•Interview: Christopher Irving questions the ineffable Pete Bagge on his vast body of work on NYC Graphic. Bagge says, "With the style of work that I do, I like it to look on the surface like it’s shallow and stupid, but when you read it, the context is really sweet. . ." Christopher Irving reports: "Part of what makes Pete Bagge such an effective writer is his ability to tap into personal experiences that are universal. . . being jilted by a lover, getting angry at traffic, or trying to hide something from your parents."
•Review: Tom Spurgeon sits down for a good read with God and Science: Return of the Ti-Girls on The Comics Reporter: "It's only when you try to unpack the story that you realize what a graceful and economical storyteller Jaime Hernandez has become no matter what genre he might choose to utilize."
•Review: On the Spandexless Reads, Josh Simmons' newest work gets a thorough once-over. Shawn Starr on horror book, The Furry Trap: "The Furry Trap is what your parents warned you about. It’s what Fredric Wertham warned America about. . . Simmons takes the normal, the stale, and adds an “edge” like none other, taking the tropes of each genre to the edge of a sharp cliff and then hurling them off so he can re-examine their splattered remains."
•Review: In a one-two punch by Tucker Stone, both Walt Disney's Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes and Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge: Only a Poor Old Man are reviewed on comiXology. Stone continues on about Carl Barks' work: "Everything I could want out of a comic is there--it's funny, gorgeous, and I'd make a smoke alarm wait just so I could read it in one sitting. . . I'm not blind to the fact that the stories were created with the intent of engaging with children, in fact, I have to wonder how much of what I perceive to be their greatness stems from that basic restriction."
•Plug:Stumptown Trade Review enjoys the book based on Joshua Glenn and Rob Walker's experiment, Significant Objects: "The experiment, in short, was a smash hit. The Significant Objects book features 100 moving, absurd, surprising, and always entertaining stories from the project’s three volumes."
•Review: The long-awaited Comics Journal review of Gabriella Giandelli's graphic novel Interiorae is online. Sean T. Collins: "As the rabbit floats from one [apartment] to another, a sort of soporific rhythm sets in, a familiarity with the emotional and visual palette that allows individual moments to stand out. It’s not just the weird or grand stuff . . . but thoughtful and attractive details as well."
•Plug: The Stumptown Trade Review is as pumped as Fantagraphics is have the all-ages graphic novel The Adventures of Venus by Gilbert Hernandez. "Luba’s niece [Venus] creates and collects comic books, walks through a scary forest, plays soccer, schemes to get the cute boy she likes, laments the snowlessness of a California Christmas, catches measles, and travels to a distant planet. . ."
•Plug:Comics Alliance lists the Best Comic Covers of June 2012 and Jacques Tardi's New York Mon Amour makes the grade. Andrew Wheeler says, "romance is not the vibe evoked by this menacing red sky over Tardi's exquisitely rendered New York street. This cover tells you that this is not a love story."
The most recent ramblin' Online Commentaries & Diversions:
•Commentary:ABC News and Amy Bingham picked up a few quotes by a partial interview online by Gary Groth with Maurice Sendak. The full interview will be published in The Comics Journal #302 in December: “Bush was president, I thought, ‘Be brave. Tie a bomb to your shirt. Insist on going to the White House. And I want to have a big hug with the vice president, definitely."
•Commenary:MSNBC's Kurt Schlosser also writes on Maurice Sendak's TCJ #302 interview. In the article, associate publisher Eric Reynolds is also quoted, "[Sendak] was at the point in his life where he clearly didn't give a damn about propriety; he could speak his mind and clearly enjoyed provocation. I see these comments as part and parcel of his personality, not as a legitimate, actionable, treasonous threat."
•Review:The Washington Times takes a close look at Mr. Twee Deedle, edited by Rick Marschall. The long-forgotten artwork of Johnny Gruelle inspired writer Michael Taube: "Mr. Twee Deedle’s world is, quite simply, a series of innocent tales in a fantasyland that any child - and many adults - would have loved to experience, if but for a short while."
