The Cleanest Mug in the Kitchen of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review:Booklist reviews the Mysterious Traveler: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 3, by Steve Ditko and edited by Blake Bell. Gordon Flagg notes these horror stories feature "Ditko’s distinctly off-kilter drawings and boldly potent composition" and the "meticulous restoration means that the stories look far better here than they did upon their original appearances."
• Review:Booklist enjoys Mort Meskin's Out of the Shadows, edited by Steven Brower. "Meskin’s powerful compositions add a fitting dynamism to superhero tales featuring the Black Terror and Fighting Yank. His bold use of shadows and other solid black areas impart a moody atmosphere to horror and crime stories, and even the romance and sci-fi pieces included here benefit from his economic illustration style and attractive page designs," writes Gordon Flagg.
• Review:Black Gate picks up Linda Medley's Castle Waiting: Volume 2 for a good read. John O'Neill stated, "it retold the fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty (sort of), as seen by an odd cast of mostly minor characters. It was well written and beautiful, feminine in perspective and mood, incredibly slow-paced, and wholly original. I loved it."
• Interview: Gary Panter spent a whole hour talking to Benjamen Walker on the Too Much Information show at WFMU about life, Dal Tokyo, the evolving medium of comics and more.
• Interview: New Statesman interviews Chris Ware on Building Stories, Jimmy Corrigan and the time inbetween books. "Kim Thompson at Fantagraphics was really willing to experiment [with format]; I remember how much he and I sweated the idea of putting out a comic book that was just 1/2" shorter than the standard format in 1993."
The indefatigable Gilbert Hernandez has already turned in his cover to next Fall's Love and Rockets: New Stories #6, featuring "Killer" in a pose and milieu that long-time LR fans will find familiar (and which picks up from the storyline in #5). That issue's stories will also tie into the life-of-Luba graphic novel "Poison River," albeit in an unexpected way.
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.
As TCJ.com's Joe McCulloch notes in his "Conflict of Interest Reservoir," "Oh wait, we’ve still got $100+ of good-looking Fantagraphics books to cover."
112-page full-color 7.25" x 9.25" hardcover • $22.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-623-2
"When it comes to splurging, I’m going to be topical: Steven Weissman’s surreal, alternate take on the life and times of our current president, Barack Hussein Obama (Fantagraphics, $22.99) just may contain an explanation for that sleepy debate performance last week, if nothing else." – Graeme McMillan, Robot 6
"I’ve heard a bunch about Steven Weissman’s Barack Hussein Obama, a cracked fantastic vision of the contemporary political scene, and now it’s time to witness its 112 pages on my own." – Joe McCulloch, The Comics Journal
"This book advertises on this site, but there's no talent in comics exactly like Steve Weissman and this book is bound to hit at a key moment in history: Obama's win of a second term or his defeat at the polls." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
"Set in a surreal, parallel universe, Barrack Hussein Obama's odd world is really no stranger than our own. In our world, politicians exist with the protective Beltway Bubble, but in BHO politicians are made to live in the world they create via their policies." – Benn Ray (Atomic Books), Largehearted Boy
228-page black & white/color 9.25" x 9.25" hardcover • $35.00 ISBN: 978-1-60699-499-3
"If I had $30, I’d... steal $5 from somebody — anybody — to get my hands on Vol. 2 of Buz Sawyer: Sultry’s Tiger. Buz doesn’t have quite the same pep as Roy Crane’s Captain Easy, but the art is much more professional and lush and beautiful. Besides it’s Roy Crane, and even middle grade Crane is miles and miles better than just about any other cartoonist around." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"Roy Crane proffers 228 pages of vintage derring-do with Buz Sawyer Vol. 2: Sultry’s Tiger." – Joe McCulloch, The Comics Journal
Just in time for the presidential debates and November election season, Fantagraphics and comiXology are proud to release the brand new Barack Hussein Obama for digial download. Steven Weissman's surreal view on the time and the powerful man in the world is too funny to be true. This book represents a whole, fully-realized parallel America, a dada-esque, satirical vision that is no more cockeyed than the real thing, its weirdness no more weird, its vision of the world no more terrifying, where the zombie-esque simulacra of Joe Biden and Hillary and Newt and Obama wander, if not exactly through the corridors of power, through an America they made and have to live in, like it or not. The book twists and turns with regular beats and mini-adventures including a feathered-Obama.
