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.
The most symmetrical cake slice of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review:Publishers Weekly occasionally lets smart and famous people recommend books. Jeopardy Master Ken Jennings "skipped the obvious Marjane Satrapi and Alison Bechdel entries in favor of this lesser-known three-volume masterpiece, about Tyler’s complicated relationship with her distant dad, a World War II vet. With her playful, fluid brush line and busy patchwork of watercolor woodgrain, Tyler’s art looks like the past feels." Carol Tyler's complete series You'll Never Know is available.
• Review:Booklist Online cooks up a review from some Pogo (The Complete Syndicated Comic Strips Vol. 2: "Bona Fide Balderdash"). Ian Chipman writes, "[Walt Kelly's] hallmarks of deft wordplay, daft swamp critters, and poisonously sharp sociopolitical satire are in full blossom here. The highlight is the 1952 election season that saw Pogo’s first and entirely reluctant presidential run and the birth of the “I Go Pogo” slogan. Mimicking “I Like Ike. . . A must for all collections of comic-strip history."
• Plug:Forces of Geek throws out some good gift recommendations for kidslike Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge "Only a Poor Old Man"by Carl Barks. "Comic books have always been an excellent gateway into reading, and when it comes to smart, imaginative and engaging, you don't have to go much further than Carl Barks. . . What better way to introduce your own Huey, Dewey or Louie to comics?"
• Review:Paste Magazines's 10 Best Collections of 2012 include two Fantagraphics titles. Hillary Brown loved Young Romance, by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby edited by Michel Gagné who "painstakingly restored them (without making them look exactly new, thus giving the book the feel of a vintage compilation that just happens to be in amazing shape). . . Simon and Kirby tried to bring as much excitement to primarily psychological and interpersonal goings-on as to punching and flying." And this might be the last year anything by Carl Barks is on the list, "We’ll just grant it permanent honorary status as the best of the best, like when John Larroquette removed himself from Emmy consideration after winning four straight for Night Court. . . [Walt Disney's Donald Duck "A Christmas for Shacktown] once again proves Barks to be one of the finest draftsmen and storytellers we’ve ever had." Well put, Garrett Martin.
• Plug:The Scotsman lists some of the Best of 2012 as told by the best scotsman. Withered Hand's singer/songwriter Dan Willson has eyes only for Ron Rege, Jr. and states, "[The] Cartoon Utopia , his magnum opus, is quite a head-trip. Thousands of very dense little drawings and words resemble a psychedelic illuminated manuscript peppered with themes of spiritual redemption and good versus evil. It’s a very unusual and beautiful work."
• Plug: From Boing Boing's list of the Best Damn Comics of 2012, compiled by Brian Heater. On Ron Rege Jr.'s The Cartoon Utopia , "The first esoteric text of the new century. The harbinger of the New Aeon. This book will be a staple of Esoteric Lore for millennia to come."
• Plug:Boing Boing makes my job easy by providing the Best Damn Comics of 2012. Compiled by Brian Heater, a lot of creative people offered up their favorite books of the year. Nick Abadzis thinks Kolor Klimax (edited by Matthias Wivel), "feels startling and vital to me and features a wide variety of styles, each as absorbing as all the others contained within these pages. I don't think I've enjoyed an anthology as much as this one in years."
• Plug: From Boing Boing's list of the Best Damn Comics of 2012, compiled by Brian Heater. Box Brown on Barack Hussein Obama, "Steven Weissman does stuff with actual analog comic materials that most dudes can't even do with photoshop." Jeffrey Brown chimes in on BHO, "Strange, funny and beautiful. Weissman reinvents his comics with the kind of book I wish I would make." Will Dinksi agrees, "Barack Hussein Obama is pretty much my favorite book of the year. . . I get a better appreciation for Weissman's craft in the printed collection where it can feel like you're actually looking at the finished artwork." Mari Naomi says,"I just love what this book is. If I didn't know better, I wouldn't even recognize this as Weissman. And I like that."
• Review:Paris Review checks out The Last Vispo, edited by Nico Vassilakis and Crag Hill. Nicole Rudick states,"it makes sense that in visual form poetry would elicit a kind of motion, an unfolding over the space of a page, and that even its sound would be voiced as a series of discoveries. Movement disrupts the continuity of a sentence, a phrase, a word. And language, unsettled, is unbound."
