|In Solidarity: January 31|
|Written by Gary Groth | Filed under Untagged||31 Jan 2015 3:50 PM|
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I wrote to cartoonists that Fantagraphics publishes, inviting them to do a drawing responding to the massacre at the Charlie Hebdo office on January 7. The purpose is to show solidarity to our fallen comrades and to the scorched-earth tradition of cartoon satire. We would run whatever we received, uncensored. It seemed not only appropriate but imperative that Fantagraphics offer cartoonists a place to display such cartoons since we have published so much satire ourselves – from R. Crumb to Drew Friedman to Johnny Ryan to Jonah Kinigstein.
There is a debate simmering as to whether or not Hebdo was indeed an "equal opportunity offender," as the political cartoonist Ann Telnaes has said, a characterization disputed by, among others, Glenn Greenwald. This may go to the integrity of Hebdo as a magazine or it may not; satirists and the editors of satirical magazines are not necessarily obliged to follow quotas— but it is irrelevant to their fundamental right to express themselves without being murdered. I have seen no statistics that categorize their offensive cartoons, but claiming that they were more offensive to one group than another or insufficiently anti-semitic begs the question as to whether their rights should be protected only if they’re equal opportunity offenders; clearly, we at Fantagraphics believe their rights to free expression should be protected and defended irrespective of how personally repellant or lopsided their cumulative opinions may be.
France’s own anti-speech laws are onerous. Shortly after the Hebdo tragedy, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said, “We must not confuse freedom of opinion with antisemitism, racism, and negationism.” Actually, exactly the opposite is true, and it’s a shameful hypocrisy to laud Hebdo on the one hand and utter a statement like this on the other. “Freedom of opinion” means freedom of opinion, not freedom of opinion I approve of.
A new image will be posted to the Flog every day and archived on this post so that, eventually, every image we've received will be collected here:
If you run over to our Kickstarter page, you'll find a few new -- and good -- premiums.
1. Paul Karasik and Mark Newgarden will collaborate on a drawing, and they will do this exactly five times before collapsing in exhaustion (the drawings will be that good). Plus, they'll throw in an original, 10" x 17" vintage syndicate proof for a week of 1960s Nancy dailies! This is the promotional part of the pitch because it primes the pump for their groundbreaking 200+ page analysis and historical monograph of Nancy, How to Read Nancy, coming up in our Fall 2014 season. All this for a mere $250 beans.
2. Do you like Peanuts? Well, of course you like Peanuts, and, if you're the kind of right-thinking comics fan I know you are you adore Charles Schulz for all the right reasons. We're offering a print of the last Sunday Peanuts strip he drew, which ran on February 14, 2000 (literally the day after he died). This is his farewell strip because he knew he couldn't carry it on, and certainly one of the most moving strips ever drawn. It even comes framed. $100.
3. As you may know, we have embarked on another classic comics reprint series: Don Rosa's complete Duck run. The first volume comes out in June, titled Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck: The Son of the Sun. We have offered signed copies of the book, but Don has now offered to do a full-color sketch in your copy of a character of your choice. And that for $500.
There will be some amazing works of art for sale later this week. Stay tuned.
In the meantime, please send us all your money.
Fantagraphics Books Launches a Kickstarter Campaign to Help Fund Spring-Summer 2014 Comics Publishing Season
FANTAGRAPHICS BOOKS IS ASKING FOR READERS' SUPPORT THROUGH KICKSTARTER. HELP FINANCE OUR SPRING-SUMMER SEASON, AND BE A PART OF THE COMPANY THAT HAS PUBLISHED MORE OF THE BEST CARTOONISTS IN THE HISTORY OF COMICS THAN ANY OTHER PUBLISHER.
Fantagraphics Books is launching a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to help finance our Spring-Summer 2014 season of books. Earlier this Fantagraphics Co-Publisher Kim Thompson was diagnosed with cancer and died four months later, on June 19, 2013. Because Kim was such an active part of our company, his death has had repercussions — both emotionally and financially. Kim edited our European graphic novel line and, as a result of his illness, 13 of the books scheduled for the Spring and Summer of 2013 had to be cancelled or postponed. This represents the loss of one-third of the entire season. We have suffered a severe shortfall that will impede our ability to produce next season's books. That's why we're asking our faithful readers and new converts alike to help us recoup — and help finance our 2014 Spring-Summer books through Kickstarter. We are offering a varied list of premium options, from signed copies of the books from that season to a target-shooting trip with Fantagraphics' Publisher Gary Groth.
