A piping hot dish of Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: "...[T]his shaggy-haired collection of 15 years’ worth of artful zines and comics [Like a Dog]... reads at times like a history of psychological warfare. [Zak] Sally... tends toward richly dark, semiautobiographical, and tightly etched tales of tension and self-recrimination. Creepy dreams and images of anatomical self-analysis are recurring themes, along with the general sense of transience that marked Sally’s life while relentlessly touring with Low... At times the book... breaks out of that shell to address topics that are usually no lighter in tone though, as with his excellent retelling of Dostoyevski’s imprisonment, they benefit from the change in perspective. The art is equally claustrophobic when not downright disturbing. Revealing and witty, even when mired in darkness." – Publishers Weekly
• Review: "The Cold Heat material from Jones, Santoro, and Vermilyea is... imaginative and, particularly with Vermilyea at the drawing table, sharply delineated, as is Vermilyea's delightfully sick solo material. Josh Simmons impresses with his blackly comic strips... Tim Hensley kills it as always with the concluding chapters in his Wally Gropius saga, featuring peerlessly communicated body language perhaps the greatest anti-climax in comics history. I think this is some of the tightest material we've seen yet from Sara Edward-Corbett... Lilli Carré is alarmingly good at depicting male lust. Nate Neal's not-so-instant-karma piece in Vol. 16 is explicit and haunting. Dash Shaw is a restless talent, albeit so restless he never seems to settle down even in the middle of any given strip." – Sean T. Collins on Mome Vols. 14, 15 & 16
• Review: Lene Taylor of the I Read Comics podcast wonders if the humor in Jason's Low Moon exists in an alternate world (beware of spoilers)
• Review: Google Translate creates poetry out of this Portuguese review of Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron by Daniel Clowes at O Recíproco Inverso: "The art that is what Daniel Clowes you do best: people ugly. All the characters are people from day to day, dark circles, old-fashioned clothes, hair loss... out the freaks that appear, like the girl in the form of potato or the dog itself without holes, op. You see, the Daniel Clowes does not draw badly, he draws very well what he wants to show. That is, ugly people. I will not give star ratings do not pro book, this is very scrotum. Just know that it's cool."
• Plug: "One hell of a messed-up book. ... Pim & Francie are Columbia's pet subjects — a pair of cute kids who are always stumbling into horrific nightmare scenarios. This isn't quite a collection of stories about them: it's a collection of Columbia's rough and finished materials concerning them that keeps veering toward storyhood, then jerking the steering wheel and plunging over the nearest cliff." — Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
• Plug: Chris Mautner of Robot 6 rediscovers Zero Zero by way of our 99 Cent Comics sale (issues are selling out fast): "Re-reading this stuff, it really startles me just how good and how ignored this series was and continues to be. I mean, the level of talent in these pages is staggering. Kim Deitch's Search for Smilin' Ed! Dave Cooper's Crumple! Richard Sala's The Chuckling Whatsit! Joe Sacco's Christmas with Karadsic! Not to mention Max Andersson, Skip Williamson, Mack White, Sam Henderson, Michael Kupperman, David Mazzuchelli and so many more. This really was the best anthology of the 90s, bar none."
• Preview: The Comics Reporter spills the beans on one of our 2010 releases: Drew Weing's Set to Sea
Unfortunately, the Al Columbia event at Desert Island this Friday has been cancelled. We apologize for any inconvenience. That said, pick up PIM & FRANCIE this week at Desert Island or your local comic book store / bookstore of choice! It's a killer.
See a slideshow of the entire exhibit (and more photos) here (or just browse here). Mike Allred was there but I missed him; hopefully more photos will turn up and we'll share those when we get them. Much fun was had by all; thanks to everybody who came out, and to Al for making the trip (and for kicking off volume 3 of my Yoda sketchbook). The show's up through December 9, so even if you missed the opening, come on down and check it out. Good pieces remain at very reasonable prices!
Online Commentary & Diversions, now with more Tonya Harding than ever:
• Review: "Occasionally, there are works of art or literature that defy simple classification. The brain breaks upon them like waves and they give up different secrets with each tide but never all the secrets and never all at once. These creations challenge as much as they entertain and ask for obsession as toll on the road to understanding. The Squirrel Machine by Hans Rickheit is just such an enigma. ... Surreal, gorgeous, and both satisfying and confounding, The Squirrel Machine is a hypnotic, occasionally repulsive, always entertaining, and wildly creative graphic novel. It does not invite rereading so much as demands it, and each encounter reveals new and different details and interpretations. This book is a wonderful mystery, a basket of questions, a wealth of enigmas, and it looks utterly arresting every step of the way." – Christian Zabriskie, Graphic Novel Reporter
• Opinion: At Comics Comics, Dash Shaw has an interesting proposal for colleges that teach comics: "Instead of hiring teachers based on their achievements (and many of the current teachers are geniuses, no doubt about it), hire people who previously worked for many years in a now-defunct house style. Someone who drew Archie for years and is now selling their originals at Comic Con? Hire them."