• Plug: From Boing Boing's list of the Best Damn Comics of 2012, compiled by Brian Heater. Box Brown continues to wax poetic on Josh Simmons' The Furry Trap, "Funny, even as it makes your hair stand on end and your skin start to crawl... Horror comics that gash their way below the surface."
• Plug: From Boing Boing's list of the Best Damn Comics of 2012, compiled by Brian Heater. Shaenon K. Garrity says that The Heart of Thomas by Moto Hagio "is a book I've been awaiting for over ten years, and it exceeds my expectations."
• Plug: From Boing Boing's list of the Best Damn Comics of 2012, compiled by Brian Heater. Nate Powell on Interiorae by Gabriella Giandelli, is "just what I look for in a narrative: patient, dreamy, full of seemingly endless layers of shadow, slowly revealing the sweetness inside the rotten, all within the confines of a single high-rise apartment building, surrounded by snow and static."
• Review:Slate finds themselves choosing Heads or Tails, going for broke. Dan Kois says, "Lilli Carré’s short stories are dreamy, unlikely, and unsettling. What transforms the stories from nightmares to fables is Carré’s artwork, which varies with each story. . ."
• Review:Page 45 looks at Heads or Tails by Lilli Carré. "The art reminds me a little of Lynda Barry and the flow of the pages reminded me a little of Walt Holcombe. . .I recently recommended this book to a customer who named their favourite film as Amelie (good choice!) precisely because it has that feeling of whimsy about it."
• Plug: From Boing Boing's list of the Best Damn Comics of 2012, compiled by Brian Heater. Jeremy Tinder on Heads or Tails by Lilli Carré, "A nice encapsulation of many of the ways Lilli has been pushing herself both narratively and stylistically over the last few years. If only there was a way to squeeze her animation in there too." Will Dinksi comments on Heads or Tails by Lilli Carré, "Beautiful artwork. Thoughtfully paced. "Of The Essence" is one of the best comic book short stories I've ever read."
• Plug: From Boing Boing's list of the Best Damn Comics of 2012, compiled by Brian Heater. Robert Kirby on No Straight Lines edited by Justin Hall, "Long overdue, this beautifully-produced, sharply edited retrospective may usher in a new era of respect and recognition for a long-neglected realm of the alt-comics world."
• Review:Nate's Broadcast enjoyed The Hypo by Noah Van Sciver in addition to the recent film, Lincoln, and book America Aflame. "Van Sciver’s contribution to the Lincoln mythology is perfect for those who like their heroes a little troubled and messy, but good at their core- not a bad way to interpret the American ideal."
• Plug: From Boing Boing's list of the Best Damn Comics of 2012, compiled by Brian Heater. Will Dinski continues with The Hypo. "[Noah] Van Sciver is pretty prolific, but this is his best work to date. The line art just drips with anguish." Brian Heater thinks it "puts the cartoonist's brimming angst to a different use entirely, in a book that does precisely what a good piece of historical non-fiction should: finding a fascinating way to tell a story we were convinced we already knew."
• Review: Blacklung by Chris Wright is whittled on by Tucker Stone at TCJ. It's called "the big, trippy brother to Drew Weing’s Segar influenced Set To Sea. . . . [and] Gore saturates this comic. . . Brutality for its own sake is the point of some entertaining movies, no reason it can’t be the point of some entertaining comics as well."
• Review: On Filth and Fabulations, Jeppe Mulich states that Chris Wright's "[Blacklung is] not a work of splatter punk or mindless gore, but rather an engaging, breathless, and humorous tale of the dregs of the sea, including a colorful assortment of pirates and madmen, quite clearly drawing inspiration from both Melville, Stevenson and Peckinpah."
• Review: Paste Magazine reviews Charlie Brown's Christmas Stocking by Charles M. Schulz. "Seeing this work isolated and expanded only reinforces the sheer timelessness and brilliance inherent; Schulz was a master of mood and line in equal measure. . . it’s some of the finest nostalgia porn you can put under the tree," quips Sean Edgar.