OUR NEXT SEASON: APRIL-AUGUST 2014
Fantagraphics' Spring-Summer season is comprised of 39 books by a stellar line-up of cartoonists. There are a number of books from names familiar to longtime comics readers — Peter Bagge, Daniel Clowes, Joe Sacco, Drew Friedman, Michael Kupperman, Jim Woodring, Don Rosa, Tony Millionaire, and The Hernandez Brothers. Not to mention any number of other names that could anchor a comics Hall of Fame: Charles Schulz, Steve Ditko, Simon & Kirby, Hal Foster, Carl Barks, Floyd Gottfredson, L.B. Cole, Jacques Tardi, John Severin, S. Clay Wilson, Wally Wood, and more. We also have one of our strongest seasons of original graphic novels ever, including new books from Olivier Schrauwen, Simon Hanselmann, Esther Pearl Watson, Conor Stechschulte, Carol Swain, Lane Milburn, Eleanor Davis, and Ed Piskor.
From The Complete witzend to The Complete Eightball, Buddy Bradley to Megg & Mogg, and Don Rosa's Ducks to S. Clay Wilson's pirates, plus new Peanuts, Donald Duck, EC Comics and Love and Rockets books, our 2014 lineup truly features The World's Greatest Cartoonists.
And that's merely one publishing season of five months; we publish a virtual pantheon of cartoonists every season.
Fantagraphics Books has been waving the banner of cartooning for almost 40 years, and we have always believed in the artistic potential of comics — in the medium's power and subtlety; its vast capaciousness and intimate smallness; its ability to transport us to different worlds or express the human heart in conflict with itself; its ability to vivify political and historical events or reveal intimate autobiographical truths; its hilariously vulgar humor, or its moving urban dramas. We strive to find the best and brightest comics from new cartoonists and from the classic archives.
THE PERENNIAL STRUGGLE
Ours is and always has been an intrinsically difficult commercial enterprise, and we have survived due to a combination of great taste, sheer will, good luck, and reasonable business acumen. Still, it has never been easy. Fantagraphics has always been a guerilla publisher — lean and mean. In order to do what we do, we have always kept our overhead low and our lifestyle modest. We publish about 100 books a year with a staff of less then 20 — a level of efficiency unheard of in corporate publishing. We pride ourselves on taking risks, publishing work based on merit, and a commitment to serious artistic standards.
Fantagraphics has never existed comfortably within the traditional capitalist model — ruthlessly competitive, obsessed with growth, and the endless accumulation of surplus money. Our artistic values have always tempered our profitability. Fantagraphics has managed to scrape by, but we realized that with the advent of crowd funding, we are in a position to make an end-run around the most brutish strictures of the marketplace and appeal directly to our readers through Kickstarter. We are asking the public to help us continue this quixotic enterprise. At the end of the day, we cannot rely on anyone but our readers.
Fantagraphics co-publisher Kim Thompson died at 6:30 this morning, June 19. "He was my partner and close friend for 36 years," said Gary Groth.
Thompson was born in Denmark in 1956. He grew up in Europe, a lifelong comics fan, reading both European and American comics in Denmark, France, and Germany. He was an active fan in his teen years, writing to comics — his letters appeared in Marvel's letter columns circa early 1970s — and contributing to fanzines from his various European perches. At the age of 21, he set foot, for the first time as an adult, on American soil, in late 1977 (he lived briefly in the U.S. as a child in twice in the late '50s and early '60s). One "fanzine" he had not contributed to was The Comics Journal, which Groth and Michael Catron began publishing in July of 1976. That was soon to change.
