Catching up on our Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: "...Fantagraphics Books’ new Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse: “Race to Death Valley” contains all you need to know to revel in the very different, deeply pleasurable work of [Floyd] Gottfredson. Working with one of the most famous — and most anodyne — cartoon characters in the world, Gottfredson turned the grinning, goody-goody Mouse into a plucky, even reckless adventurer, his smile transformed from a people-pleasing smirk into a challenge to the world.... Gottfredson drew Mickey with a nosy snout and the bright eyes of an adrenalin junkie. The mouse’s diminutive size inspired Gottfredson to have the character attempt daredevil races, leaping stunts, and develop a flurry-fisted fighting style.... This beautiful volume gives the Great Rodent his humanity." – Ken Tucker, Entertainment Weekly
• Review: "Fantagraphics does a very smart thing with [Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse Vol. 1], packing it full of historical materials to set the story for the comic strip. Having David Gerstein edit it is, of course, the smartest thing they could have done.... Simply put, it's the most extensive collection of 'extras' I've ever seen in one of these comic strip reprint series to date.... Reproductions are as great as you could ever hope for from material that's 80 years old and originally printed in the inkiest of newspapers you could imagine.... It's a kick to see this more interesting version of Mickey running around, saying and doing politically incorrect things. It's amazing to see how much detail an artist could pack into a small series of panels like this. But, most of all, it's a whole lot of fun." – Augie De Blieck Jr., Comic Book Resources
• Review: "This is, first of all, superb material.... Way back when, [Mickey Mouse] had a continuity and some darn good stories, illustrated with dynamic and expressive art. It was everything you could have wanted a newspaper strip to be, including being quite funny at times...and even suspenseful. The book itself is perfect and by that I mean I can't think of a single way it could have been improved. The reproduction is sharp. The editorial material fills you in nicely about the history of the strip, plus there are articles that discuss its merits and significance. The volume itself is handsome and will look good on your shelf." – Mark Evanier
• Plugs: Some great press mentions for our Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Free Comic Book Day comic, including the AP's Matt Moore and Whitney Matheson of USA Today Pop Candy, who says "This is sort of what FCBD is about, isn't it? Fantagraphics presents Floyd Gottfredson's amazing old Mickey strips from 1935 that are still entertaining today. Perfect for all ages..." The Wright Opinion's Brendan Wright says "The line work is beautiful and fluid, with plenty of panels that are funny to look at without reading the words. Thorough as always with this type of project, Fantagraphics has provided both an intro by David Gerstein an an appreciation of Gottfredson by classic Disney animator and official Disney Legend Floyd Norman."
• Review: "For Isle of 100,000 Graves, the cartoonist Jason works with a writer, Fabien Vehlmann, for what is at least the first time in his strong North American publishing run. It's a fun collaboration over which to muse because it's hard to tell exactly what Vehlmann brings to the table. The writer has grasped onto Jason's use of deadpan humor and wistful character moments to an uncanny degree.... Because of this deliberate care in both building their personalities and working from them in terms of how they react to certain story moments, both leads come across as incredibly endearing. A story-ending plot twist almost gets lost in a by-that-point hilarious one-liner about the methods used in bringing it about." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
• Review: "Underground-influenced comics fall into certain patterns — idiosyncratic art, rambling tales of daily life, copious use of mood-altering substances — but [Leslie] Stein makes hers [Eye of the Majestic Creature] fresh with the addition of a talking guitar.... Stein’s style is very readable, with sparse linework and a lead character that resembles a more tripped-out Little Orphan Annie, with huge blank buttons for eyes. Stein’s settings and other characters show more detail, especially in the complex stippling, demonstrating her outward focus.... Her world is full, even if it’s one that’s a bit off-kilter..." – Publishers Weekly
• Review: "Peter Bagge continues the saga of Lisa and Buddy Bradley and their son Harold in Hate Annual #9.... Peter Bagge has always made you care for these characters no matter what crazy problems they had. He has this rare gift of getting his readers to empathize with the drawings on the page and realizing them as real people.... Bagge shows us a very human side to the characters he creates and mirrors life in a sometimes painful way.... As we live our lives, we can look at these pages and see a little bit of ourselves in the drawn panels. This is what makes this series, and all previous ones, stand the test of time and remain a great read. Rating: 8.5" – The Comic Book Critic
• Interview:The Daily Cross Hatch continues serializing the transcript of Brian Heater's MoCCA panel conversation with Peter Bagge: "I started drawing Buddy in 1980, when he was a member of The Bradleys. He was always 10 years younger than me. He started out as an adolescent — not always exactly 10 years. That’s on purpose, because that 10 years gives me space. When you’re going through a crisis or a rough time, it’s not funny, but 10 years later, you can look at the whole situation more objectively and find the humor in it."
