Gary Groth provided this description of the issue:
"This was our special sex & violence issue, published at the height of a minor but persistent media brouhaha over the sexual and violence quotient in 'grown-up' comics from Marvel and DC. DC had implemented a ratings system — or announced it — and a number of creators — Frank Miller, Alan Moore, Howard Chaykin — were up in arms over it. This was a remarkably solid issue analyzing the question from every which way. I approached Jim Woodring for a cover and he did a doozy, encapsulating the theme in a single image. It would've been the issue's art director who literally pasted it all up, using wax and photostats and typesetting-on-film. Those were the days."
• Analysis: At The Comics Journal, Ken Parille does a close reading of "Bianca" from Moto Hagio's A Drunken Dream and Other Stories (for which we provided a free PDF download of the story): "I first saw 'Bianca' as a conventional sentimental tale, exploring such familiar themes as 'the sanctity of childhood' and 'the power of art.' And many online writers, regardless of their aesthetic evaluation of its merits, seemed to concur. Some found its sentimentality beautiful, others found it excessive, but all agreed it needed little explication. Had I read it only once or twice, I would have agreed, too. Yet re-readings revealed to me a far different, and far more compelling, surface and depth."
At last! The protagonist of Johnny Ryan's Prison Pit is set to spring into the 3rd dimension and destroy all your puny He-Men, eat all your Cabbage Patch Kids and rape all your Barbies courtesy of Monster Worship. Interchangeable Slorge arm please!
In our ongoing quest to showcase the wide range of Jacques Tardi’s bibliography, Fantagraphics reaches all the way back to one of his earliest, and most distinctive graphic novels: A satirical, Jules Verne-esque “retro-sci-fi” yarn executed on scratchboard in a stunningly detailed faux-woodcut style perfectly chosen to render the Edwardian-era mechanical marvels on display. Created in 1972, The Arctic Marauder is a downright prescient example of proto-“steampunk” science fiction — or perhaps more accurately, and to coin a spinoff genre, “icepunk.”
In 1899, “L’Anjou,” a ship navigating the Arctic Ocean from Murmansk, Russia, to Le Havre, France comes across a stunning sight: A ghostly, abandoned vessel perched high atop an iceberg. But exploring this strange apparition is the last thing the sailors will ever do, as their own ship is soon dispatched to Davy Jones’ locker via a mysterious explosion.
Enter Jérôme Plumier, whose search for his missing uncle, the inventor Louis-Ferdinand Chapoutier, brings him into contact with the sinister, frigid forces behind this — and soon he too is headed towards the North Pole, where he will contend with mad scientists, monsters of the deep, and futuristic submarines and flying machines.
Told with brio in hilarious slabs of vintage purple prose, The Arctic Marauder works both as ripping good adventure story and parody of same, and, predating as it does the later and not dissimilar Adèle Blanc-Sec series, is a keystone in Tardi’s oeuvre in his fantastical mode.
Millennium Boy, Steve, Lash Penis, and Nerdgirl continue on their twin mystical quests to find the missing parts of the Atlantean Resonator Guitar, as well as to locate the prophet and poet Bromedes and return his borrowed penis sheath, in this second hilarious, violent, and rip-roaringly entertaining installment of Joe (The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book) Daly's role-playing-game-inspired graphic novel series.
Fortified and empowered with a brand new collection of weapons and resources (including the magical Egyptian Book of Thoth, the Iron Crocodile badge, and the rectally transported Gliding Charger of the Eel), the valorous quartet must contend with river trolls, a leaf monster, glo-babies, and copious amounts of killer weed and serious blow.
Will they succeed in one or more of their noble quests? Or are the dice of fate loaded in their disfavor? You'll have to read Dungeon Quest Book Two to find out!
Here's Cartoon Network's first promo for the Ben Jones-created show The Problem Solverz, debuting in April. Jones's Cold Heat collaborator Jon Vermilyea tweeted about it, and Jon's been working for Cartoon Network, so it's probably safe to assume that Jon's been working on this show, and John Pham's been working there too, so maybe he worked on the show too — don't quote me on that or anything though. (I guess I should contact the guys and ask them...) Anyway it looks super fun and I'm totally going to watch the heck out of it.
UPDATE: I contacted Jon and John and they confirmed that they are both designers on the show!
• List: Matthew J. Brady posts his picks for the best comics of 2010 on his Warren Peace Sings the Blues blog (where there are links to his past reviews), including:
"25. Temperance... is a confounding work, and a fascinating one, with some excellently moody art. I still don't know if I really understand it, but it's a strange, unforgettable book."
"23.Set to Sea... is lovely to look at, full of beautiful seascapes and cartoony movement. It may be a small and quick read, but it doesn't seem that way in subsequent memory."
"18. Wally Gropius... is a deeply weird comic, but one that is not easily forgettable, starting with an off-kilter take on old teen comics and throwing in a sort of dada energy, social commentary that isn't always easy to decipher, some startling sex and violence, and an angry attitude toward the idly manipulative rich and their disdain for the rest of humanity. It's also really funny, and what seems like random incidents eventually cohere into an actual story, but the crazy contortions of the characters, the financial imagery and sound effects, and the bizarre dialogue and actions from the characters are what will haunt the mind for some time to come."
