• Review: "Former Haligonian and Coast contributor Ray Fenwick’s latest book [Mascots] extends the work that he began in this city: typography-heavy painting on found book covers. The books’ loose cloth weave is clearly visible through the paintings, and even though Fenwick’s lettering skills should be studied by scientists, there’s a refreshing sense of the typographer’s hand and thought. Using the traditional idea of mascots as symbolic figures, Fenwick’s collected creatures, characters, mantras and messages, some of which are connected through broken narratives, and others just appear like a slap to the head. Not for those with an aversion to weirdos or absurdity, Fenwick is hands-down one of the most clever contemporary artists and illustrators working in Canada." – Sue Carter Flinn, The Coast
• Review: "Kalesniko is a deft, widescreen storyteller... The final chapters [of Freeway] are paced like an action film, drawing Alex ever closer to his destination/destiny, and Kalesniko does skillfully edit his storytelling at a breathless clip. But the conclusion raises more questions than it answers..." – Brian Winkeler, Bookgasm
• Review: "There’s no doubt that Schulz lost his way in the 80s. But his strip was always about losing its way. As he grew doddering and inconsistent, he moved closer to the doddering inconsistency at the core of his art. The pleasures in this volume [The Complete Peanuts 1979-1980] are fewer, but, for fans at least, when they come they have a special bonk." – Noah Berlatsky, Splice Today
• Review: "Another hardboiled French thriller which violently riffs on the energy of New Wave cinema, Hitchcock and classic James Bond. ...[West Coast Blues] is a bit like The Bourne Identity, except on a lower budget and without anyone half as organised as the CIA involved. The captions are a bit wordy, as you’d expect with something adapted from a novel, but thankfully it’s in black and white — the constant spray of blood and bone fragments might be a bit off-putting otherwise." – Grant Buist, The Name of This Cartoon Is Brunswick
• Profile: The Hartford Advocate's Christopher Arnott talks to Allan Greenier and Tom Hosier, creator of "The Purple Warp" minicomic included in Newave! The Underground Mini Comix of the 1980s, saying of the book "Newave!, which has the same small size, but hundreds more pages than the miniature comics it celebrates, is a handy overview of this largely overlooked subgenre," and getting a frank account of the book's success from our own Eric Reynolds
• Review/Roundtable:TIME/Techland's "Comic Book Club" roundtable of critics (Douglas Wolk, Graeme McMillan, Evan Narcisse and Mike Williams) discusses You'll Never Know Book 2: Collateral Damage by C. Tyler. Wolk leads off: "The first volume of You'll Never Know, Carol Tyler's projected three-volume series about her father's experiences in World War II — and all the family history connected to it — was my favorite graphic novel of last year. The new volume, Collateral Damage, is even stronger in a lot of ways."
• Photo of the Week: That's a funny one of Stuart Immonen at Robot 6
• Breaking News/Quote of the Week: "I think I was more opposed to the show moving to Los Angeles/Anaheim than I was in favor of it staying in SD or going anywhere else. I'm not even sure why I was opposed to it, because I love visiting L.A. But it would just feel like we let the terrorists win at that point." – our own Eric Reynolds, quoted at The Comics Reporter
• Review: "Of the artists that meant the world to me when I was young enough that lots of artists meant the world to me, Jaime Hernandez is the only one I know of that can still kill me dead with his newest and latest. Your mileage may vary, but Jaime's three-part story in the latest Love and Rockets brought to mind the same sweep of romance and regret and pursuit of all that's sweet in life as much as battered and broken insides allow that I remember all too well from the summer between my junior and senior years in college, when I would have put everything about my wonderful life on hold to climb into a black and white comic book for a little while. There are three or four panels in this newest effort worth some cartoonists' entire careers." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
• Review: "Set to Sea is [an] auspicious debut... Weing's nameless, landlubbing protagonist aches to rhapsodize about the sea but discovers that something's missing. After dozing drunkenly on a dock, he awakes to discover he's been shanghaied. His adventures provide ample material for a volume of poetry in this hilariously violent picaresque tale." – Richard Pachter, The Miami Herald
• Review: "A book like The Best American Comics Criticism invites argument. If you put 'best' in your title, argument will follow. I’ve got arguments, but I wanted to start by praising both the editor, Ben Schwartz, and the publisher, Fantagraphics, for making the effort." - Derik Badman
• Review: "...[T]his story is one where Deitch tries to tie the various unruly strands of his many stories together. In a way, I almost prefer that these overlapping, nesting, and sometimes contradictory stories never really congeal, but The Search for Smilin' Ed is, like all of Deitch's work, a compelling and highly personal piece of work." – Robert Boyd, The Great God Pan Is Dead
• Review: "Although the images are very haunting, they are extremely beautiful. Pim & Francie is a pretty unique book. ... This book as a whole is actually quite creepy, haunting, scary, beautiful, and intoxicating. I seem to enjoy it more every time I look/read through it. With images on almost every single page, this book is worth a lot more than its cover price." – Steven Thomas
