The Toronto Comics Arts Festival was amazing, it was a whole corral of Fantagraphics cartoonists visiting Toronto with publicist Jacq Cohen and me to sell sell sell books to the sweetest Canadians. On Friday we stopped at the coolest comic book store, The Beguiling.
Dash Shaw's new floppy comic, 3 New Stories! Plus, Maidenheadlock a crazy screen printed comic.
There was an awesome shop called Honest Ed's full of $1 jeggings and $3 babies. BABIES, guys. It was a hell of deal. Luckily they had cool signage everywhere. If Jacq ever uses the internet for dates, here you go.
We were all lucky enough to enjoy a converstation between Gilbert Hernandez, Tom Spurgeon and Jaime Hernandez about Love and Rockets, alternative comics and more in the Reference Library Friday night.
Andrew and James (yes?) from The Beguiling working the Bros book booth on Friday night. Thank you for being sweethearts and working hard.
Mike Winters, funny comic book man and Kupperman fan, was ready for his first comics show and showed off his cash envelope-bowl. His loonies and toonies smelled faintly of egg salad.
Jaime and Dash Shaw were ready EARLY at 9am to sign books!
Our first cup of coffee was barely over before a Jaime fan bared all to show off his sexy Maggie tattoo. Jaime said "Make sure to get those boxers in the photo" just so you know I'm not objectifying this gentleman.
Then the magical Ulli Lust made her appearance. Leon Avelino of Secret Acres and The Beguiling's Peter Birkmoe showed up but were sadly outdone by the BEST CON FACE EVER. Thank you, Toronto.
Ulli doesn't really spend ANY time on these book signings, right? Man, alive!
Gilbert pretends to act crotchedy with an enthsiastic Peggy Burns from D&Q. Jade and Tracy in the background!
Jaime and I discuss Little League baseball. Gilbert keeps up the act.
Jacq and our former intern, future super cartoonist Sophie Yanow.
Oh geez, they had someone doing 10 minute henna at the front of TCAF show and while so beautiful, all I could think is what happens when someone accidentally rubs the still drying design on some $40 book. Actually, now I think about it that's a great way to get rid of some backstock.
Ulli and Dash signing books: Dash promises he was listening and not drifting back into his new book, New School.
BUT Dash Shaw and I only have to hear the first half of the word 'VOGUE' before hittin' it, so to speak.
One of the Beguiling employees was chuffed to meet Michael Kupperman so they had to pose for a photo. You can tell its nice and early here because of all the butt space people have while walking down the aisles.
Michael draws a commissioned illustration for a fan.
Jacq snapped this photo of Michael at his artist spotlight panel. We wish our cartoonists had more confidence.
Alex from The Beguiling picks up The Armed Garden by his favorite cartoonist, David B. NO, DA-vead Beh, say it right.
Ulli stops to say hi to smart person and comics fan, Gil Roth.
Thanks to Oliver East for tabling next to Fantagraphics all weekend, he is a true pleasure!
ALSO, thank you thank you to anyone who stopped by my comics booth. I put my name in for work and myself and never dreamed I'd get into TCAF with my own comics. Thanks to you, new friends, (and my harried and usually alone tablemate, Lucy Bellwood).
How cool is The Beguiling for buying all your comics (or a goodly amount) after the show? Standing in the line was worth it not to carry your comics back over the border! Hopefully you said thank you to Peter Birkemoe and Chris Butcher at some point.
The after party was at Lee's Palace, an old punk venue that was so gorgeous. The town is full of beautiful facades and interesting buildings.
The Monday after the show we ran around Toronto with whomever was left in town. Like Rutu Modan! Jacq, me and Rutu accidentally ate opposite Robin, Mark P. Hensel (aka William Cardini) and Murilo.
Theo Ellsworth joined us for a visit to the beautiful Taiyo Matsumoto exhibit at the Japan Foundation and we ran into the Matsumoto himself! I've been a fan since Steve Bissette showed me some of his comics and the Ping Pong movie. PLEASE check it out if you haven't already and prepare to be blown away.
This restaurant could be dangerous for someone like me. We were all confused as to what this kid's mouth is doing, why he's pushing his cheeks in, especially when saying the word 'cheese' pulls your mouth wide. You win this one, Toronto.
Thank you, TCAF and The Beguiling, for all the help and love. We had a great time. Ulli mentioned one time how much she loved 'North American enthusiasm' so you made her week!
