Last month I was in L.A. and visited by ol' pal Johnny Ryan and he showed me the first 30 or so pages from PRISON PIT Vol. 2. They were as sensory-assaulting as you'd expect if you've read Vol. 1. I immediately reached in my pocket for my camera, to take a few pics for Flog, only to discover that in my morning pre-coffee fog, I'd inadvertently grabbed my power plug for my laptop and put that in my pocket instead of my camera. I am an idiot. So instead of seeing a few sample pages, you'll have to whet your whistle with this:
Portable Grindhouse editor Jacques Boyreau has a lot on his plate these days, which is good news for those of you in Pittsburgh, because this SuperTrash show he curated that is currently running at the Warhol Museum looks pretty goddamn badass.
Before the Amazing Spider-Man, before the mysterious Dr. Strange, before the black-and-white world of the Ayn Rand-inspired Mr. A, the legendary comic book artist Steve Ditko was conjuring all manners of horrors at his drawing table. In his first two years in the industry (1953 and 1954), Ditko drew tales of macabre suspense that were not yet hobbled by the imminent Comics Code Authority (adopted in Oct. 1954). These stories featured graphic bloodshed, dismemberment and blood-curdling acid baths as the ugly end to the lives of the dark and twisted inhabitants of Steve Ditko’s imagination.
Following up on Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko, Blake Bell’s 2008 best-selling critical retrospective of Ditko’s career, Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 1 features, for the first time, spectacular full-color reprints of every story from those first two years of his career. Beginning with Ditko’s very first story to Ditko’s short stint in the Joe Simon/Jack Kirby studio, to Ditko’s eventual encampment at the Charlton Comics operation in 1954, readers will see the initial works of an artist already at a level of craftsmanship that exceeded most of his peers. The book also features editor Bell’s insightful introduction, providing historical background and speaking to Ditko's influence and his unique craft.
Download an EXCLUSIVE 15-page PDF excerpt (5.9 MB) containing two terrifying tales!
This gorgeous grimoire is part alchemy, part art book, part storybook, part comic book, and part conceptual art from the pen of Al Columbia, a longtime fan favorite contributor to comics anthologies like Zero Zero, Blab!, and more recently, Mome. Collecting over a decade’s worth of ‘artifacts,’ excavations, comic strips, animation stills, storybook covers, and much more, this broken jigsaw puzzle of a book tells the story of Pim & Francie, a pair of childlike, male and female imps whose irresponsible antics get them into horrific, fantastic trouble. Their loosely defined relationship only contributes to the existential fear that lingers underneath the various perils they are subjected to. Columbia’s brilliant, fairytale-like backdrops hint at further layers of reality lurking under every gingerbread house or behind every sunny afternoon. Never have such colorful, imaginative vistas instilled such an atmosphere of dread, and with such a wicked sense of humor.
This is a comprehensive collection of Columbia’s Pim & Francie work, including paintings, comics, character designs, and much more, all woven into something greater than the sum of its parts, with Pim & Francie careening from danger to danger, threaded together through text and notes by the artist.
This is the first book collection by Columbia, a well-regarded talent amongst longtime fans of the alternative comic book scene, and one who will thrill an entirely new audience with the singular, inspired, fully-realized fantasies within Pim & Francie.
"The comics definition of gestalt, Pim & Francie may appear to be a book of random jottings, but don't let that fool you. Treat this barbed landmine like a book and you will be richly rewarded. Treat it like a sketchbook and end up with your hands lopped off and your mind empty. You have been warned." – Paul Karasik
(NOTE: The special limited Collectors Edition of this book, which will include an original sketch by Al Columbia, is still available for pre-order. Al will sign copies of the book on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2009 at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery in Seattle: more info here.)
Al Columbia is widely regarded among his peers as one of the most accomplished and influential artists working in comics today. PIM & FRANCIE represents a breathtaking vision of contemporary American art. Collecting over a decade’s worth of artifacts, excavations, comic strips, storybook covers, and much more, this book tells the story of title characters Pim and Francie, a pair of childlike imps whose irresponsible antics get them into horrific, fantastic trouble... sort of. You just gotta see it for yourself.
Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery is located at 1201 S. Vale Street at the corner of Airport Way S. in the heart of Seattle’s historic Georgetown arts community. Open daily 11:30 to 8:00 PM, Sundays until 5:00. Phone 206.658.0110. Hope to see you all Saturday.
Ken Meyer Jr. at ComicAttack.net, as part of his "Ink Stains" series looking back at fanzines from the '60s-'80s (previously: Gary Groth's Fantastic Fanzine), takes a look at the vintage sci fi/fantasy fanzine No Sex. Among the contributors he talks to is Jaime Hernandez, and he offers a free download of issue 14 from 1980, which contains a 4-page story by Gilbert Hernandez back when he used to sign his work "'Bert."
Your Online Commentary & Diversions-style goodies for today:
• Review: "...[F]or fans of off-beat crime..., I give you Jacques Tardi’s no-shit brilliant adaptation of Jean-Patrick Manchette’s West Coast Blues. ... [W]hat starts out as something straight out of a Hitchcock classic like North by Northwest soon escalates into something more savage, more profound, and utterly wonderful... It succeeds brilliantly in good old-fashioned crime thrills, for sure. The violence is brutal, the story exciting and surprising, and the characters are brilliantly rendered. But then there’s that extra little layer, those subtle themes, those strange details, the lyrical narration passages — let’s just stop and cut to the fucking chase: you should just pick this shit up and be floored. This is about as good as comics get, dear readers." – BSCreview
• Review: "The rape of the innocent. The callousness of the machine. The girth of the profiteers. The threat of the bomb. The hollowness of the victories. [Craig] Yoe has collected more than 220 of those anti-war cartoons in [The Great Anti-War Cartoons,] a book of indelible images that remind us those confrontations aren't what they used to be." – Steve Duin, The Oregonian
• Plug: "[Zak] Sally's one of those artists who can convey a sense of dread or horror out of seeming thin air, and he's really been on the periphery for far too long now. Hopefully [Like a Dog] will thrust him into the limelight." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Interview: At Marvel.com, Sean T. Collins talks to Paul Hornschemeier about his Strange Tales contribution: "I think this story is far more cerebral than the typical mainstream comics, for better or worse. But it will be brightly colored, so hopefully that will get everyone though the awful philosophical ranting I'm about to unleash. Get ready for more shots from my boredom gun." (Paul offers a couple of corrections at his blog)
• Interview: Lauren McKinley of [^]LAND talks to Fantagraphics art director Jacob Covey: "I'd say my style is heavily influenced by where I first learned how to design — making photocopied black and white flyers for rock shows. I feel like that, far more than anything else, taught me most of what I've learned about how to make type and image work."
• Analysis: More commentary on the future of The Comics Journal, this time from CBR's Augie De Blieck Jr.
Once again we're bringing you an advance sneak peek at our listings for the next issue of Previews, this time with our releases scheduled for February 2010. It's going to be a big month for us with 8 new books, including two new Love and Rockets collections (one from Gilbert & one from Jaime), a great Kim Deitch yarn, horror noir from Ho Che Anderson, Captain Easy Vol. 1 (resolicited from August), a new softcover edition of the almost-out-of-print Blazing Combat, The Best American Comics Criticism of the 21st Century, and, pictured above, the breathtaking new graphic novel from Eisner Award winner Cathy Malkasian! Check it all out right here.
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