Recently Fantagraphics stopped by Ohio State University's Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum in Columbus. This structural testament to housing and preserving original cartoon strips makes it a one-of-a-kind-place. Curator Jenny Robb said hello but my after-hours and behind the scene tour guide was librarian Caitlin McGurk!
Students of OSU and traveling scholars (like me!) can request to see original art and read books in the main reference room. The room itself is lined with popular comics reference material, less Marvel's Anatomy and more History of Chinese Comics that was written by a scholar rather than a draw-er.
Caitlin pulled everything I asked for from the collection and more! Fantagraphics utilizes the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library when creating our classic reprint lines. They even have an amazingly sophisticated camera for large scans---we're talking longer and wider than a human.
The stacks were automated, slowly sliding over on tracks after a crank is turned AND button pressed. To avoid trouble, the stacks are lined on the bottom with emergency-stop bars. It's pretty damn cool. The Library houses the larges manga collection in the United States, possibly the world.
The flat files have dim lighting, plastic sleeves around the strips and dust covers to fit over the artwork to prevent sliding or damage. GLOVES are a must.
Prince Valiant by Hal Foster lay inside one of the drawers, well many strips lay in there just begging to be looked at.
Dan DeCarlo's Betty & Veronica cover was not only environmentally topical but sassy like most of his artwork.
Ernie Bushmiller's Nancy. People seem to love her or hate her but Ernie Bushmiller's mathematically complex and erudite leading lady is a joy to see. Caitlin pulled one of the wackiest strips she could find for me dating back to November 16th, 1947.
How many can YOU blow?
Last but not least, was an original Nell Brinkley in a gold frame. Having won over the hearts of many a Gibson girl Brinkley's sparkling ladies went from pining lovers to adventurous maidens.
The collection also boasted some amazing newspaper inserts called The Book of Magic, originally printed with broadsheet newspaper The Seattle Post-Intelligencer. The Book of Magic was full of comics, stories and ads geared towards children.
A big, warm hug to Caitlin McGurk for the after hours tour and the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum for existing! You should make a stop there on your next visit to Ohio or on a road trip. Look out because in 2013 they are moving to a primo new building complete with comics festivities!
Online Commentary & Diversions returns from the U.S. holiday:
• List:About.com: Manga places Moto Hagio's A Drunken Dream and Other Stories at #19 on their list of "50 Essential Manga for Libraries": "Collected for the first time in a gorgeous hardcover edition, A Drunken Dream offers a rare glimpse into the work of one of Japan's most distinctive and influential creators in shojo manga, and heck, manga, period. Worth recommending to both older teen and adult readers alike."
• Review: "Hagio draws these stories as if a full symphonic score were playing in the background. Her delicate, razor-thin pen line expertly captures her characters’ wide-eyed, open-mouthed anguish effectively. [...] I, certainly, am very glad that Fantagraphics made the effort (and judging by the exceptional production values it was a tremendous effort) to get this book out there ...because... beyond Hagio’s historical significance, [A]Drunken Dream [and Other Stories] is a book that deserves attention." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "Ever since it was announced in March (was it really that long ago?), I’d been looking forward to reading [A Drunken Dream and Other Stories] by legendary Moto Hagio. [...] It would be a real shame if Fantagraphics didn’t get any supportive business from this collection and demand for more. [...] I’m looking forward to reading more, and adding to the crying list!" – Sunday Comics Debt (who also provides the following two links)
• Review: "BUY. THIS. BOOK. No, seriously, buy it now. [...] I don’t think there is a single thing wrong with this book; Hagio-sensei touches on each of the topics she chooses to use with such perfection and …delicacy? that you can’t help but be amazed at how she does it. [...] I can’t wait for the next volume of manga Fantagraphics chooses to put out! They did a beyond amazing job with [A Drunken Dream and Other Stories]." – Kelakagandy's Ramblings
• Plug: "This week... everything fades in the presence of a newly-released collection of short manga from shojo pioneer Moto Hagio, A Drunken Dream and Other Stories. [...] Simply put, this book is gorgeous. [...] This is a release I’ve been eagerly anticipating since its announcement. Visit your local bookstore to find out why." – Melinda Beasi, Manga Bookshelf
• Review: "'Greatest Generation' hoopla will never seem the same after You’ll Never Know: Collateral Damage, book two in Carol Tyler’s sprightly but relentlessly honest 'graphic memoir'... [T]his is the story of not just a family but a generation, or two or three. And all are told with a saving dash of humor. Tyler’s form, a mix of scrapbook, diary, and cartoon panels, is likewise messy and eccentric, but it pays off in layered textures and viewpoints. Two famous precedents, Art Spiegelman’s Maus and Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, seem almost one-dimensional by comparison." – Eric Scigliano, Seattle Met
• Review: "While there aren’t necessarily many surprises in the story, Set to Sea is more about the savoring of a series of vivid moments (both for the lead character and the reader) than any sort of narrative complexity. With each page acting as a single panel, the true joy of reading Set to Sea is luxuriating in Weing’s intense crosshatching and detail. [...] Indeed, in a book whose visuals have such a powerful impact, Weing’s decision not to overwrite (and especially not to over-narrate) was his wisest. With nearly 70 of the book’s pages appearing as silent, the result was a book that understood and maximized its charms." – Rob Clough, The Comics Journal
• Interview:Nicola D'Agostino presents the original English text of the Drew Weing interview which ran at Comicsblog.it so you don't have to struggle through the mangled autotranslation: "So one day in 2005, I drew a panel with a guy sleeping. The only thing I knew about him was that he was a big fellow. I spent more than a year adding to it bit by bit, just improvising panels as I went. I started Set to Sea with no idea that it would be set in the past, or even set on the sea, so to speak!"
