At last, the long-awaited next Gilbert Hernandez volume in the comprehensive Love and Rockets Library paperback series is nearly here! Luba and Her Family is at the printer now for release in July. This is the first book in this format to collect Gilbert's work past the original 50-issue L&R series. (We'll reveal the full Table of Contents and provide more previews in the not-too-distant future.)
This book is also the debut of the new addition to our Art Department, Keeli McCarthy, who designed the cover based on the look established by Jacob Covey, with her own fresh twist. Welcome, Keeli!
Google welcomes Spring today with a lovely and charming animated logo by the one and only Eleanor Davis! Go look (if you miss it, it'll be archived here), then come back here to pre-order Eleanor's book How to Be Happy.
Another gorgeous volume of Hal Foster's magnum opus is off to the printer! Prince Valiant Vol. 9: 1953-1954 collects two more years of quests, danger, sorcery, family milestones, treachery, and comic relief from one of the greatest illustrators to ever grace the comics page. It almost goes without saying, but a reminder can't hurt: these volumes are scanned from original engraver's proofs, meaning that the strip has never looked better and making this the ultimate Prince Valiant series.
Summer vacation is here and Tammy Pierce is back with more sometimes ordinary, often humiliating, occasionally poignant, and usually hilarious exploits! Her hopes, dreams, agonies, and defeats are brought to vivid, comedic life by Watson's lovingly grotesque drawings, filled with all the eighties essentials — too much mascara, leg warmers with heels, and huge hair, etc. — as well as timeless teen concerns like acne, dandruff, and the opposite sex (or same sex, in some cases). Unlovable addresses the mysteries of high school through Tammy's naivete; girls and women in particular will find much that resonates, but men will also relate to Unlovable's universal humor and loser cast of characters. Tammy's life isn’t pretty, but it is endlessly endearing and hilarious.
"Esther's consistently original, hilarious and heart-felt work evokes the travails of puberty with painful accuracy. After perusing Unlovable Vol. 3 we immediately broke out in zits and had clumsy beginner sex." – Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman
"Tammy's enchanting smile and dazzling eyes are a gift of grace from Esther Watson." – Pendleton Ward, creator of Adventure Time
"Unlovable is the great teen comic tragedy of our time!" – Matt Groening
"...Barks’s Disney comics were and are enormously well crafted and equally enormously entertaining, timeless comedy adventures that Fanta presents in such handsomely designed volumes that they make the perfect gift for just about any reader of comics, regardless of age, background, or experience with the art form." – School Library Journal
"One of comics revered masters gets a fresh new reprinting worthy of his work and accessible to kids.... A wonderful project that should put Barks’s name in front of new generations of admirers." – Publishers Weekly
"Even the silliest premise, when executed by an artist in perfect control of his gifts, can land with deftness and grace — that's something that strikes you again and again as you read Barks' work. And it's a lesson that won't get lost on any kid with whom you might choose to share it, which is convenient, as this collection makes a perfect introduction to one of the greatest all-ages comics artists of all time." – NPR - Monkey See
"Even now, Barks’ stories are clever and funny, as he leads the ducks into impossible situations and then gives them unexpected ways out. And they're poignant in their own way, too...." – The A.V. Club
"Carl Barks is one of those truly perfect cartoonists. It feels so good to have these books with beautiful Fantagraphics quality production sitting on my shelf...You'll get sucked in." – VICE
"Barks, the artist, is a master cartoonist, drawing lively, expressive characters with a graceful sense of movement. His beautiful, detailed backgrounds plant the ducks in a fully realized world that adds weight to his storytelling.... But besides the entertaining plots, Barks’ appeal is in his characters. He gives his ducks many human frailties and while they usually try to do the right thing, they make mistakes, get angry, frustrated, and even fail. Fantagraphics Books... does its usual high quality work here as well. The design and layout of the book is a handy comic-book size hardcover with bright, colorful reproductions of the comics. Besides the comics, there are articles on Barks and analysis on each story... For both newcomers to Barks' work and diehard fans, this is a book that any comic book reader would love..." – The Christian Science Monitor
The man. His work. They coexist on the cover and in the pages of Pirates in the Heartland: The Mythology of S. Clay Wilson Vol. 1, compiling Wilson's seminal underground comix work along with the first part of Patrick Rosenkranz's authoritative biography. Wilson unleashed a cannon barrage on the boundaries of the comics art form and rushed through, flintlocks blazing, cutlass in teeth, and fly open, taking no prisoners with his outrageous output. This book, combined with its two forthcoming sequels, will be the last word and the ultimate collection of a comics legend. Look for more previews between now and its release this summer.
And for lots more insight into the cover design, art director Jacob Covey wrote these notes on his personal Facebook page, re-presented here with his kind permission:
Here's the cover design for the new Fantagraphics book from Patrick Rosenkranz, The Mythology of S. Clay Wilson, Volume One: Pirates In the Heartland. This is the result of more comps than I have ever produced before and I figured I'd write about it to get at some idea of why.
