|A letter from Sparky, 1977|
|Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Peanuts, Charles M Schulz||1 Nov 2010 2:40 PM|
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Category >> Charles M Schulz
Today's Online Commentary & Diversions:
• 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
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."
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!
Today's Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: "...A Drunken Dream and Other Stories... is a deeply impressive — and immersive — piece of work that's full of complex emotional truths. And deep weirdness. [...] I dug this, and I think many, many people not conversant with manga will, too. Stylistically, it's a curious mix: Her linework gives each page a sense of openness, conjuring a world of light breezes, flowers and sunshine, even as her characters struggle with inner darkness. This darkness can take many forms: doomed eternal love, grief, guilt or — in the collection's most satisfyingly creepy/affecting tale — a parasitic conjoined twin. It’s not overwrought or melodramatic – Hagio's got too good an eye for locating the emotional center of her work for that. But it is sincere, and often abashedly poignant." – Glen Weldon, NPR.org
• Review: "We’re up to the 14th volume of this classy Peanuts reprint series from Fantagraphics. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned in a while how much I like the book design by Seth. His color choices are particularly good this time. [...] In all, great fun and good reading. Highly recommended!" – Todd Klein (via The Comics Reporter)
• Plugs: "It’s a relatively smallish week but Fantagraphics have beefed it up with two brilliant looking books. Lucky in Love: A Poor Man’s History is the first of a two-part story written by George Chieffet about Lucky Testatuda, a rascally teen from New Jersey’s Little Italy and his experiences before, during, and after the war. But it’s not your usual take on the old familiar when-I-went-to-war tale... The other offering from Fantagraphics is From Shadow to Light: The Life & Art of Mort Meskin, a coffee table art book, biography and critique of a highly influential Golden Age artist... This book not only looks at his entire comics career which spanned for about 30 years from the 40’s but also goes on to include stuff from 1965 and onwards, when he went on to become some sort of Don Draper character (one cheerily imagines) in an advertising firm in 1965." – The Gosh! Comics Blog
• Plugs: "A beautiful retrospective on the 30 year career and work of an under-appreciated comics legend. From Shadow to Light makes an excellent argument that [Mort] Meskin has a home in the comics pantheon next to the likes of Jack Kirby and Alex Toth. [...] Both visually stunning and gripping narrative-wise, Lucky [in Love] is like an epic feature length classic cartoon with a modern sensibility — in book format." – Benn Ray (Atomic Books), Largehearted Boy
• Profile: At The Metabunker, Matthias Wivel profiles Nikoline Werdelin, creator of the Eisner-nominated story "Because I Love You So Much" from From Wonderland with Love, on the occasion of her 50th birthday: "And she is indeed merciless. A borderline if not full-blown cynic, her coldness is tempered by an exacting sense of humor that betrays her involvement. Plus it brings a rare clarity to her vision — she is a diagnostician rather than a nihilist. [...] A cartoonist for our age."
Today's Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: "This is too much of an event to ignore: Fantagraphics, Seattle’s eclectic and prolific comics publisher,... is publishing its first volume of manga — comics that may be Japan’s most popular and influential art form. [...] A Drunken Dream and Other Stories is a four-decade anthology of graphic short stories by Moto Hagio, the 'founding mother' and premiere creator of shojo manga... Does Hagio’s work justify the hype? Her visual storytelling and graphic invention, by turns fluid, crisp, and stately, certainly do. ...Moto’s other later [stories] do indeed raise manga to literature." – Eric Scigliano, Seattle Met
• Review: "...[F]ew comics fans should have difficulty getting into A Drunken Dream and Other Stories... The stories in A Drunken Dream range from weird, powerful allegories... to dreamy tales of love and loss... But the best pieces here focus on memories of childhood, of playmates treated cruelly or parents and children misunderstanding each other. [...] Few stories in the entire history of the medium have been more overwhelming than 'Hanshin: Half-God,' a tale of conjoined twins — one haggard, one gorgeous — and their spiteful, symbiotic relationship. It’s a potent metaphor rendered with the intensity of an EC comic. [Grade] A-" – The A.V. Club
• Review: "Blake Bell’s Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko set the recent standard for how to put together a coffee-table book about a legendary comics artist, and Bell takes on another innovator of the medium with Fire & Water: Bill Everett, the Sub-Mariner, and the Birth of Marvel Comics... Because Everett didn’t have as long or as consistent a career as Ditko, Bell doesn’t subject Everett’s work to the keen analysis he brought to Strange and Stranger. But he makes up for the diminished insight with page after page of Everett’s vivid, varied work, showing how it all emanated from a man who was a lot like his most famous creation: a destructive antihero, always a little angry at the puny humans around him. [Grade] B" – The A.V. Club
• Review: "...The Complete Peanuts, Vol. 14: 1977 - 1978... shows just how much Schulz was all over the map during that time. [...] This is still a worthwhile volume of Complete Peanuts, though; it has a charming introduction by Alec Baldwin, the usual top-quality production of the whole Fantagraphics reprint library, and some fun story arcs..." – The A.V. Club
• Review: "Only a brain incubated in the warm, nourishing goo of Looney Tunes and vintage Disney cartoons could have produced Sammy the Mouse. [...] As always, Sally’s use of silent panels and dynamic perspectives guide readers’ eyes toward nightmarish horizons and grotesque situations... A grimy, metaphysical malaise drips from every line of Sally’s lush yet unwholesome artwork, especially when he’s plundering the iconography of innocence and youth in the service of disorienting discomfort. [Grade] A-" – The A.V. Club
• Review: At What Things Do, Jordan Crane writes "In the new issue of Love and Rockets (New Stories, no.3), Jaime has a story called Browntown. It just might be the best thing he’s ever done. In fact, I’d go so far as to say, it just might be the best comic I’ve ever read. Its construction is durable yet intricate, a bunch of simple parts working together flawlessly. It’s put together like a watch."
