Cartoonist, journalist, designer and lover of all comics! Here to encourage you to read Fantagraphics books and then pass them on to your friends AND family. Especially those Eros ones. Graduate of The Center for Cartoon Studies.
Fantagraphics and comiXology release R. Kikuo Johnson's debut graphic novel, Night Fisher , which tells the intimate tale of young teens verging into the alien territory of adulthood.
The setting? First-rate prep school, S.U.V., and a dream house in the heights: This was the island paradise handed to Loren Foster when he moved to Hawaii with his father six years ago. Now, with the end of high school just around the corner, his best friend, Shane, has grown distant. The rumors say it's hard drugs, and Loren suspects that Shane has left him behind for a new group of friends. What sets Johnson's drama apart is the naturalistic ease with which he explores the relationships of his characters. It is at once an unsentimental portrait of that most awkward period between adolescence and young adulthood and that rarest of things: a mature depiction of immature lives.
Visually, Johnson captures the languid tropical climate and strip mall tackiness of Hawaii in a rich chiaroscuro style reminiscent of Milton Caniff combined with the sensual ink work of Paul Pope or Jessica Abel. You can purchase this 145 page beauty over at comiXology today.
"Johnson's debut is not only remarkably assured but astonishingly fresh, one that refuses to trade in the usual hoary high-school cliches... Panels are shuffled together with a cinematic flair that highlights the florid emotions of adolescence far better than any battery of melodrama could. A dark, grand, sweeping dream of a book." – Kirkus Review
"The gritty coming-of-age story also delivers strong plot and dialog like a fistful of poi." – Book Collector
A home with a drawbridge awaits you, troubled merchant or peasant. Fantagraphics and comiXology release the fairy tale with a twist, Castle Waiting by Linda Medley, for digital download or 'magical reading'! Castle Waiting is the story of an isolated, abandoned castle, and the eccentric inhabitants who bring it back to life. A fable for modern times, it is a fairy tale that’s not about rescuing the princess, saving the kingdom, or fighting the ultimate war between Good and Evil — but about being a hero in your own home.
Linda Medley lavishly illustrates Castle Waiting in a classic visual style reminiscent of Arthur Rackham and William Heath Robinson. Blending elements from a variety of sources — fairy tales, folklore, nursery rhymes — Medley tells the story of the everyday lives of fantastic characters with humor, intelligence, and insight into human nature. Castle Waiting can be read on multiple levels and can be enjoyed by readers of all ages.For those in need for Middle-earth style immersion, look no further than Medley's beautiful and complex world. 460 pages of magic are available at comiXology.
"Castle Waiting creates a vibrant fantasy world not unlike The Lord of the Rings' Middle-earth but with a focus on the lives of women. Gorgeously illustrated in black and white, the book combines Christian and mythological imagery, including a bearded female saint, Rumpelstiltskin and various animal-headed characters. Fun to read and look at, Castle Waiting will enthrall fantasy readers of both genders." – Time
"Medley’s big book ranks with Jeff Smith’s Bone as a nearly-all-ages graphic-novel triumph." – Booklist "Core Collection: Graphic Women"
Happy New Year's! Here's to a great year of books and the next year and the year after that. We salute you and thank you for your friendship and purchases. Some of you sent in photos reading books from this year (and a few past ones).
Yesterday, the Fantagraphics Bookstore and Gallery hosted Koyama Press's Nathan Bulmer (born-and-bred Seattlite). With Zachary David Jammin' signing and laughing in the background, it was a beautiful time with I must say, a lower age median than usual. Larry Reid, Janice and excellent new intern Lilly hosted a great time. Nate's mother provided tasty tiny cookies so you could like, totally five and the platters still looked full.
Not one to cut in line just because I work at the company, I waited in line and undulated with the rest of the crowd to the music. My typical line at artist signings is "Jen with one 'n' – don't waste the ink." Lucky for all, Nate is a funny man at heart and pulled out a pencil instead of a pen. He proceeded to "waste lead like a boss." Sunday afternoons have never been more adorable.
