• Review: "Fantagraphics, always a publisher you can count on to rescue classic comic material from oblivion, has published a gorgeous 288 page hardcover archive edition of Mickey [Mouse]'s earliest serialized comic strip adventures and he's quite a different character than we know today...a little rambunctious, a little mischievous, and a whole lot of fun. This book takes readers on a glorious ride through depression-era adventures as Mickey battles villains, becomes a fireman, visits a circus, and meets his faithful pup Pluto for the first time. Besides the many great comic strips, Fantagraphics has filled the book with a ton of supplemental material... This is an absolute must-have for any Mickey Mouse fan. Grade A" – Tim Janson, Mania
Burgas: "McKean’s art is astounding, as it always is. He moves from his very rough pencil work that he used on Cages and moves quickly into a multimedia extravaganza, with photographs interspersed with film reels (more photographs, of course, but used in a different way) and paintings and more detailed pencil work. The colors are magnificent, too... It’s an astonishing work of art, to be sure..."
Thompson: "I agree that the success of this book is in that it is beautiful from cover to cover. As a rule I tend to prefer McKean’s very rough pencil work, though I very much appreciate the layering mixed media styles he uses, and I found all of it very beautiful and successful in that way. I was impressed with the color choices and the really wonderful cubist look he achieved for some of the work, and some of the mixed media he used toward the end was some of my favorite in the book period.... After discussing it, I feel more pleased with the book as a whole because I’ve been forced to admit that I don’t recall seeing many more effective executions of erotic subject matter as a legitimate work of art in this way..."
Burgas: "What is compelling about Celluloid is that McKean tackles a difficult subject and elevates it beyond a simple porn comic. I think the very fact that Celluloid makes you wonder about sex in many of its iterations is impressive. As you can see, both Kelly and I had our issues with it, but it’s a gorgeous comic nevertheless. It’s definitely something that you don’t see every day!"
• Review: "I have the impression that Lewis Trondheim is the most important European artist of his generation. Such is the creativity and productivity and so the breadth of his work that, for me at least, wins the title deservedly. Approximate Continuum Comics... is the first part of Trondheim's autobiographical adventures.... The brilliant humour of Trondheim, his sharp-tongued reason, the way with which it shows the mix of imagination with reality. Equally impressive is the effortless way in which the most espressive artwork works serving the story." – Aristides Kotsis, Comicdom (translated from Greek)
• Review: "Bell does the best job of any attempt I've ever seen to bring together everything we know about Ditko's life and work. The result [Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko] is fascinating, frustrating and eventually presents a sad portrait of an immense talent that withdrew from the world and denied it of his work and himself of the audience, acclaim and success that was easily within his grasp." – Tom McLean, Bags and Boards
• Preview: At Flavorwire, Emily Temple shares some glimpses of the cartoons to be included in Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons, saying "Her style is distinctive — the charmingly brusque drawings are cut from linoleum and then essentially stamped when she applied ink to the ridges, and while the content is largely related to her experience as a student, you can still feel the slightly skewed, individualistic perspective that appears in O’Connor’s short stories.... Lovers of her work will doubtless find joy and meaning in her cartoons, and other people will probably like them too."
• Preview: Jamie Frevele of The Mary Sue picks up on the preview of Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons, saying "...while not as demented as some of her writing, the dark humor is still there, even in the short span of a single panel."
• Plug: "Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons is the first compilation of her graphic work in pen-and-ink and linoleum cuts. Before her writing career the young student aspired to be a cartoonist, and she developed a visually bold and eye-catching style. The results are witty and acid comments on campus life and American culture that show O'Connor developing her own acerbic point-of-view." – M. Bromberg, BellemeadeBooks
• Interview (Audio): Kevin Avery, author/editor of Everything Is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson, is a guest on the Rockcritics Podcast. Host Scott Woods says "I’ve mentioned a few times here already Kevin Avery’s wonderful book, Everything is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson. Half a personal biography of Nelson, half a compilation of select Nelson reviews and essays, it’s one of the finest books I’ve ever read about a writer — and, needless to say, about rock criticism."
• Profile: "[Basil] Wolverton was one of the pioneers who made today’s highbrow comics scene what it is; his twisted abstract portraiture, all sweatbeads and pleading eyes, floated like a buoy in a sea of banal comic art, influencing kindred spirits like Robert Williams and Big Daddy Roth. Though best known for his nightmare caricatures in the vein of Lena Hyena, his sf and horror work — jewels like the 'Brain Bats of Venus' — is equally disturbing (or invigorating). God knows what brain bat attached itself to Wolverton’s fertile grey matter, but it certainly wasn’t of this atmosphere." – Joe Alterio, HighLobrow
In 1946 Al Capp held the now infamous contest to see who could conjure the true image of the world's ugliest woman, Lena Hyena from Lower Slobbovia. Amongst the 500,000 + submissions was this ghastly beaut by Carl Barks.
