"When you look at my stories in the comic books you'll see that I was trying to follow in the format that Gottfredson established, having Mickey and the other guys involved in funny situations at the same time as they were having serious problems. And [then] they solved their problems by funny means."
(Floyd Gottfredson on the left and Carl Barks on the right)
• Review: "Expectations are foiled at every turn [in Congress of the Animals] precisely because Woodring is digging deep into the rich soil of his own imagination; he's pulling these stories up from the same place that myths and legends come from, and in that way, his books have the weird weight and unmistakable freshness of myth. These are stories that haven't been told before, but they come from the place where stories are born, so they're instantly recognizable to everyone. And because they live in the prelinguistic language of cartoons, almost anyone on the planet can look at a page and immediately understand what is happening." – Paul Constant, The Stranger
• Plug: Further, Jim Woodring's appearance at Elliott Bay Book Company tonight is today's "The Stranger Suggests," Paul Constant saying "Every one of Woodring's comics is an epic poem, a psychedelic novel, and a deeply personal memoir. If you can't identify with his protagonist, the innocent-but-fickle Frank, there's something wrong with you."
• Review: "In Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse Vol. 1, part of an ambitious, multi-volume reprint project from Fantagraphics, 21st century readers are reintroduced to this largely forgotten Mickey and his unfortunately largely forgotten cartoonist. It’s like meeting Mickey Mouse for the first time — and learning the little guy is actually a total badass. ★★★★ [out of 5]" – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Las Vegas Weekly
• Review: "Mordantly hilarious, this superbly cynical fable [Isle of 100,000 Graves] rattles along in captivating fashion: a perfect romp for older kids and a huge treat for fans looking for something a little bit different. Jason’s work always jumps directly into the reader’s brain and heart, using his beastly repertory company to gently pose eternal questions about basic human needs in a soft but relentless quest for answers. That you don’t ever notice the deep stuff because of the clever gags and safe, familiar 'funny-animal' characters should indicate just how good a cartoonist he is. His collaboration here with the sly and sardonic Vehlmann has produced a genuine classic that we’ll all be talking about for years to come." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Plug: "...[W]hile it seems like an oddball idea to put an individual spin on masterworks like Poe's, [The Raven] actually looks gorgeous, the artwork fantastic and macabre..." – Sydney Brownstone, The L Magazine
• Plug: "Lou Reed has been quite busy these days. When he's not collaborating with Metallica on a record, he's spending time putting together a graphic novel based around his 'spiritual forefather' Edgar Allen Poe, called, appropriately, The Raven. ...Reed's Poe-esque lyrics have been collected into a book and illustrated with paintings by New Yorker cartoonist Lorenzo Mattotti. And yes, the book looks just as creepy as you'd expect." – Jamie Feldmar, Gothamist
• Interview (Audio):Inkstuds host Robin McConnell's latest guest: "Wilfred Santiago’s comic biography of Roberto Clemente  is a great look at a specific time in not only baseball, but also touching on mid century american racial and political tones. Wilfred skillfully tackles a range of issues in this great collection. It was a delight to discuss this great book with him."
• Lore:Kim Deitch's "Mad About Music: My Life in Records" column continues over at TCJ.com, with the new third installment focusing on television
The new Diamond Previews catalog is out today and in it you'll find our usual 2-page spread with our releases scheduled to arrive in your local comic shop in September 2011 (give or take — some release dates have changed since the issue went to press). We're pleased to offer additional and updated information about these upcoming releases here on our website, to help shops and customers alike make more informed ordering decisions.
You'll find hotly-anticipated titles like the next volume of Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse by Floyd Gottfredson (a Diamond "Staff Pick"!), Pogo Vol. 1 (yes, Pogo!); The Art of Joe Kubert ("Certified Cool"!); the new Prison Pit; the Golden Age cover collection Action! Mystery! Thrills!; and our next prose book, Alexander Theroux's Estonia. See them all here!
