You won't believe how many debuts we're bringing with us to Bethesda for the 2012 Small Press Expo on September 15th & 16th! Here's your SPX shopping list -- bring extra bags to carry everything:
• The Lost Art of Ah Pook Is Here: Images from the Graphic Novel by Malcolm McNeill (not officially out 'til October!) In 1970, William S. Burroughs and artist Malcolm 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. 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.
• Observed While Falling: Bill Burroughs, Ah Pook, and Me by Malcolm McNeill (not officially out 'til October!)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.
• Barack Hussein Obama by Steven WeissmanIt’s neither a biography nor an experiment, but a whole, fully-realized parallel America, a dada-esque, surrealistic satirical vision that is no more cockeyed than the real thing, its weirdness no more weird, its vision of the world no more terrifying, where the zombie-esque simulacra of Joe Biden and Hillary and Newt and Obama wander, if not exactly through the corridors of power, through an America they made and have to live in, like it or not. NOTE: Steven Weissman will be signing at SPX!
• Blacklung by Chris Wright (not officially out until October!) 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. NOTE: Chris Wright will be signing at SPX!
• Came the Dawn and Other Stories (The EC Comics Library) by author: Illustrated by Wallace Wood; written by Al Feldstein et al.; edited by Gary Groth (not officially out until October!) 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 Cartoon Utopia by Ron Rege, Jr.(not officially out until October!) 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.
• Corpse on the Imjin! and Other Stories (The EC Comics Library) by Harvey Kurtzman, et al.; edited by Gary Groth(not officially out until October!) 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.
• Naked Cartoonists: Drawers Drawing Themselves Without Drawers by Various Artists; edited by Gary GrothIn an irreverent twist to the fine art tradition of The Nude, this unique and original collection presents a “stripped” down version of the infamous “Gallery of Rogues” exhibit of cartoonist self-portraits at Ohio State University. Here you’ll find a cornucopia of cartoonists’ nude self-portraits from the collection of Mark J. Cohen and Rose Marie McDaniel.
• Heads or Tails by Lilli Carré(not officially out until November!) 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. NOTE: Lilli Carré will be signing at SPX!
• The Hypo by Noah Van Sciver The debut graphic novel from Noah Van Sciver follows the twentysomething Abraham Lincoln as he loses everything, long before becoming our most beloved president. Lincoln is a rising Whig in the state’s legislature as he arrives in Springfield, IL to practice law. As time passes and uncertainty creeps in, young Lincoln is forced to battle a dark cloud of depression brought on by a chain of defeats and failures culminating into a nervous breakdown that threatens his life and sanity. This cloud of dark depression Lincoln calls “The Hypo.” NOTE: Noah Van Sciver will be signing at SPX!
• Is That All There Is? by Joost Swarte[softcover & hardcover 2nd edition debut] Under Swarte’s own exacting supervision, Is That All There Is? will collect virtually all of his alternative comics work from 1972 to date, including the RAW magazine stories that brought him fame among American comics aficionados in the 1980s.
• Love and Rockets: New Stories #5 by Gilbert & Jaime HernandezIn Jaime's story “Crime Raiders International Mobsters and Executioners,” Tonta comes to visit for a weekend and sees what kind of life the Frog Princess is living with Reno and Borneo. On the other-brother side, Gilbert celebrates the 30th anniversary by bringing one of his current characters (“Killer,” granddaughter to the legendary Luba) into the Palomar milieu. NOTE: Gilbert & Jaime Hernandez will be signing at SPX!
• Prison Pit: Book 4 by Johnny Ryan(not officially out until November!) “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.”
• Ralph Azham Vol. 1: Why Would You Lie to Someone You Love? by Lewis Trondheim(not officially out until October!) 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.
• Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Vol. 4: House of the Seven Haunts by Floyd Gottfredson(not officially out until October!) 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!
• You'll Never Know Book 3: Soldier's Heart by C. Tyler(not officially out until October!) 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.
The fully charged Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review:School Library Journal will happily be lending out copies of Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons to library patrons. Francisca Goldsmith says, "O’Connor’s viewpoint as a college student during the early years of World War II at an all-female Southern institution adds another layer of texture, too, for contemporary teen artists and observers of places and situations that fall outside popular media’s scope."
• Review: On Comics Worth Reading, Johanna Draper Carlson checks out Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Vol. 3: High Noon at Inferno Gulch by Floyd Gottfredson, edited by David Gerstein with Gary Groth. "While the strips are surprisingly entertaining to readers not used to such a vibrant version of the title character, I enjoy the supplemental material just as much. The introduction by Thomas Andrae puts the work in context and point out key observations that aid in getting more out of the comics."
