Our new Ultimate Catalog, arriving in mailboxes soon! Dig that glorious Floyd Gottfredson artwork. If you’re not already on our mailing list and like getting cool stuff in the mail, contact us to request your free copy. And if you want a tree-free version (although they're already all printed, so you wouldn't really be saving anything) we'll be making it available as a PDF download soon too.
• Review: "This collection of stories [The Man Who Grew His Beard] is a wonderful example of how an animator’s eye, artist’s hand, and storyteller’s vision can combine in a series of stylistic experiments that harken to a previous age of comics, but speak to the contemporary world we live in.... What’s impressive is the ease with which Schrauwen moves among various styles, affording him an extraordinarily wide range of visual tools... Sometimes looking like a throwback to vintage comics and sometimes like a clever homage to the Kama Sutra, this collection is, at all times, the work of a master storyteller." – Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
• Review: At Robot 6, Graeme McMillan compares and contrasts Kevin Huizenga's Ganges with the work of Eddie Campbell, concluding "Ganges #4 isn’t a quick read, and it isn’t necessarily an easy read. But it’s a great one, and it’s something that everyone should be picking up and reading. It’ll keep you awake at nights." McMillan also discusses Ganges #4 with co-host Jeff Lester on the new episode of the Wait, What? podcast
• Interview: At Publishers Weekly, James Romberger (who also happens to be a contributor to Mome) talks with Gary Groth about our series of Carl Barks collections and all things Barks: "Barks’ comics somehow flourished within the strictures he was given. His imagination allowed him to either use or ignore those boundaries to his advantage, just as, in a more interior way, [Charles] Schulz’s imagination allowed him so much play within the strictures he chose. Barks’ work could be absurdist, satirical, or farcical within an adventure setting, a travelogue, a domestic comedy while maintaining those small, innate human values that reposed within his characters."
• Profile: At Publishers Weekly, Steve Bunche, who says "Fantagraphics has done readers a great favor by releasing the first full collection of Nuts, the hilarious cult strip by famed Playboy and National Lampoon cartoonist Gahan Wilson," chats with Wilson about the strip: "...[P]eople seal off as they become adults and are no longer open to understanding. It's really sad to see happening. They get to take in less and less of what's around them and become more isolated. I mean, you go to your high school reunion and see the once-alive faces of the people you grew up with and you say, 'My god! What happened to Bob and Susan!' and whomever and it's just incredibly sad. Neil Gaiman's phrase, 'being surrounded by mad giants,' pretty succinctly sums it all up."
• Plug: "A few weeks ago, I wrote a column about the comic strip Pogo. I lamented the lack of current Pogo anthologies — the old ones are practically rare books, and priced to match. Well, dog my cats, now comes a brand-new book, a compilation of the entire first year of strips, daily and Sunday, from Fantagraphics Books. Pogo: Through the Wild Blue Wonder by Walt Kelly may not be available in bookstores yet, but your friendly neighborhood bookseller would be happy to order it for you. It's a hefty volume, and will leave even the most dyspeptic Pogo fan wide-eyed with wonder and gratitude." – Jon Carroll, San Francisco Chronicle
• Plug: Last night when John Hodgman was in town on his current book tour we presented him with a copy of Tony Millionaire's 500 Portraits, in which a drawing of him appears and about which he subsequently had this to say in part: "This makes me astonished and happy and embarrassed, for Tony Millionaire is one of our true genii. And too, look, right there on the same page is my old friend John Sellers! And Borges! And you were there, too, Cthulhu! I don’t know how those other guys crashed our party, though. In any case, you should go out and get this book. It’s absolutely beautiful, painstaking, and weird, inside and out, just like I imagine Tony is himself: the ORIGINAL deranged millionaire."
• Commentary: At Comic Book Resources, Laura Sneddon, who is documenting her experiences in the postgraduate Comic Studies program at the University of Dundee in Scotland, looks at Joe Sacco's Palestine and Safe Area Gorazde as the course turns its focus to "Documentary Comics"
• List: Thus beginneth the Best of 2011 links, as Publishers Weekly names Love and Rockets: New Stories #4 by Gilbert & Jaime Hernandez one of their top 10 Best Comics of 2011: "Even in a long career of masterpieces, Jaime's story about missed opportunities for happiness is a revelation, while Gilbert continues to cement his place as the Jorodowsky of comics with a vampire tale."
