The first peak of sun of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review: Noah Berlatsky on Slate reviews 7 Miles a Second by David Wojnarowicz, James Romberger, and Marguerite Van Cook. "That feared and desired encounter is in part the collision of comics and art—but it's also, and emphatically, the intermingling of queer and straight…7 Miles a Second still represents a road largely avoided…even if 7 Miles a Second never went mainstream, this new edition remains a stirring reminder that everything pushed to the side isn't gone."
• Review:Full Page Bleed and Tom Murphy read 7 Miles a Second by David Wojnarowicz, James Romberger, and Marguerite Van Cook. "Like David Wojnarowicz's vision of himself, this is a volume that has an impossible amount of energy and emotion packed into its slim dimensions. It's a blistering book that, having been revived by Fantagraphics in the format it deserves, should now take its rightful place in the comics/graphic memoir canon."
• Review: The North Adams Transcript blog reviewed Delphine by Richard Sala. "Prince Charming’s journey is creepy and jarring, and the trappings of the likes of the Grimm Brothers take on a heightened presentation that becomes more personal than you would ever expect them to be," John Seven.
• Plug:The D&Q bookstore is ready to read prose book The Grammar of Rock by Alexander Theroux. Jade writes, "Cliché lyrics, diva meltdowns, and inarticulate diction are all up for close examination in Theroux’s comprehensive exploration of language in pop, rock, jazz, folk, soul, and yes, even rap (Ghostface Killah!)."
• Plug:LAMBDA announces nominees for awards and includes Justin Hall's No Straight Lines. Lambda Literary Awards celebrate achievement in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) writing for books published in 2012. More information here!
• Review:The Savage Critic looks at Gilbert Hernandez's Love from the Shadows. "It’s the work of a comics master tearing into the stained brown paper parcel of his unconscious, and finding a piping hot slurry composed of decades of pop culture detritus."
• Plug:The Daily Optimist shows off a few panels of Nancy Likes Christmas by Ernie Bushmiller. Dan Wagstaff writes, "I do have a strange and peculiar love of Ernie Bushmiller’s ‘Nancy’ comic strips… Fantagraphics are doing a great job of collecting them properly into books (designed by Jacob Covey)."
• Plug: Tom Heintjes on Cartoonician gives a short and concise history of Fritzi Ritz aka Aunt Fritzi from Ernie Bushmiller's Nancy. She was the star of her own strip before that created by Larry Whittington. "A young cartoonist named Ernie Bushmiller took the reins and went with his strength: the simple gags that would forever earn both the scorn and admiration of millions of comics fans."
• Interview: The Comics Reporter and Tom Spurgeon interviews Publisher Gary Groth: "I can look at most books and come up with a pretty accurate estimate as to how it will sell. Occasionally I'm wrong."
• Plug: Fantagraphics fan and friend, JT Dockery has a fundraising campaign/pre-order for his Despair book which features art from Chris Wright and Julia Gfrörer. I hope they are on a ship.
• Plug: Sam Costello at Full Stop lists The End of the Fucking World by Charles Forsman as one of the most anticipated books of 2013. "While there’s certainly violence and horror here, Forsman handles the subject as a character study, not a lurid glorification, making James sympathetic and his deeds all the more monstrous."
• Review: Michael May reviews Mr. Twee Deedle by Johnny Gruelle on School Library Journal. In reference to Good Comics for Kids, "There’s plenty for children to enjoy in the collection, but parents and educators will be even more rewarded. Not only by the history and context that Marschall provides, but by the sheer sweetness and transportive beauty of the illustrations as well. Each of the full-page, full-color strips is something not only to linger over, but to revisit often."
• Review: The Weekly Crisis looks at West Coast Blues by Jacques Tardi. "The narrative is almost a ‘dark twin’ of Hitchcock’s North by Northwest as George is forced to adapt and go on the run as the forces arrayed against him close in."
• Plug:Jessica Abel posted some cool ideas on visual scripting and laying out your ideas she learned from Alison Bechdel.
The best looping GIF of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review: Publishers Weekly gives a Starred Review to Messages in a Bottle by B. Krigstein. "Krigstein’s stories are sometimes epic and sprawling, sometimes compressed and confined…His mastery of chiaroscuro, and his dramatic composition and layout, applied across a very wide range of subject matter, are what make this gorgeous collection so essential."