• Review:AV Club thumbs through the finest of our collection. Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons, edited by Kelly Gerald, features "a Barry Moser introduction into how O’Connor used the medium and a Kelly Gerald-penned look at how O’Connor’s early life influenced her art. The Moser and Gerald pieces are so well-researched that they’d be worth reading even without the cartoons between them." Noel Murray continues onto Mort Meskin's Out of the Shadows, "Not tied down to any one character, Meskin was free to work in a variety of genres, most of which are represented here: jungle adventure, supernatural horror, westerns, science fiction, romance, crime, etc." The trip down comics-memory-lane makes at stop at Uncle Scrooge: Only a Poor Old Man by Carl Barks: "[the stories] are just as rich in their original form, packed with clever plans, narrow escapes, and a lead character who enjoys amassing and hoarding his huge fortune, even though it makes him a little nutty." On Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Vol. 3: High Noon at Inferno Gulch by Floyd Gottfredson, Murray points out, "[editors] Gerstein and Gary Groth have assembled the usual outstanding array of contextual material, including a Gottfredson-inspired Italian Donald Duck strip from 1937 that helped seed that country’s still-fertile contributions to Disney comics…"
• Review: Nick Gazin at Vice looksSexytime up and down. The Jacques Boyreau-edited collection is a mighty fun read because ". . . every one of the posters in this book is fascinating for one reason or another. It might just be that design is so ugly that even the lowest-level design from the 70s is better than the best of what anyone's making right now. . . Portable Grindhouse was a nearly-perfect book and so is this one."
• Plug:Comic Book Resources mentions the The Art of Joe Kubert edited by Bill Schelly and mainstream comics. Augie De Blieck Jr. says, "I learned a lot about Joe Kubert from Fantagraphics' biography on him that I read last fall. It immediately made me want to go buy some reprints of 50 year old DC material that I previously had no affection for." Kubert was a master and will be missed.
• Review:San Francicso Chronicle reviews No Straight Lines edited by Justin Hall. Charlie Wells writes, "Hall's book provides a striking example of how entwined the history and literature of the gay rights movement have been since the early days of the battle.
• Review:Chicago Tribune likes the premise of the Significant Objectseditedby Joshua Glenn and Rob Walker but was not bowled over by the micro-fiction. Christopher Borrelli said, " . . . attaching a story is partly the appeal of a farmer's market, a Happy Meal. The right back story for a brand such as Apple, the editors argue, helps build a phenomenon. . . A note about the physical book, itself a gorgeous, significant object. . ."
• Review: Recently found a Robot 6 review from SCAD cartoonig professor and cartoonist, Chris Schweizer, on Chris Wright's Black Lungbefore it was signed to Fantagraphics. According to Schweizer, his opinions still hold true: "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."
• Plug: Torsten Adair posts on The Beat how to order and find those SPECIAL Halloween comics that your store may or may not give out for free. Buy a stack of 20 comics for $5 and this exclusive Spacehawk comic by Basil Wolverton can be yours! "You should offer to pay for them in advance, since the comics shop will most likely consider these unusual items, and be hesitant to place the order. Of course, if they’re a cool store, they are probably participating in Halloween ComicFest, and will be happy to add your order to their store order."
• Plug: Speaking of shopping, Johanna Draper Carlson gives some tips on finding that first volume of Wandering Son by Shimura Takako on Comics Worth Reading. Good news though, the second printing will arrive within the month!
• Plug: Tom Spurgeon gets worked up over the Daniel Clowes Reader on The Comics Reporter. Fantagraphics is releasing a "Ken Parille-edited book on Dan Clowes in early 2013. Ken Parille's stuff is routinely pretty great. . . Count me in."
Chris Wright writes: "My second book, and first 'graphic novel' Blacklung, will, if all goes according to plan, be debuting at SPX in September. I didn’t feel like drawing new comics one day, so I drew these promotional poster type things instead." It'd be nice to have some printed copies to give away at our SPX table — I'll see if we can make that happen. In the meantime, you can read a 12-page excerpt and pre-order a copy of the book right here.
•Interview (audio): NPR affliate 89.c KPCC interviewed both Significant Objects' editor Joshua Gleen and contributor Mark Frauenfelder (of BoingBoing and MAKE). Madeleine Brand says, "One's man trash is another man's treasure, especially if it comes with a really good story."
•Review:The Comics Journal shakes down Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons, edited by Kelly Gerald.
•Interview (video):Bill Moyers interviews on comics journalist Joe Sacco "I'm not interested in tears, I'm not even interested in sentimentality. But I am interested in telling peoples' stories who are repressed or are poor." Sacco and collaborator Chris Hedges will join Bill Moyers for a chat TONIGHT, Wednesday, July 25 at 2 PM ET.
•Commentary: More insight on upcoming books from Fantagraphics as Bleeding Cool covered the SDCC Fantagraphics/D&Q panel. On Chris Wright's Black Lung:"The story was hard to follow, but that’s a good thing, because it sounds like the sort of surreal, go for broke, graphic storytelling that readers expect when they buy a Fantagraphics book. . . lyrical, anthropomorphic, violent and layered. Enough praise couldn’t be shed for this book. . ." On Ron Rege, Jr.'s Cartoon Utopia: "Beings from the future try to help us evolve, sending us messages, trying to show us what life can be like without “forced entertainment” (i.e. television). Drawn in an idiosyncratic, gorgeous, dense style. . ."
