The most returned sweater of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Interview: Tom Spurgeon of the Comics Reporter interviews cartoonist Carol Tyler about her You'll Never Know series about her father, WWII and family bonds. He starts of the interview right, "You've lived with these books for a very long time. How did it feel to get some closure on this work?". Click here for the answers and more.
• Review:Comics Bulletin looks at You'll Never Know Book 3: Soldier's Heart by Carol Tyler. Jason Sacks states "You'll Never Know is a breathtaking graphic novel because Carol Tyler is honest enough to know that stories are seldom as tidy nor as dysfunctional as they seem on TV…It's a tremendously real story straight from the heart, told by a master cartoonist."
• Plug:Comic Book Resources and Brian Cronin investigate the legend around the FBI examining Pogo comic strips searching for hidden messages.
• Plug: Geekosystem has suggestions for our 20% sale like Pogo by Walt Kelly. "Are you a Calvin and Hobbes fan, dear reader?…If you are a fan, we’d point you towards one of the strip’s inspirations, Walt Kelly’s classic Pogo cartoons. By turns razor-edged political satire and old-fashioned slapstick comedy gold, these strips are being given their due."
• Review:Reality Studio looks and relooks at Observed While Falling and The Lost Art of Ah Pook Is Here by Malcolm McNeill on his collaboration with William S. Burroughs. Jan Herman writes "Observed While Falling brings a fresh analytical eye to the familiar Burroughsian fixations — synchronicity and doppelgangers, control systems, the word as virus, the number 23 — that dominate this memoir, while still offering a straightforward chronicle of the author’s relationship with le maître. Luckily for us, McNeill is an artist who can write. Really write.…the hard work, the exhilaration and, ultimately, the frustration of a project that failed to achieve its original goal — is largely treated with brilliant introspection and loving grace."
• Review:Forbidden Planet International continues their Best of 2012 lists. Douglas Noble places Chris Wright's Blacklung on the list. "Unforgettable, and Wright's beautiful, scratchy art is a treat, like EC Segar working with Yuichi Yokoyama designs."
• Review:Comics Alliance announced their Stephanie Brown Memorial awards. On Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse: House of Seven Haunts by Floyd Gottfredson, Chris Sims writes, "They're one of the few things that I get excited about to the point of giddiness, and House of the Seven Haunts! was the best volume yet…It's one wild adventure after another, and they're all done with an incredible skill that still holds up almost 80 years later."
• Review:Comics Alliance announced their Stephanie Brown Memorial awards. The Furry Trap by Josh Simmons makes the list "The faux-Batman comic, which details the Bat's horrifically misanthropic ways, might be a reason to check out the contents of this hardcover collection of Simmons stories, but the entire volume is full of troubling tales worth your attention…The unexpected happens, consistently, and that's about the only thing you can be sure of," states Tim Callahan.
• Plug:NO releases its Best Comics of 2012 list and Sean Collins breathtakingly writes about The Furry Trap, "Josh Simmons shits in your heart, again and again in ways that grow exponentially more refined and chilling as the book progresses. A perfect statement of rancid intent."
• Review:Comics Alliance announced their Stephanie Brown Memorial awards. Designer Dylan Todd writes on Barack Hussein Obama by Steven Weissman. "There's something vaguely Peanuts-esque at work here, with a cast of recognizable characters… all with their own quirks and personalities, all delivering punchlines while the specter of death and soul-crushing doubt hangs over their heads. It's funny, but like any good comedy, it's tied up in uncomfortable and relatable truths…It's surreal, nonsensical, and a little depressing -- so, huh, maybe it's an accurate portrayal of political life in the 21st century after all."
• Review: Timothy Callahan of Comic Book Resources looks back on 2012 and Steven Weissman's Barack Hussein Obama is #20 on his Best Of list. "It's just such a fragmented work of narrative, but Weissman plays with repetition and transformation in a near-musical way, and that ends up mattering most…This comic is difficult to discuss without sounding ridiculous, but I can't stop thinking about its unsettling strangeness."
• Review:Paste Magazine's guest writers Nathan Bulmer and Kevin Huizenga pick out some of our books as the Best of 2012 including Steven Weissman's Barack Hussein Obama, Jason's Athos in America, and Chris Wright's Blacklung. Bulmer looks at Weissman, "I have so many feelings about this book. This, to me, is the most gorgeous book of the year and is one that I will be returning to often."
• Plug: Geekosystem has suggestions for our 20% sale like Athos in America by Jason. "Fact: New Jason books are weird, funny, and always bring something new and unexpected to the table. Conjecture: This book probably deserves a place on your shelf…"
• Review: KC Carlson of Comics Worth Reading dives not into a vault of money but Carl Barks' books. While reading Uncle Scrooge: "Only a Poor Old Man"she can't help but write,"One way or another, all of these stories are classics (if not masterpieces) of early comic book storytelling. And not just for kids." When flipping to Donald Duck: "A Christmas for Shacktown" Carlson notes,"It’s probably one of the least sentimental Christmas stories around (and thus a favorite of many fans). It features an early example of Scrooge’s lack of charity, counterbalanced by his steadfast work ethic…I can’t say enough about how much I love these new Fantagraphics collections of this 'should always be in print' Carl Barks material."
• Review: Andrew Wheeler over at Anticks Musings enjoys Peanuts Vol. 17: 1983-1984 by THE Charles M. Schulz. Wheeler states, "they're reliably funny and occasionally moving. The deep sadness that used to manifest in Charlie Brown now comes up, less rawly, . . . For work done by the same one man, day after day, more than thirty years after he started that project, that's not just impressive, it's amazing."
• Review (video): Jon Longhi in episode 2 of Having a Book Moment features Spacehawk by Basil Wolverton "who was an amazing underground cartoonist with exp, surrealist view of reality that created some of the I think, most unique comics ever invented. . ."
• Review:Robot 6 enjoys SpacehawkbyBasil Wolverton. Chris Mautner writes "Wolverton’s Spacehawk has a vitality — at times it practically throbs with life — that the more static Stardust simply does not have. Spacehawk not only the best reprint project of the year, it’s the best reprint project of the past several years. It’s a revelation."
• Review:Comics Alliance announced their Best Comics of 2012. Basil Wolverton's Spacehawk "remind[s] you of some kind of Buck Rogers Technicolor serial as designed by Robert Crumb…Spacehawk is the freakishly charming sideshow to the more popular main event, but everyone who's seen its wonders would find themselves bored with what the guy in the big hat in the center ring is babbling on about," writes Tim Callahan
• Review:Comics Bulletin and Jason Sacks give Spacehawk by Basil Wolverton a rating of 4.5 outta 5 stars. "This book is really fucking exhilarating and awesome and eye-popping, and you have to add it to your bookshelf if you loved I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets…Spacehawk is lunatic, manic genius."
• Review:Delphine by Richard Sala gets BoingBoinged. Mark Frauenfelder writes, "I've long admired the gothy work of cartoonist Richard Sala. He delicately balances the line between horror and humor as few can. His latest graphic novel, Delphine, is his darkest effort to date."
• Review: Comic Book Resources counts down the Top 100 Comics of 2012 and includes The Hypo by Noah Van Sciver at #54. Brian Cronin states "Van Sciver spotlights a fascinating time in Lincoln's life where he barely resembles the man who would one day become one of the most famous presidents in U.S. history…The artwork is strong, as is the research." Cronin's own Top 10 Comics of 2012 listed Van Sciver at #2.
• Review:Panel Patter lists the Favorite Graphic Novels of 2012 and Noah Van Sciver is #2 for The Hypo. Rob McMonigal writes "Given that Van Sciver specializes in characters who are at their wit's end and have horrible things going on in their lives, he's picture perfect in his presentation."
• Interview: Tom Spurgeon interviews editor and fan Marc Sobel on living life breathing Love and Rockets at the Comics Reporter. Sobel started writing, critiquing the Hernandez Brothers work, interviewing them that led to writing and co-editing The Love and Rockets Reader and The Love and Rockets Companion, coming out next year.Sobel pondered, "I decided to read Love & Rockets in its original format and blog about each issue as a way to teach myself about one of the medium's classics while still keeping active as a writer."
• Review:Comic Book Resources counts down the Top 100 Comics of 2012 and #35 is Love and Rockets: New Stories #5. "…the Bros turned in another installment of comics that are simultaneously agonizing to witness and darkly funny while they’re serving up stone-cold dramatic situations," writes Brian Warmoth
• Plug:Gilbert Hernandez receives some attention from Sean T. Collins at Carnival of Souls in regards to upcoming Julio's Day and D&Q's Marble Season. "A now-completed collection of work he serialized during Love & Rockets‘ second volume and a pseudoautobiography, these could send him in the direction of critical and audience reappraisal that the outré sex and violence of his recent comics have denied him."
• Interview (video): As part of the 30th Anniversary celebration, Vegas Seven posted a short interview with Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez conducted at Alternative Reality Comics in Las Vegas.
