The most checked-out book of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review: Prison Pit Book 4 by Johnny Ryan is getting the hits this week. Gene Ambaum of Unshelved writes,"This reminds me of nothing as much as the violent, disturbed drawings I’ve seen in some middle-school boys’ notebooks. Next year, I’m going to tell [my daughter] it’s like a mind-map for her male classmates. If she believes me, I hope we can put off conversations about her dating for a few extra years."
• Review: Mark L. Miller of Ain't It Cool News enjoysJohnny Ryan's latest Prison Pit Book 4. "This is the kind of sick shit that would warrant a trip to the school counselor if you found this crudely etched into the back of your child’s Trapper Keeper. Johnny Ryan once again taps into something primal and pure with his crude drawings of gore, sex, and violence."
• Review:The Quietus and Mat Colgate leaf through some of the best books of 2012 including Prison Pit Book 4 by Johnny Ryan. "Every second spent reading 'Prison Pit' is a joy. A violent, scatological, faecal matter, blood and pus smeared hoot.…There's something brilliantly subversive about 'Prison Pit'," chuckles Colgate.
• Review: The AV Club checks out some new releases like The Comics Journal 302, co-edited by Kristy Valenti and Mike Dean. Noel Murray states, "Business as usual for a publication that was treating the cultural significance of comics as a known fact decades before graphic novels were making the bestseller list."
• Review:The Quietus and Mat Colgate leaf through some of the January releases including 7 Miles a Second by David Wojnarowicz, James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook. Colgate states, "Wojnarowicz was fearless about his artistry and aware that the mere facts of a life are barely a percent of the whole, preferring to reveal the truth through dreams, violent fantasy and allusion. 7 Miles a Second is a shocking book, but for all the right reasons."
• Review: Forbidden Planet's Daily Planet looks at some new releases from Fantagraphics like 7 Miles a Second by David Wojnarowicz, James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook. Matthew Rosenbery states, "The stories serve as beautiful and brutal snapshots of a brilliant life lived too hard and extinguished too soon. It is not too much to say that we all owe a great cultural debt to Mr. Wojnarowicz and picking up this book and trying to understanding his life is a good first step toward understanding that debt."
• Review: Comics Bulletin looks at Tales Designed to Thrizzle Vol. 2 by Michael Kupperman. Daniel Elkin finds it smirk-worthy: "Tales Designed to Thrizzle Volume Two has its place in the construct. It is 'silver and exact' like Sylvia Plath's Mirror and reflects the 'terrible fish' that has become our understandings of the world."
• Review: The Heart of Thomas by Moto Hagio gets the a full styling by Manga Bookshelf. Melinda Beasi writes "…teens and pre-teens who go to regular, modern public schools essentially live in their own society that is very much separate from the rest of the world, and it’s a society that is, frankly, terrifying…it views that kind of sacrifice as… well, ultimately pointless…Hagio makes it clear that running away is not the answer." Melinda continues on the book as a whole, "I also expected it to be very dated and I thought the story might not appeal to my tastes as a modern fan. Instead, I found it to be both beautiful and emotionally resonant to an extent I’ve rarely experienced—especially in [Boy's Love] manga. This is a book I’d wholeheartedly recommend to any comics fan, without reservation. It’s an absolute treasure."
• Review: The AV Club checks out some new releases like The Heart of Thomasby Moto Hagio. "with small cliffhangers at the end of each chapter to pull readers deeper into Hagio’s fantasyland. The intrigue deepens page by page (and this is a 500-page novel, mind), while Hagio develops her bracingly radical vision of a mini-society where homosexual attraction is so commonplace as to be the norm…" writes Noel Murray.
• Review:You'll Never Know Book Three: A Soldier's Heart by Carol Tyler gets a thorough and thoughtful review from Rob Clough on High-Low. "…this sounds a bit all over the map, that's because it is, but Tyler slowly pulls the strings of her narrative taut in some astonishing ways, especially in the third volume…It's a remarkable example of an artist being totally honest about their own feelings of grief and joy in a manner that provokes growth and fully embraces the relationship between the two."
• Review: Dylan Thomas of Minneapolis' Southwest Journal looks at Tom Kaczynski's Best Testing the Apocalypse. "Kaczynski uses science fiction as a microscope, poking at contemporary anxieties like blooming bacteria in a Petri dish. The genre provides the room he needs to examine the systems that shape our lives, whether they be architecture, urban design or capitalism."
• Review: Hillary Brown of Pasteenjoys the dark ride of Delphine by Richard Sala. "Sala’s rules; like testing gravity by dropping a penny from a building, the coin’s never going to fall up. Delphine is worth reading at least twice. Sala’s spell is strong."
• Review: SF Signal looks at Ralph Azham Volume 1: "Why Would You Lie to Someone You Love?" by Lewis Trondheim. "His humanoid animals, a staple of his work, place the story squarely into fantasy – along with the medieval-esque village and the magic – but the wry humor gives the story a modern feel" says Carrie Cuinn.
• Plug:Paste Magazine looks forward to the most anticipated books of 2013. These include Lost Cat by Jason. "The cranky Norwegian has seemed to soften a bit as he’s aged, and the description (detective searches for potential soulmate) goes along with that impression," write Hillary Brown. On Dash Shaw'sNew Schooland 3 New Stories. "In a few short years, Dash Shaw has proven himself a restless artist, committed to pushing what comics can do and what his own talents can accomplish… it’s nice to see him return with two works, no less."
• Plug: Publishers Weekly also released a list of the most anticipated books of 2013 which included Dash Shaw's New School. "The art disorients the reader and brings you right inside the troubled protagonists’ mind."
• Interview (video): Speaking of Dash, he recently spent a few days at Sundance for his Sigur Ros animated music video. A very short interview awaits you.
• Interview: Alexander Theroux is interviewed on Rain Taxi by Paul Maliszewski. Theroux, author of Estonia , The Strange Case of Edward Gorey , Laura Warholic and more states, "Revenge—I have written about this somewhere before—is the main subject of the modern novel, if it isn’t that of literature in general."
• Review:The Los Angeles Review of Books looks at Gary Panter's Dal Tokyo. Nicole Rudick writes "Panter’s medium is comics rather than architecture, but the effect of his work is the same: Dal Tokyo questions accepted notions of structure and meaning — taking them not as truth but as convention — and, taking Brecht’s advice, builds not 'on the good old days, but on the bad new ones.' "
• Review:The Weekly Crisis dissects the first panel of "Landscape!" a comic within Blazing Combat and how it contributed to the end of the series coinciding with the Vietnam War. Dan Hill states "At a time when an anti-war stance was tantamount to being a traitor to your country, it was also the beginning of comics beginning to tackle the uglier aspects of war, telling us exactly ‘how it is’. It showed us that comics could discuss and show issues more related to the real world than capes, tights and outlandish fantasy."
• Review:Paste Magazine looks at Linda Medley's Castle Waiting Vol. 1 (softcover). Sean Edgar writes, "Ultimately, Castle Waiting is an elegantly-written, uplifting take on European folklore supported by sterling art. As long as voices as talented and creative as Medley’s are around, stories like this will always be timeless."
• Interview: Robin McConnell of Inkstuds interviews Chris Wright for a second time, this time on his most recent graphic novel, Blacklung.
• Plug:The GLBT Roundtable's Rainbow Project lists best books for teens that encapsulate the GLBT-community issues. The Rainbow Project lists Shimura Takako's Wandering Son series as part of the Top Ten Books of 2012 as the characters "tackle problems such as gender identity, love, social acceptance, and puberty."
• Plug: The GLBT Roundtable also released a list of the best books for adults, Over the Rainbow, and the comics anthology No Straight Lines, edited by Justin Hall,was listed in the top ten.
• Interview: Tim O'Shea interviews Lilli Carré for Comic Book Resources on her process with Heads or Tails. "I went through all my stuff and arranged them not chronologically, but by how they each fed into each other… I don’t know if the dialogue I write or the way I draw is particularly well-crafted or not, but with both the art and dialogue I go with my gut and do what feels natural to me."
• Review: New York Journal of Books takes a turn around the room with The Complete Syndicated Pogo Vol 2 "Bona Fide Balderdash" by Walt Kelly. Mark Squirek writes, "Like the greatest of myths and fables, Pogo travels across time and ages. It is a world much like that of Aesop and trickster tales. It is a world capable of making a six year old smile with glee, a hipster smirk whether they want to or not, and a college professor laugh out loud… So graceful is his work with pencil and pen that you could loose yourself for hours in shear artistry of the panels he constructs."
