Most regular Flog readers are already familiar with Al Columbia's massive talent as a visual artist. But he's also an equally talented musician and filmmaker. I met Al when we were both 23 year-old punks who'd just scored jobs at Fantagraphics in 1994. We became fast pals, and I distinctly remember the first time he played for me a cassette tape of some of his musical recordings in my car as we were taking a ride somewhere. They blew me away, and I've been inspired by his music (not to mention his art) ever since. Thankfully, he's started putting a lot of his music up on his blog for others to hear, as well, and more recently has been creating videos for some of his tunes. I highly recommended you surf around his site. Here's a couple of direct video links:
So I brought Al Columbia's astonishing new book PIM & FRANCIE to Jim Woodring's "Friends of the Nib" salon last week. A crowd of cartoonists gathered around and Jim immediately proclaimed it "the book of the year" among other superlatives. Words simply fail to communicate the breathtaking originality of Columbia's visionary renderings. Really.
Speaking of amazing art: Ryan's PRISON PIT pages were a delightful surprise. I suppose I expected something more primitive. But his original art and colorful silkscreen prints are wonderful. Come see for yourself and meet this provocative cartoonist this Saturday at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery, natch.
If you've got pictures of Fantagraphics at SPX, let us know! Here's a few that we've found on our own or have been sent to us. Con reports abound on the web: Rob Clough has a good one to start with, and Sean T. Collins has audio from the Critics Roundtable panel featuring our own Gary Groth.
Gary Groth and Kim Thompson will be at next weekend's SMALL PRESS EXPO in Bethesda, MD, debuting a slew of new books, including:
• Zak Sally's LIKE A DOG
• Al Columbia's PIM & FRANCIE
• E.C. Segar's POPEYE Vol. 4
• Steve Ditko's STRANGE SUSPENSE
• Kevin Huizenga's GANGES #3
• Hans Rickheit's THE SQUIRREL MACHINE
• MOME Vol. 16
• Jacques Tardi and Jean-Claude Forest's YOU ARE THERE
... and more.
We have some very exciting signings as well. To wit:
KEVIN HUIZENGA: 12PM to 2PM
C. TYLER: 12PM to 2PM
GAHAN WILSON: 2PM to 4PM
HANS RICKHEIT: 2PM to 4PM
ZAK SALLY: 2PM to 4PM
MISS LASKO-GROSS: 4PM to 5PM
AL COLUMBIA: 5PM to 7PM
PAUL KARASIK: 5PM to 7PM
GAHAN WILSON: 12PM to 2PM
ZAK SALLY: 12PM to 2PM
KEVIN HUIZENGA: 12PM to 2PM
HANS RICKHEIT: 2PM to 4PM
C. TYLER: 2PM to 4PM
AL COLUMBIA: 2PM to 4PM
PAUL KARASIK: 4PM to 6PM
MISS LASKO-GROSS: 4PM to 5PM
Plus, several FANTAGRAPHICS-related panels:
Saturday, 12:30PM: Debut Cartoonists
Hans Rickheit (The Squirrel Machine) and Zak Sally (Like A Dog) join Ken Dahl and Eleanor Davis to discuss their new books debuting at SPX. Brookside Conf. Rm.
Saturday, 3:30PM: Critics' Roundtable
Fantagraphics Publisher Gary Groth joins Rob Clough, Sean Collins, Chris Mautner, Joe McCulloch, Tucker Stone and Douglas Wolk to share acute critical insights. Brookside Conf. Rm.
Saturday, 4PM: Paul Karasik's Fletcher Hanks Experience
Cartoonist, editor and educator Paul Karasik presents "The Fletcher Hanks Experience," an illustrated tour over the brutally surreal Hanks mindscape narrated by the late Fletcher Hanks, Jr. White Flint Ampitheater.
Saturday, 5PM: Gahan Wilson Spotlight
This year, Fantagraphics publishes Gahan Wilson: Fifty Years of Playboy Cartoons. Mr. Wilson will be joined onstage by publisher and editor Gary Groth to discuss his life and work. White Flint Ampitheater.
Sunday, 1PM: Carol Tyler Q & A
Carol will discuss her new book You'll Never Know: A Good and Decent Man with comics critic Douglas Wolk. White Flint Ampitheater.
Sunday, 1:30PM: Source-Based Comics
Kate Beaton, Paul Karasik, Ed Piskor, and R. Sikoryak discuss what it means to make creative works of adaptation, parody, and historical fiction. Brookside Conf. Rm.
