• Review: "The graphic novel, it turns out, is a form especially well-suited to the noir genre. Maybe this isn’t surprising — comics have always run the gamut of moods from goofy to autobiographical to just plain smutty. But it still gives a shiver of pleasure to stumble upon a graphic novel that captures the hardboiled tone of classic noir as perfectly as West Coast Blues, Jacques Tardi’s adaptation of a 1976 crime novel by Jean-Patrick Manchette. ... The plot includes bursts of bruality, dark realizations, alluring women and grizzled observations from its antihero — all the best conventions of noir, in other words, preserved and reborn in a fresh new medium. File it next to Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler." – Molly Young, We Love You So
• Review: "I had a significant crush on The Death Of Speedy Ortiz the summer I was 20 years old, reading and re-reading the serialized story with a passion I had never brought to a single comic story before then. ... I thought it was wonderful that summer I read it 10,000 times, and I remain convinced it's a special story every time I've picked it up since." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
• Review: "One of the many, many things I like about Kevin Huizenga's work is that a lot of his comics are about things that are not likely candidates for visual representation, and he manages to make them fascinating to look at anyway. Most of [Ganges #3] is about the process of perceiving one's own consciousness--the sort of hyperconsciousness of your own mind that happens when you're trying to get to sleep and can't--which is potentially the least interesting thing anybody could draw. And it looks fantastic..." – Douglas Wolk, The Savage Critics
• Review: "[Prince Valiant Vol. 1: 1937-1938] is gorgeous. ... [Hal] Foster is frequently cited as an influence on other great cartoonists, and part of it is his precise line and the way he builds a convincing world from authentic architecture, clothing and armaments. That's part of the appeal, but Foster also excels at staging. ... Unlike daily strip collections, the full, weekly Prince Valiant page ends up a brisk, headlong read... Prince Valiant is something I picked up expecting to admire. I had no idea I would love it. – Christopher Allen, Comic Book Galaxy
• Review: "Although far from all the artists represented in the new anthology From Wonderland with Love are so experimental with form and content that you must ask yourself if this can really still be termed comics, it is truly the cream of the crop who are assembled here. This collection offers a great perspective on how broad and versatile the talent pool is in Denmark." – Torben Rølmer Bille, Kulturkapellet (translated from Danish)
• Interview: At Largehearted Boy, author Jami Attenberg talks to Ellen Forney, saying "This mixture of openness and strength makes her work... extremely powerful and relatable, and probably very necessary for your bookshelf." From Ellen: "Sometimes I have to reflect and remind myself that I do have many more skills and more experience in my repertoire at this point, and to appreciate that the challenges don't freak me out so much. Still, some challenges are exhilarating and some are a pain in the ass."
• Commentary: At Comics Comics, Dash Shaw comments on and posts a transcript of a panel he was on at TCAF earlier this year
This issue features several of our favorite alternative comic artists of the last 15 years, bringing us great joy. Archer Prewitt is the first, with an all-new “Funny Bunny” strip created in between his active musical career. “The Moolah Tree” is the new Fuzz & Pluck graphic novel from Ted Stearn, following Fuzz & Pluck and Fuzz & Pluck: Splitsville, beginning serialization here. We are equally proud to debut new work from Renée French, whose work is also featured on the front and back cover of this issue. And Nicholas Mahler debuts to ask "What Is Art?" (translated by secret weapon Kim Thompson).
Also: the second chapter of T. Edward Bak's "Wild Man - The Strange Journey - and Fantastic Accounts - of the Naturalist Georg Wilhelm Steller, from Bavaria to Bolshaya Zemlya (and Beyond)"; a new "Cold Heat" story by the team of Ben Jones, Frank Santoro & Jon Vermilyea; Dash Shaw interprets an episode of "Blind Date" into comics form; and new stories from Lilli Carré, Conor O'Keefe, Laura Park, Nate Neal, and Sara Edward-Corbett, with incidental drawings by Kaela Graham.
