#87:Prison Pit Book 2 by Johnny Ryan: "Absurd, crude, lewd, funny, entertaining, twelve kinds of wrong, one of the most effed-up books I've ever read. It's burned into my brain and I can't get it out. And I love it." – Chad Nevett
#99:A Drunken Dream and Other Stories by Moto Hagio: "I'd never heard of Moto Hagio until Fantagraphics published this best-of collection of her stories, and it's easy to see why Hagio is one of the queens of shojo manga in Japan. The short story 'Iguana Girl' (about a girl who grows up with her mother treating her like she is an iguana) is strong enough to make you feel like you've gotten your money's worth, but the remaining nine stories are also all excellent to boot." – Greg McElhatton
• List: Dave Ferraro of Comics-and-More ranks Moto Hagio's A Drunken Dream and Other Stories at #6 on his 10 Best Manga of 2010: "Moto Hagio's artwork is stunning. Her storytelling is fluid, her characters expressive, and her drawings in general are beautifully arranged and look effortless. Each and every one of the ten stories in this 'best of' collection of short stories... are enchanting, full of warmth and wonderful characters, and brimming with emotion. [...] A very necessary project, done right."
• Review: "Uptight #4 is an example of that increasingly-rare animal: a satisfying alt-comic book. [...] It speaks to Crane’s versatility that he can pull off a slice-of-life relationship story and a fable in the same comic book." – Rob Clough, The Comics Journal
• Review: "...[J]ust about the sweetest graphic novel imaginable... it's a lovely, positive collection, with fine drawing and characters that are well worth spending some time with. ...[T]his is a story about people and how they live together and support each other. That kind of story is so vanishingly rare in comics that it should be treasured when we do find it — particularly when it's as lovely and engaging as Castle Waiting." – Andrew Wheeler, The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.
• Review: "Deitch's mad brew of semi-psychedelic farce and skewed reality takes the actual (and factual) short-lived tenure of an obscure 1950s-era kiddie-show host as source material and extrapolates a fantastical set of circumstances with humans, demons, not-so-funny animals and other characters — including Deitch himself. Reading this book [The Search for Smilin' Ed] is a wild ride; Deitch's prodigious storytelling talents and graphic craftsmanship keep things moving — and compelling." – Richard Pachter, The Miami Herald
• Plugs: At Comics Comics, Jeet Heer singles out The Artist Himself: A Rand Holmes Retrospective and The Search for Smilin' Ed by Kim Deitch as two recent books deserving of more attention from critics and readers, calling the latter book "a delight not just because it gives us one of Deitch’s most deranged meandering tall tales but also because the whole handsome package was designed to highlight the cohesiveness of Deitch’s world-making project, the way his fictional universe and its large cast make up a single unfolding story."
• Opinion: At TIME.com – Techland, Douglas Wolk's "What I'm Grateful For in Comics, 2010" includes "Lots of long-gone creators have been returning to the new-comics trenches, and many of them are as limber and powerful as ever. [...] I... wouldn't have imagined that Joyce Farmer would be doing the best work of her career in 2010, but Special Exits knocked me flat," and "The fact that Jason puts out a book every nine months or so and has a substantical, enthusiastic readership makes me proud of the entire economic structure that makes that possible."
