In recent years Scandinavia has become a hotbed of cartooning activity, from the internationally acclaimed funny-animal stylings of Norway’s Jason to the hilarious slacker romps of Sweden’s Martin Kellerman and Dane Nikoline Werdelin’s Eisner-Award-nominated urban slice-of-life stories. This anthology of comics — many of them created especially for this book — offers an intoxicating and compelling sampling of current works from these countries. Skaal!
Jenni Rope [Finland] tells a minimalist tale of heartbreak in “The Island”; Peter Kielland’s [Denmark] Mr. Pig has an eventful day; Joanna Rubin Drang- er [Sweden] is “Always Prepared to Die for My Child”; Crumb-esque satirist Christopher Nielsen [Norway] boils down all of life to an eternal journey up the “Escalator”; Tommi Musturi [Finland] provides two full-color Jim Woodring-esque romps featuring his “Samuel” character; Johan F. Krarup [Denmark] visits a compulsive comics collector in “Nostalgia”; plus Bendik Kaltenborn’s [Norway] “The Great Underneath,” a dazzling wordless piece from Mardøn Smet [Denmark], the legendary Swedish cartoonist Joakim Pirinen’s ultra-virtuoso “My Life,” Drawn & Quarterly-published Amanda Vähämäki’s [Finland] pencil-smudged stylings, and much more.
The current issue of the Seattle Weekly features this über-creepy cover by Tim Lane starring Ted Bundy and far less well-known killer "Ray Jacobs" — I probably shouldn't post this late at night because I know someone who is going to read the article and then be up half the night (cough cough)...
Anyway, Tim has a bunch of great recent updates on his blog including progress on a piece he's working on for The Believer — check it out!
That New York Times op-ed from the former Goldman Sachs employee that everyone was talking about yesterday? Illustrated by Mome 22 contributor Victor Kerlow in print and online. Look, you can see part of it on last night's Colbert Report:
• Interview:AlterNet's Emily Wilson talks to Pat Thomas about writing Listen, Whitey! The Sights and Sounds of Black Power 1965-1975: "I was trying to write a book that was pro-Panthers, but not with an agenda as to what I wanted to say other than to sort of humanize these people. To me they were more than just statues frozen in time; they were people I was hanging out with in current day. I just wanted to capture their humanity in some way. Militancy or their strident side was just one part of it. I wanted to focus on how their legacy crossed paths with pop culture. You know, I talk about this wacky 'Partridge Family' episode where they meet the Black Panthers. It’s not a dogmatic book.... It’s meant to be, for lack of a better word, fun."
• Interview: On the Penny Ante Editions blog author James Tracy also talks with Pat Thomas: "I don’t know if it’s a danger [when white people take an interest in Black culture], unless it’s KKK member or some twisted 'White Power' kook… otherwise, there will always be a reason (good or bad or misguided) for Whites to explore Black culture. Frankly, America needs to have more dialogue between races, embracing their differences as well as what they have in common. I didn’t try to pretend to be Black - and that was something that Elaine Brown liked about me. I didn’t put on a 'mask' and start to talk Black or pull that kind of shit."
• Analysis: In the new entry in The Hooded Ultilitarian's critical roundtable on Jaime Hernandez, Noah Berlatsky examines nostalgia in the Locas stories, especially "Browntown" and "The Love Bunglers," from his trademark contrarian standpoint
A funny thing happened on the way to comic-strip immortality.
For many years, Ernie Bushmiller’s Nancy, with its odd-looking, squat heroine, nearly abstract art, and often super-corny gags, was perceived as the stodgiest, squarest comic strip in the world. Popular with newspaper read- ers, true — but definitely not a strip embraced by comic-strip connoisseurs, like Krazy Kat, Dick Tracy or Terry and the Pirates.
But then those connoisseurs took a closer look, and began to realize that Bushmiller’s art approached its own kind of cartoon perfection, and those corny gags often achieved a striking zen quality. In its own way, it turned out Nancy was in fact the most iconic comic strip of all. (The American Heritage Dictionary actually uses a Nancy strip to illustrate its entry on “comic strip.”)
Charter members of the Nancy revival include Art Spiegelman, who published Mark Newgarden’s famous “Love’s Savage Fury” (featuring Nancy and Bazooka Joe) in an early issue of RAW; Fletcher Hanks anthologist Paul Karasik; Zippy the Pinhead creator Bill Griffith; underground publisher Denis Kitchen, who released several volumes of Nancy collections in the 1980s; Understanding Comics’ Scott McCloud, who created the “Five-Card Nancy” card game; Joe Brainard, who produced an entire Nancy Book of paintings in 2008; and Andy Warhol, who produced a painting based on Nancy.
Beginning in the Winter of 2011, fans will be dancing with joy as Fantagraphics unveils an ongoing Nancy reprint project. Each volume will contain a whopping full three years of daily Nancy strips (a Sunday Nancy project looms in the future), collected in a fat, square (what else, for the “squarest” strip in the world?) package designed by Jacob (Popeye, Beasts!, Willie and Joe) Covey.
