An unexpected technical glitch has necessitated the splitting of today's Online Commentary & Diversions in twain, so part 2 follows immediately:
• Review: "Fantagraphics Books rolls on with their hardcover library collection The Complete Peanuts, with the latest installment spotlighting 1979 and 1980. [...] In Charlie Brown, one sees a character with life still left ahead of him, so the myriad indignities he suffers are tempered by the thought that things could only get better. Had it been an adult character, the question would have been, 'Why hasn’t this guy drank himself to death by now?' ...[T]he Complete Peanuts collection is highly recommended to anyone who is in love with not just this format, but to anyone who can appreciate the highest level of achievement." – Dw. Dunphy, Kirkus Reviews
• Review: "I always look forward to the latest collection of Peanuts strips from Fantagraphics and with the newest offering, the [Complete] Peanuts [series] moves into the 1980s. In general, Charles Schulz' strips can fit in any era. [...] There's something so simple and yet so complex about Peanuts strips. Not matter how many you read you can never tire of them. Grade A" – Tim Janson, Mania
• Review:iFanboy's Ron Richards selects 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente as their Book of the Month: "Filled with emotion and heart, this story presents what it meant to the world, to Pittsburgh, to Puerto Rico and ultimately to his family. A great baseball biography is filled not only with on field accomplishments but with off field heart and relationships and Wilfred Santiago captured that perfectly... Santiago's artwork is stunning, at times completely breathtaking... Santiago is able to paint a picture of raw emotion, both good and bad, with his illustrations that one cannot help but get lost in the tale. [...] I don't think there is a higher praise I can give to this book other than I wish I could go back in time and give the 9 year old version of me this book to delight over. [...] I can't think of a better way to start the baseball season this April than by enjoying this beautiful graphic novel achievement by Wilfred Santiago."
• Review: "In this emotionally moving biography, the Puerto Rican Wilfred Santiago magnificently chronicles the often tragic life of this icon. [...] Santiago expertly traverses Clemente's tribulations, losses, and success with ease and skill. His portrayal of the baseball games rank among the finest ever attempted in this medium. Under the masterful hands of Santiago, 21 evolves into far more than just a biography of a sports figure. It showcases a life worth emulating." – Rick Klaw, The SF Site: Nexus Graphica
• Interview (Audio): Author Monte Schulz appears on the MarketingOurMuse program on BlogTalkRadio to talk with host Marla Miller about marketing novels in 2011
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."
This month's issue of Booklist brings a starred review for 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente by Wilfred Santiago and additional favorable reviews of 5 more of our recent releases, excerpted below:
"Nearly every page brings a new compositional marvel, setting energetic, limber figures against stylized photographic backgrounds washed in sepia tones and Pirate-yellow highlights. The in-game sequences, though, are show-stoppers, taking advantage of dizzying perspective shifts to capture the fluid, whirling nature of the game as it moves in fits and starts through huge moments of pause into cracking shots of sizzling drama. It’s not a comprehensive biography by any means, nor does it try to be one. But for a book that matches the pure athleticism, unshakable compassion, and towering legacy of its subject, look no further." — Ian Chipman (Starred Review)
Popeye Vol. 5: "Wha's a Jeep?" by E.C. Segar: "The fifth oversize volume collecting Segar’s vintage 1930s newspaper strip sees two particularly notable events, the introduction of Popeye’s lovable pet from the fourth dimension, Eugene the Jeep, who can foretell the future — a talent that Olive Oyl and Wimpy predictably exploit at the racetrack — and the seafaring quest to find Popeye’s long-lost father, Poopdeck Pappy, who turns out to be even more irascible than his cantankerous son. The out-of-continuity Sunday pages are more humor-driven, allowing Segar’s most brilliant comic creation, the rotundly roguish J. Wellington Wimpy, to take the fore." – Gordon Flagg