12:15 – 1:15pm // Spotlight: Ulli Lust A talented Austrian cartoonist who makes her home in Berlin, Germany, Ulli Lust is well known across Europe for her cartooning. Her debut full-length graphic novel Today Is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Lifewon huge acclaim in 2011, including taking the prestigious Angouleme “Revelation” prize. Now this important work of memoir and reportage has made its way to English audiences, and Ulli Lust and Verlag Der Tagesspiegel journalist Lars von Torne as they explore this important and highly-anticipated TCAF debut. (Reference Library)
12:15 – 1:15pm // Spotlight: Gilbert Hernandez’s Marble Season Gilbert Hernandez is the co-creator of the acclaimed series Love & Rockets, which just celebrated its 30th anniversary. Gilbert is attending TCAF in support of his highly-anticipated, semiautobiographical new graphic novel, Marble Season. Marble Season tells the untold stories from the American comics legends’ youth, but also portrays the reality of life in a large family in suburban 1960s California. Pop-culture references—TV shows, comic books, and music—saturate this evocative story of a young family navigating cultural and neighborhood norms set against the golden age of the American dream and the silver age of comics. Gilbert will present from this new work, and participate in a moderated Q&A. (Forest Hill Ballroom)
1:30 – 2:30pm // Moebius, Past and Future Jean Giraud, also known as Moebius, was a legend in the comics industry – his lush, whimsical art and creative storytelling inspired a generation of cartoonists around the world to take the comics medium to new directions and new heights. Four cartoonists discuss Moebius’ life, work, and his role in inspiring the industry today – as well as their own books. With Frederik Peeters, Paul Pope, David B., Glyn Dillon. Moderated by Xavier Guilbert. (Forest Hill Ballroom)
2:45 – 3:45pm // Writing Life These four cartoonists tell the most personal kind of stories – stories from their own lives. This program explores what’s involved in memoir. How accurately can memory and representative artwork depict real life? And are there kinds of stories that cannot be told? Featuring Raina Telgemeier (Smile, Drama), Derf (My Friend Dahmer), Ulli Lust (Today Is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life), and Lucy Knisley (Relish). Moderated by Robin Brenner. (Pilot Tavern)
4:00 – 5:00pm // Spotlight: Michael Kupperman Acclaimed American comics artist and humourist Michael Kupperman (Tales Designed to Thrizzle) discusses his life, work, and upcoming projects in this special TCAF Spotlight program. Perhaps certain special guests will drop by? (Pilot Tavern)
Sunday, May 12th
12:15 – 1:15pm // What’s Funny in the Funnies? Comics & Humour What makes a comic funny? We couldn’t tell you exactly, but what we do know is that these five panelists have made some damn funny comics, so they’ve likely got some insight. We’ll refund show admission if they don’t. Featuring Bill Amend (Foxtrot), Ivan Brunetti (HAW!), Danielle Corsetto (Girls with Slingshots), Lisa Hanawalt (My Dirty Dumb Eyes), and Michael Kupperman (Tales Designed to Thrizzle). (High Park Ballroom, located in the The Marriott Bloor Yorkville.)
12:15 – 1:15pm // Queer Comics 2013 You don’t have to be queer to make or read queer comics. Social, civil, and sexual issues, serious or satirical, make queer comics works that deal with the joys and problems of life that affect all of us. The creators on this panel make books that transcend gender identities to appeal to everyone. Featuring Justin Hall, Erika Moen, Gilbert Hernandez, Jaime Hernandez, Chip Kidd, and moderator Zan Christiensen (Northwest Press). (Pilot Tavern)
2:45 – 3:45pm // Spotlight: Dash Shaw Acclaimed cartoonist and animator Dash Shaw discusses his new and upcoming graphic novels, New School and 3 New Stories, in this multimedia presentation. (Reference Library)
2:45 – 3:45pm // Spotlight: David B. TCAF presents a conversation with acclaimed French cartoonist David B. (Best of Enemies) on his life, work, and the French comics industry. Moderated by Sean Rogers. (High Park Ballroom, located in the The Marriott Bloor Yorkville.)