• Review: "These latest tales from the art comics trailblazers are sure to draw readers in with their melancholic tone and the adventurous comic art that has enthralled readers for decades. ...[W]e see Jaime's superheroes going wild, both narratively and visually.... 'Sad Girl' is... classic character-driven storytelling from Gilbert and will be welcomed by all the Luba fans out there. His second story, 'Hypnotwist,' is the cherry on top of this volume... The narrative's dreamlike quality and its rich and mesmerizing imagery make it a surreal tour de force." – Publishers Weekly
• Review: "...Brunetti [knows] that for shock art to have any value behind it at all, you have to have some degree of conscience as the engine. As readers we’re required to know and agree that this sort of thing is untenable, in order for us to constantly re-evaluate and come to terms with our own morals. Which would make the title of this book [Ho! The Morally Questionable Cartoons of Ivan Brunetti] rather appropriate. So you should read this book and make your mind up. But be warned, it will play with your disgust and your chuckle muscle in ways you might not have imagined beforehand." – Will Fitzpatrick, Bookmunch
• Review: "Carol Swain... portray[s] Paley’s excursions (Giraffes in my Hair: A Rock’n’Roll Life is a sort of anecdotal graphic short story collection in many ways, albeit a graphic short story collection with a bunch of recurring characters) in a scratchy, pencil, black and white style that somehow perfectly sums up the stories – just as Bruce scratches around for money, so Swain’s pencil scratches around at the background detail.... [I]f you’re a fan of rock’n’roll, if you dig the Beats, if you like grimey tales of excess and the underbelly of success, this is for you." – Bookmunch
• Review: "[Joe] Daly's art is interesting, earthy pastel tones helping to create a sort of sun-kissed backdrop against which his figure work recalls Joe Spent (albeit Joe Spent by way of Cheech & Chong or Harold & Kumar). There are some great effects..., some great chuckle-out-loud writing and the sort of page-turning graphic novel that'll have you filing the name Joe Daly away for future reference, with a wee Post-It note saying, ‘Make sure to check out anything else this guy gets up to' attached. [The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book is] a real breath of fresh air, an enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours, the kind of graphic novel you'll want to pass on to your buddies who dig that kind of thing — what more can you ask?" – Bookmunch
• Review: "I still think of Hey, Wait as [Jason's] best work, the most nuanced, the most beguiling. Even rereading it before writing this, there are so many things I feel like I only half-understand, images that hint at something I can never grasp all the way.... If you haven’t read Hey, Wait yet, mm-mm you’ve got some good reading ahead of you." – Dustin Harbin, The HeroesOnline Blog
• Review: "...[Our Gang Vol. 3] is excellent. You need no knowledge of the films to follow the action, and each issue was self-contained, so you can read it in chunks.... An essay at the beginning of the book puts the stories into the context of their times, very important for any comic book from that era.... Definitely worth a read if you are a fan of old comics that don't involve superheroes." – Laura Gjovaag
• Analysis: At Bleeding Cool, Adisakdi Tantimedh looks at Jaime Hernandez's "Ti-Girl Adventures" from Love and Rockets: New Stories in the context of superhero crossover events: "It really is his Final Crisis, only he effortlessly and breezily beats Grant Morrison at his own game.... 'Ti-Girl Adventures' is pretty much a testament to why we like superhero stories as kids and look back on them with fondness and might continue to like them."
• Analysis: Splinter's Reviews offers a slightly different take on "Ti-Girl Adventures": "It's very difficult to actually compare this Love and Rockets offering to the revisionist tales of Alan Moore and Grant Morrison that have memorably tackled some of the similar themes. Jamie Hernandez may tackle the same subjects of scientific and magical origins of the superhero characters, their eternal youth, and the sexism in comics, but he does it in a completely different way." (via The Comics Reporter)
• Interview: The Daily Cross Hatch talks to Hans Rickheit about his upcoming book tour in the last part of their 4-part interview: "I’ve actually pondered the idea of hiring a good looking actor—or actress—to be me. I’ll do a rubber life mask of my face and have them wear it, and they can be friendly and say all of the right things."
