• List: On WFMU's Beware of the Blog, WFMU DJ Nat Roe's multi-media Top 15 includes Jim Woodring's Weathercraft at #5: "Stick a straw in my brain and suck until there's nothing left but that gurgling sound of air, the remnants of carbonation gathered like patrons in a bar on a Tuesday night 'last call' at the other end of the straw; that's how Jim Woodring makes me feel."
• List:Drawn contrubutor John Martz picks 3 of our titles among his Favourite Books of 2010:
"Bent is the latest coffee-table art book from Canadian cartoonist-turned-painter Dave Cooper. We get to drill further into Cooper’s psyche in this book, which continues the celebration of his singular, artistic vision — an alien landscape of writhing, female figures and strange vegetation."
"What Charles Addams is to the New Yorker, Gahan Wilson is to Playboy. And here we have three gorgeous hardcover volumes of his work - page after page of full-colour cartoons celebrating the macabre and the twisted. Perfect for the creep or the creepy in your life."
"Jim Woodring’s masterful cartooning is showcased in this latest graphic novel featuring his familiar cast of characters including Frank, Manhog, Pupshaw, and Pushpaw. It’s never easy to discern what Woodring’s comics are about, but there is never any question as to what is happening in each panel. Such is the control and understanding he has of both the medium and his tools. Weathercraft is a silent movie governed by dream logic and the id."
• Review: "I know that it’s still December 2010 – and not even the end of December, the point where we all make our lists of the best of the year – but it’s possible that I’ve already read my favorite book of 2011. Its name? Stigmata. [...] It’s a smart, beautifully written book that refuses to offer easy answers... But, as good as Piersanti’s story is, what made the book a classic for me is definitely Mattotti’s artwork. [...] Mattotti’s line is amazing, so filled with personality and intensity, at once angry and fiercely controlled, and used in the service of some amazing draughtsmanship and visionary visuals. [...] It’s breathtakingly good, no exaggeration." – Grame McMillan, Robot 6
• Review: "Not only does this issue of cartoonist and designer Jordan Crane's series feature a pair of quality comics from his two established areas of strength..., it carries with it all the joys of the format. ...Uptight #4 stings then pleases like a jump for effect off of a swimming pool's high-dive. [...] All in all, this a fine little read, a delectable peek of lasting hand-held value into what one of the really good cartoonists is up to." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
• Review: "Admittedly, these are not special stories in the sense that they represent anything unusual from the norm, but that is certainly at the center of their power. This is something that if we have not faced yet, we know we will, and Farmer’s ability to capture it all is clear-eyed. It’s a remarkable achievement considering the situation, and Farmer has a way of uniting the readership in one collective deep breathing session that lets us know we are not alone in the wider scope of coping with loss. ...Special Exits exists as a graphic novel of considerable depth and meaning." – John Seven, Archive 7
• Review: "Dixon... is a master of the short story, and this handsome volume [What Is All This?] gathers 26 pieces that hadn’t previously been published in book form. An indispensable addition to a formidable body of work, which also includes 14 novels and a pair of National Book Award nominations, it’s classic Dixon. His prose is so taut it would make Hemingway blush, and Dixon’s brutal honesty figures to redden the faces of some readers. He never shies from exploring common neuroses through characters who can be unsympathetic, or worse, contemptible, but his prodigious skill as a storyteller overrides any unease he generates. Wringing meaning from the mundane, Dixon gets beyond mere personality to the interior lives of the people he fleshes out, warts and all." – John Lewis, Baltimore Magazine
• Review: "Delivered in monochrome and a selection of muted paint wash and crayon effects, the compellingly inviting blend of cartoon styles (reminiscent of our own Posy Simmonds but with a gleeful openness all her own) captures heartbreak, horror, humour, angst and tragedy in a beguiling, seductive manner which is simultaneously charming and devastatingly effective, whilst the book and narrative itself is constructed like a photo album depicting the eternal question 'How and Why Do Families Work?' Enticing, disturbing and genuinely moving, [You'll Never Know, Book 2:] Collateral Damage is a powerful and affecting second stage in Tyler’s triptych of discovery and one no student of the human condition will care to miss." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Review: "Andrei Molotiu has compiled an incredible anthology of non-narrativity and abstraction in his Abstract Comics: The Anthology 1967-2009. [...] Covering 43 different artists, Abstract Comics opens with a exemplary discussion of abstraction in comics books and its overlap with contemporary art... The book is an incredible resource of potentiality...; I can't recommend it higher." – Derek Beaulieu, Lemon Hound
