• Review: "[Abstract Comics: The Anthology] is designed beautifully... The content serves as a great introduction to a genre of comics that few people knew existed. [Editor Andrei] Molotiu takes somewhat of a scholarly approach to the content, placing the concept of abstract comics within art history in his introduction. He makes a good case... Overall, this is a cool concept and I was surprised by it. I think it’s definitely going to cause some debates about what comics are and are not, and that’s a good thing." - Eden Miller, Comicsgirl
• Review: "The status of [Ivan] Brunetti's... gag-cartoon collections... as trailblazers in the realm of going-way-too-far comic-book comedy is unquestioned... Brunetti's impeccable line looks like it'd be more at home in the pages of The New Yorker than Sleazy Slice, which I imagine is the point, but for me at least, this just neuters all but the most vicious jokes -- otherwise it's just a litany of beautifully drawn dick/poop/pedo jokes." - Sean T. Collins
• Interview: For Marvel.com, Sean T. Collins talks to Dash Shaw about his Dr. Strange story in the upcoming Marvel Strange Tales MAX. "The title is 'Dr. Strange Vs. Nightmare.' 'Nuff said!"
• History: Kevin Nowlan and Jan Strnad talk to Shaun Manning of Comic Book Resources about the creation of "Grimwood's Daughter," their backup feature in our long-ago series Dalgoda (being newly collected by IDW -- someone want to send me a copy?)
Aha! We teased this a little while ago and now it has appeared: Dash Shaw appears on Indy Mogul's "Reel Good Show" to discuss his upcoming animation project for IFC.com and accompanying book from Fantagraphics, The Unclothed Man in the 35th Century AD (official info on the project here), with a couple of brief interludes of other stuff. Hijinks ensue! Here's the YouTube video link for those who don't see the embedded player above.
• Comic-Con: Looks like Kelly Kilmer scored a bunch of great stuff at our booth on Sunday
• Review: "The first four issues of Michael Kupperman's awesome comedy comics zine Tales Designed to Thrizzle have been collected into a single hardcover volume that is a superdense wad of funny, surreal, bent humor... This is weird, funny, Subgenius-esque toilet reading that will keep you very regular." - Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing
• Review: "Thomas Ott's Dead End, & Tales of Error, (Fantagraphics Books) - This Swiss artist's comics are a moody blend of irony, horror and silence. (Most of his stories have no dialogue or captions.) The stark black-and-white pages - thanks to Ott's use of scratchboard - bring to mind such German Expressionist films as Robert Wiene's The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and F.W. Murnau's Nosferatu. Like those films, Ott knows how to build suspense and maintain a sense of looming dread as each story reaches its foregone and tragic ending." - Steven Kwan, "Your new textbooks: Comics you need to read," University of Arizona Daily Wildcat
• Review: "The key to [Mome]'s continued success has been flexibility regarding its mission. It's still a place where young artists are sought out and spotlighted... It's also a place where key foreign comics can find a home... Lastly, it's a place where great American cartoonists can publish their short stories... This variety of approaches... positions it as a sort of descendant of Weirdo and RAW. It may not represent the absolute cutting edge of comics the way that Kramer's Ergot does, but it's still the widest available survey of alt-comics in publication and will be increasingly valuable in that regard as it continues to evolve." - Rob Clough
• Preview: The Comics Reporter reports: "I saw John Pham briefly at his studio on Monday. He's a little bit late -- although nowhere near comics-late -- with the second issue of his Sublife series from Fantagraphics, and the original art he showed me was really, really pretty."
• Plug: Boing Boing's Mark Frauenfelder hypes The Sweetly Diabolic Art of Jim Flora, relating the following: "Tim Biskup told me the the first time he saw Flora's work (when he was in a used record store) he felt his brain rewiring on the spot, forever changing his approach to art."