4:00 – 5:00pm // Spotlight: Ivan Brunetti Renowned cartoonist Ivan Brunetti (HAW!) is also Assistant Professor in the Art and Design Department of Columbia College Chicago, teaching courses on drawing, design, illustration, cartooning, and graphic novels. On this special TCAF Spotlight panel, Brunetti will talk about his own cartooning career, and the importance of comics in education, as outlined in his new book Aesthetics from Yale University Press. (High Park Ballroom, located in the The Marriott Bloor Yorkville.)
4:00 – 5:00pm // Live Drawing… 2! Four creators enter, one creator leaves! Come watch four artists draw for their lives – and for your entertainment. Winners will feast on the souls of the losers (vegetarian option available). Featuring Phil McAndrew, Lucy Knisley, Jim Rugg, and Scott C.! (Pilot Tavern)
So, stop by Tables 142 & 143 and give all your money to our PR/Marketing duo of Jacq & Jen! We're on the first floor by the stairs, so you can't escape us.
The Toronto Reference Library is located at 789 Yonge Street. The closest major intersection is Yonge & Bloor. The closest subway station is Yonge/Bloor Station. See you at TCAF!
The Seattle-based French cultural organization the Alliance Française is having a Christmas market and you're invited!
Fantagraphics will have a table there selling our French translations (Tardi, Trondheim, David B., etc.) but we will also have a big pile of non-Fantagraphics editions of French and Belgian classics such as Tintin, Asterix, the Smurfs, and Lucky Luke, and several boxes full of french comics IN THE ORIGINAL FRENCH that have not previously been made available in our store.
The Alliance Française is a great organization and this should be a fun time for Francophiles in general even above and beyond Fantagraphics' presence, so we hope to see you there. Francophone Kim Thompson will be manning the table throughout and will answer your questions and banter with you (and take your money) in French, in English, or in Danish if you happen to trek up from Ballard, for that matter. A bientôt!
The Alliance Française is located on the ground floor of Historic Seattle's beautiful Good Shepherd Center at 4649 Sunnyside Avenue North. There are two large free parking lots as well as abundant free on-street parking.
• Review (Video): On G4's Fresh Ink Online video podcast, host Blair Butler and guest Sam Humphries look at Is That All There Is? by Joost Swarte; at the 7:50 mark Humphries makes it his #2 pick of the week, saying "I've literally been waiting for this book for 20 years... so my hopes were pretty high and this book does not disappoint at all.... You gotta pick up this book."
• Review: "While [Listen, Whitey! The Sights and Sounds of Black Power 1965-1975] looks like a typical coffee table book, this book does not have the coffee table lightness when it comes to content. It is dense.... The imagery in this book is fantastic with a ton of photos of old album jackets, flyers and magazine advertisements and of course the record itself. I admit, I want to blow up a lot of the posters and frame them. You will too.... You should buy this book. Fantagraphics outdid themselves this time." – David Baker, 410 Media
• Review: "Undead pirates roam the seas. They want to die and find eternal peace. But when that doesn’t work, they pray for a living creature to torment. They find a baby boy amidst the wreckage of a ship and decide to raise him until he’s ten. Then they plan to kill him so they can have a cabin-boy.... David B.’s Epileptic made me a fan of his work. But the cover [of The Littlest Pirate King], featuring ghastly pirates behind a little boy, would have caught my attention anyway.... It’s a kid’s book with an edge." – Gene Ambaum, The Unshelved Book Club
• Review: "Originally published in 1974, ...[The Arctic Marauder] finds social criticism wrapped up in sarcastic satire, but outfitted in some great designs of Victorian science.... Tardi’s story is one thing, but his beautiful renderings give it a depth that brings it far beyond satire. The attention given to the Victoriana -- in technology, fashion and graphic layout -- functions as a love letter to that bygone world, which keeps the book from ever seeming cartoonish, and that [is] its major strength." – John Seven, North Adams Transcript
• Tunes:Michael Kupperman is among the cartoonists who put together a playlist of music that inspires their process for Huffington Post columnist Dave Scheidt — a taste: "'Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep,' Middle of the Road: This is just the oddest song. It's upbeat, and bubblegum, and catchy, and sad, and kind of incomprehensible. It was written by a French composer and recorded by a Scottish group, and was one of the highest-selling singles worldwide of all time." (That song's popular with funny cartoonists: Peter Bagge's band Can You Imagine? covers it)
• Review: "Athos in America is a tour de force that showcases Jason’s immense talents as both an artist and a storyteller. These haunting stories will stick with you long after you’ve turned the last page. Rating: 10 out of 10" – Edward Kaye, Newsarama
• Interview:Comic Book Resources' Shaun Manning gets the inside scoop about the I Killed Adolf Hitler film project from Jason ("I hope it will be good. Or really bad. One of those. The disappointment would be if it's a mediocre film") and screenwriter D.C. Walker ("I viewed 'IKAH' as a jewel like the french short film 'La Jetee.' All the key themes were in place, it was just a matter of expanding on them like they did in 12 Monkeys (the film 'IKAH' will most resemble).")
