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.
The first bit of frost of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review (video):Last Gasp's John Longhi reviews The Lost Art of Ah Pook by Malcom McNeill, a story originally created with William Burroughs. Longhi says, "I can see why Burroughs wanted to work with McNeill because he's one of the few guys who could capture the crazy wacked out details of his story writing. . . [It contains] all the wonderful social discord that made his writing fantastic."
• Review:Blacklung by Chris Wright gets high marks on Paste Magazine. Sean Edgar says, "Blacklung is a weird, compelling creation, telling a harrowing story of redemption and savagery through art that could initially pass as adorable before you get to the tongue necklaces. Highly recommended for those with strong stomachs."
• Review:School Library Journal announces their BEST BOOKS OF 2012 and in the graphics novels section, Noah Van Sciver's The Hypo is listed. "Van Sciver makes Lincoln real by picturing one of the hardest times in his younger life. . . Dickens-style squalor and melodrama plus Austen-style romance, all done in gritty cross-hatching."
• Plug:The NY Times listed Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons at the top of the Best Bathroom Reads of 2012. Dwight Garner believes "the prints collected here are droll and strange." Two of our favorite words to describe Fantagraphics-style creators such as Flannery O'Connor.
• Review: Roughly translated from Ediciones La Cupula, Jaime Hernandez's God and Science: Return of the Ti-Girls is reviewed. "Theexcitementthat overwhelms usafter readingeach of theinstallments ofthe sagaof [Ti-Girls] isdirectly proportional to itsartistic excellence,histalentas a storytellerandhuman greatnessthat livesin his cartoons."
• Review:Lanacion reviews the writings and works of Alexander Theroux (Laura Warholic, Estoniaand The Strange Case of Edward Gorey) and translated, barely, Matias Serra Bradford states, "If left as an untreated rarity,AlexanderTherouxseemsmysteriousto the fantasticand impossible point of determiningthe trajectoryofa particle and itsposition."
• Review:The Snipe News looks at Joe Sacco's Journalism collection. "the decade’s worth of stories. . . are most notable not from any kind of torn-from-the-headlines sensationalism but for the empathy the author brings to his subjects. . . . Sacco has a feel for displaced persons in general."
The wait is over. Jordan Crane's long sold-out Uptight issues #1 and 2 (plus 3 and 4) are now available via comiXology for your eyes' delight. Adult melancholia and delightful all-ages adventures go side-by-side in this versatile, masterful one-man anthology in stunning black and white detail. Each volume has its own jewels like the tragic ghost story "Take Me Home" in Issue #2. A fan of The Clouds Above? Be sure to check out Simon and Jack's continueing adventures in #4. For the low price of $2.99, you can enjoy solid storytelling and exquisitely drawn comics.
"Luscious... elegant... I fairly swooned." – The Comics Reporter
"There's something very friendly and reassuring about his drawing style. Jordan Crane is without a doubt one of the best guys in the alt comix game right now and my only criticism of him is that I wish he turned out more work. Jordan's making the comics that everyone else is trying to make but unlike them, he's succeeding at it." - Nick Gazin, Vice
"It speaks to Crane’s versatility that he can pull off a slice-of-life relationship story and a fable in the same comic book." – Rob Clough, The Comics Journal
November 18th - Waxahachie, TX. HIDDEN BEHIND THE STARS featuring the artwork of Esther Pearl Watson opens up this Sunday on the plains of Texas at Webb Gallery. From 3-7pm on Sunday November 18th, you can rock out with music by Quintron and Miss Pussycat while gazing at amazing paintings by Ester. At 7pm, see a premiere screening of Quintron and Miss Pussycat's new movie "The Mystery in Old Bathbath."
Esther Pearl Watson is one of Webb Galleries favorites. Her work is fantastical, beautiful, witty, colorful, dark and autobiographical all at the same time. Many of the works depict her childhood, of growing up with a father obsessed with the idea he could build a flying saucer and sell it to NASA or Ross Perot. Her newest body of work addresses perception and legibility of painting with the addition of surface texture and sculptural elements such as starry fabrics and sculpted meteorites. She grew up in the DFW metro-plex, but currently resides outside of Los Angeles.
