Next month's issue of Booklist will include review of a recent releases by a Fantagraphics creator, excerpted below: The Love Bunglers by Jaime Hernandez Starred Review: "Skillfully merging tragedy and serendipity, Hernandez brings the [Maggie and Ray's] intertwining stories to a satisfying, if hard-won, culmination. The simplicity of Hernandez's page designs and the elegant economy of his drawing style belie the thoughtful sophistication of his storytelling… Although The Love Bunglers certainly isn't a jumping-on point for new readers, fans who've followed Maggie's exploits over the years will find it a heartbreakingly satisfying achievement that leaves the door wide open for further chapters in this most rewarding and accomplished of serialized comics." –Gordon Flagg
Rolling Stone recently listed it's Top 50 Non-Superhero Graphic Novels and we made up 22% of that list (including a few books that we published and have been rereleased by others). If you haven't picked up one of these books, get steppin' to your local comic book store, buy one from the website, visit the library---you've go so many options! Picks by Joe Gross also of the Austin-American Statesman.
47Safe Area Gorazde by Joe Sacco "Joe Sacco is one of the medium's premier journalists; that he has focused on war-torn regions makes his work feel that much more vital and impressive...Gorazde - is a great place to start."
44You'll Never Know series by C. Tyler "Tyler is a top flight memoirist, and You'll Never Know pulses with a maturity not often found in the medium."
43Usagi Yojimbo by Stan Sakai "Never less than thoughtful and entertaining, Usagi Yojimbo is one of the most consistent comics around."
15Uncle Scrooge by Carl Barks "His Donald Duck stories are a comedic blast, but his Uncle Scrooge stories are veritable silly symphonies of complicated plotting and intercontinental adventure. Need a master class in how to tell a great comics story? Read any Barks' Scrooge stories from 1950 until his retirement in 1966. It's all there."
5The Complete Crumb by R. Crumb "To ignore him completely is only to invite accidentally ripping him off; he's the Bob Dylan of the comics underground, and his work is embedded in the medium's DNA now."
1Love and Rockets by Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez "Imagine the Clash or R.E.M. or Run-DMC not only never broke up, but, for 30 years, never once released a less-than-excellent record. Imagine their command of their craft just became more pronounced year after year, earning the unshakable admiration of their fans and peers. Imagine they made the best record of their career, 30 years on, this decade. This is essentially what Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez have done with Love and Rockets, the greatest American comic book series of all time."
"Millionaire's Sock Monkey comics feature a pair of stuffed toys...who dwell in a large Victorian mansion with their young owner, Ann-Louise…Millionaire's old-fashioned, lushly delicate drawing style is the ideal vehicle for these faux-nostalgic tales, which frequently end in devastation or take a disconcertingly dark turn....While the Sock Monkey strips bear a surface resemblance to classic children's comics, their actual audience is adults who fondly recall the comics of their youth but now require edgier fare." - Gordon Flagg, Booklist
The terrific meltdown in the grocery line of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review:nbsp;Cosplayers by Dash Shaw "It's a clever idea, and Shaw brings surprising insight to the very short stories. He uses different panel configurations and color palettes to break each story up into scenes, as if they were movies themselves, and his deft linework makes it all look easy." –Bridgid Alverson, Robot 6
• Review: Locust Moon on New School by Dash Shaw "...golly-gee wide-eyed comic classicism mixed with an antiquated, old-testament use of language and heavy moral seriousness, all in service of a surprisingly traditional and very relatably human story of a young kid's worship, envy and disillusionment with his older brother. Like so many of Shaw's comics, it's a wild experiment that works." -Josh, Locust Moon Comics
• Review: "Shaw is messing with the conventions of the comic strip narrative in a radical way, and that disruption is his true subject...…New School is a broad-ranging fantasia with the emotional template of a blockbuster film, where personal issues of love and loss are overshadowed by grandiose abstractions of good and evil." –Carter Scholz, The Comics Journal
• Plug: Thirteen Minutes lists New School as one of the top 10 comics of 2013 "Aside from the rich family dynamics and subtle sci-fi exploration of the new, New School is largely a paradigmatic tale about willfully crafting a cultural sense of identity. It's the best work so far from a daring creator who just gets better and better with each successive project." -Justin Giampaoli, Thirteen Minutes
• Review:Comics Bulletin lists New School by Dash Shaw on the Top 10 of Comics of 2013. "Dash Shaw expands the vocabulary of comics with his poetic approach to his graphic novel…New School is the most beguilingly fascinating, smartly innovative, deliberately off-putting work of comics art that I've read in several years. It's a masterpiece of innovation." –Jason Sacks, Comics Bulletin
• Review: Booklist Online looks at New School. "More enigmatic than Shaw's previous work, New School is a spectacular display of his graphic artistry... Stunning enough to be suitable for framing." -Ray Olson
• Review:Darling Dork on New School by Dash Shaw. "New School's title could be seen a call for a new breed of comics, a breed that takes only the bare minimum required from the past as it strides boldly toward the future. The New School is here, and Dash Shaw may just be its headmaster." –Nate Derr
• Review: On Jaime Hernandez's latest graphic novel "To experience Maggie's story is to watch a modern comic-book master explore the potential of his craft, and The Love Bunglersrepresents a high point for both the character and her creator." –Oliver Sava, A.V. Club
• Review: Broken Frontier on The Love Bunglers. "Even if you haven't shared the accumulated history of Maggie and Ray over the past 30 years, this is a universal story of literally breathtaking power...It might seem counter-intuitive to suggest that you jump in at what might be the end of it all, but once you've been through this story with the characters, you'll want to immerse yourself in the hundreds of pages that led them there. And your life - in comics and beyond - will be immeasurably richer" –Tom Murphy, Broken Frontier