• Plug: Glyn Dillon writes the Best of the Year 2012 for Forbidden Planet International and shares the love for Jaime Hernandez's God and Science. "I'm not really a fan of the super hero genre, but he delivers it in such a fun way, it's hard to resist it's charm. It almost feels as though it's from an alternative universe, a universe where super hero comics are good."
• Review:The Chicago Tribune gets all fancy to read our EC Library Comics: Corpse on the Imjin by Harvey Kurtzman and Came the Dawn by Wallace Wood. "Kurtzman often evinces a grim humor in these war comics, they don't elicit laughs. His beautiful line-work — thick black strokes and quick black curves — captures the grit of battle and its aftermath: Corpses reach up from rubble, cones of fire erupt from gun barrels." Michael Robbins continues, "Wood's alternately claustrophobic and desolate brushwork lurches into life: spreading puddles and slanting rain, Rock Hudson jawlines and Jane Wyman curves, vertiginous angles, hallucinatory things with too many eyes."
•Plug:NO releases its Best Comics of 2012 list and Sean T Collins recommends Prison Pit 4 by Johnny Ryan. "Choose your monsters-transforming-and-pursuing-ultimate-murder poison: if you favour grossness, reality-breaking sci-fi and heavy manga inflections, go with Ryan."
• Plug:Michael Kupperman'sTales Designed to Thrizzle #8 is ranked 81 out of the Top 100 Comics of 2012 according to Comic Book Resources. "The latest 'Tales Designed to Thrizzle' very well might be the funniest edition of the annual comic yet! Kupperman's outrageously unpredictable sense of humor is on full force in this issue" states Brian Cronin. Cronin's own Top 10 Comics of 2012 listed Kupperman at #4.
• Review:Comic Attack bangs out the Best 15 All-Ages Titles of 2012. Hal Foster's Prince Valiant is on the list as Drew says "the detail and quality of the art alone along with the more literary form of narration provided the base and inspiration for dozens of artists and imitators after that, all these years still being just as entertaining as when first published, here from Fantagraphics never looking as good as collected before."
• Review: Nick Hanover of Comics Bulletin sits awhile with Tom Kaczynski's new book. Beta Testing the Apocalypse "is weird as all fuck and funny as all shit, a Singles Going Steady for the art comix crowd that merges Burroughs' cut-up commentary with Ballard's keen tech consumer insight and siliconic wit…is where we should be looking if we want to know what comes next, if we want to discern which hip priest had their ear closer to the ground."
• Interview:The Comics Journal's Tim Holder interviews Tom Kaczynski (cartoonist of Beta Testing the Apocalypse)on his comics and publishing endeavors.
• Plug: Jade at the D&Q Bookstore holds onto some serious love for Lilli Carré's Heads or Tails. "Her stories always incorporate some sense of magic realism, where bizarre occurrences are treated as if they were just another aspect of daily life. Equally impressive is Carré’s artistic versatility, always finding the appropriate style, palette and medium to tell her dreamy tales."
• Review:Cosmic Comix reviews The Crackle of the Frost by Mattotti and Zentner. "The story itself is amazing. It’s a story about loneliness, loss, and, most of all, fear…It’s a rare feat in which the words, although separate from the picture, are in perfect synch with it… If you are looking for a book that truly pushes the comics medium, then this is the book for you," writes David Lee.
•Review: Music magazine Ugly Things Issue 34 reviews Kevin Avery's book. Alan Bisbort writes "Everything is an Afterthought would, in another age, be considered 'essential reading' for anyone even remotely hip…these bokos remind us of how deeply some people cared for the music and its larger pop culture that many of us now take for granted."
• Plug: Geekosystem has suggestions for our 20% sale like Joe Sacco's book. "Safe Area Gorazde is a great introduction to his work and to the concept of comics journalism as a whole. This new special edition with notes from the author, updates on the characters, and a behind the scenes look at the creative process is must-own material.
• Plug: Geekosystem has suggestions for our 20% sale like I Shall Destroy All Civilized Planets by Fletcher Hanks. "Weirdness on the highest scale prevails in these collections…these delightfully strange relics deserve a place in the library of any comics art history completist or student of the medium."
• Plug: Filth and Fabulations looks at books for 2013 and The Astonishing Exploits of Lucien Brindavoine by Jacques Tardi is on there. "This book is perhaps a slightly less mature piece than some of Tardi's later self-authored work, but it is filled with a vibrancy and a dark humor that makes it a thing not to be missed, especially so for those who enjoy his amusing riffs on traditional genre pastiches, with a nice dose of violence and sarcasm thrown in". In addition to Goddamn this War! by Tardi and Jean-Pierre Verney. "It looks very promising, and seems to be more of a single narrative spanning the entirety of the war, rather than the looser vignette-style format of the earlier book."
"As a graphic artist, Carré carries forward the design tradition that stems from the gossamer surrealism of Cocteau; as a verbal artist, she may be the most successful prose poet going. . . Her Wanda Gág–meets–Gene Deitch drawing style and new-weirdness literary bent make her work acutely interesting to both read and scrutinize." —Ray Olson
"Wright shows he’s got a deep arsenal of storytelling weapons at his command. Unsettling, upsetting, and strangely touching, Wright’s story arrives at something humane and emotionally true through a sea of aberrance and terror." —Ian Chipman
"Spacehawk's stories may be absurd concoctions of primitive space opera and already-established tropes of the nascent superhero genre, but Wolverton's solid,elemental drawings-already evincing his distinctive use of stippling-combined with his intuitive design sense have a raw power that is rare among comic books of the era and impresses even today." —Gordon Flagg
The last peanut of a day of Online Commentaries & Diversions aka the news you missed while present shopping, latke eating and flying:
• Review: The Comics Journal and Rucker crack the two books focusing on Malcom McNeill and William S. Burrough's artistic collaboration, Observed While Falling (the memoir) and The Lost Art of Ah Pook is Here. (the art book) "The art is awesome, the memoir is engaging. . .Ah Pook is in a characteristic style of Burroughs’s middle period. He mixes a true-adventure story with bitter anti-establishment scenarios, gay sexual fantasies, science-fictional visualizations of chimerical mutants, and apocalyptic visions of a biological plague. . .The results are staggering—the best pictures of dicks that I’ve ever seen. . . ."
On the memoir "One of the pleasures of McNeill’s memoir, Observed While Falling, is reading about hear about his conversations with Burroughs. Old Bill laid down some tasty aphorisms. . . Ah Pook is a word/image virus. Study these new books and enjoy the disease."
• Interview:Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez of Love and Rockets are interviewed by Tim Hodler, Dan Nadel and Frank Santoro on The Comics Journal. Jaime talks about becoming more popular cartoonists, "So Gilbert and I kind of set up our own ground where we go. We go, you love Raw? Raw’s East Coast? Love and Rockets is West Coast. And they go, 'So West Coast is primitive and old-fashioned?' Fine. It’s not art school."
• Review:Comics Alliance features several of our box sets on their Holiday Gift Guide: Deluxe Editions. On the Love and Rockets Library Collection, by Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez Andy Khouri states, “This indie comics mainstay has been going for nearly 30 years, making Love and Rockets as intimidating to some new readers as even the densest superhero mythologies. Luckily, Fantagraphics has made the Los Bros Hernandez saga about a massive cast of startlingly lifelike characters digestible in the form of affordable reprint volumes published in chronological order."
• Review: Douglas Wolk reviews Harvey Kurtzman’s EC stories in Corpse on the Imjin! for the New York Times. "Kurtzman’s writing could be bombastic — nearly all of these stories’ titles end in exclamation points — but, as the United States became mired in the Korean War, his reeling disgust at the horrors of war (and his thick, slashing brush strokes) made for shockingly bold rhetoric."
•Review:The Atlantic lists Mark Twain's Autobiography 1910-2010 by Michael Kupperman as one of The Best Books I Read This Year. Chris Heller says "Kupperman’s brilliance isn’t just in his humor, though. Mark Twain’s Autobiography is meant to be read in small doses, no more than half a dozen pages at a time. Trust me: You don’t want to gorge on a book that’s this weirdly amusing. But after a peek into Kupperman’s hysterically twisted mind, you’ll keep wanting to go back for more."
• Review:Comics Bulletin releases its 2012 Best Graphic Novel List and The Hypo by Noah Van Sciver makes it. "Van Sciver's toolkit includes the pens and pins of pathos and pain, self-doubt and angst, as much as it contains determination and fortitude. The Lincoln of The Hypo transcends his time, place, and even (or maybe especially) his name. . . It stands as a true example of the capabilities of this medium to deliver stories in a truly visceral manner," writes Daniel Elkin.
• Review:Unshelved comics review The Hypo by Noah Van Sciver. Gene Ambaum writes,"The mood of Lincoln’s life in Springfield, Illinois, is well-expressed via the rough-hewn, cross-hatched skies, floorboards, and backgrounds."