• Review: "Of all the comics libraries I've seen, this one has by far the most complete and diverse collection of ancillary material. The intrigue of reading the earliest (1930-1931) Mickey Mouse strips (including a number written by Walt Disney himself) in restored and remastered form would have been reason enough to pick this book up, but the essays, commentaries, character sketches, and archival features all add immeasurably to one's appreciation of Gottfredson, the creator who invented the funny-animal adventure genre." – Chris Barat
• Interview:The Daily Cross Hatch's Brian Heater talks to our own Eric Reynolds about Mome, with part 1 focusing on the anthology's beginnings: "We wanted to publish more people that we weren’t really able to do, in terms of giving them book deals. Oddly enough, it seems like our production on that front really took off along with Mome, as far as publishing new people like Josh Simmons or Paul Hornschemeier, you name it. But that was essentially the reason. I was seeing more and more newer cartoonists coming out that I was interested in, but maybe didn’t have a book in them, yet. And it was really means to an end, as far as working with people that I had been admiring from afar."
• Scene:LocalBozo reports from Lou Reed's The Raven reading at the Strand bookstore last night
• Review: "As you can see on every page of Fantagraphics' gorgeous new collection Mickey Mouse: Race to Death Valley, the young Mickey was a brash, spirited, resourceful, and endlessly charming character, a pluckish everymouse adventuring through life one scrape — and one daily comic strip — at a time. Poring over this book is like swimming in the very headwaters of popular American culture.... Mickey Mouse: Race to Death Valley stands beside Fantagraphics' collections of E.C. Segar's Popeye and Charles Schulz's Peanuts as a treasure of modern American culture — a reminder that, once in a while, the most popular thing is the best thing." – Alan Scherstuhl, SF Weekly
• Review: "...[Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse] is not just a great Mickey Mouse comic, it's one of the best comics of all time.... When Gottfredson took over the Mickey Mouse newspaper strip in 1930, he created stories that still hold up eighty years later as solid well-done comics. That alone would be an incredible achievement, especially considering how few stories from the era even seem readable to a modern audience, but Gottfredson takes things to an entirely different level with comedy that's still funny and adventures that are genuinely thrilling.... As to the book itself, Fantagraphics has done their usual amazing job of design on it... The strips are crisp, there's a ton of bonus material (including biographical information, details on the process, and a bunch of additional strips), and the book even feels nice in your hands while you're reading it. They did a seriously remarkable job putting it together, which is fitting considering how good the material is.... It's a great collection, and one of the few that anyone who likes any sort of comics could — and should — pick up and enjoy." – Chris Sims, Comics Alliance (all emphasis his)
• Review: "It feels like there's been an onslaught of pirate stories in the last several years, but Jason's deadpan visual style mixed with Vehlmann's absurdly dark humor make for a special tale of skullduggery.... Hilarity and adventure ensue, but not without a tremendously affecting and emotionally complicated final scene, making [Isle of 100,000 Graves] a wild ride in the truest sense of the term." – John Seven, Worcester Magazine
• Plug: "Legendary writer Bagge (Hate) and artist Hernandez (Love and Rockets) teamed up ten years ago for this comic [Yeah!] about a spunky all-girl, all-universe rock band. Now the whole series has been collected for the punk/sci-fi girl in your life." – Dan Kois, New York
• Interview: Christopher John Farley has a brief Q&A with Paul Hornschemeier at The Wall Street Journal's Speakeasy blog: "I tend to write far more than I draw, I may have an image pop into my head, but those are usually just isolated points of inspiration: from there the writing takes over."