• Review: "Another great issue, with the continuation and ending of 'The Love Bunglers,' from Jaime Hernandez. It's a real knockout and quite touching for those that have followed the strip and these characters since the eighties. You almost have to remind yourself that, yes, these are characters, not real people! Apparently, nobody told Jaime that the quality of one's work is supposed to go down after working on a strip that long." – Jason, at his Cats Without Dogs blog
• Commentary: "I've been thinking a lot about Jaime Hernandez's conclusion to his Locas story 'The Love Bunglers' (from L&R New Stories vol. 4) -- mainly b/c it was such an incredible piece that I cry every time I read it. I even recently threatened to force a friend to read all the Locas stuff, because it's so freaking good. But then I started wondering -- is it as awesome if you read it all at once?" – Alicia K., Wordnerdy
• Review: "Readers and admirers, myself included, often think of Gilbert as the better writer of the two brothers and Jaime as the better artist. With only a few exceptions, Gilbert has been the best writer in American comic books over a three decade period. No one has produced more beautiful art for black and white comics the way Jaime has over that same period, a period in which he has been the best comic book artist in North America. 'Browntown' is one of the stories in which Jaime shows that he can write as well as draw comic books better than most and as good as the very best.... 'Browntown' is an incredible story with a sense of realism and gravity unseen in most comic books. 'Browntown' alone makes Love and Rockets: New Stories #3 one of the best comic books of 2010." – Leroy Douresseaux, I Reads You
• Review: "Love and Rockets: New Stories #2 reminds us, as the first issue did, that comic books from the Hernandez Brothers are always a welcome thing. A year may be a long wait, but when it comes to Los Bros’ coolness and greatness, time is neutral. I can always reread this and enjoy it just as much as I did the first time." – Leroy Douresseaux, I Reads You
• Review: "...Nuts, which ran in National Lampoon throughout the ’70s, ...offered a largely autobiographical look at the way childhood actually is: a perpetually confusing state of existence, in which kids are jostled to and fro by adults who don’t seem to know what they’re doing (but want to make sure that their offspring are parked somewhere out of the way while they do it).... They’re wonderful pieces of comic art..., applying Wilson’s usual sense of the grotesque and macabre to phenomena like summer camp and sick days. And they’re not all bitter either... He mixes the sour and the sweet exceptionally well." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Plug: "I’ve written at length about this strip [Nuts] before, but it’s worth reiterating I think just how goddamn wonderful this comic is, and how great it is to have a decent collection available after lying fallow for so long. Wilson captures the anxieties and traumas of childhood as few cartoonists have before or since." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6 (for their weekly "What Are You Reading?" column which features our own Jacq Cohen this week)
• Review: "Again, stunning drawings. And quite bloody! Valiant is being tortured, people are killed left and right [in Prince Valiant Vol. 4]. There's a strange sequence in the book involving another knight, Tristram, who I don't think has been introduced earlier, that looks like a double of Valiant, but with a mustache! He is killed by a jealous king, but instead of Valiant and Gawain, who are there, seeking vengeance they just ride off. Not quite sure what was going on in Foster's mind there." – Jason, at his Cats Without Dogs blog
• Plugs: At The Beat, Torsten Adair spotlights a whole mess of our recent and upcoming releases, declaring "If you’re going to ship your book bucks to Washington, it’s better to send them to Fantagraphics than Amazon!"
