• List/Review:Critical Mob names Jim Woodring's Weathercraft one of the Top 10 Books of 2010. As a reminder, their review called it "the kind of Pilgrim's Progress tale that David Lynch might have conjured up if he were a cartoonist" (Lynch was a cartoonist, in fact) and "Woodring's best work yet. And for an artist of his caliber, that's saying something."
• List: At Flavorwire, Desert Island's Gabe Fowler names Love and Rockets: New Stories #3 #9 of 10 of the Year's Most Buzzed About Comic Releases: "Lots of people were blown away by this — it’s a comic that epitomizes 20 years worth of work in 50 pages. Jamie Hernandez has just been doing it so long that he’s a natural. Comics just seem to flow out of this guy."
• List: Julien from Librairie Drawn & Quarterly names A Drunken Dream and Other Stories by Moto Hagio one of "Les 5 livres indispensables de l'année" (the 5 essential books of the year): "With coming of age stories that are sentimental, dramatic, poetic, offbeat and not mawkish..., A Drunken Dream and Other Stories showcases trailblazing manga has forged its own way since the '70s." (Translated from French.)
• Plug: "In typical Fantagraphics fashion, A Drunken Dream is presented in a gorgeous, golden-hued, and hardbound package. From the front to end papers, it is packed with stories, artwork — both black and white and in color — and an interview with the influential artist that’s just as engaging as her stories. For me, 'Iguana Girl' was the standout tale, full of emotional and psychological twists. It’s sophisticated and defies expectations." – Alex Carr, Omnivoracious "Graphic Novel Friday: Holiday Gift Guide"
• Review/Profile: A feature on Joyce Farmer and Special Exits by Paul Gallagher at The Huffington Post: "Farmer's beautiful, moving and truly exceptional book deals with the very real closing down age brings, and its problems. Rarely have I read such an honest, heart-breaking, yet darkly humorous tale."
• Review: "Carol Tyler has chosen a scrapbook format for her memoir series You'll Never Know, but the editing is the reverse of the usual—instead of airbrushing over her family's troubles, she focuses on them. [...] Tyler has a good ear; her conversations, whether it's the grownups kidding around when she was a child or the grown daughters trying to figure out how to negotiate their parents' illnesses, always ring true. Her art is sketchy and expressive, changing to fit the story, often deliberately breaking borders as she transitions from one setting to another." – Brigid Alverson, Graphic Novel Reporter
• Review: "...Rip M.D. is a bit silly, but it’s offbeat and funny too. It’s got the kind of gross-out humor that kids will love... While the book has its own somewhat silly logic, it also has a tremendously engaging look and feel that’s all its own." – John Hogan, Graphic Novel Reporter
• Review: "Stark and vivid, scary and heartbreakingly sad as only a children’s tale can be, this darkly swashbuckling romp [The Littlest Pirate King] is a classy act with echoes of Pirates of the Caribbean (which it predates by nearly a century) that will charm, inspire and probably cause a tear or two to well up." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Plug: "While I’ve yet to see a copy, Fantagraphics’ Usagi Yojimbo: The Special Edition finally released this December, and it clocks in at 1,200 pages. The 25th Anniversary of Stan Sakai’s rabbit ronin is celebrated across two hardcovers housed in a slipcase. The set promises plenty of extras, and its delayed publication has been lamented loudly enough to make this holiday publication cause for plenty of raised glasses of eggnog." – Alex Carr, Omnivoracious "Graphic Novel Friday: Holiday Gift Guide"
• Awards:ActuaBD reports on the nominees for the Prix Artémisia, including Gabriella Giandelli's Interiorae (in its French edition). "This is an award directed towards female creators from an association bearing the same name as the prize," reports The Comics Reporter.
• Interview (Audio): Host Robin McConnell chats with Nate Neal about Nate's new graphic novel The Sanctuary and other topics on the Inkstuds radio programme; in his blog post Robin says "Sanctuary has a really great language all to itself, and his work in Mome utilizes a while different skill set. Good comics."
