The first* glass of spiked eggnog of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review: Metroland'sSimcoe reviews Walt Disney's Donald Duck: A Christmas for Shacktown by Carl Barks and The Complete Peanuts: 1985 to 1986 by Charles M. Schulz. Glenn Perrett states, "Reading Carl Bark's "Donald Duck" stories from 60 years ago was entertaining. The animation and colours are excellent and sections such as "Story Notes" [etc.] . . . complement the wonderful comics making this book a nice addition to any library." And "The Complete Peanuts: 1985 to 1986 are sure to make the holidays more entertaining and makes a nice gift and keepsake."
• Review: Noel Murray of The AV Club continues the Christmas coverage with Schulz's Charlie Brown's Christmas Stocking which "is mainly meant to serve as a nice little accessory to holiday decorations, to be brought out every December with the ornaments and Andy Williams records. For that reason, it’s hard to humbug it…" With Walt Disney's Donald Duck: "A Christmas for Shacktown" by Carl Barks, Murray notes "These stories—nearly all published in the early ’50s—are mostly non-Christmas-y, but the title tale is a sweet one. . . For those who do want a surefire present for the comics buff in their lives."
• Review: School Library Journal goes over some of the favorite holiday graphic novels of 2012 like Charlie Brown's Christmas Stocking by Charles Schulz. J. Caleb Mozzocco states "It’s beautifully designed, a breezy, five-minute read, and about the size of a Christmas card, making it a pretty great gift. And, this being Schulz’s Peanuts, it’s the sort of gift you’ll never grow out of." As for Carl Barks' holiday and title story in Walt Disney's Donald Duck: "A Christmas for Shacktown", "It’s one of about 20 of the top-notch comics in the book, which range from one-page gags to the sort of sprawling adventures Barks was best-known for."
• Review: Noel Murray of The AV Club takes a peak at Heads or Tails by Lilli Carré. "Carré loves to constrict her characters, because she knows that limiting their options won’t necessarily limit their imaginations. . . her comics work often has the feel of avant-garde cinema, as she weds surreal images to everyday situations to enchant audiences and spark ideas. . . "
• Review: Christopher Borrelli of The Chicago Tribune writes a loooong article on Lilli Carré and her new book Heads or Tails "that best captures the range, humor and vague sense of ennui she's made her name on. . . "
• Review: Noel Murray of The AV Club enjoys Tom Kacynski's Beta Testing the Apocalypse. "Kaczynski’s comics are frequently nightmarish, starting from a slightly askew place and then tipping further into darkness. . . But while his stories have characters and plots—often with haunting endings—they’re more like essays than conventional narratives."
• Review: Noel Murray of The AV Club finished the You'll Never Know series with Book 3: A Soldier's Heart by Carol Tyler. "This is Tyler’s magnum opus: her thoughts on art, work, relationships, music, war, and anything else that came to her mind while she was piecing together her dad’s story."
• Plug:About.com fills in the blanks of their Christmas Sex Book List by adding our most recent titles. On No Straight Lines: Four Decades of Queer Comics edited by Justin Hall, Cory Silverberg slyly states "given the diversity of artists working today it's not a definitive collection, but it's sexy and joyful and difficult in parts, and definitely one to own." Meanwhile, Naked Cartoonists (edited by Gary Groth) contains "a number of stand outs among this overwhelmingly white, male collection of artists. And I imagine this could be a perfect gift for the right kind of comic nerd."
• Review: Danel Olson of the Weird Fiction Volume 3 writes on Richard Sala and The Hidden . "Sala has become one of my favorite American sequential artists because of his subtle tributes and expansions to four of the most memorable twentieth century American cartoonists - Charles Addams, Edward Gorey, Gahan Wilson, and Basil Wolverton. . . Forbidding and weird seem like weak adjectives for Sala's The Hidden, and I urge you to open it. . . Give a standing order to Fantagraphics for any noirishly weird fictions forthcoming from Sala."