• Review: Starred Review for Nijigahara Holograph by Inio Asano "Equal parts beautiful and highly disturbing, this story of love and loss, obsession and vengeance, is sometimes too opaque to be easily understood, but it has the kind of depth and layers that encourage multiple readings"–Publishers Weekly
• Review: Sarah Horrocks on Nijigahara Holograph< by Inio Asano. "Life in Nijigahara Holograph is depicted through the management of trauma and memory. Adults become adults by what precious things they are stripped of as children, and how well they function as adults is down to just how well they can deny those memories…That the horrors we are exposed to or create as children are perhaps unfairly navigatory in the horrible lives we end up living. The fragility of children in a horrible world, and how it predisposes them to perpetuate an eternal hell from which there is no salvation. Wire Seaon 4, ya." –Sarah Horrocks, Mercurial Blonde (1 of 2), Mercurial Blonde (2 of 2)
• Review:< \Nijigahara Holograph by Inio Asano "If David Lynch were a Japanese manga artist rather than an American film director, this is the sort of story one imagines he would tell in his hypothetical medium." –J. Caleb Mozzocoo, Robot6
• Review: Suvudu, Random House's blog on Nijigahara Holograph"Nijigahara Holograph has the same strong focus on character [as Asano's previous works], but with much more emphasis on the creepy and violently destructive…The complex, multi-layered storytelling rewards attention...I was left thinking about isolation and the need to belong and how much childhood traumas could shape the adults they became." –Johanna Draper Carlson, Suvudu
• Review:The Blighted Eye, edited by Glenn Bray "...it is a strange and wondrous feast. Behold its glory!...Just try and stay away from this book of temptation, I dare you!" –Librarie D&Q
• Review:The EC Comics Slipcase Vol. 1"They are now considered some of the finest comic books ever published...Publisher Fantagraphics is finally making these comics affordable in a series of high-quality slipcase editions."-Mark Frauenfelder Wink Books "The greatest comic books ever published," He continued on Boing Boing
• Review:Sucker Bait & Zero Hour "These collections show comics in a pure, unadulterated form. Before the Superhero frenzy, before '60s cynicism, and just before the Comics Code Authority started trimming all the gory and sexy fun from the pages with their seal of approval." - Under the Radar
• Review:Zero Hour and Other Stories by Jack Kamen, Ray Bradbury and Al Fieldstein on Forbidden Planet. "…the moral reminder (hey, this is the 50s) that in the end crime doesn't pay and that everyone will get their just deserts...Throughout all of these short tales though Kamen's artwork is gorgeous - the lurid, leering expression of the villainous man, the seductive and yet somehow simultaneously vicious glance of the scheming femme fatale...It's very much of its time though - not just the style of storytelling, but of that early post-war society that it came from." –Joe Gordon, Forbidden Planet International
• Review:Zero Hour and Other Stories "Kamen excelled at drawing 'ordinary,' domestic scenes, and this ability was effectively juxtaposed in a number of creepy stories here, including a trio of Ray Bradbury adaptations...The focus, though, is on the stories themselves, and that is as it should be. Once again Fantagraphics has released a quality collection from an outstanding talent. It is to be hoped that these compilations just keep coming." -David Maine, Spectrum Culture
• Review:The Comics Journal Library Vol. 8: The EC Artists edited by Mike Dean and Gary Groth "This is a terrific book for anyone interested in the workings of the legendary EC Comics from behind the scenes...many of these interviews are obscure or long out of print, and are a trove of gossip and insight into the machinations of history's most notorious comics publisher." -David Maine, Spectrum Culture
• Review:Perfect Nonsenseby George Carlson "Prepare to be hurled deep into the past century to a vividly entrancing, pre-CG place of whimsy and wonder...Poring over the rich detail enlivening children's rhymes or his depiction of the Queen Mary ocean liner can be equally arresting and transporting." –Hays Davis, Under the Radar
• Review:Perfect Nonsenseby George Carlson "George Carlson shows himself to be the missing link between Lyonel Feininger and Dr. Seuss. He was not the sort of cartoonist who was broadly influential, but the sort whose work was known to a relative few and remembered by all of them…George Carlson takes us back to a visual environment where Disney doesn't exist, and thus his work has the fascination of the unfamiliar." –R. Fiore, The Comics Journal
• Review:Stranger Than Life by MK Brown is a staff pick at Last Gasp! "Holy shit, can she draw funny...MK Brown's art is terrific, her writing is unique, and this book makes me want to be struck by lightning while reading it, so I can die happy." –Kristine, Last Gasp
• Review:Stranger Than Life by MK Brown on TCJ: "Even if it wasn't one of those rare books where the writer of the afterword denounces the work of the writer of the foreword, Stranger Than Life would be guaranteed to be unlike anything else on your bookshelf, where it ought to be." –R. Fiore, The Comics Journal
• Review:Pretty in Ink by Trina Robbins "...her latest oversized, lushly illustrated offering is the most beautiful of the bunch. "Pretty in Ink" is encyclopedic in scope, if not scale, as Robbins summarizes lengthy careers with poetic succinctness..."-Jake Austen, Chicago Tribune
• Review:Castle Waiting by Linda Medley is listed on the LitReactor's 10 Most Unconventional Comics to Read. "Decidedly feminist and surprisingly light despite the inherent darkness of many fairy tales, Castle Waiting gives readers a rare and impressive glimpse into a collection of unusual characters and stories that will delight....It's frequently insightful, surprising, and is wonderfully dense and layered, not to mention literally long" -Kelly Thompson, LitReactor
• Review:Black Lung by Chris Wright on No Flying No Tights. "It's all very hazy and evoking something that's a step-sister of steampunk, or perhaps a drugged-out [new] Edward Gorey. Plunder, torture, lechery, drunkenness, mutilation, and madness throng this shocking story to the point that it becomes almost routine…the real point of Blacklung's existence is to let Chris Wright explore what he can do with his squirm-inducing, spooky cartooning style - each panel cross-hatched to infinity, with many blacked-out panels or even whole pages gone black for narrative effect, darkness setting in from all sides." –Emilia Packard, No Flying No Tights • Review:Cannon by Wallace Wood "I can't decide if it's the most amazing thing I've ever read or the most morally reprehensible thing I've ever read. In fact, it's amazing partly because it's so morally reprehensible. John Cannon is a more manly James Bond...Despite the rather warped sexual politics (which might have been more acceptable in the early 1970s, but still seem extreme for the time period), Cannon is a wildly entertaining strip, full of action and excitement." –Greg Burgas, Comic Book Resources
