The newly formatted, 600+ page Comics Journal proved a resounding success with 2011’s edition. 2012’s Volume 302 is sure to prove just as essential and exciting to comics readers worldwide.
This edition’s cover feature is a long, intimate interview-portrait with and of Maurice Sendak, the greatest and most successful children’s book author of the 20th — and 21st — century, the author of Where the Wild Things Are, In the Night Kitchen, Outside Over There, Higglety Piggelty Pop, and the illustrator of works by Herman Melville, Leo Tolstoy, and Randall Jarrell. In his longest published interview (and one of the last before his death in 2012), Sendak looks back over a career spanning over 60 years and talks to Gary Groth about art, life, and death (especially death), how his childhood, his parents, and his siblings affected his art and outlook, his search for meaning — and also, on the lighter side, about his love (and hate) of movies. And his unbridled comments on the political leadership of the previous decade have already garnered national media attention and controversy.
Sharing equal billing in this issue's flip-book format: Kim Thompson conducts a career-spanning interview with French graphic novel pioneer Jacques Tardi. The two explore the Eisner Award-winner’s genre-spanning oeuvre comprising historical fiction, action-adventure, crime-thriller, “icepunk” and more, focusing on Tardi's working methods (with step by step illustration), collaborations and other media (such as film and animation), and his fascination with World War I. Plus, Matthias Wivel examines Tardi's adaptation of Léo Malet's 120, Rue de la Gare.
Also in this issue, Art Spiegelman conducts a wide-ranging aesthetic colloquy on classic kids’ comics (Carl Barks’s Donald Duck, John Stanley’s Little Lulu, Sheldon Mayer’s Sugar and Spike, and many more) with a group of comics critics and historians. Bob Levin provides a revelatory investigation of the twisted history of the "Keep on Truckin’" litigation and a fascinating biographical portrait of R. Crumb’s lawyer, Albert Morse. Warren Bernard writes a ground-breaking historical investigation of the 1954 Senate Subcommittee Hearing on Juvenile Delinquency. R.C. Harvey looks at Bill Hume's Babysan and Donald Phelps examines Percy Crosby's Skippy. And a tribute to the late Dylan Williams from his peers and the artists he published.
Plus: “How to Draw Buz Sawyer” by renowned newspaper cartoonist Roy Crane (and a previously unpublished interview), a new comic by Joe Sacco and one by Lewis Trondheim in English for the first time, Tim Kreider on Chester Brown, Tom Crippen on Mort Weisinger and Superman, Rich Kreiner on "difficult comics," and a visual gallery of and commentary on proto-comics.
The Comics Journal has been for 37 years the world’s foremost critical magazine about comics. It is now more vital than ever, a gigantic print compendium of critiques, interviews, and comics.
The first* glass of spiked eggnog of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review: Metroland'sSimcoe reviews Walt Disney's Donald Duck: A Christmas for Shacktown by Carl Barks and The Complete Peanuts: 1985 to 1986 by Charles M. Schulz. Glenn Perrett states, "Reading Carl Bark's "Donald Duck" stories from 60 years ago was entertaining. The animation and colours are excellent and sections such as "Story Notes" [etc.] . . . complement the wonderful comics making this book a nice addition to any library." And "The Complete Peanuts: 1985 to 1986 are sure to make the holidays more entertaining and makes a nice gift and keepsake."
• Review: Noel Murray of The AV Club continues the Christmas coverage with Schulz's Charlie Brown's Christmas Stocking which "is mainly meant to serve as a nice little accessory to holiday decorations, to be brought out every December with the ornaments and Andy Williams records. For that reason, it’s hard to humbug it…" With Walt Disney's Donald Duck: "A Christmas for Shacktown" by Carl Barks, Murray notes "These stories—nearly all published in the early ’50s—are mostly non-Christmas-y, but the title tale is a sweet one. . . For those who do want a surefire present for the comics buff in their lives."
• Review: School Library Journal goes over some of the favorite holiday graphic novels of 2012 like Charlie Brown's Christmas Stocking by Charles Schulz. J. Caleb Mozzocco states "It’s beautifully designed, a breezy, five-minute read, and about the size of a Christmas card, making it a pretty great gift. And, this being Schulz’s Peanuts, it’s the sort of gift you’ll never grow out of." As for Carl Barks' holiday and title story in Walt Disney's Donald Duck: "A Christmas for Shacktown", "It’s one of about 20 of the top-notch comics in the book, which range from one-page gags to the sort of sprawling adventures Barks was best-known for."
• Review: Noel Murray of The AV Club takes a peak at Heads or Tails by Lilli Carré. "Carré loves to constrict her characters, because she knows that limiting their options won’t necessarily limit their imaginations. . . her comics work often has the feel of avant-garde cinema, as she weds surreal images to everyday situations to enchant audiences and spark ideas. . . "
• Review: Christopher Borrelli of The Chicago Tribune writes a loooong article on Lilli Carré and her new book Heads or Tails "that best captures the range, humor and vague sense of ennui she's made her name on. . . "
• Review: Noel Murray of The AV Club enjoys Tom Kacynski's Beta Testing the Apocalypse. "Kaczynski’s comics are frequently nightmarish, starting from a slightly askew place and then tipping further into darkness. . . But while his stories have characters and plots—often with haunting endings—they’re more like essays than conventional narratives."
• Review: Noel Murray of The AV Club finished the You'll Never Know series with Book 3: A Soldier's Heart by Carol Tyler. "This is Tyler’s magnum opus: her thoughts on art, work, relationships, music, war, and anything else that came to her mind while she was piecing together her dad’s story."
