Online Commentary & Diversions returns from a sick day:
• Review: "With elegant simplicity, this comic-book fable [Set to Sea] unfurls the tale of a life cast on an unexpected course and the melancholy wisdom accrued upon the waves. First-time graphic-novelist Weing has produced a beautiful gem here, with minimal dialogue, one jolting battle scene, and each small page owned by a single panel filled with art whose figures have a comfortable roundness dredged up from the cartoon landscapes of our childhood unconscious, even as the intensely crosshatched shadings suggest the darkness that sometimes traces the edges of our lives. [...] Weing’s debut is playful, atmospheric, dark, wistful, and wise." – Jesse Karp, Booklist (Starred Review)
• Review: "...[A]n absolutely stunning [book], collecting some of the best and most trenchantly funny illustrations by a contender for the title of America’s Greatest Living Caricaturist in a lavish, full-colour hardback. [...] Friedman is a master craftsman who can draw and paint with breathtaking power, and his work is intrinsically funny. [...] His caricatures are powerful, resonant and joyful, but without ever really descending to the level of graphic malice preferred by such luminaries as Ralph Steadman or Gerald Scarfe. Too Soon? is a book for art lovers, celebrity stalkers and anyone who enjoys a pretty, good laugh." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Review: "...A Drunken Dream showcases the full range of Hagio’s short stories, while also granting readers insight into the themes of lost innocence, family dysfunction and perseverance in the face of abuse that underscore much of her work. [...] With distinct character designs, detailed backgrounds and emotive character acting, Hagio’s artwork conveys the full emotional range of her stories, with dollops of humor mixed into sagas of sadness, survival and hard-won contentment. [...] A Drunken Dream and Other Stories finds another important voice in Japanese comics history washing up on American shores. One hopes that Hagio, whose work manages to be both stark and beautiful, finds a welcoming and receptive audience." – Michael C. Lorah, Newsarama
• Review: Sean T. Collins looks at "La Maggie La Loca" and "Gold Diggers of 1969" from Love and Rockets Vol. II #20 as part of his "Love and Rocktober" series at Attentiondeficitdisorderly: "Maggie may just be an apartment manager anymore, she may now get in way over her head (literally) when she attempts to have a fun island adventure like she used to, but the way Rena sneaks into her room at night just to watch her sleep reveals that the aging heroine could use a dose of the community and camaraderie that's part and parcel of Maggie's dayjob."
• List: Sam Costello of iFanboy names House by Josh Simmons as one of "13 Great Horror Comics for Halloween": "Josh Simmons is some kind of horror savant. There are few really, truly, deeply disturbing comics out there. If you’re willing to take the risk of reading a comic that you’ll literally want to cover your eyes while you read, Simmons’ work is for you. House, his nearly wordless tale of a trio of friends exploring a dilapidated, cavernous mansion, is less explicit, but worth a look. Its suffocating, despairing loneliness is affecting." (Via Robot 6)
• Commentary: "It was like the sky: pleasant, visually appealing, reliable. Peanuts had a Picture of Dorian Gray quality; you kept getting older and more decrepit and more cynical, but it didn't. By the time you started reading it, you were already older than the characters in the strip, so it immediately made you nostalgic for childhood. Not necessarily for your childhood, but for the childhood Lucy and Charlie and Linus were having." – Joe Queenan, The Guardian
• Interview: At Comic Book Resources, Chris Mautner talks to Johnny Ryan about Prison Pit: "I think in a strange way the book(s) are very revealing about myself. I felt as if I was really exposing myself here. I was very anxious about that."
