A new week brings an avalanche of new Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Profile: For the Philadelphia Inquirer, Tirdad Derakhshani looks at the past, present, and future of Prince Valiant: "The release Tuesday of Prince Valiant, Vol. 1: 1937-1938, the first in a new series of gorgeously printed, hardcover Valiant collections from Fantagraphics Books, served as a bittersweet reminder of the century-long rise and eventual decline of a great American art form, the comic strip."
• Review: "...Al [Columbia] decided to dredge up old ghosts, unfinished pieces, trifles he had thrown away then reconsidered and offered them up to us as proof that he hasn’t forgotten us. This 240-page book [Pim and Francie: The Golden Bear Days, Fall 2009]... has certainly filled in some gaps for me as to what goes on in Columbia’s mind... There seems to be something both amazing and horrifying around every corner, in any dark space, in the thick of the forest, in the bulbous eyes of maniacal creatures and the straight realistic lines of buildings that all have a dark window somewhere... It is truly a viscous treat and I am sure this one will never wash off." - Rachael M Rollson, Panel to Panel
• Review: "Though Low Moon doesn’t have the slow-building impact of Jason’s longer works, he’s still one of comics’ best storytellers, and it’s always a treat to spend time in his world of off-brand pulp clichés and not-always-so-funny animals. [Grade] B+" - The A.V. Club
• Review: "Jason is an immensely skilled artist capable of manipulating his self-restricted vocabulary to stretch space and time. Low Moon moves in a slow burn as the two antagonists move closer to their eventual showdown. In what is probably the best story in the book You Are Here, time moves more quickly as a father and son attempt to deal with the alien abduction of the father's wife. The father builds a rocket while the son grows up and has a life of his own. Eventually they pile into the rocket, and things end badly, but perhaps a bit more emotionally than with the other stories." - Michael Buntag, NonSensical Words
• Review: "Rage of a different kind in Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me and Other Astute Observations by Peter Bagge. This collection of satirical rants from the American libertarian magazine Reason... is philosophically more about punk individualism than Ayn Rand, and artistically the heir to 1980s indie comics. Indeed, Bagge is an indie star, famous for his wonderfully elastic cartooning style and punk-inflected comedies." - Roger Sabin, The Observer
• Review: "These are good comics [in Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me and Other Astute Observations], fun to read and definitely funny, definitely searing and when he hits a target he gets it right. Also there’s something to be said for the journalist tone of the writing and the structure of the strips would translate well into a proper newspaper, were he so inclined." - Ibrow
• Review: "For fresh talent in comics, you have to go to the anthologies and there's none better at the moment than Mome... the highlight [of Vol. 15] is Dash Shaw's hallucinatory story about a tidal wave, which uses swaths of colour and elongated panels to create a sense of vertigo." - Roger Sabin, The Observer (same link as above)
• Review: "Schulz had gone from a fairly grounded sense of consensus reality to Snoopy's flights of fancy to outright weirdness... That seems to be the essence of Sparky Schulz to me: even with the pressure of the daily grind and his position as the lynchpin of what had become a vast empire, Schulz wrote to amuse himself... At his best in this volume [The Complete Peanuts 1973-1974], Schulz gave the readers some of the best stories of his career." - Rob Clough
• Review: "Ace cartoonist Jordan Crane makes a curious split comic choice. The first half [of Uptight #3 ], 'Vicissitude,' is the opening chapter of a brooding adult tale of marital dysfunction and deceit, while the second, 'Freeze Out,' is a kid’s story, the further adventures of Simon and his cat Jack, who were featured in Crane’s great graphic novel, The Clouds Above. Miraculously, the pairing works — each is superior in its own genre — but you might want to wait until 'Freeze Out' is collected on its own before showing it to your kids." - John Seven, Worcester Magazine
• Review: "Blazing Combat (Fantagraphics, 2009) collects the entire run in a beautiful, incredibly well-bound hardcover book... The stories' tone is very 1960s, ironic with a cynicism stemming from brokenhearted humanism." - Carol Borden, The Cultural Gutter
