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Category >> Al Columbia

Daily OCD: 1/18/10
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Zak SallySteve DitkoreviewsPopeyeHans RickheitGary GrothGabrielle BellEleanor DavisEC SegarCarol TylerCarol SwainBest of 2009Al Columbia 18 Jan 2010 2:16 PM

It's your holiday Online Commentary & Diversions:

List: Paul Gravett names "The Best of 2009: Graphic Novels": No. 9 is Giraffes in My Hair: A Rock 'n' Roll Life by Bruce Paley & Carol Swain ("Paley combines so perfectly with his partner Carol Swain to capture Paley’s walks on the wild side as he journeys through sex, drugs and rock’n'roll, from hippy to punk. ... Hers has always been an utterly singular approach."); No. 13 is (appropriately) Pim & Francie: The Golden Bear Days by Al Columbia ("These distressed, distressing comics and illustrations repeat and escalate like a stuck record or never waking from a recurring nightmare."); and No. 14 is You'll Never Know, Book 1: A Good and Decent Man by C. Tyler ("A tender, bittersweet tribute from a daughter to a father and his military service in a beautifully crafted, tactile memoir.") (via The Comics Reporter)

List/Review: At The HeroesOnline Blog, Dustin Harbin explains why Popeye Vol 4: Plunder Island is #5 on his Fave 5 of 2009: "These Popeye books are made with the kind of love and care and attention to detail that’s rare in comics — it’s clear that their publishers treat this material with reverence, and it makes it even more pleasurable to crack a new volume open each year."

Review: "Though [Like a Dog] may seem like a hodgepodge of bits of [Zak] Sally’s work, there is consistency in the overall feeling. Much of his work is a collection of personal demons -- his insecurities, self-doubt, anger, pain, sadness and darkness -- that are exposed in obvious and subtle ways. ... The grit of this collection lies in the sense that one has had a sideline view of an intensely cathartic therapy session." – Janday Wilson, two.one.five Magazine

Review: "This is warts and all stuff, a young artist learning with every six pager. ... There is some juvenile pleasure to be had in the fact that these stories [in Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 1] all predate the Wertham/Comics Code era, so there's quite a bit of blood, some severed limbs, and grisly comeuppance. And although still oscillating between styles and influences here, there is substantial growth... [E]ven in its infancy, Ditko's art is increasingly potent." – Christopher Allen, Comic Book Galaxy

Profile: Comic Book Resources' Kelly Thompson surveys the work of Eleanor Davis

Links: Love & Maggie continues their detailed, annotated and hyperlinked overview of The Comics Journal #38 from 1978 

Nerd fight: Hey look, it's a message board squabble about something Gary Groth wrote in Amazing Heroes umpteen years ago

Things to see: Hans Rickheit 's Ectopiary page 7

Things to see: Gabrielle Bell's strip about Richmond concludes

Daily OCD: 1/15/10
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Steve DitkoreviewsPortable GrindhousePeanutsLove and RocketsLos Bros HernandezJasonJacques BoyreauGahan WilsonDash ShawCharles M SchulzBest of 2009Al Columbia 15 Jan 2010 2:52 PM

Some excellent Online Commentary & Diversions to round out the week thanks to Omnivoracious and The A.V. Club:

List: Amazon's Omnivoracious blog names Bottomless Belly Button by Dash Shaw a top-10 Comic of the Decade, and also names The Complete Peanuts, Love and Rockets Library, and Mome as Comics Archives and Anthologies of the Decade

List: On Meltdown Comics' Meltcast podcast, Chris Rosa declares Low Moon by Jason his Absolute Best of 2009 "without a doubt," with additional commentary from his cohosts (begins around 2:26:21)

List: And on the Meltcast Best of the Decade episode, Hey, Wait... by Jason (begins around 48:36)

Review: "Since 1957, [Gahan] Wilson’s work has provided a grim counterpoint to the skin and pleasure-seeking of Playboy. Twisting pop-culture icons to dark-witted ends, Wilson places his characters in a world of terror and understatement. ... [T]he incidental commentary here about human selfishness and shortsightedness squeezed between the B-movie monsters and little green men feels timeless, as does the remarkably high level of quality Wilson has maintained over the years. ... [Grade] A" – The A.V. Club

