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Category >> Abstract Comics

Daily OCD: 2/8/10
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Zak SallyUsagi YojimboTrina RobbinsSupermenSteven WeissmanStan SakaireviewsPrince ValiantNell BrinkleyMichael KuppermanLove and RocketsJohn PhamJasonJaime HernandezIvan BrunettiHotwireGilbert HernandezFemke HiemstraEsther Pearl WatsonDaily OCDcontestsCarol TylerBrian KaneBest of 2009Abstract Comics 8 Feb 2010 4:02 PM

Hoy, it's a marathon Monday Online Commentary & Diversions post:

List: The Comics Journal's Rob Clough begins counting his Top 50 Comics of 2009:

#1, You'll Never Know, Book 1: A Good and Decent Man by C. Tyler: "A mash-up of family portrait, generational analysis, autobiography and scrapbook, this book was not only the most emotionally powerful work of the year, it was the most attractively designed. The first part of what will likely be Tyler’s masterwork."

#6, Like a Dog by Zak Sally: "This was a stunningly honest account and collection of early work by one of the most underrated cartoonists working today. While the collected early issues of Recidivist ranged from interesting to astounding, it was Sally’s frank and emotional essay following the collection that really struck me as a statement of purpose — not just as an artist, but as a person."

#10, Tales Designed to Thrizzle Vol. 1 by Michael Kupperman: "The first collection from Kupperman’s surprising hit really helped spread the word about his unique and delightfully warped genius as a gagsmith and artist."

#15, Sublife Vol. 2 by John Pham: "This one-man anthology featured Pham fully harnessing every aspect of his skills as a writer and artist. His use of color dominated and provided a sort of visual through-line for his different narratives. Pham alternately pushed the reader away and then pulled them in, depending on the story, a tension that made this his most successful work to date."

And #17, Ho! by Ivan Brunetti: "It’s fascinating to see the two directions Brunetti was headed in with regard to these gags. First, his gags became ever-more boundary pushing, but always in service to the punchline. Second, his line became more and more simplified to the point of nearly geometric simplicity: squares, circles and triangles wound up creating most of his characters by the end of the book."

List: Paul Gravett names The Best of 2009: Classic Comic Reprints. At #6, it's The Brinkley Girls: The Best of Nell Brinkley's Cartoons 1913-1940: "Trina [Robbins] follows up her thorough biography of Brinkley with this oversized collection of Sunday 'comics,' often more like ravishing illustrated romantic yarns of big hair, clothes and emotions, but stunning to linger over and revealing in their period mood and concerns. In their time, Brinkley’s spirited, vivacious females were as iconic and inspirational in early 20th century America as the famous Gibson Girls before her. They truly deserve this gorgeous commemoration."

List: On the annual Fun Fifty countdown at Bully Says: Comics Oughta Be Fun!, at #15, Tales Designed to Thrizzle Vol. 1 by Michael Kupperman: "Without hyperbole, Thrizzle is simply the funniest, most guffaw-out-loud comic book they're going to have to pry out of your cold, dead hands when you die laughing. ... Thrizzle's stuffed from front cover to impressive back page blurbs with Kupperman's splendiferous pulps-meet-woodblock-print artwork and lunatic stories, it's one of those rare humor books that actually is downright hilarious."

Reviews: Nick Gazin of Vice (link NSFW) weighs in on a number of titles:

"I love Unlovable. Take that, book title. ... Unlovable 2 is a fun and funny read all the way through. ... Girls are gonna like this book and dudes are gonna like this book. It’ll remind you of how stupid you were and also of suburban sadness and realizing that your high school crush will probably never love you back."

"[High Soft Lisp] is incredible... The world in this book is one I wouldn’t want to live in but I can’t stop thinking about the story of Fritz."

"...[Almost Silent] is a really good book and Jason is a strong cartoonist. He does a lot with his simple-but-well-drawn characters and little to no dialogue. ... For $25 you get a nice sampler of what Jason can do. This is entirely worth owning."

Review: "The Definitive Prince Valiant Companion is the indispensable guide to the strip and a must have for its legions of fans new and old. Fantagraphics has been re-printing these original strips in chronological order in beautiful hardcover volumes and this guide makes the perfect complement. ... No matter how long you’ve been a Prince Valiant fan…one year or seventy years, you’re certain to find this book informative and entertaining. Fantagraphics has produced another spectacular book!  Grade A" – Tim Janson, The Gouverneur Times

Review: "Similar to Charles Addams and Gahan Wilson, Jason relies on the humorous side of horror in these mostly wordless tales. ... Throughout the sublime Almost Silent, Jason examines traditional relationships and social norms via a deliciously warped lens, quite probably one constructed by Dr. Frankenstein himself." – Rick Klaw, The SF Site: Nexus Graphica (spoiler alert!)

Review: "I can’t think of a better single volume of what the period style of fast looked like in practice than last year’s Supermen! anthology. Yes, there’s an added winnowing by genre but that just sharpens the sense of the reductive visual and narrative requirements that were standard for the hot new gravy train that hit the business." – Rich Kreiner, "Yearlong Best of the Year," The Comics Journal

Review: "As a whole, I like Abstract Comics a lot. I’d say that it works like a good art exhibition, or at least an exhibition unburdened by obligations to teach history, one in which multiple formal and aesthetic connections are there but not shouted out, rather left to be discovered (or not) by the strolling viewer according to his or her inclinations." – Charles Hatfield, Thought Balloonists

Plug: "[Steven] Weissman's work is very often like a brain-damaged Charles Schulz... His newest book, Chocolate Cheeks, raises the stakes in a really dramatic way. I think this might be his last book in this series, but it goes out with a doozy of a book." – Paul Constant, The Stranger

Plug: "Matt’s response to my squeeing over the announced May, 2010 publication date of Tales Designed to Thrizzle #6: 'Yes, as there were so many plots unresolved in the last issue. Who won, blimps or holes??'" – TofuPunk.com (I don't know who Matt is – ed.)