• Plugs: Jog looks at some of our new releases arriving in comic shops today
• Plugs: "If you picked up I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets! and delighted in the surreal mayhem therein (and who didn’t) you’re going to have to grab a copy of You Shall Die by Your Own Evil Creation! to make your life complete... It’s completely insane and very funny and will probably encourage you to indulge in a spot of unnecessary exclamation pointing... The Summer 2009 edition of MOME has arrived and, as usual, it's packed... Sergio Ponchione's Grotesque #3... is one of those lovely-looking Ignatz books... If you're a fan of weird Lynchian fantasy you should definitely check it out." - Gosh! Comics Blog
• Plugs: "The Complete Crumb Comics, Vol. 9...: Classic Crumb from 1972 and ‘73, reprinted once again. Lots of great politically incorrect material, including Crumb's assault (of sorts) on feminism. All in good fun, of course... The Complete Peanuts, Vol. 12: 1973-1974...: This one contains what I sincerely think is one of the greatest extended stories in the history of comics, where Charlie Brown starts seeing baseballs everywhere and gets a baseball-shaped rash on the back of his head. Hopefully you're buying the whole series, but if you only want one volume, I'd suggest this one. If you want more, though, you can buy the box set with Vol. 11 included... Mome, Vol. 15 (Summer 2009): ...[T]his one looks intriguing if only because it features both the debut of up-and-coming artist T. Edward Bak and a 16-page story by the Spanish artist Max, who we don't nearly get enough of in these parts." - Chris Mautner, Robot 6
We didn't forget the Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: "The Lagoon is a horror story, if a low-key one; like much of the best horror it makes the connection between horror and the absurd... [Lilli] Carré's sinuous, snaking treatment of sound provides a through-line... but it still feels disconnected in ways that few writers today are gutsy enough to attempt. The overall effect is like Clive Barker fed through a twee filter. This'll stick to you." - Sean T. Collins
• Review: "Who knew that Prince Valiant, a comic strip I always assumed appeared next to the word 'boredom' in the dictionary, was so vibrant, colorful, action-packed and gosh-darned fun?... This new edition [Prince Valiant Vol. 1: 1937-1938] ups the ante not just through the fancy hardcover, but via state of the art technology that allows for a pristine detail and rich color that’s about as close to Foster’s initial intentions as we may ever be likely to get... The strip is full of brio and vigor and hits the ground running right from the start... Foster’s fight scenes are sumptuous in detail but economical in execution, with Foster rarely showing a glinting sword unless it’s either about to or already has carved someone in half... In a world where too often most art turns out to be exactly as shallow as first glance suggests, it’s nice to discover that something like Prince Valiant is capable of surprising, and even enthralling, the modern reader." - Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Interview: The wheres and whens are a little confusing, but I guess Indy Mogul's The Reel Good Show did or is doing a live video interview with Dash Shaw today... if it gets archived we'll link it
• Events: As part of his current residency at Dartmouth College, Jules Feiffer gave a lecture Wednesday; The Dartmouth's Fan Zhang has the report (via The Daily Cartoonist). A highlight: "I was doing what so many comic book artists at the time were doing — I was stealing. You learn by stealing, you learn by swiping and, God willing, you emerge into your own style." Zhang also reports that Feiffer will participate in a panel discussion with fellow cartoonists Edward Koren, Edward Sorel and Jeff Danziger on politics in cartooning on August 12
To celebrate, our nominated titles, except Peanuts (for contractual reasons), are now 15% off for a limited time! First buy, then (if you're a comics professional) vote!
Congratulations to all of our nominated colleagues, with special shouts-out to Al Jaffee for his Abrams book Tall Tales (multiple nominations), Chris Ware for Acme Novelty Library #19 (Best Single Issue or Story), and Jay Lynch & the Mineshaft folks for Mineshaft #23 (Best Cover Artist).
• List: Bdzoom reports that l'Association des Critiques et journalistes de Bande Dessinée (ACBD) has placed Bottomless Belly Button by Dash Shaw on their summer reading shortlist (there's Tardi on there too)
• Review: "Nell Brinkley was an icon for several generations of women... The art [in The Brinkley Girls] has been beautifully restored, a task that must have been pure torture given the density of Brinkley's drawings and that sophisticated color work. My hat's off to whoever did that fabulous job." - Allan Holtz, Stripper's Guide
• Review: "At one point in her comic-style memoir [You'll Never Know Book 1: A Good and Decent Man], Carol [Tyler] talks to us directly and says, 'The war was never really buried under tons of mental concrete. Rather, it was an active shaper of life, affecting moods and outcomes ... more than anyone ever knew.' Indeed. This is an important and deeply spiritual contribution to American culture." - David Crumm, Read the Spirit
• Review: "[You'll Never Know Book 1: A Good and Decent Man] is not your blood and guts portrayal of a ruthless soldier but rather an investigation into the emotional costs that war has on the combatant and the family that they sire, presenting a familiar story of the 'greatest generation' in an unfamiliar way." - Quentin Williams, two.one.five Magazine
• Review: "...Supermen! [is] a beautifully designed volume of early American comics... The edition is both aesthetically pleasing and sturdy, featuring clarified reprinting of the colour strips, covers, and scattered elements of advertisements and back matter." - Michael Leader, Den of Geek
• Review: "[West Coast Blues] is everything you would expect from a suspense thriller... Visually the comic book is also great. It's everything you would expect from Tardi... I don't believe that anybody else than him would have been able to visually translate Manchette's novel so well. It's like they worked together and that the comic book is the original material. Bottom line, this is another great comic book by Tardi. If you have never read anything by him you should. Luckily for North American readers, Fantagraphics announced that they that they were going to translate Tardi's work starting this fall." - Patrick Bérubé, Comic Book Bin
• Review: "You Shall Die By Your Own Evil Creation!... gathers all the remaining material that the alcoholic, abusive [Fletcher] Hanks did during his brief tenure as a comic book creator in the late 1930s and early 40s... [T]here’s still plenty of weird and wonderful tales to delight and disturb... [and] there are panels here that are rather stunning in their ability to create tension and drama... The work remains strange, powerful, funny, terrifying and yes, at times beautiful..." - Chris Mautner, Robot 6 (be sure to read the comments for an important clarification from editor Paul Karasik)
• Review: "Fans of Norwegian cult comics star Jason are in for something of a treat with Low Moon... what we have here are five stories, each of which would’ve previously warranted a collection in its own right, delivered together in one delicious hamper of Jason goodness... There’s never been a better time, then, to jump aboard the Jason train... This is as essential as comics gets." - Bookmunch
• Review: "It’s hard to think of a modern cartoonist with a more recognizable drawing style than Norway’s Jason... But Jason’s storytelling is just as distinctive as his drawing style... [and] the artist’s narrative approach has grown more adventurous over the years. Jason’s latest collection, Low Moon, is evidence of this trend... The reader, meanwhile, just lapses into a giddy comics coma." - Casey Jarman, Willamette Week
• Preview: Previews posts 7 pages from Low Moon. Have we mentioned it's in stores today?
