Cartoonist, journalist 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.
Most Seattlelites recognize the cartoons of Steven Weissman since he's been drawing I, Anonymous for the Seattle Stranger for quite awhile. In this weekly letter column, he pens the diatribes of the angry, bitter, self-loathing and oblivious. Last month's was a favorite of mine, a huge fan of the C-word, handled with the utmost care (see above). Weissman's love of duotone, gray shading and dot-matrix-heavy shading makes his drawings perfect for print and they look hella fine on the web too. Weissman was sweet enough to answer some questions about how he approaches the weekly illustrations.
Q: Do the letters appear on your doorstep in a huge sack just steeped in vitriol?
A: [Art Director] Aaron Huffman sends me a letter sometime between Wednesday and Friday each week after Stranger associate editor David Schmader or some shadowy 'they' pick the letters.
Q: What is your process like for a weekly drawing based on someone else's ideas?
A: I've usually scanned the letter once by Friday. I'll print it out on Sunday night, underline key phrases and make a couple of sketches. By Monday morning, I have a pretty clear idea of what I'm drawing.
Sometimes the Seattle-specific letters can be puzzling (I'm in Los Angeles), but I can only think of one where I was completely stumped, and all I remember about that one is my solution being some guy eating a toaster waffle.
Q: Have you ever been contacted by the people who wrote the letters or the ones who figured out they were the subject?
A: I've sold drawings to people related to the letters before. They make great gifts for friends recovering from messy breakups (35% of I, Anonymous letters are breakups). Original art is also a great way to say "I'm sorry I gave you V.D."
The annual Stumptown Comics Awards nominees have been announced. Here on out, it's a down-and-dirty voting contest so we have a few recommendation on who you should vote for (Spoiler: our books) and the fact you should ask your mom and her intense network of friends.
Noah Van Sciver is up for Best Cartoonist for The Hypo. His emotionally charged drawing style added depth and charimsa to the beleaguered story of Abraham Lincoln long before he was a president.
Lilli Carré is up for two awards for Best Colorist and Publication Design for Heads or Tails. Carré recently was a Lynd Ward Prize honoree for 2013 for the same book. Filled to the brim with sweet, whimsical short stories that leave you shivering, this one-woman book of tales delivers for either side of the coin.
Every great once in awhile, like a giant locust swarm happening on the same calendar day as a solar eclipse, Ivan Brunetti offers a page of original art for sale. This time it is the page below (detail above) from The New Yorker, the December 21, 2009 issue.
The Peppercorn Saison is the first of many beers in the newest collaboration between a Fantagraphics cartoonist, Jim Woodring this time, and Elysian Brewing Company, who created the 12 Beers of the Apocalypse based on Charles Burns' Black Hole art last year. The Oddland series will feature gorgeous full-color labels with a hint of bright, shimmering foil and artwork based on the ingredients. From the Elysian press release: "Head Brewer Dick Cantwell and his brainstormy gang get an idea; they run it by Woodring, who sketches his two cents' worth and sends it on back; then the recipe is tweaked, the ingredients secured, suggestions made as to visual format, and away we all go, to Oddland."
Weird ingredients are once more very much the order of the day--black, green, white and pink peppercorns for the first go, pears, cumin and cardamom for the second, and who knows what for the third--focused, inverted, enlarged and then made small again through the Woodring lens. The labels will both disturb and amuse you; the beers intrigue, refresh and engage you.
The Oddland Peppercorn Saison will hit stores in 22-ounce bottles, restaurants and bars on draft and Elysian's own taps around May 15 of this year. You can drink it down at home even while reading Weathercraft, Congress of the Animals or the soon-to-be-released, Fran. Keep your eyes peeled and throats thirsty for a fun keg-tapping event featuring the Oddland ring-and-inkmasters, Jim Woodring.
The book that has been sold-out twice in a row comes to you, dear reader, in digital form. Four Color Fear: Forgotten Horror Comics of the 1950s. The finest non-EC horror covers and stories of the pre-code era by artist perennials Jack Cole, Reed Crandall, George Evans, Frank Frazetta, Jack Katz, Al Williamson, Basil Wolverton, and Wallace Wood, collected in a robust and affordable volume. And by volume, we mean four. This book is SO BIG, SO HUGE that we had to break it up into four parts: CMYK for the printing colors Cyan (blue), Magenta, Yellow and Black or parts one, two, three, four.
Editors John Benson and Greg Sadowski have sifted through hundreds of rare books to cherry-pick the most compelling scripts and art, and they provide extensive background notes on the artists, writers, and companies involved in their creation. Digital restoration has been performed with subtlety and restraint, mainly to correct registration and printing errors, with every effort made to retain the flavor of the original comics, and to provide the reader the experience of finding a most delightful read in their dusty, creaky attic. Each part is only 6.99 for 80-something pages bound to terrify and keep you up all night long, glowing from your tablets thanks to comiXology.
