Prison Pit blends Angry Youth Comix creator Johnny Ryan’s fascination with WWE wrestling, grindhouse cinema, first person action video games, Gary Panter’s “Jimbo” comics, and Kentaro Miura’s “Berserk” Manga into a brutal and often hilarious showcase of violence like no other comic book ever created. Even the lead character’s name, which is only one letter away from “Cannibal Duckface” (hint: “Cannibal” is correct) is unprintable.
Prison Pit is so deranged and twisted that even the author’s plot description, while admirably reflecting the spirit of the book, has to be edited into a sea of asterisks in order to be bearable to normal human beings: “A mysterious new a**hole has descended into the Prison Pit. He’s looking for Cannibal F***face and he wants revenge. Revenge for what? Probably for some f***ed up evil s***. But before he can get his hands on the CanMan he’s got to battle his way through some pretty vicious motherf***ers. S***’s about to get real.”
Well, yes, exactly.
"Hey are you doing any more scary guys made out of tar ripping each other's dicks off? You know why I like those? Because you don't have to read all them stupid words and stuff. Right? Haa ha, hey Johnny wanna come over and play? Ha Ha!" – Tony Millionaire
"Here Mister Kupperman," he said, thrusting a manuscript into my hands. "Publish this, and let the world read of my adventures."
My name is Mark Twain, and I write these words to you in the good old days of August 2010. "What's that," you say? "Didn't you die a hundred years ago, you old coot?"... The truth is I never died, but the same old rumors got exaggerated and then a bunch of other stuff happened, so people forgot I was still alive.
And with that preface, the celebrated man of letters — thought to be dead for a hundred years but actually surviving due to a wizard's spell — returns with a sequel to his best-selling autobiography, aided and abetted by humorist and cartoonist Michael Kupperman. From WWI to the Great Depression, WWII to Woodstock, and through the present, Twain details his careers as an ad man, astronaut, hypnotist, Yeti hunter, porn star, drifter, grifter and more, rubbing shoulders and having never-before-told adventures with many major figures of the 20th Century.
Michael Kupperman describes the book further:
"A mix of illustrated writing and comics, this volume follows Twain as he navigates the Twentieth Century and makes his way into the Twenty-First. His adventures are tense, scary, sexy, mischievous, and sometimes embarrassing. Twain spills the dirt on his secret love affairs with Marilyn Monroe and Mame Eisenhower, tells about his spying and private detective work, and dishes about his involvement in film, TV and advertising. The time he took LSD, the day he tried to hypnotize a donut clerk. Where he first met Einstein and how they travelled through time together. How to build your own raft and the life of a hobo. And who really killed JFK…? All this and much, much more."
The Man Who Grew His Beard is Belgian cartoonist Olivier Schrauwen’s first American book after having staked a reputation over the last decade as one of Europe’s most talented storytellers. It collects seven short stories, each a head-spinning display of craft and storytelling that mixes early twentieth-century comics influences like Winsor McCay with a thoroughly contemporary voice that provokes and entertains with subversively surreal humor and subtle criticism of twentieth-century tropes and images. The stories themselves, though each stands alone, are intertwined thematically, offering peeks into the minds of semi-autistic, achingly isolated men and their feverish inner worlds and how they interact and contrast with their real environment. Though Schrauwen taps "surrealist" or "absurdist" impulses in his work, you will not read a more careful and precise collection of stories this year.
The stories included are: “Hair Types,” a hilarious piece that on the surface explores the pseudoscientific classification of personality as a function of hair but becomes something more akin to a fable about self-fulfilling prophecy; “Chromo Congo,” a silent story about two men on safari who meet a corpulent and obnoxious hunter; as well as “The Task,” “The Man Who Grew His Beard,” “The Lock,” “The Cave,” and “The Imaginist.”
Though this is Schrauwen’s first U.S. edition of comics, he has wowed American fans with his appearances in the anthology MOME over the last few years, and one of his MOME stories was one of three comics selected for the 2009 edition of Dave Eggers's influential Best American Nonrequired Reading.
“I don’t know much about Olivier Schrauwen, [but I] know that he’s some sort of postmodern comics genius.” — Eisner Award-winning comics critic Tom Spurgeon
Joe Kubert is one of the great comic book artists. His career literally traverses the history of comics, beginning in 1938 when he became a professional at age 12, to today as one of the greatest draftsmen working in the field. Kubert is known and respected as much for his sinewy, passionate drawing as he is for his consummate storytelling skills. Over his 70-year career in comics, he has worked as an artist, an editor, a publisher, an entrepreneur, and a cartooning auteur. The Art of Joe Kubert is a deluxe, full-color coffee table book that honors this legendary creator with beautifully reproduced artwork from every phase of his career as well as critical commentary by the book’s editor, comics historian and Kubert biographer Bill Schelly.
