The first bit of frost of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review (video):Last Gasp's John Longhi reviews The Lost Art of Ah Pook by Malcom McNeill, a story originally created with William Burroughs. Longhi says, "I can see why Burroughs wanted to work with McNeill because he's one of the few guys who could capture the crazy wacked out details of his story writing. . . [It contains] all the wonderful social discord that made his writing fantastic."
• Review:Blacklung by Chris Wright gets high marks on Paste Magazine. Sean Edgar says, "Blacklung is a weird, compelling creation, telling a harrowing story of redemption and savagery through art that could initially pass as adorable before you get to the tongue necklaces. Highly recommended for those with strong stomachs."
• Review:School Library Journal announces their BEST BOOKS OF 2012 and in the graphics novels section, Noah Van Sciver's The Hypo is listed. "Van Sciver makes Lincoln real by picturing one of the hardest times in his younger life. . . Dickens-style squalor and melodrama plus Austen-style romance, all done in gritty cross-hatching."
• Plug:The NY Times listed Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons at the top of the Best Bathroom Reads of 2012. Dwight Garner believes "the prints collected here are droll and strange." Two of our favorite words to describe Fantagraphics-style creators such as Flannery O'Connor.
• Review: Roughly translated from Ediciones La Cupula, Jaime Hernandez's God and Science: Return of the Ti-Girls is reviewed. "Theexcitementthat overwhelms usafter readingeach of theinstallments ofthe sagaof [Ti-Girls] isdirectly proportional to itsartistic excellence,histalentas a storytellerandhuman greatnessthat livesin his cartoons."
• Review:Lanacion reviews the writings and works of Alexander Theroux (Laura Warholic, Estoniaand The Strange Case of Edward Gorey) and translated, barely, Matias Serra Bradford states, "If left as an untreated rarity,AlexanderTherouxseemsmysteriousto the fantasticand impossible point of determiningthe trajectoryofa particle and itsposition."
• Review:The Snipe News looks at Joe Sacco's Journalism collection. "the decade’s worth of stories. . . are most notable not from any kind of torn-from-the-headlines sensationalism but for the empathy the author brings to his subjects. . . . Sacco has a feel for displaced persons in general."
It was a mad, Mad afternoon when Robin McConnell, MK Reed and I dropped into the Mad Office. Assistant Art Director and comics consumer Ryan Flanders reluctantly fell for my charms and agreed to a tour even though their deadline loomed large a few days later (hey, we don't want to impede a dying medium, right?). Even the guards had a cute shtick that took 5 minutes of my life and a humorless person would have left. Luckily, that's not me.
Ryan started off the tour by showing us his first office at MAD, it's near the door, pretty cold but looks a bit similar to mine at Fantagraphics.
The MADtropolitan Museum of Art showed off some of the best and brightest of recent hilarious paintings, complete in their gold gilded plastic frames melted down from the plastic noses and vintage glasses frames of the cancelled shows The Real Housewives of Jersey and Williamsburg.
The props display case was amazing from Gutrot which I've definitely drank and Spy vs Spy toilet paper. Photoshop ain't got nothing on printed, folded and glued cardboard.
Everyone else in the office was just as charming, waiting for the day their piles of tchotchkies bury them. Art Director (and a cartoonist himself) Sam Viviano showed off some amazing original artwork and Sculpey sculptures created for photo-shoots. Check out that DREW FRIEDMAN drawing over Ryan's shoulder.
One of my favorite props was an actual headstone used as a support structure in the office created for a back cover thanks to a Feldstein/Gaines joke.
Ryan's new office turned out to be a nightmare, so well organized I made a mental note to courier him a spring-loaded box of trash upon my return home.
Like any good office the mail room is actually where all the good stuff is located (at Fantagraphics, our fridge is in there). Snuggled among packing materials and one hell of a cutting board are sexy flat files full of Al Jaffee, Tom Bunk — EVEN a Tom Fowler, internet friend.
LOOK at this Al Jaffee fold-in drawing. My dream is to have one printed SOMEDAY, SOMEHOW instead of lamely attaching my fold-in to the magazine and tricking my friends into thinking it was actually printed in the magazine.
Jewish Batman, you slay me. That utility belt must have some tasty kosher deserts near the back. (by Al Jaffee)
One beautiful Jack Davis drawing that was REJECTED from the magazine (or Davis decided to redraw) blew me away. The best part was the tattoo "My Mom Loves Me" is infinitely better than Mother tattoos of the world.
In gorgeous ink and the now-illegal duoshade/duotone. Please place your drinks down, Fantagraphics and MAD magazine are not responsible for your spittle shorting out your keyboard.