"Within a few weeks of his arrival," said Groth, "he came over to our 'office,' which was the spare bedroom of my apartment, and was introduced by a mutual friend — it was a fan visit. We were operating out of College Park, Maryland and Kim's parents had moved to Arlington, Virginia, both Washington DC suburbs. Kim loved the energy around the Journal and the whole idea of a magazine devoted to writing about comics, and asked if he could help. We needed all the help we could get, of course, so we gladly accepted his offer. He started to come over every day and was soon camping out on the floor. The three of us were living and breathing The Comics Journal 24 hours a day."
Thompson became an owner when Catron took a job at DC Comics in 1978. As he became more familiar with the editorial process, Thompson became more and more integral to the magazine, assembling and writing news and conducting interviews with professionals. Thompson's career in comics began here.
In 1981, Fantagraphics began publishing comics (such as Jack Jackson's Los Tejanos, Don Rosa's Comics and Stories, and, in 1982, Love and Rockets). Thompson was always evangelical about bandes dessinées and wanted to bring the best of European comics to America; in 1981, Thompson selected and translated the first of many European graphic novels for American publication — Herman Huppen's The Survivors: Talons of Blood (followed by a 2nd volume in 1983). Thompson's involvement in The Comics Journal diminished in 1982 when he took over the editorship of Amazing Heroes, a bi-weekly magazine devoted to more mainstream comics (with occasional forays into alternative and even foreign comics). Thompson helmed Amazing Heroes through 204 issues until 1992.
Among Thompson's signature achievements in comics were Critters, a funny-animal anthology that ran from 50 issues between 1985 to 1990 and is perhaps best known for introducing the world to Stan Sakai's Usagi Yojimbo; and Zero Zero, an alternative comics anthology that also ran for 50 issues over five years — between 1995 and 2000 — and featured work by, among others, Kim Deitch, Dave Cooper, Al Columbia, Spain Rodriguez, Joe Sacco, David Mazzuchelli, and Joyce Farmer. His most recent enthusiasm was spearheading a line of European graphic novel translations, including two major series of volumes by two of the most significant living European artists — Jacques Tardi (It Was the War of the Trenches, Like a Sniper Lining up His Shot, The Astonishing Exploits of Lucien Brindavoine) and Jason (Hey, Wait..., I Killed Adolf Hitler, Low Moon, The Left Bank Gang) — and such respected work as Ulli Lust's Today Is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life, Lorenzo Mattotti's The Crackle of the Frost, Gabriella Giandelli's Interiorae, and what may be his crowning achievement as an editor/translator, Guy Peelaert's The Adventures of Jodelle.
Throughout his career at Fantagraphics, Thompson was active in every aspect of the company, selecting books, working closely with authors, guiding books through the editorial and production process. "Kim leaves an enormous legacy behind him," said Groth, "not just all the European graphic novels that would never have been published here if not or his devotion, knowledge, and skills, but for all the American cartoonists he edited, ranging from Stan Sakai to Joe Sacco to Chris Ware, and his too infrequent critical writing about the medium. His love and devotion to comics was unmatched. I can't truly convey how crushing this is for all of us who've known and loved and worked with him over the years."
Thompson was diagnosed with lung cancer in late February. He is survived by his wife, Lynn Emmert, his mother and father, Aase and John, and his brother Mark.
Fantagraphics Books President and Co-Publisher Gary Groth announced today at Comic-Con International that it has entered into a publishing agreement with William M. Gaines Agent, Inc. to publish the EC Comics Library, beginning in Summer 2012. The announcement teams two of the most storied comics publishers in history and aims to reintroduce the timeless work of EC to contemporary readers.
Fantagraphics will re-package the EC Comics (with the exception of MAD, which is now owned by DC Comics/Time Warner) in a series of handsome hardcovers devoted to specific artists and writers. While virtually all previous EC collections have been published by comic book title, Fantagraphics will collect the comics by artist, allowing fans to finally own single-volume tomes collecting the work of their favorite creators.
“It pleases me greatly to be in partnership with such an influential company as Fantagraphics,” said Cathy Gaines Mifsud, President of William M. Gaines Agent, Inc. “It’s a pleasure to be working with a company that shares similar values, yet retains unique and distinct creativity. I trust them fully to carry on the iconic EC brand.”
