• Review: "Exploration, thankfully, is precisely what Weathercraft is all about. Woodring’s latest graphic novel is a deep exploration of Unifactor, through looking glasses, behind tears in the world’s fabric, under sea and into space, this time all experienced through the beady eyes of Frank’s principle antagonist, Manhog." – Brian Heater, The Daily Cross Hatch
• Interview: At Newsarama, Michael C. Lorah discusses Weathercraft with Jim Woodring: "This is Manhog’s book. He’s a more interesting character than Frank in a lot of ways. He’s deep, whereas Frank is bottomless."
• Review: "Fantagraphics has done the world the great service of reprinting Basil Wolverton's Culture Corner... [T]hese strips will delight any Wolverton fan with their characteristic doggerel, gratuitous violence, and slapstick humor that pokes fun at the American self-improvement genre. ... [T]he Fantagraphics edition is well worth the price: it's a handsomely bound item, augmented with the sketches and a nice essay by Wolverton's son." – Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing
• Review: "Foster’s humorous, quick-moving stories charge relentlessly forward. ... Whether Val is plotting a way to upend a larger force or enjoying good times with old friends, Foster’s twist-laden narrative comes across with a casual warmth, as if telling of merry adventures around a campfire. Similarly, Foster’s detailed renderings enforce the earthy grounding of Prince Valiant and his cohorts. ... The artistry, the witty and creative plot twists, and the evocative and charming characters all make for a truly timeless, and utterly enjoyable adventure comic strip experience. Any reader who appreciates the innocent high adventure of yore needs to get on board with Hal Foster’s Prince Valiant." - Michael C. Lorah, Newsarama
• Interview: Mark L. Miller of Ain't It Cool News discusses Werewolves of Montpellier with Jason: "The opening concept, the guy who dresses up as a werewolf and then is chased by real werewolves, I had in my mind a long time. I thought it was a fun, silly concept. But something was missing. It was only when I got the idea to mix it with an Audrey Hepburn movie that the story really took off."
• Interview in the future:Matt Thorn wants to know what you'd like him to ask Moto Hagio at her spotlight panel at Comic-Con
• Review: "Operating in the territory of Rube Goldberg, Wolverton's convoluted plans for achieving his ludicrous goals [in The Culture Corner] rely less on mousetrap-like technical gewgaws than the artist's signature grotesques, which are laugh-out-loud joy. While a must-have for Wolverton completists, even newcomers will find the humor readily accessible." – Publishers Weekly
• Review: "Just what is Dash Shaw on? And may I please have some? ...The Unclothed Man in the 35th Century A.D. [is] an anything-goes anthology quite attractively packaged by Fantagraphics Books, right down to the transparent, animation-cel-esque jacket. ... Yeah, [the title story] is different. Yeah, it’s awesome. ... Much of Unclothed Man is stunning..." – Rod Lott, Bookgasm
• Review: Thanks to our Twitter follower Tim Leng for the following alert: "Awesomely positive review of The Art of Jaime Hernandez (and L&R in general) on BBC 6music this afternoon!" For a limited time the show is streaming here (click on Tuesday)
• Plug: At EarlyWord, Robin Brenner singles out Weathercraft by Jim Woodring as one of "the most artful finds" at TCAF
• Interview: Greek site Comicdom presents a brief Q&A, in Engish, with Peter Bagge: "Almost all my story ideas are based on people and events from real life. Truth is always stranger than fiction."
• Interview:The Daily Cross Hatch presents the first of a 4-part talk with Gene Deitch: "It’s really bad to look back on the communist time with nostalgia [laughs]. There was a downside. But the animation studio here was kind of a Shangri-La. First of all, nobody in the communist hierarchy had any idea what we were doing or how, but they knew it was popular and they left us alone."
Online Commentary & Diversions (through yesterday; we're a bit behind):
• Review: "...[E]ven [Basil Wolverton]'s throwaway work — in this case, half-page gag strips (emphasis on the 'gag') that appeared in Fawcett's Captain Marvel titles during and after World War II — is fully worthy of rediscovery. Like a Bizarro Dr. Seuss, Wolverton packs each Culture Corner with goofy, rhyming advice... While silly and inconsequential, these strips revel in the subversive, surrealist glee that would develop more fully in Wolverton's later output for Mad and others, a style that would help unlock the inner cretin inside everyone from Robert Crumb to Peter Bagge. ...Fantagraphics has to be applauded for tenaciously keeping Wolverton and his eye-gouging, subliminally influential work from slipping through the cracks of comics history. [Grade] B+" — The A.V. Club
• Review: "...Tardi’s [It Was the] War of the Trenches is the most powerful comic I’ve read on World War One since Charley’s War... The black and white art is perfectly suited to the era being covered... while Tardi, not for the first time, proves himself a master of expression, the looks on the faces of the men caught up in the war speaking absolute volumes... It’s a hugely powerful work, both moving and horrific and filled with anger for the suffering and injustices one group of ‘civilised’ humans can visit upon another... [A]s the last voices of those who were actually there are fading into silence works like this are needed to remind us of the monstrous acts we can be capable of in service to the beasts of jingoism and nationalism and hubris, that we should read them and take cautionary lessons from them. Never forget." – Joe Gordon, The Forbidden Planet International Blog Log
• Interview:Avoid the Future has an illuminating talk with Joe Daly: "The environment is surreal, in that it combines the fantastical with the urbane. I try to meld these two sides together into a continuum that supports both the phantasmagoric and the banal, in a naturalistic kind of way. On a conceptual level, I’m also interested in combining extreme stupidity with a bit of cleverness (which the title ‘Dungeon Quest’ is supposed to invoke)." There's also a glimpse of Dungeon Quest Book 2!
