You can add one more posthumous laurel to Hal Foster's already-impressive pile of achievements: New York Times Best Selling Author. Prince Valiant Vol. 4: 1943-1944 shows up at #8 on this week's Hardcover Graphic Books top 10 list. It comes as no surprise to us: we've been selling out multiple printings of the series as fans old and new have been snapping the books up. What else would you expect from one of the greatest comics of the last (or any) century?
Can you make an exciting comic out of insomnia? Kevin Huizenga rises to the challenge as he depicts his alter ego Glenn Ganges wrestling with sleeplessness, trying to trick it by reading a particularly abstruse book, obsessively breaking his past, present and future life down to ever more hallucinatory, complex grids, and wandering around his darkened house trying not to wake up his wife. Also: Loose cat action!
What happened to Paul Nelson? In the '60s, he pioneered rock & roll criticism with a first-person style of writing that would later be popularized by the likes of Tom Wolfe and Norman Mailer as "New Journalism." As co-founding editor of The Little Sandy Review and managing editor of Sing Out!, he'd already established himself, to use his friend Bob Dylan's words, as "a folk-music scholar"; but when Dylan went electric in 1965, Nelson went with him.
During a five-year detour at Mercury Records in the early 1970s, Nelson signed the New York Dolls to their first recording contract, then settled back down to writing criticism at Rolling Stone as the last in a great tradition of record-review editors that included Jon Landau, Dave Marsh, and Greil Marcus. Famously championing the early careers of artists like Bruce Springsteen, Jackson Browne, Rod Stewart, Neil Young, and Warren Zevon, Nelson not only wrote about them but often befriended them. Never one to be pigeonholed, he was also one of punk rock's first stateside mainstream proponents, embracing The Sex Pistols and The Ramones.
But in 1982, he walked away from it all – Rolling Stone, his friends, and rock & roll. By the time he died in his New York City apartment in 2006 at the age of seventy – a week passing before anybody discovered his body – almost everything he'd written had been relegated to back issues of old music magazines.
How could a man whose writing had been so highly regarded have fallen so quickly from our collective memory?
With Paul Nelson's posthumous blessing, Kevin Avery spent four years researching and writing Everything Is an Afterthought: The Life and Writing of Paul Nelson. This unique anthology-biography compiles Nelson's best works (some of it previously unpublished) while also providing a vivid account of his private and public lives. Avery interviewed almost 100 of Paul Nelson's friends, family, and colleagues, including several of the artists about whom he'd written.
Bruce Springsteen says, "He is somebody who played a very essential part in that creative moment when I was there trying to establish what I was doing and what I wanted our band to be about."
This is a landmark work of cultural revival, a tribute to and collection by one of the unsung critical champions of popular art.
The signed, limited-edition 2-color silkscreen print for David B.'s August, 2008 exhibit at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery features imagery from his short story "The Armed Garden," collected in 2011 in The Armed Garden and Other Stories. Signed by the artist, in an edition of 75. We are pleased to now offer this item to our mail-order customers!
Printed in black and metallic bronze on white heavy bond paper. Designed by Adam Grano; printed by Art Garcia in Seattle, WA.
This week's comic shop shipment is slated to include the following new titles. Read on to see what comics-blog commentators and web-savvy comic shops are saying about them (more to be added as they appear), check out our previews at the links, and contact your local shop to confirm availability. (Please note we have several additional explanatory notes below as well!)
352-page black & white/color 8.75" x 11.25" hardcover • $45.00 ISBN: 978-1-60699-513-6
NOTE: The hardcover edition is already sold out from the distributor! This means that once a shop sells out of their initial shipment, they won't be able to order more copies. So if you want it and your store has it, pounce!
"A new edition (in both hardcover and paperback) of Jim Woodring's early Frank stories, which are utterly wonderful -- the first one, 'Frank in the River,' is my single favorite comics story ever at least 20% of the time. I can't think of much other art that's both so unironically devoted to pleasure and entertainment (in this case, in the form of funny-looking animals doing amusing things in colorful, inventively odd settings) and so deeply, primally unsettling and ambiguous." – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
"...[I]f you're a fan of any and all good things in life you definitely want the Frank work by the great cartoonist Jim Woodring in as many forms as you can pull it across the table and into your lap." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
"A softcover edition of Woodring's landmark Frank features an anthropomorphic cat in a pyschedelic world." – Benn Ray (Atomic Books), Largehearted Boy
"...I’d pick up the second volume of Floyd Gottfredson’s Mickey Mouse. The first volume was a real treat, not just in terms of reintroducing myself to Gottfredson’s stellar work, but also in the sheer amount of incisive historical information about the strip, Gottfredson and his various Disney helpers. I’m sure Vol. 2 will be more of the same." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"These Floyd Gottfredson-created adventure strips following the early years of the now-neutered corporate icon are everything you want from a feature like this: exuberant, lovely-looking and a lot of fun." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
32-page two-color 8.5" x 11" comic book, with jacket • $7.95 Part of the Ignatz Series
NOTE: Again, this title is not on the official shipping list but we have confirmed reports that some stores received it last week and we believe it should be available everywhere tomorrow. Again, check with your local shop blah blah blah.
