• Review: "Michel Gagné... worked with Fantagraphics to produce this beautiful volume [Young Romance: The Best of Simon & Kirby's Romance Comics].... Clearly, Simon and Kirby tried to bring as much excitement to primarily psychological and interpersonal goings on as to punching and flying, but the action can’t help but be more grounded and, therefore, limited. It’s impressive that any of the stories manage to sweep one up, and a few do, pulling the reader in rather than leaving him/her assessing art and writing from an appreciative distance. The variety on display here is impressive as well." – Hillary Brown, Paste
• Review: "There are strange things going on in Nordic comics. And when I say 'strange,' what I really mean is bug-eyed gibbering crazy. And when I say 'bug-eyed gibbering crazy,' I mean shit verging either on lurid incomprehensibility or sweet unfathomable genius.... If you're tired of traditional comic book fare and are looking to expand your horizons in your comic reading, Kolor Klimax is a pretty good place to go. After all, I can't imagine that your local comic shop stocks too many Nordic comic books on its shelves, and this anthology may be your only available on-ramp to a whole different world of comic book possibilities." – Daniel Elkin, Comics Bulletin
• Review: "The 'autobio' strip in [Athos in America] is my hands-down full-stop favorite thing Jason has ever done, earning this book the EXCELLENT rating for that reason alone. The rest of the book is totally satisfying, but I can’t pretend I didn’t read all of it with my brain obsessing over all the little beats in 'A Cat From Heaven.' There isn’t a dead moment in the thing. 'Hey, Fuckface'…so funny, this thing." – Tucker Stone, The Savage Critics
• Review: "Everything I feel comfortable saying about [Is That All There Is?] right now already came stumbling out on this Inkstuds podcast I did..., but it deserves some kind of Savage rating. How about EXCELLENT? There’s stuff in here that I wish was bigger in size, but…so what? I hope every single person who complains about the size of this book gets buried in shit after being murdered by their family, and I hope they get murdered with Lou Gehrig’s disease. If they’re a cartoonist, I hope it happens to them twice." – Tucker Stone, The Savage Critics
This long out-of-print first volume of the multiple Harvey and Eisner award- winning Complete Crumb Comics series has been one of our most demanded reprints. Now, this landmark volume of Robert Crumb’s formative years not only returns, but also boasts a major discovery not included in prior editions: a never-before-published, 60 page “home-made” Arcade comic from 1962.
Growing up, Robert and his brother Charles often created their own comic books. These “home-made” editions were usually produced in editions of one. As such, many have been lost to time or private collections. What hasn’t comprises much of the first two volumes of The Complete Crumb series. Their creation continued throughout the 1950s and into the early ’60s and eventually the content of Crumb’s work gradually matured from the light-hearted, funny animal antics of earlier years to stories that flashed signals of what we now recognize as “true Crumb.”
This previously undiscovered Arcade “issue,” from May, 1962, shows many flashes of where Crumb was heading (whereas Charles had all but abandoned drawing comics by the ’60s). The 17-page strip “Jim” is the most emotionally-charged work of Crumb’s young life to that point, a gentle and psychologically astute look at a boy who needs a mother, and also brimming with signs of his increasing frustration with Catholicism. It also features the first quintessential “Crumb girl,” Mabel.
This volume also includes several early Fritz the Cat stories (a.k.a. “Animal Town Comics”), and the classic “Treasure Island Days” (as seen in the Crumb film) and is rounded out with other strips, diary entries and sketches that will be a treasure trove for Crumb fans, all defining work from Crumb’s formative years as a cartoonist, spanning the years 1958-1962 (when Crumb was ages 15-19) and featuring material from other “home-made” comics of the era. This is Ground Zero for a man who may well be the greatest cartoonist who ever lived.
