Catching up on several days' worth of Online Commentary & Diversions:
• List/Plugs: In an article titled "Fantagraphics: The Greatest American Comics Publisher," GUY.com's Rob Gonsalves says "What the Criterion Collection is to DVDs, Fantagraphics is to comics. Any self-respecting collection of graphic novels, any library public or personal, needs to sport at least one Fantagraphics book," and recommends a nicely idiosyncratic top-20 list of our publications which includes some of our more obscure releases
• Review: "While there definitely were some hardships, Clemente’s life was as unique and joyful as his persona and ball playing skills were, and Wilfred Santiago’s 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente reflects this uniqueness and joy through its own unique retelling of Clemente’s life. [...] The simple joy conveyed in this book is universally appealing... Baseball is a game that is full of life and story, and every year the game blooms in the spring with the trees and flowers of the season. 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente celebrates life, and new life, as much as it does baseball." – Andy Frisk, Comic Book Bin
• Interview: Pittsburgh City Paper's David Davis, who says "In his new graphic novel 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente, the author of 2002's In My Darkest Hour uses Clemente's life to explore issues on and off the diamond. These include the thorny politics of Puerto Rico (statehood or commonwealth status?) as well as the racism Clemente faced in America as a dark-skinned Latino. The result is both a superhero cartoon and a lyrical time-machine, rendered in the regal black-gold-and-white of the Bucs' uni," has a brief Q&A with Wilfred Santiago: "I began my career working on superhero cartoons. That's the look I wanted to get -- somewhere between a cartoon and a painting. I wanted to get the camera right there with him and you're experiencing the action up close."
• Review: "Slavishly documenting and lavishly illustrating through band flyers and set lists and rare record sides and marvelous photography, along with first-person textual accounts, this strange, excited dialogue between misfits in America through bands, venues, zines, and lives and how it was all done punk and how punk was done. [...] Taking Punk to the Masses’ gallant bridging of universal punk history with our own in Ecotopia is a reason to celebrate. Your eyes can gnaw on decades of delicious artwork while you read and watch stories you may have heard of, but after this, will never forget." – Chris Estey, The KEXP Blog
• Review: "In Hate Annual #9, Buddy returns to Seattle to meet the dysfunctional family of his wife Lisa who he has never met despite having been with Lisa for close to 20 years. In a tension-filled 72 hours, Buddy is subjected to senile parents, criminals, and drug addicts. Each page is filled with the sardonic humor and high drama that are staples of Bagge's work. [...] Read this issue slowly because once you're done laughing your head off, you are sure to be sad that you'll have to wait another year to check in with one of the best characters of alternative comics." – Rip Ransley, Stray Riffs
• Review: "The particular fascination in this early work [The Arctic Marauder] is seeing one of the unique individual styles in cartooning at a formative stage. [...] As for the subject matter: It’s an example of parody that continues on when the thing parodied has long faded away. [...] Part of the appeal is feeling superior to an earlier age, and another part is being engaged in the traces of the earlier form embedded in the parody, which you would normally feel yourself too sophisticated to enjoy." – R. Fiore, The Comics Journal
• Plug: "At once a parody and a tribute to late 19th, early 20th century mystery/adventure Jules Verne-esque fiction, this gorgeous one-shot [The Arctic Marauder] is masterfully drawn scratchboard style, as to echo the woodcuts of the era. The result is sumptuous, and look at those elegant art-nouveau panels! [...] Fans of concentrated mysteries, steam-operated machines, dramatic adventures and over-the-top vilains should be all over this!" – 211 Bernard (Librairie Drawn & Quarterly)
• Review: "With Woodring’s skill, I never found myself confused, at least, more than you’re supposed to be. I’ve never read a statement by Woodring saying this, but I always got the impression he wanted you to work for the meaning behind his stories. Even if it’s not the case, I highly enjoy the process. In one graphic novel [Weathercraft], I got what I think may have been a love story, a treatise on spiritual enlightenment and sometimes just a whole lot of fun." – Joe Keatinge, Joe Keatinge's Comics & Stories
• Review: "Weathercraft... [is a]nother volume of nightmarishly beautiful wordless comics by the remarkable Mr. Woodring. Even for those accustomed to his work, there is page after page that makes you say, 'I’ve never seen anything like that before!' And then hide under your bed." – M. Ace, Irregular Orbit
• Interview:Book By Its Cover's Jen Rothman, who says "Ray Fenwick has created yet another masterpiece. His second book, Mascots, hit shelves in the beginning of this year and it’s quite a beauty. It’s filled with his signature style that mixes ornate hand lettering and imagery, creating amusing little narratives," has a Q&A with Ray: "I thought of the idea of mascots because they’re these outrageous, often ridiculous figures, but they’re symbolic of something else. The thing they’re there to represent isn’t ridiculous at all. I thought that was similar in a lot of ways to the work in the book."