• List: Erich Redson of LA TACO ("Celebrating the Taco Lifestyle in Los Angeles, California") names their Comic of the Year: "Johnny Ryan is a long-time TACO favorite, but he has really outdone himself this year with the release of Prison Pit Book 2. Pure, unmitigated ultra-violent filth has never been drawn so cleanly. This comic makes an excellent Christmas gift for that special sadist in your life."
• List: Tim Hensley's Wally Gropius is one of Blog Flume's Ken Parille's top 3 "Books I Really Liked and Wrote About Twice in 2010"
• Review: "With The Littlest Pirate King, David B. applies the same skills and angle of attack that served him so well in a naturalistic, personal mode to a highly fantastical tale, one in fact penned by another writer. [...] The story... is weird, gory, mythic, transgressive, surreal, satirical, anti-bourgeoise and nihilistic. It is also cute, sentimental, cheery and heartening. [...] What makes the book an enjoyable success are David B.'s pinwheeling, vibrant, colorful drawings. Echoing elements from the allied work of Richard Sala and Tony Millionaire, he creates both intimate moments and big dramas with eye-catching color, character design and composition. [...] The true king of these manic, antic pirates is David B." – Paul DiFilippo, The Barnes & Noble Review
• Review: "...The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec... is quite fun... A large dose of whimsy is injected into the proceedings, making the dashing also daft. Tardi has the feel of old-school French funnies down pat; if you didn’t know any better... you might think they originated several generations ago, rather than one (they were first published in France in 1976). As is, with its cerebral gags and secret tunnels, the work carries a slight burst steampunk in a knowing, winking vein of Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. [...] The book makes me look forward to seeing Luc Besson’s forthcoming film adaptation, but even more forward to Volume 2." – Rod Lott, Bookgasm
• Review: "Fantagraphics and editor Matt Thorn have ably stepped up to the plate here, compiling a career-spanning collection of Hagio's short stories [A Drunken Dream], one which demonstrates her acumen with stunning visuals and deft characterization, and especially a nice grasp of human relationships. It's like a quick class in what we've been missing out on for all these years. [...] While much of her work remains to be revealed to Western audiences, this book makes for a wonderful primer on what she has accomplished throughout her career. Hopefully it will be far from the extent of what we will get to experience." – Matthew J. Brady, Warren Peace Sings the Blues
• Review: "Front and center [in Low Moon] is [Jason's] quirky subversiveness, the beguiling, eccentric perspective on whatever his subject might be. Delivery is an irresistible syncopation of narrative stresses and visual beats further enlivened by the double take: 'Wait. Did I really see what I just saw?' Whatever a story’s content, era, tone or genre, the narrative is always built up from observed human nature, pared and mounted for easy identification. [...] The book Low Moon contains three more tales, not a clunker in the bunch. They all are ripe with Jason’s sublime nonsense, deadpan hilarity, laconic (if not completely silent) expressiveness and brazen commandeering of genre devices." – Rich Kreiner, The Comics Journal
• Review: "Whether in romantic stories or stories of the West, and especially in the horror, Ditko continuously breaks new ground... Despite all the limitations that Ditko first evidences in these stories, despite the distance in time and the nearly six decades that could be moth-eaten stories, reading Strange Suspense is, at least for the writer, a morbid and pleasurable enjoyment..." – Álvaro Pons, La Cárcel de Papel (translated from Spanish)
• Commentary: At Attentiondeficitdisorderly, Sean T. Collins posts an index and acknowledgments for his now-completed "Love and Rocktober" review series and adds his suggestions for where to start reading the series (not too different from ours)
• Review: "[The Littlest Pirate King]'s an engrossing story which is marred somewhat by another of those inconclusive endings which please some but only irritate me. The story's not really the show here anyway, though there is a lot of intellectual grist to mill in it — the quest to know and understand the whims and whys and wherefores of the divine being but one example. B's art is really something to see here; while cartoonish in a superficial sense, he displays a masterful command of composition and visual whimsy and many pages and panels adopt an expressionistic, almost Escher-like, complexity which thankfully does not hinder reading comprehension but rather enhances and illuminates, like all 'good' art should do. While I do wish it had a more definitive conclusion, this is still a visual treat and well worth checking out." – Johnny Bacardi, Popdose