• Review: Chris Estey of KEXP reviews the Bill Griffith collection called Bill Griffith: Lost and Found - Comics 1969-2003. Chris Estey writes that it is "a luxurious and generous Fantagraphics big book collection of his non-Zippy work, is required reading for those who may have missed his parodies and punk rock operas in the past, or want them all bound together. It’s also for those like me who were never really that much into Zippy in the first place."
• Plug: Dave Segal recants the events immediately following his Stranger article on Listen, Whitey!by Pat Thomason the Stranger Slog. White supremacists got all sorts of angry at this history book and the white dude who wrote it.
• Plug: One step forward, two steps back. The Adele Blanc-Sec movie is inching along towards distribution in America. Johanna Draper Carlson gets the scoop on DVDs Worth Reading on Jacques Tardi's graphic novel adaptation.
• Plug:Negromancer reviews the film adaptation of Art School Confidentialdirected by Terry Zwigoff based on the comics of Daniel Clowes. "While Art School Confidential comes across as a satire of art schools, the faculty, and students, it is also a love story and youth relationship drama. It works well as all three."
*let's be real, it's like our tenth glass of that local dairy's eggnog
• Interview (Audio): Listen to Monday night's episode of Too Much Information on WFMU, in which "Cartoonist Bill Griffith joins Benjamen Walker for an hour long conversation about Underground comics, Newspaper strips and Mainstream culture."
• Review: "Everything Is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson by Salt Lake City native Kevin Avery is a fitting testimonial to a man who pioneered rock 'n' roll criticism. Those familiar and unfamiliar with the culture of the '60s will appreciate this finely written tribute.... Overall, Everything Is an Afterthought will break your heart and inspire you to be a better person. It is a wonderful story of a man who deserves his chance in the spotlight." – Shelby Scoffield, Deseret News
• Review: "A little impenetrable in that wordless story kind of way, even when there are words. I like the stories – actually read them – but I’m more interested in studying the way each page sports a new texture or approach. The art is simply fantastic. Some stories retain a color scheme for their entirety and some switch up the limited palette within the story itself. Totally my kind of thing. I like the coloring, the line drawing, the combination of both. The graphic, printmaking quality of it and the 'classical' drawing are also attractive to me. I found myself just flipping through this collection for a long time.... High class stuff. Also, this book gets an award for best endpapers. Check it out." – Frank Santoro, The Comics Journal
• Review: "Lost and Found is the sort of retrospective project that begs summary statements. The introduction reads like a compressed memoir. The book, while extremely dense and a bit overwhelming to read, testifies to Griffith’s heroic output of underground comics, and his commitment to a lifetime of making work that is challenging, inventive, and beautifully drawn. His signature narrative discombobulation and linguistic elasticity unite all these disparate pieces into a cohesive statement of surprise and protest. It is ridiculously quotable. Also, it is very funny. Lost and Found delivers wholesale entertainment value with a socially redeeming dose of satire." – Matthew Thurber & Rebecca Bird, The Comics Journal
• Interview (Audio):Inkstuds host Robin McConnell says of his latest episode, "One of the most prolific cartoonists of the underground generation, Bill Griffith, joined me to chat about his new collection, Lost and Found. It is an interesting conversation that touches on a number of different topics, ranging from his Zippy the Pinhead work, to discussing his contemporaries like Rory Hayes."
• Interview: Paul Gravett chatted with Robert Crumb for Art Review magazine; he presents an unexpurgated version at his blog: "In the last few years, I’ve got so deeply involved investigating scandalous shit that goes on in modern business and culture. It’s very difficult to interpret in comics, I’m trying to figure it out. There’s not a lot of action or humour, it’s serious, grim shit. You could get your ass in trouble doing that, too. I remember when I did this thing in the Seventies, ‘Frosty the Snowman’, where I had him being this revolutionary who throws bombs at the Rockefeller mansion and shortly after that was published, the Internal Revenue Service came after me."
