Your Online Commentary & Diversions for the first day of June '09:
• Review: "Holy cats!... Wolverton's illustrations [in The Wolverton Bible], done in the same unmistakable, stippled style that characterized his grotesqueries, show off the grim, the violent, and the destructive in the Old Testament, putting the blood and guts in the spotlight. The result is like no illustrated Bible you've ever seen... This is a side of Wolverton I never suspected, but it is perfectly him, humorous, grisly, mad and wonderful." - Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing
• Review/Profile: "...Unlovable by Esther Pearl Watson... was for me like discovering a nugget of gold in a sieve! ...really original and fun." - Lezinfo (translated from French)
• Review: "With great candor and wit, [Peter] Bagge tackles [the] issues... in Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me, a collection of his strips from Reason Magazine. As in his previous works like Hate and The Bradleys, Bagge deftly manages to simultaneously anger and amuse the reader with his intensely personal stories about larger topical issues." - Rick Klaw, The SF Site: Nexus Graphica
• Review: "...[T]he comics in this collection [of Blazing Combat] are astounding... The art is reproduced from 'the original printer’s films,' so the work is clear and detailed, with the washes and shading providing depth and a feeling of realism... The stories are still timely." - Johanna Draper Carlson, Comics Worth Reading
• Interview: The Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon talks to Bob Fingerman about his latest projects, including Connective Tissue. Sample quote: "I think if I did nothing but comics, I would end up hating comics. For a while there I was actually beginning to hate comics."
• Interview: Robot 6's Tim O'Shea talks to Supermen! editor Greg Sadowski about the collection of Golden Age hero stories. Sample quote: "I never liked those 'Archive' editions where they bleach out the old colors and replace them with modern coloring methods printed on glossy paper. That whitewashes all the distinction out of those vintage books and transforms them into a cloyingly slick and artificial product."
• Video: From Paul Hornschemeier's blog: "Via Tuono Pettinato on Facebook: A Peanuts documentary (broken into 5 parts on YouTube) where Charles Schulz discusses the making of the animated Peanuts and the role of music. It's great footage, and makes me miss Schulz's genius all the more."
• Review: "...[T]he primitive funnybooks rescued from obscurity by Greg Sadowski in Supermen! The First Wave of Comic Book Heroes 1936-1941 contain within their awesomely naïve and rudimentarily brilliant pages all the seeds of the postmodern graphic novel... Compounded equally from pulp fiction, movies, newspaper strips, and sheer desperate commercial-deadline-brainstorm lunacy, these early superhero tales created their own fresh synthetic mythology and compositional tools on the fly." - Paul DiFilippo, The Barnes & Noble Review
• Review: "[Bottomless Belly Button] reads almost like a John Updike novel... [Dash Shaw] really utilizes the medium to its fullest capacity..." - Benn Ray (Atomic Books) on WYPR (Baltimore public radio - streaming audio)
• Review: "[The Wolverton Bible] is fascinating read; it's a fascinating document by one of the most important illustrators of the 20th century." - Benn Ray (Atomic Books) on WYPR (Baltimore public radio - streaming audio - same link as above)
• Review: "Fantagraphics’ collection of the four issues of Blazing Combat blew me away from the start. The size and heft of the hardback reminded me of my textbooks from my school days. And once I cracked open the book, I found myself getting a hell of an education with this one."- Tim O'Shea, Robot 6, "What Are You Reading?"
• Review: "If nothing else, Supermen! puts Fletcher Hanks’ career in perspective... These are comics designed to make you tear your hair out waiting for the next issue, just to see if these guys could top themselves. Great fun all around." - Tom Bondurant, Robot 6, "What Are You Reading?" (same link as above)
• Review: "Jason is an expert at expressing a complex idea with simple visuals and dialogue. Most of his works contain little to no dialogue, actually -- entire stories can be read in facial expressions, twitches, color changes and movements. The entirety of Tell Me Something contains 7 lines of dialogue. It tells the story of 2 lovers and the trials they go through to be together, using dual layered story arcs differentiated simply by the panel borders to convey depth and reshape the story into an intriguing form." - The Inside Flap [Ed. note: Tell Me Something is out of print, but will be collected along with other Jason stories in a forthcoming hardcover]
• List: For Robot 6, Chris Mautner names "Six ‘retired' artists we'd like to see return to comics," including Brian Biggs ("...Frederick and Eloise [brings] a whimsical, storybook approach that never seem[s] overly twee or sweet. Indeed, [it is] often grounded by some dark undercurrents, not to mention backed by some serious artistic chops"), Dave Cooper ("Surreal, mind-warping books like Suckle, Ripple and his ongoing series Weasel, which chronicled a number of sweaty, paunchy, disturbingly neurotic and oversexed characters, had Cooper earning acclaim equal to the likes of Clowes and Ware"), and Mary Fleener ("...[S]he remains one of the most original voices in comics, with an art style that’s completely her own (no one draws a sex scene like her)." [Note to Mautner: Mary Fleener had a new comics story titled "Niacin" in Hotwire Comics Vol. 2, which we put out last year])
• Interview: At Robot 6, Tim O'Shea talks to Esther Pearl Watson about Unlovable Vol. 1. Choice quote: "I was a lot like Tammy and still am. It’s everything I fear."