"[Its] a wonderfully creepy hurtle through the exuberant, cheerfully gross and icky horror comics that prevailed in the golden, pre-Comics-Code era. ...[T]he art is brilliant: indistinct piles of slimy viscera, purple-green zombies, skull-faced vampires and demons, Satan in a dozen guises, witches and occult symbols, creatures from the eleven hells of the darkest mythos of the human spirit." – Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing
It was announced last week by Penn State University Libraries and the Pennsylvania Center for the Book that Chris Ware won the Lynd Ward Prize for Best Graphic Novel 2013, Lilli Carré with Heads or Tails was one of the two Honorable Mentions (along with Theo Ellsworth's The Understanding Monster)
"Each story is exquisitely crafted, demonstrating both a compelling literary style and a rich, engaging design sense that can seem deceptively naïve or childlike on first glance but in context reveals striking sophistication and complexity." You're damn right, it was and is! Lilli Carré's book,Heads or Tails is available in its beautiful simplicity and accumulating complexity at our online store or a bookstore near you.
Finally, the sold-out first volme of the Ditko Archives is here in digital reading glory via comiXology, Strange Suspense. Before the Amazing Spider-Man and mysterious Dr. Strange, the legendary comic book artist Steve Ditko was conjuring all manners of horrors at his drawing table. In his first two years in the industry (1953 and1954), Ditko drew tales of macabre suspense that were not yet hobbled by the Comics Code Authority. These stories featured graphic bloodshed, dismemberment and blood-curdling acid baths as the ugly end to the lives of the dark and twisted inhabitants of Steve Ditko's imagination.
Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 1features, for the first time, spectacular full-color reprints of every story from those first two years of his career. Beginning with Ditko's very first story to Ditko's short stint in the Joe Simon/Jack Kirby studio, to Ditko's eventual encampment at the Charlton Comics operation in 1954, readers will see the initial works of an artist already at a level of craftsmanship that exceeded most of his peers. The book also features editor Blake Bell's insightful introduction, providing historical background and speaking to Ditko's influence and his unique craft.
Enjoy this 238 page masterpiece on your reading tablets, anywhere, anytime.
"Fantastic... Raw and grotesque and beautifully drawn and presented." –Dave Gibbons
MoCCA was a BLAST, as usual. PR Director, Jacq Cohen, and I showed up early on Friday to set up the table. People couldn't wait for Saturday, clumping around the new books. Our two newest EC Comics Library releases featuring Al Williamson and Jack Davis' work are creating a heartbreakingly beautiful rainbow.
One side of the set-up table!
Friday night was Dash Shaw's opening for his New School art exhibition and 30th birthday at Desert Island. His fianceé (sorry, ladies and germs) made a cake that was uber-delicious. Below, Dash talks about his new comics.
Party hardy, Gabrielle Bell is talking to Ariel Shrag (!) in the left-hand corner.
A gentleman was purchasing Julio's Day by Gilbert Hernandez at Desert Island so we had to compliment him on his exquisite taste. Lo and behold, Tony (or so he says) showed up at MoCCA the next day ready to buy more quality comics, this time Castle Waiting Vol. 1 by Linda Medley. My mom would be so proud that I'm still somewhat polite!
I ran into a familiar face, cartoonist and animation intern Andrew Greenstone, who was more than willing to hang out and shot the shit---I mean, talk business.
If I ever become a comic book store owner, I hope I'm as cool as Gabe Fowler. The red print was a Desert Island exclusive!
Cartoonist Charles Burns showed up to hang out with friends and look at comics. I never ever tire of that man's company, but he did mention some people are reticent to eat with him because of what he draws in his comics. FOOLS, I say! Also, Evan Dorkin makes Chris Duffy guffaw in the background. Doesn't "Griffith, Dorkin, Duffy and Burns" sound like an amazing lawfirm? Like possibly corrupt but they probably have a pastry chef on staff to appease their clients?
Also signing at MoCCA was Kim Deitch, whose new book The Amazing, Enlightening and Absolutely True Adventures of Katherine Whaley is coming out soon and is haunting, to put it mildly. Deitch brought his original pages which fans poured over. James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook made their Fantagraphics signing debut for 7 Miles a Second, the moving comic written by David Wojnarowicz. The book has one of those covers that is both oblique and arresting (Jacq adds up some quick math on the right). While I did not stop a child from picking up the book, I did tell a parent or two it had adult material in it. One of my favorite sells of the weekend was selling Prison Pit Book Two to a 14 year old kid whose mom seemed dubious until I brought up the philosophy behind the book. The teen gave me a giant wink as he left, he might not get it still.
Van Cook discussed innovative printing techniques from their travels and non-profit advice while James would sketch in signed copies of the book.
Recently, Alex Dueben talked to Romberger for Comic Book Resources and stopped to meet them in person.
Next up was Leslie and Dash! Local cartoonist Leslie Stein is also in a pretty crazy fun band, Prince Rupert's Drops. If you live in the New York area, check them out. The rest of us will just live via our headphones or listening to their tracks on the recent AudioFemme interview. Leslie signed my old copy of Eye of the Majestic Creatureand we talked about second book that's coming out this fall! I heard some comments from other cartoonists that they feel weird about asking fellow toonies to sign their books but I don't give a humdinkle about that. Make it FANCY for me.