• Coming Attractions: More Douglas Wolk at TIME.com – Techland, this time listing "What We're Looking Forward To in 2011," including Love from the Shadows by Gilbert Hernandez ("the most twisted, perverse book he's ever created, which is saying something. It's lurid, hypersexual, violent, incredibly disturbing, and totally fun") and The Armed Garden and Other Stories by David B. ("gorgeous work, and unlike anything else in contemporary comics")
• 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)
• Profile: "Joyce Farmer is a surprise. The gentle, white-haired 71-year-old, whom you’d half expect to greet you at the door with a pan of steaming muffins, recently has emerged as one of the most provocative voices in the comics and graphic-literature landscape. Her debut book, the 208-page illustrated memoir Special Exits, chronicling the slow, freaky decline and ultimate death of her elderly parents, comes out next week from Fantagraphicscarrying the enthusiastic endorsement of no less than R. Crumb. 'It’s a completely unique work,' he says. 'Nobody else will ever do anything like that again.' [...] The book... is an almost uncomfortably honest memoir that’s dense with details. It’s also layered with meaning and sub-themes. [...] Like many memoirists, Farmer wrestled with guilt over airing her family’s stories; she even changed all the names in the book, including her own. 'I felt like I was really invading their privacy.' But she’s since come to terms with it. 'I just worked through it. I know what I did, and I take responsibility for it.'" – Deborah Vankin, The Los Angeles Times
• Review: "Destroy All Movies!!!is that very rare thing in publishing, a book you didn’t know you needed until someone wrote it. I certainly didn’t, and now I’m finding it indispensable. It’s an absolute must-have for cult-movie fans, movie trivia buffs, aspiring filmmakers and everyone who feels that punk never got its fair due for revolutionizing music and shaking up the status quo." – John G. Nettles, Flagpole
• Plug: "Destroy All Movies is a book on cult cinema... that is kind of the end all be all of ridiculous B-movies involving punks in any way, shape or form. It's at once a collection of titles, a love letter and a historical document. [...] It's a hell of an off beat and quite brilliant gift for the movie nerd or punk in your family!" – Quint, Ain't It Cool News
• Review: "...[Fire & Water,] Blake Bell's biography of Bill Everett (among other things the father of the Sub-Mariner but also the co-creator of Daredevil) helps to rectify an injustice by shining a spotlight on a cartoonist those importance and personality have never been properly recognized. A book which, without going into excessive detail, begins to clear the ground and, in particular, focuses heavily on the human element..." – Xavier Fournier, Comic Box (this is an improved translation by Kim Thompson of a previously-posted link)
• Review: "So, does it all mean anything? Who knows? But [Weathercraft] is certainly a fascinating read, full of arresting images that seem like they are triggering some deep impulse in our lizard brains, and that’s a pretty significant achievement in itself. If nothing else, it’s often quite funny... If you can accept that as something entertaining and play along with its dreamlike logic, you should be able to enjoy the book at the very least, and maybe you’ll even feel like you get something out of it. I know I did, and even if it was just confusion, it was worth it." – Matthew J. Brady, Warren Peace Sings the Blues
• Review: "The absence of words is matched by the most crazy drawings that depict surreal, unbelievable moments that make us stop to look again — and again. It's all so wacky and unusual that not infrequently we find ourselves laughing, reflecting on the silliness that we keep inside us all. For large and small, Weathercraft is sure to [bring] multiple pleasures." – Gilberto Custódio Junior, Soma (translated from Portuguese)
• Review: "Peanuts wasn't in its first flowering in the mid-70s... but it was still a smart, perceptive, deeply funny and humanistic strip. [...] The Complete Peanuts: 1975-1976 is the lucky thirteenth volume in Fantagraphics' reprinting of the entirely of Schulz's great strip; it's also the halfway point between 1950 and 2000. And the more interesting question about Peanuts circa 1975 isn't 'How come it wasn't as good then as in 1952 or 1967,' but instead 'How come Peanuts was still this good after twenty-five years?'" – Andrew Wheeler, The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.
• Review: "Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez are not just two of the best and most consistent comics creators of their generation, they're so far out in front that the only question is which of the two is preeminent. [...] Year after year, they keep expanding and deepening their worlds, telling new stories as powerful as they've ever done — they're our Balzacs, our Trollopes. Besides their various sidebar projects... they're still providing a yearly dose of the mothership, in the annual Love and Rockets: New Stories trade paperback." – Andrew Wheeler, The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.
• Review: "I originally posted this review on January 18, 2008. This was before I’d read much, if any, of Gilbert’s Fritz material from Love and Rockets. I think the review holds up, which is why I’m re-running it; but with all of Beto’s post-Palomar Palomar-verse work under my belt now, if anything I find Chance in Hell, both its content and its very existence, even more disturbing." – Sean T. Collins, Attentiondeficitdisorderly
• Interview:Robot 6's Tim O'Shea talks to Nate Neal: "Even in the conceptual stage, I knew The Sanctuary didn’t need any words to get the story across. With a made up language the words would take on a symbolic stance that they otherwise wouldn’t have. That helps get across one of the important ideas of the book: how things get fucked up when a society thinks too symbolically. Or at least thinks too symbolically without being aware that that’s what they’re doing. As far as I’m concerned, that’s the world we live in now!"
