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Category >> Best of 2009

Daily OCD: 12/30/09
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Steve BrodnerreviewsPeanutsPat MoriarityNoah Van SciverJeremy EatonGilbert HernandezGahan WilsonFrom Wonderland with LoveFletcher HanksDavid LevineDash ShawCharles M SchulzCharles BurnsBest of 2009Barry Windsor-Smith 30 Dec 2009 3:28 PM

The year's penultimate Online Commentary & Diversions:

List: Comic Book Resources begins their countdown of the Top 100 Comics of 2009. At #82, "Because I Love You So Much" by Nikoline Wedelin: "Found in the pages of the recent anthology of Danish comics, From Wonderland with Love, this collection of strips about a mother who discovers that her daughter is being sexually abused by her dad is one of the most harrowing and utterly stunning stories about a difficult subject matter I've ever read and easily equal to the works of, say, Phoebe Gloeckner or Debbie Dreschler." (Chris Mautner)

List: The Brazilian editions of The Complete Peanuts 1950-1952 and Dash Shaw's Bottomless Belly Button have been voted among As melhores HQs de 2009 (The Best Comics of 2009) by a panel of critics at O Globo (via The Comics Reporter)

List: Robin McConnell of Inkstuds re-posts his Best of 2009 and Best of the 2000s lists previously run at The Daily Cross Hatch

List: Comicdom continues their Top 100 of the 00s with Black Hole by Charles Burns at #2: "I start, taking for granted that with Black Hole, Burns played the blues of the pelvis with unparalleled mastery."

Review: "...[A] love letter to 70s exploitation movies. Beto being Beto, there’s a depth of visual symbolism and complexity of character that provides an emotional structure to the narrative not seen in the source material that inspired these stories. ...Elmore Leonard meets Roger Corman. ... There’s a wonderful luridness to the story that Hernandez revels in... The Troublemakers... shows the artist at the height of his powers, capable of crafting characters with surprising depth even in the basest of genre stories." – Rob Clough, The Comics Journal

Review: Chris McLaren gives his impressions after reading the first book of the "marvelous" Gahan Wilson: Fifty Years of Playboy Cartoons

Plug: Paul Constant of The Stranger picks up on our report of the recent Fletcher Hanks discovery and says "If you haven't read I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets! and its sister volume You Shall Die by Your Own Evil Creation!, you're in for a treat."

Plugs: At Comics212, Chris Butcher comments on our spread in the December Previews: "Wow, some good stuff this month."

Interview: Comics Alliance talks to Mome and The Comics Journal contributor Noah Van Sciver

Interview: Comic Book Galaxy's Alan David Doane presents an exactly-decade-old chat with Barry Windsor-Smith, conducted on the occasion of the release of OPUS Vol. 1: "I mean, if I'd really wanted to sell it, I could have called it 'Tits Galore' or something like that." (I pulled the goofiest quote, but really, it's a substantive read.)

Tribute: Steve Brodner mourns David Levine

Things to see: This week's Seattle Weekly boasts illustrations from Jeremy Eaton and Pat Moriarity

Daily OCD: 12/29/09
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Steve DitkoreviewsPaul KarasikJosh SimmonsFletcher HanksComing AttractionsChris WareCarol TylerBlazing CombatBlake BellBest of 2009 29 Dec 2009 1:28 PM

A nice short Online Commentary & Diversions update:

List: Comicdom continues their Top 100 of the 00s with Chris Ware's Acme Novelty Library at #3: "Whatever the format, or content of the story, each issue of Acme Novelty Library is a special 'objet d'art,' which is part of the vision of an author who redefined what can be considered 'comics' and provided us new ways of storytelling." (from Google translation)

List: At ComicsDC, Mike Rhode John Judy reviews the year in comics, with nods to Blazing Combat ("Kudos to Fantagraphics for putting this together"), Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 1 ("You must have this"), and You Shall Die by Your Own Evil Creation! ("Highly recommended")

Review: "The list of excellent graphic novels released in 2009 seems to grow with every other book read, and [You'll Never Know, Book 1: A Good and Decent Man]... stands out even in its crowded field. Carol Tyler really makes a name for herself with this 'graphic memoir,' as the cover calls it, demonstrating an incredible grasp of storytelling structure and a layering of personal and historical incident into a complex, cohesive whole that illuminates her own life along with her subject's. It's an impressive achievement, and as the first volume of a projected trilogy, it's indicative of the quality to come." – Matthew J. Brady

Coming Attractions: The bloggers at Comics And... Other Imaginary Tales comment thoughtfully on a couple of titles from our February solicitations

Things to see: Josh Simmons has compiled a handy list of his comics that are available to read for free online

