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In 1939, decades before it would become the powerhouse behind such famous super-heroes as Spider-Man, The X-Men, and Iron Man, Marvel Comics launched its comics line with a four-color magazine starring a daring new antihero: The Sub-Mariner.
As created and rendered by the great Bill Everett, the Sub-Mariner was an angry half-breed (half-man, half sea-creature) who loathed and fought against all mankind — until he joined the Allied Forces to defeat the Nazis during World War II. Seventy years later, Everett’s aquatic creation remains one of the pinnacles of the Marvel super-hero universe (as attested to by the character’s recent option for a major motion picture).
The Sub-Mariner alone, and his status as the original Marvel (anti-)hero, would have insured any cartoonist’s place in comics history. But Everett was a master of many kinds of comics: romance, crime, humor, and the often brutal horror comics genre (before it was defanged by the Comics Code Authority in the 1950s), for which he produced work of such stylish and horrifi c beauty that he ranks with the artists who kept the legendary EC comics line awash in blood and guts.
Written by Blake Bell (the author of the best-selling critical biography of Steve Ditko, Strange and Stranger) and compiled with the aid and assistance of Everett’s family, friends, and cartoonist peers, Fire and Water: Bill Everett, the Sub-Mariner & the Birth of Marvel Comics is an intimate biography of a troubled man; an eye-popping collection of Everett’s comics, sketchbook drawings, and illustration art (including spectacular samples from his greatest published work as well as never-before-seen private drawings); and an in-depth look at his involvement in the birth of the company that would revolutionize pop culture forever: Marvel Comics!
• Review: "...[T]his [is] a good-looking book as well as a good reading one. ... [T]his is a wonderfully informative read from where I’m sitting. Fire & Water is a long-overdue chance for today’s readers to get a good idea of what made Everett so special and so revered by older fans." – Johnny Bacardi, Popdose
• Review: "Richie Rich by way of Archie by way of Tippy Teen by way of, oh, I don’t know — The Grifters meets Tao Te Ching and airing at 10:30 CST on Adult Swim; ...it’s easy to admire [Wally Gropius's] all-over-the-place, random ingenuity..." – Johnny Bacardi, Popdose
• Review: "Artichoke Tales by Megan Kelso is a strange, other-worldly story about birth and death, coming of age, dealing with war, finding love, accepting tragedy. ... The simple, comic-strip-like illustrations in teal and white express movement beautifully with a minimum of lines." – Mary Louise Ruehr, Ravenna Record-Courier
• Interview:Avoid the Future calls Set to Sea "One of the most visually breathtaking comics we’ve ever had the pleasure of reading" and talks to creator Drew Weing: "I'm very happy with the final results, but I've got to work differently in the future — if I plan on having finished more than a handful of comics in my lifetime! There's so much fussy crosshatching and detail in Set to Sea. I'm trying to work much quicker and looser in my next projects."
• Coming Attractions: "Oh. Oh yes. Oh yes, yes, yes… Herriman’s wonderful Krazy and Ignatz, facsimile style reproduction of original, unpublished sketches he’d use before finalising his strips, in a big, beautiful hardback, and it’s from Fantagraphics so you know it’s going to be given the love and attention to detail and quality it deserves." – Forbidden Planet International Blog Log on Krazy & Ignatz: The Sketchbook Strips 1910-1913, coming this Fall
• Review: "By the 1980s, however, the anti-establishment sensibility of the underground comix had been replaced by a faith in just 'do-it-yourself' — making your own 'zines,' and that sense of independence is what [editor Michael] Dowers praises [in Newave! The Underground Mini Comix of the 1980s]." – George Elliott Clarke, The Chronicle Herald
• Review: "...Jim Woodring's Weathercraft creates a fantastic alternative universe. ...Woodring constructs a nightmarish tale in which Manhog falls victim to the villainous depredations of the all-too-aptly named Whim and the spells of the witchy pair Betty and Veronica. Those unfamiliar with the Woodring dreamscape may want to pick up The Frank Book collection as a primer, but the stand-alone Weathercraft requires no real prep work — just an openness to disturbing, id-derived imagery." – Cliff Froehlich, St. Louis Post-Dipatch
