• List/Review: "Shouldn't we build a monument of some kind to John Benson? He is responsible for some of the best research, compiling and editing of comics history. [Confessions, Romances, Secrets & Temptations] is... full of excellent and sometimes quite eccentric interviews with St. John romance cartoonists and writers. An indispensible peek inside the industry and its characters." - Dan Nadel's "current favorite books about comics history," Comics Comics
• Review: "...Fletcher Hanks comes across as a villainous sort in his own bylined book [You Shall Die by Your Own Evil Creation!] — a vessel of combined artistry and wrath, whose published legacy is as nightmarish as it is brilliant. The art reproductions capture vividly both Hanks’ aggressive drawing style and the garish colors of the original Depression-into-wartime publications." - Michael H. Price, Fort Worth Business Press
• Review: "[Peter Bagge's] Reason features... add up to a splendidly funny-and-angry new book called Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me... Bagge rejects party-line herd-following in order to raise a uniquely sane voice among political cartoonists... [He is] one terrific cartoonist, with a keen constancy of purpose." - Michael H. Price, Fort Worth Business Press
• Preview: "It's no secret why Michael Kupperman is a favorite of Robert Smigel and Conan O'Brien — he's one of the most weirdly funny writers around... Tales Designed to Thrizzle is the dirtiest, funniest comic book to come out in a long time." - New York Magazine presents an exclusive 8-page excerpt from Tales Designed to Thrizzle Vol. 1
Still catching up with Online Commentary & Diversions. There's more, but I'm out of time, so more catch-up tomorrow!
• Review: "The backbone of the family, and also its Achilles heel, Luba is a larger-than-life personality who jumps off every page, whether she's the focus of the segment or just a background player. [Gilbert] Hernandez collects over 100 stories here, ranging from graphic novellas to single-page episodes, with his usual dizzying cocktail of sexual intrigue, humor and soap opera-style angst." - Publishers Weekly (Starred Review - near end of page)
• Review: "There are two excellent interviews in the back of [Blazing Combat]... The interviews are part of what makes the comic so fascinating. Of course, it wouldn’t matter if the stories weren’t good, and they are... [Archie] Goodwin does a fine job keeping each story fresh and even getting into the heads of the characters... It’s a testament to Goodwin’s ability that he manages to write 28 (generally) anti-war stories, but never feels like he’s simply repeating himself... The art helps the book shine, as well... There’s not a poorly-illustrated story in the entire book, and some are eerily beautiful... These are both excellent comics and fascinating historical documents, and Blazing Combat is totally worth a read." - Greg Burgas, Comic Book Resources
• Profile: I don't think I would have guessed that Joost Swarte was influenced by Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, but so says he: The Walrus spotlights Swarte, who provides a cover illustration for the current issue, and whose long-gestating Fantagraphics collection Modern Swarte is still in the works
• Interview: At Newsarama, Zack Smith enjoys a lengthy chat with Jules Feiffer (and breaks the news to him that Explainers is nominated for an Eisner Award... oops, sorry Jules)
• List: Moolies posts his/her (?) "Top 10 graphic novels," including Safe Area Gorazde by Joe Sacco ("It's truly appalling reading, and the reason is because he's such a great artist, and a great listener too"), Peter Bagge's Buddy Bradley saga ("There's so much painful and embarrassing truth in Bagge's work, and it's carried along by a sharp, wisecracking sense of humour"), and Love and Rockets ("A stunning, extraordinary, even feminist (or humanist) body of work... It's always a joy, and I'm so glad they're still writing these stories")
• Plug: "We should all learn about Nell Brinkley in college. So if you’re currently in college, go check out The Brinkley Girls already. And if you’re out of college already, well go check it out anyway, because everyone seriously needs to see this book—Brinkley was that good." - J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
Your Online Commentary & Diversions return from a short vacation. More catch-up tomorrow.