• Review: Tim Callahan has nothing but love for Spacehawkby Basil Wolverton on Comic Book Resources. He states, "Wolverton's world is a weird and ugly and beautifully innocently horrible charmingly delightful one, and it has more in common with the absurd genre riffs from something like Pendleton Ward's Adventure Time or Jesse Moynihan's Forming or Tom Gauld's Goliath than it does the bland superhero melodrama of 'Marvel Mystery Comics'."
• Review:Comics Bulletin's Favorite Reprints Books of 2012 include Gary Panter's Dal Tokyo and our Carl Barks reprints. In reference to Carl Barks' Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck, "I would not hesitate to say that Fantagraphics’ reprints of Barks’ Duck comics may very well be the best collection series that any comic company is doing today! . . Each story is funny, smart and just plain fun and Fantagraphics treat each and every panel on the page with care and detail," states Nick Boisson. Jason Sacks writes "[Dal Tokyo is] a freaking godsend from the reprint editors at Fantagraphics because it unearthed an amazing, surreal, brilliant lost classic that's like an artifact from some amazing parallel dimension.. . Readers are asked to bring our perceptions to these pages, to bring our intelligence and passion and appreciation for abstraction and love for everything that feels different and yet the same as everyday life."
• Review:School Library Journal files Walt Disney's Donald Duck: A Christmas for Shacktownby Carl Barks in the Dewey (Huey and Louey) decimal of their hearts. J. Caleb Mozzocco says "[It] features another 200 pages of master cartooning from 'The Good Duck Artist' in a nicely produced bookshelf- or backpack-ready hardcover edition. . . the Barks books are great comics for kids and adult fans of the medium."
• Review: Uncle Scrooge: Only a Poor Old Man makes the Best of or Our Favorite Books of 2012 list on the Village Voice. Alan Scherstuhlstates, “Sprightly, inventive, wise, and more exciting than 60-year-old-duck tales should be, Barks's work already stands at the top of any list of history's greatest comics. It should also rank high among stories, period.”
• Review:Brooklyn Based thinks Sexytime edited by Jacques Boyreau is for youand suggests books for reading and giving. "This book is a journey into the aesthetic of porn," states Jon Reiss.
• Interview: Alex Dueben interviews Lilli Carré on Comic Book Resources about comics and animation. "I loved designing and arranging the [Heads or Tails]. Figuring out which pieces to include and the best order for them took quite a while, since I wanted each story to speak to the one before and after it, and to have a good flow despite the shift in styles. It was like making a high-stakes mix tape."
• Review: North Adams Transcript and John Seven look at Heads or Tails by Lilli Carré. "The multi-faceted Lilli Carre -- author, illustrator, animator -- presents stories that are as gentle as they are cryptic, in which the darkness of her themes meld perfectly with the sweetness of her style. . .Carre’s short work is collected and celebrated, revealing a creator of power, easily on the level with lauded types like Chris Ware."
• Review:Hooded Utilitarian makes it through Josh Simmons' The Furry Trap (probably with all the lights on in the house). James Romberger writes it is “packed cover to cover with shudders that cannot be anticipated, that grow worse as they progressively become less clearly defined. The last narrative is the most frightening because it is a straightforwardly articulated bit of cinematography on paper that, as with the most effective of suspenseful creations, gains in impact from what is never shown, the reader’s mind having already been prepared by the foregoing tales to expect the worst.”
• Review:Comics Alliance features several of our box sets on their Holiday Gift Guide: Deluxe Editions. On The Complete Peanuts Collection box setsby Charles M Schulz. Andy Khouri writes, “Reprinted in chronological order with the highest production values, any one of these books would make an auspicious addition to any bookshelf.”
• Review:School Library Journal looks at Charlie Brown’s Christmas Stocking by Charles M. Schulz. J. Caleb Mozzocco says, "Schulz’s Peanuts has always been unique in its ability to speak to audiences of adults and children simultaneously. . . Nice then to have a comic that can speak to kids, adults and the little kids the adults used to be all at the same time—even if only for a quick 40 pages or so."
• Review: HeroesOnline looks at The Complete Syndicated Pogo Vol. 2 "Bona Fide Balderdash" by Walt Kelly. “Pogo certainly belongs on any informed list of the top 5 newspaper comic strips of all time. The artwork is stunning, the pacing is fast, the characters simply come alive on the page; the plot-lines are crazy and labyrinthine and above all hilarious . . . Fantagraphics does the Kelly oeuvre proud with beautiful production values and insightful introductory material,” states Andy Mansell.
• Review:Dungeon Quest 3 by Joe Daly is the Best ofYear 2012 on the Forbidden Planet International site.Clark Burscough writes, “Deceptively simple looking artwork contains hidden depths, and the mythology that Joe Daly is building up around these characters and their world is starting to get properly out there.. . And on top of that – it’s laugh out loud funny. I can’t go into precisely why, because it’s also laugh out loud filthy. Something for everyone in these books.”
• Interview:Comic Book Resources and Alex Dueben interview James Romberger on his collaboration of 7 Miles a Second (and Post York). On his love of New York-centric books, “It is strange that I'll get used to an aspect of the landscape, but so often, I will come out to find it gone and replaced with something completely different. Still, I also love that shifting quality and the multiculturalism of the city; it is my primary subject,” says Romberger.
• Review:Listen, Whitey!on NPR Music for its MUSIC compilation. Matt Sullivan, assistant to author Pat Thomas, talks to Michaelangeo Matos about the project to accompany the book. "There's no way that Sony or EMI were going to [automatically] say yes to the Bob Dylan or John & Yoko tracks, because they get those requests all day. Years ago, Pat went to Bob Dylan's office and got those guys to approve it. The same thing with Yoko. . ."
• Plug: Speaking of 2013, Johanna Draper Carlson of Comics Worth Reading can't wait for Pretty in Ink: American Women Cartoonists by Trina Robbins to come out!
The most symmetrical cake slice of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review:Publishers Weekly occasionally lets smart and famous people recommend books. Jeopardy Master Ken Jennings "skipped the obvious Marjane Satrapi and Alison Bechdel entries in favor of this lesser-known three-volume masterpiece, about Tyler’s complicated relationship with her distant dad, a World War II vet. With her playful, fluid brush line and busy patchwork of watercolor woodgrain, Tyler’s art looks like the past feels." Carol Tyler's complete series You'll Never Know is available.
• Review:Booklist Online cooks up a review from some Pogo (The Complete Syndicated Comic Strips Vol. 2: "Bona Fide Balderdash"). Ian Chipman writes, "[Walt Kelly's] hallmarks of deft wordplay, daft swamp critters, and poisonously sharp sociopolitical satire are in full blossom here. The highlight is the 1952 election season that saw Pogo’s first and entirely reluctant presidential run and the birth of the “I Go Pogo” slogan. Mimicking “I Like Ike. . . A must for all collections of comic-strip history."
• Plug:Forces of Geek throws out some good gift recommendations for kidslike Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge "Only a Poor Old Man"by Carl Barks. "Comic books have always been an excellent gateway into reading, and when it comes to smart, imaginative and engaging, you don't have to go much further than Carl Barks. . . What better way to introduce your own Huey, Dewey or Louie to comics?"
• Review:Paste Magazines's 10 Best Collections of 2012 include two Fantagraphics titles. Hillary Brown loved Young Romance, by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby edited by Michel Gagné who "painstakingly restored them (without making them look exactly new, thus giving the book the feel of a vintage compilation that just happens to be in amazing shape). . . Simon and Kirby tried to bring as much excitement to primarily psychological and interpersonal goings-on as to punching and flying." And this might be the last year anything by Carl Barks is on the list, "We’ll just grant it permanent honorary status as the best of the best, like when John Larroquette removed himself from Emmy consideration after winning four straight for Night Court. . . [Walt Disney's Donald Duck "A Christmas for Shacktown] once again proves Barks to be one of the finest draftsmen and storytellers we’ve ever had." Well put, Garrett Martin.
• Plug:The Scotsman lists some of the Best of 2012 as told by the best scotsman. Withered Hand's singer/songwriter Dan Willson has eyes only for Ron Rege, Jr. and states, "[The] Cartoon Utopia , his magnum opus, is quite a head-trip. Thousands of very dense little drawings and words resemble a psychedelic illuminated manuscript peppered with themes of spiritual redemption and good versus evil. It’s a very unusual and beautiful work."
• Plug: From Boing Boing's list of the Best Damn Comics of 2012, compiled by Brian Heater. On Ron Rege Jr.'s The Cartoon Utopia , "The first esoteric text of the new century. The harbinger of the New Aeon. This book will be a staple of Esoteric Lore for millennia to come."
