A set of photos from the 1974 San Diego Comic-Con at the Comic-Convention Memories blog has been making the rounds. Of particluar interest at the end of this batch: photos of Charles M. Schulz on stage talking and sketching, joined by Peanuts animation director Bill Melendez. Oh, to have been in that audience!
• Review: "This graphic memoir chronicles the author’s struggle with the aging of her father and stepmother. The subject matter isn’t pretty. Still, [Special Exits] is intriguing, well-written and thought-provoking." – Nick Smith, ICv2
• Review: "You have to be a real expert in Jason-character physiognomy to even be able to tell that the lonely expat main character in Werewolves of Montpellier is sometimes wearing a werewolf mask. After all, the guy's an anthropomorphized dog at the best of times. In the end, that ends up being the gag. You're not some uniquely unlovable monster, you're just a guy with problems, like anyone else..." – Sean T. Collins, Attentiondeficitdisorderly
• Review: "I have always had a soft spot in my heart for the Peanuts comic strip. I grew up on the old paperback collections and it was always a great day when my mom bought me a new one. Now, thanks to Fantagraphics, the entire run of Peanuts is available to fans in their beautiful, year-by-year collections of Charles Schulz’ masterful and hilarious comic strip. This collection puts us into the years of 1975 - 1976 and includes all of the daily and Sunday strips for the period. ... Thank you Fantagraphics! Grade A" – Tim Janson, Mania
• Review: "The most recent issue is probably the strongest [Hate] Annual to date, 36 pages of concentrated hilarity, including the longest Buddy Bradley story in quite some time. Just as impressive are his one-page strips about scientists from DiscoverMagazine..." – Rob Clough, The Comics Journal
• Analysis: "For the first time, this hapless figure, this half-man, half-animal is a picture of heroism and nobility, his metamorphosis achieved not through cosmic dances or tops but by cruelties inflicted on him by that creature of many masks and tricks, Whim. Earlier in Weathercraft , an infernal creature plucked from the pig-man’s gullet sanctions enlightenment. He who once resembled the demons surrounding the decapitated Ravana becomes whole and fully clothed, now cognizant of his true nature." – Ng Suat Tong, The Hooded Utilitarian
• Interview: From last Friday, Chris Mautner's revealing conversation with Tim Hensley at Robot 6: "Sometimes it's infuriating to read about a bunch of attractive saccharine pupils in the suburbs. Maybe [Archie] could add a brain damaged character. Maybe Moose, but more likely he never learned to read — have they already done that? Somewhere off-panel there's a convalescent hospital with all the rejects in it. But I wasn't attempting a Dark Knight makeover where everyone has stubble and never prevaricates."
• Review: "In plot terms, Werewolves of Montpellier is about an art student/thief who dresses up as a werewolf before he goes out to break into people’s homes at night, which a society of actual werewolves is not amused about. What that boils down to on the page, though, are scenes of people sitting next to each other at the laundromat, looking at each other in silence or talking about French actresses while playing chess — and each time, it’s utterly fascinating, and the scene draws you in almost immediately and you don’t want to stop. Jason tells stories with comics in ways that never occur to a lot of people who make comics." – Marc-Oliver Frisch, The Beat
• Roundtable: The critics at TIME.com's Techland (Douglas Wolk, Evan Narcisse, Mike Williams and Graeme McMillan) discuss Werewolves of Montpellier: "I pretty much have a love/love relationship with Jason's books. ... It's true that you have to pay attention to catch the details: the fact that Jason draws everyone with animal heads makes it a little bit harder to read some of the characters' interactions. But maybe Jason's central joke is that you have to take extreme measures to create certain kinds of drama when a lot of the time people aren't feeling anything in particular." – Wolk
• Review: "The 13th volume in Fantagraphics' republishing of the complete Peanuts, The Complete Peanuts 1975-1976, could also be subtitled 'The Peanuts of the Absurd.' In the past Schulz had toyed with some absurdist plotlines, e.g. the talking school building. However, between 1975-1976, Schulz took those ideas to a whole new level. ... It's a must for any Peanuts fan or anyone who is a serious fan of comic strips." – Tom Varner, The Real TV Land
• Interview: At Comic Book Resources, Alex Dueben talks to Jules Feiffer: "The point wasn't to make a living, the point was to express myself. I figured, as I say in the book, that given a shot at expressing myself, everything else would fall into place. It turns out I was right about that."
