Last night, director Terry Zwigoff appeared at Central Cinema's sold-out showing of Bad Santa, produced/toured/small printed by The A.V. Club's Cult Canon Tour. The 2003 hit resonated with the parents, malcontents and former elves in the audience (thank you, Dallas Northpark Mall, for that hellish winter month). A charmingly nasal and articulate Nathan Rabin of The A.V. Club moderated the Q&A while Zwigoff opened with a slide show of amazing parodies, criminal copy cats and a slew of Santa photos through the ages, too amazing to not share at least one.
Zwigoff went into detail about looking for the perfect people for this movie (especially since he choose the script over Elf with Will Ferrell already attached). De Niro, Penn graced the top of a list but Billy Bob Thorton was the name he knew could pull it off. In the search for the perfect kid to win the Bad Santa's heart, Zwigoff rejected the "Disney-face-proportioned" in an effort to capture a new Joe Cobb: a fat, scary kid. Which he eventually did find in new actor, Brett Kelly (right).
In addition to Bad Santa, Zwigoff directed such hits as the documentary Crumb, Ghost World and Art School Confidential (guess whosells booksthe movies were based on by Crumb and Dan Clowes?). We earnestly look forward to his next film adventure.
The first snowflake of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review:Publishers Weekly enjoys Naked Cartoonists, edited by Gary Groth. "The litmus test for any collective work based on the idea of one page per artist is whether the whole is greater than the sum of the individual parts. . . [Naked Cartoonists] no trouble achieving that goal. . . Dan Piraro (Bizarro) deserves kudos for his strategically-located likeness of Garfield . . ."
• Review:Print Magazine (issue 66.3 June 2012) gingerly flips through the pages of Naked Cartoonists. "Does your Sunday morning routine consis of reading The Wizard of Id and thinking, Gosh, I wish it had more nudity? Then Fantagraphics Books has just the thing for you." While out-and-about obscenity is rare, "there are moments of genuine creepiness, as when Jeff Keane, heir to The Family Circus, drops trou along side his fictional self, Jeffy."
• Review: Speaking of nudish things, Slate takes the time to slog through Prison Pit 4 by Johnny Ryan. Noah Bertlasky states, "For those who find filthy, blotchy tactile ink clots, überviolence, or body horror even remotely appealing, you need to buy this and its predecessors immediately."
• Review (audio): The boys on the block (Comics Books are Burning in Hell) review violent comics so naturally Blacklung by Chris Wright is included. The book affected the reviewers since it's "basically Chris Wright drawing terrifying shit" and Wright's drawing style falls in between "Old newspaper comics, like E.C. Segar's Popeye and Roy Crane's Wash Tubbs and Usagi Yojimbo [by Stan Sakai]."
• Review:New York Journal of Books looks at Walt Disney's Donald Duck: A Christmas for Shacktown by Carl Barks. Mark Squirek writes, "What he was really doing was showing us the absurdity of human behavior. . . This is a book that can be enjoyed by everyone from six to eighty. . . This is classic art and storytelling from a master of the form. Carl Barks ranks right up there with Jack Kirby and Will Eisner. If you love the frustrated, quacking, crazed Donald from the cartoons of the forties, you have to read A Christmas for Shacktown."
• Review:The Christian Science Monitor unwraps Charlie Brown's Christmas Stocking by Charles M. Schulz. Rich Clablaugh takes another sip of cider and says, "The design of the book is marvelous, thick off-white stock printed in two colors – red and green of course. . .Charlie Brown's Christmas Stocking is sure to bring a warm smile to readers young and old. A yearly reading of this little gem can in itself become a new tradition for the Christmas season."
• Review:Westfield Blog looks at archival prints from Fantagraphics. Roger Ash recounts, "Popeye, Pogo, Charlie Brown, Mickey Mouse, and many other classic comic strip characters live on at Fantagraphics in outstanding collections. If you aren't reading any of these, you should be."