Review: "Strange Suspense offers page after lurid four-color page of Ditko’s weird monsters, rubber-faced crooks, and abstracted landscapes... The book is a white-knuckle trip through Ditko’s fevered imagination. [Grade] A-" – The A.V. Club (same link as above)

Review: "[Al] Columbia’s book Pim & Francie: The Golden Bear Days strings together 200-odd (very odd) pages of sketches, strips, panels, and spot illustrations, assembled into one long nightmare-narrative about two loose-limbed tots wandering through a village of lusty killers and bleeding trees. There are no explanations here, and few conventional payoffs — just images designed to remind readers what it was like to be a panicked, paranoid child, convinced that every nighttime shadow contained a beast more menacing and repulsive than any grown-up could conceive. [Grade] B+" – The A.V. Club (same link as above)

Review: "Like A Dog — a collection of [Zak] Sally’s self-published Recidivist comics, plus odds and ends — drips warped fantasy, bleak humor, and experimentation. Dynamically, the book also veers from being text-heavy to eerily wordless, even as it maintains the integrity of Sally’s stunning, stark-yet-lush linework. ...Like A Dog is a compelling slab of graphic narrative. As a warts-and-then-some chronicle of one man’s navigation through the world of underground comics (not to mention his own self-sabotaging psyche), it’s downright mesmerizing. [Grade] A-" – The A.V. Club (same link as above)

Review: "Packaged in an ingenious VHS-like format, [Portable Grindhouse: The Lost Art of the VHS Box] comes complete with lofty intro... But the fun is paging through these lurid examples of videos you kind of forget you remember, like Streets of Fire or The Legend of Hell House." – Kristi Turnquist, The Oregonian

Review: "[Gahan Wilson: Fifty Years of Playboy Cartoons is] a monster production, a slipcased behemoth, nearly 1000 pages in three volumes, with deliciously wicked humor on every page. ... Open the box, free the three volumes, and dive in anywhere. You will not be disappointed." – John Mesjak, my3books

Daily OCD: 1/11/10
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under The Comics JournalSteven WeissmanreviewsPortable GrindhousePeter BaggePeanutsMarco CoronaKevin HuizengaJoe SaccoJacques TardiJacques BoyreauHumbugHans RickheitGilbert HernandezGabrielle BellComing AttractionsCharles M SchulzCarol TylerAl Columbia 11 Jan 2010 3:41 PM

Looky here, Online Commentary & Diversions:

List: On Random House's Suvudu blog, Dallas Middaugh selects 2008's Bottomless Belly Button by Dash Shaw as #3 on the Top 10 Graphic Novels of 2009: "This book came from out of nowhere to great critical acclaim, and it pushed young Mr. Shaw in the spotlight as one of the most exciting new cartoonists in the field. ... This haunting story of a dysfunctional family twists and turns and stuck with me long after I read it."

List: At Comic Book Galaxy, Marc Sobel counts down "The 15 Best Back Issues I Read Last Year," including Birdland by Gilbert Hernandez ("vastly underappreciated") and the entire run of Hate by Peter Bagge ("This series gets better with age")

Review: "Dreams are probably the second most popular subject for autobiographical comics, however distantly they lag behind the events of waking life. But no one, to my knowledge, has attempted to create comics arising from the hypnagogic netherworld that lies between the sleeping and the wakeful states. Until now. Or maybe not. It’s hard to say precisely, which is what gives Kevin Huizenga’s Ganges #3 so much of its unique charm." – Rich Kreiner, The Comics Journal

Review: "What the hell is going on here? What is this book, anyway? ...[Pim and Francie] is like the inexplicable artifact of a deranged mind... Columbia has a flair for the grotesque, which, when mixed with such cute cartooniness reminiscent of old-school Disney, makes for an especially creepy juxtaposition. ... It's a cascade of horror, page after page of mostly-unfinished nastiness, enough to stick in the mind and cause nightmares for weeks." – Matthew J. Brady