• Review: Sequential Crush takes a heartfelt look at Young Romance 2. "...What you'll discover after reading this volume is that the early Simon and Kirby romance stories are filled with young women who are steadfast in their dreams, and won't quit until they reach them... For me, the backgrounds are an education in our material past."–Jacque Nodell, Sequential Crush
• Review:Comics Worth Reading enjoys Young Romance 2 "...the impulses to risk everything for love or disobey parents who just don't understand are universal. The stories are dense - with intent, with events happening quickly, with full panels that establish setting background and costume, because all that is so important to getting caught up in these stories of women who only want to find love…It's a tribute to Jack Kirby's skill that the images, even when crammed into half the panel space, are so striking and evocative. The text, meanwhile, is full of flavor, setting a deeply emotional, almost melodramatic mood." -Johanna Draper Carlson, Comics Worth Reading
• Plug: Animation Magazine on Peanuts Every Sunday by Charles M. Schulz "You'll find very young versions of the gang and Snoopy in this edition, and it's quite fun to trace the origins of the more sophisticated characters we're more familiar with from later years and the animated specials...the whole reason to have this volume is to relive the joy of reading the Sunday morning funnies-and that's why the larger format is absolutely vital to the experience. Keep ‘em coming, folks!" –Ramin Zahed, Animation Magazine
• Plug: More kinds words about Charles M. Schulz's complete run of Peanuts "…the pleasure of spending time with Charlie Brown and friends isn't purely nostalgic. Schulz was like Emily Dickinson in comic strip form, boring to the core of human experience with just a handful of words and gestures." –John Warner, Chicago Tribune
• Review: Batter Up, Charlie Brown by Charles M. Schulz "Jacob Covey provides the beautiful book design, with a limited palette of spring-appropriate yellows and greens...no matter how humiliating the defeat, Charlie Brown always shows up to play, which is in large part what makes this particular loser such a loveable one."–J. Caleb Mozzocco, School Library Journal • Review: NPR on Charles M. Schulz and reading Peanuts. "Charlie Brown makes me feel better about myself. It's not your normal guilty pleasure read, I know. It's my escape from guilt, into pleasure. The thousands of strips are comforting in their vastness - the most solid books on my shelf that could shield me, momentarily, from the advancing troop of guilt." -Yiyun Li, NPR
• Review:Prison Pit Book Five by Johnny Ryan "Visceral and juvenile; hypersexualized violence and hyperimaginative pseudo-sci-fi-Prison Pit has it all...Over-the-top bananas. I quite enjoyed it. Your mileage may vary. You've been warned." -Jeremy Nilsen, Under the Radar
• Review:Prison Pit Book Five by Johnny Ryan "...despite all the gore, Ryan frequently is able to achieve a certain amount of sublime, horrible beauty, most notably in the way he transitions between scenes...here's a genuine sense of horror at the proceedings, as though the comic were some sort of test, not for the reader (it's much too entertaining and smartly paced) but for Ryan himself, gazing into the abyss perhaps to see what exactly will make him flinch... There's an artistry and legitimacy here that belies the notion that picking at scabs is an exercise in futility." –Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review:Ed Piskor's NY Times Best Selling "Hip Hop Family Tree is the story of a very different kind of mash-up counterculture emerging from the empty lots of the Bronx, where commercial pop and jerry-rigged sound systems turned an economic wasteland into a space for creativity, pride, and the birth of a new culture…With Hip Hop Family Tree, Piskor fully embraces the role of graphic historian that he began to fulfill in his earlier work on the Beats and the history of hacking…" –Jared Gardner, Public Books
• Review: "Julia Gfrörer is a talented young cartoonist whose delicate linework brings to her gothic storytelling a fragile sensuality and somber humor. In her young career she has produced some splendid short work and mini-comics, but it is her debut novella, Black is the Color, that has brought her the attention she deserves." -Jared Gardner, Public Books • Review: FPI is excited about the upcoming How To Be Happy "Eleanor Davis is, without question, a major young creator...the constant is an incredible storytelling sense even when really pushing page layout, couple this with bravery, honesty, passion in what she makes and you have a star in the making." -Richard Bruton, Forbidden Planet International
• Plug: Ruben Bolling plugs our new Walt Disney's Donald Duck: Trail of the Unicorn collection by Carl Barks. "These Fantagraphics reprints of the Carl Barks Donald Duck/Uncle Scrooge comics are the gold standard for reprint publications -- which is an embarrassment of riches because the underlying material is the gold standard for cartooning. Some of the best comic book items ever produced, I can't 'Recommonday' them enough." –Ruben Bolling, Tom the Dancing Bug
• Review: Meat Cake by Dame Darcy is available to read digitally and people are loving it! "I was thrilled when I heard the first issue is now available for free on ComiXology. Grab it and enjoy the Victorian witches and that one lady who speaks via Pez messages. It's perfect. (Head to Fantagraphics to get it in print.)" -Whitney Matheson,USA Today
• Plug:Henry Speaks for Himself is mentioned on Gweek by Ruben Bolling on Gweek • Review:Dan DeCarlo "It turns out that DeCarlo was also a prolific cheesecake gag cartoonist, churning out dozens of drawings of buxom women that look like Betty and Veronica's older sisters. This Fantagraphics anthology is masterfully designed in two colors by Jacob Covey..." -Mark Frauenfelder, Wink Books
• Review: "[Barnaby] seems to float, as the best newspapers strips do, in some eternally mythic American moment." –Josh O'Neill, Locust Moon Comics
• Review:Nutsby Gahan Wilson is reviewed on Kitty Sneezes "a memoir-like piece about, ultimately, how scary childhood can be."