• Review: "Tyler’s portrait of her family [in You'll Never Know, Book 2: Collateral Damage] is at once warm and unsparing; they have awful moments — drinking, bitterness, just plain cussedness (on everyone’s part — there are no saints here), but they also have the in-jokes and little celebrations that are such an important part of happy family life. She has a good ear for the way daughters talk about their mothers and the goofy humor of her parents’ generation — humor that even in real life, sometimes struck me as papering over something painful. Tyler shifts styles and points of view often, telling old and more recent stories in parallel, focusing on different family members, and changing her drawing and paneling styles to fit the topic." – Brigid Alverson, Robot 6
• Interview: At Bookslut, Sean P. Carroll, who writes "What Is All This?: Uncollected Stories... offers a fascinating perspective on [Dixon's] long dialogue with the short form. ...Dixon’s unmistakable style and experimentalism draws not only on his familiar New York City locale, but also includes unexpected digressions that offer ample evidence why he is one of our foremost practitioners of fiction. It is a masterful tome that exemplifies Dixon’s ability to transform the vagaries of the everyday into a lasting work of art," questions Dixon about the book: "Why did I rewrite all 62 stories? Originally there were about 80. I threw out about 20 of the stories of mine never in book form as not being worth republishing in book form. The 62 I did rewrite or finish, I thought worthy of book form, and I just wanted to either complete them as stories (the incomplete ones) or improve on the ones that had been in magazines."
• Plug: "Jason is still one of the comics medium’s leading artists, with a fantastic knack for visual storytelling before words. Continuing in the hardcover tradition of Almost Silent, What I Did collects three Jason favorites – 'Hey, Wait…' 'Sshhhh!' and 'The Iron Wagon' – into one elegantly bound book that will match perfectly on the shelf with the other omnibus-style compilations Fantagraphics has released for Jason." – Pads & Panels
• List:Library Journal names It Was the War of the Trenches by Jacques Tardi as one of the Best Graphic Novels of 2010: "Originally inspired by his grandfather's first-person stories, Tardi has created not a formal history but a masterful graphic and visceral tone poem about war."
• List: It's also #5 on the Top 10 Graphic Novels of 2010 list posted by Leeds UK comic shop OK Comics
• Commentary:The Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon weighs in on the 4th anniversary of Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery: "The thing that I like about the idea of the Fanta store — I haven't been; I've barely visited Seattle since it opened — other than the fact that I enjoy manager/curator Larry Reid more than I enjoy most human beings is that it, and also things like D+Q's flagship store, are kind of old-fashioned ideas that are made to work on the companies' behalf.
[In this installment of our series of Editors Notes, Kim Thompson interviews himself (in a format he's dubbed "AutoChat") about The Littlest Pirate King by David B., Fantagraphics' second Franco-Belgian kids' comic release, now available to order from us or at a comics shop near you. – Ed.]
This is Fantagraphics' first full David B. book, right?
Correct. We published the second issue of his Ignatz comic Babel (D+Q published the first one before wimping out on the whole Ignatz deal), and four of his short stories in Zero Zero and MOME (in fact, the three MOME stories will be collected next year), but this is our first David B. release with a spine.
What made you pick this one specifically?
It more or less fell in my lap last year: The French publisher offered it to us, and if I didn't grab it up NBM, which released David's Nocturnal Conspiracies back in 2008, was ready to. I really enjoyed the story, and I thought it would make a nice match-up with Blanquet's Toys in the Basement to launch our Franco-Belgian kids' line. [Ed. Note: You can currently purchase The Littlest Pirate King and Toys in the Basement together for 20% off the cover prices!]
Are you and NBM in competition for books often?
Not really. Terry Nantier's and my tastes are pretty different, as are my tastes and First Second's — and, God knows, Heavy Metal's. But there are so many great European comics still to translate that this kind of collision is rare anyway.
It's David B.'s first color book, too?
In the U.S., yes, but it's about his sixth color book in France, actually; ever since he finished Epileptic and moved from L'Association to more mainstream French publishers like Dargaud and Dupuis — see, the Fantagraphics-to-Random-House alternative-to-corporate pattern isn't unique to the U.S.! — he's been working almost exclusively in color.
