• Review: "...[T]he cartoons in Willie & Joe: Back Home capture Mauldin at a low ebb personally, and ferociously inspired professionally.... The material in Back Home is bitter but witty, and remarkable for its courage. Given the platform of a major syndicate, Mauldin used his moral authority — as a firsthand observer of atrocity, venality, and want — to try and make his complacent countrymen feel a little shame. Where his wartime cartoons had said, 'I am one of you' to grunts in the trenches, his post-war work said, 'What the hell happened to you?' to the people who stayed home. At the time, the public rejected Mauldin’s lectures. Today they’re a blistering reminder that life after WWII wasn’t all suburban bliss and baby boom." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "Told with humor and a great depth of sensitivity, these comics offer a human lens to an epic more often expressed in grandiose terms. Over the past couple of years Fantagraphics has amazed me consistently with its archival releases of seminal cartoonists' work, and Willie and Joe: The WWII Years is yet another fine example." – David Gutowski, Largehearted Boy
• Review: "Toth brought clarity and drama to the page — the equivalent of a top Hollywood director elevating rote material through elegant framing and camera moves.... Nearly every drawing in this book is purposeful and exciting, and they flow together to tell stories so clearly that the words are often superfluous. Setting the Standard is a treasure trove..." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "...Jacques Tardi is certainly in Toth’s league when it comes to rendering seamy genre fare with real artistry. Like a Sniper Lining Up His Shot ... is a wonderfully wicked piece of work, tracking a hitman as he tries to sever all ties with his past and retire with his childhood sweetheart. The story’s a familiar one... but Manchette’s approach is especially violent and gory, with a tough twist ending. And Tardi picks up on the sadness underlying the brutality, sketching a black-and-white world where the choice to go to the dark side is irrevocable, no matter how hard characters work to wrest control of their fates." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "...Belgian artist Olivier Schrauwen does a fine job of approximating the high weirdness of early-20th-century newspaper comics in The Man Who Grew His Beard, a collection of seven deeply strange short stories.... Schrauwen mixes ink and paint in ways that blur the distinctions between comics and fine art, and he brings back certain themes — instruction and erotica, primarily — that suggest how men try and fail to place parameters on the primal. But The Man Who Grew His Beard isn’t meant to be 'understood' so much as it is to be entered and experienced, in all its wildness." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "Kevin Huizenga’s Ganges #4 continues the artist’s increasingly masterful hybrid of direct storytelling and experimental abstraction.... The story suits Huizenga’s style, since he can document both the familiar minutiae of daily life and the sense of unreality that takes hold whenever someone is up half the night. Huizenga works in visual motifs of endlessly branching possibilities and spiraling shapes, showing how becoming 'lost in thought' can be terrifying. In short: This is another terrific installment of a series that’s fast becoming a classic." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "Mr. Twee Deedle, Raggedy Ann’s Sprightly Cousin: The Forgotten Fantasy Masterpieces of Johnny Gruelle... collects the strip that illustrator Gruelle created to fill the void left by Little Nemo when Winsor McKay departed The New York Herald. Though not as imaginative as McKay, Gruelle’s Mr. Twee Deedle was every bit as colorful and lavishly rendered, telling gentle fairy stories that explore a rich fantasy world existing in tandem with our own, like children having elaborate playtimes mere feet away from their parents’ more prosaic lives." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club (NOTE: This review was based on samples of the strip provided to the reviewer; the book itself is incomplete and still in production.)
• Review: "...Drawing Power... brings together an eclectic set of examples of comics being used to sell products. The pages are fun to look at — from Mickey Mouse pitching Post Toasties to Dr. Seuss illustrating ads for Esso Marine Products — but the topic is a little too large for a 120-page book, especially one so loosely organized. Then again, maybe that’s the point: to create a reading experience as chaotic and laced with odd beauty as cartooning itself." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "I have long admired Woodring’s brilliant, hallucinatory, and bizarre Frank comics. But his work has taken a leap forward with last year’s Weathercraft and this year’s Congress of the Animals. The Frank world is one the reader benefits by being immersed in. What might seem a bit incomprehensible in a short strip blossoms into a dark Dionysian dream in these two graphic novels.... If I keep mention them together, it is because I believe they beg to be read together. They show different but complimentary sides of Woodring’s vision. And also because these two books combine to form, I believe, one of the greatest achievements in recent comics. If you are a fan of the strange, the uncanny, the bizarre, the hallucinatory, and the fantastic, I can’t recommend them enough." – Lincoln Michel, The Faster Times
• Review: For Magnet, Marc Bianchi of the band Her Space Holiday (they're good!) pens an appreciation of Charles M. Schulz's Peanuts, adding "A good place to rediscover the Peanuts is through the retrospective that Fantagraphics started releasing in 2004. They are complete and total masterpieces, from the elegant layouts provided by famed comic-book artist Seth to the wonderful guest introductions each volume has... If you are ever in a shop that carries these books, I highly suggest thumbing through one of them. Especially the earliest works (1950-1952 or 1953-1954). You are guaranteed to find something that in one panel can tear your heart apart and, in the next, put it back together again."