• Review: "...[From Shadow to Light: The Life and Art of Mort Meskin] is extremely informative and truly wonderful... Evocatively written by creative/art director, designer, educator and biographical author Steven Brower, with dozens of first hand accounts from family, friends and contemporaries; the sad, unjust life of this major figure of popular art is fully explored and gloriously justified by every miraculous page of his work reproduced herein. [...] Brilliant, captivating, utterly unforgettable and unknown, Meskin’s enforced anonymity is finally coming to an end and this magical chronicle is hopefully only the first step in rediscovering this major talent." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Review: "[Mort] Meskin... deserves to be treasured by all comic fans and studied by all artists of the medium. Now, at last, he gets some of the attention he is due in From Shadow to Light: The Life & Art of Mort Meskin by Steven Brower. [...] On display in this book are amazing examples of comic art. [...] The biographical portion of the book is enlivened by vivid detail from many personal recounts by artists and friends Meskin worked with and his own sons... Overall... this book is an incredible testament to an incredible talent and hopefully it will encourage more comic fans to learn about Meskin and seek out some of his work." – Rich Clabaugh, The Christian Science Monitor
• Review: "Four Color Fear is a lovingly accumulated and organized collection of... stories starring ghosts, ghouls, zombies, demons, and monsters of all stripes. [...] Four Color Fear offers some nice bonus features too, which elevate it from being a simple compilation of reprinted stories. [...] In case I haven’t made this clear yet: this book is tremendous. [...] For fans of the genre, [editor Greg] Sadowski has performed a valuable service — rescuing these stories from obscurity and reminding us that, yes, EC was one of the important publishers of its era — only one of many. [Rating] 9/10" – David Maine, PopMatters
• Review: "One of the consolations of being obscure is the knowledge that you'll never have to wake up in a world where Drew Friedman has caricatured you. Friedman's pen is relentless and his eye is merciless: every foible, every wrinkle or blush or spot is seen clearly and depicted precisely. ...[T]here hasn't been a book like Too Soon? before, and it's been needed. So the answer to the question's title is: no, not at all. If anything, it's long overdue." – Andrew Wheeler, The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.
• Reviews: The new episode of Easy Rider, the radio show for "rock, punk rock, country, power pop, garage and comics" from Radio PFM out of Arras in northern France, features Lucky in Love Book 1 by George Chieffet & Stephen DeStefano, Locas by Jaime Hernandez, and Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me by Peter Bagge among their Comics of the Week
• Review: "Love and Rocktober" continues at Attentiondeficitdisorderly as Sean T. Collins looks at Jaime's Perla La Loca: "So what conclusions are we to draw from all this? It's taken me a while, but I've come to the conclusion that drawing a conclusion is the wrong thing to do. There's not some message being sent here about, I dunno, punk or fluid sexuality or sex work, which are sort of the common threads of the two big stories here... The message, I think, is simply to be found in the fact that there are two big, separate Maggie and Hopey stories here. They're not symbols, they're people."
• Interview: Jesse Tangen-Mills conducts the first of two interviews with Johnny Ryan at The Comics Journal: "At first my Mom thought this would be a nice hobby for me. She never liked the idea or thought I could make a living out of it. Now, she seems to appreciate it a bit more. I do send her my books because she asks for them. I don’t think I would otherwise."
• Interview: The second interview with Johnny Ryan at The Comics Journal, conducted by Ian Burns, was originally meant for this blog, but deemed Too Good for Flog: "...I felt, by doing research, I’m completely undermining the work. It goes back to my whole thing about seeing like a teenager’s action comic. Teenagers don’t think about, 'Well, I need to take an anatomy course,' [Burns laughs] 'before I draw my mutant planet war.' They just fuckin’ just go and just jump into it. So I had that same vibe."
Special guest Larry Storch regaled the lucky SRO crowd at Drew Friedman's Too Soon? signing at Desert Island in Brooklyn on Friday night with a short set of jokes and anecdotes, captured on video. Wonderful! Gabe of Desert Island promises to post audio of the entire presentation shortly, so we'll be sure to bring you that as soon as it's up.