• Review: "...[T]he Billy Hazelnuts books are safe for children, while still being unique and complex enough for adults. Here Millionaire combines a gung-ho adventure spirit with a tempered yet still present darkness — two strains that have been the keys to so much of the greatest children’s literature. [...] Tony Millionaire is a genius and the Billy Hazelnuts books may be his best work. Imagine if Beatrix Potter had dropped acid with the 60s underground comix crowd or if A.A. Milne had collaborated with Franz Kafka. If you love fun, hilarious, and plain weird stories, then Billy Hazelnuts is for you." – Lincoln Michel, The Faster Times
• Profile/Preview: A gallery of images from the book accompanies this article: "See the work of Dan DeCarlo in the book The Pin-Up Art of Dan DeCarlo, published by Fantagraphics, which plunges into an alternate universe where Betty, Veronica, Sabrina grew up and live out situations that summed up the lewd sexual desire of men in the time before the sexual revolution of the twentieth century." – Ambrosia (translated from Portuguese)
• Interview: At his Cats Without Dogs blog, Jason presents a brief Q&A he recently did with the Spanish newspaper El Periodico de Catalunya: "I can hear the voice of a woman, from somewhere above me. 'Don't cry,' her voice says. 'One day you will see Neal Adams at a comic book convention in America.'"
• Feature:USA Today Pop Candy's Whitney Matheson spotlights Jim Woodring and his giant pen project: "I can't wait to see the pen and the drawings! (Also, can we start a campaign to get a live demonstration in New York?)"
• Commentary: At The Hooded Utilitarian, Ng Suat Tong surveys the use of buildings in comics and then looks specifically at architecture in Josh Simmons’s House
• Review: "...Jason elevates his skewering of filmic genres to a whole new level in his latest collection, Low Moon, which sees his unique takes on film noir, westerns and screwball comedy. All of the tales are informed by his signature clean lines, bright colors, sparse dialogue and taste for a particularly brutal brand of slapstick humor and occasional moments of dark, incisive brilliance that are often reached without uttering a word... Featuring tawdry sex, alien abductions, existential crises, betrayal, and a hundred and one different varieties of murder, this is a book that pretty much has it all." - Ian Chant, PopMatters
• Review: "...Jason's Low Moon... [is] a collection full of mostly wordless comedic pleasures." - Richard Gehr, The Village Voice
• Review: "A question regarding the title of Michael Kupperman's Tales Designed to Thrizzle Volume One: Does 'thrizzle' mean 'pee your pants a little from laughing so hard'? Because if so, it just about achieved its promise..." - Rod Lott, Bookgasm
• Review: "[Boody: The Bizarre Comics of Boody Rogers ] is one of the funniest comics I've ever read, and all I do is read comics... Just looking at his drawings makes me laugh... If you like Johnny Ryan, you should check this out. And they weren't fooling around with that title. These comics are as weird as hell... This book is essential. Get it or get out." - Nick Gazin, Vice
• Review: "[Uptight] doesn't come out often enough... Jordan Crane is an immense talent; I just wished he worked faster. He's one of the best new guys of the past five years." - Nick Gazin, Vice (same link as above)
• Review: "This is one of the greatest works of American art of the past century and fuck you if you were ignorant of this. Prince Valiant was and is one of the greatest comics of all time and most would agree that it's the greatest adventure comic... Reading Prince Valiant has the same thrill as reading Sherlock Holmes. He's smarter, handsomer, and a better fighter than everyone around him. Reading his adventures and watching him sneak around castles, swordfight small armies, and romance medieval bitches is more exciting to me than almost any other comic. I'm getting pumped just thinking about it... It's so beautiful. I want to be Prince Valiant and I want to be Hal Foster." - Nick Gazin, Vice (same link as above)
• Review: "Fantagraphics, the gold standard when if comes to collecting and reprinting newspaper strips, has released the first volume of Prince Valiant, covering the years 1937 to 1938 in all-new remastered color, the result is breathtaking! Foster is truly one of the great comic illustrators who ever lived but has never got his just due it seems because he didn't work in the traditional comic book medium. One needs only to read the first few pages of the book to grasp his incredible ability... This is graphic storytelling at its finest and a true treasure! Grade A" - Tim Janson, Mania
• Review: "The cover [of The Pin-Up Art of Dan DeCarlo] sums it up -- a man who looks disturbingly like Riverdale’s Mr. Lodge gazes lasciviously at a lingerie-clad young woman who looks disturbingly like a (very) bosomy Veronica. That is just so wrong... Breasts swell and sag with the weight of flesh, not silicone; thighs press firmly and meatily together, hips and butts strain against fabric, threatening plentiful wardrobe malfunctions. And the wardrobes!... The overall effect is -- well, I can’t describe the overall effect. Let’s just say that in trying to take it all in I may have stretched my eyes permanently out of shape." - Noah Berlatsky, The Hooded Utilitarian