• Review: "[Joe Daly's] latest, award-winning, on-going project Dungeon Quest is a delightful combination of nerdy discipline and pharmaceutical excess... Happily marrying the sensibilities of post-grunge, teenaged waste-lads... with the meticulous and finicky obsessions of role-playing gamers and the raw thrill of primal myths, this captivating and wittily indulgent yarn is enchantingly rendered in solid, blocky friendly black and white and garnished with lashings of smart-ass attitude. Strength: vulgar. Intelligence: witty. Dexterity: compelling. Mana: absolutely. Status: unmissable." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Interview:The Daily Cross Hatch begins serializing another of Brian Heater's MoCCA panel conversations, this time with Gahan Wilson: "The people who do horror stories and grim stuff are remarkably sweet people.... It was very odd. Why are horror writers like this? And it suddenly occurred to me — of course, what horror writers are writing about is the vulnerability of themselves and their readers and everybody and how fragile everything is.... They’re experts at being scared. If they weren’t experts at being scared, they wouldn’t write about being scared and scare other people."
• Interview: If you read Japanese, enjoy excerpts from a conversation between Moto Hagio and her colleague Ryoko Yamagishi from Otome Continue Vol. 6 presented at Poco Poco
• Feature:Eye of the Majestic Creature creator Leslie Stein is the guest contributor in the latest installment of "What Are You Reading?" at Robot 6. Among her picks: Yeah! by Peter Bagge & Gilbert Hernandez: "Gilbert’s illustrations are excellent and Bagge’s writing is funny, as per usual."
• Review: "This book in particular reprints a run where Mickey Mouse enters Pluto in a dog race and ends up getting mixed up with a banker who wants to foreclose on a friendly old couple, snooty society types, high-stakes gamblers and the mob. The mob, people. It's really great stuff, with a ton of adventure and action balanced out with the humor I was expecting, which really holds up even here in the next century, right down to the fun Vaudeville-style wordplay. I would've devoured this thing if I was a kid, and while it's ostensibly a teaser for the bigger reprint volumes -- which, at $30 for 300 pages are looking like an even better deal than I thought -- it's awesome for all ages." – Chris Sims, Comics Alliance
• Review: "Joe Daly's comics are an unequivocal delight. The second volume of his role playing/video game send-up and tribute, Dungeon Quest, is a visual feast from beginning to end. Of course, this feast may be mere junk food, but his sheer commitment to the adventurous reality that his characters encounter makes the reader care about the most ridiculous of scenarios.... While there are a number of alt-comics fantasy series being published these days (with Trondheim & Sfar's Dungeon the best), Daly's fusion of underground comics sensibilities with the blunt directness of the video game playing experience is unique and leaves the reader wanting more." – Rob Clough, High-Low
• Interview: At Under the Radar, Jeremy Nisen talks to Eye of the Majestic Creature creator Leslie Stein: "Right now I pretty much write out the comic like a movie script and then just attack the page. As I go along I change some of the dialogue or add different sequences I've thought of to enhance the story, like if there's something I draw in a background on a whim, I might like it and incorporate it into the story. This way it's exciting as I go along, and not just laborious drawing. As for the concept, it just pops into the old bean. Magic!"
• Plug: In a pre-TCAF Q&A at the National Post, comic artist Niki Smith talks about her most-anticipated comic of the year: "Wandering Son is debuting at TCAF (from Fantagraphics) and I absolutely cannot wait to add it to my collection and push it on everyone I know. It’s a wonderful story of gender and sexuality and growing up."
Today's America knows Mickey Mouse as a gentle do-gooder. But in his 1930s heyday, Mickey rose to fame as an epic hero — a bold, adventurous scrapper battling mobsters, kidnappers, and spies! And Mickey’s greatest feats of derring-do took place in his daily comic strip, crafted by one of history's greatest cartoonists — Floyd Gottfredson.
For 25 years, Gottfredson’s Mickey Mouse was a trendsetting adventure serial that led where other adventure comics would follow. But famed as Gottfredson's life's work is, it has never been comprehensively collected in English... until now!
Dive into this book and see Mickey’s race to a gold mine with Pegleg Pete; Mickey’s life on the lam after being framed for bank robbery; even Mickey’s fight with a huge heavyweight champ. You wouldn't expect to find a mouse in the middle of such chilling thrills and spills. But he's always there!
Enjoy Mickey Mouse in unmatched quality — remastered straight from Disney proof sheets and prized private collections. You'll also explore more than 50 pages of fascinating supplementary features — from rare behind-the-scenes art to tributes by Warren Spector (Disney Epic Mickey) and Disney Legends award recipient Floyd Norman.
Mickey Mouse is among the world's most recognizable icons. But do you know the wild, unforgettable personality behind the icon? Start reading... you might be wearing mouse ears before you're through.