• Interview: Chris Mautner's Q&A with Zak Sally at Robot 6 is a must read: "I’m no Pollyanna, nor am I a hippie; the world is NOT cut and dried with stuff like this, nor do I view it that way — if, for instance, Fantagraphics (who I love dearly) decided to print all their stuff over here, they’d probably have to kill important books by artists who don’t sell as well to ameliorate that extra cost. Or, hell, i don’t know — maybe they’d go under. Do i want either of those things? Heck no. I want Noah van Sciver and Chris Wright’s new books to get out in the world, and to reach their audience. I want Fantagraphics to be around for … forever. BUT: let’s also not fool ourselves that this 'lowest cost' imperative isn’t fucking up our world significantly, all day every day, as an economic paradigm. It’s a real thing, and that can’t be ignored either."
• Profile: At HiLobrow, Norman Hathaway puts the spotlight on Guy Peellaert: "Years later I realized that Peellaert had also been responsible for one of my favorite pieces of power-pop comic art; Jodelle (and later Pravda), which plastered hip, mid-’60s fashion drawing into a dystopian landscape of the future, done in a completely different linear graphic design-based style."
• Profile: Dan Taylor of The Press Democrat chats with Monte Schulz: "'My dad is actually mentioned in a very subtle way in The Big Town,' Schulz said. 'The main character, Harry, is in a barber shop. It says, "Back in St. Paul, he'd gotten his hair cut in the Family Barbershop on North Snelling Avenue by a cigar-smoking German fellow, whose young son drew funny little pictures."'"
• Profile (Video): Enjoy a brief video spotlight on the great Kim Deitch presented by Seth Kushner at Trip City
• Tribute/History: From last week, at The Stranger, rememberances of our former art director, the late Dale Yarger
What happens when you have to miss a couple of days of the comics internet is that it takes you almost the whole rest of the week to get fully caught up on Online Commentary & Diversions:
• List:Library Journal's Martha Cornog gives a nice shout-out to Carl Barks and recommends Oil and Water by Steve Duin & Shannon Wheeler as one of "30 Graphic Novels for Earth Day 2012": "Wheeler’s atmospheric, ink-washed greys capture eccentric residents from crabbers to a pelican-rescue team, and Duin’s script catches the ironic resiliency of people exploited by the very industry that feeds them.... Valuable for high schoolers and adults as a glimpse into the crisis, and for general sensitization to environmental issues."
• Review: "When I brought Pogo home from the bookstore on a Sunday afternoon, I called my daughters over, and we lay on the floor in the living room and read it together. I read it aloud, because half of the fun of Pogo is hearing the fantastic dialogue penned by Kelly, and my daughters loved it. I’m sure there were things that went over their heads — jokes that rely on experiences they haven’t had, references to past events, wordplay that’s a little too sophisticated. But the beauty of the strip is that does work on so many levels. There’s slapstick humor, cute little talking animals, and keen observations on the human condition — the last made easier to swallow perhaps because the characters aren’t people, as human as they may be." – Jonathan Liu, Wired – GeekDad
• Review: "[Jason] populates his tales with brightly clad cats and dogs and ducks, but their misbehavior is unmistakably human.... [Athos in America] is... consummately worth reading for its three gems: the lovely title story, the self-portrait 'A Cat From Heaven' and the wonderful 'Tom Waits on the Moon,' in which Jason carefully maps the crossed paths of four lonely people." – Sam Thielman, Newsday
• Review: "Despair threatens to overwhelm the creator’s usual tales of longing [in Athos in America]. In 'A Cat From Heaven,' his characteristic unrequited love story gives way to a somewhat depressing look at a self-absorbed cartoonist named Jason’s bitter relationship. Mercifully, the rest of the collection is a little more playful, from a couple noir parodies to the highlight, 'Tom Waits on the Moon,' in which four solipsistic stories converge in a tragic act." – Mike Sebastian, Campus Circle
• Review: "The Sincerest Form of Parody: The Best 1950s MAD-Inspired Satirical Comics is a wonderful book collecting the best stories of the beginnings of a favorite comic book genre — and I can’t emphasize this enough — it’s put together by people who know what they’re doing. Plus, it’s designed to fit on your bookshelf right next to your MAD Archives volumes. I can’t believe that you haven’t already picked this up! Are you unsane?!?" – K.C. Carlson, Comics Worth Reading
