Today brings some big-deal Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: At Comics Comics, Frank Santoro declares The Troublemakers by Gilbert Hernandez "Best in Show" at APE and gives it a wordless review that says it all
• Review: "Translated into English for the first time since it was written, more than 25 years ago, Jacques Tardi & Jean-Claude Forest’s You Are Thereproves well worth the wait. Forest’s satirical, minimalist writing lampoons French society and human greed with equal skill, and Tardi has never done better art: It’s all deep, dark pools of blackness that perfectly match the pitch-dark humor of the writing. Equal parts Beckett and Kafka, the story explores the conflict between greedy speculators and the last heir of an aristocratic family whose land has been reduced to a series of precarious walls and towers. Tardi’s intricate, gorgeous art gets better and better until the book’s spectacular ending. It’s an absolute must-read for anyone interested in how European comics got to where they are today. Had this been translated earlier, it likely would be counted as one of the masterpieces of the rich period of the mid-’80s… [Grade:] A" – The A.V. Club
• Review: "One of the best things about Mome is that, as a reader, I feel like I'm getting work from each artist that's their 'A' material. [Lilli] Carré and [Dash] Shaw have many other outlets for publication, but it's clear that they take a special delight in having an outlet for their short story ideas. [Nate] Neal and Kurt Wolfgang have Mome as their primary outlet for publication, and clearly go all-out in every story. ... I'd like to see young artists like [Conor] O'Keefe and [Sara] Edward-Corbett grow more ambitious and perhaps even serialize a story in the anthology. Of course, seeing outstanding work from old favorites along with translated short stories of European artists has been another welcome trend for what continues to be a must-read book, issue after issue." – Rob Clough
• Profile: Robot 6's Chris Mautner, undoubtedly echoing the sentiments of many, makes his plea for a collection of the early work of Al Columbia
• Interview: Art historian and critic Catherine Spaeth talks to Abstract Comics editor Andrei Molotiu: "One thing that is interesting to me about abstract comics is exactly that they contain no preexisting narrative and therefore no excuse for a sense of diegetic time. You’re not following a story, so what you are left with are the actual visual elements on the page (panels, shapes) that move your eye from panel to panel but outside of a fictional time frame."
• Events: Vince Keenan has a brief recap of the Fantagraphics-sponsored comics panel at Seattle Bookfest
Today's Online Commentary & Diversions is a potpourri:
• Guide: Alex Carr of Amazon's Omnivoracious blog provides a fourth opinion (after ours, the A.V. Club's, and Comic Book Resources') on How to Read Love and Rockets, offering these opinions on new L&R collections: "...pick up the recent Locas II: Maggie, Hopey, & Ray and Luba collections. These round up all the stories from Volume Two's respective creators and make for a superb reading experience.... [W]hat keeps me returning to Jaime's stories [is] the affectionate realism in contrast with disparate narratives, characters, and tones. Not to mention his unmatched artwork. And it's all here in the oversized Locas II.... Gilbert's ability to weave the most implausible and bawdy moments (a busty, lisping therapist named Fritz who conceals a gun-play fetish?) into affectionate fiction is matched only by his frank, playful pencils [in Luba]."
• Review: "It’s all classic Hernandez material, but this volume’s key element that really makes the book sing louder than ever is the amount of focus placed upon Ray Dominguez.... Some of the richest material Jaime has ever produced focuses on Ray’s pursuit of Vivian, a former stripper and wannabe actress that leaves nothing but pain and suffering in her wake.... There’s so much good stuff in Locas II, though, that I could talk about it until my fingers bleed.... Locas stands alone. I highly recommend you read it and see why." - Marc Mason, Comics Waiting Room
• Interview: At The Daily Cross Hatch , part 2 of Brian Heater's Q&A with Hans Rickheit: "I guess it’s sort of a digestive process of the brain where you have the end product on paper and the end product sometimes resembles fecal matter."
• Plugs/Oddity: Jog runs down a bunch of our new books arriving in comic shops tomorrow; also, the issue of The Comics Journal with his favorite ad in it is still available if you want to see it with your own eyes
• List: An old link that just popped up in my search feed: ComicCritique.com's Adam McGovern gives out some best-of-2008 awards, with The Lagoon by Lilli Carré tied for Graphic Novel of the Year ("Carré’s artisanal eccentricity carves intricate patterns and masklike faces into pages that stand like the folk-art furnishings of vanished but vivid earlier societies") and Carré tied with Grant Morrison for the M.C. Escher Prize for Non-Sequential Art ("Morrison and Carré are two creators at the cutting edge of both storytelling craft and conversational physics who make us uncommonly aware of the presence of time.")
