• Review: "This mammoth collection [What Is All This?] presents five decades of Dixon: sex, frustration, and attempts at deeper communication, mostly missed. The 62 stories evoke neuroses, delusion, banality, and everyday absurdities in deceptively simple sentences... There are echoes of Ernest Hemingway and prefigurings of Raymond Carver's lower-middle-class minimalism infusing tales of scrappers and scrapers... Usually sublime, sometimes sloppy, and occasionally bewildering, these stories are a testament to an impressive career spent too much under the radar." – Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) [Temporary link]
• Review: "With its mix of sci-fi, romance, tragedy and comedy, A Drunken Dream is a memorable manga journey that shouldn't be missed or dismissed. [...] Drawing from deeply-felt personal experiences, Hagio draws stories for every person who has felt like an outsider, who has regretted past actions that can never be erased, or who has longed to be accepted for being who they are, not what people want them to be. These ideas sound so simple — but when touched by Hagio's pen, this is punch-in-the-gut powerful. [...] ★★★★1/2" – Deb Aoki, About.com: Manga
• Review: "While they may not be standard children’s books, they are fun and entertaining and full of stuff kids would like, without being obscene or intended for mature audiences. They are the kind of books you would want your kid reading if your kid wasn’t a total dork. [...] You get the feeling of reading old fairy tales, where the Prince wasn’t always charming, the villains would erect down right disturbing and evil plots against the characters and the story, or just the world in general was presented as a harsh reminder of reality. [...] Tony [Millionaire]... really lets his imagination run with his latest book, Billy Hazelnuts and the Crazy Bird. [...] With or without children, you can feel good about reading this book." – Brian Jones, Flash Flood Media
• Review: "Artichoke Tales is by any definition a remarkable book — the first graphic novel by Megan Kelso, who has so far worked largely in the short story form, and a book that displays at every page Kelso’s unique voice as a graphic storyteller and the care and attention she lavished on this project over the past several years. [...] This is a beautiful book, at times a heartbreaking book. One feels the precision and thought behind every word, every line, all of it edited down and arranged to a spareness that is paradoxically lush and textured." – Jared Gardner, Guttergeek
• Plug: "[Rip M.D.] seems to be a comic more geared to a juvenile public, but should be pretty cool because there are a lot of monsters, really violent werewolves, zombies, and best of all, vampires that do not sparkle!" – Submundo Mamão (translated from Portuguese)
• Profile: "Some artists seem to have had greatness as their destination as surely as if a tracking device had been implanted in their genes. Some veer toward it capriciously like a demon had seized the wheel. They start with a talent — to which they feed — in bites and gulps — their times; and, once expressed, the result is… YOWL! One of these was the underground cartoonist Greg Irons, the subject of Patrick Rosenkranz’s overlooked — and fascinating — retrospective You Call This Art?!!" – Bob Levin, The Comics Journal
This week's comic shop shipment is slated to include the following new titles. Read on to see what comics-blog commentators are saying about our releases this week, and contact your local shop to confirm availability.