• Review: "[C.] Tyler’s fluid, expressive linework, complemented by subtly overlaid watercolors, gives ideal visual expression to a narrative that’s at once sensitive and hard-nosed. [You'll Never Know, Book 1] is Tyler’s first book-length effort, but decades of drawing mostly autobiographical stories have honed her skills, enabling her to produce a work that ranks in quality with the graphic memoirs of Alison Bechdel (Fun Home) and Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis)." - Gordon Flagg, Booklist (Starred Review; no link)
• Review: "Norwegian-French cartoonist Jason’s new book [Low Moon] is the first premiered in hardcover in the U.S. and contains his most minimally formatted stories... If you’re into genre fiction, have a sense of humor but no time for condescension, and haven’t encountered Jason yet, wait no longer." - Ray Olson, Booklist (Starred Review; no link)
• Review: "This is the best thing I have ever been sent to review. I didn't think that this book would ever exist but now it does and it'd better than I could have imagined... The eleven issues of Humbug are faithfully reprinted in this two-volume hardcover set and it comes in a fancy and sturdy box. The magazines were funny and beautiful with art by Will Elder and Jack Davis and some other folks. If you don't buy this book then I don't want to know you... There is no excuse for not buying this right now. Sell your hair, blood, or skin to get it." - Nick Gazin, Vice
• Review: "Luba encompasses everything a turn-of-the-21st-century graphic novel should be: paraliterary or lowbrow tropes of comics, pornography, soap opera, blended seamlessly with a highbrow literary accomplishment of pathos and familial history. It is as profane as it is dense. Almost postmodern in its self-reference... and frequently silly in its blatant cartoonishness, Luba is surreal and bizarre and arousing and gut-wrenching and hilarious." - Dusty Horn, CarnalNation
• Review: "If you grew up 'different'... you’ll find a lot that’s familiar in A Mess of Everything. [Miss] Lasko-Gross is close enough to this material to keep it particular – she avoids the sweeping gesture and the grand statement at all times – and distanced enough from it to see it as part of her past, fodder for stories rather than a raw wound. It’s a fine book from a very talented creator, and I expect we’ll see much more from Miss Lasko-Gross as the years go on." - Andrew Wheeler, ComicMix
• Review: "...[Miss Lasko-Gross] displays... subtlety and balance in her portrayal of her teen-age years... [I]n its portrayal of the importance and tenuous nature of teenage friendships, [A Mess of Everything] glows with sharp recognition." - Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "[Uptight #3] is very very good... The plot [of 'Vicissitude'] is a bitter little thing, steeped in infidelity, alcohol, career dissatisfaction, hints of class self-consciousness, and frustration with the path your life has taken -- like a Pulp song, almost.... Crane's Sam and Jack stories unfold like the pipes and vents upon which this tale centers: they bend and twist and wind in comically baroque ways, yet Crane's control of his visuals and the story's tone are so self-assured that it all seems completely logical, like a mind consciously built it this way and if you have a little faith, it'll work like it's supposed to." - Sean T. Collins
• Review: "Just a quick mention of what may turn out to be my favorite damn cover of 2009... check out Uptight issue #3..." - Blair Butler, G4 Fresh Ink Online (video; review starts around 1:34)
• Plug: "Jason is really one of the best cartoonists at work today, and you should check out this reading." - Paul Constant, The Stranger, recommending last Saturday's appearance by Jason at our Seattle bookstore
• Interview: Brian Heater of The Daily Cross Hatch got some face time for a Q&A with Jason at the 2009 MoCCA Festival. Sample quote: "I think it’s fun to bring different genres together and try to bring in something new, to see it from a new angle, that it’s a bit more than just a pastiche."
• Interview: "Frankly, I think it's a losing game to try to generalize about the relationship between biography and literature." - Chris Ware, interviewed by Joan Luna at 13 Milliones de Naves (translation from Google)
• Preview: ICv2 takes a peek at our upcoming collection Gahan Wilson: 50 Years of Playboy Cartoons
• Preview: The Geek Curmudgeon looks forward to From Wonderland with Love: Danish Comics in the Third Millennium
• Events: Zane Austin Grant of PopMatters reports from the "Ah, Humbug!" panel with Al Jaffee and Arnold Roth at the 2009 MoCCA Festival
• Things to see: At Truthout.org, a Drew Friedman illustration from Time illustrates a Bill Maher editorial from the Los Angeles Times
• Staff news: Fantagraphics warehouse manager and noted practitioner of visual poetry Nico Vassilakis has a new book, Protracted Type, which can be purchased or downloaded here
Two great C. Tyler multimedia features to share with you: first up, the Inkstuds radio programme has an extensive and lively conversation with Carol in downloadable and streaming audio. Next, the American Legion website presents a series of video interviews with Carol and her University of Cincinnati students detailing the program whereby the students collaborate with veterans on graphic memoirs of the veterans' combat experiences. Click here for the introductory article and here to jump straight to the video (screencap above).
