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.
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.
The last peanut of a day of Online Commentaries & Diversions aka the news you missed while present shopping, latke eating and flying:
• Review: The Comics Journal and Rucker crack the two books focusing on Malcom McNeill and William S. Burrough's artistic collaboration, Observed While Falling (the memoir) and The Lost Art of Ah Pook is Here. (the art book) "The art is awesome, the memoir is engaging. . .Ah Pook is in a characteristic style of Burroughs’s middle period. He mixes a true-adventure story with bitter anti-establishment scenarios, gay sexual fantasies, science-fictional visualizations of chimerical mutants, and apocalyptic visions of a biological plague. . .The results are staggering—the best pictures of dicks that I’ve ever seen. . . ."
On the memoir "One of the pleasures of McNeill’s memoir, Observed While Falling, is reading about hear about his conversations with Burroughs. Old Bill laid down some tasty aphorisms. . . Ah Pook is a word/image virus. Study these new books and enjoy the disease."
• Interview:Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez of Love and Rockets are interviewed by Tim Hodler, Dan Nadel and Frank Santoro on The Comics Journal. Jaime talks about becoming more popular cartoonists, "So Gilbert and I kind of set up our own ground where we go. We go, you love Raw? Raw’s East Coast? Love and Rockets is West Coast. And they go, 'So West Coast is primitive and old-fashioned?' Fine. It’s not art school."
• Review:Comics Alliance features several of our box sets on their Holiday Gift Guide: Deluxe Editions. On the Love and Rockets Library Collection, by Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez Andy Khouri states, “This indie comics mainstay has been going for nearly 30 years, making Love and Rockets as intimidating to some new readers as even the densest superhero mythologies. Luckily, Fantagraphics has made the Los Bros Hernandez saga about a massive cast of startlingly lifelike characters digestible in the form of affordable reprint volumes published in chronological order."
• Review: Douglas Wolk reviews Harvey Kurtzman’s EC stories in Corpse on the Imjin! for the New York Times. "Kurtzman’s writing could be bombastic — nearly all of these stories’ titles end in exclamation points — but, as the United States became mired in the Korean War, his reeling disgust at the horrors of war (and his thick, slashing brush strokes) made for shockingly bold rhetoric."
•Review:The Atlantic lists Mark Twain's Autobiography 1910-2010 by Michael Kupperman as one of The Best Books I Read This Year. Chris Heller says "Kupperman’s brilliance isn’t just in his humor, though. Mark Twain’s Autobiography is meant to be read in small doses, no more than half a dozen pages at a time. Trust me: You don’t want to gorge on a book that’s this weirdly amusing. But after a peek into Kupperman’s hysterically twisted mind, you’ll keep wanting to go back for more."
• Review:Comics Bulletin releases its 2012 Best Graphic Novel List and The Hypo by Noah Van Sciver makes it. "Van Sciver's toolkit includes the pens and pins of pathos and pain, self-doubt and angst, as much as it contains determination and fortitude. The Lincoln of The Hypo transcends his time, place, and even (or maybe especially) his name. . . It stands as a true example of the capabilities of this medium to deliver stories in a truly visceral manner," writes Daniel Elkin.
• Review:Unshelved comics review The Hypo by Noah Van Sciver. Gene Ambaum writes,"The mood of Lincoln’s life in Springfield, Illinois, is well-expressed via the rough-hewn, cross-hatched skies, floorboards, and backgrounds."
• Review: Tim Callahan has nothing but love for Spacehawkby Basil Wolverton on Comic Book Resources. He states, "Wolverton's world is a weird and ugly and beautifully innocently horrible charmingly delightful one, and it has more in common with the absurd genre riffs from something like Pendleton Ward's Adventure Time or Jesse Moynihan's Forming or Tom Gauld's Goliath than it does the bland superhero melodrama of 'Marvel Mystery Comics'."
• Review:Comics Bulletin's Favorite Reprints Books of 2012 include Gary Panter's Dal Tokyo and our Carl Barks reprints. In reference to Carl Barks' Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck, "I would not hesitate to say that Fantagraphics’ reprints of Barks’ Duck comics may very well be the best collection series that any comic company is doing today! . . Each story is funny, smart and just plain fun and Fantagraphics treat each and every panel on the page with care and detail," states Nick Boisson. Jason Sacks writes "[Dal Tokyo is] a freaking godsend from the reprint editors at Fantagraphics because it unearthed an amazing, surreal, brilliant lost classic that's like an artifact from some amazing parallel dimension.. . Readers are asked to bring our perceptions to these pages, to bring our intelligence and passion and appreciation for abstraction and love for everything that feels different and yet the same as everyday life."