• Review: "Love and Rockets: New Stories #2. The Hernandez Brothers have been producing such consistently good comics for such a long time that I often feel they get taken for granted. But their recent comics [don't] just maintain their high level of previous achievement, they also have a freshness and liveliness that any young artist would envy." - Jeet Heer, Robot 6
• Review: "More than anything, [Peter] Bagge's work does what it always does with perfection, which is capture people doing exactly what people really do, and how they often think when they think that nobody else thinks that they are thinking it (sorry). His art is constantly moving, perpetually fluid, and instantly recognizable to a 21st century American culture raised on Tex Avery and Bob Clampett cartoons. Whether you agree with his politics or not, Everybody Is Stupid [Except for Me] is thought-provoking and, most importantly, hilarious." - Monster on a Rope
• Interview: The Daily Cross Hatch posts the second of three parts of Brian Heater's interview with Jordan Crane: "The art—those are the tools I use to transfer the story. Pictures, words—those are the conveyance of the story. The important thing is the story, so once I get my tools there, I convey the story in a way I want to."
• Profile: Amy Stewart visited Ellen Forney in her studio: "There are only certain kinds of comics that interest me: I prefer the true-to-life ones that are well-drawn, have stories I can relate to, and make me laugh, cry, or think. Ellen does all three, in spades."
Another late dose of Online Commentary & Diversions:
• List: CBC Radio's "Canada Reads: The Book Club" host Hannah Sung kicks off voting on the "Top 10 Graphic Novels" with Ghost World: "I love Dan Clowes’s clean, graphic style. I love Enid’s glasses, I love how everything is 'lame' and I love that Enid expresses how much she hates Sassy magazine even as she reads it."
• Interview: The Daily Cross Hatch's Brian Heater wraps up his 3-part talk with Michael Kupperman. Sample quote: "But of course the point of humor is that you always want it to look easy. You don’t want it to look like you spent two hours on your 140 character line — not that I’ve ever done that [laughs]."
• Interview: The Metabunker's Matthias Wivel talks to Steffen Maarup, editor of From Wonderland with Love: Danish Comics in the Third Millennium, debuting at MoCCA this weekend. Sample quote: "My selection process was pretty much as simple as picking what’s good; so stories that were original, did interesting things with the medium of comics, or touched me in some way."
Updates of Online Commentary & Diversions may be oddly timed for the rest of the week as we're eyeball deep in MoCCA preparations.
• Review: "[Harvey] Kurtzman and company aimed high for a more sophisticated humor mag than the competition... Fantagraphics’ package for it is bar none — handsome, sturdy and restored with great care... I was most interested in the behind-the-scenes story of Humbug and the creative process that went into it — not to mention doomed it — and the book’s introduction and exclusive interviews more than satisfy on that count." - Rod Lott, Bookgasm
• Review: "In a way, Humbugalmost feels like a goof-humor version of The New Yorker or something. There’s a lot of fairly serious political/social commentary, cloaked in wry rainment. It’s a blend as interesting as any cocktail, and it’s goddamn great to have this stuff easily available. Hats away!" - Byron Coley & Thurston Moore, Arthur Magazine
• Review: "...[U]nparallel parodists Kurtzman and Elder ran rampant for themselves when they published these 11 exceptional issues of comic art anarchy. This two-volume hardcover box set has been reproduced from the original art and digitally restored to make everything look even better than when it first came out in 1957. This long-overdue definitive edition of Humbug is an essential slice of satire from the masters of the genre." - Jeffrey Morgan, Detroit Metro Times
• Review: "Everybody Is Stupid Except For Me [is] a compilation of the notorious Seattle libertarian [Peter Bagge]’s politically (and sexually) charged comics for Reason magazine... It’s great. So colourful (always my favourite part of Pete’s comics) and acerbic and smart-ass, but with a heart and purpose behind the bickering and keenly observes caricatures... It’s too early to say now, but right now I’m thinking it’s perhaps my favourite stuff of his, full stop..." - Everett True
• Review: "Connective Tissue... make[s] for an engaging read... While Darla sounds like she could be a handful, she is a good and sympathetic protagonist, making her a modern-day Alice in a 21st century Wonderland." - Jason Borelli, Beyond Race Magazine
• Preview: Spotlighting comics shipping this week, The Comics Reporter says of Uptight #3: "The previous issue of this series from the great Jordan Crane was super, super strong." Likewise, Chris Mautner at Robot 6: "The latest issue in Jordan Crane’s very good series about ghosts and melancholy comes to town. I feel we should be doing all we can to ensure Crane keeps making comics, don’t you?" And Matthew Brady says: "I missed the second issue of this series, but the first one was great... Check it out if you see it on the shelves."
