• Dan Clowes fans & Strand Bookstore tote bag collectors alike are sure to be thrilled with the Strand's latest tote release; those in the overlap area of the Venn diagram may explode from excitement. It's pretty damn cute! Peggy's got a close-up of the art.
• 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."
• Review: "Newave! The Underground Mini Comix Of The 1980s is a small but substantial celebration of the movement, an era during which creators let their ids run riot on the page without worrying about sales, censors, editors, or an audience. Many newave mini-comics had print runs as low as a dozen or so, while others became relative bestsellers; in Newave!, one of the form’s pioneers, Michael Dowers, has edited a gorgeous, utterly essential document of these artifacts, a thick-as-a-fist tome full of stark, crude, obscene, nihilistic, and at times genius comics. Everything from grotesque pornography and freeform surrealism to pop-culture parody and post-hippie rage dwell within, and each turn of the page is a delightful new assault on the visual cortex—not to mention propriety. ... Interspersed with brief interviews with the artists, the compact Newave! is not only an ideal package for such an anthology, it’s done an immeasurable service to the comics medium as a whole. Beyond that, it also just might realign your synapses… [Grade] A" – The A.V. Club
• Profile: The latest "Comics College" feature at Robot 6 focuses on Chris Ware: "Simply put, he's the most influential contemporary cartoonist to come out of the indie scene of the '80s and '90s, perhaps even the most influential cartoonist alive today. Love him or hate him, there's no denying Ware changed the way people think about comics, both on the shallow 'wait, you mean these funnybooks are real literature' level and on the 'wow, he's completely made me rethink what comics are capable of' level."
• Interview:Ho Che Anderson talks about past and future projects in the second part of Alex Dueben's Q&A with him at The Comics Journal: "Right now I’m doing an omnibus book that will collect a bunch of my stuff from hither and yon over the years, and I’m taking the opportunity to complete Miles From Home, a sequel to I Want To Be Your Dog that I started literally 20 years ago, published some of in Pop Life in the ’90s, but never got a chance to finish. But once that page is done and the rest of the book is assembled, I’m focusing on this other thing to the exclusion of all else."
We will, as is customary, be bringing you better-quality and greater-in-quantity photo and video previews in the near future. Our Twitter and Facebook followers are first to get these glimpses, so the impatient among you are encouraged to add us to your feeds there.
A nice short Online Commentary & Diversions update:
• List:Comicdom continues their Top 100 of the 00s with Chris Ware's Acme Novelty Library at #3: "Whatever the format, or content of the story, each issue of Acme Novelty Library is a special 'objet d'art,' which is part of the vision of an author who redefined what can be considered 'comics' and provided us new ways of storytelling." (from Google translation)
• Review: "The list of excellent graphic novels released in 2009 seems to grow with every other book read, and [You'll Never Know, Book 1: A Good and Decent Man]... stands out even in its crowded field. Carol Tyler really makes a name for herself with this 'graphic memoir,' as the cover calls it, demonstrating an incredible grasp of storytelling structure and a layering of personal and historical incident into a complex, cohesive whole that illuminates her own life along with her subject's. It's an impressive achievement, and as the first volume of a projected trilogy, it's indicative of the quality to come." – Matthew J. Brady