Review: "At long last, a handsome, two-volume, slipcased set [of Humbug] brings back into print a pivotal, neglected portion of the oeuvre of Harvey Kurtzman and that of a cadre of gifted pranksters bent on smart satire." – Rich Kreiner, The Comics Journal

Review: "With a new exhibition currently on view at Tony Shafrazi Gallery in Chelsea and his remarkable inclusion in the 2010 Whitney Biennial, Robert Williams seems more than ever the most likely candidate to represent the ways that late decadent American culture will be remembered by history. ... This is a late career artist at the top of his game, a shamefully overdue entry into still meaningful discourse of what art can be when it refuses to play by the rules, a monster of the imagination whose time has finally come." – Carlo McCormick, artnet

Review: "Portable Grindhouse celebrates the sleazy kick of killing time in a slightly crappy video rental store, minus the inevitable arguments about what to rent or the possibility of your VCR eating the tape." – Dave Howlett, Living Between Wednesdays

Plug: Robot 6's Chris Mautner is reading his stack of Comics Journal back issues "starting with #291, which features interviews with Tim Sale and Josh Simmons, as well as a great critical thinkpiece by Gary Groth on Ralph Steadman and Hunter S. Thompson. That alone was worth the cover price."

Plugs: Some fun and appreciated name-drops from Tom Neely and Charles Bernstein in the 5th part of The Beat's year-end survey of comics pros

Plug: The AAUGH Blog helpfully reminds its readers that you can get slipcases for your loose volumes of The Complete Peanuts direct from us

Plug/Coming Attractions: Comic Book Resources' Greg Burgas comments on the January issue of Previews (our listings from which can be seen here): "Jacques Tardi's It Was the War of the Trenches, from Fantagraphics on page 256, sounds keen. It's a World War I book, so I'm sure it will be utterly depressing, but it still sounds worthwhile!"

Interview: The final part of Brian Heater's interview with C. Tyler at The Daily Cross Hatch: "To me, it’s underground, and there’s other people who think, 'no way, it’s Mad Magazine.' Everyone has their place where it starts. There’s people now who say, 'Kramer’s Ergot is when it started for me.' Everyone has their place when they jumped off the diving board, into the pool of comics. The fact is, it’s continual."

Profile: Gurldoggie takes a quick look at Joe Sacco in advance of his appearance in Seattle this week

Events: The Covered blog celebrates its 1st anniversary and announces an art show at Secret Headquarters in L.A. in March

Things to see: From Kevin Huizenga, "Postcard from Fielder" part 6 and Ganges 3 cover thumbnails

Things to see: From Hans Rickheit, Ectopiary page 6 and something extra on his blog

Things to see: At her blog, Gabrielle Bell presents her story from Mome Vol. 7 (reformatted vertically)

Things to see: Marco Corona reimagines a Crumb page for an exhibit at Angoulême

Daily OCD: 1/5/09
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under reviewsPrince ValiantKevin HuizengaJoost SwarteHal FosterGilbert HernandezGahan WilsonBest of 2009Al Columbia 5 Jan 2010 9:59 PM

Apologies for the late late Online Commentary & Diversions update:

List: Comic Book Resources continues listing their Top 100 Comics of 2009, with Pim & Francie by Al Columbia at #33 ("A totally creepy homage to the ink blot stylings of the early animation era, the book works as part horror comic, part abstract tour de force, part satire and all face melter, cementing Columbia's place as one of the most unique and mysterious voices in comics." – Kiel Phegley) and Ganges #3 by Kevin Huizenga at #20 ("a brilliant, insightful comic with inventive layouts and dead-on emotion" – John Parkin)

List: Don MacPherson of Eye on Comics names the short list for the 2009 Glass Eye Awards for Best Original Graphic Novel: "Gilbert Hernandez’s The Troublemakers was no doubt a delight for fans of the Love and Rockets writer/artist, but as an only casual reader of his work, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. The quirky combination of slice-of-life elements and a crime drama worked incredibly well, and while The Troublemakers boasts a connection to the world of L&R, one needn’t be aware of it or versed in those other comics to appreciate this graphic novel."