"10. It Was the War of the Trenches... is one of the most incredible books of the year, an ugly, grimy, angry look at the devastation of war on everything it touches, an endless cascade of horrors that are all the more effective due to their reality. This is arresting work, something everyone should read, lest we forget how easy it is to get caught up in the killing once again."
"7. A Drunken Dream and Other Stories [...] From the beautiful artistic filigrees that fill panels throughout, to the firm grasp of character and complex emotional examinations, every page of this book is an essential bit of reading for manga fans."
"3. Love and Rockets: New Stories #3... is an amazing example of how great these creators are, and the way comics can be used for maximum effectiveness to tell emotional, realistic, beautifully real stories."
• Interview: Sean O'Toole of South African culture mag Mahala talks to Joe Daly: "Whatever other influences effect my comics worldview, I always end up coming back to Tintin. It’s an impeccable foundation text in terms of characters, story telling and artwork. I also appreciate the fact that it’s written and drawn by one person, George Remi aka Hergé (although I know he had studio assistance later in the series). It’s a complete creation, in that way, there’s a deep level of cohesion between the drawing and the narrative."
• Interview: At Comicdom, Thomas Papadimitropoulos talks to Jim Woodring (interview in English follows introduction in Greek): "I write all my stories out in words, describing the action. After a lot of rejecting of alternatives I end up with something that feels meaningful to me, even if I don't know why. In fact I prefer it if I don't know why. If I can tell there is some significant meaning respiring in the depths of the proposed action, I don't worry about what that meaning might be; I draw the story up and allow the meaning to occur to me and to readers whenever the time is right." (via The Comics Reporter)
This week's comic shop shipment is slated to include the following new titles. Read on to see what comics-blog commentators are saying about our releases this week, check out our previews at the links, and contact your local shop to confirm availability.
420-page black & white 7" x 10" softcover • $28.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-356-9
"In a week dominated by republished works and more recent books once again offered through Diamond, cartoonist Mark Kalesniko gets a prize for releasing a gaint book of brand new work. It's an extended meditation on changes in the way we live and work, structured around an excruciating commute." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
"There's a new Alex book by Mark Kalesniko (Why Did Pete Duel Kill Himself?, Mail Order Bride) who you haven't seen much of recently because he's spent the last ten years working on Freeway... While stuck in an endless L.A. traffic jam Alex re-examines his life and job as an animator with a legendary studio, and wonders what it would have been like had he been born several decades earlier." – The Gosh! Comics Blog
"The graphic novel I’m most interested in this week is Freeway, Mark Kalesniko’s traffic jam ruminations of animation as a career then and now. The description of the book has a lot of hooks to relate to: work frustration, realizing even a dream job has its pitfalls, and rush-hour traffic." – Johanna Draper Carlson, Comics Worth Reading
112-page full-color 10.25" x 14" hardcover • $29.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-407-8
"Hal Foster at full early Arthurian potency; Val was never more like young Lord Silverspoon than he was here. Bonus: a brief piece in the back of the book revealing a few 'suppressed Prince Valiant images from 1939-1940.'" – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
"Let's face it, [this] nuke[s] just about every other comic you're going to buy at the store this year... I was greatly surprised by how entertaining the Prince Valiant was." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
"Prince Valiant HC Volume 3 1941 – 1942 is out, reprinting the chunk of Prince Valiant which critics unanimously reckon was the point at which Foster hit his drawing and storytelling stride. This volume also comes with a gallery of stuff at the back originally deemed too sexy or violent for print, oh yes." – The Gosh! Comics Blog
"...Chris had to go and use the words 'giant man-eating octopus,' [see below – Ed.] so Prince Valiant, Volume 3goes into the shopping cart as well." – Michael May, Robot 6
"...[I]f you happen to have $30 this week I’d recommend getting your hands on either a copy of Mark Kalesniko’s Freeway or the third volume of Hal Foster’s Prince Valiant, both from Fantagraphics. The former is a new graphic novel from the author of Mail Order Bride, about a dog-faced animator named Alex who, while stuck in a bad traffic jam, ruminates over his life and career and how he ended up where he did. It’s a pretty great book, but if you need further inducement you can read my interview with Kalesniko. Valiant Vol. 3 meanwhile, features a great, lengthy sequence that involves Val trying to get his sword back, the highlight of which is easily him facing off against a giant man-eating octopus." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"CONFLICT OF INTEREST RESERVOIR: Artist Mark Kalesniko returns to his dog-headed Alex character in the 420-page graphic novel Freeway ($28.99), while Prince Valiant Vol. 3: 1941-1942 ($29.99) collects 112 pages of restored Hal Foster and supplementary materials authored by one of the editors of this very column. Published by Fantagraphics Books: home for the website you are currently reading." – Joe McCulloch, The Comics Journal
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