Daily OCD: 12/28/09
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Willie and JoeThe Comics JournalSupermenSteve DitkoStan SakaiRobert GoodinreviewsPrince ValiantPopeyePeter BaggePeanutsPaul KarasikPaul HornschemeierMort WalkerMichael KuppermanLove and RocketsLos Bros HernandezKevin HuizengaJohn PhamJoe SaccoJoe DalyJerry DumasJaime HernandezJacques TardiIvan BrunettiHumbugHans RickheitHal FosterGahan WilsonGabrielle BellFletcher HanksEC SegarCharles M SchulzCarol TylerBlake BellBill MauldinBest of 2009Anders NilsenAl ColumbiaAbstract Comics 28 Dec 2009 3:20 PM

Gird yourself for an epic installment of Online Commentary & Diversions:

List: Critic Robert Boyd names his top 15 Best Comics of 2009, with You Are There by Tardi & Forest at #2, Popeye Vol. 4 at #7 ("top-notch, Segar at his greatest"), Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me by Peter Bagge at #12 ("very, very funny") and You'll Never Know, Book 1 by C. Tyler at #13 ("a glorious mess, but a moving and beautiful one")

List: Comic Book Resources columnist Greg Hatcher names his Best Reprint Collections of 2009, including The Complete Peanuts ("truly wonderful... not to be missed")

List: Joe Gross of the Austin American-Statesman names notable comics of 2009, including Pim & Francie by Al Columbia ("It's a bit like peeking at J.D. Salinger's notebooks, if his notebooks were pure nightmare fuel") and You'll Never Know, Book 1 by C. Tyler ("A terrific addition to the canon of literature about baby boomers, their parents and their children")

List: Hillary Brown and Garrett Martin of SHAZHMMM... both include Tales Designed to Thrizzle by Michael Kupperman in their top 5 comics of the year

List: On the Forbidden Planet International Blog Log, comics writer Mike Carey (Unwritten) names Boody: The Bizarre Comics of Boody Rogers one of his favorite comics of 2009 ("utterly fantastic")

List: The Oregonian's Steve Duin places The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book by Joe Daly  at #6 on his top-10 list of The Best of 2009: Comics and Graphic Novels

List: Greek site Comicdom names Ivan Brunetti's Schizo #4 to the #4 spot on their Top 100 of the 00s countdown. From the Google translation: "With words or silence, with an excellent sequence between the panels and embroidered with punchlines, reading this comic becomes a personal matter, even though the association, the painfully honest confession, is more or less familiar to everyone."

List: Fústar awards The Clanging Gong of Doom for "Weirdest & Most Brain-Searingly Wonderful Book of the Year" to You Shall Die by Your Own Evil Creation! by Fletcher Hanks, which "might be testament to rage-filled, borderline psychosis – but it's thrillingly vital and magnificently (uniquely) strange for all that."

List: Christopher Allen of Comic Book Galaxy informally lists some Best of 2009 choices, including the year's Love and Rockets releases, Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 1, and Prince Valiant Vol. 1: 1937-1938

Review: "...[T]he great pleasures of each story [in The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book] are the odd, idiosyncratic details Daly includes, and the way in which he reveals them. ... I’ve never read anything like it—and now I want nothing more than to read more of it." – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama

Review: "Sublife Vol. 2... is John Pham’s gorgeously designed one-man anthology book, including about a half-dozen stories of various genres, formats, sensibilities and even art styles, each impeccably laid out on longer-than-it-is-high, 8.5-by-7-inch rectangular pages. ... They’re all pretty great on their own, and taken all together, they make up a downright remarkable book." – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama (same link as above)

Review: "...[C. Tyler's] autobiographical comics display a shocking, unruly wholesomeness: they are visually and morally beautiful, suffused with a scrap-doodle amateurism and palpable maternal love... You’ll Never Know, Tyler’s newest book, is modeled on a scrapbook and is a tribute to craftsmanship, much like the home repair and plumbing we see her father, the 'good and decent man' of the title, often undertaking. ... Tyler mitigates this directness of heart with a dynamically pesky drawing style, splattering each panel with the democratic debris of life." – Ken Chen, Rain Taxi

Review: "While we’re torturing geeks, I have to put in a good word for Andrei Molotiu’s Abstract Comics: The Anthology... The collection has a wealth of rewarding material, some of it awkward, some groundbreaking — on the whole, it is a significant historical document that may jump-start an actual new genre." – Doug Harvey, LA Weekly

Review: "Some of the writing [in Humbug] may seem a bit quaint in our ‘irony coming out our asses’ present day, but the artwork is uniformly mind-blowing. ... This collects the whole ill-fated run in a luxurious hardbound package including top-notch background material. Worth it for the mammoth Arnold Roth & Al Jaffee interview alone." – M. Ace, Irregular Orbit

Review: "The Education of Hopey Glass... [is t]he proverbial artist at the peak of his powers — except he keeps taking that peak higher every time." – M. Ace, Irregular Orbit

Plug: "...Willie & Joe: The WWII Years... might make a veteran in your life very happy." – David Allen, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

Plugs: In an interview with Newsarama, Chris Ureta Casos of Seattle comic shop Comics Dungeon gives a nice shout-out to our recent reprint efforts and names Paul Hornschemeier's Mother, Come Home as a personal all-time favorite