• Review: "Congress of the Animals is a beautifully illustrated modern fable, which manages to say more without words, than most graphic novels can with hundreds of words. The tale rewards repeat readings, with each successive exposure to the story revealing new and interesting details that were not at first apparent. Woodring has really outdone himself here, and has created the finest work of his career. This is a strong contender for graphic novel of the year, if not the decade!" – Edward Kaye, Hypergeek
• Plug: "...Jim Woodring has created a universe that is as unique as it is brilliant.... Congress of the Animals is due out at the end of May and without knowing anything about it I’m certain that it will be worth owning. If his last book Weathercraft is anything to go by you’ll probably read through the full book in one sitting and then spend weeks thinking about the terrifying images that you saw there." – Phillip Buchan, Starburst Magazine (registration required)
• Review: "Approximate Continuum Comics is a black and white collection of stories that feel different, but are still distinctly Trondheim.... The fact is, there aren't too many cartoonists who can do this kind of work today, period. And there weren't many who could do it a decade ago, which is how old this material is.... At $19 for 144 pages' worth of material, the book is worth the price. As usual, Fantagraphics goes out of its way to design something nice here..." – Augie De Blieck Jr., Comic Book Resources
• Review: "...[T]he adventures [in Take a Joke] start at an outrageousness level that’s over-the-top and go north of there, until they climb higher, then scale a wall, then take an elevator, then an escalator, and finally jump real high. They never, ever come down.... In any other artist’s hands, I’d probably hate the damn thing. But Ryan’s cartoon style... makes the filth seem innocent, as if the deviant behavior within his panels [is] perfectly acceptable.... While I admit I found some it very, very funny, I’ll never be able to look at a bottle of A-1 sauce the same way again. Or Robert Crumb, Yogi Bear and The New Yorker, all of whom take quite the licking. Licking just what, I leave to you to discover on your own. – Rod Lott, Bookgasm
• Review: "The protagonist in Fantagraphics Books new Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse: Race to Death Valley isn't your father's Mickey Mouse. It's your grandfather's. These early newspaper strips, beginning in 1930, by Floyd Gottfredson... show a character who seeks out adventure, gets in fights, jumps from speeding trains, steals a car and chases after bad guys out west.... Gottfredson's drawings are just about perfect.... The artist could capture both the excitement... and the wit..." – Michael Chevy Castranova, The Sparrow Papers
• Review: "...[O]ne could not have asked for a better presentation, with the reproduction about as good as it gets for 80-year-old comic strips, and a veritable plethora of extras.... It's rather startling... to see the amount of depth we get in these comic strips presented here.... I also found the language in these strips extraordinary.... To sum up, anyone who likes Disney, cartoons, or comic strips will find tons of things to love about [Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Vol. 1: Race to Death Valley]. The comics are exciting adventure strips for the most part, though there's a lot of standard 'gag' stuff as well.... A terrific book, highly recommended." – Sean Gaffney, A Case Suitable for Treatment (via The Comics Reporter)
• Plug: At the Forbidden Planet International blog, Wim Lockefeer comments on our Guy Peellaert publishing news: "You don’t need to know that Jodelle and Pravda were based respectively on French chanseuses Sylvie Vartan and Françoise Hardy to enjoy these books, and I think they will prove to be a very good addition to Fantagraphics’ continually growing library of classic comics from round the world."
• Interview: At Comics Bulletin, Jason Sacks talks to Shannon Wheeler about Oil & Water and shares some never-before-seen artwork from the book: "A lot of our goals had to do with keeping the environmental disaster on the radar nationally, saying 'This is something that what we did that's a travesty,' basically, and 'How do we keep paying attention to it so it gets cleaned up and never happens again?' It's a big deal."
• Book Club: If you would like to take part in a recorded podcast discussion about Jason & Fabien Vehlmann's Isle of 100,000 Graves on Saturday, head over to Inkstuds to find out the details (and of course we'll let you know when the recording is posted)
Ran out of time on Friday's Online Commentary & Diversions, so it's combined with links from the weekend:
• Review: "Now Fantagraphics has risen to the fore with [Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Vol. 1:] Race to Death Valley... It’s a pretty spiffy package, sharply designed and full of smart, well-written essays that provide a rich portrait of the artist and his times, as well as some great comics.... As impressive as Gottfredson's work is, it's in the ancillary materials or 'special features' that makes this book really shine. Editors Gary Groth and David Gerstein have gone the extra mile here... With its shameless abundance of riches, Mickey Mouse Vol. 1 sets a new standard in reprint publication." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Plug: "Only a small handful of Gottfredson's collected works have been published and most are out of print. He pioneered a trendsetting style of adventure comics, though in his lifetime remained largely unrecognized.... Fantagraphics has kindly republished a bit of the Gottfredson Mickey run in their new book [Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Vol. 1:] Race to Death Valley, beautifully restored [and] repackaged..." – Green Apple Books
• Review: "The latest volume of The Complete Peanuts: 1979-1980 continues with Charles Schulz’s herculean output of his beloved comic strip. Schulz supplies the customary laughs in stand-alone gag strips and some short 'continuing' storylines.... As I have said in previous reviews, Fantagraphics does such a marvelous job with these hardcover Peanuts volumes. From the cover by designer Seth, to the crisp black-and-white reprinting (3 dailies per page, 1 Sunday per page), to the handy index to help you find your favorite strip, Fantagraphics takes creating a permanent archive of this beloved humor strip very seriously. Children of all ages should all get their hands on this American treasure." – Rich Clabaugh, The Christian Science Monitor
• Commentary: Mike Sterling makes a few observations about The Complete Peanuts 1979-1980: "SPOILER ALERT: Peppermint Patty gathers evidence and uses skeptical, critical thinking to resolve her particular issue here."
