• Review: "Any new work from Norwegian cartoonist Jason is worthy of a comics fan’s full attention, but the new, all-original short-story collection Athos in America is one of the best books of Jason’s career, which automatically makes it one of the best books of this year." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "...Joost Swarte... brought a nose-thumbing avant-garde sensibility to 'ligne claire' style Eurocomics in the ’70s and ’80s, even before he landed stories in the seminal art-comics anthology Raw. Is That All There Is? collects nearly 150 pages of Swarte’s most groundbreaking work... With his architectural sense of design and his punk-rock attitude, Swarte fused craft and nihilistic flippancy in stories about adventurers, harlots, musicians, and scientists, creating true 'modern art.'" – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "About all that was missing from Blake Bell’s 2010 Bill Everett biography Fire & Waterwas extended samples of Everett’s artist’s actual comics. Bell now remedies that by serving as editor on Amazing Mysteries: The Bill Everett Archives Vol. 1... These publications rode the superhero wave initiated by the companies that would later become DC and Marvel, and while they didn’t withstand the test of time, they’re still a kick to read, buoyed by their no-nonsense action plots and by Everett’s propensity for drawing narrow figures poised to commit acts of violence." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "This collection is the ultimate love letter to all those 1960s kid comic books, but with a modern twist.... Each person is a well-defined character with strong flaws and backgrounds. With so much diversity, there is bound to be at least one character you will like.... If you are looking for a kid-friendly book with some charm, go ahead and pick [Yeah!] up." – Kevin Brown, City Book Review
• Profile:Steve Appleford of the Los Angeles Times (via a few of their suburban affiliates like the Glendale News Press) visits Tony Millionaire in his garage studio: "In his introduction to 500 Portraits, Millionaire writes that life experience has taught him that 85% of all people are 'bogus' or worse. In the garage, he describes himself as misanthropic, but admits his drawings often suggest otherwise. 'As it turns out, you can tell by looking at these portraits, I obviously love people — even the [jerks]. Hitler's done very lovingly,' he says. 'I think it's nice to have the juxtaposition of my disgust for humanity mixed with my obvious love for humanity. You can't draw like that if you really hate something.'"
• Profile: The Ottawa Citizen's Bruce Deachman catches up with Dave Cooper: "'There are different facets of my creative mind,' he says. 'I feel I need a lot of contrast, so I have all these things happening, but they’re all necessary to make me feel satisfied. It’s got to be this big pot happening, with everything boiling at once. It’s therapy for me,' he adds. 'I don’t see ever wanting to retire from the thing that I love to death.'" There's a short video, too, which Dave has posted on his blog
• Plug:Robot 6's Brigid Alverson is partway through Jim Woodring's Congress of the Animals: "Woodring’s art has a real solidity to it and like the best surrealists, he creates unreal shapes and figures that seem real—he has figured out how to make new bodily orifices that mimic the old and yet are totally different. Like visions in a dream, they are convincing and false at the same time."
"Jason teams up with Fabien Vehlmann to craft a dark comedy about someone following a mysterious map in a bottle to and island where something strange is happening. The premise itself is a spoiler, as it’s a laugh-out-loud moment when the reader finds out what is going on. Jason’s work is as stellar as ever, just with a lot more dialogue this time around."
"Safe Area Goražde wasn’t a new book in 2011, but the special edition it got last year was enough to earn it a spot on this list. Joe Sacco reigns as the preeminent comics journalist, and Safe Area Goražde is another great reason why."
