|NEVER ENOUGH BASIL|
|Written by Jason Miles | Filed under Basil Wolverton||14 Jul 2009 1:40 PM|
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Category >> Basil Wolverton
Holy moly there's a lot of links today! There's a few major interviews in today's Online Commentary & Diversions, so let's lead off with those:
• Interview: At Amazon's Omnivoracious blog, Heidi Broadhead talks to our own Kim Thompson about translating the works of Jason ("His latest collection, Low Moon... has filmic moments and comic pathos that have set a new standard for me for short fiction") and other Eurocomics. Sample quote: "But I'm also more invested in these books because I work so hard on them, and in many cases, of course, such as Tardi, I'm literally fulfilling a childhood dream by translating them."
• Interview: "Carol Tyler is one of the best cartoonists currently working. She has been for years... Earlier this year Tyler released the first of an expected three volumes that seek to explore her father's time in World War II. You'll Never Know: A Good And Decent Man gently peels back the layers on these seminal experiences while at the same time providing an earnest portrait of the artist and her most important relationships during the time she started on the project. Tyler combines the unflinching eye of the late underground with the self-deprecating portrait of the alternative comics movement with the poetic qualities that some of the best post-alternatives are able to wring from their art. I really love Carol Tyler's work, and I was delighted she agreed to talk to me." - Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
• Interview: "In a perfect and just world, John Kerschbaum would be one of its most famous cartoonists." - Rob Clough, presenting his Q&A with Kerschbaum from The Comics Journal #295. Sample quote: "And when you're doing work for kids you just leave out the cursing… and tits - no tits."
• Review: "Wolverton... had a knack, too, for nightmarish drama... [He] saved his most enthralling pieces for the Bible. An ordained minister for a wacky Oregon church, he produced, in the mid 1950s, a series of apocalyptic scenes for the Book of Revelations; men and women, foregrounded in close-up, writhe under dominant skies of fire, plague, and war." - Robert Shuster, The Village Voice, on the Wolverton exhibit at Gladstone Gallery; hat tip once again to Drew Friedman
• Review: "Jason's unique skill of meshing cut-out Hollywood genres with fleeting moments of missed opportunities is like a unique cocktail - one part Hitchcock, one part Kubrick with a dash of Woody Allen... Low Moon is a slow-moving delight. Jason has crafted a perfectly executed yarn that is at once both familiar and bizarre. This collection is an exceptional entryway for reader still unaware of one of sequential arts greatest contributors." - Ascot J. Smith, examiner.com
• Review: "Known for his ability to convey melancholic, deadpan humor, Jason is as on top of his game as ever with this release... Each story expresses a different degree of the author’s range, mixing dark or mature themes with absurdity to varying degrees... Since it demonstrates Jason’s range and is priced fairly modestly..., Low Moon makes for a great starting point for those unfamiliar with Jason’s work." - Anthony Farruggia, examiner.com
• Review: "Jason's work is something to be revered... His comics are stark and morbid and often hilarious. Low Moon presents five beautifully illustrated stories that show a mastery of the craft... The stories range from violent to funny to sad, and the tragedies, murders, and pratfalls therein never seem out of the ordinary. It all fits into four rectangular panels on each page that seem like they were drawn to make you understand something more." - Gabe Bullard, PLAYBACK:stl
• Review: "Ho!... promises the most degenerate and juvenile one-panel gag comics ever penned by a working college professor... You're either loving it or deeply concerned for the author." - Byron Kerman, PLAYBACK:stl
• Review: "Kevin Huizenga introduces a relatable and unusual story with his quirky sequel to the first Ganges in the 'Ignatz' series from Fantagraphics. A tale about morality, realism, and video games, Ganges [#2] spins a web of confusion for those universal questions that lurk at the edge of our minds... 'Pulverize' makes a bold attempt to portray how living in a technological age can confuse as well as enlighten you to great lengths. Touching and unique, Huizenga creates a quirky story for the win." - Melissa Kay, Girls Entertainment Network
• Review: "My choice for the greatest comic strip in history would be Hal Foster's epic adventure strip Prince Valiant. And now Fantagraphics is reprinting the series in a series of spiffy, oversized hardcover collections, with the first volume out this week. And even though I own the whole 40-volume set of the Foster-drawn pages that Fantagraphics published in the 1990s, I’m perfectly happy to buy this new series, with larger pages, better-quality paper, and much better-quality coloring... It’s excellent stuff, and I look forward to enjoying it all over again." - Michael Rawdon, Fascination Tangents
• Review: "The most influential adventure strip ever produced, Foster's gorgeous Prince Valiant inspired generations of artists. While the Sunday-only strip has been reprinted several times, this edition contains for the first time images shot from Foster's own color engraver's proofs. Published at the strip's original dimensions and complete with an introduction by Hal Foster biographer Brian M. Kane and the insightful 1969 Hal Foster interview with Fred Schreiber, the hardcover Prince Valiant Vol. 1: 1937-1938 finally presents these lush tales in a format worthy of the material." - Rick Klaw, The SF Site - Nexus Graphica
• Review: "Like H.L. Mencken, [Peter] Bagge favors a scorched-earth satirical attack, tearing down arguments by ridicule as much as reason. Unlike Mencken, Bagge's work is more playful and less likely to attempt to install himself as a know-it-all (even if he thinks he does) because of his nebbishy self-portrayal... It's rare to see a cartoonist branch out into this kind of second act of a career with this much flourish and skill... his work here [in Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me] demands a reader's attention every bit as much as the more famous editorial cartoonists in America... Best of all, Bagge is still funny... and this is a very good thing for both his hardcore fans and new readers alike." - Rob Clough
• Review: "[Peter] Bagge made his reputation with the wicked social satire of Hate, but since 2001 he’s also produced these short comics [in Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me] for the libertarian magazine Reason... His visual style—in which people are all huge-mouthed, squinty-eyed, rubber-limbed caricatures—is turned up all the way to 'jeer'; it’s also pretty funny on its own. Bagge aims his (constitutionally protected) satirical blunderbuss at both the left and the right, and occasionally points it at fellow libertarians and even himself." - Publishers Weekly
• Review: "...Norwegian cartoonist Jason’s latest wheeze of a graphic novella [I Killed Adolf Hitler] invents a time-travelling professional assassin who attempts to exterminate the Fuhrer with predictably bizarre results... The deadpan humour, pared-down plotting and simple illustrations featuring Jason’s trademark zoomorphic characters make for a brisk and extremely enjoyable read." - 2012
• Plug: "There's some great material in [Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me], whether you agree with the opinions or not, since Bagge does some great cartooning and good journalism, providing hilarious insights into topics like art, public transportation, homelessness, and gun ownership." - Matthew J. Brady
• Plug: "I'm really looking forward to the hardcover of Prince Valiant as the online stuff shows this to be the best reproduction I have ever seen of the book. The Hal Foster years (especially for the first decade or more) are a great story and stunning artwork." - Comics And... Other Imaginary Tales
• Plug: "[Love and Rockets] was like an underground Archie, with Hispanic characters, plus it was literally oozing with a sensuality that simply couldn't be found in mainstream funnybooks... If you have the opportunity to pick up any L&R comics, I highly recommend it, as it is still some of the consistently very best comics that is being produced." - Robert J. Sodaro (former Fantagraphics employee)
• Plug: "I’m currently reading through the latest issue of The Comics Journal, number 298... I’m really looking forward to the interview with Thriller artist Trevor Von Eeden. Also, the Percy Crosby Skippy strips included in the gallery section are a wonder." - Chris Mautner, Robot 6; also, their guest contributor this week is Paul Karasik
• Things to see: Comic Book Resources presents a bunch of work by Terry LaBan (whose Fantagraphics titles are all out of print)
• Things to see: Johnny Ryan fan art from Norway
Online Commentary & Diversions will return Monday. Have a great holiday in the US of A.
• Review: "Like many mysteries, there's something initially frustrating about the end of 'Emily Says Hello,' but it's the best by Jason for a while... it's in the new Low Moon collection... Worth it for 'Emily' alone." - Graham Linehan (The IT Crowd, Father Ted), via Twitter (part 1, part 2)
• Review: "A thin line exists between [Basil] Wolverton’s jokey grotesqueries and the horrors of disfigurement and mutilation that appear in his postwar illustrations of the Book of Revelations (recently published in The Wolverton Bible)... Wolverton’s unsparing depictions of nightmarish prophecies are relentlessly grim but absorbingly so. There are hints of Goya’s crazed, melancholic Saturn and predictions of Charles Burns’s brooding mutant teens." - Nicole Rudick, Artforum (reviewing the Wolverton exhibit currently on view at Gladstone Gallery; hat tip to Drew Friedman)
• Review: "Oh my god. It’s like someone wheeled my senile, racist grandfather onto a metropolitan sidewalk and let him free associate. Unfortunately, my grandfather’s psychosis might have more acuity and humor than Everyone is Stupid [Except for Me]." - Ashley Cardiff, CC2K (via Reason link below; don't say we never post negative reviews)
• Review: "Michael Kupperman is the funniest cartoonist alive, and Tales Designed to Thrizzle is his funniest comic book... Thrizzle has the manic joy of a really good sketch-comedy series... Thrizzle was originally published as four comics, and Kupperman has recolored the series for its hardcover release... [It] should amuse just about anyone who can read." - Paul Constant, The Stranger
• Review: "Certainly nobody takes umbrage with the claim that these are four awesome comics, collected in one hardcover edition [Blazing Combat]... Fantagraphics have done us a big favor by reprinting them all." - The Comic Book Haters (streaming video)
• Plug: "...Reason's own beloved Peter Bagge has a fantastic collection of a near-decade's worth of political cartooning coming out from Fantagraphics [Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me]. The content is king but the actual production is nothing short of stunning, filled with the bright, bright colors that Paul Simon used to sing about back when Kodak was still making film." - Nick Gillespie, Reason
• Plug: "Some good stuff that came out this week includes... Tales Designed to Thrizzle hardcover (the first four issues, now with the black and white bits in color, but still just as fantastic and funny), Prince Valiant Volume 1 (a new and gorgeous hardcover reprinting the Hal Foster original strips from 1937 and 1938)..." - Mike Sterling
• Interview: At comiXology, Tucker Stone interviews The Comics Journal online editor, the ista! in ¡Journalista!, my comrade-in-linkblogging-arms, Dirk Deppey. Pull quote of all pull quotes: "I got the job at Fantagraphics by making fun of The Comics Journal's website on its message board, basically."
Let's see what Online Commentary & Diversions popped up over the weekend:
• Review: "Abstract Comics: The Anthology is an impressive collection of old and new work with unique pages covering exactly what the title says... bold... intriguing... This is a book for readers who like fine art or those who would like to expand their sequential art experiences. A hearty slap on the back for Fantagraphics for choosing to create this marvelous example of a widely unknown artistic expression." - Kris Bather, Comic Book Jesus
• Review: "I had always equated [Prince] Valiant with everything that is dull and lifeless and boring and supposedly good for you, but it turns out I was completely and utterly wrong. On the contrary, it's a rip-snorting good time, full of high adventure and thrilling escapades. And Valiant, far from being the schoolmarmish goody two-shoes I imagined him being, is full of piss and vinegar and quite a bloodthirsty young chap, which makes him a good deal more interesting than some of his contemporaries on the comics page." - Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "...C. Tyler's You'll Never Know Book One: A Good and Decent Man isn't... much like any other autobio comic I've encountered... It’s a really rather fascinating work, and the longer one thinks about it, the more important and universal it seems to be. On the surface level, of course, it’s an extremely interesting, rather unique story of a couple different life’s stories, and how they overlap, but there plenty of other levels waiting to be discovered and ruminated over. I won’t be at all surprised to see this book taking slots on a lot of best of the year lists in another six months or so." - J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
• Review: "Don’t think of [The Wolverton Bible] as an exception or a bizarre footnote in religious art but one and maybe the 20th century continuation... By the end of the book, pages after pages of doom and destruction, you realize that Wolverton is maybe the only person to illustrate the The Old Testament and the Book of Revelation -- the most 'savage' books of the bible." - Are You a Serious Comic Book Reader?
• Plug: "Tales Designed to Thrizzle Vol. 1: It's the collection of the first four issues of Michael Kupperman's hilarious series, now in color! This stuff is comedy gold, so get it if you haven't read it already, and hell, spend the extra money to see the non-monochromatic version if you want." - Matthew J. Brady
• Interview: The Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon talks to Trina Robbins about about the genesis and assembling of The Brinkley Girls: The Best of Nell Brinkley's Cartoons 1913-1940: "It's really great to have The Brinkley Girls, and I was pleased when Robbins agreed to answer some questions about it."
• Events: Jared Gardner reports from a panel he moderated with Arnold Roth, Mort Walker and Brian Walker as part of the celebration of the merger of the International Museum of Cartoon Art with Ohio State University's Cartoon Library and Museum, adding that Jean Schulz has set up a matching grant to raise needed funds for the combined museum to move into a new permanent home
• Oddity: At Guttergeek, Chris Reilly interviews himself: "I actually am a big fan of Michael Kupperman and Eric Reynolds from Fantagraphics just sent me a copy of the hardcover Tales Designated to Thrizzle Vol. 1 and I would like to conduct this interview by commenting on the quotes of this book – would that be cool?" Um, 'kay...
Hoo-ee, it's time for our post-MoCCA Online Commentary & Diversions catch-up. It's going to take a while to sift through 4-5 days of the comics blogosphere, so to start with these are mostly links that have been sent to me:
• Review: "In what is obviously a labor of love, [C.] Tyler tells the story of her father's time during WWII and her parents' early relationship, skillfully interweaving it with Tyler's own story... provid[ing] a moving, personal portrait of one member of what's become known as 'the greatest generation.' Tyler's use of colored inks gives the line drawings an inviting depth of emotion... The drawings speak with an even greater richness thanks to the evocative words that appear within and around them, commenting upon and adding to the action portrayed in the panels. An important contributor to independent comics since the 1980s, Tyler has made a name for herself with the quirky warmth of her autobiographical stories, and this wonderful book [You'll Never Know Book 1: A Good and Decent Man] is a thoughtful work that greatly adds to the language of the graphic memoir." - Publishers Weekly (Starred Review; scroll to end of page)
• Review: "Jason’s books have always had a cinematic feel, and he seems to examine this more than ever with direct tie-ins to film concepts playing major roles in several of the stories... [A]ll of the stories in Low Moon are entertaining, and fans of Jason should be more than happy to digest five new comics from one of the best in the business." - William Jones, Graphic Novel Reporter
• Review: "Now, Fantagraphics has brought out The Wolverton Bible... I love that Wolverton's Adam and Eve look like Cary Grant and Rita Hayworth, and that the images of Noah’s Ark have the beautifully clean look of a wood carving. Dramatic scenes such as Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac, the devastation brought by locusts, and Samson’s blinding, showcase the artist’s talent for visceral, visual storytelling." - Leigh Stein, The New Yorker
• Review: "...[T]he newest issue of Michael Kupperman's mind-bending humor mag, Tales Designed to Thrizzle #5. Six Reasons Why Michael Kupperman Is A Genius (A bullet-pointed review...)" by Rob Clough, High-Low
• Review: "I’m almost finished [with] The Brinkley Girls: The Best of Nell Brinkley’s Cartoons, 1913-1940, edited by Trina Robbins. ...Brinkley is a supremely talented artist with enough eccentricities to make her stand out from the crowd (the weaves of hair she piles on top of her heroines could rival the folds in Spawn’s cape)." - Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "Peter Bagge's Neat Stuff saw the cartoonist at the height of his expressionistic style, and marked the beginning of the mature work he would exhibit in Hate and elsewhere... required reading for Hate fans... Anyone interested in fearless pop-culture satire, not just Peter Bagge, should have a look." - Luke Arnott, suite101.com
• Review: "Blazing Combat reprints all 4 issues of the ground-breaking war series... These are fascinating stories... drawn by some of the top talent in comics... [who] did some of their finest works for this short-lived publication. This new package from Fantagraphics Books is a handsome hardcover... the design work is A+, this time by Adam Grano." - Gary Sassaman, Innocent Bystander
• Interview: Comic Book Resources' Shaun Manning talks to editor Andrei Molotiu about the forthcoming anthology Abstract Comics. Sample quote: "I think that, oftentimes, abstract comics do end up maintaining more of that graphic energy [of superhero comics], and I think that they can draw attention to this very powerful tool in the vocabulary of comics that may have been lost in a number of art and alternative comics."
• Interview: Cartoonist Scott Nickel asks 20 questions of "one of the best cartoonists of his generation," Peter Bagge. Sample quote: "The idea of being a cartoonist was an appealing one to me as a kid, though not as appealing as being a rock star or baseball player."
• Events: Thanks to Comic Book Resources' Timothy Callahan for picking some stuff up at our table at MoCCA and posting a photo of Miss Lasko-Gross signing A Mess of Everything; CBR's Kiel Phegley picks up some of the festival buzz; Publishers Weekly has some Fantagraphics scoop in their MoCCA report as well
• Things to see: Spain's Entrecomics presents a gallery of all of Daniel Clowes's front and back covers for Eightball. Clowes's back cover strips are some of his funniest work, and the later issues feature some stunning wraparounds, so it's well worth checking out. Here's Part I and Part II
There isn't much to see in the "Tower of Basil" Flickr group just yet but this one surprised me. If anyone has more photos of playground toys influenced by (surely not created by?!) Basil Wolverton I sure hope they put them up there.
Your Online Commentary & Diversions for the first day of June '09:
• Review: "Holy cats!... Wolverton's illustrations [in The Wolverton Bible], done in the same unmistakable, stippled style that characterized his grotesqueries, show off the grim, the violent, and the destructive in the Old Testament, putting the blood and guts in the spotlight. The result is like no illustrated Bible you've ever seen... This is a side of Wolverton I never suspected, but it is perfectly him, humorous, grisly, mad and wonderful." - Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing
• Review: "With great candor and wit, [Peter] Bagge tackles [the] issues... in Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me, a collection of his strips from Reason Magazine. As in his previous works like Hate and The Bradleys, Bagge deftly manages to simultaneously anger and amuse the reader with his intensely personal stories about larger topical issues." - Rick Klaw, The SF Site: Nexus Graphica
• Review: "...[T]he comics in this collection [of Blazing Combat] are astounding... The art is reproduced from 'the original printer’s films,' so the work is clear and detailed, with the washes and shading providing depth and a feeling of realism... The stories are still timely." - Johanna Draper Carlson, Comics Worth Reading
• Interview: The Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon talks to Bob Fingerman about his latest projects, including Connective Tissue. Sample quote: "I think if I did nothing but comics, I would end up hating comics. For a while there I was actually beginning to hate comics."
• Interview: Robot 6's Tim O'Shea talks to Supermen! editor Greg Sadowski about the collection of Golden Age hero stories. Sample quote: "I never liked those 'Archive' editions where they bleach out the old colors and replace them with modern coloring methods printed on glossy paper. That whitewashes all the distinction out of those vintage books and transforms them into a cloyingly slick and artificial product."
• Video: From Paul Hornschemeier's blog: "Via Tuono Pettinato on Facebook: A Peanuts documentary (broken into 5 parts on YouTube) where Charles Schulz discusses the making of the animated Peanuts and the role of music. It's great footage, and makes me miss Schulz's genius all the more."
• Review: "...[T]he primitive funnybooks rescued from obscurity by Greg Sadowski in Supermen! The First Wave of Comic Book Heroes 1936-1941 contain within their awesomely naïve and rudimentarily brilliant pages all the seeds of the postmodern graphic novel... Compounded equally from pulp fiction, movies, newspaper strips, and sheer desperate commercial-deadline-brainstorm lunacy, these early superhero tales created their own fresh synthetic mythology and compositional tools on the fly." - Paul DiFilippo, The Barnes & Noble Review
• Review: "[Bottomless Belly Button] reads almost like a John Updike novel... [Dash Shaw] really utilizes the medium to its fullest capacity..." - Benn Ray (Atomic Books) on WYPR (Baltimore public radio - streaming audio)
• Review: "[The Wolverton Bible] is fascinating read; it's a fascinating document by one of the most important illustrators of the 20th century." - Benn Ray (Atomic Books) on WYPR (Baltimore public radio - streaming audio - same link as above)
• Review: "Fantagraphics’ collection of the four issues of Blazing Combat blew me away from the start. The size and heft of the hardback reminded me of my textbooks from my school days. And once I cracked open the book, I found myself getting a hell of an education with this one."- Tim O'Shea, Robot 6, "What Are You Reading?"
• Review: "If nothing else, Supermen! puts Fletcher Hanks’ career in perspective... These are comics designed to make you tear your hair out waiting for the next issue, just to see if these guys could top themselves. Great fun all around." - Tom Bondurant, Robot 6, "What Are You Reading?" (same link as above)
• Review: "Jason is an expert at expressing a complex idea with simple visuals and dialogue. Most of his works contain little to no dialogue, actually -- entire stories can be read in facial expressions, twitches, color changes and movements. The entirety of Tell Me Something contains 7 lines of dialogue. It tells the story of 2 lovers and the trials they go through to be together, using dual layered story arcs differentiated simply by the panel borders to convey depth and reshape the story into an intriguing form." - The Inside Flap [Ed. note: Tell Me Something is out of print, but will be collected along with other Jason stories in a forthcoming hardcover]
• Preview: Doug Pratt and Monte Schulz have an exchange in the comments of Pratt's blog about Schulz's forthcoming novel This Side of Jordan (previewed here)
• Preview: The Kenyon Review makes note of our forthcoming Abstract Comics anthology
• Previews: Matthew Brady offers succinct commentary on two of our upcoming titles: Tales Designed to Thrizzle #5 by Michael Kupperman ("This comic is funny") and A Mess of Everything by Miss Lasko-Gross ("The art looks great")
• List: For Robot 6, Chris Mautner names "Six ‘retired' artists we'd like to see return to comics," including Brian Biggs ("...Frederick and Eloise [brings] a whimsical, storybook approach that never seem[s] overly twee or sweet. Indeed, [it is] often grounded by some dark undercurrents, not to mention backed by some serious artistic chops"), Dave Cooper ("Surreal, mind-warping books like Suckle, Ripple and his ongoing series Weasel, which chronicled a number of sweaty, paunchy, disturbingly neurotic and oversexed characters, had Cooper earning acclaim equal to the likes of Clowes and Ware"), and Mary Fleener ("...[S]he remains one of the most original voices in comics, with an art style that’s completely her own (no one draws a sex scene like her)." [Note to Mautner: Mary Fleener had a new comics story titled "Niacin" in Hotwire Comics Vol. 2, which we put out last year])
All this week and next week we're bringing you a sneak peek at our Fall 2009 - Winter 2010 schedule of releases! Today's excerpt from our latest book distributor's catalog includes Portable Grindhouse: The Lost Art of the VHS Box Vol. 1; a re-release of Willie & Joe: The WWII Years; The Definitive Prince Valiant Companion by Brian M. Kane; and Basil Wolverton's Culture Corner. (Note that all the info in this catalog is subject to change along the way to the books' release, including release dates, prices, cover art, book specs, etc.) Click here to download the PDF!