• Review: "Some of the very first autobiographical works on the French bande dessinée scene, these little gems were a genuine game-changer for cartoonists and storytellers... Superbly skilled at switching imperceptibly from broad self-parody to cripplingly painful personal revelation, wild surrealism to powerful reportage and from clever humorous observation to howling existentialist inquisition, Trondheim’s cartoon interior catalogue is always a supremely rewarding and enjoyable experience and, as these ancient texts [Approximate Continuum Comics] prove, always has been." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Review: "[Blake] Bell is our guide into this rich history of Bill Everett... Bell includes several pieces of artwork and comics that has rarely been seen. A true testament to a man who lived comics throughout his entire life and loved it with a passion...[I]t’s important not only to remember the characters, but the men behind them. Bell’s book here on the life and times of Bill Everett [Fire & Water], and his other biographical material on Steve Ditko, is a testament to that." – Chris Marshall, Collected Comics Library
• Interview: Hillary Chute talks to Joe Sacco for The Believer; I'll use their pullquote: "When you draw, you can always capture that moment. You can always have that exact, precise moment when someone’s got the club raised, when someone’s going down. I realize now there’s a lot of power in that."
• Interview:The A.V. Club's Sam Adams talks to Joe Sacco: "I think if I hadn’t studied journalism I might have taken a different approach, and I’m not saying my approach is the only way you can tell a story journalistically. But because I actually studied it, detail is important and accuracy is really important, so it’s not just about having an accurate quote. The problem with doing things the way I try to do them is that it’s not just an accurate quote, it’s an accurate image of what a place looks like. An absolute literal group of images? You might as well go to a photographer for that. But whatever interpretation I do of it, it has to be informed by reality."
• Profile:HiLobrow's Joshua Glenn on Dame Darcy: "If she sounds like too much to handle, that’s because she is; now you know why her comic is called Meat Cake — they’re two decadent foods, so why not combine them? Darcy’s world is a child’s garden of verses overrun by drunken mermaids, grave-robbing French maids, and Vitalis-groomed cads. If this sort of thing sounds like your cup of spooky-kooky tea, read Meat Cake..."
• Profile: "I made my quarterly pilgrimage down to the Fantagraphics store in Seattle yesterday, and that store never ceases to amaze anyone who walks into it. From the curator/owner to the punk rock pictures on the wall, to the awesome collection of Fantagraphics titles, traditional comics, underground comics, and some adult stuff tucked away in the back room under the stairs, the entire store is a place to go explore the darker side of comic books." – Dan Morrill, Comics Forge
This week's comic shop shipment is slated to include the following new titles. Four of our biggest releases of the summer all dropping at once! Read on to see what comics-blog commentators and web-savvy comic shops are saying about them (more to be added as they appear), check out our previews at the links, and contact your local shop to confirm availability.
(Diamond's PREVIEWSworld website also spotlights some of our books that are now back in print and available again.)