Esther Pearl Watson earned her MFA at California Institute of the Arts in 2012 and a BFA at Art Center College of Design. Her work has been exhibited at Nancy Margolis Gallery, Billy Shire Fine Arts, Lesher Center for the Arts and Oakland Museum of California. This is her first exhibit following her Masters Graduation from CalArts.
In addition to paintings, Esther will also have copies of her two Fantagraphics graphic novels, Unlovable, loosely based on a teenager’s diary from the 1980s found in a gas-station bathroom. Tammy Pierce is one of the most unfortunate teens and unabashed malcontents on the other side of the 80s. Serialized in the back of Bust Magazine, Watson has an incredible talent for humor in frantic, scrawled drawings. Adding paint and gouache to the mix just make everything cuter. Hope ya'll can come out! (my apologies to other non-ya'lling Texans).
The first rain-free (HA!) day of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review:The Comics Journal looks at Ron Rege Jr.'s The Cartoon Utopia. Katie Haegel writes, "Almost impossible to categorize, the work in Cartoon Utopia is both fully realized in a formal sense and wonderfully idiosyncratic. Like, it’s really out there. . . to me the work is much stronger when it depicts magic in action, which Regé accomplishes by telling us stories about historical figures and their relationship to the natural world."
• Review:Robot 6 reviews The Cartoon Utopia by Ron Rege Jr. Chris Mautner writes "with Rege drawing science, new age spiritualism, the occult, astrology and Jungian archetypes to come up with a personal grand unification theory. There are no plots or characters in the book to speak of, instead Rege merely muses and illustrates his theories, which mainly have to on the interconnectedness of all living matter."
• Plugs: Best covers of the week by Andy Khouri on Comics Alliance. Ron Regé Jr'sThe Cartoon Utopia: "This cover really makes me smile, and maybe gives me a sense of four-color spiritual well-being. But cartoon utopia looks more outdoorsy than I expected."
• Review:Page 45 enjoys the gentle pages of The Cartoon Utopia. Stephen L. Holland states, "Regé is back with a spiritual manifesto and ode to creativity: a singular, secular vision delivered with all the fervour of a religious sermon. It’s a call not to arms but to peace and perception unshackled from the conditioning of ages, exhorting all to see new possibilities, infinite possibilities, so enabling one’s full potential to be realised in both senses of the word."
• Review:Barack Hussein Obamaby Steven Weissman is reviewed on Bookslut. Martyn Pedler says, "His Obama begins as a kind of smug, stoner everyman: telling 'your momma' jokes, discussing old movies with visiting dignitaries . . . Weissman’s pages -- drawn in ballpoint into a moleskin notebook -- use a four-panel gag structure that makes the book immediately addictive."
• Review:Publishers Weekly takes on Barack Hussein Obama by Steven Weissman.". . . readers will likely have to be content with being one part giddy and three parts puzzled. . . Perhaps that’s Weissman’s point: that the farce of contemporary politics has the capacity to make one simultaneously giddy, confused, and disenchanted."
• Interview (audio): Speaking of Steven Weissman, Obama and the elections, he is interviewed on KPFK 90.7 FM's show Beneath the Surface.
• Review: Cartoonist Lilli Carré finds herself Boing-Boing-ed. Brian Heater describes Heads or Tails collection, "These strips, which originally in the pages of places like The Believer and Mome, find the artist dipping her toes into new pools, the sort of freedom afforded by the low commitments of the short story form, often to truly wonderful effect."
• Interview: Eddie Wright of MTV Geek interviews Johnny Ryan about Prison Pit 4 and why us humans love it so much. "Well, I think it connects to comic fans because it's the stripped down essence of what popular superhero comics are, which is men beating the living shit out of each other. People love it."