• Review: "Although King of the Flies... is anchored in a sharply delineated but deliberately generic suburbia, the book plunges us into an often violent, always profane environment that recalls David Lynch's Blue Velvet. Using multiple narrators, the book is an intricately constructed series of interlocking short stories that acidly etch a disquieting portrait of modern alienation and unease." – Cliff Froehlich, St. Louis Post-Dipatch
• Review: "French master Tardi gives an infantry-level view of World War I's meat-grinder carnage in grim vignettes that primarily keep tight, telling focus on the stories of individual soldiers. ...[It Was the War of the Trenches] deserves a place on the top shelf of graphic lit." – Cliff Froehlich, St. Louis Post-Dipatch
• Review: "Reading Jacques Tardi's It Was the War of the Trenches, I realized just how short most American war comics fall in portraying the reality and horror of war. ... Tardi brings every ounce of his talent to the task of trying to articulate the sheer horror of this war. And while he doesn't flinch once, neither does he resort to trite 'war is bad' or 'good versus evil' oversimplifications. He merely puts you directly in the soldiers' viewpoint and then tries to relate their experiences to you. ... It's a raw, uncompromising, devastating book, and, I'm kind of sad to say, unlike anything that's been published on these shores." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "...St. Louisan Tim Lane's Abandoned Cars, one of 2008's essential comics, has recently been reissued in paperback with two variant covers that vividly recall the lurid pulps of the 1930s." – Cliff Froehlich, St. Louis Post-Dipatch
• Review: "It can sometimes be hard to get a grip on what Jason is going for in his stories, since even when he approaches a familiar subject, he takes a strange angle and dwells on the types of moments that wouldn’t normally receive focus in these sorts of tales. Werewolves of Montpellier goes even further afield... Leave it to Jason to dwell on the awkwardness of the 29 non-full-moon days of the month in which the werewolf has to pass as a normal human." – Matthew J. Brady, Indie Pulp
• Review: "What I think is most interesting about [The Best American Comics Criticism] is that in his choices of pieces, [editor] Schwartz is laying out a theory of lit comics. It's a theory that rings very true to me. Part of this theory goes that as literary comics grew, they made necessary a reevaluation and relearning of certain classic comics." – Robert Boyd, The Great God Pan Is Dead (via The Comics Reporter)
• Profile: Steve Duin of The Oregonian talks to Patrick Rosenkranz about assembling The Artist Himself: A Rand Holmes Retrospective: "With rare access to Holmes' journals and sketchbooks, Rosenkranz succeeds in giving readers access to the cartoonist that Holmes denied his closest friends. And he succeeds because of a compulsion, born 45 years ago, to understand the world in which these artists moved 'and how what happened in their lives affected their work.'"
• Comic-Con: At About.com: Manga, Deb Aoki gives a quick report from the Moto Hagio Spotlight Panel at Comic-Con 2010, with a promise of more to come: "...Hagio-sensei charmed the audience with her self-effacing wit and matter-of-fact responses to questions..."
Carol Tyler brought some amazing collectibles to sell, including copies of You'll Never Know Book 1 signed by her dad (the "Good and Decent Man" himself) and a copy of the Twisted Sisters compilation signed by every contributor:
Brother Mario made a surprise appearance with the rest of the Hernandez clan for their Love and Rockets signing on Friday morning, which I only managed to capture with my crummy, crummy cameraphone.
Moto Hagio was joined for the second half of her signing by Carol Tyler, who brought flowers swiped from outside the convention hall.
Andrei Molotiu and Stephen DeStefano made their first Comic-Con signing appearances with us. Andrei, though best known for his work with abstract comics, is also a whiz with the representational sketch, as he proved in my sketchbook. Stephen obliged another fan with a 'Mazing Man sketch.
I missed getting any actual photos of Johnny Ryan & Esther Pearl Watson during their Friday signing, but here's their whiteboard sign-in. Esther's is particularly funny if you know the secret symbolic code from Unlovable.
Friday's final signing was a special treat as Blake Bell was joined by Wendy Everett, daughter of Bill Everett, subject of Blake's new book (and an almost-immediate con sell-out) Fire & Water.
I thought I could keep up with Online Commentary & Diversions while at Comic-Con. Ha ha ha ha ha.