•Review:Pheonix New Times unwraps their present early and Jason P. Woodbury interviews Nat Gertler on Charlie Brown's Christmas Stocking by Charles M Schulz. "[Schulz] had done a Christmas book, Christmas is Together-Time, using red and green," Gertler says, explaining the minimal color palette. "We wanted to keep that simplicity and Christmas-sense in there." The stable of Schulz characters transcend fads and time because as Gertler points out "It's not the way kids talk, but they way they feel is the way that kids feel."
• Plug:Drawn blog tops off another the Best of 2012 list with some Ernie Bushmiller. John Martz points out, "Nancy seems to be a love-it-or-leave-it strip, and I am firmly in the Love It camp. . . Often surreal, and always impeccably drawn, there is nothing quite like it. . . these books are a virtual masterclass in cartooning."
• Review: From Boing Boing's list of the Best Damn Comics of 2012, compiled by Brian Heater. Tom Kaczynski on Ernie Bushmiller's Nancy is Happy, "The minimalism of the art, the quirky humor, the amazing consistency, it all started with these strips."
• Review: Getting ready for the hardback release of Delphine by Richard Sala, Carrie Cuinn of SF Portal reviews the tale complete with "dark duotone inking style, little dialogue, and gothic, shadowy, art. . . Overall I think that Sala’s retelling of that well-known love story is affectingly tragic. . . It is, in a word, creepy."
• Review: If MTV Geek knows about The End of the Fucking World then the secret is out: Charles Forsman is amazing! "[It] pulls you in like no other comic this year. Stunning in its simplicity and brave in its subject matter. Charles Forsman is a future force. . . [it] is like stumbling onto the ultimate secret in comic books, but based on how great TEOTFW is, it won't be much a secret longer."
• Review: Ashley over at Bibliophibien looks at Wandering Son series by Shimura Takako, "While the story is focused on transgender topics, I think that this is a wonderfully moving coming-of-age story and captures the complexities of sexual identity, friendships, and family that teens face."
• Review: Rick Klaw at SF Site enjoys the glossy glory of Action! Mystery! Thrills!, edited by Greg Sadowski. "As in his previous volumes. . . Sadowski supplies copious end notes and annotations. Though this time, the information additionally reads as an entertaining history of early comics. . . Sadowski once again delivers an essential book for anyone with an interest in comics history."
• Plug: John McMurtrie of SF Gate (San Francisco Gate) lists Listen, Whitey! by Pat Thomas as one of the Music Books to Buy of 2012.
Looking for that special something to give to special someone you love? (In my case, that would be me.) Order a commission directly from an artist! Josh Simmons of The Furry Trap, House and Jessica Farm is one of the many artists offering his service to you. Simmons said he is very flexible and can tailor things to peoples' budget, or something like the Witch-King of the Nazgul painting above is the most time-consuming, would go for the highest price. When I asked if the highest price was money, the soul or a bucket of blood, he agreed any of the three would do. Horrifying.
But like most cartoonists, artists, people of note, Simmons can create for children too! So for the parent who wants an original drawing but needs G-rated content, Simmons has a sweet side too. Well, it's still spooky.
Today is Wednesday, you know what that means! Michael Kupperman is back with Tales Designed to Thrizzle Vol. 1available to download on to your iPad, smartphone and e-readers thanks to comiXology. Fans and comedy cognoscenti alike have made Thrizzle the smash hit humor comic of the decade. The first FOUR issues of non-stop sur-reality plus new pages! These tales are more thrizzling than ever!
What are tales designed to thrizzle? Tales designed to thrizzle are about evil girls and their owls. They are about Jesus' half-brother Pagus, Dick Crazy, scary snakes, delicious bacon, Private Eye Johnny Silhouette, Murder She Didn't Write, the Mannister, portraits where the eyes move, Pablo Picasso, sex blimps (and their logical inverse, sex holes), the hot boy band Boybank, soccer joust, Underpants-On-His-Head Man, Hercules the Public Domain Superhero, Cousin Granpa, Mister Bossman, Mark Twain, and more. The stories in Tales Designed to Thrizzle made their debut in 2009 on the Cartoon Network's Adult Swim program as Snake 'N' Bacon. The show, a mix of live-action, puppetry and animation, stars David Rakoff (This American Life), Bill Hader (Saturday Night Live), Kristen Schaal (Flight of the Conchords), James Urbaniak (The Venture Brothers), and Dan Bakkedahl (The Daily Show), and is produced by Kupperman, Robert Smigel (SNL, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog), Scott Jacobson (The Daily Show) and Rich Bloomquist (The Daily Show).
