Publishers Weekly just posted their comics reviews for July and we thought they'd make a nice post all on their own. Excerpts follow:
Celluloid by Dave McKean: "McKean’s ability to master many artistic styles and use them to present an ever-changing surreal visual narrative is on full display.... The work has a dreamlike quality throughout, sometimes confusing, sometimes nightmarish, sometimes bizarre, as shapes and people meld and twist into one another. Nothing is ever really explained or resolved, putting the burden on reader to take their own meaning away from the night’s events."
Queen of the Black Black by Megan Kelso: "This long-out-of-print collection of short stories by Kelso is an intriguing and evocative look into her early work, quiet little tales filled with realistic emotion and more than a little narrative ambiguity.... Kelso’s art is simple and somewhat 'cartoony,' but the style meshes perfectly with the book’s thoughtful narrative qualities. Kelso’s strength is a gentle understanding of the various undercurrents of longing and memory that motivate us, and these stories show that in abundance."
Isle of 100,000 Graves by Jason & Fabien Vehlmann: "Jason and Vehlmann’s story of a young girl seeking the help of pirates to track down her lost father mixes elements of grim family drama with light and dark comedy to create an engrossing story that keeps readers surprised with sudden twists in both plot and mood.... Jason’s characteristic style of animal people with minimal expressions conveys a surprisingly wide array of emotions, even when one wears a hangman’s hood showing only eye holes and a thin mouth. Short and yet complex, it’s a strong story with unexpected laughs."
Willie & Joe: Back Home by Bill Mauldin: "This time capsule is the second collection of Mauldin’s cartoons from Fantagraphics, this time covering the post-World War II period of 1945-1946.... The linework and chiaroscuro are amazing... Editor Todd DePastino’s introduction, covering key events in Mauldin’s life during the creation of these cartoons, is essential to comprehending some of the content, but other cartoons — such as those featuring forgotten veterans, lying politicians, or creeping consumerism—are universal."
• Review: "...[L]ike the best coming-of-age stories — comics or otherwise —Wandering Son is meticulously accurate in its details, but universal in its emotions. Gay or not, readers shouldn’t find it too difficult to identify with kids who feel like their bodies and their friends are equally culpable in the worst kind of betrayal, preventing them from realizing the potential they see in themselves." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "The tone of each book is very different, with the Gil Jordan collection favoring clever mysteries, narrow escapes, and broad comic relief, while the Sibyl-Anne book is subtler, dissecting the way miniature societies work, together and in opposition. Both are excellent, though, showing off the strengths of the Eurocomics tradition, with its sprawling narratives spread across small panels, mixing cartoony characters and elaborate backgrounds." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "Reminiscent of the classic Michael Winner-helmed and Charles Bronson-starred The Mechanic, Tardi's follow up to his acclaimed adaptation of a Manchette crime novel West Coast Blues, Like a Sniper Lining Up His Shot... delivers a superior sequential thriller. Violent, sexy, and littered with enough shocks to excite the most hardened crime fiction fan, Tardi once again produces one of the finest examples of the genre." – Rick Klaw, The SF Site: Nexus Graphica
• Review: "McKean has long been established as a master of multimedia imagery and Celluloid represents possibly his finest work. The clarity and seamlessness with which he combines photography with drawings and paintings makes every scene entirely convincing. It’s this hyper-reality that encourages us to submit to the dream-logic of the story." – Gavin Lees, Graphic Eye
• Review: "[Celluloid] is a story of sexual growth and empowerment. ...McKean's artwork gains greater dimensionality as his central character grows more assertive.... The pace of the story is left up to the reader, but McKean has created such lush visuals that many will want to linger and examine the intricacies of the imagery presented....Many of the pages are so well crafted in their surrealistic imagery that they could easily hang beside Picasso. McKean has boldly stepped away from the confines of mainstream comic books with this endeavor, and the result is a masterpiece of eroticism that relies heavily on intellect and emotion, rather than just mere arousal or titillation." – Michael Hicks, Graphic Novel Reporter
• Review: "If Siamese Dream-era Smashing Pumpkins exploded inside a Victorian tea shop, it would look something like [Meat Cake]... The humour is perverse, like an alt-universe Kate Bush who grew up reading penny dreadfuls instead of Brontë, the drawings are obsessively crammed with fever-dream detail, and the author has the advantage of being able to make publicity appearances dressed as her own characters, which is not something most cartoonists should attempt." – Grant Buist, The Name of This Cartoon is Brunswick
• Profile: Rosalie Higson of The Australian talks to Robert Crumb in anticipation of his visit to Sydney next month for the GRAPHIC festival: "There's a unique timing and way of telling a story with comic panels, different to writing novels or a film script. And there are seasons in the life of any artist. Crumb has dropped all his ongoing characters. 'I'm sick of them all. I'm very critical of my own work, when I look back on it I'm not especially proud, I wasn't really serious enough about it. I'm not sure what it all means for posterity, I have no idea. You can be the world's most favourite artist, and be totally forgotten a few years later,' he says."