This gorgeous grimoire is part alchemy, part art book, part storybook, part comic book, and part conceptual art from the pen of Al Columbia, a longtime fan favorite contributor to comics anthologies like Zero Zero, Blab!, and more recently, Mome. Collecting over a decade’s worth of ‘artifacts,’ excavations, comic strips, animation stills, storybook covers, and much more, this broken jigsaw puzzle of a book tells the story of Pim & Francie, a pair of childlike, male and female imps whose irresponsible antics get them into horrific, fantastic trouble. Their loosely defined relationship only contributes to the existential fear that lingers underneath the various perils they are subjected to. Columbia’s brilliant, fairytale-like backdrops hint at further layers of reality lurking under every gingerbread house or behind every sunny afternoon. Never have such colorful, imaginative vistas instilled such an atmosphere of dread, and with such a wicked sense of humor.
This is a comprehensive collection of Columbia’s Pim & Francie work, including paintings, comics, character designs, and much more, all woven into something greater than the sum of its parts, with Pim & Francie careening from danger to danger, threaded together through text and notes by the artist.
This is the first book collection by Columbia, a well-regarded talent amongst longtime fans of the alternative comic book scene, and one who will thrill an entirely new audience with the singular, inspired, fully-realized fantasies within Pim & Francie.
"The comics definition of gestalt, Pim & Francie may appear to be a book of random jottings, but don't let that fool you. Treat this barbed landmine like a book and you will be richly rewarded. Treat it like a sketchbook and end up with your hands lopped off and your mind empty. You have been warned." – Paul Karasik
(NOTE: The special limited Collectors Edition of this book, which will include an original sketch by Al Columbia, is still available for pre-order. Al will sign copies of the book on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2009 at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery in Seattle: more info here.)
Al Columbia is widely regarded among his peers as one of the most accomplished and influential artists working in comics today. PIM & FRANCIE represents a breathtaking vision of contemporary American art. Collecting over a decade’s worth of artifacts, excavations, comic strips, storybook covers, and much more, this book tells the story of title characters Pim and Francie, a pair of childlike imps whose irresponsible antics get them into horrific, fantastic trouble... sort of. You just gotta see it for yourself.
Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery is located at 1201 S. Vale Street at the corner of Airport Way S. in the heart of Seattle’s historic Georgetown arts community. Open daily 11:30 to 8:00 PM, Sundays until 5:00. Phone 206.658.0110. Hope to see you all Saturday.
• Review: "Reproducing unfinished roughs, penciled-in and scribbled-out dialogue, half-inked panels, torn-up and taped-together pages, even cropping what look like finished comics so that you can't see the whole thing, Columbia and his partners in the production of this book, Paul Baresh and Adam Grano, have produced a fractured masterpiece, a glimpse of the forbidden, an objet d'art noir. ... The horror of Columbia's sickly-cute Pim & Francie vignettes--a zombie story, a serial-killer story, a witch-in-the-woods story, a haunted-forest story, a trio of chase sequences--is extraordinarily effective. ... [T]hese scary stories and disturbing images are all so gorgeously awful that they appear to have corrupted the book itself... — an inherently horrific object. Bravo." – Sean T. Collins
• Review: "...[I]n these pages [of The Troublemakers] lies a challenging, meticulously crafted story of grifters in the middle of a con. Not surprisingly, [Gilbert] Hernandez populates his story with some thoroughly grounded and intriguing figures, but what’s fascinating about the plot is how it criss-crossed over on itself so that not only do the characters remain unaware of who’s conning who but so does the reader. The plot is an intricately woven web of lies and truths, and it’s peppered, of course, with Hernandez’s trademark touch of raw sexuality. Fans of such crime comics as Criminal and 100 Bullets would be well advised to give this graphic novel a chance; they won’t be disappointed. ... [Rating] 9/10" – Don MacPherson, Eye on Comics [Ed. note: I get a big "attack site" warning at that link, so click at your own risk]
• Review: "...[W]ith their crashing planes, erupting volcanoes, boil-stricken sufferers, and monstrous whirlwinds[,] Wolverton’s literalist depictions of Revelation are powerful, shocking, and above all grotesquely beautiful. ... Though Wolverton’s approach to [the Old Testament] stories was somewhat more matter-of-fact than his apocalyptic panoramas, there is still a passion for the bizarre evident in the Bible Story illustrations. ... Wolverton’s Bible illustrations sit on the border between sacred and profane, and that unique placement is what gives them such power." – Gabriel Mckee, Religion Dispatches (hat tip: Kevin Church)