• Plug: "I gotta say I'm not a big fan of the illustration on this [Kolor Klimax] cover, but the design, color, and font choice made me stand up and take notice. I 'klimaxed' a little when I first saw it. Uggh, sorry, that was too much information." – Dave Johnson, Johnson's Cover Hi-lo
• List: Gustavo Guimaraes of Brazilian culture & entertainment site Ambrosia names "The best comics published in the U.S. in 2011 - Alternative and classic," including Congress of the Animals by Jim Woodring (all quotes translated from Portuguese)...
"The world created by Woodring is unique, beautiful and scary. His stories can be incomprehensible at times, but always intriguing and charming."
"Sala's characters look like something out of old horror and mystery movies, and his plots possess a rare levity for narratives of the genre. The colorful art makes the his twisted drawings even more attractive."
"Walt Kelly was a complete artist, his drawings were graceful, his stories were simple and fun while at the same time provoking the reader with hints of metalanguage and political content. His writing was faceted with the sensibility of a great satirist."
"A masterpiece of old adventure comics continues today thanks largely to Foster's fantastic realistic art. Landscapes and epic battles are played to perfection by the author, turning the limited space of each panel into a window to a world where historical characters live with mythological beings. Careful printing in oversize hardcover as well as meticulous reproduction of the beautiful original colors make this collection from Fantagraphics a model for classic comics publishing."
"Even if you already have all of Carl Barks' comics of you will want to buy this book. It is the first time that these comics are being reissued with the original colors, digitally restored. This deluxe edition, with hard covers and high-quality paper, includes articles on all the comics collected in the volume."
• Review: "To say that it has been worth the wait is wild understatement. Pogo Through the Wild Blue Wonder is beautifully produced — no surprise to anyone familiar with the work of Fantagraphics Books in Seattle — and a joy to read. It comes as a genuine gift to anyone who loved Pogo and, it is to be hoped, as an introduction for younger readers to what many people believe was the best comic strip ever drawn in this country." – Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post
• Review: "Wilson's genuine bravery, as this strip makes clear, is not that he set himself up as a rival to Charles Schulz but rather the directness with which Nuts confronts genuinely painful and baffling topics like sickness, mental illness, and death. When dealing with master artists, any ranking becomes absurd because each creator is memorable by the individual mark he or she leaves. So let’s leave Peanuts comparisons aside and say that Nuts is one of the major American comic strips and we’re lucky to have the complete run in this handsome, compact volume." – Jeet Heer, The Comics Journal
• Review: "Jacques Tardi’s interpretation of Jean-Patrick Manchette’s book [Like a Sniper Lining Up His Shot] is an intense and shocking thriller.... Dark, brutal and uterly compelling, classic thriller fans should lap this up. Put a few hours aside before picking it up though, because you won’t want to put it down and it’s a feast worth savouring." – Grovel
• Review: "I gave Roy Crane’s Captain Easy, Solder Of Fortune: The Complete Sunday Newspaper Strips Volume 1 1933-1935 a good thumbing many, many times before picking it up. The artwork was too simple, the stories silly. One day in my local comic shop with nothing new to read I picked it up. What I failed to comprehend as I stood in the comic shop flipping pages in this book is that Crane chose the elements of his strip carefully, especially those I dismissed it for. Simple character design, bright colours, fictional locations and action with a sense of humour. After finishing the volume I applaud his choices." – Scott VanderPloeg, Comic Book Daily
• Interview (Audio):The Comics Journal presents a recording of the Jack Davis interview conducted by Gary Groth and Drew Friedman at last month's Brooklyn Comics & Graphics Festival (posted here after a slight delay due to technical audio issues)
• Interview:Culture Brats has "Seven Questions in Heaven" with Esther Pearl Watson: "Even though now I have a huge collection of mini-comics, I try not to look at other comic artists as influences. They draw too nice, or have their thing down. Comic storytelling styles can be as individual as fingerprints. We spend years creating our own narrative language. Instead I look at naive drawing and self-taught artists to de-skill."