• Review: "Wally Gropius ...[is] John Stanley for the 21st century. Not that Stanley doesn’t work just fine in 2010, but Hensley is worthy of that sort of praise. I wish this guy was writing Archie." – Chris Reilly, Guttergeek
• Review: "I loved this book and am glad I... could read something this wonderfully twisted... I really wish I could tell you what genre this is, but The Squirrel Machine defies that sort of commercial branding." – Chris Reilly, Guttergeek
• Review: "Man, Joe Daly is awesome. ...[H]e is back with thunder in his pen and ants in his pants. [Dungeon Quest] is as good as Scrublands on page one and it just gets better and funnier, more bizarre and familiar (if you have ever met or hung out with Larpers) with each page turn. Welcome back, Joe Daly. You rule." – Chris Reilly, Guttergeek
• Review: "The Troublemakers... is Gilbert [Hernandez] doing a Quentin Tarantino, in that he dips into a sleazy old unpleasant genre of crime exploitation films of the 60s and 70s and cherry-picks a bunch of the good bits and smashes them together and cooks them into a really sweet pie." – Chris Reilly, Guttergeek
• Review: "The Culture Corner... is the biggest score for fans of Wolverton since the publication of the Wolverton Bible. I guess you could also say that this is the first reprint collection of Wolverton material since the Wolverton Bible if you wanted to nit-pick. Great stuff." – Chris Reilly, Guttergeek
• Interview: At WFMU's Beware of the Blog, Kliph Nesteroff talks to Drew Friedman: "When I was talking to Albert [Brooks] at this party he said, 'Drew, did you know that Harpo's ex-wife married Frank Sinatra?' I said, 'No, it was Zeppo's ex-wife.' He said, 'No, no, it was Harpo's ex-wife.' I said, 'No, it was Zeppo's ex-wife. Look, we have Andy Marx, Groucho's grandson standing right here. Let's ask him.' I said, 'Andy, which one of your uncles married Frank Sinatra's wife?' He said, 'Well, that was Zeppo's wife.' That's why I love L.A. It's handy to have Groucho's grandson [around] when you need him." (Note: audio of this conversation will be available from the Inkstuds podcast soon; we'll keep you updated)
• Profile:Seattle Times book editor Mary Ann Gwinn reports on the partnership between Rick Marschall's Rosebud Archives and Fantagraphics Books: "Now Marschall's company, Rosebud Archives, and Fantagraphics have formed a joint publishing enterprise that will draw from Marschall's immense collection, reclaiming the work of the great 20th-century magazine and newspaper artists for the 21st-century public."
• Commentary: At The Hooded Utilitarian, Shaenon Garrity kicks off a critical roundtable on Popeye with a 7-part appreciation: "Popeye hangs on, indestructible..., the last of a tougher, smellier, funnier breed."
• Reviewer: At Comics Comics, our own Jason T. Miles looks at something I'm also fond of: Andy Helfer & Kyle Baker's late-1980s run on The Shadow
• Johnny Ryan has a bunch of new prints for sale. We saw Matt Groening admiring the one above at Comic-Con, our own Kristy Valenti very happily bought the cat one, and the "Nachos" one is just 100% pure genius
• Review: "Dash Shaw seems set to become a name to be reckoned with in comics... [The Unclothed Man in the 35th Century A.D.] is a wonderful introduction to Shaw’s work, and should certainly find its way into the hands of those craving more." – Grovel
• Review: "I'm so glad I started reading this series and can't wait to catch up. Usagi Yojimbo is that rare breed of animal comic that works for me, blending Sakai's cartoon style with a story that would not be out of place in Lone Wolf and Cub. Fans of comics set in historical Japan should definitely check this out. You'll be glad you did. I think it would also be a good fit for manga fans looking to try a non-Japanese comic. I enjoyed this book a lot, and look forward to reading more." – Panel Patter
• Review: "Yet another reason to love Fantagraphics is their meticulous sequential collections of classic newspaper strips such as... Hank Ketcham’s Dennis the Menace. This volume collects the strips from 1961 - 1962 in a huge 654-page volume. What has always stood out about the Dennis the Menace strips is that they were single panel cartoons. It takes an incredible level of talent write a single panel cartoon and Ketcham was one of the best. ... Truly a delight that has lost none of its humor in fifty years. Grade A" – Tim Janson, The Gouverneur Times
• Review: "...Ho Che Anderson's Sand & Fury... [is] a slightly twisty tale of sex, serial killers, and the supernatural, told very stylishly in black, white, and red. Blood and shadows therefore get a lot of play across Anderson's desolate southwestern landscapes; and although his lines can be thick and blocky, his figures evoke a good bit of emotion. There's a lot of nudity, a whole lot of violence, and so the plot can be boiled down to a very simple level: revenge, good vs. evil, etc. However, Anderson's anonymous main character, and the people she befriends, are more than just nominally sympathetic. I feel like I'm not doing the book justice, because it is a very raw tale, full of death and sex, and I liked it a lot." – Tom Bondurant, Robot 6
• Plug: "King creator Ho Che Anderson has a brand new Scream Queen book, Sand & Fury. Ho's work always looks good, and I'm personally pretty happy to see this one..." – Chris Butcher, The Beguiling
• Interview: At Robot 6, Tim O'Shea talks to Ho Che Anderson about the new Special Edition of King ("That’s one thing I wish I could have done more of, slashing dialog, rewriting more of it, but at a certain point you gotta let it go. (Yes, George Lucas, I am talking about you.)") and his new graphic novel Sand & Fury ("To me, sex and horror or sex and violence seem to go naturally together. They seem to stem from the same twisted areas of our psyches. What scares us can often arouse us, sometimes despite ourselves, and vice versa.")