• Review: "If [Wandering Son] Vol. 1 was a masterclass in people not wanting to accept the status quo within their own minds, Vol. 2 shows the uncertainty of the waiting world. The way that Nitori and Takatsuki fumble forward with no plan is painful and endearing. They know the two of them are better together but there’s the problem of dealing with classmates, family and teachers. It’s not easy and well done to Takako for not short-circuiting the process. It’s not easy writing characters in distress but it’s wonderful to read it. If you can recognise the character’s pain and sympathise despite your differences, it proves you’re human and so is the author.... So much of what we read is a kind of literary false economy. We put in so much and get so little out of it. Wandering Son asks so little of you and you get so much out of it.... It is a wonderful, sweet, heartbreaking window into being different, young, unsure, afraid and human." – Eeeper's Choice
• Review: "[The Man Who Grew His Beard]’s a big batch of critic-friendly comic strips, comics which resemble curios excavated from some none-too-defined European past and more often than not have all the daring shallow-space visual syntax of a Garfield strip. They’re less stories than contraptions that wear their artifice and structure on their sleeve, like those medieval homunculi which transparently show their cogs and mechanisms while making their programmed movements." – Rich Baez, It's Like When a Cowboy Becomes a Butterfly
• Review: "Action! Mystery! Thrills!... beautifully resurrects all the Golden Age favorites, from superheroes to killer robots to cowboys and occult Nazis. This time capsule collection of cover art spans from 1933-45... An index in the back gives the fascinating stories behind the covers, while the full-page, color reproductions reveal them for what they are: works of art." – Mike Sebastian, Campus Circle
• Review: "Primarily known for his ghoulish comic strips in Playboy and The New Yorker, Gahan Wilson showed his tender side (kind of) with Nuts. Originally a series of one-page vignettes running in National Lampoon, Nuts is presented here in its entirety as a classic warts-and-all reminiscence of childhood, from sick days to family gatherings, the joys of candy to the terrors of the dark basement." – Mike Sebastian, Campus Circle
• Review: "R. Crumb hit it big in the ‘60s alternative Comix scene with his creation of Fritz the Cat (originally conceived as an adolescent). The feline protagonist remained Crumb’s avatar for lambasting American culture until a lackluster film adaptation prompted some divine retribution from his creator. The Life and Death of Fritz the Cat collects all of Fritz’s essential stories." – Mike Sebastian, Campus Circle
• Awards:GalleyCat reports that Author Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer, contributor to Significant Objects, has won the $1,000 Sidney Prize, which rewards "the author of the best new American story," and has a link to an excerpt from the winning story
• Opinions:Robert Crumb's got 'em! In the third installment of the "Crumb On Others" series, he lets you know exactly what he thinks of a bunch of prominent personalities, from Hitler to Ghandi (in whose homeland Crumb can be seen above) and from Kurtzman to Van Gogh
• Interview: When The Comics Journal posted the Q&A with Bill Griffith conducted by Gary Panter, I called it the must-read of the day, and it still stands as your must-read of the week: "I’ve only taken LSD twice in my life. Once on the beach in Martha’s Vineyard in 1967, which was pleasant, but not ego-shattering or anything. And once in New York after I’d started doing comics. All I remember about the second time was, I got hemorrhoids."
• Interview: Who better to talk to Matthias Wivel, editor of our Scandinavian comics anthology Kolor Klimax, than Steffen Maarup, editor of our Danish comics anthology From Wonderland with Love? A taste: "Putting together a good anthology is similar to making a good mixtape. Whatever the individual merits of a piece, it won’t do to include it if it doesn’t somehow work for the anthology as a whole. There has to be a consistent idea or tone to the book, which doesn’t mean that there can’t be dissonance — there’s some of that in Kolor Klimax, and I think for the better — but the individual parts still have to generate something greater than their sum. It’s incredibly difficult to achieve, but also a lot of fun." Read more at The Metabunker
This coming weekend, Saturday, March 24th and Sunday, March 25th, New York City will celebrate their own with Comic New York: A Symposium, bringing together "creators and academics to discuss the intertwined histories of American comics and the town where they were born."
