• 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)
Dear sweet mercy this week's comic shop shipment is slated to include the following truckload of new titles. Read on to see what comics-blog commentators and web-savvy comic shops are saying about them (more to be added as they appear), check out our previews at the links, and contact your local shop to confirm availability.
144-page full-color 7" x 9.5" hardcover • $35.00 ISBN: 978-1-60699-510-5
"The semi-complete comics works of the remarkable Dutch cartoonist (and designer, and architect, and Tintin aficionado, and the guy who came up with the term 'ligne claire') Joost Swarte. Fantagraphics originally announced this project for 2007 (under the name Modern Swarte), and its scope has gradually expanded since then. There are, in fact, some deliberate omissions--this volume doesn't include his kids' book series 'Katoen en Pinbal,' and mail-order copies from Fantagraphics come with an extra 12-page minicomic of early material called 'Actually, That Wasn't All There Was.'" – Douglas Wolk, ComicsAlliance
"A whole lot of Fantagraphics books are dropping... this week — if you see a book of Joost Swarte: no, it’s not a mirage..." – Joe McCulloch, The Comics Journal
"The... long-anticipated collection of Joost Swarte's comics work... is one of those things you're grateful to see finally come out even if you can't afford to buy it right away." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
"...Fantagraphics must have sat down and designated this Scandinavian Comics Week… Adding a touch of influential Denmark [sic] work for good measure. Besides Kolor Klimax... the publisher has also released the first English language translation from Dutch alternative comics master Joost Swarte, entitled Is That All There Is? ...[T]hat’s one company betting on a lot of 'love' from fans of European alternative work in the same week." – "Insideman's Pull List," Inveterate Media Junkies
"[This] is one of those anthologies with tons of cartoonists you've never heard of but probably wish you had." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
204-page full-color 10" x 10" hardcover • $39.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-507-5
"Not comics, by any stretch of the imagination; I'm listing it here because it's a Fantagraphics book and might be showing up in comics shops, and because it looks fantastic. This is Pat Thomas's long, extensively researched photo-and-essay book about where the Black Power movement intersected with the recording industry." – Douglas Wolk, ComicsAlliance
240-page full-color 7.25" x 10" hardcover • 39.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-488-7
"I'm a huge fiend for Bill Everett, one of the romantic figures of 20th Century comic book making for the fact that when his comics hit on a certain popular notion they contributed to the general development of that form as much as anyone's comics ever did, but when they didn't quite conform to the most popular efforts they super stuck out." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
180-page black & white/color 8" x 10" softcover • $19.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-481-8
"It's wonderful that Diane Noomin has a new collection out. I'm reading it right now as the book I keep in the back seat of the car as I wait for people to leave buildings where I'm picking them up.... I hope this one doesn't get lost in the flood of new material out. We desperately need to come to grips with more of the underground comix work, if only because so much of it was deeply compelling. I liked the support material in here, too, particularly Noomin's walking us through her career." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
"My splurge for the week would likely be one of the several books out from Fantagraphics. First up is Amazing Mysteries, a collection of early work by Bill Everett (reviewed here). Then there’s Glitz 2 Go, a collection of comics by underground-era cartoonist Diane Noomin, whom I simply don’t know enough about. The obvious choice though is the wittily titled Is That All There Is?, a kitchen-sink collection of the mighty Joost Swarte’s comic stories from the 1970s onward. You can never have enough Swarte." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"CONFLICT OF INTEREST RESERVOIR: There’s a pretty enormous amount of Fantagraphics stuff out this week, with nothing more anticipated I suspect than Is That All There Is?, a 144-page collection of almost all of Joost Swarte’s work in alternative comics, including eye-catching bits from RAW, Heavy Metal and elsewhere; $35.00. Then you can keep up your international airs with Kolor Klimax: Nordic Comics Now, a 250-page anthology of Scandinavian works edited by the Journal’s Matthias Wivel; $29.99. Editor Blake Bell returns with Amazing Mysteries: The Bill Everett Archives Vol. 1, a 240-page collection of Golden Age superhero comics from the titular artist; $39.99. Diane Noomin (of the Twisted Sisters anthology, the second volume of which I attribute to changing my entire perception of how the comics form could work at a crucial age) gets a 180-page anthology of her various works with Glitz-2-Go; $19.99. And finally, in case comics are just too much for ya, Listen, Whitey! The Sights and Sounds of Black Power 1965-1975 finds music producer and writer Pat Thomas tracking the recorded output of various black power groups of the designated time span, in glorious prose; $39.99." – Joe McCulloch, The Comics Journal
"Gilbert's stories are typically excellent in this issue, as he manages a certain luridness in one story that brings sexuality to the fore, and goes the other direction in a more oblique, subtle story. Of course, the story that got everyone buzzing was the second half of Jaime's "The Love Bunglers", which is an ending for this thirty-year cycle of stories--and one where Jaime sticks the landing with authority."
