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Category >> Blake Bell

What's in the November Diamond Previews
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Steve DitkospainRobert CrumbPopeyePat ThomasJoost SwarteJohn BensonEC SegarDiamondComing AttractionsCarl RichterBlake Bell 14 Nov 2011 2:19 AM

Shipping January 2012 from Fantagraphics Books

The new Diamond Previews catalog came out recently and in it you'll find our usual 2-page spread (download the PDF) with our releases scheduled to arrive in your local comic shop in January 2012 (give or take — some release dates may have changed since the issue went to press). We're pleased to offer additional and updated information about these upcoming releases here on our website, to help shops and customers alike make more informed ordering decisions.

This month's Spotlight item is editor John Benson's The Sincerest Form of Parody: The Best 1950s MAD-Inspired Sarirical Comics; Listen, Whitey!: The Sights and Sounds of the Black Power Movement 1965-1975 by Pat Thomas is "Certified Cool"; and the issue also includes Popeye Vol. 6: "Me Li'l Swee'Pea", the final (alas) E.C. Segar volume; more pre-Spidey classics in Mysterious Traveler: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 3 edited by Blake Bell; the über-definitive guide to R. Crumb art The Crumb Compendium by Carl Richter; the heretofore uncollected underground memoir Cruisin' with the Hound: The Life and Times of Fred Tooté by Spain Rodriguez; and the long-awaited, eagerly-anticipated Is That All There Is? by Joost Swarte.

See them all here!

Daily OCD: 11/7/11
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Steve DitkoreviewsPrince ValiantMichael KuppermanLove and RocketsLos Bros HernandezJaime HernandezinterviewsHal FosterGilbert HernandezGahan WilsonDisneyDaily OCDCarl BarksBlake BellBest of 2011 8 Nov 2011 3:12 AM

Today's Online Commentary & Diversions:

Love and Rockets: New Stories 2-Issue or 4-Issue Pack

List: Thus beginneth the Best of 2011 links, as Publishers Weekly names Love and Rockets: New Stories #4 by Gilbert & Jaime Hernandez one of their top 10 Best Comics of 2011: "Even in a long career of masterpieces, Jaime's story about missed opportunities for happiness is a revelation, while Gilbert continues to cement his place as the Jorodowsky of comics with a vampire tale."

Review: "Another great issue, with the continuation and ending of 'The Love Bunglers,' from Jaime Hernandez. It's a real knockout and quite touching for those that have followed the strip and these characters since the eighties. You almost have to remind yourself that, yes, these are characters, not real people! Apparently, nobody told Jaime that the quality of one's work is supposed to go down after working on a strip that long." – Jason, at his Cats Without Dogs blog

Commentary: "I've been thinking a lot about Jaime Hernandez's conclusion to his Locas story 'The Love Bunglers' (from L&R New Stories vol. 4) -- mainly b/c it was such an incredible piece that I cry every time I read it. I even recently threatened to force a friend to read all the Locas stuff, because it's so freaking good. But then I started wondering -- is it as awesome if you read it all at once?" – Alicia K., Wordnerdy

Review: "Readers and admirers, myself included, often think of Gilbert as the better writer of the two brothers and Jaime as the better artist. With only a few exceptions, Gilbert has been the best writer in American comic books over a three decade period. No one has produced more beautiful art for black and white comics the way Jaime has over that same period, a period in which he has been the best comic book artist in North America. 'Browntown' is one of the stories in which Jaime shows that he can write as well as draw comic books better than most and as good as the very best.... 'Browntown' is an incredible story with a sense of realism and gravity unseen in most comic books. 'Browntown' alone makes Love and Rockets: New Stories #3 one of the best comic books of 2010." – Leroy Douresseaux, I Reads You

Review: "Love and Rockets: New Stories #2 reminds us, as the first issue did, that comic books from the Hernandez Brothers are always a welcome thing. A year may be a long wait, but when it comes to Los Bros’ coolness and greatness, time is neutral. I can always reread this and enjoy it just as much as I did the first time." – Leroy Douresseaux, I Reads You

Nuts

Review: "...Nuts, which ran in National Lampoon throughout the ’70s, ...offered a largely autobiographical look at the way childhood actually is: a perpetually confusing state of existence, in which kids are jostled to and fro by adults who don’t seem to know what they’re doing (but want to make sure that their offspring are parked somewhere out of the way while they do it).... They’re wonderful pieces of comic art..., applying Wilson’s usual sense of the grotesque and macabre to phenomena like summer camp and sick days. And they’re not all bitter either... He mixes the sour and the sweet exceptionally well." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club