• Review: "...[L]ike the rest of Fantagraphics’ spectacular catalogue of books, [Mome] takes some of the most exciting talent around in comics at the moment (both Paul Hornschemeier and Dash Shaw feature in this volume, for example), adds some raw talent that you might not have heard of, and collates it into a cutting-edge anthology. An excellent taster in bite-sized portions for those who want to experiment with a range of sophisticated comics artists without breaking the bank." – Grovel
• Review: "[The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book] has a nice laid-back vibe to it, as Dave and Paul wander into and out of adventures. It's kind of fun to just watch them drive around in Dave's sweet red convertible and look at the scenery. The art has a simple, clean look that retains enough detail to make the setting feel like a real place. And, as I said, it's pretty damn funny. I liked this book and recommend it." – Sandy Bilus, I Love Rob Liefeld
• Things to see: The masthead for McSweeney's Quarterly #33's "San Francisco Panorama" Sunday-style newspaper sure looks like Clowes to me, and there for sure will be comics by Clowes, Ware and others inside (via The Beat)
• Review: "...[T]hese extraordinary visions from a different, four-colour era [in You Shall Die by Your Own Evil Creation!] are as bold and striking as they are violent and strange.... Classic comics from a different age." - Grovel
• Review: "This new book from Fantagraphics of Femke Hiemstra’s work [Rock Candy] is gorgeous. The cloth hardbound book has a nice die-cut cover and the inside is jam packed with Femke’s works including tons of paintings and drawings alongside loose sketches.... The way the sketches are juxtaposed with the finished work in the book makes me feel like I’m getting an insider’s view. If you're a fan of 'pop surrealism,' this is a book for you." - Julia Rothman, Book By Its Cover
• Review: "I said, 'It seems to me that when comics become abstract, they really cease to be comics and become, for all effective purposes, simply abstract art.' But this anthology [Abstract Comics], in its best work as well as in its not-best, shows that that's not true. Comics really are a coherent enough medium to support their own tradition of abstraction. That tradition doesn't quite exist yet. But, in this anthology, [editor] Andrei [Molotiu] shows conclusively that it could." - Noah Berlatsky, The Hooded Utilitarian
• Review: "...magnificent reproductions, done in a sturdy hardcover [Prince Valiant Vol. 1: 1937-1938] with oversized pages and entirely restored colors and shadings (indeed, those of us who’ve seen Prince Valiant reprint editions in the past will need some mental time to adjust to how much we’ve been missing)." - Steven Donoghue, Open Letters Monthly (via Steven Hart)
• Interview: Adrian Kinnaird of From Earth's End talks to Abstract Comics contributor Draw: "I had an epiphany. The gutter is where all the action in a comic takes place, it's where the reader creates the comic reading experience.... I wasn't trying to create effects, I was trying to create a visual representation of what happens in the gutter of a comic."
• Preview: Rich Johnston of Bleeding Cool looks ahead to our February '10 release King of the Flies: Hallorave by Pirus & Mezzo: "King Of The Flies looks like it should disturb and entertain on an equal basis."
Some major comics writing out there over the holiday weekend making for an extra-beefy (and late) Online Commentary & Diversions update:
•Review/Profile: "Sure I'd read [Hal] Foster before, but I'd never found a way in. Fortunately, Fantagraphics recently released Prince Valiant Vol. 1: 1937-38, and I was able to absorb the material in a wholly new way.... I found this first book completely engrossing. Prince Valiant opens up a world that I wanted to stay in -- a wide-eyed early 20th century approach to fantasy with a now-vanished sincerity and wholesomeness. It's an all too rare pleasure in comics." - Dan Nadel, Comics Comics
• Review: "Medieval swordplay and adventure have never been as glorious as in Foster's Sunday-only comic strip. Although much reprinted (including an earlier version from the same publisher), this edition has been reproduced from pristine printer's proofs to give the gorgeous artwork its crispest version ever.... Foster's script is literate and full of vivid characterizations, like the headstrong but cunning Val and carefree Sir Gawain. But nothing surpasses his artwork—rich with details of armor, weapons and dress, the story comes to life with a palpable sense of magic and danger. Each drawing is a flawless illustration, perfectly composed; even a battle of 20 men comes alive in a tiny panel, with every action clearly delineated. Prince Valiant is one of the best-drawn comics ever, and this new edition does ample justice to its achievement." - Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