Why are there so many cups?! It was party, please ignore the cups. Pick up your copy of Eat More Bikes at the Fantagraphics Bookstore or from Koyama Press.
The most returned sweater of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Interview: Tom Spurgeon of the Comics Reporter interviews cartoonist Carol Tyler about her You'll Never Know series about her father, WWII and family bonds. He starts of the interview right, "You've lived with these books for a very long time. How did it feel to get some closure on this work?". Click here for the answers and more.
• Review:Comics Bulletin looks at You'll Never Know Book 3: Soldier's Heart by Carol Tyler. Jason Sacks states "You'll Never Know is a breathtaking graphic novel because Carol Tyler is honest enough to know that stories are seldom as tidy nor as dysfunctional as they seem on TV…It's a tremendously real story straight from the heart, told by a master cartoonist."
• Plug:Comic Book Resources and Brian Cronin investigate the legend around the FBI examining Pogo comic strips searching for hidden messages.
• Plug: Geekosystem has suggestions for our 20% sale like Pogo by Walt Kelly. "Are you a Calvin and Hobbes fan, dear reader?…If you are a fan, we’d point you towards one of the strip’s inspirations, Walt Kelly’s classic Pogo cartoons. By turns razor-edged political satire and old-fashioned slapstick comedy gold, these strips are being given their due."
• Review:Reality Studio looks and relooks at Observed While Falling and The Lost Art of Ah Pook Is Here by Malcolm McNeill on his collaboration with William S. Burroughs. Jan Herman writes "Observed While Falling brings a fresh analytical eye to the familiar Burroughsian fixations — synchronicity and doppelgangers, control systems, the word as virus, the number 23 — that dominate this memoir, while still offering a straightforward chronicle of the author’s relationship with le maître. Luckily for us, McNeill is an artist who can write. Really write.…the hard work, the exhilaration and, ultimately, the frustration of a project that failed to achieve its original goal — is largely treated with brilliant introspection and loving grace."
• Review:Forbidden Planet International continues their Best of 2012 lists. Douglas Noble places Chris Wright's Blacklung on the list. "Unforgettable, and Wright's beautiful, scratchy art is a treat, like EC Segar working with Yuichi Yokoyama designs."
• Review:Comics Alliance announced their Stephanie Brown Memorial awards. On Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse: House of Seven Haunts by Floyd Gottfredson, Chris Sims writes, "They're one of the few things that I get excited about to the point of giddiness, and House of the Seven Haunts! was the best volume yet…It's one wild adventure after another, and they're all done with an incredible skill that still holds up almost 80 years later."
• Review:Comics Alliance announced their Stephanie Brown Memorial awards. The Furry Trap by Josh Simmons makes the list "The faux-Batman comic, which details the Bat's horrifically misanthropic ways, might be a reason to check out the contents of this hardcover collection of Simmons stories, but the entire volume is full of troubling tales worth your attention…The unexpected happens, consistently, and that's about the only thing you can be sure of," states Tim Callahan.
• Plug:NO releases its Best Comics of 2012 list and Sean Collins breathtakingly writes about The Furry Trap, "Josh Simmons shits in your heart, again and again in ways that grow exponentially more refined and chilling as the book progresses. A perfect statement of rancid intent."
• Review:Comics Alliance announced their Stephanie Brown Memorial awards. Designer Dylan Todd writes on Barack Hussein Obama by Steven Weissman. "There's something vaguely Peanuts-esque at work here, with a cast of recognizable characters… all with their own quirks and personalities, all delivering punchlines while the specter of death and soul-crushing doubt hangs over their heads. It's funny, but like any good comedy, it's tied up in uncomfortable and relatable truths…It's surreal, nonsensical, and a little depressing -- so, huh, maybe it's an accurate portrayal of political life in the 21st century after all."