• Plug:Westfield Blog suggests some books for you likeThe Complete Syndicated Pogo Vol 2 "Bona Fide Balderdash" by Walt Kelly."Walt Kelly’s art is a joy to look at and his dialogue and word play is just stunning. Pogo is a strip that you get more and more out of the more you read it," states Wayne Markley. And for Basil Wolverton's Spacehawk, "In the history of comics, there are very few, if any, that had such a unique style as Wolverton which, while as far away as you can get from classic illustrators like Raymond or Foster, it is every bit as good in its own unique way."
• Review: HeroesOnline looks at the latest Prince Valiant Vol. 6: 1947-1948. Andy writes "…the pace is fast, the action and intrigue are plenty and the violence is un-apologetically bloody. In addition, Foster was a stickler for historical accuracy in depicting everyday life in the 6th century."
• Review: Ryan Sands of Same Hat writes his 'belated' best of list which inludes Nancy Likes Christmas by Ernie Bushmiller and The End of the Fucking World by Charles Foresman.
• Plug: Tom Spurgeon announced the Peanuts Every Sunday book on Comics Reporter. More information tomorrow.
• Plug: Robot6 talks about Great but Forgotten anthologies. Fantagraphics' "Zero Zero ran for 27 issues, a longer run than most of the anthologies on this list received, but I don’t think it’s ever gotten its due as the truly great anthology of the ’90s." Chris Mautner continues with Blab, "I do think people have forgotten how cutting edge and exemplary an anthology Blab was, at least initially. For a while there it was running some seriously incredible work, like Al Columbia’s apocalyptic The Trumpets They Played, and the Jimmy Corrigan story that eventually became Acme Novelty #10, easily the most harrowing and darkest material Ware has produced to date." And finally Blood Orange, "Lasting a mere four issues, Blood Orange offered a mind-bending array of cutting-edge comics." WORRY NOT, we still have issues from someofthese.
The gnarliest gnome of Online Commentaries and Diversions:
• Review: Zack Davisson of Comics Bulletin reads the weighty Castle Waiting Vol 1 (softcover) by Linda Medley. "It is whimsical, unexpected, packed with a deep knowledge of folklore and fairytales, irreverent, interesting and a whole lot of other adjectives that add up to something great… I would rank it up there with Bone in terms of just being a sheer delight to read…I'm a 40-year old guy, and I don't really see gender issues coming into play here -- Castle Waiting is just a great comic, with interesting characters and an addictive story for everyone who likes charm and wit and fantasy."
• Review: Richard Sala's latest fairy tale of woe Delphine gets a starred review from Publishers Weekly. "…Sala’s era-conflating fairy tale is coated in the kind of atmosphere the artist is known for: a creepy, gnarled darkness that evokes German Expressionism, Universal horror films of the 1930s, and secrets hiding in dank old mansions and haunted forests."
• Review: The Hidden by Richard Sala is reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux on I Reads You."This graphic novel is essentially a parable about ethical-free, morality-light, cutting-edge science. Why do anything? Why play God? The answer to both questions is 'because we can.' 'Damn the consequences' is The Hidden’s unspoken refrain."
• Plug: Chris Mautner of Robot 6 writes the list for the 6 Most Criminially Ignored Books of 2012. Carol Tyler's You'll Never Know Book 3: Soldier's Heart lands on the list. "While Tyler’s discursive, homey storytelling style might not appeal to everyone, she proves in these pages she is a cartoonist capable of producing sequences of exquisite beauty and deep emotional heft. It’s a book — and a series — that deserves more attention than it’s gotten so far."
• Plug: Paul Gravatt releases his Best of 2012 list and for Best Autobiography/Biography..."in the end what floored me, in its level of craft and care, complexity and clarity, was the third and final book of Carol Tyler’s You’ll Never Know."
• Review: The Complete Syndicated Pogo Vol. 2 "Bona Fide Balderdash" gets reviewed by the Chicago Tribune. Michael Robbins trills on about Walt Kelly, "As brilliant as Kelly's political satire is, it's only one reason 'Pogo' might be the greatest comic strip of all time (its only rivals are 'Krazy Kat' and 'Peanuts,' both of which Fantagraphics has also been reprinting in gorgeously designed editions)."
• Review:Bookgasm doubles their pleasure by reading TWO of our EC books. JT Lindroos starts with Corpse on the Imjin! by Harvey Kurtzman. "The ability of Kurtzman to have conflicting viewpoints to the myriad stories and situations within this volume is what makes it so rich." Lindroos continues onto Came the Dawn by Wallace Wood, "His line is much more precise and realistic than anything in the Kurtzman volume, but he has a flair for a dynamic layout and positioning of characters that pulls the art to the kind of pulpy mayhem for which EC is best known."
• Plug: Chris Mautner of Robot 6 writes the list for the 6 Most Criminially Ignored Books of 2012. Malcom McNeill'sThe Lost Art of Ah Pook is on there. "Ten or 20 years ago the release of an long-lost and unfinished comic by [William Burroughs] would generate a lot more heat than the release of this work…did. Perhaps now that comics have garnered more respect from the outside world, this sort of thing impresses us a lot less…Still, there’s some amazing, hallucinatory imagery here (and in McNeill’s companion memoir, Observed While Falling), to marvel at and make you wish the project had reached some better form of completion."
• Interview: Tom Kaczynski of Beta Testing the Apocalypse is interviewed on Rumpus by Greg Hunter and answers deep questions like "throughout the book we see instances of an object or system standing in for an even larger system—worlds upon worlds of simulacra. Do you believe in any sort of binary between authentic and inauthentic modes of experience?"
• Interview (audio): Ross Reynolds of KUOW interviews Jaime Hernandez on the secret to 30 Years of Love and Rockets. Did you know BLUE FOOD was a title in the running for L&R? Jaime mentions the influence of the punk movement and DIY culture on their work.
• Review:Comic Book Daily reads the masterful Carl Barks stories in Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge: Only a Poor Old Man. Anthony Falcone states "I would like to see more companies take Fantagraphics’ approach to the reproduction and presentation of material.…These are true 'all-ages' stories that can be enjoyed by adults and with your children at story time."
• Plug: Kuriousity plugged Moto Hagio's The Heart of Thomas as it "is probably the best example of the earliest of boys’ love works. It helped define the genres of shoujo and boys’ love as we know them today, and I couldn’t wish for anything more substantial as a starting point," writes Lissa Pattillo.
• Plug:Spacehawk by Basil Wolverton gets the hi-how-are-ya? from the D&Q Bookstore. Jade says "This is one cool book folks, with intense colors, funny looking characters, and very weird plots…Even the end papers are extraordinary!"
• Plug: Holy hot suit, did you see Lorenzo Mattotti's NEW YORKER cover? Damn. If you like that, check out his most recent graphic novel The Crackle of the Frost (written by Jorge Zentner) or 2011's Stigmata (written by Claudio Piersanti).
• Plug: Maria Popova's Brain Pickings features animation and comics pages from Lilli Carré's Heads or Tails which is "a sublime collection of Carré’s short story comics from the past five years, was published last November and is an absolute treat."
• Plug: All About Jazz looks at Kevin Avery's Everything is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson. "Avery's account of Nelson's life reveals an almost claustrophobic existence of the writer in general…Paul Nelson may have only been equaled by Greil Marcus for sheer love of music and music writing. He went entirely too gently into that good night, leaving the majority of us in the shadows…" writes C. Michael Bailey.
• Plug: Harriet Staff of the Poetry Foundation reads The Last Vispo edited by Nico Vassilakis and Craig Hill. "… the anthology highlights the way the digital and computerized tools of visual poetry are transforming not only visual poetry, but how we experience all poetry," notes Staff and Alison Watkins.
• Plug: TV superstar Lena Dunham's ideal bookshelf on Vulture includes Daniel Clowes' Ghost World.
• Plug: Buzzfeed cracks open Sean T Collins' David Bowie sketchbook and out jumps some of your favorite artists: Tom Kaczynski, Michael Kupperman, Jaime Hernandez, Gilbert Hernandez, Gary Panter, Charles Burns and Johnny Ryan. GO LOOK!
The sweetest tea of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review:The Atlantic writes on The Heart of Thomas by Moto Hagio. Noah Berlatsky looks at it from every angle, "The boys' love genre, then, freed Hagio and her audience to cross and recross boundaries of identity, sexuality, and gender…Bodies and character flicker in and out, a sequence of surfaces, tied together less by narrative than by the heightened emotions of melodrama—jealousy, anger, trauma, desire, friendship, and love in the heart of Thomas."