• Conflict of Interest: Our own Larry Reid names Love and Rockets: New Stories #4 one of his favorite comics of 2011 in a guest column at Graphic Eye: "The conclusion of Jaime’s poignant 'Love Bunglers' story alone made this book essential reading in 2011. Almost unfathomably, Love & Rockets keeps getting better with age."
The first Online Commentary & Diversions post of the year might very well end up being the longest:
• List: Humorist and television personality John Hodgman, asked to name his 5 favorite comics in an open Q&A session on his Tumblr blog, says "Love and Rockets: I don’t like to choose between brothers, but Jaime Hernandez is one of the greatest drawers of human faces and human want on the planet."
• List:Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge: Only a Poor Old Man by Carl Barks is #39 on The A.V. Club 's list of "most anticipated entertainments of 2012": "Only a Poor Old Man will bring Scrooge McDuck, possibly Barks’ greatest creation, into the spotlight. The bespectacled miser will dive around in his money bin and burrow through it like a gopher, and his timeless adventures will get the treatment they deserve."
• List: Tucker Stone, whose Best of 2011 previously appeared at comiXology, presents a slightly modified list for Flavorwire's "10 of the Year's Most Buzzed-About Comic Releases":
"Last year’s Love and Rockets was a huge deal, but this year’s installment is arguably even better.... Comics has yet to provide Love and Rockets with anything approximating 'competition,' but it doesn’t appear that the Hernandez brothers have any reason to be concerned about that quite yet. They’re still way better at this than everybody else on the planet."
"The big thing this year was watching all the great young cartoonists of the early 2000s carving out their places in the pantheon. Huizenga’s a perfect example — he’s been regularly turning out excellent comics for years now, and yet Ganges #4 still reads like a revelation.... It’s a fascinating experience reading these comics, and they’re gorgeous to boot."
"The continuing adventures of Johnny Ryan’s most violent fantasies run amuck, [Prison Pit] is rapidly becoming the comic that I look forward to the way a fat kid looks forward to syrup-encrusted cake. There’s no getting around the hoary old cliche — 'these aren’t for everybody' — so God help you if you can’t figure out a way to enjoy these books."
• List: The prolific Sean T. Collins, after having contributed to CBR's Top 100, runs down his personal 20 Best Comics of 2011 on his Attentiondeficitdisorderly blog AND at Robot 6, withGanges #4 by Kevin Huizenga at #15...
"Huizenga wrings a second great book out of his everyman character’s insomnia. It’s quite simple how, really: He makes comics about things you’d never thought comics could be about, by doing things you never thought comics could do to show you them. Best of all, there’s still the sense that his best work is ahead of him, waiting like dawn in the distance."
"...[T]he payoff... feels like a weight has been lifted from Woodring’s strange world, while the route he takes to get there is illustrated so beautifully it’s almost superhuman. It’s the happy ending he’s spent most of his career earning."
"Religious fundamentalism... has worn a thousand faces in a millennia-long carnevale procession of war and weirdness, and David B. paints portraits of three of its masks with bloody brilliance. Focusing on long-forgotten heresies and treating the most outlandish legends about them as fact, B.’s high-contrast linework sets them all alight with their own incandescent madness."
"I picture Gilbert Hernandez approaching his drawing board these days like Lawrence of Arabia approaching a Turkish convoy: 'NO PRISONERS! NO PRISONERS!' In a year suffused with comics funneling pitch-black darkness through a combination of sex and horror, none were blacker, sexier, or more horrific than this gender-bending exploitation flick from Beto's 'Fritz-verse.'"
"...[L]et's add to the chorus praising Jaime's 'The Love Bunglers' as one of the greatest comics of all time, the point to which one of the greatest comics series of all time has been hurtling toward for thirty years.... You can count the number of cartoonists able to wed style to substance, form to function, this seamlessly on one hand with fingers to spare. A masterpiece."