For one thing, I went into this project with little enthusiasm. Wilson is a pioneering Underground Comix artist who inspired R. Crumb to let loose his id, to break comics wide open for self-expression. But Wilson on the surface -- and after forty years of being built upon (back to before I was born) -- lacks the contrasting dignity of Crumb's linework and his compositions are DENSE. Wilson art is recognizable: His line, and his humor, is crass; there is no white space and there are no taboos.
There are artists you have to recalibrate for and, for me, Wilson turns out to be one of those. It took a lot of sitting with the stories to let down my guard and enjoy how powerful the work is. A lot of artists talk about wanting to get back to creating like a kid again. Wilson manages to remain as unfiltered as an adolescent in detention. His is not the art of an innocent kindergartner who draws fanciful anatomy in a surreal landscape but that of the self-realizing, hormone-raging, unclean middle-beast that is boys who are becoming men. He still draws like a kid, just not the kid we romanticize about. At a time when most of us become self-conscious and begin self-censoring Wilson did not.
That accomplishment in itself is remarkable but his relentless creating is the application that makes him genius. Wilson seems to exist solely to get his sprawling imagination down on paper. His prolific output is that of the consummate artist. That it is also very graphic, violent, and offensive to most all social norms takes a little adjusting to.
So all of this is what I had to assimilate just to start my job. To feel like I had enough grasp on Wilson to "brand" his life by designing this cover to (volume one of) his biography. My first attempts weren't about Wilson but associations with his Underground brethren and the psychedelia connected to the period. Pinks, Cyans, solid clashing color. All completely missing the character of Wilson. Wilson was (is) certainly a drug user but of the escapist, rebellious variety, not the trippy, feel-good variety. He's a meat-and-potatoes guy who creates fevered worlds, including his own. Hence the title "The Mythology of S. Clay Wilson" -- a smart nuance on the part of Rosenkranz.
In publishing, one has to approach a cover with the information of an expert and the ignorance of a browser. In biographies, a photo of the subject is generally employed for good reason: The viewer immediately knows this is a book about a person. (Hence the trend in fiction of generally cropping off the heads of models or having them looking away -- this is not about THEM.) But Wilson is recognizable only by his artwork, so a photo alone isn't enough information. Ultimately, my solution is a kind of psychedelia but a practical one: Pirate art (a favorite theme of Wilson) overlaying a mythic portrait of young Wilson. Creation and creator in color overlays that force your eye to try to unhook one from the other.
I generally consider it a failure when cover design requires a band of color upon which to set the type. In this case, it allowed for the art to be the primary feature, to be a bit uncontrolled, while the type treatment is an anchor that harkens classic album design. This kind of visual messaging is trying to align Wilson with rebels and rockstars without making false promises. The trickiest part was simply finding Wilson art that had ANY white space so his portrait could connect with the viewer. The dual function of his artwork blowing the brains out, simultaneously, of Wilson and another of Wilson's creation was too wonderful to pass up but I'm going to leave the symbology of such things to the viewer.
For the new softcover editions, we redesigned The Complete Peanuts inside and out, as you can see in these snapshots of a just-arrived advance copy of the kick-off volume, The Complete Peanuts 1950-1952. Looks pretty snappy, huh?
Even if you've been collecting the hardcover volumes, you'll want to have these affordable paperbacks around for the kids and for loaning out or giving as gifts to friends and relatives, and of course the brilliance of Charles M. Schulz's beloved strip endures no matter what the format. Pre-order your copy (it'll be available a couple of months from now) and read a free excerpt right here.
"Just as Usagi has learned that swordsmanship is more than fighting, Stan Sakai has obviously learned that art is more than drawing. The entire field would be richer if more artists embraced this lesson." – Robert Asprin, from the introduction
"If you haven't seen this ultra-cool series, you must! It involves a rabbit samurai — yes, a rabbit samurai — that young readers will love for the action and sophisticated art. I adore it for those reasons too, but there's more substance to it than you might expect. A good Zen comic is hard to find, and this one is nearly perfect." – USA Today Pop Candy
"These bittersweet adventure stories offer entertaining reading, especially for young Asian-Americans who feel excluded from mainstream juvenile literature." – Los Angeles Times
"One of the most original, innovative, well-executed comic books anywhere to be found." – Stan Lee
Steve Ditko is such a great image-maker, it must be hard for our designers to choose artwork for the covers of our Steve Ditko Archives collections of his early, pre-Marvel work. With Volume 1, Strange Suspense, we got a chance to make a double dip from the deep Ditko inkwell for our new softcover reprint, coming this summer with this newly-designed cover. Behind you, lady!! Stay tuned for more sneak peeks. (Of course, if you don't want to wait to read this book, it's available digitally right now on comiXology.)