Schelly’s text parallels the visual evolution of the artist’s work, tracing his life and career from his early days drawing Hawkman in the Golden Age, to his creation of Tor, his involvement in creating 3-D comics in the 1950s, his tour de force stints on DC’s war comics — Sgt. Rock, The Unknown Soldier and the groundbreaking Enemy Ace — in the 1960s, to illustrating the adventures of Tarzan in the 1970s. And before finding a creative safe haven at DC Comics in the ’50s, Kubert drew for many smaller and more obscure companies, including Holyoke, Quality, Fiction House, Harvey, St. John, and others — all of which are represented, including a 50-page section of comic-book stories in the horror, crime, and SF genres from the pre-Comics Code era, reprinted in full color for the first time.
Although Kubert is known for his contributions to pop culture icons such as Tarzan and Sgt. Rock, he has also invested his creative energy in more personal projects over the last 20 years, including journalistic and historical graphic novels such as his Eisner Award-winning Fax from Sarajevo and Yossel: April 19, 1943, all of which are illustrated along with Schelly’s insightful analysis that places these later, more mature works in the context of Kubert’s career.
David B., the creator of the acclaimed Epileptic, gives full rein to his fascination with history, magic and gods, not to mention grand battles, in this literate, witty, and absorbing collection of stories — all based on historical fact, or at least historical legend, and delineated in a striking stylized two-color format.
“The Veiled Prophet”: During the 8th century (the time of Harun al-Rashid, the Caliph of 1001 Nights fame), Hakim al-Muqanna, the lowly Persian fabric dyer, is assaulted and enveloped by a piece of white cloth come from the sky. When a bystander recognizes in the folds of the cloth the visage of Abu-Muslim, defender of the oppressed, al-Muqanna becomes a prophet and great leader — and within a year his followers have defeated seven armies sent to stop him!
“The Armed Garden,” set in the 15th century, tells the story of the bloody quest for a Paradise on Earth. Rohan, a humble Prague blacksmith, is visited by Adam and Eve, who urge him lead his fol- lowers, soon dubbed “Adamites,” on this mission. They soon must contend, bloodily, with the rival Paradise-seekers the “Taborites,” led by John Zizka.
“The Drum Who Fell in Love,” a sequel of sorts, begins with Zizka’s death: His people have him skinned and his skin stripped onto a drum, and the drum, speaking in Zizka’s voice, leads the Taborites into battle anew. But the touch of a beautiful girl softens Zizka’s spirit, and the unlikely couple begin a journey together…
Special Offer: Order The Armed Garden and Other Stories and add David B.'s Babel #2 to your order for half price! Make your selection when placing your order.
• Review: "In this Golden Age of Comic Strip Reprints, Gottfredson's Mickey Mouse was, I had long assumed, the one that had gotten away.... It should go without saying that Fantagraphics has done their usual stellar job in regards to editorial presentation... and design... In addition to over two and a half year's worth of the strip, the book contains an impressive amount of introductory material and contextual essays... There are other neat bonus features, such as cover images from foreign editions collecting storylines from the strip. As for the comics themselves, they entertain on a couple of levels. First, it should be of interest to comics fans as one of the Great Comic Strips Of All Time.... The comic strip should also be of great interest to Disney aficionados, as it represents one of the earliest transitions of the animated characters into another medium..." – Patrick Markfort, Articulate Nerd
• Review: "This is a comic book that feels like a video nasty. Its characters could well have been discovered from drawings scratched into school desks, its plot may well have been cribbed from the insane diary of a 9 year old. But that is what makes the 2 volumes of Prison Pit (published to date) so brilliant and unique. Writer/Artist Johnny Ryan has taken all those dreams, that desensitisation to violence, and our eagerness to doodle the grotesque, and turned it into a full ongoing epic.... Prison Pit is insane; it is a title that simply shouldn’t exist outside of a teenager’s head. But it does, and it’s brilliant. A forgotten level of comedic violence, an absence of exposition and dialogue that all reduces down into a paste of pure barbaric fun." – Kevin Scully, Comicsphere
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