192-page full-color 9" x 12" hardcover • $39.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-166-4
"This hardcover book by Strange and Stranger author Blake Bell features what looks to be substantial prose biography and appreciation, along with plenty of artwork from an artist who helped build the foundation for Marvel as both a publishing powerhouse and a fictional universe." – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
"This is the next deluxe Fantagraphics hardcover/art book/biographical thingy by Blake Bell, of 2008′s Strange & Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko. The title suggests some focus on a specific period in the artist’s development and comic book history." – Joe McCulloch, Comics Comics
"A new one from comics historian Blake Bell; haven't read it yet, but it sure sounds interesting." – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
"Bill Everett is one of my top three all-time mainstream comics industry figures, if not number one, and I can't wait to dig into this book." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
"Then there’s Fire & Water: Bill Everett, the Sub Mariner and the Birth of Marvel Comics by Blake Bell, about the long-forgotten artist (and Daredevil co-creator) that I just finished reading and heartily recommend..." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
320-page full-color 7.5" x 10.5" softcover • $29.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-343-9
"Oh man, it’s a good week for reprints, starting off with Four Color Fear, a collection of classic pre-code horror tales..." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"Editors Greg Sadowski and John Benson have collected 320-pages of horror comics and covers from the likes of Jack Cole, Reed Crandall, George Evans, Frank Frazetta, Jack Katz, Al Williamson, Basil Wolverton, and Wallace Wood, casting their net far wider than iconic horror comic purveyor EC for a wide variety of scary stuff." – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
"...[A] collection of smaller-house scary comics from the glorious, mainstream past..." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
"One of the more promising retro books this week... — this softcover selects lost books from the golden age of horror comics that had unique aesthetic merits." – Cyriaque Lamar, io9
"If I could splurge… to really stimulate the economy, I’d throw in Four Color Fear: Forgotten Horror Comics of the 1950s, from Fantagraphics, because I love good vintage comics—and bad vintage comics, for that matter." – Brigid Alverson, Robot 6
This book is available with a signed bookplate as a FREE premium! The bookplate has been uniquely designed for this book, and each bookplate is printed on acid-free cardstock and hand-signed by the author Blake Bell and Bill Everett's daughter, Wendy Everett! (Click here for more books available with signed bookplates.) Please select your preference above before adding the item to your shopping cart. Note: Signature plates are VERY limited in quantity and available only WHILE SUPPLIES LAST.
In 1939, decades before it would become the powerhouse behind such famous super-heroes as Spider-Man, The X-Men, and Iron Man, Marvel Comics launched its comics line with a four-color magazine starring a daring new antihero: The Sub-Mariner.
As created and rendered by the great Bill Everett, the Sub-Mariner was an angry half-breed (half-man, half sea-creature) who loathed and fought against all mankind — until he joined the Allied Forces to defeat the Nazis during World War II. Seventy years later, Everett’s aquatic creation remains one of the pinnacles of the Marvel super-hero universe (as attested to by the character’s recent option for a major motion picture).
The Sub-Mariner alone, and his status as the original Marvel (anti-)hero, would have insured any cartoonist’s place in comics history. But Everett was a master of many kinds of comics: romance, crime, humor, and the often brutal horror comics genre (before it was defanged by the Comics Code Authority in the 1950s), for which he produced work of such stylish and horrifi c beauty that he ranks with the artists who kept the legendary EC comics line awash in blood and guts.
Written by Blake Bell (the author of the best-selling critical biography of Steve Ditko, Strange and Stranger) and compiled with the aid and assistance of Everett’s family, friends, and cartoonist peers, Fire and Water: Bill Everett, the Sub-Mariner & the Birth of Marvel Comics is an intimate biography of a troubled man; an eye-popping collection of Everett’s comics, sketchbook drawings, and illustration art (including spectacular samples from his greatest published work as well as never-before-seen private drawings); and an in-depth look at his involvement in the birth of the company that would revolutionize pop culture forever: Marvel Comics!