• Review:The AV Club also shows extreme love for the comics of B. Krigstein in his new collection Messages in a Bottle. Noel Murray writes, "Krigstein treated each assignment as a chance to put theory into practice, and even among EC’s formidable roster of stylists, Krigstein stands out as one for whom the words around the pictures almost don’t matter, because the art’s so mesmerizing that it’s hard to pay attention to anything else…"
• Review: The Advocate warms up to the reading of Gilbert Hernandez's Julio's Day. Jacob Anderson-Minshall writes "Hernandez is able to illustrate that those events had a global reach and dramatically impacted the lives of everyone — including the people in Julio’s life…A remarkable accomplishment that is likely to find its way on numerous Best of 2013 lists and garner Hernandez more well deserved awards and accolades, Julio’s Day is, at its heart, a gay story."
• Plug:Philip Nel plugs our latest volume of The Comics Journal #302 and it's interview -- the last interview-- with children's book author and illustrator Maurice Sendak. "Above all, in reading Groth’s interview, it’s great to hear Maurice’s voice — his salty, funny, grumpy, insightful, irascible voice — just one last time."
• Review: Neal Wyatt of the Library Journal looks at the new books coming out this year from Fantagraphics. "Browsing the Fantagraphics spring catalog underscores the myriad of styles and literary approaches that graphic novelists and artists explore—be it Anders Nilsen’s near metaphorical images or Dash Shaw’s crowded and kaleidoscopic landscapes." He singles out Good Dog by Graham Chaffee, The Amazing, Enlightening and Absolutely True Adventures of Katherine Whaley by Kim Deitch, Lost Cat by Jason, New School by Dash Shaw ("Known for his frenetic and inventive artwork…") and The End by Anders Nilson.
• Plug: The Austin Public Library highlighted two of our books on their blog. On Jordan Crane's The Last Lonely Saturday, Betsey Blanche described as "The artwork is simple – drawn in mostly red and yellow – but full and effective." They also pulled out Lilli Carré's The Lagoon: "It’s another haunting but beautiful book about a family, mysteries, and the power of legends."
• Review:The Comicbook Pusherman looks at 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente by Wilfred Santiago. "…as a comic it absolutely crackles. The art is stunning. Santiago clearly captures baseball's (and Clemente's) unique energy and the Americas of the '50s and '60s and most distinctly the Puerto Rico of the 30s and 40s," says Jeffrey O. Gustafson.
The half-day of school in Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review: Nick Gazin of VICE reads God and Science by Jaime Hernandez. "I think it's cool that Jaime will make a comic with no sci-fi or fantasy elements for decades and suddenly remind us that the world his comic is set in is capable of housing superheroes. I own all of Jaime's stuff."
• Plug: Bob Temuka tries to make you break down into tears at your desk but DAMMIT you didn't let him, didja? Tearoom of Despair lives up to its name by remembering the 'Death of Speedy' story available in The Girl From H.O.P.P.E.R.S. by Jaime Hernandez.
• Plug: Speaking of Jaime, that man is a special guest at new comic show Autoptic August 18th, 2013 in Minneapolis, MN.
• Plug: Opening March 8th is a must-see show of Harvey Kurtzman artwork at the Society of Illustrators in New York. The preview is on Boing Boing and Mark Frauenfelder included the cover page from the story Corpse on the Imjin! (as the title of our current Kurtzman EC collection). "Kurtzman's thoughtful, more realistic and human depictions of war were in stark contrast with the competing gung-ho war comics of the day that glorified war."
The best cover band made of dogs of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review: Unshelved reads Delphine by Richard Sala. Shivering with delicious fear, Gene Ambaum says "I’m a huge fan of Sala’s graphic novels, like Cat Burglar Black. And the dust jacket-less cover, with its graphics and the inset color image of a girl walking through a dark forest, looked exquisite."
• Review: Rob Clough of High-Low looks at Beta Testing the Apocalypse by Tom Kaczynski. "His stories address aspects of modern civilization and the ways in which they break down.…Kaczynski really has his finger on the collective neuroses of the new millennium. A recurring theme in this book is how Kaczynski taps into how various of our senses have been warped through modern living."