• Plug: "I finally cracked What Is All This?, Stephen Dixon’s mammoth collection of previously unpublished stories — and it’s terrific stuff. The book itself is also quite pleasing. Dixon still composes his stories on a typewriter (a Hermes Standard, the same brand Douglas Adams used), and Fantagraphics’ whiz art director, Jacob Covey, has mimicked the unevenness and smudges of typewritten text on the cover and section pages. It’s great design porn." – Nicole Rudick, The Paris Review
• Plug: "Thanks to the arrival this week of Castle Waiting 2, Linda Medley's second subversive collection of fairy tales, I'm on yet another kick of traditional fairy tales retold." – Nathalie Atkinson, National Post
• Plug: "...Mark Kalesniko’s Freeway is still a book I’m really, really looking forward to. It’s the continuing adventures of Kalesniko’s semi-autobiographical character Alex. I loved that book, I reckon I’m going to love Freeway just as much." – Richard Cowdry, The Forbidden Planet International Blog Log
• List:The New York Times's George Gene Gustines recommends Moto Hagio's A Drunken Dream and Other Stories in their "Graphic Books Roundup — Holiday Gift Guide 2010": "This 10-story anthology shifts from young romance to supernatural mystery to kitchen-sink drama, so there will probably be a touchstone tale for everyone."
• List:New York Magazine presents "Dan Kois's Great New Autobio Graphic Novels," including Joyce Farmer's Special Exits at #4: "The final four years in the lives of underground cartoonist Farmer’s father and stepmother, told with honesty and humor. A book that will resonate for anyone facing the loss of a loved one."
• List: At Robot 6, Chris Mautner compiles "Six x-rated comics you can read without shame," half of which are old (mostly out of print) Eros gems: Birdland by Gilbert Hernandez, Small Favors by Colleen Coover, and Nipplez 'n' Tum Tum by Mary Fleener.
• Review: "Authors Zack Carlson and Bryan Connolly spare no one in Destroy All Movies!!! from the moment the introduction starts. Yes, there are swear words in the book. If you appreciated your time during the 1980s this cultural reference goes beyond just scenes in movies that have punks in them. [...] The short reviews of each flick give an honest and hilarious appraisal of each piece. I wish every movie review would be as succinct as these two authors because it would save a lot of reading and muck to wade through in a film review. [...] If you are a punk film buff, Destroy All Movies!!! is definitely worth the purchase." – William Browning, Yahoo! Movies/Associated Content
• Review: "Zack Carlson and Bryan Connolly got the wild notion to write a guide to every movie that ever contained a punk in it, and the result of their labors is the loveably cumbersome Destroy All Movies!!! The Complete Guide to Punks on Film. ...[I]t's a treat that it exists, and we're lucky to reap the benefits from Carlson and Connolly's obsession." – Ned Lannamann, The Portland Mercury
• Review: "Among the 1,100 titles cataloged, mocked and celebrated by [Zack] Carlson and co-editor Bryan Connolly in this future coffee-table classic [Destroy All Movies!!!] are Hack-O-Lantern,Rock and Roll Mobster Girls,Revenge of the Nerds IV and Invasion of the Mindbenders, none of which you have seen, of course, but all of which you will desperately want to experience after dipping into Connolly and Carlson’s obsessive-compulsive masterwork. If you ever wondered what it would be like if the 'Psychotronic' section of sleazebag anti-classics at Movie Madness grew a brain and then threw up on you, well, here’s your chance." – Chris Stamm, Willamette Week
• Plug: "There's no shortage of scholarship about every conceivable genre of film, from film noir to Westerns to crazy-disturbing B-movie schlock. But admit it: when was the last time you found a comprehensive study of punks on film? Well, that appallingly underrepresented genre can boast its own volume: Destroy All Movies!!!: The Complete Guide to Punks on Film, published by our Seattle friends, Fantagraphics Books." – Kristi Turnquist, The Oregonian
