I thought I could keep up with Online Commentary & Diversions while at Comic-Con. Ha ha ha ha ha.
• Coming Attractions: At Robot 6, Chris Mautner takes a look through the 46 (!!!) upcoming books listed in our Fall/Winter catalog (note: listed release dates may no longer be accurate and are all subject to change)
• History/Profile/Review: "What A Drunken Dream reveals is an author whose childhood passion for Frances Hodgson Burnett, L.M. Montgomery, and Isaac Asimov profoundly influenced the kind of stories she chose to tell as an adult. ... For those new to Hagio’s work, Fantagraphics has prefaced A Drunken Dream with two indispensable articles by noted manga scholar Matt Thorn. ... Taken together with the stories in A Drunken Dream, these essays make an excellent introduction to one of the most literary and original voices working in comics today. Highly recommended." – Katherine Dacey, The Manga Critic
• Review: "Anyone interested in the historical development of manga and the women who’ve contributed to the art form should read this book. I hope A Drunken Dream sells well enough for Fantagraphics or other publishers to consider putting out some of Hagio’s longer works. Her short stories are great, but I’d love to see what she does with a longer storyline." – Anna Neatrour, TangognaT
• Plug: "What Osamu Tezuka is to shonen and seinen manga, Moto Hagio is to shojo manga -- a true innovator who challenged and stretched the conventions of the medium by created touching, memorable and truly artistic comics stories. ... Fantagraphics had copies of the absolutely gorgeous hardcover edition of A Drunken Dream available for sale at their [Comic-Con] booth..." – Deb Aoki, About.com: Manga
• Interview:The Comics Journal's Shaenon Garrity sat down with Moto Hagio & translator Matt Thorn for a conversation at Comic-Con International: "I find it very embarrassing to read my very early work, but when you see the stories arranged chronologically it gives a good overall impression of my career. In Japanese, too, it’s common to present an author’s works in a sample spanning his or her whole career, so it’s turned out very much like that."
• Review: "Deadpan dialogue, drawings that move from panel to panel with the strange and deliberate force of kung fu performance art, and a subtle interweaving of humor and angst come together to make [Werewolves of Montpellier] a brief knockout of a book." – Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
• Review: "...[T]his cartwheeling shaggy-dog story begins, like a lot of metafiction, with the semblance of reality... But by the time a frog demon reanimates a 19th-century French peasant whose brains it has eaten, it’s fairly clear that Deitch is making stuff up. The fun of [The Search for Smilin' Ed] is the way it constantly darts back and forth across the line between genuine show-business lore (a favorite Deitch theme) and delirious whole-cloth invention. There are stories within stories, unreliable explainers, secret passageways that lead from one part of the tale to another." – Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
• Review: "Wally Gropius is a book that’s constantly lying to the reader, with a terrifying chaos roiling just immediately below its surface. The book is a flood of visual and textual information, but the information itself is near constantly false. ... For me, it’s a book that lies constantly, that lies at its very core, but that nevertheless ends up getting at a greater truth of things. And so, yeah: I thought that was pretty neat." – Abhay Kholsa, The Savage Critics
• Review: "There’s more derring-do [in Prince Valiant Vol. 2: 1939-1940] than you can shake a sword at! Foster’s stories are filled with vivid, colorful characters, none more engaging than the aptly named Valiant and his never-ending quest for adventure. The artwork is breathtaking. Foster’s figures are handsome and graceful whether eating a sumptuous feast or fighting on a crowded battlefield. ... Even if the age of chivalry is not your flask of ale, Foster’s art and storytelling will win you over." — Rich Clabaugh, The Christian Science Monitor
• Review: "This book is why Fantagraphics is one of the best and most important comic publishers in the business today. [Blazing Combat] is a series that could have easily been forgotten to the ages but Fantagraphics always is at the forefront of making sure important works of sequential art are remembered. ... This is a brilliant collection of stories that should be required reading. Intelligent, gripping stories and fantastic art! Grade A +" – Tim Janson, Mania and Newsarama
• Review: "Formally inventive and emotionally acute, Bottomless Belly Button indeed proves to be all those things: as fascinating and affecting a depiction of family ties as Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections or Wes Anderson's The Royal Tenenbaums." – Ed Park, Los Angeles Times
• Plugs: Alex Carr of Amazon's Omnivoracious blog has Weathercraft by Jim Woodring ("I am woefully ignorant when it comes to Woodring’s Frank comics, and this looks like the weirdest place to start") and Dungeon Quest Book 1 ("After The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book, I will read anything Joe Daly produces") on his summer vacation reading list
• History: For the Los Angeles Times, Ben Schwartz compiles an oral history of the 1980s heyday of L.A. alternative comics with Matt Groening, Gilbert & Jaime Hernandez, David Lynch (!), and Gary Panter