This first volume will collect every daily strip from 1943 to 1945. (Fantagraphics will eventually release Nancy’s first five years, 1938-1942, but given the scarcity of archival material for these years we are giving ourselves some extra time to collate it all.)
This first Nancy volume will feature an introduction by another stellar Bushmiller fan, Daniel Clowes (from whose collection most of the strips in this volume were scanned), a biography of the artist, and much more.
Order this book and receive this FBI•MINI comic as a FREE bonus! The very best dailies (and Sundays) from the legendary "audition" by Ivan Brunetti to take over the Nancy strip in a perfect Bushmiller style. Click here for details. Limit one per customer while supplies last.
• Plug: Leonard Maltin gave a very nice shout-out to Jack Davis: Drawing American Pop Culture on his Movie Crazy blog: "This beautifully produced, oversized volume pays tribute to every aspect of Davis’ wide-ranging career, including his movie art, and should please anyone who’s ever admired his amazing work. Samples of sketches and rarely-seen original art sit side-by-side with finished pieces, as well as a biographical essay by Gary Groth and an overview by William Stout."
• Review: "All six of the stories in this latest volume [Athos in America] from Europe's eminent purveyor of deadpan, blank-eyed, funny animals are quite good, but two of them especially seem to stand out for me. ...Jason isn't sitting on his laurels and cranking out repetitively quirky stories in his usual style; he's pushing himself to do new things and communicate through his art, and it's wonderful to watch." – Matthew J. Brady, Warren Peace Sings the Blues
• Analysis: At Comic Book Resources, Greg Burgas gives a close critical reading of the first page of Like a Sniper Lining Up His Shot by Jacques Tardi & Jean-Patrick Manchette: "Much like many graphic novels, the first page is less concerned with drawing readers in than getting the story going, and Tardi does that well here. His art remains the main draw of his books, even though the stories are usually quite good. He knows how to lay out a page and get readers to turn the page, and that’s not a bad skill at all."
• Analysis:The Hooded Utilitarian begins a critical roundtable on Jaime Hernandez's "Locas" stories with "A Fan Letter to Jaime Hernandez" by cartoonist and esteemed manga blogger Deb Aoki: "As a comics creator and as a life-long comics reader, I’ve frequently been asked, who are your favorite artists, or which artists are your biggest influences? Time and again, Jaime Hernandez is in my top 10 list. Given that most of my comics life revolves around manga nowadays, my response often surprises people. And it’s true — Jaime’s work isn’t what most people would consider manga at all, although his work is admired by fans and artists around the world for his draftsmanship, dramatic use of black/white, supple line work, and most of all, his storytelling skills. But discovering Love & Rockets when I was in college was a major turning point for me, and one that changed how and why I draw comics."
• Interview (Audio):Bill Griffith dropped by the WNPR studios yesterday for a fun chat on The Colin McEnroe Show about donuts and other topics; in his blog intro McEnroe states "...I already know the answer to the question everybody asks Bill Griffith: Where do you get your ideas? He probably doesn't have to sit there holding his head and feverishly hoping something will jump out. The anomalies and cartoon dissonances of Zippy the Pinhead are really just average days along the byways of America."
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.
"The Peanuts and the Crumb are automatic buys for me: the former and the reigning Greatest Living Comics-Maker." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
208-page black & white/color 8.5" x 11" softcover • $24.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-558-7
"This new edition of the first book in Fantagraphics' 17-volume series, covering the 1958-1962 period, is expanded to include a newly rediscovered 48-page work from 1962. Also, this volume's subtitle is one of the gags I've poached most often in my life." – Douglas Wolk, ComicsAlliance
344-page black & white 8.5" x 7" hardcover • $28.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-523-5
"Speaking of long-running Fantagraphics series, this volume covers 1983-1984, the period when Charles Schulz started to think Spike was much funnier than everyone else thought he was. Schulz was still brilliant, though: has anyone ever nailed the addiction/recovery/self-righteousness cycle as succinctly as this 1983 strip? Leonard Maltin writes the introduction, Franklin's on the cover." – Douglas Wolk, ComicsAlliance
"CONFLICT OF INTEREST RESERVOIR: You may or may not encounter Nancy at the shop this week, but Diamond assures me that other collections are en route. First there’s a new printing of The Complete Crumb Vol. 1: The Early Years of Bitter Struggle, now expanded to 208 pages with newly-discovered Crumb brothers funnies from the early ’60s; $24.99. And The Complete Peanuts Vol. 17: 1983-1984 takes us further into the age of Spike and the like; $28.99." – Joe McCulloch, The Comics Journal