• Review: "Being free of logical constraint and internal consistency, Zippy’s daily and Sunday forays against The Norm can encompass everything from time travel, talking objects, shopping lists, radical philosophy, caricature, packaging ingredients, political and social ponderings and even purely visual or calligraphic episodes. It is weird and wonderful and not to everybody’s tastes… The collected musings of America’s most engaging Idiot-Savant have all the trappings of the perfect cult-strip and this latest volume [Ding Dong Daddy from Dingburg] finds cretin and creator on absolute top form. If you like this sort of stuff you’ll adore this enticing slice of it. Yow!" – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Review: "Fear of Comics is a wonderful book, one of the finest short-story collections the medium has ever produced. It’s laugh-out-loud funny at times, filthy at others, disgusting and poetic and black as midnight at still others. And it’s a showcase for comics’ premier naturalist to abandon that style altogether, to take his distinctive and exaggerated figurework to their absolute extremes, to tell stories that feel like neither the magic realism nor the science fiction for which he is best known but rather like fairy tales, or even myths of some creepy nihilistic religion." – Sean T. Collins, Attentiondeficitdisorderly
• Review: "Richard Sala... knows how to skillfully mix humor with horror and the grotesque. [Peculia] is a collection of short stories whose protagonist is a mysterious girl who lives in a world populated by monsters and strange creatures... Dreams are mixed with reality and the stories could go on forever, and even if the book has a conclusion, this does not answer the questions and doubts of the reader. Never mind, because the stories are still entertaining and illustrated with an original style that combines influences from gothic expressionist cinema and even a purely pop style and very fun." – Valerio Stive, Lo Spazio Bianco (translated from Italian)
• Plug: Our pals at Tiny Showcase are excited for Ray Fenwick's new book Mascots and hint that they're scheming something up for the launch
(not final cover)
• Coming Attractions: Bleeding Cool's Rich Johnston notes our May 2011 publication of Lou Reed and Lorenzo Mattotti's adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe's The Raven
Enjoy "Good Grief: The Story of Peanuts", a half-hour BBC Radio 4 audio documentary on Charles M. Schulz and Peanuts, hosted by Pete Paphides, who talks to Jean Schulz and members of Schulz's family as well as fans like Chris Ware, Chip Kidd and Russell T. Davies, interspersed with vintage clips of Schulz himself and audio from the Peanuts TV specials. (Via Bleeding Cool.)
• Review: "...[A] slobbery-gorge-mongous new Fantagraphics coffee table crusher and consumer-seducing guide to celluloid anarchy... Edited by VHS junkies, one-time punk record store owner and movie house curator Zack Carlson and Vulcan Video tastemaker Bryan Connolly, Destroy All Movies!!!is a $35 pink-splattered mind-bomb of enthusiastic but not uncritical assessment of high quality films loyal to the cause... and annoying to the cause... The eagle-eyed authors spent thousands of hours assimilating their assessments by staking camp at Seattle’s own utterly awesome Scarecrow Video. It shows in as much knowledge as passion for the material. [...] Have sushi and don’t pay for it, but buy this book." – Chris Estey, The KEXP Blog
• Plug: "Every few months like clockwork, I’m guaranteed that a delightfully fun read will land on my doorstep, for that is what the periodic arrival of Charles Schulz’s masterpiece has become. We’re now up to The Complete Peanuts: 1977-1978, which gives us weeks of strips about jogging and a few references to disco… Including a polyester-suited beagle. We’re now almost 30 years into Peanuts' 50-year run, and if you haven’t picked up any of these volumes yet, rectify that grievous oversight." – Ken Plume, FRED Entertainment
• Survey:Johnny Ryan is among the personages that Vice polls for their "favorite fright films"
Online Commentary & Diversions returns from a sick day:
• Review: "With elegant simplicity, this comic-book fable [Set to Sea] unfurls the tale of a life cast on an unexpected course and the melancholy wisdom accrued upon the waves. First-time graphic-novelist Weing has produced a beautiful gem here, with minimal dialogue, one jolting battle scene, and each small page owned by a single panel filled with art whose figures have a comfortable roundness dredged up from the cartoon landscapes of our childhood unconscious, even as the intensely crosshatched shadings suggest the darkness that sometimes traces the edges of our lives. [...] Weing’s debut is playful, atmospheric, dark, wistful, and wise." – Jesse Karp, Booklist (Starred Review)