• Plug: "Carl Barks was a genius when it came to turning Donald Duck and company into comic book characters, and his creation of Uncle Scrooge continues to delight and amuse countless generations. Thankfully, that trend will continue thanks to Fantagraphics’ release of Carl Barks’ Walt Disney’s Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes." – Kevin Kelly, Wizard World
• Review: "Gottfredson is in much stronger form here [in Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Vol. 2: Trapped on Treasure Island] than in the first volume, drawing upon the early Mickey cartoons for ideas — mad scientists, treasure hunts, mail pilots — but then expanding and developing them in a way those early Disney shorts were incapable of doing. Over time, Mickey’s personality becomes more refined as well; scrappier, tougher and more determined to seek justice (or an adventure) regardless of the odds. Again, part of the enjoyment for me with this series is the rich amount of historical material editors Gary Groth and David Gerstein are able to provide. From foreign material to biographies of various ancillary contributors, supplemental art, character histories and more, this series is rich with detail, both in the strip itself and in the editorial handling of the material, that puts other reprint projects to shame." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "What is good about Love and Rockets: New Stories [#1], however, is that it throws readers and fans a curve. Just what are Los Bros. going to do now? By going back to their early styles, in essence, they’ve allowed themselves a re-launch or at least a chance to throw many surprises at our expectations. Whatever they choose to do, it’ll still be the most interesting comics coming from America’s most literate, experimental, and adventurous comic book creators." – Leroy Douresseaux, I Reads You
• Plug: "In these days of precious art comics and highfalutin graphic novels, it’s often forgotten that comic strips evolved for one (now quaint) reason: to sell newspapers. Cartoonists were commercial artists, not auteurs. [In Drawing Power: A Compendium of Cartoon Advertising] you’ll find Peter Arno, the sophisticated New Yorker cartoonist, endorsing Rheingold Extra Dry Beer; Mickey Mouse and pals flogging just about everything under the sun except, maybe, mousetraps; and Krazy Kat selling Gulfsteel Nails. They are all Joe Camel’s ancestors." – Dana Jennings, The New York Times
• Interview: At Our Town Downtown, Cullen Gallagher, who says "...Everything Is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson [is] a deeply moving biography that captures not only Nelson’s tragedy, but also celebrates the ardor and artistry of his life and work," talks to the book's author/editor, Kevin Avery: "In the mid-to-late ’70s, rock music was still being discovered. There were no hard and fast rules, so in a way criticism was an act of discovery for these writers and they were just expressing what they liked. Paul was able to do that in a way that was not only personal, but also he would draw from film, books and his knowledge of folk music. You also got the feeling that he was a mysterious character. There would be hints dropped that there was an unhappy guy behind all these reviews. His writing was beautiful. This was music criticism that could be read as literature."
Carl Barks's Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge comics are considered among the greatest artistic and storytelling achievements in the history of the medium.
After serving a stint at the Walt Disney studios as an in-betweener and a gag-man, Barks began drawing the comic book adventures of Donald Duck in 1942. He quickly mastered every aspect of cartooning and over the next nearly 30 years created some of the most memorable comics ever drawn — as well as some of the most memorable characters: Barks introduced Uncle Scrooge, the charmed and insufferable Gladstone Gander, the daffy inventor Gyro Gearloose, the bumbling and heedless Beagle Boys, the Junior Woodchucks, and many others.
Barks alternated between longish, sprawling 20- or 30-page adventure yarns filled with the romance of danger, courage, and derring-do, whose exotic locales spanned the globe, and shorter stories that usually revolved around crazily ingenious domestic squabbles between Donald and various members of the Duckburg cast. Barks’s duck stories, famously enjoyed equally by both children and adults, are both evanescent celebrations of courage and perseverance and depictions of less commendable traits — greed, resentment, and one-upmanship.
Our initial volume begins when Barks had reached his peak — 1948-1950. Highlights include:
• The title story, “Lost in the Andes” (Barks’s own favorite). Donald and the nephews embark on an expedition to Peru to find where square eggs come from only to meet danger in a mysterious valley whose inhabitants all speak with a southern drawl, and where Huey, Dewey, and Louie save Unca’ Donald’s life by learning how to blow square bubbles!
• Two stories co-starring the unbearably lucky Gladstone, including the epic “Race to the South Seas,” as Donald and Gladstone try to win Uncle Scrooge’s favor by being the first to rescue him from a desert island.
• Two Christmas stories, including “The Golden Christmas Tree,” one of Barks’s most fantastic stories that pits him and the nephews against a witch who wants to destroy all the Christmas trees in the world.
• In other stories, Donald plays a TV quiz show contestant and ends up encased in a giant barrel of Jell-O, a truant officer who matches wits with his nephews, and a ranch hand who outwits cattle rustlers.
Lost in the Andes also features an introduction by noted Barks scholar Donald Ault, and detailed commentary/annotations for each story at the end of the book, written by the foremost Barks authorities in the world.
These new editions feature meticulously restored and re-colored pages in a beautifully designed, affordable and accessible format. Discover the genius of Carl Barks!
This week's comic shop shipment is slated to include the following new titles. 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. (Please note we have several additional explanatory notes below as well!)
352-page black & white/color 8.75" x 11.25" hardcover • $45.00 ISBN: 978-1-60699-513-6
NOTE: The hardcover edition is already sold out from the distributor! This means that once a shop sells out of their initial shipment, they won't be able to order more copies. So if you want it and your store has it, pounce!