Plug: Robot 6's Chris Mautner got our collection of Jerry Dumas and Mort Walker's Sam's Strip for Christmas ("you can sense the two of them having fun")

Plugs: "Fantagraphics (again) certainly delivered big-time on the second (and probably final) collection of primitive comic savant Fletcher Hanks’ You Shall Die By Your Own Evil Creation!, as well as with the almost-as-weird Supermen!: The First Wave of Comic Book Heroes 1936-1941." – Doug Harvey, LA Weekly 

Interview: The Wall Street Journal's Jamin Brophy-Warren has a brief Q&A with Gahan Wilson: "The other thing that dawned on me was we were destroying the planet or at least we were destroying it as a feasible environment. There’s a little grandiosity in saying we’re destroying the earth — we’re just screwing it up so we can’t live. For one, that was hilarious that we’d be determined to continue and it keeps getting worse and worse."

Interview: The Daily Cross Hatch's Brian Heater continues his conversation with Carol Tyler: "I…can’t…the secret of life? I’m not giving away the secret! I’ll just tell you this — it’s funny around here, because I have to go and pick up dog poop or something. And I’ve heard something like, 'Robert and Aline [Crumb] are in the New Yorker, this week. Oh, they’ve got ten pages.' And I’m just picking up dog poop, but I’m happy, for some reason. I’m happy!"

Interview: It's the Comics Journal #300 conversation between Stan Sakai and Chris Switzer at TCJ.com

News: Polish blog Kolorowe Zeszyty reports that Joe Sacco's Safe Area Gorazde is about to be published in their country by Mroja Press

Things to see: Gabrielle Bell's latest strip co-stars Anders Nilsen and Barack Obama

Things to see: Kevin Huizenga's "Postcard from Fielder" part 4; also, a kitty!

Things to see: Hans Rickheit's Ectopiary page 4 (with commentary)

Things to see: Robert Goodin's first-ever record-cover art

Things to see: Anders Nilsen, still killing it in his sketchbook

Daily OCD: 12/24/09
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Steve DitkoreviewsPeanutsMichael KuppermanJim WoodringDash ShawCharles M SchulzBlake BellBest of 2009Abstract Comics 24 Dec 2009 3:41 PM

Online Commentary & Diversions will return next week. Have a great holiday!

List: From Alan David Doane of Comic Book Galaxy's not-technically-a-best-of end-of-year roundup: "...[O]f course Fantagraphics continued to make life better with its ongoing Complete Peanuts collections, and their Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 1 was also one of the treasures of the year, filled with tons of the master's weird and wonky comics."

Review: "...I enjoyed the hell out of this book. ... Not only did Portable Grindhouse remind me of ye olden days, it also gave me quite a laugh. You won’t believe some of the ridiculously schlocky movies that are included in this book. I honestly can’t recommend it enough. It’s the perfect book for anyone who understands the art of the guilty pleasure and the joy in a terrifically bad movie, as well as those who took great joy in the hunt for home video entertainment. Portable Grindhouse: The Lost Art of the VHS Box gets two thumbs WAY up!" – Chad Derdowski, Mania

Review: "...Tales Designed to Thrizzle, whose first four issues have just been anthologized as a hardcover... bring[s] a slick, hyperreal illustrative consistency that amplifies the already dreamlike mixture of familiarity and strangeness, which permeates [Kupperman's] deadpan surrealist slapstick." – Doug Harvey, LA Weekly

Interview: The latest in this week's series of Dash Shaw interviews is with Entertainment Weekly. Interviewer Darren Franich calls Bottomless Belly Button "a genuine masterpiece" and says the stories in The Unclothed Man in the 35th Century A.D. are "gut-punchingly wondrous." Teaser quote from Dash: "Unclothed Man, to me, is about figure drawing and figure drawing classes and what it’s like to be a figure drawing model. If you pick up an old How to Draw the Figure Book, it’s always Pin-Up girls. Like, How to Draw This Reclining Hot Chick. The sexual undertones are obviously there in the drawing, but the classroom is such a weird academic repressed environment."

Profile: Wider Screenings presents a video profile of Australian artist and Abstract Comics contributor Tim Gaze (link updated 12/29)

Things to see: Good heavens, what has Jim Woodring done to Manhog this time?