• Profile: My Adventure Is Your Advantage spotlights the design work of our very own Art Director Jacob Covey, calling him "the bees knees of design" and presenting previously unseen previews of the forthcoming Abstract Comics anthology
• Profile: "[Dash] Shaw's online and bound comics inhabit surreal spaces both cerebral and emotional, leaping from zombie love stories to futuristic set pieces without resorting to predictability... It's probably safe to say he has arrived." - Wired
• Interview: Publishers Weekly's Heidi MacDonald asks our own Eric Reynolds for his thoughts about Book Expo America and its value for comics publishers like us; The Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon comments on the interview; meanwhile, The Daily Cross Hatch's Brian Heater gets a few words from Eric on the show floor
Your Online Commentary & Diversions for the first day of June '09:
• Review: "Holy cats!... Wolverton's illustrations [in The Wolverton Bible], done in the same unmistakable, stippled style that characterized his grotesqueries, show off the grim, the violent, and the destructive in the Old Testament, putting the blood and guts in the spotlight. The result is like no illustrated Bible you've ever seen... This is a side of Wolverton I never suspected, but it is perfectly him, humorous, grisly, mad and wonderful." - Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing
• Review/Profile: "...Unlovable by Esther Pearl Watson... was for me like discovering a nugget of gold in a sieve! ...really original and fun." - Lezinfo (translated from French)
• Review: "With great candor and wit, [Peter] Bagge tackles [the] issues... in Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me, a collection of his strips from Reason Magazine. As in his previous works like Hate and The Bradleys, Bagge deftly manages to simultaneously anger and amuse the reader with his intensely personal stories about larger topical issues." - Rick Klaw, The SF Site: Nexus Graphica
• Review: "...[T]he comics in this collection [of Blazing Combat] are astounding... The art is reproduced from 'the original printer’s films,' so the work is clear and detailed, with the washes and shading providing depth and a feeling of realism... The stories are still timely." - Johanna Draper Carlson, Comics Worth Reading
• Interview: The Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon talks to Bob Fingerman about his latest projects, including Connective Tissue. Sample quote: "I think if I did nothing but comics, I would end up hating comics. For a while there I was actually beginning to hate comics."
• Interview: Robot 6's Tim O'Shea talks to Supermen! editor Greg Sadowski about the collection of Golden Age hero stories. Sample quote: "I never liked those 'Archive' editions where they bleach out the old colors and replace them with modern coloring methods printed on glossy paper. That whitewashes all the distinction out of those vintage books and transforms them into a cloyingly slick and artificial product."
• Video: From Paul Hornschemeier's blog: "Via Tuono Pettinato on Facebook: A Peanuts documentary (broken into 5 parts on YouTube) where Charles Schulz discusses the making of the animated Peanuts and the role of music. It's great footage, and makes me miss Schulz's genius all the more."
Once more, Online Commentary & Diversions goes on vacation tomorrow.
• Profile/Review: Cincinnati Magazine talks to C. Tyler about You'll Never Know Book 1: A Good and Decent Man, calling it "a dense, triangulated tale (war and madness; father/daughter coming-of-age; familial reconciliation) made accessible by Tyler’s detailed yet straightforward storytelling and impeccable renderings... Switching artistic styles to connote the passage of time, Tyler’s graphic narrative deftly moves between her childhood and her father’s war experiences, between dream sequences, real time, psychology, and family lore. The book transcends mere documentation; it is a valentine sealed in genealogy, footnoted in history."
Start yer plannin'! These are all subject to last-minute change; we'll try to give advance notice of any changes if we can. We'll have more MoCCA-related announcements in the coming days so stay tuned.
• Review: "The biggest surprise might be how good these stories are, even if they failed to take off in the way that, say, Superman did... [T]he Notes section at the end, written by editor Greg Sadowski, ...is truly fantastic... His studious efforts are worth the price of the book alone... These stories deserved another look and more attention. Sadowski has done an admirable job of making Supermen! The First Wave of Comic Book Heroes 1936–1941 not only reverent, but exciting and fun as well." - John Hogan, Graphic Novel Reporter
• Review: "I might say [Michael] Kupperman is one of the greatest satirists of our time, if I could figure out what he's satirizing. The basic facts: this collect[ion] of... Tales Designed to Thrizzle... featur[es] dozens of short pieces done on a chaotic array of subjects in so many styles much of it comes across as found art, and almost all of it's hilarious. Any attempt to summarize things like 'Mentally Ill Gangster Comics' or 'Crime Is Pushing the Limits' would miss the point completely. Except to say this is media culture put through the grinder. Top-notch." - Steven Grant, Comic Book Resources