• Interview:One Two One Two Microphone Check has a cultural Q&A with our own Kim Thompson: "There is no movie I love but would be embarrassed to talk about in a serious, intellectual conversation, because if I love it, it is worth talking about by definition. (I concede this could be taken as arrogant.) That said, I am mildly embarrassed at how much I actually love Love, Actually."
• Interview: Alex Dueben's great interview with Daniel Clowes at Comic Book Resources touches on Dan's design work for our upcoming series of Crockett Johnson's Barnaby collections: "It's probably the best written comic strip of all time. The artwork is disarmingly simple. It's the kind of thing that I would normally not be attracted to. He uses typography instead of hand lettering and very simple diagrammatic drawings, yet they are perfect, and work beautifully in a way that anything added to it would detract from it. My goal with the design of the book is to follow his very severe minimal design style and try to live up to that."
• Interview: At TCJ.com, Sean T. Collins also talks to Clowes: "I was always baffled that people who liked mainstream comics seemed to really gravitate towards [Eightball #22]. I couldn’t quite figure out what it was about that one, specifically, that made them like that so much."
• Commentary:Tim Kreider pens an essay on the state of the cartooning industry for TCJ.com: "When you’re young, it’s exciting and fun just to have your work published in the local alternative weekly, or posted online, “liked” and commented on and linked to; but eventually you turn forty and realize you’ve given away a career’s worth of labor for nothing. What’s happening in comics now is what happened in the music industry in the last decade and what’ll happen to publishing in the next. Soon Don DeLillo will be peddling T-shirts too."
• Commentary:Robot 6 polled Gilbert Hernandez for their weekly "What Are You Reading?" feature: "The new comics I always enjoy are by R. Crumb, Dan Clowes, Richard Sala and Charles Burns. I haven’t seen Burns’ and Sala’s new books yet but I did read The Bible by Crumb, which I found tedious only because of the subject matter and Wilson by Clowes. That was hard to get through because the protagonist is so supremely hateful. Well executed, though."
We're thrilled to present the Fantagraphics guide to the 2011 MoCCA Fest, happening this weekend Saturday, April 9th and Sunday, April 10th at the Lexington Avenue Armory in New York City! Print this out and use it as your shopping checklist and your weekend schedule!
First off, take a look at all the amazing new releases that we will be debuting at the show! Many of these books won't be in stores for several more months, and copies are limited, so make our table your first stop, or risk missing out!
Secondly, check out our jam-packed schedule of awesome authors who will be signing at the Fantagraphics table over the weekend. Not only will they be signing our books, but several of them will be bringing previews of works-in-progress!
another update: Tim Kreider will be joining us on Saturday afternoon at 2:30 pm before his panel at 4:30 pm!
All this and more awaits you at the Fantagraphics booth, located at #J1, J2, K1, K2.
And finally, get a gander at all these great panels! If you haven't already heard from The Daily Cross Hatch, they've added a second room this year, and they'll be doing more one-on-one conversations like the ones with Gahan Wilson and Peter Bagge listed below! You won't want to miss it!