• Review:Forbidden Planet International writes about Rich Tommaso's graphic novel, The Cavalier Mr. Thompson. "What the Cavalier does very well is encompass the zeitgeist of an era and people vividly. . . or the most part you’re happy to be led through the rooms and ravines, over train tracks and down corridors as a gentle narration of tales from times gone by ensconces you comfortingly," says Zainab.
• Review: Glen Weldon writes a large article in the New York Times Book Review on our newest anthology on queer comics. "With No Straight Lines [editor Justin Hall] has produced a useful, combative and frequently moving chronicle of a culture in perpetual transition; to read it is to watch as an insular demimonde transforms itself, in painful fits and joyful starts, and steps out into a wider monde."
• Review:Graphixia looks at Jacques Tardi's It Was the War of the Trenches. Scott Marsden states, "Seeing Tardi’s portrayal of the horrors of trench warfare and his vision of the random senselessness and brutality that accompanies it reminds us to reflect on our (mis)conceptions of history, drawing attention to the fractal realities that are embedded in events that have been experienced internationally. . . it feels far closer to reality than the propagandized historical materials offered by the typical academic publishing industry. . ."
• Review: Rob Clough reposts his review of our Hotwire anthology, this time on High Low. "A book for those who read Ghost World or American Splendor and [want] to know where to go next."
• Review:Chris Ware is profiled on the NY Review of Books on Jimmy Corrigan through Building Stories.
If you are one of the fortunate thousands who enjoy untangling the enigmatic images that fill Jim Woodring's comics and drawings, Problematic is just the book for you to put under your pillow and dream on.
Woodring is a devotee of the pocket-sized Moleskine sketchbook and has filled at least one per month since 2004. Quick concept sketches, figure studies, self-challenges, finished drawings, revenge portraits and caricatures, scene tryouts... everything goes into these idea batteries.
Problematic provides the adventurous viewer with a bounty of unfiltered, hand-captured glimpses of life by an artist that Publishers Weekly called "a modern master of hallucinatory cartoon fables." Lots of this material re-emerges in the form of pictures and storylines but much of it is just too baffling to be harnessed for any practical use. Of course, these untamable notions are the best and most interesting ones; and there are plenty of them here in the 300-page brick of Problematic.
Problematic is a rollicking amalgam of reportage (i.e. the man who blew his arm off), speculative anatomy, fancy women, make-a-face games, picture-puzzles, gags, riffs and burlesques. Catalogue and exhibition simultaneously, Problematic is your best bet for a brief, energizing stroll in a distinctively enjoyable neighborhood.
"When most people try to employ dream logic in their work they fail miserably but Jim [Woodring] is great at it. The closest thing to a peer he might have is David Lynch but even that's a stretch. Jim Woodring is the only Jim Woodring and no one has done what he does except for him." – Nicholas Gazin, Vice
A guided video tour of the book with Jim Woodring:
He'll be screening his 2003 film Bad Santa, but he'll also be doing a Q&A afterwards where you can ask him about his work on Ghost World or Crumb. Fantagraphics will be on site with copies of his screenplay for you to get signed!
Central Cinema is located at 1411 21 Avenue, in Seattle's Central District neighborhood at 21st Avenue and E. Union street. Look for the Neon Marquee!
The Seattle-based French cultural organization the Alliance Française is having a Christmas market and you're invited!
Fantagraphics will have a table there selling our French translations (Tardi, Trondheim, David B., etc.) but we will also have a big pile of non-Fantagraphics editions of French and Belgian classics such as Tintin, Asterix, the Smurfs, and Lucky Luke, and several boxes full of french comics IN THE ORIGINAL FRENCH that have not previously been made available in our store.
The Alliance Française is a great organization and this should be a fun time for Francophiles in general even above and beyond Fantagraphics' presence, so we hope to see you there. Francophone Kim Thompson will be manning the table throughout and will answer your questions and banter with you (and take your money) in French, in English, or in Danish if you happen to trek up from Ballard, for that matter. A bientôt!