Review: "[Hal] Foster’s classic tales of knightly derring-do are a beloved part of the newspaper comics section. It’s difficult to laud Foster too excessively; he was one of the undisputed masters of the craft. A new effort to reprint the Valiant epic in sequential order is off to a roaring start with Prince Valiant, Vol. 1: 1937-1938, a handsome oversize volume reprinting the first two years’ worth of the Arthurian saga’s Sunday strips. Despite its creation in the late 1930s..., the comic strip’s otherworldly setting and taut characterization keep this an evergreen favorite for readers of all ages, an American epic born of a tale of European romance." – Aaron Ragan-Fore, Eugene Weekly

Review: "This incredible boxed set of three gorgeous hardcovers celebrates one of art's funniest and most disturbing cartoonists. ... Gahan Wilson: Fifty Years of Playboy Cartoons is the most comprehensive and attractive Wilson book ever produced." – Rick Klaw, The SF Site: Nexus Graphica

Plug: Jason Pettigrew, editor-in-chief of Alternative Press magazine, lists our forthcoming Joost Swarte collection as one of the 5 things he's most looking forward to in 2010 — except that the book is now on tap for 2011 and the title has changed from Modern Swarte to Is That All There Is?

Things to see: A new strip and sketchy stuff from Kevin Huizenga

Daily OCD: 12/31/09
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Tony MillionaireSteve BrodnerPrince ValiantPeanutsPaul KarasikMichael KuppermanKevin HuizengaJordan CraneJohnny RyanJoe SaccoJacques TardiIvan BrunettiHumbugHans RickheitHal FosterGahan WilsonFletcher HanksDavid LevineDash ShawCharles M SchulzBlazing CombatBest of 2009Al Columbia 31 Dec 2009 11:38 AM

Whew, what a year! Online Commentary & Diversions returns next week.

List: Comic Book Resources continues listing their Top 100 Comics of 2009, with Johnny Ryan's Prison Pit: Book 1 at #75 ("A huge kick to the solar plexus, not just in terms of the way-beyond-NC-17 level of gore and bodily fluids on display, but also the sheer wealth of no-holds barred imagination and utter sense of play that's on every page. The craftsmanship on display is just as striking as the violence." – Chris Mautner) and The Squirrel Machine by Hans Rickheit at #56 ("Few artists in comics can tell surreal stories with the level of clarity and precision that Hans Rickheit achieves... In the same way that David Lynch squeezes compelling characters and memorable scenes onto film amid dark and obscured circumstances, Rickheit renders a feeling portrait of a young mad scientist named Edmund in one of the 2009's most inimitable reads." – Brian Warmoth)

List: Jeff Smith names his favorite comics of the decade, including The Complete Peanuts ("Revolutionary.") and Bottomless Belly Button by Dash Shaw ("I was also impressed by the mysteries in the story — and really impressed by Shaw’s restraint in revealing only what he had to — leaving much for the imagination, and keeping my thoughts on the book and its meaning for days afterward.")

List: The writers at Robot 6 name their favorite comics of 2009: Tim O'Shea lists Blazing Combat in his top 10; Chris Mautner lists his 10 favorite reprints, including Humbug ("excellent... packaged with loving care and an eye towards history"), Gahan Wilson: Fifty Years of Playboy Cartoons ("an excellent package of A+ material from a great cartoonist"), Prince Valiant Vol. 1 ("a lively, vibrant strip full of thrilling action and humor"), and You Shall Die by Your Own Evil Creation! ("More Fletcher Hanks? Yes please."); Sean T. Collins's top 25 includes Pim & Francie by Al Columbia at #1, West Coast Blues by Tardi & Manchette at #11, Ganges by Kevin Huizenga at #13, Tales Designed to Thrizzle Vol. 1 by Michael Kupperman at #14, You Are There by Tardi & Forest at #16, The Squirrel Machine by Hans Rickheit at #17, and Johnny Ryan's Prison Pit: Book 1 at #23; and J.K. Parkin lists Ganges #3 ("a brilliant, insightful comic")