• Interview:At Print magazine's Imprint blog, Michael Dooley chats with Trina Robbins. Dooley: "Trina's 2009 The Brinkley Girls: The Best of Nell Brinkley's Cartoons from 1913-1940 is a stunning collection as well as a detailed pictorial chronicle of the evolution of fashion and style, from Nouveau to Deco." Robbins: "I love clothes. I love lipstick. I love glamor. And obviously, so have many other women, if you look at the large readership of artists like Nell Brinkley and Brenda Starr's Dale Messick. And in the case of younger readers, at all the girls who loved Katy Keene. There probably are still some women who might want to see me, if not guillotined, then at least sent off to a gulag for promoting such work."
• Review: "Fantagraphics, always a publisher you can count on to rescue classic comic material from oblivion, has published a gorgeous 288 page hardcover archive edition of Mickey [Mouse]'s earliest serialized comic strip adventures and he's quite a different character than we know today...a little rambunctious, a little mischievous, and a whole lot of fun. This book takes readers on a glorious ride through depression-era adventures as Mickey battles villains, becomes a fireman, visits a circus, and meets his faithful pup Pluto for the first time. Besides the many great comic strips, Fantagraphics has filled the book with a ton of supplemental material... This is an absolute must-have for any Mickey Mouse fan. Grade A" – Tim Janson, Mania
Burgas: "McKean’s art is astounding, as it always is. He moves from his very rough pencil work that he used on Cages and moves quickly into a multimedia extravaganza, with photographs interspersed with film reels (more photographs, of course, but used in a different way) and paintings and more detailed pencil work. The colors are magnificent, too... It’s an astonishing work of art, to be sure..."
Thompson: "I agree that the success of this book is in that it is beautiful from cover to cover. As a rule I tend to prefer McKean’s very rough pencil work, though I very much appreciate the layering mixed media styles he uses, and I found all of it very beautiful and successful in that way. I was impressed with the color choices and the really wonderful cubist look he achieved for some of the work, and some of the mixed media he used toward the end was some of my favorite in the book period.... After discussing it, I feel more pleased with the book as a whole because I’ve been forced to admit that I don’t recall seeing many more effective executions of erotic subject matter as a legitimate work of art in this way..."
Burgas: "What is compelling about Celluloid is that McKean tackles a difficult subject and elevates it beyond a simple porn comic. I think the very fact that Celluloid makes you wonder about sex in many of its iterations is impressive. As you can see, both Kelly and I had our issues with it, but it’s a gorgeous comic nevertheless. It’s definitely something that you don’t see every day!"