• Review: "Celluloid is a challenging work, not so much in how it is read, but in how it pushes at the boundaries of what we call a graphic novel and what we consider erotica.... Considered as a visual ode to the erotic imagination, Celluloid is a powerful work of grace and deviance in its explorations. McKean has crafted a new grammar for comic book storytelling, bringing the printed page as close to a live performance as possible while still using the graphic narrative form to accomplish what no other medium can." – Greg Baldino, Rain Taxi
• Review: "The story of baseball great Roberto Clemente is now in graphic novel form. After reading it, I would recommend it to everyone, especially to young readers. I plan to have my son read it one day, because Clemente's tale is an interesting one. The official title of the graphic novel is 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente. It chronicles the former Pittsburgh Pirates' life growing up in Puerto Rico, his great baseball career, his humanitarian missions and tragic end to his life on Sept. 18, 1972. ...Clemente remains a bit of a mystery to those who never saw him play, but Santiago's graphic novel brings Clemente to life in glorious fashion, and is not be missed." – Mark Podolski, The News-Herald
• Review: "Murder By High Tide is by a the terrific French cartoonist Maurice Tilleux (a new discovery for me). Republished by Fantagraphics, this edition features two Gil Jordan detective stories. The artwork is amazing and Tilleux is clearly a master of the 'comic-dynamic' style... I really hope Fantagraphics makes a habit of reproducing these types of stories for an English-speaking market!" – Alexis E. Fajardo (Kid Beowulf)
• Profile: Italian blog Coca Colla has an art-packed survey of the work of Dave Cooper — even if you don't read Italian (or can't be bothered to autotranslate) there's tons of eye candy to ogle
Apologies for the long delay since the last roundup. I enjoy bringing you these posts but lately it's been hard to squeeze them in. I may need to figure out a new approach or something. Anyway, on with the show:
• Hey, a new comic from Jonathan Bennett! Spin commissioned a 2-page strip from Jonathan as part of their commemoration of the 20th anniversary of Nirvana's Nevermind and posted it on Facebook (Via Spurge)
I had a great time at OCX last weekend. I'm too caught up in catching up to write any kind of report, except to say that the convention is tiny and splendidly run, Norwegians are all wonderful people, the weather was exactly like Seattle except the days were longer (the shots outside Jason's gallery opening were at something like nine o'clock at night as I recall) and any cartoonist who gets invited by OCX, go, just go!
All photos by Lynn Emmert except as noted.
Jason had a small art show opening during the convention, featuring priceless original art elegantly hung from a clothesline, a little selection of cool new paintings (zombies, Hitler, the usual) on corrugated cardboard featuring several of his characters, and Jason animations.
Outside the Jason opening. From left to right, Steffen Kverneland, the back of Dash Shaw's head, me, unknown, Lars Fiske, Jason. Fiske and Kverneland are the co-creators of the great graphic novel/biography Olaf G., about which you will be hearing much more soon.
Reverse angle: From left to right, the back of Jason's head, Fiske, Kverneland, Shaw, me. I don't know why the store sign in the background apparently says "Bugger." Which is almost as funny as the sign my wife and I saw on a Danish ferry once, since "Have a Good Trip" in Danish is "God Fart."
The banner-festooned entrance to the library, the upper floor of which is entirely taken up by the comics library,"Serieteket." Picturesque Scandinavian blonde woman on bicycle in foreground. (They're just everywhere.)
Me being interviewed on stage by journalist Erle Sřrheim. [Photo provided by OCX]
The Drinky Crow bar is open for business. Patrons include Dash Shaw and Dave Cooper to the left; the bartender was from Oregon, oddly enough.
Close-up of the counter, advertising "Beer -- wine -- sodas."
Tony Millionaire, me, and a couple of Finns, one bearing a Drinky Crow tote bag with the Scandinavian equivalent of DOOK DOOK DOOK.
Now the joint is hopping! I can't identify most of these people but the tall dude in the group on the left is dashing No Lo Comprendo Press publisher Espen Holtestaul (publisher of Olaf G., Daniel Clowes, Persepolis, and the Norwegian edition of Jimmy Corrigan, which deservedly won the "best Norwegian edition of a foreign comic" Sproing award the following day), and you can see Lars Fiske next to him.
Yes, let's visit that library! Kverneland and the blurry back of my head.
The "Serieteket" library. Please, lock me in here and throw away the key. [Photo provided by OCX]
Look at all those comics! And hey, there's our own MOME! "Gorilla" is the name of an anthology, by the way, not a thematic grouping (which if so would have had a lot of 1960s DC comics).
Dash Shaw art display at the convention, studied closely by female fans -- perhaps lured by the amazing glam photo of Dash that led off his introduction to convention-goers earlier that day, much to Dash's consternation.
The convention tent. It was lovely until the cold snap hit late in the afternoon. Eventually they had to bring the guy at the door a shawl and mittens. [Photo provided by OCX]
Actually, this picture is in perfect focus: It's Tony who's blurry.
The Fantagraphics panels: Dash Shaw, Dave Cooper, Dave Cooper's dad me, Jason, and Tony Millionaire. We all love Oslo and hope to come back soon!