"This was Bagge's first feature-length Buddy Bradley story in years, and it's a doozy. Buddy, Lisa and young Harold visit Lisa's parents in a story called 'Hell,' and Bagge truly pulls out all the stops in depicting extreme familial weirdness. His dialogue is as sharp as ever, his line is quite lively and his uncanny ability to depict the creeping weirdness of suburbia is even more disturbing than in the initial run of New Jersey stories in Hate."
"Kupperman's 'Quincy, M.E.' story in this issue is a tour-de-force of twisting narrative structures and just plain crazy silliness. Kupperman's art has become increasingly bland as his aesthetic references have changed from 1920s comic strips to 1950s comic books, forcing the reader to perform double-takes at the crazy juxtapositions he creates. If his comics aren't as visually exhausting and exciting as they once were, he still provides an avalanche of ideas and jokes for the reader to sort through."
• Review: "Norwegian cartoonist Jason has returned with more full-color stories populated by lonely, and at times sociopathic, anthropomorphic characters. Cats, dogs, and ducks steal, fight, murder, and drink themselves into oblivion. Although brimming with black humor, the tales are far from ridiculous; the disjunction between the cute creatures and their actions often serves to highlight the despair inherent in their lives. Text is light, as the images drive the narratives. In these spare, mute panels, infused with flat oranges, greens, and browns, small movements covey great meaning and emotion.... Visually exciting, at times hilarious and at times devastating, Athos in America will only add to Jason’s well-deserved reputation as a star of the graphic novel world." – Publishers Weekly
• Review: "This volume [Amazing Mysteries: The Bill Everett Archives Vol. 1] provides an illuminating look at the artist’s numerous attempts at catching Sub-Marineresque lightning in a bottle for a second time, a task that mostly eluded him. The comics studios of the golden age were product mills that threw any idea against the wall in hope it would stick, and Everett did much the same. Forgotten sci-fi and superhero creations, as well as forays into westerns, historical retellings, and crime comics, populate this loaded volume, which reads like it fell straight out of some four-color twilight zone." – Publishers Weekly
• Review: "Over 150 pages of reprints, a brilliant back-of-the-book by Benson running 26 pages, and an introduction by my old buddy, cartoonist/historian Jay Lynch..., this book is a welcome addition to any comics library.... [I]f nothing else, The Sincerest Form of Parody saves you a lot of time separating the wheat from the chaff. But in and of itself, it is a very worthy book – entertaining on his own, and critical from a historical point of view. You should check this one out..." – Mike Gold, ComicMix
• Review: "[Jordan] Crane’s comic, The Last Lonely Saturday, explores the trials and release of life after loss. Crane’s story beautifully follows a husband’s weekly ritual to pay respect to his wife. In no more than a few pages, Crane retells the husband and wife’s entire history. From the comic’s meticulous book design, with its quaint size and the rounded, hand-lettered type in the first pages, readers can expect the story to be heart-warming. But Crane pulls at readers’ heartstrings with surprising grace. While the story is rooted in the traditional American cliché of lovers reunited in the afterlife, the story is told deftly." – Juan Fernandez, The Tartan (via Robot 6)
• Review: "[Freeway] captures the frustration of being stuck in traffic, particularly the array of images (violent and otherwise) that traffic brings to my mind (even better than Falling Down). Like me, Alex also relieves his frustrations with a lot of swearing." – Gene Ambaum, The Unshelved Book Club
• Plug: "I ran into animator Michel Gagné at the Annie Awards last week (where he picked up an Annie for Best Video Game, Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet) and asked him about his next project. Turns out Gagne had been toiling on a labor of love (literally) that has just gone on sale this week.... That book, Young Romance: the Best of Simon & Kirby’s Romance Comics, is not the usual thing we endorse here at Cartoon Brew – but as a life-long Jack Kirby fan and oddball comic book buff, this project is right up my alley.... I’ve ordered my copy and highly recommend it, sight unseen. Thanks, Michel!" – Jerry Beck, Cartoon Brew
• Plug: "Joe Simon and Jack Kirby created Captain America but they literally created the romance comic genre. The pages [of Young Romance] were packed with dialogue and dramatic art as women fought for love." – Will Harris, KOMO News
• Feature: Jill Russell of KOMO TV's Seattle Pulp blog spotlights Listen, Whitey! The Sights and Sounds of Black Power 1965-1975 and talks to author Pat Thomas: "The main lesson Thomas takes away from this project is that young people are a forced to be reckoned with. The average age of a Black Panther was just 22. 'How many young people do you know are leading national movements?' he asked. 'When people have been stripped of their pride or ostracized too much, they will eventually fight back.'"