• Review: "...[T]he newer crop of contributors [in Mome Vols. 17, 18 & 19 is] a rough and tumble bunch who are bringing some fierce and hard-edged work to the table. ...[T]he balance is definitely in favor of the strong stuff, because it is strong stuff — well drawn in a variety of styles, and potentially troubling without cloaking itself in shopworn tropes. ... Once again, you're getting your bang for your buck." – Sean T. Collins, Attentiondeficitdisorderly
• Review: "And when you’re drawn into the world [of It Was the War of the Trenches] it’s hard not to rhapsodize about the drawing itself – Tardi’s gaze may be level, but his lines are sure and lush. His gentle contour line drawings are almost delicate, but then he fills them with a gray tone, or attaches them to nearly psychedelic intestines. It’s art that comes over you and stays with you – nicely offsetting an otherwise icy stare. ...Tardi seems a master, and this work a rare and intensely humane book." – Dan Nadel, Comics Comics
• Review: "Sequence by sequence and page by page, the re-readability of [Jason's] stories and scenes consistently offer more densely fulfilling reads than any three or four new $4 books... This particular story [Werewolves of Montpellier] ends in a graceful, yet awkwardly suspenseful and open-ended manner, but as with Jason books I’ve encountered before, this landing contributes to the matter-of-fact delivery he often employs in making you feel like you’re witnessing a story sliced out of a larger saga." – Brian Warmoth
• Review: "Those inclined to look for meaning could make a good case for this... as a story about people assuming false identities through a mix of circumstance and personal choice, but what Jason’s comics literally mean matters less than the pleasure of their deadpan humor and unexpected twists: His work has been building a whole habitat of crooks, monsters, and adventurers, just so he can explore their minor personal problems. Werewolves of Montpelier establishes yet another inviting corner of Jasonworld. [Grade] B+" – The A.V. Club
• Review: "...[T]he first 11 issues of [Dame Darcy's] sporadically released pamphlet Meat Cake — collected by Fantagraphics in a new trade-paperback edition — comprise some of the best alt-comics of the past 20 years. ...Darcy’s scratchy, fine-lined, loosely intricate artwork owes a slight debt to Edward Gorey, Victorian illustration, and the more demented wing of the E.C. roster (particularly Graham Ingels), but the dreamy vision and gleefully morbid sensibility are all her. Overall, Meat Cake’s dalliance with folklore, horror, camp, and transcendent bits of autobiography pack more of a poetic punch than the title is generally given credit for… [Grade] A-" – The A.V. Club
• Review: "Newave!is an astonishing collection of minicomics from the ’70s, ’80s and early ’90s... This book puts the lie to the notion that underground cartooning was fallow during this period; indeed, all it did was really go underground. ... Newave! gains momentum as it proceeds, an impressive feat for a 900-page anthology. ... The back half of Newave! features nary a dud. ... In an era when some cartoonists are learning how to create minicomics as part of a formal art education, Newave! should be a crucial text." – Rob Clough, The Comics Journal
• Review: "Out since last Halloween, this handsome collection of early 1980s exploitation VHS box art [Portable Grindhouse] is shaped like one of those old oversized clamshell cases. The all-color book collects the front and backs of many memorable cassette releases of that bygone era and will send you back to the days prowling dusty mom-and-pop video stores for you schlock fix. ... You won’t learn anything about the movies, but who needs that when the rest of the book is such a nostalgic gas?" – Tony Timpone, Fangoria
• Review: "After hearing his name lauded for many years, Werewolves of Montpellier was my first excursion into the world of Jason, the renowned Norwegian-born artist known for mixing whimsical anthropomorphic characters with introspective and often quite heavy storylines. Now I understand what my friends have been raving about for years. Jason’s artwork is sparse and the story is a masterpiece in simplicity. ... At times heartbreakingly sad and laugh-out-loud funny, this story just feels like real life... but with werewolves. ... These characters are hopeless, hilarious, tragic and beautiful – probably a lot like you and your friends." – Chad Derdowski, Mania
• Review: "Norwegian cartoonist Jason's latest work [Werewolves of Montpellier] is an absolute gem, funny, sparse and poignant. A tale of a thief, his complicated love life, urban living and werewolves, this is a unique and entertaining work." – Ian Mayor
• Semi-review: "A bound galley of Moto Hagio's A Drunken Dream and Other Stories arrived in yesterday's mail, and I'm halfway through it already. Hagio's art in some of these stories is absolutely beautiful to look at... I'm sure the finished book will be beautiful and expensive, but I sort of hope some girls find these stories as well, and get the same thrill I did." – Bridgid Alverson, Robot 6
Come down and hang out with the enchanting Dame Darcy this Saturday, July 10 from 6:00 to 9:00 PM at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery. To celebrate the publication of her new MEAT CAKE anthology there will be an exhibition of her exquisite artwork, a musical performance, book signing, fortune telling, and doubtless a few surprises.
