Both a rip-roaring adventure series set in pre-World War I Paris and a parody of same, Adèle Blanc-Sec has been enchanting, thrilling, and puzzling readers worldwide through four decades.
With various American attempts to publish Adèle having dribbled into nothing decades ago, Fantagraphics Books, fresh from its triumphs with Tardi’s West Coast Blues, You Are There, and It Was the War of the Trenches, launches a spectacular, newly retranslated, hardcover series that intends to collect every one of its nine (soon ten) volumes.
In this premiere installment, Adèle becomes involved in an interlocking series of mysteries that involve a revived pterodactyl, a frightful on-stage murder, a looming execution by guillotine, and a demon from the depths of hell — plus of course moronic gendarmes, loyal (or perhaps traitorous?) henchmen, and a climax atop the Eiffel Tower.
The Adèle Blanc-Sec series is currently being adapted into a series of films by the renowned action director Luc Besson (The Professional, The Fifth Element), bringing this quirky, very French series to a new worldwide audience.
"...Plot twists aplenty, including a murder or two, as well as a parade of mysterious characters and double-crosses... In crisp drawings with just the right combination of caricature and architectural precision, Tardi wonderfully captures turn-of-the-century Paris." – Publishers Weekly
With appearances in such anthologies as Zero Zero, Blab! and Kramer's Ergot, Stéphane Blanquet has been delighting and terrifying American readers with his superslick, ultradetailed creepiness.
So it makes perfect sense that his first graphic novel to be published in the U.S. would be... a children's book? Yes indeed.
Our hero, attending a Halloween party in an embarrassing pink bunny costume (he wanted to be a pirate) stumbles across a secret underground society of damaged, forgotten, and pissed-off toys in the basement of his friend's house — including the terrifying Amelia, a towering sentient assemblage of broken toy parts out for revenge!
Imagine Toy Story as reimagined by David Lynch and Charles Burns and you'll have a good idea of what this story is like. And yes, it is for kids!
Loosely based on a teenager’s diary from the 1980s found in a gas-station bathroom, Unlovable is the remarkable story of Tammy Pierce, as filtered through the pen and brush of Los Angeles artist Esther Pearl Watson. This boxed set collects the complete, acclaimed two-volume saga of Tammy’s sophomore year of high school in 1989.
Tammy has built a devoted following over the last several years in the pages of BUST magazine, where Unlovable continues to be serialized on the magazine’s back page, and this beautifully produced, slipcased collection features all 832 pages of her sometimes ordinary, sometimes humiliating, often poignant and always hilarious exploits. Her hopes, dreams, agonies and defeats are brought to vivid, comedic life by Watson’s lovingly grotesque drawings, filled with all the eighties essentials — too much mascara, leg warmers with heels and huge hair, etc. — as well as timeless teen concerns like acne, dandruff, and the opposite sex (or same sex, in some cases). Unlovable addresses the mysteries of adolescence through Tammy’s naivete; girls and women in particular will find much that resonates, but men will also relate to Unlovable’s universal humor and wide cast of characters. Tammy’s life isn’t pretty, but it is endlessly charming and hilarious.
This complete edition is handsomely packaged in a specially designed, sturdy slipcase, making it an ideal gift item.
Two features too big for our "Daily OCD" roundup today:
First, Destroy All Movies!!! The Complete Guide to Punks on Film gets the cover (seen above) of this week's issue of The Austin Chronicle! Marc Savlov of the Chronicle, who says "Destroy All Movies!!! is more than a reference book for the Mohawk-obsessed: It's a feat akin to taking your shitty punk rock band on a world tour in a crappy '72 Ford Econoline circa 1983. Hard work, but man, when you're done you know you've really been somewhere," talks to the book's editors Zack Carlson and Bryan Connolly, the latter of whom says "We'd watch 100 movies – and while you were doing that you'd think of another 100 movies. And we'd go to the video store and take home big, 30-gallon garbage bags full of videos to watch. And VHS tapes are really goddamn heavy when you've got that many in a plastic bag." Read more here.
Second, Destroy All Movies!!! contributing writer and Scarecrow Video employee Spenser Hoyt writes about his involvement with the book on the Scarecrow blog: "I took endless stacks of videotapes home and scanned away staring carefully for any glimpse of punkishness. I plowed though the lesser-seen titles in Scarecrow’s Psychotronic room, delighted in obscure action from the Bang section and even watched a porno or two…all for the sake of art, of course. Soon I found that couldn’t walk down the street without evaluating my fellow humans for their level of punkness. My girlfriend started watching random movies on TV and would spot a punk in the background. Hello! Even up until the book’s final deadline a punk would sprout up out of nowhere and I’d rapidly crank out a quick capsule before it was too late." Read the whole thing here.
