• Review: "...[From Shadow to Light: The Life and Art of Mort Meskin] is extremely informative and truly wonderful... Evocatively written by creative/art director, designer, educator and biographical author Steven Brower, with dozens of first hand accounts from family, friends and contemporaries; the sad, unjust life of this major figure of popular art is fully explored and gloriously justified by every miraculous page of his work reproduced herein. [...] Brilliant, captivating, utterly unforgettable and unknown, Meskin’s enforced anonymity is finally coming to an end and this magical chronicle is hopefully only the first step in rediscovering this major talent." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Review: "[Mort] Meskin... deserves to be treasured by all comic fans and studied by all artists of the medium. Now, at last, he gets some of the attention he is due in From Shadow to Light: The Life & Art of Mort Meskin by Steven Brower. [...] On display in this book are amazing examples of comic art. [...] The biographical portion of the book is enlivened by vivid detail from many personal recounts by artists and friends Meskin worked with and his own sons... Overall... this book is an incredible testament to an incredible talent and hopefully it will encourage more comic fans to learn about Meskin and seek out some of his work." – Rich Clabaugh, The Christian Science Monitor
• Review: "Four Color Fear is a lovingly accumulated and organized collection of... stories starring ghosts, ghouls, zombies, demons, and monsters of all stripes. [...] Four Color Fear offers some nice bonus features too, which elevate it from being a simple compilation of reprinted stories. [...] In case I haven’t made this clear yet: this book is tremendous. [...] For fans of the genre, [editor Greg] Sadowski has performed a valuable service — rescuing these stories from obscurity and reminding us that, yes, EC was one of the important publishers of its era — only one of many. [Rating] 9/10" – David Maine, PopMatters
• Review: "One of the consolations of being obscure is the knowledge that you'll never have to wake up in a world where Drew Friedman has caricatured you. Friedman's pen is relentless and his eye is merciless: every foible, every wrinkle or blush or spot is seen clearly and depicted precisely. ...[T]here hasn't been a book like Too Soon? before, and it's been needed. So the answer to the question's title is: no, not at all. If anything, it's long overdue." – Andrew Wheeler, The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.
• Reviews: The new episode of Easy Rider, the radio show for "rock, punk rock, country, power pop, garage and comics" from Radio PFM out of Arras in northern France, features Lucky in Love Book 1 by George Chieffet & Stephen DeStefano, Locas by Jaime Hernandez, and Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me by Peter Bagge among their Comics of the Week
• Review: "Love and Rocktober" continues at Attentiondeficitdisorderly as Sean T. Collins looks at Jaime's Perla La Loca: "So what conclusions are we to draw from all this? It's taken me a while, but I've come to the conclusion that drawing a conclusion is the wrong thing to do. There's not some message being sent here about, I dunno, punk or fluid sexuality or sex work, which are sort of the common threads of the two big stories here... The message, I think, is simply to be found in the fact that there are two big, separate Maggie and Hopey stories here. They're not symbols, they're people."
• Interview: Jesse Tangen-Mills conducts the first of two interviews with Johnny Ryan at The Comics Journal: "At first my Mom thought this would be a nice hobby for me. She never liked the idea or thought I could make a living out of it. Now, she seems to appreciate it a bit more. I do send her my books because she asks for them. I don’t think I would otherwise."
• Interview: The second interview with Johnny Ryan at The Comics Journal, conducted by Ian Burns, was originally meant for this blog, but deemed Too Good for Flog: "...I felt, by doing research, I’m completely undermining the work. It goes back to my whole thing about seeing like a teenager’s action comic. Teenagers don’t think about, 'Well, I need to take an anatomy course,' [Burns laughs] 'before I draw my mutant planet war.' They just fuckin’ just go and just jump into it. So I had that same vibe."
Special guest Larry Storch regaled the lucky SRO crowd at Drew Friedman's Too Soon? signing at Desert Island in Brooklyn on Friday night with a short set of jokes and anecdotes, captured on video. Wonderful! Gabe of Desert Island promises to post audio of the entire presentation shortly, so we'll be sure to bring you that as soon as it's up.