Grab your digital copy today because you might laugh hard enough to mess yourself .
"It has become cliché to say I laughed until I cried, but when I'm done reading one of these underground comics my shirt is literally soaking wet. This guy may have one of the best comedy brains on the planet right now." – Conan O'Brien, Entertainment Weekly "Must List"
"Destined to be a comedy classic... truly one of the funniest books in years." – Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
Cartoonist, animator and story teller Dash Shaw's animated music video for band Sigur Ros entitled "Seraph" will be shown at next year's Sundance Film Festival. This six and half minute film will appear in the animated short section of the festival. For those of you not attending, feel free to watch it here from home in your jam-jams.
Katelan Cunningham ofSoul Pancake recently interviewed Rob Walker, editor of Significant Objects, on the value of story. Significant Objects takes oddball, flea market items and writers you know and will one day know added stories to the items. Editors Rob Walker and Joshua Glenn's social experiment then sold the items for eBay with the stories and lo and behold, used and broken items went for more money once a narrative enhanced their 'meaning.' Walker describes the spark of the project, "I broke a coffee mug. It was just a nothing souvenir mug, nobody would have paid any money for it, but I was really sad when this happened, and it's because I had bought the mug on a trip with the woman I later married."
On Soul Pancake, Cunningham and Walker weighed the value of physical objects to the extreme of hoarding versus digital everything, like digi-wedding rings. Sounds interesting, right? Well, you could win this beautifully designed book with a short homework assignment! Visit the Soul Pancake interview and write a 200 word story about item in the photograph, don't worry you've seen a pair of these probably every day of your life. No research needed. Write your story in the comment section and a winner will be chosen tomorrow, December 5th. Pencils up!
Last night, director Terry Zwigoff appeared at Central Cinema's sold-out showing of Bad Santa, produced/toured/small printed by The A.V. Club's Cult Canon Tour. The 2003 hit resonated with the parents, malcontents and former elves in the audience (thank you, Dallas Northpark Mall, for that hellish winter month). A charmingly nasal and articulate Nathan Rabin of The A.V. Club moderated the Q&A while Zwigoff opened with a slide show of amazing parodies, criminal copy cats and a slew of Santa photos through the ages, too amazing to not share at least one.
Zwigoff went into detail about looking for the perfect people for this movie (especially since he choose the script over Elf with Will Ferrell already attached). De Niro, Penn graced the top of a list but Billy Bob Thorton was the name he knew could pull it off. In the search for the perfect kid to win the Bad Santa's heart, Zwigoff rejected the "Disney-face-proportioned" in an effort to capture a new Joe Cobb: a fat, scary kid. Which he eventually did find in new actor, Brett Kelly (right).
In addition to Bad Santa, Zwigoff directed such hits as the documentary Crumb, Ghost World and Art School Confidential (guess whosells booksthe movies were based on by Crumb and Dan Clowes?). We earnestly look forward to his next film adventure.
The first snowflake of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review:Publishers Weekly enjoys Naked Cartoonists, edited by Gary Groth. "The litmus test for any collective work based on the idea of one page per artist is whether the whole is greater than the sum of the individual parts. . . [Naked Cartoonists] no trouble achieving that goal. . . Dan Piraro (Bizarro) deserves kudos for his strategically-located likeness of Garfield . . ."
• Review:Print Magazine (issue 66.3 June 2012) gingerly flips through the pages of Naked Cartoonists. "Does your Sunday morning routine consis of reading The Wizard of Id and thinking, Gosh, I wish it had more nudity? Then Fantagraphics Books has just the thing for you." While out-and-about obscenity is rare, "there are moments of genuine creepiness, as when Jeff Keane, heir to The Family Circus, drops trou along side his fictional self, Jeffy."