• Plug:Boing Boing makes my job easy by providing the Best Damn Comics of 2012. Compiled by Brian Heater, a lot of creative people offered up their favorite books of the year. Nick Abadzis thinks Kolor Klimax (edited by Matthias Wivel), "feels startling and vital to me and features a wide variety of styles, each as absorbing as all the others contained within these pages. I don't think I've enjoyed an anthology as much as this one in years."
• Plug: From Boing Boing's list of the Best Damn Comics of 2012, compiled by Brian Heater. Box Brown on Barack Hussein Obama, "Steven Weissman does stuff with actual analog comic materials that most dudes can't even do with photoshop." Jeffrey Brown chimes in on BHO, "Strange, funny and beautiful. Weissman reinvents his comics with the kind of book I wish I would make." Will Dinksi agrees, "Barack Hussein Obama is pretty much my favorite book of the year. . . I get a better appreciation for Weissman's craft in the printed collection where it can feel like you're actually looking at the finished artwork." Mari Naomi says,"I just love what this book is. If I didn't know better, I wouldn't even recognize this as Weissman. And I like that."
• Review:Paris Review checks out The Last Vispo, edited by Nico Vassilakis and Crag Hill. Nicole Rudick states,"it makes sense that in visual form poetry would elicit a kind of motion, an unfolding over the space of a page, and that even its sound would be voiced as a series of discoveries. Movement disrupts the continuity of a sentence, a phrase, a word. And language, unsettled, is unbound."
• Plug: From Boing Boing's list of the Best Damn Comics of 2012, compiled by Brian Heater. Box Brown continues to wax poetic on Josh Simmons' The Furry Trap, "Funny, even as it makes your hair stand on end and your skin start to crawl... Horror comics that gash their way below the surface."
• Plug: From Boing Boing's list of the Best Damn Comics of 2012, compiled by Brian Heater. Shaenon K. Garrity says that The Heart of Thomas by Moto Hagio "is a book I've been awaiting for over ten years, and it exceeds my expectations."
• Plug: From Boing Boing's list of the Best Damn Comics of 2012, compiled by Brian Heater. Nate Powell on Interiorae by Gabriella Giandelli, is "just what I look for in a narrative: patient, dreamy, full of seemingly endless layers of shadow, slowly revealing the sweetness inside the rotten, all within the confines of a single high-rise apartment building, surrounded by snow and static."
• Review:Slate finds themselves choosing Heads or Tails, going for broke. Dan Kois says, "Lilli Carré’s short stories are dreamy, unlikely, and unsettling. What transforms the stories from nightmares to fables is Carré’s artwork, which varies with each story. . ."
• Review:Page 45 looks at Heads or Tails by Lilli Carré. "The art reminds me a little of Lynda Barry and the flow of the pages reminded me a little of Walt Holcombe. . .I recently recommended this book to a customer who named their favourite film as Amelie (good choice!) precisely because it has that feeling of whimsy about it."
• Plug: From Boing Boing's list of the Best Damn Comics of 2012, compiled by Brian Heater. Jeremy Tinder on Heads or Tails by Lilli Carré, "A nice encapsulation of many of the ways Lilli has been pushing herself both narratively and stylistically over the last few years. If only there was a way to squeeze her animation in there too." Will Dinksi comments on Heads or Tails by Lilli Carré, "Beautiful artwork. Thoughtfully paced. "Of The Essence" is one of the best comic book short stories I've ever read."
• Plug: From Boing Boing's list of the Best Damn Comics of 2012, compiled by Brian Heater. Robert Kirby on No Straight Lines edited by Justin Hall, "Long overdue, this beautifully-produced, sharply edited retrospective may usher in a new era of respect and recognition for a long-neglected realm of the alt-comics world."
• Review:Nate's Broadcast enjoyed The Hypo by Noah Van Sciver in addition to the recent film, Lincoln, and book America Aflame. "Van Sciver’s contribution to the Lincoln mythology is perfect for those who like their heroes a little troubled and messy, but good at their core- not a bad way to interpret the American ideal."
• Plug: From Boing Boing's list of the Best Damn Comics of 2012, compiled by Brian Heater. Will Dinski continues with The Hypo. "[Noah] Van Sciver is pretty prolific, but this is his best work to date. The line art just drips with anguish." Brian Heater thinks it "puts the cartoonist's brimming angst to a different use entirely, in a book that does precisely what a good piece of historical non-fiction should: finding a fascinating way to tell a story we were convinced we already knew."
• Review: Blacklung by Chris Wright is whittled on by Tucker Stone at TCJ. It's called "the big, trippy brother to Drew Weing’s Segar influenced Set To Sea. . . . [and] Gore saturates this comic. . . Brutality for its own sake is the point of some entertaining movies, no reason it can’t be the point of some entertaining comics as well."
• Review: On Filth and Fabulations, Jeppe Mulich states that Chris Wright's "[Blacklung is] not a work of splatter punk or mindless gore, but rather an engaging, breathless, and humorous tale of the dregs of the sea, including a colorful assortment of pirates and madmen, quite clearly drawing inspiration from both Melville, Stevenson and Peckinpah."
• Review: Paste Magazine reviews Charlie Brown's Christmas Stocking by Charles M. Schulz. "Seeing this work isolated and expanded only reinforces the sheer timelessness and brilliance inherent; Schulz was a master of mood and line in equal measure. . . it’s some of the finest nostalgia porn you can put under the tree," quips Sean Edgar.
•Review:Pheonix New Times unwraps their present early and Jason P. Woodbury interviews Nat Gertler on Charlie Brown's Christmas Stocking by Charles M Schulz. "[Schulz] had done a Christmas book, Christmas is Together-Time, using red and green," Gertler says, explaining the minimal color palette. "We wanted to keep that simplicity and Christmas-sense in there." The stable of Schulz characters transcend fads and time because as Gertler points out "It's not the way kids talk, but they way they feel is the way that kids feel."
• Plug:Drawn blog tops off another the Best of 2012 list with some Ernie Bushmiller. John Martz points out, "Nancy seems to be a love-it-or-leave-it strip, and I am firmly in the Love It camp. . . Often surreal, and always impeccably drawn, there is nothing quite like it. . . these books are a virtual masterclass in cartooning."
• Review: From Boing Boing's list of the Best Damn Comics of 2012, compiled by Brian Heater. Tom Kaczynski on Ernie Bushmiller's Nancy is Happy, "The minimalism of the art, the quirky humor, the amazing consistency, it all started with these strips."
• Review: Getting ready for the hardback release of Delphine by Richard Sala, Carrie Cuinn of SF Portal reviews the tale complete with "dark duotone inking style, little dialogue, and gothic, shadowy, art. . . Overall I think that Sala’s retelling of that well-known love story is affectingly tragic. . . It is, in a word, creepy."
• Review: If MTV Geek knows about The End of the Fucking World then the secret is out: Charles Forsman is amazing! "[It] pulls you in like no other comic this year. Stunning in its simplicity and brave in its subject matter. Charles Forsman is a future force. . . [it] is like stumbling onto the ultimate secret in comic books, but based on how great TEOTFW is, it won't be much a secret longer."
• Review: Ashley over at Bibliophibien looks at Wandering Son series by Shimura Takako, "While the story is focused on transgender topics, I think that this is a wonderfully moving coming-of-age story and captures the complexities of sexual identity, friendships, and family that teens face."
• Review: Rick Klaw at SF Site enjoys the glossy glory of Action! Mystery! Thrills!, edited by Greg Sadowski. "As in his previous volumes. . . Sadowski supplies copious end notes and annotations. Though this time, the information additionally reads as an entertaining history of early comics. . . Sadowski once again delivers an essential book for anyone with an interest in comics history."
• Plug: John McMurtrie of SF Gate (San Francisco Gate) lists Listen, Whitey! by Pat Thomas as one of the Music Books to Buy of 2012.
The strongest umbrella in the wind of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review: Paul Constant of The Stranger looks at The Last Vispo: Visual Poetry 1998-2008, edited by Nico Vassilakis and Crag Hill. "As an art book, it demands hours of investigation. . . For those linguistic pioneers looking to find the future of fiction, this could be one of the most informative poetry anthologies to be published in the new millennium."
• Review:NPR's My Guilty Pleasure looks at the Jacques Tardi graphics novels of Adèle Blanc-Sec who is "young writer with the brains of Sherlock Holmes, the body of Angelina Jolie and the stoic fortitude of the Marlboro Man." Rosecrans Baldwin states, "The books are part adventure comic, part hardboiled fiction. They're terrific whodunits that conjure up all the precise atmospheric detail of, say, a Georges Simenon novel, but with twice the plot."
• Review:Blacklung by Chris Wright gets reviewed on Nerds of a Feather. Philippe Duhart says, "Wright’s genius is further evident in his ability to use these aberrant cartoonish characterizations to convey human emotion, particularly terror. Wright’s portrayal of violence is stark and chilling – despite or perhaps because of his singular style. . . Black Lung worked on all counts. Plus, pirates."