• Review:Reglar Wiglar spit takes while reading Johnny Ryan's Prison Pit 4. Chris Auman says, "This is Ryan’s depraved ID unleashed in its purest form: blood, guts, genitalia and fecal matter abound—actually they don’t abound so much as they’re sprayed all over absolutely everything in a fantastical sci-fi orgy of digustedness."
• Plugs: Best covers of the week by Andy Khouri on Comics Alliance. continues with Wallace Wood's Came the Dawn: "And while we're talking smart use of interior art, here's another superb example. This collection is all about the mastery of Wally Wood, so the cover presents a taste of his work in an uncluttered and respectful way, while also establishing a trade dress for Fantagraphics' new EC artists line." Chris Wright's Blacklung: "I see a lot of Joann Sfar in this densely demonic and stylishly constructed cover, and that's enough to convince me to investigate the work of newcomer Chris Wright." Spacehawk mini-comic by Basil Wolverton: "Basil Wolverton may be best known for his grotesque caricatures in MAD Magazine, but he worked in a lot of genres. Spacehawk was evidently one of his early works, and if this gorgeously lurid cover is anything to go by it was a delightfully daffy sci-fi pulp."
• Review:Booklist Online carves out a place in their hearts for Wallace Wood's Came the Dawn. Ray Olson writes, "This volume presenting all his horror and crime stories chronologically shows him refining what is at first a crude though powerful sense of mise-en-scène into one that is assured, highly detailed, and lightly caricatural."
• Review:AV Club reviewed all our new books Came the Dawn by Wallace Wood and Corpse on the Imjin by Harvey Kurtzman. Noel Murray writes, "in writer/artist-driven volumes, printed in black and white, with additional essays and archival material . . . [and] both immediately reveal the value in the artist-driven approach. . . Feldstein’s stories were like the comic-book equivalent to some of the seediest B-movies, and Wood’s art fit Feldstein’s text, with lots of deep shadows and wrinkles reflecting a complicated world." On Basil WolvertonSpacehawk, "As with Kurtzman’s war comics, it’s remarkable to see art so twisted applied to such vivid pulp tales—almost as though Wolverton was trying his hardest to be Alex Raymond, but couldn’t help turning out images to rival Salvador Dalí." Gary Panter's "Dal Tokyo would evolve, strip-by-strip, into a distinctly Panter-esque swirl of science fiction and pure abstraction, in keeping with the artist’s one-of-a-kind sense of design, and his pursuit of comics that resemble music and poetry."
•Plug:Web Cast Beacon reviews all free Halloween Comics Fest freebies. They enjoy Tales from the Crypt and Spacehawk. YES, mail in those ad coupons, people.
• Interview:Jim Woodring is interviewed by Peter Bebergal on hippies, hallucinations and all the good stuff that goes into his latest work, Problematic, a skechbook. "I frequently saw things at night — silently jabbering heads at the foot of my bed, distorted animals and objects hanging in the air over me. Often I saw a huge staring eye that made me vomit with fear."
• Plug: On Boing-Boing, Mark Frauenfelder tips his digi-hat to Floyd Gottfredson: "Gottfredson's Mickey is a plucky, goodhearted imp, bursting with energy and impulsively eager for adventure. . . [Carl] Barks will always have a special place in my heart, but I've added Gottfredson to my short list of great American cartoonists."
• Review: Page 45 looks at The Lost Art of Ah Pookand Stephen L. Holland ponders "Malcom Mc Neill has taken the time to put this eye-frazzling book of art – some of it sequential – into context, for the work itself is very much lost. . . There are vast scenes of ancient ritual, carnal lust and very modern warfare transcending time just as they were always intended."
• Review:Booklist Online likes Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge: Only a Poor Old Manby Carl Barks. Ian Chipman states, "from the bitter cold of the Klondike to the bottom of the Caribbean. . . Barks’ comics are an absolute treasure that have aged remarkably well, and are finally getting wide-scale publication to introduce them to a new generation of readers."
• Review: Gene Ambaum of Unshelved happily views covers from Action! Mystery! Thrills!, edited by Greg Sadowski. "Beautiful full-color reproductions of unblemished comic book covers show the amazing art and the breadth of genres on the newsstands before Fredric Wertham screwed everything up in the 1950s. . . The colors are bright, and the art is just plain fun."