• Review: "For fans of comics from the dawn of the comic book era, this book [Amazing Mysteries: The Bill Everett Archives Vol. 1] is an indispensable gift from Blake Bell and Fantagraphics. For those who love to read great stories from the Golden Age, however, this volume isn't as great as the ones that will follow. Kudos to Fantagraphics for re-presenting these stories after all these years, but this book does prove the truism that when reading archival reprints, the first volume will often be the hardest to get through. I give this book three and a half stars for the fact that it exists, for the exhaustive research by Bell and his friends, and because some people will find this material fascinating. As for the comics themselves in this book, well, your mileage may vary." – Jason Sacks, Comics Bulletin
• Plug:Young Romance: The Best of Simon & Kirby's Romance Comics leads off the L.A. Times Hero Complex Valentine's Day gift guide: "The creators of Captain America also helped create a softer comics genre: romance comics. In the late ’40s and ’50s, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby captivated girls and women with their 'Young Romance' tales of star-crossed lovers. This 208-page hardbound volume includes 21 of those stories."
The 1939 creation of the Sub-Mariner for the first issue of Marvel Comics assures Bill Everett a place in history. Co-creating Daredevil, the Man Without Fear, for Marvel Comics in 1964 gave Everett a link to one of the most popular superheroes of the past 50 years. And producing over 400 additional pages of superhero-related work in the very early days of the Golden Age of Comics (1938-42) makes Bill Everett a legend.
This book collects over 200 pages of this never-before-reprinted work from titles such as Amazing Mystery Funnies (1938), Amazing-Man Comics (1939), Target Comics (1940), Heroic Comics (1940), and Blue Bolt Comics (1940). These titles feature an endless array of great vintage Everett characters such as Amazing-Man, Hydroman, Skyrocket Steele, Sub-Zero, The Chameleon, and many more, all produced by Everett’s shop Funnies, Inc. for such clients as Centaur, Novelty Press, and Eastern Color, and all displaying Everett’s brilliant cartooning and energetic storytelling.
Edited and compiled by best-selling author and comic-book historian Blake Bell (Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko), Amazing Mysteries: The Bill Everett Archives is a stunning companion to Bell’s 2010 critically acclaimed Everett biography and art book, Fire and Water: Bill Everett, The Sub-Mariner and the Birth of Marvel Comics. This volume follows the format of Bell’s Steve Ditko Archives series (see page 54 of this catalog); never-before-reprinted, beautifully restored, full-color stories from one of comic books’ greatest visionaries and most accomplished artists. Also includes an introduction by Bell that delves even deeper into Everett’s life, fiery personality, and the history of the era. The resultant package enhances Everett’s place in history as one of the first and best comic-book creators of all time.
• Reviews:Robot 6's Chris Mautner looks at our 3 newest Golden Age collections:
"...[W]hile I enjoyed [Action! Mystery!] Thrills[!] (I’m especially grateful for being exposed to the neon-color stylings of L.B. Cole, who seems to prefigure the era of black velvet paintings), it’s definitely the slightest — the most coffee tableish — of Sadowski’s books so far. It feels like a book designed more to flip through than to mull over.... That’s not necessarily a bad thing — there’s certainly pleasures to be had in re-examining these covers..."