Hoo-ee, it's time for our post-MoCCA Online Commentary & Diversions catch-up. It's going to take a while to sift through 4-5 days of the comics blogosphere, so to start with these are mostly links that have been sent to me:
• Review: "In what is obviously a labor of love, [C.] Tyler tells the story of her father's time during WWII and her parents' early relationship, skillfully interweaving it with Tyler's own story... provid[ing] a moving, personal portrait of one member of what's become known as 'the greatest generation.' Tyler's use of colored inks gives the line drawings an inviting depth of emotion... The drawings speak with an even greater richness thanks to the evocative words that appear within and around them, commenting upon and adding to the action portrayed in the panels. An important contributor to independent comics since the 1980s, Tyler has made a name for herself with the quirky warmth of her autobiographical stories, and this wonderful book [You'll Never Know Book 1: A Good and Decent Man] is a thoughtful work that greatly adds to the language of the graphic memoir." - Publishers Weekly (Starred Review; scroll to end of page)
• Review: "Jason’s books have always had a cinematic feel, and he seems to examine this more than ever with direct tie-ins to film concepts playing major roles in several of the stories... [A]ll of the stories in Low Moon are entertaining, and fans of Jason should be more than happy to digest five new comics from one of the best in the business." - William Jones, Graphic Novel Reporter
• Review: "Now, Fantagraphics has brought out The Wolverton Bible... I love that Wolverton's Adam and Eve look like Cary Grant and Rita Hayworth, and that the images of Noah’s Ark have the beautifully clean look of a wood carving. Dramatic scenes such as Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac, the devastation brought by locusts, and Samson’s blinding, showcase the artist’s talent for visceral, visual storytelling." - Leigh Stein, The New Yorker
• Review: "...[T]he newest issue of Michael Kupperman's mind-bending humor mag, Tales Designed to Thrizzle #5. Six Reasons Why Michael Kupperman Is A Genius (A bullet-pointed review...)" by Rob Clough, High-Low
• Review: "Peter Bagge's Neat Stuff saw the cartoonist at the height of his expressionistic style, and marked the beginning of the mature work he would exhibit in Hate and elsewhere... required reading for Hate fans... Anyone interested in fearless pop-culture satire, not just Peter Bagge, should have a look." - Luke Arnott, suite101.com
• Review: "Blazing Combat reprints all 4 issues of the ground-breaking war series... These are fascinating stories... drawn by some of the top talent in comics... [who] did some of their finest works for this short-lived publication. This new package from Fantagraphics Books is a handsome hardcover... the design work is A+, this time by Adam Grano." - Gary Sassaman, Innocent Bystander
• Interview: Comic Book Resources' Shaun Manning talks to editor Andrei Molotiu about the forthcoming anthology Abstract Comics. Sample quote: "I think that, oftentimes, abstract comics do end up maintaining more of that graphic energy [of superhero comics], and I think that they can draw attention to this very powerful tool in the vocabulary of comics that may have been lost in a number of art and alternative comics."
• Interview: Cartoonist Scott Nickel asks 20 questions of "one of the best cartoonists of his generation," Peter Bagge. Sample quote: "The idea of being a cartoonist was an appealing one to me as a kid, though not as appealing as being a rock star or baseball player."
• Interview: I can't remember if we've linked to this 2008 North Shore News Q&A with Peter Bagge before: "Anyone who claims they're speaking for an entire generation should be stoned to death!"
• Events: Thanks to Comic Book Resources' Timothy Callahan for picking some stuff up at our table at MoCCA and posting a photo of Miss Lasko-Gross signing A Mess of Everything; CBR's Kiel Phegley picks up some of the festival buzz; Publishers Weekly has some Fantagraphics scoop in their MoCCA report as well
• Things to see: Spain's Entrecomics presents a gallery of all of Daniel Clowes's front and back covers for Eightball. Clowes's back cover strips are some of his funniest work, and the later issues feature some stunning wraparounds, so it's well worth checking out. Here's Part I and Part II
Douglas Wolk raves in the New York Times Book Review yesterday about Carol Tyler's ambitious memoir YOU'LL NEVER KNOW. "It's impossible not to compare ‘You'll Never Know' with Art Spiegelman's 'Maus,' the first great graphic novel about what happened to a cartoonist's father during World War II," says Wolk. "Tyler's book is a vivid, affecting, eccentrically stylish frame built around a terrible silence."
And, as an added rare bonus, her father, 90 year old World War II veteran Chuck Tyler -- subject of the book -- will also be there to sign copies.
A Cincinnati Exclusive!!!!
You'll Never Know Book One: A Good and Decent Man is published by Fantagraphics of Seattle. It tells the story of the 50-something author's relationship with her World War II veteran father, and how his war experience shaped her childhood and affected her relationships in adulthood. "You'll Never Know" refers not only to the title of her parents' courtship song from that era, but also to the many challenges the author encountered in uncovering the difficult and painful truths about her Dad's service.
You'll Never Know makes full use of Tyler's virtuosity as a cartoonist: stunningly rendered in detailed inks and subtle watercolors, it plunges the reader headlong into the diverse locales: her father's wartime experiences and courtship, her own childhood and adolescence, and contemporary life.