• Review (video):Kapow Comics down in Australia reviews Chris Wright's Blacklung. Al states "this is a complicated book with musings on philosophy, literature, mortality and especially, religion has a big focus." Sonya says, "Every single character changes in this story, their journey changes them . . . [Blacklung] prayed on my mind. It lingers with you."
• Review: Glen David Gold looks at Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons edited by Kelly Gerald in the LA Review of Books. In an attempt to see how the bread is made, Gold, "Cartooning was O'Connor's first artistic passion. . . . An article in the local paper and a pile of rejection slips from The New Yorker indicate how serious she was. . . not an early blush of Flannery the fiction writer at work. But I'd still recommend it to the curious. Come at it without expecting same genius, but look at it because it's an extreme close up of biography."
• Review:Publishers Weekly looks at Jack Jackson's Los Tejanos and Lost Causes. "Comics’ current vogue for nonfiction was pioneered in these two works from the late underground comix founding father Jackson, who died in 2006. Jackson brought an R. Crumb–style crosshatching and love of facial grotesquery to these two densely researched historical graphic novels."
• Plug:Publishers Weekly and Ada Price show a sneak peak of The Heart of Thomas by Moto Hagio. Enjoy 14 pages of pure genius but don't forget to read each one right to left! We're talking manga here.
• Review: Rob Clough of The Comics Journal enjoys The Hypo by Noah Van Sciver."he’s made a fairly significant leap as both a draftsman and a storyteller in a relatively short period of time . . . Van Sciver’s greatest achievement in this book is his storytelling restraint. He lets his cross-hatching gets across the grime . . He wants to show the reader a different side of the Lincoln we grew up reading about in the history books, but also wants the reader to connect this younger man to the future president."
• Review:Fantasy Literature takes a peek at Castle Waiting Vol. 1 by Linda Medley and Ruth Arnell is in love. "the charming ink illustrations have a piquant charming quality that match the story wonderfully. . . Linda Medley has written a gentle feminist fairy tale comic book that truly deserves to have a wider audience."
• Review: Sonia Harris of Comics Book Resources reads Black Hole by Charles Burns all in one sitting, one evening. "Reading Black Hole all at once in a nice, tidy bundle, it is impossible to experience what Black Hole was for all those years while it was slowly seeping out, issue by issue. . . it is visceral poetry, a true expression of the medium with imagery and words working together to create the most intimate impact. Black Hole is beautiful and terrible, it is a treasure."
The first bit of frost of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review (video):Last Gasp's John Longhi reviews The Lost Art of Ah Pook by Malcom McNeill, a story originally created with William Burroughs. Longhi says, "I can see why Burroughs wanted to work with McNeill because he's one of the few guys who could capture the crazy wacked out details of his story writing. . . [It contains] all the wonderful social discord that made his writing fantastic."
• Review:Blacklung by Chris Wright gets high marks on Paste Magazine. Sean Edgar says, "Blacklung is a weird, compelling creation, telling a harrowing story of redemption and savagery through art that could initially pass as adorable before you get to the tongue necklaces. Highly recommended for those with strong stomachs."
• Review:School Library Journal announces their BEST BOOKS OF 2012 and in the graphics novels section, Noah Van Sciver's The Hypo is listed. "Van Sciver makes Lincoln real by picturing one of the hardest times in his younger life. . . Dickens-style squalor and melodrama plus Austen-style romance, all done in gritty cross-hatching."
• Plug:The NY Times listed Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons at the top of the Best Bathroom Reads of 2012. Dwight Garner believes "the prints collected here are droll and strange." Two of our favorite words to describe Fantagraphics-style creators such as Flannery O'Connor.
• Review: Roughly translated from Ediciones La Cupula, Jaime Hernandez's God and Science: Return of the Ti-Girls is reviewed. "Theexcitementthat overwhelms usafter readingeach of theinstallments ofthe sagaof [Ti-Girls] isdirectly proportional to itsartistic excellence,histalentas a storytellerandhuman greatnessthat livesin his cartoons."
• Review:Lanacion reviews the writings and works of Alexander Theroux (Laura Warholic, Estoniaand The Strange Case of Edward Gorey) and translated, barely, Matias Serra Bradford states, "If left as an untreated rarity,AlexanderTherouxseemsmysteriousto the fantasticand impossible point of determiningthe trajectoryofa particle and itsposition."
• Review:The Snipe News looks at Joe Sacco's Journalism collection. "the decade’s worth of stories. . . are most notable not from any kind of torn-from-the-headlines sensationalism but for the empathy the author brings to his subjects. . . . Sacco has a feel for displaced persons in general."
The first rain-free (HA!) day of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review:The Comics Journal looks at Ron Rege Jr.'s The Cartoon Utopia. Katie Haegel writes, "Almost impossible to categorize, the work in Cartoon Utopia is both fully realized in a formal sense and wonderfully idiosyncratic. Like, it’s really out there. . . to me the work is much stronger when it depicts magic in action, which Regé accomplishes by telling us stories about historical figures and their relationship to the natural world."
• Review:Robot 6 reviews The Cartoon Utopia by Ron Rege Jr. Chris Mautner writes "with Rege drawing science, new age spiritualism, the occult, astrology and Jungian archetypes to come up with a personal grand unification theory. There are no plots or characters in the book to speak of, instead Rege merely muses and illustrates his theories, which mainly have to on the interconnectedness of all living matter."
• Plugs: Best covers of the week by Andy Khouri on Comics Alliance. Ron Regé Jr'sThe Cartoon Utopia: "This cover really makes me smile, and maybe gives me a sense of four-color spiritual well-being. But cartoon utopia looks more outdoorsy than I expected."
• Review:Page 45 enjoys the gentle pages of The Cartoon Utopia. Stephen L. Holland states, "Regé is back with a spiritual manifesto and ode to creativity: a singular, secular vision delivered with all the fervour of a religious sermon. It’s a call not to arms but to peace and perception unshackled from the conditioning of ages, exhorting all to see new possibilities, infinite possibilities, so enabling one’s full potential to be realised in both senses of the word."
• Review:Barack Hussein Obamaby Steven Weissman is reviewed on Bookslut. Martyn Pedler says, "His Obama begins as a kind of smug, stoner everyman: telling 'your momma' jokes, discussing old movies with visiting dignitaries . . . Weissman’s pages -- drawn in ballpoint into a moleskin notebook -- use a four-panel gag structure that makes the book immediately addictive."
• Review:Publishers Weekly takes on Barack Hussein Obama by Steven Weissman.". . . readers will likely have to be content with being one part giddy and three parts puzzled. . . Perhaps that’s Weissman’s point: that the farce of contemporary politics has the capacity to make one simultaneously giddy, confused, and disenchanted."
• Interview (audio): Speaking of Steven Weissman, Obama and the elections, he is interviewed on KPFK 90.7 FM's show Beneath the Surface.
• Review: Cartoonist Lilli Carré finds herself Boing-Boing-ed. Brian Heater describes Heads or Tails collection, "These strips, which originally in the pages of places like The Believer and Mome, find the artist dipping her toes into new pools, the sort of freedom afforded by the low commitments of the short story form, often to truly wonderful effect."
• Interview: Eddie Wright of MTV Geek interviews Johnny Ryan about Prison Pit 4 and why us humans love it so much. "Well, I think it connects to comic fans because it's the stripped down essence of what popular superhero comics are, which is men beating the living shit out of each other. People love it."
• Review:Reglar Wiglar spit takes while reading Johnny Ryan's Prison Pit 4. Chris Auman says, "This is Ryan’s depraved ID unleashed in its purest form: blood, guts, genitalia and fecal matter abound—actually they don’t abound so much as they’re sprayed all over absolutely everything in a fantastical sci-fi orgy of digustedness."
• Plugs: Best covers of the week by Andy Khouri on Comics Alliance. continues with Wallace Wood's Came the Dawn: "And while we're talking smart use of interior art, here's another superb example. This collection is all about the mastery of Wally Wood, so the cover presents a taste of his work in an uncluttered and respectful way, while also establishing a trade dress for Fantagraphics' new EC artists line." Chris Wright's Blacklung: "I see a lot of Joann Sfar in this densely demonic and stylishly constructed cover, and that's enough to convince me to investigate the work of newcomer Chris Wright." Spacehawk mini-comic by Basil Wolverton: "Basil Wolverton may be best known for his grotesque caricatures in MAD Magazine, but he worked in a lot of genres. Spacehawk was evidently one of his early works, and if this gorgeously lurid cover is anything to go by it was a delightfully daffy sci-fi pulp."
• Review:Booklist Online carves out a place in their hearts for Wallace Wood's Came the Dawn. Ray Olson writes, "This volume presenting all his horror and crime stories chronologically shows him refining what is at first a crude though powerful sense of mise-en-scène into one that is assured, highly detailed, and lightly caricatural."
