It should be a fun show for us. Seattle and King County boast two of the great library systems in America, so you know it should be a great ALA, and we'll be excited to show our hometown pride. Come ask us for great book, comics, restaraunt and tourist tips!
Also, out-of-town visitors please note! We'll be hosting a reception at the Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery that Saturday night from 4:30 to 6:00 PM following a Graphic Arts Guild workshop featuring Ellen Forney, David Lasky, Phil Foglio, and others. Stay tuned for more info.
ALA Midwinter Booth #2409: FANTAGRAPHICS BOOKS / W.W. NORTON
Earlier this month we wrapped up what has been my favorite project I've ever worked on. I've been pretty lucky to work on some amazing books by many of my favorite cartoonists, but this... this is something else. This is Crockett Johnson's BARNABY . This has been my #1 dream project for well over a decade, and it's now real.
Which is all to say, I'm genuinely thrilled to be the first one to present this sneak peek at Vol. 1.
If you're unfamiliar with BARNABY, let me allow Chris Ware to set the stage. This is from his introduction to Vol. 1:
"I never thought I'd see this day, but the book you hold is, well... the last great comic strip. Yes, there are dozens of other strips worth rereading, but none are this Great; this is great like Beethoven, or Steinbeck, or Picasso. This is so great it lives in its own timeless bubble of oddness and truth..." — Chris Ware
BARNABY is the long-lost comic strip masterpiece by Crockett Johnson, legendary children's book author (Harold and the Purple Crayon) and illustrator (Ruth Krauss' The Carrot Seed).
Featuring the misadventures of five-year-old Barnaby Baxter and his cigar-chomping, bumbling con-artist of a Fairy Godfather, J.J. O'Malley, BARNABY deftly balanced fantasy, humor, politics and elegant cartooning in a strip that captured the imaginations of kids and intelligent adults alike, including Dorothy Parker, Charles Schulz, W.C. Fields, Gardner Rea and Milton Caniff. We will be collecting in five volumes the entire, original ten-year run from 1942-1952.
Speaking of BARNABY superfans, our books are being designed by Daniel Clowes, which would sound more inspired if he weren't really the only man ever considered for the job. Dan is the person who first introduced me to the work of Johnson over 15 years ago, and I know this series means as much to him as anyone. I couldn't be happier with his designs. You've seen Dan's final cover for Vol. 1 above. Here's Dan's initial thumbnail rough from his sketchboook earlier this year; as you can see, he pretty much nailed it on the first take:
Here's a similar peek at one of Dan's initial "storyboards" for the book, this time for the opening spread of Jeet Heer's introductory essay:
... and here's the final, more-or-less identical final version, executed by our own esteemed Tony Ong and Clowes:
Dan makes things easy.
Here's a teaser of the entire jacket:
I can't end this post without mentioning my series co-editor, Philip Nel. Phil knows more about Crockett Johnson than anyone. Period. If you like Barnaby, please read Nel's definitive bio: Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss: How an Unlikely Couple Found Love, Dodged the FBI, and Transformed Children's Literature from the University Press of Mississippi.
In addition to his invaluable help behind-the-scenes, Phil has provided two indispensible resources for our first volume: a comprehensive biographical essay on Johnson focusing on the creation of Barnaby, as well as "The Elves, Leprechauns, Gnomes, and Little Men's Chowder and Marching Society: A Handy Pocket Guide," a stunningly comprehensive glossary to everything referenced in BARNABY. He'll even explicate formulas like this:
Anyway, there's much more to be had in this first volume, but I'm honestly reluctant to tip our hand too much. I can't wait for people to see this book. Featuring the first two calendar years of the strip, 1942-1943, you're in for a dense, rewarding treat. Look for it in stores by late-March or early-April (we'll update you as we go).
And once you finish Vol. 1, look for Vol. 2* in Spring 2014:
Well, I spent about four hours last night and this morning writing, formatting, linking and tagging a detailed SPX report that our flog system just decided to erase. So much for that. At least the photos were saved, so here you go, I don't have the patience to write it again. Let's just say SPX was indeed the Best Con Ever and leave it at that. I'm going to go punch a wall.
THE COMPLETE COMICS JOURNAL ARCHIVES JOIN THE UNDERGROUND AND INDEPENDENT COMICS ARCHIVE FROM ALEXANDER STREET PRESS
Fantagraphics Books, publisher of The Comics Journal, has announced a partnership with Alexander Street Press to make the complete archive of the The Comics Journal available as part of its Underground and Independent Comics online collection. This is the first-ever scholarly online collection for researchers and students of literary and underground comic books and graphic novels, and the inclusion of more than 25,000 pages of interviews, commentary, theory and criticism from the 35 year history of The Comics Journal marks a significant contribution to the academic study of the comics form.