Sunday, 3:30PM: Future of the Comic Book
Discuss the future of the comic book format with publisher Alvin Buenaventura, and cartoonists Kevin Huizenga, Matthew Thurber, Hellen Jo and Noah Van Sciver. Brookside Conf. Rm.COMING IN EARLY 2010:
BUT WAIT, THAT'S NOT ALL!
To celebrate the great Gahan Wilson's rare convention appearance at SPX 2009, we have a very special offer for SPX attendees. In early 2010, we will be publishing GAHAN WILSON: 50 years of Playboy Cartoons, a massive, three-volume hardcover collection of his work. Designed by Jacob Covey, it's going to be absolutely STUNNING:
SPX attendees will have the opportunity to PRE-ORDER the book at the show get a limited edition (150 copies) silkscreen print signed by Mr. Wilson at the show! Even better, we are going to include FREE SHIPPING for the book (and believe me, you'll be happy you didn't have to lug this thing around SPX, it's HUGE) when it ships and knock $25 off the $125 retail price!
For $100, you will get the book, an exclusive signed print, free shipping, and the chance to meet one of the great cartoonists of the 20th Century! Here's what the print looks like:
These will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Don't miss out!
Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery is thrilled to announce upcoming appearances by two of America's most provocative and accomplished cartoonists: Johnny Ryan and Al Columbia.
Johnny Ryan will appear Saturday, October 10 on the heels of his wildly popular original graphic novel Prison Pit. We'll mount an exhibition of his original art, prints, and plastic figurines: the perfect opportunity to acquaint yourselves with the perverse pleasures of Ryan's singular aesthetic.
Al Columbia is among the most challenging and compelling contemporary artists working in any medium. His exhibition and book signing on Saturday, November 7 celebrates the much-anticipated publication of Pim & Francie: The Golden Bear Days. Described by Things From Another World.com as "Part alchemy, part art book, part storybook, part comic book, and part conceptual art," this book promises to please.
Be sure to catch the sensational exhibition "Comics Savants: A Survey of Seattle Contemporary Cartoonists" before it closes on October 7. And peruse a dozen new titles from your favorite purveyor of badass comix and lowbrow lit. Fantagraphics Bookstore is located at 1201 S. Vale St. (at Airport Way S.) in Seattle's historic Georgetown district. Open daily 11:30 to 8:00 PM, Sundays until 5:00 PM. Phone 206.658.0110.
• Review: "...[T]hese extraordinary visions from a different, four-colour era [in You Shall Die by Your Own Evil Creation!] are as bold and striking as they are violent and strange.... Classic comics from a different age." - Grovel
• Review: "This new book from Fantagraphics of Femke Hiemstra’s work [Rock Candy] is gorgeous. The cloth hardbound book has a nice die-cut cover and the inside is jam packed with Femke’s works including tons of paintings and drawings alongside loose sketches.... The way the sketches are juxtaposed with the finished work in the book makes me feel like I’m getting an insider’s view. If you're a fan of 'pop surrealism,' this is a book for you." - Julia Rothman, Book By Its Cover
• Review: "I said, 'It seems to me that when comics become abstract, they really cease to be comics and become, for all effective purposes, simply abstract art.' But this anthology [Abstract Comics], in its best work as well as in its not-best, shows that that's not true. Comics really are a coherent enough medium to support their own tradition of abstraction. That tradition doesn't quite exist yet. But, in this anthology, [editor] Andrei [Molotiu] shows conclusively that it could." - Noah Berlatsky, The Hooded Utilitarian
• Review: "...magnificent reproductions, done in a sturdy hardcover [Prince Valiant Vol. 1: 1937-1938] with oversized pages and entirely restored colors and shadings (indeed, those of us who’ve seen Prince Valiant reprint editions in the past will need some mental time to adjust to how much we’ve been missing)." - Steven Donoghue, Open Letters Monthly (via Steven Hart)
• Interview: Adrian Kinnaird of From Earth's End talks to Abstract Comics contributor Draw: "I had an epiphany. The gutter is where all the action in a comic takes place, it's where the reader creates the comic reading experience.... I wasn't trying to create effects, I was trying to create a visual representation of what happens in the gutter of a comic."
• Preview: Rich Johnston of Bleeding Cool looks ahead to our February '10 release King of the Flies: Hallorave by Pirus & Mezzo: "King Of The Flies looks like it should disturb and entertain on an equal basis."
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!