• Review: "[The Littlest Pirate King]'s an engrossing story which is marred somewhat by another of those inconclusive endings which please some but only irritate me. The story's not really the show here anyway, though there is a lot of intellectual grist to mill in it — the quest to know and understand the whims and whys and wherefores of the divine being but one example. B's art is really something to see here; while cartoonish in a superficial sense, he displays a masterful command of composition and visual whimsy and many pages and panels adopt an expressionistic, almost Escher-like, complexity which thankfully does not hinder reading comprehension but rather enhances and illuminates, like all 'good' art should do. While I do wish it had a more definitive conclusion, this is still a visual treat and well worth checking out." – Johnny Bacardi, Popdose
• Review: "Tyler’s portrait of her family [in You'll Never Know, Book 2: Collateral Damage] is at once warm and unsparing; they have awful moments — drinking, bitterness, just plain cussedness (on everyone’s part — there are no saints here), but they also have the in-jokes and little celebrations that are such an important part of happy family life. She has a good ear for the way daughters talk about their mothers and the goofy humor of her parents’ generation — humor that even in real life, sometimes struck me as papering over something painful. Tyler shifts styles and points of view often, telling old and more recent stories in parallel, focusing on different family members, and changing her drawing and paneling styles to fit the topic." – Brigid Alverson, Robot 6
• Interview: At Bookslut, Sean P. Carroll, who writes "What Is All This?: Uncollected Stories... offers a fascinating perspective on [Dixon's] long dialogue with the short form. ...Dixon’s unmistakable style and experimentalism draws not only on his familiar New York City locale, but also includes unexpected digressions that offer ample evidence why he is one of our foremost practitioners of fiction. It is a masterful tome that exemplifies Dixon’s ability to transform the vagaries of the everyday into a lasting work of art," questions Dixon about the book: "Why did I rewrite all 62 stories? Originally there were about 80. I threw out about 20 of the stories of mine never in book form as not being worth republishing in book form. The 62 I did rewrite or finish, I thought worthy of book form, and I just wanted to either complete them as stories (the incomplete ones) or improve on the ones that had been in magazines."
• Plug: "Jason is still one of the comics medium’s leading artists, with a fantastic knack for visual storytelling before words. Continuing in the hardcover tradition of Almost Silent, What I Did collects three Jason favorites – 'Hey, Wait…' 'Sshhhh!' and 'The Iron Wagon' – into one elegantly bound book that will match perfectly on the shelf with the other omnibus-style compilations Fantagraphics has released for Jason." – Pads & Panels
• Review: "The second volume of Linda Medley's quirky Eisner-winning modern classic has finally arrived. [...] Castle Waiting is a warm yet bittersweet ramble through the margins of the fairy tale world. [...] Medley's distinctive black and white art is full of life, while her writing is as engaging if leisurely as ever." – Publishers Weekly
• Review: "...[O]ne of the best and most under-covered of many under-covered comics of 2010 [is] Fantagraphics’ English-language edition of Jacques Tardi’s It Was the War of the Trenches. [...] Fascinatingly structured as a 20-page overture leading into an illustrated prose account of wartime experiences by the artist’s grandfather, and only then starting the work proper, a non-chronological barrage of soldiers’ experiences told in wide panels, three per page, unwavering, in contrast to the overture’s more dynamic usage of the page – everything in this book’s makeup draws attention to itself as a comic." – Joe McCulloch, Comics Comics
• Review/Profile: "One day, the gods of all ART great and marvelous, finally will decide to roll out their lengthy gilded achievement banner listing cartoonists, illustrators and caricaturists... who have been creatively talented beyond the skills of mere mortal men and women. Without a doubt, near the top of this list of illustrious souls... will be the name... Drew Friedman. [...] With Too Soon? Drew Friedman has not only once again solidifies his stature as one the of the planet's funniest, most observant and skilled artists, I can add the often used, but in this case it's actually true, label of that of a living legend. [...] If I could give this book ten stars I would. If I could give this book whatever letter should come before the letter 'A' because it is better than an 'A' then I would give it not only that mysterious letter, but add around five or six pluses. Buy this book as a gift for yourself, your friends, loved ones, siblings, children, parents and grandparents." – Robert Jaz, Forces of Geek
• Profile: At the CCS Visiting Faulty blog recounts Carol Tyler's visit to the school last week: "When the fun was over, Tyler put on her Lois Lane Reporting Hat to deliver her scoop on herself. She started with a photo of her home, which boasts a bountiful garden out front. 'That isn’t yard work,' she said, 'What you’re looking at are scripts. If I can’t figure out a punchline, I’ll just rip up part of my lawn.'" (See photos on the CCS Flickr page.)