• Plug:About.com fills in the blanks of their Christmas Sex Book List by adding our most recent titles. On No Straight Lines: Four Decades of Queer Comics edited by Justin Hall, Cory Silverberg slyly states "given the diversity of artists working today it's not a definitive collection, but it's sexy and joyful and difficult in parts, and definitely one to own." Meanwhile, Naked Cartoonists (edited by Gary Groth) contains "a number of stand outs among this overwhelmingly white, male collection of artists. And I imagine this could be a perfect gift for the right kind of comic nerd."
• Review: Danel Olson of the Weird Fiction Volume 3 writes on Richard Sala and The Hidden . "Sala has become one of my favorite American sequential artists because of his subtle tributes and expansions to four of the most memorable twentieth century American cartoonists - Charles Addams, Edward Gorey, Gahan Wilson, and Basil Wolverton. . . Forbidding and weird seem like weak adjectives for Sala's The Hidden, and I urge you to open it. . . Give a standing order to Fantagraphics for any noirishly weird fictions forthcoming from Sala."
• Review: Chris Estey of KEXP reviews the Bill Griffith collection called Bill Griffith: Lost and Found - Comics 1969-2003. Chris Estey writes that it is "a luxurious and generous Fantagraphics big book collection of his non-Zippy work, is required reading for those who may have missed his parodies and punk rock operas in the past, or want them all bound together. It’s also for those like me who were never really that much into Zippy in the first place."
• Plug: Dave Segal recants the events immediately following his Stranger article on Listen, Whitey!by Pat Thomason the Stranger Slog. White supremacists got all sorts of angry at this history book and the white dude who wrote it.
• Plug: One step forward, two steps back. The Adele Blanc-Sec movie is inching along towards distribution in America. Johanna Draper Carlson gets the scoop on DVDs Worth Reading on Jacques Tardi's graphic novel adaptation.
• Plug:Negromancer reviews the film adaptation of Art School Confidentialdirected by Terry Zwigoff based on the comics of Daniel Clowes. "While Art School Confidential comes across as a satire of art schools, the faculty, and students, it is also a love story and youth relationship drama. It works well as all three."
*let's be real, it's like our tenth glass of that local dairy's eggnog
The cutest Carré animation of Online Commentaries & Diversions*:
• Review: Chris Sims on Comics Alliance looks at the first story (and title story) of the latest Carl Barks collection: Walt Disney's Donald Duck "A Christmas for Shacktown." Sims says, "At 32 pages, it's a sprawling epic (By Barks' standards, anyway) that hits those beautiful Holiday themes of altruism and the spirit of giving. Although to be fair, it does get a little closer to cannibalism than most other Christmas comics.
• Review: Speaking of Christmas comics, John Seven of the North Adams Transcript reads Charlie Brown's Christmas Stocking by Charles M. Schulz. "As with the best of Schulz's work, the humor alternates between deadpan and over the top, and the presentation of religion and holidays both is both irreverent and respectful at the same time. Schulz was a multi-faceted writer and could tackle contradictions through great simplicity. Charlie Brown's Christmas Stocking stands as gift from the past that is greater than the size of the package. It's a real treasure."
• Review (audio):Comic Books are Burning in Hell take you on a whirlwind, family road-trip of a podcast review of Gary Panter, Dal Tokyo and his occasional critics (Andrew Arnold). "Panter is very good at drawing altered states." "What was loose, scrappy and punk rock becomes much tighter." "The later stuff in here is the quote, unquote nicest drawing Gary has ever done, most acceptable comicswise." The evolution of one man's comics.
• Plug: Creator of Barack Hussein Obama, Steven Weissman, runs around looking for vintage comics with Love and Rockets co-creator, Mario Hernandez at the Comics Alliance. Need a hot tip? "They stick a lot old stuff in between the new stuff so I always look for the brown spines,"says Mario.
• Review:On the North Adams Transcript, John Seven enjoys Charles Forsman, Oily Comics and The End of the Fucking World. "When I started, I didn't have a real plan for [TEOTFW]," Forsman said. "I just wanted it to be fun. After laboring over the other book, I wanted to have fun again, because when you're working on something for awhile, you can get bogged down in the details."
• Review:Filth and Fabulations includes Dungeon Quest 3 by Joe Daly in a Best of 2012 list. "The riffing on classic roleplaying tropes is often hilarious, but the true comedic brilliance of the series lies in the way Daly writes the often drawn out pages of dialogue between the main characters. He manages to capture the way people talk in real life perfectly."
• Review:MTV Geek's Best of Graphic Novel 2012 List includes Athos in America by Jason. "A series of short stories that put Jason's insecurities and imperfections on display in an occassionally uncomfortable and frequently moving way," states Eddie Wright.
• Review:MTV Geek's Best of Graphic Novel 2012 List counts Noah Van Sciver's The Hypo as Numbah One! "A big-budget movie can't capture the subtlety of Lincoln's personality like it's done here," states Valerie. Eddie Wright chimes in and says, "In Van Sciver's well-researched, moving portrait of the troubled president, he's painted as a nuanced, difficult, intriguing and most of all, human figure."
• Review: Noah Bertlatksy of The Hooded Utilitarian looks at Johnny Ryan's Prison Pit 4, the importance of genitals in an invulnerable society. "Prison Pit is a hyberbolic, endless series of incredibly gruesome, pointless, testosterone-fueled battles with muscles and bodily fluids spurting copiously in every direction. . . everybody, everywhere, is a sack of more or less constantly violated meat, to whom gender is epoxied (literally, in this sequence) as a means of more fully realizing the work of degradation."
• Plug: David Allen of the Daily Bulletin takes a look at all the comic strip reprints out currently, ready to read Pogo: The Complete Syndicated Strips Vol. 2 "Bona Fide Balderdash" by Walt Kelly. "Through his nonsense-spouting critters in the Okefenokee swamp, Kelly often satirized government and national politics, taking on the Red Scare and coining the phrase "We have met the enemy and he is us. But 'Pogo' also had slapstick combined with wordplay and whimsy. Nice to have 'Pogo' back."