• Review: "For almost 40 years, from Women’s Comix to the Nation, underground comics pioneer Noomin has shared painfully hilarious episodes from the life of DiDi Glitz, who’s partly her alter ego, but mostly a dreadful example of what a woman who’s not hip or self-aware can do to herself. Occasionally exploiting but usually exploited, DiDi is enthusiastically tasteless and (barely) sensitive enough to realize that there’s something missing in her life. Pursuing cheap sex as the only intimacy she can imagine, she’s usually wearing stiletto heels and fishnet stockings, with a blonde beehive wig jammed on her head. DiDi’s 'successes' turn out to be only briefly satisfying, though, and Noomin’s faux-primitive, b&w art stresses how ugly and vulgar her lovers are. Still, despite wrinkles and rejections, she never gives up, and her grandiose antics are as amusing as they are pathetic. Containing all of DiDi’s stories and a selection of Noomin’s other art, this collection [Glitz-2-Go] is valuable in itself and as an important comment on women’s issues." – Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
• Review: "It can be a difficult task to tackle the subject of gender identity and transgenderism, but Takako Shimura handles the subject matter with sensitivity and wit [in Wandering Son Vol. 1]. We love how Shimura handles dialogue here – conversations are simple and hardly wordy, yet affecting. It’s strangely reflective of the art style itself... [which] is... characterized by a simple minimalism that still manages to capture the complex emotions of each character.... The series has been named one of the best comics of 2011 by NPR, and if the acclaim can’t convince you to give it a read, then the lovely hard-cover presentation by Fantagraphics Books surely will." – Deborah Lee, The Daily Californian
• Review: "Fantagraphics Books, saviors and protectors of so much that is illustrated and grand, have given me my holy grail. They reproduced, in its glorious entirety, the final catalog, #439, that was published by The DeMoulin Bros. in 1930. This mother lode of catalogs contains all of their fraternity props, gags and devices along with a history of the company and appendices that include the how to's, the scripts as well. The brilliant introductions including one by a Freemason examining the era, and one by the person who may well be the world's largest collectors of DeMoulin Bros. ephemera, magician David Copperfield, are a joy. Catalog No. 439: Burlesque Paraphernalia and Side Degree Specialties and Costumes is available from Fantagraphics Books, Comics and Graphic Novelsand from all fine purveyors of unusual or delicate literature everywhere. " – Robert Jaz, Forces of Geek
"Gary Panter speaks at MOCAD on March 2, 2012 as part of 'Joshua White and Gary Panter’s Light Show' on view February 10-April 29, 2012.
"Prolific comic artist and punk art prankster, Gary Panter, has influenced multiple generations of artists. He has created iconic designs for albums by The Screamers, The Residents, and Red Hot Chili Peppers; been involved with seminal LA punk zine/label Slash; created the Jimbo comic, which frequently appeared in Art Spiegelman's RAW magazine; and, most popularly, designed groundbreaking sets for Pee-wee Herman's children's show Pee-wee's Playhouse in the 1980s."
• Review (Video): On G4's Fresh Ink Online video podcast, host Blair Butler and guest Sam Humphries look at Is That All There Is? by Joost Swarte; at the 7:50 mark Humphries makes it his #2 pick of the week, saying "I've literally been waiting for this book for 20 years... so my hopes were pretty high and this book does not disappoint at all.... You gotta pick up this book."
• Review: "While [Listen, Whitey! The Sights and Sounds of Black Power 1965-1975] looks like a typical coffee table book, this book does not have the coffee table lightness when it comes to content. It is dense.... The imagery in this book is fantastic with a ton of photos of old album jackets, flyers and magazine advertisements and of course the record itself. I admit, I want to blow up a lot of the posters and frame them. You will too.... You should buy this book. Fantagraphics outdid themselves this time." – David Baker, 410 Media
• Review: "Undead pirates roam the seas. They want to die and find eternal peace. But when that doesn’t work, they pray for a living creature to torment. They find a baby boy amidst the wreckage of a ship and decide to raise him until he’s ten. Then they plan to kill him so they can have a cabin-boy.... David B.’s Epileptic made me a fan of his work. But the cover [of The Littlest Pirate King], featuring ghastly pirates behind a little boy, would have caught my attention anyway.... It’s a kid’s book with an edge." – Gene Ambaum, The Unshelved Book Club
• Review: "Originally published in 1974, ...[The Arctic Marauder] finds social criticism wrapped up in sarcastic satire, but outfitted in some great designs of Victorian science.... Tardi’s story is one thing, but his beautiful renderings give it a depth that brings it far beyond satire. The attention given to the Victoriana -- in technology, fashion and graphic layout -- functions as a love letter to that bygone world, which keeps the book from ever seeming cartoonish, and that [is] its major strength." – John Seven, North Adams Transcript
• Tunes:Michael Kupperman is among the cartoonists who put together a playlist of music that inspires their process for Huffington Post columnist Dave Scheidt — a taste: "'Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep,' Middle of the Road: This is just the oddest song. It's upbeat, and bubblegum, and catchy, and sad, and kind of incomprehensible. It was written by a French composer and recorded by a Scottish group, and was one of the highest-selling singles worldwide of all time." (That song's popular with funny cartoonists: Peter Bagge's band Can You Imagine? covers it)
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