Like the Patterson-Gimlin film, here is your blurry evidence of the Fantagraphics panel at this past weekend's Oslo Comics Expo, showing (left to right) Dash Shaw, Dave Cooper and Kim Thompson, uploaded by Twitter user @Iselin_Evensen. (Not pictured: fellow panelists Tony Millionaire and Jason.) You can tell from the refreshments on the table there (presumably served from the festival's on-site bar, The Drinky Crow) that this was a European festival. We're hoping to wangle a show report and some photos out of Kim for Flog, and we're keeping our eye on the OCX site for more photos & media, so stay tuned.
I can say, without a doubt, that was the Best TCAF Ever!
...Okay, fine, so Fantagraphics has only done the Toronto Comics Art Festivaltwice, but it truly was an amazing year! Thank you so much to Christopher, Peter, Miles, Andrew, Gina, and all the fantastic volunteers of TCAF!
And, of course, one of my favorite things about TCAF?
Canadian donuts. Oh yeah.
Mike and I woke up bright and early to set-up our table. There was a momentary panic when I realized one of our display racks didn't arrive from Seattle, but the stellar staff at the Toronto Reference Library loaned us one of their carts for the weekend so we could get all of our shipment out! Thanks Ab!!
This photo serves as proof that we DID bring copies of Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Vol. 1 (see? on the front corner there) and Wandering Son Book 1 (front and center). They both sold out so quickly, some people thought their debut was a myth, but nope! It's also true that Wandering Son sold out in the first two hours of the show!
Not too surprisingly, The Raven was another sell-out, along with Lorenzo's Ignatz title Chimera. (Stigmata was also insanely close to selling out.) And how gracious and kind was Lorenzo Mattotti? I'm envious of everyone who got to attend his panels! He kept modestly insisting his English wasn't very good (it was good!), but his intelligence and great humor shine through in any language! Thank you so much to TCAF and the Italian Cultural Institute for bringing Lorenzo to Toronto!
Lorenzo may have been a "Guest of Honor" at the con, but really, all of our artists were "guests of honor" at the Fantagraphics table! We feel so lucky to work with some of the nicest people in all of comics, like Zak Sally here (seen with fellow Ignatz artist Mattotti). Not only did Zak do beautiful signings, but "Professor Zak" came out, engaging customers (and us!) with his insane depth of knowledge on comic history! [Note to Zak: I totally wanna see that Osamu Tezuka DVD!]
It's not a TCAF without pre-eminent Ditko scholar Blake Bell, and we were thrilled to have Dave Cooperattending TCAF for what we hope was the first of many signings to come!
And, of course, it's everyone favorite: T Edward Bak, seen here modeling his sweet new Popeye shirt. Covey, I know you're jealous. Bak split his time between signing with us and signing with Koyama Press, ran by Anne Koyama, aka The Nicest Woman in Comics™.
On Saturday night, Mike, Lorenzo and I attended our first ever Doug Wright Awards, where this adorable picture was shown during the induction of David Boswell (far left in the photo) into the "Giants of the North." Yes, that isDaniel Clowes with The Hernandez Brothers and a grunged-out Chester Brown. Awesome.
Without a doubt, the most romantic moment of TCAF was when Drawn & Quarterly's Tom Devlin surprised Peggy Burns with the prettiest bouquet on Mother's Day! They were the Prom King and Queen of TCAF!
Another favorite moment was watching T Edward Bak and Lorenzo Mattotti at the TCAF After-Party on Sunday night. The two artists bonded over a crazy book T Edward found featuring Heavy Metal-style artwork. We got on the subject of "First Concerts." Mike and Todd both saw U2 on the Joshua Tree tour, albeit in separate cities. (High fives ensued.) And Lorenzo's first concert? Canned Heat. Just when you thought the guy couldn't get any cooler.
So, as you can see, it was a wonderful time at TCAF! (And there are lots more photos over at the Fantagraphics Flickr page.) Thank you so much to everyone who stopped by the Fantagraphics table to browse or purchase books — we're so grateful for your support and your enthusiasm, and we can't wait to see you again next year!