List: Comics Alliance's thematic Best of 2009 list names You Shall Die by Your Own Evil Creation! "Best Indie Reprint Volume" ("The utterly insane adventures of the space wizard Stardust continue to be some of the most brilliantly surrealist comics around."), Pim & Francie by Al Columbia "Best Glimpse into a Terrifying Universe that will Haunt my Dreams for Years to Come," and Ganges #3 by Kevin Huizenga "Best comic to read when you can't sleep"

List: Mike Sterling mentions some of his highlights of the past decade, led by Schizo #4 by Ivan Brunetti and including the renaissance of classic comic strip reprints led by The Complete Peanuts

List: Brian Gibson of Edmonton's Vue Weekly lists Safe Area Gorazde by Joe Sacco as one of the Best Graphic Novels of the 2000s: "Sacco’s made comics a serious and messily truthful place for journalism."

List: Living Between Wednesdays lists The Best of 2009: Original Graphic Novels and Collections, including Blazing Combat ("Each panel of Blazing Combat is a stunning work of art, and they are beautifully preserved on heavy paper in this hardcover book. Just as relevant now as when they were first published, these stories should still draw an emotional reaction from anyone who reads them.") and Tales Designed to Thrizzle Vol. 1 by Michael Kupperman ("It’s just something that you have to sit down and read, and when you do you’ll laugh your ass off.")

List: Matthew Dick ranks Uptight #3 by Jordan Crane 7th on his top 10 Best Comics of 2009 on his Exquisite Things blog (here's his review)

List: Sandy Bilus of I Love Rob Liefeld names Tony Millionaire's Billy Hazelnuts and the Crazy Bird as one of the 6 comics he's most looking forward to in 2010

Review: "In ambition, breadth and heft, this far-ranging compilation is the worthy companion to Gilbert’s formidable Palomar volume. While capable of standing on its own, Luba is very much the continuing story of several characters now fully transplanted, unfettered and haunted, from their celebrated Mexican town to the Greater Metropolitan Land of Opportunity. Their histories grow longer, broader, more complex and richer as Hernandez’s rollicking, remorseless social comedy rolls on." – Rich Kreiner, The Comics Journal

Tribute: More on David Levine's passing from Steve Brodner

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: 12/14/09
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Zak SallyTim LaneThe Comics JournalSteve DitkoRobert WilliamsRobert CrumbPrince ValiantPortable GrindhousePopeyePeter BaggeMomeMiss Lasko-GrossMichael KuppermanLove and RocketsLos Bros HernandezLilli Carrélife imitates comicsKim DeitchKevin HuizengaJohnny RyanJohn PhamJim WoodringJim BlanchardJasonJaime HernandezJacques TardiJacques BoyreauHumbugHans RickheitGabrielle BellFemke HiemstraFantagraphics historyFantagraphics BookstoreEC SegarDrew FriedmanDaniel ClowesCarol TylerBrian KaneBlake BellBest of 2009Basil WolvertonAnders NilsenAl Columbia 14 Dec 2009 5:04 PM

Oh man these Online Commentary & Diversions links really pile up:

List: The Daily Cross Hatch presents The Best Damned Comics of 2009 Chosen by the Artists, this year's edition of their essential annual survey of comics pros' top 5 comics. I won't quote all the lists' commentary here since that would steal some of their thunder (not to mention take me all night), but Pim & Francie by Al Columbia merits 5 mentions; You'll Never Know, Book 1 by C. Tyler is on 3 lists; The Squirrel Machine by Hans Rickheit, Tales Designed to Thrizzle Vol. 1 by Michael Kupperman, Like a Dog by Zak Sally, Prison Pit Book 1 by Johnny Ryan, Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me by Peter Bagge are all mentioned twice; and The Wolverton Bible, Locas II by Jaime Hernandez, Humbug, Popeye Vol. 4, Low Moon by Jason, You Are There by Tardi & Forest, A Mess of Everything by Miss Lasko-Gross, Prince Valiant Vol. 1, Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 1, and Lilli Carré's work in Mome all show up once each (plus a couple of 2008 releases like Zak Sally's Sammy the Mouse #2 and Bottomless Belly Button by Dash Shaw sneak in there)

List: Details magazine names Ghost World #10 on The 25 Greatest Gen X Books of All Time: "This caustically funny duo-tone tale follows the iconic cat-eyed adolescent Enid Coleslaw in her quest to find meaning, or at least cruel humor, in an age where everything's disposable."