•Plug:The Frank Book by Jim Woodring gets a nice staff recommendation on theHarvard Book Store site. Craig H. says, "[Frank] takes us on his adventures through the psychedelic terrain of “The Unifactor,” a universe alive with rich pen-width and symmetrical, flying devices.
•Plug (audio): In the first few minutes of podcast Bullseye with Jesse Thorn, Angelman is recommended. Comics journalist Brian Heater of the Daily Crosshatch says, "it's Sergio Aragonés meets David Foster Wallace. . . about a little red winged superhero and his powers are good listening and empathy."
The most in vogue Online Commentaries and Diversions:
•Interview (audio): Perk up your ears to the soothing interview of Angelman's creator, Nicolas Mahler, on the Inkstuds podcast. Robin McConnell covers all the bases with Mahler: "[My] main influence is American newspaper comics from the 30s, this was what I discovered when I about was 15-16. It was Krazy Kat and Windsor McCay, those were the things that were important to my drawing style. Wouldn't you have guessed from looking at my drawings?"
•Preview: JK Parkin, Robot6, talks up a preview of The Adventures of Venusby Gilbert Hernandez. This previously uncollected work will also have a new story! Can you spot all the references?
•Review: The sweetest review is up on Sequential Tart of The Adventures of Venus. Sheena McNeil gives the book a thumbs-up for kids: "I love that this graphic novel is full of characters from different cultures with different appearances. Venus and her sister live with their bodybuilder-like mom and no dad, Venus's rival, Gilda Gonzalez, is Hispanic and her crush, Yoshio, is Asian. It's refreshing to see all these different types of people together and getting along normally."
•Plug:Book Patrol teases with a few pictures of Jewish Images in the Comics by Fredrik Strömberg. Michael Lieberman says, "Spanning five centuries and featuring over 150 images the book becomes an instant essential reference. . . Who knew Golem was a super-hero?"
•Review:The Comics Bulletin sat down to a round-table review of E.C. Segar's Popeye Vol. 1: "I Yam What I Yam". Columnists Jason Sacks, Daniel Elkin, Danny Djeljosevic and Zack Davisson loved the large format (except for night-time readin' in bed). Sacks says, "There's a depth to these characters, too. They may be incredibly self-involved and aggressive, but there's this odd sort of internal integrity to them that makes them lovable."
•Plug: Glenn Perrett of Simcoe mentions The Sincerest Form of Parody, edited by John Benson, and the juicy ordering details. "You can return to the era when these magazines [Mad, Flip, Nuts, Panic, Madhouse] were popular with The Sincerest Form of Parody which features 'The Best 1950's Mad Inspired Satirical Comcs'."
•History: Reminiscing about comics created and read in the 80's, The Comics Reporter reviews Dalgoda. Created by writer Jan Strnad and art by Dennis Fujitake, Tom Spurgeon states,"It was leisurely paced, and had a genial tone; it was neither pompous nor self-loathing. The art featured that somewhat peculiar, can-still-spot-it-across-the-room Fantagraphics coloring from that era. In fact, Fujitake's art, with its blend of mainstream rendering values, meticulous environmental detail and humorous exaggeration, is what lingers on in memory." You gotta love those striking logo colors.
The up-to-the-minute Online Commentaries & Diversion:
•Plug: Our newest Jacques Tardi release, New York Mon Amour is out and available at your favorite comic shops. One of our such shop, Forbidden Planet, is very excited to have it in stock. Joe says, "I’m so glad the Fanta crew has been making these titles available again to English language readers."
•Interview:WMFU host of Too Much Information, Benjamin Walker, questions Michael Kupperman about comics as a serious form of literature at his MIT Center for Civic Media conference talk. Kupperman: "You see high points. You have to build to that humor. Sometimes there's just enough for three panels—I like to keep it short, keep the audience wanting more. It's kind of—there can be a central idea I need to do it."