Plug: "With new work by the likes of Johnny Ryan, Max Andersson, Sam Henderson, Stephane Blanquet, Doug Allen, Michael Kupperman, Mack White, and Jeremy Onsmith, Hotwire 3 is certain to deliver the psychic jolt it promises." – Richard Cowdry, Love the Line

Plug: "Since Beatriz 'Penny Century' Garcia is my favorite Love & Rockets' Locas, I'm very excited to see the advance solicitation for the new soft cover Penny Century... In my opinion, the soft cover collected volumes are the best way to read Love & Rockets. They are the easiest way to follow the reading order, and with the cheap price of $18.99, you can't find a better launching point for one of the most regarded independent comics of all time. " – The Star Clipper Blog

Analysis: Abstract Comics contributor Derik Badman posts an in-depth email discussion between himself and critic Craig Fischer about the book 

Interview: The Daily Yomiuri's Tom Baker talks Usagi Yojimbo with Stan Sakai: "I think the first few years I really tried to make him cute and cuddly like a stuffed animal, whereas the stories tended to [take] a more dramatic turn. So I think the character has changed. Most of it's unconscious on my part." (via The Comics Reporter )

Contest: Arrested Motion is having a drawing to give away a copy of Rock Candy: The Artwork of Femke Hiemstra along with a signed exhibit card and limited-edition giclee print!

Daily OCD: 2/5/10
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Steven WeissmanStephen DeStefanoNewaveDaily OCDCharles M SchulzAriel BordeauxAbstract Comics 5 Feb 2010 3:01 PM

Light Online Commentary & Diversions:

Review: Kevin Bramer of Optical Sloth examines a sampling of comics by Ariel Bordeaux, including her work in Raisin Pie #1

Interview: In an interview with The Beat's Michael Fiffe, artist Mark Badger talks about his participation in Abstract Comics: The Anthology: "It came out of nowhere. It was absolutely stunning."

Plug: "New from Fantagraphics Books, Newave! The Underground Mini Comix of the 1980s. At 888 pages this is a substantial collection of the comix art of the New Wave mini-comix movement. Largely inspired by the Underground Comix movement of the 60s & 70s, these artists produced hand-made mini-comix for the pure joy of creating uncensored self-expression without the appeasement and quench of profit motivation." – Skip Williamson

Plug: "Steven Weissman is awesome." – Paul Constant

Plug: Robot 6's JK Parkin spotlights Stephen DeStefano's prep artwork for Lucky in Love (previously featured here on Flog)

Cuteness: The Schulz Museum is offering free admission to little (and big) red-haired girls on Valentine's Day — how adorable is that?

Daily OCD: 1/4/10
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under The Comics JournalSupermenSteve DitkoStephen DeStefanoRoger LangridgereviewsPrince ValiantPopeyePeter BaggePeanutsPaul KarasikNoah Van SciverMomeLove and RocketsLos Bros HernandezKevin HuizengaJohnny RyanJoe SaccoJasonJaime HernandezJacques TardiHumbugHotwireHarvey KurtzmanHans RickheitHal FosterGilbert HernandezGabrielle BellFletcher HanksEC SegarDrew WeingDavid LevineDash ShawDaniel ClowesCraig YoecontestsComing AttractionsCharles M SchulzCarol TylerBrian KaneBob LevinBlake BellBest of 2009Arnold RothAbstract Comics 4 Jan 2010 2:33 PM

The first Online Commentary & Diversions of the new year might be the longest one ever, so let's get to it:

List/Review/Interview: As part of The Comics Reporter 's unique series of critical discussions on notable comics of the decade, Tom Spurgeon talks to Tucker Stone about Kevin Huizenga's Ganges: "That's the thing about Ganges #3 that makes it a unique comic -- it cannot be told in another medium and work. How are you going to write that down, that aspect of Glenn chasing his own thoughts and memories about completely personal, mundane life aspects, without drawing the character swimming around in his own head?" Elsewhere, Sean T. Collins responds to some of Stone's points

List: Robot 6 lists The 30 Most Important Comics of the Decade. In part one, Safe Area Gorazde by Joe Sacco is at #19 ("What's more, it showed that comics could handle not only tough subject matters, but deal with timely, true-life subjects in a hard-hitting, journalistic fashion"). In part two, The Complete Peanuts is at #15 ("If you believe, as I do, that we are living in the Golden Age of Reprints, chances are The Complete Peanuts is your Exhibit A")

List: Newsarama 's Michael C. Lorah names his Best of 2009 Comics, including Prince Valiant Vol. 1: 1937-1938 by Hal Foster and Luba by Gilbert Hernandez

List: Newsarama's J. Caleb Mozzocco names his top 10 comics of the year, with The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book by Joe Daly at #8: "...[W]hat he delivers in the two stories collected in this book are unlike anything else I’ve seen in popular comics."

List: Gil Roth names his Favorite Comics of the Decade, including Ice Haven/Eightball #22 by Daniel Clowes, Eightball #23 by Clowes, The End #1 by Anders Nilsen, Locas II by Jaime Hernandez, Safe Area Gorazde by Joe Sacco, I Killed Adolf Hitler by Jason, Kevin Huizenga's work including the Ganges series, and Fred the Clown by Roger Langridge (via The Comics Reporter)

List: Joe McCulloch of Jog - The Blog prefaces his Top Ten Comics of 2009 list with a "Top Five Caveats of 2009" list of reprinted or unread comics which includes Supermen! The First Wave of Comic Book Heroes 1936-1941: ("Supermen! excited me... for suggesting a burning, manic soul of superhero comics, a reckless freedom differentiated from pulp writing and feature films by gnarled visual style while set apart from newspaper strips by virtue of a restless hunger to entertain quick and hard. It felt like the start of a future, and the comedown only hit when I realized I enjoyed it more than any new superhero comic of 2009") and The Squirrel Machine by Hans Rickheit. On the Top Ten list proper: West Coast Blues by Tardi & Manchette at #8 ("Teeming with fleshy characters prone to bleeding and puking, rippled with burn lines of existential dismay, the story keenly exploits how the thrills promised by bloody adventure outside the law segue into the terror of governmental systems failing to protect their cozy consumer citizens") and Prison Pit: Book 1 by Johnny Ryan at #4 ("as visceral and gory as fantasy throwdowns get, while remaining almost contemplative in its plain-paneled studies of bodily movement").