• Review: "To say that Wandering Son isn't a manga for everyone is perhaps stating the obvious, but despite the potential to make light of its cross-dressing, coming of age tale it proves itself to be an impressively subtle and considered take on growing up within this opening volume. ...[G]ive it time and you'll find an impressive, character-driven series beneath its simplistic surface that will both charm and fascinate you, leaving you rooting for its characters and wanting to follow them through to (you hope) eventual happiness." – Andy Hanley, UK Anime Network
• Review: "Supermen!: The First Wave of Comic Book Heroes, 1936-1941 promises to fill gaps in 'the origins and early development of superheroes and the comic book form.' Editor Greg Sadwoski has assembled an eye-catching collection of stories, magazine covers, and house ads showing unfamiliar faces from the first years of American adventures comics. ...Supermen! is most interesting for what didn’t lead anywhere.... Seeing what didn’t work or become the norm can be as illuminating as seeing what did." – J.L. Bell, Oz and Ends (via Robot 6)
• Plug: "...[D]espite his undeniable gift for crafting elegant and vibrant storytelling that transcends all genres, sadly there has never before been a comprehensive, affordably priced reprinting of Carl Barks' Disney work…until now. Fantagraphics Books recently announced that it will begin reprinting the entire catalog of the master’s Disney material, beginning with the release of Walt Disney’s Donald Duck: 'Lost in the Andes' by Carl Barks in October, 2011." – Bill Baker, The Morton Report
• Interview (Audio): The hosts of Comics Alliance's "War Rocket Ajax" podcast talk to Michael Kupperman about his new book Mark Twain's Autobiography 1910-2010, crafting his brand of humor and sundry other topics (such as bleu cheese): "It's about things taking the turn that you don't expect, the ball taking the bounce you don't expect. That for me is an example of trying to make the sentence end up in a place that's different from where it started."
• Tribute: At The Comics Journal, Kim Thompson's obituary of Francisco Solano López: "Argentina’s Francisco Solano López was a titan of South American comics, on a level with the great Alberto Breccia, the temporary honorary Argentinean (during the 1950s) Hugo Pratt, and the hugely influential writer Hector Oesterheld (who collaborated with all three)." (Excerpt courtesy TCJ's Tim Hodler)
• Review: "The initial cartoons in [Willie & Joe: Back Home] show Willie and Joe struggling to adjust to civilian life and usually failing, albeit not without letting out a sardonic quip.... Eventually Willie and Joe faded into the background, however, as Mauldin started focusing more on other problems facing returning grunts — a housing shortage, trouble finding work — and then rather savagely (and rather bluntly) went after racists and right-wing extremists.... The end result is a collection of cartoons that both read like the work of someone desperate to rage against perceived injustices as loudly as possible, but also seemingly desperate to demolish whatever status he has attained as quickly as possible... it’s a fascinating book..." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Commentary: On his blog, Eddie Campbell says "I recently bought the Fantagraphics complete Mauldin's Willie and Joe in soft cover. Bill Mauldin is one of the indisputable geniuses in the history of cartooning and I consider it an obligation to have the best available collection of his work on my shelf," and goes on to make some fascinating observations about changes in Mauldin's cartooning during the war
• Tribute/Interview:Entrecomics presents a transcription of the final talk given in Spain by Francisco Solano López in 2008 (in Spanish), saying "We could do a review of his career, but it would not do justice either to the immense capacity for work by the author or the influence that some of the works to which he contributed... had on several generations of readers in different countries."
