiences working that same dream job turned nightmare. Through the story Alex also has multiple visions of violently dying, and a fantasy of what it might have been like to work at Babbitt Jones during its Golden Age when the animators were treated like royalty instead of assembly-line workers.
• Review: "The main thing I kept thinking about while reading Wandering Son— beyond the continuous undercurrent of general squee — is how things that seem insignificant to one person can be secretly, intensely significant to someone else. [...] The story is subtle, simple, poignant, and innocent. The tone is matched by Shimura’s uncluttered artwork, which features big panels, little screentone, and extremely minimal backgrounds." – Michelle Smith, Soliloquy in Blue
• Interview:The A.V. Club Denver talks to "arguably Denver’s premier underground comic artist" Noah Van Sciver: "People e-mail me to ask if they can send me a comic. They’re sending me these hand-stapled comics and asking me what I think. It’s great. If you’re not going to be paid a lot, you might as well meet like-minded people and start a gang." (Via Robot 6)
• Profile: "Olivier Schrauwen is not the first Belgian cartoonist that I would have pegged for success in the United States, but I'm certainly not going to complain about the opportunities that he is receiving. Since the publication of his book My Boy in English translation, he has published short pieces in Mome and elsewhere, generating a solid buzz for his idiosyncratic take on human disconnectedness. His new book, L'Homme qui se laissait pousser la barbe (Actes Sud/L'An 02) collects a number of short works that have been anthologized around the world, and was nominated for a prize at this year's Angouleme Festival. It will be published later this year in English as The Man Who Grew His Beard by Fantagraphics. [...] L'Homme is a collection of seven short pieces that can be read very quickly or studied for days." – Bart Beaty, The Comics Reporter
• Profile:iFanboy's Chris Arrant profiles Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery as part of their "Publishers Who Have Their Own Comic Book Stores" feature: "Opening in late 2006, this Seattle store acts as defacto gift shop and gallery extension of the long-time publisher's comics line. The store boasts a complete repository of everything Fantagraphics has in print — as well as a number of rarities you wouldn't find most anywhere else."
This interview was conducted over email by Fantagraphics' Eric Buckler. Thanks to Eric and Joe!
Cartoonist Joe Daly grew up in apartheid South Africa. His perspective on storytelling and illustration have a deeply infused characterization and a mythical slapstick. The comics reflect a bizarre and amazing facet of imagination that is at once familiar as it is far flung and not of this planet. His characters in Dungeon Quest are on a mission to find the Atlantean Resonator Guitar, and will go through everything from beating the shit out of some homophobic goons to returning a magic penis sheath to a large breasted demigod. The crew will be suited up with new armor, weapons, and will have loads of new mind altering opportunities in the all new Dungeon Quest Book 2. Daly is the creator of Scrublands and The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book.
ERIC BUCKLER: Would you talk about how you pace your storytelling?
JOE DALY: Comics can be a very efficient form for story telling, so it's very easy and natural for a comic narrative to progress very quickly. I think a cartoonist is usually trying to counteract that natural tendency by trying to slow things down. You're always moving away from the last plot point and towards the next one, and so I try to be aware of what's needed in order to heighten the moment of arriving at that plot point. It often requires adding more panels, slowing down the action, and letting the dialogue ramble to build tension as one is moving into "the big moment." Very seldom do I encounter a situation where I find I need to eliminate panels. That said, it becomes a fine line between building tension and padding, so the idea is to let the plot point dictate how much tension is required to precede it, and then add no more or no less panels than is required. As a reader you have to arrive at a plot point organically, in a way that you're a little unaware that you've even hit a plot point. I know as a reader I don't like to feel rushed or shunted along from plot point to plot point, as if one were on a conveyor belt. One of my main criticisms of my Red Monkey stories, is that they tend to be plot dominant, and the reader is moved from point to point too quickly. A story shouldn't be all about plot, the reader needs breathing space, unfocused space, where they can engage in the story in a non-rational kind of way. Of course, some readers favor structure and plot heavy stories, and some don't: they'll prefer the rambling, looser approach. I think each story should inform the pace that's required to tell the story, and since I've found myself doing these strange action adventure stories (with quite a lot of dialogue) I've found it's natural to keep "medium pace," somewhere between Chris Ware's work (extreme patience) and an in your face superhero action comics (extreme immediacy).
BUCKLER: Why black and white? Did you consider using color on this comic?
DALY: My first two books were already in color, and I wanted to try something different. I'd discovered while working on the Red Monkey stories, which were in color, that coloring the work took me almost as much time as writing and drawing the work, and so given that I'm currently unable to employ a colorist on my books I decided to eliminate this time consuming process altogether. I was also interested in shifting from a clear line art style to a high contrast black and white art style, simply to broaden my abilities as a drawer and inker, and that's the process I'm engaged in at the moment. I think black and white, whether it's in photography, or in film, or in comics can be very elegant and complete. When "completeness" can be achieved in black and white, it's all the more impressive and satisfying to me, because of the purity and simplicity of black and white. I think perhaps black and white also engages the reader's own imagination more than color, in that they are filling in the white spaces with their own projected colors. When one leaves things out, one creates suggestions. Also, working in black and white helps to keep the cost of the book down.
BUCKLER: Can you talk about lexicons you draw when creating dialogue in Dungeon Quest?
DALY: For Dungeon Quest I was trying to evoke the kind of language that me and my video gaming friends would use when playing video games when we were 10-14 year olds. It as a strange mixture of general profanity, South African school-boy slang, American slang we'd learned from TV and movies, technical jargon and the pseudo-poetic language of high fantasy/adventure which would be used in the actual game. Saved games could be titled things like "got to get splendid key from orange dude," "kief!," "totally fucked," "dawn light factory skyline," "given frayed rope to little whore," "in lonely place," "got to open fucking bay doors," stuff like that. It became a kind of esoteric lexicon. I don't apply this lexicon directly to the writing in Dungeon Quest. I'm drawing from it, allowing it to inform my dialogue. It's a flavor.
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