List: Patrick Montfort, blogging at Articulate Nerd, names his Favorite Comics of 2009: at #10, West Coast Blues by Tardi & Manchette ("A masterfully constructed crime story with an unlikeable protagonist caught in an unlikely circumstance, this very French graphic novel is superior to anything I've seen in the genre from an American cartoonist"); at #9, Abstract Comics: The Anthology ("Handsomely designed and smartly edited... one of the year's most unique releases... thrilling"); at #8, Prison Pit: Book 1 by Johnny Ryan ("Refreshingly devoid of any literary or artistic pretensions, this first of what I hope will be many, many volumes nevertheless comes across as somehow one of the smartest and well crafted books of the year"); at #7, The Complete Peanuts 1971-1972 and The Complete Peanuts 1973-1974 by Charles M. Schulz ("Really strong stuff here, including the 'Charlie Brown wears a sack on his head to summer camp' sequence, surely the 'Poison River' of Peanuts"); and at #2, The Squirrel Machine by Hans Rickheit ("Reminiscent of the best work of David Lynch, there are a lot of powerful themes humming just beneath the surface of the creepy and dreamlike narrative. This one hit hard, and I can't wait to read it again. Really, really impressive")

List: On the Family blog, Sammy Harkham lists 2008's Most Outrageous: The Trials and Trespasses of Dwaine Tinsley and Chester the Molester by Bob Levin as one of his Favorites of 2009

List: Cartoonist David Lasky's Best Graphic Novels of the Decade include Safe Area Gorazde by Joe Sacco at #8 ("More haunting and harrowing than any TV news report on the subject") and The Frank Book by Jim Woodring at #10 ("Jim Woodring's cartoon animal, Frank, learns about life (the hard way) in an odd, visually lush, surreal world")

List: At the Forbidden Planet International Blog Log, Richard Cowdry's Best of the Year picks include E.C. Segar's Popeye ("beautiful Depression era comics") and Johnny Ryan's Prison Pit: Book 1 ("Johnny Ryan takes ideas and styles that have been knocking around the art comics scene for the last few years, and injects them with gallons of fun, attitude and humour. My favourite new comic of the year!"); he also names Noah Van Sciver as a talent to watch; for favorites of the decade he names Love and Rockets ("jaw-droppingly amazing"), Eightball #22, Hotwire Comics, and various issues of Mome ("REALLY good")

List: At Comic Book Galaxy, Marc Sobel declares You'll Never Know, Book One: A Good and Decent Man by C. Tyler to be Book of the Year: "Although this is only the first volume..., You’ll Never Know feels like Tyler’s masterpiece, the crowning achievement that she’s been building toward." (We also racked up 5 Honorable Mentions.)

List: Newsarama's Henry Chamberlain names the comics he was most intrigued by in 2009, including The Squirrel Machine by Hans Rickheit ("Hans Rickheit has been producing work like this for years and he has perfected a certain haunted and exquisite comics style. Take it from me, this story of two very strange brothers is the real deal.")

List: Matthew Price of The Oklahoman names his top 10 graphic novels of the decade, with Joe Sacco's Safe Area Gorazde at #9 ("Joe Sacco's nonfiction account of the war in Bosnia was among the best ever examples of graphic novel journalism.")

List: Norwegian journalist Bente Kalsnes mentions Joe Sacco's Safe Area Gorazde as one of her favorite political comics

List: Edward Kaye of Hypergeek selects The Best Graphic Novels of 2009, including Low Moon by Jason ("At times both bleak and humorous, these beautifully absurd stories will leave you as speechless as one of Jason’s silent characters."), Love and Rockets: New Stories #2 by the Hernandez Brothers ("Los Bros. Hernandez continue to blaze trails with their originality, and the comic industry is better for it. This essential collection should be on every fan’s shelf."), Luba by Gilbert Hernandez ("It’s an astounding collection of stories about family, life, love, and heartbreak... [W]hen you read all of these powerful tales together in one place, you realise that Beto has created an epic here, unrivaled in its scale and depth. Words fail to express just how wonderful this collection is."), Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me by Peter Bagge ("It’s a brilliant piece of work, and perhaps Bagge’s finest achievement to date."), Locas II by Jaime Hernandez ("These tales of the lives of Maggie, Hopey, and Ray, are some of the most enthralling, and sometimes bizarre, stories ever told in the comic medium.") and You Shall Die by Your Own Evil Creation! by Fletcher Hanks ("...[T]hese surreal tales from the dawn of the super hero are uncompromisingly vivid, brutal, and at times, completely insane!")

List/Coming Attractions/Plugs: Hypergeek lists The Essential Comics and Graphic Novels of 2010, including Almost Silent by Jason ("Jason is one of the greatest cartoonists in the world") and the year's books from the Hernandez Brothers: The Troublemakers ("I loved Chance in Hell, so this follow-up is a must for me. Beto is a wonderful storyteller, and an astonishing artist, so you can't go wrong picking this up, even if you've never read any L&R!"), High Soft Lisp ("This collection is essential for all L&R fans, as it collects together many of Beto's stories from the second L&R series, for the first time."), Penny Century ("Another essential collection for fans of L&R, collection Xamie's Penny Century stories from the Penny Century series and from Love & Rockets Volume II."), and Love and Rockets: New Stories #3 ("If it's a tenth as good as the first two volumes, we're in for a treat!")