282-page full-color 7" x 9.25" hardcover • $35.00 ISBN: 978-1-60699-440-5
"It's been a while since we've heard from Dave McKean in comics, and his new book is a not-very-plot-heavy thing involving a lot of large images and a lot of very stylized nudity and sex. Not Cages II, in other words." – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
"And for my splurging this week, I’ll... go... with... Celluloid, the new erotic book from Dave McKean." – J.K. Parkin, Robot 6
"...I do admire McKean’s work, and am therefore pretty interested in seeing what this looks like." – James Fulton, Inside Pulse
"I wish I could tell you if this $35 book was good. I don't know, because I don't have it. But I have good reason to [suggest] it.... Cages was great, I can attest to that. And anyone who ever admired a cover to Gaiman's Sandman was admiring McKean's art." – Stephen Totilo, Kotaku
"I’m especially looking forward to Dave McKean’s Celluloid." – Brian Hibbs, Savage Critics
"Dave McKean... gives us his first solo graphic novel since that aforementioned weighty tome. It’s called Celluloid and it’s got rude bits in." – Gosh! Comics
"comic elves unpacking week's new goodies, spotted @DaveMcKean's Celluloid from @fantagraphics... it will be mine, oh yes" – Forbidden Planet International
"Celluloid is beautiful. Gripping and genuinely arousing, with some of @DaveMcKean's best art. Well done to everyone involved." – Ace Comics
104-page black & white 7.25" x 9.75" hardcover • $19.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-437-5
"Jim Woodring's extraordinary new Frank book (this time concentrating on Frank himself again, rather than Manhog as in last year's Weathercraft): whimsy on top, fabulism in the middle, collective-unconscious terror extending from the bottom layer straight through to the center of the universe. Even if there were anyone else doing anything like his comics, he'd still be the best at it." – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
"New Jim Woodring! This... is Woodring’s second graphic novel, and the first to star his Frank character." – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
"Jim Woodring’s follow-up to last year’s Weathercraft has landed. In Congress of the Animals Frank’s left home and is dealing with all manner of horrific realties, though I don’t see him crying over his tax returns... it’s a funny and absurd story..." – Gosh! Comics
"After what seemed like a lengthy drought, Jim Woodring seems to have jumped back into comics full steam, releasing the second graphic novel, Congress of the Animals... in two years.... Woodring fans will be more than pleased at this latest tale involving the ever unperturbed Frank and his adventures in the Unifactor, which, I should note, take an interesting left turn 2/3 of the way through." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"The master of psychedelic cartoon storytelling is back with another fantastic collection. It is impossible to look at a page of this book and not immediately be drawn in to each panel by Woodring's line work, where the world fades away from around you and suddenly you feel like a character in the Unifactor." – Benn Ray (Atomic Books), Largehearted Boy
56-page full-color 7.25" x 10.25" softcover • $14.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-442-9
"The awesome Norwegian cartoonist Jason works with a separate writer for the first time I can remember: Fabien Vehlmann, who gives him a deadpan story about pirates and buried treasure that's right up his alley." – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
"...I’m hopeful that I’ll finally get to read this pirate story and forget my disappointment about On Stranger Tides." – Michael May, Robot 6
"And for my splurging this week, I’ll... go... with Isle of 100,000 Graves, the new Jason/Fabien Vehlmann collaboration..." – J.K. Parkin, Robot 6
"New Jason! This... trade is unique among Jason’s other works in that he’s working, for the first time, with a co-writer, Fabien Vehlmann." – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
"There's no better feeling than holding a copy of a brand new Jason book in your hand. Eeee!" – Secret Headquarters
"Jason... has enlisted a writer for the first time in Fabien Vehlmann, a well known name in France but the Sean Phillips illustrated Seven Psychopaths is his only translated work so far, except for this new one of course.... It’s about pirates, obviously." – Gosh! Comics
"If you haven’t already got a copy yet..., allow me to point you towards Isle of 100,000 Graves, the latest comic from the Norwegian artist Jason, this time working with writer Fabien Vehlmann. Rest assured this new collaboration sees no drop in quality and is a worthy addition to his catalog." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
288-page black & white/color 10.5" x 8.75" hardcover • $29.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-441-2
