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.
• Plug: This is Halloween, HALLOWEEN, Halloween Month. Check out your local comic bookstore and see if they have the stuff you want and need for Halloween Comicsfest: namely the Jack Davis' Tales From the Crypt and Basil Wolverton's Spacehawk.
• Plug:Unbored recently highlighed Gary Panter's drawing tips. Excellent suggestions from a master cartoonist, Dal Tokyo being his latest publication. "Make [a sketchbook] into your little painful pal. The pain goes away slowly page by page."
• Commentary (audio): Publishers Weekly More to Come Podcast, episode 34 talks about SPX! Heidi MacDonald touches on the three Ignatz Awards for The Hernandez Brothers as a bit of "justification or vendication after not even being nominated for the Eisner Award after doing some of the greatest work of their, you know, world-class career. So there were a lot of people very happily clapping for them."MacDonald also touches on the how long it had been since Clowes, Ware, Hernandez and Hernandez had all been together --- since 1999! And The Hypo by Noah Van Sciver was a great as expected.
• Review: On The Weekly Crisis , Taylor PithersdecidesNew York Mon Amourby Jacques Tardi is a MUST BUY! "The Cockroach Killer is the sort of yarn that David Lynch would go on to tell throughout the tail end of the eighties and culminating in the 'as frustrating as it is exciting' Mulholland Drive. . . For those who have yet to experience Tardi this is as good a place as any to start, but to be honest any of the books that Fantagraphics have published by the modern master are a good place to start, as there is a strong chance that you will be back for the rest once you have read one."
Spaaaaaaaacehaaaaaaawwk! We just got our advance copies of a book that Basil Wolverton fans have been clamoring for for years and anyone who likes weird, wonderful comics will definitely want to check out: a complete collection of Wolverton's amazing Spacehawk sci-fi/Axis-busting adventure comics from 1940-1942. Painstakingly restored in glorious, saturated full color in an oversized (seriously, it's a big book) Flexibound softcover, this magnificent package will have your eyeballs blasting out of their sockets and into deep space. It'll be available in about 2 months; you can pre-order a copy and read a honking 26-page excerpt now, and we'll have more previews to share in between now and then. (And check our next post for more Spacehawky news.)
Join Fantagraphics this weekend for the 2012 Small Press Expo in Bethesda, Maryland! On September 15th & 16th, we'll be filling the Marriott Betheseda Conference Center with some dazzling debuts, panels, and signings! Come meet your favorite artists and get your books signed:
You won't believe how many debuts we're bringing with us to Bethesda for the 2012 Small Press Expo on September 15th & 16th! Here's your SPX shopping list -- bring extra bags to carry everything:
• The Lost Art of Ah Pook Is Here: Images from the Graphic Novel by Malcolm McNeill (not officially out 'til October!) In 1970, William S. Burroughs and artist Malcolm McNeill agreed to collaborate on a book-length meditation on time, power, control, and corruption that evoked the Mayan codices and specifically, the Mayan god of death, Ah Pook. McNeill created nearly a hundred paintings, illustrations, and sketches for the book, and these, finally, are seeing the light of day in The Lost Art of Ah Pook.
• Observed While Falling: Bill Burroughs, Ah Pook, and Me by Malcolm McNeill (not officially out 'til October!)Observed While Falling is an account of the personal and creative interaction that defined the collaboration between the writer William S. Burroughs and the artist Malcolm McNeill on the graphic novel Ah Pook Is Here. The memoir chronicles the events that surrounded it, the reasons it was abandoned and the unusual circumstances that brought it back to life.
• Barack Hussein Obama by Steven WeissmanIt’s neither a biography nor an experiment, but a whole, fully-realized parallel America, a dada-esque, surrealistic satirical vision that is no more cockeyed than the real thing, its weirdness no more weird, its vision of the world no more terrifying, where the zombie-esque simulacra of Joe Biden and Hillary and Newt and Obama wander, if not exactly through the corridors of power, through an America they made and have to live in, like it or not. NOTE: Steven Weissman will be signing at SPX!
• Blacklung by Chris Wright (not officially out until October!) Chris Wright’s Blacklung is unquestionably one of the most impressive graphic novel debuts in recent years, a sweeping, magisterially conceived, visually startling tale of violence, amorality, fortitude, and redemption, one part Melville, one part Peckinpah. Blacklung is a story that lives up to the term graphic novel, that could only exist in sequential pictures — densely textured, highly stylized, delicately and boldly rendered drawings that is, taken together, wholly original. NOTE: Chris Wright will be signing at SPX!