• Review: "Needless to say, I love the streak of darkness that permeates [Charles] Burns' work. I mean that both figuratively and literally, as his one-of-a-kind illustration style is at-a-glance recognizable because of his heavy use of black ink... That starkness emphasizes the cruel features on the faces of his characters - deep wrinkles, harsh teeth, beady eyes and unflattering noses, to say nothing of the occasional freak. Like the look of his characters, Burns is one of a kind, and Skin Deep is a good introduction to the man's singular vision - a good way to get your toe wet before diving in." - Rod Lott, Bookgasm
• Review: "[A.B.] Frost looked like he was painting with the line…on a half-dozen cups of coffee. Trust me, that’s hard to do... Also, it looks like Fanta-Graphic Books might have brought Stuff and Nonsense back in print in 2003. [Yes. -Ed.] Pick up and copy and be ready to weep - this work is untouchable." - Tony DiTerlizzi
• Plug: "Carol Tyler's You'll Never Know is my favorite book of the year thus far. This memoir/biography/scrapbook is both formally challenging and emotionally devastating. Any critic serious about compiling a year-end list needs to keep this book under consideration." - Rob Clough, Robot 6 (guest contributor)
• Tweet: "Still, the most beautifully designed bk so far this yr is still IMO Fantagraphics 'The Brinkley Girls': http://bit.ly/CSYpH Swoon-worthy." - bookjones
Finally available for pre-order, one of our most anticipated releases of the year and our second original prose novel: This Side of Jordan by Monte Schulz is a picaresque novel told in the voice of a lost generation hurtling toward the Great Depression. A farm boy meets a violent gangster and an eccentric dwarf, encountering more curious characters as they traverse the American South. Featuring cover art by Al Columbia. This book is now available for pre-order in our online shop following its noteworthy debut (attracting the likes of Ray Bradbury and Joe Hill) at Comic-Con last month. To hook you, we've made the entire first chapter available for free as a 23-page PDF dowload. This book will be in stock and shipping in a week or two, and in stores approximately 4 weeks later (subject to change).
Look, it's my desk, with advance copies of two brand new books on it: All and Sundry: Uncollected Work 2004-2009 by Paul Hornschemeier (you can pre-order it from us and check out a preview here) and This Side of Jordan by Monte Schulz (with cover art by Al Columbia; no pre-order yet, but lots more info about the book here). Both will be debuting at Comic-Con next week with the authors in attendance!
Uh oh, I'm starting to post Twitter reviews. We're through the looking glass here, people.
• Review: "Jaime Hernandez again shows mastery in portraying both recognizable situations and complex emotions [in The Education of Hopey Glass]. The illustrations are beautiful. The man has achieved perfection with his drawing style." - Koen (translated from Dutch)
• Review: "Linda Medley's Castle Waiting... [is a] beautifully designed volume... 457 pages of glorious black and white illustration... The artwork is absolutely charming, hearkening back to older pen-and-ink styles, but with a cartoony touch to it. The characters are individually realized, both by the art and the writing... This would be a good comic book to give to younger people, perhaps especially if you know a girl who likes comics but is turned off by more mainstream fare... The twining of the fairy tales with the story is deftly and delightfully done. I love this series." - Little Bits of Everything
• Review: "Tales Designed to Thrizzle #5... [is] a comedy rag and reads like Monty Python writing a comic: lots of absurdity and naughty silliness coupled with incorrect history and ever-so-subtle statements here and there. Plus the art is spectacular! Michael Kupperman really makes it feel like you're reading some weird alternate-universe cartoon book from the 30s or something and it just makes the whole thing feel so weird, it's great!" - Timmy Williams, The Daily Cross Hatch
• Review: "Blazing Combat from Fantagraphics. Outstanding 1960's Warren goodness. Archie Goodwin et al. artists at their best." - John Siuntres (Word Balloon), on Twitter
• Plug: "I also came upon Michael Kupperman's Tales Designed to Thrizzle Vol. 1. Even though I've read most of this material in periodical form, it's still a joy to revisit Kupperman's absurd, hilarious universe." - Chris Mautner, Robot 6 "What Are You Reading?" [ed. note: I'm going to have this book up for pre-order here on the website this week if it kills me]
All this week and next week we're bringing you a sneak peek at our Fall 2009 - Winter 2010 schedule of releases! Today's excerpt from our latest book distributor's catalog includes The Squirrel Machine by Hans Rickheit; the Fall and Winter volumes of Mome; Chocolate Cheeks by Steven Weissman; and Pim & Francie: "In the Golden Bear Days" from Al Columbia. (Note that all the info in this catalog is subject to change along the way to the books' release, including release dates, prices, cover art, book specs, etc.) Click here to download the PDF!
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