• Review: Timothy Callahan of Comic Book Resources looks back on 2012 and Steven Weissman's Barack Hussein Obama is #20 on his Best Of list. "It's just such a fragmented work of narrative, but Weissman plays with repetition and transformation in a near-musical way, and that ends up mattering most…This comic is difficult to discuss without sounding ridiculous, but I can't stop thinking about its unsettling strangeness."
• Review:Paste Magazine's guest writers Nathan Bulmer and Kevin Huizenga pick out some of our books as the Best of 2012 including Steven Weissman's Barack Hussein Obama, Jason's Athos in America, and Chris Wright's Blacklung. Bulmer looks at Weissman, "I have so many feelings about this book. This, to me, is the most gorgeous book of the year and is one that I will be returning to often."
• Plug: Geekosystem has suggestions for our 20% sale like Athos in America by Jason. "Fact: New Jason books are weird, funny, and always bring something new and unexpected to the table. Conjecture: This book probably deserves a place on your shelf…"
• Review: KC Carlson of Comics Worth Reading dives not into a vault of money but Carl Barks' books. While reading Uncle Scrooge: "Only a Poor Old Man"she can't help but write,"One way or another, all of these stories are classics (if not masterpieces) of early comic book storytelling. And not just for kids." When flipping to Donald Duck: "A Christmas for Shacktown" Carlson notes,"It’s probably one of the least sentimental Christmas stories around (and thus a favorite of many fans). It features an early example of Scrooge’s lack of charity, counterbalanced by his steadfast work ethic…I can’t say enough about how much I love these new Fantagraphics collections of this 'should always be in print' Carl Barks material."
• Review: Andrew Wheeler over at Anticks Musings enjoys Peanuts Vol. 17: 1983-1984 by THE Charles M. Schulz. Wheeler states, "they're reliably funny and occasionally moving. The deep sadness that used to manifest in Charlie Brown now comes up, less rawly, . . . For work done by the same one man, day after day, more than thirty years after he started that project, that's not just impressive, it's amazing."
• Review (video): Jon Longhi in episode 2 of Having a Book Moment features Spacehawk by Basil Wolverton "who was an amazing underground cartoonist with exp, surrealist view of reality that created some of the I think, most unique comics ever invented. . ."
• Review:Robot 6 enjoys SpacehawkbyBasil Wolverton. Chris Mautner writes "Wolverton’s Spacehawk has a vitality — at times it practically throbs with life — that the more static Stardust simply does not have. Spacehawk not only the best reprint project of the year, it’s the best reprint project of the past several years. It’s a revelation."
• Review:Comics Alliance announced their Best Comics of 2012. Basil Wolverton's Spacehawk "remind[s] you of some kind of Buck Rogers Technicolor serial as designed by Robert Crumb…Spacehawk is the freakishly charming sideshow to the more popular main event, but everyone who's seen its wonders would find themselves bored with what the guy in the big hat in the center ring is babbling on about," writes Tim Callahan
• Review:Comics Bulletin and Jason Sacks give Spacehawk by Basil Wolverton a rating of 4.5 outta 5 stars. "This book is really fucking exhilarating and awesome and eye-popping, and you have to add it to your bookshelf if you loved I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets…Spacehawk is lunatic, manic genius."
• Review:Delphine by Richard Sala gets BoingBoinged. Mark Frauenfelder writes, "I've long admired the gothy work of cartoonist Richard Sala. He delicately balances the line between horror and humor as few can. His latest graphic novel, Delphine, is his darkest effort to date."
• Review: Comic Book Resources counts down the Top 100 Comics of 2012 and includes The Hypo by Noah Van Sciver at #54. Brian Cronin states "Van Sciver spotlights a fascinating time in Lincoln's life where he barely resembles the man who would one day become one of the most famous presidents in U.S. history…The artwork is strong, as is the research." Cronin's own Top 10 Comics of 2012 listed Van Sciver at #2.
• Review:Panel Patter lists the Favorite Graphic Novels of 2012 and Noah Van Sciver is #2 for The Hypo. Rob McMonigal writes "Given that Van Sciver specializes in characters who are at their wit's end and have horrible things going on in their lives, he's picture perfect in his presentation."