As Peanuts reaches the mid-1980s, Charles Schulz is still creating and playing with new characters, and in this volume Snoopy’s deadpan, droopy-mustached brother Spike takes center stage: Surrounded by coyotes in the desert where he lives and who are attacking him with rubber bands, he sends a frantic message to Snoopy who launches an expedition to save him. Then, he makes the long trek back to Snoopy’s neck of the woods accompanied by his only friend (a cactus, of course)… and throughout the rest of the book, pops up in hilarious, Waiting for Godot-style vignettes set in his native Needles.
In romantic news, the Peppermint Patty-Marcie-Charlie Brown love triangle of overlapping unrequited love heats up (well, kind of), while Linus continues to vociferously deny that he is Sally’s “Sweet Babboo”; of course, Lucy’s unsuccessful pursuit of Schroeder remains unabated. Also, a romance blossoms between two of Snoopy’s “Beagle Scout” birds. (We will pass over Spike’s brief attraction to one of the coyotes.)
In what is probably his most baroque and hilarious baseball-involved humiliation yet, Charlie Brown agrees to join Peppermint Patty’s team the “Pelicans” only to discover that he’s wanted not as a player but as a mascot… Linus gives up his security blanket and forms a support group for other kids who are trying to do the same… and Peppermint Patty manages to be held back in school (leaving a “Snoring Ghost” to take her place in the rest of the class that has advanced) and yet get to go on a European trip with her dad, sending back periodic dispatches from the road. All this plus appearances from Franklin, Rerun, and the rest of the gang in these strips from a period of Peanuts that’s far less well-known than the endlessly-collected 1960s and 1970s eras…
• Review: "…Athos in America… is even chunkier and more rewarding than Low Moon, which was itself a career high.… Fans will find much here to laugh at, applaud and be surprised by. If you've yet to sample the delights of Jason, there isn't a better place to start than here.… All together a wonderful compendium of Jasonia. An essential purchase for comics fans." – Peter Wild, Bookmunch
• Plug: At It's Nice That, cartoonist Tom Gauld discusses some favorite books on his shelf, including Jason's I Killed Adolf Hitler: "Jason is a Norwegian cartoonist who makes really funny, dry, smart comic books. This story starts off like it’s going to be a trashy adventure with cartoon animals, time travelling and Nazis but then sort of loses interest in all that becomes a much sweeter, sadder tale about getting old. Visually it reminds me a bit of Herge’s Tintin books, and the clear drawings, beautiful colouring and simple layouts make it a joy to read. I was influenced by the accessibility of Jason’s work when I was making my book Goliath."
• Interview (Audio): At The Jewish Daily Forward, "Pioneer of women’s comics Diane Noomin talks to Michael Kaminer about Wimmen’s Comix, Twisted Sister and her new book, Glitz-2-Go. The many and varied adventures of Didi Glitz — the book’s central character and Noomin’s comic alter ego of several decades — both delight and instruct."
It is with a heavy heart that we must report that Dale Yarger, a beloved and influential figure on the Seattle alternative-press and design scene with whom we had the pleasure of working for a number of years in the 1990s (he was Fantagraphics' senior designer for the first half of the decade, as well as on a later occasion), has passed away after a long, courageous battle with cancer.
Dale was a man of uncommon skill, grace, and sweetness and his premature departure leaves a hole in the world and in our hearts. Our sympathy goes out to all the people who knew and loved Dale, of which which there are -- as you can tell from the steady stream of updates to this Facebook tribute page to Dale -- many.
Ugh, babies are gross! Steven Weissman's new Stinckers series "Chug Life" is now available in uncut production sheets, hand-pulled silkscreens on vinyl sticker material. Steven's got all the ordering deets on his blog. Frame 'em up for nursery decor or a swell baby shower gift. Individual cut stickers will soon be available in Stinckers vend-o-mats at select stores so you can slap 'em on your stroller or diaper pail or breast pump or whatever.