Fantagraphics is thrilled to be heading across the border for the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, this weekend, Saturday, May 7th and Sunday, May 8th! Mike Baehr and I will be on hand, and, yes, it's true... we're bringing The Mouse to Canada! In fact, just look at all the new titles we're bringing with us:
Indeed, we will have The Raven after all, just in time for you to get your copy signed by artist Lorenzo Mattotti, making the trip all the way from Italy for a very rare international appearance! And he's just one of the many amazing artists signing this weekend!
Where can you find all this awesome-ness? Swing on by tables #162-163.
[ click the map to open a larger version ]
And don't forget to take in some of the great panels organized by TCAF! Listed below are the panels involving Fantagraphics artists, but, really, check out the entire schedule, 'cause there are tons of really interesting talks going on! (Mike, for instance, is especially excited about that "Adventure Time" panel!)
Saturday, May 7th
10:15 – 11:15 am // A15: Root Rot Release Featuring: T. Edward Bak, Michael DeForge, Ines Estrada, Bob Flynn, Jesse Jacobs, Hellen Jo, Joseph Lambert, Diana McNally, Robin Nishio, Angie Wang and Mickey Zacchilli Moderated by Anne Koyama Location: Learning Center 1 Koyama Press is proud to announce a launch party to celebrate the release of the Root Rot anthology. Ten of the artists will be in attendance for the book’s debut. Come and meet them! Plus live drawing, signings, giveaways and more!
11:30 – 12:15 pm // A16: Spotlight: Lorenzo Mattotti Moderated by Robin McConnell Location: Learning Center 1 Lorenzo Mattotti is recognized today as one of the most outstanding international exponents of comics art. His books have been translated all over the world. Mattoti, a Featured Guest of TCAF, appears here to discuss his life and his work, including his most recent graphic novels Stigmata and The Raven. Mattotti will be interviewed by the host of Inkstuds, Robin McConnell.
1:00 – 2:00 pm // A4: Creator Roundtable Panelists: Paul Pope, Brandon Graham, and Sam Hiti Moderated by Robin McConnell Location: The Pilot Paul Pope, Sam Hiti and Brandon Graham are creating modern comics built on a wealth of influences. Joined by Inkstuds host Robin McConnell, they will be exploring the tableau of work that inspires them and how that affects the creative processes in work such as Death Day, Tiempos Finales, King City, Multiple Warheads, 100%, THB and more.
Sunday, May 8th
12:30 – 1:30 pm // U2: Illustration Panelists: Lorenzo Mattotti, Jillian Tamaki, Adrian Tomine Moderated by Caitlin McGurk Location: The Pilot Many cartoonists also have a career in illustration. Come listen to four prestigious comics artists and illustrators discuss the difference between creating in a narrative form (comics) and a static one (illustration).
1:15 – 2:00 pm // U13: Print Culture Panelists: Tom K., John Porcellino and Dylan Williams Moderated by Zak Sally Location: Learning Center 1 From Comic Books to ‘Graphic Novels,’ from the Undergrounds to Art Comics, Fanzines to Zine Culture — the names may change, but one thing remains constant: they are all reproduced, on paper. No matter the decade, subject matter, or economics involved, comics have always been linked to print. With physical objects no longer being a necessity (and the book form itself on the decline), what will be the role of print culture in the next decade and beyond?
