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.
It was a mad, Mad afternoon when Robin McConnell, MK Reed and I dropped into the Mad Office. Assistant Art Director and comics consumer Ryan Flanders reluctantly fell for my charms and agreed to a tour even though their deadline loomed large a few days later (hey, we don't want to impede a dying medium, right?). Even the guards had a cute shtick that took 5 minutes of my life and a humorless person would have left. Luckily, that's not me.
Ryan started off the tour by showing us his first office at MAD, it's near the door, pretty cold but looks a bit similar to mine at Fantagraphics.
The MADtropolitan Museum of Art showed off some of the best and brightest of recent hilarious paintings, complete in their gold gilded plastic frames melted down from the plastic noses and vintage glasses frames of the cancelled shows The Real Housewives of Jersey and Williamsburg.
The props display case was amazing from Gutrot which I've definitely drank and Spy vs Spy toilet paper. Photoshop ain't got nothing on printed, folded and glued cardboard.
Everyone else in the office was just as charming, waiting for the day their piles of tchotchkies bury them. Art Director (and a cartoonist himself) Sam Viviano showed off some amazing original artwork and Sculpey sculptures created for photo-shoots. Check out that DREW FRIEDMAN drawing over Ryan's shoulder.
One of my favorite props was an actual headstone used as a support structure in the office created for a back cover thanks to a Feldstein/Gaines joke.
Ryan's new office turned out to be a nightmare, so well organized I made a mental note to courier him a spring-loaded box of trash upon my return home.
Like any good office the mail room is actually where all the good stuff is located (at Fantagraphics, our fridge is in there). Snuggled among packing materials and one hell of a cutting board are sexy flat files full of Al Jaffee, Tom Bunk — EVEN a Tom Fowler, internet friend.
LOOK at this Al Jaffee fold-in drawing. My dream is to have one printed SOMEDAY, SOMEHOW instead of lamely attaching my fold-in to the magazine and tricking my friends into thinking it was actually printed in the magazine.
Jewish Batman, you slay me. That utility belt must have some tasty kosher deserts near the back. (by Al Jaffee)
One beautiful Jack Davis drawing that was REJECTED from the magazine (or Davis decided to redraw) blew me away. The best part was the tattoo "My Mom Loves Me" is infinitely better than Mother tattoos of the world.
In gorgeous ink and the now-illegal duoshade/duotone. Please place your drinks down, Fantagraphics and MAD magazine are not responsible for your spittle shorting out your keyboard.
Despite the slow decline of the magazine industry, MAD magazine has lived on, able to pay cartoonists for their work (wow-za!) and maintain a staff. By raising prices and creating a Mad reading app, they stay current and accessible. MAD's first audience may be a bit gray in the face now as they celebrate their 60th anniversary but continue to wow audiences. As a kid, I didn't have much access to the magazines but my grandmother would buy any books at any yard, church or library sale. Three rooms in their house were lined with built-in-books shelves and in the ‘humor' or comic sections lay the trade paperback editions of MAD (often with the cover ripped off). Ryan was kind enough to explain that most of those were unused comics and many have not been reprinted to this day due to copyright ambiguity. Sounds like something for a legal intern to help them figure out.
As long as parents send kids care packages at camp, people stay overnight in the hospital and Hollywood makes bottom-feeder television and convoluted movies, MAD will reign supreme. Thanks again to Ryan Flanders for the tour, Robin McConnell for some of the photos (there are MILLIONS more here) and MK Reed for the company.
Serialized since December 2002 in Comic Beam Magazine, Shimura Takako's beautiful take on adolescence and growing up Wandering Son is celebrating its 10th year in Japan. With complex characters who discover they enjoy identifying as a different gender than their own, the story slowly evolves as Nitori and Takatsuki gain confidence. A quiet story that resonates deep with anyone who has felt different or been teased for seeming not manly or girly enough. Matt Thorn and Fantagraphics first made Wandering Son accessible in English in 2011 but we're speeding up the process! Volume 4 comes out at the beginning of the new year, followed by Volume 5 in June. Six will shortly follow, hopefully in time for the holidays.
The Wandering Son anime is available to watch for free at Anime News Network if you want a taste of the graphic novels. The beautiful watercolor-style of Takako is reflected in the treatment of the anime. Young middle-school students often openly describe what they want to learn throughout the school year, offer ways to help each other become the person they want to be in a refreshingly ernest way. The graphic novels are a to-die-for with pristine design and gorgeous Takako full-color character introductions. Sign up for a subscrption of Volumes 4-6 or check out your local library today! And eat a delicious cupcake to celebrate Wandering Son!