Review: "Strange Suspense collects dozens of Ditko stories from the 1950’s... Almost a decade before Ditko moved to Marvel, these stories bear his unmistakable style. His fine line work and flair for the abstract that would serve him so well on Doctor Strange particularly, is on full display. ... If you only know Ditko for his work at Marvel or later at DC, here is the chance to explore Early Ditko, unconstrained by editors or the Comics Code. While all of this work is marvelous, clearly Ditko is best at home in horror where he could let his imagination run wild, creating monsters and demons and the things that go bump in the night. Rediscover Ditko today!" – Tim Janson, Newsarama

Review: "Brian Kane, author of the [Definitive Prince Valiant] Companion and surely the world’s foremost authority on the strip and its creator, Hal Foster, has once again done a herculean amount of work, and Fantagraphics has once again clothed that work in a sturdy, pretty volume. Prince Valiant hasn’t been treated this well since the ersatz King of England sang his praises. Those unfamiliar with the character – a young man who finds adventure, fame, and even love at the court of the legendary King Arthur – will find here all the background information they could ever want... But even long-time Prince Valiant fans will find plenty to fascinate them in this volume." – Khalid Ponte, Open Letters

Review: "Delphine is a morbid interpretation of the symbology of fairy tales resounding with echoes of unrequited love and abandonment. This is perhaps Sala’s darkest and most intricate story ever – impressive in its nuance and ever shifting emotions. One can only hope that it is not ignored." – Ng Suat Tong, The Comics Journal

Review: At The Hooded Utilitarian (a TCJ.com-hosted blog), reviewer Kinukitty kicks off a critical roundtable on Daniel Clowes's Ghost World on a contrarian note

Plug: "Just got Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol 1. Faaaaantastic! ... Raw and grotesque and beautifully drawn and presented." – Dave Gibbons (via consecutive Twitter posts)

Plug: Los Angeles Magazine highlights Conceptual Realism by Robert Williams and Sublife Vol. 2 by John Pham in their monthly roundup of books of local interest

Plug: Mike Sterling presents a brilliant panel from Popeye Vol. 4 and declares re: the book "Comics don't get much better than this."

Plug: Alison Nastasi of Horror Squad calls Portable Grindhouse: The Lost Art of the VHS Box "a tasty opus" and plugs last weekend's Fantagraphics Bookstore events

Plug: Boing Boing "Boing Boings" the Femke Hiemstra exhibit at Roq la Rue

Events: The Seattle Times' Christy Karras talks to participants in yesterday's Portable Grindhouse panel discussion at Fantagraphics Bookstore and makes the case for Seattle as Zombie City U.S.A.

Analysis: Hypergeek crunches direct market sales data and declares Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 1 the top small-press trade for November 2009, with Pim & Francie by Al Columbia ranking at #12

Interview: From TCJ.com: "Every weekday from now until December 25, we’ll be posting a conversation between cartoonists from The Comics Journal #300, complete and online! In today’s installment, it’s a chat between L’Association publisher Jean-Christophe Menu and Kramers Ergot publisher Sammy Harkham."

History: Love & Maggie rounds up the history of Love and Rockets 1979-1982 — even Gary Groth is impressed!

Things to see: Tim Lane's Temptations diorama... completed? Oops, no, there's an audience in progress

* Things to see: Johnny Ryan did some gag cartoons for a girlie calendar from streetwear purveyors Mishka

Things to see: An advertisement from Anders Nilsen

Things to see: At his blog, Drew Friedman pays birthday tribute to old Jewish comedian Morey Amsterdam

Things to see: The Huffington Post has a previously unseen 1968 photo of R. Crumb by photojournalist Harry Benson

Things to see: Vince Lombardi by Jim Blanchard (for his pa, aw!)