Didn't Mitt Romney mention shutting down or killing a 'Big Bird' of some kind? Don't let Malia or Sasha Obama hear that. In Weissman's universe, they are unstoppable, punny forces of nature running around in a Nancy-Drew fashion.
We just had to share this adorable poster that Gilbert Hernandez designed for APE: the Alternative Press Expo, going down this coming weekend, Saturday, October 13th and Sunday, October 14th at the Concourse Exhibition Center in San Francisco, CA! I have to confess, I didn't even recognize the poster as Gilbert's artwork at first... I mean, the ape's boobs aren't nearly big enough! (I kid, I kid!)
Marketing Mix Master Mike Baehr took this shot of the original art -- whatta perfect primate!
Don't forget -- you can meet Gilbert, along with his bros JaimeandMario Hernandez, this weekend at APE! Signing times and panels below:
• 5:45 PM // Spotlight on the Hernandez Brothers: 30 Years of Love and Rockets: The creators of the acclaimed Love and Rockets discuss the trials, tribulations, and joy that go into writing and drawing a series for over 30 years! Jaime, GilbertandMario Hernandez, talk to Andrew Farago (Cartoon Art Museum) about their three decades on one of comics' most popular and acclaimed indie series.
• 2:30 PM // "Gigantes" Walk Among Us!: Almost 100 years of cartooning takes the stage as APE special guests Jaime, GilbertandMario Hernandez of Love and Rockets fame join legendary MAD cartoonist Sergio Aragonés to discuss how their Latino/Hispanic experiences contributed to their amazing comic art. Join moderator Ricardo Padilla (Latino Comics Expo) as we celebrate these unique creators of this American artform.
This week it is time for terror in an uncomfortable way what only Hans Rickheit can create. All 161 pages of Folly: Consequences of Indiscretion is now available via comiXology to haunt you. This volume is a steam punk descendent of the counterculture comics of the '60s, and is as wildly imaginative and richly artistic as it is subversively sexual and violent.
This digital edition includes an exclusive story, "Sigmund Freud," a tribute to Jack Kirby which does not appear in the print edition! Originally distributed into the world as Xeroxed pamphlets, these "underground comix" reflect the true nature of its nomenclature: Here are the archeological findings of the subterranean ruins of the psyche. Finally, these scattered elements have been compiled into a compact, lushly illustrated bedside reader. Give your cerebellum a tug and become a spelunker of the subconscious as we trespass among the scorched archaic wastelands of the offspring of apes and fools. Here we find the profane, beautiful progeny of prurient ideals. Immerse yourself in the nocturnal meanderings of unnamed protagonists. Ponder the uncomfortable sexuality of the twins, Cochlea & Eustachia. Recoil at the doings of a dwarfish malefactor in "Hail Jeffrey," or simply stare at the pretty pictures. Suffice to say that readers of The Squirrel Machine will not be disappointed especially for only $18.99.
When asked about his work, Rickheit instructs you not misuse this tome. Keep it as your own cherished object; a shameful, guarded secret. The filter for reality’s blinding glare. Detritus of the Under-Brain. The Unspeakable Thing You Always Knew.
"It's as if other masters of visual bodyhorror — Cronenberg, Burns, Dan Clowes, Tarsem Singh — are weird by choice. Rickheit, it seems, just can't help it. There's a conviction to his creepiness, a compulsive nature even in his early draftsmanship." -S.I. Rosenbaum, The Boston Phoenix
In one of the most eagerly-anticipated graphic novels of 2012, Soldier’s Heart concludes the story of Carol Tyler and her delving into her father’s war experiences in a way that is both surprising and devastating — and rather than trying to summarize this episode and thus possibly spoil it for readers, we prefer to simply offer a selection of comments on the first two installments of this autobiographical masterpiece.