Plug: "I’ve written at length about this strip [Nuts] before, but it’s worth reiterating I think just how goddamn wonderful this comic is, and how great it is to have a decent collection available after lying fallow for so long. Wilson captures the anxieties and traumas of childhood as few cartoonists have before or since." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6 (for their weekly "What Are You Reading?" column which features our own Jacq Cohen this week)

Prince Valiant Vol. 4: 1943-1944

Review: "Again, stunning drawings. And quite bloody! Valiant is being tortured, people are killed left and right [in Prince Valiant Vol. 4]. There's a strange sequence in the book involving another knight, Tristram, who I don't think has been introduced earlier, that looks like a double of Valiant, but with a mustache! He is killed by a jealous king, but instead of Valiant and Gawain, who are there, seeking vengeance they just ride off. Not quite sure what was going on in Foster's mind there." – Jason, at his Cats Without Dogs blog

Mark Twain's Autobiography 1910-2010

Interview: Michael Kupperman is the guest on this week's Boing Boing "Gweek" podcast. He's interviewed by Reuben Bolling about Mark Twain's Autobiography 1910-2010 and sticks around to weigh in on other topics

Pogo Vol. 1

Plugs: At The Beat, Torsten Adair spotlights a whole mess of our recent and upcoming releases, declaring "If you’re going to ship your book bucks to Washington, it’s better to send them to Fantagraphics than Amazon!"

Walt Disney's Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes

Plug: "Carl Barks was a genius when it came to turning Donald Duck and company into comic book characters, and his creation of Uncle Scrooge continues to delight and amuse countless generations. Thankfully, that trend will continue thanks to Fantagraphics’ release of Carl Barks’ Walt Disney’s Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes." – Kevin Kelly, Wizard World

Mysterious Traveler: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 3

Plug: As every month, Comic Book Resources' Greg Burgas is "Flippin' through Previews": "You can get more creepy pre-Spider-Man work from Steve Ditko on page 280, as Fantagraphics has Mysterious Traveler: The Steve Ditko Archives volume 3."

First Look: Amazing Mysteries: The Bill Everett Archives Vol. 1
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Coming AttractionsBlake BellBill Everett 18 Oct 2011 6:46 PM

Amazing Mysteries: The Bill Everett Archives Vol. 1

Amazing Mysteries: The Bill Everett Archives Vol. 1 went to the printer today and series editor Blake Bell celebrates by revealing the final cover art for the book — a snappy number designed by Alexa Koenings in our art department. At Blake's blog you can see the entire cover spread (front, back and spine) and read Blake's thoughts and background info on the book, which is due in December.

What's in the September Diamond Previews
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Tony MillionaireMichael KuppermanKrazy KatJohnny GruelleJasonJacques TardiGeorge HerrimanDiamondComing AttractionsBlake BellBill Everett 31 Aug 2011 3:06 AM

Shipping November 2011 from Fantagraphics Books

The new Diamond Previews catalog is out today and in it you'll find our usual 2-page spread with our releases scheduled to arrive in your local comic shop in November 2011 (give or take — some release dates may have changed since the issue went to press). We're pleased to offer additional and updated information about these upcoming releases here on our website, to help shops and customers alike make more informed ordering decisions.

Our Spotlight item this issue is the gorgeous oversized collection Mr. Twee Deedle: Raggedy Ann's Sprightly Cousin - The Forgotten Fantasy Masterpiece of Johnny Gruelle. Classic strip collectors will also be happy to see our final Krazy Kat Sundays softcover Krazy & Ignatz 1922-1924: At Last My Drim of Love Has Come True and — finally! — the big "Vol. 1" hardcover, Krazy & Ignatz: The Complete Sunday Strips 1916-1924. Plus the Tony Millionaire art book 500 Portraits, Amazing Mysteries: The Bill Everett Archives Vol. 1, Jason's new short story collection Athos in America, and the long-awaited 7th issue of Michael Kupperman's Tales Designed to Thrizzle!

See them all here!