Who is this Pierre Mac Orlan who wrote the original story?
At this point I know as much about Pierre Mac Orlan as anyone who's bookmarked Wikipedia.org does. Apparently a French novelist, songwriter, and children's book writer.
For a kid's book, this has got some pretty adult stuff in it. Like the fact that the zombie pirates talk about the prostitutes back on land they miss...
This has been brought up to me by sensitive members of our staff. Well, it's handled pretty delicately. It would fly right over a theoretical young reader's head: He might think the pirate want to spend the money on the women just taking them out on dates or something. If anything, it's far more genteel than the original "Pirates of the Caribbean" ride in Disneyland, which used to have the pirates carrying off serving wenches with the clear intent of rape until it got politically corrected. (Perhaps even worse, they used to have one ugly serving wench who was disconsolate because no pirate would take her.) You could also argue that all the pirates' cursing God in Littlest Pirate King might be problematic for some parents, but they're pirate zombies, they're not role models. And they have a pretty good reason to be ticked off at God.
The ending is very bleak.
That's true. Although most Disney movies have even bleaker moments at one point or another, usually involving the death of a parental character. But I think kids can take it. It's not as bad as Old Yeller getting killed or anything. [Spoiler alert — Ed.]
You mentioned Babel, David's sequel-of-sorts to Epileptic, which delves into his relationship with his brother from a different angle, their shared fantasy life as kids. Will that ever continue?
Well, the whole Ignatz series ran into some rough waters. It was predicated on being published by at least three or four publishers in different countries, and after starting off with six (Holland, Germany, Spain, France, the U.S., and Italy), three of the publishers dropped out almost immediately because they discovered the format didn't work at all for their market, and of the three remaining two ran into financial or structural problems, which meant the books weren't being published and cartoonists weren't getting paid except by us, which wasn't sustainable. So David, like most of the cartoonists, had to move onto actual paid work. The good news is that as the Ignatz stuff gets sorted out it looks like he'll be able to finish the series with a third issue which he'll then be able to sell as a book in some of these markets, including the U.S. where we'll either release it as an Ignatz and then a book, or go straight to book. The funny thing is that we actually published several pages from #3 in our I.G.N.A.T.Z. Free Comic Book Day preview comic a few years ago, and that's literally the only place in the world those pages have been published... In the meantime he just published a really cool sketchbook comic, and I understand he's working on a major historical volume now.
Okay, so I'm confused... What if anything would you say is next for David B. in terms of Fantagraphics releases after the MOME stories collection?
I'm playing it by ear. Could be Babel if/when that's finished, could be this new project, could be one of his earlier L'Association books for that matter. Wait and see!
This week's comic shop shipment is slated to include the following new titles. Read on to see what comics-blog commentators are saying about our releases this week, and contact your local shop to confirm availability.
384-page black & white 5.75" x 8.25" hardcover • $29.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-405-4
"...[A] second thick (384-page) hardcover compilation of Linda Medley’s well-regarded folkloric/fairy story exploration, now as pertinent a bridge between ’90s comic book self-publishing and current YA comics interest as its former publishing cousin Bone. I presume this includes all of the Fantagraphics-published Vol. II material thus far, totaling 15 issues... [Yes. – Ed.]" – Joe McCulloch, Comics Comics
"You know how some comics seem to be collective community efforts, in that they traffic in styles and ideas that are on the minds and coming out of the fingertips of the art form's chattering class? Linda Medley's quiet, humane fantasy is the opposite of that, a creation wholly her own." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
"...[M]y book of this week [is] Castle Waiting Volume 2. The first Castle Waiting book was one of my Best of 2006, and I anticipate similarly great things from the followup. Linda Medley puts out a wonderfully fresh and modern take on fantasy conventions, including the title castle with its exotic and magical inhabitants." – Johanna Draper Carlson, Comics Worth Reading