Things to see: The newest strip from Gabrielle Bell guest-stars Kim Deitch & Pam Butler

Things to see: Kevin Huizenga's "Postcard from Fielder" part 2

Life imitates comics: Failed Russian missile test or event from Jim Woodring's Weathercraft? You decide

Daily OCD: 12/9/09
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Trina RobbinsTony MillionaireTim LaneThomas OttTerry ZwigoffRoger LangridgeRichard SalareviewsPrince ValiantPopeyeNell BrinkleyMichael KuppermanKevin HuizengaJoe SaccoHal FosterGary PanterEC SegarDash ShawDaniel ClowesCharles M SchulzBob FingermanBest of 2009Al Columbia 9 Dec 2009 2:12 PM

Chock full o' Online Commentary & Diversions:

• List: The Village Voice 's R.C. Baker names 2009's Best Comics and Graphic Novels. Among the choices: "A lucid nightmare, Al Columbia's dazzlingly well-drawn Pim & Francie features vignettes of its young protagonists menaced by creepy relatives or starring in exceedingly grim fairy tales. These inky visions seem unearthed from the deepest vaults of Uncle Walt's id. ... Anything but Victorian, Nell Brinkley (1886–1944) celebrated the Roaring '20s with sinuous lines and colors as lurid as William Randolph Hearst's presses could muster. Author Trina Robbins notes, in the lavishly oversize The Brinkley Girls, that the illustrator 'closely resembled the girls she drew.' But Brinkley, with her thrilling fantasias of pirate abductions and aviatrix romances, remains an inspiration beyond flapper flamboyance to any young lady seeking to break into the boys' club of high-end illustration."

• List: Greek site Comicdom is halfway through counting down the top 100 comics of the '00s. On the list so far: Tales Designed to Thrizzle Vol. 1 by Michael Kupperman at #99 ("Following at a discreet distance from the legacy of Monty Python, Michael Kupperman should be considered a genius by any man who has laughed with the group of Britons"), Billy Hazelnuts by Tony Millionaire at #67 ("In the surrealist vein of Krazy Kat and the otherworldly, oneiric atmosphere of Little Nemo... misanthropy and almond sweetness"), Safe Area Gorazde by Joe Sacco at #60 ("The shock was, however, not an end in itself, since what actually manages to come across is the sense of pain and loss that each of the interviewees had experienced"), and Fred the Clown by Roger Langridge at #53 ("Ingenious comics by an equally intelligent designer who not only knows the history of the instrument and understand what makes it work"). [Quotes cobbled from autotranslation.]

• Review: "There have been a lot of great comic book releases this year, but none has the beauty and melancholy resonance of Fantagraphics' Prince Valiant: Volume 1-1937-1938. ... As for Hal Foster, Fantagraphics has given this artist his due and helped place him in his proper context as a great American artist and master of the comics form." – Mark Rhodes, Omnicomic

• Review: "Employing a storytelling dynamic not unlike that of Serling’s science fiction classic, Thomas Ott’s The Number 73304-23-4153-6-96-8 is itself a visit... to a dimension not of sound, but of sight and mind that at once both rewards and confuses. ... Ott’s hyper-meticulous attention to how detail relates to used space and negative space is at once both unsettling and captivating, utilizing a form of technical, pen-like cross-hatching for essentially every line that can only be described as Robert Crumb on Adderall. ... The Number is a universally literate work of fiction that is a quick first read with potential for longer lasting examination." – C.R. Stemple, Pads & Panels

• Review: "The Unclothed Man in the 35th Century A.D. is a fascinating first animated work [third, actually — ed.] from one of today's most original and unusual artists. Shaw adapts well from the comics page to the cinematic form. ... Almost as well as his comics, this film expresses Shaw's ongoing desire to look at the world from a slightly askew perspective, to express his fascination with the complexity of people's inner universes. ...[T]he film... [is] a probing, emotional examination of what it means to make art and to forge meaningful human interactions..." – Ed Howard, Only the Cinema

• Plugs: More Segar birthday/Popeye Google fallout: Mark Evanier

• Plug: In an interview with IFC found by our own Janice Headley, musician Chuck Prophet names Ghost World as a favorite movie: "A coming-of-age teen flick movie that pivots around Skip James’ 'Devil Got My Woman' can do no wrong with me. And shouldn’t with anyone else."