Saturday, April 9th
11:30 am // Teaching Comics:Jessica Abel joins fellow panelists Bill Kartalopoulos and Tom Hart in a discussion from reading for content/visuals, to teaching how to “read” their visual rhetoric, to thinking about how to tell a story visually, what makes comics worth teaching? (Room A)
1:30 pm // Building a Book, From Start to Finish: Mark Newgarden moderates a panel with Stephen DeStefano (as well as Ben Katchor and Lauren Redniss), with an exploration of the blood, sweat, and tears that go into making a book. (Room A)
1:30 pm // Gahan Wilson: Playboy and Beyond: We explore the long, storied career of satirist Gahan Wilson. (Room B)
2:30 pm // Volunteer of the Year: Peter Kuper will present Al Jaffee with the Klein Award! (Room A)
2:30 pm // Dash Shaw and Brecht Evens in Conversation: Dash Shaw and Brecht Evens are among the most prodigious and prolific young artists working in comics today. Both began publishing ambitious work while still in school, and both have since gained notice for their lush, inventive, and thoughtful comics. (Room B)
4:30 pm // The State of Editorial Cartooning: Brian Heater presents a panel with Tim Kreider (along with Ruben Bolling and Ted Rall) on the trials and tribulations of creating political cartoons in 2011. (Room A)
5:30 pm // MoCCA Presents the Cross Hatch Carousel: Cartoonists and voice actors perform live comics readings, featuring our own Michael Kupperman and Ted Stearn, as well as Jeffrey Lewis, R. Sikoryak, Kate Beaton, Lisa Hanawalt, Julie Klausner, and more. (Room A)
Sunday, April 10th
12:30 pm // Almost True: Calvin Reid leads a discussion on where autobiography and fiction collide with Gabrielle Bell and Leslie Stein (and Joe Ollmann and Pascal Girard). (Room A)
1:30 pm // Peter Bagge: A History of Hate: Brian Heater spotlights Peter Bagge, in a one-on-one conversation with one of alternative comics’ most influential and enduring voices. (Room B)
1:30 pm // The Enterprising Will Eisner: Charles Brownstein leads a panel with Jules Feiffer, as well as Denis Kitchen and Paul Levitz. Come learn about who Will Eisner was as an entrepreneuring artist in a time when New York was the center of the commercial art universe, and how his art was shaped by that environment. (Room A)
3:30 pm // Ink Panthers Live: The popular podcast live, with special guests, like John Kerschbaum. (Room B)
We recently got a fresh batch of signed bookplates back from Charles Burns for his classic albums Big Baby, El Borbah and Skin Deep — they're free with purchase of their respective books while supplies last! (And see here for our other books available with free signed bookplates!)
If you were one of the fans crushed in the crowd when Charles Burns visited the store back in November, then hopefully you caught his discussion about the similarities in his latest novel X'ed Out and Hergé's classic The Adventures of Tintin. (Ken Parille has a great run-down on those similarities on The Comics Journal blog here.)
And in a nod to the bootleg Hergé titles that float around, Burns has created his own "bootleg" of X'ed Out, re-arranging the panels and adding brand-new artwork to create Johnny 23. French publisher Le Dernier Cri printed only a few thousand copies of this one, and from what I understand, it ain't getting reprinted, so you should get yours now.
Oh, and did I mention it's written in ALIEN? 'Cause... yeah. And Burns has said, it's not a translation of the text from X'ed Out. Apparently, there are keys online somewhere, or maybe you can send some cereal box proof-of-purchases and get a decoder ring. But just think, once you learn the language, won't that look impressive on future job resumes for our eventual alien overlords?
Johnny 23, and many, many, many other Charles Burns titles, are currently in stock at the Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery, located at 1201 S. Vale Street in Seattle's Georgetown district. Open daily 11:30 to 8:00 PM, Sundays until 5:00 PM. Phone: (206) 658-0110. See you soon!
• List: Emily Pullen of fave L.A. bookstore Skylight Books names Stephen Dixon's What Is All This? as one of her Favorites from 2010: "I have a crush on this book: the cover, the paper, the heavy ink. Touch it. Read two stories. Try not to bring it home with you. Fail."
• Review: "The Complete Peanuts 1977-1978 showcases an era when Schulz's drawing was still at its peak, and his story-making skills were perhaps greater than ever before — there are many long continuities, and Schulz had developed a pleasing knack of segueing from one storyline to another, in the vein of the great adventure strips of his youth." – Andrew Wheeler, The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.
• Review: "In The Troublemakers, Hernandez plays with notions of trust and betrayal, naïveté and suspicion. [...] Ultimately, The Troublemakers is a con-movie in comic-book form, well aware of itself, and quite enjoyable in its context. [...] If it were a film, it would be a schlocky guilty pleasure; but in Hernandez’s hands, The Troublemakers ascends to become a stylized and quirky mindtrip, a mishmash of betrayals and surprises, with many more twists than you’ll see coming." – Michael C. Lorah, Newsarama
• Review: "Everything Burns draws seems molded from the same dark and shiny matter. [...] The climate of horror creeps in from the beginning of the narrative, but the author knows the exact time to surprise the reader. Violence is used in a measured way, unlike the majority of comics and films of the genre. Through works such as Skin Deep, Big Baby and Black Hole, Charles Burns is already regarded as one of the principal authors of horror comics of all time." – Gustavo Guimaraes, Ambrosia (translated from Portuguese)