• Coming Attractions: At Robot 6, Chris Mautner takes a look through the 46 (!!!) upcoming books listed in our Fall/Winter catalog (note: listed release dates may no longer be accurate and are all subject to change)
• History/Profile/Review: "What A Drunken Dream reveals is an author whose childhood passion for Frances Hodgson Burnett, L.M. Montgomery, and Isaac Asimov profoundly influenced the kind of stories she chose to tell as an adult. ... For those new to Hagio’s work, Fantagraphics has prefaced A Drunken Dream with two indispensable articles by noted manga scholar Matt Thorn. ... Taken together with the stories in A Drunken Dream, these essays make an excellent introduction to one of the most literary and original voices working in comics today. Highly recommended." – Katherine Dacey, The Manga Critic
• Review: "Anyone interested in the historical development of manga and the women who’ve contributed to the art form should read this book. I hope A Drunken Dream sells well enough for Fantagraphics or other publishers to consider putting out some of Hagio’s longer works. Her short stories are great, but I’d love to see what she does with a longer storyline." – Anna Neatrour, TangognaT
• Plug: "What Osamu Tezuka is to shonen and seinen manga, Moto Hagio is to shojo manga -- a true innovator who challenged and stretched the conventions of the medium by created touching, memorable and truly artistic comics stories. ... Fantagraphics had copies of the absolutely gorgeous hardcover edition of A Drunken Dream available for sale at their [Comic-Con] booth..." – Deb Aoki, About.com: Manga
• Interview:The Comics Journal's Shaenon Garrity sat down with Moto Hagio & translator Matt Thorn for a conversation at Comic-Con International: "I find it very embarrassing to read my very early work, but when you see the stories arranged chronologically it gives a good overall impression of my career. In Japanese, too, it’s common to present an author’s works in a sample spanning his or her whole career, so it’s turned out very much like that."
• Review: "Deadpan dialogue, drawings that move from panel to panel with the strange and deliberate force of kung fu performance art, and a subtle interweaving of humor and angst come together to make [Werewolves of Montpellier] a brief knockout of a book." – Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
• Review: "...[T]his cartwheeling shaggy-dog story begins, like a lot of metafiction, with the semblance of reality... But by the time a frog demon reanimates a 19th-century French peasant whose brains it has eaten, it’s fairly clear that Deitch is making stuff up. The fun of [The Search for Smilin' Ed] is the way it constantly darts back and forth across the line between genuine show-business lore (a favorite Deitch theme) and delirious whole-cloth invention. There are stories within stories, unreliable explainers, secret passageways that lead from one part of the tale to another." – Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
• Review: "Wally Gropius is a book that’s constantly lying to the reader, with a terrifying chaos roiling just immediately below its surface. The book is a flood of visual and textual information, but the information itself is near constantly false. ... For me, it’s a book that lies constantly, that lies at its very core, but that nevertheless ends up getting at a greater truth of things. And so, yeah: I thought that was pretty neat." – Abhay Kholsa, The Savage Critics
• Review: "There’s more derring-do [in Prince Valiant Vol. 2: 1939-1940] than you can shake a sword at! Foster’s stories are filled with vivid, colorful characters, none more engaging than the aptly named Valiant and his never-ending quest for adventure. The artwork is breathtaking. Foster’s figures are handsome and graceful whether eating a sumptuous feast or fighting on a crowded battlefield. ... Even if the age of chivalry is not your flask of ale, Foster’s art and storytelling will win you over." — Rich Clabaugh, The Christian Science Monitor
• Review: "This book is why Fantagraphics is one of the best and most important comic publishers in the business today. [Blazing Combat] is a series that could have easily been forgotten to the ages but Fantagraphics always is at the forefront of making sure important works of sequential art are remembered. ... This is a brilliant collection of stories that should be required reading. Intelligent, gripping stories and fantastic art! Grade A +" – Tim Janson, Mania and Newsarama
• Review: "Formally inventive and emotionally acute, Bottomless Belly Button indeed proves to be all those things: as fascinating and affecting a depiction of family ties as Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections or Wes Anderson's The Royal Tenenbaums." – Ed Park, Los Angeles Times
• Plugs: Alex Carr of Amazon's Omnivoracious blog has Weathercraft by Jim Woodring ("I am woefully ignorant when it comes to Woodring’s Frank comics, and this looks like the weirdest place to start") and Dungeon Quest Book 1 ("After The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book, I will read anything Joe Daly produces") on his summer vacation reading list
• History: For the Los Angeles Times, Ben Schwartz compiles an oral history of the 1980s heyday of L.A. alternative comics with Matt Groening, Gilbert & Jaime Hernandez, David Lynch (!), and Gary Panter
We had a flurry of exciting celebrity shoppers toward the end of the day:
Above, Fire & Water author Blake Bell meets the television & movie actress of the oddly similar name Lake Bell and the world does not implode, possibly due to Lake's boyfriend, comedian Nick Kroll, executing the perfect photobomb.