Publishers Weekly: “(Starred Review) In the first volume of Tyler’s planned trilogy of graphic memoirs, she dug into the eruptive, violent memories of her father’s WWII experiences while simultaneously dealing with a husband who decided to go find himself and leave her with a daughter to raise. [Book Two] is no less rich and overwhelming. Tyler gets back to the business of detailing her father’s war stories — difficult given that he is ‘one of those guys who closed it off and never talked about it’ — as well as coming to terms with her already touchy parents’ increasingly ornery attitudes. Closing the circle somewhat is Tyler’s concern over her daughter’s troubled nature, which seems to mirror her own wild past. While the language of Chicago-raised and Cincinnati-based Tyler has a winningly self-deprecating Midwestern spareness to it, her art is a lavishly prepared kaleidoscope of watercolors and finely etched drawings, all composed to look like the greatest family photo album of all time. The story’s honest self-revelations and humane evocations of family dramas are tremendously moving. Tyler’s book could well leave readers simultaneously eager to see the third volume, but also nervous about the traumas, home front and war front, that it might contain.”
Booklist: “Tyler’s fluid, expressive linework, complemented by subtly overlaid watercolors, gives ideal visual expression to a narrative that’s at once sensitive and hard-nosed... Decades of drawing mostly autobiographical stories have honed her skills, enabling her to produce a work that ranks in quality with the graphic memoirs of Alison Bechdel (Fun Home) and Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis).”
Within his tiny village, Ralph Azham is considered an insolent good-for-nothing layabout, a virtual pariah — particularly since he was supposed to be a Chosen One. (Things didn’t work out.) Yet his odd azure coloration and a few unique abilities (he can predict births and deaths) suggest that there may be more to him than meets the eye. And when the terrifying Horde stages one of its regular raids on his village, Ralph takes the young Raoul under his wing and sets out for a series of adventures...
Trondheim is already well known to fantasy buffs for the worldwide success Dungeon, the complex set of interlocking series he created with fellow cartoonist Joann Sfar and a raft of artists. While Ralph Azham works within the same genre, this is a far more tightly focused, single-character-starring new series for which Trondheim is solely responsible — that is, except for the stunningly rich coloring, provided by his longtime collaborator Brigitte Findakly working in hand-executed watercolors for the first time in over a decade.
Witty and fleet-footed like all of Trondheim's work, madly inventive in terms of characters, creatures, and events, Ralph Azham is scheduled to run for at least six volumes and is presented in a distinctive "landscape" format.
"Trondheim is a master! Fun, irreverent, and filled with moments of truthiness! Just when you think you know where he's taking you, he suddenly turns sideways and surprises." – Jeff Smith, creator of Bone
In 1970, William S. Burroughs and artist Malcolm McNeill began a small collaborative project on a comic entitled The Unspeakable Mr. Hart, which appeared in the first four issues of Cyclops, England’s first comics magazine for an adult readership. Soon after, Burroughs and McNeill agreed to collaborate on a book-length meditation on time, power, control, and corruption that evoked the Mayan codices and specifically, the Mayan god of death, Ah Pook. Ah Pook Is Here was to include their character Mr. Hart, but stray from the conventional comics form to explore different juxtapositions of images and words.
Ah Pook was never finished in its intended form. In a 1979 prose collection that included only the words from the collaboration, Ah Pook is Here and Other Texts (Calder, 1979), Burroughs explains in the preface that they envisioned the work to be “one that falls into neither the category of the conventional illustrated book nor that of a comix publication.” Rather, the work was to include “about a hundred pages of artwork with text (thirty in full-color) and about fifty pages of text alone.” The book was conceived as a single painting in which text and images were combined in whatever form seemed appropriate to the narrative. It was conceived as 120 continuous pages that would "fold out." Such a book was, at the time, unprecedented, and no publisher was willing to take a chance and publish a “graphic novel.”