Daily OCD: 12/23/09
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under The Comics JournalSupermenstaffPortable GrindhousePeanutsLove and RocketsKrazy KatKevin HuizengaJules FeifferJohn PhamJaime HernandezJacques BoyreauHumbugGeorge HerrimanFletcher HanksDash ShawCharles M SchulzCarol TylerBest of 2009 23 Dec 2009 3:31 PM

Christmas Eve Eve Online Commentary & Diversions:

List: We published 6 of John Seven's top 10 "Decade's Best: Comics - Archives & Collections": The Complete Peanuts, Explainers by Jules Feiffer, the two Fletcher Hanks books, Humbug, Locas by Jaime Hernandez, and Supermen! The First Wave of Comic Book Heroes 1936-1941

Review: "The packaging... is brilliant and the actual product is no less magnificent. The quality that Fantagraphics put into [Portable Grindhouse: The Lost Art of the VHS Box] is top-notch. The card and paper stock could not be more perfect. The high resolution pictures and scans of each of the films are almost like you are holding the original. ... This is a 'must-have' for genre fans, collectors and art lovers alike." – Cinesploitation

Review: "Huizenga delivers a quiet tour de force [in Ganges #3] that shows confident cartooning that thrills through its ease and craftsmanship,... documenting a normal life with a sharp eye and a penchant for gentle revelation." – John Seven, Worcester Magazine

Review: "...Krazy Kat is that most unlikely of things: poetry fostered and cared for unquestioningly by commerce." – David Mathews (an edited version originally appeared in The New Indian Express)

Plugs: Fictional or not, The Rack's Lydia Park says re: Sublife Vol. 2 "John Pham is just beyond good. So many great ideas executed perfectly. Think Chris Ware meets Kevin Huizenga" and re: The Unclothed Man in the 35th Century A.D. "Dash Shaw is incredible."

Interview: The Daily Cross Hatch's Brian Heater has a wonderful chat with Carol Tyler (part 1 of 4): "Everything is more complicated. Everything is layered. I think as you grow older, you have this experience, but then you also, exponentially, have all of these others, due to the fact that you’ve just lived longer. You’ve met more people, and you’ve been around, and done all of these things. I try to boil it down and try to figure out the best way to do this. A collection of symbols and the right words—I really try to be a wordsmith, but I’m not! Argh! I try to pick the right words and the right way to get an idea across. Sometimes you just have to shoot it out there like bullshit and other times you have to make it more poetic. You have to balance that."

Interview/Preview: The ubiquitous Dash Shaw talks to Rick Marshall about The Unclothed Man in the 35th Century A.D. at the MTV Splash Page blog (where there is also a 5-page sneak peek of the book): "I felt like I learned so much by drawing every day. If you want to get better at drawing the human figure, doing an animated series will definitely do that for you."

Interview: The Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon talks to The Comics Journal's Kristy Valenti, focusing on Little Nemo in Slumberland: So Many Splendid Sundays but touching on other topics as well

Things to see: Kevin Huizenga brings us some holiday freakonomics in Amazing Facts and Beyond with Leon Beyond

Daily OCD: 12/22/09
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Zak SallyThe Comics JournalSteve DitkoreviewsJoe DalyJim BlanchardJaime HernandezHans RickheitGabrielle BellDash ShawBlake BellBest of 2009 22 Dec 2009 3:01 PM

Online Commentary & Diversions for you:

List: FEARnet names Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 1 one of the Top 9 Comic Books and Graphic Novels of '09: "Shunning the spotlight of fans and the press, the artist has chosen instead to let his books speak for themselves. They continue to speak loudly, and with a weird grace lacking in much of his contemporaries' work."

List/Review: "Druggy noir vividly told, [The] Red Monkey [Double Happiness Book] is like watching Jim Rockford take a monster bong-hit before getting bashed in the jaw by some muscle of a rich guy in a bar bathroom. 'The Leaking Cello Case' and 'John Wesley Harding' are both contenders for short graphic fiction of the year, with pellucid plotting distorted by strange times and scary surprises. The artwork is like the more story-based finely crafted alternative comics of the 90s, and the sense of distorted place and identity as creative as fiction by Thomas Pynchon. If that seems lofty, start here and wait for Daly to one day unveil his Gravity's Rainbow." – Chris Estey, Three Imaginary Girls "Great Reads of 2009"

Review: "Thank you, Fantagraphics, for compiling 15 years of the Love and Rockets comic series into 700 pages of punk rock, heartbreak, and self-discovery. Locas: The Maggie and Hopey Stories presents Jaime Hernandez's indie masterpiece in the entirety of its run between 1981 to 1996... a serious contender for the American comic canon." - Aysha Pamukcu, Plasma Pool

Review: "OK, first, my initial impression of cartoonist Hans Rickheit’s new book The Squirrel Machine was one of amazement (a word I don’t bandy about indulgently) and bafflement. I am clear I am not grasping something — not an unpleasant feeling in this circumstance. ... As usual for Fanatagraphics, this book is well-designed and well-printed. Let me know if you figure out what it’s about, though not knowing made it no less fun for me." – Robert Birnbaum, The Morning News

Interview: Alice Parker of Comics Alliance gets a whole lot of info out of Dash Shaw: "As for me, I like a lot of different things. I'm not a discriminating reader of comics, which is a problem, I think. I can read just about any comic, but I definitely wouldn't read any all-word book."