C. Tyler is an accomplished artist who has been drawing comics for over thirty years. Her work has appeared in numerous publications and has two other solo books, Late Bloomer and The Job Thing, also by Fantagraphics. She teaches a class in comics at the University of Cincinnati's DAAP School of Art.
"If you want to find out what happened to Willie and Joe after they got home from World War II, You'll Never Know is the perfect place to start. C. Tyler's graphic novel, passionately conceived and brilliantly drawn, extends the range of Bill Mauldin to cover the aftershock of the Last Good War on the warriors who fought it and the collateral damage to their families. Not since Catch-22 has anyone probed the secret heart of the Greatest Generation with this kind of raw, icon busting courage." -Tom Mathews (Our Fathers' War: Growing Up in the Shadow of the Greatest Generation)
"One of the true greats of the 'underground' generation." -Chris Ware
"Her work has the extremely rare quality of genuine, authentic heart." -R. Crumb
Another late dose of Online Commentary & Diversions:
• List: CBC Radio's "Canada Reads: The Book Club" host Hannah Sung kicks off voting on the "Top 10 Graphic Novels" with Ghost World: "I love Dan Clowes’s clean, graphic style. I love Enid’s glasses, I love how everything is 'lame' and I love that Enid expresses how much she hates Sassy magazine even as she reads it."
• Interview: The Daily Cross Hatch's Brian Heater wraps up his 3-part talk with Michael Kupperman. Sample quote: "But of course the point of humor is that you always want it to look easy. You don’t want it to look like you spent two hours on your 140 character line — not that I’ve ever done that [laughs]."
• Interview: The Metabunker's Matthias Wivel talks to Steffen Maarup, editor of From Wonderland with Love: Danish Comics in the Third Millennium, debuting at MoCCA this weekend. Sample quote: "My selection process was pretty much as simple as picking what’s good; so stories that were original, did interesting things with the medium of comics, or touched me in some way."
Once more, Online Commentary & Diversions goes on vacation tomorrow.
• Profile/Review: Cincinnati Magazine talks to C. Tyler about You'll Never Know Book 1: A Good and Decent Man, calling it "a dense, triangulated tale (war and madness; father/daughter coming-of-age; familial reconciliation) made accessible by Tyler’s detailed yet straightforward storytelling and impeccable renderings... Switching artistic styles to connote the passage of time, Tyler’s graphic narrative deftly moves between her childhood and her father’s war experiences, between dream sequences, real time, psychology, and family lore. The book transcends mere documentation; it is a valentine sealed in genealogy, footnoted in history."
Pay attention: there's some must-read stuff in today's Online Commentary & Diversions!
• Review: "Castle Waiting #15 - I love that Linda Medley is completely ignoring what makes her setting so interesting for the D&D set and focusing on the characters." - Kevin Church
• Review: "Although aiming at twenty-somethings also interested in getting laid, getting wasted and getting rich, [in Rocky Vol. 2] Kellerman nonetheless manages to move beyond the ever-fertile grounds of the battle of the sexes, bodily functions and morning-after guilt-trips to produce a lot of work that is truly fresh, funny and uniquely personal." - Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Review: "Just like Heartbreak Soup and Locas, Lubais hard to put down, and Beto’s art gets better as it gets more experimental... there’s tons of good material here, and the humongous format can’t be beat in terms of bang for your buck." - The A.V. Club
• Review: "The 'family history' graphic novel subgenre can feel overdone at times... but volume one of Carol Tyler’s autobiographical You’ll Never Knowis the kind of smartly conceived, affectingly personal work that makes comics and memoirs look fresh... Carol Tyler works wonders with colored pencils and offbeat page designs... the breadth of her visual imagination is so impressive that... overreach is excusable. Also impressive: the thematic complexity of You’ll Never Know... [Grade] A-" - The A.V. Club
• Review: "The handsome hardcover collection The Brinkley Girls brings together a generous sampling of [Nell] Brinkley’s work, leaning heavy on her stories of industrious women and the he-men they love... Brinkley’s art is so drop-dead gorgeous that readers may long to razor out every page to hang on the wall. [Grade] A-" - The A.V. Club (same link as above)
• Review: "...the fantastic Brinkley Girls hardcover put out by Fantagraphics... you would be doing yourself a favor by checking it out. Curse you Fantagraphics, I'm trying to save money you bastards." - This Is Why I Hate You
• Review: "Sally gets the cover in this 11th volume of The Complete Peanuts... Schulz is still in top form here in my opinion. There are few books I laugh at more, or enjoy more thoroughly than these fine collections. Highly recommended!" - Todd Klein