There is a stellar jam-packed schedule in place for the weekend, and here are a few panels featuring Fantagraphics' own that you should check out!
Saturday, March 24th
3:00-4:00 PM: Alternative New York • Bill Griffith • R Sikoryak • Charles Brownstein • Julia Wertz • Moderator: Gene Kannenberg Jr.
Sunday, March 25th
1:30-2:30: New York as Breeding Ground • Al Jaffee • Miss Lasko-Gross • Tracy White • Dean Haspiel • Moderator: Danny Fingeroth • Dedicated to the memory of Jerry Robinson
• DeKalb, IL: The Northern Illinois Unversity Art Museum debuts the exhibition “Graphic Novel Realism: Backstage at the Comics,” curated by our own Eisner Award-winning graphic novelist, artist and editor, Paul Karasik, and featuring work from Joyce Farmer, Jaime Hernandez, Mark Newgarden and Megan Montague Cash, as well as Jason Lutes, Seth and James Sturm. (more info)
• Seattle, WA: The idiosyncratic work of cartoonist Lynda Barry, a Seattle native, is the subject of a new book by Portland author Susan E. Kirtley. Lynda Barry: Girlhood Through the Looking Glass is the first comprehensive critique of this influential American artist. Kirtley will discuss her book with Real Comet Press publisher Cathy Hillenbrand, who published Barry’s first four books, at 6:00 PM at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery. An informal reception and book signing will follow the discussion. (more info)
• New York City, NY: Comic New York: A Symposium kicks off at Columbia University, with a wealth of panels, including one with our own Bill Griffith! Stay tuned to the FLOG for more information about this event, coming soon!
• Northridge, CA: Gilbert, Jaime, & Mario Hernandez will be speaking to Professor Charles Hatfield's class on Monday, March 26th at the California State University, Northridge (in greater Los Angeles). This event is open to the public, not just students! (more info)
• Interview:AlterNet's Emily Wilson talks to Pat Thomas about writing Listen, Whitey! The Sights and Sounds of Black Power 1965-1975: "I was trying to write a book that was pro-Panthers, but not with an agenda as to what I wanted to say other than to sort of humanize these people. To me they were more than just statues frozen in time; they were people I was hanging out with in current day. I just wanted to capture their humanity in some way. Militancy or their strident side was just one part of it. I wanted to focus on how their legacy crossed paths with pop culture. You know, I talk about this wacky 'Partridge Family' episode where they meet the Black Panthers. It’s not a dogmatic book.... It’s meant to be, for lack of a better word, fun."
• Interview: On the Penny Ante Editions blog author James Tracy also talks with Pat Thomas: "I don’t know if it’s a danger [when white people take an interest in Black culture], unless it’s KKK member or some twisted 'White Power' kook… otherwise, there will always be a reason (good or bad or misguided) for Whites to explore Black culture. Frankly, America needs to have more dialogue between races, embracing their differences as well as what they have in common. I didn’t try to pretend to be Black - and that was something that Elaine Brown liked about me. I didn’t put on a 'mask' and start to talk Black or pull that kind of shit."
• Analysis: In the new entry in The Hooded Ultilitarian's critical roundtable on Jaime Hernandez, Noah Berlatsky examines nostalgia in the Locas stories, especially "Browntown" and "The Love Bunglers," from his trademark contrarian standpoint
• Plug: Leonard Maltin gave a very nice shout-out to Jack Davis: Drawing American Pop Culture on his Movie Crazy blog: "This beautifully produced, oversized volume pays tribute to every aspect of Davis’ wide-ranging career, including his movie art, and should please anyone who’s ever admired his amazing work. Samples of sketches and rarely-seen original art sit side-by-side with finished pieces, as well as a biographical essay by Gary Groth and an overview by William Stout."