• Review: "...[A]n absolutely stunning [book], collecting some of the best and most trenchantly funny illustrations by a contender for the title of America’s Greatest Living Caricaturist in a lavish, full-colour hardback. [...] Friedman is a master craftsman who can draw and paint with breathtaking power, and his work is intrinsically funny. [...] His caricatures are powerful, resonant and joyful, but without ever really descending to the level of graphic malice preferred by such luminaries as Ralph Steadman or Gerald Scarfe. Too Soon? is a book for art lovers, celebrity stalkers and anyone who enjoys a pretty, good laugh." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Review: "...A Drunken Dream showcases the full range of Hagio’s short stories, while also granting readers insight into the themes of lost innocence, family dysfunction and perseverance in the face of abuse that underscore much of her work. [...] With distinct character designs, detailed backgrounds and emotive character acting, Hagio’s artwork conveys the full emotional range of her stories, with dollops of humor mixed into sagas of sadness, survival and hard-won contentment. [...] A Drunken Dream and Other Stories finds another important voice in Japanese comics history washing up on American shores. One hopes that Hagio, whose work manages to be both stark and beautiful, finds a welcoming and receptive audience." – Michael C. Lorah, Newsarama
• Review: Sean T. Collins looks at "La Maggie La Loca" and "Gold Diggers of 1969" from Love and Rockets Vol. II #20 as part of his "Love and Rocktober" series at Attentiondeficitdisorderly: "Maggie may just be an apartment manager anymore, she may now get in way over her head (literally) when she attempts to have a fun island adventure like she used to, but the way Rena sneaks into her room at night just to watch her sleep reveals that the aging heroine could use a dose of the community and camaraderie that's part and parcel of Maggie's dayjob."
• List: Sam Costello of iFanboy names House by Josh Simmons as one of "13 Great Horror Comics for Halloween": "Josh Simmons is some kind of horror savant. There are few really, truly, deeply disturbing comics out there. If you’re willing to take the risk of reading a comic that you’ll literally want to cover your eyes while you read, Simmons’ work is for you. House, his nearly wordless tale of a trio of friends exploring a dilapidated, cavernous mansion, is less explicit, but worth a look. Its suffocating, despairing loneliness is affecting." (Via Robot 6)
• Commentary: "It was like the sky: pleasant, visually appealing, reliable. Peanuts had a Picture of Dorian Gray quality; you kept getting older and more decrepit and more cynical, but it didn't. By the time you started reading it, you were already older than the characters in the strip, so it immediately made you nostalgic for childhood. Not necessarily for your childhood, but for the childhood Lucy and Charlie and Linus were having." – Joe Queenan, The Guardian
• Interview: At Comic Book Resources, Chris Mautner talks to Johnny Ryan about Prison Pit: "I think in a strange way the book(s) are very revealing about myself. I felt as if I was really exposing myself here. I was very anxious about that."
Thanks to The Daily Cartoonist for reporting this: CBS recently re-presented the 1999 60 Minutes segment on Sparky and Peanuts in commemoration of the strip's 60th anniversary, available to view online embedded above or in higher-def here.
The very first Peanuts strip ran on October 2nd, 1950, which means that tomorrow is the 60th Anniversary of the strip! It's been our honor and privilege to continue publishing the definitive collected edition of Charles M. Schulz's immortal masterwork, The Complete Peanuts, and we're joining in the celebration by offering every volume and box set of the series (to date) for 20% OFF from now through the end of October. Treat yourself and your loved ones (I hear there's some kind of gift-giving season coming up) to these beautifully designed and universally acclaimed collections of America's most beloved comic strip. And hooray for Peanuts!