In November, we are thankful for many things like a re-elected President, food and family coming together, power and heat slowly returning to New York. Fantagraphics and comiXology present a timely story to make you feel thankful for what you do have with the incredible graphic novel by visionary Chris Wright (Inkweed, 2008 from Sparkplug) called Blacklung. One of the most impressive graphic novel debuts in recent years, a sweeping, magisterially conceived, visually startling tale of violence, amorality, fortitude, and redemption, one part Melville, one part Peckinpah, all in 130 pages.
In a night of piratical treachery when an arrogant school teacher is accidentally shanghaied aboard the frigate Hand, his fate becomes inextricably fettered to that of a sardonic gangster. Dependent on one another for survival in their strange and dangerous new home, the two form an unlikely alliance as they alternately elude or confront the thieves and cutthroats that bad luck has made their companions and captors. After an act of terrible violence, the teacher is brought before the ship's captain and instructed to use his literary skills to aid him in writing his memoirs. Drown yourself in Wright's gorgeous black and white panel and watch in dark story unfold as the cross-hatched characters fulfill their destinies, available now for your digital delight.
"It’s a graphic novel, both in its vernacular term and in a more literal sense, violent and horrible and poetic at the same time – the sort of thing McCarthy might write if he were more interested in pirates than cowboys or Appalachians." -Chris Schweizer, SCAD professor, Robot6
"Depressing, existential AND romantic? I couldn’t sign up quickly enough for Chris Wright’s original graphic novel debut." -Graeme McMillan, Robot6
• Eugene, OR: The Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at the University of Oregon in Eugene, OR is hosting the exhibit GOOD GRIEF! Original Art from 50 Years of Charles M. Schulz's PEANUTS, and our own Gary Groth will discuss the importance of Charles Schulz's work within the larger tradition of newspaper strip comics. This event begins at 5:30 PM, and is co-sponsored by the UO School of Journalism. (more info)
Saturday, November 10th
• Seattle, WA: Ellen Forney will discuss her courageous new graphic memoir Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, & Me at the Seattle Public Library Central Branch at 7:00 PM. Her slide presentation in the Microsoft Auditorium will be followed by a book signing. Copies will available at the event. Admission is free. (more info)
Castle Waiting is the story of an isolated, abandoned castle, and the eccentric inhabitants who bring it back to life. A fable for modern times, it is a fairy tale that’s not about rescuing the princess, saving the kingdom, or fighting the ultimate war between Good and Evil — but about being a hero in your own home. The opening chapter tells the origin of the castle itself, which is abandoned by its princess in a comic twist on “Sleeping Beauty” when she rides off into the sunset with her Prince Charming. The castle becomes a refuge for misfits, outcasts, and others seeking sanctuary, playing host to a lively and colorful cast of characters that inhabits the subsequent stories, including a talking anthropomorphic horse, a mysteriously pregnant Lady on the run, and a bearded nun.
Linda Medley lavishly illustrates Castle Waiting in a classic visual style reminiscent of Arthur Rackham and William Heath Robinson. Blending elements from a variety of sources — fairy tales, folklore, nursery rhymes — Medley tells the story of the everyday lives of fantastic characters with humor, intelligence, and insight into human nature. Castle Waiting can be read on multiple levels and can be enjoyed by readers of all ages.
This week's comic shop shipment is slated to include the following new title. Read on to see what comics-blog commentators and web-savvy comic shops are saying about it (more to be added as they appear), check out our previews at the link, and contact your local shop to confirm availability.
128-page black & white 9.25" x 12.25" hardcover • $24.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-587-7
"...Chris Wright’s oversize debut graphic novel [is] a bloody seafaring tale about a man determined to do what it takes to meet his dead wife in hell. Wright’s first book, the short story collection Inkweed, was a helluva thing and I’m really anxious to see how he handles a longer, more sustained narrative." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"I’ve heard a lot of good things about Blacklung by Chris Wright, which is out in comic shops this week from Fantagraphics. So that gets my extra cash." – John Parkin, Robot 6
"A number of things *might* show up, ranging from Mickey Mouse to Prison Pit, but what Diamond is promising is Blacklung, the debut graphic novel of artist Chris Wright (of the Sparkplug story collection Inkweed), a 12.25" x 9.25", 128-page account of a schoolteacher’s sojourn aboard a ship of thugs, rendered in a fascinating cartoon style I can just barely approximate as a ‘second-generation underground comics’ look, although you really should just see for yourself." – Joe McCulloch, The Comics Journal
"...[M]y pick of the week is actually the Blacklung HC (Fantagraphics) from Chris Wright. This young upstart delivered the super interesting Inkweed from Sparkplug Comic Books a few years ago and I’ve anxiously been awaiting a big splashy follow up like this. It seems like Fantagraphics is noticeably starting to pluck ridiculous talent like this (paging Noah Van Sciver…) out of relative obscurity and give them a broader stage..." – Justin Giampaoli, Thirteen Minutes
"Finally, here's the reason we go to the comics shop: stand-alone work from talent with which we're either completely unfamiliar or not totally comfortable." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
Hurricanes can't stop comics! Visit Fantagraphics at the Brooklyn Comics & Graphics Festivalthis Saturday, November 10th from 12:00 - 7:00 PM! Our lovely Marketing, PR and Outreach Fiend Jen Vaughn will be bringing you the fun!