Daily OCD: 7/11/11
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Steve DitkorockreviewsRaymond MacherotPaul NelsonMomeMickey MouseMaurice TillieuxLewis TrondheimKevin AveryFloyd GottfredsonFlannery OConnorDisneyDave McKeanDaily OCDBlake BellBasil Wolvertonaudio 11 Jul 2011 7:24 PM

Today's Online Commentary & Diversions:

Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Vol. 1: Race to Death Valley

Review: "Fantagraphics, always a publisher you can count on to rescue classic comic material from oblivion, has published a gorgeous 288 page hardcover archive edition of Mickey [Mouse]'s earliest serialized comic strip adventures and he's quite a different character than we know today...a little rambunctious, a little mischievous, and a whole lot of fun. This book takes readers on a glorious ride through depression-era adventures as Mickey battles villains, becomes a fireman, visits a circus, and meets his faithful pup Pluto for the first time. Besides the many great comic strips, Fantagraphics has filled the book with a ton of supplemental material... This is an absolute must-have for any Mickey Mouse fan. Grade A" – Tim Janson, Mania

Celluloid [Pre-Order]

Review: At Comic Book Resources, Greg Burgas and Kelly Thompson engage in a dialogic analysis of Dave McKean's Celluloid.

Burgas: "McKean’s art is astounding, as it always is. He moves from his very rough pencil work that he used on Cages and moves quickly into a multimedia extravaganza, with photographs interspersed with film reels (more photographs, of course, but used in a different way) and paintings and more detailed pencil work. The colors are magnificent, too... It’s an astonishing work of art, to be sure..."

Thompson: "I agree that the success of this book is in that it is beautiful from cover to cover. As a rule I tend to prefer McKean’s very rough pencil work, though I very much appreciate the layering mixed media styles he uses, and I found all of it very beautiful and successful in that way. I was impressed with the color choices and the really wonderful cubist look he achieved for some of the work, and some of the mixed media he used toward the end was some of my favorite in the book period.... After discussing it, I feel more pleased with the book as a whole because I’ve been forced to admit that I don’t recall seeing many more effective executions of erotic subject matter as a legitimate work of art in this way..."

Burgas: "What is compelling about Celluloid is that McKean tackles a difficult subject and elevates it beyond a simple porn comic. I think the very fact that Celluloid makes you wonder about sex in many of its iterations is impressive. As you can see, both Kelly and I had our issues with it, but it’s a gorgeous comic nevertheless. It’s definitely something that you don’t see every day!"

Approximate Continuum Comics

Review: "I have the impression that Lewis Trondheim is the most important European artist of his generation. Such is the creativity and productivity and so the breadth of his work that, for me at least, wins the title deservedly. Approximate Continuum Comics... is the first part of Trondheim's autobiographical adventures.... The brilliant humour of Trondheim, his sharp-tongued reason, the way with which it shows the mix of imagination with reality. Equally impressive is the effortless way in which the most espressive artwork works serving the story." – Aristides Kotsis, Comicdom (translated from Greek)

Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko

Review: "Bell does the best job of any attempt I've ever seen to bring together everything we know about Ditko's life and work. The result [Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko] is fascinating, frustrating and eventually presents a sad portrait of an immense talent that withdrew from the world and denied it of his work and himself of the audience, acclaim and success that was easily within his grasp." – Tom McLean, Bags and Boards

Mome Vol. 22

Plug: "The 22nd -- and final -- issue of MOME from @fantagraphics is the best one yet. So sad." – Whitney Matheson (USA Today Pop Candy), via Twitter

Gil Jordan, Private Detective: Murder by High Tide + Sibyl-Anne Vs. Ratticus

Plug: Sceneario takes note of the new entries in our new Franco-Belgian comics line with interest and excitement (en Français)

Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons

Preview: At Flavorwire, Emily Temple shares some glimpses of the cartoons to be included in Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons, saying "Her style is distinctive — the charmingly brusque drawings are cut from linoleum and then essentially stamped when she applied ink to the ridges, and while the content is largely related to her experience as a student, you can still feel the slightly skewed, individualistic perspective that appears in O’Connor’s short stories.... Lovers of her work will doubtless find joy and meaning in her cartoons, and other people will probably like them too."

Preview: Jamie Frevele of The Mary Sue picks up on the preview of Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons, saying "...while not as demented as some of her writing, the dark humor is still there, even in the short span of a single panel."