• Interview: Tom Spurgeon interviews editor and fan Marc Sobel on living life breathing Love and Rockets at the Comics Reporter. Sobel started writing, critiquing the Hernandez Brothers work, interviewing them that led to writing and co-editing The Love and Rockets Reader and The Love and Rockets Companion, coming out next year.Sobel pondered, "I decided to read Love & Rockets in its original format and blog about each issue as a way to teach myself about one of the medium's classics while still keeping active as a writer."
• Review:Comic Book Resources counts down the Top 100 Comics of 2012 and #35 is Love and Rockets: New Stories #5. "…the Bros turned in another installment of comics that are simultaneously agonizing to witness and darkly funny while they’re serving up stone-cold dramatic situations," writes Brian Warmoth
• Plug:Gilbert Hernandez receives some attention from Sean T. Collins at Carnival of Souls in regards to upcoming Julio's Day and D&Q's Marble Season. "A now-completed collection of work he serialized during Love & Rockets‘ second volume and a pseudoautobiography, these could send him in the direction of critical and audience reappraisal that the outré sex and violence of his recent comics have denied him."
• Interview (video): As part of the 30th Anniversary celebration, Vegas Seven posted a short interview with Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez conducted at Alternative Reality Comics in Las Vegas.
• Plug: Glyn Dillon writes the Best of the Year 2012 for Forbidden Planet International and shares the love for Jaime Hernandez's God and Science. "I'm not really a fan of the super hero genre, but he delivers it in such a fun way, it's hard to resist it's charm. It almost feels as though it's from an alternative universe, a universe where super hero comics are good."
• Review:The Chicago Tribune gets all fancy to read our EC Library Comics: Corpse on the Imjin by Harvey Kurtzman and Came the Dawn by Wallace Wood. "Kurtzman often evinces a grim humor in these war comics, they don't elicit laughs. His beautiful line-work — thick black strokes and quick black curves — captures the grit of battle and its aftermath: Corpses reach up from rubble, cones of fire erupt from gun barrels." Michael Robbins continues, "Wood's alternately claustrophobic and desolate brushwork lurches into life: spreading puddles and slanting rain, Rock Hudson jawlines and Jane Wyman curves, vertiginous angles, hallucinatory things with too many eyes."
•Plug:NO releases its Best Comics of 2012 list and Sean T Collins recommends Prison Pit 4 by Johnny Ryan. "Choose your monsters-transforming-and-pursuing-ultimate-murder poison: if you favour grossness, reality-breaking sci-fi and heavy manga inflections, go with Ryan."
• Plug:Michael Kupperman'sTales Designed to Thrizzle #8 is ranked 81 out of the Top 100 Comics of 2012 according to Comic Book Resources. "The latest 'Tales Designed to Thrizzle' very well might be the funniest edition of the annual comic yet! Kupperman's outrageously unpredictable sense of humor is on full force in this issue" states Brian Cronin. Cronin's own Top 10 Comics of 2012 listed Kupperman at #4.
• Review:Comic Attack bangs out the Best 15 All-Ages Titles of 2012. Hal Foster's Prince Valiant is on the list as Drew says "the detail and quality of the art alone along with the more literary form of narration provided the base and inspiration for dozens of artists and imitators after that, all these years still being just as entertaining as when first published, here from Fantagraphics never looking as good as collected before."
• Review: Nick Hanover of Comics Bulletin sits awhile with Tom Kaczynski's new book. Beta Testing the Apocalypse "is weird as all fuck and funny as all shit, a Singles Going Steady for the art comix crowd that merges Burroughs' cut-up commentary with Ballard's keen tech consumer insight and siliconic wit…is where we should be looking if we want to know what comes next, if we want to discern which hip priest had their ear closer to the ground."
• Interview:The Comics Journal's Tim Holder interviews Tom Kaczynski (cartoonist of Beta Testing the Apocalypse)on his comics and publishing endeavors.