"Kevin Huizenga has blessed us all with another issue of Ganges, totally unexpected and entirely wonderful. Let's not disappoint him." – Chris Butcher, The Beguiling
"CONFLICT OF INTEREST RESERVOIR: My other favorite comic of 2011 so far is Jim Woodring’s Congress of the Animals, though I confess a lot of the effect it had on me (elation) was due to having lived with the mechanics and boundaries of Woodring’s wordless storytelling for so long that deviations from it proved meaningful – as luck would have it, new hardcover and softcover editions of The Frank Book are out this week to catch you up on most of the major stuff; $34.99 ($45.00 in hardcover). Elsewhere in ambulating creature-things, Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse Vol. 2: Trapped on Treasure Island offers more from Floyd Gottfredson and his hungry team of pre-Imagineers; $29.99. And while it’s still not on Diamond’s list, keep an eye out for Kevin Huizenga’s Ganges #4, which I understand has floated into a store or two, maybe; $7.95."
(I should also note that The Manara Library Vol. 1 is out this week from Dark Horse, translated by our very own Kim Thompson. I'd sure like to see his "Adventures in Translation" notes for THAT series.)
• Feature: At Maclean's, Jaime Weinman gets to the bottom of Pogo - Vol. 1 of the Complete Syndicated Comic Strips: Through the Wild Blue Wonder, talking to co-editor Kim Thompson and calling the volume "the first book that gives a full sense of what it was like to read Kelly’s pioneering strip from the beginning. The first volume goes up to 1950, when Kelly began to incorporate more pointed humour...; the McCarthy character hasn’t shown up yet, but allegories about Communist witch-hunting already pop up. But the darker daily strips alternate with cheerful Sunday installments, demonstrating that Kelly never lost his sense of charm and whimsy. And it helps that because of the book format, what San Francisco Chronicle columnist Jon Carroll called Kelly’s 'love of high-flown language' is more legible than it often was in newspapers."
• Review: "...Kevin Huizenga's latest volume of Ganges [is] a work that is so inventive and playful and thoughtful and that offers such a breathtaking level of technical virtuosity that it makes me want to climb up onto a rooftop and scream at the top of my voice 'COMICS ARE FUCKING AWESOME' like some sort of lovesick geeky schoolboy in a bad 1980s teen comedy asking the prom queen to date him." – Jason Sacks, Comics Bulletin
• Plug: Mark Kaufman spotlights Mark Twain's Autobiography 1910-2010 by Michael Kupperman at Illustration Age: "The very much alive Samuel Clemens’ story is told from WWI to the present. Twain details his careers as an ad man, astronaut, hypnotist, Yeti hunter, porn star, drifter, grifter and more. Find out why this book has been getting rave reviews from NPR to The Hollywood Reporter to Andy Richter’s Twitter stream."
This drawing of Wonder Woman by Gilbert Hernandez is on eBay now for the benefit auctions for 2011 Women of Wonder Day (formerly known as Wonder Woman Day), the annual charity event that raises money and awareness for (anti-) domestic violence programs, taking place on October 30 this year.
• Review/Interview: "Leslie Stein is a pretty lady who made a comic [Eye of the Majestic Creature] in which she is a cute/gross little humanoid with eyes that are like coins and a best friend who is a guitar. Her comical alter ego is named Larry Bear and her guitar's name is Marshy. They live in a house in a field, but it's pretty clear that almost everything they experience is some joked-up fantasized autobiographical story. It's hard to know what's based on reality and what isn't, and which characters are based on real folks and which are just supposed to be Leslie's internal feelings personified.... Leslie's work communicates an urban loneliness that I relate to a lot, seeing as we live in the same place. It's cute and sad and familiar, especially if you're 30 or under." – Nick Gazin, who also talks to Leslie at Vice: "I think for the most part she represents the lighter side of my personality. I'm happy when I'm drawing and I hope that comes across through her on the page, in whatever situation she is in. She dresses a bit weirder than I do, so that's fun. I'm not really a shy person, but I feel like I'm constantly embarrassing myself. She doesn't have that self-consciousness."