• Plug: David Brothers and Comics Alliance posts a preview of The Heart of Thomas plus a few thoughts on Moto Hagio that works outside of his comfort zone. "What there is, though, isdrama. No -- it has melodrama…the sheer level of theatrical drama in this book is enough to keep a skeptic hooked…Heart of Thomas is a trip, and a good one. I wasn't expecting to enjoy it as much as I did, and it was nice to enjoy something outside of my usual comfort zones."
• Plug: Johanna Carlson of Comics Worth Reading is ready for the world to read The Heart of Thomas by Moto Hagio. "This solid hardcover contains the entire classic shojo series, and it’s a must-read for anyone interested in the development of the genre. It’s also surprisingly gripping in its own right…"
• Review: Chris Mautner interviews Jim Woodring's Problematic on Robot 6. "Problematic is both a stroll through Woodring’s unique imagination and an opportunity to see his working process" and Woodring thinks "having a pocket sketchbook on me at all times means fleeting impressions and ideas that might otherwise be lost are captured…Everything I draw is reality-based."
• Plug:BoingBoing is ready for Jim Woodring's Problematic to come out. "There are many reasons to be grateful to be alive, and owning this brand new facsimile edition of artist Jim Woodring's Moleskine sketchbooks is as good as any," says Mark Frauenfelder.
• Interview/Review:Publishers Weekly looks at 7 Miles a Second, and Grace Bello interviews artists James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook on writer David Wojnarowicz, the gay activist who wrote the comic before dying of AIDS-related complications. Romberger is quoted, "It really is so much about what David was about, channeling his anger into a statement…" "The gay experience is not only 'less invisible'—it’s on prime time TV. But the feral energy and raw hunger in 7 Miles a Second still resonate" states Bello.
• Review: Jason Sacks of Comics Bulletin presents 20 Facts and Opinions on Joe Kubert's Weird Horrors & Daring Adventures, edited by Bill Schelly. "Schelly and the always sterling Fantagraphics production team do a nice job of preserving the look and feel of these comics…the master cartoonist was equally at home doing broad humor as intense action/adventure as well as lighter, Archie-style teen humor."
• Review:Comics Alliance and Caleb Goellner continues their Best of 2012 series with Prison Pit Book 4by Johnny Ryan. "It was like looking at a baby book of bad ideas from boyhood as an adult who'd learned to function in polite society…it's bliss to kick back and watch humankind's most immature impulses play out in the safety of Ryan's Prison Pit."
• Review:The Weekly Crisis lists its Top 10 books of 2012 and Johnny Ryan's Prison Pit Book 4 lands at #2. Taylor Pithers states "he is interested in is fighting and hyper violence, which to be fair, would be more acceptable to the masses if it was drawn by Ivan Reis or another one of Geoff Johns' collaborators…Honestly, there isn't a comic that has given me more belly laughs in my entire life."
• Review: Comiks Debris posts its Best of 2012 books and Johnny Ryan'sPrison Pit Book 4 comes in as #8.Marc-Oliver Frisch writes "structurally, Prison Pit reminds me a lot of Jarmusch's The Limits of Control… The artwork looks ugly, crude and perfunctory. The characters eat, shit, fuck and, most of all, fight their way through the book…It's one mean, sick motherfucker of a comic, and I can't wait what happens next."
• Plug: Tucker Stone on The Comics Journal rates his top comics of 2012. Prison Pit Book 4by Johnny Ryan comes in at 18. "…it’s hard to explain how intense the surprise was for a follower of Angry Youth and Ryan’s humiliation comics to open that first Prison Pit…"
• Review:Delphine by Richard Sala gets reviewed on Comic Book Resources. Kelly Thompson claims, "One part comic book and one part fever dream…Rare is the opportunity that I'm so engaged I consider yelling at an inanimate object such as a book…Delphine is also a nice contrast to the unrelentingly bright and happy fairy tales that are so often seen when it comes to modern reinterpretations of those early dark tales."
• Review:The New York Journal of Books thumbs through Spacehawk by Basil Wolverton. "Basil Wolverton rises to the occasion and gives the reader a detailed and hilarious look at megalomania while throwing in some fantastic aerial fight scenes…Fantagraphics Publishing brings Wolverton’s art to the reader in as detailed and perfect a form as possible. Each wave of space, every geometric shape and all the incredibly ugly aliens look better than they ever have in their entire lives," writes Mark Squirek.
• Review: Crave Online looks at Spacehawk by Basil Wolverton. "This is the medium when there were no rules, no event series and no giant corporations standing watch over what the creators were doing. If you love the Golden Age, science fiction and adventure, nothing compares to the world Basil Wolverton put together for Spacehawk," writes Iann Robinson.
• Review: The Weekly Crisis lists its Top 10 books of 2012 and Josh Simmon's The Furry Trap ranks as #1. Taylor Pithers writes, "The Furry Trap is pure exploitation; violent, disgusting, and bound to make you feel uncomfortable but it also does what the best fiction is meant to, it stays with you long after you have put the book down…Simmons is a cartoonist of the highest caliber. This is not a book for the faint hearted, but if you can stomach it will be a true experience."
• Review:NPR and Glen Weldon write on Books of 2012 they haven't told you about. Heads or Tails by Lilli Carré "The whole collection has the feel of a dream in which remembering how to fly is as simple as forgetting that you can't."
• Review: Noel Murray and The A.V. Club write about the Top 10 Fiction books of 2012. Heads or Tails comes in at #7. "Lilli Carré’s stories are like dreamy what-ifs that take the familiar and tweak it."
• Plug: Whitney Matheson of USA Today's Popcandy mentions her favorite things including Heads or Tailsby Lilli Carré: "…a lovely volume from one of my favorite cartoonists that includes several beautifully strange short stories. I'm a longtime fan and even have a framed Carre print hanging in the baby's room."
• Interview:The Comics Journal interviews Ron Regé, Jr. on The Cartoon Utopia, evolving comics and more. Regé on his book, "People should use bibilomancy—randomly opening to a page—to access the information if they’d like. Nothing in the book tells you to treat it that way, but I think people will get the idea anyway."
• Interview (audio): Erik Davis and Expanding Mind interview Ron Regé, Jr. on the radio about The Cartoon Utopia! Adventure indeed.
• Review:Comics Bulletin and Jason Sacks investigate Blacklung. "Chris Wright seems to channel Melville or Conrad in this book as he explores the uniquely idiosyncratic world that he creates…nobody has ever created characters that look like the characters in this book, with their strange faces and lumpy, malformed bodies…This slim graphic novel is a dense read unlike anything else you've read in comics."
• Review: Noel Murray and The A.V. Club write about the Top 10 Fiction books of 2012. Athos in America is #5. "Jason’s blank-faced animal-headed characters reveal unexpectedly deep passion via deadpan tales of dislocation."
• Review: Sonia Harris of Comics Book Resources places Love and Rockets: New Stories #5 by Jaime Hernandez and Gilbert Hernandez as #5 of her Top 16 Books of 2012. Harris says,"Watching these people’s lives change on the page, along with the gradual evolution of the Hernandez brother’s art and writing is the closest thing to real life created in a comic book. Nothing on the screen could ever compare to the life and complexity these two men breathe into their characters year after year with such consistent quality and affection."
• Plug: Tucker Stone on The Comics Journal rates his top comics of 2012. Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez have cause to celebrate as Love and Rockets:New Stories #5makes it at #13. "It was great, and of course it was, because it’s them, and it was great for all the same reasons you’d expect it to be…"
• Review:NPR and Glen Weldon write on Books of 2012 they haven't told you about like Wandering Son by Takako Shimura. "Wandering Son is not the kind of manga in which a happy ending is guaranteed… You'll thus be grateful for the moments of realistic, untempered joy Shimura allows her two protagonists here, as you wait with nervous anticipations for the travails that lie ahead for them…"
• Review:Manga Bookshelf recounts its Favorite Manga Series of 2012 including Wandering Son by Takako Shimura. "This series about two transgender children in modern-day Japan has been a favorite since it debuted last year thanks to its delicate, truthful storytelling and understated artwork…Its most recent volume (three) goes a bit darker and deeper, only heightening my interest in the series" says Melinda Beasi.
• Review: Noel Murray and The A.V. Club write about the Top 5 Archival books of 2012. Harvey Kurtzman's Corpse on the Imjin! landed at #1. "Kurtzman book is especially stunning, almost like a coffee-table art-book combined with a literary collection…an anthology with a strong individual perspective that tries to tell the truth about what war is like from the point of view of the people on both sides of the battlefield."
• Review: Noel Murray and The A.V. Club write about the Top 5 Archival books of 2012. Ernie Bushmiller's Nancy Is Happy: Complete Dailies 1946-48: "bristle-headed Nancy and poor slob Sluggo inadvertently irritate the grown-ups in their lives, in scenarios that Bushmiller illustrated with absurd visual gags—so basic that anyone, anywhere, at any time, could get the joke."