• Plug: Jade at the D&Q Bookstore holds onto some serious love for Lilli Carré's Heads or Tails. "Her stories always incorporate some sense of magic realism, where bizarre occurrences are treated as if they were just another aspect of daily life. Equally impressive is Carré’s artistic versatility, always finding the appropriate style, palette and medium to tell her dreamy tales."
• Review:Cosmic Comix reviews The Crackle of the Frost by Mattotti and Zentner. "The story itself is amazing. It’s a story about loneliness, loss, and, most of all, fear…It’s a rare feat in which the words, although separate from the picture, are in perfect synch with it… If you are looking for a book that truly pushes the comics medium, then this is the book for you," writes David Lee.
•Review: Music magazine Ugly Things Issue 34 reviews Kevin Avery's book. Alan Bisbort writes "Everything is an Afterthought would, in another age, be considered 'essential reading' for anyone even remotely hip…these bokos remind us of how deeply some people cared for the music and its larger pop culture that many of us now take for granted."
• Plug: Geekosystem has suggestions for our 20% sale like Joe Sacco's book. "Safe Area Gorazde is a great introduction to his work and to the concept of comics journalism as a whole. This new special edition with notes from the author, updates on the characters, and a behind the scenes look at the creative process is must-own material.
• Plug: Geekosystem has suggestions for our 20% sale like I Shall Destroy All Civilized Planets by Fletcher Hanks. "Weirdness on the highest scale prevails in these collections…these delightfully strange relics deserve a place in the library of any comics art history completist or student of the medium."
• Plug: Filth and Fabulations looks at books for 2013 and The Astonishing Exploits of Lucien Brindavoine by Jacques Tardi is on there. "This book is perhaps a slightly less mature piece than some of Tardi's later self-authored work, but it is filled with a vibrancy and a dark humor that makes it a thing not to be missed, especially so for those who enjoy his amusing riffs on traditional genre pastiches, with a nice dose of violence and sarcasm thrown in". In addition to Goddamn this War! by Tardi and Jean-Pierre Verney. "It looks very promising, and seems to be more of a single narrative spanning the entirety of the war, rather than the looser vignette-style format of the earlier book."
While trampsing around the suburbs and backwaters of Texas, I happened to find the majestic Webb Gallery in Waxahachie for there lay a treasure trove of Esther Pearl Watson paintings. With fading painted trim in still vibrant oranges and teals matched with iron statues and odd toys from people long since dead, it reminds you of an open range and that mix of culture which is a side-step from Southwestern.
Watson's paintings, unlike her Unlovable comics Fantagraphis printed, are deeply personal and autographical. As the daughter of the local color, Watson watched her father build several large-scale UFOs. Out on the lawn.
Bitter-sweet nostaglic scenes in dirty brown skies and abandoned women's clinics, Watson paints a darker time in her childhood. But that ever-hovering presence, the idea of 'what-if', the UFO. (They Might Be Giants might have called it her 'hovering sombrero')
Compared to Watson's Unloveable, which also runs in Bust Magazine, the unapolagetic Tammy Pierce is nearly the opposite of these quiet moments with tension bubbling under the surface. Each canvas, most of them wooden, are akin to a diary page created in paint, dirt and the occasional glitter patch instead of words. Notes are scribbled in the corners of most of the paintings to enhance or detail the scene. Often a new town, a new landscape to explore.
Details of the paintings. They practically vibrate.
So all these gorgeous paintings hang on the high-ceilinged walls of the Webb Gallery amongst their antique carnival posters, including Coney Island originals. The perfect place for the painted recollections of hazy memories. Something almost most too incredible to believe.
The Webb Gallery is open Saturdays and Sundays from 1-5 or by appointment, (972) 938-8085. A quick 30 minute drive from downtown Dallas or 2 hours up from Austin, be sure to see it! 209 West Franklin Street Waxahachie, TX 75165. The current exhibition by Esther Pearl Watson will be up through January 20th, 2013.
