Let's see what kind of Online Commentary & Diversions the weekend held for us... a lot, apparently:
• Review: "Carol Tyler is a unique figure in the world of comics... She's now put together the first volume of what promises to be her masterwork, a 'graphic memoir' about her father's experiences in World War II that effortlessly mixes media in a charming, affecting, and devastating package. You'll Never Know goes beyond biography, autobiography and even as a means a therapy to ask a number of deeper questions that may well not have ready answers. It's a stunning achievement, a perfect marriage of form and content, and is my early contender for not only comic of the year, but comic of the decade." - Rob Clough
• Review: "Jordan Crane's Uptight series is a lo-fi throwback of a series... Crane's line is elegant but unfussy, with slightly scratchy character designs that have a grace and fluidity to them reminiscent of Jaime Hernandez." - Rob Clough
• Review: "Grotesque has been one of the most playful entries in the underappreciated Ignatz line. Sergio Ponchione has a very 'American' quality to his line in terms of his line (thick and rubbery) and character design (a series of homages to masters like EC Segar and more contemporary figures like Charles Burns)... Ponchione's sight gags in this issue were something to behold, like a dead baron's tombstone growing arms and legs and coming after his brothers." - Rob Clough (same link as above)
• Review: "Issue #4 of Delphine was the conclusion of the series, and it certainly did not disappoint... Delphine benefitted from the Ignatz format: big pages that let the backgrounds breathe, nice paper, and creepy one-tone color. It was a perfect format for a fairy tale gone horribly wrong." - Rob Clough (same link as above)
• Review: "When life is on the skids, there are those who just lean into it and those who try to drive their way out. Some get run over, some step on the gas. In Pop. 666 [by Francesca Ghermandi, serialized in Zero Zero], fortunes change at moment’s notice, and events are never anything short of bizarre... This weird and creepy sci-fi horror crime comic is a loopy piece of work, and it deserves to be experienced by more readers..." - Jamie S. Rich, Robot 6
• Review: "I realize as I was reading the book that I’d previously thought of Val as a bit of a wimp due to his hairstyle, but nothing could be farther from the truth. In the first volume he kills a giant crocodile, wears a false mustache, scares an ogre to death, enters a jousting tournament in disguise, gets drunk, falls in love with a girl who already has a fiance, pursues girl with said fiance when she is kidnapped by vikings, and fights off a horde of vikings single-handed. That Prince Valiant is a busy guy!... It is really great seeing an essential part of comics history like Prince Valiant being treated so respectfully in this new edition." - TangognaT
• Review: "Imagine a book publisher had released a retrospective on 'The Graphic Novel' in 1976, or that a cinema hosted a look back at France’s nouvelle vague in 1957, or that a gallery exhibit somewhere spotlighted American Abstract Expressionism in, say, 1946. The experience would have been not unlike reading Abstract Comics: The Anthology today." - Sean Rogers, The Walrus
• Review: "[The Wolverton Bible] is a fascinating testimony to the peculiar vision of the life of an original artist and a somewhat unorthodox view of the 'holy book' by a faithful believer." - Iconoctlán (translation from Google)
• Review: "Popeye Vol. 1 would be enthralling if only for the change in the Thimble Theatre order of things, letting the reader watch as a new character takes over and reshapes the strip into his own image. Fortunately, what it's turned into is a thoroughly fun adventure strip that made me eager for more... There are so many fun newspaper reprint projects going on right now that it's easy to miss a lot of them. Now that I know how good Popeye is, I'm making it a priority to read the rest." - Greg McElhatton, Read About Comics
• Review: "[Bottomless Belly Button is a] wonderful book that I strongly recommend for every comic fan... Dash Shaw is a name to remember." - Laurent De Maertelaer, freaky.be (translation from Google)
• Plugs: "Abstract Comics: ...[I]t's fascinating to see what you can do with comics when you're dealing with non-representational, non-narrative imagery, stretching the limits of the medium... Locas II: Oh man, it's another huge collection of Jaime Hernandez's amazing stories from Love and Rockets... Greatness." - Matthew J. Brady
• Plug: "Nobody else’s comics read like these [in You Shall Die By Your Own Evil Creation!]. They’re savage and brutal but have moments of eerie and unexpected beauty... And don’t read this stuff right before bed: strange dreams are a documented side-effect." - Matt Maxwell, Robot 6 (same link as above)