The most symmetrical cake slice of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review:Publishers Weekly occasionally lets smart and famous people recommend books. Jeopardy Master Ken Jennings "skipped the obvious Marjane Satrapi and Alison Bechdel entries in favor of this lesser-known three-volume masterpiece, about Tyler’s complicated relationship with her distant dad, a World War II vet. With her playful, fluid brush line and busy patchwork of watercolor woodgrain, Tyler’s art looks like the past feels." Carol Tyler's complete series You'll Never Know is available.
• Review:Booklist Online cooks up a review from some Pogo (The Complete Syndicated Comic Strips Vol. 2: "Bona Fide Balderdash"). Ian Chipman writes, "[Walt Kelly's] hallmarks of deft wordplay, daft swamp critters, and poisonously sharp sociopolitical satire are in full blossom here. The highlight is the 1952 election season that saw Pogo’s first and entirely reluctant presidential run and the birth of the “I Go Pogo” slogan. Mimicking “I Like Ike. . . A must for all collections of comic-strip history."
• Plug:Forces of Geek throws out some good gift recommendations for kidslike Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge "Only a Poor Old Man"by Carl Barks. "Comic books have always been an excellent gateway into reading, and when it comes to smart, imaginative and engaging, you don't have to go much further than Carl Barks. . . What better way to introduce your own Huey, Dewey or Louie to comics?"
• Review:Paste Magazines's 10 Best Collections of 2012 include two Fantagraphics titles. Hillary Brown loved Young Romance, by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby edited by Michel Gagné who "painstakingly restored them (without making them look exactly new, thus giving the book the feel of a vintage compilation that just happens to be in amazing shape). . . Simon and Kirby tried to bring as much excitement to primarily psychological and interpersonal goings-on as to punching and flying." And this might be the last year anything by Carl Barks is on the list, "We’ll just grant it permanent honorary status as the best of the best, like when John Larroquette removed himself from Emmy consideration after winning four straight for Night Court. . . [Walt Disney's Donald Duck "A Christmas for Shacktown] once again proves Barks to be one of the finest draftsmen and storytellers we’ve ever had." Well put, Garrett Martin.
• Plug:The Scotsman lists some of the Best of 2012 as told by the best scotsman. Withered Hand's singer/songwriter Dan Willson has eyes only for Ron Rege, Jr. and states, "[The] Cartoon Utopia , his magnum opus, is quite a head-trip. Thousands of very dense little drawings and words resemble a psychedelic illuminated manuscript peppered with themes of spiritual redemption and good versus evil. It’s a very unusual and beautiful work."
• Plug: From Boing Boing's list of the Best Damn Comics of 2012, compiled by Brian Heater. On Ron Rege Jr.'s The Cartoon Utopia , "The first esoteric text of the new century. The harbinger of the New Aeon. This book will be a staple of Esoteric Lore for millennia to come."
• Plug:Boing Boing makes my job easy by providing the Best Damn Comics of 2012. Compiled by Brian Heater, a lot of creative people offered up their favorite books of the year. Nick Abadzis thinks Kolor Klimax (edited by Matthias Wivel), "feels startling and vital to me and features a wide variety of styles, each as absorbing as all the others contained within these pages. I don't think I've enjoyed an anthology as much as this one in years."
• Plug: From Boing Boing's list of the Best Damn Comics of 2012, compiled by Brian Heater. Box Brown on Barack Hussein Obama, "Steven Weissman does stuff with actual analog comic materials that most dudes can't even do with photoshop." Jeffrey Brown chimes in on BHO, "Strange, funny and beautiful. Weissman reinvents his comics with the kind of book I wish I would make." Will Dinksi agrees, "Barack Hussein Obama is pretty much my favorite book of the year. . . I get a better appreciation for Weissman's craft in the printed collection where it can feel like you're actually looking at the finished artwork." Mari Naomi says,"I just love what this book is. If I didn't know better, I wouldn't even recognize this as Weissman. And I like that."
• Review:Paris Review checks out The Last Vispo, edited by Nico Vassilakis and Crag Hill. Nicole Rudick states,"it makes sense that in visual form poetry would elicit a kind of motion, an unfolding over the space of a page, and that even its sound would be voiced as a series of discoveries. Movement disrupts the continuity of a sentence, a phrase, a word. And language, unsettled, is unbound."
• Plug: From Boing Boing's list of the Best Damn Comics of 2012, compiled by Brian Heater. Box Brown continues to wax poetic on Josh Simmons' The Furry Trap, "Funny, even as it makes your hair stand on end and your skin start to crawl... Horror comics that gash their way below the surface."
• Plug: From Boing Boing's list of the Best Damn Comics of 2012, compiled by Brian Heater. Shaenon K. Garrity says that The Heart of Thomas by Moto Hagio "is a book I've been awaiting for over ten years, and it exceeds my expectations."
• Plug: From Boing Boing's list of the Best Damn Comics of 2012, compiled by Brian Heater. Nate Powell on Interiorae by Gabriella Giandelli, is "just what I look for in a narrative: patient, dreamy, full of seemingly endless layers of shadow, slowly revealing the sweetness inside the rotten, all within the confines of a single high-rise apartment building, surrounded by snow and static."
• Review:Slate finds themselves choosing Heads or Tails, going for broke. Dan Kois says, "Lilli Carré’s short stories are dreamy, unlikely, and unsettling. What transforms the stories from nightmares to fables is Carré’s artwork, which varies with each story. . ."
• Review:Page 45 looks at Heads or Tails by Lilli Carré. "The art reminds me a little of Lynda Barry and the flow of the pages reminded me a little of Walt Holcombe. . .I recently recommended this book to a customer who named their favourite film as Amelie (good choice!) precisely because it has that feeling of whimsy about it."