This is what our table looked like for most of the day. It was very busy, just like SPX so we barely left the table for pictures, let alone peeing or eating (one of those could solve the other, you decide the order).
WHOA, did you just catch a glimpse of an advance copy of Moto Hagio's The Heart of Thomas in that bottom right corner (pictured above)?! Cartoonist Jose-Luis Olivares and a calvacade of others flipped through the 500+ page masterpiece, ready to read it as soon as it was available for purchase.
The enigmatic and rarely-seen Josh Simmons appeared out of a subway mist much to his fans appreciation. Many fans stopped by to crack wise with the dark master while he signed The Furry Trap, including fellow cartoonists Dean Haspiel, Joe Infurnari and Nick Abadzis.
The intensity in this guy's face as he hands Gary Panter his copy ofDal Tokyo cannot be beat.
Intern Anna and I were watching said Panter fan to make sure he never put on THAT murder face, you know, that one Josh Simmons draws a lot:
Olivier Schrauwen stopped by as well to sign The Man Who Grew His Beard but left his pencil case full of pens so thank you for the gift (ha ha, don’t worry we’ll take care of them).
Writer and CBR reporter, Alex Dueben, grabs one of the last copies of Heads or Tails.
Art Spiegelman blew smoke quaintly into my face and Josh Simmons’ on the search for Lilli Carré, whom he couldn’t get enough of. That empty space on the wooden table between them is where her giant stack of Heads or Tails was before it sold out.
Chris Ware came to see how the show was going for Fantagraphics and to escape the hotbox upstairs. We gabbed about the printmaking department at the University of Texas, our shared alma mater, and Civil War reenactment. I think I spot a Nate Doyle to the left of him too.
We caught up with future Fantagraphics creator and Oily Comics entrepreneur Charles Forsman pictured here with brother Tobey and cartoonist Melissa Mendes hanging out at Bergen Street Comics.
As the hands of the humid clock ticked past 7, we thanked our lucky stars for being a part of Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival. Here is Josh Simmons, intern Anna Pederson and me ready for some yum-yums wrapped in bacon.
Brooklyn, Gabe, Dan and Bill: thank you all so much for your gorgeous hospitality and smiles. Thank you, Robin McConnell for providing some photos. See you all next year!
In November, we are thankful for many things like a re-elected President, food and family coming together, power and heat slowly returning to New York. Fantagraphics and comiXology present a timely story to make you feel thankful for what you do have with the incredible graphic novel by visionary Chris Wright (Inkweed, 2008 from Sparkplug) called Blacklung. One of the most impressive graphic novel debuts in recent years, a sweeping, magisterially conceived, visually startling tale of violence, amorality, fortitude, and redemption, one part Melville, one part Peckinpah, all in 130 pages.
In a night of piratical treachery when an arrogant school teacher is accidentally shanghaied aboard the frigate Hand, his fate becomes inextricably fettered to that of a sardonic gangster. Dependent on one another for survival in their strange and dangerous new home, the two form an unlikely alliance as they alternately elude or confront the thieves and cutthroats that bad luck has made their companions and captors. After an act of terrible violence, the teacher is brought before the ship's captain and instructed to use his literary skills to aid him in writing his memoirs. Drown yourself in Wright's gorgeous black and white panel and watch in dark story unfold as the cross-hatched characters fulfill their destinies, available now for your digital delight.
"It’s a graphic novel, both in its vernacular term and in a more literal sense, violent and horrible and poetic at the same time – the sort of thing McCarthy might write if he were more interested in pirates than cowboys or Appalachians." -Chris Schweizer, SCAD professor, Robot6
"Depressing, existential AND romantic? I couldn’t sign up quickly enough for Chris Wright’s original graphic novel debut." -Graeme McMillan, Robot6
The most feathered pom-pom of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Interview: Steven Weissman is a popular man with his presurrealidential comic, Barack Hussein Obama. Comic Book Resources and Alex Dueben interviews Weissman on the evolution of a comic and re-engaging your audience.
• Interview:Comics Alliance's J. Caleb Mozzocco interviews Steven Weissman on Barack Hussein Obama. "The Barack Hussein Obama that ultimately emerges from the book is a pretty regular guy trapped in a comic strip, struggling to be all things to all people," states Mozzocco.
• Review:Jim Woodring's sneak peek at his sketchbooks that eventually became Problematic was up on BoingBoing before the video went 'kaput,' now there is Jim inking like a badass with a nib. You can still see sample pages here for Problematic. Video made and featuring the hands of Marketing Director, Mike Baehr, coming soon!
• Plug: Comics Reporter comments on a few of our releases from this week. In reference to The Cartoon Utopia, Tom Spurgeon states, "Ron Regé Jr. is one of those special cartoonists where I buy everything he does without asking questions first. On the strength of this latest collection, with which I'm only about halfway done, Lilli Carré may join that group of cartoonists much sooner than I thought possible. . . " with her collection of stories in Heads or Tails.