• Preview: Hans Rickheit has a peek at the hardcover of The Squirrel Machine
• Profile: "Michael Kupperman does funny very well... 'Right now, I'm working on two more short pieces for Marvel, one featuring the Avengers, and I'm going to try to get some of that Marvel spirit of the '70s, with the explosive, sound-effect laden fight scenes.'" - Gary C.W. Chun catches up with Kupperman in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin
• Interview: "I've greatly enjoyed Chicago-based cartoonist, artist and animator Lilli Carré's first few forays into the world of comics. Longer works such as Tales of Woodsman Pete and especially The Lagoon were stuffed with undeniably interesting formal techniques... There's a soulful element to Carré's writing that helps greatly to involve the reader in the surface narratives..." - Tom Spurgeon, introducing his Q&A with Lilli at The Comics Reporter
• Comic-Con Rhetorical Question of the Day: "...[H]ow many members of the 501st Stormtrooper Legion do you see at the Fantagraphics booth?" - Sean T. Collins (The Unneeded Answer: we had maybe 2 cosplayers, period, in the booth all week, and no Stormtroopers, although they are more than welcome.)
Is July really over already? Hoo-ee, time sure flies when you're compiling Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: "Based on his research, interviews, and personal experiences in Palastinian Occupied Territories in 1991 and 92, [Joe Sacco]'s comic [Palestine] takes you there and gives you a first-hand account of the atrocities and suffering in the conflict with Israel. He gives you a close up visual rendering of the physical and emotional conditions of the people, who struggle daily for survival... Sacco has rendered the terrible conditions of life into a compelling and sympathetic artistic documentary. It is sad, but most good stories are sad... What’s better, his drawing is detailed and realistic, very approachable and interesting." - American in Auckland
• Review: "Either you think Michael Kupperman's stuff is hilarious or you don't. And if you don't, well, that's sad, because you suck and you have no friends... Kupperman has created a world with its own humor/"Dadaist" vibe, as he puts it in one meta-strip, and no critical breakdown can really relate its LOL-charm... Much of the charm resides in his art, heavily hatched, shadowed, stippled, and Benday-dotted in an old-fashioned style. He slams the retro up against his postmodern wisecracks, and it works nearly every time... This new omnibus of all four of his can't-miss gems from Fantagraphics not only makes it easy to get his out-of-print stuff, it's the only way to go—that's because the reprints are in color for the first time, and it just looks really nice." - Byron Kerman, PLAYBACK:stl
• Review: "The Wolverton Bible is a collection of drawings that Basil Wolverton did for Herbert Armstrong's Worldwide Church of God. I've been hoping for a collection of these drawings for ages... What a great collection. The drawings are nicely printed, very black, on nice white paper... The book is sturdy and feels good... This is a windfall. It's a wonderful additon to any art collection." - Garth Danielson, Primitive Screwheads
• Interview: "[Craig] Yoe revels in the hidden histories of comics, and not just because they’re money at the movies. In Boody: The Bizarre Comics of Boody Rogers, published by Fantagraphics earlier this year, the historian has helped uncover one of comics’ left-field treasures. 'Boody’s comics could survive a nuclear holocaust,' Yoe wisecracked. 'Silliness, sex and surrealism. Why can’t all so-called comic books be like this?'" - Scott Thill, Wired
• Things to see: Tom Kaczynski draws Zak Sally (and reports from the release party for Zak's new album Fear of Song)
• Comic-Con/Things to see: Rickey Purdin's Watchmen con sketchbook filled up with FBI artists (Johnny Ryan, Esther Pearl Watson, Jordan Crane) and friends (Mark Todd, Sammy Harkham & more) at San Diego (via Sean T. Collins)
A quiet day for Online Commentary & Diversions in the wake of Comic-Con:
• Review: "...A Mess of Everything surprised me. It turned out to be quite worthy: funny, insightful, and at times, moving. It’s not a revolutionary book — it doesn’t stretch or redefine the bounds of its genre — but [Miss] Lasko-Gross reminded me that the beauty of her chosen genre is that everyone’s story is, in fact, different and unique. If the author is a skilled storyteller, it’s as good as a reason as any to read yet another graphic novel about growing up, even if you’ve already read many." - Jillian Steinhauer, The Daily Cross Hatch