• Review: Is That All There Is? by Joost Swarte gets reviewed on Bookgasm. JT Lindroos states, ". . . it’s impossible not to enjoy this ultimately all-too-brief volume for every single panel it presents. Swarte is consistently projecting an incisive and curious mind at work, perfectly tuned to his showstopping skills as an artist nonpareil."
• Review: Rod Lott of Bookgasm spends a long, loooong time checking out Sexytime. "[Editor Jacque Boyreau] has a knack for picking images; much like Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart and hardcore porn, Boyreau knows it when he sees it. And luckily, he shares it, this time from the visual-presentation experts of Fantagraphics Books — a match made in poster-art heaven."
• Plug: Matt Bielby writes about The Complete Crumb Volume 1 by R. Crumb in Comic Heroes Magazine: "It's incredible stuff, much of it obviously for completists only, but even the most obscure volumes track a fascinating, and developing, world view."
• Interview: Charles Burns is interviewed on Cult Montreal by Emily Raine about The Hive, his creepy artwork and the Black Hole movie. "It’s not my intention to be creepy per se, or that’s not the reason I’m writing stories. I think they end up being whatever they are. Maybe I’m just a creepy guy, I don’t know."
• Interview (audio): One of our favorite creators, Ellen Forney, speaks to KUOW/NPR on bi-polar disorder, comics and her new work, Marbles.
• Plug:Jaime Hernandez will be at the Copenhagen Comics Fest in Copenhagen, Denmark in June of 2013. Mark them calendars!
Today marks the same-day release of Prison Pit Book 4 from Fantagraphics in bookstores and at comiXology, we're getting into the giving swing of things. In Johnny Ryan's latest 'raging flume of blood and cum' as Joe McCullough says, we find Cannibal Fuckface has just about had it with prisoners messing with him. He discovers the only way to escape the Caligulon is to brainfuck the Slorge and create a giant, brainless oafchild that only knows how to annihilate everything in its path.
116 gristly pages of smackdowns, foaming villians and unsympathetic bowel movements can be yours in the $12.99 book thrillbent on making sure you never touch your genitals again in the same way. Without puking.
"There's no point in trying to explain Prison Pit. You can only experience it to understand it. Start buy buying all of them at once if you haven't yet. . . It wears its intentional stupidness and violence on its sleeve while also showing off Johnny Ryan's sophisticated sense of composition and black and white ink prettiness." -Nick Gazin, VICE
"Hey are you doing any more scary guys made out of tar ripping each other's dicks off? You know why I like those? Because you don't have to read all them stupid words and stuff. Right? Haa ha, hey Johnny wanna come over and play? Ha Ha!" - Tony Millionaire
Fantagraphics and comiXology add to your digital Love and Rockets Library today with the release of Book 2 from Locas storyline by Jaime Hernandez, The Girl from H.O.P.P.E.R.S.
The 30th anniversary Love and Rockets celebration continues with this second of three volumes collecting the adventures of the spunky Maggie; her annoying, pixie-ish best friend and sometime lover Hopey; and their circle of friends, including their bombshell friend Penny Century, Maggie's weirdo mentor Izzy -- as well as the aging but still heroic wrestler Rena Titaon and Maggie's handsome love interest, Rand Race. After Maggie the Mechanic, the first volume in this series, Hernandez refined his approach, settling on the more naturalistic environment of the fictional Los Angeles barrio, Hoppers, and the lives of the young Mexican-Americans and punk rockers who live there. At $14.99, these 290 pages will keep you entertains and intrigued for hours on end.
"Jaime's characters are so convincing and his stories so compelling that it is easy to overlook his greatest strength: the most economically handsome drawing style in comics." - Booklist
"No one in comics has ever used the comics longform, the number of pages and the years between books, to such beautiful effect. Jaime Hernandez is comics' poet laureate of memory and meaning." - Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
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
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