Happy Bastille Day, France. Voici les Online Commentary et Diversions:
• Review: "[Michael] Kupperman has been laffing it up for years via cartoons in the New Yorker and animation on Saturday Night Live, but his smart, droll, absurdist humor is best displayed in this compendium of the first four issues of [Tales Designed to Thrizzle]. Kupperman's wit and imagination is only heightened by the stiff, self-conscious woodcut style he often uses for art... The humor never lags in a book that is destined to be a comedy classic and is truly one of the funniest books in years." - Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
• Review: "...[T]he pieces collected in awesomely-named Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me... are wonderfully entertaining and often fall-on-the-floor funny, even when you find yourself at odds with [Peter] Bagge’s viewpoint... While his focus may have changed, his work remains as delightful as it did in the alt-comix heyday. Stupid just confirms what many of us already knew: he’s still one of the funniest cartoonists in America today." - Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Interview: Design website FaceOut Books asks curator/designer Jacob Covey about the Beasts! books. Sample quote: "I think a successful cover design has to distill the essence of a book and not necessarily depict a literal synopsis of the contents. This is a common principle in fiction prose books but is much less commonly applied to something like an art book."
Let's catch up on our Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: "...Monologues [for Calculating the Density of Black Holes is] spare and scratchy where [Anders Nilsen's] other work was detailed; loose and spontaneous where his other work was considered; and funny where his other work was melancholy. It's interesting to see the many influences that inform Monologues; there's a bit of absurdists like Ionesco, elements of Tom Stoppard's wit and philosophical musings, stream of consciousness dada in the style of Tristan Tzara, and oblique New Yorker type gags with the scratchy looseness of James Thurber and Saul Steinberg." - Rob Clough
• Review: "...[O]nce again, I’m engaged in Blazing Combat. What a thrill! And the art!... Highly recommended. Don’t argue! Just buy it!" - David McDonnell, Starlog
• Review: "This collection of the 1965-66 Blazing Combat war comic magazine is a stellar publication... It's a master class on how to tell a short story, and I highly recommend checking it out." - Sandy Bilus, I Love Rob Liefeld
• Review: "Blazing Combat, a new hardcover collection from Fantagraphics, showcases some truly fantastic work from a multitude of comics greats... The collection itself is sharp as a tack... Fantagraphics really packages it nicely..." - Litany of Schist
• Review: "This omnibus of all 11 issues of Humbug is equal parts giddy genius and period piece. The satire is razor-sharp... [T]here are such subtleties here and such rapier wit that the line is clearly visible from the Algonquin Round Table to Kurtzman to Crumb to Ralph Bakshi to Mr. Show to The Colbert Report." - Byron Kerman, PLAYBACK:stl
• Review: "In his way, [Michael] Kupperman's just as concerned with making comics' formal aspects work for him as Chris Ware. In his way he's every bit as effective. Goddammit this book [Tales Designed to Thrizzle #5] is funny." - Sean T. Collins
• Review: "[Beasts! Book 1] is captivating, wistful, funny and truly extraordinary - a Bestiary of the traditionally fantastic for the dreary 21st century where imagination and wonder have been formularised as crypto-zoology... a vivid package of sheer fantasy and artistic excellence..." - Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Review: "Now, with Low Moon, [Jason] has clenched his fist around me and won’t let me go - this is easily my favorite of his works to date... Top to bottom, I enjoyed Low Moon very much... A worthy addition to one’s bookshelf." - Marc Mason, Comics Waiting Room
• Review: "[In Abandoned Cars] Tim Lane presents a personal study of what he calls 'The Great American Mythological Drama,' a fog of events / thoughts / dreams / disappointments in music / literature / North American life... Lane leads to something more introspective and extremely sad." - Churrasco la Naje (from Google translation)
• Review: "...[A]lmost nothing is casual in Bottomless Belly Button and almost nothing is superficial in its narrative structure, nor its authorial intentions... [Dash] Shaw's work delves into the interior of the personal relationships of its protagonists, but also in the basic foundations of linear narrative... Shaw transcends the sphere of intellectual narrative to enter the much more epidermal level of physical sensations... Dash Shaw has composed a monumental work, sometimes puzzling, sometimes bordering on melodrama, but always strong and brave, a work full of qualities and findings that will, we believe, be a reference for future comics. His experimentation, his daring and his solutions can't help but remind us of an equally ambitious and dense work, Jimmy Corrigan... Do not miss this." - Little Nemo's Kat (from Google translation)
• Plug: Jonathan Ross gives us ("the company that flies the flag for independent, ground-breaking comics"), and The Comics Journal ("the only widely read and serious publication of comic-book criticism"), a nice shout-out in The Times
• Interview: The Daily Cross Hatch continues their conversation with Michael Kupperman. Sample quote: "I think the artist I feel closest with is Tony Millionaire, because he really lives in those comics. He could never be anything else."