• Review: "All six of the stories in this latest volume [Athos in America] from Europe's eminent purveyor of deadpan, blank-eyed, funny animals are quite good, but two of them especially seem to stand out for me. ...Jason isn't sitting on his laurels and cranking out repetitively quirky stories in his usual style; he's pushing himself to do new things and communicate through his art, and it's wonderful to watch." – Matthew J. Brady, Warren Peace Sings the Blues
• Analysis: At Comic Book Resources, Greg Burgas gives a close critical reading of the first page of Like a Sniper Lining Up His Shot by Jacques Tardi & Jean-Patrick Manchette: "Much like many graphic novels, the first page is less concerned with drawing readers in than getting the story going, and Tardi does that well here. His art remains the main draw of his books, even though the stories are usually quite good. He knows how to lay out a page and get readers to turn the page, and that’s not a bad skill at all."
• Analysis:The Hooded Utilitarian begins a critical roundtable on Jaime Hernandez's "Locas" stories with "A Fan Letter to Jaime Hernandez" by cartoonist and esteemed manga blogger Deb Aoki: "As a comics creator and as a life-long comics reader, I’ve frequently been asked, who are your favorite artists, or which artists are your biggest influences? Time and again, Jaime Hernandez is in my top 10 list. Given that most of my comics life revolves around manga nowadays, my response often surprises people. And it’s true — Jaime’s work isn’t what most people would consider manga at all, although his work is admired by fans and artists around the world for his draftsmanship, dramatic use of black/white, supple line work, and most of all, his storytelling skills. But discovering Love & Rockets when I was in college was a major turning point for me, and one that changed how and why I draw comics."
• Interview (Audio):Bill Griffith dropped by the WNPR studios yesterday for a fun chat on The Colin McEnroe Show about donuts and other topics; in his blog intro McEnroe states "...I already know the answer to the question everybody asks Bill Griffith: Where do you get your ideas? He probably doesn't have to sit there holding his head and feverishly hoping something will jump out. The anomalies and cartoon dissonances of Zippy the Pinhead are really just average days along the byways of America."
• History: If you'd like to know more about the late Dale Yarger's tenure as Fantagraphics Art Director, this tribute by another erstwhile Fanta staffer Robert Boyd is a great place to start
• Review: "Bill Griffith, the one prominent figure of underground comix to reach the daily comic page mainstream, has delivered again with a phone book-sized volume both odd and pleasing.... Griffith, with his Zippy the Pinhead cartoon, which has been carried in dozens of daily newspapers since 1984, has had numerous reprint books, but none so exhaustive as Lost and Found. Day by day, week by week, year by year, Zippy reveals the oddness of post-modernity and opens up a large view of civilization both berserk and humorous, when viewed from what has been called 'the Zen of stupidity.' Nor has any previous collection contained such a substantial memoir as the artist’s introduction to this volume, 'Inside the Box.' Not even Griffophiles (or is it Zippophiles?) like this reviewer knew most of the details offered here..." – Paul Buhle, The Jewish Daily Forward
• Profile:Jim Woodring's in Homer, Alaska again for another residency at the Bunnell Street Arts Center; Michael Armstrong at HomerNews.com finds out what Jim's up to up there: "Sit down before him, and he might draw you. Hang with him, and he'll talk about art and cartooning. Walk around town on a nice day, and you can join him on an sketch tour, looking for cool things to draw."
• New York, NY: It's that time again... time for another edition of The Crime Stoppers Club with Michael Kupperman and co-host Kate Beaton! This week, they welcome Adam Conover, Julia Segal, Aaron Diaz, and Chris Hastings. This free event starts at 7:00 PM at Luca Lounge. (more info)
• Kansas City, MO: It's your last chance to see the exhibit on underground comix legend Frank Stack, titled: Good Thing I Used a Pseudonym: Work From a Three-Part Career: Frank Stack as Painter, Connoisseur, and Incognito as Graphic Novelist Foolbert Sturgeon. (more info)
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