• Interview: Andrew Wheeler of Comics Alliance interviews Justin Hall, editor of No Straight Lines. "It's also a testament to how good those early creators were. Howard Cruse, Trina Robbins, Roberta Gregory, they're some of the best cartoonists in the business and they were doing work of surprising sophistication from the very beginning."
Fantagraphics and Jaime Hernandez release another Love and Rockets treasure via comiXology, this time the 2012 release of God and Science: Return of the Ti-Girls. Dressing up as a superhero for Halloween? Then you can't miss this read while waiting for kids to ring your doorbell.
Originally serialized in Love and Rockets: New Stories, “Ti-Girls Adventures ” managed to be both a rollickingly creative super-hero joyride (featuring three separate super-teams and over two dozen characters) that ranged from the other side of the universe to Maggie’s shabby apartment, and a genuinely dramatic fable about madness, grief, and motherhood as Penny Century’s decades-long quest to become a genuine super-heroine are finally, and tragically, fulfilled.
This 138 page "director's cut" includes 30 new pages of story available for only $17.99. The print edition of this book moved a fan to dress up as Boot Angel, the new protagonist in the this book. You'll love it too .
"For what's essentially an evocative throwback to the kid's superhero comics of yore, there's a lot going on here--youth versus seasoned oldsters, absolute power corrupting absolutely, mother/child dysfunction--and it's all wrapped up in a package of terrific dialogue, stellar artwork, and enough raw fun to drown in." -Publishers Weekly
"It's only when you try to unpack the story that you realize what a graceful and economical storyteller Jaime Hernandez has become no matter what genre he might choose to utilize." -Tom Spurgeon, Comics Reporter
Ian Chipman writes, ". . . Now, English readers can dig into another fantasy series populated by [Trondheim's] distinctive anthropomorphized animals and distinguished by equal parts cutting humor and bizarre plot twists. . . What seems like a good, old-fashioned unlikely-hero tale in the making actually turns out to be more complex and slippery, as Ralph’s past gets sliced in bit by bit as we gradually learn about the world he inhabits, all leading to a blindsiding reveal and a tantalizing finish. Trondheim’s cartooning is as saucy and quirky as ever in this first of six volumes that promises more endearing oddities to come."
The cuddliest cat at the shelter of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review:Body Literature reviews The Last VispoAnthology: Visual Poetry 1998-2008 edited by Nico Vassilakis & Crag Hill. Stephan Delbos writes "The Last Vispo Anthology is strange. It is also challenging, eclectic, confounding, erudite, punchy, and, by turns, beautiful. . .overall there is an elegiac note to this anthology, which extends from the title to the feeling, put forth by several of the essays, that visual poetry is facing a turning point.. .visual poetry is the bastard hermaphrodite of arts and letters. In a good way."
• Review:David Fournol looks at The Cavalier Mr. Thompson by Rich Tommaso, a rough translation states, "Exemplified by its beautiful design and the use of only two colors gives the book a slightly dated, authentic look. . . Describing and illustrating people's lives is a major talent of Rich Tommaso's. It is a process that has already been perfected in another of his works. . ."
• Review:Los Angeles I'm Yours gets Barack Hussein Obama by Steven Weissman in a big way. Kyle Fitzpatrick says, "The novel follows a gangly Barack Hussein Obama who is a constant prankster and has absolutely no manners. . . It’s a dark world and Obama is the smarmy asshole king. . . It’s a great pre-election graphic novel with some great, dark laughs."
• Review:Comic Book Resources and Tim Callahan looks at two books from the 'W' section of his library.Barack Hussein Obama by Steven Weissman "seems part of a larger movement (from IDW's Artist's Editions to years of Kramers Ergot) to signify the artwork as the end result rather than as a means of producing an end result. . . And Weissman's work demands ingestion and interpretation rather than declaration. Oh, it's good, too, if that has any meaning after all that abstraction." On Wallace Wood's Came the Dawn from the EC Library, Callahan posits, "This is a serious-looking, important comic, for serious-minded, important people. This isn't some lascivious spectacle. Heck, there's only one female on the cover, and she's facing away from us. No one is carrying around any chopped-off heads or limbs. There's no blood anywhere. No shrieking to be seen."