• Review: "Underneath the screaming and plagues, the giddy joy that [Basil Wolverton] seems to take in his art radiates off the page, just like it does in his secular work.... His creatures from sci-fi and horror, his fascination with grotesque bodily exaggeration, his devout Christian faith -- here it all comes together into an operatic and apocalyptic peak.... The Wolverton Bible might seem like a paradox to its religious audience and its alt-comics fans -- even if Wolverton himself never saw the contradiction." - Martyn Pedler, Bookslut
• Review: "As an historical object, sure, great. I think it should be in print. Kurtzman was a very important figure in comics, and the art and design of the pieces here are of an exceedingly high quality. I'm glad I can see more examples of Jaffee's, Elder's and Davis' work." Otherwise, Chris Allen gives up on Humbug
• Review: Joe McCulloch of Jog - The Blog has a major review of Tardi & Manchette's West Coast Blues -- I've read through it three times and it's too complex for a simple pull quote
• History/preview/profile/analysis: "The 300th issue of The Comics Journal is soon to hit the stands, and the magazine everyone in comics loves to hate rattles on, chugging and sputtering and picking up disreputable beardy guys like a Toonerville Trolley of spite.... In some Inglourious Basterds-like alternate history, the 1990s ended with the twisted faces of Kim Thompson and Gary Groth hovering, laughing maniacally, over the charred and bullet-riddled corpse of Wizard magazine." - Shaenon K. Garrity, comiXology
• Analysis: du9 presents a new translation by Derik Badman of a 2006 piece by David Turgeon on Poison River by Gilbert Hernandez: "What first strikes the reader about this work is its narrative density. It isn’t uncommon for a single page to show as many places, times, and situations as there are panels." (Via Journalista)
• Interview: Jason Thibault of Optimum Wound talks to Tim Lane as part of their "Masters of Ink" series: "You do what seems the impossible and most absurd: you learn to breathe underwater, and revel in it. Get drunk on the water in your lungs. Cultivate a functional level of positive insanity. And develop tough skin. Stick with it if only because your reasons are inexplicable."
• Interview: The Daily Cross Hatch wraps up presenting Brian Heater's chat with Jordan Crane: "I was in Portugal and I saw a really tiny kid with a really giant cat. He looked exactly like the kid in The Clouds Above. The kid was so small that the cat was the same size as him — it’s not a big cat, but next to him, he was huge. And then I just kind of went from there."
• Plug: At Super I.T.C.H., Steven Johnston takes note of Humbug ("much of it is prime satire from the creators of MAD!") and The Wolverton Bible ("particularly including some genuinely horrific scenes from the Book of Revelations").
Have a great holiday weekend in the USA; Online Commentary & Diversions updates will resume on Tuesday.
• Review: "If there is a 'true truth' in relation to Jason it is that the Nordic author can resist no genre. From Western noir to science fiction of manners, everything passes through his own personal, non-transferable filter to offer these stories, parsimonious in words but full of 'depth charge.'Low Moon... is no exception to this maxim." - Alita Cómics (translated from Spanish)
• Review: Chris Mautner of Robot 6 says Nikoline Werdelin's story "Because I Love You So Much" in From Wonderland with Love is "one of finest comics I've read this year."
• Interview: Paul Karasik always gives good interview, as you'll find out when you tune in to his chat with the Inkstuds radio program
• Preview: Robot 6 guest-blogger Sean T. Collins has the scoop on this Fall's releases from the Cold Heat crew, including the prequel stories in Mome Vol. 16
• Tweet: "Bottomless Belly Button is a great read. started it last nite, finding it to be patient and inventive. nice!" - Zack Gonzales (zg512)
The first issue of Marvel's new 3 part anthology mini-series, STRANGE TALES, is in comic shops this week. It features my long-delayed "Incorrigible Hulk" story, which has been broken up into 3 parts, with one part in each issue. My original cover will also serve as the cover of ST #2 (see above).
This mini-series also features many indy comics superstars,all of whom get to interpret one or more of Marvel's well known characters in their own style. Each issue is also 48 pages long and only $3.99. Quite a deal!