"What’s exciting for me about this book is watching Everett develop as an artist and storyteller and figure out the medium in relatively rapid fashion.... The material in Amazing [Mysteries] in no way represents Everett’s strongest work, though they do point to his potential — those thrilling Sub Mariner stories were just around the corner. What you see here are the glimmers of an artist struggling to comprehend the potential of this relatively new medium [and] how he can push it to match his own interests."
"Though modern readers may wince at some of the sexual stereotypes on display, not to mention the occasional forced happy ending, Young Romance underscores Simon and Kirby’s keen storytelling skills. Adhering to a mostly six-panel grid, the duo manage to produce work that is visually arresting and dramatic... It’s also worth mentioning that editor Michel Gagne’s [restoration] work is stellar... For Kirby fans and those who just love to explore comics from generations past, it’s a rather essential read."
• Review: "It’s hard to imagine a comic that’s more ambitious and less pretentious; it’s reader-immersive and reader-friendly. Huizenga’s style recalls the 'big nose' school of cartooning — Glenn Ganges' schnoz is one of the comic’s stars. This unaffected old-timey style lends the narrative a sense of charm and elegance... Perhaps we should judge 2012’s comics according the standard set by Ganges #4." – Ken Parille, The Comics Journal
• Plugs: Martha Cornog of Library Journal Reviews spotlights a few of our upcoming releases in the latest "Graphic Novels Prepub Alert":
Buz Sawyer, Vol. 2: Sultry’s Tiger by Roy Crane: "World War II has ended, and flying ace Buz Sawyer has snagged a civilian job at last: troubleshooter for International Airways, which has him traveling to hotspots all over the world. Of course, he always flies into adventure, here visiting a dangerous woman he first met during the war, taking on the Mad Baron, discovering Mayan treasure, and being kidnapped by mysterious thugs. But whatever the adventure, somehow Buz always gets mixed up with a pretty girl. This volume includes both daily and full-color Sunday strips, originally published between 1945 and 1947, drawn in Crane’s clean, realistic style that in retrospect looks remarkably European."
Kolor Klimax: Nordic Comics Now, ed. by Matthias Wivel: "This lavish sampler of work from Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden offers a wide variety of artistic styles and short plots, some with a more adult focus. See samples here; click 'Expand' for the wonderful cover plus 20 pages. Wivel is a veteran of the Danish comics scene who currently lives in New York."
Black Images in the Comics by Fredrik Strömberg: "First published by Fantagraphics in 2003 and nominated for an Eisner Award, this history of racial depictions in comics has been updated in both its content and its source list. Over 100 entries, each featuring a representative illustration and an instructive short essay, cover an international range of comics, from Moon Mullins through Tintin, Will Eisner, R. Crumb, Peanuts, Boondocks, and beyond. Strömberg is a Swedish comics journalist, editor, and educator who has published numerous books in several languages."
Jewish Images in the Comics by Fredrik Strömberg: "Another of Strömberg’s books, in a similar format: over 150 entries from internationally-originating comic strips, comic books, and graphic novels stretching back 'over the last five centuries' that feature Jewish characters and Jewish themes. The works of Art Spiegelman and Will Eisner are well known to comics aficionados in the United States, but many of the other examples, some 'far less savory,' may not be."
The first Online Commentary & Diversions post of the year might very well end up being the longest:
• List: Humorist and television personality John Hodgman, asked to name his 5 favorite comics in an open Q&A session on his Tumblr blog, says "Love and Rockets: I don’t like to choose between brothers, but Jaime Hernandez is one of the greatest drawers of human faces and human want on the planet."
• List:Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge: Only a Poor Old Man by Carl Barks is #39 on The A.V. Club 's list of "most anticipated entertainments of 2012": "Only a Poor Old Man will bring Scrooge McDuck, possibly Barks’ greatest creation, into the spotlight. The bespectacled miser will dive around in his money bin and burrow through it like a gopher, and his timeless adventures will get the treatment they deserve."
