In one of the most eagerly-anticipated graphic novels of 2012, Soldier’s Heart concludes the story of Carol Tyler and her delving into her father’s war experiences in a way that is both surprising and devastating — and rather than trying to summarize this episode and thus possibly spoil it for readers, we prefer to simply offer a selection of comments on the first two installments of this autobiographical masterpiece.
Publishers Weekly: “(Starred Review) In the first volume of Tyler’s planned trilogy of graphic memoirs, she dug into the eruptive, violent memories of her father’s WWII experiences while simultaneously dealing with a husband who decided to go find himself and leave her with a daughter to raise. [Book Two] is no less rich and overwhelming. Tyler gets back to the business of detailing her father’s war stories — difficult given that he is ‘one of those guys who closed it off and never talked about it’ — as well as coming to terms with her already touchy parents’ increasingly ornery attitudes. Closing the circle somewhat is Tyler’s concern over her daughter’s troubled nature, which seems to mirror her own wild past. While the language of Chicago-raised and Cincinnati-based Tyler has a winningly self-deprecating Midwestern spareness to it, her art is a lavishly prepared kaleidoscope of watercolors and finely etched drawings, all composed to look like the greatest family photo album of all time. The story’s honest self-revelations and humane evocations of family dramas are tremendously moving. Tyler’s book could well leave readers simultaneously eager to see the third volume, but also nervous about the traumas, home front and war front, that it might contain.”
Booklist: “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... 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).”
The fresh-popped Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review:Publishers Weekly discusses The Hypo by Noah Van Sciver, "Van Sciver’s psychologically astute examination of what might be termed Abraham Lincoln’s “lost years” (1837–1842) is as gripping and persuasive as the best historical fiction. . .This characterization of Lincoln is thoroughly human and identifiable, tracking a shadowy but formative period in the very uneven life of a man who shows little signs of becoming known as one of the greatest Americans. A thoroughly engaging graphic novel that seamlessly balances investigation and imagination." Wow!
• Plug: Noah Van Sciver's diary comics are showing up at The Comics Journal. Enjoy Day #1, Day #2 and Day #3.
• Plug:Comics Alliance JUMPED at the chance to be the first to comment on Naked Cartoonists. Senior writer Chris Sims comments, "Have you ever wanted to see Dilbert creatorScottAdams naked? Yeah, we haven't either, but apparently [Gary Groth] thought that was a good idea . . . joining artists like Will Eisner, For Better Or For Worsecreator Lynn Johnston, Jeff Smith (feel free to make your own Bone joke here) and . . . legendary MAD artist Sergio Aragones."
• Review:The Mary Sue names Moto Hagio's A Drunken Dream and Other Stories one of the 10 Feminist Manga to Read, that is licensed in the USA. Kellie Foxx-Gonzalez says,"Hagio is not only a storyteller, she is undoubtedly a feminist author, using her manga to explore gender, power, and women’s issues. If extended metaphors in manga as an avenue to explore philosophical questions is as appealing to you as it is to me, please, don’t hesitate to pick up this anthology."
• Commentary: Shannon O'Leary of Publishers Weekly says,". . . with No Straight Lines , the most definitive collection of queer comics to date, [Justin] Hall and Fantagraphics have made the voluminous but largely hidden history of LBGT (lesbian, bi-sexual, gay, transgender) comics finally visible as well."
• Review:The Awl and Kim O'Connor talk about autobio comics and include such underground greats like Aline Kominsky Crumb, Carol Tyler in addition to Chris Ware and Joe Sacco. While on the subject of Aline: "An important part of her project was to promote self-loathing as normal and even funny in an era when to do so was extremely unfashionable." O'Connor touched on the rawness of Chris Ware's work,"there's this sense of playful geometry that's deeply satisfying, even if it sometimes gives you the impression the artist's memory palace looks a lot like the Container Store. But the central delight in reading Jimmy Corrigan, as in all of Ware's work, is how it's painfully awkward and incredibly cool at the same time."
• Review: Rob Clough on the High-Low reviews Jim Woodring's Congress of the Animals: ". . . is interesting because it's much more linear a narrative than most of his comics.. . .Unlike the typical Frank story, there's a greater sense of urgency to Frank's wanderings, as he encounters many temptations and pitfalls along his journey to a destination unknown to even him."