• Review: Speaking of nudish things, Slate takes the time to slog through Prison Pit 4 by Johnny Ryan. Noah Bertlasky states, "For those who find filthy, blotchy tactile ink clots, überviolence, or body horror even remotely appealing, you need to buy this and its predecessors immediately."
• Review (audio): The boys on the block (Comics Books are Burning in Hell) review violent comics so naturally Blacklung by Chris Wright is included. The book affected the reviewers since it's "basically Chris Wright drawing terrifying shit" and Wright's drawing style falls in between "Old newspaper comics, like E.C. Segar's Popeye and Roy Crane's Wash Tubbs and Usagi Yojimbo [by Stan Sakai]."
• Review:New York Journal of Books looks at Walt Disney's Donald Duck: A Christmas for Shacktown by Carl Barks. Mark Squirek writes, "What he was really doing was showing us the absurdity of human behavior. . . This is a book that can be enjoyed by everyone from six to eighty. . . This is classic art and storytelling from a master of the form. Carl Barks ranks right up there with Jack Kirby and Will Eisner. If you love the frustrated, quacking, crazed Donald from the cartoons of the forties, you have to read A Christmas for Shacktown."
• Review:The Christian Science Monitor unwraps Charlie Brown's Christmas Stocking by Charles M. Schulz. Rich Clablaugh takes another sip of cider and says, "The design of the book is marvelous, thick off-white stock printed in two colors – red and green of course. . .Charlie Brown's Christmas Stocking is sure to bring a warm smile to readers young and old. A yearly reading of this little gem can in itself become a new tradition for the Christmas season."
• Review:Westfield Blog looks at archival prints from Fantagraphics. Roger Ash recounts, "Popeye, Pogo, Charlie Brown, Mickey Mouse, and many other classic comic strip characters live on at Fantagraphics in outstanding collections. If you aren't reading any of these, you should be."
• Review:Forbidden Planet International writes about Rich Tommaso's graphic novel, The Cavalier Mr. Thompson. "What the Cavalier does very well is encompass the zeitgeist of an era and people vividly. . . or the most part you’re happy to be led through the rooms and ravines, over train tracks and down corridors as a gentle narration of tales from times gone by ensconces you comfortingly," says Zainab.
• Review: Glen Weldon writes a large article in the New York Times Book Review on our newest anthology on queer comics. "With No Straight Lines [editor Justin Hall] has produced a useful, combative and frequently moving chronicle of a culture in perpetual transition; to read it is to watch as an insular demimonde transforms itself, in painful fits and joyful starts, and steps out into a wider monde."
• Review:Graphixia looks at Jacques Tardi's It Was the War of the Trenches. Scott Marsden states, "Seeing Tardi’s portrayal of the horrors of trench warfare and his vision of the random senselessness and brutality that accompanies it reminds us to reflect on our (mis)conceptions of history, drawing attention to the fractal realities that are embedded in events that have been experienced internationally. . . it feels far closer to reality than the propagandized historical materials offered by the typical academic publishing industry. . ."
• Review: Rob Clough reposts his review of our Hotwire anthology, this time on High Low. "A book for those who read Ghost World or American Splendor and [want] to know where to go next."
• Review:Chris Ware is profiled on the NY Review of Books on Jimmy Corrigan through Building Stories.
The luckiest Powerball ticket of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review:Drawn's John Martz is ready for Heads or Tails. "Lilli Carré is one of those cartoonists who has been putting out plenty of great work. . . She’s a master of short stories, so this collection is a welcome addition to my bookshelves. Rainbow Moment, a smartly-crafted story of nested memories all told in different colour palettes is the stand out work, and worth the price of admission alone."
• Review: John Martz of Drawn looks at Barack Hussein Obama. "Steven Weissman has been posting his odd comic strip, named after and starring a Bizarro-Universe version of Barack Hussein Obama . . . and it quickly became one of my favourite comics online. . . Obama’s re-election, if anything, hopefully means another four years of this strange and delightful oddity."
• Plug: On Librairie D + Q, staffer Helen lists Wandering Son Vol. 3 in her picks for 2012. "Shimura Takako treats her two young, trans* protagonists (or an approximation of "trans*", in the context of Japanese gender politics and identities) with gentleness, but does not fall into the trap of painting an overly rosy picture of their experience . . . while [they navigate] the general difficulties and anxieties of tween-hood."