• List: Tucker Stone, whose Best of 2011 previously appeared at comiXology, presents a slightly modified list for Flavorwire's "10 of the Year's Most Buzzed-About Comic Releases":
"Last year’s Love and Rockets was a huge deal, but this year’s installment is arguably even better.... Comics has yet to provide Love and Rockets with anything approximating 'competition,' but it doesn’t appear that the Hernandez brothers have any reason to be concerned about that quite yet. They’re still way better at this than everybody else on the planet."
"The big thing this year was watching all the great young cartoonists of the early 2000s carving out their places in the pantheon. Huizenga’s a perfect example — he’s been regularly turning out excellent comics for years now, and yet Ganges #4 still reads like a revelation.... It’s a fascinating experience reading these comics, and they’re gorgeous to boot."
"The continuing adventures of Johnny Ryan’s most violent fantasies run amuck, [Prison Pit] is rapidly becoming the comic that I look forward to the way a fat kid looks forward to syrup-encrusted cake. There’s no getting around the hoary old cliche — 'these aren’t for everybody' — so God help you if you can’t figure out a way to enjoy these books."
• List: The prolific Sean T. Collins, after having contributed to CBR's Top 100, runs down his personal 20 Best Comics of 2011 on his Attentiondeficitdisorderly blog AND at Robot 6, withGanges #4 by Kevin Huizenga at #15...
"Huizenga wrings a second great book out of his everyman character’s insomnia. It’s quite simple how, really: He makes comics about things you’d never thought comics could be about, by doing things you never thought comics could do to show you them. Best of all, there’s still the sense that his best work is ahead of him, waiting like dawn in the distance."
"...[T]he payoff... feels like a weight has been lifted from Woodring’s strange world, while the route he takes to get there is illustrated so beautifully it’s almost superhuman. It’s the happy ending he’s spent most of his career earning."
"Religious fundamentalism... has worn a thousand faces in a millennia-long carnevale procession of war and weirdness, and David B. paints portraits of three of its masks with bloody brilliance. Focusing on long-forgotten heresies and treating the most outlandish legends about them as fact, B.’s high-contrast linework sets them all alight with their own incandescent madness."
"I picture Gilbert Hernandez approaching his drawing board these days like Lawrence of Arabia approaching a Turkish convoy: 'NO PRISONERS! NO PRISONERS!' In a year suffused with comics funneling pitch-black darkness through a combination of sex and horror, none were blacker, sexier, or more horrific than this gender-bending exploitation flick from Beto's 'Fritz-verse.'"
"...[L]et's add to the chorus praising Jaime's 'The Love Bunglers' as one of the greatest comics of all time, the point to which one of the greatest comics series of all time has been hurtling toward for thirty years.... You can count the number of cartoonists able to wed style to substance, form to function, this seamlessly on one hand with fingers to spare. A masterpiece."
"The hype and acclaim surrounding Xaime Hernandez’s conclusion to his 'Love Bunglers' saga has been overwhelming, and every ounce of it is deserved. This is simply a phenomenal achievement in comics. A moving, thoughtful story of missed opportunities, loss and eventual reconciliation that provides in many ways a fitting conclusion to all of Xaime’s 'Locas' stories. I’d be hard pressed to think of a better comic that came out this year."
"More than the new Carl Barks collection, more than the return of Pogo, the resurrected, re-appreciated comic strip I found myself falling in love the most with this year was Gottfredson’s plunky, adventure-loving mouse, a scrappier version of Disney’s iconic creation. More to the point, I was completely taken with the stunning packaging and background information Fantagraphics and the books editor put together for this series. It’s new benchmark for reprint projects."
"Three volumes into this grand guginol series and it continues to surprise and delight, this time introducing a new character and suggesting via an end sequence that Ryan has been reading a lot of Fort Thunder comics."
"Incredibly inventive, Schrauwen, like Yokoyama, seems intent on pushing the comics medium into new and interesting directions. But where Yokoyama is concerned mainly with motion and exploration, Schrauwen is concerned mainly with perception and the interior world of the mind. This is great, mind-blowing work."
• List: Also on Robot 6's roundup of best-of lists from its writers, Tim O'Shea ranks Pogo Vol. 1 at #9: "Damn if this was not worth the wait... Volume 1 of the complete syndicated daily strips of Pogo would be enough to put this book on my list. But the fact that Fantagraphics has a foreword by Jimmy Breslin; an introduction by Steve Thompson; a piece on the Pogo Sunday Funnies by Mark Evanier; and Swamp Talk (R.H. Harvey annotations on the strips) is just icing on the cake."