Prince Valiant Vol. 3: 1941-1942 by Hal Foster: "This period, with its far-flung story lines and lavishly detailed artwork, is arguably the acme of Foster’s four decades chronicling the bold exploits of his medieval hero. While the oversize pages don’t approach the expanse of the bygone broadsheet newspapers that were Valiant’s original home, this is the best showcase Foster’s epic creation has had since its original appearance more than 70 years ago." — Gordon Flagg
Krazy & Ignatz 1919-1921: A Kind, Belevolent and Amiable Brick by George Herriman: "Although nearly a century has elapsed since these episodes first saw print, nothing that’s appeared on newspaper comics pages in the intervening years has approached their graphic and linguistic sophistication, let alone their brazenly idiosyncratic singularity. The bounty of Herriman’s fanciful masterwork is enhanced by a pair of informative supplemental essays and Chris Ware’s strikingly stark cover design." – Gordon Flagg
The Complete Peanuts 1979-1980 (Vol. 15) by Charles M. Schulz: "Although Schulz’s much-loved comic strip is considered timeless — the continued reprinting of decades- old episodes in today’s newspapers attests to its perennial appeal — it wasn’t immune to contemporary trends. In these episodes, Peppermint Patty advocates for women’s equity in sports and gets Bo Derek-inspired cornrows. In other anomalous sequences, Charlie Brown’s pals express uncharacteristic affection for him when he’s hospitalized, and Peppermint Patty falls in love with — of all people — Pig-Pen. But most of the strips here display the comfortable tropes, from Snoopy as a WWI flying ace to Linus awaiting the Great Pumpkin, that Peanuts fans grew to love during its five-decade run." – Gordon Flagg
R.I.P.: Best of 1985-2004 by Thomas Ott: "With Ott’s trademark scratchboard style affording the highest possible contrast, this is some of the most stunningly crafted work in comics today." – Ray Olson
• Review: "Former Haligonian and Coast contributor Ray Fenwick’s latest book [Mascots] extends the work that he began in this city: typography-heavy painting on found book covers. The books’ loose cloth weave is clearly visible through the paintings, and even though Fenwick’s lettering skills should be studied by scientists, there’s a refreshing sense of the typographer’s hand and thought. Using the traditional idea of mascots as symbolic figures, Fenwick’s collected creatures, characters, mantras and messages, some of which are connected through broken narratives, and others just appear like a slap to the head. Not for those with an aversion to weirdos or absurdity, Fenwick is hands-down one of the most clever contemporary artists and illustrators working in Canada." – Sue Carter Flinn, The Coast
• Review: "Kalesniko is a deft, widescreen storyteller... The final chapters [of Freeway] are paced like an action film, drawing Alex ever closer to his destination/destiny, and Kalesniko does skillfully edit his storytelling at a breathless clip. But the conclusion raises more questions than it answers..." – Brian Winkeler, Bookgasm
• Review: "There’s no doubt that Schulz lost his way in the 80s. But his strip was always about losing its way. As he grew doddering and inconsistent, he moved closer to the doddering inconsistency at the core of his art. The pleasures in this volume [The Complete Peanuts 1979-1980] are fewer, but, for fans at least, when they come they have a special bonk." – Noah Berlatsky, Splice Today
• Review: "Another hardboiled French thriller which violently riffs on the energy of New Wave cinema, Hitchcock and classic James Bond. ...[West Coast Blues] is a bit like The Bourne Identity, except on a lower budget and without anyone half as organised as the CIA involved. The captions are a bit wordy, as you’d expect with something adapted from a novel, but thankfully it’s in black and white — the constant spray of blood and bone fragments might be a bit off-putting otherwise." – Grant Buist, The Name of This Cartoon Is Brunswick
• Profile: The Hartford Advocate's Christopher Arnott talks to Allan Greenier and Tom Hosier, creator of "The Purple Warp" minicomic included in Newave! The Underground Mini Comix of the 1980s, saying of the book "Newave!, which has the same small size, but hundreds more pages than the miniature comics it celebrates, is a handy overview of this largely overlooked subgenre," and getting a frank account of the book's success from our own Eric Reynolds
In a recent spring cleaning at Casa Reynolds, I unearthed these original PEANUTS strips I created in the late-1970s at the tender age of 8 or 9. I apparently thought I was really onto something with the no pants gag. Or perhaps it just reveals something about my id that I'd rather not consider. Either way, I bet the folks at BOOM! are now kicking themselves for not adding me to the creative team of their new PEANUTS graphic novel.
