Ray Fenwick is all up on and in the current issue of Canadian literary magazine Grain. "The spectacular full-of-words-and-questions artwork is by Ray Fenwick, this issue’s Featured Artist — Ray’s gorgeous jealousy-inducing cover alone is reason enough to pick up this issue!" says they, and who are we to disagree?
Our own Jason T. Miles has joined in the efforts to benefit the family of Dylan Williams of Sparkplug Comics by gathering donations of artwork and auctioning them on eBay. Current offerings include Peter Bagge's original cover for Neat Stuff #5 (above) and pieces by our own Eric Reynolds and Jason himself, with an interpretation of a cover of one of Williams's Reporter comics (below). Click each image to go directly to the respective eBay auction page. Upcoming auctions from Jason will include work by a who's-who of Seattle cartoonists, including Max Clotfelter, Jeremy Eaton, Megan Kelso, David Lasky, Marc Palm, Greg Stump and more. Meanwhile, the "Divine Invasion" benefit auctions organized by Floating World's Jason Leivian continue as well, with some great pieces including original pages by Kevin Huizenga (bottom). Bid early, bid often.
Jason Vanderhill of Vancouver Is Awesome dug up these rare 1972 illustrations by Rand Holmes for Rohan's Record Store (not included in our Holmes retrospective The Artist Himself) for "Illustrated Vancouver," a series of articles on visual depictions of the city throughout history. Nifty!
• Review: "David B.'s newest, The Armed Garden and Other Stories, finds the creator turning his gifts to the world of historical legend. The subject may be different but the artist's mysterious and melancholy style saturates every panel; what's more, the three graphic novellas collected in The Armed Garden provide him with plenty of opportunities to draw the epic battle scenes he so loves.... The Armed Garden and Other Stories is the witty, finely executed work of an artist uniquely capable of capturing both the fervid ecstasy of belief and the dull, heartsick ache left behind once it cools." – Glen Weldon, NPR.org
• Review: "In Mark Twain's Autobiography 1910-2010, Adult Swim contributor and comics creator Michael Kupperman (Snake 'n' Bacon) reworks [Hal] Holbrook's Twain as a Zelig-like immortal cruising through a century of life after his 1910 death.... Some of the tales are hilarious koans of absurdist comedy — Twain as the unknown fourth astronaut on the Apollo 11 mission is fabulous. Although it sometimes has the feel of a Saturday Night Live skit stretched into a feature film — perfect in small doses but unsustainable over a longer haul — the premise is too good to abandon." –Andy Lewis, The Hollywood Reporter (reviewing the book in tandem with Holbrook's memoir Harold: The Boy Who Became Mark Twain)
• Review: "Kupperman is a comedic genius. Filled with deliberately odd syntax, wizards, snarky dialog, vampires, outer space adventures, car UFO chasing, and nearly every significant event of the past one hundred years Mark Twain’sAutobiography [1910-2010] is easily the funniest thing that I have read in a very, very long time. Come to think of it, I don’t think I have ever read anything funnier. Nearly every page had me rolling. It wasn’t just a chuckle or even a hearty guffaw, either. It was maniacal hysterical, snorting, crying, temporarily not breathing, and contorting my body into uncomfortable shapes type of laughing. It’s that goddamn funny. So funny, in fact, that I would be entirely satisfied if Kupperman went ahead and decided to write the biographies of everyone else, ever." – Zack Kruse, A Little Nonsense
• Review: "Love And Rockets: New Stories Vol. 4 contains the conclusion to the recent run of 'The Love Bunglers' stories — again with a heartbreaking digression into the past.... This is incandescent work. At this point, Jaime Hernandez draws comics better than maybe anyone's ever drawn comics. The story is beautifully paced, there are at least two stop and stare sequences in there..., the characters are warm and human and funny, one of the subplots addresses with significant insight and potency Jaime's long-time fascination with the power of memory in providing life with meaning and the ending made me choke up both as a moment with resonance across decades of comics but also for the thematic twist it provides on something we've seen in the last few appearances of Jaime's best character... I don't know that it's something you can pick up out of the blue, but my God, what a remarkable comic. I'm so grateful to have read it." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
• Review: "Congress of the Animals might be my least favorite Woodring book, but it’s still overall strong and compelling. I love the fact that Woodring has made a huge, fundamental change to the world of Frank, and that in doing so it still feels like an old familiar friend. I’m not sure just anyone could have pulled this off so late in the game, but with Woodring it feels like a natural extension of everything we’ve seen up until now. There’s no other comics quite like Woodring’s out there, and I’m forever thankful that we get these amazing, disturbing, wonderful creations from him. After all, a 'merely good' comic from Woodring is still better than most other comics out there." – Greg McElhatton, Read About Comics
• Interview: If you read one interview with Johnny Ryan, make it Jesse Pearson's epic, revealing talk with Johnny at The Comics Journal: "When I was first doing book one of Prison Pit, I felt like even though it was about monster men and fighting and all that shit, it was revealing more about myself than any of my earlier works. I removed a lot of that aggressive humor that was working as my armor."