• List: David McKean's Celluloid gets a "See Also" shout-out on Cyriaque Lamar's list of The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Comics of 2011 at io9: "A decidedly adult erotica graphic novel with no dialogue, this is the famed Sandman cover artist going at page after page of a sexy hallucination, whipped up by a magic porno movie projector. Dreamscapes with boners."
"After 'Browntown' in last year’s installment of New Stories, there was a worry that Jaime might have peaked — how on earth was he going to top that story? The achingly beautiful conclusion to 'The Love Bunglers' in this volume was the answer. Pulling together strands from Maggie’s entire 30-year history in two pages was nothing short of stunning, with his art as cooly confident as ever, making it a real emotional sucker punch. Gilbert’s work developing Fritz’s movie back-catalogue is a real mind-bender, too, weaving inter- and meta-textual strands together that lets his characters say so much, while saying so little. It is terrifying how talented these guys are."
"Forget Pogo and Carl Barks — we already knew they were classics — the real reprint revelation of 2011 was good ole' Mickey Mouse.... To read these strips is to rediscover a love for Mickey and marvel at Gottfredson's amazing grasp of storytelling and humour, as well as his flawless artwork. Naturally, with Fantagraphics overseeing the reprints, the design, packaging and presentation is gorgeous — a real worthy successor to their Peanuts series."
• Plug: "I’m a little mortified to admit that Walt Disney's Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes is my first exposure to Carl Barks (after decades of being interested in finally seeing why he’s so revered as a comic creator), but it definitely won’t be my last. Fantagraphics’ first volume of Barks material is a great place to start; a mixture of epic quests, short stories, and gag strips that are all impressively funny and awesome." – Greg McElhatton, Robot 6
• List: On his Domino Books blog, Austin English explains why Joyce Farmer's Special Exits is his favorite comic of 2011: "Farmer's cartooning allows for her characters to act out their illness and struggles in front of the reader. Farmer's drawing of her aging father is something to behold — it's not Farmer saying 'here is what my sick father went through.' Instead we see a drawing age and wither in front of us, and speak to us with both intelligence and dementia. I’ve never seen anything in comics done with such skill — let alone see a graphic novel (often the territory of poorly conceived topical heart wrenchers) speak about tragedy with so much depth and clarity."
• List: Comics writer Vito Delsante declares Love and Rockets: New Stories #4 the Best Single Issue of 2011 on his Best of 2011 blog post: "The Hernandez Brothers, since New Stories 3, have really created the most important mythology in comics since Stan and Jack (and Steve).... Jaime Hernandez should win every single award in comics in 2012."
• List: We rank 4 entries on Renee Lott's Top 10 Comics of 2011 at her Blogwithfeet
• Review: "I've been digging the new Fantagraphics release Jason Conquers America which commemorates ten years of the venerable publisher's relationship with the Norewegian artist.... My favorite story in the collection revolves around a crow who naps in a bed in a field and wakes up obliviously in an entirely new life. (Telling any more would spoil the revelation.) In 23 short wordless panels, Jason creates a powerful and compelling commentary that proves how powerfully expressive comics can be." – Stray Riffs
• Review: "A new comic from the top humorist in comics is always welcome. This issue [of Tales Designed to Thrizzle] is the usual combination of dada and surprisingly tightly-wrapped narrative gags surrounding the sort of cultural detritus mined by Drew Friedman & Mark Newgarden.... 'Quincy, M.E.'... is one of Kupperman's best strips because he keeps adding new layers of plot to an already-ridiculous story.... I still miss the sheer density of detail in Kupperman's older work that made reading it almost exhausting, but the avalanche of ideas remains intact, as does his ability to elicit laughs." – Rob Clough, High-Low
• Review: "...Prison Pit... [is] a marriage of pro wrestling, manga, bromance and filth.... Johnny Ryan has an almost Kirbyesque level of character design, but with obviously more genitalia, and it can at times be a joy just to see what is going to come on the next page.... Johnny Ryan is a cartoonist at the top of his game right now and he may just be the closest thing the comic world has to marmite." – Taylor Pithers, The Weekly Crisis
• Interview:The Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon talks with Todd DePastino, biographer of Bill Mauldin and editor of our Willie & Joe books. Spurgeon says Willie & Joe: Back Home is "one of my three favorite comics-related books from 2011, and, I think, one of the year's best." From DePastino: "When I look at these cartoons, I think of literary critic Dominic LaCapra's claim that some books are good to think about and a very few are good to think with. Mauldin's postwar cartoons are good to think with. They not only provide a window to the times, like, say, good photographs or reporting might, but they also raise fundamental questions and issues that are with us still."