Here, Nick strikes a perfect mirror-image pose with one of two Drew Friedman books he picked up while Tom Spurgeon botches his photobomb.
Just announced over the weekend, the Saturday and Sunday programming for Comic-Con international. Our official PR goes out this week but we figure some of you might not want to wait to find out about the Fantagraphics-related panels. See here for Friday's FBI-ish panels.
[Note: this post is updated as we get more information.]
12:00-1:00 Spotlight on Peter Bagge — Comic-Con special guest Peter Bagge talks to Fantagraphics' Jason T. Miles about his work, including the legendary Buddy Bradley stories in Hate and his new graphic novels, Apocalypse Nerd and Other Lives. Room 3
1:00-2:00 Spotlight on Gabrielle Bell— Join Comic-Con special guest Gabrielle Bell (Cecil and Jordan in New York, Lucky). Gabrielle Bell has been featured in McSweeneys, Vice and the Believer. The title story of her most recent book, Cecil and Jordan in New York has been adapted for the screen by Michel Gondry in the triptych Tokyo! She is currently serializing her Ignatz award-winning autobiographcal comics Lucky online. Gabrielle Bell will present a slideshow and discuss her work with Tom Spurgeon (www.thecomicsreporter) Room 3
1:30-2:30 Comics Criticism— Comics are a staple of the arts and book review sections of everything from The New York Times and Publishers Weekly to a current golden age of published biography and history, such as Gerard Jones's Men of Tomorrow, R. C. Harvey's Meanwhile..., and David Michaelis's Schulz and Peanuts. Some of the nation's leading critics discuss the state of the art and the state of its journalism, 2010. Panelists include Gary Groth (The Comics Journal), Douglas Wolk (Reading Comics), Brian Doherty (Radicals for Capitalism), Ben Schwartz (editor, Best American Comics Criticism), R. C. Harvey (Meanwhile...) and R. Fiore (Funnybook Roulette). Room 4
3:00-4:00 Comics Reprint Revolution— For comics fans, the vintage reprint revolution keeps getting bigger and better! Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon talks with Craig Yoe (Krazy Kat, Popeye, Jetta), Dean Mullaney (editor of Library of American Comics for IDW: Dick Tracy, Little Orphan Annie, Secret Agent Corrigan), Daniel Herman (Hermes Press: Buck Rogers, The Phantom), Gary Groth (Fantagraphics: Peanuts, Prince Valiant, Captain Easy), Peggy Burns (Drawn and Quarterly: John Stanley Library, Walt & Skeezix), Steve Saffel (Titan Books, Beetle Bailey, Simon & Kirby Library) and Charles Pelto (Classic Comics Press: Mary Perkins, On Stage, The Heart of Juliet Jones, Big Ben Bolt) about their publications reprinting some of the very best of comic books and comic strips. Room 8
3:30-4:30 International Comics and Graphic Novels— Comics are popular the world over and Comic-Con always includes an impressive gathering of worldwide talent. Journalist Tom Spurgeon talks with special guests Moto Hagio (Japan: A Drunken Dream), Émile Bravo (France: My Mommy is in America and she Met Buffalo Bill), Milo Manara (Italy: Click!), and Kathryn and Stuart Immonen (Canada: Moving Pictures, Russian Olive to Red King) about graphic novels with a more international flavor. Room 4
12:30-1:30 The Funny Stuff: Humor in Comics and Graphic Novels— The world of comics isn't just about dark and mysterious superheroes. There are a lot of great funny books out there. The Cartoon Art Museum's Andrew Farago talks to Comic-Con special guests Peter Bagge (Hate), Howard Cruse (Wendel), Nicholas Gurewitch (The Perry Bible Fellowship), Keith Knight (The K Chronicles), Larry Marder (Beanworld), and Doug TenNapel (Monster Zoo) about the humorous side of comics. Room 8
Yes! For the first time ever, Fantagraphics will be heading to the great white north for this year's Toronto Comic Arts Festival. I'm looking forward to seeing everyone, and yes, I'll confess, I'm looking forward to trying one of those Canadian donuts I've heard so much about.