• Review: Nick Gazin of VICE has a pretty fuckin' fancy (his words) edition of The Clouds Above by Jordan Crane. "Jordan Crane is a cartoonist with supreme abilities. He's great at making lines, hand text, and backgrounds and stuff…This is beautifully colored also. Did I mention Jordan Crane's great color sense? His colors are good."
• Review: Steve Donaghue enjoys Prince Valiant Vol. 1 by Hal Foster on Open Letters Monthly. "The ambition becomes most emphatic the more you scrutinize the work. Foster often said he put in between 50 and 60 hours a week on creating the strip, and it shows in these magnificent reproductions, done in a sturdy hardcover with oversized pages and entirely restored colors and shadings."
• Plug:Record Collector magazine (UK) picks Listen, Whitey! by Pat Thomas as one of the top 12 books of 2012. "A socio-polictal account of American racial struggles...an extraordinary study of the way the message of [the Black Panther] movement was recounted and defined on vinyl. "In-depth" doesn't begin to describe it."
• Plug: Tucker Stone on The Comics Journal rates his top comics of 2012. Dungeon Quest 3 by Joe Daly makes the mark at 17. "in times like these, with sandwiches like mine, you have to root for the one who brung you, and that’s dick jokes. Dungeon Quest had so many of them, and they were all wonderful."
The most returned sweater of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Interview: Tom Spurgeon of the Comics Reporter interviews cartoonist Carol Tyler about her You'll Never Know series about her father, WWII and family bonds. He starts of the interview right, "You've lived with these books for a very long time. How did it feel to get some closure on this work?". Click here for the answers and more.
• Review:Comics Bulletin looks at You'll Never Know Book 3: Soldier's Heart by Carol Tyler. Jason Sacks states "You'll Never Know is a breathtaking graphic novel because Carol Tyler is honest enough to know that stories are seldom as tidy nor as dysfunctional as they seem on TV…It's a tremendously real story straight from the heart, told by a master cartoonist."
• Plug:Comic Book Resources and Brian Cronin investigate the legend around the FBI examining Pogo comic strips searching for hidden messages.
• Plug: Geekosystem has suggestions for our 20% sale like Pogo by Walt Kelly. "Are you a Calvin and Hobbes fan, dear reader?…If you are a fan, we’d point you towards one of the strip’s inspirations, Walt Kelly’s classic Pogo cartoons. By turns razor-edged political satire and old-fashioned slapstick comedy gold, these strips are being given their due."
• Review:Reality Studio looks and relooks at Observed While Falling and The Lost Art of Ah Pook Is Here by Malcolm McNeill on his collaboration with William S. Burroughs. Jan Herman writes "Observed While Falling brings a fresh analytical eye to the familiar Burroughsian fixations — synchronicity and doppelgangers, control systems, the word as virus, the number 23 — that dominate this memoir, while still offering a straightforward chronicle of the author’s relationship with le maître. Luckily for us, McNeill is an artist who can write. Really write.…the hard work, the exhilaration and, ultimately, the frustration of a project that failed to achieve its original goal — is largely treated with brilliant introspection and loving grace."
• Review:Forbidden Planet International continues their Best of 2012 lists. Douglas Noble places Chris Wright's Blacklung on the list. "Unforgettable, and Wright's beautiful, scratchy art is a treat, like EC Segar working with Yuichi Yokoyama designs."
• Review:Comics Alliance announced their Stephanie Brown Memorial awards. On Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse: House of Seven Haunts by Floyd Gottfredson, Chris Sims writes, "They're one of the few things that I get excited about to the point of giddiness, and House of the Seven Haunts! was the best volume yet…It's one wild adventure after another, and they're all done with an incredible skill that still holds up almost 80 years later."
• Review:Comics Alliance announced their Stephanie Brown Memorial awards. The Furry Trap by Josh Simmons makes the list "The faux-Batman comic, which details the Bat's horrifically misanthropic ways, might be a reason to check out the contents of this hardcover collection of Simmons stories, but the entire volume is full of troubling tales worth your attention…The unexpected happens, consistently, and that's about the only thing you can be sure of," states Tim Callahan.
• Plug:NO releases its Best Comics of 2012 list and Sean Collins breathtakingly writes about The Furry Trap, "Josh Simmons shits in your heart, again and again in ways that grow exponentially more refined and chilling as the book progresses. A perfect statement of rancid intent."
• Review:Comics Alliance announced their Stephanie Brown Memorial awards. Designer Dylan Todd writes on Barack Hussein Obama by Steven Weissman. "There's something vaguely Peanuts-esque at work here, with a cast of recognizable characters… all with their own quirks and personalities, all delivering punchlines while the specter of death and soul-crushing doubt hangs over their heads. It's funny, but like any good comedy, it's tied up in uncomfortable and relatable truths…It's surreal, nonsensical, and a little depressing -- so, huh, maybe it's an accurate portrayal of political life in the 21st century after all."
• Review: Timothy Callahan of Comic Book Resources looks back on 2012 and Steven Weissman's Barack Hussein Obama is #20 on his Best Of list. "It's just such a fragmented work of narrative, but Weissman plays with repetition and transformation in a near-musical way, and that ends up mattering most…This comic is difficult to discuss without sounding ridiculous, but I can't stop thinking about its unsettling strangeness."
• Review:Paste Magazine's guest writers Nathan Bulmer and Kevin Huizenga pick out some of our books as the Best of 2012 including Steven Weissman's Barack Hussein Obama, Jason's Athos in America, and Chris Wright's Blacklung. Bulmer looks at Weissman, "I have so many feelings about this book. This, to me, is the most gorgeous book of the year and is one that I will be returning to often."
• Plug: Geekosystem has suggestions for our 20% sale like Athos in America by Jason. "Fact: New Jason books are weird, funny, and always bring something new and unexpected to the table. Conjecture: This book probably deserves a place on your shelf…"
• Review: KC Carlson of Comics Worth Reading dives not into a vault of money but Carl Barks' books. While reading Uncle Scrooge: "Only a Poor Old Man"she can't help but write,"One way or another, all of these stories are classics (if not masterpieces) of early comic book storytelling. And not just for kids." When flipping to Donald Duck: "A Christmas for Shacktown" Carlson notes,"It’s probably one of the least sentimental Christmas stories around (and thus a favorite of many fans). It features an early example of Scrooge’s lack of charity, counterbalanced by his steadfast work ethic…I can’t say enough about how much I love these new Fantagraphics collections of this 'should always be in print' Carl Barks material."
• Review: Andrew Wheeler over at Anticks Musings enjoys Peanuts Vol. 17: 1983-1984 by THE Charles M. Schulz. Wheeler states, "they're reliably funny and occasionally moving. The deep sadness that used to manifest in Charlie Brown now comes up, less rawly, . . . For work done by the same one man, day after day, more than thirty years after he started that project, that's not just impressive, it's amazing."
• Review (video): Jon Longhi in episode 2 of Having a Book Moment features Spacehawk by Basil Wolverton "who was an amazing underground cartoonist with exp, surrealist view of reality that created some of the I think, most unique comics ever invented. . ."
• Review:Robot 6 enjoys SpacehawkbyBasil Wolverton. Chris Mautner writes "Wolverton’s Spacehawk has a vitality — at times it practically throbs with life — that the more static Stardust simply does not have. Spacehawk not only the best reprint project of the year, it’s the best reprint project of the past several years. It’s a revelation."
• Review:Comics Alliance announced their Best Comics of 2012. Basil Wolverton's Spacehawk "remind[s] you of some kind of Buck Rogers Technicolor serial as designed by Robert Crumb…Spacehawk is the freakishly charming sideshow to the more popular main event, but everyone who's seen its wonders would find themselves bored with what the guy in the big hat in the center ring is babbling on about," writes Tim Callahan
• Review:Comics Bulletin and Jason Sacks give Spacehawk by Basil Wolverton a rating of 4.5 outta 5 stars. "This book is really fucking exhilarating and awesome and eye-popping, and you have to add it to your bookshelf if you loved I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets…Spacehawk is lunatic, manic genius."
• Review:Delphine by Richard Sala gets BoingBoinged. Mark Frauenfelder writes, "I've long admired the gothy work of cartoonist Richard Sala. He delicately balances the line between horror and humor as few can. His latest graphic novel, Delphine, is his darkest effort to date."
• Review: Comic Book Resources counts down the Top 100 Comics of 2012 and includes The Hypo by Noah Van Sciver at #54. Brian Cronin states "Van Sciver spotlights a fascinating time in Lincoln's life where he barely resembles the man who would one day become one of the most famous presidents in U.S. history…The artwork is strong, as is the research." Cronin's own Top 10 Comics of 2012 listed Van Sciver at #2.
