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Category >> Ben Schwartz

Daily OCD: 5/10/10
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under reviewsPeanutsMomeMichael KuppermanMark KalesnikoLove and RocketsJoe DalyJim WoodringJacques TardiDaily OCDComing AttractionsBen SchwartzBasil Wolverton 10 May 2010 5:23 PM

Online Commentary & Diversions (through yesterday; we're a bit behind):

The Culture Corner

Review: "...[E]ven [Basil Wolverton]'s throwaway work — in this case, half-page gag strips (emphasis on the 'gag') that appeared in Fawcett's Captain Marvel titles during and after World War II — is fully worthy of rediscovery. Like a Bizarro Dr. Seuss, Wolverton packs each Culture Corner with goofy, rhyming advice... While silly and inconsequential, these strips revel in the subversive, surrealist glee that would develop more fully in Wolverton's later output for Mad and others, a style that would help unlock the inner cretin inside everyone from Robert Crumb to Peter Bagge. ...Fantagraphics has to be applauded for tenaciously keeping Wolverton and his eye-gouging, subliminally influential work from slipping through the cracks of comics history. [Grade] B+" — The A.V. Club

It Was the War of the Trenches

Review: "...Tardi’s [It Was the] War of the Trenches is the most powerful comic I’ve read on World War One since Charley’s War... The black and white art is perfectly suited to the era being covered... while Tardi, not for the first time, proves himself a master of expression, the looks on the faces of the men caught up in the war speaking absolute volumes... It’s a hugely powerful work, both moving and horrific and filled with anger for the suffering and injustices one group of ‘civilised’ humans can visit upon another... [A]s the last voices of those who were actually there are fading into silence works like this are needed to remind us of the monstrous acts we can be capable of in service to the beasts of jingoism and nationalism and hubris, that we should read them and take cautionary lessons from them. Never forget." – Joe Gordon, The Forbidden Planet International Blog Log

Dungeon Quest, Book 1  [Pre-Order]

Interview: Avoid the Future has an illuminating talk with Joe Daly: "The environment is surreal, in that it combines the fantastical with the urbane. I try to meld these two sides together into a continuum that supports both the phantasmagoric  and the banal, in a naturalistic kind of way. On a conceptual level, I’m also interested in combining extreme stupidity with a bit of cleverness (which the title ‘Dungeon Quest’ is supposed to invoke)." There's also a glimpse of Dungeon Quest Book 2!

The Best  American Comics Criticism [Pre-Order]

Interview: The Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon grills Ben Schwartz, editor of The Best American Comics Criticism, saying "It's the kind of volume that starts fights... but that's okay and it's part of the fun. There's a lot of good work in the book and one or two absolutely inspired choices. Anyone with an interest in comics should at least give it a flip-through, and anyone with an interest in writing about the medium should use it as a springboard to discover a host of excellent new favorites." Schwartz on pitching the book: "Gary was the most skeptical. Early on he asked me if I seriously thought I could fill a whole book with good writing on comics. He sent me his essay 'The Death of Criticism.' Nice to know that's on your publisher's mind!"

Weathercraft

Interview: Canada's National Post has a Q&A with TCAF special guest Jim Woodring: "My name is Jim Woodring and I’m a cartoonist. I’m going to TCAF by invitation, with an assist from Fantagraphics Books, my publisher. I have a new book out called Weathercraft and I’m going to answer questions about it.

Mome Vol. 12 - Fall 2008

Plugs: At The Cool Kids Table, Rickey Purdin runs down some recent acquisitions, including a couple volumes of Mome ("constantly entertaining") and the Weathercraft and Other Unusual Tales free comic ("...this free sample is PROBABLY about to set me on a path of Woodring fanaticism. Well played, Fantagraphics.")