• Review: Heroes Online blog looks at VIP, edited by Jonathan Barli. "His madcap-often bawdy and even a little naughty- style was immediately recognizable and oft times laugh out loud funny... a career long retrospective of a comic genius that is long overdue. "–Andy Mansell, Heroes Online
• Review: From our friends across the pond about Janet Hamlin's books "Sketching Guantanamo is an extraordinary witnessing of history in the making. Hamlin's patient skill as a graphic artist seems to communicate the personality of her subjects far more deeply and expressively than any photographer could."–New Internationalist
"Brown's cartoons were a mainstay of National Lampoon during its salad days of the 1970s... Remarkably, this is the first comprehensive collection of her distinctively daffy work. Although the visual and conceptual non sequiturs of her singlepanel cartoons are clever and diverting, it's her comic strips where Brown's unique brilliance really shines...Brown's drawings, with their bulbous figures and ornate rendering, are every bit as unmistakable and memorable as her humor." –Gordon Flagg
Starred Review: "Anger, hopelessness, and betrayal run rampant-echoed by the eerie, ominous clouds of butterflies swarming the town-and fuel heartless violence. Though there are many moving pieces, the fluid time line; tight, stark, and realistic artwork; and clues carefully revealed through deliberately worded dialogue and purposeful character design work in perfect harmony to prevent ambiguity or confusion. Critically acclaimed Asano deftly twists this disturbingly compelling story, managing to shock the reader at every turn. Its intricacies are even more rewarding on the second read." –Eva Volin
The most delicious 50% candy so let's eat our feelings of Online Commentaries and Diversions:
• Plug: The Advocate lists Julio's Day as great gift. "[Julio's Day] is a remarkable literary work that compresses 100 years into 100 pages and demonstrates how dramatically life changed for gay men between 1900 and 2000." –Jacob M, The Advocate
• Plug:The AV Club lists Julio's Day at #8 of the top 10 Graphic Novels and Art Comics of 2013. "Comic books have a unique way of evoking the passage of time within static images, and Gilbert Hernandez is a cartoonist that is keenly aware of how he can use the medium to manipulate that chronal flow." –Oliver Sava, The AV Club
• Review: Julio's Day on Comic Pusher "This is a fantastic book, yet another example of a master cartoonist at work, an excellent representative Gilbert Hernandez for those unfamiliar with him, and a fine addition to the library of those who have grown with his work over 30 years." -Jeffrey O. Gustafson, Comics Pusher
• Review:Maria M. by Gilbert Hernandez on Page 45: "Crime and punishment executed with rapidfire, bullet-point precision...The cartooning is, as ever, an immaculately clean and balanced black and white joy, the expressions are exquisite and the breasts, they are humungous." -SLH, Page 45
• Plug:Maria M. "More than 30 years into his career, there's no stopping Gilbert Hernandez..." -Tom Murphy, Broken Frontier
• Plug: GNR takes a look at Gilbert Hernandez's The Troublemakers: "I found the book to be engrossing, compelling, and a lot of fun for both noir and comics fans." -Sterg Botzakis, Graphic Novel Resources
• Review: Best of 2013 on Comics Pusher "Obviously this was the year of Gilbert Hernandez…Gilbert filled the void of singular marquis comics with no less than five stunning works, collectively casting its own literary shadow for subsequent generations to wonder at. Someday you can tell your grandchildren that you were alive when the Hernandez Brothers were creating comics, and when Gilbert owned 2013." –Jeffrey O. Gustafson, Comics Pusher
• Review: Comic Book Bin looks at Love and Rockets: New Stories #6"Here, both [Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez] are like great athletes that use human growth hormone (HGH) to extend their peak performance into middle age. Los Bros. have found creative and artistic steroids, as they are producing Love and Rockets comics that are as good as they've ever been. Or maybe genius never gets old and keeps producing all-star work." –Leroy Douresseaux, Comic Book Bin
• Review: "Love and Rockets continues to be a vital and important ongoing document of two creators at the absolute height of their powers, and the only venue to read new material from Jaime. The brothers' respective works, their respective worlds, stand alone - but in Love and Rockets we get the privilege of experiencing jolts of both, alternating between brother and brother, between greatness and greatness." –Jeffrey O. Gustafson, Comic Pusher
• Plug:Love and Rockets Companion is examined on VICE "Love and Rockets is a great comic that has been around for 30 years now and the characters in the book have aged in time with us... This book's dust jacket, which unfolds into a family tree, will help sort you out if you're like me and can't keep the characters straight" -Nick Gazin, VICE
• Review: Grovel checks out Maria M. "Love and Rockets fans shouldn't be without this, but anyone else with an interest in sharp, sexy, violent but sophisticated stories can still enjoy it for what it is: a B-movie homage that takes the genre above and beyond our expectations." -Andy Shaw, Grovel
• Plug:The Omnivoracious lists Love and Rockets the series as part of the Lambda awards "These are life stories, told as life unfolds-with humor, heartbreak, and perseverance" –Alex Carr
• Plug: Paste lists The Love Bunglers on the Most Anticipated comics of 2014! "Any time a collection of Jaime Hernandez's Maggie (and/or Hopey) stories is published, it's cause for celebration." -Hillary Brown, Paste
• Review: Wandering Son 6 by Shimura Takako "in Wandering Son, Volume 6 so many parallels are made between Shuichi and Takatsuki's real life and the very deliberately crafted Romeo and Juliet production.... It may not be a particularly subtle narrative technique on Shimura's part, but it is a very effective one. The play echos their experiences, emphasizing specific aspects of their lives and relationships not only for the characters, but for the readers as well. Wandering Son continues to be an absolutely wonderful series." –Ash Brown, Experiments in Manga
• Plug:The Advocate lists the Wandering Son series "An amazing series, Wandering Son offers an unusual glimpse into the lives of gender-nonconforming kids. Suitable for readers 13 and older and engaging enough to keep readers of all ages impatiently awaiting next year's Volume 5."
