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."
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 Gorade 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 Gorade is another great reason why."
Editor Greg Sadowski just provided us with this update on one of our most-anticipated books of the year:
Basil Wolverton opus Creeping Death from Neptune is taking a few extra months due to the inclusion of material not originally planned — nearly a hundred pages, including unpublished 1936-38 sci-fi strips and Wolverton's complete non-humorous Marvel comics. Here's a panel from "Eye of Doom" (1952).
Very excited to be putting this one together. I'll be amazed if it doesn't sell out quickly. Do yourself a favor and pre-order a copy today — if you love comics it doesn't get better than this.
Agreed! And Greg's right: demand for this one is through the roof! Thanks Greg!
That's right, the awesome Monster Brains blog got their hands on an exclusive 5-page sneak peek of Prison Pit Book 4, the next volume of Johnny Ryan's senses-shredding ass-demolishing opus of ultraviolence and insanity, coming this Fall!
Are you excited? Are you as excited as THIS GUY???
Can you spot the questionable coloring choice on this Kirby-illustrated cover of a 1984 issue of Amazing Heroes? A couple of years ago, Andrew Wahl of Comics Bronze Age sure did. (This was being passed around Facebook a couple days ago and our own Jason T. Miles brought it to our attention.)
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