"In which Fantagraphics begins its complete reprint of Floyd Gottfredson's classic run on the Mickey Mouse newspaper comic strip (actually beginning a few months earlier, with the initial strips, in whose creation Disney himself participated). Nicely designed? But of course." – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
"Of course, there’s also Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse, Volume 1: Race to Death Valley featuring early stories of Mickey as a two-fisted adventurer. That sounds impossible to pass up..." – Michael May, Robot 6
"That Mickey Mouse book is probably the book of the week — although you can never, ever look past Jim Woodring — as it's practically a billion-dollar casino of gut-level, inky thrills." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
"Another one from Fantagraphics is Disney’s Mickey Mouse Volume 1: Race to Death Valley, a hardcover collecting old strips all fully remastered and shot directly from the proof sheets of Disney and private collections. They’re by Floyd Gottfredson, who was employed at Disney as an apprentice animator and in-betweener in the early ‘30s. He was temporarily put on the Mickey Mouse strip and somehow ended up drawing it for the next 45 years." – Gosh! Comics
"...Fantagraphics’ Mickey Mouse vol. 1, Race to Death Valley... promises to show us a different side of the familiar rodent. I have read about Mickey having a personality, which he really doesn’t now, so I’m curious about what he was like in the early days." – Brigid Alverson, Robot 6
"The new Mickey Mouse collection is the obvious pick of the week for me. Floyd Gottfredson has far too long ignored by comics and Disney fans and it’s nice to see Fantagraphics give the work the attention it deserves. They did a fantastic job too; this is easily one of the best designed reprint projects I’ve seen in awhile, and chock full of great extra essays and extra features. I really hope this goes a long way towards establishing Gottfredson in the comics canon (whatever that may be)." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
And on the batch:
"Top 4 picks of the week are all from @fantagraphics: Congress o/t Animals, Celluloid, Isle of 100000 Graves, and Mickey Mouse! Bravo, chaps!" – Danger Room Comics
And at TCJ.com it's Joe McCulloch's "CONFLICT OF INTEREST RESERVOIR: Ok, we all know who’s publishing this column, BUT – I think there’s some pretty strong stuff this week. Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse Vol. 1: Race to Death Valley introduces the awesome daily strip exploits of Floyd Gottfredson, as well as a bevy of collaborators and predecessors, including Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks themselves, with a whole lot of supplements... Congress of the Animals sees Jim Woodring send his Frank character into an odd new world... And Isle of 100,000 Graves marks Jason’s first collaboration with another writer, Fabien Vehlmann, for a tale of piracy..."
• Review: "Gottfredson's strips are jammed with incident and detail, energized with a loopy energy that matches the spunky determination of Mickey himself. Running pell-mell from one dangerous escapade to the next (spooky houses and runaway trains predominate), Mickey is all spit and fire as he confronts louts like Pegleg Pete and the Fox while protecting his risk-prone flapper girlfriend, Minnie: 'Give up?? Never!!' The quite visible specter of the Depression and occasional dark humor, as when Mickey tries multiple times to kill himself and fails comically, only add to the sense of heroic grit." – Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
• Review: "The first and probably best compliment that I can give to Wilfred Santiago, the writer and illustrator of 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente, is that I wish that I’d read it when I was a kid. In brilliantly transforming Clemente’s life into a graphic novel, Santiago creates an artwork that retells a story familiar to most baseball fans as a superhero legend and, in so doing, stands alongside the Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman comic books that many of us read in our youth." – Paul Gleason, Legacy Sports Ent.
• Interview:Legacy Sports Ent.'s Paul Gleason talks to Wilfred Santiago about 21: "Having never watched Clemente play, he was more of a legend to me growing up in Puerto Rico. After the release of the book, I can see how much Clemente has meant to the older generations who followed him and to the younger generations who learned to love him because of their parents. This inter-generational bond transcends gender and cultures, and it has been rewarding to witness people’s responses."
• Profile: Antolín Maldonado Ríos of El Nuevo Día introduces Wilfred Santiago to readers of Puerto Rico's largest daily newspaper: "'I have over a decade doing comic books, and most were superheroes. When I finished my first graphic novel, I had the idea of doing a biography, and thus had more potential subjects. Roberto Clemente was one of them,' said the Puerto Rican artist, a native of Ponce, to explain the background of his recent book, 21 - The Story of Roberto Clemente." (translated from Spanish)