"The hype and acclaim surrounding Xaime Hernandez’s conclusion to his 'Love Bunglers' saga has been overwhelming, and every ounce of it is deserved. This is simply a phenomenal achievement in comics. A moving, thoughtful story of missed opportunities, loss and eventual reconciliation that provides in many ways a fitting conclusion to all of Xaime’s 'Locas' stories. I’d be hard pressed to think of a better comic that came out this year."
"More than the new Carl Barks collection, more than the return of Pogo, the resurrected, re-appreciated comic strip I found myself falling in love the most with this year was Gottfredson’s plunky, adventure-loving mouse, a scrappier version of Disney’s iconic creation. More to the point, I was completely taken with the stunning packaging and background information Fantagraphics and the books editor put together for this series. It’s new benchmark for reprint projects."
"Three volumes into this grand guginol series and it continues to surprise and delight, this time introducing a new character and suggesting via an end sequence that Ryan has been reading a lot of Fort Thunder comics."
"Incredibly inventive, Schrauwen, like Yokoyama, seems intent on pushing the comics medium into new and interesting directions. But where Yokoyama is concerned mainly with motion and exploration, Schrauwen is concerned mainly with perception and the interior world of the mind. This is great, mind-blowing work."
• List: Also on Robot 6's roundup of best-of lists from its writers, Tim O'Shea ranks Pogo Vol. 1 at #9: "Damn if this was not worth the wait... Volume 1 of the complete syndicated daily strips of Pogo would be enough to put this book on my list. But the fact that Fantagraphics has a foreword by Jimmy Breslin; an introduction by Steve Thompson; a piece on the Pogo Sunday Funnies by Mark Evanier; and Swamp Talk (R.H. Harvey annotations on the strips) is just icing on the cake."
• List: David McKean's Celluloid gets a "See Also" shout-out on Cyriaque Lamar's list of The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Comics of 2011 at io9: "A decidedly adult erotica graphic novel with no dialogue, this is the famed Sandman cover artist going at page after page of a sexy hallucination, whipped up by a magic porno movie projector. Dreamscapes with boners."
"After 'Browntown' in last year’s installment of New Stories, there was a worry that Jaime might have peaked — how on earth was he going to top that story? The achingly beautiful conclusion to 'The Love Bunglers' in this volume was the answer. Pulling together strands from Maggie’s entire 30-year history in two pages was nothing short of stunning, with his art as cooly confident as ever, making it a real emotional sucker punch. Gilbert’s work developing Fritz’s movie back-catalogue is a real mind-bender, too, weaving inter- and meta-textual strands together that lets his characters say so much, while saying so little. It is terrifying how talented these guys are."
"Forget Pogo and Carl Barks — we already knew they were classics — the real reprint revelation of 2011 was good ole' Mickey Mouse.... To read these strips is to rediscover a love for Mickey and marvel at Gottfredson's amazing grasp of storytelling and humour, as well as his flawless artwork. Naturally, with Fantagraphics overseeing the reprints, the design, packaging and presentation is gorgeous — a real worthy successor to their Peanuts series."
• Plug: "I’m a little mortified to admit that Walt Disney's Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes is my first exposure to Carl Barks (after decades of being interested in finally seeing why he’s so revered as a comic creator), but it definitely won’t be my last. Fantagraphics’ first volume of Barks material is a great place to start; a mixture of epic quests, short stories, and gag strips that are all impressively funny and awesome." – Greg McElhatton, Robot 6
• List: On his Domino Books blog, Austin English explains why Joyce Farmer's Special Exits is his favorite comic of 2011: "Farmer's cartooning allows for her characters to act out their illness and struggles in front of the reader. Farmer's drawing of her aging father is something to behold — it's not Farmer saying 'here is what my sick father went through.' Instead we see a drawing age and wither in front of us, and speak to us with both intelligence and dementia. I’ve never seen anything in comics done with such skill — let alone see a graphic novel (often the territory of poorly conceived topical heart wrenchers) speak about tragedy with so much depth and clarity."
• List: Comics writer Vito Delsante declares Love and Rockets: New Stories #4 the Best Single Issue of 2011 on his Best of 2011 blog post: "The Hernandez Brothers, since New Stories 3, have really created the most important mythology in comics since Stan and Jack (and Steve).... Jaime Hernandez should win every single award in comics in 2012."