Interview: And in your second Dash Shaw interview of the day, with Tim Needles of Short and Sweet NYC, some advice for aspiring artists: "The other thing is it’s probably going to be touch and go forever and you are going to have to do an absurd amount of work before you get a penny for it and even when you get that penny, it’s probably just going to be a penny. On the other hand it is really awesome to draw all the time and devote your life to it."

Interview: Jaime Hernandez and Zak Sally's must-read chat from The Comics Journal #300 is now online at TCJ.com

Things to see: In Gabrielle Bell's latest strip, more adventures with Kim Deitch and the search for Crumb

Things to see: A portrait of the great Harry Dean Stanton by the great Jim Blanchard

Daily OCD: 12/21/09
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under SupermenRobert GoodinRobert CrumbRichard SalareviewsPrince ValiantPeanutsKevin HuizengaJohnny RyanJoe DalyJacques TardiHumbugHans RickheitGahan WilsonDash ShawCharles M SchulzCarol TylerBest of 2009 21 Dec 2009 5:44 PM

Online Commentary & Diversions are not slowing down, no sir:

List: New York Magazine's Dan Kois names You'll Never Know, Book 1: A Good and Decent Man by C. Tyler one of the ten Best Comics of 2009

List: The Daily Cross Hatch posts "The Best Damned Comics of the Decade Chosen by the Artists" — among the wide-ranging choices are I Killed Adolf Hitler by Jason, The Three Paradoxes by Paul Hornschemeier, Palestine and Safe Area Gorazde by Joe Sacco, The Complete Peanuts 1952-1953 (which doesn't exist, but 1950-1952 and 1953-1954 do), Ghost World and Eightball #22 (Ice Haven) & #23 by Daniel Clowes, Late Bloomer by Carol Tyler, Sammy the Mouse by Zak Sally, Locas and Locas II by Jaime Hernandez, Fear of Comics by Gilbert Hernandez, Explainers by Jules Feiffer, Jimbo in Purgatory by Gary Panter, and Schizo #4 by Ivan Brunetti

List: At their The SF Site: Nexus Graphica column, Rick Klaw and Mark London Williams name their top 5 comics of the year. For Williams it's West Coast Blues by Tardi & Manchette at #5 ("one of the year's best crime fiction reads, at least in comics"); for Klaw it's Humbug at #4 ("The slipcased set wisely includes several insightful and interesting extras") and Tardi's West Coast Blues and You Are There tied at #3 ("one of the best crime graphic novels ever produced" and "masterfully satirizes French society and politics unlike any comic before or since" respectively)

List: J. Caleb Mozzocco names some top 20 favorites: C. Tyler ranks his 17th favorite writer for You'll Never Know, Book 1; Johnny Ryan's Prison Pit: Book 1 sports his 4th favorite cover; and The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book by Joe Daly is his 20th favorite OGN/limited series (obviously it falls in the former category)

List: Comic Book Resources' Brian Cronin lists his Top Ten Comics of 2009, including Michael Kupperman's Tales Designed to Thrizzle #5 in the 10th spot ("continues to be a brilliantly absurd comic book every time out") and Ganges #3 by Kevin Huizenga in 4th place ("The first story is mind-boggling... Absolute top notch sequential work")

Guide: If you've always wondered what part of R. Crumb's enormous oeuvre was the best place to start, Robot 6's Chris Mautner takes you to "Comics College" with some solid advice

Review: "Few cartoonists ever had as lavish a tribute as a three-volume-slipcased collection, but few are as deserving as [Gahan] Wilson. Collecting 50 years worth of his monthly single page gag cartoons from Playboy, [Gahan Wilson: Fifty Years of Playboy Cartoons] is a definitive overview of a remarkable talent and viewpoint. ... Beautifully designed and printed, the books contain cut-out pages, and the slipcase itself becomes a window for a trapped photo of Wilson. Text extras include Wilson's prose short stories and an appreciation by Neil Gaiman. If these three volumes are a bit much for one sitting, periodic dipping in will always satisfy." – Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

Review: "[You Are There] is an absurdist satire,... and a pretty terrific one. ... It's easy to picture it as one of those long-form fourth-season Monty Python episodes... [I]t's seriously a master class on creating a sense not just of place but of a claustrophobic, chaotic, unsustainable state of mind. ... Killer stuff, and more fun than you remember it from French class." – Sean T. Collins

Review: "This time around, we get Strange Suspense by Steve Ditko, whom you may have heard of. ...[and] man! are these some cool comics. ... Ditko... had no restraints, and the stories show it. This is pretty wild stuff. ... We really get a sense of a master at work in this book, even though it was so early in Ditko's career. ... It's totally worth the price!" – Greg Burgas, Comic Book Resources

Review: "...Tyler’s sensitive 'voice' remains easily recognizable in her latest book, You’ll Never Know. ... This book is to be savored slowly and on its own terms." – Ng Suat Tong, The Comics Journal