• Came the Dawn and Other Stories (The EC Comics Library) by author: Illustrated by Wallace Wood; written by Al Feldstein et al.; edited by Gary Groth (not officially out until October!) Working within the horror, war, crime, and science fiction genres, publisher William Gaines and editor/writer Al Feldstein combined a deliciously disreputable, envelope-pushing sensibility with moments of genuine, outraged social consciousness, which shone a hard light onto such hot-button topics as racism, anti-Semitism, mob justice, and misogyny and sexism.
• The Cartoon Utopia by Ron Rege, Jr.(not officially out until October!) Ron Regé, Jr. is a very unusual yet accomplished storyteller whose work exudes a passionate moral, idealistic core that sets him apart from his peers. The Cartoon Utopia is his Magnum Opus, a unique work of comic art that, in the words of its author, "focuses on ideas that I've become intrigued by that stem from magical, alchemical, ancient ideas & mystery schools." It's part sci-fi, part philosophy, part visual poetry, and part social manifesto. Regé's work exudes psychedelia, outsider rawness, and pure cartoonish joy.
• Corpse on the Imjin! and Other Stories (The EC Comics Library) by Harvey Kurtzman, et al.; edited by Gary Groth(not officially out until October!) Corpse on the Imjin! is rounded off with a dozen or so stories written and laid out by Kurtzman and drawn by “short-timers,” i.e. cartoonists whose contributions to his war books only comprised a story or two — including such giants as designer extraordinaire Alex Toth, Marvel comics stalwart Gene Colan, and a pre-Sgt. Rock Joe Kubert... and such unexpected guests as “The Lighter Side of...” MAD artist Dave Berg and DC comics veteran Ric Estrada — as well as a rarity: a story by EC regular John Severin inked by Kurtzman.
• Naked Cartoonists: Drawers Drawing Themselves Without Drawers by Various Artists; edited by Gary GrothIn an irreverent twist to the fine art tradition of The Nude, this unique and original collection presents a “stripped” down version of the infamous “Gallery of Rogues” exhibit of cartoonist self-portraits at Ohio State University. Here you’ll find a cornucopia of cartoonists’ nude self-portraits from the collection of Mark J. Cohen and Rose Marie McDaniel.
• Heads or Tails by Lilli Carré(not officially out until November!) The creator of 2008’s acclaimed graphic novel The Lagoon — named to many annual critics’ lists including Publishers Weekly and USA Today’s Pop Candy — is back with a stunningly designed and packaged collection of some of the most poetic and confident short fiction being produced in comics today. These stories, created over a period of five years, touch on ideas of flip sides, choices, and extreme ambivalence. NOTE: Lilli Carré will be signing at SPX!
• The Hypo by Noah Van Sciver The debut graphic novel from Noah Van Sciver follows the twentysomething Abraham Lincoln as he loses everything, long before becoming our most beloved president. Lincoln is a rising Whig in the state’s legislature as he arrives in Springfield, IL to practice law. As time passes and uncertainty creeps in, young Lincoln is forced to battle a dark cloud of depression brought on by a chain of defeats and failures culminating into a nervous breakdown that threatens his life and sanity. This cloud of dark depression Lincoln calls “The Hypo.” NOTE: Noah Van Sciver will be signing at SPX!
• Is That All There Is? by Joost Swarte[softcover & hardcover 2nd edition debut] Under Swarte’s own exacting supervision, Is That All There Is? will collect virtually all of his alternative comics work from 1972 to date, including the RAW magazine stories that brought him fame among American comics aficionados in the 1980s.
• Love and Rockets: New Stories #5 by Gilbert & Jaime HernandezIn Jaime's story “Crime Raiders International Mobsters and Executioners,” Tonta comes to visit for a weekend and sees what kind of life the Frog Princess is living with Reno and Borneo. On the other-brother side, Gilbert celebrates the 30th anniversary by bringing one of his current characters (“Killer,” granddaughter to the legendary Luba) into the Palomar milieu. NOTE: Gilbert & Jaime Hernandez will be signing at SPX!
• Prison Pit: Book 4 by Johnny Ryan(not officially out until November!) “Cannibal F***face discovers the only way to escape the Caligulon is to brainf*** the Slorge and create a giant, brainless oafchild that only knows how to annihilate everything in its path. And what happens when the Slugstaxx show up and use their nightj*** to turn this mindless monster against CF? Total F***ing Mayhem.”