•Review: On The Comics Journal, Jeet Heer takes a close look at Spain Rodriguez's newest collection of stories. In Heer's words, Cruisin' with the Hound: The Life and Times of Fred Toote "is a splendid book, a startling view of a plebeian world that tends to be submerged by the North American tendency to pretend that class doesn’t exist. The book is also evidence of the strength of the autobiographical comics tradition, which has room not just for minute introspection but also for stories of lively brutality."
•Review:Comics Worth Reading sits down with the latest issue (#16) of Linda Medley's Castle Waiting series. Johanna Draper Carlson glowingly states, "it’s [Medley's] character work, the small bits of perfectly realized dialogue, that make this series so rewarding."
This month's issue of Booklist reviewed two recent releases by Fantagraphics creators, excerpted below:
Folly: The Consequences of Indiscretion by Hans Rickheit: "Here are early stories by the graphic novelist whose work... comes closer than any other’s (except Nate Powell’s) to the prose stories of Zoran Živkovi, Andrew Crumey, Kelly Link, Ray Vukcevich, Theodora Goss, Benjamin Rosenbaum, and other practitioners of what’s been called slipstream fiction. They feature people, animals, and flesh-and-machine hybrids in all stages of development and dissolution, from fetus and pupa to suppurating near-corpse to skeleton . . . Among their protagonists, a bear-headed man in a long coat and high boots and identical teen sisters Cochlea and Eustachia, who wear only black masks and very short-skirted tops, recur often. Rescued from their original appearances in Rickheit’s slim, stapled-together Chrome Fetus Comics, these stories are less polished than his current stuff . . . but fully developed in every other aspect of his puzzling, engrossing, and disturbing storytelling." — Ray Olson
Interiorae by Gabriella Giandelli: "A large and (mostly) invisible rabbit looks over the affairs of various tenants in a modern apartment building: an elderly woman dying in one apartment, a couple entrenched in unhappiness and unfaithfulness in another, young schoolgirl friends in a third, and a happy group of ghosts in a fourth . . . the rabbit as harbinger of change [leaps] from panel to panel, view to view, addressing the reader enough to keep the outsider engaged in asking what might happen to whom next. The images are gorgeously penciled and inked, with coloring to note moods and approaching climaxes and denouements in the various tales. The rabbit’s own identity — or power — finds explanation in an Algonquin tale found in an open book on a bed in one scene; figuring out who is the Boss in the basement, sometimes referenced by the rabbit, takes more digging. Beautifully rendered art and sweetly told, serious stories." — Francisca Goldsmith
• Interview: On the National Post, Nathalie Atkinson interviews Gabriella Giandelli on her graphic novel, Interiorae., and the retrospective exhibit at the Italian Cultural Institute. Giandelli states, "There are some stories where it would be possible to have the soundtrack of what you listened to during the work for every page of the story. Or sometimes the song is inside my work — nobody knows but for me it’s there."
• Review:The Weekly Crisis solves the weekly dilemma for you with a "buy it" verdict for Gabriella Giandelli's Interiorae. Taylor Pithers says, "Giandelli also weaves magic on the way the other characters speak. There is a certain rhythmic beauty to the dialogue that gives the whole book a feeling of quiet, almost as if everyone is speaking in soft tones."
• Review: The Boston Phoenix gets a slap in the face from Hans Rickheit and asks for more. In the review of Folly: The Consequences of Indiscretion, S.I. Rosenbaum says, "It's as if other masters of visual bodyhorror — Cronenberg, Burns, Dan Clowes, Tarsem Singh — are weird by choice. Rickheit, it seems, just can't help it. There's a conviction to his creepiness, a compulsive nature even in his early draftsmanship."
•Commentary: BEA was last week and Publishers Weekly couldn't get enough of Associate Publisher Eric Reynolds and new book, The Hypo by Noah Van Sciver. Heidi MacDonald and Calvin Reid teamed up to cover the event: "Eric Reynolds said it was a good show for the house, noting that all the galleys for Van Sciver books were taken and there was “huge interest” in Fantagraphics titles, like the Flannery O’Connor: The Cartoons."