"The other highlight of the week has to be the second collection of Linda Medley’s Castle Waiting. The publisher describes the comics as 'witty and sublimely drawn fantasy [that] eases into a relaxed comedy of manners,' which is perfectly true. It’s really a treat of a series, one that I bought in pamphlet form and will buy in its collected state, which almost never happens." – David Welsh, The Manga Curmudgeon
"If I had $30… I’d give it all to Fantagraphics in exchange for the second volume of Castle Waiting, the long-awaited continuation of Linda Medley’s story. I’ll confess I haven’t read the first volume yet—maybe that should be my splurge—but my librarian friends strongly recommend it, and their description of an updated fairy tale with a modern sensibility makes me want to give it a try." – Brigid Alverson, Robot 6
"I believe this concludes the parts of this very sweet, very good-natured, apparently open-ended fantasy series that writer/artist Linda Medley has serialized thus far. As with the otherwise entirely different A Hard Day's Night, I started enjoying the series much more when I realized that nothing much was actually going to happen at any point." – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
"FACT: I can't stand fantasy. Except for this. This is the real deal. Likable characters, exotic setting that doesn't spend hours wanking the reader for being a nerd that knows their Dungeons and Dragons, and a real story about people." – "Lydia Park," The Rack
120-page black & white 12" x 5" hardcover • $19.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-392-7
"This is neither French nor a comics version of an old children’s book, and yet it seems so of a kind! Maybe it’s the 'Little,' or Tony Millionaire’s affinity for vintage cartooning and illustration, or perhaps Maakies simply goes with everything." – Joe McCulloch, Comics Comics (see below for context)
"I think Tony Millionaire may be in that slightly-taken-for-granted phase of his career right now, and that's not fair. Sometimes it is, just not with Tony. I can't imagine not owning all of these, even if the rest of my collection is barbarian comics." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
"The newest collection of Tony Millionaire’s comic strip. It’s two years worth of drunk comics." – Benn Ray (Atomic Books), Largehearted Boy
48-page full-color 8.5" x 11.25" hardcover • $16.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-403-0
"...[O]ne of the highlights of this week’s releases: Fantagraphics’ The Littlest Pirate King, an English edition of the 2009 album Roi Rose by the redoubtable David B., himself working from a Pierre Mac Orlan prose story (from 1921, I believe). It ‘s a lovely presentation..." – Joe McCulloch, Comics Comics (it's a full review, do go give it a read)
"David B., one of comics' mightiest visual talents, with an adaptation of an all-ages tale full of dream logic and creepy things. How could you walk by and not at the very least hold it in your hands for a time?" – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
"I’m a sucker for anything French artist David B does, so I’ll be sure to snatch and grab a copy of The Littlest Pirate King, his latest entry on American shores, an all-ages titles about a young boy who leads a group of undead pirates." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"I’m very tempted by the new volume of Batman: The Brave and the Bold and Castle Waiting, but they’re both trumped by David B and his ghost pirates in The Littlest Pirate King. Still, since I’m splurging, let’s just get all three." – Michael May, Robot 6
"A children's graphic novel — well, older children, anyway — by the great French cartoonist David B., based on a short story by Pierre Mac Orlan about a child commanding a ship of undead pirates. All the best things in one place, basically." – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
272-page black & white/duotone 6.5" x 8.75" hardcover • $24.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-414-6
"Being another of the week’s Fanta hardcover collections, an omnibus edition of the publisher’s first three translated books by Jason. Hey, Wait… almost certainly requires no introduction... Sshhhh! took the form of wordless seriocomic vignettes relating to one of Jason’s silent clown-type wanderer characters, while The Iron Wagon spun around for a dialogue-heavy adaptation of a formative Scandinavian mystery novel… oh wow, maybe that should be on the cover these days." – Joe McCulloch, Comics Comics
"The comics here are pretty great, although I greatly prefer the individual books to these omnibus collections. They're first class and everything, but I think those individual Jason book are about as perfect as they come production-wise. Still: Jason, and the comics that put him on the North American alt-comics map." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter (Please note that, even if you agree with Tom, several of the original books are out of print.)