• Review:The Critcal Mob released their short list of summer reads and a few Fantagraphics titles made the cut. Paul Guie looks at Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons: "O'Connor's artwork is frequently abstract and raw-looking. . .Nevertheless, her cartoons are always pleasing to look at thanks to the author's strong sense of composition. Panels are rarely cluttered by unnecessary lines, and O'Connor frequently frames her characters with an eye toward visual balance." Peanuts latest volume is also on Guie's radar: ". . . these later comics remain consistently witty and entertaining, and reflect Schulz's continued mastery of comedic timing within a four-panel layout.. . .Consistently subtle yet always timely, after 30 years, Schulz still had a winning formula on his hands." Last but not least, Guie takes Buddy Does Seattle to the beach,"Bagge's artwork [takes] the public's perception of '90s youth as angry and volatile and pushed it to hysterical levels. Heavily influenced by late-'60s counterculture cartoonists like Crumb, Bagge's drawings are fluid and grimy-looking, with frequent use of exaggerated facial expressions helping to cultivate an atmosphere of chaos."
• Commentary: Best Cover EVER on Forbidden Planet according to Richard: "The absolute iconic image. The raw power. Jaime’s incredible use of black in his art. The faces of the crowd. The stagediver (in heels) who’s just left the stage. But most of all, it’s the best comic cover ever because I swear that I’ve never looked at this cover and NOT heard the music they’re playing." The next best thing for Richard? Buying the new shirt featuring the cover of Issue 24.
• Plug:Comics Alliance and Caleb Goellner collect the most recent Adventure Time covers. James Hindle PLAYS an homage to Jaime Hernandez's distinctive cover. Check it out!
• Review:io9 recently created a list of the 10 Comic Characters Cooler than Batman. Jaime Hernandez's Maggie (the Mechanic) and Jacques Tardi's Adele Blanc-Sec topped the list. "Maggie is a survivor, who never stops kicking ass even she's dealing with depression and heartbreak." says Charlie Jane Anders and in reference to Adele Blanc-Sec:"She's a writer in pre-World War I Paris, which automatically makes her cool. . . She's not afraid to shoot guns, drink the hard stuff, or smoke like a man. She spent World War I in cryogenic suspension and then rocked the 1920s."
• Plug:The Last Vispo's editor Nico Vassilakis recently curated an online group of visual artists called Ten Turkish Visual Poets at Trickhouse.
• Interview: The powerful and deft Friedman brothers were interviewed about Any Similarity to Persons Living or Dead is Purely Coincidental by William Michael Smith of the Houston Press. Josh Alan Friedman talks about his brother's artwork,"Originally [Drew Friedman] worked with stippling technique, using a rapidograph pen. Bent over a desk like a watchmaker, doing thousands of dots. A technique made famous by 'Sunday in the Park with Georges' Seurat, but strictly shunned by art schools in the 20th century."
• Plug: Ron Regé, Jr. is up to something sneaky! At We Can Do It.
The final book in Carol Tyler's Eisner and Ignatz-nominated, Los Angeles Times Book Prize-finalist You'll Never Know trilogy, Soldier's Heart, will be debuting at SPX next month and arriving in stores in October. We received our advance copies here at Fantagraphics HQ late last week and let me tell you, even just at first glance, Carol's artwork is even more breathtaking than the first two volumes, which, if you've seen them, is saying something. Stay tuned for more previews and pre-order your copy today.
• Plugs: Cynthia Clark Harvey of the Phoenix New Times looks at "Noteworthy Graphic Novels by Women," including C. Tyler's You'll Never Know — "The first two installments of Tyler's wonderful trilogy, a memoir about her father's WWII soldiering and its effects on her family, were on best and award lists. I liked Book 1 and loved Book 2, leaving me on tenterhooks for Book 3..." — and Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons — "...as I look at O'Connor's early cartoons, I'm sure I'll be thinking: What if she were working today? What if she'd been able to fully express her literary vision with her first love, comics? What if Flannery O'Connor wrote Wise Blood as a graphic novel? Imagine that."