• Interview:The Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon grills Ben Schwartz, editor of The Best American Comics Criticism, saying "It's the kind of volume that starts fights... but that's okay and it's part of the fun. There's a lot of good work in the book and one or two absolutely inspired choices. Anyone with an interest in comics should at least give it a flip-through, and anyone with an interest in writing about the medium should use it as a springboard to discover a host of excellent new favorites." Schwartz on pitching the book: "Gary was the most skeptical. Early on he asked me if I seriously thought I could fill a whole book with good writing on comics. He sent me his essay 'The Death of Criticism.' Nice to know that's on your publisher's mind!"
• Interview: Canada's National Post has a Q&A with TCAF special guest Jim Woodring: "My name is Jim Woodring and I’m a cartoonist. I’m going to TCAF by invitation, with an assist from Fantagraphics Books, my publisher. I have a new book out called Weathercraft and I’m going to answer questions about it.
• Plugs: At The Cool Kids Table, Rickey Purdin runs down some recent acquisitions, including a couple volumes of Mome ("constantly entertaining") and the Weathercraft and Other Unusual Tales free comic ("...this free sample is PROBABLY about to set me on a path of Woodring fanaticism. Well played, Fantagraphics.")
• Plug: "Michael Kupperman's Tales Designed to Thrizzle is that rarest of comic books: It's actually, genuinely a comic experience, with several guaranteed laugh-out-loud moments per issue." – Paul Constant, The Stranger
• Review: "Is your brain drained? Is your soul cold? Does your ticker need a snicker? Then arrange your face with a grin in place. Read The Culture Corner by Basil Wolverton. Fantagraphics has just published this comprehensive collection of a rare and genuinely silly strip by a great cartoonist. ... The collection will crack you up, especially if you enjoy goofy phrases. Wolverton was a master of the craft.... It’s a must-have for any fan of cartooning." – Beth Davies-Stofka, Super I.T.C.H.
• Review: "If someone tries to tell you Fletcher Hanks was a genius, don’t believe them. If someone tries to tell you Fletcher Hanks was an important figure in the development of superhero comics, don’t believe them. But if someone tries to tell you Fletcher Hanks was one strange, f-ed up bastard who created some of the weirdest, creepiest, and (entirely by accident) most revealing comics of the Golden Era, that you can take to the bank." – Steve Hockensmith (author of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies), Comic Book Galaxy
160-page full-color 9" x 6.75" hardcover • $22.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-308-8
Joe McCulloch at Comics Comics describes it aptly: "An interesting experiment in Golden Age of Reprints presentational engineering, this new 160-page landscape-format Fantagraphics hardcover collects all of the great Basil Wolverton’s crackpot daily advice strips as seen in the pages of Fawcett’s Whiz Comics, 1945-52, presented in comparison with Wolverton’s original pencil roughs for what looks like every installment." The Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon brings the basketball metaphor: "Who doesn't want to read as much Basil Wolverton as they can? He's not in the starting all-time five, but he gets a lot of playing time off the bench." At Comics Alliance Douglas Wolk declaims "Goofiness, history and process!"
128-page color/b&w 7" x 9" softcover • $14.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-303-3
Joe McCulloch at Comics Comics opines "The centerpiece of this Spring 2010 edition of the Fantagraphics house anthology is, without question, the return of Dave Cooper to comics" and of the other contributors says "That really is a nice lineup"; Tom Spurgeon of The Comics Reporter agrees that it "offers a super-strong line-up of creators." We can't disagree — you can see the full table of contents and samples from each contributor as part of our PDF excerpt.
So head on down to your local comic shop, but not before checking out the bountiful information and sneak peeks at the links above, and it's always a good idea to confirm availability beforehand.
