Fantagraphics is puttin' the "comics" back in Comic-Con as we head to San Diego this week with a slew of scintillating signings, almost two-dozen dynamite debuts, and a collection of comics sure to please any comics fan... and fill those enormous free tote bags they give away at the door.
Friday, July 22nd: • 10:30-11:30 Comics Arts Conference Session #5: Critical Approaches to Comics: An Introduction to Theories and Methods— Matthew J. Smith and Randy Duncan with panelist, Andrei Molotiu. [Room 26AB] • 1:00-2:00 Comics Arts Conference Session #6: Wordless Comicswith Andrei Molotiu. [Room 26AB] • 12:00-1:00 CBLDF Master Session 3: Jaime Hernandez [Room 30CDE] • 1:00-2:00 Publishing Queer: Producing LGBT Comics and Graphic Novels with moderator Justin Hall [Room 9] • 1:00-2:30 The Golden Age of the Fanzine moderated by Bill Schelly. [Room 24ABC] • 10:30-11:30 Cartoon Network Comedy: Regular Show/The Problem Solverz and More! The Problem Solverz talent includes Ben Jones, John Pham, and Jon Vermilyea. [Room 6A]
Special double-sized FINAL issue! After 6 years and over 2500 pages of comics, MOME heads into the sunset with an all-star, jam-packed farewell bonanza. Several past MOME favorites return for the swan song, including Kurt Wolfgang, Tom Kaczynski, Joe Kimball, Eleanor Davis, Anders Nilsen, Tim Hensley, Paul Hornschemeier, Gabrielle Bell, and Zak Sally (those covers!). Meanwhile, several newcomers get in just under the wire: Jesse Moynihan, Malachi Ward, James Romberger, Nick Drnaso, Joseph Lambert, Nick Thorburn, Victor Kerlow, and Ignatz Award-winners Jim Rugg and Chuck Forsman! Recent MOME favorites also return, such as Sergio Ponchione, Steven Weissman, Sara Edward-Corbett, Laura Park, Josh Simmons (plus collaborators The Partridge in the Pear Tree and Wendy Chin), Derek Van Gieson (with collaborator Michael Jada), Tim Lane, Nate Neal, Lilli Carré, T. Edward Bak, Dash Shaw, Ted Stearn and Noah Van Sciver. Over 30 artists in all, including a surprise contributor we don't want to give away!
Download and read a 29-page PDF excerpt (13 MB) with a sample page from nearly every artist and story (barring some surprises).
Comic-Con keeps rolling out their 2011 programming schedule — today they've posted Saturday's lineup and it features our can't-miss 35th Anniversary panel which will include a couple of announcements that will knock your socks off. Here's what Fanta fans will want to catch:
10:00-11:30 50 Years of Comic Fandom: The Founders— It's hard to believe but it's been fifty years (more or less) since that peculiar institution called Comic Book Fandom was born. Meet some of those who were there at the inception, including Jean Bails, Paul Levitz, Dick and Pat Lupoff, Richard Kyle, Bill Schelly, Roy Thomas, and Maggie Thompson along with moderator Mark Evanier, as they discuss how fandom came to be and just what it was. Room 24ABC
11:30-12:30 Bill Blackbeard: The Man Who Saved Comics— In the 1960s, while writing a history of the American comic strip, Bill Blackbeard learned that most of the nation's libraries were discarding their newspaper archives in favor of microfilm, destroying countless pages of comics in the process. Over the course of the next three decades, Blackbeard and his volunteers at the San Francisco Academy of Comic Art amassed a collection of more than 2.5 million comics, including virtually every comic strip ever syndicated in U.S. newspapers. When he passed away earlier this year, Blackbeard had contributed to more than 200 comic strip collections, including the beloved Smithsonian Collection of Newspaper Comics, and his work had inspired generations of cartoonists, historians and fans. Cartoon Art Museum curator Andrew Farago, publishers Gary Groth and Dean Mullaney, editor and herstorian Trina Robbins, and Jenny Robb, curator/assistant professor from Ohio State University's Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum celebrate Blackbeard's life and legacy. Room 24ABC