• Review:AV Club reviewed all our new books Came the Dawn by Wallace Wood and Corpse on the Imjin by Harvey Kurtzman. Noel Murray writes, "in writer/artist-driven volumes, printed in black and white, with additional essays and archival material . . . [and] both immediately reveal the value in the artist-driven approach. . . Feldstein’s stories were like the comic-book equivalent to some of the seediest B-movies, and Wood’s art fit Feldstein’s text, with lots of deep shadows and wrinkles reflecting a complicated world." On Basil WolvertonSpacehawk, "As with Kurtzman’s war comics, it’s remarkable to see art so twisted applied to such vivid pulp tales—almost as though Wolverton was trying his hardest to be Alex Raymond, but couldn’t help turning out images to rival Salvador Dalí." Gary Panter's "Dal Tokyo would evolve, strip-by-strip, into a distinctly Panter-esque swirl of science fiction and pure abstraction, in keeping with the artist’s one-of-a-kind sense of design, and his pursuit of comics that resemble music and poetry."
•Plug:Web Cast Beacon reviews all free Halloween Comics Fest freebies. They enjoy Tales from the Crypt and Spacehawk. YES, mail in those ad coupons, people.
• Interview:Jim Woodring is interviewed by Peter Bebergal on hippies, hallucinations and all the good stuff that goes into his latest work, Problematic, a skechbook. "I frequently saw things at night — silently jabbering heads at the foot of my bed, distorted animals and objects hanging in the air over me. Often I saw a huge staring eye that made me vomit with fear."
• Plug: On Boing-Boing, Mark Frauenfelder tips his digi-hat to Floyd Gottfredson: "Gottfredson's Mickey is a plucky, goodhearted imp, bursting with energy and impulsively eager for adventure. . . [Carl] Barks will always have a special place in my heart, but I've added Gottfredson to my short list of great American cartoonists."
• Review: Page 45 looks at The Lost Art of Ah Pookand Stephen L. Holland ponders "Malcom Mc Neill has taken the time to put this eye-frazzling book of art – some of it sequential – into context, for the work itself is very much lost. . . There are vast scenes of ancient ritual, carnal lust and very modern warfare transcending time just as they were always intended."
• Review:Booklist Online likes Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge: Only a Poor Old Manby Carl Barks. Ian Chipman states, "from the bitter cold of the Klondike to the bottom of the Caribbean. . . Barks’ comics are an absolute treasure that have aged remarkably well, and are finally getting wide-scale publication to introduce them to a new generation of readers."
• Review: Gene Ambaum of Unshelved happily views covers from Action! Mystery! Thrills!, edited by Greg Sadowski. "Beautiful full-color reproductions of unblemished comic book covers show the amazing art and the breadth of genres on the newsstands before Fredric Wertham screwed everything up in the 1950s. . . The colors are bright, and the art is just plain fun."
• Review: Is That All There Is? by Joost Swarte gets reviewed on Bookgasm. JT Lindroos states, ". . . it’s impossible not to enjoy this ultimately all-too-brief volume for every single panel it presents. Swarte is consistently projecting an incisive and curious mind at work, perfectly tuned to his showstopping skills as an artist nonpareil."
• Review: Rod Lott of Bookgasm spends a long, loooong time checking out Sexytime. "[Editor Jacque Boyreau] has a knack for picking images; much like Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart and hardcore porn, Boyreau knows it when he sees it. And luckily, he shares it, this time from the visual-presentation experts of Fantagraphics Books — a match made in poster-art heaven."
• Plug: Matt Bielby writes about The Complete Crumb Volume 1 by R. Crumb in Comic Heroes Magazine: "It's incredible stuff, much of it obviously for completists only, but even the most obscure volumes track a fascinating, and developing, world view."
• Interview: Charles Burns is interviewed on Cult Montreal by Emily Raine about The Hive, his creepy artwork and the Black Hole movie. "It’s not my intention to be creepy per se, or that’s not the reason I’m writing stories. I think they end up being whatever they are. Maybe I’m just a creepy guy, I don’t know."
• Interview (audio): One of our favorite creators, Ellen Forney, speaks to KUOW/NPR on bi-polar disorder, comics and her new work, Marbles.
• Plug:Jaime Hernandez will be at the Copenhagen Comics Fest in Copenhagen, Denmark in June of 2013. Mark them calendars!
In November, we are thankful for many things like a re-elected President, food and family coming together, power and heat slowly returning to New York. Fantagraphics and comiXology present a timely story to make you feel thankful for what you do have with the incredible graphic novel by visionary Chris Wright (Inkweed, 2008 from Sparkplug) called Blacklung. One of the most impressive graphic novel debuts in recent years, a sweeping, magisterially conceived, visually startling tale of violence, amorality, fortitude, and redemption, one part Melville, one part Peckinpah, all in 130 pages.
In a night of piratical treachery when an arrogant school teacher is accidentally shanghaied aboard the frigate Hand, his fate becomes inextricably fettered to that of a sardonic gangster. Dependent on one another for survival in their strange and dangerous new home, the two form an unlikely alliance as they alternately elude or confront the thieves and cutthroats that bad luck has made their companions and captors. After an act of terrible violence, the teacher is brought before the ship's captain and instructed to use his literary skills to aid him in writing his memoirs. Drown yourself in Wright's gorgeous black and white panel and watch in dark story unfold as the cross-hatched characters fulfill their destinies, available now for your digital delight.
"It’s a graphic novel, both in its vernacular term and in a more literal sense, violent and horrible and poetic at the same time – the sort of thing McCarthy might write if he were more interested in pirates than cowboys or Appalachians." -Chris Schweizer, SCAD professor, Robot6
"Depressing, existential AND romantic? I couldn’t sign up quickly enough for Chris Wright’s original graphic novel debut." -Graeme McMillan, Robot6
This week's comic shop shipment is slated to include the following new title. Read on to see what comics-blog commentators and web-savvy comic shops are saying about it (more to be added as they appear), check out our previews at the link, and contact your local shop to confirm availability.
128-page black & white 9.25" x 12.25" hardcover • $24.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-587-7
"...Chris Wright’s oversize debut graphic novel [is] a bloody seafaring tale about a man determined to do what it takes to meet his dead wife in hell. Wright’s first book, the short story collection Inkweed, was a helluva thing and I’m really anxious to see how he handles a longer, more sustained narrative." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"I’ve heard a lot of good things about Blacklung by Chris Wright, which is out in comic shops this week from Fantagraphics. So that gets my extra cash." – John Parkin, Robot 6
"A number of things *might* show up, ranging from Mickey Mouse to Prison Pit, but what Diamond is promising is Blacklung, the debut graphic novel of artist Chris Wright (of the Sparkplug story collection Inkweed), a 12.25" x 9.25", 128-page account of a schoolteacher’s sojourn aboard a ship of thugs, rendered in a fascinating cartoon style I can just barely approximate as a ‘second-generation underground comics’ look, although you really should just see for yourself." – Joe McCulloch, The Comics Journal
"...[M]y pick of the week is actually the Blacklung HC (Fantagraphics) from Chris Wright. This young upstart delivered the super interesting Inkweed from Sparkplug Comic Books a few years ago and I’ve anxiously been awaiting a big splashy follow up like this. It seems like Fantagraphics is noticeably starting to pluck ridiculous talent like this (paging Noah Van Sciver…) out of relative obscurity and give them a broader stage..." – Justin Giampaoli, Thirteen Minutes
"Finally, here's the reason we go to the comics shop: stand-alone work from talent with which we're either completely unfamiliar or not totally comfortable." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
What's new around our mail-order operation in the past month? Oh, just FOURTEEN new books. (Actually sixteen, but two of them snuck onto last month's recap.) We've got Mickey Mouse! We've got Charlie Brown! We've got Cannibal F***face! Our eagerly-awaited first EC Comics Library volumes have arrived, along with 3 major books by cutting-edge talents, the final volume of a masterful memoir series, the start of a wonderful fantasy-adventure series from one of the greats, and some bold experimental books for those of you interested in the various ways literature and images can intersect. (Remember, our New Releases page always lists the 20 most recent arrivals, and our Upcoming Arrivals page has dozens of future releases available for pre-order.) Read on for all the details:
Chris Wright’s Blacklung is unquestionably one of the most impressive graphic novel debuts in recent years, a sweeping, magisterially conceived, visually startling tale of violence, amorality, fortitude, and redemption, one part Melville, one part Peckinpah. Blacklung is a story that lives up to the term graphic novel, that could only exist in sequential pictures — densely textured, highly stylized, delicately and boldly rendered drawings that is, taken together, wholly original.