• Review: "Yes, [It Was the War of the Trenches] is an unpleasant book (even extending to the art, which does its job as well as everything else in making the war look ugly, muddy, dirty, and bloody; defining each character well but making sure to show the awfulness of their circumstances), but one that everyone should read, not only for a sense of history, but to see the horror of death and the suffering of those forced to partake in it." – Matthew J. Brady, Warren Peace Sings the Blues
• Review: "In terms of its writing and its art, [It Was the War of the] Trenches is a masterful work. The stories are elegantly and convincingly told. The images show, at once, deep horror and real beauty — though the one is often so visceral that the other becomes abstract. But the book’s true victory is a moral one. For it shows us, clearly and terribly, the thorough destruction of values inherent in modern war." – Kristian Williams, The Comics Journal
• Review: "At the end of its second decade, Peanuts was still one of the best things on the comics page, and as likely to be concerned with loss, pain, and depression as it ever was. As others have said many times before, it really is astonishing how one of the best and most popular works in a very popular medium was almost entirely about loss and failure." – Andrew Wheeler, The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.
• Interview: At Comic Book Resources, Alex Dueben talks to Megan Kelso about her new graphic novel Artichoke Tales: "That was just on my mind. That it's a whole subset of comics and storytelling, making up your own world and playing inside of it. I just thought this would be a really fun world to do a whole involved family saga. I planned out the skeleton of the story pretty much right from the beginning. At first, I thought it was going to be a three chapter thing, and then it got more complicated, but always I had this idea of this family and these generations."
• Interview:Newsarama's J. Caleb Mozzocco talks to Tim Hensley about his new graphic novel Wally Gropius: "Well, it's not like those trapped in derivative mortgages are turning to Carl Barks and Harvey artist Ernie Colon for succor. When I started the story in 2005, I was reacting more to Bush's war money siphon, not predicting the bank collapse/executive bonus siphon we have now. And actually none of the few rich people I know are anything like Wally; they have much different problems as far as I can tell." (At his own blog, Mozzocco adds "if you're wondering, 'Hey Caleb, is this book any good? Should I read it?' Then I would answer, 'Yes, yes that book is very good, and you should totally read it.'")
• Preview: "It's cool to see that those behind the Significant Objects projects are still trying to do more with the concept. The auctions apparently are still going on, but now they're trying something different as well. They're taking those stories and compiling them into a book (scarce). In fact, the story behind the book (infinite) makes the physical book more valuable as well. To make it even more 'valuable,' they've brought on some top artists to illustrate the stories — so even if you read them for free online, there's now more value in buying the physical book to have the physical artwork as well." – Mike Masnick, Techdirt
• Review: "Many books have been written about World War I, but few can truly worm their way into your head like Jacques Tardi’s It Was the War of the Trenches. … The tales here are devastating and heartbreaking, and often disturbing, but readers will nonetheless have a hard time putting it down." – Holly Scudero, Sacramento Book Review
• Review: "Perhaps there is something in Charlie Brown, that the longer I read his adventures, the more I become a fatalist. I look at the history of Europe and I know that there are frequent periods of relative peace, such as the past 60 years in Poland. And since they are rare, sooner or later they can suddenly end." – Konrad Hildebrand, Motyw Drogi (translated from Polish)
• Review: "This, then, was my introduction to the idiosyncratic and fantastically imagined worlds of Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez. ... While the stories and art of each Hernandez brother is unique, they shine extra bright by being juxtaposed, one to the other. Altogether: these rambling, lingering tales are bewitching." – Anna Clark, Isak
• Review: "...[In A Mess of Everything, Miss] Lasko-Gross covers the usual Holden Caulfield territory with brevity and an eye for detail. Her cartooning is very expressive and the book is coloured in subdued wash-like tones of brown, grey and blue that enhance the emotional impact of her cringe-worthy struggles for independence and individuality." – Bryan Munn, Sequential
• Plug: "[Roberta] Gregory is the cartoonist responsible for the comic series Naughty Bits, which is one of the best comic series I've ever read. Seriously, Life's a Bitch is one of my favorite comics ever. It's basically a biography of one normal — albeit kinda hateful — woman, and it's insightful, funny, and true." – Paul Constant, The Stranger (previewing an event on Saturday that, alas, we didn't know about in advance)
• Reviewer:Laura Warholic author Alexander Theroux looks at a new biography of Jack London for The Wall Street Journal: "Readers can be pardoned for thinking it seems not improbable that London, given the chance, would punch Mr. Haley in the nose."
Residents of California will soon be able to have a beagle doing a happy dance on their bumpers. The State of California, United Media, the Charles M. Schulz Museum and the California Association of Museums have teamed up to create this Snoopy license plate, with proceeds going toward supporting California museums. You can get more info, and California drivers can pre-register, at snoopyplate.com.
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