• Review: "These comics are beautiful. Each single-panel comic is blown up to a full page, so that Mauldin’s artistry can truly (and easily) be admired without squinting. The sentiments expressed are astonishing and bravely progressive for the time.... I’d never thought or heard about the poor reception combat vets received after WWII. (I mistakenly thought that only happened to our soldiers after the Vietnam War.) I wish I knew what they experienced. I’ll settle for giving [Willie & Joe: Back Home] to the next WWII vet I meet and hope that it sparks a conversation." – Gene Ambaum, The Unshelved Book Club
• List: The National Post's David Berry names The Best Graphic Novels of 2011, saying of his #3 choice "This does feel somewhat like cheating, since there’s only a few sequences of proper graphic work here, but why quibble about format: Mark Twain’s Autobiography 1910-2010 is, quite simply, one of the funniest things you’ll read in any genre. Kupperman has a child’s free-ranging imagination and an aging intellectual’s dry wit... This supposed telling of Mark Twain’s 20th-century life... would be an awe-inspiring work of imagination if it wasn’t so absurdly hilarious. Somewhere between John Hodgman and Graham Roumieu, Kupperman has found stark comic brilliance."
• List:Comic Book Resources continues their Top 100 comics of 2011 countdown, with Ganges #4 by Kevin Huizenga coming in at #48 and Brian Cronin calling it "mind-boggling" and "remarkable. Absolute top notch sequential work."
• List:Comic Book Resources columnist Sonia Harris lists "My Top 10 Comics (for ANY Year)" with Love and Rockets taking the #2 spot: "Read Love & Rockets, all of them, both brothers, everything you can find. Your life will be richer."
• List:Bookgasm's J.T. Lindroos, running down the Best Euro Comics as part of the Best Books of 2011, writes "Fantagraphics continued its Jacques Tardi lineup, and I was particularly delighted by the proto-steampunk The Arctic Marauder, although I think one should own every single book in the series. I was also happy to see some less well-known artists get their chance, and both Sibyl-Anne Vs. Ratticus by R. Macherot and Murder by High Tide by Maurice Tilleux were wonderful surprises in the classic Franco-Belgian 'bigfoot' style. Fantagraphics is quickly becoming the Criterion Collection of comics publishing."
• List: Richmond VA comic shop Velocity Comics counts down their top ten Best Graphic Novels 2011, with Jim Woodring's Congress of the Animals at #9: "There are few artists’ work I can endlessly stare at with as much feverish perplexitude as Jim Woodring’s. Yes, I just made that word up."
• List: Vancouver BC culture site The Snipe surveys local comics industry folks for their favorite comics of the year. The Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse series by Floyd Gottfredson is named Best Collected Edition or Reprint by cartoonist Steve LeCouiliard...
"Floyd Gottfredson is one of the overlooked masters of the comic strip. Like Carl Barks, his work was always signed 'Walt Disney' but his craft and storytelling brilliance shone through. Comic strips really don’t provide much more pure joy than Gottfredson’s Mickey Mouse."
...and by VanCAF organizer Shannon Campbell...
"The two-volume collection of Floyd Gottfredson’s run of Mickey Mouse, hands down! These books chronicle the glory days of the old-school Mickey Mouse comics when Gottfredson did both art and story (from 1930-1934)."
...while the staff of Lucky's Comics can't pick just one:
"This has been a boon year reprint editions, but take your pick from Fantagraphics Books’ amazing editions of Pogo by Walt Kelly, Donald Duck by Carl Barks, Mickey Mouse by Floyd Gottfredson, and Prince Valiant by Hal Foster. Fantagraphics has done such an incredible job on book designs, colors, paper… all of the details that make these editions glow."