• Review: The Chicago Tribune looks at Carl Barks' Donald Duck: Christmas on Bear Mountain. "Ridiculously, infuriatingly, this is the first time the work of America's finest cartoonist (his only real competition being George Herriman, Walt Kelly and Charles Schulz) has been reproduced with the care and splendor it deserves. Imagine if Duke Ellington's recordings were only now being properly remastered and collected." – Michael Robbins, The Chicago Tribune
• Review:Donald Duck: Christmas on Bear Mountain "Carl Barks is one of those truly perfect cartoonists. It feels so good to have these books with beautiful Fantagraphics quality production sitting on my shelf...You'll get sucked in." –Nick Gazin, VICE
• Review: SLJ onDonald Duck: Christmas on Bear Mountain"Barks's Disney comics were and are enormously well crafted and equally enormously entertaining, timeless comedy adventures that Fanta presents in such handsomely designed volumes that they make the perfect gift for just about any reader of comics." –J. Caleb Mozzocco, School Library Journal
• Review:Donald Duck: Christmas on Bear Mountain "Scrooge is a lot grouchier, bitter and ill tempered than his later incarnations and closer to the Dickens persona rather than Bark's character...whenever I bring up the subject of ducks with my comic book pals, they look at me a-scant but I highly recommend this fabulous collection from Fantagraphics that celebrates the life and prodigious body of work of the Dean of Duckdom, the irreplaceable Carl Barks." –Chris Marshall, Collected Comics Library
• Plug:Atomichearted Boy looks at The Treasury of Mini Comics, edited by Michael Dowers. "Mini comics are like the wild west of the comics world - in this lo-fi, DIY formate - it's anything - and everything - goes."–Benn Ray, Atomic Books
• Review:The Secret History of Marvel Comicsby Blake Bell and Doc Michael J Vassallo"…this book expands our understanding of the publishing industry context in which those comics were produced, and it gives us an unprecedented portfolio of non-comic book art from some notable comic book artists." -John Hilgart, The Comics Journal
• Review: "what's been unearthed here (much of it never reprinted) is both visually and historically stunning…The Secret History of Marvel Comics is a stunning book (in more ways than one) of beauties, beasts, and bombast, as well as a wonderfully askew look at the Precambrian Era of Marvel Comics." –KC Carlson, Comics Worth Reading
• Interview:Bomb Blog asks Stephen Dixon about His Wife Leaves Him: "Yes. I wanted most of the novel to be in his head. For this, he has to be lying back in bed with his room dark and his eyes closed, remembering things in their marriage. Of course, there is action in the dream. There's movement, I should say. It's a very interior novel." -Dixon
Review: David Evanier looks at His Wife Leaves Him and Stephen Dixon in general. "Stephen Dixon is, in my opinion, the best and most overlooked American Jewish fiction writer in the country. If I left out "Jewish," he would still be the best."–David Evanier, The Jewish Book Council
• Review:Publishers Weekly gives His Wife Leaves Him a starred review: "A peek into the private world of their marriage proves the novel to be more than the sum of its parts as the reader is granted a panoramic view of the evolution of two characters and their relationship."
• Interview: James Fleming writes a very nice intro to Dixon's His Wife Leaves Him and includes some email correspondence with him on Burrow Press. "How do I even begin to explain how Dixon--though we've never met in person and I've never taken a writing class with him--effectively taught me nearly everything I know about short-story and novel writing."
• Review:Goddamn This War! on FPI Best of 2013 list: "Tardi's burning rage at the injustice and immorality of what was done to so many is undimmed by the passing of time, and as we enter the centenary year of the start of that awful war this work becomes even more vital for readers." –Joe Gordon, Forbidden Planet International
• Review:Goddamn This War! "Jacques Tardi is a one of the most versatile cartoonists to ever lift a pencil...We descend into Hell with these soldiers, live their unbelievably intense live, and are inexorably and subtly changed by the experience. That is the power of great Art. That is the power of the great Jacques Tardi." –Jason Sacks, Comics Bulletin
• Plug:Goddamn This War! made Mark Burrier's Best of 2013 list. "Besides the meticulously-referenced artwork, Tardi painted these panels using inks and they are gorgeous...Kim Thompson did a bang up job translating this. The narrator is recounting what it was like during WWI and the tone holds up well to translation." -Mark Burrier
• Review:Ghost and Ruins by Ben Catmull on NY Journal of Books: "For those who like their horror with more then a hint of detached humor, Ghosts and Ruins is the perfect book to leave out at both Halloween and Christmas. These are wonderfully scary stories drawn and told with such beauty and wit you regret when they end. " –Mark Squirek, NY Journal of Books
• Review:Ghost and Ruins by Ben Catmull on Famous Monsters: "If Escher and Gorey met in Maurice Sendak's house and decided to riff on Junji Ito manga, you might have something similar to these pages…All fans of black and white horror movies owe it to themselves to hunt this down and subsequently cower under the covers like a kid in the cold." –Holly Interlandi, Famous Monsters
• Plug: "Ghost and Ruins will satisfy your craving for dark and creepy, yet beautiful drawings of - you got it - ghosts and ruins!" –Jade, Librarie D&Q
• Review: On Richard Sala's Violenzia "Sala takes the conventions of Golden Age comics like Dick Tracy and The Shadow and [modernizes] them for the digital era" –HTML Giant
• Review:Richard Sala's The Hidden. "There's no mistaking a panel of a Sala comic for a panel of anyone else's comic...it is probably his grandest and most epic in terms of scale, and it's full of suspense, mystery, horror, violence and a perhaps surprising amount of action..." –J. Caleb Mozzoccoo, Every Day is Like Wednesday
• Review: Katherine Whaley receives a Starred Reviewi n Publishers Weekly: "a parade of 20th century American philosophical fads, particularly those rooted in the entertainment business, pseudoscience, commercialized spiritualism, and general quackery. The story is earnestly told from Kate's wide-eyed perspective and achieves a tone that emphasizes the multifaceted nature of human experience."