If you’re new to Dame Darcy’s singular neo-Victorian aesthetic you’re in for a treat. Longtime fans will enjoy an opportunity to experience her diverse talents in the intimate atmosphere of Fantagraphics colorful showroom, located at 1201 S. Vale Street at Airport Way S. just minutes from downtown Seattle. Phone 206.658.0110.
This event coincides with the lively Georgetown Art Attack featuring art, music and more at locations throughout the historic neighborhood. Don’t miss the vintage Georgetown Trailer Park Mall. Yee haw! See you all soon.
Online Commentary & Diversions returns after a slow news day yesterday:
• Review: "Hensley’s clean art, drawn in a 1960s cartoon style (and complete with bright color pallete) is a bizarre mish-mash of the best in ‘60s teen book cartooning with the absurdity of an episode of The Monkees and the severity of indy comics. ...Hensley’s biting humor [is] either as spontaneous on the final page…or so well timed and planned that you don’t see it coming. In all honesty, I had trouble figuring Wally [Gropius] out — I expected a nostalgic pastiche with an edge, but what I got was an unpredictable and sometimes unsettling reading experience, literally not knowing what to expect from page to page. And that’s where Hensley excels, with a narrative sleight of hand, his seemingly innocent characters hiding more base and sinister motivations, using classic cartooning techniques to conceal a darker underbelly." – Christopher Irving, Graphic NYC
• Review: "...[W]hat really defines Billy Hazelnuts [and the Crazy Bird] is a genuine sense of excitement on the part of the author, as though, like the daughters he’ll eventually read the book to, Millionaire seems eager to discover what sort of adventures await his hero on the next page. ... Billy Hazelnuts is dark and weird and funny and strangely warm — it’s a book you wish you could have discovered at a much younger age. Thankfully, it’s pretty fun as an adult, too." – Brian Heater, The Daily Cross Hatch
• Plugs: "This gorgeous softcover collection of Dame Darcy's Meat Cake comic series is a thick slice of delicious Victorian romantic, horror, humor with just a hint of Southern gothic. ... So beautifully drawn and entertaining, Werewolves of Montpellier should make members of Team Jacob consider changing their name to Team Jason." – Benn Ray (Atomic Books), Largehearted Boy
• Interview: At The Comics Journal, Marc Librescu continues his talk with Gahan Wilson: "A lot of the reasons that [today’s] horror movies are so not entertaining or not much fun, and leave you with a very yuck taste, is that they’re brutal. And I think they’re brutal because the people who are making them are brutalized, basically, putting it right smack down there on the table. And they’re kind of a little fuggy, and that’s not good for an artist."
Multifaceted cartoonist, musician, performance artist, fortune teller and neo-Victorian culture maven Dame Darcy appears at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery on July 10 to celebrate the publication of MEAT CAKE, a collection of stories from the first decade of her popular comic book series of the same name. The event features an exhibition of Dame Darcy's original comic art and other creations, an enchanting music recital and a fortune telling session with each book signed.
MEAT CAKE is like a peek into an imaginative, deranged dollhouse filled with fractured fairy tales. An expanded version of the long out-of-print hardcover book, this new paperback assembles the very best of Darcy's work from the first 11 issues of the beloved comic (including "Hungry Is the Heart," the legendary collaboration with Watchmen creator Alan Moore). According to the New York Times, "Darcy's comics are aesthetic manifestos... Darcy is a star. Meat Cake will prevail, as luxury takes over America. And the world beyond." The Los Angeles Times observes, "[Darcy] has created a childlike, otherworldly realm, a land that hovers in the twilight space between the whimsical and the macabre. Ghosts and goblins, foul-tempered stepmothers, lovesick mermaids and charmed forests are all rendered in Darcy's distinctive hand, loose and flowing lines reminiscent of the work of Edward Gorey."