Plug: "Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons is the first compilation of her graphic work in pen-and-ink and linoleum cuts. Before her writing career the young student aspired to be a cartoonist, and she developed a visually bold and eye-catching style. The results are witty and acid comments on campus life and American culture that show O'Connor developing her own acerbic point-of-view." – M. Bromberg, BellemeadeBooks

Plug: The Portland Mercury's Jacob Schraer amusingly abandons writing about Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons to post a video of Miss Piggy — that's OK, we all have days like that

Everything Is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson by Kevin Avery

Interview (Audio): Kevin Avery, author/editor of Everything Is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson, is a guest on the Rockcritics Podcast. Host Scott Woods says "I’ve mentioned a few times here already Kevin Avery’s wonderful book, Everything is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson. Half a personal biography of Nelson, half a compilation of select Nelson reviews and essays, it’s one of the finest books I’ve ever read about a writer — and, needless to say, about rock criticism."

Wolvertoons

Profile: "[Basil] Wolverton was one of the pioneers who made today’s highbrow comics scene what it is; his twisted abstract portraiture, all sweatbeads and pleading eyes, floated like a buoy in a sea of banal comic art, influencing kindred spirits like Robert Williams and Big Daddy Roth. Though best known for his nightmare caricatures in the vein of Lena Hyena, his sf and horror work — jewels like the 'Brain Bats of Venus' — is equally disturbing (or invigorating). God knows what brain bat attached itself to Wolverton’s fertile grey matter, but it certainly wasn’t of this atmosphere." – Joe Alterio, HighLobrow

Daily OCD: 6/23/11
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Wilfred SantiagoTim KreiderThe Comics JournalSteve DitkoShimura TakakoreviewsLinda MedleyKim DeitchJim WoodringGene DeitchDave McKeanDaily OCDBlake BellBill EverettaudioAnders Nilsen21 23 Jun 2011 7:20 PM

Today's Online Commentary & Diversions:

Castle Waiting

List: Castle Waiting Vols. 1 & 2 take two spots on Nancy Pearl's "10 Terrific Summer Reads" list at NPR.org: "The black-and-white drawings are precisely crafted, with small, endearing touches that render each character entirely unique. The dialogue is clever and filled with subtle grace notes of drollness and humor. The set will be especially appealing to readers of all ages who enjoy seeing and reading traditional fairy tale tropes teased and played with, all with a sense of good-humored fun."

Congress of the Animals

Review: "...Congress of the Animals finds twisted fabulist Woodring at the top of his darkly delightful game: Open the book at random and the odds are very good that your gaze will alight upon something that stings, bites, drips, oozes or squelches. Tentacled plant-beasts threaten the unwary, factories powered by crushed blackbirds produce who-knows-what, slimy amphibians enact bizarre rituals and a tribe of naked, faceless men whom the jacket copy refers to as "blind gut-worshippers" — easily the most potent nightmare fuel Woodring has ever produced — drug passersby for mysterious purposes of their own. You certainly won't want to live inside the covers of Congress of the Animals, but it's a fascinating and thrilling feat of imagination, and one hell of a place to visit." – Glen Weldon, NPR.org

Wandering Son Vol. 1

Review: "This book does something I love. It takes me inside a world I’ve never known.... Shimura’s writing does a good job of exposing the readers to the realities of being transgender. Wandering Son ignited my imagination and got me trying to relate to and understand these characters as deeply as possible.... Shimura has crafted an excellent opening volume.... The quiet pace and subject matter make this series a perfect read for the alternative comics crowd. Fans of shoujo and josei manga will enjoy it too. I’d love for everyone to at least give the first volume of Wandering Son a try. It’s a rare gem of emotional honesty and complexity that rewards those willing to take the risk and move outside their typical reading habits." – Ed Sizemore, Comics Worth Reading

Monologues for Calculating the Density of Black Holes

Review: "Monologues for Calculating the Density of Black Holes by Anders Nilsen... touched a special spot that I strive towards in my reading; it created atmosphere. There’s a weight to the unhinged timeline and nonsensical dialogue. It feels calculated, even as it touches on topics such as 'Godzilla vs. Richard Simmons.' The drawings are simple, yet they effortlessly convey time and feel appropriate for the content. It was a quick read, but one that I’ll be revisiting. Check it out." – Au Yeah!

21: The Story of Roberto Clemente

Interview: Newsarama's Michael Lorah talks to Wilfred Santiago about the creation of 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente: "A baseball sequence is all about interpretation; there are cold, unchangeable facts. If the batter hits a home run to left field in the second inning, etc., then those are unchangeable facts about that scene. So it’s about the reading of the particulars. I mean, if you are saying sad things while laughing maniacally, it’s different than if you are saying them while sobbing and in tears. Therefore, it’s all about what role that particular game sequence plays in the story as a whole. It’s not a book about baseball, even though there’s baseball in it."