• Interview: Brian Heater of The Daily Cross Hatch concludes his 2-part chat with "the visionary" Jason. Sample quote: "I worked in a furniture factory for nine months... I really hated it. So I went to art school instead. Turned out to be not that much of a difference, of course."
• Interview: The hosts of The Comix Claptrap podcast "talk comics shop and try to get LA gossip from talented cartoonist, John Pham, of Sublife, Kramers Ergot 7 and Mome fame"
• Plug: "Low Moon: It’s the latest from Jason. Or, in other words, it’s one of this week’s absolute must-reads." - J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
• Plug: "Pick of the week: Low Moon... [B]y this point Jason has proven himself to be one of the stellar talents in Fantagraphics' roster (which is really saying something, by the way) and this collection of short stories... should likely only cement that reputation as the artist plays with such traditional genres as the Western, film noir, and alien abductions. All offered with the usual dollops of sardonic humor and heartfelt sympathy." - Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Plug: "Low Moon: New Jason, from Fantagraphics. All I need to know... This guy's a treasure." - Jog - The Blog
• Plug: John Jakala of Sporadic Sequential takes us to task for the smaller trim size of Luba vs. Palomar, but concedes "the smaller size is actually easier to handle when reading. OK, you win this round, Fantagraphics"
With MoCCA already in the rear-view mirror, it's a bit late to be recapping the 2009 Book Expo America, which took place the weekend before at the wonderfully air-conditioned Javits Center. But who doesn't like convention photos? Don't let the lack of cosplay action fool you, BEA was a great time for myself, Jason Miles and Gary Groth, and we enjoyed hanging out with the likes of Kim Deitch, Monte Schulz, Michael Kupperman, and Dash Shaw.
We flew in Thursday morning, Jason and I waking up at 4:00AM only to get to the airport by 5:00AM so I could get dissed at the Hudson News Stand by Spike Lee. Side note to Mr. Lee: if you do not want to be recognized, even at 5AM, I recommend not wearing the same designer eyeglasses, Yankees cap, and Nike sweatsuit jacket that you were wearing on the FRONT PAGE of the daily newspaper that same morning.
Friday was the start of the show, and here's Jason Miles, unusually well-dressed (sorry ladies, he's taken), prepping for the morning onslaught in our swanky new space within W.W. Norton's mighty BEA pavilion.
Friday was the official "Salute to Graphic Novels" day at BEA, and we hosted signing with Dash Shaw, Kim Deitch, and Michael Kupperman. All three were utter gentlemen, signing books for fans in our booth and in the official autograph area:
That evening, we stopped in at a BEA/DAP party where Jason regaled us with the story of a ukranian giant who, like Izzy in Love & Rockets, can't seem to stop growing due to a botched thyroid surgery. We ran into some old friends like Gabrielle Bell and Last Gasp's Kristine Anstine, and later enjoyed a great dinner with Dash his girlfriend, Jane Samborski. Conversation veered from Alex Toth to David Mazzucchelli to French comics and Manga. Oh, and "The Pussy Generation," as Clint Eastwood calls those of us who dare to question the meaning of life rather than just punch it in the face.
That's Dash & Jane up top, and Jason and Gary below. I have an exceptional gift for capturing pictures of Jason's remarkably large hands (sorry ladies, he's taken).
Another late dose of Online Commentary & Diversions:
• List: CBC Radio's "Canada Reads: The Book Club" host Hannah Sung kicks off voting on the "Top 10 Graphic Novels" with Ghost World: "I love Dan Clowes’s clean, graphic style. I love Enid’s glasses, I love how everything is 'lame' and I love that Enid expresses how much she hates Sassy magazine even as she reads it."
• Interview: The Daily Cross Hatch's Brian Heater wraps up his 3-part talk with Michael Kupperman. Sample quote: "But of course the point of humor is that you always want it to look easy. You don’t want it to look like you spent two hours on your 140 character line — not that I’ve ever done that [laughs]."
• Interview: The Metabunker's Matthias Wivel talks to Steffen Maarup, editor of From Wonderland with Love: Danish Comics in the Third Millennium, debuting at MoCCA this weekend. Sample quote: "My selection process was pretty much as simple as picking what’s good; so stories that were original, did interesting things with the medium of comics, or touched me in some way."