Dame Darcy's appearance on Saturday, July 10 from 6:00 to 9:00 PM coincides with the colorful Georgetown Second Saturday Art Attack featuring challenging visual and performing arts presentations throughout the historic industrial arts corridor. Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery is located at 1201 S. Vale Street (at Airport way S.) only minutes south of downtown Seattle. Open daily 11:30 to 8:00 PM, Sundays until 5:00 PM. Phone 206.658.0110.
Hokey smokes, hope you've been saving your nickels because we've got 5, count 'em 5, brand new books slated to hit comic shops this week! Read on for more info and to see what the other new-comics-day bloggers are saying [now edited to add Tom Spurgeon].
232-page monochrome 6.75" x 8.25" hardcover • $22.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-344-6
"I absolutely loved this Megan Kelso graphic novel — a kind of anthropological/fictional-historical fantasy/love story thing involving a fractured culture of people with artichoke leaves for hair — and I'm not afraid to say so." – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
"Getting back to much-awaited new projects, here’s Megan Kelso’s 232-page intergenerational fantasy, excerpted/anticipated here and there, depicting struggle and serenity among the fleshily vulnerable artichoke folk. ...Kelso’s visual style remains appealing as ever." – Joe McCulloch, Comics Comics
"Megan Kelso (The Squirrel Mother) returns with her most ambitious work to date..." – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
"Fantagraphics reminds us that they’re more than just awesome, Matt Thorn-curated manga with Megan Kelso’s Artichoke Tales. ... This is Kelso’s first long-form effort, and I’m looking forward to seeing what she does with that length of narrative." – David Welsh, The Manga Curmudgeon
"I'm still digesting this, the oddest book I've read all year." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
104-page black & white 6.5" x 9" hardcover • $19.99 ISBN: 978-1-56097-917-3
"Tony Millionaire’s sequel to his excellent 2006 Billy Hazelnuts, a gorgeous evocation of sprawling, daydreamy adventure strip narratives pairing gritty-but-whimsical hardcases with not-too-sweet innocents. Here we find grumpy homunculus Billy adjusting poorly to helping out with animals on the farm, only to set off on a mission to reunite a baby owl with its mother. It looks really funny and beautiful." – Joe McCulloch, Comics Comics
"Maakies cartoonist Tony Millionaire's 'all-ages' sequel to Billy Hazelnuts, and by 'all-ages' he apparently means that it's the kind of grotesque slapstick farce that could potentially entertain small children while creeping the living heck out of their parents..." – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
"What's MY PICK OF THE WEEK? The Billy Hazelnuts and the Crazy Bird hardcover by the one and only Tony Millionaire. ... In the Billy Hazelnuts all-ages series, Millionaire spins the yarn of Billy, a garbage-homunculus, and the family who loves him. In this installment, the bizarre Billy must return a baby owl to the woods. Rampant weirdness ensues." – Cyriaque Lamar, io9
"Prolific Maakies cartoonist and Sock Monkey creator Tony Millionaire’s long-awaited second Billy Hazelnuts graphic novel finally arrives." – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
"The release of a new Tony Millionaire stand-alone book is an overall world good." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
128-page black & white 8.25" x 10.75" hardcover • $19.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-352-1
"Finally(!), here’s a new 128-page hardcover edition of Fantagraphics’ 1995 compilation of assorted Robert Crumb shorts starring the famous lil’ bearded guy." – Joe McCulloch, Comics Comics
"Fantagraphics is having a pretty damn huge week (and there’s a couple more swell-looking books below)." [Yep!] – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
"This is one of the better Christmas-gift books Fantagraphics ever made... A kind of Crumb-primer, or Crumb for people who might want to get at him from a more standard comics stories standpoint." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
240-page black & white/duotone 7" x 10.25" softcover • $22.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-346-0
"...includes the best of comics creator, character and all-around renaissance woman Dame Darcy’s first decade of Meat Cake comics..." – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
"No, stay in your chair, this close-to-last-of-the-classic-one-artist-anthology-comic-books isn’t going bookshelf for good – it’s an expanded 240-page softcover reissue of Fantagraphics’ 2003 (200-page) hardcover collection of the best of Dame Darcy’s comical fictions and stitched-up Victoriana, with guest writer Alan Moore popping in for a later story..." – Joe McCulloch, Comics Comics