• Review: "I know what you're all thinking. Does [Destroy All Movies!!! The Complete Guide to Punks on Film] adequately up the punx? The answer is a resounding, 'Yep!' [...] There's a little more attention paid to Nick Zedd and Lydia Lunch than I think is deserved, but otherwise the book is perfect. [...] This one will live above your toilet tank for years and make shitting so much fun." – Nick Gazin, Vice
• Review: "Dave Cooper's produced [Bent,] another book's worth of sketches and oil paintings of weird looking women. Some of Cooper's gals are cute and cartoony, most seem to be a compilation of everything that women fear they look like. His paintings mix cartoonish proportions and ways of thinking with an amazing sense of light and forms. Dave Cooper has big ideas which are mostly scary and gross ideas rendered beautifully." – Nick Gazin, Vice
• Review: "Jason... makes comics that are quiet and lonely and often show how quickly life passes. [What I Did] contains the first comics that Jason had published in English... Each one makes it seem like life is just absolutely meaningless. [...] You like smart animals? With hats? And ennui? And muuuuurderrrrrrr? You do? What else do you like? Because I like you." – Nick Gazin, Vice
• Review: "Werewolves [of Montpellier] has an artsy feel, but also plenty of humor, even in (or especially in) its more dramatic moments. [...] But it’s mostly the subtle characterizations that still bring the greatest amount of personality out of his creatures that look like animals, but act so much like humans. [...] Overall, it’s another great book from Fantagraphics in the Jason catalog. It doesn’t shake the foundation of his style, but it does try a few new ideas and tells another fun story." – William Jones, Graphic Novel Reporter
• Review: "Because of the wide variety of ways these artists see the world and approach art, it’s understood that some pieces delighted me while others left me scratching my head. But even the head-scratchers — especially the head-scratchers — left me pondering various aspects of the mythical and legendary creatures in ways I’d never considered before. [...] Once I was done [with Beasts! Book 1], I realized that I’d held onto that feeling of going through a real, marvelous exhibit of strange and wonderful creatures. Like I’d been told a story in which I was the main character, visiting this museum, learning about these beasts, wondering about them, and in turn creating stories of my own." – Michael May, Robot 6
• Review: "Reading Drew Friedman's 2010 book Too Soon? reminded me that I'd missed his 2007 comics collection, The Fun Never Stops!, so I had to remedy that situation as quickly as possible. [...] Drew Friedman comics have to be experienced rather than described; he has a distinctive, warped sensibility, intensely steeped in old pop culture but with an almost literary detachment and a relentless tropism towards ugliness, unlikely connections, and random cultural detritus. What sells it is that unflinchingly realistic drawing style — when you look at a Drew Friedman picture, you know it must be true in some way, because a fake could never look that good." – Andrew Wheeler, The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.
The Georgetown Second Saturday Art Attack returns on Saturday, November 13 with challenging visual and performing arts presentation throughout the historic industrial arts corridor.
Among the many highlights on November 13: The AV Club, a new Georgetown film and video showcase located in the alley between Flora and Ellis behind Tacoma Screw, will feature the installation, "Ohio," by Laura Wright, which serves dual functions as an environmental installation and as the ambience for AV Club Cinema media presentations; the Georgetown Trailer Park Mall launches the Fourth Annual Holiday Bazaar including new work by Mark Tweed in the Lula B Lightning Trailer and Cooper Lanza in the Red Purse Airstream; the Georgetown Atelier is hosting its annual holiday party celebrating their second year in Georgetown with artwork raffled to raise money for student scholarships; Krab Jab Studio will be host a solo show of Mark Tedin's large works on paper; Calamity Janes will present oil paintings by Kyle Abernethy, assemblages by Corey Urlacher and photography by Michelle Smith Lewis; Mickey Williams' photographs are at the Nautilus studio; Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery hosts a book launch event for Destroy All Movies: The Complete Guide to Punks on Film with editors Zack Carlson, Bryan Connolly, and designer Jacob Covey, together with an exhibition of prints by cartoonist Charles Burns.
The Georgetown Second Saturday Art Attack is a monthly promotion of the Georgetown Merchants' Association. For more information contact Art Attack coordinator Larry Reid at the numbers above. For a site map of Art Attack participants, please visit: www.georgetownartattack.com.
Joyce Farmer’s memoir chronicles the decline of the author’s parents’ health, their relationship with one another and with their their daughter, and how they cope with the day-to-day emotional fragility of the most taxing time of their lives.
Elderly parents Lara and Rachel, who have enjoyed a long and loving married life together, are rendered in fine, confident pen lines. Set in southern Los Angeles (which makes for a terrifying sequence as blind Rachel and ailing Lars are trapped in their home without power during the 1992 Rodney King riots), backgrounds and props are lovingly detailed: these objects serve as memory triggers for Lars and Rachel, even as they eventually overwhelm them and their home, which the couple is loathe to leave. Special Exits is laid out in an eight-panel grid, which creates a leisurely storytelling pace that not only helps to convey the slow, inexorable decline in Lars’ and Rachel’s health, but perfectly captures the timbre of the exchanges between a long-married couple: the affectionate bickering; their gallows humor; their querulousness as their bodies break down.
Though Lars and Rachel are the protagonists of Special Exits, Farmer makes her voice known through creative visual metaphors and in her indictment of the careless treatment of the elderly in nursing homes. Special Exits gracefully deals with the hard reality of caring for aging loved ones: those who are or who have been in similar situations might find comfort in it, and those who haven’t will find much to admire in the bravery and good humor of Lars and Rachel.
Joyce Farmer, best known for co-creating the Tits ’n Clits comics anthology in the 1970s, a feminist response to the rampant misogyny in underground comix, spent 11 years crafting Special Exits, a graphic memoir in the vein of Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home or Harvey Pekar, Joyce Brabner, and Frank Stack’s Our Cancer Year, about caring for her dying father and stepmother.
"One of the best long-narrative comics I've ever read, right up there with Maus... I actually found myself moved to tears. – R. Crumb
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