•Review:The Comics Bulletin reviewed God and Science: Return of the Ti-Girls by Jaime Hernandez. In the wake of near-universal criticism for super hero comics, Jason Sacks gives an angsty-yet-positive review: "[God and Science] is indeed very indy and quirky and idiosyncratic and personal and uncompromising as any of Jaime's comics."
•Plug: The blog for CAKE (Chicago Alternative Comics Expo) mentioned the our newest collection, No Straight Lines. "LGBTQ cartooning has been one of the most vibrant artistic and countercultural movements of the past 40 years, tackling complex issues of identity and changing social mores with intelligence, humor, and an irreverent imagination. No Straight Lines: Four Decades of Queer Comics . . . is the most definitive collection to date of this material, showcasing the spectrum from lesbian underground comix, to gay newspaper strips, to bi punk zines, to trans webcomics." Debuting this weekend at Cake in Chicago, you can find editor, Justin Hall, at table 76.
•Review: A short-and-sweet review on Scripp News popped up today. Andrew A. Smith tips his hat to Mysterious Traveler: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 3. " . . .despite the stultifying constriction of the draconian Comics Code of 1954, Ditko managed a remarkable body of work in both volume and content. Even more amazing is his accelerated learning curve, which shoots straight up from first page to last."
• Review: At Boing Boing, as part of their "Mind Blowing Movies" series of guest posts, Amy Crehore examines the Ghost World film: "I knew it was going to be good, but I had no idea that the movie Ghost World (2001) would bathe me in such an uncanny sense of deja vu from start to finish. The characters are so real and familiar that they could have been based on my friends and me."
• Commentary:Ashok Karra has a short but thought-provoking analysis of elements of the Ghost World graphic novel: "A ghost world could be three things. Two of them are types of haunting: either by the past (nostalgia for childhood) or the present (the glow of the television). The third possibility is that you pass through as a ghost."
• Plug: At Flavorwire, Emily Temple includes Ghost World on the list of "30 Books Everyone Should Read Before Turning 30," saying "Clowes writes some of the most essentially realistic teenagers we’ve ever come across, which is important when you are (or have ever been) a realistic teenager yourself."
• Plug/Preview: At The Beat, Jessica Lee posts a 5-page sneak peek of New York Mon Amour by Jacques Tardi et al., saying "This newest Tardi release... is slated for a July release, just in time for Independence Day, where we can all revel in the patriotic depictions of New York that Tardi has provided — oh wait. True to his new realism style, 'Manhattan' retains the same kind of gritty aesthetic as his illustrations of WWI trench warfare as well as Parisian life."
• Review: "The 11 horror stories in [The Furry Trap] showcase Simmons’s possession of a dark and capable imagination, one that has discomfort down to an exact science.... Simmons is at his best in stories like 'Mutant' and 'Demonwood,' where rash decisions and chance encounters lead to nightmarish consequences ... Simmons’s brand of deep unease permeates all of [these stories], even in the opening story, 'In a Land of Magic,' which features a scene of sexual and physical violence that could lead to sleepless nights. The book is also filled with illustrations and short comics that just add to the pile of evidence that Simmons has a wide-ranging talent, with an artistic sense that brings to life his most ghoulish creations. These stories are, hopefully, harbingers of even stronger and more sinister work in the future..." – Publishers Weekly
• Review: "The action [in God and Science] ebbs and flows, but the story remains engaging and exciting. I had to read it all in one afternoon because I just couldn't put it down. I was enjoying it too much to stop reading.... [There]'s another great thing about this comic — there's some subtle philosophical questions nudged in that the characters (and reader) have to answer themselves.... I can't recommend this title enough. I can easily say that I want more Ti-Girls, or at least comic characters like them." – Sheena McNeil, Sequential Tart