• Review: "This is too much of an event to ignore: Fantagraphics, Seattle’s eclectic and prolific comics publisher,... is publishing its first volume of manga — comics that may be Japan’s most popular and influential art form. [...] A Drunken Dream and Other Stories is a four-decade anthology of graphic short stories by Moto Hagio, the 'founding mother' and premiere creator of shojo manga... Does Hagio’s work justify the hype? Her visual storytelling and graphic invention, by turns fluid, crisp, and stately, certainly do. ...Moto’s other later [stories] do indeed raise manga to literature." – Eric Scigliano, Seattle Met
• Review: "...[F]ew comics fans should have difficulty getting into A Drunken Dream and Other Stories... The stories in A Drunken Dream range from weird, powerful allegories... to dreamy tales of love and loss... But the best pieces here focus on memories of childhood, of playmates treated cruelly or parents and children misunderstanding each other. [...] Few stories in the entire history of the medium have been more overwhelming than 'Hanshin: Half-God,' a tale of conjoined twins — one haggard, one gorgeous — and their spiteful, symbiotic relationship. It’s a potent metaphor rendered with the intensity of an EC comic. [Grade] A-" – The A.V. Club
• Review: "Blake Bell’s Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko set the recent standard for how to put together a coffee-table book about a legendary comics artist, and Bell takes on another innovator of the medium with Fire & Water: Bill Everett, the Sub-Mariner, and the Birth of Marvel Comics... Because Everett didn’t have as long or as consistent a career as Ditko, Bell doesn’t subject Everett’s work to the keen analysis he brought to Strange and Stranger. But he makes up for the diminished insight with page after page of Everett’s vivid, varied work, showing how it all emanated from a man who was a lot like his most famous creation: a destructive antihero, always a little angry at the puny humans around him. [Grade] B" – The A.V. Club
• Review: "...The Complete Peanuts, Vol. 14: 1977 - 1978... shows just how much Schulz was all over the map during that time. [...] This is still a worthwhile volume of Complete Peanuts, though; it has a charming introduction by Alec Baldwin, the usual top-quality production of the whole Fantagraphics reprint library, and some fun story arcs..." – The A.V. Club
• Review: "Only a brain incubated in the warm, nourishing goo of Looney Tunes and vintage Disney cartoons could have produced Sammy the Mouse. [...] As always, Sally’s use of silent panels and dynamic perspectives guide readers’ eyes toward nightmarish horizons and grotesque situations... A grimy, metaphysical malaise drips from every line of Sally’s lush yet unwholesome artwork, especially when he’s plundering the iconography of innocence and youth in the service of disorienting discomfort. [Grade] A-" – The A.V. Club
• Review: At What Things Do, Jordan Crane writes "In the new issue of Love and Rockets (New Stories, no.3), Jaime has a story called Browntown. It just might be the best thing he’s ever done. In fact, I’d go so far as to say, it just might be the best comic I’ve ever read. Its construction is durable yet intricate, a bunch of simple parts working together flawlessly. It’s put together like a watch."
• Review:Guttersnipe's Shawn Conner on the "Counterculture Comix" exhibit at Bumbershoot last weekend, with photos by Robyn Hanson: "Curated by Larry Reid of Fantagraphics Books, it was an eye-popping display, even if you were familiar, as I was, with most of the work..."
• Reviews: "Both of these books — Blake Bell's Fire and Water: Bill Everett, The Sub-Mariner, and the Birth of Marvel Comics and Steven Brower's From Shadow to Light: The Life and Art of Mort Meskin — do fine jobs of chronicling the artists' lives and careers. [...] The Everett book... is beautifully designed by Adam Grano and as much an art book as biography. Filled with great examples of Everett art — some of which is from the Everett family's own archives — this book opens up a whole new arena for appreciation of this almost lost seminal artist. The Mort Meskin book is fascinating, too. Brower and the Meskin sons do a great job in capturing what the artist was really like, both in his career and his home life. [...] Again, it's an impressive package (something I think Fantagraphics has become famous for) and a welcome addition to any comics fan's library." – Gary Sassaman, Innocent Bystander
• Review: "Four Color Fear: Forgotten Horror Comics of the 1950s is... a cool collection of stories that definitely would have given me nightmares if I read them as a kid. ...Fantagraphics... puts together a wonderful package once again. Some of these stories are almost unreadable, but all of them are enjoyable and strange and wonderful in their own way." – Gary Sassaman, Innocent Bystander