• Review: Barracuda in the Attic by Kipp Friedman on Boswell Book Company "Growing up as one of three sons of the writer Bruce J. Friedman, they had adventures many of us can't imagine... Kipp's upbringing does resonate with me more than just another New York story..." -Daniel Goldin
• Review: Willard Mullins' Golden Age of Baseball gets reviewed "Through the eyes of someone like Mullin, with his graceful portraits of folks like Babe Ruth and Stan Musial, the sport seems thousands of years old. An artifact. A time capsule… This is a beautiful-looking book, thorough and affectionate in its treatment of the cartoonist Willard Mullin and his coverage of the sport for which he is best known: baseball." -Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Journal
• Plug: "...we get to watch Charles M. Schulz's cast evolve, along with his simple yet lyrical line. [Peanuts Every Sunday] is a complement to Fantagraphics' continuing and indispensable 'Complete Peanuts' publishing project." -Dana Jennings, NY Times
• Plug: Westfield Comics on Peanuts Every Sunday. "If Peanuts Every Sunday isn't under your Christmas Tree this year, put aside some of your Holiday 'loot' (as early Schulz might say) to make sure you pick it up as soon as you can. You won't regret it. It's the kind of gift book I'd be getting for Grandma Lil, if she were still around" -KC Carlson, Westfield Comics
The best-seasoned pan that your friends accidentally cleaned with soap of Online Commentaries and Diversions:
• Review: Comics Bulletin looks at Charles Forsman's latest: "Celebrated Summer works as an excellent examination of what remains unspoken between close friends and what it means to feel trapped in your own skin." –Geoffrey Lapid, Comics Bulletin
• Review: Santa Barbara News Press in PRINT, baby reviews "Unexpectedly, almost secretly lovely, Celebrated Summer has a sadness and listlessness at its core that resonates much louder...Forsman gets in and out quickly, not making more of this tale of suburban apathy than needs making, which only makes his story that much more poignant." –Katie Haegele, Santa Barbara News Press
• Review: Publishers Weekly looks at Celebrated Summer "Simpler and less dramatic than his previous, similarly themed TEOTFW, Forsman has built another excellent account of growing up via outsider behavior."
• Review: Celebrated SummerhitsBest of 2013 Comics on Comics Bulletin. "This is a bildungsroman of the narcissist, psychotic, detached. It is the psychic havoc of the perpetually doomed; the coming of age story of those striding forth into world where the connection between cause and effect is a spectator sport, where emotional content is gauged by 'hits' and the chance to go viral…And it will break you." –Daniel Elkin, Comics Bulletin
• Review:Locust Moon Comics looks at Celebrated Summer "...rendered in Forsman's punk-Hergé micron style, where the clear line of Kevin Huizenga meets the scratchy cross-hatching of Chester Brown... where TEOTFW was cold and harsh, preserving the mystery of its semi-sociopathic protagonists, CELEBRATED SUMMER is resignedly warm and humane." –Josh O'Neill, Locust Moon
• Review: "Forsman is one of the strongest and most vital young cartoonists currently putting pen to paper-not to mention one of the most fully, uniquely realized...Owing far more to Chester Brown's exquisite linework and Charles M. Schulz's deceptive lushness than to Porcellino's piercing iconography, Forsman's efforts on Celebrated Summer nonetheless radiate a singular soulfulness." –Jason Heller, The A.V. Club
• Plug: Broken Frontier "Completed before Forsman began work on TEOTFW, [Celebrated Summer] promises to be an intriguing tale of youth banging up against the world of adulthood." -Tom Murphy, Broken Frontier
• Review: A review of Celebrated Summeroriginally published in City Pages. "Like the structure of the song, where before the bridge all seems wondrous, loud and anticipatory, Forsman comes through with his own sullen, downtrodden acoustic lick to unsettle everything and beg his reader to question." -Alec Barry, City Pages
• Review: Page 45 "Beautifully drawn in a thin, fragile line with lots of intricate crosshatching and stylistic nods towards Trudeau…and Huizenga, this is a very quiet book..." –SLH, Page 45
• Review: Rob Clough looks at TEOTFW "He has a knack for giving voice to a certain sense of ennui and desperation for connection and meaning, yet manages to do so in a way that avoids navel-gazing and static storytelling...there are simply no extraneous lines to be found in this comic. That's a mark of a confident artist hitting his stride, and TEOTFW feels like Forsman's comics PhD project." –Rob Clough, The Comics Journal
• Review: On Forsman's The End of the Fucking World "...punches aren't pulled for the cartoonist's Fantagraphics debut, a study in sociopathology with shifting narrative perspectives and artwork that any amateur comics scholar will quickly point out owes a lot to Schulz' shaky line." –Brian Heater, BoingBoing
• Interview: Alex Dueben interviews Chuck Forsman about The End of the Fucking World on Comic Book Resources. "I like to set up a puzzle so that the reader has to do a little bit of work and put the dots together themselves. I don't like to over-explain everything or give everything away. I just think it's more interesting that way."