Yours truly will be manning the table, along with Denise and Helen from esteemed establishment The Beguiling. So, let me answer you now, "No, Eric, Gary, and Kim are not here," and "No, we're not accepting submissions, but please visit our website for details on how to submit your work..."
We'll be bringing a bevy of sweet, tasty, chewy... um, books for you to buy (dammit, sorry, still thinking about donuts), including:
And be sure to hit up some of these great panels, too:
Feature: Daniel Clowes, James Sturm, Seth, Chester Brown, and Jim Woodring 11:30 – 12:30pm, Learning Center 1 (Located at Toronto Reference Library 789 Yonge Street, 1st floor, in the main atrium space)
Five of the world’s most respected cartoonists in one room, on one panel! Moderated by Tom Spurgeon.
Spotlight: Paul Pope and Dash Shaw 12:00-1:00pm, The Pilot (22 Cumberland Street, across the street from Toronto Reference Library)
TCAF Featured Guests Paul Pope and Dash Shaw are two of the most exciting creators in comics, mixing their influences and innovations to create groundbreaking work. Now Inkstuds Radio/Podcast host Robin McConnell will moderate a conversation between these two creators about the role that influences play in creating comics, ranging from traditional comics to film and music and from classical to contemporary works. This also includes a discussion of education, some key points in creating your own vision in comics, and an examination of how to make influences work and finding out where they lead you.
Spotlight: Jim Woodring’s Weathercraft 12:30 – 1:30pm, Learning Center 1 (Located at Toronto Reference Library 789 Yonge Street, 1st floor, in the main atrium space)
Jim Woodring’s cartoons chart a course through some of the most surreal imagery ever seen in any artistic medium, drawing visions from the realms of the subconscious to create a graphic world of dreams. But while his work may speak in the language of dreams, Woodring’s life has often led him into nightmare territory… Now venture into Woodring’s interior world with Weathercraft, the newest book in Woodring’s Frank world. Joining Jim Woodring will be journalist Sean Rogers, who will interview the author in a moderated Q&A.
The New Graphic Novelists: New Creators Transforming the Medium Sunday, May 9th, 2:15 – 3:15pm, Learning Center 1 (Located at Toronto Reference Library 789 Yonge Street, 1st floor, in the main atrium space)
There is a pantheon of great graphic novelists — folks who started thinking about comics as singular, book-bound creations. But that concept has shifted since its conceptualization, and a collection of young creators are pushing the medium in fantastic new ways. Creators Joshua Cotter, Colleen Frakes, Ryan North, Dash Shaw, and Raina Telgemeier will discuss their experiences producing comics that alternately defy and embrace the term ‘graphic novel”. Moderated by Eva Volin.
Research and History: Inspiration versus Obligation Sunday, May 9th, 3:00 – 4:00pm, The Pilot (22 Cumberland Street, across the street from Toronto Reference Library)
A discussion about different approaches and uses of research from the hardcore to the writers of historical fiction. Inspiration versus obligation … for everybody. A lively discussion led by Kathryn Immonen, and featuring Stuart Immonen, Jim Ottaviani, Kate Beaton, Ho Che Anderson, Willow Dawson, and Matt Kindt.
Russell Patterson and the Patterson Girl Sunday, May 9th, 4:30 – 5:00pm, Learning Center 1 (Located at Toronto Reference Library 789 Yonge Street, 1st floor, in the main atrium space)
Russell Patterson got his start in Montreal as a newspaper cartoonist. He then went to Chicago, where he eventually made a name for himself as an illustrator of flapper era nightlife. His “Patterson Girls,” which appeared in magazines and various comic strips (Flossy Frills; Gloria Gets Her Man; The Patterson Girl), were intended as caricatures, and between 1925 and 1960 they go from being fun and liberated to being sexist and shallow. Jaleen Grove, editor of Top Hats and Flappers (Fantagraphics) traces this progression in the context of the entertainment industry and its exploitation of glamour, looking at how models used illustrators and vice versa to further their careers.
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