Review: "...[G]oofy fun... Supermen! The First Wave of Comic Book Heroes 1936-1941... is worth it for Fletcher Hanks’ 'Fantomah' and 'Stardust' strips and Basil Wolverton’s Spacehawk. The fact that you also get stuff like 'Yarko the Great' and 'Rex Dexter of Mars' can only be counted as a bonus." – Jeff Kapalka, The Post-Standard

Review: "Magnificent art. Panels that range from three or so across medium-sized panels and the occasional painfully detailed and colored super-sized panel. An ongoing story...with blood and gore even! Dooming predictions, wounds, loss and death. Fantagraphics is to be thanked for working so hard to produce a book [Prince Valiant Vol. 1: 1937-1938] that shows Foster's artwork in a decent size and with the colors corrected." – Fred Kiesche, The Lensman's Children

Review: "For a change of pace, it's nice to delve into some work from the great Steve Ditko and find nary a spider-man nor a strange doctor among them. Fantagraphics provides the ideal venue for doing so in Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 1... With the Fantagraphics logo on the sturdy spine, readers can expect — and receive — a top-quality package with crisp pages and handsome design. It's certainly attractive for some stories Ditko dismissed as 'junk,' but we all know there's treasure buried in trash." – Rod Lott, Bookgasm

Review: "Issue #2 [of Sublife] saw a lot of [the] promise [of the first issue] fulfilled in a group of stories that ranged across both genres and visual styles... What connected each story was a common theme: the desire for family and the ways in which that need either created surrogate families or metastasized into something darker." – Rob Clough, The Comics Journal

Plug: "What better way to celebrate the season of peace than [The Great Anti-War Cartoons]?... Pretty fascinating." – Corey Blake

Plug: Filipino blogger Randy Valiente looks at The Definitive Prince Valiant Companion

Plug: Robot 6 guest contributor Shaenon Garrity got Humbug for Christmas: "I love Harvey Kurtzman's failed magazine projects... Kurtzman never had much success in all his long career, but he had a talent for making smart people want to give him a hand... fun stuff. It's got a lot of work by Arnold Roth, whom I love."

Coming Attractions: Robot 6 surveys numerous comics pros as to what they're looking forward to in 2010: in part 1, Evan Dorkin mentions several of our upcoming reprint collections; in part 2, Chris Schweitzer mentions Drew Weing's Set to Sea (July); in part 3, Jamie S. Rich mentions Lucky in Love by Chieffet & DeStefano

Interview: The Daily Cross Hatch's Brian Heater continues (in part 3 of 4) his conversation with Carol Tyler: "I thought I could knock it out really quickly. That’s not case. But that’s not really stopping me, or anything. It’s just that, if it takes another six months to make this nicer, sweeter, and more wonderful, I want to. At first I thought I could get it all out in one package. I had it ready. But I’m not person who can write a script and then go illustrate it. I’m intuitive and I’m intuiting my way into this huge subject matter that hits me like a rock. There’s times when I can’t work because it makes me cry."

Profile: Comic Book Resources' Shaun Manning talks to Dash Shaw about The Unclothed Man in the 35th Century A.D.: "I realize that some people think of comics as being storyboards, or as some kind of preliminary work for a movie, and that's very funny to me. But usually the people who think that are film-industry people who think EVERYTHING is preliminary work for a future film! A book, play, whatever! Ha!"

Survey: The Beat's year-end survey of comics pros includes the following responses. From Jay Lynch: "When I think of comics in the 00s I think of: Johnny Ryan." From Mike Dawson: "What was the biggest story in comics in 2009? The Comics Journal moving almost exclusively online."

Essay: At conservative entertainment site Big Hollywood, a new 90-point think piece from Steve Ditko (via Journalista)

Tribute: Robert Birnbaum of The Morning News remembers David Levine; Robot 6 has a good list of more remembrances

Contest: Kevin Church is giving away a copy of West Coast Blues by Tardi & Manchette to one lucky blog commenter

Things to see: Kevin Huizenga's "Postcard from Fielder," part 5

Things to see: Hans Rickheit's Ectopiary, page 5

Things to see: Gabrielle Bell's quest for Crumb consummated

Come on, people: One of my rare editorial comments: Why the hell haven't any "best covers of 2009" lists included Jordan Crane's Uptight #3? Critics: Get with the program!

Daily OCD: 12/28/09
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Willie and JoeThe Comics JournalSupermenSteve DitkoStan SakaiRobert GoodinreviewsPrince ValiantPopeyePeter BaggePeanutsPaul KarasikPaul HornschemeierMort WalkerMichael KuppermanLove and RocketsLos Bros HernandezKevin HuizengaJohn PhamJoe SaccoJoe DalyJerry DumasJaime HernandezJacques TardiIvan BrunettiHumbugHans RickheitHal FosterGahan WilsonGabrielle BellFletcher HanksEC SegarCharles M SchulzCarol TylerBlake BellBill MauldinBest of 2009Anders NilsenAl ColumbiaAbstract Comics 28 Dec 2009 2:20 PM

Gird yourself for an epic installment of Online Commentary & Diversions:

List: Critic Robert Boyd names his top 15 Best Comics of 2009, with You Are There by Tardi & Forest at #2, Popeye Vol. 4 at #7 ("top-notch, Segar at his greatest"), Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me by Peter Bagge at #12 ("very, very funny") and You'll Never Know, Book 1 by C. Tyler at #13 ("a glorious mess, but a moving and beautiful one")

List: Comic Book Resources columnist Greg Hatcher names his Best Reprint Collections of 2009, including The Complete Peanuts ("truly wonderful... not to be missed")

List: Joe Gross of the Austin American-Statesman names notable comics of 2009, including Pim & Francie by Al Columbia ("It's a bit like peeking at J.D. Salinger's notebooks, if his notebooks were pure nightmare fuel") and You'll Never Know, Book 1 by C. Tyler ("A terrific addition to the canon of literature about baby boomers, their parents and their children")