• Review: "Prince Valiant Vol. 5 — As the war years draw to a close, the strip finds Valiant settling down — at least a little bit — by finally winning his true heart’s love, Aleta. There’s still enough brigands and evildoers to keep Val busy, but a lot of Vol. 5 is spent with the couple developing their relationship, and Harold Foster deepening and developing Aleta’s character in the process. ...[I]t remains a thrilling, boisterous work." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "Dungeon Quest Book Three — Joe Daly’s faithful D&D fantasy by way of Harold and Kumar proceeds apace, with lots of bloody skirmishes with fierce animals and fiercer bandits and an abundance of jokes about penises, pot, hand-jobs and the like.... His incredibly detailed forest backgrounds are really quite exquisite, and the full panel sequences of his band of adventurers simply trekking along a forest path or walking through a stream were my favorite parts of the book." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Commentary: It's been interesting seeing the evolution of the "hey, they should bring Love and Rockets to the screen" article in the age of the serialized cable drama. Arthur Smith at The Paley Center for Media is the latest to add his voice to the chorus
• Plug: "Got this beautiful Popeye compilation book (Fantagraphics) a couple of days ago. Haven't had a chance to even crack it open, but my son is now running around going 'Arf, arf.' It's a hit." – Ruben Bolling
• Tribute: At The New York Times, Tim Kreider remembers the great Ray Bradbury: "Prescience is not the measure of a science-fiction author’s success — we don’t value the work of H. G. Wells because he foresaw the atomic bomb or Arthur C. Clarke for inventing the communications satellite — but it is worth pausing, on the occasion of Ray Bradbury’s death, to notice how uncannily accurate was his vision of the numb, cruel future we now inhabit."
• Review: "Beyond the quality of the artwork, which remains amazingly detailed and perfectly perfect in its storytelling,Dungeon Quest is really funny, the humor sometimes seeming dissonant — but pleasingly so — given the seriousness with which Daly approaches, say, drawing a rock-strewn valley or depicting a slow, tiring march through a forest (It’s almost Tolkeinesque in his commitment to describing walking!) or choreographing a thrilling action scene." – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Robot 6
• Review (Audio): The guys at Washington, D.C.'s Big Planet Comics discuss Angelman by Nicolas Mahler on this week's episode of their podcast, declaring "if you're sensitive about your love of superhero comics, this is probably not for you, but if you want awesomely cool cartooning art by Mahler and something really different, here you go. It's funny too."
• Awards: Congratulations to the great Joost Swarte, awarded the 2012 Marten Toonder Prize and its concomitant fat cash prize by the Netherlands Foundation for Visual Arts, Design and Architecture, as reported by Tom Spurgeon at The Comics Reporter
• Review (Audio):Inkstuds host Robin McConnell is joined by Paul Gravett, Joe McCulloch and Tom Spurgeon for a roundtable discussion of Cruisin' with the Hound by Spain Rodriguez and other books
• Review: "Here are the early ejaculations from the primordial form of what was to become one of the great American writers. Here is Flannery O'Connor as she is formulating her unique vision of America and all that it entails.... What value does Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons have inherently? I think the answer to that question is entirely subjective. ...I personally wish to thank Fantagraphics for going out on a limb and publishing this book, if for no other reason than to put Flannery O'Connor back into the pop culture discussion for however briefly it may be." – Daniel Elkin, Comics Bulletin
• Review: "Anyone can be grotesque and horrifying. To truly get under the skin of the audience is an ability not many have. Someone who does is Thomas Ott, and he uses his ability to the highest effect in Cinema Panopticum. ...[I]f you are looking for an unsettling horror story rendered beautifully by an expert craftsman there is no doubt this should be in your collection." – Taylor Pithers, The Weekly Crisis
• Interview (Audio): Spend 3 minutes with Michael Kupperman as Tom Gambino of Pronto Comics talks to Michael from the floor of last April's MoCCA Fest on the ProntoCast podcast
• Film Studies: At Boing Boing, Jim Woodring writes about the 1931 Fleischer Bros. short that expanded his young mind: "I might have come to grips with the overwhelming mystery of life in a rational, organic manner if it weren't for a cartoon I saw on my family's old black and white TV in the mid '50s when I was three or four years old. This cartoon rang a bell so loud that I can still feel its reverberations.... Whatever [the creators'] motivation and intent, 'Bimbo's Initiation' became my prime symbolic interpreter, the foundation of my life's path and endlessly exploding bomb at the core of my creative output."