• Plug: From Boing Boing's list of the Best Damn Comics of 2012, compiled by Brian Heater. Jeremy Tinder on Heads or Tails by Lilli Carré, "A nice encapsulation of many of the ways Lilli has been pushing herself both narratively and stylistically over the last few years. If only there was a way to squeeze her animation in there too." Will Dinksi comments on Heads or Tails by Lilli Carré, "Beautiful artwork. Thoughtfully paced. "Of The Essence" is one of the best comic book short stories I've ever read."
• Plug: From Boing Boing's list of the Best Damn Comics of 2012, compiled by Brian Heater. Robert Kirby on No Straight Lines edited by Justin Hall, "Long overdue, this beautifully-produced, sharply edited retrospective may usher in a new era of respect and recognition for a long-neglected realm of the alt-comics world."
• Review:Nate's Broadcast enjoyed The Hypo by Noah Van Sciver in addition to the recent film, Lincoln, and book America Aflame. "Van Sciver’s contribution to the Lincoln mythology is perfect for those who like their heroes a little troubled and messy, but good at their core- not a bad way to interpret the American ideal."
• Plug: From Boing Boing's list of the Best Damn Comics of 2012, compiled by Brian Heater. Will Dinski continues with The Hypo. "[Noah] Van Sciver is pretty prolific, but this is his best work to date. The line art just drips with anguish." Brian Heater thinks it "puts the cartoonist's brimming angst to a different use entirely, in a book that does precisely what a good piece of historical non-fiction should: finding a fascinating way to tell a story we were convinced we already knew."
• Review: Blacklung by Chris Wright is whittled on by Tucker Stone at TCJ. It's called "the big, trippy brother to Drew Weing’s Segar influenced Set To Sea. . . . [and] Gore saturates this comic. . . Brutality for its own sake is the point of some entertaining movies, no reason it can’t be the point of some entertaining comics as well."
• Review: On Filth and Fabulations, Jeppe Mulich states that Chris Wright's "[Blacklung is] not a work of splatter punk or mindless gore, but rather an engaging, breathless, and humorous tale of the dregs of the sea, including a colorful assortment of pirates and madmen, quite clearly drawing inspiration from both Melville, Stevenson and Peckinpah."
• Review: Paste Magazine reviews Charlie Brown's Christmas Stocking by Charles M. Schulz. "Seeing this work isolated and expanded only reinforces the sheer timelessness and brilliance inherent; Schulz was a master of mood and line in equal measure. . . it’s some of the finest nostalgia porn you can put under the tree," quips Sean Edgar.
•Review:Pheonix New Times unwraps their present early and Jason P. Woodbury interviews Nat Gertler on Charlie Brown's Christmas Stocking by Charles M Schulz. "[Schulz] had done a Christmas book, Christmas is Together-Time, using red and green," Gertler says, explaining the minimal color palette. "We wanted to keep that simplicity and Christmas-sense in there." The stable of Schulz characters transcend fads and time because as Gertler points out "It's not the way kids talk, but they way they feel is the way that kids feel."
• Plug:Drawn blog tops off another the Best of 2012 list with some Ernie Bushmiller. John Martz points out, "Nancy seems to be a love-it-or-leave-it strip, and I am firmly in the Love It camp. . . Often surreal, and always impeccably drawn, there is nothing quite like it. . . these books are a virtual masterclass in cartooning."
• Review: From Boing Boing's list of the Best Damn Comics of 2012, compiled by Brian Heater. Tom Kaczynski on Ernie Bushmiller's Nancy is Happy, "The minimalism of the art, the quirky humor, the amazing consistency, it all started with these strips."
• Review: Getting ready for the hardback release of Delphine by Richard Sala, Carrie Cuinn of SF Portal reviews the tale complete with "dark duotone inking style, little dialogue, and gothic, shadowy, art. . . Overall I think that Sala’s retelling of that well-known love story is affectingly tragic. . . It is, in a word, creepy."
• Review: If MTV Geek knows about The End of the Fucking World then the secret is out: Charles Forsman is amazing! "[It] pulls you in like no other comic this year. Stunning in its simplicity and brave in its subject matter. Charles Forsman is a future force. . . [it] is like stumbling onto the ultimate secret in comic books, but based on how great TEOTFW is, it won't be much a secret longer."
• Review: Ashley over at Bibliophibien looks at Wandering Son series by Shimura Takako, "While the story is focused on transgender topics, I think that this is a wonderfully moving coming-of-age story and captures the complexities of sexual identity, friendships, and family that teens face."
• Review: Rick Klaw at SF Site enjoys the glossy glory of Action! Mystery! Thrills!, edited by Greg Sadowski. "As in his previous volumes. . . Sadowski supplies copious end notes and annotations. Though this time, the information additionally reads as an entertaining history of early comics. . . Sadowski once again delivers an essential book for anyone with an interest in comics history."
• Plug: John McMurtrie of SF Gate (San Francisco Gate) lists Listen, Whitey! by Pat Thomas as one of the Music Books to Buy of 2012.
The first snowflake of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review:Publishers Weekly enjoys Naked Cartoonists, edited by Gary Groth. "The litmus test for any collective work based on the idea of one page per artist is whether the whole is greater than the sum of the individual parts. . . [Naked Cartoonists] no trouble achieving that goal. . . Dan Piraro (Bizarro) deserves kudos for his strategically-located likeness of Garfield . . ."
• Review:Print Magazine (issue 66.3 June 2012) gingerly flips through the pages of Naked Cartoonists. "Does your Sunday morning routine consis of reading The Wizard of Id and thinking, Gosh, I wish it had more nudity? Then Fantagraphics Books has just the thing for you." While out-and-about obscenity is rare, "there are moments of genuine creepiness, as when Jeff Keane, heir to The Family Circus, drops trou along side his fictional self, Jeffy."