• Review: Guttersnipe's Shawn Conner on the "Counterculture Comix" exhibit at Bumbershoot last weekend, with photos by Robyn Hanson: "Curated by Larry Reid of Fantagraphics Books, it was an eye-popping display, even if you were familiar, as I was, with most of the work..."
• Commentary: At Amazon's books blog Omnivoracious, Alex Carr discovers John Stanley via The Best American Comics Criticism and remarks that the book "is a worthwhile resource: a go-to supply of top-notch comics writing..."
Today's Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Reviews: "Both of these books — Blake Bell's Fire and Water: Bill Everett, The Sub-Mariner, and the Birth of Marvel Comics and Steven Brower's From Shadow to Light: The Life and Art of Mort Meskin — do fine jobs of chronicling the artists' lives and careers. [...] The Everett book... is beautifully designed by Adam Grano and as much an art book as biography. Filled with great examples of Everett art — some of which is from the Everett family's own archives — this book opens up a whole new arena for appreciation of this almost lost seminal artist. The Mort Meskin book is fascinating, too. Brower and the Meskin sons do a great job in capturing what the artist was really like, both in his career and his home life. [...] Again, it's an impressive package (something I think Fantagraphics has become famous for) and a welcome addition to any comics fan's library." – Gary Sassaman, Innocent Bystander
• Review: "Four Color Fear: Forgotten Horror Comics of the 1950s is... a cool collection of stories that definitely would have given me nightmares if I read them as a kid. ...Fantagraphics... puts together a wonderful package once again. Some of these stories are almost unreadable, but all of them are enjoyable and strange and wonderful in their own way." – Gary Sassaman, Innocent Bystander
• Review: "The Best American Comics Criticism, edited by Ben Schwartz, is a fascinating collection of assertion, appraisals, debate, reconsiderations, and recollections about comics. This thick, superbly-selected anthology features extremely well informed, exceptional voices... With a fantastically rendered cover by Drew Friedman (spot the critic!), this is a huge assortment of fantastic writing about a field that has had many parallels with and tendrils in rock and pop. If you’re yearning to own a non-music comics book of criticism that isn’t something from the academe yet still creates an alternate world of popular culture magic to teach how to rail and rave and expose and detail, The Best American Comics Criticism is the book to buy." – Chris Estey, The KEXP Blog
• Review: "Fantagraphics always produces beautiful books, but this is one of my favorites they have ever published. [...] A few weeks ago, I carefully slid You’ll Never Know off the shelf. I was ready for it. It was time. It was a deeply emotional read. [...] The art and lettering is stellar in You’ll Never Know, filled with little details that make every page - especially full page panels. [...] You’ll Never Know is excellent example of autobiographical/biographical non-fiction sequential art, and has made my short list of favorite graphic non-fiction..." – Syndicate Product Covert HQ
• Plug: "Norman Pettingill is an underground cartoonist's underground cartoonist. His obsessive linework, his out-of-control hillbilly wonderland — and even his medium — wood, all make for a fascinating experience. And yes, the cover of this book is plywood." – Benn Ray (Atomic Books), Largehearted Boy
• Feature: Seattle Weekly's Brian Miller previews the "Counterculture Comix" exhibit at Bumbershoot and talks to curator Larry Reid
• Coming Attractions: "For me, and I admit I have specialized taste, the best news coming out San Diego was the announcement that Fantagraphics is going to reprinting Floyd Gottfredson’s Mickey Mouse comic strips, which really was during the 1930s one of the great adventure strips. This will be hard for anyone who hasn’t read Gottfredson’s work to believe, but his Mickey Mouse was as rousing as Roy Crane’s Captain Easy and as rich in invention as Barks’ longer Duck stories." – Jeet Heer, Comics Comics
• Commentary: Mike Sterling remarks on pop culture references in the current volume of The Complete Peanuts: "Maybe it’s that Peanuts was just so much of its own little world that the occasional intrusion from outside really stands out."
Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: "It's hard not to get swept away your first time reading this book through. The gentle tug of the stories' allure that keeps you reading is hard to ignore so it's recommended you give in. Read it all the way through at your own pace. Once you're done, wait a few days or a couple weeks even, and then read it again. A Drunken Dream and Other Stories is a collection of subtleties as much as it is one of short stories. While the plots themselves are straight-forward enough (taking to mind how strange some can be), the emotional tone of each individual experience is where these stories truly pack a memorable punch. [...] Inside and out, Moto Hagio's A Drunken Dream and Other Stories is a mature collection of stories that aims to provoke thought and feeling and succeeds endearingly at just that. A piece of manga history that only becomes more engaging with each subsequent read, A Drunken Dream presents a great opportunity to experience the charms, both subtle and poignant, of Moto Hagio's craft." – Lissa Pattillo, Anime News Network
• Review: "While reading A Drunken Dream and Other Stories, it felt like I was not so much reading the stories as getting submerged in pure book, and rather than try to explain why that is, I just feel the need to force everyone I know to buy it while making vaguely incoherent happy cries. [...] It is a dazzling treat, and will mesmerize you. [...] If this doesn't win some awards it will be a travesty. Wholeheartedly recommended." – Sean Gaffney, A Case Suitable for Treatment
• Review: "...[T]his superb retrospective compilation and biography [The Artist Himself: A Rand Holmes Retrospective] featur[es] scads of sketches, reproductions of drawings, cartoons and the paintings he created in his later life..., preserved with a copious collection of his wickedly wonderful underground and alternative comic strips for fans and soon to be devotees. [...] Rand Holmes was a true artist in every sense of the world and mostly produced work intended to change society, not fill his pockets. This book is a wonderful tribute and one any grown-up art lover will marvel at and cherish." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Review: "As usual with Jason, these stories [in Low Moon ] are blackly funny, with characters whose core motivations are often unknown. [...] He's been a creator of great stories for many years, but there has always been something glancing and surface-y about his works before. Jason has always been deadpan, but he's showing, some of the time, unexpected depths in that pan." – Andrew Wheeler, The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.
• Review: "There are books that can be easily reviewed — they have straightforward plots that either make sense or don't, characters whose motives are explicable and definable, and settings that relate to places in the real world. And then there are the works of Jim Woodring, where nothing is explained, nothing is stable, and nothing is like anyone else's work. And it's absolutely goddamn genius. [...] There is no one like Jim Woodring, and comics are immeasurably strengthened by the fact that he's chosen this art-form to work in. [...] If you have any feeling in your soul, Weathercraft will confuse and mesmerize you." – Andrew Wheeler, The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.
• Plug: "At the age of seven (right on schedule!) Dylan has discovered Charles Schulz, and has polished off my entire collection of The Complete Peanuts hardcovers, from 1950 to 1976. As a result, by my math, he has read nearly 9,500 daily and Sunday strips. Most published before I was born, let alone before he was born." – Ken Jennings
• Plug (no pun intened): "Michael Kupperman is a funny guy, and pretty weird. His Tales Designed to Thrizzle carries on the madness... This one, however, rises to new heights with its appreciation of DRAINAGE!" – Lichanos, Journey to Perplexity
• Plug: "Drew Weing has finished his nautical adventure Set to Sea, bringing the story neatly back around in a circle. Told in a series of beautifully drawn single panels, Weing’s comic is the story of a sea-loving poet who gets shanghaied and learns the real thing is rougher and yet more beautiful than he had imagined. Fantagraphics has published a lovely print volume, and Weing is selling the original panels as well." – Brigid Alverson, Robot 6
• Interview: Our Italophone readers (or readers with the patience to work through a slightly jumbled autotranslation) will want to check out Comicsblog.it's interview with Set to Sea creator Drew Weing
• Coming Attractions: "It seems like it’s been forever since the gorgeous hardcover collection of the first set of Linda Medley's Castle Waiting stories. Fantagraphics will release 384 more pages of charming comics about the family-of-choice residents of a falling-down castle along the way." – David Welsh, The Manga Curmudgeon