• Interview: It's the final installment of The Daily Cross Hatch's conversation with Jaime Hernandez: "I remember hoping — I remember that, when Gilbert and I were doing fanzine work for small publishers, some guy in his bedroom, he would say, 'we would like people to send their art,' and things like that. We just wanted to be published. We knew it wasn’t the big time, but it was just kind of fun to be out there, even on a small scale. Yet, at the same time, we did have stories to tell, and we were hoping that one day they would be published."
• Review: "This week I read Unexplored Worlds, the second collection of pre-Spider-Man comics drawn by Steve Ditko. This handsomely designed volume mainly collects work Ditko did for Charlton, a mix of sci-fi, western and post-code horror stories. Ditko is in fine form here...; he seems more sure of himself here, full of verve, dramatic angles and odd hand gestures. In some stories, you can see the groundwork being laid down for what was to come in a few years — there’s a sequence where a guy travels to another dimension where you can see the beginnings of Dr. Strange." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "Each story is weird and wonderful in its own way, even when the writers and artists aren’t as skilled as others. Even better is a 32-page cover gallery in the middle, printed on glossy paper, each suitable for framing. I could stare at such covers all day. [Four Color Fear is an] excellent book..., expertly designed and popping with flaws-and-all color. At more than 300 pages..., [its] heft is welcome. For serious comics scholars or just those seeking a nostalgic kick, [it comes] highly recommended as [a] strong year’s-best contender..." – Rod Lott, Bookgasm
• Interview: At The Faster Times, Ryan Joe goes behind the scenes of Four Color Fear with the book's co-editor Greg Sadowski: "The quality of the writing was [the] number one [consideration] — each story had to be a compelling read. The art came second, though I think every story we chose has interesting art."
• Review: "Consider this a warning. If you fail to immediately purchase a copy of Destroy All Movies a swarm of post-apocalyptic punk rock bikers will kick your door down and ram their fists down your throat. [...] This is an exhaustive reference work that is every bit as brash and entertaining as its subject matter. It's well written, exhaustively researched and laid out in a gorgeous, colorful package that'll make it a coffee table discussion piece in geek homes around the globe." – Todd Brown, Twitch
• Interview: Joe Gross of the Austin American-Statesman, who says "Packed with stills from movies both cult and mainstream, filled with reviews of 1,100 films, and featuring interviews with crucial actors and directors, Destroy All Movies is everything one could hope for from a project this esoteric," talks to the book's editors, Zack Carlson and Bryan Connolly, who says: "It's not like a Leonard Maltin guide where you can just go down to the store and be like, 'Oh, I want this movie.' You're gonna really have to fight to find a lot of the stuff in there. Like some of it isn't even available in this country."
• Review: "I just sat down and re-read thru the new Love and Rockets issue. Shame on you, True Believer, if you haven’t already dog-eared this one. Please, please order this one today and thank me for urging you to do so. ... Jaime Hernandez has outdone himself. I mean, I’m a cynical super fan at times who often believes he’s 'seen it all' and then something like L ‘n R New Stories #3 comes out and just slays me." – Frank Santoro (who goes on to examine Jaime's panel layouts and compare L&R to Rocky and Bullwinkle), Comics Comics
• Interview: At The Daily Cross Hatch, Brian Heater's chat with Jaime Hernandez continues: "Maggie’s just got so much more going on than the other characters, for me. I like doing the other characters, but I’ll always go back to Maggie and the joy of creating her life. There’s just something about the character that I enjoy playing with and finding out where she’s going and who she is."