• Review: "Any new work from Norwegian cartoonist Jason is worthy of a comics fan’s full attention, but the new, all-original short-story collection Athos in America is one of the best books of Jason’s career, which automatically makes it one of the best books of this year." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "...Joost Swarte... brought a nose-thumbing avant-garde sensibility to 'ligne claire' style Eurocomics in the ’70s and ’80s, even before he landed stories in the seminal art-comics anthology Raw. Is That All There Is? collects nearly 150 pages of Swarte’s most groundbreaking work... With his architectural sense of design and his punk-rock attitude, Swarte fused craft and nihilistic flippancy in stories about adventurers, harlots, musicians, and scientists, creating true 'modern art.'" – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "About all that was missing from Blake Bell’s 2010 Bill Everett biography Fire & Waterwas extended samples of Everett’s artist’s actual comics. Bell now remedies that by serving as editor on Amazing Mysteries: The Bill Everett Archives Vol. 1... These publications rode the superhero wave initiated by the companies that would later become DC and Marvel, and while they didn’t withstand the test of time, they’re still a kick to read, buoyed by their no-nonsense action plots and by Everett’s propensity for drawing narrow figures poised to commit acts of violence." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "This collection is the ultimate love letter to all those 1960s kid comic books, but with a modern twist.... Each person is a well-defined character with strong flaws and backgrounds. With so much diversity, there is bound to be at least one character you will like.... If you are looking for a kid-friendly book with some charm, go ahead and pick [Yeah!] up." – Kevin Brown, City Book Review
• Profile:Steve Appleford of the Los Angeles Times (via a few of their suburban affiliates like the Glendale News Press) visits Tony Millionaire in his garage studio: "In his introduction to 500 Portraits, Millionaire writes that life experience has taught him that 85% of all people are 'bogus' or worse. In the garage, he describes himself as misanthropic, but admits his drawings often suggest otherwise. 'As it turns out, you can tell by looking at these portraits, I obviously love people — even the [jerks]. Hitler's done very lovingly,' he says. 'I think it's nice to have the juxtaposition of my disgust for humanity mixed with my obvious love for humanity. You can't draw like that if you really hate something.'"
• Profile: The Ottawa Citizen's Bruce Deachman catches up with Dave Cooper: "'There are different facets of my creative mind,' he says. 'I feel I need a lot of contrast, so I have all these things happening, but they’re all necessary to make me feel satisfied. It’s got to be this big pot happening, with everything boiling at once. It’s therapy for me,' he adds. 'I don’t see ever wanting to retire from the thing that I love to death.'" There's a short video, too, which Dave has posted on his blog
• Plug:Robot 6's Brigid Alverson is partway through Jim Woodring's Congress of the Animals: "Woodring’s art has a real solidity to it and like the best surrealists, he creates unreal shapes and figures that seem real—he has figured out how to make new bodily orifices that mimic the old and yet are totally different. Like visions in a dream, they are convincing and false at the same time."
"Jason teams up with Fabien Vehlmann to craft a dark comedy about someone following a mysterious map in a bottle to and island where something strange is happening. The premise itself is a spoiler, as it’s a laugh-out-loud moment when the reader finds out what is going on. Jason’s work is as stellar as ever, just with a lot more dialogue this time around."
"Safe Area Goražde wasn’t a new book in 2011, but the special edition it got last year was enough to earn it a spot on this list. Joe Sacco reigns as the preeminent comics journalist, and Safe Area Goražde is another great reason why."
And she'll be discussing the reasons why on Thursday, March 15th at the Los Angeles Public Library as part of the panel "From the Outside Looking In: Writers Finding Their Place in Los Angeles."
Los Angeles Times book critic David L. Ulin will be moderating the discussion with Joyce and fellow L.A.-based writers Bernard Cooper, Lynell George, Marisela Norte, and Michael Tolkin. What does living in that city offer writers and book artists? What are the freedoms and the challenges of being outside the traditions and trends of literature?
These questions and more will be pondered beginning at 7:00 PM in the Mark Taper Auditorium of the Los Angeles Public Library [ 630 W. Fifth Street ].
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