Fantagraphics is proud to announce the release of the first volume of another great, under-appreciated, quintessentially American cartoonist.
"Black as sin and decay and perversion" is how National Lampoon editor Tony Hendra described the work of Charles Rodrigues. By all accounts, this small, politically conservative, devout Catholic, was a good-natured dumpling of a man. But inside lurked an untapped vein of savage wit that only the National Lampoon saw fit to unleash. Given carte blanche by its young editors, Rodrigues produced a 20-year tsunami of hilarious self-contained comic strips, themed gag spreads, and serials that boggled the mind and challenged all sense of decency and propriety.
In this first-ever collection of his comics, readers are treated to the misadventures of conjoined twins The Aesop Brothers; Sam deGroot, a private detective in an iron lung (whose life actually gets worse when he is sprung from his enclosure); Deirdre Callahan, a girl so hideous that to look upon her causes madness and suicide; and the heartwarming (in relative terms) titular tale of Ray and Joe, the saga of a man and his dead best friend. Also included are his brilliant "biographies" of Marilyn Monroe, Abbie Hoffman, Eugene O'Neill, and others.
Rodrigues rendered his cast of grotesqueries and naïfs in a ragged, unpretty line within dense panels and pages, that perfectly reflects his uniquely bizarre, riotous and repellent world.
Charles Rodrigues may be gone and, if not forgotten, insufficiently remembered, and this collection will rectify at least one of those tragedies.
• List: At his High-Low blog Rob Clough posts his belated Top 50 Books of 2010 list, with Megan Kelso's Artichoke Tales at #1, 4 of our books in the top 5, 5 in the top 10, 8 in the top 20, and 14 overall in the top 50 — it's a long but worthwhile read
• Review: "Calling Congress of the Animals recommended reading is a bit misleading. It’s definitely recommended, but it doesn’t technically involve reading. The entire book doesn’t feature a single word bubble. The only words are on the book jacket. What this is is a story told entirely through pictures — delightful pictures at that.... This was really an entertaining book. It was visually different from anything I’ve ever seen in a comic, the story was unique, and some parts were laugh out loud funny..." – Corey Pung, Panel Discussions (via Americaware)
• Review: "...Skin Deep by Charles Burns... [is a] true masterpiece in which Burns returns to choose the mechanisms and the language of grade-B horror films, crime fiction, pulp, the aesthetics of the 50's and Robert Crumb's comics to make a harsh social criticism.... Stories in which Burns continues to explore the darkest corners of the human condition while keeping us on edge vignette to vignette." – Jesús Jiménez, Radio y Televisión Española (translated from Spanish)
• Review: "...[T]he adventures of a group of twenty-something New York residents, like Friends but with ethnic variation and far more realistic apartments, and, you know, actual problems. The characters of Beg the Question are surrounded by ugliness and idiocy in one of the most complicated cities in the world, yet they are decent human beings who support each other. It’s not supposed to be autobiographical, but you can tell that Fingerman has lived through many of the situations and knows the characters well." – Grant Buist, The Name of This Cartoon Is Brunswick
• Commentary: "So I just finished reading Fantagraphics’ The Complete Peanuts 1981-1982, and... the vast majority of this book was new to me, having not read previous reprintings of the strips from this period (as opposed to the near-memorization of the reprint books from the late ’70s and earlier). One of the great new features of this particular reprint series, aside from, y’know, the whole completeness of the strips reprints and all, is the index in each volume." – Mike Sterling, Mike Sterling's Progressive Ruin
• Plug: "Walt Kelly’s Pogo is one of the greatest comic strips I’ve ever read. It’s simply brilliant; quaint and sweet on the surface but deeper readings reveals layers of very smart political and social satire. And as you can clearly see, Walt Kelly’s artwork is magnificent.... Fantagraphics are presenting the entire strip, including the beautiful full colour Sunday strips for the very first time, in a series of 12 hardcover volumes that reprint approximately 2 years worth of material at a time. I guarantee that if you get Volume 1, you’ll be signing up for the remaining 11." – Richard Cowdry, The Forbidden Planet International Blog Log
• Review: "...Wilfred Santiago... has done something very extraordinary and that's create a graphic novel that will eventually stand the test of time. If there was ever a novel that every Latino/Latina (baseball fan or not), comic book fan, family or anyone who volunteers/works in nonprofit must own in their library, it's 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente. Am I exaggerating? No, being the comic book nerd that I am, I haven't been this moved from a novel since I read Frank Miller's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.... While Roberto Clemente was a fantastic baseball player, it was his humanity in this graphic novel that shone brightly. And I thank Wilfred Santiago for creating his masterpiece and Fantagraphics for publishing it. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!" – Cesar Diaz, Latino Sports
• Review: "[Megan Kelso's] interest in open-ended narrative is apparent and, while occasionally frustrating, important, and her gouache work in the title story [in Queen of the Black Black] is lovely and subtle..." – Hillary Brown, Paste
• Scene:The New Yorker's Vanna Le reports from Lou Reed's reading of The Raven at the Strand bookstore in NYC last week: "Mattotti's illustrations, which were projected in a slide show, saturated the room with a kind of terror and despair. There was also something about the sound and sudden fits of fury in Reed's voice that seemed to mirror Poe's tormented vision." From the accompanying slideshow of images of the book: "Lorenzo Mattotti skillfully brings out the terror and elegance of Reed and Poe’s joint masterwork…. The book is an aesthetically stunning treat — but it isn’t only for the coffee table. Mattotti’s artwork is as enigmatic and suspenseful as the poetry itself."