• Review: Did you think Sean T. Collins was going to omit Birdland in his "Love and Rocktober" series at Attentiondeficitdisorderly? "Doing a straight-up porn comic that borrows the Palomar-verse characters Fritz and Petra gives Beto the freedom to be as silly and utopian as he wants, something he couldn’t get away with in the naturalist, politically aware world of Palomar and Love and Rockets proper."
• Review: "I enjoyed Tardi’s art, which made me feel as though I was visiting 1911 Paris. [...] The stories are dense and packed with outrageous events, providing a sense of adventure. The recaps, as characters explain what’s going on to each other, were both a help... and a satire, reinforcing just how much Tardi is playing with the conventions of the genre and layering event upon event, a kitchen-sink approach to plotting that keeps the reader interested in a world that seems so sedate but where anything can happen. [... The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec Vol. 1] is fun, but with the knowing remove of self-awareness and satire." – Johanna Draper Carlson, Comics Worth Reading
• Review: "Some of the conversations are amusing and the awkward silences of real life relationships are nicely portrayed by silent panels and the characters body language. The eight panel grids are the same on every page but that's not a bad thing. [Werewolves of Montpellier] is not the kind of tale that calls for spectacular graphics." – Eamonn Murphy, SF Crowsnest
• Review: "Set to Sea by Drew Weing... is about 150 pages long, but only has one illustration per page. It is always a good illustration, and this story of a would-be writer who’s shanghaied into being a pirate is great fun. Weing’s art is cartoony, but that helps lessen the violence of ship to ship battles with boarding parties hacking at each other with cutlasses. Weing is a young cartoonist to watch." – Mike Rhode, Washington City Paper
• Review: "...[T]he most recent installment in the annual [Love and Rockets] series features a couple of moments that are as technically brilliant and as profoundly moving as anything the series has seen in the past. It’s not easy to get to that level of emotion without collapsing under the weight of your own portentousness, but the Hernandez brothers have managed it." – Bob Temuka, The Tearoom of Despair [Spoiler warning!]
• Review: "As soon as I finished reading the new Love and Rockets, I could only think about how much I want to read further. Definitely it will be some time before the next issue and possibly when it is released I'll admit that it is worth waiting every day, but fortunately for the moment I can always go back to previous work by the brothers Hernandez, and read their latest project again and again." – Aristedes Kotsis, Comicdom (translated from Greek)
• Review: "I know I just got finished explaining that biology is destiny in the Palomar stories. But what struck me upon rereading the material collected in this volume, dominated by the titular story of a serial killer’s stay in the town, is the power of ideas. Not emotional or sexual drives, even, like the web of lust and unrequited love surround Luba’s mother Maria in the suite of stories that forms the second half of the collection, but actual honest-to-god ideas. [...] If Heartbreak Soup showed us Gilbert the literary comics stylist, Human Diastrophism shows us Gilbert the mindfucker — the Gilbert who’s still with us today." – Sean T. Collins, Attentiondeficitdisorderly (a continuation of the "Love and Rocktober" series)
• Interview (audio): Guest co-host Dan Zettwoch gets in on the Carol Tyler interview action in the new episode of The Comix Claptrap podcast — two of my faves together!
• Commentary: "'Frank in the Ruse Garden,' like all the Frank stories, like most of Jim Woodring’s work, is one hundred percent unadulterated Uncanny. Like Jim Woodring saw fever dreams we’d forgotten ages ago, and put them down on paper to remind us. [...] The Unifactor is an animistic world of spirits and strange forces. Time and again, Frank comes in contact with numinous wonders, and fail to rise to the occasion. Frank comes upon a field of floating souls, and grabs one to use as a flying horse. Frank dives into a well ringed with eyes, and emerges mutated and warped. Frank wanders into the House of the Dead wearing a party hat, and it’s, like, awkward." – Wesley Osam, Super Doomed Planet
• Plug: "How could it be Halloween without some horror comics? I’ve been enjoying Four Color Fear, ed. Greg Sadowski, an anthology of ‘50s horror comics from publishers other than EC. I’m only a couple of stories in and, while none have actually scared me, the oversized, full-color book looks to be a wonderful primer on horror-comics history." – guest columnist Sam Costello, Robot 6
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