“Most back issues of The Comics Journal are sold out and unavailable,” says Comics Journal founder and Fantagraphics President Gary Groth. “This will allow academics, critics, and historians access to the magazine that's covered the widest range of cartooning for the longest period of time. We believe Alexander Street Press' project serves an important cultural function and we're very pleased to be part of it.”
The Underground and Independent Comics online collection covers the works that inspired the first underground comix from the 1960s (such as works by Basil Wolverton and Harvey Kurtzman), to the first generation of underground cartoonists (including R. Crumb, Gilbert Shelton, Spain Rodriguez and many others) and encompasses modern sequential artists like Gilbert Hernandez, Jaime Hernandez and Daniel Clowes, with over 75,000 pages of comics from the 1950s to present. With the inclusion of The Comics Journal archives, scholars can now similarly trace the roots of comics criticism and have access to the Journal’s incomparable oral history of the field.
Institutions who have already subscribed or purchased the archive include the Library of Congress, British Library, Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Notre Dame and many others.
Comics have become an increasingly popular area of academic study, and yet the typical library has only a small selection of graphic novels in the catalog. Underground and Independent Comics solves this problem, collecting thousands of comics and related texts in one, easy-to-use online collection. With multiple combinable search fields, users can sort the materials in the collection by type, coloring, publication date, writer, penciler, inker, character, genre, publisher and more. Scholarship never before possible is now just a few keystrokes away.
“The chance to have access to 100,000 pages of underground and new wave comics in ways that were unimaginable a short time ago should change the face of comics research completely.” — James Danky, faculty of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Sooooo, I'm at Seattle's Pike Place Market yesterday morning with my daughter near the fish-throwing guys. We're standing out on the curb next to an empty cop car, waiting for a friend. The back seat windows in the cop car are rolled down and I just happen to catch something out of the corner of my eye. I look closer, between the bars, the backseat is completely empty aside from a large ziplock bag with something familiar inside...
Evidence of a crime scene? Something more nefarious? If there are any Seattle law enforcement officials who can shed some light on this mystery, do tell. Ellen, if you need a good lawyer referral, talk to Gary.
I've been going to Comic-Con for almost 30 years now, god help me. Sometimes I think I know downtown San Diego better than any town I've actually lived in. These are some of the things I think of when I think about Comic-Con:
• The Picadilly
• HateBall Tour 1993
• Scary bail bondsmen offices
• When you could easily park in the convention garage
• When Hall H was just a grassy knoll where you could hang out before the con opened
• When I cared about the Marvel and DC booths
• When I first met Gary Groth and he had a pony tail
• When I first met Dan Clowes and he charged me $10 for a sketch but not the cute girl in front of me
• When I showed Dick Giordano my portfolio as a teenager and he was incredibly encouraging
• Drunk late-night walks with Jaime back to the hotel
• Eisner Retailer Judging with Sergio Aragonés, who brought his guitar to kill time
• Sin Alley Cats, The Ol' Prospectors, and Action Suits with Rube Reuben at that Fanta golf course party
• Danzig's stripper room
• Riding elevators with Lou Ferrigno, the guy who played Chewbacca, and Stan Lee
• Being told on at least three separate occasions over three separate years "NO PHOTOS!" by an off-the-clock Lou Ferrigno (including in the elevator)
• Selling comics to Leonardo DiCaprio, who had just flown in via helicopter with Gaston from Meltdown
• Eisner tears
• Jack Kamen's kiss
• When I realized that the Playboy back issue dealers didn't check ID
Someone buy THIS for me? There was a time that we had this painting in the Fanta offices for awhile, during production of the first GHOST WORLD hardcover edition in 1996 or 1997. It's much larger in person than it was ever reproduced. I loved it so much I made a full-size color xerox of it that I still have. I'll just have to get that framed, I guess. *sigh*
Richard Sala has just made available for sale the entirety of the original art for his classic strip from BLAB!, "The Prestigious Banquet To Be Held In My Honor." I always loved this strip, and the price is right. Go here to BUY NOW! Heck, even if this particular strip is more than you can afford, Richard has a variety or other art for sale on the Comic Art Collective site as well, along with art for sale by many other great cartoonists.