After previous mentions in this space — see previous posts for additional blogger-blurbs — and possible early appearances at some comic shops, the following titles are on the official Diamond Comics Distributors shipping list for this week. Please check with your local shop to confirm availability. (Ordering in advance is always a good idea, too.) Previews and more info about each book, as always, at the links below:
200-page two-color 6.25" x 8" hardcover • $22.99 ISBN: 978-1-56097-892-3
"Wilfred Santiago's beautiful, intricately-told biography of the Pittsburgh Pirates icon manages to come out just in time for major league baseball's opening day. I think this is a work that people can return to a few times, meaning that if it's a novelty gift for someone -- something you buy for a baseball fan in your life that may not read a lot of comics, say -- it represents an enormous amount of value for that kind of book." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
"All I know about baseball is that there are some bases and a ball, but from this PDF preview it looks like one of those books that fools you into thinking you like a sport when you clearly don’t, just because it’s presented so beautifully... Wilfred Santiago’s... art is amazingly expressive. Looks like a good’un." – Gosh! Comics
"Then there’s 21, the new biography of baseball player Roberto Clemente by Wilfred Santiago, which looks pretty fantastic..." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"Just in time for opening day, it's Wilfred Santiago's beautiful biography of baseball legend, Roberto Clemente." – Benn Ray (Atomic Books), Largehearted Boy
344-page black & white 8.5" x 7" hardcover • $28.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-438-2
"One thing that may be lost as we pore over this volume and the next few looking for a shift in tone or approach is that these books are deeply pleasurable and Schulz became in the golden afternoon of his career a highly confident and supremely reliable cartoonist." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
"...that Complete Peanuts Vol. 15 looks pretty spiffy as well..." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"It's been a while since the book was previewed, but I remember the Sara Edward-Corbett cover-featured work being particularly strong, and I'm a fiend for what Josh Simmons is doing right now." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
"… I’d have to make some tough decisions this week. Do I spend my initial $15 on the latest volume of Mome or on [other titles]...?" – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"CONFLICT OF INTEREST RESERVOIR: Okay, a lot of this might have shown up in earlier weeks, but Diamond says it’s now. R.I.P.: Best of 1985-2004 collects works by Thomas Ott, reviewed by Sean T. Collins at this site here; $28.99. 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente is a new sporting biography by Wilfred Santiago; $22.99. The Complete Peanuts Vol. 15: 1979-1980 is a collection of superhero comics by Todd McFarlane, introduction by Al Roker; $28.99. And MOME Vol. 21 complies artists summarized by the link, although I’d be particular interested in new stand-alone Josh Simmons and a piece by Sergio Ponchione; $14.99."
We recently found a whole box of Unseen Peanuts, our 2007 Free Comic Book Day offering, on a forgotten shelf here in our office, so we sent 'em down to our shipping facility and while supplies last we'll be including one FREE copy with almost every order we receive (except, ironically, for single Complete Peanuts orders, since we have custom shipping boxes for those that the comic won't fit in). Sellers on eBay are currently offering copies for anywhere from $5.99 to $24.20, so nuts to them!
If you missed it the first time around, it's a quality 32-page package with dozens of strips from the 1950s-1960s that were never reprinted until we started up our Complete Peanuts series lo those several years ago, with illuminating and amusing commentary by our own Kim Thompson. Scoresville!
Due to our hectic release schedule and the geographic vagaries of distribution, our comic shop arrivals are a bit of a jumble lately. Our first two titles here may have been available at some shops last week — see last week's post for additional blurbs — and are on the official shipping list for this week; the titles listed thereafter are not on the list yet but may ship to some shops this week. We apologize for any confusion and as always entreat you to contact your local shop to confirm availability. (Ordering in advance is always a good idea, too.) Previews and more info about each book, as always, at the links below:
64-page black & white 9" x 11.75" hardcover • $16.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-435-1
"One of the most interesting looking releases of the week, this is Fantagraphics’ representation of Adele Blanc-Sec creator Jacques Tardi’s 1972 Jules Verne-esque, Edwardian era 'icepunk' adventure." – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
"Another gorgeous book, this time from Fantagraphics' continued and sustained exploration into Jacques Tardi's album-making career." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
"I found myself enjoying Tardi’s Adventures of Adele Blanc Sec earlier this year, and Chris [Mautner]’s review has tipped me in favor of picking up this latest translation of his work." – Graeme McMillan, Robot 6