Celluloid [Pre-Order]

Interview (Audio): Inkstuds host Robin McConnell rang up Dave McKean (on Skype presumably) for a conversation about his latest book: "Celluloid, fresh out from Fantagraphics, is a remarkable work exploring pornography through a very particular lens. Needless to say, it is fantastic."

Strange Suspense + Unexplored Worlds: The Steve Ditko Archives Vols. 1-2

Interview (Audio): Blake Bell goes on the Collected Comics Library podcast to talk with host Chris Marshall about the ongoing Steve Ditko Archives and the upcoming Bill Everett Archives

The Comics Journal #301

Opinion: At Robot 6, Sean T. Collins comments on the excerpt from Tim Kreider's Cerebus essay from The Comics Journal #301 which appears at TCJ.com

The Search for Smilin' Ed!

Lore: Kim Deitch continues his new column over at TCJ.com, "Mad About Music: My Life in Records," featuring (among other things) a few of his dad Gene's jazz illustrations (as seen in our book Cat on a Hot Thin Groove)

Daily OCD: 6/12/11
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Zak SallyreviewsPeanutsMickey MouseLewis TrondheimKim ThompsonKevin HuizengaJoe SaccoJim WoodringJasonFrank SantoroFloyd GottfredsonFantagraphics BookstoreDisneyDame DarcyDaily OCDCharles M SchulzBlake BellBill EverettAlex Toth 13 Jun 2011 3:49 AM

Ran out of time on Friday's Online Commentary & Diversions, so it's combined with links from the weekend:

Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Vol. 1: Race to Death Valley

Review: "Now Fantagraphics has risen to the fore with [Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Vol. 1:] Race to Death Valley... It’s a pretty spiffy package, sharply designed and full of smart, well-written essays that provide a rich portrait of the artist and his times, as well as some great comics.... As impressive as Gottfredson's work is, it's in the ancillary materials or 'special features' that makes this book really shine. Editors Gary Groth and David Gerstein have gone the extra mile here... With its shameless abundance of riches, Mickey Mouse Vol. 1 sets a new standard in reprint publication." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6

Plug: "Only a small handful of Gottfredson's collected works have been published and most are out of print. He pioneered a trendsetting style of adventure comics, though in his lifetime remained largely unrecognized.... Fantagraphics has kindly republished a bit of the Gottfredson Mickey run in their new book [Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Vol. 1:] Race to Death Valley, beautifully restored [and] repackaged..." – Green Apple Books

The Complete Peanuts 1979-1980 (Vol. 15)

Review: "The latest volume of The Complete Peanuts: 1979-1980 continues with Charles Schulz’s herculean output of his beloved comic strip. Schulz supplies the customary laughs in stand-alone gag strips and some short 'continuing' storylines.... As I have said in previous reviews, Fantagraphics does such a marvelous job with these hardcover Peanuts volumes. From the cover by designer Seth, to the crisp black-and-white reprinting (3 dailies per page, 1 Sunday per page), to the handy index to help you find your favorite strip, Fantagraphics takes creating a permanent archive of this beloved humor strip very seriously. Children of all ages should all get their hands on this American treasure." – Rich Clabaugh, The Christian Science Monitor

Commentary: Mike Sterling makes a few observations about The Complete Peanuts 1979-1980: "SPOILER ALERT: Peppermint Patty gathers evidence and uses skeptical, critical thinking to resolve her particular issue here."

Approximate Continuum Comics

Review: "Some of the very first autobiographical works on the French bande dessinée scene, these little gems were a genuine game-changer for cartoonists and storytellers... Superbly skilled at switching imperceptibly from broad self-parody to cripplingly painful personal revelation, wild surrealism to powerful reportage and from clever humorous observation to howling existentialist inquisition, Trondheim’s cartoon interior catalogue is always a supremely rewarding and enjoyable experience and, as these ancient texts [Approximate Continuum Comics] prove, always has been." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!

Fire & Water: Bill Everett, the Sub-Mariner and the Birth of Marvel Comics

Review: "[Blake] Bell is our guide into this rich history of Bill Everett... Bell includes several pieces of artwork and comics that has rarely been seen. A true testament to a man who lived comics throughout his entire life and loved it with a passion...[I]t’s important not only to remember the characters, but the men behind them. Bell’s book here on the life and times of Bill Everett [Fire & Water], and his other biographical material on Steve Ditko, is a testament to that." – Chris Marshall, Collected Comics Library

Congress of the Animals

Plug (Audio): NPR's Glen Weldon gives a shout-out to Jim Woodring's Congress of the Animals on the new episode of the Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast at the NPR Monkey See blog

Setting the Standard: Comics b Alex Toth 1952-1954

Plug: At Robot 6, Michael May's tour of the current Previews catalog takes note of "Setting the Standard: Comics by Alex Toth 1952-1954 – Everyone knows that you’re supposed to revere Alex Toth, because chances are your favorite comics artist already does. Here’s where you find out why."