The Alliance Française is located on the ground floor of Historic Seattle's beautiful Good Shepherd Center at 4649 Sunnyside Avenue North. There are two large free parking lots as well as abundant free on-street parking.
The luckiest Powerball ticket of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review:Drawn's John Martz is ready for Heads or Tails. "Lilli Carré is one of those cartoonists who has been putting out plenty of great work. . . She’s a master of short stories, so this collection is a welcome addition to my bookshelves. Rainbow Moment, a smartly-crafted story of nested memories all told in different colour palettes is the stand out work, and worth the price of admission alone."
• Review: John Martz of Drawn looks at Barack Hussein Obama. "Steven Weissman has been posting his odd comic strip, named after and starring a Bizarro-Universe version of Barack Hussein Obama . . . and it quickly became one of my favourite comics online. . . Obama’s re-election, if anything, hopefully means another four years of this strange and delightful oddity."
• Plug: On Librairie D + Q, staffer Helen lists Wandering Son Vol. 3 in her picks for 2012. "Shimura Takako treats her two young, trans* protagonists (or an approximation of "trans*", in the context of Japanese gender politics and identities) with gentleness, but does not fall into the trap of painting an overly rosy picture of their experience . . . while [they navigate] the general difficulties and anxieties of tween-hood."
• Plug: Maria Popova creates her 10 Best Design Books of 2012 and reiterates her love of Significant Objects on Brain Pickings. " 'The universe is made of stories, not atoms,' poet Muriel Rukeyser famously remarked. Hardly anyone can back this bombastic proclamation with more empirical conviction than [editors] Rob Walker and Joshua Glenn."
• Review:Geekrocker looks at Gabriella Giandelli's Interiorae. Wee Claire says, "Giandelli's pale ghostly illustrations reflect the sombre, mysterious mood Giandelli skilfully creates. This isn't a story about great feats of human strength or otherworldly adventures, this is a simple tale about real human lives.. . . Interiorae shows us that if we look hard enough, there's a little bit of magic waiting around every darkened corner."
• Plug:Chris Butcher recommends you pre-order 7 Miles a Second. "James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook do a phenomenal job at bringing [writer David Wojnarowicz's] story to life, and this is a vital and important piece of gay history that had been denied to me as a gay teen, and which has been out of print for far too long."
• Plug:Boing Boing posted their 2012 Gift Guide and included two of our books again, Is That All There Is?by Joose Swarte. "This anthology of Swarte's alternative comics from 1972 showcases his famous clean-line style that makes reading his work a pleasure." Mark Frauenfelder also includes Joe Kubert's Weird Horrors that showcases "his versatility in a variety of genres, including horror, humor, and romance."
• Review: Avid fan and writer Benjamin Herman rereads Love and Rockets, while making some great conclusions on the way. "[Duck Feet] was my first real exposure to Gilbert’s stories of Luba and the denizens of the Latin American village of Palomar, and I really enjoyed it. Gilbert’s writing was full of character, containing a distinctive voice, his artwork imbued with real atmosphere. . . Gilbert expertly crafted an almost epic tale that spans across a generation, giving us very real, flawed, dysfunctional characters." For Jaime's work "one of the key elements of Jaime’s stories is the process of growing up, of maturing, the struggle to become an adult and leave childhood behind. Maggie and Hopey both have to face the choice of pursuing long-term adult relationships or continuing teenage flings."
In a cheeky cameo, cartoonist Rich Tommaso magically appears next to FOX news reporter Denise Dillon when she grabs a copy of The Cavalier Mr. Thompson off the bookshelf. Tommaso has a better chance "of writing a NY Times Best Seller than winning the Powerball," currently at $500,000,000. While we distribute Tommaso's lastest graphic novel and have published a few NY TimesBest Sellers, we cannot guarantee that a photogenic creator will appear next to you the next time you thumb through their work in a public space. But be warned: they might.