• Review:VICE's Nick Gazin looks at some of his favorite strips from The Complete Peanuts 1983-1984: "There's this one where Schroeder actually tries to communicate his understanding of beauty to Lucy. Of course Lucy doesn't really care about his inner world, she's just a groupie and wants the idea of Schroeder. It answers the question of what would happen if Schroeder actually gave Lucy the time of day. This is a moment where it seems like Sparky is really opening up to us about his own personal ways of relating to women, falling in love with distant princesses. It also harkens back to that scene in Citizen Kane when a guy mentions that he never forgot a beautiful girl he saw crossing the street decades earlier."
• Review: "Complete Crumb Comics Vol. 1 by Robert Crumb — This is a newly revamped edition of the inaugural volume, featuring some new, (I’m assuming) just discovered art... The real discovery here is the Jim and Mabel story, as Crumb is able to wring an amazing amount of depth and characterization from this seemingly simple story of a surly twenty-something woman bringing lunch to the elementary school kid who’s got a crush on her. As raw and awkward as it is at times it’s also rather poignant and shows how skilled he was at an early age." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review (Audio): Washington, DC (and environs) comic shop Big Planet Comics also has a podcast and call Kolor Klimax: Nordic Comics Now "one of the best anthologies I've ever read" on the Feb. 24, 2012 episode (review starts at 35:40; thanks to KK editor Matthias Wivel for the info)
• Plug: "Having read and reread and rereread the previous Nancy strip collections and nearly committing all their contents to memory, having some new (relatively speaking) material to enjoy really is a treat." – Mike Sterling, Mike Sterling's Progressive Ruin
• Book Reports: For a fresh critical perspective, check out the student reviews of many graphic novels published by us and others collected at the Graphic Novels Reading Rainbow blog (and the accompanying photos and illustrations can be a hoot too)
The nominees for the 2011 Ignatz Awards were announced today and we're happy to share that our artists and publications received 5 nominations in 4 categories! We're celebrating in our usual way, by offering them to you our customers for 25% off for a limited time! Winners will be announced on Saturday, September 10 at SPX. And our nominees are...
• Profile: At GALO Magazine, Emily Crawford Misztal talks to Nate Neal and looks at his debut graphic novel The Sanctuary: "While the language and the ways of the characters in the book will be unfamiliar to readers, the motives that drive them are as old and familiar as the sun. Neal sees the ancient setting as a way to get at the core of what it means to be human—in any era. 'It is a chance for me to examine human behavior on a more universal level,' Neal said. 'Sex, power, revenge, the primal stuff, is underneath everything that we do. There’s more covering over what we do now. With the cavemen, I can strip everything away and get right down to it.'"
• Feature: Rob Lammle of mental_floss posts an entertaining list of "10 Peanuts Characters You've Probaby Forgotten" — devotees of our The Complete Peanuts series will be familiar with some of them, and some of them give hints as to what to expect in future volumes!
• Analysis: At Taking Its Time, Jeff Hayes writes on the use of Jacques Tardi's It Was the War of the Trenches in an academic setting, specifically the high school English classroom: "In using a text like It Was the War of the Trenches, democratic education is being practiced. It is not just because of how the book is constructed visually; we must look at it also as an artifact of importance in presenting how another culture views historical events-how those events may or may not have affected the lives of others we do not think of in the rush of war and the aftermaths that follow as we choose what is important in history and what is not."
