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.
• Reviews: At Comics Alliance, Jason Michelitch examines Our Gang Vol. 4 by Walt Kelly and Blazing Combat in the context of the "golden age of reprints," saying "Both are excellent books that reward both casual readers out for cheap thrills and stodgier folks who want some textual and contextual analysis to roll around in like a pig in a pen." He describes Blazing Combat as "an anti-war comic made up not of didactic preaching but of rough, unsentimentalized views of war with graphic violence and moral ambiguity front and center, produced at a time when America was ratcheting up its involvement in Vietnam and the public had yet to widely turn against it." He also says "Our Gang... [is] a lot of fun. There are lady rasslers and fake matter transporters and escaped lions and a character named Boo Boo the Illustrious Clown," and praises Kelly's "elegant... cartooning + dialogue driven style".
• Review: "Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko by Blake Bell... [is] fantastic! ... It’s part biography, part art book - an amazing recap of Steve Ditko’s entire career in comics, from the early days with Charlton to the present. ... It’s also one of the best designed books I’ve read recently, including lots of rare pencil pages, out-of-print rarities, and full color scans on virtually every page. There’s a lot more to Steve Ditko than just Doctor Strange and Spider-Man." – Marc Sobel, Comic Book Galaxy
• Review: "Vitally, Anderson draws an earthy King, one who likes soul food and soulful women, but who is also capable of inspiring and challenging oratory, theological radicalism and courageous leadership, even when faced with fists, firebombs, and F.B.I. persecution. Anderson reminds one of U.S. poet Walt Whitman: He keeps publishing the same book, in different editions. But what a book!" – George Elliott Clarke, The Halifax Herald
• Review: "This is a very strange comic... You Are There works best as an absurdist critique of society and politics. ... The absurdity of Forest's script is brought to amazing life... It's a tremendous work of art, heightening the weirdness of the narrative very well. ... I would recommend You Are There because it's a thoughtful look at the pressure of conformity and what drives a man mad. ... Tardi is fantastic and makes the book even wackier, which isn't a bad thing." – Greg Burgas, Comic Book Resources
• Review: "It is hard to convey how much of the joy of Unlovable comes not only from the wandering plotline (if there is any in this book) but also from the accompanying visuals. Tammy's attentions, interests and emotions are all scattered. The author's style of drawing lends to the feeling of chaos and scatteredness; the reader senses it in the erratic lines and messy fonts of various sizes. An erratic view of an erratic time of life." – Julia Eussen, AnnArbor.com
• Review: "Johnny Ryan’sPrison Pit is something I keep coming back to — and not just because it’s the only comic book I’ve ever seen that can actively liven up a party. It’s a hilarious, visceral and quick read... for really dumb fun, this is pretty much unbeatable. I’ve considered that maybe the fun isn’t as dumb — that maybe Cannibal Fuckface’s journey through the wastes of the prison pit are a Bunyan-style metaphor for, I don’t know, man coming to terms with the restrictions of modern life, but then I remember it’s a comic that features the term 'burnt jizz,' and I stop thinking and laugh." – David Uzumeri, Robot 6
• Review: "I'd ignored Hal Foster's knights-and-adventure strip until Fantagraphics remastered, recolored and repackaged the first two years of [Prince] Valiant (1937-38) into one of the loveliest reprint volumes of 2009. I became a Foster fan immediately, and bought Brian Kane's Definitive Prince Valiant Companion to learn more about Foster and the other talents (John Cullen Murphy, Gary Gianni and Mark Schultz) who'd worked on the comic during its 70+ years." – Craig Fischer, Thought Balloonists; the remainder of Fischer's take on the Companion is mixed-to-unfavorable, but we still recommend checking it out for his insights and some additional commentary he brings to the table
• List:Only the Cinema's Ed Howard concludes counting down The Best Comics of the Decade: the top 20 includes "The Lute String" (available in Mome Vols. 9 & 10) by Jim Woodring at #16 ("It's moving, funny, and as with all of Woodring's work it demands a close reading"), Alias the Cat (originally The Stuff of Dreams) by Kim Deitch at #14 ("It's funny, goofy, exciting and far-ranging in its imaginative nonsense accumulations, and throughout it all Deitch's fond sense of nostalgia for a world that never quite was lends emotional heft to the story's elaborate twists and turns"), Dash Shaw's Bottomless Belly Button and Mome stories (collected in The Unclothed Man in the 35th Century A.D.) at #13 ("Dash Shaw is an utterly brilliant young cartoonist who has, in a few short years, advanced from the academic experiments of his earlier work... into a formalist genius whose skills encompass both a natural gift for color and a feel for subtle, indirect characterization"), Safe Area Gorazde by Joe Sacco at #7 ("Joe Sacco is a unique figure in modern comics: there is no one else who combines sheer cartooning chops with a newspaper reporter's sensibility and instincts in quite the same way. ... Safe Area Gorazde [is] an especially powerful document of the effects of war"), the comics of Kevin Huizenga at #4 ("Kevin Huizenga is the best young artist in comics. It's as simple as that. With his recent Fantagraphics series Ganges (part of the Ignatz line of high-quality pamphlets) Huizenga has matured into one of comics' finest formalists"), Jimbo in Purgatory by Gary Panter at #2 ("The denseness of Panter's references and cross-references makes the experience of reading this book a truly overwhelming experience; every line, every image, spirals into multiple other references and ideas, pulling in the whole wide expanse of world culture as a stomping ground for Jimbo's wanderings through the Purgatory of modern existence towards enlightenment"), and the Love and Rockets Vol. II work of Jaime Hernandez (as collected in Ghost of Hoppers and The Education of Hopey Glass) in the #1 slot ("There is no greater all-around artist in modern comics than Jaime Hernandez, and his recent work builds on his past successes so that his oeuvre as a whole is shaping up to be one of literature's best sustained stories about aging and the shifting of relationships over the course of a life").