Safe Area Gorazde: The Special Edition

Interview: Hillary Chute talks to Joe Sacco for The Believer; I'll use their pullquote: "When you draw, you can always capture that moment. You can always have that exact, precise moment when someone’s got the club raised, when someone’s going down. I realize now there’s a lot of power in that."

Interview: The A.V. Club's Sam Adams talks to Joe Sacco: "I think if I hadn’t studied journalism I might have taken a different approach, and I’m not saying my approach is the only way you can tell a story journalistically. But because I actually studied it, detail is important and accuracy is really important, so it’s not just about having an accurate quote. The problem with doing things the way I try to do them is that it’s not just an accurate quote, it’s an accurate image of what a place looks like. An absolute literal group of images? You might as well go to a photographer for that. But whatever interpretation I do of it, it has to be informed by reality."

Interview (Video): Joe Sacco gives a talk and reading and is interviewed by Chris Hedges in these two videos presented by the Lannan Foundation (streaming and downloadable audio are also available at the preceding link; via Forbidden Planet International )

Like a Dog

Interview (Video): Justin Skarhus of Itchy Keen Art Friends talks to Zak Sally and our pal Dylan Williams of Sparkplug Comic Books about D'in' it Y, part 1

Meat Cake

Profile: HiLobrow's Joshua Glenn on Dame Darcy: "If she sounds like too much to handle, that’s because she is; now you know why her comic is called Meat Cake — they’re two decadent foods, so why not combine them? Darcy’s world is a child’s garden of verses overrun by drunken mermaids, grave-robbing French maids, and Vitalis-groomed cads. If this sort of thing sounds like your cup of spooky-kooky tea, read Meat Cake..."

Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery

Profile: "I made my quarterly pilgrimage down to the Fantagraphics store in Seattle yesterday, and that store never ceases to amaze anyone who walks into it. From the curator/owner to the punk rock pictures on the wall, to the awesome collection of Fantagraphics titles, traditional comics, underground comics, and some adult stuff tucked away in the back room under the stairs, the entire store is a place to go explore the darker side of comic books." – Dan Morrill, Comics Forge

Ganges #4

Craft: At TCJ.com, Frank Santoro provides a bit of a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the creation of Ganges #4 from a recent visit he had with Kevin Huizenga

Athos in America

Feature: Find out what Kim Thompson's been reading (the image above is one clue/spoiler) as he contributes to this week's "What Are You Reading?" column at Robot 6

Revealed: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 3
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Steve DitkoComing AttractionsBlake Bell 25 May 2011 10:36 AM

Mysterious Traveler: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 3
(cover design subject to change)

At his blog, The Steve Ditko Archives editor Blake Bell spills the beans on the upcoming third volume, Mysterious Traveler, due in January 2012!

"What makes this volume so special," says Blake, "is that meteoric improvement in Ditko’s work as he toils in obscurity for a company that treated their comic books like toilet paper for their more profitable magazine and song books. Such is the irony of one of the great living artists of the 20th century – working with stories churned out for an audience of children, Ditko produced the highest quality material in the industry with no editorial oversight at an amazing pace (all the stories within were produced in 1957 alone)."

Check out Blake's post for the whole scoop, and you can keep up with all the latest updates by "liking" The Steve Ditko Archives Facebook page and/or by following @blake_bell on Twitter.

Daily OCD: 5/23/11
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Steve DitkoRobert CrumbreviewsPeter BaggeMickey MouseLove and RocketsLewis TrondheimLeslie SteinGilbert HernandezGahan WilsonFloyd GottfredsonDisneyDave McKeanDaily OCDBlake Bell 23 May 2011 8:46 PM

Today's Online Commentary & Diversions:

Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Vol. 1: Race to Death Valley

Review: "Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse: Race To Death Valley kicks off Fantagraphics’ latest series of vintage newspaper strips... About halfway through the [first story] arc, ...Gottfredson’s Mickey Mouse begins to develop the characteristics that would sustain it for decades to come: a fast pace, frequent narrow escapes, and an industrious hero who throws himself fully into every endeavor, in ways that both get him into trouble and help get him out. ...Gottfredson... took the broad idea of a good-natured mouse and sketched in his own attitudes about hard work, courage, and the importance of having reliable friends when the jams get especially sticky." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club