Review: Scott Anderson of Prism Comics, examining the "rollicking compendium" Supermen! The First Wave of Comic Book Heroes 1936-1941, notes "Grisly deaths, drug addicts, crime lords, strippers, drunk molls, and morally iffy protagonists, that, ladies and gentlemen, is how they wrote comics for kids, millions of kids, in the innocent days of yesteryear." (Via Journalista)

Review: "...[F]or a cartoonist like Dash Shaw, who revels in drawing’s fluidity and expressive imperfections, the transition between comics and animation is a natural one. His splendid four-part animated web series for IFC.com, The Unclothed Man in the 35th Century A.D., underscores what’s best about all of his work—its eclecticism and intimate drama." – Nicole Rudick, Artforum

Plug: "The Definitive Prince Valiant Companion... is great stuff if you're a fan of the strip and those who are should add this to their last minute Christmas list right away." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6

Plug: "The Complete Peanuts 1971-1974... This collection of the 11th and 12th volumes of a planned 25-book set, designed by Canadian cartoonist and designer Seth, shows Schulz's staggering talent in the prime of his career and even introduces Linus and Lucy's little brother, Rerun." – Jonathan Kuehlein, Toronto Star

Interview: Big Shiny Robot! talks to Dash Shaw: "I’ve never sold a treatment and then executed something with the expectations of the publisher looming over my shoulder. ... These comics were going to exist in some form anyway. It’s all been a combination of drawing a ridiculous amount and total luck."

Things to see: A nice gallery of Richard Sala's Christmas cards through the years

Things to see: "Postcard from Fielder" part 3 by Kevin Huizenga

Things to see: On the Covered blog, Robert Goodin reimagines Carl Barks's Donald Duck

Things to see: Hans Rickheit's Ectopiary, page 3 — comment on Hans's blog (warning: gross picture)

Daily OCD: 12/18/09
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Tim LaneThe Comics JournalSteve DitkoRoy CraneNoah Van SciverJoe SaccoJasonJacques TardiHo Che AndersonDrew FriedmanDash ShawDaniel ClowesCarol TylerBlake BellBest of 2009audioAnders Nilsen 18 Dec 2009 4:05 PM

Online Commentary & Diversions:

List: Critic John Seven names Safe Area Gorazde by Joe Sacco one of the Decade's Best Graphic Novels, in a list focused on "graphic novels for people who don’t want to read comics." (via The Comics Reporter)

List: Matthew Price of The Oklahoman gives Ganges #3 the 9th position on his 10 Best Periodical Comic Books of 2009: "Kevin Huizenga continues to be one of comics' brightest indie creators... Huizenga uses his talents to immerse the reader inside Ganges' head."

List/reviews/analysis: On the Inkstuds radio program, a roundtable of prominent critics (Sean T. Collins, Tim Hodler, & Chris Mautner) join host Robin McConnell for a discussion of 2009's standout books, including our two "You" books, You Are There by Tardi & Forest and You'll Never Know, Book 1 by C. Tyler

Reviews/analysis: The Hooded Utilitarian's contrarian critical roundtable of Ghost World marches on with Ng Suat Tong, Vom Marlowe, Kinukitty again, and more Noah Berlatsky, who also points out that you can follow the whole thing here

Review: "What's better than a new story by Jason? Why, several in one volume, of course! ...[T]he more of Jason's weird energy and quirky, poignant storytelling that I can consume at one time, the better. ... It's kind of a mystery how well he's able to do it, crafting easy-to-follow stories in such a minimalist style, but luckily, they're incredibly enjoyable, so one can easily get lost in them, forgetting questions of craft and technique because those aspects become all but invisible. ... [Low Moon] is another great example of the strange alchemy that Jason has mastered, drawing readers in to compelling tales of people caught up in oddly familiar situations, even when they're dealing with something that's off-kilter from reality as we know it. That's the Jason touch, and long may it continue to grace our pages." – Matthew J. Brady

Plug: In Richard Metzger's profile of Steve Ditko for Dangerous Minds, he says "I may be a little late to the game on this one, but I recently got a copy of Blake Bell’s Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko, a coffeetable book published by Fantagraphics last year and it is a wonderful and fascinating look at Ditko’s life and work. Kudos to Bell for putting together such a volume which was clearly a labor of love and unique erudition."

Interview: Excerpted in its entirety from The Comics Journal #300, the conversation between Ho Che Anderson and Howard Chaykin

Things to see: What's this, another "Blind Date" strip from Dash Shaw?