• Ralph Azham Vol. 1: Why Would You Lie to Someone You Love? by Lewis Trondheim(not officially out until October!) Within his tiny village, Ralph Azham is considered an insolent good-for-nothing layabout, a virtual pariah — particularly since he was supposed to be a Chosen One. (Things didn’t work out.) Yet his odd azure coloration and a few unique abilities (he can predict births and deaths) suggest that there may be more to him than meets the eye.
• Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Vol. 4: House of the Seven Haunts by Floyd Gottfredson(not officially out until October!) Who says dead men tell no tales? When grim grinning ghosts come out to socialize, they’ll find fearless Mickey all ready to rumble — as soon as he’s done fighting gangsters, bandits, and international men of mystery, that is! From Africa to Eastern Europe, our favorite big cheese is in for terrifying thrills — and he’s bringing Goofy, Donald Duck, and that big palooka Pegleg Pete along for the ride!
• You'll Never Know Book 3: Soldier's Heart by C. Tyler(not officially out until October!) In one of the most eagerly-anticipated graphic novels of 2012, Soldier’s Heart concludes the story of Carol Tyler and her delving into her father’s war experiences in a way that is both surprising and devastating — and rather than trying to summarize this episode and thus possibly spoil it for readers, we prefer to simply offer a selection of comments on the first two installments of this autobiographical masterpiece.
The cleanest picnic blanket of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review:Heroes Online covers the twenty years of Peanuts covered so far in our Fantagraphics reprints. Andy Mansell states, "I strongly recommend the following volumes:1963-1964, 1965-1966. [and 1981-1982]. The highest point of the highest level of any cartoonist output in the last 60 odd years. Every strip is brimming with creativity, laughter, pathos and painful emotional truth."
• Review: On the High-Low, Rob Clough writes a tribute to Jaime Hernandez's collected editions; Maggie the Mechanic, The Girl from H.O.P.P.E.R.S., Perla La Loca. "Ultimately, there's an idealistic streak in Jaime's comics that burns through the hipster cynicism that permeates characters like Hopey and many of her friends. . . The best news about this volume is that it's only the beginning of Jaime's mature style, and he's only continued to get better."
• Review:Grovel gives the what's what on God and Science by Jaime Hernandez."While keeping the women attractive, Hernandez manages to keep them grounded too – these aren’t male fantasies but real, appropriately-proportioned women. . .and Hernandez’s superhero world is dripping with background and authenticity."
• Review:The Comic Attack sank its teeth into Prince Valiant Vol. 5 1945-1946 by Hal Foster. Drew said, "For the strip itself, Foster develops Prince Valiant into more of a mature man who we grow along with as he learns about love, women, and more than just going on adventures. . .Foster’s artwork is every definition of fantastic, still unmatched in its splendor."
• Plug:Spacehawk by Basil Wolverton mentioned on Comics Should Be Good by Comic Book Resources. Greg Burgas says, "Fantagraphics continues to do a nice job reprinting olde-tyme comix. . .very cool!" You can pre-order a copy today!
• Review: The Comic Forge covers a sold-out book Alphabetical Ballad of Carnality by David Sandlin that receives 10 shivers and shakes out of 10. Sharayah Read says, "I have never encountered a book this original, thought provoking and eye-opening. It presents a beautifully tormented tale in an entertaining and gritty fashion that will have any fan of obscure culture and works hanging onto every last syllable."
• Interview (audio):Mome veteran Gabrielle Bell talks to Wrestling Team podcast about life, comics and making it all work together.
The fully charged Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review:School Library Journal will happily be lending out copies of Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons to library patrons. Francisca Goldsmith says, "O’Connor’s viewpoint as a college student during the early years of World War II at an all-female Southern institution adds another layer of texture, too, for contemporary teen artists and observers of places and situations that fall outside popular media’s scope."
• Review: On Comics Worth Reading, Johanna Draper Carlson checks out Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Vol. 3: High Noon at Inferno Gulch by Floyd Gottfredson, edited by David Gerstein with Gary Groth. "While the strips are surprisingly entertaining to readers not used to such a vibrant version of the title character, I enjoy the supplemental material just as much. The introduction by Thomas Andrae puts the work in context and point out key observations that aid in getting more out of the comics."