• List: We rank 4 entries on Renee Lott's Top 10 Comics of 2011 at her Blogwithfeet
• Review: "I've been digging the new Fantagraphics release Jason Conquers America which commemorates ten years of the venerable publisher's relationship with the Norewegian artist.... My favorite story in the collection revolves around a crow who naps in a bed in a field and wakes up obliviously in an entirely new life. (Telling any more would spoil the revelation.) In 23 short wordless panels, Jason creates a powerful and compelling commentary that proves how powerfully expressive comics can be." – Stray Riffs
• Review: "A new comic from the top humorist in comics is always welcome. This issue [of Tales Designed to Thrizzle] is the usual combination of dada and surprisingly tightly-wrapped narrative gags surrounding the sort of cultural detritus mined by Drew Friedman & Mark Newgarden.... 'Quincy, M.E.'... is one of Kupperman's best strips because he keeps adding new layers of plot to an already-ridiculous story.... I still miss the sheer density of detail in Kupperman's older work that made reading it almost exhausting, but the avalanche of ideas remains intact, as does his ability to elicit laughs." – Rob Clough, High-Low
• Review: "...Prison Pit... [is] a marriage of pro wrestling, manga, bromance and filth.... Johnny Ryan has an almost Kirbyesque level of character design, but with obviously more genitalia, and it can at times be a joy just to see what is going to come on the next page.... Johnny Ryan is a cartoonist at the top of his game right now and he may just be the closest thing the comic world has to marmite." – Taylor Pithers, The Weekly Crisis
• Interview:The Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon talks with Todd DePastino, biographer of Bill Mauldin and editor of our Willie & Joe books. Spurgeon says Willie & Joe: Back Home is "one of my three favorite comics-related books from 2011, and, I think, one of the year's best." From DePastino: "When I look at these cartoons, I think of literary critic Dominic LaCapra's claim that some books are good to think about and a very few are good to think with. Mauldin's postwar cartoons are good to think with. They not only provide a window to the times, like, say, good photographs or reporting might, but they also raise fundamental questions and issues that are with us still."
• Review: "These comics are beautiful. Each single-panel comic is blown up to a full page, so that Mauldin’s artistry can truly (and easily) be admired without squinting. The sentiments expressed are astonishing and bravely progressive for the time.... I’d never thought or heard about the poor reception combat vets received after WWII. (I mistakenly thought that only happened to our soldiers after the Vietnam War.) I wish I knew what they experienced. I’ll settle for giving [Willie & Joe: Back Home] to the next WWII vet I meet and hope that it sparks a conversation." – Gene Ambaum, The Unshelved Book Club
• List: Tucker Stone counts down The Best of 2011 at comiXology. and we sure like the looks of his top 5:
At #5, Jim Woodring's Congress of the Animals: "Deftly exploring the individual's relationship with labor, consequence and love, Congress of the Animals might be Woodring's least nightmarish work yet. (Although there's still a decent portion of it involving face-robbed humanoids that you shouldn't leave lying open if you have junkies visiting.)"
At #4, Prison Pit Book 3 by Johnny Ryan: "Back in 2009, when Ryan began Prison Pit, it was a revelation; a bone-crushing giant, born fully clothed.... Make no mistake: if Jack Kirby was born today, these are the kinds of comics he'd be drawing."
At #2, Ganges #4 by Kevin Huizenga: "While it has been two years since the release of Ganges #3, the only thing that could possibly have dulled would be the audience's memory of how extraordinary the series can be.... As with Yokoyama's Color Engineering, the audience becomes participatory witness, buried head to toe alongside Glenn, living and dying by his attempts to conquer. The shaggy dog ending -- weirder than the last one -- only seems cruel for the length of time it takes you to remember: being broken out of a trance is supposed to hurt."
And in the #1 spot, Love and Rockets: New Stories #4: "...Love and Rockets 4 saw Jaime Hernandez making good on the promise of decades. Resolving with as much finality as one could ask the question of 'how's this gonna end,' the final passage of this issue's Maggie story was without comparison. There was absolutely nothing else like reading those pages for the first time -- the gasp held tight in your throat, the 8 panel grids giving way only once, for a two page silent recap of the last 30 years of a life only we seem to know was well-lived."