All this week and next week we're bringing you a sneak peek at our Fall 2009 - Winter 2010 schedule of releases! Today's excerpt from our latest book distributor's catalog includes Portable Grindhouse: The Lost Art of the VHS Box Vol. 1; a re-release of Willie & Joe: The WWII Years; The Definitive Prince Valiant Companion by Brian M. Kane; and Basil Wolverton's Culture Corner. (Note that all the info in this catalog is subject to change along the way to the books' release, including release dates, prices, cover art, book specs, etc.) Click here to download the PDF!
• Review: The Star Clipper Blog on Boody. The Bizarre Comics of Boody Rogers: "To say Boody Rogers was ahead of his time is an understatement. Boody was underground before there was an underground. His comics were surreal and sexy before the Comics Code was even around to censor such outrageousness. Think of every bizarre and trippy moment from 40's Disney features, the overt sexuality of Fleischer Studios Betty Boop, and a Freak Show and Superman in a blender, and that's not even half as odd as Boody Rogers' comics. Will you have seen anything like it before? No, and you'll probably never see anything else like it again."
• Review: Blog @ Newsarama looks at Boody too: "[W]eirdness... permeates these stories and radiates outward from the pages. To say they're 'ahead of their time' would be an understatement; they seem like they were drawn just last week... [I]t's a beautiful book."
• Review: Obsessive-Repulsive finds a kindred spirit in the pages of the "rad" Ho! The Morally Questionable Cartoons of Ivan Brunetti: "I would go further than saying 'nothing is sacred' in his work and say that nothing is tolerated in Brunetti’s world. He skewers the hypocrisy, cruelty and weakness in people but it doesn’t appear that Brunetti loathes humanity nearly as much as he loathes himself. Check it out! Funny stuff!"
• Preview: Robot 6's "What Are You Reading?" column's guest contributor this week is Dash Shaw, and regular contributor Matthew Maxwell says of The Wolverton Bible, "Wow. Just wow... man, that’s a piece of work."
• Commentary: ReadingArt.ca imagines Snoopy's "It was a dark and stormy night" novel in a context of digital/mobile delivery (calling The Complete Peanuts "fantastically beautiful" while they're at it)
• Things to see/read: Conservative entertainment blog Big Hollywood has posted Steve Ditko's 2007 essay "Toyland" in its entirety (via Slog)
If you missed the Mr. Media interview with Monte Wolverton about The Wolverton Bible when it was originally broadcast, now you can listen right here thanks to the magic of this embedded player below (or click here if it's not visible):
• Plug: In an interview with Newsarama, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Junot Diaz says "I adore that Richard Sala miniseries Delphine that he's putting out through Fantagraphics" (new issue out this summer!)
• List/reviews: The Metabunker names and reviews their selections for the best comics of 2008, including Explainers by Jules Feiffer ("After half a century, Jules Feiffer’s classic Village Voice strips read at once as a succinct period portrait and an eloquent portrayal of everyday human affairs at any time... His nervous line captures well both the specific anxieties of the time, and the more general ones of simply being alive, with empathy and humour, while his unadorned, precise language captures with precision the way we continue to verbalise these problems to each other and ourselves, most of the time without making much sense. Revelatory and funny human white noise.") and Bottomless Belly Button by Dash Shaw ("...such a rare example of a young artist pulling out all the stops — as a young artist should — creating a vibrant cacophony of formal experiments and engrossing storytelling.")
• Review: Brix Picks' Book of the Week is The Chuckling Whatsit by Richard Sala, which they say "is one of those books that I revisit regularly because it's just so fun to read."
• Review: Bookopolis gives Unlovable Vol. 1 by Esther Pearl Watson 4.5 stars: "This book is so much fun - it kept me laughing for hours. Not only is the dialogue hilarious but the drawings themselves are really hysterical."
• Review: The Walrus, running down all of this year's Doug Wright Awards nominees, looks at Hall of Best Knowledge by Ray Fenwick: "...Fenwick’s skill with design renders the handwritten words adaptable and full of stubborn character, turning them into a cocky little world of their own."
• Preview: Holy Heroes on our solicitation for The Wolverton Bible: "Now this is exciting... as someone who's a fan of the weird, the religious, and the weird religious, [this book] is more than welcome news."
• Review: Art Blog by Bob on The Wolverton Bible by Basil Wolverton: "As much as the horrific and Bosch-esque in Wolverton’s art strikes you immediately, it’s also important to recognize the beauty of many of his visions... The Wolverton Bible still has the ability to revolt and repulse viewers, but that is just one aspect of its overall ability to make these well-known stories seem new and, more importantly, inescapably human."
• Review: Blog @ Newsarama says "A few words about every single story in Supermen!" (spoiler alert!), praising editor Greg Sadowski and concluding "I honestly can’t recommend [the book] enough to any fans of the superhero genre."
The Dinosaur Gardens blog recently posted a full set of Basil Wolverton's "The Culture Corner" strips from Whiz Comics, 1945-1952. This seems like the right time to announce that we will be publishing these strips in book form later this year! Basil Wolverton's Culture Corner is currently scheduled for November 2009 and will be a 160-page full-color hardcover. In addition to showcasing our usual stellar restoration, design and production, our edition will also contain Wolverton's original pencil versions of each strip, which have been carefully preserved over the years, and demonstrate a looser, more spontaneous interpretation of the finished strips. Monte Wolverton will also provide an introduction to the book. Go ahead and enjoy those unrestored scans, and then come back here for updates and info about our edition as they become available.