January will bring another of our occasional non-comics books, a unique work of cultural and music criticism from the prolific mind of Alexander Theroux: The Grammar of Rock: Art and Artlessness in 20th Century Pop Lyrics is a scathing and hilarious examination of stupid rhymes, dud lines, silly titles, and multifarious other aspects of popular recordings of the past century (with examples of quality included for contrast), from ABBA to Zappa. On the jacket, more fine work by designer Emory Liu (featuring a vintage Robert Crumb drawing) — and wait until you see the endpapers. Get a taste with a free 20-page excerpt, and pre-order a copy, right here.
Celebrate 30 Years of Love and Rockets with Gilbert & Jaime Hernandez at Fantagraphics Bookstore on Saturday, December 8!
When Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez created the first issue of Love and Rockets three decades ago, they foreshadowed the diverse American society we enjoy today. Their work wasn’t overtly political. They simply reflected their cultural environment. In doing so, they profoundly influenced popular culture on a global scale. Celebrate the illustrious legacy of these amazing artists on Saturday, December 8 from 6:00 to 9:00 PM. This festive evening of art, comix, and music marks the 6th anniversary of Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery .
The Love and Rockets comic book series helped lay the foundation for the alternative comix movement. Brothers Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez combined elements of their Southern California punk counterculture with accessible pop motifs, breathing new life into the moribund underground comix form. Their work found a receptive audience among the adventurous youth culture of the period. The Hernandez brothers’ efforts soon came to the attention fledgling comic book publisher Fantagraphics Books, helping launch that storied enterprise. The relationship remains strong 30 years later, as Fantagraphics and Love and Rockets help shape the rising influence of alternative comix. The Love and Rockets franchise has grown to include countless comix collections and continues as an annual edition that complements the solo projects of the sibling artists.
The festivities on Saturday, December 8 include an exhibition of Love and Rockets art and artifacts chosen by Fantagraphics editorial associate Kristy Valenti and bookstore curator Larry Reid. A signed commemorative silkscreen print will be produced for the occasion. Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez will be available to sign a wide variety of comix, anthologies, and related merchandise. Accomplished cartoonist, visual artist and musician Geneviève Castrée will provide entertainment with her music project Ô Paon – helping us celebrate 30 years of Love and Rockets as well as six wonderful years of Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery. This event coincides with a lively holiday edition of the Georgetown Art Attack, featuring visual and performing arts presentations throughout the historic neighborhood, including wandering carolers from Choir of the Sound.
30 Years of Love and Rockets with Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez Exhibition and book signing, with music by Ô Paon Saturday, December 8, 6:00 to 9:00 PM Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery 1201 S. Vale Street, Seattle. 206.658.0110 Open daily 11:30 to 8:00 PM, Sundays until 5:00 PM
Dash Shaw's masterpiece on life with the Loony Family called Bottomless Belly Button can now be yours thanks to comiXology. The 700 page epic is just the thing to slip onto your digital reading device as long you warm up your thumbing finger. After 40-some years of marriage, Maggie and David Loony shock their children with their announcement of a planned divorce. But the reason for splitting isn't itself shocking: they’re "just not in love any more." The announcement sparks a week long Loony family reunion at Maggie and David's creepy (and possibly haunted) beach house.
Whether you've been a neglected child during a divorce, a detached sister watching it happen or an impassioned advocate of staying together, Bottomless Belly Button is a realistic view on how splitting the family tree causes splintering. But you don't need to know a thing about it to enjoy the book, Shaw takes you through every variable and point of view along the way. Dash Shaw's weighty tale is available via comiXology for a $24.99 today, don't miss out on this breaktaking book.
"Using Peanuts-like comic strips in addition to pie charts, letters, and floor plans, Shaw draws an honest, meditative 720-page portrait of a multigenerational middle-class family..." - GQ, "The 20 Graphic Novels You Should Read (After Watchmen)"
"His nonjudgmental focus on the everyday lives of characters undergoing emotional turmoil is a welcome break from the angsty, post-modern hyperbole so common now in fiction that tries to push the envelope. Although the book, at 720 pages, is almost as long as The Brothers Karamazov, the effect is riveting." - Laurel Maury, NPR Books
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