• Review: "...[The Armed Garden] is absolutely marvelous, a gorgeous and searing series of comics from an artist who earns the description 'freakishly talented' as completely as anyone this side of his trans-Atlantic fellow in crafting dreamy/nightmarish parables of violent spirituality, Jim Woodring. These comics are just as lovely and just as frightening, and just as singularly the work of their creator and no other." – Sean T. Collins, Attentiondeficitdisorderly
I always was very fond of the mini-comics format -- take two to four 8 1/2 x 11 sheets, fold them once, staple, and voilà! You have an adorable little 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 comic book for mere pennies. But I could never really figure out what to do with this old-school, low-tech format.
For this catalog season, we have created 21 "FBI•MINI" booklets (most in this format, although there are a few oddities), as premiums for customers who order books directly from us. They are available free with the purchase of their "matching" book or books -- or for those customers who've already bought those books but are desperate to get the FBI•MINI, free with the purchase of $50 worth of any other Fantagraphics mail-order merchandise.
If any of these catch your interest (and if you're reading this blog surely at least one of them will) you can click right on any of them to a more detailed listing on our website -- or just click right here and all 21 will pop up for you to peruse.
• Review: "...Kevin Avery’s Everything Is an Afterthought... chronicles the dramatic life of one of music’s keenest observers, Paul Nelson, and curates his finest critiques.... I read and adored [Nelson] growing up, but reading [him] in the context of today’s critical standards gave me the literary equivalent to the bends. It goes without saying that, in the age of the Internet, the whole idea of a critic has changed." – Jim Farber, New York Daily News
• Review: "It could well be ten years since I last read these stories [in Queen of the Black Black], and I’d either forgotten or never appreciated (my money’s on the latter) how astute and insightful they could be. Like a proto-Kevin Huizenga, [Megan Kelso] repeatedly turns up little rocks of human experience and chronicles what’s going on underneath, reintroducing us to feelings, sensations, and experiences we’d forgotten we’d had but recognize as if they happened this morning." – Sean T. Collins, The Comics Journal
• Review: "This collection of early stories from Megan Kelso shows a natural flair for the form, mixed with a self-critical determination to hone her craft, that’s helped her blossom into a master storyteller.... Anyone looking for a masterful example of the short story in comics would do well to give [Queen of the Black Black] a try. Beautifully written and well illustrated, this a wonderful portfolio of work from a creator showing a deep well of promise from the start." – Grovel
• Review: "...[E]asily... one of my favorite horror comics and one of my contenders for my Best of 2011 list.... Not only is the book carefully structured, it looks stunning.... The Hidden is a story that must be experienced to fully appreciate... There is an excellent story of slow-building despair to be found in its pages, with gorgeous depictions and coloring and a horror story that shocks, surprises, and entertains. Don't let this one get hidden on your shelves! It may not be Halloween, but I still give this book my highest recommendation!" – Rob McMonigal, Panel Patter
• Review: "Volume 2 of Fantagraphics' Gottfredson Library, which takes us up through the beginning of 1934, maintains the high production standards and copious ancillaries of the first volume.... Tom Andrae's opening essay emphasizes, with good reason, how Gottfredson "spun off" many of his early narratives from the plots of animated cartoons. IMHO, however, the Mickey strip truly became "great" once Gottfredson gained the confidence to craft his own plots." – Chris Barat
• Profile:Paul Gravett surveys the work of David B. and presents a transcript of his bookstore discussion with the artist this past summer (hat tip to TCJ.com's Tim Hodler)
• Plug: Pulitzer-winning author and known Love and Rockets fan Junot Díaz names Poison River by Gilbert Hernandez (collected in Beyond Palomar) one of his top 10 favorite books in an excerpt from Unpacking My Library: Writers and their Books posted at The Financial Times
• Plug:Oil and Water receives an excellent feature in the new issue of the Audubon Society of Portland Warbler newsletter, which can be downloaded here
• Tribute: At The Comics Journal, Bill Griffith remembers meeting, and later collaborating with, the late Bil Keane: "I was surprised when Bil told me he read Zippy in his local Arizona paper and liked it. He didn’t even qualify his opinion with the usual, “Of course, I don’t always get it.” Until then, I hadn’t paid much attention to The Family Circus, but I slowly began to see that you could read more into it than what appeared on the surface. This was before internet wise guys began mashing up random Friedrich Nietzsche lines for Billy and Jeffy’s and riffing on the strip as unconscious surrealism. But The Family Circus didn’t need hipsters to substitute incongruous dialogue to make the case that it was unconscious surrealism. It was unconscious surrealism on its own."
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