"A new edition (in both hardcover and paperback) of Jim Woodring's early Frank stories, which are utterly wonderful -- the first one, 'Frank in the River,' is my single favorite comics story ever at least 20% of the time. I can't think of much other art that's both so unironically devoted to pleasure and entertainment (in this case, in the form of funny-looking animals doing amusing things in colorful, inventively odd settings) and so deeply, primally unsettling and ambiguous." – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
"...[I]f you're a fan of any and all good things in life you definitely want the Frank work by the great cartoonist Jim Woodring in as many forms as you can pull it across the table and into your lap." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
"A softcover edition of Woodring's landmark Frank features an anthropomorphic cat in a pyschedelic world." – Benn Ray (Atomic Books), Largehearted Boy
"...I’d pick up the second volume of Floyd Gottfredson’s Mickey Mouse. The first volume was a real treat, not just in terms of reintroducing myself to Gottfredson’s stellar work, but also in the sheer amount of incisive historical information about the strip, Gottfredson and his various Disney helpers. I’m sure Vol. 2 will be more of the same." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"These Floyd Gottfredson-created adventure strips following the early years of the now-neutered corporate icon are everything you want from a feature like this: exuberant, lovely-looking and a lot of fun." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
32-page two-color 8.5" x 11" comic book, with jacket • $7.95 Part of the Ignatz Series
NOTE: Again, this title is not on the official shipping list but we have confirmed reports that some stores received it last week and we believe it should be available everywhere tomorrow. Again, check with your local shop blah blah blah.
"Kevin Huizenga has blessed us all with another issue of Ganges, totally unexpected and entirely wonderful. Let's not disappoint him." – Chris Butcher, The Beguiling
"CONFLICT OF INTEREST RESERVOIR: My other favorite comic of 2011 so far is Jim Woodring’s Congress of the Animals, though I confess a lot of the effect it had on me (elation) was due to having lived with the mechanics and boundaries of Woodring’s wordless storytelling for so long that deviations from it proved meaningful – as luck would have it, new hardcover and softcover editions of The Frank Book are out this week to catch you up on most of the major stuff; $34.99 ($45.00 in hardcover). Elsewhere in ambulating creature-things, Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse Vol. 2: Trapped on Treasure Island offers more from Floyd Gottfredson and his hungry team of pre-Imagineers; $29.99. And while it’s still not on Diamond’s list, keep an eye out for Kevin Huizenga’s Ganges #4, which I understand has floated into a store or two, maybe; $7.95."
(I should also note that The Manara Library Vol. 1 is out this week from Dark Horse, translated by our very own Kim Thompson. I'd sure like to see his "Adventures in Translation" notes for THAT series.)
• Review/Interview: Marc Campbell of Dangerous Minds calls Everything Is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson "music book of the year," saying "the thing I really appreciate in reading Paul’s writings is you get to a place where even if you disagree with him you want to really explore why. He challenges you, not outrightly, but through the sheer force of his own enthusiasm and the particulars of why he digs what he digs. That’s what great rock writers do - they send you to the music. Of all the books I’ve read this year, Everything Is an Afterthought is the one that has meant the most to me." Campbell also talks to the book's author/editor, Kevin Avery: "You could tell it was important for him to accurately convey how he heard the work he was writing about; how it made him feel. At the same time, there was often the suggestion that whatever he wrote about was in some way part of his own story. Though it was never overt. There was an ongoing mystery to it."