"It’s not just the subject matter that’s a winner here. Santiago has a knack for simplicity in his storytelling approach, and in a medium that’s often beset by needless complexity, that’s a rare gift."
"...[P]robably the best pure horror comic I read this year... and one that quite frankly shocked the hell out of me. Sala’s expressionist art style might not be the most obvious choice for telling blood-curdling horror stories, but its innocent cartoony quality somehow makes a perfect (and terrible) fit with the horrible, almost nihilistic story that Sala is telling."
• Review: "Swarte’s visuals are always gorgeous and distinctive, with a strong influence from Hergé but an even more rigidly mapped out structure. The more you look at them, especially the large ones, the more you see, as in a one-panel, one-pager that lays out a parodic vision of comics production as if it resulted from a Roger Corman-esque movie studio. His eye is careful and his line even more so. ...[Is That All There Is?] is a real pleasure to read and to look at, and it makes a case for Swarte as a real comics guy, not just an illustrator." – Hillary Brown, Paste
• Profile: At City Journal, an essay by Stefan Kanfer with a history of Walt Kelly and Pogo: "He frequently quoted a line that he had written for Porky Pine: 'Don’t take life so serious, it ain’t nohow permanent.' No, it ain’t. But art — even comic art — can be, in the hands of a master. Every book, every comic, every panel verifies the claims of Kelly’s fervent cheering squad: after 63 ever-lovin’ blue-eyed years, Pogo is still incomparabobble." (Via The Comics Reporter)
• Plug:Seattlest's Heather Logue spotlights Tony Millionaire's upcoming appearance and art show at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery: "Aside from the fact that he has an amazing superhero name, Tony Millionaire also has the extraordinary talent to back it up. The cartoonist will be at Fantagraphics with his latest book 500 Portraits-- a collection of portraits (duh) of everything from the very famous face, to the very small bug. All meticulously crafted in his beautiful, yet grotesque way -- you're not going to want to miss Tony's take on portraiture."
• Scene:At his blog, Drew Friedman recounts his experience as keynote speaker at the International Society of Caricature Artists' annual convention last month, with lots of photos, a couple video clips and a transcription of a Q&A session
• List: Tucker Stone counts down The Best of 2011 at comiXology. and we sure like the looks of his top 5:
At #5, Jim Woodring's Congress of the Animals: "Deftly exploring the individual's relationship with labor, consequence and love, Congress of the Animals might be Woodring's least nightmarish work yet. (Although there's still a decent portion of it involving face-robbed humanoids that you shouldn't leave lying open if you have junkies visiting.)"
At #4, Prison Pit Book 3 by Johnny Ryan: "Back in 2009, when Ryan began Prison Pit, it was a revelation; a bone-crushing giant, born fully clothed.... Make no mistake: if Jack Kirby was born today, these are the kinds of comics he'd be drawing."
At #2, Ganges #4 by Kevin Huizenga: "While it has been two years since the release of Ganges #3, the only thing that could possibly have dulled would be the audience's memory of how extraordinary the series can be.... As with Yokoyama's Color Engineering, the audience becomes participatory witness, buried head to toe alongside Glenn, living and dying by his attempts to conquer. The shaggy dog ending -- weirder than the last one -- only seems cruel for the length of time it takes you to remember: being broken out of a trance is supposed to hurt."
And in the #1 spot, Love and Rockets: New Stories #4: "...Love and Rockets 4 saw Jaime Hernandez making good on the promise of decades. Resolving with as much finality as one could ask the question of 'how's this gonna end,' the final passage of this issue's Maggie story was without comparison. There was absolutely nothing else like reading those pages for the first time -- the gasp held tight in your throat, the 8 panel grids giving way only once, for a two page silent recap of the last 30 years of a life only we seem to know was well-lived."
• Review: "...[The Armed Garden] is absolutely marvelous, a gorgeous and searing series of comics from an artist who earns the description 'freakishly talented' as completely as anyone this side of his trans-Atlantic fellow in crafting dreamy/nightmarish parables of violent spirituality, Jim Woodring. These comics are just as lovely and just as frightening, and just as singularly the work of their creator and no other." – Sean T. Collins, Attentiondeficitdisorderly