• Plug: Chris Mautner of Robot 6 looks through our next season catalog. The Endby Anders Nilson, I tend to consider this book. . . to be his best work to date, an absolutely shattering and deeply moving account of dealing with loss and grief." On The Cabbie Vol. 2by Marti, Mautner mentions, "Oh man, I seriously love me some Cabbie. I don’t think the first volume exactly sold like hotcakes, but I’m glad to see their continuing on with Marti’s ultra-dark Chester Gould homage." In reference toStorm P.: A Century of Laughter: "Kim Thompson is going to school us all in the world of Eurocomics or die trying. I, for one, am always eager to learn, however. This coffee-table book features the work of Danish gag cartoonist Robert Storm Petersen, whose work is reminiscent of O. Soglow and other New York cartoonists from the same era."
• Plug:Boing Boing covers a few of their favorite books. Mark Frauenfelder enjoyed flipping through Weird Horrors and Daring Adventuresby Joe Kubert, edited by Bill Schelly. "Best known for Sgt. Rock,Tarzan, and Hawkman in the 1960s and 70s, this anthology of Kubert's 1940s work reveals his versatility in a variety of genres, including horror, humor, and romance." In regards to the Is That All There Is? by Joose Swarte Frauenfelder admits, "I prefer his work over Hergé's (don't shoot me). This anthology of Swarte's alternative comics from 1972 showcases his famous clean-line style that makes reading his work a pleasure."
• Review: Jason Sacks of Comics Bulletin interviews Justin Hall, editor of No Straight Lines, on queer comics, teaching comics and preserving history. Hall says, "I think in general the queer comics underground is – if you could categorize it with anything, there is a directness and honesty to the work – a real rawness that's quite impressive. I think that comes out of the feminist underground comics: Wimmen’s Comix, Tits and Clits, etc."
• Review:Gay Comics List talks about No Straight Lines, edited by Justin Hall. Francois Peneaud says, "Hall wisely chose to follow a (more or less) chronological path instead of anything fancier, but that doesn’t mean he has nothing interesting to say, far from it. The tension between specialized comics (by which I mean comics made by and for a specific group of people) and mainstream audience, the evolution from the urgent need for visibility to the creation of complexified issues and characters, all these and more are covered in a few pages."
• Review: Editor Kim Thompson speaks to World Literature Today about translating Nicholas Mahler's Angelman and other books in the Fantagraphics library. "Humor is far more difficult to translate than anything else. If you translate a dramatic sequence and your words or rhythm aren’t quite right, it still can work."
• Review:Page 45 enjoys Special Exits by Joyce Farmer. "No punches are pulled, this is life, specifically the twilight years and subsequent demise of elderly parents, told with such honesty, candour and compassion that I actually find myself welling up again as I'm typing this. . . SPECIAL EXITS becomes a testament to the human spirit and the value of a positive outlook on life, especially in one's latter years when faced with failing health," says Jonathan.
• Review:The Comics Reporter enjoys Buz Sawyer Vol. 2: Sultry's Tigerby Roy Crane. Tom Spurgeon says, "To get the obvious out of the way, this book has some almost impossibly beautiful cartooning in it. Even for someone like me that finds the basic visual approach of Buz Sawyer less thrilling than the more rugged, crude cartooning of Crane's Wash Tubbs work, there are several panels of stop and whistle variety."
Last night in Los Angeles at the Public Image Ltd show, Pat Thomas ran into John Lydon backstage (aka Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols). The two have worked together on some album reissues and Lydon was excited to get a copy of Thomas' book, Listen, Whitey! The Sounds of Black Power. In fact he said, "it's like Christmas." Thomas' book moved Lydon to start "digging out my Last Poets and Gil Scott-Heron records again." A good read guaranteed.
We're reminding you to check out The Art Institute of Chicago's exhibition entitled Rarely Seen: Contemporary Works on Paper, that is up from now until January 13, 2012. Organized by the Prints and Drawings Department of the museum, the show also includes comics from the Ryerson Library collection including Blexbolex, Mat Brinkman, Charles Burns, R. Crumb (Zap and Weirdo), Hairy Who, Humbug magazine, Al Jaffee, Rory Hayes, Jay Lynch, David Sandlin, Art Spiegelman, S Clay Wilson (Zap), and issues from Raw magazine.
The non-comics but still amazing part of the show includes artists such as Ed Ruscha, Martin Kippenberger, Carrol Dunham, Jim Nutt, and Romare Bearden and the whole show is located in Galleries 124–127.
"Whether centuries old or the latest contemporary creations, works on paper are extremely light sensitive and can only be displayed in the galleries for short and infrequent periods of time before they must be returned to the safety of the dark, climate-controlled vault."
So jump on the chance, Chicago, to see some brilliant works on paper in THIS lifetime. The museum is open daily from 10:30am-5pm, open late until 8 on Wednesdays. Admission to the Art Institute of Chicago is free to Illinois residents the first and second Wednesdays of every month.
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