• Review: "Macherot’s animals are cute and full of character, from the porcupine sheriff to the cigar-smoking, shop-keeping bird. Visually they resemble Walt Kelly’s Pogo, with backgrounds that will look familiar to anybody who ever watched The Smurfs cartoon.... There might be more slapstick than the average post-elementary school reader can appreciate, but the adorable art, amiable characters, and a thrilling late-story air battle will keep you interested until the end. Best of all are the brief glimpses at domestic country mouse mundanity, like Sibyl-Anne’s love for baking pies and the aside where she and Boomer talk about how nice a certain table and its parasol are." – Garrett Martin, Paste
• Review: "This series [Wandering Son] is beautiful, perfectly capturing that time at the age of 10 or 11 where naivety and confusion meet in the formative years of your young identity. Where androgyny is a fine thing, defined by its ambiguity and as distinct as any sex." – Tom Rosin, Page 45
• Review: "The Willie and Joe cartoons and characters are some of the most enduring and honest symbols of all military history.... Alternating trenchant cynicism, moral outrage, gallows humour, absurdist observation, shared miseries, staggering sentimentality and the total shock and awe of still being alive every morning, this cartoon catalogue of the Last Just War [Willie & Joe: The WWII Years] is a truly breathtaking collection that no fan, art-lover, historian or humanitarian can afford to miss. …And it will make you cry and laugh out loud too." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Review: "...[Willie & Joe: Back Home] features some of the most powerful assaults on the appalling edifice of post-war America ever seen. The artist’s castigating observations on how a society treats returning soldiers are as pertinent now as they ever were; the pressures on families and children even more so; whilst his exposure of armchair strategists, politicians and businessmen seeking to exploit wars for gain and how quickly allies can become enemies are tragically more relevant than any rational person could wish. ...[W]e have here a magnificent example of passion and creativity used as a weapon of social change and a work of art every citizen should be exposed to, because these are aspects of humanity that we seem unable to outgrow." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Review: "Visually, Tyler's style is unique in the comics world.... The scrapbook design of [You'll Never Know, Book 2: Collateral Damage] is just one of many remarkable decorative touches she adds. Color is tremendously important both in a narrative sense (identifying key times and characters) and an emotional sense (modulating feelings felt on a page in an expressive style). The complexity of her page design (changing formats on an almost page-to-page basis) is brought to earth by the simplicity of her character design. The result is what feels like an ornate, powerful and cohesive sketchbook/journal.... Most impressively, Tyler manages to bring a static kind of craft (a sketchbook) to life with panels that crackle with energy and movement. There are no easy outs or answers in Tyler's attempts to create, maintain and understand connections with her loved ones..." – Rob Clough, High-Low
• Essay:The Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon on Jaime Hernandez's The Death of Speedy, written for Team Cul de Sac's Favorites zine: "Hernandez's evocation of that fragile period between school and adulthood, that extended moment where every single lustful entanglement, unwise friendship, afternoon spent drinking outside, nighttime spent cruising are acts of life-affirming rebellion, is as lovely and generous and kind as anything ever depicted in the comics form."
• Commentary: "It could be seen as frustrating that I've still got five years to wait to complete the Peanuts collection, ...but in some ways it's nice. If they came out more quickly, there would be more of a feeling of urgency about ploughing through the strips, whereas I'm able to take a more leisurely approach, reading bits here and there. After all, they were only really meant to be read once a day. I don't buy many books these days, preferring to download them to my Kindle, but these books are definitely going to be a part of my life for as long as they'll last (or as long as I'll last, whichever comes first) and I do look forward to seeing 50 years of Schulz magic lined up on my shelves. I just need to work out where I'll put them all... Such is the life of a completist!" – James Ellaby, Lullabies from a Giant Golden Radio
• Analysis: At Robot 6, Matt Seneca examines a page from Ganges #2: "Kevin Huizenga is one of the cartoonists whose work addresses comics’ conflict between the abstract and the literal most frequently and interestingly. Huizenga’s attempts at using comics to mimic the visual effect of video games are especially notable: rather than creating the simulacrum of reality that the vast majority of comics do, what is brought forth instead is a simulacrum of a simulacrum, a copy of a copy, something already abstract abstracted further, its ties to reality stressed and stretched about as close to the breaking point as they can go."
• Interview:The Daily Cross Hatch's Brian Heater wraps up his 4-part conversation with Mome editor Eric Reynolds: "I think Mome actually got better as I actively stopped worrying about who the readership might be, and actively indulged my own interests.... I think that began to happen as early as the fifth or sixth issue. And I think, by the end of it — you can point to a lot of things that we probably would have leaned against publishing at the beginning."
• Profiles: Following the news that the Xeric Foundation is discontinuing its publishing grants, the writers of Robot 6 spotlight some of their favorite past grant recipients, including Megan Kelso and John Kerschbaum
• Awards:The Oregonian's Steve Duin congratulates his Oil & Water collaborator Shannon Wheeler on Wheeler's Eisner Award win last weekend