• Review: Rob Clough runs a review from 2007 on his site, High-Low, on Peanuts 1967-68 and 1969-70 by Charles Schulz. "In terms of the visuals, Schulz is years into his mature style. He's exactly what I mean when I talk about an artist needing to find the ideal style with which to express themselves with clarity. For Schulz, though his line is spare, it's full of life and liveliness."
The newest office of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review: Glen Weldon from NPR Books pontificates on the wondrous LGBT-centric graphic novels and reviewed Moto Hagio's The Heart of Thomas "…whenever the emotions roiling just under her narrative's surface threaten to overtake her characters, Hagio's otherwise exacting and detailed art goes expressively feathery at the edges, like a ghost vanishing softly into the ether."
• Review:Fantasy Book Review reviews The Heart of Thomas by Moto Hagio. "This is not an uplifting tale until at the end, but it is a very well drawn period manga that gives glimpses of what boys that age would have felt being in such an enclosed place. There is a sense of Oscar Wilde about the whole school, but that depends on your impression of the piece," writes Sandra Scholes.
• Review: Glen Weldon from NPR Books pontificates on the wondrous LGBT-centric graphic novels and reviewed Wandering Son Vol. 1 by Shimura Takako. "Takako presents their stories with admirable sensitivity and restraint.…"
• Review: Glen Weldon from NPR Books pontificates on the wondrous LGBT-centric graphic novels and reviewed No Straight Lines edited by Justin Hall. "From Stonewall and the AIDS crisis to the terrifying specter of domesticity, this clear-eyed, unsentimental collection demonstrates the extent to which, for LGBT people, the personal and the political have always bled together."
• Review:Comics Bulletin looks at The Cartoon Utopia by Ron Regé Jr. "With this book, Ron Regé has emerged as comics' answer to Walt Whitman.…Thankfully, Regé's overarching concept -- that a vivid and transcendent comic book experience is within our grasp, if we're willing -- is not a hard one to understand at all." says R.J. Ryan.
• Review:Grovel and Andy Shaw look at The Cavalier Mr. Thompson by Rich Tommaso. "The story is wonderfully told. It has the feel of a classic movie, something from a bygone era…complete with the usual cast of chancers, crooks and have-a-go heroes.…It’s a thoroughly enjoyable book, with a stunning backdrop and a deeply believable and interesting cast."
• Plug:Alan Wood asks R. Crumb about Bill Griffith. Crumb stated, "He's about the only guy in America who's doing a readable, interesting daily comic strip for daily newspapers. He' s the only one left, as far as I know. I don't know of any others."
• Review: Dutch magazine Knack Focus recently ran a review of George Herriman 's work. Kim Thompson read it, translated it in his synapse-heavy polyglottal mind and said this: "Here's a nice five-star review (in Dutch) of the gorgeous new French edition of KRAZY KAT, created from the Fantagraphics edition. The article is mostly a pocket summary of KRAZY, although it does point out that Herriman's unique approach to language have made the strip virtually untranslatable (forcing European readers to fall back on the English language versions)... until, at least for francophones, now."
The fullest mailbox of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Interview: Alex Dueben interviews Richard Sala about Delphine on CBR . "The main story, which is depicted with ruled borders, was always linear. But I allowed myself more room with the main character's inner life. All of that -- the memories, dreams, fantasies, wishful thinking -- all of that is depicted in panels with soft, cloud-like, non-ruled borders. And so I was able to add to the character's inner life -- his thoughts and fears and confusion -- as I went along." And,edit to the article, we also have The Hidden and The Grave Robber's Daughter available at comiXology.
• Interview:Wilfred Santiago is interviewed by Christopher Borelli about Bull on Parade for the Chicago Tribune and Michael Jordan's 50th birthday. "[Santiago] said a graphic novel seemed like a perfect medium for exploiting athleticism, then added: 'But also, Jordan, as a figure, never seemed that interested in satisfying people. Which is interesting to me.'"
• Plug: Tom Spurgeon on the Comics Reporter talks about TCJ 302, edited by Gary Groth, Kristy Valenti and Michael Dean. "There's an amazing Roy Crane section in there that's as good as you can imagine practical advice from a practical-minded comics craft master being. The Sendak is hilarious and sad." Spurgeon gives a review for TCJ 301 as well. "Publishing Groth's big interviews in print like this is an effective use of one of comics' most versatile thinkers and aiming a very good and only intermittent writer like Kreider at something as odd yet Journal-appropriate as the entirety of Cerebus seems to me fine editorial planning."