The, ahem, judges for this contest were three of the worlds ugliest men: Salvador Dali, Boris Karloff and Frank Sinatra and as you may know, they aptly awarded Basil Wolverton's warped rendering "The Champ."
Here we have Lena by Basil Wolverton as colored by Jim Woodring from Wolvertoons.
I think it's worth noting and more than a coincidence that Carl Barks, Basil Wolverton and Jim Woodring all hail from the great pacific northwest, a region rife with grotesque power drawers, past and present.
Side note: It's rumored that Jack Cole sent in a drawing of the wonderful Lena. What I'd give to see that!
• List:School Library Journal names Linda Medley's Castle Waiting Vol. 2 one of "39 Graphic Novels That Kids Can't Resist": "Both volumes of Castle Waiting are vivid and enchanting, as any good fairy tale should be. Handsomely bound and printed on rich, creamy paper, the most important element — the story — is charming, filled with slowly building plots and compelling characters, and the slow pace means readers can spend the summer hours with some good company.... With clean black-and-white art and impeccable pacing, Castle Waiting remains a favorite for older kids and younger teens."
• List: Rick Klaw's "Top Ten of the Half Year '11" at The Geek Curmudgeon includes Joe Daly's Dungeon Quest at #9 ("Littered with violence, inappropriate sexual innuendos, misguided bravado and infused with hilarity, Dungeon Quest... promises a uniquely entertaining graphic novel experience.") and 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente by Wilfred Santiago at #3 ("In this emotionally moving biography, the Puerto Rican Wilfred Santiago magnificently chronicles the often tragic life of this icon.... Santiago expertly traverses Clemente's tribulations, losses, and success with ease and skill. His portrayal of the baseball games rank among the finest ever attempted in this medium. Under the masterful hands of Santiago, 21 evolves into far more than just a biography of a sports figure. It showcases a life worth emulating.")
• Profile: "...21: The Story of Roberto Clemente... is drawn with a jagged whimsy that gets at the sudden sharpness of a baseball game's action, the frenzy that comes from out of nowhere to temporarily replace the long, slow stretches of waiting, scratching, spitting and eyeballing opponents that are endemic to the sport. The result is a captivating work that reflects the complexity of Clemente (1934-1972), a dedicated humanitarian as well as an uncommonly gifted athlete.... 'I knew the culture he came from, because I came from the same place,' [Wilfred] Santiago says. 'And there was a mythic aspect to him that was part of the story I wanted to tell. Comic books bring a different kind of narrative that's not possible in any other medium — not books, not movies.'" – Julia Keller, Chicago Tribune
• Review: "A little boy is mistaken for his older sister and is bewildered by the feeling that this stirs in him. Thus begins the story of the Wandering Son, a daring fairy-tale about two unusual children in the time before the riot of puberty and their struggles with who they are and who they want to be.... The artwork in Wandering Son is appealing and sensitive.... Wandering Son mercifully isn’t a political screed and its characters, equally mercifully, are not pressured into making political points out of their inner lives.... They are allowed under that protective charm 'kawaii' to explore their feelings and identity and are treated with the utmost compassion and dignity by their author. That makes Wandering Son a most compelling fantasy... Wandering Son chooses for the most part to dwell on the possibility of choice, of self-knowledge and the love of a friend who knows your secret." – Michael Arthur, The Hooded Utilitarian
• Review: At his High-Low blog, Rob Clough re-posts his Sequart review of the first 5 volumes of Mome: "I can't help thinking of Mome as the comics equivalent of a baseball farm league club. You know you're good if you're invited by the major league club to come on, but there's an expectation of getting better, of being productive, of working hard in order to become great. And the creators in this book seem to range across a wide variety of ages and levels of experience, much like a minor league baseball team. Some are raw rookies, others have been laboring in obscurity for years and are just now getting an opportunity at the big time."
• Interview:The Daily Cross Hatch's Brian Heater continues his conversation with Mome editor Eric Reynolds: "I don’t know if there’s an official reason. I just felt like the time had come. It had been over five years. I’m really happy with it. I’m proud of what we did. But at the same time, there are always compromises you make along the way. I felt I’d already run my course with it. I could have kept it going. I sort of set myself up with a template that was fairly easy to do, three or four times a year."