• Review:Panel Patter lists the Favorite Graphic Novels of 2012 and Noah Van Sciver is #2 for The Hypo. Rob McMonigal writes "Given that Van Sciver specializes in characters who are at their wit's end and have horrible things going on in their lives, he's picture perfect in his presentation."
• Interview: Tom Spurgeon interviews editor and fan Marc Sobel on living life breathing Love and Rockets at the Comics Reporter. Sobel started writing, critiquing the Hernandez Brothers work, interviewing them that led to writing and co-editing The Love and Rockets Reader and The Love and Rockets Companion, coming out next year.Sobel pondered, "I decided to read Love & Rockets in its original format and blog about each issue as a way to teach myself about one of the medium's classics while still keeping active as a writer."
• Review:Comic Book Resources counts down the Top 100 Comics of 2012 and #35 is Love and Rockets: New Stories #5. "…the Bros turned in another installment of comics that are simultaneously agonizing to witness and darkly funny while they’re serving up stone-cold dramatic situations," writes Brian Warmoth
• Plug:Gilbert Hernandez receives some attention from Sean T. Collins at Carnival of Souls in regards to upcoming Julio's Day and D&Q's Marble Season. "A now-completed collection of work he serialized during Love & Rockets‘ second volume and a pseudoautobiography, these could send him in the direction of critical and audience reappraisal that the outré sex and violence of his recent comics have denied him."
• Interview (video): As part of the 30th Anniversary celebration, Vegas Seven posted a short interview with Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez conducted at Alternative Reality Comics in Las Vegas.
• Plug: Glyn Dillon writes the Best of the Year 2012 for Forbidden Planet International and shares the love for Jaime Hernandez's God and Science. "I'm not really a fan of the super hero genre, but he delivers it in such a fun way, it's hard to resist it's charm. It almost feels as though it's from an alternative universe, a universe where super hero comics are good."
• Review:The Chicago Tribune gets all fancy to read our EC Library Comics: Corpse on the Imjin by Harvey Kurtzman and Came the Dawn by Wallace Wood. "Kurtzman often evinces a grim humor in these war comics, they don't elicit laughs. His beautiful line-work — thick black strokes and quick black curves — captures the grit of battle and its aftermath: Corpses reach up from rubble, cones of fire erupt from gun barrels." Michael Robbins continues, "Wood's alternately claustrophobic and desolate brushwork lurches into life: spreading puddles and slanting rain, Rock Hudson jawlines and Jane Wyman curves, vertiginous angles, hallucinatory things with too many eyes."
•Plug:NO releases its Best Comics of 2012 list and Sean T Collins recommends Prison Pit 4 by Johnny Ryan. "Choose your monsters-transforming-and-pursuing-ultimate-murder poison: if you favour grossness, reality-breaking sci-fi and heavy manga inflections, go with Ryan."
• Plug:Michael Kupperman'sTales Designed to Thrizzle #8 is ranked 81 out of the Top 100 Comics of 2012 according to Comic Book Resources. "The latest 'Tales Designed to Thrizzle' very well might be the funniest edition of the annual comic yet! Kupperman's outrageously unpredictable sense of humor is on full force in this issue" states Brian Cronin. Cronin's own Top 10 Comics of 2012 listed Kupperman at #4.
• Review:Comic Attack bangs out the Best 15 All-Ages Titles of 2012. Hal Foster's Prince Valiant is on the list as Drew says "the detail and quality of the art alone along with the more literary form of narration provided the base and inspiration for dozens of artists and imitators after that, all these years still being just as entertaining as when first published, here from Fantagraphics never looking as good as collected before."
• Review: Nick Hanover of Comics Bulletin sits awhile with Tom Kaczynski's new book. Beta Testing the Apocalypse "is weird as all fuck and funny as all shit, a Singles Going Steady for the art comix crowd that merges Burroughs' cut-up commentary with Ballard's keen tech consumer insight and siliconic wit…is where we should be looking if we want to know what comes next, if we want to discern which hip priest had their ear closer to the ground."
• Interview:The Comics Journal's Tim Holder interviews Tom Kaczynski (cartoonist of Beta Testing the Apocalypse)on his comics and publishing endeavors.
• Plug: Jade at the D&Q Bookstore holds onto some serious love for Lilli Carré's Heads or Tails. "Her stories always incorporate some sense of magic realism, where bizarre occurrences are treated as if they were just another aspect of daily life. Equally impressive is Carré’s artistic versatility, always finding the appropriate style, palette and medium to tell her dreamy tales."
• Review:Cosmic Comix reviews The Crackle of the Frost by Mattotti and Zentner. "The story itself is amazing. It’s a story about loneliness, loss, and, most of all, fear…It’s a rare feat in which the words, although separate from the picture, are in perfect synch with it… If you are looking for a book that truly pushes the comics medium, then this is the book for you," writes David Lee.
•Review: Music magazine Ugly Things Issue 34 reviews Kevin Avery's book. Alan Bisbort writes "Everything is an Afterthought would, in another age, be considered 'essential reading' for anyone even remotely hip…these bokos remind us of how deeply some people cared for the music and its larger pop culture that many of us now take for granted."
• Plug: Geekosystem has suggestions for our 20% sale like Joe Sacco's book. "Safe Area Gorazde is a great introduction to his work and to the concept of comics journalism as a whole. This new special edition with notes from the author, updates on the characters, and a behind the scenes look at the creative process is must-own material.
• Plug: Geekosystem has suggestions for our 20% sale like I Shall Destroy All Civilized Planets by Fletcher Hanks. "Weirdness on the highest scale prevails in these collections…these delightfully strange relics deserve a place in the library of any comics art history completist or student of the medium."
• Plug: Filth and Fabulations looks at books for 2013 and The Astonishing Exploits of Lucien Brindavoine by Jacques Tardi is on there. "This book is perhaps a slightly less mature piece than some of Tardi's later self-authored work, but it is filled with a vibrancy and a dark humor that makes it a thing not to be missed, especially so for those who enjoy his amusing riffs on traditional genre pastiches, with a nice dose of violence and sarcasm thrown in". In addition to Goddamn this War! by Tardi and Jean-Pierre Verney. "It looks very promising, and seems to be more of a single narrative spanning the entirety of the war, rather than the looser vignette-style format of the earlier book."
"As a graphic artist, Carré carries forward the design tradition that stems from the gossamer surrealism of Cocteau; as a verbal artist, she may be the most successful prose poet going. . . Her Wanda Gág–meets–Gene Deitch drawing style and new-weirdness literary bent make her work acutely interesting to both read and scrutinize." —Ray Olson
"Wright shows he’s got a deep arsenal of storytelling weapons at his command. Unsettling, upsetting, and strangely touching, Wright’s story arrives at something humane and emotionally true through a sea of aberrance and terror." —Ian Chipman
"Spacehawk's stories may be absurd concoctions of primitive space opera and already-established tropes of the nascent superhero genre, but Wolverton's solid,elemental drawings-already evincing his distinctive use of stippling-combined with his intuitive design sense have a raw power that is rare among comic books of the era and impresses even today." —Gordon Flagg
The last peanut of a day of Online Commentaries & Diversions aka the news you missed while present shopping, latke eating and flying:
• Review: The Comics Journal and Rucker crack the two books focusing on Malcom McNeill and William S. Burrough's artistic collaboration, Observed While Falling (the memoir) and The Lost Art of Ah Pook is Here. (the art book) "The art is awesome, the memoir is engaging. . .Ah Pook is in a characteristic style of Burroughs’s middle period. He mixes a true-adventure story with bitter anti-establishment scenarios, gay sexual fantasies, science-fictional visualizations of chimerical mutants, and apocalyptic visions of a biological plague. . .The results are staggering—the best pictures of dicks that I’ve ever seen. . . ."
On the memoir "One of the pleasures of McNeill’s memoir, Observed While Falling, is reading about hear about his conversations with Burroughs. Old Bill laid down some tasty aphorisms. . . Ah Pook is a word/image virus. Study these new books and enjoy the disease."
• Interview:Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez of Love and Rockets are interviewed by Tim Hodler, Dan Nadel and Frank Santoro on The Comics Journal. Jaime talks about becoming more popular cartoonists, "So Gilbert and I kind of set up our own ground where we go. We go, you love Raw? Raw’s East Coast? Love and Rockets is West Coast. And they go, 'So West Coast is primitive and old-fashioned?' Fine. It’s not art school."
• Review:Comics Alliance features several of our box sets on their Holiday Gift Guide: Deluxe Editions. On the Love and Rockets Library Collection, by Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez Andy Khouri states, “This indie comics mainstay has been going for nearly 30 years, making Love and Rockets as intimidating to some new readers as even the densest superhero mythologies. Luckily, Fantagraphics has made the Los Bros Hernandez saga about a massive cast of startlingly lifelike characters digestible in the form of affordable reprint volumes published in chronological order."
• Review: Douglas Wolk reviews Harvey Kurtzman’s EC stories in Corpse on the Imjin! for the New York Times. "Kurtzman’s writing could be bombastic — nearly all of these stories’ titles end in exclamation points — but, as the United States became mired in the Korean War, his reeling disgust at the horrors of war (and his thick, slashing brush strokes) made for shockingly bold rhetoric."
•Review:The Atlantic lists Mark Twain's Autobiography 1910-2010 by Michael Kupperman as one of The Best Books I Read This Year. Chris Heller says "Kupperman’s brilliance isn’t just in his humor, though. Mark Twain’s Autobiography is meant to be read in small doses, no more than half a dozen pages at a time. Trust me: You don’t want to gorge on a book that’s this weirdly amusing. But after a peek into Kupperman’s hysterically twisted mind, you’ll keep wanting to go back for more."
• Review:Comics Bulletin releases its 2012 Best Graphic Novel List and The Hypo by Noah Van Sciver makes it. "Van Sciver's toolkit includes the pens and pins of pathos and pain, self-doubt and angst, as much as it contains determination and fortitude. The Lincoln of The Hypo transcends his time, place, and even (or maybe especially) his name. . . It stands as a true example of the capabilities of this medium to deliver stories in a truly visceral manner," writes Daniel Elkin.
• Review:Unshelved comics review The Hypo by Noah Van Sciver. Gene Ambaum writes,"The mood of Lincoln’s life in Springfield, Illinois, is well-expressed via the rough-hewn, cross-hatched skies, floorboards, and backgrounds."
• Review: Tim Callahan has nothing but love for Spacehawkby Basil Wolverton on Comic Book Resources. He states, "Wolverton's world is a weird and ugly and beautifully innocently horrible charmingly delightful one, and it has more in common with the absurd genre riffs from something like Pendleton Ward's Adventure Time or Jesse Moynihan's Forming or Tom Gauld's Goliath than it does the bland superhero melodrama of 'Marvel Mystery Comics'."
• Review:Comics Bulletin's Favorite Reprints Books of 2012 include Gary Panter's Dal Tokyo and our Carl Barks reprints. In reference to Carl Barks' Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck, "I would not hesitate to say that Fantagraphics’ reprints of Barks’ Duck comics may very well be the best collection series that any comic company is doing today! . . Each story is funny, smart and just plain fun and Fantagraphics treat each and every panel on the page with care and detail," states Nick Boisson. Jason Sacks writes "[Dal Tokyo is] a freaking godsend from the reprint editors at Fantagraphics because it unearthed an amazing, surreal, brilliant lost classic that's like an artifact from some amazing parallel dimension.. . Readers are asked to bring our perceptions to these pages, to bring our intelligence and passion and appreciation for abstraction and love for everything that feels different and yet the same as everyday life."
• Review:School Library Journal files Walt Disney's Donald Duck: A Christmas for Shacktownby Carl Barks in the Dewey (Huey and Louey) decimal of their hearts. J. Caleb Mozzocco says "[It] features another 200 pages of master cartooning from 'The Good Duck Artist' in a nicely produced bookshelf- or backpack-ready hardcover edition. . . the Barks books are great comics for kids and adult fans of the medium."
• Review: Uncle Scrooge: Only a Poor Old Man makes the Best of or Our Favorite Books of 2012 list on the Village Voice. Alan Scherstuhlstates, “Sprightly, inventive, wise, and more exciting than 60-year-old-duck tales should be, Barks's work already stands at the top of any list of history's greatest comics. It should also rank high among stories, period.”
• Review:Brooklyn Based thinks Sexytime edited by Jacques Boyreau is for youand suggests books for reading and giving. "This book is a journey into the aesthetic of porn," states Jon Reiss.
• Interview: Alex Dueben interviews Lilli Carré on Comic Book Resources about comics and animation. "I loved designing and arranging the [Heads or Tails]. Figuring out which pieces to include and the best order for them took quite a while, since I wanted each story to speak to the one before and after it, and to have a good flow despite the shift in styles. It was like making a high-stakes mix tape."
• Review: North Adams Transcript and John Seven look at Heads or Tails by Lilli Carré. "The multi-faceted Lilli Carre -- author, illustrator, animator -- presents stories that are as gentle as they are cryptic, in which the darkness of her themes meld perfectly with the sweetness of her style. . .Carre’s short work is collected and celebrated, revealing a creator of power, easily on the level with lauded types like Chris Ware."
• Review:Hooded Utilitarian makes it through Josh Simmons' The Furry Trap (probably with all the lights on in the house). James Romberger writes it is “packed cover to cover with shudders that cannot be anticipated, that grow worse as they progressively become less clearly defined. The last narrative is the most frightening because it is a straightforwardly articulated bit of cinematography on paper that, as with the most effective of suspenseful creations, gains in impact from what is never shown, the reader’s mind having already been prepared by the foregoing tales to expect the worst.”
• Review:Comics Alliance features several of our box sets on their Holiday Gift Guide: Deluxe Editions. On The Complete Peanuts Collection box setsby Charles M Schulz. Andy Khouri writes, “Reprinted in chronological order with the highest production values, any one of these books would make an auspicious addition to any bookshelf.”
• Review:School Library Journal looks at Charlie Brown’s Christmas Stocking by Charles M. Schulz. J. Caleb Mozzocco says, "Schulz’s Peanuts has always been unique in its ability to speak to audiences of adults and children simultaneously. . . Nice then to have a comic that can speak to kids, adults and the little kids the adults used to be all at the same time—even if only for a quick 40 pages or so."
• Review: HeroesOnline looks at The Complete Syndicated Pogo Vol. 2 "Bona Fide Balderdash" by Walt Kelly. “Pogo certainly belongs on any informed list of the top 5 newspaper comic strips of all time. The artwork is stunning, the pacing is fast, the characters simply come alive on the page; the plot-lines are crazy and labyrinthine and above all hilarious . . . Fantagraphics does the Kelly oeuvre proud with beautiful production values and insightful introductory material,” states Andy Mansell.
• Review:Dungeon Quest 3 by Joe Daly is the Best ofYear 2012 on the Forbidden Planet International site.Clark Burscough writes, “Deceptively simple looking artwork contains hidden depths, and the mythology that Joe Daly is building up around these characters and their world is starting to get properly out there.. . And on top of that – it’s laugh out loud funny. I can’t go into precisely why, because it’s also laugh out loud filthy. Something for everyone in these books.”
• Interview:Comic Book Resources and Alex Dueben interview James Romberger on his collaboration of 7 Miles a Second (and Post York). On his love of New York-centric books, “It is strange that I'll get used to an aspect of the landscape, but so often, I will come out to find it gone and replaced with something completely different. Still, I also love that shifting quality and the multiculturalism of the city; it is my primary subject,” says Romberger.
• Review:Listen, Whitey!on NPR Music for its MUSIC compilation. Matt Sullivan, assistant to author Pat Thomas, talks to Michaelangeo Matos about the project to accompany the book. "There's no way that Sony or EMI were going to [automatically] say yes to the Bob Dylan or John & Yoko tracks, because they get those requests all day. Years ago, Pat went to Bob Dylan's office and got those guys to approve it. The same thing with Yoko. . ."
• Plug: Speaking of 2013, Johanna Draper Carlson of Comics Worth Reading can't wait for Pretty in Ink: American Women Cartoonists by Trina Robbins to come out!
This week's comic shop shipment is slated to include the following new titles. Read on to see what comics-blog commentators and web-savvy comic shops are saying about them (more to be added as they appear), check out our previews at the links, and contact your local shop to confirm availability.