• Review: "It's fascinating to see the great intentions of good people of liberal Oregon run aground on the slick and complicated story on the ground... Duin and Wheeler spend much of [Oil and Water] showing the kind of cultural imperialism or Liberal Guilt that the Oregonians feel when trying to help their brethren from the South, and the resentment that the Southerners feel back at them. ...Shannon Wheeler's calm, quiet and almost abstract images capture the story in a way that allows the story to stray from straight reportage to a quieter meditation on the events that happen.... The story lives in the present and the past, both itself and something more." – Jason Sacks, Comics Bulletin
• Review: "The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec are extraordinary indeed.... The amazing Jacques Tardi creates a fully realized world in the two stories contained in this book, stories in which strange, almost mythological, creatures live right next to the Eiffel Tower, famous French cemeteries and the Louvre.... Tardi delivers an ending to the second half of this book that is thoroughly shocking. Adele and her friends aren't Doctor Who and his companions, gallivanting across space and time and always emerging unscathed. The adventures that occur in this book are real and terrible in their consequences. They may seem a bit outlandish... but they are real in a way that feels oddly intense for American readers." – Jason Sacks, Comics Bulletin
• Review: "This isn't your father's Mickey Mouse (it's more likely your great-grandfather's), and it's a shame we don't see him this way as much anymore. Floyd Gottfredson is one of the most talented artist/gag writers in comics history and it is wonderful to see his talent recognized in a medium and a manner so deserving of preservation. This giant-sized book is only mildly unwieldy, but it is the perfect size to replicate and do justice to every single panel of such a singularly perfect work.... Mickey Mouse is one of the most important and revered characters in pop culture, and no other creator has written him so human, so interestingly, so uniquely fun and vibrant as Floyd Gottfredson has. The cover price is too little to ask, as the stories in this book are a treasury of the highs sequential art can hit." – Rafael Gaitan, Comics Bulletin
• Review: "The Hidden is ridiculously good, silly fun... A great big orgy of schlocky gore and cartoon deaths, the plot is every old horror film rolled into one glorious genre cliché... and Richard Sala’s absurd humour bleeds through the lot like red ink on a crisp white collar.... As ever, the true joy here is seeing Sala in brilliant colour. Layer upon layer of masterfully applied paint creates every shadow, shade and unlikely bright pajama in the cartoon horror. Undead eyes stare from blue and green sunken sockets, blood splashes across the page in spurts of dark crimson. It is, to hammer it home with a bloody mallet, an absolute demented joy." – Hayley Campbell, The Comics Journal
• Interview (Translated): Gerardo Vilches of The Watcher and the Tower says of Joyce Farmer's Special Exits, which was just published in Spain by Astiberri, "I read this comic a few months ago and I think it is not only one of the comics of the year but the last decade" translates Alex Dueben's December 2010 Comic Book Resources interview with Farmer into Spanish, adding "I also wanted to do my bit to raise awareness of an awesome comic I hope has the impact it deserves."
• Commentary:The Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon responds to The Comics Journal's Love and Rocketslove-fest yesterday with some thoughts of his own: "I agree with Nadel, Santoro, Tomine and many of the comment-makers that Jaime Hernandez's new work represents a phenomenal achievement. I'm maybe not as interested in finding its place in the pantheon right this second. There's plenty of time for that down the road. One thing that's exciting and should never be denied about a creative achievement on the level of what Hernandez seems to have given us here is what that work might say to us in the future that it doesn't say right now."
• Commentary:Robot 6's Sean T. Collins responds, in turn, to Tom Spurgeon's response linked above: "If you’re looking for realistic and well-rendered women characters, or for women creators operating on an equal playing field, or for a serious examination of issues of gender and sexuality in all their glory and misery, then yeah, you can kick against the pricks and hope that someday an issue of Captain Copyright or the Teen Trademarks will deliver these things. Or you can put those comics down, walk a few aisles over or click on a different website, and discover things like Jaime’s 'Browntown'/'The Love Bunglers' suite, which over the course of two issues of Love and Rockets packs in more quality fiction about love, aging, motherhood, fatherhood, marriage, divorce, adultery, sexual assault, queerness, mental illness, adolescence, friendship, and sex than the last half-dozen comics-internet contretemps-causing comics combined."
• Review: "The conventional wisdom surrounding Prince Valiant these days characterizes it as a fussily drawn, belabored relic of the past. Of course, critical judgments of a comic stop mattering once you read it. A few pages into the fourth of Fantagraphics’ beautifully reprinted new editions of Hal Foster’s masterpiece and it’s difficult indeed to remember that this isn’t the greatest comic ever.... And the mastery Foster brings to bear on his every panel may have been equaled both before and since his prime, but it’s never been surpassed." – Matt Seneca, The Comics Journal
• Plug: "I could easily write a whole post about the brilliance of Barks (and probably WILL, at some point down the road!) but for now I will just say that this December Fantagraphics is releasing the first volume of a NEW Carl Barks Library, which is going to finally, finally, FINALLY put Barks's work back into print in America, in an accessible full-color format.... So please, if you have a kid in your life, PLEASE, for ME, buy them this book! And if you have never read any Barks and you don't understand why I'm being so crazy about this, buy one for yourself. I can personally guarantee that you won't regret it!" – Alec Longstreth
Fantagraphics Books is offering a tasty treat this Halloween season — a FREE Donald Duck mini-comic by cartoon genius Carl Barks! In the "Jet Witch," our plucky duck buzzes Duckburg on a jet-powered broom. Predictably, all manner of hilarious Halloween havoc ensues.