• List: We published 3 of "The 6 Most Underrated Comics of 2009" according to Robot 6's Chris Mautner, including Giraffes in My Hair: A Rock 'n' Roll Life by Bruce Paley & Carol Swain ("Swain's low-key, nonchalant art fits perfectly with Paley's tales of hippie wanderings and punk-era decadence, stripping the stories of any rock glamor and tinging them with a genuine sadness. Really, this book just underscores how talented and sharp an artist Swain really is") From Wonderland with Love: Danish Comics in the Third Millennium ("...Nikoline Wedelin's haunting, chilling Because I Love You So Much... still resonates with me months after I wrote this review. The unflinching regard for its subject matter is not going to have people beating a path to its door, but the sheer daring artistry on display deserved much more attention than it got") and Gahan Wilson: Fifty Years of Playboy Cartoons ("It's a testament, not only to Wilson's genius (the material never flags or gets rote, no matter what the decade) but also to Fantagraphics skill in presenting this material in such a stellar fashion. Really, it was the best retrospective collection of the year, and I wish more people had noticed it.")
• Panel: The concluding installment of The Comics Journal's presentation of a never-before-published panel discussion between Charles Burns, Chip Kidd, Seth and Chris Ware, moderated by Jeet Heer, that occurred October 29, 2005 at the International Festival of Authors in Toronto, Canada, turns things over to audience Q&A
• Review: "There are two types of war stories: war as the great human drama, man accomplishing amazing feats in the most horrible of circumstances, or war as the great human tragedy, the ultimate loss of life without any rhyme or reason. Tardi’s book fits very firmly into the latter category. ... Ink-soaked and gory, Tardi’s detailed renderings drive home the grotesquery of the war and the ordeal of the young men fighting in it. ...It Was the War of the Trenches creates an aura of loss, regret and terror." – Michael C. Lorah, Newsarama
• Review: "The quality of [Gilbert] Hernandez's cartooning is unassailable. Part of the reason [High Soft Lisp] is so hard to quantify is his uncanny ability to shift focus on a moment's notice, effortlessly jumping from one character to another, suggesting whole thought processes and histories with just a handful of images." – Jason Michelitch, Comics Alliance
• Review: "The sort of horror Columbia presents in Pim & Francieworks even better without the trappings of recitation and the cause and effect on which they depend. This sort of dread-inducing fright functions without regard to the recognizable comforts of logic and the niceties of narration. This is visceral, elemental terror that generally festers below — or alongside invisibly — human reckoning. ... Frontwards, backways, sneak-a-peek sideways, it all packs a monumentally disturbing wallop." – Rich Kreiner, "Yearlong Best of the Year," The Comics Journal
• Plugs: The Gosh! Comics Blog highlights recent arrivals Penny Century by Jaime Hernandez ("This volume picks up right after Perla La Loca left off, beginning with the now out-of-print graphic novel Whoa Nellie! which is probably the best female wrestling comic in town") and It Was the War of the Trenches by Jacques Tardi ("Since only a fraction ofTrenches was ever available to us English-speaking folk it’s a nice to see the whole lot of it in one place.")
• Panel:The Comics Journal presents the first part (of three) of a never-before-published panel discussion between Charles Burns , Chip Kidd, Seth and Chris Ware, moderated by Jeet Heer, that occurred October 29, 2005 at the International Festival of Authors in Toronto, Canada
• Interview:The Daily Cross Hatch 's Brian Heater, who says "Released late last month, Fantagraphics’ massive collection, Newave, has already made a strong case for its place on 2010’s list of most essential reissues," talks to the book's editor Michael Dowers: "I’ve always been into art and stuff, so I thought that [minicomics] would be fun to do. I used to do paintings, I did a bunch of wood carving, I built a few stringed instruments. I was always doing things with my hands. It wasn’t until I discovered minicomics that it just all came together. I never dreamed that, 30 years later, I would be writing a book about this stuff."
• List:Only the Cinema's Ed Howard begins counting down The Best Comics of the Decade: part 2 includes Black Hole by Charles Burns at #36 ("Few books do a better job of capturing the fear, and the excitement, of nascent desire and adolescent longing, as these diseased teens are driven mad by hormones and embarrassment"), Epileptic and Babel by David B. at #30 ("With his elegant style, dominated by striking blacks and contrasts, he invents numerous metaphors and visualizations for his brother's disease, treating the fight against the disease as a physical, mortal conflict"), Chimera #1 by Lorenzo Mattotti at #29 ("a rare pleasure from this elusive artist... a powerful work"), and The Squirrel Mother by Megan Kelso at #26 ("Kelso's work can be devastating in the way she pares down the excess to get at the essence of a particular moment or situation").