Join us at the Alternative Press Expo at the Concourse exhibit hall in San Francisco this weekend! You can find us at tables 113-116 (a different location than the past couple of years, for you APE vets out there). Myself and our Ambassador of Awesomeness Janice Headley will be staffing the table. Our signing and panel schedule is as follows:
12:00 - 1:00PM Spotlight on Megan Kelso, moderated by Marc Weidenbaum
Collecting 2 years of strips 2007-2009. More booze-soaked buffoonery, lyrical passages, violence, sentimentality, and poop jokes with Drinky Crow & Uncle Gabby. Lowbrow yuks and elegant cartooning from comics' true drunken master.
"Tony Millionaire’s Maakies does not appear on the comics pages of daily newspapers, but lurks darkly instead in our nation’s alternative weeklies...
"Uncle Gabby, a monkey, and Drinky Crow, an alcoholic crow, are characters of pure, ginned-up id, engaging in high jinks that range from the boobish to the bizarre: making 'booze cream' from the milk of drunken cows in one panel, going to prison to have time to read Swinburne in the next. The humor is often so lowbrow as to be subterranean. If Gasoline Alley is preoccupied with life's slow unfolding, Maakies is fascinated by its swift, violent ends. It is difficult to count the times Gabby or Crow have been mutilated, shot in the head, eaten, burned in hell.
"And yet Millionaire, raised by an art-teacher by the sea, can draw the living spit out of a ship or a giant squid. It is just as likely that Maakies will feature one character vomiting into another’s mouth as it will a wordless, befuddling, beautiful parade of intricately rendered church spires and tall buildings. It sways this way between the very low and the very high; the only applicable adverb here is drunkenly, for as the name might suggest, there is a lot of boozing in Drinky Crow's life. This may offend (or may be the least of the offenses), but I would bet if you counted Crow's tipples against the number of highballs the Lockhorns had consumed, it'd come out even. And in his surrealist impulse and draftsman’s brio, Millionaire is the closest thing we have to George Herriman of Krazy Kat."
Dave Cooper and Johnny Ryan graced us with their presence at our Bookstore & Gallery last night to celebrate the release of their respective new books Bent and Prison Pit Book 2 and a fine time was had by all. Thanks to everybody who came out and made it a bustling crowd on a rainy Saturday night! For those who couldn't make it (or would like to relive the experience), browse our photoset, which includes shots of all of Dave's drawings on exhibit. We'll post pics of Johnny's visit to Floating World in Portland and from Dave's other book tour stops when they turn up.
Today's (and yesterday's — sorry for the interruption) Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: "Yes, [Special Exits] is a heartbreaking — even harrowing — tale, one made all the more moving and immediate by the creator’s nuanced gift for capturing the essence of her parents on the page. But it’s also a tale told with consummate skill, filled with mordant humor and real compassion, an almost embarrassing amount of candor, and a deep abiding love and respect for its subjects. [...] Ultimately, it’s these simple and true moments of mundane magic which marks Special Exits as more than just one of the best books released this year. It is, without a doubt, also one of the most significant contributions to the comics medium this side of the millennium, a modern masterpiece which celebrates the human condition." – Bill Baker, ForeWord Reviews
• Review: "Ultimately, ...the book churns itself into a seething sludge of psychic toxicity that’s less a shockfest and more a satire of existence itself. Mercilessly graphic and superbly unspooled, Prison Pit funnels the fantastic, violent notebook sketches of the middle-school miscreant into a funny, pulsing, disgustingly purgative eruption. [Grade] A-" – The A.V. Club
• Review: "Prison Pit Two is one of the most gruesome and beautiful new comics I've seen. It's the comics equivalent of Voivod's Rrröööaaarrr. Buy buy buy. Die die die." – Nick Gazin, Vice
• Review: "There have been plenty of comic-book memoirs, but few with the complex structure of You’ll Never Know, which seems at times to be rambling from topic to topic with no clear direction, until it unexpectedly circles back to an earlier point and makes the purpose of one tiny anecdote clear. Because this is still a work-in-progress — and an idiosyncratic one at that — it’s too early to tag it as a masterpiece. But damned if it isn’t well on its way. [Grade] A-" – The A.V. Club