Download an EXCLUSIVE 19-page PDF excerpt (4.1 MB) which includes the full Table of Contents, David Gerstein's first chapter introduction, and 15 pages of strips!
• Review: "It may seem hard to believe today, but Gottfredson’s strip was a fluid, rubber-limbed, sassy, slangy, breathless, seamless mix of absurdity and adventure. The proof is here. Fantagraphics intends to reprint the whole shooting match, and here in [Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse] Volume One are the first two years.... The various inkers and pencillers who worked on the strip are profiled, and intelligent remarks are made on the strip’s economic and cultural issues. We could only wish the reproduction on these dailies were larger; otherwise it’s pretty much an ideal volume. Rating: 9/10" – Michael Barrett, PopMatters
• Review: "...I am a complete sucker for history and particularly graphic biographies — especially when they are as innovative and imaginative as this superbly passionate and evocative account of the life of a groundbreaking sports star, quietly philanthropic humanitarian and culture-changing champion of ethnic equality.... Rather than a dry accounting of his life, author Wilfred Santiago’s tale skips forward and back, illustrated in a studied and fiercely expressionistic melange of styles which sketch in tone and mood, and feel the life of a true frontrunner and a very human hero.... Lusciously realised in sumptuous earth-tones and powerfully redolent of the spirit of Unjust Times A-Changin’, [21: The Story of Roberto Clemente] is a fabulous book for every fan of the medium and not simply lads and sports-fans." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Review (Video): The hosts of The Backroom Comics Podcast discuss Jacques Tardi's The Arctic Marauder (starts about 33:16): "It can't be denied that this is gorgeous, gorgeous comic... the artwork is incredible....[It's] incredible in its pacing, its artistry, its storytelling..." "It is an incredibly well-done book and the quality of it for the price — it's amazing, honestly.... Don't cheat yourself. Read the thing."
• Review (Audio): On The Savage Critics' Wait, What? podcast, cohost Graeme McMillan discusses Dave McKean's Celluloid (starts at 50:28): "Looking through it, I was like 'oh, this is really Dave McKean-y, but I don't really see it as porn' — until there was a part where I was like 'oh, yes it is.' There's actually a part where he manages to meld the two really, realy well, and in a way that I did not expect — from him, but also just in general. Like I was surprised to see it.... If you just like McKean, it's got some stunningly good work in there, and it's very much in keeping with a McKean-ness... so on that level, even if you have no interest in the story or the concept, just as a piece of McKean's work I think it's really worth seeing."
• Plug: "Taking Punk to the Masses: From Nowhere to Nevermind and Beyond... is not a graphic novel, it's more of a gallery/ cultural history book but it's published by Fantagraphics (mostly a comics publisher). Fantagraphics was every bit as important to the sub-culture scene of Seattle in the '90s as Sub Pop Records was. This book traces the history of Grunge and the punk sub-culture of Seattle from the '70s through the '90s. Did I mention it comes with a DVD loaded with interviews from underground luminaries?" – Benn Ray (Atomic Books), Largehearted Boy
Pick up a copy of this and other goodies including Drawn & Quarterly's Free Comic Book Day offering John Stanley's Summer Fun, featuring the further adventures of Tubby, Nancy, Sluggo and other characters on Saturday from 11:30 to 8:00 PM at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery. Support local comic book stores everywhere. Buy comix!
• Review (Audio): On the inaugural episode of Boing Boing's Gweek podcast, co-host Mark Frauenfelder talks about Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Vol. 1: Race to Death Valley by Floyd Gottfredson: "Gottfredson really turned Mickey into this adventuring character who has really fun experiences... It's got that great '30s look to the art... It is very dense, but well-done, with a good sense of composition, so it flows along. The characters really have great emotion. There's nothing stiff about it — it's really lively... it's just beautiful. ...Carl Barks is always the first artist most comic book aficionados think of when they think of great Disney artists, but Gottfredson — this book might give him a chance to be up there with Barks and have people be able to fully appreciate how cool his stuff is."
• Review: "The story is spooky and confusing in ways that aren’t boring or stupid. Gilbert is one of the best people out there at telling stories with dream logic and this one bonks you over the head with it, so if you are a nut for dream logic then [Love from the Shadows] is right up your dream alley. This book reminds me very much of David Lynch’s movies Lost Highway and Mulholland Drive. It also reminds me of Carnival of Souls. It might even remind me of those things too much. I’m not sure yet but I have yet to read a comic by either Jaime or Gilbert Hernandez that made me feel bored, cheated, or like I wasn’t given something to think about at the end. Gilbert’s art is simple but never generic." – Nick Gazin, Vice
• Interview: Nick Gazin follows his Vice review above with a Q&A with Gilbert Hernandez: "Fritz is a character that rarely shows who she really is inside, and the characters she plays reveal bits of her we can’t normally see. She’s not necessarily passive aggressive, but there’s a lot of anger and viciousness that comes out in her roles. Fritz has become my favorite character to write and draw because she has no restrictions to where I can take her. And she’s willing to go the distance.... Dude, she’s nuts, I’m not shittin’ you."