• Review: "Surrealism is dangerous. Mostly, when you leave the rails, the result is less glorious freedom and more quick kablooie. It’s an easy method for the lazy writer, but somehow when Ray Fenwick does it, it works. Mascots, his second book, is short on — but not absent — narrative. Its pages are made up of paintings on book covers that are largely text-based... Somehow, they hang together enough to produce a fuzzy but charming impression." – Hillary Brown, Paste
• Review: "...[T]he impressive thing about [Special Exits] is that, despite depressing subject matter, it’s extremely readable and fairly funny. Yes, you’ll think about the horrors of getting old and failing to maintain your independence, not to mention the even scarier prospect of taking care of your own parents. But if Farmer’s book is meant to soothe your fears, it kind of works." – Hillary Brown, Paste
• Review: "The black-and-white Hey, Wait… and Sshhh! are low-key ruminations on grief, loss and aging that bear Jason’s trademark anthropomorphic animals, clean lines and Scandinavian black humor. [...] Jason’s beautiful craftsmanship overcomes The Iron Wagon’s familiar material and, along with the rest of What I Did, foreshadows the excellent work to come later in the decade." – Garrett Martin, Paste
• Review: "There's no doubt in anyone's mind that Roy Crane was a first-class cartoonist, frequently making panels on the newspaper page that were absolutely to die for, stop-and-study moments of the kind that inspire the best students and discourage the worst. There are times when reading these rousing adventures of Navy pilot Buz Sawyer and his support man Roscoe Sweeney that it's hard to believe anything this striking ever appeared on the comics pages..." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
• Review: "A book like this should be must reading for those who want to know how the shojo we know today came to be. A Drunken Dream and Other Stories is not just for lovers of girl's manga, however. It's a book worthy to be read by anyone who likes good comics with a touch of fantasy and a touch of sadness. As with any book by a great creator, the appeal is almost universal... Hopefully, this will be the start of getting Hagio's name on the same pillar as Tezuka, which is clearly where she belongs. If by some chance you haven't read this manga yet, you owe it to yourself to find a copy right away. [...] This is one of those books that is not to be missed. It's destined to be a classic." – Rob McMonigal, Panel Patter
• Review: "...[E]ach page is a single panel, but each of those panels is so attractively detailed and evocative that the storytelling structure never feels rigid. Instead, it comes across as economical and precise while still filled with event and emotion. It’s a quick read, but it’s very satisfying, and it just invites you to revisit the story again. [...] Set to Sea ... is artistically successful on every front, but Weing’s substantial craftsmanship never overwhelms the simple, heartfelt story he’s telling." – David Welsh, The Manga Curmudgeon
• Review: "Destroy All Movies is an addictive, ambitious, behemoth of a book and it’s funny as all hell. There are too many sidesplitting takedowns of bad movies to list in this review, but if you enjoy bad movies (and especially if you enjoy stuff like Mystery Science Theater 3000), you will love this book. [...] Destroy All Movies truly shines as a lengthy love letter to cult cinema, punk pride notwithstanding. [...] You will want to refer to it and reread it over and over. It’s got that much good, not-so-clean, fun packed into its 500-plus pages." – Less Lee Moore, Popshifter
• Reviews (Audio): The new episode of Easy Rider, the radio show for "rock, punk rock, country, power pop, garage and comics" from Radio PFM out of Arras in northern France, features FUC_ __U, _SS __LE: Blecky Yuckerella Vol. 4 by Johnny Ryan and Bent by Dave Cooper among their Comics of the Week
• Plugs: Chris Mautner of Robot 6 on the newest volumes of Krazy & Ignatz, Popeye & Prince Valiant: "What stands out for me here, other than George Herriman’s usual artistry, is the subtle jokes about race… Considering Herriman’s own ethnic and racial heritage, I find moments like this fascinatingly telling. [...] I’ve gone on and on about my love for Segar’s Thimble Theater… Suffice it to say I think it’s an American classic and earns my heartiest recommendation… I still can’t quite get over just how much fun Hal Foster’s medieval epic is. Far from the dull, staid, storybook slog a first glance would suggest, the strip bursts with life and adventure, and not a little bit of bloodsport."
• Interview: Tom Spurgeon at The Comics Reporter: "It's my hope that the following interview with Tim Kreider comes close to replicating the experience of reading the author's new book, the Fantagraphics-published February offering Twilight of the Assholes. Both are long, both I hope are funny at times nearly all the way through (the book surely is), and both book and interview prove uncompromising in terms of both self-laceration and repeatedly stabbing the country's excesses, shortcomings and hypocrisies right in the face. [...] Kreider is... maybe as skilled a writer as there is out there also working with cartoons, and luckily Twilight of the Assholes includes both the cartoons and mini-essays explaining each one. I find him almost terrifyingly funny, both when I agree with him and when I don't." Kreider: "I think historians are likely look back on those eight years as a last chance squandered, a disastrous passing beyond the point of no return, the moment when America went irreversibly over the edge into terminal decline. Which is great news for me, as my cartoons happen to comprise a document of what it felt like to live through that time."
Dave Cooper hangs out with our Canadian counterparts at Librairie Drawn & Quarterly and signs copies of his new book Bent on Thursday, January 20th at 7:00 PM. On their 211 Bernard blog they write: "Cooper continues to obsess and fixate over his bizarre procession of milky figures as they crawl and wriggle into hidden meadows, jungles and cities." Soyez là ou vous serez carrés.