On behalf of everyone at Fantagraphics, let me be the first to congratulate our own Jacob Covey and his beautiful wife, Liz, on the birth of their new baby daughter, Maren, who joined the ranks of the world yesterday morning. Mom, baby, and even daddy and big sister Freya are doing well. Much love from your Fantagraphics family, Coveys.
My old pal, Stevie Knight a.k.a. "Ribs" Weissman, seemed a bit sheepish when he first suggested contributing a series of Guns 'n' Roses-related strips to MOME 22. I would have liked to think he knew me better than that. I mean, c'mon, Steven, you had me at "Appetite for Delicatessen."
What's particularly odd is that Weissman is one of two MOME regulars who independently decided that Vol. 22 would be the right time to get their Axl Rose on. More on that later...
With only one issue left to put together, I knew going into MOME 22 that I had to make a last-ditch effort to fit in a few cartoonists that I'd been meaning to reach out to for while. Count Chuck Forsman on that list. I've been enjoying Chuck's Snake Oil comics and others for a few years now, and as such was thrilled when he jumped at the chance to do something for the final hurrah. His story, "Francis," highlights one of Forsman's unique talents: a pitch-perfect ear and eye for the 1980s. Which is a bit weird for someone who wasn't even born until 1982.
At Comic-Con in July, we'll be debuting the 22nd and final volume of MOME (that's one-half of Zak Sally's beautifully elegant wraparound cover of the issue, above). It's a bittersweet thing for me, but I couldn't be happier about how the last issue -- at 240 pages, about twice as long as any previous issue -- turned out, so when Mike Baehr suggested I do something for Flog about it, it seemed like a no-brainer. And when I decided the best way to do so would be to post some teaser images from the issue, it took me about half a second to realize where to start: Kurt Wolfgang.
Kurt has been essentially the one constant in MOME from the very first issue (along with myself, I guess), and his main contribution, the ongoing "Nothing Eve," is pretty much the standard-bearer of the kind of work that MOME was specifically designed to midwife into the world, and one of the things I'm most proud to have published in its pages. The simple, dramatic idea behind it -- If you knew the world was ending tomorrow, how would you spend your last night? -- is really just a launching point for what is essentially a charmingly funny and character-driven piece about the way people relate to each other. Kurt resists melodrama every step of the way, and the work is so much better for it.
Also, more than just about any other serial I can ever remember reading in an anthology, "Nothing Eve" functioned perfectly as a serial. In addition to crafting a completely hilarious and compelling graphic novel, Kurt has an innate knack for breaking his story down into compelling chapters that function on their own. You could easily enjoy any chapter of "Nothing Eve" without ever having read another. That's not an easy feat, and regular MOME readers were given a better experience for it.
The bad news is that MOME is ending before "Nothing Eve" ends. The good news, however, is that when "Nothing Eve" is eventually published, it will be that much more satisfying a read.
The best news is that Kurt prepared an alternative, "final" chapter for MOME 22 that is just about my favorite thing I've ever published in MOME. So for those of you who've been following "Nothing Eve" since the beginning, you're going to be rewarded with something truly special that won't end up in the eventual collection.
I'm very reluctant to tip my hand any further, but let's just say, it's right about with this four-panel sequence that shit starts to get unreal:
You can't even begin to guess where things go from here, but trust me in that I promise you won't be disappointed.
Over on Flickr, I've uploaded over 100 pics from my recent visit to Stockholm, Sweden, to attend the Swedish SPX Festival. I want to thank our hosts, especially Johannes Klenell of GALAGO and Kristiina Kolehmainen of the Stockholm SERIETEKET (that's "comics library" to you Yankees), for a wonderful trip. Five days in Sweden, hanging out with old pals like Dash Shaw (greatest roommate a guy could ask for), Gabrielle Bell, Brett Warnock, and others? It would have been impossible not to have a great time. Came home with a huge pile of great-looking comics (see the photo set for examples); now Kim Thompson gets to read them all for me! Oh, Kim, how I envy you.
I'm excited to head off tomorrow for my first trip to Scandinavia. I live in Seattle's Ballard neighborhood, a Scandinavian hotbed where seemingly everyone on my block is named either Thor or Bjorn, and Norwegian and Swedish flags hang on every few houses. So I'm excited to be able to tell my neighbors I made a pilgrimage to the homeland. But I'm even more excited to attend my first-ever Swedish SPX, courtesy Johannes Klenell and the fine folks at GALAGO, and pal around for a few days in Stockholm with the great Dash Shaw. If you're gonna be there (and if you are, here's the full program), please look me up!
In a recent spring cleaning at Casa Reynolds, I unearthed these original PEANUTS strips I created in the late-1970s at the tender age of 8 or 9. I apparently thought I was really onto something with the no pants gag. Or perhaps it just reveals something about my id that I'd rather not consider. Either way, I bet the folks at BOOM! are now kicking themselves for not adding me to the creative team of their new PEANUTS graphic novel.
Yesterday we got in a few advance copies of Johnny Ryan's new book, TAKE A JOKE. I had a blast putting this book together with Johnny, I think it's by far his best collection yet in just about every way: the work itself, the sequencing, the production and printing, etc. It collects the last four (and strongest) issues of Johnny's ANGRY YOUTH COMIX (issues #11-15) as well as a slew of short pieces, mostly from VICE Magazine but also HOTWIRE and elsewhere. It's an unrelentingly dense frisson of discomfit and guffaws like only Johnny seems capable of delivering anymore.
While putting the book together, deciding what to include and what not to, we realized we had a couple of extra pages to play with. We considered this and that, not really finding the answer we were looking for until Johnny jokingly suggested to me on the phone one day, "Maybe we should do an index like you do in The Complete Peanuts."
He wasn't even remotely serious, but I thought it was a brilliant idea, providing something akin to a word cloud for Johnny's id. I set right to work and think it's the perfect beat to end on. It highlights the absurdist side of Johnny's humor, and demonstrates what an infinite well of profane ideas he seems able to tap. He makes it look easy, but it ain't. All hail Johnny "Cock Snot" Ryan!