• Review: Speaking of nudish things, Slate takes the time to slog through Prison Pit 4 by Johnny Ryan. Noah Bertlasky states, "For those who find filthy, blotchy tactile ink clots, überviolence, or body horror even remotely appealing, you need to buy this and its predecessors immediately."
• Review (audio): The boys on the block (Comics Books are Burning in Hell) review violent comics so naturally Blacklung by Chris Wright is included. The book affected the reviewers since it's "basically Chris Wright drawing terrifying shit" and Wright's drawing style falls in between "Old newspaper comics, like E.C. Segar's Popeye and Roy Crane's Wash Tubbs and Usagi Yojimbo [by Stan Sakai]."
• Review:New York Journal of Books looks at Walt Disney's Donald Duck: A Christmas for Shacktown by Carl Barks. Mark Squirek writes, "What he was really doing was showing us the absurdity of human behavior. . . This is a book that can be enjoyed by everyone from six to eighty. . . This is classic art and storytelling from a master of the form. Carl Barks ranks right up there with Jack Kirby and Will Eisner. If you love the frustrated, quacking, crazed Donald from the cartoons of the forties, you have to read A Christmas for Shacktown."
• Review:The Christian Science Monitor unwraps Charlie Brown's Christmas Stocking by Charles M. Schulz. Rich Clablaugh takes another sip of cider and says, "The design of the book is marvelous, thick off-white stock printed in two colors – red and green of course. . .Charlie Brown's Christmas Stocking is sure to bring a warm smile to readers young and old. A yearly reading of this little gem can in itself become a new tradition for the Christmas season."
• Review:Westfield Blog looks at archival prints from Fantagraphics. Roger Ash recounts, "Popeye, Pogo, Charlie Brown, Mickey Mouse, and many other classic comic strip characters live on at Fantagraphics in outstanding collections. If you aren't reading any of these, you should be."
• Review:Forbidden Planet International writes about Rich Tommaso's graphic novel, The Cavalier Mr. Thompson. "What the Cavalier does very well is encompass the zeitgeist of an era and people vividly. . . or the most part you’re happy to be led through the rooms and ravines, over train tracks and down corridors as a gentle narration of tales from times gone by ensconces you comfortingly," says Zainab.
• Review: Glen Weldon writes a large article in the New York Times Book Review on our newest anthology on queer comics. "With No Straight Lines [editor Justin Hall] has produced a useful, combative and frequently moving chronicle of a culture in perpetual transition; to read it is to watch as an insular demimonde transforms itself, in painful fits and joyful starts, and steps out into a wider monde."
• Review:Graphixia looks at Jacques Tardi's It Was the War of the Trenches. Scott Marsden states, "Seeing Tardi’s portrayal of the horrors of trench warfare and his vision of the random senselessness and brutality that accompanies it reminds us to reflect on our (mis)conceptions of history, drawing attention to the fractal realities that are embedded in events that have been experienced internationally. . . it feels far closer to reality than the propagandized historical materials offered by the typical academic publishing industry. . ."
• Review: Rob Clough reposts his review of our Hotwire anthology, this time on High Low. "A book for those who read Ghost World or American Splendor and [want] to know where to go next."
• Review:Chris Ware is profiled on the NY Review of Books on Jimmy Corrigan through Building Stories.
Now that the mess of Halloween is swept under the rug and Thanksgiving is over or has turned into subcutaneous fat around your middle-section, we can get back to what is really important: egg nog and books to buy for your loved ones be they the birthday-celebrating Sagittarius or Capricorn in your life or for an annual wintertime holiday. Many of our books have been featured on holiday gift guides and we even have thematic releases coming out just in time for the holidays. So peruse while you finish up your holiday shopping lists. (And remember our CYBER MONDAY sale is going on RIGHT NOW for 30% off 2012 titles and more)
For the monster in you and that book to connect generations of family members, look no further than SPACEHAWK by Basil Wolverton. Cory Doctorow of Boing Boing believes "what you read it for is the character design, that amazing Wolverton grotesque that is as unmistakable as it is unforgettable. I mean to say, this guy could really draw monsters [in this] weighty tome that almost strobes with awesome."
For the completist and nostalgic fan, Publishers Weekly gift guide highlights the first three volumes of Krazy & Ignatz: Complete Sunday Strips 1916-1924 by George Herriman (for a whopping $95). PW states "One of the most admired and influential comic strips of all time, Krazy & Ignatz is collected in Krazy & Ignatz: Complete Sunday Strips 1916–1924, which contains the first nine years of George Herriman’s masterpiece into one (of three) handsome tomes."
For more strip and comic book archival collections Tom Spurgeon of The Comics Reporter suggests Walt Kelly's Pogo Vol. 1-2 Box Set. "I love the early Pogo work best of all the Pogo work, and these volumes are attractive in a way that's extremely difficult to guarantee with a post-World War 2 offering. They were cramming the strips into papers by then, making tear sheets and originals an even greater premium than is usual." A little history with your recommendation.
Speaking of historyPublishers Weekly calls it a 'good yarn,' but The Hypo by Noah Van Sciver is also for 'that person who loved the film Lincoln' as Comic Book Resources puts it. "This is an angle of Lincoln that rarely gets seen, and Van Sciver's strong plotting and detailed artwork make this an engaging and easily accessible read to any reader."
In the mood for more biographies or memoirs? Publishers Weeklysuggests No Straight Lines: Four Decades of Queer Comics, edited by Justin Hall. The NY TIMES also featured this "sampling of comic books and comic strips featuring gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender themes and characters has strong language and sexual situations, but a lot of laughs too. It is a wonderful toe dip into the genre," states George Gene Gustines.