• Review: "...'The Hasty Smear of My Smile'..., which ran as a backup feature in the final issue of Peter Bagge’s Hate (#30) , is a mini-masterpiece. It’s a capsule version of [Alan] Moore’s considerable skill, the epitome of everything that makes him fascinating as a writer." – Marc Sobel, Comic Book Galaxy
• Interview: At Hypergeek, The Comics Journal editor Mike Dean answers Edward Kaye's questions about the changes to his TCJ subscription
• Opinion: Future Comics Journal blogger Noah Berlatsky of The Hooded Utilitarian offers a critical counterpoint to Jeet Heer's previous comments on the Journal
• List: At Robot 6, Sean T. Collins's top 6 "deeply creepy 'alt-horror' cartoonists" includes Renee French ("her frequently deformed (more like unformed) characters and hazy, dreamlike, soft-focus pencils recall [David] Lynch's unnerving debut Eraserhead with its dust-mote cinematography and mewling infant thing"), Hans Rickheit ("It just so happens that his 'normal' is grotesque and harrowing to the rest of us"), Al Columbia ("It's as though a team of expert [animation] craftsmen became trapped in their office sometime during the Depression and were forgotten about for decades, reduced to inbreeding, feeding on their own dead, and making human sacrifices to the mimeograph machine, and when the authorities finally stumbled across their charnel-house lair, this stuff is what they were working on in the darkness") and Josh Simmons ("one of a very few comics creators still capable of shocking... doing serious, dangerous work")
• Review: "West Coast Blues is a brilliant story, and Manchette was a phenomenal writer of the modern world, putting others to shame at times. Just that simple, really. This is a book that can’t be reduced to familiar genre markers." – Brian Lindenmuth, BSCreview
• Review: "Bruce Paley tells his tale with no frills and no holds barred. ... The book is at times quite funny and other times terribly depressing, but it is never dull and I found it hard to put down. Carol Swain’s artwork fits the mood of the book well. It’s fairly simple but it hits all the right notes and evokes the right emotions. I was completely unfamiliar with her work prior to this book, but I’ll keep an eye out for her in the future. ... I found this book to be incredibly compelling in its own laid back sort of way. ... There’s no shortage of books out there about the 1960’s and ‘70s, but this one felt a lot more personal than most. Paley’s words mingled with Swain’s artwork so perfectly that you almost felt like the guy was sitting across the table from you, sharing a beer or two and swapping stories. If you’re interested in that era or you just like a good autobiography, I’d give Giraffes in my Hair: A Rock 'n' Roll Life a shot." – Chad Derdowski, Mania.com
Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery celebrates Al Columbia's astonishing new graphic novel PIM & FRANCIE on Saturday, November 7.
October 27, 2009 - SEATTLE, WA. Al Columbia is widely regarded among his peers as one of the most accomplished and influential artists working in comics today. On the occasion of the publication of PIM & FRANCIE, his most ambitious work to date, Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery is hosting a rare public appearance by the cartoonist on Saturday, November 7 from 6:00 to 8:00 PM.
PIM & FRANCIE represents a breathtaking vision of contemporary American art. Collecting over a decade's worth of artifacts, excavations, comic strips, animation stills, storybook covers, and much more, this broken jigsaw puzzle of a book tells the story of title characters Pim and Francie, a pair of childlike imps whose irresponsible antics get them into horrific, fantastic trouble. Their loosely defined relationship only contributes to the existential fear that lingers underneath the various perils they are subjected to. Columbia's brilliant, fairytale-like backdrops hint at further layers of reality lurking under every gingerbread house or behind every sunny afternoon. Never have such colorful, imaginative vistas instilled such an atmosphere of dread, and with such a wicked sense of humor.
Columbia's work has been previously published by Fantagraphics Books in two issues of Biologic Show, as well as anthologies Zero Zero, Blab!, and most recently MOME. He currently resides in Connecticut.
The reception will feature an exhibition of recent work by Al Columbia from the collection of Scott Eder. Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery is located at 1201 S. Vale Street at the corner of Airport Way S. in the heart of Seattle's historic Georgetown arts community. Please join us on Saturday, November 7 to welcome this exceptional artist to Seattle.
AL COLUMBIA: PIM & FRANCIE
Art exhibition and book signing
Saturday, November 7, 6:00 - 8:00 PM Exhibition continues through December 9, 2009 Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery 1201 S. Vale Street (at Airport Way S.) Seattle, WA 206.658.0110 www.fantagraphics.com Open daily 11:30 to 8:00 PM, Sundays until 5:00 PM