• Review:Page 45 reviews 7 Miles a Second by David Wajnarowicz, James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook. "Romberger painfully captures the frailty of forms and tenderness of touch, but equally the delirium of David’s mad fucking visions and dreams. Marguerite Van Cook’s colours are virtually toxic…This is not a beautiful book; it’s an ugly book, a brilliant book, a Last Will & Testament which I hope you will hear," writes Stephen L. Holland.
• Interview: James Romberger interviews Tom Kaczynski about Beta Testing the Apocalypseon the Hooded Utilitarian. Kaczynski made a list, we love those: "Overall I can cite 3 primary ways I use color in the book. 1. Color as a naturalistic element (as lighting, depth, etc.) 2. Color as pure design element. 3. Color as information."
• Review: Julien of the D&Q Bookstore is excited to read Moto Hagio's The Heart of Thomas. "Like the other Magnificent 49ers (the legendary first wave of female comic artists), Hagio's work is fearlessly avant-garde and visually stunning. Over her fruitful and now slightly less under-translated career, she has set the bar for all manga artists to follow, up to this day, and not just shonen-ai or shoujo mangaka."
• Review:Publishers Weekly loves Tales Designed to Thrizzle Vol. 2 by Michael Kupperman. "Kupperman deploys a stunning arsenal of art styles to bring home the laughs, from stilted woodcut art to a kind of Tintin lite…Kupperman is pretty much his own genre of humor now."
• Interview: Gary Panter was interviewed by Nick Gazin on VICE on Dal Tokyo, creativity and other fun. Gazin describes the book, "…trying to follow the story like it was a traditional comic is hard it feels like we're seeing the inside of Panter's brain. We go where he wants to take us and the landscape reflects his current mood and interests. Not everybody can do whatever they feel like and make it as interesting as this book."
• Plug: Jeff Kinney from Diary of a Wimpy Kid reminisces about his father and their shared love of Carl Bark's duck comics at Disney Dads. Kinney says, "I consider [Carl Bark's comics] to be the best form of storytelling I’ve ever read. My father always made sure to leave the comics page open in the newspaper in the morning so we kids could read them. I think that without my father, I wouldn’t have ended up on the career path that I’m on.
• Review: Johanna Draper Carlson reviews Young Romance edited by Michel Gagné on Comics Worth Reading. "It’s neat to read these long-ago tales of girls acting out of jealousy or determining how to make the right love decision in such an easy-to-hold hardcover with restored coloring. I love seeing more of this forgotten period of comic history, particularly since it was so widely popular and yet so ignored these days," writes Carlson.
• Plug: Jim Hanley's Universe blog creates The Definitive Love & Rockets Reading Guide and Full Bibliography by Jeffrey O. Gustafson to whet your appetite for our Love and Rockets Companion and Reader. "Featuring mature, character based stories, the quality in art and story of the work of [Hernandez brothers] represent the high-water mark of independent, creator-owned comics, indeed comics period."
• Plug:Peter Bagge 'hates' on Beavis and Butthead in this month's MAD magazine, reported by Paste.
• Plug:Noah Van Sciver continues the funny at Denver Westword with the 10 biggest buzzkills at a concert. Read this and laugh or maybe recognize the horrible person that you are.
Fantagraphics and comiXology continue the reign of terror created by Richard Sala's comics. The Hidden poses many questions to its reader: Is this the end of the world? How did it happen? Why did it happen? There is one man who knows...
Take a walk with the dazed survivors of a mysterious worldwide catastrophe. They are bound for a place, somewhere in the desert, where a terrible truth awaits them. This is the full-color, unadulterated horror graphic novel that Sala fans have been waiting for. This nightmarish story combines classic and modern horror themes and genres with a unique twist, and Sala's painted artwork has never looked better (or more gruesome). The bits and bytes will haunt you long after you've powered down your tablet, you may have to even cover it up with a blanket. $14.99 gets you 136 pages of beautiful and horrifying comics at comiXology.