Love from the Shadows

Review: "[Gilbert] Hernandez’s latest book Love from the Shadows is a confounding hybrid, inserting Love And Rockets’ watermelon-chested, lisping Fritz into a violent dream-novel that combines the fluid reality of Luis Buñuel with the two-fisted crime sagas of Jim Thompson. ...[T]he beauty of comics as a medium is that it invites re-reading; and Hernandez’s mastery makes Love from the Shadows easy to pore back over, savoring how its meaning shifts from page to page." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club

Review: "There’s fiction, there’s Meta-fiction and then there is Gilbert Hernandez.... Now he returns to his eccentric sideline to translate the wildly experimental independent/exploitation/sexploitation tale Love from the Shadows into a stunning graphic rollercoaster ride of broken families, counter-culture angst, embezzlement, greed madness, obsession, charlatanry, psychics and mysterious aliens in possibly the greatest tribute to scurrilous lowbrow movie maestro Russ Meyer ever seen." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!

Eye of the Majestic Creature

Review: "Speaking of confounding comics, Leslie Stein’s bizarre Eye of the Majestic Creature collects the first four issues of Stein’s self-published comic.... Stein riffs on loneliness, relationships, creativity, family, and intoxication via cutely psychedelic art and short vignettes that are heavy on fancy and light on explanation. At times the book comes from so deep inside Stein’s head that it reads almost like notes for a comic, not a finished work. But then Stein pivots into a moment or image of deep emotional resonance and beauty... and the loose narrative style pays off. These four issues do get better as they go, so consider this a promising introduction to a potentially major new talent." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club

Hate Annual #9

Review: "...Peter Bagge is back... with Hate Annual #9, the latest in his yearly reports on the life of his slacker-turned-entrepreneur character Buddy Bradley. Usually Bagge fills out the Hate annuals with strips he’s drawn for other publications throughout the year, but #9 is nearly all Buddy, and it’s one of the best Bradley stories in years... The story is wonderfully digressive in the best Bagge tradition, too..." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club

Yeah!

Review: "An overt attempt to bring back the silly rock-’n’-roll fun of Josie & The Pussycats and Jem & The Holograms, Yeah! follows the adventures of a girl-group that’s wildly popular on other planets, but can’t get any attention on Earth. ...Yeah! is... a pleasure to read, with an anything-goes storytelling style and an infectious affection for pop music, as well as for pop culture about pop music." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club

Approximate Continuum Comics

Review: "...[T]he comics in Approximate Continuum constitute a highly amusing portrait of that mostly under-explored time in a person's life when things become more important and more ridiculous in equal measure and we find ourselves constantly and even quietly adjusting to wholesale changes in life and attitude and orientation that we once had hopes to master. It speaks to how well-observed the book is that you could pick it up sans context of any kind and find much to enjoy. ...Approximate Continuum Comics consistently hits the pleasure points afforded by great cartooning and a wicked sense of humor, and should be fair comfort to anyone that feels they're at a point in their life when they need to give themselves a good talking-to." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter

Unexplored Worlds: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 2

Review: "Even if you’ve read the first volume [of The Steve Ditko Archives], Unexplored Worlds offers plenty more surprises.... While the 'twists' rarely match up to the initial imagination of any given piece, Ditko’s art is solid throughout. As always, Fantagraphics’ top-notch presentation makes the publisher the go-to stop for comics preservation." – Rod Lott, Bookgasm

R. Crumb (AP Photo)

Interview: At the official R. Crumb website, Alex Wood quizzes Crumb on various historical and pop-cultural figures, from Obama to Tommy James and the Shondells to his underground comix contemporaries to Mozart: "I love the movie Amedeus about him, but the actual music, nnnaaaah."

Nuts [July 2011]

Interview: The Daily Cross Hatch continues serializing Brian Heater's MoCCA panel conversation with Gahan Wilson: "...[T]he world for a kid is often very scary. It’s a huge challenge, and it is often scary. I mean, people die, and what the hell is that all about? I explore that sort of thing in Nuts. The stuff that happens to grownups happens to kids, too — these amazing, awful things. And these often terrific things. And they have to somehow wrap themselves around it."