12:30-1:30 Fantagraphics 35th Anniversary— Fantagraphics Books was founded in 1976 with the launch of their first publication, The Comics Journal. Since then, they've grown to become one of the world's foremost publishers of literary comix and comic strips. Publishers Gary Groth and Kim Thompson offer a multimedia presentation highlighting their favorite works from the past 35 years, as well as previewing some of their upcoming favorites. Expect a major announcement or two, as well! Room 24ABC
1:00-2:00 Spotlight on Anders Nilsen— Comic-Con special guest Anders Nilsen debuts his magnum opus, the 800+-page Big Questions, which he began self-publishing over 10 years ago and which quickly placed Nilsen at the forefront of alternative cartoonists. He is part of the Chicago comics collective The Holy Consumption with Jeffrey Brown, John Hankiewicz, and Paul Horsnchemeier and was recently featured in the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. Join him as he presents a slideshow of his work from his haunting postmodern fable. Room 4
2:30-3:30 The Art of the Graphic Novel—Andrew Farago (curator, Cartoon Art Museum) talks with graphic novelists Chester Brown (Paying for It), Seymour Chwast (Dante's Divine Comedy), Eric Drooker (Blood Song), Joyce Farmer (Special Exits, A Memoir), Joëlle Jones (Troublemaker), Jason Shiga (Empire State: A Love Story (Or Not)), and Craig Thompson (Habibi) about their work in the genre that has elevated comics to mainstream bookstores all over the world. Room 24ABC
• List:Castle Waiting Vols. 1 & 2 take two spots on Nancy Pearl's "10 Terrific Summer Reads" list at NPR.org: "The black-and-white drawings are precisely crafted, with small, endearing touches that render each character entirely unique. The dialogue is clever and filled with subtle grace notes of drollness and humor. The set will be especially appealing to readers of all ages who enjoy seeing and reading traditional fairy tale tropes teased and played with, all with a sense of good-humored fun."
• Review: "...Congress of the Animals finds twisted fabulist Woodring at the top of his darkly delightful game: Open the book at random and the odds are very good that your gaze will alight upon something that stings, bites, drips, oozes or squelches. Tentacled plant-beasts threaten the unwary, factories powered by crushed blackbirds produce who-knows-what, slimy amphibians enact bizarre rituals and a tribe of naked, faceless men whom the jacket copy refers to as "blind gut-worshippers" — easily the most potent nightmare fuel Woodring has ever produced — drug passersby for mysterious purposes of their own. You certainly won't want to live inside the covers of Congress of the Animals, but it's a fascinating and thrilling feat of imagination, and one hell of a place to visit." – Glen Weldon, NPR.org
• Review: "This book does something I love. It takes me inside a world I’ve never known.... Shimura’s writing does a good job of exposing the readers to the realities of being transgender. Wandering Son ignited my imagination and got me trying to relate to and understand these characters as deeply as possible.... Shimura has crafted an excellent opening volume.... The quiet pace and subject matter make this series a perfect read for the alternative comics crowd. Fans of shoujo and josei manga will enjoy it too. I’d love for everyone to at least give the first volume of Wandering Son a try. It’s a rare gem of emotional honesty and complexity that rewards those willing to take the risk and move outside their typical reading habits." – Ed Sizemore, Comics Worth Reading
• Review: "Monologues for Calculating the Density of Black Holes by Anders Nilsen... touched a special spot that I strive towards in my reading; it created atmosphere. There’s a weight to the unhinged timeline and nonsensical dialogue. It feels calculated, even as it touches on topics such as 'Godzilla vs. Richard Simmons.' The drawings are simple, yet they effortlessly convey time and feel appropriate for the content. It was a quick read, but one that I’ll be revisiting. Check it out." – Au Yeah!