"This collection of Dame Darcy's twisted fairy tale saga was out-of-print and gets a much deserved resurrection, replete with her collaboration with Alan Moore." – Cyriaque Lamar, io9
"Dame Darcy is the canary in the cage as alt-comics makes its way through the catacombs of modern comics publishing. As long as she has a publishing presence, something must going at least semi-okay." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
240-page two-color 8" x 10" hardcover • $22.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-323-1
"I read it a few weeks ago, and it’s easily one of the best comics works I’ve experienced so far this year. It’s an extremely ambitious story set in a fantasy world that explores the various ways in which war and fear can tear people apart while knitting communities together. It’s occasionally touching, occasionally scary, always thrilling and remarkably complex. I hope to review it in this space sometime soon, but I’d like to give it another read or two before I attempt doing so. In the mean time, allow me to at least wholeheartedly recommend it." – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
"...Percy Gloom was perfectly dedicated to its metaphors of human caution as aggravated by society and religion. This new 240-page work promises a similarly-conceived world, this time as built by an amnesiac war veteran forever alert to obscure but surely dire threats. Surely!" – Joe McCulloch, Comics Comics
"Russ Manning Award winner Cathy Malkasian's new graphic novel is a sprawling, splendidly grotesque-looking fable about the kinds of lies that preserve patriarchy and perpetuate war, set in and around a city called Blessedbowl whose inhabitants believe that they're afloat on a sea of fire and at war with evil forces from outside, neither of which are true. It's worth a look for sure." – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
"I'm looking forward to this one because a) I know absolutely nothing about it, and b) I went into the cartoonist's previous book Percy Gloom with every expectation I'd hate it until my legs fell off from the acidic bile collected in them from my hating of it, but ended up super-charmed by like page eight." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
Still not convinced? Check out our previews and excerpts for each book at their respective links above and judge for yourself. As always, we recommend confirming availability with your local shop before toddling on down.
For a limited time, receive a FREE issue of the Meat Cake comic when you order the collection! Choose from issues 14, 16 or 17 (15 is sold out) when placing your order.
COLLECTING THE BEST STORIES FROM THE FIRST DECADE OF MEAT CAKE COMICS
Dame Darcy is one of the most beguiling presences on the comics scene — musician, actress, cable TV star, fortune teller, dollmaker, and last but not least, cartoonist to the core — and has been bewitching readers for over 15 years with her neo-Victorian horror/humor/romance comic Meat Cake. Alternating between one-off (often cruelly tragic) fairy tales and ongoing romps starring her eclectic cast of characters, including Effluvia the Mermaid, the roguish roué Wax Wolf, Igpay the Pig-Latin pig, Stregapez (a women who speaks by dispensing Pez-like tablets through a bloody hole in her throat), the mischievous Siamese twins Hindrance and Perfidia, Scampi the Selfish Shellfish, the stalwart Friend the Girl, and the blonde bombshell Richard Dirt, all delineated in her inimitable luxurious scrawl, Meat Cake is like a peek into the most creative, deranged dollhouse you ever saw. Meat Cake is an expanded reprint of the out of print hardcover with more stories assembling the very best of Darcy’s work (including “Hungry Is the Heart,” the legendary collaboration with Watchmen’s Alan Moore) from the first 11 issues of the beloved comic.
Download an EXCLUSIVE 20-page PDF excerpt featuring all the highlights of issue 4 (3.5 MB), PLUS a 6-page PDF including the Table of Contents, Foreword by Margaret Cho, Introduction by Dame Darcy, and "An Interview with the Meat Cake Characters" (1.4 MB), PLUS 4 pages of "Paper Doll Fun" (1.6 MB) that you can print, color & cut out without ruining your book!
"[Darcy] has created a childlike, otherworldly realm, a land that hovers in the twilight space between the whimsical and the macabre. Ghosts and goblins, foul-tempered stepmothers, lovesick mermaids and charmed forests are all rendered in Darcy's distinctive hand, loose and flowing lines reminiscent of the work of Edward Gorey." – Los Angeles Times
"Darcy's comics are aesthetic manifestos… Darcy is a star. Mark my words. Meat Cake will prevail, as luxury takes over America. And the world beyond." — The New York Times
"I think she's exquisite, let's put it that way. I wish I knew her in high school." — Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth)
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