In a night of piratical treachery when an arrogant school teacher is accidentally shanghaied aboard the frigate Hand, his fate becomes inextricably fettered to that of a sardonic gangster. Dependent on one another for survival in their strange and dangerous new home, the two form an unlikely alliance as they alternately elude or confront the thieves and cutthroats that bad luck has made their companions and captors. After an act of terrible violence, the teacher is brought before the ship’s captain and instructed to use his literary skills to aid him in writing his memoirs. He is to serve as scribe for a man who, in his remaining years, has made it his mission to commit as many acts of evil as possible in order to ensure that he meet his dead wife in hell. As the captain’s protected confidant, finding his only comfort in the few books afforded him, the teacher bears witness to monstrous brutality, relentless cruelty, strange wisdom, and a journey of redemption through loss of faith.
“I could not have imagined how impressive a work Blacklung would turn out to be. It’s a graphic novel, both in its vernacular term and in a more literal sense, violent and horrible and poetic at the same time – the sort of thing McCarthy might write if he were more interested in pirates than cowboys or Appalachians. Blacklung is a great book; canonically great.” —Chris Schweizer (Crogan’s Adventures)
“A truly organic and interesting way to cartoon, the complete package of verbal cadence and informative visual style.” – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
The 20th century had hit its exact midpoint. Social upheaval — sexual, social, racial, cultural — was in the air; and the fledgling EC comics line was about to become a vital part of it.
Working within the horror, war, crime, and science fiction genres, publisher William Gaines and editor/writer Al Feldstein combined a deliciously disreputable, envelope-pushing sensibility with moments of genuine, outraged social consciousness, which shone a hard light onto such hot-button topics as racism, anti-Semitism, mob justice, and misogyny and sexism.
The 1950s were also a launching pad for some of the greatest comic book artists in history, many of whom worked for EC — including Wallace Wood, whose hypnotically detailed, lushly expressive brushwork brought to life menacing thugs, ominous cityscapes, and small-town America, as well as Everymen grappling with profound moral issues — not to mention some of the most heart-stoppingly beautiful women ever to sashay across a comic book page.
Came the Dawn collects all 26 Wood-drawn horror and crime stories — including the full baker’s dozen of EC’s most courageous and politically charged dramas.
Taking its title from one of Wood’s all-time classics, the evil little paranoid thriller “Came the Dawn,” this collection features page after page after page of Wood’s sleek and meticulously crafted artwork put in the service of cunning twist-ending stories, most often from the typewriter of EC editor Al Feldstein. These tales range from supernatural shockers from the pages of Tales From the Crypt and The Haunt of Fear (“The Living Corpse,” “Terror Ride,” “Man From the Grave,” “Horror in the Freak Tent”) to often pointedly contemporary crime thrillers from Crime SuspenStories (“The Assault,” “The Whipping,” and “Confession,” which was singled out for specific excoriation in the anti-comics screed Seduction of the Innocent, thus giving it a special cachet), but the breathtaking art and whiplash-inducing shock endings are constants throughout.
Like every book in the Fantagraphics EC line, Came the Dawn features extensive essays and notes on these classic stories by EC experts — but the real “meat” of the matter (sometimes literally, in the grislier stories) is supplied by these ofted lurid, sometimes downright over-the-top, but always compelling and superbly crafted, classic comic-book masterpieces.
The creation of MAD would have been enough to cement Harvey Kurtzman’s reputation as one of the titans of American comics, but Kurtzman also created two other comics landmarks: the scrupulously-researched and superbly-crafted war comics Two-Fisted Tales and Frontline Combat. Here were finally war comics without heroic, cigar-chomping sergeants, wisecracking privates from Brooklyn, or cartoon Nazis and “Japs” to be mowed down by the Yank heroes, but an unflinching look at the horror and madness of combat throughout history.
Kurtzman employed some of the finest of the EC artists including Jack Davis, John Severin, and Wallace Wood, but his vision came through clearest in the dozen or so stories he both wrote and drew himself, in his uniquely bold, slashing, cartoony-but-dead-serious style (“Stonewall Jackson,” “Iwo Jima,” “Rubble,” “Big ‘If ’,” and Kurtzman’s own favorite, “Air Burst”) — as well as his vividly colored, narratively-dense covers, all 23 of which are reproduced here in full color in a special portfolio.
Corpse on the Imjin! is rounded off with a dozen or so stories written and laid out by Kurtzman and drawn by “short-timers,” i.e. cartoonists whose contributions to his war books only comprised a story or two — including such giants as designer extraordinaire Alex Toth, Marvel comics stalwart Gene Colan, and a pre-Sgt. Rock Joe Kubert... and such unexpected guests as “The Lighter Side of...” MAD artist Dave Berg and DC comics veteran Ric Estrada — as well as a rarity: a story by EC regular John Severin inked by Kurtzman.
Like every book in the Fantagraphics EC line, Corpse on the Imjin! features extensive essays and notes on these classic stories by EC experts — but Kurtzman’s stories, as vital, powerful, affecting, and even, yes, modern today as when they were created 60 years ago, are what makes this collection a must-have for any comics reader.
Ron Regé, Jr. is a very unusual yet accomplished storyteller whose work exudes a passionate moral, idealistic core that sets him apart from his peers. The Cartoon Utopia is his Magnum Opus, a unique work of comic art that, in the words of its author, "focuses on ideas that I've become intrigued by that stem from magical, alchemical, ancient ideas & mystery schools." It's part sci-fi, part philosophy, part visual poetry, and part social manifesto. Regé's work exudes psychedelia, outsider rawness, and pure cartoonish joy.
In The Cartoon Utopia, "Utopians" of the future world are attempting to send messages through consciousness, outside of the constricts of time as we understand it. They live in a world of advanced collective consciousness and want to help us understand how to achieve what they have accomplished. They get together to perform this task in a way that evolved out of our current system of consuming information and entertainment. In other words, the opposite of television. Instead, these messages appear in the form of art, music and storytelling.
Praise for Ron Regé, Jr.:
"One of a handful of cartoonists in the history of the medium to not only reinvent comics to suit his own idiosyncratic impulses and inspirations as an artist, but also to imbue it with his own peculiar, ever changing emotional energy. To me, he is unquestionably one of 'the greats.'" – Chris Ware
"Slow down when you read his pictures and ornately lettered words, quivering, scintillating, radiant, and they will leave you awake and awakened." – Paul Gravett
During his fifty-year career, ninety-nine percent of Charles Schulz's creative energies went into the daily Peanuts comic strip. But once in a while he would create a special something else on the side, and this adorable little package collects two of his best "extras" from the 1960s: two Christmas-themed stories written and drawn for national magazines.
Created in 1963 (two years before the Charlie Brown Christmas TV special) as a supplement for Good Housekeeping magazine, "Charlie Brown's Christmas Stocking" comprises 15 original captioned vignettes featuring the entire Peanuts cast of the time — Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus, Schroeder, Frieda, Violet, Shermy, and Sally — each with a joke or reflection about the season.
"The Christmas Story" is an original tale created for Woman's Day in 1968, this one focusing just on Snoopy and the Van Pelt siblings, with Lucy and Linus each explaining the meaning of the holiday to Snoopy. "I’m going to have to be careful," Snoopy reflects at the end of the story, resting on his doghouse next to his bone-decorated tree; "all this theology could ruin my Christmas."
The book also includes notes on the provenance of the stories and a pocket-sized biography of Schulz. A perfect gift item for the season!
Add Lilli Carré's acclaimed debut The Lagoon to your order for just $9.99 ($5 off)! Use the option menu when ordering.
The creator of 2008’s acclaimed graphic novel The Lagoon — named to many annual critics’ lists including Publishers Weekly and USA Today’s Pop Candy — is back with a stunningly designed and packaged collection of some of the most poetic and confident short fiction being produced in comics today. These stories, created over a period of five years, touch on ideas of flip sides, choices, and extreme ambivalence.
Carré’s elegant short stories read like the gothic, family narratives of Flannery O’Connor or Carson McCullers, but told visually. Poetic rhythms — a coin flip, a circling ferris wheel — are punctuated by elements of melancholy fantasy pushed forward by character-driven, naturalistic dialogue. The stories in Heads or Tails display a virtuosic breadth of visual styles and color palettes, each in perfect service of the story, and range from experimental one-pagers to short masterpieces like "The Thing About Madeline" (featured in The Best American Comics 2008), to graphic novellas like "The Carnival" (featured in David Sedaris’ and Dave Eggers’ 2010 Best American Nonrequired Reading, originally published in MOME), to new work created for this book.
Fantagraphics spotlights the intersection of art and language in this innovative new collection — without peer in English — that gathers the work of visual poets from around the world into one stunning volume. The alphabet is turned on its head and inside-out and the results culminate in a compilation of daring and surprising verbo-visual gems.
The Last Vispo Anthology is composed of vispo (a portmanteau of the words “visual” and “poetry") from the years 1998 to 2008, during a burst of creative activity fueled by file sharing and email, which made it possible for the vispo community to establish a more heightened and sophisticated dialogue with one another. The collection extends the dialectic between art and literature that began with ancient “shaped text,” medieval pattern poetry, and dada typography, pushing past the concrete poetics of the 1950s and the subsequent mail art movement of the 1980s to its current incarnation. Rather than settle into predictable, unchallenged patterns, this vibrant poetry seizes new tools to expand the body of work that inhabits the borderlands of visual art and poetic language.