Online Commentary & Diversions, back from a short vacation:
• Review: "In the first volume of Tyler's planned trilogy of graphic memoirs [You'll Never Know], she dug into the eruptive, violent memories of her father's WWII experiences while simultaneously dealing with a husband who decided to go find himself and leave her with a daughter to raise. This second volume is no less rich and overwhelming. [...] While the language of Chicago-raised and Cincinnati-based Tyler has a winningly self-deprecating Midwestern spareness to it, her art is a lavishly prepared kaleidoscope of watercolors and finely etched drawings, all composed to look like the greatest family photo album of all time. The story's honest self-revelations and humane evocations of family dramas are tremendously moving." – Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
• Review: "Friedman's hyper-realistic pen-and-ink and water-color portraits of show business and political luminaries have made their way into the likes of Entertainment Weekly, The New Yorker and Rolling Stone over the years, and a stunning new collection has just been published by Fantagraphics Books — Too Soon?: Famous/Infamous Faces 1995-2010. [...] To say that Friedman's drawings are unsentimental or unsparing is just to scratch the surface. Known for depicting every last liver spot, burst capillary and wrinkle, his work is truly a Warts and All procedure. [...] You might say the super-realistic portraits are loving ones, but only in the sense that you love your own family members, whose soft spots and selfishness one is forced to forgive. Drew Friedman's heart is as big as his capacious eye for the telling detail. Seek him out or forever hold your peace." – David Weiss, Life Goes Strong
• Review: "...Four Color Fear offers some of the finest pre-code comic book horror tales ever produced. Extensively researched, complete with story notes, editor Sadowski compiled a superior collection of non-EC tales, many of which rarely reprinted in color. A 30-page cover art section and a fascinating article by historian John Benson, who also supplied the book's intro, about the little remembered, but prolific Ruth Roche, round out this sensational historical tour of the Golden Age of Horror Comics. Highly recommended!" – Rick Klaw, The SF Site: Nexus Graphica
• Review: "The wait [for Love and Rockets: New Stories #3] has been long, no doubt, but I dare say that it was not only worthwhile, but it has proved an inspiration to continue to have faith in mankind, because with artists like these, it is worth living. For the third annual issue..., Beto gets really wild and Xaime creates a stunning tapestry of memories and narrative levels." – Mauricio Matamoros, Iconoctlán (translated from Spanish)
• Interview: As part of his ongoing "Love and Rocktoberfest," Sean T. Collins posts his 2007 Wizard interview with Gilbert & Jaime Hernandez at Attentiondeficitdisorderly: "I liked drawing rockets and robots, as well as girls. [Laughs] It really was no big game plan. It was almost like, 'Okay, I'll give you rockets and robots, but I'll show you how it's done. I'm gonna do it, and this is how it's supposed to be done!' I went in with that kind of attitude." (Jaime)
• Review: "Like much of Hernandez’s work, there’s light amongst all this darkness, particularly later in this section of Fritz’s story. But [High Soft Lisp] remains a bleak book, with Fritz’s own cheerful optimism one of the few beacons of hope amongst a cast of incidental characters whose main purpose seems only to exploit her. Hernandez rarely performs below his best and this is no exception..." – Andy Shaw, Grovel
• Review: "Vast swaths of Wally Gropius appear — at least to my eye — to be visual homages to images that Hensley particularly loves. (The alternative is that he lays his panels out in his static, staccato rhythm just for that feeling, which is close to the same impulse.) It's all very loud and manic and bright and bizarre, veering towards and away from coherence often within the same panel. [...] The end result has that go-go energy and restless heat of the authentic products of the era Hensley sets his story in..." – Andrew Wheeler, The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.
• Interview:Illustration Friday talks to Jim Woodring: "Names and labels don’t matter much. Besides, there are things that cannot be said in words. So if you say them in pictures, are they not things being said? If I draw a hill that looks like a woman, it works differently that if i write 'there’s a hill that looks like a woman.' Also there are clues that one doesn’t want discovered too quickly, or not at all. Because one wants the emanations to proceed from an unknown source."
• Plug: "Nate Neal's first graphic novel [The Sanctuary] is dumbfoundingly ambitious: it takes as its subject nothing less than the invention of comics, in the sense of narrative-in-pictures, meaning that its cast is a bunch of cave-people. Cave-people who speak a cave-person language that Neal has invented himself (he offers the translation of a few key words on its jacket copy, but that's it). The working title of the book was a drawing of a bison. A man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?" – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
New from Drew Friedman's Fine Art Prints concern is this portrait of John Lennon (originally published in TIME for a tribute to Lennon by Paul McCartney), released to commemorate what would have been Lennon's 70th birthday on October 9. Irwin Chusid's typically well-written description and ordering details can be found here.
HARLAN ELLISON - Wednesday, September 29 2010 18:36:3
Due to the (uh)(ahem) inordinately "strained" relations passim one of his publishers and me, I never got a chance to tell the astonishingly wonderful artist/caricaturist Drew Friedman that I am, and was from the beginning of his career, a cockeyed fan of his merciless honesty. He once did a caricature of me and I always wanted to tell him that I considered it a memento mori of exquisite meanness. His is absolutely imperial iconography, and next to his hilarious portrait of my friend Patton Oswalt, his two books of Old Jewish Comedians are so dear to me, that I had them Lucite-boxed. I mention this now, in hopes someone will impart yet another Old Jew's admiration, because I have just now finished gasping, giggling, guffawing and geshrying over his latest collection of portraits.
Being a bit of a bohkun myself, it has been delightful to watch Drew Friedman chase Hogarth, Kley, Nast and them guys over the hill. He is to fine art what Guernica was to human observation.
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