• Review: "When most people try to employ dream logic in their work they fail miserably but Jim [Woodring] is great at it. The closest thing to a peer he might have is David Lynch but even that’s a stretch. Jim Woodring is the only Jim Woodring and no one has done what he does except for him. ... There’s not much point in trying to sum up the story of [Weathercraft]. There’s no text, the art is beautiful, and you’re totally consumed by the world he’s created and you exist inside it while you’re reading it." – Nick Gazin, Vice
• Review: "You know who is awesome and holds more water than anyone in comics? Basil Wolverton, that’s who. I might have gone overboard there but Basil Wolverton is so fucking funny that it’s no laughing matter. ... This little hardcover [of The Culture Corner] is sweet. The left page of each spread contains the pencil sketch of every comic that it’s available for and even the sketches for comics that never got finished. It is rad as hell." – Nick Gazin, Vice (same link as above)
• Review: "Holy crap, I love [Ganges]. Huizenga has this amazing way of writing and drawing comics that hit me in the soul, either directly reflecting an experience I can relate to (having trouble falling asleep in #3) or a feeling (like missing the good old days of a group of awesome work friends). Plus, his art style is this amazing mix of surreal and everyday imagery that mimics the daily weirdness of being a creative, introspective person and also takes on the look of a classic comic strip (Glenn’s nose reminded me of Popeye for some reason)." – T.J. Deitsch, United Monkee (via Sean T. Collins)
• Review: "Opulent; florid; intermittently bizarre: Red Barry,Will Gould’s gangling, glowering, undercover cop, countered Chester (no relation) Gould’s grimly taciturn Dick Tracy with a ripely atmospheric, robustly theatrical, unflinchingly lurid theater, replete with run-on dialogues, soliloquies and, not infrequently, faces that appeared to be 'made up' in the pointed, dagger-like beards, eye patches, and whiskers that would earn a chuckle of recognition from George Jean Nathan (once-and-forever dean of American drama critics)." – Donald Phelps, The Comics Journal
• Plug: On his News and Head Lice blog Paul Hornschemeier says "if you're not yet reading anything and everything Tim Lane and Tim Hensley produce, you're missing out. Hensley's comics and posts are always a welcome addition to any day over at Blog Flume and Lane's ongoing strip, Belligerent Piano reminds of me of the baby produced from the time Chester Gould had a three-way with Alex Raymond and Spain Rodriguez. Who's the one with the womb? I'm not telling."
Did you ever wonder how to stop brooding if your ears are protruding? Or how to indulge yourself and snore without being a bore? Or for the masochists among you, how to sit on a tack? Or for the narcissists, how to contemplate the back of your pate? Or something as simple as how to get out of bed gracefully? Or something a bit more challenging like how to boot a fly off your snoot? Or, if you’re the violent type, what’s the best way to kick someone in the teeth? Or, for those striving for greater refinement, how to be particular and is perpendicular?
If these conundrums have perplexed and mystified you, the remedy is at hand: cartooning genius Basil Wolverton’s "Culture Corner," an indispensable guide to demystifying life’s most worrisome and disconcerting social quandaries. With his fictional host, Croucher K. Conk, Q.O.C (Queer Old Coot), Wolverton would posit the problem and offer a uniquely Wolvertonian solution over seven or eight panels, each one a miniature masterpiece of scandalous visual humor.
Wolverton’s feature "Culture Corner" originally appeared every month in Fawcett’s Whiz Comics (featuring the adventures of Captain Marvel) from 1945 to 1952. Each episode would tackle a different subject from the practical to the pixilated — "How to cross a busy street" to "How to tweak a beak." Fantagraphics’ collection of the complete strips is the first time the little known feature has been reprinted since its original publication over 60 years ago! Revered by aficionados, it contains some of Wolverton’s most outrageous drawing and his trademarked lexicon of wacky wordplay.
The Fantagraphics edition also contains Wolverton’s original pencil versions of each strip, which have been carefully preserved over the years, and demonstrate a looser, more spontaneous interpretation of the finished strips.
Online Commentary & Diversions — catching up from MoCCA weekend, with more catch-up tomorrow:
• Award: Congratulations to David Sandlin for receiving a 2010-2011 fellowship from the New York Public Library’s Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers. "The fellowship lasts from September to May. Each fellow gets an office in the library’s Stephen A. Schwarzman Building at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, full access to the library’s research collections, and a stipend, which last year was $60,000," reports Kate Taylor of The New York Times. Not too shabby!