• Review:School Library Journal files Walt Disney's Donald Duck: A Christmas for Shacktownby Carl Barks in the Dewey (Huey and Louey) decimal of their hearts. J. Caleb Mozzocco says "[It] features another 200 pages of master cartooning from 'The Good Duck Artist' in a nicely produced bookshelf- or backpack-ready hardcover edition. . . the Barks books are great comics for kids and adult fans of the medium."
• Review: Uncle Scrooge: Only a Poor Old Man makes the Best of or Our Favorite Books of 2012 list on the Village Voice. Alan Scherstuhlstates, “Sprightly, inventive, wise, and more exciting than 60-year-old-duck tales should be, Barks's work already stands at the top of any list of history's greatest comics. It should also rank high among stories, period.”
• Review:Brooklyn Based thinks Sexytime edited by Jacques Boyreau is for youand suggests books for reading and giving. "This book is a journey into the aesthetic of porn," states Jon Reiss.
• Interview: Alex Dueben interviews Lilli Carré on Comic Book Resources about comics and animation. "I loved designing and arranging the [Heads or Tails]. Figuring out which pieces to include and the best order for them took quite a while, since I wanted each story to speak to the one before and after it, and to have a good flow despite the shift in styles. It was like making a high-stakes mix tape."
• Review: North Adams Transcript and John Seven look at Heads or Tails by Lilli Carré. "The multi-faceted Lilli Carre -- author, illustrator, animator -- presents stories that are as gentle as they are cryptic, in which the darkness of her themes meld perfectly with the sweetness of her style. . .Carre’s short work is collected and celebrated, revealing a creator of power, easily on the level with lauded types like Chris Ware."
• Review:Hooded Utilitarian makes it through Josh Simmons' The Furry Trap (probably with all the lights on in the house). James Romberger writes it is “packed cover to cover with shudders that cannot be anticipated, that grow worse as they progressively become less clearly defined. The last narrative is the most frightening because it is a straightforwardly articulated bit of cinematography on paper that, as with the most effective of suspenseful creations, gains in impact from what is never shown, the reader’s mind having already been prepared by the foregoing tales to expect the worst.”
• Review:Comics Alliance features several of our box sets on their Holiday Gift Guide: Deluxe Editions. On The Complete Peanuts Collection box setsby Charles M Schulz. Andy Khouri writes, “Reprinted in chronological order with the highest production values, any one of these books would make an auspicious addition to any bookshelf.”
• Review:School Library Journal looks at Charlie Brown’s Christmas Stocking by Charles M. Schulz. J. Caleb Mozzocco says, "Schulz’s Peanuts has always been unique in its ability to speak to audiences of adults and children simultaneously. . . Nice then to have a comic that can speak to kids, adults and the little kids the adults used to be all at the same time—even if only for a quick 40 pages or so."
• Review: HeroesOnline looks at The Complete Syndicated Pogo Vol. 2 "Bona Fide Balderdash" by Walt Kelly. “Pogo certainly belongs on any informed list of the top 5 newspaper comic strips of all time. The artwork is stunning, the pacing is fast, the characters simply come alive on the page; the plot-lines are crazy and labyrinthine and above all hilarious . . . Fantagraphics does the Kelly oeuvre proud with beautiful production values and insightful introductory material,” states Andy Mansell.
• Review:Dungeon Quest 3 by Joe Daly is the Best ofYear 2012 on the Forbidden Planet International site.Clark Burscough writes, “Deceptively simple looking artwork contains hidden depths, and the mythology that Joe Daly is building up around these characters and their world is starting to get properly out there.. . And on top of that – it’s laugh out loud funny. I can’t go into precisely why, because it’s also laugh out loud filthy. Something for everyone in these books.”
• Interview:Comic Book Resources and Alex Dueben interview James Romberger on his collaboration of 7 Miles a Second (and Post York). On his love of New York-centric books, “It is strange that I'll get used to an aspect of the landscape, but so often, I will come out to find it gone and replaced with something completely different. Still, I also love that shifting quality and the multiculturalism of the city; it is my primary subject,” says Romberger.
• Review:Listen, Whitey!on NPR Music for its MUSIC compilation. Matt Sullivan, assistant to author Pat Thomas, talks to Michaelangeo Matos about the project to accompany the book. "There's no way that Sony or EMI were going to [automatically] say yes to the Bob Dylan or John & Yoko tracks, because they get those requests all day. Years ago, Pat went to Bob Dylan's office and got those guys to approve it. The same thing with Yoko. . ."
• Plug: Speaking of 2013, Johanna Draper Carlson of Comics Worth Reading can't wait for Pretty in Ink: American Women Cartoonists by Trina Robbins to come out!