"Oh man, so much great stuff to splurge on this week. Let's start withSpacehawk, Basil Wolverton's fabulous, fantabulous astronaut superhero from the alleged Golden Age. Lots of bizarre aliens and shifty-eyed villains in this one. Then there's the second volume of Ernie Bushmiller'sNancy (which I praised... the other week), and the second volume of Walt Kelly's Pogo Possum, Bona Fide Balderdash." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"It's a great book...a perfect book. In an ideal world, this is what you'd find in hotel rooms instead of Gideon Bibles. This is far better than what the world deserves...well, I deserve it, at any rate — I'm not sure about the rest of you. But you should get a copy anyway." – Mike Sterling
664-page black & white/color 11.5" x 9.5" x 3" two-volume slipcased hardcover set • $69.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-629-4
"As is so often the case, my splurge would be from Fantagraphics: The second volume of Pogo: The Complete Syndicated Comic Strips, a steal at $39.99. I’m old enough to remember when Pogo ran in the Sunday paper, although I never understood it then. Later on, I picked up some of the paperbacks and really came to appreciate Walt Kelly’s sense of humor. I’d love to read them all." – Brigid Alverson, Robot 6
"Pogo certainly belongs on any informed list of the top 5 newspaper comic strips of all time. The artwork is stunning, the pacing is fast, the characters simply come alive on the page; the plot-lines are crazy and labyrinthine and above all hilarious. The dialog is pitch perfect – even the lettering ads to the strips characterizations and somehow, along the way, you will learn quite a bit about potent political satire especially as the specter of McCarthyism weighed down on life in 1950s America. The comics really are that good and Fantagraphics does the Kelly oeuvre proud with beautiful production values and insightful introductory material. Buy this book – or put it on your Christmas wish list." – Heroes Aren't Hard to Find "Staff Picks"
"Fans of lush cartooning and wordplay... — not really exclusive tribes there — can satiate themselves with Pogo - The Complete Syndicated Comic Strips Vol. 2: "Bona Fide Balderdash", which I'm told ain't malarkey." – Joe McCulloch, The Comics Journal
"I picked up Fantagraphics’ Spacehawk Halloween mini-comic this year and selfishly did not give it to a Trick or Treater, because I loved how strange and awesome Basil Wolverton’s pulpy space comic is. That’s why I’m splurging on the full Spacehawk collection ($39.99) this week." – Michael May, Robot 6
"All who hungered for an enormous 9.25" x 13" color softcover compiling the entirety of Basil Wolverton's Spacehawk will have their fill in this latecoming Best of 2012 Reprint Project, I'm not kidding." – Joe McCulloch, The Comics Journal
Basil Wolverton is one of the greatest, most idiosyncratic talents in comic book history. Though he is best known for his humorous grotesqueries in MAD magazine, it is his science-fiction character Spacehawk that Wolverton fans have most often demanded be collected. The wait is over, as Spacehawk features every story from Spacehawk’s intergalactic debut in 1940 to his final, Nazi-crushing adventure in 1942.
Spacehawk is the closest thing to a colorfully-costumed, conventional action hero Wolverton ever created, yet the strip is infused with Wolverton’s quintessential weirdness: controlled, organic artwork of strangely repulsive aliens and monsters and bizarre planets, and stories of gruesome retribution that bring to mind Wolverton’s peer, Fletcher Hanks. Spacehawk had no secret identity, no fixed base of operations beyond his spaceship, and no sidekicks or love interests. He had but one mission in life: to protect the innocent throughout the Solar System, and to punish the guilty. He was a dark — yet much more visually playful — counterpart to Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon.
Spacehawk also includes the character’s final and rarely-seen Earthbound adventures. As the U.S. became involved in World War II, Spacehawk returned to 20th Century America to join the United States’ efforts in defeating fascism, which he does by patrolling the Earth’s stratosphere, looking for wrongdoing.
Now that the mess of Halloween is swept under the rug and Thanksgiving is over or has turned into subcutaneous fat around your middle-section, we can get back to what is really important: egg nog and books to buy for your loved ones be they the birthday-celebrating Sagittarius or Capricorn in your life or for an annual wintertime holiday. Many of our books have been featured on holiday gift guides and we even have thematic releases coming out just in time for the holidays. So peruse while you finish up your holiday shopping lists. (And remember our CYBER MONDAY sale is going on RIGHT NOW for 30% off 2012 titles and more)
For the monster in you and that book to connect generations of family members, look no further than SPACEHAWK by Basil Wolverton. Cory Doctorow of Boing Boing believes "what you read it for is the character design, that amazing Wolverton grotesque that is as unmistakable as it is unforgettable. I mean to say, this guy could really draw monsters [in this] weighty tome that almost strobes with awesome."
For the completist and nostalgic fan, Publishers Weekly gift guide highlights the first three volumes of Krazy & Ignatz: Complete Sunday Strips 1916-1924 by George Herriman (for a whopping $95). PW states "One of the most admired and influential comic strips of all time, Krazy & Ignatz is collected in Krazy & Ignatz: Complete Sunday Strips 1916–1924, which contains the first nine years of George Herriman’s masterpiece into one (of three) handsome tomes."
For more strip and comic book archival collections Tom Spurgeon of The Comics Reporter suggests Walt Kelly's Pogo Vol. 1-2 Box Set. "I love the early Pogo work best of all the Pogo work, and these volumes are attractive in a way that's extremely difficult to guarantee with a post-World War 2 offering. They were cramming the strips into papers by then, making tear sheets and originals an even greater premium than is usual." A little history with your recommendation.
Speaking of historyPublishers Weekly calls it a 'good yarn,' but The Hypo by Noah Van Sciver is also for 'that person who loved the film Lincoln' as Comic Book Resources puts it. "This is an angle of Lincoln that rarely gets seen, and Van Sciver's strong plotting and detailed artwork make this an engaging and easily accessible read to any reader."
In the mood for more biographies or memoirs? Publishers Weeklysuggests No Straight Lines: Four Decades of Queer Comics, edited by Justin Hall. The NY TIMES also featured this "sampling of comic books and comic strips featuring gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender themes and characters has strong language and sexual situations, but a lot of laughs too. It is a wonderful toe dip into the genre," states George Gene Gustines.
"For the person who reads John Hodgman" cartoonist, quippest and sharpest tack on the internet block Michael Kupperman is the man for you. Rob McMonigal at Panel Patter continues, "He's the author of my favorite book of 2011, Mark Twain's Autobiography 1910-2010, as well as the Tales Designed to Thrizzle anthology series. His work features outrageous satire . . . sending Twain off on wacky hijinks with Albert Einstein. Nothing is sacred and everything is skewered by Kupperman, who is a perfect fit for the lovers of Daily Show-like comedy.
For the person who enjoys process over narrative the "punk icon Gary Panter’s angular world of neon brutalism" Dal Tokyo is the perfect gift for the 'Visual Splendor', says Publishers Weekly.
Tom Spurgeon of The Comics Reporter recommends comics for people WHO ALREADY LIKE THEM. #1 on his list is anything by The Hernandez Brothers. "They made some of the very best comics the year that Love and Rockets began; they made some of the very best comics this year." Start from the beginning with Gilbert's Palomar Series in the book Heartbreak Soup or with Jaime's Locas Series starting with Maggie the Mechanic. Is your loved one a huge fan? Get the latest book, Love and Rockets: New Stories #5.
But wait! (There's more) We also have blue spruce trimmed books for your holiday and year-long enjoyment. First up is the perfect stocking stuffer Charlie Brown's Christmas Stocking, this adorable little package collects two of Charles M. Schulz's best "extras" from the 1960s: two Christmas-themed stories written and drawn for national magazines are FINALLY collected in book form. The Comics Reporter says, "There aren't a whole lot of Charles Schulz-related items that have yet to be published; this holiday-related book is one of the few hold-outs." Charlie Brown's Christmas Stocking was also featured on The LA Times Gifts for Under $25 "Charlie, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus, Schroeder, Frieda, Violet, Shermy and Sally all make appearances, and the book also includes a pocket-sized biography of Schulz." Created in the classic square style of Charlie Brown small book collections, this book is sure to warm your hearts without the need of a glowing fire or mug of mulled cider.
Walt Disney's Donald Duck: A Christmas for Shacktown by Carl Barks is the third book in our Carl Barks Library which chronologically prints stories from this master. "A Christmas for Shacktown" is a rare 32-pager that stays within the confines of Duckburg, featuring a storyline in which the Duck family works hard to raise money to throw a Christmas party for the poor children of the city’s slums (depicted by Barks with surprisingly Dickensian grittiness). The Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon states, "I used to love the unabashed sentimentalism that saturates a story like this one, at least in the initial pages."
The rest of the book is also full of GOLD and not necessarily snow-covered. 240 pages in full-color glory make this a must-have no matter what the season. Featured on The LA Times Gifts for Under $50 "Fantagraphics has been reprinting Carl Barks’ classic Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge work, and this third volume focuses on Barks’ peak period in the early 1950s."
Finally, the second book of Ernie Bushmiller's famous strip Nancy is out for pre-order. Nancy Likes Christmas: Complete Dailies 1946-1948 is three more punny years of the fabulous life of an odd looking little girl. Order through us and you'll receive an FBI mini comic to throw in that stocking over the fireplace (be it real or the Netflix fireplace) as well. Spurgeon again, "it sounds good. I'm pro-Nancy and everything." It's kinda like being pro-education. We all agree it's a good thang.