Despite the slow decline of the magazine industry, MAD magazine has lived on, able to pay cartoonists for their work (wow-za!) and maintain a staff. By raising prices and creating a Mad reading app, they stay current and accessible. MAD's first audience may be a bit gray in the face now as they celebrate their 60th anniversary but continue to wow audiences. As a kid, I didn't have much access to the magazines but my grandmother would buy any books at any yard, church or library sale. Three rooms in their house were lined with built-in-books shelves and in the ‘humor' or comic sections lay the trade paperback editions of MAD (often with the cover ripped off). Ryan was kind enough to explain that most of those were unused comics and many have not been reprinted to this day due to copyright ambiguity. Sounds like something for a legal intern to help them figure out.
As long as parents send kids care packages at camp, people stay overnight in the hospital and Hollywood makes bottom-feeder television and convoluted movies, MAD will reign supreme. Thanks again to Ryan Flanders for the tour, Robin McConnell for some of the photos (there are MILLIONS more here) and MK Reed for the company.
The fresh-popped Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review:Publishers Weekly discusses The Hypo by Noah Van Sciver, "Van Sciver’s psychologically astute examination of what might be termed Abraham Lincoln’s “lost years” (1837–1842) is as gripping and persuasive as the best historical fiction. . .This characterization of Lincoln is thoroughly human and identifiable, tracking a shadowy but formative period in the very uneven life of a man who shows little signs of becoming known as one of the greatest Americans. A thoroughly engaging graphic novel that seamlessly balances investigation and imagination." Wow!
• Plug: Noah Van Sciver's diary comics are showing up at The Comics Journal. Enjoy Day #1, Day #2 and Day #3.
• Plug:Comics Alliance JUMPED at the chance to be the first to comment on Naked Cartoonists. Senior writer Chris Sims comments, "Have you ever wanted to see Dilbert creatorScottAdams naked? Yeah, we haven't either, but apparently [Gary Groth] thought that was a good idea . . . joining artists like Will Eisner, For Better Or For Worsecreator Lynn Johnston, Jeff Smith (feel free to make your own Bone joke here) and . . . legendary MAD artist Sergio Aragones."
• Review:The Mary Sue names Moto Hagio's A Drunken Dream and Other Stories one of the 10 Feminist Manga to Read, that is licensed in the USA. Kellie Foxx-Gonzalez says,"Hagio is not only a storyteller, she is undoubtedly a feminist author, using her manga to explore gender, power, and women’s issues. If extended metaphors in manga as an avenue to explore philosophical questions is as appealing to you as it is to me, please, don’t hesitate to pick up this anthology."
• Commentary: Shannon O'Leary of Publishers Weekly says,". . . with No Straight Lines , the most definitive collection of queer comics to date, [Justin] Hall and Fantagraphics have made the voluminous but largely hidden history of LBGT (lesbian, bi-sexual, gay, transgender) comics finally visible as well."
• Review:The Awl and Kim O'Connor talk about autobio comics and include such underground greats like Aline Kominsky Crumb, Carol Tyler in addition to Chris Ware and Joe Sacco. While on the subject of Aline: "An important part of her project was to promote self-loathing as normal and even funny in an era when to do so was extremely unfashionable." O'Connor touched on the rawness of Chris Ware's work,"there's this sense of playful geometry that's deeply satisfying, even if it sometimes gives you the impression the artist's memory palace looks a lot like the Container Store. But the central delight in reading Jimmy Corrigan, as in all of Ware's work, is how it's painfully awkward and incredibly cool at the same time."
• Review: Rob Clough on the High-Low reviews Jim Woodring's Congress of the Animals: ". . . is interesting because it's much more linear a narrative than most of his comics.. . .Unlike the typical Frank story, there's a greater sense of urgency to Frank's wanderings, as he encounters many temptations and pitfalls along his journey to a destination unknown to even him."
• Review:The Critcal Mob released their short list of summer reads and a few Fantagraphics titles made the cut. Paul Guie looks at Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons: "O'Connor's artwork is frequently abstract and raw-looking. . .Nevertheless, her cartoons are always pleasing to look at thanks to the author's strong sense of composition. Panels are rarely cluttered by unnecessary lines, and O'Connor frequently frames her characters with an eye toward visual balance." Peanuts latest volume is also on Guie's radar: ". . . these later comics remain consistently witty and entertaining, and reflect Schulz's continued mastery of comedic timing within a four-panel layout.. . .Consistently subtle yet always timely, after 30 years, Schulz still had a winning formula on his hands." Last but not least, Guie takes Buddy Does Seattle to the beach,"Bagge's artwork [takes] the public's perception of '90s youth as angry and volatile and pushed it to hysterical levels. Heavily influenced by late-'60s counterculture cartoonists like Crumb, Bagge's drawings are fluid and grimy-looking, with frequent use of exaggerated facial expressions helping to cultivate an atmosphere of chaos."