List: Hillary Brown and Garrett Martin of SHAZHMMM... both include Tales Designed to Thrizzle by Michael Kupperman in their top 5 comics of the year

List: On the Forbidden Planet International Blog Log, comics writer Mike Carey (Unwritten) names Boody: The Bizarre Comics of Boody Rogers one of his favorite comics of 2009 ("utterly fantastic")

List: The Oregonian's Steve Duin places The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book by Joe Daly  at #6 on his top-10 list of The Best of 2009: Comics and Graphic Novels

List: Greek site Comicdom names Ivan Brunetti's Schizo #4 to the #4 spot on their Top 100 of the 00s countdown. From the Google translation: "With words or silence, with an excellent sequence between the panels and embroidered with punchlines, reading this comic becomes a personal matter, even though the association, the painfully honest confession, is more or less familiar to everyone."

List: Fústar awards The Clanging Gong of Doom for "Weirdest & Most Brain-Searingly Wonderful Book of the Year" to You Shall Die by Your Own Evil Creation! by Fletcher Hanks, which "might be testament to rage-filled, borderline psychosis – but it's thrillingly vital and magnificently (uniquely) strange for all that."

List: Christopher Allen of Comic Book Galaxy informally lists some Best of 2009 choices, including the year's Love and Rockets releases, Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 1, and Prince Valiant Vol. 1: 1937-1938

Review: "...[T]he great pleasures of each story [in The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book] are the odd, idiosyncratic details Daly includes, and the way in which he reveals them. ... I’ve never read anything like it—and now I want nothing more than to read more of it." – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama

Review: "Sublife Vol. 2... is John Pham’s gorgeously designed one-man anthology book, including about a half-dozen stories of various genres, formats, sensibilities and even art styles, each impeccably laid out on longer-than-it-is-high, 8.5-by-7-inch rectangular pages. ... They’re all pretty great on their own, and taken all together, they make up a downright remarkable book." – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama (same link as above)

Review: "...[C. Tyler's] autobiographical comics display a shocking, unruly wholesomeness: they are visually and morally beautiful, suffused with a scrap-doodle amateurism and palpable maternal love... You’ll Never Know, Tyler’s newest book, is modeled on a scrapbook and is a tribute to craftsmanship, much like the home repair and plumbing we see her father, the 'good and decent man' of the title, often undertaking. ... Tyler mitigates this directness of heart with a dynamically pesky drawing style, splattering each panel with the democratic debris of life." – Ken Chen, Rain Taxi

Review: "While we’re torturing geeks, I have to put in a good word for Andrei Molotiu’s Abstract Comics: The Anthology... The collection has a wealth of rewarding material, some of it awkward, some groundbreaking — on the whole, it is a significant historical document that may jump-start an actual new genre." – Doug Harvey, LA Weekly

Review: "Some of the writing [in Humbug] may seem a bit quaint in our ‘irony coming out our asses’ present day, but the artwork is uniformly mind-blowing. ... This collects the whole ill-fated run in a luxurious hardbound package including top-notch background material. Worth it for the mammoth Arnold Roth & Al Jaffee interview alone." – M. Ace, Irregular Orbit

Review: "The Education of Hopey Glass... [is t]he proverbial artist at the peak of his powers — except he keeps taking that peak higher every time." – M. Ace, Irregular Orbit

Plug: "...Willie & Joe: The WWII Years... might make a veteran in your life very happy." – David Allen, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

Plugs: In an interview with Newsarama, Chris Ureta Casos of Seattle comic shop Comics Dungeon gives a nice shout-out to our recent reprint efforts and names Paul Hornschemeier's Mother, Come Home as a personal all-time favorite

Plug: Robot 6's Chris Mautner got our collection of Jerry Dumas and Mort Walker's Sam's Strip for Christmas ("you can sense the two of them having fun")

Plugs: "Fantagraphics (again) certainly delivered big-time on the second (and probably final) collection of primitive comic savant Fletcher Hanks’ You Shall Die By Your Own Evil Creation!, as well as with the almost-as-weird Supermen!: The First Wave of Comic Book Heroes 1936-1941." – Doug Harvey, LA Weekly 

Interview: The Wall Street Journal's Jamin Brophy-Warren has a brief Q&A with Gahan Wilson: "The other thing that dawned on me was we were destroying the planet or at least we were destroying it as a feasible environment. There’s a little grandiosity in saying we’re destroying the earth — we’re just screwing it up so we can’t live. For one, that was hilarious that we’d be determined to continue and it keeps getting worse and worse."

Interview: The Daily Cross Hatch's Brian Heater continues his conversation with Carol Tyler: "I…can’t…the secret of life? I’m not giving away the secret! I’ll just tell you this — it’s funny around here, because I have to go and pick up dog poop or something. And I’ve heard something like, 'Robert and Aline [Crumb] are in the New Yorker, this week. Oh, they’ve got ten pages.' And I’m just picking up dog poop, but I’m happy, for some reason. I’m happy!"

Interview: It's the Comics Journal #300 conversation between Stan Sakai and Chris Switzer at TCJ.com

News: Polish blog Kolorowe Zeszyty reports that Joe Sacco's Safe Area Gorazde is about to be published in their country by Mroja Press

Things to see: Gabrielle Bell's latest strip co-stars Anders Nilsen and Barack Obama

Things to see: Kevin Huizenga's "Postcard from Fielder" part 4; also, a kitty!

Things to see: Hans Rickheit's Ectopiary page 4 (with commentary)

Things to see: Robert Goodin's first-ever record-cover art

Things to see: Anders Nilsen, still killing it in his sketchbook

Daily OCD: 12/24/09
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Steve DitkoreviewsPeanutsMichael KuppermanJim WoodringDash ShawCharles M SchulzBlake BellBest of 2009Abstract Comics 24 Dec 2009 2:41 PM

Online Commentary & Diversions will return next week. Have a great holiday!