Things to see: Drew Friedman revisits a Sports Illustrated illo of Tiger Woods and Mike Tyson he did a while ago and ponders their subsequent role reversal

Things to see: If you haven't seen the comics section in the San Francisco Panorama from McSweeney's yet (featuring Dan Clowes, Chris Ware, Kim Deitch, Seth, Art Spiegelman etc.), Flickr user Steve Rhodes has a mess of photos of the whole dang paper

Things to see: Paul Pope draws Captain Easy in action (our Captain Easy, Soldier of Fortune: The Complete Sunday Newspaper Strips Vol. 1 is currently scheduled for February) (via The Comics Reporter)

Things to see: More cut-outs (older ones this time) from Tim Lane

Things to see: More Post-its from Anders Nilsen

Things to see: I'm happy to report that Noah Van Sciver's cartoon interviews for The Comics Journal continue at TCJ.com, kicking off with David Heatley

Daily OCD: 12/17/09
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Tony MillionaireSethreviewsPopeyePeanutsMichael KuppermanMatthias LehmannMaakiesJordan CraneJoe SaccoJasonJacques TardiGilbert HernandezGahan WilsonfashionEC SegarDaniel ClowesCraig YoeCharles M SchulzCarol SwainBest of 2009Abstract Comics 17 Dec 2009 3:21 PM

When these Online Commentary & Diversions posts get long enough I get an error message in our blogging interface; this is one of those, so buckle in:

List: Heeb's Graphic Novel Gift Guide includes Popeye Vol. 4: "Plunder Island", which editor Jeff Newelt says contains "heartfelt masterpieces of illustrated slapstick adventure." (via Robot 6)

List: Design Observer's recommended Holiday Books 2009 includes Abstract Comics: "...[T]his arresting book is like a scoop of primordial narrative, representational mud. Which is to say, it has vitaminic powers."

List: Jason's Low Moon and Michael Kupperman's Tales Designed to Thrizzle Vol. 1 get shout-outs from our esteemed colleagues on the Matador Records/Beggars Group staff in their annual staff/artist end-of-year best-of Matablog megapost

List: Comics-and-More's Dave Ferraro's Favorite Comic Book Covers of 2009 include Luba by Gilbert Hernandez (designed by Jacob Covey), Uptight #3 by Jordan Crane, West Coast Blues by Tardi & Manchette (designed by Adam Grano), Abstract Comics (designed by Jacob Covey), and The Complete Peanuts 1973-1974 (designed by Seth)

Review: "Giraffes In My Hair: A Rock ‘N’ Roll Life... is my favorite graphic novel of the year, and it is marinated in a life lived through real rock and roll delivered via stories as wide-open and lung-puncturing as a two minute Ramones rant. Artist Swain is an alternative comics’ veteran... with an attractively scruffy style; storyteller Paley has an author-blessed background in the margins of the freak milieu... This comic book adaptation of a real life shows the biggest bruises and the smallest scars, but cuts out all the heroic flab. Again, one of the best graphic novels of the year, as well as one of the best rock books too." – Chris Estey, KEXP

Review: "The Playboy cartoons collected [in Gahan Wilson: Fifty Years of Playboy Cartoons] demonstrate above all Wilson's phenomenal range in subject, style, and inspiration. ... The menace in domestic relations, the evil that kids are capable of, the outright nastiness that man inflicts on man: it's all here, drawn in Wilson's inimitable comic style. ... And Fantagraphics has also served Wilson well.  This collection is a wonder of book design, with die-cut boards, marvelous color reproduction, and a fantastic slipcase.  The clear plastic panel on one side reveals the laminated  back board of the books, each one a different headshot photo of Wilson himself, his face smashed against the plastic, a prisoner in his own collection. It's a perfect expression of all the inspired madness within." – Thomas DePietro, The Barnes & Noble Review

Review: "[Abstract Comics] is a great book for the comics enthusiast and visual artist alike." – Book Soup Blog (via the Abstract Comics Blog)

Review: "The comics [in Abstract Comics] resemble IQ quizzes that test the ability to recognise patterns. But they are more difficult here — insanely difficult — as they replace simple geometric shapes with abstract comic lines, colours and collage. Solving them will no doubt provide tremendous pleasure but there are no answers given, of course." – Parka Blogs, who also have very nice photos and video of the book (also via the Abstract Comics Blog)

Reviews: Érico Assis of Brazilian site Omelete has the rundown on the recently released Brazilian edition of The Complete Peanuts 1950-1952 (Vol. 1): "But of course, the interest here is the historical value. Maybe time to recover, at least you remember the pop culture, were much simpler. If you like to do time travel, at least with the brain, Complete Peanuts gives you several hours of escapism for a past environment of children, a bit silly. And perhaps so happy." Also: "If Tales Designed to Thrizzle does not please a dedicated fan of Monty Python, I like my stuffed parrot. ... With the collection, it's time to conquer the world. At least the world of smart people who recognize the genius of Monty Python." (slightly broken English from Google translation)

Review: "In The Great Anti-War Cartoons, Craig Yoe has gathered an amazing assembly of peaceful protests that seeks to prove that the pen is truly mightier than the sword. ... All of it is thought-provoking and deserves a look. And where else will you see a collection like this? Art Spiegelman, Robert Crumb, Rube Goldberg, Honore Daumier… my god. Even if you don’t dig the message, you gotta dig the art. In the end, it’s obviously a book that’ll stick with me and would make a worthy addition to your collection. ... Grade: A" – Chad Derdowski, Mania

Review: "War sucks, and [in The Great Anti-War Cartoons] Yoe has selected a wide range of cartoons that make the point with elegance and grim wit. ...[I]n terms of craft, vision, and passion, political cartoons simply don't get much better." – Noah Berlatsky, Chicago Reader

Review: Noah Berlatsky is the 4th writer at The Hooded Utilitarian to take a crack at Ghost World in their critical roundtable: "I’ve never been able to quite wrap my head around what about the book so thoroughly irritates me."