Celluloid [Pre-Order]

Feature: The guest contributor to this week's "What Are You Reading?" column at Robot 6 is Dave McKean (who, with his erotic graphic novel Celluloid coming out, weighs in with his thoughts on the erotic work of his sometime-collaborator Alan Moore, Lost Girls)

TCAF 2011: Totally Cool And Fun
Written by janice headley | Filed under Zak SallyT Edward BakLorenzo MattottieventsDave CooperBlake Bell 17 May 2011 11:13 AM

I can say, without a doubt, that was the Best TCAF Ever! 

...Okay, fine, so Fantagraphics has only done the Toronto Comics Art Festival twice, but it truly was an amazing year! Thank you so much to Christopher, Peter, Miles, Andrew, Gina, and all the fantastic volunteers of TCAF!

And, of course, one of my favorite things about TCAF?

Timbits

Canadian donuts. Oh yeah.

Fantagraphics setting up at TCAF

Mike and I woke up bright and early to set-up our table. There was a momentary panic when I realized one of our display racks didn't arrive from Seattle, but the stellar staff at the Toronto Reference Library loaned us one of their carts for the weekend so we could get all of our shipment out! Thanks Ab!!

Fantagraphics table at TCAF 2011

This photo serves as proof that we DID bring copies of Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Vol. 1 (see? on the front corner there) and Wandering Son Book 1 (front and center). They both sold out so quickly, some people thought their debut was a myth, but nope! It's also true that Wandering Son sold out in the first two hours of the show!

Lorenzo Mattotti at TCAF 2011

Not too surprisingly, The Raven was another sell-out, along with Lorenzo's Ignatz title Chimera. (Stigmata was also insanely close to selling out.) And how gracious and kind was Lorenzo Mattotti? I'm envious of everyone who got to attend his panels! He kept modestly insisting his English wasn't very good (it was good!), but his intelligence and great humor shine through in any language! Thank you so much to TCAF and the Italian Cultural Institute for bringing Lorenzo to Toronto!

Lorenzo Mattotti & Zak Sally at TCAF 2011

Lorenzo may have been a "Guest of Honor" at the con, but really, all of our artists were "guests of honor" at the Fantagraphics table!  We feel so lucky to work with some of the nicest people in all of comics, like Zak Sally here (seen with fellow Ignatz artist Mattotti). Not only did Zak do beautiful signings, but "Professor Zak" came out, engaging customers (and us!) with his insane depth of knowledge on comic history! [Note to Zak: I totally wanna see that Osamu Tezuka DVD!]

Dave Cooper & Blake Bell at TCAF 2011

It's not a TCAF without pre-eminent Ditko scholar Blake Bell, and we were thrilled to have Dave Cooper attending TCAF for what we hope was the first of many signings to come!

T. Edward Bak at TCAF 2011

And, of course, it's everyone favorite: T Edward Bak, seen here modeling his sweet new Popeye shirt. Covey, I know you're jealous. Bak split his time between signing with us and signing with Koyama Press, ran by Anne Koyama, aka The Nicest Woman in Comics™. 

Doug Wright Awards

On Saturday night, Mike, Lorenzo and I attended our first ever Doug Wright Awards, where this adorable picture was shown during the induction of David Boswell (far left in the photo) into the "Giants of the North." Yes, that is Daniel Clowes with The Hernandez Brothers and a grunged-out Chester Brown. Awesome.

Peggy Burns at TCAF 2011

Without a doubt, the most romantic moment of TCAF was when Drawn & Quarterly's Tom Devlin surprised Peggy Burns with the prettiest bouquet on Mother's Day! They were the Prom King and Queen of TCAF!

Lorenzo Mattotti & T. Edward Bak

Another favorite moment was watching T Edward Bak and Lorenzo Mattotti at the TCAF After-Party on Sunday night. The two artists bonded over a crazy book T Edward found featuring Heavy Metal-style artwork.  We got on the subject of "First Concerts." Mike and Todd both saw U2 on the Joshua Tree tour, albeit in separate cities. (High fives ensued.) And Lorenzo's first concert? Canned Heat. Just when you thought the guy couldn't get any cooler.

So, as you can see, it was a wonderful time at TCAF! (And there are lots more photos over at the Fantagraphics Flickr page.) Thank you so much to everyone who stopped by the Fantagraphics table to browse or purchase books — we're so grateful for your support and your enthusiasm, and we can't wait to see you again next year!

The Fantagraphics makeshift cashbox at TCAF 2011
The Fantagraphics makeshift cashbox.