• Review: "Excellent quality reproduction of the cartoons, interesting texts...; a supreme book treatment by a 'bibliophile publisher': something that convinces even the most recalcitrant Disney collectors to buy something that they might already have seen and have read the contents of the first volume in multiple dressings and in multiple languages, and possess it in different forms." – Luca Boschi, Il Sole 24 Ore (translated from Italian)
• Plug: "Mickey Mouse 'Race to Death Valley' has the first MM strips from 1930-32 by Floyd Gottfredson, considered the finest of all the MM artists and much collected. Several complete episodes and a wonderful 68-page section devoted to essays, early Mickey artwork and special features. I'm eager to sit down and digest it all myself." – Bud Plant
• Review: "Schulz's jokes are fine; his characters are likable and instantly recognizable; and Peanuts is never dull. But, in these years, it settled for being a consistently entertaining standard comic strip rather than digging any more deeply than that into the sources of human sadness and discomfort." – Andrew Wheeler, The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.
• Plugs: The latest "Comics College" reader's guide from Chris Mautner at Robot 6 delves into George Herriman and Krazy Kat: "If you... want to dig deeper, the next logical choice is Fantagraphics’ lovely collection of Sunday strips, dubbed Krazy & Ignatz.... If all those books seem like too much shopping for you, Fantagraphics has collected much of the same material in two hardcovervolumes, with a presumed third one coming along the way sometime in the near future.... Fantagraphics has announced their intention to collect the daily Krazy Kat strips as well, but that’s down the line a bit. In the meantime, there are really only two ways to get a solid sampling of the daily strip, one of which is The Kat Who Walked in Beauty, an oversize tome that pairs together strips from the 1910s and 1920s, as well as some other Krazy-related ephemera."
• Plug: "Fantagraphics Books publishes one of my all-time favorites; Jason, short for John Arne Saerterøy. Jason’s animal people inhabit satirical but celebratory genre pieces. In about 50 pages, Jason’s The Last Musketeer tells the story of Athos, the last depressed musketeer in the 21st century. A meteor hits Paris, and Martians start invading. Before too long, Athos stows away to Mars to save the Martian princess in order to save Earth from total annihilation." – Victoria Elliott, The Daily Texan
Things are gettin' trippy over at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Artas they recently kicked off a set of tandem exhibits, “Us Versus Them” and “Masters of Collective Reality,” curated by Phoenix-based artist Jon Haddock.
Now is the perfect time to upgrade your spring wardrobe with lovely new tee shirt designs by Basil Wolverton, Jim Woodring and Jim Blanchard from Seattle-based label Americaware. Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery is offering a 25% discount off the $29.95 designer shirts — now only $22.50. The line features six signature creations by each cartoonist in sizes M, L and XL. Fantagraphics Bookstore is the only store on the planet to carry these amazing garments, so drop by while our limited supply lasts. Open daily at 1201 S. Vale Street in Seattle's enchanting Georgetown arts community. Phone 206.658.0110. See you then.
Fantagraphics staffers Eric Buckler, Gavin Lees, and an appearance from head honcho Gary Groth!
Thanks to everyone who visited the Fantagraphics booth at the 9th Annual Emerald City Comicon! It was great to see everyone there, and we hope you're enjoying the books you bought from us!
We sold out of Prison Pit, Vol. 1 and Werewolves of Montpelier pretty quickly -- which I think is awesome and hilarious for this mostly mainstream show. Is Cannibal Fuckface the next great superhero? Clearly, yes.
We hope you all enjoyed getting your books signed by our artists Peter Bagge and Megan Kelso, and editor Jacques Boyreau, seen above talking "grindhouse" with some ComiCon attendees. Thanks to them for spending time with us at our booth that weekend!
And thanks so much to the Fantagraphics staffers who manned the table. I wanna send out an extra-special thanks to the latest member of the Fantagraphics team, Ian Burns, for working all three days of the con! (Congratulations on the promotion from intern to Customer Service Representative!)
And another extra-special thanks goes to The Comics Journal contributor Gavin Lees who was a welcome weekend-long surprise addition to the team, along with his intergalactic-sweetie Heather (who got to meet Shatner!!!).