• Review: "…[A] fascinating treasure trove of an anthology... In addition to work by greats like Artie Romero, Rick Geary, and Mary Fleener, and 50 or so others, [Newave!] serves as the history of a movement." – Publishers Weekly
• Review: "Taken as a book that records a history, it’s pretty awesome. ... Newave! does include essays about minicomics and interviews with some of the creators. These are fun and provide a great look at how all of this came about." – Eden Miller, Comicsgirl (via Wow Cool)
• Review: "[Newave!] is really cool. ... It's great to see the kind of passion that was going on... when there was this explosion where people just wanted to do comics because they had a passion for drawing, for telling stories... It's just a book full of passionate comics... I definitely recommend checking it out..." – Steampunk Willy's Mad Comix Ride - The Comic Book Podcast (via Wow Cool)
• Review: "[I Killed Adolf] Hitler mixes elements of classic time travel science fiction fare with personal melodrama and a strange sense of humor that's unlike anything else in comics today. ... Jason pulls off some nice storytelling tricks when you aren't looking. ... The pacing of his story is refreshing, never getting bogged down, never moving too fast." – Augie De Blieck Jr., Comic Book Resources
• Interview: At Fatally Yours, Sarah Jahier has an enlightening Q&A with Dame Darcy: "My Dad is an artist, so is my uncle, brother, and a lot of my family. We are related to John Wilkes Booth and many of the guys in my family look like him (like a handsome villain). I [attribute] a lot of my family’s talent and good looks to Booth but also the craziness." I did not know that! (via The Beat)
• Profile: At Comix 411, Tom Mason profiles E.C. Segar's Popeye protegé, Bud Sagendorf
CB: Collaboration for me is about letting go of all my control and forcing myself to explore a different perspective. Although we share similar interests, Gary constantly comes up with ideas and images I could never possibly imagine -- that's when it gets good.
The year's penultimate Online Commentary & Diversions:
• List:Comic Book Resources begins their countdown of the Top 100 Comics of 2009. At #82, "Because I Love You So Much" by Nikoline Wedelin: "Found in the pages of the recent anthology of Danish comics, From Wonderland with Love, this collection of strips about a mother who discovers that her daughter is being sexually abused by her dad is one of the most harrowing and utterly stunning stories about a difficult subject matter I've ever read and easily equal to the works of, say, Phoebe Gloeckner or Debbie Dreschler." (Chris Mautner)
• List: Robin McConnell of Inkstuds re-posts his Best of 2009 and Best of the 2000s lists previously run at The Daily Cross Hatch
• List:Comicdom continues their Top 100 of the 00s with Black Hole by Charles Burns at #2: "I start, taking for granted that with Black Hole, Burns played the blues of the pelvis with unparalleled mastery."
• Review: "...[A] love letter to 70s exploitation movies. Beto being Beto, there’s a depth of visual symbolism and complexity of character that provides an emotional structure to the narrative not seen in the source material that inspired these stories. ...Elmore Leonard meets Roger Corman. ... There’s a wonderful luridness to the story that Hernandez revels in... The Troublemakers... shows the artist at the height of his powers, capable of crafting characters with surprising depth even in the basest of genre stories." – Rob Clough, The Comics Journal
• Interview:Comic Book Galaxy's Alan David Doane presents an exactly-decade-old chat with Barry Windsor-Smith, conducted on the occasion of the release of OPUS Vol. 1: "I mean, if I'd really wanted to sell it, I could have called it 'Tits Galore' or something like that." (I pulled the goofiest quote, but really, it's a substantive read.)
This Saturday, get yourself to Williamsburg for an incredible comics event! With a lineup of guest artists including (from the extended Fantagraphics family) Gabrielle Bell, Charles Burns, Kim Deitch, Michael Kupperman, Mark Newgarden, Gary Panter, David Sandlin, Frank Santoro, Dash Shaw, R. Sikoryak and many many more, an amazing slate of programming, and a stellar group of exhibitors, all organized by our esteemed pals and colleagues at Desert Island and Picturebox, the first annual Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival is an absolute can't-miss! (Except we won't be there, wah.) Click here for all the info, including schedule, directions, and the full program.
• Review: "Charles Burns offers a glimpse of what might happen if EC Comics existed today with three tales of intrigue and absurdity in this softcover reissue... [of Skin Deep]. A master of the unearthly atmosphere — David Lynch has nothing on him — Burns unleashes tales of a man transplanted with a dog’s heart, a failing marriage with an alarming secret, and, best of all, an evangelist’s son’s encounter with God and his path to millions because of it. At once cautionary, creepy and curious, Burns is consistently one of comics’ deepest thinkers." – John Seven, Worcester Magazine
• Review: "The Troublemakers is the second in a series of graphic novels adapting movies starring or co-starring Rosalba 'Fritz' Martinez from the popular Love and Rockets series. An adaptation of a fictional movie starring a fictional character… I can totally dig that. ... Well, Hernandez has totally captured the look and feel of a B-movie with this one. You’d swear that Roger Corman, Russ Meyer or Samuel Z. Arkoff had a hand in it somewhere… only it’s a whole lot prettier because the guy is a hell of an artist. ... The characters are all very distinct and memorable and the story keeps you intrigued from page one to 120. It actually feels like you’re watching a movie while reading it. ... One can imagine a young Quentin Tarantino taking in a Saturday afternoon viewing of The Troublemakers and being quite inspired." – Chad Derdowski, Mania.com
• Review: "...[A] phallic-galactic odyssey of epic proportions...Prison Pit, the latest [Johnny] Ryan work published by Fantagraphics, is just that, an apologia for sidereal 'poor taste' able to shake the guts of the average reader of comics... Yes, he has hit the target with a homemade bomb and high destructive capacity. Ryan, bastard, you've nailed it." – Alita Comics blog (from mangled Google translation)
• Review: "Jordan Crane is a pretty incredible cartoonist, and this issue of his anthology series [Uptight] demonstrates that wonderfully, with two stories that are different enough that it's impressive that they came from the same creator, but both beautifully drawn and well-told." – Matthew J. Brady