• Comic-Con: Looks like Kelly Kilmer scored a bunch of great stuff at our booth on Sunday
• Review: "The first four issues of Michael Kupperman's awesome comedy comics zine Tales Designed to Thrizzle have been collected into a single hardcover volume that is a superdense wad of funny, surreal, bent humor... This is weird, funny, Subgenius-esque toilet reading that will keep you very regular." - Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing
• Review: "Thomas Ott's Dead End, & Tales of Error, (Fantagraphics Books) - This Swiss artist's comics are a moody blend of irony, horror and silence. (Most of his stories have no dialogue or captions.) The stark black-and-white pages - thanks to Ott's use of scratchboard - bring to mind such German Expressionist films as Robert Wiene's The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and F.W. Murnau's Nosferatu. Like those films, Ott knows how to build suspense and maintain a sense of looming dread as each story reaches its foregone and tragic ending." - Steven Kwan, "Your new textbooks: Comics you need to read," University of Arizona Daily Wildcat
• Review: "The key to [Mome]'s continued success has been flexibility regarding its mission. It's still a place where young artists are sought out and spotlighted... It's also a place where key foreign comics can find a home... Lastly, it's a place where great American cartoonists can publish their short stories... This variety of approaches... positions it as a sort of descendant of Weirdo and RAW. It may not represent the absolute cutting edge of comics the way that Kramer's Ergot does, but it's still the widest available survey of alt-comics in publication and will be increasingly valuable in that regard as it continues to evolve." - Rob Clough
• Preview: The Comics Reporter reports: "I saw John Pham briefly at his studio on Monday. He's a little bit late -- although nowhere near comics-late -- with the second issue of his Sublife series from Fantagraphics, and the original art he showed me was really, really pretty."
• Plug: Boing Boing's Mark Frauenfelder hypes The Sweetly Diabolic Art of Jim Flora, relating the following: "Tim Biskup told me the the first time he saw Flora's work (when he was in a used record store) he felt his brain rewiring on the spot, forever changing his approach to art."
• Plugs: Jog looks at some of our new releases arriving in comic shops today
• Plugs: "If you picked up I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets! and delighted in the surreal mayhem therein (and who didn’t) you’re going to have to grab a copy of You Shall Die by Your Own Evil Creation! to make your life complete... It’s completely insane and very funny and will probably encourage you to indulge in a spot of unnecessary exclamation pointing... The Summer 2009 edition of MOME has arrived and, as usual, it's packed... Sergio Ponchione's Grotesque #3... is one of those lovely-looking Ignatz books... If you're a fan of weird Lynchian fantasy you should definitely check it out." - Gosh! Comics Blog
• Plugs: "The Complete Crumb Comics, Vol. 9...: Classic Crumb from 1972 and ‘73, reprinted once again. Lots of great politically incorrect material, including Crumb's assault (of sorts) on feminism. All in good fun, of course... The Complete Peanuts, Vol. 12: 1973-1974...: This one contains what I sincerely think is one of the greatest extended stories in the history of comics, where Charlie Brown starts seeing baseballs everywhere and gets a baseball-shaped rash on the back of his head. Hopefully you're buying the whole series, but if you only want one volume, I'd suggest this one. If you want more, though, you can buy the box set with Vol. 11 included... Mome, Vol. 15 (Summer 2009): ...[T]his one looks intriguing if only because it features both the debut of up-and-coming artist T. Edward Bak and a 16-page story by the Spanish artist Max, who we don't nearly get enough of in these parts." - Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "...Jason elevates his skewering of filmic genres to a whole new level in his latest collection, Low Moon, which sees his unique takes on film noir, westerns and screwball comedy. All of the tales are informed by his signature clean lines, bright colors, sparse dialogue and taste for a particularly brutal brand of slapstick humor and occasional moments of dark, incisive brilliance that are often reached without uttering a word... Featuring tawdry sex, alien abductions, existential crises, betrayal, and a hundred and one different varieties of murder, this is a book that pretty much has it all." - Ian Chant, PopMatters
• Review: "...Jason's Low Moon... [is] a collection full of mostly wordless comedic pleasures." - Richard Gehr, The Village Voice