PROGRAMMING: These will all take place at The Knitting Factory [ 361 Metropolitan Avenue ], and the panels are free and open to the public:
11:00 AM // The Architecture of Comics: Ware, McGuire & Spiegelman: Comics are more than illustrated literature: they are the poetic application of structure to visual art. Their distinct modes of operation permit unique ways of exploring perception and expressing meaning. Richard McGuire, author of the seminal short comics story “Here,”Art Spiegelman, author of the modern classic Maus and works including In the Shadow of No Towers, and Chris Ware, author of Building Stories and Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth will consider the architecture of comics in conversation with Bill Kartalopoulos.
12:30 PM // Shape, Line and Color: Blexbolex, Carré & Schrauwen: Comics have traditionally been bounded by a visual approach that privileges a linear, outline-based approach to art that can survive historically poor methods of reproduction. As technology has developed and as comics have gained from contact with other areas of art, contemporary cartoonists have increasingly embraced a greater variety of approaches to producing narrative graphics. Bill Kartalopoulos will discuss developing aesthetics with Blexbolex(Seasons, No Man’s Land), Lilli Carré (Heads or Tails) and Olivier Schrauwen(The Man Who Grew His Beard).
4:30 PM // The Narrative Collage: Burns, Hensley & Ricard: The mainstream publishing industry has often imposed the standards of conventional literary fiction on the comics form, suppressing comics’ essential status as an assemblage of potentially—and productively—discordant fragments. Charles Burns (Black Hole, The Hive), Anouk Ricard (Anna and Froga) and Tim Hensley (Wally Gropius, Ticket Stub) will discuss the possibilities and pleasures of crafting narratives that capitalize on the collage-like qualities of the comics form—in matters of structure, style and format—in a conversation moderated by Tom Spurgeon.
So, pull on your galoshes and we'll see you there!
The third volume of Fantagraphics’ reprinting of Carl Barks’s classic Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge work, like the previous volume Uncle Scrooge: Only a Poor Old Man, focuses on the early 1950s, universally considered one of Barks’s very peak periods.
Originally published in 1951, "A Christmas for Shacktown" is one of Barks's masterpieces: A rare 32-pager that stays within the confines of Duckburg, featuring a storyline in which the Duck family works hard to raise money to throw a Christmas party for the poor children of the city’s slums (depicted by Barks with surprisingly Dickensian grittiness), and climaxing in one of the most memorable images Barks ever created, the terrifying bottomless pit that swallows up all of Scrooge's money.
But there's lots more gold to be found in this volume (literally), which features both the "The Golden Helmet" (a quest off the coast of Labrador for a relic that might grant the finder ownership of America, reducing more than one cast member to a state of Gollum-like covetousness) while "The Gilded Man" features a hunt for a rare stamp in South America — two more of Barks's thrilling full-length adventure stories.
But that's less than half the volume! This volume also features ten of Barks's smart and funny 10-pagers, including a double whammy of yarns co-starring Donald's insufferable cousin ("Gladstone’s Usual Very Good Year" and "Gladstone’s Terrible Secret"), as well as another nine of Barks's rarely seen one-page Duck gags… all painstakingly recolored to match the original coloring as exactly as possible, and supplemented with an extensive series of notes and behind-the-scenes essays by the foremost Duck experts in the world.
The most feathered pom-pom of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Interview: Steven Weissman is a popular man with his presurrealidential comic, Barack Hussein Obama. Comic Book Resources and Alex Dueben interviews Weissman on the evolution of a comic and re-engaging your audience.
• Interview:Comics Alliance's J. Caleb Mozzocco interviews Steven Weissman on Barack Hussein Obama. "The Barack Hussein Obama that ultimately emerges from the book is a pretty regular guy trapped in a comic strip, struggling to be all things to all people," states Mozzocco.
• Review:Jim Woodring's sneak peek at his sketchbooks that eventually became Problematic was up on BoingBoing before the video went 'kaput,' now there is Jim inking like a badass with a nib. You can still see sample pages here for Problematic. Video made and featuring the hands of Marketing Director, Mike Baehr, coming soon!
• Plug: Comics Reporter comments on a few of our releases from this week. In reference to The Cartoon Utopia, Tom Spurgeon states, "Ron Regé Jr. is one of those special cartoonists where I buy everything he does without asking questions first. On the strength of this latest collection, with which I'm only about halfway done, Lilli Carré may join that group of cartoonists much sooner than I thought possible. . . " with her collection of stories in Heads or Tails.
• Interview: Andrew Wheeler of Comics Alliance interviews Justin Hall, editor of No Straight Lines. "It's also a testament to how good those early creators were. Howard Cruse, Trina Robbins, Roberta Gregory, they're some of the best cartoonists in the business and they were doing work of surprising sophistication from the very beginning."
[For this installment of The Umpteen Millionaire Club (which perhaps should be renamed The Umpteen 1% Club for the occasion), The Comics Journal interns Kristen Bisson, Aiden Fitzgerald, Tom Graham, Janice Lee & Anna Pederson put together this series of discussion questions about Barack Hussein Obama by Steven Weissman for use in book clubs. – Ed.]
Barack Hussein Obama is a collection of absurdist four-panel gag strips featuring the Head of State, his family and numerous political friends and foes.
Barack Hussein Obama Book Club Questions:
What does this book have to say about Obama’s role as a statesman and/or figurehead?
Is this book making a political statement? If so, what is that statement?
Discuss the significance of characters’ transformations: i.e. head sizes, into birds, into trees.
What effect does showing the characters’ personal lives — even fictionally — have on our view of their political lives?
What picture does the book paint about the future of politics?
How is religion portrayed?
What does the book say about media culture in politics?
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