• Review: "I have the impression that Lewis Trondheim is the most important European artist of his generation. Such is the creativity and productivity and so the breadth of his work that, for me at least, wins the title deservedly. Approximate Continuum Comics... is the first part of Trondheim's autobiographical adventures.... The brilliant humour of Trondheim, his sharp-tongued reason, the way with which it shows the mix of imagination with reality. Equally impressive is the effortless way in which the most espressive artwork works serving the story." – Aristides Kotsis, Comicdom (translated from Greek)
• Review: "Bell does the best job of any attempt I've ever seen to bring together everything we know about Ditko's life and work. The result [Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko] is fascinating, frustrating and eventually presents a sad portrait of an immense talent that withdrew from the world and denied it of his work and himself of the audience, acclaim and success that was easily within his grasp." – Tom McLean, Bags and Boards
• Preview: At Flavorwire, Emily Temple shares some glimpses of the cartoons to be included in Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons, saying "Her style is distinctive — the charmingly brusque drawings are cut from linoleum and then essentially stamped when she applied ink to the ridges, and while the content is largely related to her experience as a student, you can still feel the slightly skewed, individualistic perspective that appears in O’Connor’s short stories.... Lovers of her work will doubtless find joy and meaning in her cartoons, and other people will probably like them too."
• Preview: Jamie Frevele of The Mary Sue picks up on the preview of Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons, saying "...while not as demented as some of her writing, the dark humor is still there, even in the short span of a single panel."
• Plug: "Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons is the first compilation of her graphic work in pen-and-ink and linoleum cuts. Before her writing career the young student aspired to be a cartoonist, and she developed a visually bold and eye-catching style. The results are witty and acid comments on campus life and American culture that show O'Connor developing her own acerbic point-of-view." – M. Bromberg, BellemeadeBooks
• Interview (Audio): Kevin Avery, author/editor of Everything Is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson, is a guest on the Rockcritics Podcast. Host Scott Woods says "I’ve mentioned a few times here already Kevin Avery’s wonderful book, Everything is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson. Half a personal biography of Nelson, half a compilation of select Nelson reviews and essays, it’s one of the finest books I’ve ever read about a writer — and, needless to say, about rock criticism."
• Profile: "[Basil] Wolverton was one of the pioneers who made today’s highbrow comics scene what it is; his twisted abstract portraiture, all sweatbeads and pleading eyes, floated like a buoy in a sea of banal comic art, influencing kindred spirits like Robert Williams and Big Daddy Roth. Though best known for his nightmare caricatures in the vein of Lena Hyena, his sf and horror work — jewels like the 'Brain Bats of Venus' — is equally disturbing (or invigorating). God knows what brain bat attached itself to Wolverton’s fertile grey matter, but it certainly wasn’t of this atmosphere." – Joe Alterio, HighLobrow
• Review: "...[Wandering Son] is absolutely fantastic and deserves every one of the awards it will doubtless win. ...[I]t’s an honest look at what Shu and Yoshino are going through. There’s no magic pool, no funny crossdressing, no easy solution to the dilemma that these two face. What I also like about the series is that its secondary characters are often just as interesting as the main pair: they’re all in fifth grade, after all, when everyone is struggling with their identities and the consequences thereof. Shu and Yoshino just get the worst of it." – Ted Anderson, The Hub (YALSA)
• Review: "Woodring’s someone whose work demands repeated reads. For longtime fans, Congress of the Animals is another puzzle piece in Woodring’s complicated world of art. For newcomers, it’s likely going to be the first enjoyable step of discovering that world and Woodring’s back catalogue." – Nick Dean, Skyscraper Magazine
• Review: "In this selection [Captain Easy, Soldier of Fortune Vol. 2] Roy Crane’s irrepressible humour comes perfectly into focus and this enchanting serial abounds with breezy light-hearted banter, hilarious situations and outright farce... This superb hardback and colossal second collection is the perfect means of discovering or rediscovering Crane’s rip-snorting, pulse-pounding, exotically racy adventure trailblazer. The huge pages in this volume... provide the perfect stage to absorb and enjoy the classic tale-telling of a master raconteur. This is storytelling of impeccable quality: unforgettable, spectacular and utterly irresistible. These tales rank alongside the best of Hergé, Tezuka, Toth and Kirby and unarguably fed the imaginations of them all as he still does for today’s comics creators." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Interview: At New York magazine's Vulture blog, Jennifer Vineyard talks to Lou Reed about adapting Edgar Allen Poe for The Raven (among other topics): "Do you know what it’s like to try to rewrite one of the most famous poems in the history of the world? It’s a can’t-win situation. No one is ever going to say that the rewrite is better than the original. That’s not going to happen."