The 30th anniversary Love and Rockets celebration continues with this third of three volumes. Perla La Loca collects the adventures of the spunky Maggie; her annoying, pixie-ish best friend and sometime lover Hopey; and their circle of friends. As usual, Jaime Hernandez spotlights a wide range of headstrong female characters found in previous volumes Maggie the Mechanic and The Girl from H.O.P.P.E.R.S.
Perla begins with the "Wigwam Bam" story, arguably Jaime Hernandez's definitive statement on the post-punk culture (what a good song too!). As Maggie, Hopey, and the rest of the Locas prowl Los Angeles, the East Coast, and parts in between trying to recapture the carefree spirit of those early days. "Wigwam Bam" brings us up to date on all the members of Jaime's extensive cast of characters and then drops a narrative bomb on Hopey (and us) in the very last pages. Split up from Hopey yet again, Maggie bounces back and forth between a one-laundromat town in Texas (the "Chester Square" that serves as the title of two of the strongest stories in the book), where she has to contend with both her own inner demons and a murderous hooker, and Camp Vicki, where she has to fend off her aunt Vicki's attempts to make her a professional wrestler and the unwanted advances of the amorous wrestling champ-to-be, Gina.
"'Wigwam Bam' [is] one of the medium's all-time high points..." – The Onion A.V. Club
"For a relatively inexpensive introduction to the joys of Jaime's good stuff, ...I recommend Perla la Loca, a paperback reprint of a 1990-1996 sequence that kicks off with the fantastic ensemble tragicomedy 'Wigwam Bam,' throws in a bunch of wrestling and decline-and-fall-of-punk business that he draws with obvious, infectious relish, and ends with the mistaken-identity tour de force 'Bob Richardson.'" – Douglas Wolk, TIME/Techland
"As a graphic artist, Carré carries forward the design tradition that stems from the gossamer surrealism of Cocteau; as a verbal artist, she may be the most successful prose poet going. . . Her Wanda Gág–meets–Gene Deitch drawing style and new-weirdness literary bent make her work acutely interesting to both read and scrutinize." —Ray Olson
"Wright shows he’s got a deep arsenal of storytelling weapons at his command. Unsettling, upsetting, and strangely touching, Wright’s story arrives at something humane and emotionally true through a sea of aberrance and terror." —Ian Chipman
"Spacehawk's stories may be absurd concoctions of primitive space opera and already-established tropes of the nascent superhero genre, but Wolverton's solid,elemental drawings-already evincing his distinctive use of stippling-combined with his intuitive design sense have a raw power that is rare among comic books of the era and impresses even today." —Gordon Flagg
Cate McGehee attended the 30th Anniversary party for Love and Rockets held at the Fantagraphics Bookstore and wrote about it in The Stranger. Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez were in attendance in addition to hundreds of people ready to see the brothers during their auspicious celebration. Flanked by a gorgeous wall of original art, punk show posters (draw by the brothers) and alt-weekly covers, curated by Larry Reid and editor Kristy Valenti, the room held more wonder than of those in The Mask of the Red Death!
Nearly thirty years of work is laid out on prismatic display (more not pictured). Why has Love and Rockets held up so long? The facts as stated in The Stranger: "It was one of the very first comics to include LGBT characters and people of color, to draw from an underground urban demographic, and to have kick-ass female leads." Or as Larry put it the comics "foreshadowed the contemporary multicultural society." With characters who age, die and get revisited via that time machine called comics, Gilbert and Jaime have created some of the most complex and human characters in the industry.
The article goes on to describe some of the more familiar faces to the Hernandez brothers off the bristol board, their returning fans. One man brought his future wife, who became the bigger fan eventually, then their baby who in turn grew up and "she said her mom couldn't make it, and then rolled up her sleeve to show Jaime her Love and Rockets tattoo." But success hasn't slowed the two cartoonists down, they can't imagine a life without comics or a life without Love and Rockets. And neither can we.
Pictures: Gilbert and Jaime pose with fan, the Love and Rockets Library collection and Gilbert signs for a fan in front of the wall.
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