• Review: "I’m not sure how exactly one goes about recommending a book like [FUC_ __U _SS __LE], as it’s not only not for everyone, it’s kind of sort of not for anyone, which ironically makes it perfect for some someones. (Panel four of page 9 is perfect for 21st century comics historians; as it is surely the most intentionally provocative comics image of the decade)." – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
• Review: "Of the artists that meant the world to me when I was young enough that lots of artists meant the world to me, Jaime Hernandez is the only one I know of that can still kill me dead with his newest and latest. Your mileage may vary, but Jaime's three-part story in the latest Love and Rockets brought to mind the same sweep of romance and regret and pursuit of all that's sweet in life as much as battered and broken insides allow that I remember all too well from the summer between my junior and senior years in college, when I would have put everything about my wonderful life on hold to climb into a black and white comic book for a little while. There are three or four panels in this newest effort worth some cartoonists' entire careers." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
• Review: "Set to Sea is [an] auspicious debut... Weing's nameless, landlubbing protagonist aches to rhapsodize about the sea but discovers that something's missing. After dozing drunkenly on a dock, he awakes to discover he's been shanghaied. His adventures provide ample material for a volume of poetry in this hilariously violent picaresque tale." – Richard Pachter, The Miami Herald
• Review: "A book like The Best American Comics Criticism invites argument. If you put 'best' in your title, argument will follow. I’ve got arguments, but I wanted to start by praising both the editor, Ben Schwartz, and the publisher, Fantagraphics, for making the effort." - Derik Badman
• Review: "...[T]his story is one where Deitch tries to tie the various unruly strands of his many stories together. In a way, I almost prefer that these overlapping, nesting, and sometimes contradictory stories never really congeal, but The Search for Smilin' Ed is, like all of Deitch's work, a compelling and highly personal piece of work." – Robert Boyd, The Great God Pan Is Dead
• Review: "Although the images are very haunting, they are extremely beautiful. Pim & Francie is a pretty unique book. ... This book as a whole is actually quite creepy, haunting, scary, beautiful, and intoxicating. I seem to enjoy it more every time I look/read through it. With images on almost every single page, this book is worth a lot more than its cover price." – Steven Thomas
• Review: "Wally Gropius ...[is] John Stanley for the 21st century. Not that Stanley doesn’t work just fine in 2010, but Hensley is worthy of that sort of praise. I wish this guy was writing Archie." – Chris Reilly, Guttergeek
• Review: "I loved this book and am glad I... could read something this wonderfully twisted... I really wish I could tell you what genre this is, but The Squirrel Machine defies that sort of commercial branding." – Chris Reilly, Guttergeek
• Review: "Man, Joe Daly is awesome. ...[H]e is back with thunder in his pen and ants in his pants. [Dungeon Quest] is as good as Scrublands on page one and it just gets better and funnier, more bizarre and familiar (if you have ever met or hung out with Larpers) with each page turn. Welcome back, Joe Daly. You rule." – Chris Reilly, Guttergeek
• Review: "The Troublemakers... is Gilbert [Hernandez] doing a Quentin Tarantino, in that he dips into a sleazy old unpleasant genre of crime exploitation films of the 60s and 70s and cherry-picks a bunch of the good bits and smashes them together and cooks them into a really sweet pie." – Chris Reilly, Guttergeek
• Review: "The Culture Corner... is the biggest score for fans of Wolverton since the publication of the Wolverton Bible. I guess you could also say that this is the first reprint collection of Wolverton material since the Wolverton Bible if you wanted to nit-pick. Great stuff." – Chris Reilly, Guttergeek
• Interview: At WFMU's Beware of the Blog, Kliph Nesteroff talks to Drew Friedman: "When I was talking to Albert [Brooks] at this party he said, 'Drew, did you know that Harpo's ex-wife married Frank Sinatra?' I said, 'No, it was Zeppo's ex-wife.' He said, 'No, no, it was Harpo's ex-wife.' I said, 'No, it was Zeppo's ex-wife. Look, we have Andy Marx, Groucho's grandson standing right here. Let's ask him.' I said, 'Andy, which one of your uncles married Frank Sinatra's wife?' He said, 'Well, that was Zeppo's wife.' That's why I love L.A. It's handy to have Groucho's grandson [around] when you need him." (Note: audio of this conversation will be available from the Inkstuds podcast soon; we'll keep you updated)
• Profile:Seattle Times book editor Mary Ann Gwinn reports on the partnership between Rick Marschall's Rosebud Archives and Fantagraphics Books: "Now Marschall's company, Rosebud Archives, and Fantagraphics have formed a joint publishing enterprise that will draw from Marschall's immense collection, reclaiming the work of the great 20th-century magazine and newspaper artists for the 21st-century public."
• Commentary: At The Hooded Utilitarian, Shaenon Garrity kicks off a critical roundtable on Popeye with a 7-part appreciation: "Popeye hangs on, indestructible..., the last of a tougher, smellier, funnier breed."
• Reviewer: At Comics Comics, our own Jason T. Miles looks at something I'm also fond of: Andy Helfer & Kyle Baker's late-1980s run on The Shadow