• Profile:CNN's Bob Greene pays tribute to Bill Mauldin on the occasion of the release of Mauldin's commemorative US postage stamp this month: "Mauldin, and his work, meant so much to the millions of Americans who fought in World War II, and to those who had waited for them to come home. He was a kid cartoonist for Stars and Stripes, the military newspaper; Mauldin's drawings of his muddy, exhausted, whisker-stubbled infantrymen Willie and Joe were the voice of truth about what it was like on the front lines." (hat tip to Walt Simonson)
• List: The great John Porcellino names Zak Sally's Like a Dog as one of his favorite comics of 2009 (unsurprising, since he wrote the introduction): "It's impossible for me to be objective about this book, as Zak is one of my closest friends, but this is a really powerful, fascinating collection of comics. Very dark, and even brutal sometimes, but bracing, and highly original."
• Interview:Blogcritics' Michael Jones talks to Femke Hiemstra about her art book Rock Candy: "I do not deliberately strive for a 'childlike' feel or a 'children's book gone wrong' atmosphere in my work. But I'm aware that that's what's in me and therefore in my work, so a vibe like that will of course be a part of it. It's a funny thing, now that I think about it."
• Plug:School Library Journal's "Good Comics for Kids" column recommends some snow-day reading, including The Complete Peanuts ("The volumes from the mid-1960s onward... feature the gang that younger readers know from the numerous TV specials, newspaper strips, and products, and would be a great way to occupy an eight or ten-year-old for a few hours on a snowy day") and Hank Ketcham's Complete Dennis the Menace ("his penchant for mischief has enduring appeal")
We're a bit late with this update but perhaps your comics will be too, due to East Coast Snowpocalypse '010? It's a big day for Fantagraphics releases at comic shops across the land today, with the following titles scheduled to ship:
Newsarama calls it "adorably dark — or perhaps darkly adorable," Robot 6's Chris Mautner asserts "If you like the Our Gang comics or Archie or the general 'kids pal around, go on adventures and make each other miserable' type of comic, chances are you'll really like this," The Stranger's Paul Constant called it "a doozy of a book," somebody at Austin Books & Comics "is raving about the latest @fantagraphics 'Yikes' collection. Something about most warped kids since Garbage Pail Kids" and webcomic character Lydia Park declares "Weissman is a genius."
Most importantly, Steven says "When you get yours, post a pic to YIKES! friendship and we'll mail you a FREE GIFT!" It's for real!
Robot 6's Chris Mautner declares "See Dennis bother the barber! Pester the construction workers! Annoy Margaret! Confuse Joey! And generally drive Mr. Wilson and his parents up a frickin' wall. All in the name of fun. And adorableness."
Robot 6's Chris Mautner again: "I'm a sucker for discovering unexplored corners of comics history, and this collection of mini-comics from the Reagan era... seems to do just that." The Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon says "A really good book and quite effective as raw" and then forgets to finish his sentence but be sure to read his full rave review. Jog predicts "the real fun will likely be in editor Michael Dowers' selection -- honed in on life signs of the older 'underground' period -- of now-obscure period talents..." There's also a nice plug from Gosh! Comics.
All right, your local shop can let you know if they got 'em (or order 'em for you if they didn't) and of course you can get your fill of previews and info at the links above.
A swell custom-designed case containing the fifth and sixth volumes of Hank Ketcham's Complete Dennis the Menace with strips from the years 1959 through 1962. (Sorry, case is not peanut butter or root beer resistant.)
(Click the following links for more details on the 1959-1960 volume and the 1961-1962 volume, including preview excerpts.)
• Plug: Chris Mautner of Robot 6 declares Hotwire Comics Vol. 3 his Pick of the Week: "Here's another hefty sampling of edgy, in-your-face alternative comics, edited by Glenn Head, who provides the cover as well as a couple of interior stories as well. This volume boasts a rather impressive A-list of contributors, including Mary Fleener, Michael Kupperman, R. Sikoryak, Mack White, Johnny Ryan and more. The Sikoryak story in particular — a mash-up between Dennis the Menace and Hamlet — is worth checking out, as is the great, surreal tale from White. If nothing else, I'm grateful to Head for giving folks like White a place to get their comics published, as they're the kind of artists we don't seem to see enough of these days."