• Interview:Panel Bound's Matthew Manarino talks to Freeway creator Mark Kalesniko: "I like doing comics, as you saw in Freeway, I like doing some comics with detail, I like to go in and show people a world and paint it and draw it. With Freeway I can take you to downtown Los Angeles and really give you a tour.... With Freeway and even Mail Order Bride I wanted to give you something where it’s not a crude drawing but give you a layout so you really feel like you're there. There is also a joy with that kind of work were you can come back to it over and over again and always find something new." (Mark's advice for submitting work to publishers is great, by the way.)
• Feature: In "Graphic Medicine" at Comics Forum, M.K. Czerwiek (RN) spotlights Joyce Farmer's Special Exits in an article on comics dealing with hospice care issues
• Lissa Pattillo of Kuriousity, who inadvertently helped break the news on Twitter, comments: "I’m really looking forward to reading Heart of Thomas. It piqued my interest after coming up a number of times during conversations re: Moto Hagio and Drunken Dream. We’ve got a year to wait but for almost 500+ pages, hardcover, and a classic manga we’d only dream of any other publisher releasing, it’ll be well worth it!"
• Brigid Alverson's MTV Geek coverage of our announcement provides excellent background on the book and its creator
• "Moto Hagio fans have a whole lot more to be happy about as Fantagraphics has announced that they’re following up their release of A Drunken Dream and Other Stories with Heart of Thomas come next August. The company put a lot behind the release this past year and it garnered them a lot of critical acclaim both from the in the know manga crowd but also from the mainstream side, making it much easier to jump into another prestige style release from the celebrated mangaka." – Chris Beveridge, The Fandom Post
"The comics medium has grown adept at translating legendary stories from history... In The Armed Garden and Other Stories, the French artist David B. adapts less well-known, but no less interesting, mythic tales of man and their interactions with god(s).... The stories are held together by the artist’s sense of humor and tone, not to mention the striking, not-quite-black-and-white, two-toned art. The reader can’t help but smile as a goose leads a warrior to battle a man who has become a star. One of many fantastical events juxtaposed with a to the point, almost ho-hum narration, suggesting the idea that these legends are common occurrences. If only that were so."