Is this happy-go-lucky holiday season getting on your nerves? Are increasingly sentimental anthropomorphic animals for the flippin' birds? Johnny Ryan is here to serve you. This week comiXology and Fantagraphics released Angry Youth Comix issues #11-14 for you to enjoy in the midst of madness. In addition to the sex, violence and scatological filth on display, Angry Youth Comix delivers equal opportunity antagonism toward every race, gender, sexual orientation, political persuasion and religion, as well as jokes about international and humanitarian tragedies, in abundance. That being said, it is only available via the filthy filthy web so buy it and read it on your computer instead of going to that meeting.
$1.99 is the crazy amount of money for the eyeball tickling guffaws you'll emit when reading Angry Youth Comix. Head over to comiXology now to download. Then you'll get to find out exactly what happens to Loady McGee, Sinus O'Gynus and Blubbina LaQuiche.
"Let me tell you something: In this increasingly cynical world of happily self-imposed isolation and sneering judgement, one graphicish novella, with pixie-like tickles, appears through the misty mist to take us all by the hand gently unto the night. You hold in your hand that very thing. Johnny Ryan's Angry Youth Comix. Now go away." – David Cross
Beyond Palomar collects two of Gilbert's groundbreaking works about the Central American hamlet of Palomar in one affordable book."Poison River" is a dizzying period piece often hailed as one of Hernandez's masterpieces. It traces the pre-Palomar childhood of Luba, her teenage marriage to gangster Peter Rio, the secrets behind her mysterious mother, all the way up to her subsequent escape and arrival in Palomar.
Meanwhile, "Love and Rockets X," set in the early 1990s (in the waning years of Bush I's post-Reagan hangover, with Gulf War I in the background), takes us from plush Beverly Hills to the dangerous east side and introduces us to a dizzyingly diverse cast of characters, including a lowlife rock 'n' roll band, a "posse" of black youths, a ditzy Hollywood mom and her spoiled son, a gay activist filmmaker and his rebellious, half-Iraqi daughter, and a group of racist thugs whose violent attack on an older woman sets the plot in motion. These fantastic stories are now a swipe of the finger away on comiXology, 260 pages of fantastic comics at $14.99. A steal of a deal.
"In a real world, not the screwed-up world we have now, [Gilbert Hernandez] would be considered one of the greatest American storytellers. It's so hard to do funny, tragic, local and epic, and he does all simultaneously, and with great aplomb." – Junot Diaz
"In Gilbert's Palomar stories, there's a rawness that dominates the proceedings: raw anger, raw sexuality, raw passion for life, death and art." – Rob Clough, High-Low
The first* glass of spiked eggnog of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review: Metroland'sSimcoe reviews Walt Disney's Donald Duck: A Christmas for Shacktown by Carl Barks and The Complete Peanuts: 1985 to 1986 by Charles M. Schulz. Glenn Perrett states, "Reading Carl Bark's "Donald Duck" stories from 60 years ago was entertaining. The animation and colours are excellent and sections such as "Story Notes" [etc.] . . . complement the wonderful comics making this book a nice addition to any library." And "The Complete Peanuts: 1985 to 1986 are sure to make the holidays more entertaining and makes a nice gift and keepsake."
• Review: Noel Murray of The AV Club continues the Christmas coverage with Schulz's Charlie Brown's Christmas Stocking which "is mainly meant to serve as a nice little accessory to holiday decorations, to be brought out every December with the ornaments and Andy Williams records. For that reason, it’s hard to humbug it…" With Walt Disney's Donald Duck: "A Christmas for Shacktown" by Carl Barks, Murray notes "These stories—nearly all published in the early ’50s—are mostly non-Christmas-y, but the title tale is a sweet one. . . For those who do want a surefire present for the comics buff in their lives."
• Review: School Library Journal goes over some of the favorite holiday graphic novels of 2012 like Charlie Brown's Christmas Stocking by Charles Schulz. J. Caleb Mozzocco states "It’s beautifully designed, a breezy, five-minute read, and about the size of a Christmas card, making it a pretty great gift. And, this being Schulz’s Peanuts, it’s the sort of gift you’ll never grow out of." As for Carl Barks' holiday and title story in Walt Disney's Donald Duck: "A Christmas for Shacktown", "It’s one of about 20 of the top-notch comics in the book, which range from one-page gags to the sort of sprawling adventures Barks was best-known for."
• Review: Noel Murray of The AV Club takes a peak at Heads or Tails by Lilli Carré. "Carré loves to constrict her characters, because she knows that limiting their options won’t necessarily limit their imaginations. . . her comics work often has the feel of avant-garde cinema, as she weds surreal images to everyday situations to enchant audiences and spark ideas. . . "
• Review: Christopher Borrelli of The Chicago Tribune writes a loooong article on Lilli Carré and her new book Heads or Tails "that best captures the range, humor and vague sense of ennui she's made her name on. . . "
• Review: Noel Murray of The AV Club enjoys Tom Kacynski's Beta Testing the Apocalypse. "Kaczynski’s comics are frequently nightmarish, starting from a slightly askew place and then tipping further into darkness. . . But while his stories have characters and plots—often with haunting endings—they’re more like essays than conventional narratives."