•Review:The Comics Journal locks their tractor beam onto Josh Simmon's collection called The Furry Trap. Brandon Soderberg says, "Josh Simmons’ work eschews the cheap thrills and glib cynicism of most horror comics. . .Simmons is a belligerent cartoonist, drawing without censure, adding a nervous energy to an ostensibly pleasant, bubbly style — like Gary Panter doing Where’s Waldo?, or Peanuts with all the existential despair laid completely bare. And he’s fully dedicated to simple, panel-to-panel pay-off, . . ."
•Plug: Summer art sales continue, this time with Johnny Ryan's A Famous Night (gig posters for concerts the never happened). Buy one for your walls and never have to entertain you in-laws at home again.
•Review:Comic Book Resources focuses on Barry Windsor-Smith's The Freebooters. While examining the first page, Greg Burgas said,"It’s amazing that Barry Windsor-Smith didn’t go blind drawing this page and the two that follows it, but luckily for readers, he managed to produce many beautiful pages after this. This is a fantastic way to begin this comic. . ."
•Review:The New York Review of Books takes a look at Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons. Barry Moser: "[Flannery O'Connor] also said that a story—or a linoleum print, if you will—has to have muscle as well as meaning, and the meaning has to be in the muscle. Her prints certainly have muscle, and a lot of it."
•Plug:Kotaku was pleased with their copy of God and Science by Jaime Hernandez in an article called "Four Comics That Will Vibrate Your Molecules This Week." Evan Narcisse expands on an idea, "It's as if [the Hernandez Brothers] never shook their adolescent fascination with rayguns and capes, choosing instead to deepen the metaphoric and escapist elements of such genre tropes."
•Plug:Comics Crux snagged a copy of Jaime Hernandez' God and Science plus the FIB mini. Jess Pendley matter-of-factly states: "If you are a fan of either Jaime Hernandez or traditional capes-and-tights stories, you’ll only be doing yourself a service by purchasing this right now."
•Interview (video): Watch an 'Outrageous Tub' interview featuring No Straight Lines editor Justin Hall on Accidental Bear. In reference to a superhero question "Are you good or bad?" Hall replied, "I haven't made a decision yet." Be bad, be sooo bad.
•Plug: The guys over at Stumptown Trade Review got excited about No Straight Lines, edited by Justin Hall: "It was just the other day that I mentioned one could never tell what was coming from Fantagraphics. As if to prove my point, they are at it again. . ."
•Review:Paste Magazine had a lovely time reading Mr. Twee Deedle (edited by Rick Marschall): "[Johnny Gruelle's] strips seem crafted mostly to impart lessons (be kind, don’t wiggle, giving is better than receiving), and there’s no question that they can feel preachy and simplistic, but the art, deliberately old-fashioned even at the time and reminiscent of Kate Greenaway’s illustrations, rescues them."
•Plug:Robot 6 caught the scent of a very good book slated for September by Chris Wright. Michael May is excited for Blacklung: "Depressing, existential AND romantic? I couldn’t sign up quickly enough for Chris Wright’s original graphic novel debut."
Before there was Mome, before the current explosion of small-press anthologies, there was Blood Orange, the short-lived mid-'00s series edited by Chris Polkki which gathered rising stars of the art-comics scene in four distinctive, beautifully designed 48-page issues. Blood Orange captured the pulse of alt-comics circa 2004-2005. We recently recovered a small quantity of shrink-wrapped packs of all 4 issues from the distributor, and we're now offering them via mail-order for the special low price of $17.85 — that's 3 issues for the price of 4! (You can also get the individual issues for $5.95 each.)
In the first issue: Nicolas Mahler, Rick Altergott, Michael Kupperman, Lauren Weinstein, Typex, David Collier, Maaike Hartjes, Allison Cole, Tobias Tak, Dan James, Marc Bell, John Hankiewicz, Matthew Thurber, Kevin Huizenga, Ron Regé Jr., a sketchbook from Gary "Teacher's Pet" Baseman, and covers by Andrew Brandou.
The second issue continues to encourage experimentation, pushing the medium in new directions. Look for innovative stories from groundbreakers such as Archer Prewitt, Rebecca Dart, Chris Wright (with a full-length 18-page story), Ron Regé Jr., Jeffrey Brown, Matti Hagelberg, Lauren Weinstein, Cole Johnson, Helge Reumann, and Fabio Viscogliosi, along with drawings by Renee French... all wrapped in a lovely cover designed by the one and only Steven Weissman.
The third issue of this always-surprising quarterly anthology series features European cartoonists Pakito Bolino and Caroline Sury (of France's Le Dernier Cri), Ulf K., Alex Baladi, Nicolas Mahler, Olaf Ladousse, and Fabio Zimbres; as well the homegrown talents of Anders Nilsen, Renee French and Ben Jones (Paper Rad). Also includes a brand-new 11-pager by Jeffrey Brown! With an eye-popping cover by French illustrator Olivier Douzou.
Blood Orange #4 wraps up the series with exclusive new stories by Brian Ralph, Lark Pien, Tobias Tak, Rebecca Dart and Ted May. Covers by Lark Pien.