• Review: "Jaime [Hernandez]'s entry [in Love and Rockets: New Stories #1]... is like a huge riff on what might have happened if superhero comics started their evolutionary path by focusing on more female-centered concerns instead of testosterone-fueled fisticuffs... Gilbert's contributions are hard to describe, mainly because they are so surreal. They really have to be experienced and interpreted on your own." - John Jakala, Sporadic Sequential
Stan Sakai sent me an email asking if I knew anything about the strange beast pictured here. It's new to me and apparently the Japanese text doesn't address the creature. Does anyone know its story-- or at least a name?
Comments appreciated. Stan would like to know more about this unusual obakemono and I'd just love to see a hairy cyclopian leg show up in an Usagi Yojimbo story.
Congratulations to two talented Beasts! artists for making the list of Print magazine's annual 20 people under 30 to watch in the visual arts. The links below will take you to Print's write-up about each artist.
Eleanor Davis' work in the words of Françoise Mouly: "It’s very imaginative and funny and fanciful, but it’s also very thoroughly worked out. She’s not afraid to be clear."
Josh Cochran's work in his own words: "It’s good to have a recognizable look. It’s even better if I can transcend it."
My thanks again to these two for contributing their visions to Beasts!
• Review: For The Savage Critics, Sean T. Collins says The Last Lonely Saturday by Jordan Crane is "pretty much the best love story in comics form I've ever come across... It's an intelligent, moving, beautiful, terrific little comic."
• Review: Rob Clough says that Beasts! Book 2 "mingles myths, warnings, fairy tales, correctives, and genuinely unexplained phenomena and allows its artists to run with them. The end result is a consistently beautiful, lovingly assembled book that forms a kind of metacommentary on the entire notion of the fantastic."
• Review: The SF Site's "Nexus Graphica" says R. Crumb & David Zane Mairowitz's Kafka is "a terrific guide to Kafka's life and work — Mairowitz deftly sums up Franz' family/Jewish/pre-Holocaust European experiences and influences, and Crumb's heavy inkings lend the exact tones of darkness to recreations of both Kafka's life — and work." (See sidebar)
• Preview: The First Post presents a slideshow of images from Humbug, saying "the short-lived Humbug [was] an exquisite satirical work that, over its 11 issues, routinely equalled MAD in its displays of creative genius... providing a level of trenchant satire that was almost unheard of at the time."
• Preview: Bryan Munn, in "hyping" The Complete Peanuts 1971-1972, states "Now that two whole decades of Peanuts have been reprinted in the deluxe hardcover format published by Fantagraphics and designed by Seth, we can really get a sense of what a huge achievement this project is and will continue to be for a generation."
• Review: Bookforum says of the two volumes of Beasts!: "Covey’s brave band of 180 artists... put these mythological and folkloric beings on vivid display. The distinct and varied styles of the cartoonists, illustrators, and graphic artists give further evidence of each creature’s unique characteristics... The enthusiastically detailed evocations in these books give us all reason to believe."
• Review: Dear Stranger reads The End #1 by Anders Nilsen and declaims "It’s sad. In that way that things are only ever sad when they’re really honest, so it’s beautiful, but you feel a bit guilty for thinking so -- because under the beauty, it’s still sad, honestly so."
• Review: The Star Clipper Blog says "[Esther Pearl Watson's] Unlovable spares no degrading detail, but still remains an ironically loving tribute to the awkward protagonist... these monstrous depictions of early puberty could be found in just about anyone's high school yearbook... perhaps the perfect teenage girl experience."
This special airing on Feb. 25th on the history channel features Frank Thorne as the official documentary "artist" and will no doubt make Jacob Covey regret not asking Mr. Thorne to contribute to Beasts!
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