However, Malcolm McNeill created nearly a hundred paintings, illustrations, and sketches for the book, and these, finally, are seeing the light of day in The Lost Art of Ah Pook. (Burroughs’ text will not be included.) McNeill himself is an exemplary craftsman and visionary painter whose images have languished for over 30 years, unseen. Even in a context divorced from the words, they represent a stunning precursor to the graphic novel form to come.
Sara J. Van Ness contributes an historical essay chronicling the long history of Burroughs’ and McNeill’s work together, including its incomplete publishing history with Rolling Stone’s Straight Arrow Press, the excerpt that ran in Rush magazine, and the text that was published without pictures.
Observed While Falling is an account of the personal and creative interaction that defined the collaboration between the writer William S. Burroughs and the artist Malcolm McNeill on the graphic novel Ah Pook Is Here. The memoir chronicles the events that surrounded it, the reasons it was abandoned and the unusual circumstances that brought it back to life. McNeill describes his growing friendship with Burroughs and how their personal relationship affected their creative partnership. The book is written with insight and humor, and is liberally sprinkled with the kind of outré anecdotes one would expect working with a writer as original and eccentric as Burroughs. It confirms Burroughs’ and McNeill’s prescience, the place of Ah Pook in relation to the contemporary graphic novel, and its anticipation of the events surrounding 2012. The book offers new insights into Burroughs’ working methods as well as how the two explored the possibilities of words and images working together to form the ambitious literary hybrid that they didn’t know, at the time, was a harbinger of the 21st century “graphic novel.” McNeill expounds on the lessons of that experience to bring Ah Pook into present time. In light of current events, Ah Pook is unquestionably Here now.
Observed While Falling presents a unique view of the creative process that will be of interest to artists, writers and general readers alike. A perspective evoked by a literary experiment that has endured for forty years and still continues to “happen.”
• Review:Dal Tokyo by Gary Panter is listed in The Times of UK as one of the essential books for Chris Ware. Ware says "Gary Panter is the William Blake of comics; a true poet who sees and feels what the rest of us can't, and he's done more to expand the power of drawing in the medium thatn probably anyone else alive." Original article here.
• Interview: Cartoonist and creator of Jimmy Corrigan, The Smartest Kid on Earth Chris Ware is interviewed by Phawker by Rita Book.
• Commentary: ArtVoice visits the Spain Rodriguez retrospective at the Burchfield Penney Center in Buffalo, NY. Jack Foran says,"Rodriguez was a kind of incorrigible rebellious type. . . when abstract expressionism with its two-dimensionality principle was dogma—he was into three-dimensionality, in spades—and his blue-collar employment in Buffalo area manufactories, where the curriculum was the much more interesting subject to him of simmering socioeconomic class warfare."
• Review: Rob Clough of High-Low reposted his Seqart post on Megan Kelso and The Squirrel Mother. Cough states, "What makes Kelso one of my favorite artists is her total devotion to the medium and a constant desire to improve. . . Kelso's art is all about the narrative. Every word and every line advances the story; there are no extraneous pyrotechnics. Indeed, Kelso's line is more elegant than spectacular."
• Review:Publishers Weekly enjoys Love and Rockets New Stories #5. "In the 30 years they’ve been writing and drawing Love and Rockets, Los Bros Hernandez have created wonderfully complex story lines and characters. . . This web of superior magical-realistic storytelling involves readers in the perplexed yearnings of a huge cast of unforgettable characters unaware of their own capacity for general self-delusion and occasional self-discovery."
• Commentary: Hannah Means-Shannon contines her SPX coverage with more on the Bros on The Beat. On the "Life After Alternative Comics" panel, Jaime Hernandez and Daniel Clowes spoke about the past and present of their comics-making environment. "Dan Clowes addressed the 'wasteland' of comics in the early 1980’s and the origin of his LLOYD LLEWELLYN series and the strange, often intriguing piles of fan mail he received from readers and prison inmates."
• Interview: Also on Phawker is an interview of Charles Burns, creator of Black Hole. He weaves stories by "paying close attention to the way my brain functions. I sit and write every day and it amazes me how often I repeat myself – come up with the same “brilliant” solution to a plot thread only to discover notes from years earlier where I’ve already clearly laid out the same ideas."
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