• Review: Noel Murray of The AV Club finished the You'll Never Know series with Book 3: A Soldier's Heart by Carol Tyler. "This is Tyler’s magnum opus: her thoughts on art, work, relationships, music, war, and anything else that came to her mind while she was piecing together her dad’s story."
• Plug:About.com fills in the blanks of their Christmas Sex Book List by adding our most recent titles. On No Straight Lines: Four Decades of Queer Comics edited by Justin Hall, Cory Silverberg slyly states "given the diversity of artists working today it's not a definitive collection, but it's sexy and joyful and difficult in parts, and definitely one to own." Meanwhile, Naked Cartoonists (edited by Gary Groth) contains "a number of stand outs among this overwhelmingly white, male collection of artists. And I imagine this could be a perfect gift for the right kind of comic nerd."
• Review: Danel Olson of the Weird Fiction Volume 3 writes on Richard Sala and The Hidden . "Sala has become one of my favorite American sequential artists because of his subtle tributes and expansions to four of the most memorable twentieth century American cartoonists - Charles Addams, Edward Gorey, Gahan Wilson, and Basil Wolverton. . . Forbidding and weird seem like weak adjectives for Sala's The Hidden, and I urge you to open it. . . Give a standing order to Fantagraphics for any noirishly weird fictions forthcoming from Sala."
• Review: Chris Estey of KEXP reviews the Bill Griffith collection called Bill Griffith: Lost and Found - Comics 1969-2003. Chris Estey writes that it is "a luxurious and generous Fantagraphics big book collection of his non-Zippy work, is required reading for those who may have missed his parodies and punk rock operas in the past, or want them all bound together. It’s also for those like me who were never really that much into Zippy in the first place."
• Plug: Dave Segal recants the events immediately following his Stranger article on Listen, Whitey!by Pat Thomason the Stranger Slog. White supremacists got all sorts of angry at this history book and the white dude who wrote it.
• Plug: One step forward, two steps back. The Adele Blanc-Sec movie is inching along towards distribution in America. Johanna Draper Carlson gets the scoop on DVDs Worth Reading on Jacques Tardi's graphic novel adaptation.
• Plug:Negromancer reviews the film adaptation of Art School Confidentialdirected by Terry Zwigoff based on the comics of Daniel Clowes. "While Art School Confidential comes across as a satire of art schools, the faculty, and students, it is also a love story and youth relationship drama. It works well as all three."
*let's be real, it's like our tenth glass of that local dairy's eggnog
The comics world lost a great cartoonist this month as Spain Rodriguez drove his wild hog one last time. As an influential members of underground comics, his reach was large. The New York Times wrote an excellent obituary on Spain and Bruce Weber profiled him as "part of a wave of artists — including R. Crumb, S. Clay Wilson and Bill Griffith, who created the character Zippy the Pinhead — who established the irreverent, profane, highly sexed, antiwar, anti-capitalist spirit of underground comics (often, in this context, spelled comix)." Below is a sketch Spain made for Associate Publisher Eric Reynolds.
From the Latino Comics Expo, Ricardo Padilla remembers some of his favorite moments. "We were touched by his generous spirit, his kindness, and his willingness to support and encourage artists and their dreams. He even agreed to be part of our Art Show, LA RAZA COMICA, which premiered at the Cartoon Art Museum after our Expo. . . I will always treasure these memories of Spain Rodriguez and will never forget the encouragement and support he lent to the Latino Comics Expo. He was a True Revolutionary and and an honorable man. My fondest memory is of him in the Museum's 'green room' after his panel discussion, smiling with his wife and daughter. . . savoring one of my mom's 'chile verde' burritos. . ."
Stephen R. Bissette and Skip Williamson taught me everything I needed to know about the history of underground comics including Zap comics and Spain Rodriguez, from there I went on to read his collected comics, thanks to Last Gasp and Fantagraphics. While not everyone was able to meet this amazing creator, we can remember him through friends' stories of Spain and the stories he created. Tom Spurgeon of the Comics Reporter made a thorough list of all the links, stories and pictures of Spain in his collective memory.
For the curious, a retrospective of Spain's career has been hanging at the Burchfield Penney Center in Buffalo, NY since September and will be up through January 20th. Jack Foran of ArtVoice recently visited the exhibit and had this to say, "Rodriguez was a kind of incorrigible rebellious type. . . when abstract expressionism with its two-dimensionality principle was dogma—he was into three-dimensionality, in spades—and his blue-collar employment in Buffalo area manufactories, where the curriculum was the much more interesting subject to him of simmering socioeconomic class warfare." His art will live on.
(The first photo is a panel from Cruisin' with the Hound by Spain released earlier this year while the last on is page six from Hard-Ass Friday Nite).
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