The Last Vispo Anthology features 148 contributors from 23 countries on five continents. It includes 12 essays that illuminate the abundant history and the state of vispo today. The anthology offers a broad amalgam of long-time practitioners and poets new to visual poetry over the last decade, underscoring the longevity and the continued vitality of the art form.
“The descriptor ‘visual poetry’ cannot begin to hint at the wealth of potent mystery that The Last Vispo contains. It knocked my mind right off its cozy little track and sent it sprawling through a myriad of brand new experiences. I can’t remember the last time I encountered something so charged, mysterious, deep and pleasurably upsetting as this book.” – Jim Woodring
“A delightful cornucopia of imaginary languagescapes, opening the eye to other alphabetic climes, beyond the ho-hum regimentation of linear normalcies. & all from (just about) the past decade. Visual poetries: alive and expanding. It’s positively viral.” – Charles Bernstein
“Staring your way into and through the letter as object — the letter as solitary sign, the letter as crowned king. Staring gives us the keys to the kingdom. This book is a glorious adjunct to the long history of concrete and visual poetry. Long live the king!” – Harry Mathews
In 1970, William S. Burroughs and artist Malcolm McNeill began a small collaborative project on a comic entitled The Unspeakable Mr. Hart, which appeared in the first four issues of Cyclops, England’s first comics magazine for an adult readership. Soon after, Burroughs and McNeill agreed to collaborate on a book-length meditation on time, power, control, and corruption that evoked the Mayan codices and specifically, the Mayan god of death, Ah Pook. Ah Pook Is Here was to include their character Mr. Hart, but stray from the conventional comics form to explore different juxtapositions of images and words.
Ah Pook was never finished in its intended form. In a 1979 prose collection that included only the words from the collaboration, Ah Pook is Here and Other Texts (Calder, 1979), Burroughs explains in the preface that they envisioned the work to be “one that falls into neither the category of the conventional illustrated book nor that of a comix publication.” Rather, the work was to include “about a hundred pages of artwork with text (thirty in full-color) and about fifty pages of text alone.” The book was conceived as a single painting in which text and images were combined in whatever form seemed appropriate to the narrative. It was conceived as 120 continuous pages that would "fold out." Such a book was, at the time, unprecedented, and no publisher was willing to take a chance and publish a “graphic novel.”
However, Malcolm McNeill created nearly a hundred paintings, illustrations, and sketches for the book, and these, finally, are seeing the light of day in The Lost Art of Ah Pook. (Burroughs’ text will not be included.) McNeill himself is an exemplary craftsman and visionary painter whose images have languished for over 30 years, unseen. Even in a context divorced from the words, they represent a stunning precursor to the graphic novel form to come.
Sara J. Van Ness contributes an historical essay chronicling the long history of Burroughs’ and McNeill’s work together, including its incomplete publishing history with Rolling Stone’s Straight Arrow Press, the excerpt that ran in Rush magazine, and the text that was published without pictures.
Observed While Falling is an account of the personal and creative interaction that defined the collaboration between the writer William S. Burroughs and the artist Malcolm McNeill on the graphic novel Ah Pook Is Here. The memoir chronicles the events that surrounded it, the reasons it was abandoned and the unusual circumstances that brought it back to life. McNeill describes his growing friendship with Burroughs and how their personal relationship affected their creative partnership. The book is written with insight and humor, and is liberally sprinkled with the kind of outré anecdotes one would expect working with a writer as original and eccentric as Burroughs. It confirms Burroughs’ and McNeill’s prescience, the place of Ah Pook in relation to the contemporary graphic novel, and its anticipation of the events surrounding 2012. The book offers new insights into Burroughs’ working methods as well as how the two explored the possibilities of words and images working together to form the ambitious literary hybrid that they didn’t know, at the time, was a harbinger of the 21st century “graphic novel.” McNeill expounds on the lessons of that experience to bring Ah Pook into present time. In light of current events, Ah Pook is unquestionably Here now.
Observed While Falling presents a unique view of the creative process that will be of interest to artists, writers and general readers alike. A perspective evoked by a literary experiment that has endured for forty years and still continues to “happen.”
As always, a plot summary of the latest installment of Johnny (Angry Youth Comix) Ryan’s hugely popular sci-fi-prison-planet-gore-fest-slugfest-a-thon serial must, in order to be presentable to normal, decent human beings, be cut into fine Belgian lace. And so, with apologies:
“Cannibal F***face discovers the only way to escape the Caligulon is to brainf*** the Slorge and create a giant, brainless oafchild that only knows how to annihilate everything in its path. And what happens when the Slugstaxx show up and use their nightj*** to turn this mindless monster against CF? Total F***ing Mayhem.”
Advance Praise: "You know you're reading Prison Pit when there's a character called Undigestible Scrotum and someone tries to see if he lives up to his name... Prison Pit is what you read when no one is home and you're not eating." – Chris Mautner
Within his tiny village, Ralph Azham is considered an insolent good-for-nothing layabout, a virtual pariah — particularly since he was supposed to be a Chosen One. (Things didn’t work out.) Yet his odd azure coloration and a few unique abilities (he can predict births and deaths) suggest that there may be more to him than meets the eye. And when the terrifying Horde stages one of its regular raids on his village, Ralph takes the young Raoul under his wing and sets out for a series of adventures...
Trondheim is already well known to fantasy buffs for the worldwide success Dungeon, the complex set of interlocking series he created with fellow cartoonist Joann Sfar and a raft of artists. While Ralph Azham works within the same genre, this is a far more tightly focused, single-character-starring new series for which Trondheim is solely responsible — that is, except for the stunningly rich coloring, provided by his longtime collaborator Brigitte Findakly working in hand-executed watercolors for the first time in over a decade.
Witty and fleet-footed like all of Trondheim's work, madly inventive in terms of characters, creatures, and events, Ralph Azham is scheduled to run for at least six volumes and is presented in a distinctive "landscape" format.
"Trondheim is a master! Fun, irreverent, and filled with moments of truthiness! Just when you think you know where he's taking you, he suddenly turns sideways and surprises." – Jeff Smith, creator of Bone
Who says dead men tell no tales? When grim grinning ghosts come out to socialize, they’ll find fearless Mickey all ready to rumble — as soon as he’s done fighting gangsters, bandits, and international men of mystery, that is! From Africa to Eastern Europe, our favorite big cheese is in for terrifying thrills — and he’s bringing Goofy, Donald Duck, and that big palooka Pegleg Pete along for the ride!
When Mickey sets out to eject "The Seven Ghosts" from Bassett Manor, he finds more than just specters providing the scares! Next, moving smoothly from horror to science fiction, our hero discovers an awesome "Island in the Sky" — and meets its maker, the powerful atomic scientist Dr. Einmug!
Lovingly restored from Disney’s original negatives and proof sheets, House of the Seven Haunts also includes more than 50 pages of spooky supplementary features! You’ll enjoy rare behind-the-scenes art, vintage publicity material, and fascinating commentary by a haunted houseful of Disney scholars.
In one of the most eagerly-anticipated graphic novels of 2012, Soldier’s Heart concludes the story of Carol Tyler and her delving into her father’s war experiences in a way that is both surprising and devastating — and rather than trying to summarize this episode and thus possibly spoil it for readers, we prefer to simply offer a selection of comments on the first two installments of this autobiographical masterpiece.
Publishers Weekly: “(Starred Review) In the first volume of Tyler’s planned trilogy of graphic memoirs, she dug into the eruptive, violent memories of her father’s WWII experiences while simultaneously dealing with a husband who decided to go find himself and leave her with a daughter to raise. [Book Two] is no less rich and overwhelming. Tyler gets back to the business of detailing her father’s war stories — difficult given that he is ‘one of those guys who closed it off and never talked about it’ — as well as coming to terms with her already touchy parents’ increasingly ornery attitudes. Closing the circle somewhat is Tyler’s concern over her daughter’s troubled nature, which seems to mirror her own wild past. While the language of Chicago-raised and Cincinnati-based Tyler has a winningly self-deprecating Midwestern spareness to it, her art is a lavishly prepared kaleidoscope of watercolors and finely etched drawings, all composed to look like the greatest family photo album of all time. The story’s honest self-revelations and humane evocations of family dramas are tremendously moving. Tyler’s book could well leave readers simultaneously eager to see the third volume, but also nervous about the traumas, home front and war front, that it might contain.”
Booklist: “Tyler’s fluid, expressive linework, complemented by subtly overlaid watercolors, gives ideal visual expression to a narrative that’s at once sensitive and hard-nosed... Decades of drawing mostly autobiographical stories have honed her skills, enabling her to produce a work that ranks in quality with the graphic memoirs of Alison Bechdel (Fun Home) and Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis).”