List: From Alan David Doane of Comic Book Galaxy's not-technically-a-best-of end-of-year roundup: "...[O]f course Fantagraphics continued to make life better with its ongoing Complete Peanuts collections, and their Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 1 was also one of the treasures of the year, filled with tons of the master's weird and wonky comics."

Review: "...I enjoyed the hell out of this book. ... Not only did Portable Grindhouse remind me of ye olden days, it also gave me quite a laugh. You won’t believe some of the ridiculously schlocky movies that are included in this book. I honestly can’t recommend it enough. It’s the perfect book for anyone who understands the art of the guilty pleasure and the joy in a terrifically bad movie, as well as those who took great joy in the hunt for home video entertainment. Portable Grindhouse: The Lost Art of the VHS Box gets two thumbs WAY up!" – Chad Derdowski, Mania

Review: "...Tales Designed to Thrizzle, whose first four issues have just been anthologized as a hardcover... bring[s] a slick, hyperreal illustrative consistency that amplifies the already dreamlike mixture of familiarity and strangeness, which permeates [Kupperman's] deadpan surrealist slapstick." – Doug Harvey, LA Weekly

Interview: The latest in this week's series of Dash Shaw interviews is with Entertainment Weekly. Interviewer Darren Franich calls Bottomless Belly Button "a genuine masterpiece" and says the stories in The Unclothed Man in the 35th Century A.D. are "gut-punchingly wondrous." Teaser quote from Dash: "Unclothed Man, to me, is about figure drawing and figure drawing classes and what it’s like to be a figure drawing model. If you pick up an old How to Draw the Figure Book, it’s always Pin-Up girls. Like, How to Draw This Reclining Hot Chick. The sexual undertones are obviously there in the drawing, but the classroom is such a weird academic repressed environment."

Profile: Wider Screenings presents a video profile of Australian artist and Abstract Comics contributor Tim Gaze (link updated 12/29)

Things to see: Good heavens, what has Jim Woodring done to Manhog this time?

Daily OCD: 12/17/09
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Tony MillionaireSethreviewsPopeyePeanutsMichael KuppermanMatthias LehmannMaakiesJordan CraneJoe SaccoJasonJacques TardiGilbert HernandezGahan WilsonfashionEC SegarDaniel ClowesCraig YoeCharles M SchulzCarol SwainBest of 2009Abstract Comics 17 Dec 2009 2:21 PM

When these Online Commentary & Diversions posts get long enough I get an error message in our blogging interface; this is one of those, so buckle in:

List: Heeb's Graphic Novel Gift Guide includes Popeye Vol. 4: "Plunder Island", which editor Jeff Newelt says contains "heartfelt masterpieces of illustrated slapstick adventure." (via Robot 6)

List: Design Observer's recommended Holiday Books 2009 includes Abstract Comics: "...[T]his arresting book is like a scoop of primordial narrative, representational mud. Which is to say, it has vitaminic powers."

List: Jason's Low Moon and Michael Kupperman's Tales Designed to Thrizzle Vol. 1 get shout-outs from our esteemed colleagues on the Matador Records/Beggars Group staff in their annual staff/artist end-of-year best-of Matablog megapost

List: Comics-and-More's Dave Ferraro's Favorite Comic Book Covers of 2009 include Luba by Gilbert Hernandez (designed by Jacob Covey), Uptight #3 by Jordan Crane, West Coast Blues by Tardi & Manchette (designed by Adam Grano), Abstract Comics (designed by Jacob Covey), and The Complete Peanuts 1973-1974 (designed by Seth)

Review: "Giraffes In My Hair: A Rock ‘N’ Roll Life... is my favorite graphic novel of the year, and it is marinated in a life lived through real rock and roll delivered via stories as wide-open and lung-puncturing as a two minute Ramones rant. Artist Swain is an alternative comics’ veteran... with an attractively scruffy style; storyteller Paley has an author-blessed background in the margins of the freak milieu... This comic book adaptation of a real life shows the biggest bruises and the smallest scars, but cuts out all the heroic flab. Again, one of the best graphic novels of the year, as well as one of the best rock books too." – Chris Estey, KEXP

Review: "The Playboy cartoons collected [in Gahan Wilson: Fifty Years of Playboy Cartoons] demonstrate above all Wilson's phenomenal range in subject, style, and inspiration. ... The menace in domestic relations, the evil that kids are capable of, the outright nastiness that man inflicts on man: it's all here, drawn in Wilson's inimitable comic style. ... And Fantagraphics has also served Wilson well.  This collection is a wonder of book design, with die-cut boards, marvelous color reproduction, and a fantastic slipcase.  The clear plastic panel on one side reveals the laminated  back board of the books, each one a different headshot photo of Wilson himself, his face smashed against the plastic, a prisoner in his own collection. It's a perfect expression of all the inspired madness within." – Thomas DePietro, The Barnes & Noble Review

Review: "[Abstract Comics] is a great book for the comics enthusiast and visual artist alike." – Book Soup Blog (via the Abstract Comics Blog)

Review: "The comics [in Abstract Comics] resemble IQ quizzes that test the ability to recognise patterns. But they are more difficult here — insanely difficult — as they replace simple geometric shapes with abstract comic lines, colours and collage. Solving them will no doubt provide tremendous pleasure but there are no answers given, of course." – Parka Blogs, who also have very nice photos and video of the book (also via the Abstract Comics Blog)

Reviews: Érico Assis of Brazilian site Omelete has the rundown on the recently released Brazilian edition of The Complete Peanuts 1950-1952 (Vol. 1): "But of course, the interest here is the historical value. Maybe time to recover, at least you remember the pop culture, were much simpler. If you like to do time travel, at least with the brain, Complete Peanuts gives you several hours of escapism for a past environment of children, a bit silly. And perhaps so happy." Also: "If Tales Designed to Thrizzle does not please a dedicated fan of Monty Python, I like my stuffed parrot. ... With the collection, it's time to conquer the world. At least the world of smart people who recognize the genius of Monty Python." (slightly broken English from Google translation)