"Sala’s work is like a fusion of Hergé and Charles Addams, yielding a simple, cartoon-like style that makes his moments of gothic horror all the more disturbing. ...[The Hidden] is a beautifully pulpy and incredibly imaginative book that gives a fresh spin on a well-used set-up." – Publishers Weekly
"Sala's unique brand of creepy quirk combines Edward Gorey, Chester Gould, and Charles Adams with his own unclassifiable magic. The Hidden, from Fantagraphics Books, is his most ambitious work -- an intimate apocalypse." – FEARnet
The most evolved finch of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review:Tom Kaczynski'sBest Testing the Apocalypse is reviewed on Bookslut. Martyn Pedler states, "Science fiction is notoriously unreliable when it comes to predicting Saturn dreams, laser beams, and 21st century sex machines. It’s fantastic, however, at taking our present reality and making it strange again. Beta Testing The Apocalypse makes us Martians to better let us see what’s happening all around us. Read it and witness the disquieting Gernsback of Now."
• Review:Beta Testing The Apocalypse is reviewed by Comics Metropolis. "…a book with an elegant and agile format, immediate in its communicative ability, and extraordinarily dense in its content. An essential reading," writes Biri.
• Interview (audio): Michael Kupperman speaks to Julie Klausner on How Was Your Week.
• Review (audio): The Inkstuds roundtable talks about the Best Books of 2012. Joe McCulloch, Robin McConnell, Tom Spurgeon and Bill Kartalopoulos talk about Lilli Carré's Heads or Tails at the 2 hour, 2 minutes mark. All agreed there was a lot of work. And good work. "Lilli is very good at short stories," says Bill. " 'The Rainbow Movement' was a beautiful short story and exquisite."
• Review: In case you missed it, 7 Miles A Second was a Publishers Weekly Pick of the Week. "How do you draw grief"? David Wajnarowicz, James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook know. "The author’s prose is poetic, arriving with a light touch while delivering a heavy, dark, and understandably angry message."
• Interview: Originally posted on The Comics Journal, then reposted on Boing Boing, Marc Sobel speaks to Ed Piskor at length. In regards to Hip Hop Family Tree, Piskor states, "I think the value that my book has and will have over time as I keep moving forward is that it really does stand a chance of being one of the most comprehensive histories of hip hop culture. There really isn’t one resource that includes all of this minutiae and stuff that I’m focusing on."
• Plug: The Poetry Foundation revisits The Last Vispo after reading another review. "We’re still reading and looking through our copy, enjoying the sheer abundance and diversity of work gathered together," writes Harriet Staff.
• Interview (audio):Gary Groth appears for a full hour on TELL ME SOMETHING I DON'T KNOW now on Boing Boing. Hold onto your comics, it's a great ride.
Imaginations come no wonkier, no dafter than Kupperman’s. His idea of a crime-fighting, daring, dynamic duo à la Bruce and Dick (Batman and Robin) is Twain and Einstein (Mark and Albert)-that is, when it's not a snake and a strip of bacon. When he thinks Odd Couple, it's Oscar and Felix Dracula…Kupperman draws all this strangeness in a manner that derives about equally from Chester Gould (Dick Tracy), 1950s romance comics, visualpun cartoonist Glen Baxter, and art deco. –Ray Olson
Sala’s high-class horror sensibility is equal parts sinister and gleeful: a wild cackle of frights steeped in the grand gothic tradition of Edward Gorey… Sala’s quavery lines dish out plenty of unsettling images, and he ratchets up the eeriness with stylized, hand-drawn lettering. Though he sacrifices some narrative sense in favor of creepy atmospherics and downright baffling transitions, Sala does a fine job of keeping everything just slightly out of balance and off-kilter. –Ian Chipman
Jackson is one of the founders of the 1960s underground comics movement (his 1964 God Nose predates Zap Comix by four years), but he's best known for…relating the unvarnished history of his native Texas... This hardcover volume gathers two of his later works: 1989's Los Tejanos, the story of Juan Seguin, a hero of the Texas revolution…later labeled a traitor…; and Lost Cause, a 1997 post-Civil War account of unreconstructed Texans who had supported the Confederacy... Jackson spins these sprawling, complex yarns with a skilled hand, imparting them with a rugged authenticity that makes them all the more compelling, never shying away from the violence and racism endemic to the period. His rough-hewn, craggy illustrations are an ideal vehicle for these tales of the rugged men who carved out the Lone Star State. –Gordon Flagg