"For the person who reads John Hodgman" cartoonist, quippest and sharpest tack on the internet block Michael Kupperman is the man for you. Rob McMonigal at Panel Patter continues, "He's the author of my favorite book of 2011, Mark Twain's Autobiography 1910-2010, as well as the Tales Designed to Thrizzle anthology series. His work features outrageous satire . . . sending Twain off on wacky hijinks with Albert Einstein. Nothing is sacred and everything is skewered by Kupperman, who is a perfect fit for the lovers of Daily Show-like comedy.
For the person who enjoys process over narrative the "punk icon Gary Panter’s angular world of neon brutalism" Dal Tokyo is the perfect gift for the 'Visual Splendor', says Publishers Weekly.
Tom Spurgeon of The Comics Reporter recommends comics for people WHO ALREADY LIKE THEM. #1 on his list is anything by The Hernandez Brothers. "They made some of the very best comics the year that Love and Rockets began; they made some of the very best comics this year." Start from the beginning with Gilbert's Palomar Series in the book Heartbreak Soup or with Jaime's Locas Series starting with Maggie the Mechanic. Is your loved one a huge fan? Get the latest book, Love and Rockets: New Stories #5.
But wait! (There's more) We also have blue spruce trimmed books for your holiday and year-long enjoyment. First up is the perfect stocking stuffer Charlie Brown's Christmas Stocking, this adorable little package collects two of Charles M. Schulz's best "extras" from the 1960s: two Christmas-themed stories written and drawn for national magazines are FINALLY collected in book form. The Comics Reporter says, "There aren't a whole lot of Charles Schulz-related items that have yet to be published; this holiday-related book is one of the few hold-outs." Charlie Brown's Christmas Stocking was also featured on The LA Times Gifts for Under $25 "Charlie, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus, Schroeder, Frieda, Violet, Shermy and Sally all make appearances, and the book also includes a pocket-sized biography of Schulz." Created in the classic square style of Charlie Brown small book collections, this book is sure to warm your hearts without the need of a glowing fire or mug of mulled cider.
Walt Disney's Donald Duck: A Christmas for Shacktown by Carl Barks is the third book in our Carl Barks Library which chronologically prints stories from this master. "A Christmas for Shacktown" is a rare 32-pager that stays within the confines of Duckburg, featuring a storyline in which the Duck family works hard to raise money to throw a Christmas party for the poor children of the city’s slums (depicted by Barks with surprisingly Dickensian grittiness). The Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon states, "I used to love the unabashed sentimentalism that saturates a story like this one, at least in the initial pages."
The rest of the book is also full of GOLD and not necessarily snow-covered. 240 pages in full-color glory make this a must-have no matter what the season. Featured on The LA Times Gifts for Under $50 "Fantagraphics has been reprinting Carl Barks’ classic Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge work, and this third volume focuses on Barks’ peak period in the early 1950s."
Finally, the second book of Ernie Bushmiller's famous strip Nancy is out for pre-order. Nancy Likes Christmas: Complete Dailies 1946-1948 is three more punny years of the fabulous life of an odd looking little girl. Order through us and you'll receive an FBI mini comic to throw in that stocking over the fireplace (be it real or the Netflix fireplace) as well. Spurgeon again, "it sounds good. I'm pro-Nancy and everything." It's kinda like being pro-education. We all agree it's a good thang.
The first bit of frost of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review (video):Last Gasp's John Longhi reviews The Lost Art of Ah Pook by Malcom McNeill, a story originally created with William Burroughs. Longhi says, "I can see why Burroughs wanted to work with McNeill because he's one of the few guys who could capture the crazy wacked out details of his story writing. . . [It contains] all the wonderful social discord that made his writing fantastic."
• Review:Blacklung by Chris Wright gets high marks on Paste Magazine. Sean Edgar says, "Blacklung is a weird, compelling creation, telling a harrowing story of redemption and savagery through art that could initially pass as adorable before you get to the tongue necklaces. Highly recommended for those with strong stomachs."
• Review:School Library Journal announces their BEST BOOKS OF 2012 and in the graphics novels section, Noah Van Sciver's The Hypo is listed. "Van Sciver makes Lincoln real by picturing one of the hardest times in his younger life. . . Dickens-style squalor and melodrama plus Austen-style romance, all done in gritty cross-hatching."
• Plug:The NY Times listed Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons at the top of the Best Bathroom Reads of 2012. Dwight Garner believes "the prints collected here are droll and strange." Two of our favorite words to describe Fantagraphics-style creators such as Flannery O'Connor.
• Review: Roughly translated from Ediciones La Cupula, Jaime Hernandez's God and Science: Return of the Ti-Girls is reviewed. "Theexcitementthat overwhelms usafter readingeach of theinstallments ofthe sagaof [Ti-Girls] isdirectly proportional to itsartistic excellence,histalentas a storytellerandhuman greatnessthat livesin his cartoons."
• Review:Lanacion reviews the writings and works of Alexander Theroux (Laura Warholic, Estoniaand The Strange Case of Edward Gorey) and translated, barely, Matias Serra Bradford states, "If left as an untreated rarity,AlexanderTherouxseemsmysteriousto the fantasticand impossible point of determiningthe trajectoryofa particle and itsposition."
• Review:The Snipe News looks at Joe Sacco's Journalism collection. "the decade’s worth of stories. . . are most notable not from any kind of torn-from-the-headlines sensationalism but for the empathy the author brings to his subjects. . . . Sacco has a feel for displaced persons in general."
The first rain-free (HA!) day of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review:The Comics Journal looks at Ron Rege Jr.'s The Cartoon Utopia. Katie Haegel writes, "Almost impossible to categorize, the work in Cartoon Utopia is both fully realized in a formal sense and wonderfully idiosyncratic. Like, it’s really out there. . . to me the work is much stronger when it depicts magic in action, which Regé accomplishes by telling us stories about historical figures and their relationship to the natural world."