Entertaining Comics may have been the greatest mainstream publisher in comics history, with an attention to quality and consistency that has never been rivaled. Under the stewardship of William Gaines (who took over the company from his father, Max Gaines, in 1947), EC’s “New Trend” line employed a Murderer’s Row of writers and artists including Harvey Kurtzman, Wally Wood, Jack Davis, Johnny Craig, Al Feldstein, Reed Crandall, Will Elder, Frank Frazetta, Graham Ingels, Jack Kamen, Bernard Krigstein, John Severin, Al Williamson, Joe Orlando, and many others.
“EC was the most consistently literate and quality-minded publisher in the history of mainstream comics,” said Groth. “Editors Al Feldstein and Harvey Kurtzman were aware that comics was an artistic medium in a way that few editors did, and publisher Bill Gaines was unique in taking a hands-on approach to his comics line, choosing his editors wisely, giving them such editorial freedom and latitude, and taking such personal pride — and responsibility — in his comics. This was simply unheard of in mainstream comics; if more publishers had had Gaines’ integrity, the history of comics would’ve been vastly different.”
Like most of its contemporaries, EC specialized in genre fiction, specifically horror, crime, science-fiction, war, and satire, with several titles that seeped into the public consciousness long after their demise, including Tales from the Crypt, Two-Fisted Tales, Weird Science, and of course MAD. Unlike most of its contemporaries, Gaines and his staff took great pride in crafting socially aware works that transcended their genres. “At a time when comics were consid- ered sub-literate junk by the reading public, Gaines and the EC creators were impressing people like Ray Bradbury with the aesthetic possibilities of the medium. That was no mean feat,” Groth added.
The first four books in the series will be:
• “Corpse on the Imjin” and Other Stories by Harvey Kurtzman. This will reprint all the war stories Kurtzman wrote and drew himself in Two-Fisted Tales and Frontline Combat, including all 23 of his covers — each a masterpiece in its own right. This volume will also include all the war stories that Kurtzman wrote and laid out but were drawn by artists who weren’t regularly featured in his war books: Gene Colan, Joe Kubert, Alex Toth, Dave Berg, Ric Estrada, Russ Heath, and others. (The regulars were Jack Davis, John Severin, Wally Wood, and George Evans, each of whom will later be the subject of their own war comics collections). Kurtzman’s war comics are still considered to be the gold standard for the genre, with a devotion not only to historical accuracy but also to resisting any impulse to glamorize wartime; a WWII veteran himself, Kurtzman’s humanistic approach was in stark contrast to the simp- leminded, jingoistic efforts of EC’s rival publishers, and paved the way for other popular media to depict the true face of war.
• “Came the Dawn” and Other Stories by Wally Wood: Though often remembered for his science-fiction work, Wood’s heavy, noirish brushstrokes were perfectly suited for EC’s rough-hewn suspense stories in (the appropriately titled) Shock SuspenStories and this volume will collect them all for the first time.
• Jack Davis’s horror stories (exact title t.b.a.): Jack Davis’s gift for caricature has made him an icon in the advertis- ing world and helped define MAD magazine, but he was also one of the most versatile cartoonists of his generation; after “Ghastly” Graham Ingels, Davis was EC’s most prolific horror artist, appearing in all three of EC’s horror titles — Haunt of Fear, Vault of Horror, and Crypt of Terror. This will collect the entirety of Davis’s horror work, all of which was written by Al Feldstein.
• Al Williamson’s science-fiction stories (exact title t.b.a.): EC published two SF comics — Weird Fantasy and Weird Science — and Williamson was one of the stars, with an illustrative style that carried on the tradition of the great adventure comic strips like Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon. This volume will compile all 174 pages of Williamson’s SF stories.
“EC featured many of the best artists working at the time — innovators like Kurtzman, Bernie Krigstein, and Johnny Craig, illustrators like Al Williamson and Jack Kamen, and renaissance cartoonists like Wally Wood, Will Elder, and Jack Davis,” said Groth. “Many of these artists did the best work of their careers for EC, and that is directly attributable to the creative environment Gaines created.”
Fantagraphics will be publishing four EC collections a year, beginning in Summer 2012.
“Came the Dawn” and Other Stories
“Corpse on the Imjin” and Other Stories
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The Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery is located at 1201 S. Vale St., Seattle WA 98108. Tel: 206-658-0110.