Tales Designed to Thrizzle #6

Plug: "Michael Kupperman's Tales Designed to Thrizzle is that rarest of comic books: It's actually, genuinely a comic experience, with several guaranteed laugh-out-loud moments per issue." – Paul Constant, The Stranger

Freeway - Mark Kalesniko

Plug: Comics Worth Reading's Johanna Draper Carlson spotlights Mark Kalesniko's Freeway in a roundup of upcoming graphic novels

Love and Rockets

Links: Love & Maggie present a "monster-sized" edition of their exhaustive Love and Rockets link roundups

Police blotter: "Man dressed as Snoopy in 'worst attempted jail-break ever'" (via our own Eric Reynolds)

The Best American Comics Criticism - Previews, Pre-Order
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under previewsnew releasesDrew FriedmanBen Schwartz 29 Mar 2010 6:54 AM

The Best American Comics Criticism

The Best American Comics Criticism
Edited by Ben Schwartz; cover illustrations by Drew Friedman

360-page 6" x 9" illustrated (b&w) softcover • $19.99
ISBN: 978-1-60699-148-0

Ships in: May 2010 (subject to change) — Pre-Order Now

Whether you choose to call them “comics lit,” “graphic novels,” or just “thick comic books,” book-length narratives told in words and pictures confidently elbowed their way into the cultural spotlight in the first decade of this new millennium — beginning with the simultaneous 2001 release of Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth and Daniel Clowes’ David Boring, and continuing on through ground-breaking and best-selling works such as Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, Robert Crumb’s Genesis, Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, and Joe Sacco’s Palestine.

This renaissance in turn brought forth a chorus of critical commentary that not only addressed these recent works, but also initiated a much-needed look back at the previous century’s neglected and forgotten masterpieces.

This chorus, as presented in The Best American Comics Criticism, comprises both criticism (Douglas Wolk on Frank Miller and Will Eisner, Robert C. Harvey on Fun Home, Donald Phelps on Steve Ditko and Phoebe Gloeckner) and history (David Hajdu on the 1950s comic-book burnings, Jeet Heer on Gasoline Alley, Ben Schwartz on Little Orphan Annie, Gerard Jones on the birth of the comic-book business), as well as revelatory peer-on-peer essays by novelists (Jonathan Franzen on Peanuts, John Updike on James Thurber) and cartoonists (Chris Ware on Rodolphe Töpffer, Clowes on Mad’s Will Elder, and Seth on John Stanley).

Add in still more voices (The Daily Show’s John Hodgman on Jack Kirby, Sarah Boxer on Krazy Kat, Ken Parille with a meticulous deconstruction of Clowes’s David Boring), and a selection of revelatory interviews with comics masters (Kim Deitch, Yoshihiro Tatsumi, Marjane Satrapi, Will Elder, Chester Brown) and cartoonist tête-à-têtes (Eisner/Miller, Jonatham Lethem/Clowes, Dan Nadel/Sammy Harkham), and The Best American Comics Criticism offers a riveting and comprehensive look at a medium finally come into its own—not just creatively, but in terms of the respect and prominence within American culture it has so long deserved.

The Best American Comics Criticism is edited by Ben Schwartz, a contributor to The New York Times, The Washington Post, Salon, The Atlantic On-Line, and Bookforum.

See the full Table of Contents and read Ben Schwartz's Introduction in this EXCLUSIVE 15-page PDF download (193 KB).

Video & Photo Slideshow Preview (view in new window):



First Look: The Best American Comics Criticism
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Drew FriedmanComing AttractionsBen Schwartz 19 Jan 2010 11:44 AM

The Best American Comics Criticism

Yes, it's a parody/homage of The Believer, courtesy of editor Ben Schwartz, artist Drew Friedman, and designer Alexa Koenings. Drew provides more background and a larger image at his blog. The book is just off to press and should be out in April.

First Look: Fantagraphics Releases for February 2010
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Roy CraneLove and RocketsKim DeitchJaime HernandezHo Che AndersonGilbert HernandezComing AttractionsCathy MalkasianBlazing CombatBen Schwartz 4 Nov 2009 10:54 AM

TEMPERANCE

Once again we're bringing you an advance sneak peek at our listings for the next issue of Previews, this time with our releases scheduled for February 2010. It's going to be a big month for us with 8 new books, including two new Love and Rockets collections (one from Gilbert & one from Jaime), a great Kim Deitch yarn, horror noir from Ho Che Anderson, Captain Easy Vol. 1 (resolicited from August), a new softcover edition of the almost-out-of-print Blazing Combat, The Best American Comics Criticism of the 21st Century, and, pictured above, the breathtaking new graphic novel from Eisner Award winner Cathy Malkasian! Check it all out right here.

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