• Interview: At the Suicide Girls website, Alex Dueben talks to Dave McKean about his new book Celluloid: "It’s always a bit strange doing something that is exclusively about sex and putting it out for people to look at. There are people who are bound to draw some sort of parallel between you as an individual and the stuff you’re putting in the book, which is not necessarily there to be drawn, but people do. So I tried to keep my identity out of it as much as possible."
• Profile:Time Out Chicago's Jonathan Kinkley profiles local boy Wilfred Santiago: "21: The Story of Roberto Clemente is a lovingly written and superbly illustrated biography of the baseball legend.... Stylistically, he considers himself something of a chameleon, tackling each challenge with a new visual approach. 'Actors change accents to play different characters,' says the artist, 'and I have the same graphic flexibility to interpret different kinds of stories.'"
• List:Castle Waiting Vols. 1 & 2 take two spots on Nancy Pearl's "10 Terrific Summer Reads" list at NPR.org: "The black-and-white drawings are precisely crafted, with small, endearing touches that render each character entirely unique. The dialogue is clever and filled with subtle grace notes of drollness and humor. The set will be especially appealing to readers of all ages who enjoy seeing and reading traditional fairy tale tropes teased and played with, all with a sense of good-humored fun."
• Review: "...Congress of the Animals finds twisted fabulist Woodring at the top of his darkly delightful game: Open the book at random and the odds are very good that your gaze will alight upon something that stings, bites, drips, oozes or squelches. Tentacled plant-beasts threaten the unwary, factories powered by crushed blackbirds produce who-knows-what, slimy amphibians enact bizarre rituals and a tribe of naked, faceless men whom the jacket copy refers to as "blind gut-worshippers" — easily the most potent nightmare fuel Woodring has ever produced — drug passersby for mysterious purposes of their own. You certainly won't want to live inside the covers of Congress of the Animals, but it's a fascinating and thrilling feat of imagination, and one hell of a place to visit." – Glen Weldon, NPR.org
• Review: "This book does something I love. It takes me inside a world I’ve never known.... Shimura’s writing does a good job of exposing the readers to the realities of being transgender. Wandering Son ignited my imagination and got me trying to relate to and understand these characters as deeply as possible.... Shimura has crafted an excellent opening volume.... The quiet pace and subject matter make this series a perfect read for the alternative comics crowd. Fans of shoujo and josei manga will enjoy it too. I’d love for everyone to at least give the first volume of Wandering Son a try. It’s a rare gem of emotional honesty and complexity that rewards those willing to take the risk and move outside their typical reading habits." – Ed Sizemore, Comics Worth Reading
• Review: "Monologues for Calculating the Density of Black Holes by Anders Nilsen... touched a special spot that I strive towards in my reading; it created atmosphere. There’s a weight to the unhinged timeline and nonsensical dialogue. It feels calculated, even as it touches on topics such as 'Godzilla vs. Richard Simmons.' The drawings are simple, yet they effortlessly convey time and feel appropriate for the content. It was a quick read, but one that I’ll be revisiting. Check it out." – Au Yeah!
• Interview:Newsarama's Michael Lorah talks to Wilfred Santiago about the creation of 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente: "A baseball sequence is all about interpretation; there are cold, unchangeable facts. If the batter hits a home run to left field in the second inning, etc., then those are unchangeable facts about that scene. So it’s about the reading of the particulars. I mean, if you are saying sad things while laughing maniacally, it’s different than if you are saying them while sobbing and in tears. Therefore, it’s all about what role that particular game sequence plays in the story as a whole. It’s not a book about baseball, even though there’s baseball in it."