• Review: "Post-apocalyptic stories tend to be grim, but The Hidden is very dark indeed.... The book feels like a modern-day gothic horror. The survivors are metaphors for humanity, with a heroic few battling an onslaught of monsters, human or otherwise. Humanity is on the brink of extinction, and still people bring out the worst in one another.... Sala’s illustration is compelling... ★★★★ [out of 5]" – Grovel
• Review: "[Kevin] Avery’s book, Everything Is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson, is an admirably unorthodox construction that starts with a bracing 180-page biography of Paul followed by a 265 page collection of Nelson’s music writing, primarily that from the seventies focusing on the artists he was particularly drawn to.... What’s impressive about Avery’s biographic half of the book is that he’s produced both an intimate personal bio and a comprehensive professional bio as well. He’s talked to virtually everyone who Nelson inspired or mentored in rock criticism starting in the latter half of the sixties and into the Rolling Stone years. These knuckleheads are a who’s who of American rock criticism, God help us." – Joe Carducci (SST Records, Rock and the Pop Narcotic), The New Vulgate
• Review: "I was looking forward to this new book [Setting the Standard] a/ because it's Alex Toth and b/ because it reprints 60 stories, Toth's entire contribution to the catalogue of a long defunct publisher whose material we rarely see reprinted.... Toth's work has long been admired for its distilled simplicity of black and white design, but these early pages fizz and bubble with life.... The book under discussion is from Fantagraphics, with the original printed pages restored in all their colours by Greg Sadowski, who put the whole package together with extensive notes..." – Eddie Campbell (via The Comics Reporter)
• Plugs: Brian Ralph's choices for his guest contribution to Robot 6's weekly "What Are You Reading?" column include Captain Easy Vol. 2 by Roy Crane ("It’s a fun combination of action and laughs. Sometimes very serious and other times very cartoony, in both story and art style. I just love the way Roy Crane draws these goons. And the colors! The palettes are unusual and beautiful.") and Setting the Standard: Comics by Alex Toth 1952-1954 ("I’ll read one of these [stories] before I go to bed. I like that in a short page count he quickly develops a rich story and twilight zoney twist. Sometimes it’s a bizarre romance or horror story with a stunning conclusion. They’re a fun read.")
• Review: "Brief but witty dialogue and black humor come together in a brutal satire of deception, torture and the death penalty. This comic is a good comedy that combines the sense of adventure and intrigue of Jason's comics, his 'tempo' and narrative tone, with a trio of protagonists who I came to appreciate in very few pages. Emotion, gags, surprises, and an ending that you do not expect. Isle of 100,000 Graves is an original and very enjoyable read that keeps Jason as a safe bet in the shopping cart. Between tenderness and cruelty, of course the contribution of writer Fabien Vehlmann to the Norwegian cartoonist's particular universe could not have been more successful." – Alita News (translated from Spanish)
• Review: "Warm-hearted, deceptively heart-wrenching, challenging, charming and irresistibly addictive, Love and Rockets: New Stories is a grown up comics fan’s dream come true and remains as valid and groundbreaking as its earlier incarnations — the diamond point of the cutting edge of American graphic narrative." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Interview:The Comics Reporter 's Tom Spurgeon talks to backbone Mome contributor T. Edward Bak about his experience at Boomfest in St. Petersburg, Russia: "There were so many things going on. There were people interested in all of the presentations. They took place over four or five hours, in three or four different centers. A lot of artists were there. For these kinds of presentations, it was other artists attending. It was like APE: you have people that are making comics or are interested in making comics."
• Interview: At The Comics Journal, Matt Seneca enjoys a studio visit and thoughtful discussion with Gary Panter: "That’s one of the games that modern art plays: where does it go, and what does it affect by trying to go? And so, usually in fine art, you’re making a kind of pregnant or puzzling object, or some object that has presence and which calls to people, hopefully. It arrests them for a second and various things happen, whereas in a comic, I want people lying in bed reading it. I want people lying in bed and reading it, and you forget you’re reading it, and you go in the story, and you’re like, 'Whoa! What happened?' And you either remember it or you don’t."
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