• Review: "The Best American Comics Criticism, edited by Ben Schwartz, is a fascinating collection of assertion, appraisals, debate, reconsiderations, and recollections about comics. This thick, superbly-selected anthology features extremely well informed, exceptional voices... With a fantastically rendered cover by Drew Friedman (spot the critic!), this is a huge assortment of fantastic writing about a field that has had many parallels with and tendrils in rock and pop. If you’re yearning to own a non-music comics book of criticism that isn’t something from the academe yet still creates an alternate world of popular culture magic to teach how to rail and rave and expose and detail, The Best American Comics Criticism is the book to buy." – Chris Estey, The KEXP Blog
• Review: "Fantagraphics always produces beautiful books, but this is one of my favorites they have ever published. [...] A few weeks ago, I carefully slid You’ll Never Know off the shelf. I was ready for it. It was time. It was a deeply emotional read. [...] The art and lettering is stellar in You’ll Never Know, filled with little details that make every page - especially full page panels. [...] You’ll Never Know is excellent example of autobiographical/biographical non-fiction sequential art, and has made my short list of favorite graphic non-fiction..." – Syndicate Product Covert HQ
• Plug: "Norman Pettingill is an underground cartoonist's underground cartoonist. His obsessive linework, his out-of-control hillbilly wonderland — and even his medium — wood, all make for a fascinating experience. And yes, the cover of this book is plywood." – Benn Ray (Atomic Books), Largehearted Boy
• Feature:Seattle Weekly's Brian Miller previews the "Counterculture Comix" exhibit at Bumbershoot and talks to curator Larry Reid
• Coming Attractions: "For me, and I admit I have specialized taste, the best news coming out San Diego was the announcement that Fantagraphics is going to reprinting Floyd Gottfredson’s Mickey Mousecomic strips, which really was during the 1930s one of the great adventure strips. This will be hard for anyone who hasn’t read Gottfredson’s work to believe, but his Mickey Mouse was as rousing as Roy Crane’s Captain Easy and as rich in invention as Barks’ longer Duck stories." – Jeet Heer, Comics Comics
• Review: "Oh, the things men do to torture themselves. [Catalog No. 439:] Burlesque Paraphernalia and Side Degree Specialties and Costumes is an amazing flashback to a time before the Internet, television, radio, movies and pretty much every other form of entertainment. [...] This book is chock full of some of the funniest and most sadistic devices ever dreamed up by the human mind. It’s almost as if the guy from the Saw movies had wanted to get laughs instead of frights — and fans of current outrage cinema may be happily startled to find something actually called 'The Human Centipede' in its pages." – Siobhan Greene, Fangoria
• Review: "It's an odd little notion, the idea that you've lived a better, fuller life for having killed people. That's probably a somewhat unfair aspect of Drew Weing's good-natured, lushly drawn storybook (that's the term the comic practically demands I use) Set to Sea — a tale of a big lummox of a poet whose lackluster verses about life on the open sea are given new verve when he's shanghai'd into service on an actual ship — for me to seize on. After all, Weing's bigfooted style and inviting rather than intimidating illustrative chops place him squarely in the adventure-comics tradition of Carl Barks and Jeff Smith." – Sean T. Collins, Attentiondeficitdisorderly
• Review: "Freed from the burden of making a 'serious' work, Anderson delves into some grim and gritty pulp material, and you can feel his relish and delight coming off the page. [Sand & Fury: A Scream Queen Adventure] basically deals with the story of a murdered woman who comes back from the dead as a banshee and eventually seeks revenge against her killer, who in turn may be a supernatural demon himself. It sounds like a Jim Balent comic, but Anderson creates a lovely noir atmosphere here, full of blood, sex and other nasty goings-on that never once becomes camp. It’s a nice, effective little horror comic." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Plug:The Venture Bros. co-creator Jackson Publick writes: "Venture alumnus, super-pal and yiddish-loving Italian-American Stephen DeStefano premiered his new graphic novel, Lucky in Love at the San Diego Comic Con, and I was fortunate enough to snag a copy. Now it's your turn. Go buy one."
• Interview:Graphic NYC 's Christopher Irving talks to Michael Kupperman. Irving on Tales Designed to Thrizzle: "Toss comic book art from the '40s and '50s into a blender with the dirty brand of humor that runs rampant in underground comics, and give it the pacing and spontaneity of skit comedy, and you get Kupperman’s distinctive Tales Designed to Thrizzle. Kupperman’s slick art has the polish and stiffness of old advertising art, creating a posed disconnect that adds a layer of absurdism to his offbeat stories." Sample Kupperman quote: "What I’m doing is more along the lines of sketch comedy. I grew up with Monty Python and SCTV, and those shows had a profound influence on me, through the writing and tone. My comic is humor for childish adults. I think I’m actually going to start putting that on the cover. It’s stuff that makes me laugh and part of my working method is to make stuff that will make others laugh as well."