"This blog is steadily turning into one comic shop employee quietly humping the leg of Seattle-based publisher Fantagraphics but they are excelling themselves lately, and their line of Jacques Tardi translations is one of their greatest efforts to date. Le Démon Des Glaces or The Arctic Marauder is a 1972 satirical, Jules Verne-esque steampunk tale about a ship in the Arctic Ocean discovering an abandoned vessel. [...] Expect mad scientists, monsters from the deep, futuristic machinery in an 1899 futuristic way, and the most purple of purple prose." – Gosh! Comics
"This is a gorgeous, simply breath-taking example of Tardi's early work. This retro-sci-fi tale involves the mystery of a ship stuck on top of an iceberg. How'd it get there? The answer involves monsters of the deep, mysterious futuristic machines and mad scientists." – Benn Ray (Atomic Books), Largehearted Boy
136-page black & white 6" x 8.25" softcover • $12.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-436-8
"Joe Daly's wildly odd series of archly-told adventure comics continues. What a great initial run of books we've seen from South Africa's Daly, and this one may feature his most potent cartooning yet." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
"Dungeon Quest Volume 2 by Joe Daly is out, giving you another installment of nerdy stories inspired by role-playing games..." – Gosh! Comics
200-page two-color 6.25" x 8" hardcover • $22.99 ISBN: 978-1-56097-892-3
"I’m not much of a sports fan, but there was a lot more to Clemente than baseball, and Wilfred Santiago’s biography has a real richness to it, bringing in Clemente’s background and upbringing and wrapping it all together in deceptively simple, almost primitive looking art." – Brigid Alverson, Robot 6
344-page black & white 8.5" x 7" hardcover • $28.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-438-2
"How dark could Peanuts get during the Peanut President's administration? 'Very, very dark,' Al Roker writes the introduction to this volume. Have I mentioned how much I love the indexes to the Fantagraphics editions? It's useful to know that a Zamboni appears twice in this volume." – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
192-page black & white 6.25" x 10" hardcover • $28.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-417-7
"CONFLICT OF INTEREST RESERVOIR: If you didn’t locate Jacques Tardi’s The Arctic Marauder or Joe Daly’s Dungeon Quest Vol. 2 last week, they’re both probably still worth looking at. Supposedly some stores are getting Wilfred Santiago’s Roberto Clemente book (21: The Story of Roberto Clemente) too, along with a best-of Thomas Ott collection (R.I.P.: Best of 1985-2004) and the ’79-’80 Peanuts book. Build a wall." – Joe McCulloch, The Comics Journal
Charles Schulz enters his fourth decade as the greatest cartoonist of his generation, and Peanuts remains as fresh and lively as it ever was.
(How do we know it’s 1980? Well, for one thing Peppermint Patty gets herself those Bo-Derek-in-“10” cornrows — Peanuts’ timelessness occasionally shows a crack!)
That said, The Complete Peanuts 1979-1980 includes a number of classic storylines, including the month-long sequence in which an ill Charlie Brown is hospitalized (including a particularly spooky moment when he wonders if he’s died and nobody’s told him yet), and an especially eventful trek with Snoopy, Woodstock, and the scout troop (now including a little girl bird, Harriet). And Snoopy is still trying on identities left and right, including the “world-famous surveyor,” the “world-famous census taker,” and Blackjack Snoopy, the riverboat gambler.
In other extended stories, Snoopy launches an ill-fated airline (with Lucy as the agent, Linus as the luggage handler, and Marcie as what it was still OK then to call the stewardess)… Peppermint Patty responds to being leaked upon by a ceiling by hiring a lawyer (unfortunately, she again picks Snoopy)… plus one of the great, forgotten romances of Peanuts that will startle even long-time Peanuts connoisseurs: Peppermint Patty and…“Pig-Pen”?!
• Review: "[The Complete Peanuts 1979-1980] is... a genius volume... Some of the pieces here – especially the longer storylines – are absolute classics. [...] Plus, there’s just the sheer kookiness of some of Schulz’s pop-cultural references and inventions, which continues to astound here... Schulz is at the height of his powers as a cartoonist here, as well. [...] Such graphic flair! Such economy of line! A Peanuts nut couldn’t ask for more, really." – Naomi Fry, The Comics Journal
• Review: "Littered with violence, inappropriate sexual innuendos, misguided bravado and infused with hilarity, Dungeon Quest (of which two 136 page volumes are available) promises a uniquely entertaining graphic novel experience." – Rick Klaw, The SF Site: Nexus Graphica
• Profile: Anthony Mostrom of the Los Angeles Times gives a brief history of E.C. Segar and the creation of Popeye: "Segar had no idea just how fat his checks would become after the invention of Popeye. Indeed, he flirted with the idea of dropping the character after the 'Dice Island' story ended. Who would have guessed that a character so grotesque of face would be so instantly loved, his fame so long-lived that he would become part of a Google logo 80 years later?" (Via Newsarama)
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