• Plug:The AV Club lists Celebrated Summer at #1 of the top 10 Graphic Novels and Art Comics of 2013. "Chuck Forsman is a cartoonist with a talent for expressing the emotional turbulence of adolescence and early adulthood...With an art style that combines the animated simplicity of Charles M. Schulz and the detailed linework of Chester Brown, Forsman establishes himself as one of the most promising alternative-comic creators." –Oliver Sava, The A. V. Club
• Review: "Forsman is a master of silences - few cartoonists are as articulate with words left unsaid - and this utterly recognizable and deceptively simple story speaks volumes without saying much at all." -Josh, Locust Moon Comics
• Plug: Celebrated Summer makes Froh's Best of 2013 list. "The way they regard each other rings so true of that age, that mix of boredom and wonder. Haven't we all stared at ourselves in the mirror the way Wolf does?" -Kelly Froh, Atomic Blog
• Review: "Forsman's The End of the Fucking World is both fatalistic and poignant...one of the greatest strengths of TEOTFW: Forsman has the ability to make protagonists who are capable of committing quite monstrous acts sympathetic, and even tragic, throughout."–Andy Oliver, Broken Frontier
• Review: TEOTFW on Mental Floss "This tale of young love is reminiscent of Terrence Malick's classic film Badlands in both its content and its sparse storytelling style. In fact, Forsman's whole low budget approach to making the comic gives it a mood similar to a low budget film despite the deliberate comic strip feel of his cartooning."–Rich Barrett, Mental Floss
• Review: "What is disguised as a rote teen disillusionment melodrama about two kids acting out their Bonnie & Clyde moment is in reality a powerful story about sociopaths, abandonment, cults, crime both petty and murderous, and unquenchable emotional hollowness...The End of the Fucking World is a superb graphic novel, poetic and gripping, a pure crime-noir page-turner that will stop you dead in your tracks and leave its mark on you like a hot needle burned into the skin in the mourning light." –Jeffrey O.Gustafson, Comics Pusher
• Review: "Forsman, a graduate of Vermont's Center for Cartoon Studies, has a solid grasp of comics storytelling and his lightly drawn page compositions display an intriguing degree of variety...Forsman's pair of nihilists are shown to be the results of terrible parenting and are so estranged from human society that they have difficulty feeling emotions and pursuing a viable relationship together, much less to recognise when other people are not psychopaths." -James Romberger, Hooded Utilitarian
• Review: The Comics Journal "Gfrörer's sense of pacing is superb-her panels advance patiently, so that the dread of her endings has the controlled pluck of a Twlight Zone episode…Black is the color of Gfrörer's humor." -Nicole Rudick, The Comics Journal
• Review: "Like Black, [Gfrörer's] body of work to date is offbeat and well wrought. Far more importantly than being enjoyable, it is also remarkably subversive.Black Is the Color is marked by an impressive poeticism in pacing, dark and intricate drawing, and a refreshing contemporary spin on gothic storytelling. It also marks a thrillingly mature period in Gfrörer's career." –Joshua Michael Demaree, LA Review of Books
• Review:Black is the Color on Robot 6 "Romantic, tragic, elegiac and beautiful, one could scarcely ask for more from a book, comic or otherwise." -J. Caleb Mozzocco, Robot 6
• Review: "the scratchy intensity of Gfrorer's line is the key to the book's success...Every line is an assault, from the tiny stilettos that comprise the dense waves to the darkness of night that is almost invasive…In a story where death is a certainty, that kind of dignity represents a kind of triumph, one more authentic than if Gfrorer had let the happy ending be real." –Rob Clough, High Low Comics
• Review: Page 45 on Black Is the Color by Julia Gfrörer. "The whole book is conducted in this simple, easily accessible format as well as style. There's not just a wobbly fragility to the lines, there is a bleakness to them as well - for it is cold at sea - even during sensual embraces." -SLH, Page 45
• Review: Some fans have a way with words "If Dante were alive today, he would say, 'Yes!' in thunder toJohnny Ryan's Prison Pit series. Endlessly inventive, repulsive, retributive, and beautiful, Prison Pit is funny and foul, an eternal nightmare that deserves a life on the big screen…" –Tom, Goodreads
• Plug: Librairie Drawn & Quarterly is ready for Prison Pit Book Five. "The fifth installment of Johnny Ryan's Prison Pit, like its predecessors, is full of over the top, violence and sci-fi gore rendered in crude black and white drawings... One thing's for sure, guts will flow and blood will spill!" -Librairie Drawn & Quarterly via Largehearted Boy
• Plug: Atomic Hearted Boy runs a plug for Prison Pit Book Five"Ryan continues to push well beyond the limits good taste (thankfully) with this new installment of his sci-fi, prison gore-a-palooza epic." -Benn Ray, Atomic Books
• Review:NPR lists great gifts for hip hop fans. "Ed Piskor's Hip-Hop Family Tree is a real fusion of both art forms. Piskor tells the gripping origin story of hip-hop in storyboard form with original artwork. Illuminating for kids and grown-ups alike." –Evan Auerbach, NPR
• Interview:Free Comic Book Day interviews Ed about his new FCBD comic and his favorite part of Hip Hop Family Tree. "I cracked the code because I created and tailored the perfect project for me to work on. I'm excited to wake up in the morning and get back in the saddle."