• Review: "This latest in Fantagraphics' line of books featuring Jacques Tardi and the second of those books to feature an adaptation of the work of Jean-Patrick Manchette is lovely-looking, stylish and bleak as hell.... The short third act, where we learn what becomes of the assassin, proves so ruthlessly depressing it's almost a human rights violation. Tardi's artwork is beautiful here, although you probably already knew that. No one in comics does the frowning face better than Tardi, and Like a Sniper [Lining Up His Shot] proves to be an absolute showcase of down-turned mouths and the unhappy people bearing them.... What a show." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
• Review: "These are two masters at their best [in Like a Sniper Lining Up His Shot]. Crime novelist Manchette pulls no punches in delivering gritty, violent episodes that still can shock even the most jaded reader. Jacques Tardi’s confident, almost brazen artwork is just as dark, cold and gripping. His beautiful fluid lines juxtaposed with the stark ambivalence Martin Terrier, the contract-killer antihero adapts in applying his brutal trade is something that has to be experienced. Get this book!" – "Horatio Hornblower," The Comic Book Snob
• Review: "Undisputable fact: a new full-length Richard Sala book is a literary and comics event that makes you sit up and take notice. It's appointment reading, and ought to demand the attention of any serious enthusiast of the medium.... The newest from Sala is the graphic novel The Hidden... This book is a magic trick, the kind you'll want to share with friends because you can hardly believe what you've witnessed when it's all done.... Around the hundred page mark this book started scaring the living shit out of me. Sala's art is wonderful and holds up to a close analysis.... Like his peers from Fantagraphics' all-star squad, Sala conveys internal truth (fear, pride, jealousy) through body language and a minimum of lines. There's not a jot or gesture wasted on the page, and his color work is loose and instinctive but still pleasing." – R.J. Ryan, Comics Bulletin
• Review: "...[Johnny Ryan] is easily one of the four or five most vital and important cartoonists working today. Prison Pit is like someone making a comic strip out of Mayhem's Live in Leipzig, played at half speed and double the volume your speakers can safely process. If you've never heard that album, then I'll spell it out for you: this is a brutal fucking comic.... The cosmic brutality of Ryan's story is emphasized by his lingering gaze. He doesn't just draw the big action moments, but the lulls and gaps and silences between them. The pace is non-stop, but that doesn't mean it can't slow down. In fact, it's those slowed-down sections that give the skull-smashing and throat-fisting the impact that they deserve." – Patrick Tobin, Multiversity Comics
• Plug: "Prison Pit 2 was TACO’s book of the year in 2010, and Prison Pit 3 is the early frontrunner for 2011. Featuring the series’ characteristic extreme ultra-violence, gore, scatophilia, and brutality, it’s another hit from artist Johnny Ryan." – L.A. TACO
• Review: "Here's the plot of Mark Twain's Autobiography [1910-2010]: Mark Twain, freed from the shackles of mortality, bums around the Twentieth Century doing whatever the hell he feels like and occasionally having untroubling yet far-fetched adventures.... Kupperman maintains a straight face throughout this look into the world that might have been, had Mark Twain roamed the earth, immortal and more than a little strange. This poker-faced treatment of juvenile, abstracted humor pays off in strokes both broad and small." – Patrick Tobin, Multiversity Comics
• Review: "Very few words are needed in Weing's debut graphic novel [Set to Sea] to tell the story of a poet wanna-be who is kidnapped by pirates and learns the ways of the sea through hard labor and even tougher battles. The cross-hatch styling is reminiscent of old engravings and perfectly suits the subject matter. Each page features just one frame, full of detail and atmosphere. With hints of The Odyssey, Moby Dick, Popeye and Treasure Island, Weing has created a modern classic in the pirate genre." – School Library Journal
• Plug: "Artist, editor, entrepreneur, publisher and cartooning auteur; in his 70-year career in comics this pioneering creator has done it all. The deluxe full-color coffee table book [The Art of Joe Kubert] traces Kubert’s history of comics spanning career from 1938 to the present with beautifully reproduced artwork alongside critical commentary." – "Horatio Hornblower," The Comic Book Snob
• Plug: "David B. intertwines history and myth in his carefully crafted tales of magic gods and grand battles. A master storyteller, his bold, timeless artwork and literary senses creates a kind of magic all their own. The Armed Garden and Other Stories collects three epic tales of adventure, faith, power, and love." – "Horatio Hornblower," The Comic Book Snob
• Scene: Daniel Herbert reports on the Friars Club launch party for Drew Friedman's Even More Old Jewish Comedians for The Paris Review: "The crowd’s spirits were high, which seemed due to more than just the release of Friedman’s book, or even the emergence of more canapés. Guests were happy to meet their idols; the comics were happy to convene for an event that wasn’t a funeral. And the celebration of the comedians’ Jewishness was significant."
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