• Review:Robot 6 reviews The Cartoon Utopia by Ron Rege Jr. Chris Mautner writes "with Rege drawing science, new age spiritualism, the occult, astrology and Jungian archetypes to come up with a personal grand unification theory. There are no plots or characters in the book to speak of, instead Rege merely muses and illustrates his theories, which mainly have to on the interconnectedness of all living matter."
• Plugs: Best covers of the week by Andy Khouri on Comics Alliance. Ron Regé Jr'sThe Cartoon Utopia: "This cover really makes me smile, and maybe gives me a sense of four-color spiritual well-being. But cartoon utopia looks more outdoorsy than I expected."
• Review:Page 45 enjoys the gentle pages of The Cartoon Utopia. Stephen L. Holland states, "Regé is back with a spiritual manifesto and ode to creativity: a singular, secular vision delivered with all the fervour of a religious sermon. It’s a call not to arms but to peace and perception unshackled from the conditioning of ages, exhorting all to see new possibilities, infinite possibilities, so enabling one’s full potential to be realised in both senses of the word."
• Review:Barack Hussein Obamaby Steven Weissman is reviewed on Bookslut. Martyn Pedler says, "His Obama begins as a kind of smug, stoner everyman: telling 'your momma' jokes, discussing old movies with visiting dignitaries . . . Weissman’s pages -- drawn in ballpoint into a moleskin notebook -- use a four-panel gag structure that makes the book immediately addictive."
• Review:Publishers Weekly takes on Barack Hussein Obama by Steven Weissman.". . . readers will likely have to be content with being one part giddy and three parts puzzled. . . Perhaps that’s Weissman’s point: that the farce of contemporary politics has the capacity to make one simultaneously giddy, confused, and disenchanted."
• Interview (audio): Speaking of Steven Weissman, Obama and the elections, he is interviewed on KPFK 90.7 FM's show Beneath the Surface.
• Review: Cartoonist Lilli Carré finds herself Boing-Boing-ed. Brian Heater describes Heads or Tails collection, "These strips, which originally in the pages of places like The Believer and Mome, find the artist dipping her toes into new pools, the sort of freedom afforded by the low commitments of the short story form, often to truly wonderful effect."
• Interview: Eddie Wright of MTV Geek interviews Johnny Ryan about Prison Pit 4 and why us humans love it so much. "Well, I think it connects to comic fans because it's the stripped down essence of what popular superhero comics are, which is men beating the living shit out of each other. People love it."
• Review:Reglar Wiglar spit takes while reading Johnny Ryan's Prison Pit 4. Chris Auman says, "This is Ryan’s depraved ID unleashed in its purest form: blood, guts, genitalia and fecal matter abound—actually they don’t abound so much as they’re sprayed all over absolutely everything in a fantastical sci-fi orgy of digustedness."
• Plugs: Best covers of the week by Andy Khouri on Comics Alliance. continues with Wallace Wood's Came the Dawn: "And while we're talking smart use of interior art, here's another superb example. This collection is all about the mastery of Wally Wood, so the cover presents a taste of his work in an uncluttered and respectful way, while also establishing a trade dress for Fantagraphics' new EC artists line." Chris Wright's Blacklung: "I see a lot of Joann Sfar in this densely demonic and stylishly constructed cover, and that's enough to convince me to investigate the work of newcomer Chris Wright." Spacehawk mini-comic by Basil Wolverton: "Basil Wolverton may be best known for his grotesque caricatures in MAD Magazine, but he worked in a lot of genres. Spacehawk was evidently one of his early works, and if this gorgeously lurid cover is anything to go by it was a delightfully daffy sci-fi pulp."
• Review:Booklist Online carves out a place in their hearts for Wallace Wood's Came the Dawn. Ray Olson writes, "This volume presenting all his horror and crime stories chronologically shows him refining what is at first a crude though powerful sense of mise-en-scène into one that is assured, highly detailed, and lightly caricatural."
• Review:AV Club reviewed all our new books Came the Dawn by Wallace Wood and Corpse on the Imjin by Harvey Kurtzman. Noel Murray writes, "in writer/artist-driven volumes, printed in black and white, with additional essays and archival material . . . [and] both immediately reveal the value in the artist-driven approach. . . Feldstein’s stories were like the comic-book equivalent to some of the seediest B-movies, and Wood’s art fit Feldstein’s text, with lots of deep shadows and wrinkles reflecting a complicated world." On Basil WolvertonSpacehawk, "As with Kurtzman’s war comics, it’s remarkable to see art so twisted applied to such vivid pulp tales—almost as though Wolverton was trying his hardest to be Alex Raymond, but couldn’t help turning out images to rival Salvador Dalí." Gary Panter's "Dal Tokyo would evolve, strip-by-strip, into a distinctly Panter-esque swirl of science fiction and pure abstraction, in keeping with the artist’s one-of-a-kind sense of design, and his pursuit of comics that resemble music and poetry."
•Plug:Web Cast Beacon reviews all free Halloween Comics Fest freebies. They enjoy Tales from the Crypt and Spacehawk. YES, mail in those ad coupons, people.
• Interview:Jim Woodring is interviewed by Peter Bebergal on hippies, hallucinations and all the good stuff that goes into his latest work, Problematic, a skechbook. "I frequently saw things at night — silently jabbering heads at the foot of my bed, distorted animals and objects hanging in the air over me. Often I saw a huge staring eye that made me vomit with fear."