The first rain-free (HA!) day of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review:The Comics Journal looks at Ron Rege Jr.'s The Cartoon Utopia. Katie Haegel writes, "Almost impossible to categorize, the work in Cartoon Utopia is both fully realized in a formal sense and wonderfully idiosyncratic. Like, it’s really out there. . . to me the work is much stronger when it depicts magic in action, which Regé accomplishes by telling us stories about historical figures and their relationship to the natural world."
• Review:Robot 6 reviews The Cartoon Utopia by Ron Rege Jr. Chris Mautner writes "with Rege drawing science, new age spiritualism, the occult, astrology and Jungian archetypes to come up with a personal grand unification theory. There are no plots or characters in the book to speak of, instead Rege merely muses and illustrates his theories, which mainly have to on the interconnectedness of all living matter."
• Plugs: Best covers of the week by Andy Khouri on Comics Alliance. Ron Regé Jr'sThe Cartoon Utopia: "This cover really makes me smile, and maybe gives me a sense of four-color spiritual well-being. But cartoon utopia looks more outdoorsy than I expected."
• Review:Page 45 enjoys the gentle pages of The Cartoon Utopia. Stephen L. Holland states, "Regé is back with a spiritual manifesto and ode to creativity: a singular, secular vision delivered with all the fervour of a religious sermon. It’s a call not to arms but to peace and perception unshackled from the conditioning of ages, exhorting all to see new possibilities, infinite possibilities, so enabling one’s full potential to be realised in both senses of the word."
• Review:Barack Hussein Obamaby Steven Weissman is reviewed on Bookslut. Martyn Pedler says, "His Obama begins as a kind of smug, stoner everyman: telling 'your momma' jokes, discussing old movies with visiting dignitaries . . . Weissman’s pages -- drawn in ballpoint into a moleskin notebook -- use a four-panel gag structure that makes the book immediately addictive."
• Review:Publishers Weekly takes on Barack Hussein Obama by Steven Weissman.". . . readers will likely have to be content with being one part giddy and three parts puzzled. . . Perhaps that’s Weissman’s point: that the farce of contemporary politics has the capacity to make one simultaneously giddy, confused, and disenchanted."
• Interview (audio): Speaking of Steven Weissman, Obama and the elections, he is interviewed on KPFK 90.7 FM's show Beneath the Surface.
• Review: Cartoonist Lilli Carré finds herself Boing-Boing-ed. Brian Heater describes Heads or Tails collection, "These strips, which originally in the pages of places like The Believer and Mome, find the artist dipping her toes into new pools, the sort of freedom afforded by the low commitments of the short story form, often to truly wonderful effect."
• Interview: Eddie Wright of MTV Geek interviews Johnny Ryan about Prison Pit 4 and why us humans love it so much. "Well, I think it connects to comic fans because it's the stripped down essence of what popular superhero comics are, which is men beating the living shit out of each other. People love it."
• Review:Reglar Wiglar spit takes while reading Johnny Ryan's Prison Pit 4. Chris Auman says, "This is Ryan’s depraved ID unleashed in its purest form: blood, guts, genitalia and fecal matter abound—actually they don’t abound so much as they’re sprayed all over absolutely everything in a fantastical sci-fi orgy of digustedness."
• Plugs: Best covers of the week by Andy Khouri on Comics Alliance. continues with Wallace Wood's Came the Dawn: "And while we're talking smart use of interior art, here's another superb example. This collection is all about the mastery of Wally Wood, so the cover presents a taste of his work in an uncluttered and respectful way, while also establishing a trade dress for Fantagraphics' new EC artists line." Chris Wright's Blacklung: "I see a lot of Joann Sfar in this densely demonic and stylishly constructed cover, and that's enough to convince me to investigate the work of newcomer Chris Wright." Spacehawk mini-comic by Basil Wolverton: "Basil Wolverton may be best known for his grotesque caricatures in MAD Magazine, but he worked in a lot of genres. Spacehawk was evidently one of his early works, and if this gorgeously lurid cover is anything to go by it was a delightfully daffy sci-fi pulp."
• Review:Booklist Online carves out a place in their hearts for Wallace Wood's Came the Dawn. Ray Olson writes, "This volume presenting all his horror and crime stories chronologically shows him refining what is at first a crude though powerful sense of mise-en-scène into one that is assured, highly detailed, and lightly caricatural."
• Review:AV Club reviewed all our new books Came the Dawn by Wallace Wood and Corpse on the Imjin by Harvey Kurtzman. Noel Murray writes, "in writer/artist-driven volumes, printed in black and white, with additional essays and archival material . . . [and] both immediately reveal the value in the artist-driven approach. . . Feldstein’s stories were like the comic-book equivalent to some of the seediest B-movies, and Wood’s art fit Feldstein’s text, with lots of deep shadows and wrinkles reflecting a complicated world." On Basil WolvertonSpacehawk, "As with Kurtzman’s war comics, it’s remarkable to see art so twisted applied to such vivid pulp tales—almost as though Wolverton was trying his hardest to be Alex Raymond, but couldn’t help turning out images to rival Salvador Dalí." Gary Panter's "Dal Tokyo would evolve, strip-by-strip, into a distinctly Panter-esque swirl of science fiction and pure abstraction, in keeping with the artist’s one-of-a-kind sense of design, and his pursuit of comics that resemble music and poetry."
•Plug:Web Cast Beacon reviews all free Halloween Comics Fest freebies. They enjoy Tales from the Crypt and Spacehawk. YES, mail in those ad coupons, people.
• Interview:Jim Woodring is interviewed by Peter Bebergal on hippies, hallucinations and all the good stuff that goes into his latest work, Problematic, a skechbook. "I frequently saw things at night — silently jabbering heads at the foot of my bed, distorted animals and objects hanging in the air over me. Often I saw a huge staring eye that made me vomit with fear."
• Plug: On Boing-Boing, Mark Frauenfelder tips his digi-hat to Floyd Gottfredson: "Gottfredson's Mickey is a plucky, goodhearted imp, bursting with energy and impulsively eager for adventure. . . [Carl] Barks will always have a special place in my heart, but I've added Gottfredson to my short list of great American cartoonists."
• Review: Page 45 looks at The Lost Art of Ah Pookand Stephen L. Holland ponders "Malcom Mc Neill has taken the time to put this eye-frazzling book of art – some of it sequential – into context, for the work itself is very much lost. . . There are vast scenes of ancient ritual, carnal lust and very modern warfare transcending time just as they were always intended."
• Review:Booklist Online likes Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge: Only a Poor Old Manby Carl Barks. Ian Chipman states, "from the bitter cold of the Klondike to the bottom of the Caribbean. . . Barks’ comics are an absolute treasure that have aged remarkably well, and are finally getting wide-scale publication to introduce them to a new generation of readers."
• Review: Gene Ambaum of Unshelved happily views covers from Action! Mystery! Thrills!, edited by Greg Sadowski. "Beautiful full-color reproductions of unblemished comic book covers show the amazing art and the breadth of genres on the newsstands before Fredric Wertham screwed everything up in the 1950s. . . The colors are bright, and the art is just plain fun."
• Review: Is That All There Is? by Joost Swarte gets reviewed on Bookgasm. JT Lindroos states, ". . . it’s impossible not to enjoy this ultimately all-too-brief volume for every single panel it presents. Swarte is consistently projecting an incisive and curious mind at work, perfectly tuned to his showstopping skills as an artist nonpareil."
• Review: Rod Lott of Bookgasm spends a long, loooong time checking out Sexytime. "[Editor Jacque Boyreau] has a knack for picking images; much like Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart and hardcore porn, Boyreau knows it when he sees it. And luckily, he shares it, this time from the visual-presentation experts of Fantagraphics Books — a match made in poster-art heaven."
• Plug: Matt Bielby writes about The Complete Crumb Volume 1 by R. Crumb in Comic Heroes Magazine: "It's incredible stuff, much of it obviously for completists only, but even the most obscure volumes track a fascinating, and developing, world view."
• Interview: Charles Burns is interviewed on Cult Montreal by Emily Raine about The Hive, his creepy artwork and the Black Hole movie. "It’s not my intention to be creepy per se, or that’s not the reason I’m writing stories. I think they end up being whatever they are. Maybe I’m just a creepy guy, I don’t know."
• Interview (audio): One of our favorite creators, Ellen Forney, speaks to KUOW/NPR on bi-polar disorder, comics and her new work, Marbles.
• Plug:Jaime Hernandez will be at the Copenhagen Comics Fest in Copenhagen, Denmark in June of 2013. Mark them calendars!