• Interview (Audio):Inkstuds host Robin McConnell rang up Dave McKean (on Skype presumably) for a conversation about his latest book: "Celluloid, fresh out from Fantagraphics, is a remarkable work exploring pornography through a very particular lens. Needless to say, it is fantastic."
• Review: "...[J]ust as Woodring’s wordless walkabouts are voyages of discovery for his anthropomorphic protagonists, so they should be for each of us. Wonders wait around every corner, so I’ll leave you to wonder what wonders they’ll be. What I can promise you [in Congress of the Animals] is the same, exquisite level of craftsmanship you’ll have become accustomed to." – Stephen L. Holland, Page 54
• Review: "...[Celluloid is] a spectacularly lush, surreal and expressionistic affair which engages the mind as well as refreshing the parts which other beers fail to reach.... Gorgeous cover, beautiful production values!" – Stephen L. Holland, Page 54
• Review: "[Isle of 100,000 Graves] is an absolutely hilarious adventure romp from Vehlmann and Jason ... Jason’s hangdog art style perfectly complements the deadpan humour [Vehlmann]’s penned here. A child running rings round all and sundry is a tale that’s oft been told, but rarely with the panache and wit displayed you’ll find within these pages." – Jonathan Rigby, Page 54
• Lore: We're very excited about the new column over at TCJ.com: "Mad About Music: My Life in Records," by the great Kim Deitch — if you know Kim's work you know that a) music is a big part of his fictional and actual worlds (and that blurry area where they intersect) and b) he's a great raconteur, so this series should be a treat
Well this seems apropos for the 6/9 edition of Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: "Fermentation and fog: That's the atmosphere in which Dave McKean's graphically charged Celluloid breathes and pants and gasps.... You ever wonder what Lynd Ward would've wrought in full color if he'd been doubly possessed by the god Eros and William Gibson's Wintermute?... Let's not dally with euphemism: McKean's vivid, wordless dreamscape isn't simply erotic, it's downright pornographic. But with a masterpiece like this, Dictionary.com's going to have to redefine 'pornography.'" – Wayne Alan Brenner, The Austin Chronicle
This week's comic shop shipment is slated to include the following new titles. Four of our biggest releases of the summer all dropping at once! Read on to see what comics-blog commentators and web-savvy comic shops are saying about them (more to be added as they appear), check out our previews at the links, and contact your local shop to confirm availability.
(Diamond's PREVIEWSworld website also spotlights some of our books that are now back in print and available again.)
282-page full-color 7" x 9.25" hardcover • $35.00 ISBN: 978-1-60699-440-5
"It's been a while since we've heard from Dave McKean in comics, and his new book is a not-very-plot-heavy thing involving a lot of large images and a lot of very stylized nudity and sex. Not Cages II, in other words." – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
"And for my splurging this week, I’ll... go... with... Celluloid, the new erotic book from Dave McKean." – J.K. Parkin, Robot 6
"...I do admire McKean’s work, and am therefore pretty interested in seeing what this looks like." – James Fulton, Inside Pulse
"I wish I could tell you if this $35 book was good. I don't know, because I don't have it. But I have good reason to [suggest] it.... Cages was great, I can attest to that. And anyone who ever admired a cover to Gaiman's Sandman was admiring McKean's art." – Stephen Totilo, Kotaku
"I’m especially looking forward to Dave McKean’s Celluloid." – Brian Hibbs, Savage Critics
"Dave McKean... gives us his first solo graphic novel since that aforementioned weighty tome. It’s called Celluloid and it’s got rude bits in." – Gosh! Comics
"comic elves unpacking week's new goodies, spotted @DaveMcKean's Celluloid from @fantagraphics... it will be mine, oh yes" – Forbidden Planet International
"Celluloid is beautiful. Gripping and genuinely arousing, with some of @DaveMcKean's best art. Well done to everyone involved." – Ace Comics
104-page black & white 7.25" x 9.75" hardcover • $19.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-437-5