• Plug: On Boing-Boing, Mark Frauenfelder tips his digi-hat to Floyd Gottfredson: "Gottfredson's Mickey is a plucky, goodhearted imp, bursting with energy and impulsively eager for adventure. . . [Carl] Barks will always have a special place in my heart, but I've added Gottfredson to my short list of great American cartoonists."
• Review: Page 45 looks at The Lost Art of Ah Pookand Stephen L. Holland ponders "Malcom Mc Neill has taken the time to put this eye-frazzling book of art – some of it sequential – into context, for the work itself is very much lost. . . There are vast scenes of ancient ritual, carnal lust and very modern warfare transcending time just as they were always intended."
• Review:Booklist Online likes Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge: Only a Poor Old Manby Carl Barks. Ian Chipman states, "from the bitter cold of the Klondike to the bottom of the Caribbean. . . Barks’ comics are an absolute treasure that have aged remarkably well, and are finally getting wide-scale publication to introduce them to a new generation of readers."
• Review: Gene Ambaum of Unshelved happily views covers from Action! Mystery! Thrills!, edited by Greg Sadowski. "Beautiful full-color reproductions of unblemished comic book covers show the amazing art and the breadth of genres on the newsstands before Fredric Wertham screwed everything up in the 1950s. . . The colors are bright, and the art is just plain fun."
• Review: Is That All There Is? by Joost Swarte gets reviewed on Bookgasm. JT Lindroos states, ". . . it’s impossible not to enjoy this ultimately all-too-brief volume for every single panel it presents. Swarte is consistently projecting an incisive and curious mind at work, perfectly tuned to his showstopping skills as an artist nonpareil."
• Review: Rod Lott of Bookgasm spends a long, loooong time checking out Sexytime. "[Editor Jacque Boyreau] has a knack for picking images; much like Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart and hardcore porn, Boyreau knows it when he sees it. And luckily, he shares it, this time from the visual-presentation experts of Fantagraphics Books — a match made in poster-art heaven."
• Plug: Matt Bielby writes about The Complete Crumb Volume 1 by R. Crumb in Comic Heroes Magazine: "It's incredible stuff, much of it obviously for completists only, but even the most obscure volumes track a fascinating, and developing, world view."
• Interview: Charles Burns is interviewed on Cult Montreal by Emily Raine about The Hive, his creepy artwork and the Black Hole movie. "It’s not my intention to be creepy per se, or that’s not the reason I’m writing stories. I think they end up being whatever they are. Maybe I’m just a creepy guy, I don’t know."
• Interview (audio): One of our favorite creators, Ellen Forney, speaks to KUOW/NPR on bi-polar disorder, comics and her new work, Marbles.
• Plug:Jaime Hernandez will be at the Copenhagen Comics Fest in Copenhagen, Denmark in June of 2013. Mark them calendars!
This week's comic shop shipment is slated to include the following new titles. Read on to see what comics-blog commentators and web-savvy comic shops are saying about them (more to be added as they appear), check out our previews at the links, and contact your local shop to confirm availability.
56-page three-color 5.75" x 5.75" hardcover • $9.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-624-9
"WOW, CHARLIE BROWN – a pair of ’60s holiday treats for Good Housekeeping and Woman’s Day form the bulk of Charlie Brown’s Christmas Stocking, a 56-page, 5.75" x 5.75" seasonal fancy." – Joe McCulloch, The Comics Journal
"I’m... eager for Charlie Brown’s Christmas Stocking." – Michael May, Robot 6
"I'm a fairly obsessive Peanuts reader, so I'll be glad to have this. It looks like it would be a nice little gift book." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
two 280-page black & white/color 10.5" x 8.75" hardcovers with slipcase • $49.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-576-1
"WOW, MICKEY MOUSE – Floyd Gottfredson & co. return for another 280 big gulp of vintage newspaper strips in Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse Vol. 4: House of the Seven Haunts, which sees large birds running amok, ghosts spreading terror, and Goofy finally addressed by his proper Christian name." – Joe McCulloch, The Comics Journal
"The publisher has pulled out all the stops on these wonderful collections.... Highly Recommended." – Bud Plant
"...[P]robably where my money will go is Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse, Volume 4: House of the Seven Haunts ($29.99). I’m heading to Disney World next week and that would be great reading on the plane." – Michael May, Robot 6
"More of that Floyd Gottfredson, inky goodness, now in the long stretch of its prime." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
"Oh, dear, which volume of classic Disney material to get? Do I go with Vol. 4 of Floyd Gottfredson’s sublime daily Mickey Mouse strip, House of the Seven Haunts? Or do I choose the unparalleled genius of Carl Barks and get Donald Duck: A Christmas for Shacktown? The Donald Duck volume has the edge since it contains 'The Golden Helmet,' a favorite story of mine from childhood, but since I’m splurging I’ll just get both." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
240-page full-color 7.5" x 10.25" hardcover • $28.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-574-7
"WOW, DONALD DUCK – Carl Barks is in charge of 240 pages of re-colored comic book stories in Walt Disney’s Donald Duck: A Christmas for Shacktown, gathering up some fine early ’50s material." – Joe McCulloch, The Comics Journal
"This is super-pretty work from a comics master and on my reading stand right now. ...[T]he comics here sure are a lot of fun, and read well today as kind of valentines mailed from the Land Of Narrative." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
116-page black & white 6.5" x 8.5" softcover • $12.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-591-4
"WOW, CANNIBAL FUCKFACE – motherfuckers are gonna get ripped to shit in Prison Pit Book Four, a 116-page continuation of Johnny Ryan’s raging flume of blood and cum, and a top-notch example of the manga influence on Comics for Everyone today." – Joe McCulloch, The Comics Journal
"Johnny Ryan's -- I first wrote out 'Johnny Riot's,' which I think I may prefer -- manga-influenced fight comic pushes into the second half of its run with more of the same. It's one of the few series where more of the same is perfectly acceptable." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter