An exciting announcement from Fantagraphics Books: after only twelve weeks, Ed Piskor's Hip Hop Family Tree Book One is going back to press for a third printing. The historical account—in graphic novel form—of hip-hop music and culture hit shelves December 11, 2013, and the first printing sold out within a month. A second printing sold out even more quickly after hitting stores in early March.
The book is beloved by critics as much as fans. The Washington Post: “Piskor’s book feels just as real and authentic as the retro rap it celebrates.” NPR calls the series “a real fusion of both art forms”; it continues, “Piskor tells the gripping origin story of hip-hop in storyboard form with original artwork. Illuminating for kids and grown-ups alike.”
“I’m literally making a comic that I want to read,” says cartoonist Ed Piskor. “I feel like Hip Hop Family Tree is a comic I was born to draw and it’s an absolute pleasure that people seem to dig it too. Truthfully, though, I’d be lying if I said I was surprised about the reaction from readers.”
While fans await the third printing of Book One and the forthcoming Book Two, Free Comic Book Day on May 3 will afford an opportunity to introduce new readers to the series, as Fantagraphics will distribute—for FREE—Hip Hop Family Tree Two-in-One comic book, which features all-new pin-ups and other exclusive content not in the books, as well as selections from Book One and the as yet unreleased Book Two.
With the release of Hip Hop Family Tree Book Two set for August, both cartoonist and publisher alike are gearing up for a full schedule of book signings and special events tied in with the book. Piskor will be in appearance at comics festivals around the world from PIX in Pittsburgh, to Comic Salon in Erlangen Germany, then SPX in Bethesda, to APE in San Francisco, and many more. Along with signings at The Beguiling in Toronto for Free Comic Book Day and book launch celebrations at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery in Seattle, Bridge City Comics in Portland, and City Lights in San Francisco.
Lastly, it’s never too early to start thinking about the gift-giving season: this November will see the release of a collector’s edition boxed set, collecting Books One and Two in a custom hardcover slipcase designed and illustrated by Piskor. This set will feature all-new cover art on each book, as well as another exclusive item unavailable anywhere else: Hip Hop Family Tree #300, an all-new 24-page comic book that celebrates a historic confluence of hip-hop and comic book culture, when Spike Lee directed Image Comics co-founder Rob Liefeld in a Levi’s Jeans commercial, which Piskor tells in a pitch- perfect visual parody / pastiche / homage to the Image house style of the 1990s as defined by Liefeld, McFarlane, etc.
This Saturday, March 22nd Fantagraphics publisher and editor Gary Groth will be holding down the comics fort at PIX, Pittsburgh Indy Comix Expo. The tables are open from 10am to 5pm. As part of the evening programming (plenty of time to get some dinner, dudes) Gary will be interviewed by Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist Tony Norman from 10-11pm, complete with a Q&A session. Cartoonists Ed Piskor and Trina Robbins will also be attendence so you can get Hip Hop Family Tree Vol. 1 and Pretty in Ink: North American Women Cartoonists 1896-2013 signed. Trina will be signing from noon to 1pm at the Fantagraphics table.
PIX is located at 10 S.19th Street in the city's South Side neighborhood. The building is located directly across S.19th Street from the South Side Giant Eagle shopping plaza. With its own lot and off-street parking, you won't have to pay a dime to get into PIX (more money to spend on comics!)
Gary is also doing some portfolio reviews at the ToonMuseum on the Friday before the show. Please see the PIX website for registration, limited spots are available. See you there!
• Pittsburgh, PA: Herstorian Trina Robbins brings her collection, Wonder Women: On Paper and Off, to the ToonSeum, and will be giving a special presentation to museum goers at 7:30 PM (tickets available here)! (more info)
"...Barks’s Disney comics were and are enormously well crafted and equally enormously entertaining, timeless comedy adventures that Fanta presents in such handsomely designed volumes that they make the perfect gift for just about any reader of comics, regardless of age, background, or experience with the art form." – School Library Journal
"One of comics revered masters gets a fresh new reprinting worthy of his work and accessible to kids.... A wonderful project that should put Barks’s name in front of new generations of admirers." – Publishers Weekly
"Even the silliest premise, when executed by an artist in perfect control of his gifts, can land with deftness and grace — that's something that strikes you again and again as you read Barks' work. And it's a lesson that won't get lost on any kid with whom you might choose to share it, which is convenient, as this collection makes a perfect introduction to one of the greatest all-ages comics artists of all time." – NPR - Monkey See
"Even now, Barks’ stories are clever and funny, as he leads the ducks into impossible situations and then gives them unexpected ways out. And they're poignant in their own way, too...." – The A.V. Club
"Carl Barks is one of those truly perfect cartoonists. It feels so good to have these books with beautiful Fantagraphics quality production sitting on my shelf...You'll get sucked in." – VICE
"Barks, the artist, is a master cartoonist, drawing lively, expressive characters with a graceful sense of movement. His beautiful, detailed backgrounds plant the ducks in a fully realized world that adds weight to his storytelling.... But besides the entertaining plots, Barks’ appeal is in his characters. He gives his ducks many human frailties and while they usually try to do the right thing, they make mistakes, get angry, frustrated, and even fail. Fantagraphics Books... does its usual high quality work here as well. The design and layout of the book is a handy comic-book size hardcover with bright, colorful reproductions of the comics. Besides the comics, there are articles on Barks and analysis on each story... For both newcomers to Barks' work and diehard fans, this is a book that any comic book reader would love..." – The Christian Science Monitor
The man. His work. They coexist on the cover and in the pages of Pirates in the Heartland: The Mythology of S. Clay Wilson Vol. 1, compiling Wilson's seminal underground comix work along with the first part of Patrick Rosenkranz's authoritative biography. Wilson unleashed a cannon barrage on the boundaries of the comics art form and rushed through, flintlocks blazing, cutlass in teeth, and fly open, taking no prisoners with his outrageous output. This book, combined with its two forthcoming sequels, will be the last word and the ultimate collection of a comics legend. Look for more previews between now and its release this summer.
And for lots more insight into the cover design, art director Jacob Covey wrote these notes on his personal Facebook page, re-presented here with his kind permission:
Here's the cover design for the new Fantagraphics book from Patrick Rosenkranz, The Mythology of S. Clay Wilson, Volume One: Pirates In the Heartland. This is the result of more comps than I have ever produced before and I figured I'd write about it to get at some idea of why.
For one thing, I went into this project with little enthusiasm. Wilson is a pioneering Underground Comix artist who inspired R. Crumb to let loose his id, to break comics wide open for self-expression. But Wilson on the surface -- and after forty years of being built upon (back to before I was born) -- lacks the contrasting dignity of Crumb's linework and his compositions are DENSE. Wilson art is recognizable: His line, and his humor, is crass; there is no white space and there are no taboos.
There are artists you have to recalibrate for and, for me, Wilson turns out to be one of those. It took a lot of sitting with the stories to let down my guard and enjoy how powerful the work is. A lot of artists talk about wanting to get back to creating like a kid again. Wilson manages to remain as unfiltered as an adolescent in detention. His is not the art of an innocent kindergartner who draws fanciful anatomy in a surreal landscape but that of the self-realizing, hormone-raging, unclean middle-beast that is boys who are becoming men. He still draws like a kid, just not the kid we romanticize about. At a time when most of us become self-conscious and begin self-censoring Wilson did not.
That accomplishment in itself is remarkable but his relentless creating is the application that makes him genius. Wilson seems to exist solely to get his sprawling imagination down on paper. His prolific output is that of the consummate artist. That it is also very graphic, violent, and offensive to most all social norms takes a little adjusting to.
So all of this is what I had to assimilate just to start my job. To feel like I had enough grasp on Wilson to "brand" his life by designing this cover to (volume one of) his biography. My first attempts weren't about Wilson but associations with his Underground brethren and the psychedelia connected to the period. Pinks, Cyans, solid clashing color. All completely missing the character of Wilson. Wilson was (is) certainly a drug user but of the escapist, rebellious variety, not the trippy, feel-good variety. He's a meat-and-potatoes guy who creates fevered worlds, including his own. Hence the title "The Mythology of S. Clay Wilson" -- a smart nuance on the part of Rosenkranz.
In publishing, one has to approach a cover with the information of an expert and the ignorance of a browser. In biographies, a photo of the subject is generally employed for good reason: The viewer immediately knows this is a book about a person. (Hence the trend in fiction of generally cropping off the heads of models or having them looking away -- this is not about THEM.) But Wilson is recognizable only by his artwork, so a photo alone isn't enough information. Ultimately, my solution is a kind of psychedelia but a practical one: Pirate art (a favorite theme of Wilson) overlaying a mythic portrait of young Wilson. Creation and creator in color overlays that force your eye to try to unhook one from the other.
I generally consider it a failure when cover design requires a band of color upon which to set the type. In this case, it allowed for the art to be the primary feature, to be a bit uncontrolled, while the type treatment is an anchor that harkens classic album design. This kind of visual messaging is trying to align Wilson with rebels and rockstars without making false promises. The trickiest part was simply finding Wilson art that had ANY white space so his portrait could connect with the viewer. The dual function of his artwork blowing the brains out, simultaneously, of Wilson and another of Wilson's creation was too wonderful to pass up but I'm going to leave the symbology of such things to the viewer.
For the new softcover editions, we redesigned The Complete Peanuts inside and out, as you can see in these snapshots of a just-arrived advance copy of the kick-off volume, The Complete Peanuts 1950-1952. Looks pretty snappy, huh?
Even if you've been collecting the hardcover volumes, you'll want to have these affordable paperbacks around for the kids and for loaning out or giving as gifts to friends and relatives, and of course the brilliance of Charles M. Schulz's beloved strip endures no matter what the format. Pre-order your copy (it'll be available a couple of months from now) and read a free excerpt right here.
Join Steve on Thursday, March 20th at 5:30 PM for Game of Thrones: The Political Art of Steve Brodner, at the Lamar Dodd School of Art at the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia!
The UGA explains, "the intent of the Jack Davis Distinguished Visiting Artist program is to honor Jack and his contributions to our popular culture, and to bring outstanding professional illustrators who share in this tradition to the UGA campus for a public lecture and creative exchanges with students and faculty."
Steve adds: "It is a great honor. Not only to be asked to join fellow artists who truly appreciate the traditions of satirical journalism, but also to celebrate the great Jack Davis, who is an alum. I have met Mr. Davis and can tell you a more gentle and courtly man you could not hope to meet. As an artist he is, for me, a paragon of the kind of work that fired me up in the very beginning. If ever there was a perfect illustrator, he is it."
So, come celebrate Jack in his 90th year (!!!) in the Lamar Dodd School of Art building on the campus of the University of Georgia [ 270 River Road ] in Athens, Georgia.
"Just as Usagi has learned that swordsmanship is more than fighting, Stan Sakai has obviously learned that art is more than drawing. The entire field would be richer if more artists embraced this lesson." – Robert Asprin, from the introduction
"If you haven't seen this ultra-cool series, you must! It involves a rabbit samurai — yes, a rabbit samurai — that young readers will love for the action and sophisticated art. I adore it for those reasons too, but there's more substance to it than you might expect. A good Zen comic is hard to find, and this one is nearly perfect." – USA Today Pop Candy
"These bittersweet adventure stories offer entertaining reading, especially for young Asian-Americans who feel excluded from mainstream juvenile literature." – Los Angeles Times
"One of the most original, innovative, well-executed comic books anywhere to be found." – Stan Lee
Steve Ditko is such a great image-maker, it must be hard for our designers to choose artwork for the covers of our Steve Ditko Archives collections of his early, pre-Marvel work. With Volume 1, Strange Suspense, we got a chance to make a double dip from the deep Ditko inkwell for our new softcover reprint, coming this summer with this newly-designed cover. Behind you, lady!! Stay tuned for more sneak peeks. (Of course, if you don't want to wait to read this book, it's available digitally right now on comiXology.)
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