"Fantagraphics collects another trio of Jason stories in the trilogy format they’ve been re-releasing some of his work in. This $25, 270-page hardcover includes Hey, Wait, Sshhhh! and the long out-of-print The Iron Wagon." – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
"Reprints of three of the Norwegian cartoonist Jason's early books: 'Hey, Wait...,' 'Sshhhh!' and 'The Iron Wagon.' The first of those is particularly terrific, and maybe the first instance of Jason's habit of creating books that midway through abruptly turn into very different sorts of stories." – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
For decades they have roamed the seas, this shipload of undead pirates. They are desperate to die, but every time they try to dash their ship to splinters and end their miserable existence, a malevolent God scoops them out of danger. And so they have no choice but to continue to sail the seas, looting and killing.
Until one day, having exterminated yet another ship of the living, they come across a little pink baby. Adopting him as their mascot and dubbing him their "Littlest King," they continue their journeys. But eventually the King begins to grow up...
Adapted by David B., the acclaimed creator of Epileptic, from a short story by Pierre Mac Orlan (which was published decades before the release of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, thank you very much), The Littlest Pirate King is David B.'s first full-color graphic novel to be released in English, and his vivid palette combines with his stunningly elegant graphics to create a magical yarn that can be enjoyed by young and old alike.
Another two-day Online Commentary & Diversions (running a little off schedule, sorry):
• Review: "Hollywood is probably the most likely to misrepresent any culture, but their casting of punks as Neolithic, abusive, drug addicts with candy-colored hair and an inexplicable amount of chains is far too amusing to turn away from. [Destroy All Movies!!!] editors Zack Carlson and Bryan Connolly seem to have noticed this trend, and their commentary about each of these films borders on hilarious at several points. [...] In the end, you get both a compendium of thoughtful ruminations on punk culture and a hilarious collection of movie missteps..." – Thorin Klosowski, Denver Westword
• Review: "[Jason] is without immediate peer, and perhaps the closest I can get to him is Jim Jarmusch, the indie film director... Werewolves of Montpellier is less about the grand sweep of its pseudo-horror set-up (which is utterly demolished by a delicious final page denouement), and more about its mundane aspects, which resonate further than the book's forty-odd pages. ★★★★ [out of 5]" – Michael Leader, Den of Geek
• Review: "...Blake Bell has crafted an excellent look at one of comics' most underappreciated creators: compelling, well paced and entertaining. [...] Bell kept Fire & Water moving at an excellent pace, never dwelling too long on any details but giving us Everett's life in relation to his comic career. And that's the key: Bell is a comic fan and knows his audience is as well so that's the focus. [...] While the tale of Everett's life held my attention the art is the real star. Covering everything from early doodles to his last published page we get to see thirty plus years of material. [...] The fit and finish for Fire & Water is exceptional. A heavy matt paper is used that really shows off the material and gives it an almost period feel. The size is perfect for admiring the art and is easy to read; a new perfect package. I can't get enough of the dust jacket image and its design is stunning: a real eye catcher. At $40 it's a great value." – Scott VanderPloeg, Comic Book Daily
• Review: Sean T. Collins's "Love and Rocktober" review series at Attentiondeficitdisorderly moves on to Gilbert Hernandez's oeuvre, starting with Heartbreak Soup: "Whether in terms of family, sexuality, physicality, or deformity, biology is destiny for the people of Palomar... And although biology is obviously among Beto's primary concerns, destiny is the operative word. I don't think the Palomarians have the ability to escape the way the Locas do. Not all of them need to escape, mind you — there's a lot of really warm and adorable and hilarious and awesome stuff going down in Palomar — but whatever walks alongside them in their lives is gonna walk alongside them till the very end."
• List: At Robot 6, guest contributor Van Jensen names Josh Simmons's House as one of his "six favorite horror comics & movies" (and, by reduction, one of his three favorite horror comics): "Simmons uses no words through the entire story, but his real accomplishment is utilizing the design of the pages to deliver an increasingly claustrophobic, disorienting and terrifying story."
• Plug: At Robot 6, Sean T. Collins highlights our duo of creepy all-ages releases, David B.'s The Littlest Pirate King and Stéphane Blanquet's Toys in the Basement
• Interview:The Daily Cross Hatch's Brian Heater concludes his 3-part chat with Drew Weing: "What’s funny is, I’ve got Google Alerts for my name, so if somebody says it on the Internet, I show up like Beetlejuice. I click on it, like, 'ooh, this guy just dissed me.'" [Hi, Drew.]
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