• Review: "With each passing year, Bill Griffith’s venerable comic strip Zippy the Pinhead gets weirder, moving away from direct social commentary and toward a more abstract expression of Griffith’s worldview. The latest Zippy collection, Ding Dong Daddy from Dingburg, is dominated by a long tour through a town run by pinheads — an absurdist spin on consumer utopia that rivals Superman comics’ Bizarro World for its down-is-up jargon and attitudes. The joke? That this is more or less the America of the early 21st century... [Grade] B" – The A.V. Club
• Review: "The Hernandez Brothers have... been on a constant incline. They never treaded water or plateau'd. In fact this issue, the third issue of the third volume [of Love and Rockets], is one of the very best things they've ever done. [...] This is a perfect volume by guys who've been getting perfecter all the time. [...] At their worst the Hernandez Brothers make work that's merely good and entertaining. At their best they make this." – Nick Gazin, Vice
• Review: "Adele Blanc-Sec is a sort of actiony, science fictiony comic for people who aren't retarded. It's like a Europeaner Hellboy or Indiana Jones. [...] This isn't my absolute favorite Tardi book — there's slightly too much dialogue and slightly too many characters with mustaches to keep up with — but it's still a fucking masterpiece. Everything he draws and the moods he conveys are worth the price of admission alone." – Nick Gazin, Vice
• Review: "In [Mome] Vol. 19, [editor Eric] Reynolds shifted gears and used fewer but longer entries to put together perhaps the single best issue of the entire series (only Vol. 12 surpasses it in my estimation). Beyond its quality, Mome Vol. 19 also seems to be the issue that best reflects Reynolds’ taste as an editor. Reynolds has always been more on the underground side of the fence than in the literary fiction camp when it comes to comics. This issue’s mix of the transgressively funny, pulpish noir, surrealism, scatology and innovation was sequenced in such a way that every transition from story to story was nearly seamless. More importantly, the stories frequently complemented each other in a way that acted as a form of editorial storytelling on its own. [...] Secrets and mysteries are at the core of every story in this volume, and Reynolds expertly put together this jigsaw puzzle of styles and visual approaches to create a coherent, deeply affecting book. It’s certainly on my short list of best comics of the year." – Rob Clough, The Comics Journal
• Review: "Mome... is where the smart kids with the sharpest pencils, shiniest pens, biggest brushes and best software go to play before they blow your minds in great big award-winning graphic novels. It is intense, sometimes hard to read and crafted to the highest production standards. Considered by most to be the successor to Art Spiegelman’s Raw, it doesn’t come out nearly often enough. [...] This volume is perfect for newcomers to jump aboard... Whether you’re new to comics, currently searching beyond the mainstream or just want something fresh; these strips and this publication will always offer a decidedly different read. You may not like all of it but Mome will always have something you can’t help but respond to. Why haven’t you tried it yet?" – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Review: "Jacques Tardi's masterful It Was the War of the Trenches was originally published in Europe in 1993, and thanks to Fantagraphics it has finally made it to the U.S. It was worth the wait. [...] I was nauseated. I was horrified. I was transfixed. Everyone should read this book and relearn the lesson that war is not diplomacy by other means, but the most hellish, useless and destructive tool at our disposal, and should be found somewhere past the last resort." – Andrew A. Smith, Scripps Howard News Service
• Review: "An effective biography and a great showcase of classic comics artwork, [Fire and Water: Bill Everett, the Sub-Mariner and the Birth of Marvel Comics] provides an intriguing look into the life of a man who played an important role in the shaping of the creative side of the comics industry. [...] Abetted by plentiful examples of Everett’s illustrative prowess (both at his peak and when in the depths of addiction), it’s a valuable tool for anybody interested in the history of the medium or the men behind their favorite stories and characters. And it’s fortunate that men like Blake Bell and publishers like Fantagraphics are committed to telling these stories so that we don’t lose sight of our roots." – Michael C. Lorah, Newsarama