• Interview: At Comics Comics, Dan Nadel presents audio of the panel with Gary Panter & Peter Saul at the Brooklyn Comics & Graphics Festival last weekend

• Interview: New in the TCJ.com audio archives: Gary Groth's 1997 interview with Charles M. Schulz

• Things to see in the future: The Daily Cartoonist reports that the "Schulz’s Beethoven, Schroeder’s Muse" exhibit which ran at the Charles M. Schulz Museum & Research Center last year is moving to an online home a week from today — we'll try to bring you a link when it launches

• Things to see: A potpourri of Amazing Facts... and Beyond! with Leon Beyond by Kevin Huizenga (BTW we tend only to link to Kevin's AFAB...WLB strips since he's on our roster, but that's not to give short shrift to Dan Zettwoch, who routinely knocks these out of the park too)

• Things to see: An interesting oldie from Bob Fingerman

• Things to see: Progress on Tim Lane's Temptations cut-outs diorama

• Things to see: Richard Sala's "Psycho Santa Movies," in color! (from 2003)

Al Columbia Appearance and Signing at Ada Books in Providence R.I.
Written by Jacq Cohen | Filed under eventsAl Columbia 9 Dec 2009 1:19 PM

Pim & Francie: The Golden Bear Days by Al Columbia

Al Columbia will be at Ada Books for two hours on December 11th from 6pm to 8pm to sign his new book, Pim & Francie: The Golden Bear Days.

Ada Books Al Columbia
717 Westminster Street December 11, 2009
Providence RI, 02903 6pm to 8pm
401.432.6222

"A lucid nightmare, Al Columbia's dazzlingly well-drawn Pim & Francie features vignettes of its young protagonists menaced by creepy relatives or starring in exceedingly grim fairy tales. These inky visions seem unearthed from the deepest vaults of Uncle Walt's id." - R.C. Baker, Village Voice

"[Pim and Francie] showcases…Columbia's self-frustrating mastery: his absolute command of the idiom of lush, old-fashioned cartooning, and the unshakable eeriness of his visions of horror." - Publishers Weekly 


Daily OCD: 12/8/09
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under reviewsPopeyeOriginal ArtJoe SaccoGahan WilsonFemke HiemstraEC SegarDash ShawBest of 2009Alexander TherouxAl Columbia 8 Dec 2009 2:23 PM

Online Commentary & Diversions:

• List: The American Book Center in Amsterdam names Rock Candy: The Artwork of Femke Hiemstra one of its Books of 2009

• Review: "...[T]here’s one reason why Pim & Francie pulls off the unlikely feat of being more than the sum of its fragmented, disconnected, half-inked parts: it’s terrifying. ... The book... hangs in your head long after you close your eyes." – Martyn Pedler, Bookslut

• Plug/Name Drop: Whitney Matheson of USA TODAY's Pop Candy blog calls Dash Shaw's IFC.com web series The Unclothed Man in the 35th Century A.D. "colorful and captivating" (and mentions that writer/director Paul Feig liked Dash's graphic novel Bottomless Belly Button, so that's cool)

• Plug: Thanks to Hef for plugging Gahan Wilson: Fifty Years of Playboy Cartoons on Twitter today!

• Plugs: Lots of Popeye plugs and Segar tributes today, in addition to Google: Technologizer, Mike Lynch, The Beat, Robot 6, Super I.T.C.H., and The Daily Cartoonist

• Plug: "If you ever skipped school to zone out to stacks of rented VHS tapes, or exhausted the wealth of movies at your local video store by 1995, then this is the perfect item for you, or someone like you. Packaged lovingly to resemble an VHS tape from days gone by, the book Portable Grindhouse: The Lost Art of the VHS Box contains some of the greatest crap-rack video covers of all time." – The Incubator

• Interview: Publishers Weekly's Calvin Reid talks to Joe Sacco about returning to Palestine

• Reviewer: For The Wall Street Journal, Alexander Theroux reviews a new biography of Patricia Highsmith

• Things to see: Original Al Columbia artwork for sale from Floating World