• Review: "Few people alive today are old enough to remember World War I, and as it recedes into the past, the 'war to end all wars' becomes more abstract. But French cartoonist Jacques Tardi's graphic novel, It Was The War of the Trenches..., brings the Great War to life in all its mud- and blood-soaked misery. Without a trace of sentimentality, Tardi's richly detailed and grimly rendered vignettes depict the horror, illness, cruel manipulations, and stupidity of this giant black spot in human history." – Mark Frauenfelder, Boing Boing
• Review: "Long-lost astronauts, homicidal bloggers, baseball legends and wayward skaters all find a home in John Pham’s captivating comic series Sublife. With only two issues on the street, Sublife has already established an achingly familiar universe in all of its disparate ongoing narratives. Deftly juggling the melancholy of Adrian Tomine’s Optic Nerve with some Cormac McCarthy-inspired apocalyptic action and plenty of skillfully subdued deadpan humor, Pham proves himself a master of multifarious emotions and artist stylings." – We Love You So
• Review: "While I enjoyed Sakai's artwork in the first volume, this second trade collection is even stronger. ... I'm so glad I'm finally sitting down and reading this series, and my only regret is that I didn't do it sooner. Usagi Yojimbo is a great addition to the canon of samurai stories, and is definitely highly recommended for anyone who is a fan of wandering ronin or just good storytelling." – Rob McMonigal, Panel Patter
• Review: "Culture Corner remains a curiosity in comic book history, rarely remembered, rarely seen, but Basil Wolverton’s status as an important figure in humor cartooning is unimpeachable. Thus, anybody wanting to understand the development of the medium and the evolution of comedy cartooning should pick up Culture Corner to see how Wolverton began the road to comic book legend. Most of the strips have never been seen by today’s readers, and the sheer number of unpublished penciled sketches makes this book a true rarity and a must-have." – Michael C. Lorah, Newsarama
• Review: "I can honestly say that the further we dive into the murky depths of Newave!, the better it gets. Hot on the heels of all the anarchic fun of the first thirty mini comics, come ten more that show, in various ways, a little extra sophistication in content or execution." – Avoid the Future continues their mini-reviews of the contents of Newave! The Underground Mini Comix of the 1980s; this is from part 4, and I think we may have missed linking to part 2 and part 3
• Plug: At IdeaFixa, Claudio Yuge says that reading Love and Rockets "was one of the best things I ever did in life and I recommend it for anyone who likes comics and graphic arts in general." (translated from Portuguese)
• Commentary:Comic Book Galaxy's Christopher Allen & Alan David Doane comment on this year's Eisner nominees, of which we have several; there's too much for me to quote from here
• Interview:Comic Book Resources' Shaun Manning talks to Jim Woodring about Weathercraft: "In a lot of ways, Manhog is the most interesting character in the Unifactor. He has the most potential for change and the widest range of dramatic possibilities. Besides, it's fun to put him in awful circumstances and watch him suffer. There's something about a big fat guy screaming in terror that's just naturally funny. Oliver Hardy got a lot of mileage out of that formula."
• Interview: The Inkstuds radio programme talks with Mome contributor (and, now, kids-comics superstar) Eleanor Davis
We forgot to mention, the new second printing of The Wolverton Bible is currently in stock and features an updated color scheme for the cover — what was shades of green on the sold-out first printing is now various rust colors as seen above. Purty! We're still offering a free set of Wolvertoons Postcards with all direct orders, so get yours today!
• Review: "Reading this book was like unearthing a trunkload of old baby pictures… if the babies in question would eventually grow up to become Mad Magazine and Rat Fink. ...[L]ike a Buddy Holly song on an oldies station or WWII-era tattoo flash, some art just stands the test of time and becomes classic. Basil Wolverton’s Culture Corner is a one-of-a-kind work and definitely falls into that category. [Grade: A]" – Chad Derdowski, Mania
• Review: "For some time now, Norwegian cartoonist Jason has been on my shortlist of recommended artists for the uninitiated. ... The next question, naturally, is: which Jason book to start with? Almost Silent... fits the bill perfectly. ... This is the output of an artist with a clear vision who is truly at the top of his game. ... Beautifully bound and reasonably priced, you’re not going to find a much better entry point into the world of contemporary graphic novels than Almost Silent." – Brian Heater, The Daily Cross Hatch
• Review: "...The Last Lonely Saturday [is] pretty much the best love story in comics form I've ever come across. ... It's an intelligent, moving, beautiful, terrific little comic." – Sean T. Collins (we linked to this previously when it ran on The Savage Critics but it's worth re-running)
• Review: "Here’s a book that was initially attractive as an intriguing, if intellectual, curiosity, only to reveal itself in short order as a continually fascinating experience. ... I hope this volume, despite its killer commercial potential, will inspire a second. ...Abstract Comics is the most surprising book of the year." – Rich Kreiner, "Yearlong Best of the Year," The Comics Journal
• Interview:Mr. Media's Bob Andelman talks to Monte Schulz about This Side of Jordan: "My dad read the book before he died. He liked Rascal a lot — 'He's such a funny little guy.' He used to tell me I was raising the level of art in the family." Listen via the embedded player above or at this link, or download the MP3