• Review: "Johnny Ryan’s one of the best and only people making funny comics these days.... I don't know if he cares what people thought, but I do know that once you master something it gets boring. Johnny's modern comics are dark and based more in a mixture of Lovecraftian horror and certain manga sensibilities. What's in [Take a Joke] is the bend before the break.... It seems like Johnny has turned to the dark side and is trying to make comics that are more upsetting." – Nick Gazin, Vice
• Interview: As above, Nick Gazin's Vice review is followed by a Q&A with Johnny Ryan : "Things just change, bro."
• Review: "There are many, many nicely taken photos of Kurt Cobain's guitars. I'm teasing a little because I think [Taking Punk to the Masses] is a goofy book but I like it and you probably will too. This book rules. It is very, very fun to read if you care about this stuff. I am not trying to tell you that this book isn't a good, easy read. There's something really silly to me about a full page photo of this shirt Kurt Cobain wore on the cover of Spin, lit dramatically like it's the Shroud of Turin.... I might be overthinking this. If you bought Fantagraphics' book about punk movies and have an interest in punk or the Seattle indie rock scene then you'll love this thing to death." – Nick Gazin, Vice
• Review: "Tardi's a drawing and storytelling genius and a quote of me saying as much is quoted in the press release for this book. It's fun to see Tardi draw highly technical fantasy machines, but I think [The Arctic Marauder] had too much text and the wood cut drawing style that Tardi uses here turns me off. Tardi's still great but this book didn't grab me the way his other books have." – Nick Gazin, Vice
• Review: "Perhaps the strangest revelation? In their own depraved way, the Bradleys have transformed into adults, with the interplay between Buddy and Harold especially heartwarming. Hate Annual #9, in fine, earns this column’s highest recommendation." – Bryan A. Hollerbach, PLAYBACK:stl
• Review: "I really think that Bagge’s artwork in this issue marks a high point of the series thus far, and I’m not just saying that. I actually dug out a few of my old issues of Hate, and a few of the annuals, and I swear that his style has become more and more refined over the years. Hate Annual #9 is a fantastic and unmissable chapter in the lives of Buddy, Lisa, and friends. Old feuds are put to rest, new friendships are made, and we are introduced to a slew of new characters and new storylines. I’m really excited to see were Bagge takes Buddy and co. next year! Here’s to another 26 years of Hate!" – Edward Kaye, Hypergeek
• Interview: The L.A. Times Hero Complex blog's Noelene Clark talks to Jim Woodring about his L.A. Times Book Prize-nominated Weathercraft: "Art is always so reductive, and what I have going on in my comics is so simple and relatively easy to understand compared to real life, which is infinitely complex. So it might relate to real life in the same way that a chessboard would relate to a chessboard with an infinite number of squares on it. It’s sort of similar in some ways, but it’s much, much, much, much, much simpler and reductive and easier to understand."
• Review: "The strips themselves are great. In fact, it’s a crime these aren’t more well known. These daily strips are part of why Mickey Mouse became a popular character and world famous icon. The serialized adventures are exciting and fun, establishing a real personality for Mickey beyond what was possible in the animated shorts. The book has lovingly restored these strips from the original negatives and proof sheets – each one crystal clear and absolutely beautiful. If that were all there was to this book, I’d recommend it highly. But that’s not all. Co-Editor David Gerstein has... loaded this book with over 60 pages of supplementary articles and features that are a MUST for all Disney history buffs. [...] I cannot praise this volume highly enough." – Jerry Beck, Cartoon Brew
• Review: "I had high expectations for Castle Waiting, given that the first volume was outstanding, and I wasn’t disappointed. I found Volume 2 so strong, in fact, that it was my best graphic novel of 2010. [...] I normally am not a big fan of fantasy, but here, the characters are so strong in personality, so interesting and likable, that I want to spend more time with them. [...] The true strength of Castle Waiting, though, is Medley’s gorgeous art. The characters are perfect, distinctive and expressive, and the storytelling so strong you don’t even notice it. Instead, you’re visiting with this self-created family for a while — and it’s never long enough. When I close the cover, it’s always a melancholy action, because I want more time with these people, more adventures, more humor and good-heartedness." – Johanna Draper Carlson, Comics Worth Reading
• Review: "Mome 21 bats a good average, with many stories hitting their mark and a few clearing the fences. [...] Mome plays a unique role in the world of North American alternative comics. It’s one of the only long-form, regularly published comics anthologies out there, providing a vision of novelty and variety for the future of literary comics. When the series concludes later this year, a chapter in comics history will have closed." – Ao Meng, The Daily Texan