• Review:AV Club thumbs through the finest of our collection. Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons, edited by Kelly Gerald, features "a Barry Moser introduction into how O’Connor used the medium and a Kelly Gerald-penned look at how O’Connor’s early life influenced her art. The Moser and Gerald pieces are so well-researched that they’d be worth reading even without the cartoons between them." Noel Murray continues onto Mort Meskin's Out of the Shadows, "Not tied down to any one character, Meskin was free to work in a variety of genres, most of which are represented here: jungle adventure, supernatural horror, westerns, science fiction, romance, crime, etc." The trip down comics-memory-lane makes at stop at Uncle Scrooge: Only a Poor Old Man by Carl Barks: "[the stories] are just as rich in their original form, packed with clever plans, narrow escapes, and a lead character who enjoys amassing and hoarding his huge fortune, even though it makes him a little nutty." On Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Vol. 3: High Noon at Inferno Gulch by Floyd Gottfredson, Murray points out, "[editors] Gerstein and Gary Groth have assembled the usual outstanding array of contextual material, including a Gottfredson-inspired Italian Donald Duck strip from 1937 that helped seed that country’s still-fertile contributions to Disney comics…"
• Review: Nick Gazin at Vice looksSexytime up and down. The Jacques Boyreau-edited collection is a mighty fun read because ". . . every one of the posters in this book is fascinating for one reason or another. It might just be that design is so ugly that even the lowest-level design from the 70s is better than the best of what anyone's making right now. . . Portable Grindhouse was a nearly-perfect book and so is this one."
• Plug:Comic Book Resources mentions the The Art of Joe Kubert edited by Bill Schelly and mainstream comics. Augie De Blieck Jr. says, "I learned a lot about Joe Kubert from Fantagraphics' biography on him that I read last fall. It immediately made me want to go buy some reprints of 50 year old DC material that I previously had no affection for." Kubert was a master and will be missed.
• Review:San Francicso Chronicle reviews No Straight Lines edited by Justin Hall. Charlie Wells writes, "Hall's book provides a striking example of how entwined the history and literature of the gay rights movement have been since the early days of the battle.
• Review:Chicago Tribune likes the premise of the Significant Objectseditedby Joshua Glenn and Rob Walker but was not bowled over by the micro-fiction. Christopher Borrelli said, " . . . attaching a story is partly the appeal of a farmer's market, a Happy Meal. The right back story for a brand such as Apple, the editors argue, helps build a phenomenon. . . A note about the physical book, itself a gorgeous, significant object. . ."
• Review: Recently found a Robot 6 review from SCAD cartoonig professor and cartoonist, Chris Schweizer, on Chris Wright's Black Lungbefore it was signed to Fantagraphics. According to Schweizer, his opinions still hold true: "It’s a graphic novel, both in its vernacular term and in a more literal sense, violent and horrible and poetic at the same time – the sort of thing McCarthy might write if he were more interested in pirates than cowboys or Appalachians."
• Plug: Torsten Adair posts on The Beat how to order and find those SPECIAL Halloween comics that your store may or may not give out for free. Buy a stack of 20 comics for $5 and this exclusive Spacehawk comic by Basil Wolverton can be yours! "You should offer to pay for them in advance, since the comics shop will most likely consider these unusual items, and be hesitant to place the order. Of course, if they’re a cool store, they are probably participating in Halloween ComicFest, and will be happy to add your order to their store order."
• Plug: Speaking of shopping, Johanna Draper Carlson gives some tips on finding that first volume of Wandering Son by Shimura Takako on Comics Worth Reading. Good news though, the second printing will arrive within the month!
• Plug: Tom Spurgeon gets worked up over the Daniel Clowes Reader on The Comics Reporter. Fantagraphics is releasing a "Ken Parille-edited book on Dan Clowes in early 2013. Ken Parille's stuff is routinely pretty great. . . Count me in."
48-page black & white/color 8.5" x 11" softcover • $9.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-571-6
Ships in: May 2012 (subject to change) – This item will be available to order simultaneous with its release to comic shops.
Five years in the making and meticulously edited by John Benson, Squa Tront returns with a profusion of rare and interesting features from the EC era: the story behind Basil Wolverton’s first EC art; Howard Nostrand’s last interview; art from the unpublished third issue of Flip; Jack Davis’s WWII cartoons; plus EC era art by Wallace Wood, John and Marie Severin, Harvey Kurtzman, and Roy Krenkel. The longest running EC historical magazine and a perfect companion to Fantagraphics’ new series of EC reprints.
Download and read a 6-page PDF excerpt (1.7 MB) including the Table of Contents.