Review: "In The Great Anti-War Cartoons, Craig Yoe has gathered an amazing assembly of peaceful protests that seeks to prove that the pen is truly mightier than the sword. ... All of it is thought-provoking and deserves a look. And where else will you see a collection like this? Art Spiegelman, Robert Crumb, Rube Goldberg, Honore Daumier… my god. Even if you don’t dig the message, you gotta dig the art. In the end, it’s obviously a book that’ll stick with me and would make a worthy addition to your collection. ... Grade: A" – Chad Derdowski, Mania

Review: "War sucks, and [in The Great Anti-War Cartoons] Yoe has selected a wide range of cartoons that make the point with elegance and grim wit. ...[I]n terms of craft, vision, and passion, political cartoons simply don't get much better." – Noah Berlatsky, Chicago Reader

Review: Noah Berlatsky is the 4th writer at The Hooded Utilitarian to take a crack at Ghost World in their critical roundtable: "I’ve never been able to quite wrap my head around what about the book so thoroughly irritates me."

Metacommentary: TCJ.com's Shaenon Garrity comments on the (TCJ-hosted) Hooded Utilitarian's critical roundtable on Ghost World: "...the other reason I like Ghost World: like it or hate it, you can talk about it endlessly."

Profile: Turkish cartoonist Adem Mermerkaya looks at the work of Joe Sacco (autotranslation is little help I'm afraid but it looks fairly substantive if you read the language)

Things to see: A whole mess of new stuff — sketches, gags, abstractions — on T. Edward Bak's art blog, plus an early character design and research for his current Mome story 

Things to see: Matthias Lehmann's latest addition to his art blog is particularly nice

Democracy/fashion: Vote for the next Maakies t-shirt design from Waterloo

Daily OCD: 12/11/09
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Steve DitkoPortable GrindhouseMichael KuppermanLove and RocketsJim WoodringJacques TardiJacques BoyreauHans RickheitGahan WilsonFrom Wonderland with LoveDerek Van GiesonDash ShawCarol TylerBlake BellBest of 2009Abstract Comics 11 Dec 2009 3:54 PM

Online Commentary & Diversions:

List: Politics and Prose, perhaps the most graphic novel-friendly bookstore in Washington DC, lists their Favorite Graphic Literature of the Year:

"Every few years a graphic novel comes around that is so good you have to stop reading for a while, because if you read anything else you'd only be disappointed. ... The Squirrel Machine... is a masterpiece of comic fantasy. When I finished this book, I immediately returned to the introduction and read the whole book again, and again. Read this book to see what heights serial art can achieve in narrative and in the creation of worlds that exist in one character's mind. Read it if you think you can handle it, for it abandons the typical narrative structure and accomplishes its ends as only serial art of the highest quality can. This is a fine, gut-wrenching book, written and drawn by a true master." – Thad Ellerbe

"West Coast Blues is an unflinching story, perfect for any fan of the thriller." – Adam Waterreus

"C. Tyler's You'll Never Know, Book One: A Good and Decent Man... is also an impressive and beautiful history of the era; Tyler creates a panorama of images that sweep across the page as she documents her father's childhood, her parent's engagement, and her own young life. Her pen, ink, and color transform her creative panels (at times evoking a scrapbook) into vibrant memories intertwined by her restless imagination." – Adam Waterreus

"[With Abstract Comics] it becomes a treat to take a page of art — or a simple panel — and consider how the shapes, texture, depth, and color interact with one another; to reflect on how, when one takes the time, the enjoyment one ordinarily finds in reading a purely textually-oriented, narrative-driven written story can — with the graphic form — be translated into something completely different." – Adam Waterreus

"From Wonderland with Love: Danish Comics in the Third Millennium... is fantastic! This amazing collection just blew me away. There was not one moment when reading this book — in one sitting, slouched and unblinking on my couch, coffee going cold — that I did not completely love. ... Mythic and dreamlike, meditative and fantastical, this is a superb and surprising collection." – Adam Waterreus

Review: "...[F]rom the moment he showed up [Michael] Kupperman was a master of stomping around the living room of modern reality and shoving pieces of conceptual furniture next to one another to awesome, knees-out-from-under effect. Kupperman's work has always had that charge that the really good stuff has... Kupperman doesn't get enough credit for building a comic book vehicle in Tales Designed To Thrizzle that serves to facilitate those skills. ...I'm not certain anything under heaven or earth could make something greater than Kupperman's peerless ability to craft funny moments." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter

Review: The Oregonian's Steve Duin, while professing "I am not on the board of directors of the Gahan Wilson fan club," nonetheless finds some pleasures in Gahan Wilson: Fifty Years of Playboy Cartoons, declaring "This is a stunning collection, gloriously presented."

Review: superhumanoids writes of Dash Shaw's "eccentric little Animated Web Series That Could" The Unclothed Man in the 35th Century A.D., "Disparate animation styles and simple, hand drawn production value is the perfect vessel for a world where future-artists hone their still life sketches on rigid, unmoving droids."

Review: "Unclothed Man delivers just the right amounts of story, whimsy, art, and heft for four two-minute entries. It offers actual nutritive cultural substance, as opposed to so much web filler one often gets. And you’ll want to go back and watch them a few more times. There’s a lot of variety behind the series’ simple elegance." – Michael Shaw (no relation), Tubefilter

Plug: "Compiled by Portland, Oregon-based trash cinema expert Jacques Boyreau, Portable Grindhouse honors the pulp video era that inspired Quentin Tarantino." – Hugh Hart, Wired

Plug: Clicky Overload reminds us "By the way, world's best comic publisher Fantagraphics has a collection of Krampus postcards called The Devil in Design: The Krampus Postcards."