• Review: "Alex Toth was a tale-teller and a master of erudite refinement, his avowed mission to pare away every unnecessary line and element in life and in work. His dream was to make perfect graphic stories. He was eternally searching for 'how to tell a story, to the exclusion of all else.' This long-awaited collection [Setting the Standard] shows how talent, imagination and dedication to that ideal can elevate even the most genre-locked episode into a masterpiece [of] the form and a comicbook into art." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Review: "Shimura Takako’s Wandering Son crafts, with the utmost care, a story of the struggles and adversities faced by cross dressing youths at the brink of blossoming into preteens.... Given the delicate subject matter of the main characters involved I felt that Shimura Takako crafted a wonderful introductory volume into the lives of these young individuals as they struggle with their identities, school life, and most of all approaching the brink of puberty." – Amy Grocki, Manga Village
• Plug/Conflict of Interest: Our own Eric Buckler has begun writing a new "Adventures in Indie Comics" column for The Snipe, and in his inaugural post he highlights Walt Disney's Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes: "Drawn by Carl Barks, a pioneer in cartooning and inventor of much of Donald’s universe, the stories highlight the duck at his best 1948-1950. Like the Mickey strips, Barks’ Duck introduces us to an edgy and crazed collection of creatures in contrast to the softer Disney we are used to. The first in a series will be out in October."
• History: A fascinating footnote to Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse by Floyd Gottfredson: at Planet Mouse, Jim Korkis writes about his involvement with eariler, unauthorized attempts to reprint Gottfredson's Mickey strips and presents two introductory essays he wrote for the aborted series
• List:The Hooded Utilitarian, nearing the top of their results in their International Best Comics Poll, reveals George Herriman's Krazy Kat at #2, with a brief essay by Jeet Heer
• Review: "...The Comics Journal #301... is crammed with fantastic content. The volume's texture, heft, and text make it the readers' equivalent of a dense slab of chocolate cake.... In short, Gary Groth and his editorial team have produced a stellar contribution to comics history and scholarship. It is a feast for comics aficionados and neophytes alike. " – Casey Burchby, SF Weekly
• Plug: "I second Tom Spurgeon’s recommendation of Bill Mauldin’s Willie and Joe Back Home. I was amazed by how brutally frank the comics are, and how affecting. I actually prefer it to his WWII work — it’s even more impassioned, and the cartooning loosens enough to show off a really expressive, cutting line." – Dan Nadel, The Comics Journal
• Plug: "Alex Chun has a new volume available from Fantagraphics Books in his series which profiles the 'few dollars a drawing' gag writers who sold work to the Humorama line of digest publications during the 1950s and into the early 1970s. As I have been writing on the lesser known artists who contributed, with the scant information available...I eagerly await the book!" – Jim Linderman, Dull Tool Dim Bulb
• Analysis: At Entrecomics, Alberto Garcia examines the Steve Ditko influence/homages in some of Gilbert Hernandez's early work — even if you don't read Spanish, the images will have you going "ah-haaaa..."
• Lore:Kim Deitch's "Mad About Music: My Life in Records" column returns over at TCJ.com, with more on Elvis Presley and the early days of rock 'n' roll
We produced this "BLAD" promotional brochure to help hype Walt Disney's Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes by Carl Barks, and we are pleased to present it here for the first time. You'll notice a different cover design for the book than we've shown you before, and you'll see a good sample of the recoloring job done by Rich Tommaso — not to mention, of course, some glimpses of Barks's genius. Click each page for larger images, or download the whole thing as a PDF.
"I don't hardly think that a way will come in which they can draw those comic book panels on the monitor screen with a mouse. It may be that they can. It may be that that's the form it will take – just make up these whole comic book pages on the screen and draw in all the things with the mouse. It wouldn't have the spontaneity, the look of reality that you get from drawing these out with the blue pencil... You get a thoroughness in the expression and all which I don't think you could ever get with a mouse and a line on the computer. I remember what Mark Davis, who was one of Disney's 'Nine Old Men," had to say about The Lion King, that they looked liked stuffed lions. Yeah, his opinion of animation done with the mouse was that it never quite came up with a real expression that looked genuine, or an action that looked genuine."
In 1946 Al Capp held the now infamous contest to see who could conjure the true image of the world's ugliest woman, Lena Hyena from Lower Slobbovia. Amongst the 500,000 + submissions was this ghastly beaut by Carl Barks.
The, ahem, judges for this contest were three of the worlds ugliest men: Salvador Dali, Boris Karloff and Frank Sinatra and as you may know, they aptly awarded Basil Wolverton's warped rendering "The Champ."
Here we have Lena by Basil Wolverton as colored by Jim Woodring from Wolvertoons.
I think it's worth noting and more than a coincidence that Carl Barks, Basil Wolverton and Jim Woodring all hail from the great pacific northwest, a region rife with grotesque power drawers, past and present.
Side note: It's rumored that Jack Cole sent in a drawing of the wonderful Lena. What I'd give to see that!