• Interview:Newsarama's Michael Lorah talks to Wilfred Santiago about the creation of 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente: "A baseball sequence is all about interpretation; there are cold, unchangeable facts. If the batter hits a home run to left field in the second inning, etc., then those are unchangeable facts about that scene. So it’s about the reading of the particulars. I mean, if you are saying sad things while laughing maniacally, it’s different than if you are saying them while sobbing and in tears. Therefore, it’s all about what role that particular game sequence plays in the story as a whole. It’s not a book about baseball, even though there’s baseball in it."
• Interview (Audio):Inkstuds host Robin McConnell rang up Dave McKean (on Skype presumably) for a conversation about his latest book: "Celluloid, fresh out from Fantagraphics, is a remarkable work exploring pornography through a very particular lens. Needless to say, it is fantastic."
• Buy Dame Darcy's mermaid print to help send her to the annual Mermaid Parade on her 40th birthday! She's also now an ordained Wiccan minister! Good luck and congrats! All this and more in her latest blog update
• List: Joe McCabe of FEARnet names "Five Horror Graphic Novels You Need to Read," including:
"The black-and-white scratchboard art of German comics creator Thomas Ott is without peer among today's comics artists. That Ott can also tell one helluva fun horror short story is almost icing on the cake.... This omnibus volume [R.I.P.: Best of 1985-2004] collects his three out-of-print albums... I've never read a Thomas Ott tale that was anything less than fantastic. Highly recommended."
"...[Richard Sala] has carved his own niche as perhaps the most twisted but brilliant cartoonist working in comics today.... Labyrinthine in its complexity and endlessly imaginative in its designs and characterizations, [The Chuckling Whatsit] tells the story of Broom, an unemployed writer who gets mixed up in a murder plot and the Ghoul Appreciation Society Headquarters (GASH), whose membership boasts more creepy eccentrics than the collected works of Edward Gorey."
• Review/Interview: After reviewing Yeah!, Vice's Nick Gazin asked writer Peter Bagge about some things that troubled him about the comic:
[Gazin:] The main feeling that the comic left me with was a crushing sense of hopelessness. With the exception of the cover art, the girls usually seem unhappy.
[Bagge:] Why?!? Well, I gave them troubled backstories, but they sure have a lot of fun at the same time.
[Gazin:] I guess I feel like Krazy, Honey, and Woo Woo don't usually look like they're having fun. They look troubled, upset, or angry in almost every panel. They go to other planets, but they usually don't enjoy it. Even when Woo Woo gets to date her rockstar crush, Hobo Cappiletto, she's too racked with guilt to be able to enjoy it. It seems like they're only having fun on the front and back cover.
[Bagge:] Good point! I guess I simply enjoy their misery. I'm a monster!
• Opinion: Help put Yeah! in perspective by reading Peter Bagge's essay "Raiding Hannah's Stash: An Appreciation of Late '90s Bubblegum Music" at Scram magazine
• Interview: At Comic Book Resources, Shaun Manning talks to Jason and Fabien Vehlmann about collaborating on their new graphic novel Isle of 100,000 Graves. Says Vehlmann: "I love his incredible and unusual style, and I didn't want to change it totally... So even if I created the entire story and the characters of Isle of 100,000 Graves, I also did kind of a 'forger-job,' trying to write as if I was Jason but also bringing my own private topics (death, childhood, etc...), which was a very exciting challenge." Manning says of the book, "Displaying all of the keen wit, sharp twists and disarming sincerity readers have come to love in books like Werewolves of Montpellier, I Killed Adolf Hitler and others, Isle of 100,000 Graves teams the artist known as Jason with writer Fabien Vehlmann for a wholly original adventure tale that pushes both creators in an intriguing new direction."
• Plug: "Get ready, because if you like comics in which monsters and barbarian wrestlers beat the living shit out of each other (and who doesn’t?), [Prison Pit Book Three] is probably going to be the best book you’ve read since Prison Pit Book Two." – Ben Spencer, Nerd City