• Review: "The best argument that the underground tradition is still alive is Hotwire Comics, edited by Glen Head (one of the most underrated cartoonists around, incidentally). Hotwire Comics is a visual assault, abrasive, confrontational, willing to poke and prod the audience: a real live wire that can shock. Everything a good underground comic book should be." – Jeet Heer, Comics Comics
• Review: "Strange Suspense is a handsome book generally, with a fun front cover and a nice, sturdy, feel. As far as my eye can tell the work is reproduced well; admittedly, I have one of the worst eyes in comics for that sort of thing. It's nice to have a bunch of comics from this time period, particularly the grittier pre-Code or Fear of Code-Like Crackdown work. There are some truly repulsive pieces of throwaway pulp in this book's pages, and Ditko was more than up to the task of illustrating them." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
• Review: "Mother, Come Home is a subtle, dark story about death and madness and fantasy, tied together by symbols and the voice of an older Thomas looking back on his childhood. It's not bleak, though; Thomas survives his traumatic childhood, and perhaps Hornschmeier's lesson is that we all can, if we try — if we step outside our rituals and fantasies and reach out to each other, we can make it through." – Andrew Wheeler, The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent. (via ¡Journalista!)
Online Commentary & Diversions have seen their shadow:
• List: Our pal Bully the Little Stuffed Bull has started his annual Fun Fifty countdown. In the first installment, coming in at #46, Blazing Combat: "War, huh! What is it good for? Absolutely nothin'... aside from bringing us this gorgeous archive edition of a classic comic every war comics fan oughta have in their library."
• Review: "Back in the days of Factsheet Five, I used to order tons of minicomix. Most were mediocre, but a few were terrifically good and that made it worth the risk to send in the fifty cents or so that they cost. ... Fantagraphics just released a massively thick (900 pages!) anthology of minicomix called Newave! The Underground Mini Comix of the 1980s , and it's a treat." – Mark Frauenfelder, Boing Boing
• Review: "In Strange Suspense, Ditko already shines as a masterful designer of sinister mansions, ornate gateways and demonic doors and furnishings... And finally, there’s no mistaking those trademark Ditko faces, leering with evil or sweating and wide-eyed with terror, often lit or looking up from below. ... It is a pleasure to follow Ditko’s youthful artistic progression and there is a noticeable refining and streamlining of his drawing, going for greater clarity and impact. ... These morality fables are seldom subtle or surprising... but it’s Ditko’s artistry that elevates these mostly standard comic book nasties. ...[T]he $39.99 ticket is good value, and this is a weighty, hard-packed, deluxe package..." – Paul Gravett
• Review: "Successful art engenders powerful emotion in its observers. How do I know that Al Columbia's Pim & Francie is an amazing work of art? Because it seriously made me feel ill. Uncomfortable. It made me question my sense of aesthetics; played havoc with my expectations. It's unquestionably an amazing book. ... Rating: 8/10" – Jeremy Nisen, Under the Radar
• Commentary: At The Daily Cross Hatch, Box Brown reproduces the epochal letters page from Ivan Brunetti's Schizo #2 (reprinted in Misery Loves Comedy) as part of a new column on cartoonists' letters to cartoonists
Blake Bell is plowing ahead with his forthcoming, highly-anticipated book Fire & Water: Bill Everett, The Sub-Mariner, and the Birth of Marvel Comics (preliminary cover art shown above subject to change), and you can track his progress on his Bill Everett Facebook page. In this update, he outlines the contents of each chapter and gives a general idea of what to expect in the book, which is on track for a September release.