• Commentary: Best Cover EVER on Forbidden Planet according to Richard: "The absolute iconic image. The raw power. Jaime’s incredible use of black in his art. The faces of the crowd. The stagediver (in heels) who’s just left the stage. But most of all, it’s the best comic cover ever because I swear that I’ve never looked at this cover and NOT heard the music they’re playing." The next best thing for Richard? Buying the new shirt featuring the cover of Issue 24.
• Plug:Comics Alliance and Caleb Goellner collect the most recent Adventure Time covers. James Hindle PLAYS an homage to Jaime Hernandez's distinctive cover. Check it out!
• Review:io9 recently created a list of the 10 Comic Characters Cooler than Batman. Jaime Hernandez's Maggie (the Mechanic) and Jacques Tardi's Adele Blanc-Sec topped the list. "Maggie is a survivor, who never stops kicking ass even she's dealing with depression and heartbreak." says Charlie Jane Anders and in reference to Adele Blanc-Sec:"She's a writer in pre-World War I Paris, which automatically makes her cool. . . She's not afraid to shoot guns, drink the hard stuff, or smoke like a man. She spent World War I in cryogenic suspension and then rocked the 1920s."
• Plug:The Last Vispo's editor Nico Vassilakis recently curated an online group of visual artists called Ten Turkish Visual Poets at Trickhouse.
• Interview: The powerful and deft Friedman brothers were interviewed about Any Similarity to Persons Living or Dead is Purely Coincidental by William Michael Smith of the Houston Press. Josh Alan Friedman talks about his brother's artwork,"Originally [Drew Friedman] worked with stippling technique, using a rapidograph pen. Bent over a desk like a watchmaker, doing thousands of dots. A technique made famous by 'Sunday in the Park with Georges' Seurat, but strictly shunned by art schools in the 20th century."
• Plug: Ron Regé, Jr. is up to something sneaky! At We Can Do It.
The sweetest smelling Online Commentaries & Diversions:
•Review: Partially and fully-reviewed on Em & Lo and SUNfiltered respectively is new book Significant Objects by Joshua Glenn and Rob Walker. Em and Lo said, "The book also organizes the stories and objects into groups that will be more familiar to thrift-store shoppers, based on the items’ original intended use: novelty items, figurines, kitsch, toys, etc."
•Review:Detroit News takes a look at No Straight Lines, edited by Justin Hall. Eric Henrickson wrote, "If 'No Straight Lines: Four Decades of Queer Comics' isn’t the definitive look at the world of GLBT comics, it surely must come darn close. . . I knew there was a lot out there, but I was surprised at the depth of the genre — in sheer quantity and in quality. It’s also a great volume for comics historians."
•Review:Wandering Son, Volume 3 by Shimura Takako is reviewed on Experiments in Manga. Librarian Ash Brown says, "Shimura deals with her characters and with identity, particularly gender identity, with a tremendous amount of sensitivity. Wandering Son is one of the few comics that I have had the opportunity to read that has accomplished this as a fictional work rather than as a memoir." But that isn't all Wandering Son is about: "The fact that the characters aren't characters per se but actual individuals is one of Wandering Son's greatest strengths. Ultimately, the story isn't about the 'issues' surrounding personal identity so much as it is about the people themselves."
•Review: Hillary Brown of Paste Magazine examines Flannery O'Conner: The Cartoons, edited by Kelly Gerald. "Fantagraphics has done us a service of scholarship in publishing these early linocuts, executed for O’Connor’s high school and college newspapers, and the essay by editor Kelly Gerald that follows their reproduction makes some interesting connections to her later literary works, but most of them don’t stand on their own."
•Commentary:Drew Friedman visited MAD Magazine almost 40 years ago and wrote a little about his trip, picked up by Boing Boing.
•Plug: The MOST OCD-happy site of Hernandez Brothers mentions, Love & Maggie, lists the newest mentions of the month.
•Review:Pornokitsch goes WAY back to a sold-out Jules Feiffer illustrated novel, Harry, the Rat with Women. Jared says,"Everything is there and familiar, but somehow drawn and thin and somewhat ethereal; delicate but distorted." Now you know to get it when at Half-Price books!
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