• Review: "Do you ever stop to think that David Lynch's work doesn't make sense? No, not in that way — I don't mean in terms of story logic, I mean in terms of his aesthetic/generic approach. [...] Something about what Lynch does, the confidence with which he does it, makes it feel seamless, like 'of course' rather than 'what the?'. Looking at the cover for The Girl from H.O.P.P.E.R.S., I realized the same is true of Jaime Hernandez's comics. [...] He created his own kind of story." – Sean T. Collins, Attentiondeficitdisorderly
• Review: "To call it 'comic book as nightmare' would certainly sound too glib by half and too cliche by whole orders of magnitude, and yet nothing else provides so apt a model for the kind of experience Columbia has crafted here. [...] In short, Pim & Francie is a monumental achievement. Columbia's brilliance is on full display... to some of the most truly dreadful effect I've ever experienced." – Curt Purcell, The Groovy Age of Horror (via Sean T. Collins)
• Plug: "Stephen DeStefano and George Chieffet's new book Lucky in Love was recently released by Fantagraphics Books and I just received a copy courtesy of the artist so I want to plug one of my favorite artists working in comics and animation. As always Stephen's art is amazing. Pick up a copy today!" – Kevin Langley, Cartoons, Model Sheets, & Stuff
• Plug: "I escaped LA for a week and spent time relaxing in Seattle with some of my favorite people. On the way to the airport, we made a spontaneous stop at Fantagraphics Books, a place I never heard of before. They describe themselves as a publisher of 'comics for thinking readers – readers who like to put their minds to work, who have a sophisticated understanding of art and culture, and appreciate personal expression unfettered by uncritical use of cliché.' So, if you’re looking to read bland, mainstream superhero comics, you won’t find them there. [...] If you ever find yourself in Seattle, you won’t regret stopping at the store. A bonus is the record store that shares the same space with the bookstore." – What's Good With It
• Profile: "Jason is a Norwegian graphic novelist/comic book artist who makes the finest short stories. [...] It’s beautiful to see how Jason has refined everything; stripping away anything that could be considered filigree, cutting out any words that don’t need saying. He has mastered the barely story, telling imperceptible narratives vaguely inferred, and a crispness of drawing that ignores unnecessary fill. All that remains is a wry sociopathy you can’t help but fall in love with. Jason is the best thing I’ve come across in the last couple of years." – Gregory Povey, Mount Analogue
• Interview:Comics Comics' Dan Nadel, who says "As a [Mort] Meskin admirer (I put a Golden Lad story in Art in Time) I am thrilled to have a beautifully made book that showcases his thoughtful, vividly executed and highly influential work," talks to the author of that book, From Shadow to Light, Steven Brower: "There were two things that drew me to his story. The first was the mystery of why someone who began so strong, influencing his peers, faded so quickly from view. The second attraction: his personal story. Mort was someone who suffered greatly at times emotionally and overcame his struggles. I felt there was a larger story to tell than just someone who was a very good artist."
• Interview:Comic Book Resources' Kiel Phegley talks to Jean Schulz about the Peanuts 60th Anniversary: "I say I'm 'condemned' to keep learning more about the comic strip because I didn't take it seriously enough when Sparky was alive. That's sort of a joke, but it's true. You can go back over them again and again and look at them in different thematic settings."
• Commentary: At Trouble with Comics, Alan David Doane imagines a Peanuts spin-off strip called Shells, sort of a Rosenkranz & Guilderstern Are Dead to the Hamlet of Peanuts
Following the collection What I Did (Nov./Dec.) and the new album Isle of 100,000 Graves (next Spring), Jason is working on a new as-yet untitled collection of short stories à la Low Moon, and here's the first page of one of the stories (before translation and color). Head to Jason's Cats Without Dogs blog to see a larger version and some brief notes from Jason.
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