We've written too many obituaries on Flog already this year. I'm saddened to contribute another. We learned this morning that Josep Maria Berenguer, founder of the legendary Spanish comics publishing house Ediciones La Cúpula , passed away last night after a battle with lung cancer. We have lost a friend here at Fantagraphics, and a colleague with whom we've had a very fruitful relationship with for over 20 years.
I first met Josep Maria Berenguer in, I believe, 1995 or 1996 on a trip to Barcelona with my good pal Peter Bagge . We were there for the Barcelona Comics Festival as guests of the Festival and La Cúpula, along with Aline Crumb and Tanino Liberatore, amongst others.
It was the first time in Spain for both Pete and I. La Cúpula had just begun publishing HATE, under the title ODIO , with savvy translations by a young editor/writer named Hernán Migoya and lettering by a talented cartoonist, Nono Kadaver (both of whom have become two of my best friends over the succeeding years; yet another reason to be grateful to Sr. Berenguer). We were treated like royalty and it was a trip I'll never forget. Pete and I have routinely fantasized about moving to Spain over the years since that trip.
Josep Maria was one of the most charismatic and generous hosts I've ever known. He was a natural storyteller, funny, politically incorrect, but also incredibly charming. Not in a typically macho, latin way, he was much more refined. He was an ex-hippie radical with a worldly air about him.
He clearly relished his role as a key countercultural figure in post-Franco Spain, founding the groundbreaking El Vibora and La Cúpula in 1979 (less than four years after the end of Francoist Spain). He greatly admired the irreverence of the first wave of American underground cartoonists, especially R. Crumb and Gilbert Shelton, and published both early on, as well as Robert Williams, Spain Rodriguez, and others. Over the years he published just about every notable American cartoonist you can think of: Bagge, Clowes, Hernandez, Burns, Tomine, etc. I think it would be hard to overestimate his role in raising the prominence of underground comics in Spain.
This decade, I was lucky if I saw Josep Maria even once every couple of years, but when I did, I relished it. In Barcelona, he took me to one of his favorite jazz clubs, and to his beautiful home that the company was named for (a kind of geodesic dome that "La Cúpula" refers to). We ate Moroccan food in Granada, Spain. We drank cheap beers at the infamous Picadilly in San Diego during Comic-Con. The last time I saw him, a couple summers ago, we had sushi together in New York City. He always had great stories, and a warmth to him that made you forget it had been a few years since you saw him last.
Rest in peace, old friend, and long live La Cúpula.
Photo: That's Josep Maria Berenguer on the far left, hosting (from left to right) Tanino Liberatore, Sra. Berenguer, Ana Forcada, myself, Aline Kominsky-Crumb and Peter Bagge at his home ("La Cúpula") in Barcelona, Spain. Photo by Christian Coudurés.
Having been preoccupied by this past weekend's Emerald City Con, we're a bit late in offering our warmest wishes and hearty congratulations to two of our favorite gentlemen and their lovely significant others.
First up, TheComicsJournal.com co-editor and Picturebox Founder Dan Nadel and his partner Rachel welcomed their first child, Henry, into the world early Friday morning. (You should do each of you a favor and help keep Henry in fresh diapers by picking up Picturebox's new Rory Hayesand Destroy All Monsters! books).
Meanwhile, on Sunday, our old pal Jacob McMurray , Senior Curator of Seattle's Experience Music Project and author of our book TAKING PUNK TO THE MASSES , and his wife Sara welcomed their second daughter, Eleanor, into their family.
I'm not one for popularity contests, but this one is special. VOTE LUCKY #13. There's some stiff competition in Jerry Rice, Jerry Brown, Willie Brown, and even a few non-Jerry/Brown public figures in the Bay Area. But let's face it, none of them wear their smooth pates as well as Mr. Inkstud himself.
In just a few short weeks - April 15, 2012 - the world will mark the 100th Anniversary of sinking of the RMS Titanic in icy North Atlantic waters, which remains one of the largest peacetime maritime disasters in history.
This month, Fantagraphics releases The Big Town, the new novel by Monte Schulz. This wonderful period novel, an allegory for the American dream as seen through the eyes of one man, is the third in a trilogy of novels set in the summer of 1929 (following This Side of Jordan and The Last Rose of Summer) that together form a sprawling tapestry of the American Jazz Age.
To celebrate the release of The Big Town, and to honor the memory of the victims and survivors of the Titanic on the centennial of its tragic fate, we are proud to release a free, standalone excerpt from The Big Town that presents a gripping, fictionalized account of the Titanic disaster. It all begins at High Society cocktail party in the big town, where a tony socialite makes conversation with the novel's protagonist...
"I conceived this story back in ‘93 and put it into the novel about three years or so later," says Schulz. "Some people have argued that the sinking of the Titanic in 1912 was an ending to the 19th century, so I rendered it as a life resolving event. I also wanted my character Harry to hear it as a reminder of the fragility of family."
THE BIG TOWN A Novel by Monte Schulz ISBN 978-160699-503-7
"Bold and stirring, The Big Town is a big walk through the dark side of Jazz Age America, a place where temptation and violence were only a breath away. A finely-textured tale of moral ambiguity told with gripping realism that richly evokes the sights and sounds of an era defined by gangsters and Gatsby."
We're super bummed to soon be saying goodbye to our longtime junior designer, Alexa Koenings, who is moving on to new challenges at the end of this month after several years of great work for us. We don't want her to go, but dammit, she's made up her mind.
One thing this means: WE'RE HIRING. We are currently accepting applications for the Junior Designer position. This is a full-time, salaried position in our office (telecommuters need not apply). If you don't currently live in Seattle, you must be willing to relocate.
• Strong layout and typography sensibilities. • Detail oriented-- both in your design work and in your ability to track change requests and stay on top of deadlines. • Thorough InDesign and Photoshop knowledge required. Any other programs are a plus. • Work well independently as well as with the various personalities of editors, artists, and authors, taking in and utilizing feedback. • Ability to design interesting, unique solutions that respect and adhere to the vision of the artists we package.
The primary role as a Junior Designer will be doing book production and design, but you will also design ads (print and web), postcards, posters, etc. You will need to be a nimble designer, capable of solutions on a quick turnaround and able to maintain a steady workload. You will be responsible for sending press ready files to printers, so pre-press skills are a plus.
The right candidate could be anyone with a solid design sense and a passion for doing good work. Knowledge of comics is helpful but it needn't be an obsession.
Interested parties email resumé and samples (or links to same) to Eric Reynolds: reynolds [at] fantagraphics [dot com]. Serious inquiries only, please!
And, congrats again to Alexa, who will be missed (and who hopefully won't mind me stealing this pic from her facebook page):
This is a fantastic "extended" clip of Dan Clowes' interview for the Shut Up, Little Man film, although it makes me nostalgiac for the pre-Internet 1990s, when things like these tapes were shrouded in mystery.
So, I've been in Florida for the past week visiting my wife's family for the holidays. Needless to say, I did a doubletake when I noticed this Honda parked next to our rental car outside a shopping mall in Naples:
I am dying to know whose car this is. Mort Walker? Jeff Mason? The guy from CrossGen? Anyone?
... for THIS massive Charles Burns art show. Charles tells me he has loaned over 330 pieces (!!!) for this exhibition. Leave it to the Belgians. Preview night is this Wednesday and formal opening is on Thursday, for you lucky Belgians.
Speaking of Charles, we're currently working with him on an exciting, non-comics project that will be announced by the end of the year. Stay tuned for more details; your thirst will be quenched soon enough.