• Review: "Meat Cake is a tour de force showcasing the most primal of passions! It is an issue of Creepy edited by Edward Gorey! It is a Gothic soap opera as written by Victorian lolitas! It is a celebration of love and hubris, beauty and decay! There is no other comic in the world that offers a titillating parade of mermaids, ghosts, sailors, sirens, faeries, witches and wolfmen in intriguing and compromising situations! You will be dazzled, you will be entertained, but above all, you will be enchanted!" – STORM (guest columnist), Robot 6
• Review: "Werewolves of Montpellier is a sad and even somewhat funny novel about the fact that loneliness is not hiding under the mask. Is this novel better or worse than other works of Jason? Probably not. Despite repeated methods in his books, [his] novels are utterly worth reading. If you have a werewolf friend, buy him this book. If you don’t, buy two." – Ray Garraty, Endless Falls Up
• List:The Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon names Ici Même (You Are There) as one of "25 Emblematic Comics of the '70s": "This grand effort by Jacques Tardi and Jean-Claude Forest may seem like an extravagant oddity now, but it gets credit from some for igniting a wave of alternative voices in a French-language comics industry whose mainstream had the added appeal of actually making its creators popular and wealthy successes. Even if you don't like the tune — and while it's a song I could personally listen to every day, I know many people couldn't — at the time I have to imagine that many comics readers weren't even aware that the medium could play some of these notes."
• Profile: "Just like Peter Parker, the most celebrated co-creation of the subject of his first book, Toronto writer Blake Bell was bitten by a strange bug as a youngster. And just like Peter Parker, he was transformed beyond all recognition — into the Amazing Comic Book Historian Guy." – Canadish
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."