• Profile: "One hundred-plus years after the newspaper comic strip was born in San Francisco, a reader might well ask: Who was the greatest comic artist of all time? Some scholars say the question was settled in 1924 by New York arts critic Gilbert Seldes, whose book on the American cultural scene, The 7 Lively Arts, devoted an entire chapter to a reclusive cartoonist in the Hollywood Hills named George Herriman and his avant-garde comic strip, Krazy Kat." – Anthony Mostrom, The Los Angeles Times (via The Comics Reporter)
• Profile: Katharine Zarrella of Interview magazine talks to Robert Pollard about his collage art and current exhibit thereof in New York City: "A handful of ex-bandmates are on Pollard's guest list, but what do they think of his artwork? 'It seems a lot of them dig it. I think secretly, and sometimes openly, my peers respect the insanity.'"
• Profile: "One of the most serious gaps that this blog has not yet filled is as follows: having been scandalously silent of the great art of Drew Friedman, one of the most popular and recognizable contemporary American illustrators, a genius capable of combining, with previously unpublished results, a technique of hyper-realistic depiction with the strong sense of the grotesque that characterizes the creative temperament." – Lucca Boschi, Il Sole 24 Ore (translated from Italian)
• Events: At AOL's TV Squad, Aaron Broverman recaps Blake Bell's presentation "Steve Ditko & Bill Everett: Spider-Man, Sub-Mariner, Daredevil & Beyond" at Fan Expo in Toronto, "a panel I expect will be one of the hidden gems of the weekend"
• Review: "Meat Cake is a tour de force showcasing the most primal of passions! It is an issue of Creepy edited by Edward Gorey! It is a Gothic soap opera as written by Victorian lolitas! It is a celebration of love and hubris, beauty and decay! There is no other comic in the world that offers a titillating parade of mermaids, ghosts, sailors, sirens, faeries, witches and wolfmen in intriguing and compromising situations! You will be dazzled, you will be entertained, but above all, you will be enchanted!" – STORM (guest columnist), Robot 6
• Review: "Werewolves of Montpellier is a sad and even somewhat funny novel about the fact that loneliness is not hiding under the mask. Is this novel better or worse than other works of Jason? Probably not. Despite repeated methods in his books, [his] novels are utterly worth reading. If you have a werewolf friend, buy him this book. If you don’t, buy two." – Ray Garraty, Endless Falls Up
• List:The Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon names Ici Même (You Are There) as one of "25 Emblematic Comics of the '70s": "This grand effort by Jacques Tardi and Jean-Claude Forest may seem like an extravagant oddity now, but it gets credit from some for igniting a wave of alternative voices in a French-language comics industry whose mainstream had the added appeal of actually making its creators popular and wealthy successes. Even if you don't like the tune — and while it's a song I could personally listen to every day, I know many people couldn't — at the time I have to imagine that many comics readers weren't even aware that the medium could play some of these notes."
• Profile: "Just like Peter Parker, the most celebrated co-creation of the subject of his first book, Toronto writer Blake Bell was bitten by a strange bug as a youngster. And just like Peter Parker, he was transformed beyond all recognition — into the Amazing Comic Book Historian Guy." – Canadish
"On Friday, August 27, 2010, come to the Toronto Fan Expo (running from Friday to Sunday) and see my slideshow entitled "Steve Ditko and Bill Everett: Spider-Man, Sub-Mariner, Daredevil & Beyond." The hour-long presentation begins at 5pm in Room 103A and features tons of imagery and commentary related to my two new books Fire and Water: Bill Everett, the Sub-Mariner and the Birth of Marvel Comics (out in Sep.) and Unexplored Worlds: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 2 (out in Oct)."
Blake will also be tabling at the show — click over for more info.