• Review: "A question regarding the title of Michael Kupperman's Tales Designed to Thrizzle Volume One: Does 'thrizzle' mean 'pee your pants a little from laughing so hard'? Because if so, it just about achieved its promise..." - Rod Lott, Bookgasm
• Review: "[Boody: The Bizarre Comics of Boody Rogers ] is one of the funniest comics I've ever read, and all I do is read comics... Just looking at his drawings makes me laugh... If you like Johnny Ryan, you should check this out. And they weren't fooling around with that title. These comics are as weird as hell... This book is essential. Get it or get out." - Nick Gazin, Vice
• Review: "[Uptight] doesn't come out often enough... Jordan Crane is an immense talent; I just wished he worked faster. He's one of the best new guys of the past five years." - Nick Gazin, Vice (same link as above)
• Review: "This is one of the greatest works of American art of the past century and fuck you if you were ignorant of this. Prince Valiant was and is one of the greatest comics of all time and most would agree that it's the greatest adventure comic... Reading Prince Valiant has the same thrill as reading Sherlock Holmes. He's smarter, handsomer, and a better fighter than everyone around him. Reading his adventures and watching him sneak around castles, swordfight small armies, and romance medieval bitches is more exciting to me than almost any other comic. I'm getting pumped just thinking about it... It's so beautiful. I want to be Prince Valiant and I want to be Hal Foster." - Nick Gazin, Vice (same link as above)
• Review: "Fantagraphics, the gold standard when if comes to collecting and reprinting newspaper strips, has released the first volume of Prince Valiant, covering the years 1937 to 1938 in all-new remastered color, the result is breathtaking! Foster is truly one of the great comic illustrators who ever lived but has never got his just due it seems because he didn't work in the traditional comic book medium. One needs only to read the first few pages of the book to grasp his incredible ability... This is graphic storytelling at its finest and a true treasure! Grade A" - Tim Janson, Mania
• Review: "The cover [of The Pin-Up Art of Dan DeCarlo] sums it up -- a man who looks disturbingly like Riverdale’s Mr. Lodge gazes lasciviously at a lingerie-clad young woman who looks disturbingly like a (very) bosomy Veronica. That is just so wrong... Breasts swell and sag with the weight of flesh, not silicone; thighs press firmly and meatily together, hips and butts strain against fabric, threatening plentiful wardrobe malfunctions. And the wardrobes!... The overall effect is -- well, I can’t describe the overall effect. Let’s just say that in trying to take it all in I may have stretched my eyes permanently out of shape." - Noah Berlatsky, The Hooded Utilitarian
• Review: "...Peter Bagge's new compilation of comics, Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me and Other Astute Observations... turns out also to be a rude form of local history... [H]is craftsmanship - in the tradition of Mad's Don Martin and Nancy creator Ernie Bushmiller - lies in his ability to reduce his drawings to the simplest possible details needed to tell the story. His rants are funny, but the frictionless gag-delivery systems of his panels are an even more effective rebuke to the willful obscurity of contemporary art." - David Stoesz, Seattle Weekly
• Review: "Collecting 10 years’ worth of cartoons originally done for Reason magazine, as well as a few odds and sods, [Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me] finds Bagge as sharp and irate as ever, and his art has improved while still being recognizably his own. Bagge is also, thankfully, still possessed of a great sense of humor, especially about himself—even the title reveals an element of self-mockery among all the self-righteousness." - The A.V. Club
• Review: "There are few comics in the history of the medium as universally beloved as Love and Rockets... The Palomar stories, while extraordinarily literate and often brilliant in how they straddle the line between magical realism and gritty serial drama, are complex narratives which benefit greatly from being read from the very beginning; Jaime’s lighter, simpler approach is probably a better place to start." - Leonard Pierce, The A.V. Club, offering advice on how to start reading Love and Rockets; here's our advice
• Interview: Robot 6's Tim O'Shea talks to John Kerschbaum about Petey & Pussy, self-publishing and other topics. Sample quote: "It’s what it would look like if Elmer Fudd REALLY blew Daffy’s beak off. But I’ve always felt that humor and horror are very closely related. That they naturally play off of each other. The funny bits make the scary bits scarier and vice versa."