"Jim Woodring's extraordinary new Frank book (this time concentrating on Frank himself again, rather than Manhog as in last year's Weathercraft): whimsy on top, fabulism in the middle, collective-unconscious terror extending from the bottom layer straight through to the center of the universe. Even if there were anyone else doing anything like his comics, he'd still be the best at it." – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
"New Jim Woodring! This... is Woodring’s second graphic novel, and the first to star his Frank character." – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
"Jim Woodring’s follow-up to last year’s Weathercraft has landed. In Congress of the Animals Frank’s left home and is dealing with all manner of horrific realties, though I don’t see him crying over his tax returns... it’s a funny and absurd story..." – Gosh! Comics
"After what seemed like a lengthy drought, Jim Woodring seems to have jumped back into comics full steam, releasing the second graphic novel, Congress of the Animals... in two years.... Woodring fans will be more than pleased at this latest tale involving the ever unperturbed Frank and his adventures in the Unifactor, which, I should note, take an interesting left turn 2/3 of the way through." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"The master of psychedelic cartoon storytelling is back with another fantastic collection. It is impossible to look at a page of this book and not immediately be drawn in to each panel by Woodring's line work, where the world fades away from around you and suddenly you feel like a character in the Unifactor." – Benn Ray (Atomic Books), Largehearted Boy
56-page full-color 7.25" x 10.25" softcover • $14.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-442-9
"The awesome Norwegian cartoonist Jason works with a separate writer for the first time I can remember: Fabien Vehlmann, who gives him a deadpan story about pirates and buried treasure that's right up his alley." – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
"...I’m hopeful that I’ll finally get to read this pirate story and forget my disappointment about On Stranger Tides." – Michael May, Robot 6
"And for my splurging this week, I’ll... go... with Isle of 100,000 Graves, the new Jason/Fabien Vehlmann collaboration..." – J.K. Parkin, Robot 6
"New Jason! This... trade is unique among Jason’s other works in that he’s working, for the first time, with a co-writer, Fabien Vehlmann." – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
"There's no better feeling than holding a copy of a brand new Jason book in your hand. Eeee!" – Secret Headquarters
"Jason... has enlisted a writer for the first time in Fabien Vehlmann, a well known name in France but the Sean Phillips illustrated Seven Psychopaths is his only translated work so far, except for this new one of course.... It’s about pirates, obviously." – Gosh! Comics
"If you haven’t already got a copy yet..., allow me to point you towards Isle of 100,000 Graves, the latest comic from the Norwegian artist Jason, this time working with writer Fabien Vehlmann. Rest assured this new collaboration sees no drop in quality and is a worthy addition to his catalog." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
288-page black & white/color 10.5" x 8.75" hardcover • $29.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-441-2
"In which Fantagraphics begins its complete reprint of Floyd Gottfredson's classic run on the Mickey Mouse newspaper comic strip (actually beginning a few months earlier, with the initial strips, in whose creation Disney himself participated). Nicely designed? But of course." – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
"Of course, there’s also Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse, Volume 1: Race to Death Valley featuring early stories of Mickey as a two-fisted adventurer. That sounds impossible to pass up..." – Michael May, Robot 6
"That Mickey Mouse book is probably the book of the week — although you can never, ever look past Jim Woodring — as it's practically a billion-dollar casino of gut-level, inky thrills." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
"Another one from Fantagraphics is Disney’s Mickey Mouse Volume 1: Race to Death Valley, a hardcover collecting old strips all fully remastered and shot directly from the proof sheets of Disney and private collections. They’re by Floyd Gottfredson, who was employed at Disney as an apprentice animator and in-betweener in the early ‘30s. He was temporarily put on the Mickey Mouse strip and somehow ended up drawing it for the next 45 years." – Gosh! Comics