• Review: "...Peter Bagge's new compilation of comics, Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me and Other Astute Observations... turns out also to be a rude form of local history... [H]is craftsmanship - in the tradition of Mad's Don Martin and Nancy creator Ernie Bushmiller - lies in his ability to reduce his drawings to the simplest possible details needed to tell the story. His rants are funny, but the frictionless gag-delivery systems of his panels are an even more effective rebuke to the willful obscurity of contemporary art." - David Stoesz, Seattle Weekly
• Review: "Collecting 10 years’ worth of cartoons originally done for Reason magazine, as well as a few odds and sods, [Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me] finds Bagge as sharp and irate as ever, and his art has improved while still being recognizably his own. Bagge is also, thankfully, still possessed of a great sense of humor, especially about himself—even the title reveals an element of self-mockery among all the self-righteousness." - The A.V. Club
• Review: "There are few comics in the history of the medium as universally beloved as Love and Rockets... The Palomar stories, while extraordinarily literate and often brilliant in how they straddle the line between magical realism and gritty serial drama, are complex narratives which benefit greatly from being read from the very beginning; Jaime’s lighter, simpler approach is probably a better place to start." - Leonard Pierce, The A.V. Club, offering advice on how to start reading Love and Rockets; here's our advice
• Interview: Robot 6's Tim O'Shea talks to John Kerschbaum about Petey & Pussy, self-publishing and other topics. Sample quote: "It’s what it would look like if Elmer Fudd REALLY blew Daffy’s beak off. But I’ve always felt that humor and horror are very closely related. That they naturally play off of each other. The funny bits make the scary bits scarier and vice versa."
• Interview: At The A.V. Club, Sam Adams gets Michael Kupperman to reveal some of the secrets of his comedy genius and the future of Thrizzle. For example: "Certainly I enjoy the outré and I enjoy artistic comics and surrealism in comics very much. But the decision I made and have stuck with and refined was the decision to try to be funny and communicate humor. Once you put that ahead of everything else, it resolves those other questions for you."
• Plug: Jog - The Blog spotlights 3 of our new releases from last week
Throughout the late midcentury, Dan DeCarlo was simultaneously defining the look of tight-sweatered Riverdale girls in Archie comics for little Billy while drawing titillating Riverdale-esque women losing their sweaters in Humorama magazines for Bill senior. Like Playboy being produced by Disney, the utter American-ness of it resonates deeply and rather disturbingly. It's the ultimate subversion to see these Archie girls squeaky-clean and wide-eyed in a slick, crass, Man's World of viral virile impotence. And I can't stop admiring DeCarlo because of and in spite of it...
[Ha. I misspelled 'virile.' And, no, I'm not going to explain myself.]
The Pin-Up Art of Dan DeCarlo Vol. 2 Edited by Alex Chun; designed by Jacob Covey
For more than 40 years, Dan DeCarlo was best known for his definitive rendition of Archie Comics' Betty and Veronica, two of comics' most beloved icons. But before joining Archie in the late 1950s and unbeknownst to many, DeCarlo was already honing his skills as a good girl artist for the Humorama line of digest magazines. This second volume once again displays DeCarlo's sexiest Humorama pin-up cartoons, and continues Fanatagraphics' dedication to showcasing the best of the classic pin-up cartoonists.
216-page two-color 5.75" x 7.75" softcover $18.95 Order Now!
The second book of Dan DeCarlo's pin-up work is heading to book stores. Like the previous volume, the material all comes from DeCarlo's work for the third-rate humor magazines of "a simpler time" (read: chauvanist gags that could conceivably be trumped by any six year old).
DeCarlo was a master and it's difficult to deny the adolescent joy of seeing page after page of Riverdale's nightlife, with statuesque Bettys inviting men up to their room, gal pals chatting away in their lingerie, and Veronica-esque strippers grinding in a burlesque show. Alex Chun has loaded the book up with several dozen originals and includes another 150+ pages of spot-colored magazine page reproductions. PLUS: The great Jaime Hernandez wrote an introduction accompanied by a pin-up of his DeCarlo-influenced character Vivian "Frogmouth." AND: Stan Lee wrote a cover blurb! Stan was The Man who hired DeCarlo for the pin-up magazine work. He also wrote any number of the book's gags. The, uh, better ones I'm sure...