Some 16 to 17 years ago, I formed a vague friendship with a young writer named Joshua Glenn under the most tenuous of possible ways for sincere friendship to incubate: between the professional relationship of writer (him) and publicist (me). I have enjoyed Josh's vision and intellect and from the first issue of his zine, HERMENAUT (one of the unequivocally great periodicals of the 1990s), and thru his more recent endeavors, like the website HILOBROW . Through some minor miracle, we've managed throughout the years to have some reason, however ambiguous at times, to stay in touch.
And now! Full circle! It's 2012, and our friendship risks being crushed by the burden of professionalism yet again: this time as publisher / author. (And you thought the writer/publicist relationship was dicey!)
See, Josh and his brilliant co-conspirator, Rob Walker, have created this book called SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS. And we are publishing it. And it is wonderful! And I am proud! And the first advance copies have just arrived!
Seriously, putting this book together with Josh and Rob and Jacob Covey was one of my favorite book experiences ever, and now it exists! And it is BEAUTIFUL! This is the part of publishing that never gets old. I insist that when you see it in a bookstore, you pick it up. Feel it. Fondle it. Flip thru it. It begs to be fetishized. It doesn't feel like a normal book. You'll see, you'll see... It feels more... significant.
Attn: Flog Faithful... posting might lessen a bit this week as we continue to navigate the brutal, nine-day convention gauntlet that is Stumptown, MoCCA and TCAF. To ease your cravings, we bring you an exclusive Flog! report from our Tobacco Road Correspondent Rob Clough. -- Ed.
Joe Sacco gave a lecture and Q&A to an audience of about a hundred at Duke University on 4/24/2012. He said that this was probably the last time he was going to give this particular lecture on Comics Journalism. If you haven't seen it, Sacco gives an account of his working method by talking about the ways in which the comics page is an ideal construct for delivering multiple and often conflicting and contrasting forms of information. For example, in a page from Palestine, there's a heavy background emphasis on how rainy the weather was at the time and how uncomfortable that made everything. In each panel, you could see grey clouds following around Sacco and his friend and mud on their feet. Sacco noted that in prose, it's difficult to emphasize the constant nature of physical discomfort without being awkward. He said that you couldn't simply add the phrase "and there was mud on their feet" at the end of every sentence. Sacco repeatedly said how important accuracy is to him, from gettng the quotes right to trying to find out what a building or neighborhood might have looked like fifty years ago. For some aerial views that he didn't have access to (noting wryly that the governments of Egypt and Israel weren't about to grant him permission to fly over the settlements in Gaza), he simply used drafting skills and perspective to figure out what things would look like from above. Sacco also went into some detail about how he composes each page. On pages where there is violence or chaos, he favored a fractured panel arrangement where the reading order was made deliberately unclear for the reader, to reflect the chaos of the situation. On another such page, there was a spider-web of panels, where you could follow one character along one web to see what's happening with them, but the overall page had no set structure in terms of what order to read things in.
He talked about about how he represents himself in his comics, noting that he hides his eyes as a way of telling the reader that you're not getting every bit of info about him as a part of the story. He said that in choosing how he chooses to represent his experiences, he was conscious of how he affected the narrative, and more to the point, how the story affected him. When asked if he ever felt the urge to intervene or help in particular situations, he said that the works themselves were his form of intervention. Sacco told me that he's quite aware of other comics journalists operating, like Suzie Cagle, Dan Archer, Josh Neufeld, etc, though he wasn't necessarily an avid reader of anyone else in particular. I asked him about his feelings regarding the "embedded journalism" he did with the US military; he said that the experience is what you made of it, but that he didn't encounter a lot of grief in finding out things he was interested in. Similarly, he answered no when I asked him if his long-form journalistic works were a repudiation of the 24-hour, brief news cycle. He said that he depends on that news cycle to a certain extent and that it has its place. Instead, he said that he sees his work as a repudiation of shallow journalism.
Unsurprisingly, Sacco was warm and friendly with the long line of attendees who were having their books signed (many of which were provided by Duke's excellent Gothic Bookshop). He said that one reason why his touring is going to slow down is that he's going back into research and drawing mode. He has not one, but two books coming out this June. The first is Journalism, a collection of his short journalism stories that appeared in a variety of venues, and many of the stories were not published in the US. That one will be 208 pages. Also coming out is a book he's doing with Chris Hedges called Days Of Destruction, Days Of Revolt, which is about urban decay and the rise of a permanently doomed underclass in the US. Finally, he said that his current project involves research into Mesopotamia, partly because he had to get away from doing books about modern war zones. He said that he's going to work in aspects of his long-promised Gentleman's Guide To The Rolling Stones in the book. -- ROB CLOUGH