• Plug: Maria Popova creates her 10 Best Design Books of 2012 and reiterates her love of Significant Objects on Brain Pickings. " 'The universe is made of stories, not atoms,' poet Muriel Rukeyser famously remarked. Hardly anyone can back this bombastic proclamation with more empirical conviction than [editors] Rob Walker and Joshua Glenn."
• Review:Geekrocker looks at Gabriella Giandelli's Interiorae. Wee Claire says, "Giandelli's pale ghostly illustrations reflect the sombre, mysterious mood Giandelli skilfully creates. This isn't a story about great feats of human strength or otherworldly adventures, this is a simple tale about real human lives.. . . Interiorae shows us that if we look hard enough, there's a little bit of magic waiting around every darkened corner."
• Plug:Chris Butcher recommends you pre-order 7 Miles a Second. "James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook do a phenomenal job at bringing [writer David Wojnarowicz's] story to life, and this is a vital and important piece of gay history that had been denied to me as a gay teen, and which has been out of print for far too long."
• Plug:Boing Boing posted their 2012 Gift Guide and included two of our books again, Is That All There Is?by Joose Swarte. "This anthology of Swarte's alternative comics from 1972 showcases his famous clean-line style that makes reading his work a pleasure." Mark Frauenfelder also includes Joe Kubert's Weird Horrors that showcases "his versatility in a variety of genres, including horror, humor, and romance."
• Review: Avid fan and writer Benjamin Herman rereads Love and Rockets, while making some great conclusions on the way. "[Duck Feet] was my first real exposure to Gilbert’s stories of Luba and the denizens of the Latin American village of Palomar, and I really enjoyed it. Gilbert’s writing was full of character, containing a distinctive voice, his artwork imbued with real atmosphere. . . Gilbert expertly crafted an almost epic tale that spans across a generation, giving us very real, flawed, dysfunctional characters." For Jaime's work "one of the key elements of Jaime’s stories is the process of growing up, of maturing, the struggle to become an adult and leave childhood behind. Maggie and Hopey both have to face the choice of pursuing long-term adult relationships or continuing teenage flings."
In a cheeky cameo, cartoonist Rich Tommaso magically appears next to FOX news reporter Denise Dillon when she grabs a copy of The Cavalier Mr. Thompson off the bookshelf. Tommaso has a better chance "of writing a NY Times Best Seller than winning the Powerball," currently at $500,000,000. While we distribute Tommaso's lastest graphic novel and have published a few NY TimesBest Sellers, we cannot guarantee that a photogenic creator will appear next to you the next time you thumb through their work in a public space. But be warned: they might.
Dash Shaw's masterpiece on life with the Loony Family called Bottomless Belly Button can now be yours thanks to comiXology. The 700 page epic is just the thing to slip onto your digital reading device as long you warm up your thumbing finger. After 40-some years of marriage, Maggie and David Loony shock their children with their announcement of a planned divorce. But the reason for splitting isn't itself shocking: they’re "just not in love any more." The announcement sparks a week long Loony family reunion at Maggie and David's creepy (and possibly haunted) beach house.
Whether you've been a neglected child during a divorce, a detached sister watching it happen or an impassioned advocate of staying together, Bottomless Belly Button is a realistic view on how splitting the family tree causes splintering. But you don't need to know a thing about it to enjoy the book, Shaw takes you through every variable and point of view along the way. Dash Shaw's weighty tale is available via comiXology for a $24.99 today, don't miss out on this breaktaking book.
"Using Peanuts-like comic strips in addition to pie charts, letters, and floor plans, Shaw draws an honest, meditative 720-page portrait of a multigenerational middle-class family..." - GQ, "The 20 Graphic Novels You Should Read (After Watchmen)"
"His nonjudgmental focus on the everyday lives of characters undergoing emotional turmoil is a welcome break from the angsty, post-modern hyperbole so common now in fiction that tries to push the envelope. Although the book, at 720 pages, is almost as long as The Brothers Karamazov, the effect is riveting." - Laurel Maury, NPR Books
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