Gift guide: Comics Alliance recommends Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 1 for the recluse in your life in their snarky "Holiday Shopping Guide for the Unemployed Comics Fan" (sorry Steve, I just reports 'em)

Links: Time for another awe-inspiring Love and Rockets mega link roundup post from Love & Maggie

Things to see: Actually, Derek, I kinda like it

Things to see: In Jim Woodring's latest blog posting, Frank faces terror from the deep! Yow!

Video/slideshow catch-up: Peanuts & more
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under videopreviewsPeanutsFrom Wonderland with LoveFemke HiemstraCharles M SchulzAbstract Comics 9 Dec 2009 11:57 AM

They're long past due in terms of the books' release dates, but please enjoy these Flickr video & photo slideshows of The Complete Peanuts 1973-1974 (link to Flickr) and the 1971-1974 Box Set (link to Flickr) nonetheless.

And there are more recent photo/video uploads of summer books — I'll just link to them so as not to clog the page with embedded players:

Abstract Comics: The Anthology (slideshow - order/more info)
From Wonderland with Love: Danish Comics in the Third Millennium (slideshow - order/more info)
Rock Candy: The Artwork of Femke Hiemstra (slideshow - order/more info)

There's about 8 more to come, which I hope to have done by the end of the year, so stay tuned.

Daily OCD: Special NYT/EW Edition
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Steve DitkoreviewsMichael KuppermanLilli CarréBlake BellAbstract Comics 6 Dec 2009 2:38 PM

In today's New York Times Sunday Book Review, Douglas Wolk turns in some short reviews of recommended comics for the holidays, including:

Tales Designed to Thrizzle Volume One by Michael Kupperman

"The blandly didactic sobriety of old educational comics and earnest advertisements... is Michael Kupper­man’s default tone for the deranged, gaspingly funny work collected in Tales Designed to Thrizzle: Volume One. Kupperman has a stiff, deadpan drawing style that suggests the textures of woodcuts, clip-art and old 'Mary Worth' strips; his writing, on the other hand, jumps the rails at every opportunity."

Abstract Comics

 "The artists assembled by Andrei Molotiu for his anthology Abstract Comics push 'cartooning' to its limits: the selections have few if any words, no characters or plot, and very few clearly identifiable representations — just abstract images in sequence. ... It’s a fascinating book to stare at, and as with other kinds of abstract art, half the fun is observing your own reactions..."

(Edited to add: There's also a very nice review of Lilli Carré's new Little Otsu book Nine Ways to Disappear.)

Meanwhile, over at Entertainment Weekly, Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 1 is #9 on this week's "Must List":

Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 1

"This exhilarating collection of stories by the comic-book artist who co-created Spider-Man captures all the glorious chills and blood spills from the first two years of his career."

Daily OCD: 11/10/09
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under reviewsPrince ValiantJohnny RyanJim FloraHal FosterBob FingermanAl ColumbiaAbstract Comics 10 Nov 2009 2:56 PM

Online Commentary & Diversions:

• Review: "The different techniques — ink on paper, watercolor, pencil, black or color, collage, digital manipulation, minimalist drawing, patchwork, cartoony lines... — associated to the different strategies and presences of 'comics' elements in these variations will make us wonder, on the one hand, on a progressive dilution of any formal determination in relation to this art (bringing it closer, thus, to freer or more conceptual artistic disciplines, in which the gesture is more important than, say, talent, virtuosity, technical prowess), and, on the other hand, in the phantasmatical emergence of an unifying idea (a name: 'abstract comics'), but which is, in the last instance, irreducible to something directly analyzable." – Pedro Vieira de Moura, SuccoAcido

• Review: "I wish to add my voice to the chorus of those who really, really like Johnny Ryan's left-hand turn into violent fantasy with the promise of more to come, Prison Pit. ... Prison Pit should help anyone paying attention to appreciate how carefully Ryan designs and executes his work. You could not achieve the gruesome effects and consistent energy Ryan does here without being absolutely on top of that style... Ryan's general intelligence — I think he's one of the smartest cartoonists — is also on display in how quickly he picks up the rhythms of the kind of sprawling manga and art-comics fantasies that this book frequently recalls. ... Crucially, I never knew exactly where Ryan was headed but every scene in Prison Pit seemed to flow naturally from the previous one right up to the brutally funny, icky and appropriate ending. I hope there are ten more." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter

• Review: "Unlike anything Ryan's done thematically, or really, unlike anything Fantagraphics has published before, Prison Pit is a non-stop action comic. It's pretty successful in that regard, with imaginative character designs and some surprising battles, full of many odd transformations and characters surviving the loss of limbs, even a head. And although the genre is different, Ryan can't seem to deviate from a fascinating mix of sex and violence and bodily fluids." – Christopher Allen, Comic Book Galaxy

• Plug: "[Pim & Francie] is an arrangement of drawings — sometimes preparations for drawings — generally honed in on the journey of two old-timey animation-looking kids. Sometimes there's dialogue, sometimes there's 'scenes,' but most of the work's interest comes from wrenching you though time and space as the narrative stretches just thin enough to part in spots, only to gum together again for a little while, until it's pulled again." – Joe McCulloch, Jog - The Blog

• Plug: "Hal Foster's Prince Valiant is probably my all time favorite comic strip, and this new collection consolidating the strips from 1937-1938 is very well produced." – San Antonio Board Gamers

• Reviewer: TCJ Assistant Editor Kristy Valenti puts on her freelancer cap once again and reviews Samuel R. Delaney & Mia Wolff's Bread & Wine for comiXology

• Events: The Daily Cross Hatch's Brian Heater reports from last weekend's King Con in Brooklyn, with audio from the Bob Fingerman Spotlight panel

• Things to see: Several vintage Jim Flora illustrations (including possibly some previously unpublished ones) ran in last Sunday's UK Telegraph Sunday jazz supplement — the Jim Flora Art blog has a link to a PDF