Metacommentary: TCJ.com's Shaenon Garrity comments on the (TCJ-hosted) Hooded Utilitarian's critical roundtable on Ghost World: "...the other reason I like Ghost World: like it or hate it, you can talk about it endlessly."

Profile: Turkish cartoonist Adem Mermerkaya looks at the work of Joe Sacco (autotranslation is little help I'm afraid but it looks fairly substantive if you read the language)

Things to see: A whole mess of new stuff — sketches, gags, abstractions — on T. Edward Bak's art blog, plus an early character design and research for his current Mome story 

Things to see: Matthias Lehmann's latest addition to his art blog is particularly nice

Democracy/fashion: Vote for the next Maakies t-shirt design from Waterloo

Daily OCD: 12/16/09
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Trina RobbinsTony MillionaireTim KreiderThe Comics JournalSupermenPortable GrindhouseNell BrinkleyLilli CarréJacques BoyreauFemke HiemstraDash ShawDaniel ClowesBest of 2009Basil WolvertonAndrice Arp 16 Dec 2009 3:42 PM

'Atsa good Online Commentary & Diversions:

List: On her Pop Candy blog, USA Today's Whitney Matheson gives The Brinkley Girls the #10 spot on her Top 10 comics/graphic novels of 2009, saying "this beautiful book introduced me to a new heroine: Nell Brinkley, an early 20th century newspaper cartoonist. Her drawings of flappers and glamour gals are sexy, strong and ahead of their time. I can't believe I hadn't seen her work before, but I'm so thrilled to know it now." Matheson also lavishes praise on Lilli Carré, who "continued making must-see work" and lands at #69 on Matheson's Top 100 People list, and whose book from Little Otsu lands at the #2 spot on the comics Top 10.

Review: "The Wolverton Bible... is -- no pun intended -- a revelation. Though his serious work is a bit stiffer and more restrained than the Wolverton art you might be used to, it's more powerful. ... What sets [the drawings in] The Wolveton Bible apart from Crumb's Genesis... is that they come from a true believer. ...Wolverton's drawings have an intensity and sincerity that reveal something connecting him to those stories in a way Crumb just can't duplicate." – Will Pfeifer, "Books of the Year"

Review: "...[Supermen! is] magical, memorable [and] just plain wonky... The stories range from action-packed to barely-sensible, but they all have a crazed energy you just can't fake. ... They read like the sort of stories imaginative kids would think up -- which might be why they appealed so much to kids in the first place." – Will Pfeifer, "Books of the Year"

Review: The Hooded Utilitarian's critical roundtable on Ghost World continues with Richard Cook: "The most appealing aspect of Ghost World was the main characters, Enid and Rebecca. And much of their appeal is due to how effectively Daniel Clowes panders to a specific demographic that I belong to: geeks."

Plug: The Beat's Heidi MacDonald, picking up on Tony Millionaire's Billy Hazelnuts and the Crazy Bird sneak peek, comments "In all the talk about comics for kids recently, we’re probably very bad for not mentioning Millionaire’s non-child-averse work more prominently. His work is not for the faint-hearted, but children generally prefer tales that are not faint-hearted." Right on.

Plug: Interior decorating blog Shelterrific puts Rock Candy: The Artwork of Femke Hiemstra on a holiday gift list

Plug: "Portable Grindhouse: The Lost Art of the VHS Box... is a fetishized art object/coffee table-style compendium of great VHS jackets, ranging from the campy to the sleazy to the so-bad-it's-good. Highly recommended as a gift idea for the B-movie lover on your holiday shopping list." – Audrey Hendrickson, The SunBreak

Interview: TCJ.com continues to post the intergenerational conversations from The Comics Journal #300 online; today's selection is David Mazzucchelli (Asterios Polyp) and Dash Shaw (Bottomless Belly Button)

Interview: Walrus Comix, who say "Not only is [The Pain — When Will It End?] the funniest comic strip ever, but, well, that’s it: it’s the funniest comic strip ever," talk to the strip's creator, Tim Kreider, who says, among many things, "I don’t know why you’d want to be a cartoonist if you didn’t enjoy drawing funny, cool things. If I had to draw an entire graphic novel of people sitting around talking I think I’d hang myself." (Via Journalista)

Things to buy: Folks in Portland this weekend can purchase handmade arts-n-crafts from Andrice Arp and a bunch of other Portland artists at the Creative Creatures Bazaar at Cosmic Monkey Comics, reports Andrice on her blog


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