• Interview: Hip Hop Family Tree Proper Mag "Though the story may be a well known one, as a hip hop fan from back in the day I still found something new and revelatory on each of these carefully drawn and vintag-ed yellowy pages...So if you love Hip-Hop in any shape or form then this is an essential read. Vol. 2 should be a soulsonic sensation, so get your Kangols and shell-toes at the ready."–Neil, Proper Mag
• Review: "Piskor uses the form of his comic to recreate the thunderous beat of the speakers and the rattling effect a heavy bass line has on you physically....The comic books hits you in your gut the same way that the great music does. Piskor hits that perfect alchemy of comic and music...Everything about Hip Hop Family Tree Volume 1 is a love letter to the music and comics of bygone time." -Scott Cederlund, Newsarama
• Review: "The book is an absolute essential for any hip hop head to read and any comic book fan to gander over." Kevin Cortez of Mass Appealinterviews Piskor on Hip Hop Family Tree. "I think my major strength in telling this story is that I don't have hero-worship when it comes to anyone in particular. It's hip hop that I love and all these players just make up the bigger whole," says Piskor.
• Review: "Hip Hop Family Tree depicts a time before the quest for conspicuous riches overshadowed much of the music's highest-profile culture. Fittingly, Piskor's book feels just as real and authentic as the retro rap it celebrates" -Michael Cavna, The Washington Post
• Review: Page 45 on Hip Hop Family Tree: "The ability of comics to transport you to a time and place in a manner that prose works just cannot match is demonstrated here as Ed perfectly captures the nature of street life and the crazy characters at that time...Fans of hip hop need this work." -JR, Page 45
• Review: The Seattle Times lists Hip Hop Family Tree as a great gift for music lovers. "His extremely thorough and academic history lesson is also action-packed, fun and funny" –Andrew Matson
• Review: Propeller Magazine writes "one of the most awe-inspiring narrative achievements of the year, Piskor tells the early history of hip hop by seamlessly weaving together all of their creative highs and lows, their commercial hits and freeze-outs. Rarely has such an extremely informative historical document been so gossipy, entertaining, and original." -Patrick McGinty, Propeller Magazine
• Plug: On Hip Hop Family Tree "The intersection of art and music is not an unfamiliar one. But if Basquiat and Rothko isn't to your taste, and you grew up with the likes of Stan Lee and Alan Moore, perhaps Ed Piskor's ingenious Hip Hop Family Tree is more suited to your needs." -Joyce, Pigeons and Planes
• Review: TCJ on Couch Tag: "Fear gives way to anger and despair, and no feeling is left unexplored... I'll look forward to the next full-length book from Reklaw, who has a truly special intellect and keen sense of humor. I'd love to see what would happen if he brought all aspects of his storytelling technique together at once." –Katie Haegele, The Comics Journal
• Review:Couch Tag was on Boing Boing's Best Books of the month: "Couch Tag, on the author hand, is a sort of family autobiography, assembled from countless loose threads centered around objects and things, discarding any semblance of chronology. It's painful at times, like childhood itself, but Reklaw is mostly an objective tour guide through the strange and seminal moments of his youth." -Brian Heater, Boing Boing
• Interview: Tom Spurgeon on The Comics Reporter interviews Jesse Reklaw on Couch Tag, mental illness and the comics game. "That first chapter of Couch Tag was the first thing that I did as a long format work that my friends actually liked. That was very significant to me, because I'm one of those people that bounces around in my own head for a very long time. It's where I find a hole to ooze out." –Reklaw
• Plug: Reklaw's Couch Tag appears on John Porcellino's Best Books of 2013. "How Jesse has remained so deeply underground up to now is beyond me, but there are few books I've looked forward to and waited longer for than this collection of his stunning, very sad and powerful comics about his childhood, and his life growing up in a mentally and emotionally unbalanced family. Reklaw has the chops to draw anything, and the skill and taste to write with an understated grace that allows emotions and experiences to well up and breathe on their own." -John P.
• Plug:Couch Tag also landed on the list for Best Comics of 2013 on Forbidden Planet International "Couch Tag has been delighting me over the holidays...it dealt in the well-worn tradition of autobiographical comics about family life, [not] focusing on some huge event, rather inviting us into all the little ups and downs that make up everyone's life, and [was] the more charming and welcoming for it..." -Joe Gordon, FPI
"Hip-hop devotee Piskor was one of Harvey Pekar's last collaborators and here shows himself to be Pekar's true disciple as a chronicler of popular culture... Piskor's artwork seems equally indebted to the looks of golden-age DC superhero comics and Pekar's greatest collaborator, R. Crumb." -Ray Olson
"His drawings (under his famous "VIP" signature) stood out not just for their immediately recognizable, wildly peculiar look (once described as 'pleasantly grotesque') but also for their insouciant treatment of such matters as sex, booze, and death... Barli's well-researched biographical text will fascinate cartooning aficionados, but for most readers, the volume's appeal lies solely in the wealth of rare VIP work he's assembled, much of it printed from the original art." -Gordon Flagg
"Reflecting the domestication of his big-screen incarnation, the mischievous scamp of the earlier strips is giving way to a more decorous rodent who increasingly turns the broad humor over to his dim-witted sidekick, Goofy. In contrast to the daily episodes, which largely featured adventure-oriented story lines that extended for weeks, these Sunday installments are mostly self-contained gags... With their retro appeal, Gottfredson's buoyant drawings might just look even better now than they did when they were fresh." –Gordon Flagg, Booklist
"Hernandez's absence from Palomar hasn't dimmed his ability to bring its beloved characters to vivid life, and his visual approach, a skillful blend of cartooning and illustration, remains as distinctive and acute as ever. Fans who have missed Palomar will relish the chance to return there once again." –Gordon Flagg, Booklist
"…just as in our world, there's more to life than consumption, such as breakfast and odd proclamations ("From now on all eyeglasses will be rectangular") from enigmatic locations, or possibly people. You can never really be sure. More than a bit like the surrealism of real life, but everyone wears a muumuu." –Ray Olson, Booklist
"[The End is] as intelligently written and beautifully drawn-whether simply or intricately-as anything else this front-runner in his generation of comics artists has done. The last piece ends in blank-paneled silence, bringing to mind Wittgenstein's famous proposition, "What we cannot speak about, we must pass over in silence." –Ray Olson, Booklist
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