• Interview: At The A.V. Club, Sam Adams gets Michael Kupperman to reveal some of the secrets of his comedy genius and the future of Thrizzle. For example: "Certainly I enjoy the outré and I enjoy artistic comics and surrealism in comics very much. But the decision I made and have stuck with and refined was the decision to try to be funny and communicate humor. Once you put that ahead of everything else, it resolves those other questions for you."
• Plug: Jog - The Blog spotlights 3 of our new releases from last week
We'll post a complete con report sometime soon, time permitting, but if you weren't following along in real time, you can check out our Twitter posts from the floor of the con, with lots of Twitpics taken with my crummy phone camera. We had signings galore, plenty of book debuts, and some exciting visitors (Ray Bradbury!!). Whew!
San Diego hosts Comic Con International this week and every comics "insider" has an opinion about CCI and most of the opinions I hear are exasperated ones, heavy with a burned-out tone. Granted, I've only been to one year of Comic Con-- 2007-- but I loved it. I'm a guy who hates crowds but still I LOVE COMIC CON. Comic Con is filled wall-to-wall with people who are SO FUCKING EXCITED to be THERE. Everyone is excited just to be among comics and people who also like comics. Not that they know what to do with that energy-- it's still largely poorly-socialized individuals-- but they are EXCITED.
In fact, literally 10% or better of them are so excited that they even made a costume to show everyone how excited they are to be in this place. Probably more than that. I mean, some people you see and their queer pastiche of street clothes and odd baubles makes you wonder if they maybe started off at 5 in the morning donning a fantastically curated getup and then slowly, over breakfast and the drive down, began to question their confidence about walking around as a superhero so now they just have the appearance of someone who got off work, went to the gym, then a disco bar, and got too drunk to remember which clothes were for what. AND IT DOESN'T MATTER. The saggy guy still gets to walk among the throngs as Superman in public for a day, which is more than Clark Kent ever got to do.
Anyway, I love that energy. Even guys like Eric Reynolds, third arm at Fantagraphics, has gone to Comic Con every year for something like twenty years (except the one year his daughter was born) and he gets weary but, still, he loves it. He loves any opportunity to see masters of the medium, like the Hernandez Brothers. Here he is enjoying Gilbert's and Mario's company:
Of course, he'd say he loves all the Bros. equally but he clearly REALLY enjoys Jaime best:
The point is Eric's just another guy who loves comics in a sea of people who seriously love comics. And everybody there has the chance to talk with a hero.
In 2007 I got to meet Kevin Eastman, who was a ridiculously nice guy. He was supposed to contribute to BEASTS2 but I guess he didn't get my emails:
Even Steven Weissman got the chance to meet a hero. Here he is with Gwar or maybe it's just an S&M community theatre troop. I guess I'm not sure but he and the guy in underpants were both pretty happy to see each other:
But, alas, this year the Art Department of Fantagraphics Books (Adam Grano and I) are just too busy to trek down to The Con. Besides having too much work to do, we are spearheading the first ever Fantacon, which is mostly just him and me drinking a beer at lunch. But crowds are welcome.
NOTE: Thanks to Mike and Janice for the photo of the TMNT bus rolling into SD09.