"...Fantagraphics’ Mickey Mouse vol. 1, Race to Death Valley... promises to show us a different side of the familiar rodent. I have read about Mickey having a personality, which he really doesn’t now, so I’m curious about what he was like in the early days." – Brigid Alverson, Robot 6
"The new Mickey Mouse collection is the obvious pick of the week for me. Floyd Gottfredson has far too long ignored by comics and Disney fans and it’s nice to see Fantagraphics give the work the attention it deserves. They did a fantastic job too; this is easily one of the best designed reprint projects I’ve seen in awhile, and chock full of great extra essays and extra features. I really hope this goes a long way towards establishing Gottfredson in the comics canon (whatever that may be)." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
And on the batch:
"Top 4 picks of the week are all from @fantagraphics: Congress o/t Animals, Celluloid, Isle of 100000 Graves, and Mickey Mouse! Bravo, chaps!" – Danger Room Comics
And at TCJ.com it's Joe McCulloch's "CONFLICT OF INTEREST RESERVOIR: Ok, we all know who’s publishing this column, BUT – I think there’s some pretty strong stuff this week. Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse Vol. 1: Race to Death Valley introduces the awesome daily strip exploits of Floyd Gottfredson, as well as a bevy of collaborators and predecessors, including Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks themselves, with a whole lot of supplements... Congress of the Animals sees Jim Woodring send his Frank character into an odd new world... And Isle of 100,000 Graves marks Jason’s first collaboration with another writer, Fabien Vehlmann, for a tale of piracy..."
This month's issue of Booklist brings a nice batch of favorable reviews for four of our recent releases, excerpted below:
Approximate Continuum Comics by Lewis Trondheim: "The simple, unadorned black-and-white line drawings are agreeably loose and deceptively casual, compelling in their humorous expressiveness and economy. Trondheim’s autobiographical departure is of a piece with the rest of his sizable body of work, not only in its whimsical intelligence but also in that the characters are portrayed as anthropomorphic animals. Fans of Trondheim’s other efforts will enjoy viewing another facet of his work, and followers of graphic memoirs will appreciate seeing a comics master turn his hand to the genre." — Gordon Flagg
Celluloid by Dave McKean: "...McKean... tears through different artistic styles in explicit imagery that’s too striking for simple titillation, and while the dark edge in his work is palpable, it never turns disturbing (those with different sensibilities, however, may dispute both those assessments). For all its entwined body parts, unblushing exhibitionism, and surreal juxtapositions, this is both high art masquerading as pornography and transgressive erotica with lofty intentions, and it is respectful of both its subject and its audience." — Ian Chipman
Isle of 100,000 Graves by Jason & Fabien Vehlmann: "Norwegian cartoonist Jason works with a writer for the first time, and it’s a terrific match. His hollow-eyed, animal-faced characters deliver the deadest of deadpan humor ('Get out your leather gloves. The strangulation finals are about to begin.'). Like Tony Millionaire’s work, this comic shows that the line between cute and demented is perilously thin — and lots of fun to cross over. Despite the multiple beheadings and (mostly) jokey torturings, this is a fairly gore-free affair, so while some may choose not to foist it on kids, its sense of whimsical brutality is right up their alley." — Ian Chipman
Take a Joke by Johnny Ryan: "In Angry Youth Comix..., the [title] phrase is displaced from an interrogative into an imperative sentence — 'Take a joke, @#$%^&!' In Ryan’s comics universe, that means being cursed, sexually violated, soaked with ordure, dismembered, beheaded, and otherwise savaged. Ryan renders this wanton, pointless mayhem in a style descended from the ultraviolent, silent Felix the Cat animated cartoons and the big-nose school of joke cartoonists immortalized by those rude cocktail napkins you think you’ll never see again, but then you stop for a beer at some roadhouse, and voila! Vile beyond all credence, this stuff reduces its fans to teary, dribbling idiocy, others to nauseated indignation. If you can’t stand Tony Millionaire (Maakies) or the raunchiest of R. Crumb, you’ll hate it. High praise, indeed!" — Ray Olson