Dash signed the spine of many a Bottomless Belly Button and cover of 3 New Stories for eager fans. Those gorgeous red prints (you can only see a quarter of it) are available from Desert Island if you are looking for something for the Shaw fan who 'has it all.'
Given our close proximity to the stairs to the bathroom, there wasn't much chance for wondering down aisles or buying comics. I really wanted to read L. Nichols' Flocks and she was helpful enough to COME TO ME with her Square for my plastic purchase.
Tucker Stone, of TCJ and Bergen Street Comics, came by to get Gary's signature on a copy of The Comics Journal. Pretty cute, right?
Jacq and me with two of our debut books by Ulli Lust and Gilbert Hernandez! Photo by Dre Grigoropol.
Hung with bossman Gary Groth, Dash, Leslie and Jacq one night.
Charles Forsman was out and about with his Oily Comics micropublishing outfit. Chuck's comic, The End of the Fucking World, will be out this July from Fantagraphics in one single beautiful book. I'm so excited about that. We in no way support NCIS.
Chuck and I go way back, we used to work at the same graphic novel library together in Vermont. A photo from 2009:
Speaking of libraries, the next day Tom Spurgeon and I visited Columbia University's Butler Library and Rare Book room, led around by enthusiastic librarian Karen Green. It was so very cool to see our books with library binding but they've also perfected a myler binding so we don't lose those cool spine designs. Shaw's Bottomless Belly Button and Noah Van Sciver's The Hypo.
Kim, I didn't forget about you, the library has a lot of Jacques Tardi books. Some were checked out, which is even better than finding them at the library.
A grand place I hope to visit again. Thanks to Anelle Miller and her trusty band of volunteers for the enjoyable convention, Gary and Jacq for booth help plus a few of these photos. Lastly, another one of my favorite moments of the week was selling Dungeon Quest Book One to a gentleman on Saturday who came back Sunday to buy the other two after reading the first in one sitting. It was a cherry on top of an awesome convention.
This week's comic shop shipment is slated to include the following new titles. Read on to see what comics-blog commentators and web-savvy comic shops are saying about them (more to be added as they appear), check out our previews at the links, and contact your local shop to confirm availability.
264-page black & white 7.25" x 10.25" hardcover • $28.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-577-8
"these comics still matter, at least to hardcore fans. I think they look great, and I enjoy these comics for what they are as opposed to how they were seen in the miserable context of 1950s mainstream comic books. I'd buy the Williamson before the Davis, but I think most people I know prefer the Davis." –Tom Spurgeon, Comics Reporter
"Al Williamson's classic tales from Weird Science and Weird Fantasy which stand as landmarks in comics sci-fi/fantasy." –Benn Ray, Atomic Books
"The great Al Williamson is one of my all-time favorite artists…Unlike the cookie-cutter plots of the EC horror stories, 50 Girls 50 contains original ’50s style Sci-Fi stories including three tales adapted from the works of SF Greats Ray Bradbury and Harlan Ellison. And like the great Mr. Loomis mentioned above, Al Williamson is a master at capturing the female form in all its glory times 50!" –Andy Mansell, HeroesOnline
224-page black & white 7.25" x 10.25" hardcover • $28.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-578-5
"…this edition is an ideal place to get the true feel of the 1950′s EC Horror comics. These horror stories are rather formulaic, but the art of Jack Davis makes them essential. But that taint all…" –Andy Mansell, HeroesOnline
"Fantagraphics continues its excellent series of EC Comics Library editions with two new books. 'Tain't The Meat collects some of Jack Davis's Tales from The Crypt stories which highlight his masterful balance of gore, humor and terror." –Benn Ray, Atomic Books
Wilfred Santiago's baseball biography comic is ready to read on the way to your next away game at comiXology. 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente follows Clemente's life from his early days growing up in rural Puerto Rico, the highlights of his career (including the 1960s World Series where he helped the Pirates win its first victory in 33 years, and his 3000th hit in 1972 during the last official at-bat of his life) as well as his private life and public mission off the field.
Named one of Library Journal's Best Books 2011: Graphic Novels, one of Booklist's Top 10 Graphic Novels: 2012 (for 2011 books), one of ALA/YALSA's Great Graphic Novels for Teens 2012, 21 is a great book for teens, adults and baseball fans all around. 179 pages of the struggle and success of a immigrant baseball player achieving the American dream can be yours. Batter up!
"...21: The Story of Roberto Clemente... is drawn with a jagged whimsy that gets at the sudden sharpness of a baseball game's action, the frenzy that comes from out of nowhere to temporarily replace the long, slow stretches of waiting, scratching, spitting and eyeballing opponents that are endemic to the sport…Comic books bring a different kind of narrative that's not possible in any other medium — not books, not movies.'" – Julia Keller, Chicago Tribune
"Santiago evokes the world Clemente lived in, from the dusty Puerto Rican streets where he played baseball with bottle caps and tree branches to his years as a perennial All-Star. The art is scratchy and abstract when it’s dealing with home and homesickness, and then hardens into the stuff of superhero comics whenever Clemente steps to the plate." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
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