• Review: "Released last year, Johnny Ryan’s Prison Pit: Book One was the kind of offensive, polarising piece of trash that readers either embraced like a lovable, rotting puppy carcass or bolted from in aghast terror. Both camps will feel vindicated then, that Prison Pit: Book Two returns with just as much phallic, alien grappling gore as the original, if not more. Me? I’m content to let the book slam its bloody, jagged nailed middle finger through my cornea any day of the week. [...] Who needs Asterios Polyp when the central narrative movement of this comic is a mission titled 'Operation Rape Ladydactyl'? Not me, that's for sure." – Avoid the Future
• Review: "Prison Pit Book Two is as funny as Book One, and what it lacks in hysterical wordplay ('want me to send you an e-vite' remains the gold standard), it makes up for in its delirious commitment to excess, both in the grotesqueries on display as well as the suspense. This may not be the comic everybody else were waiting for, but around these parts, it most certainly was. Pin a rose on my dick, call me king of the geckos: I have found my homeland." – Tucker Stone, The Factual Opinion
• Interview: Ao Meng of The Daily Texan talks to Johnny Ryan about Prison Pit and his other work: "My experience when I’m watching a movie where somebody’s head explodes or some crazy monster cuts their legs off, I’m laughing my head off because it’s so outrageous and violent. That kind of stuff just makes me laugh, and so I guess I was incorporating that into my work."
• Review: "The net cannot convey what a marvelous little object-book [Set to Sea] is. And the content ain’t bad either. I’ll throw in the same comparison everyone else is making: it’s like a collaboration between Herman Melville and E.C. Segar." – M. Ace, Irregular Orbit
• Review: "Forgotten comics genius, Milt Gross, sends up arty 'wordless novels,' old-time melodramas and silent movie potboilers all at once with his inimitable cartoon flair [in He Done Her Wrong]. Why, oh why couldn’t I see this when I was a kid?!" – M. Ace, Irregular Orbit
• Review: Dominic Moschitti of The Quarter Bin video podcast looks at Jason's Meow, Baby! (out of print but compiled in Almost Silent) and also writes "Elvis fights Godzilla! A Caveman goes on a date! Dracula watches TV! If any of these events sound exciting to you, or the mere thought amuses you, then you need to pick up Jason’s graphic novel, Meow, Baby! I did and now I’m writing this! But honestly folks, if you’re into comic strips you have to read this book. It’s hilarious."
• Plugs: "Instead of coming out with regular comic books on an irregular basis, the Hernandez brothers have smartly turned their legendary, groundbreaking comic series [Love and Rockets] into an annual, trade paperback-sized tome. It's an annual treat that's well worth the wait. [...] Johnny Ryan's approach to humor is sort of like a scorched earth/take no prisoners strategy. Prison Pit mixes pro-wrestling, grindhouse, video games with Gary Panter and Kentaro Miura's manga and the results are brutal, hilarious and brutally hilarious. [...] Too Soon? collects Drew Friedman's celebrity portraits from the past 15 years. His style is simultaneously hyper-realistic and grotesque, and always engaging and delightful. This is an excellent collection of one of the finest caricature/portrait/editorialist artists working today." – Benn Ray (Atomic Books), Largehearted Boy
• Plug: "Love and Rockets: New Stories #3 is the latest from the Hernandez Brothers and sees Jaime return to the cast of Locas after his superheroic two-parter. Gilbert’s offering is a somewhat weirder tale of alien terrain and a furry mating season. Alien mating season. Not the dress-up-as-squirrels kind of furry. Or something. I think. [...] Drew Friedman’s been beavering away painting portraits of the famous and the infamous... so it’s about time someone collected the last fifteen years’ worth. Too Soon? is a hardcover full of familiar, grotesque faces..." – The Gosh! Comics Blog
This week's comic shop shipment is slated to include the following new titles (with one possible exception — see below). Read on to see what comics-blog commentators are saying about our releases this week, and contact your local shop to confirm availability.
120-page monochrome 6.5" x 8.5" hardcover • $19.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-354-5
"Stephen DeStefano — remember him from ''Mazing Man'? — and George Chieffet's graphic novel is the first of a two-volume project about a young man finding his way in the political and sexual world during World War II. It's a smart, discursive little story, and really nicely drawn, in a kind of grand post-Milt Gross style that one doesn't see very often these days." – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
"You couldn’t ask for a better drawn comic than this original graphic novel by author George Chieffet and artist Stephen DeStefano. Well, you could, but you wouldn’t get it." – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
"Nice looking book of the week about which I know little save for its looking nice... #2 – a new hardcover account of a short man’s romantic longings in and out of the WWII era, plotted and drawn by comics and animation veteran Stephen DeStefano, with a script by one George Chieffet." – Joe McCulloch, Comics Comics
"A hardcover memoir set in early 1940s Hoboken and starring the evocative art of natural-born cartoonist Stephen DeStefano working from a script by George Chieffet. I can't wait to see it." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
"It’s been awhile since we’ve seen much from DeStefano — he’s been busy with animation projects and illustration work — but I’m intrigued by his attempt to tell the story (working with writer George L. Chieffet) of WWII soldier Lucky and his various sexual misadventures with a number of women. DeStefano has a nice, thick, rubbery line that I really appreciate, so I look forward to lingering over these pages." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
116-page black & white 6.5" x 8.5" softcover • $12.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-383-5
"Not sure I can say anything here that the cover image above doesn’t." – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
"Continuing Johnny Ryan’s much-enjoyed fight comic, vol. 1 of which provided maybe the most unexpected bit of successful East-West comics fusion for 2009. Two huge battles dominate these 116 pages, one of them extensive enough to mutilate lead character CF into an entirely new character design, and the second foregrounding the motif of bodily (often sexual) function-as-transformation as a specific means of plot advancement. Parts of this one reminded me a bit of Josh Simmons’ House, which could be taken as a treat or a warning, depending on the reader’s disposition." – Joe McCulloch, Comics Comics
"Johnny Ryan's all-violence-and-scatology-all-the-time tour of some kind of personal videogame/quest-narrative mythology continues. Dude's got a vision. A really gross vision... you can tell that what he's making is, as far as he's concerned, the perfect comic book, and I admire that level of commitment." – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
"As far as trade paperbacks go, we have Prison Pit 2 (Fantagraphics) from Johnny Ryan — we interviewed Ryan recently about this ultra-violent meditation on mutants, blood, and swearing." – Cyriaque Lamar, io9
"If I did have $15, you can bet one of the first things I’d buy is Prison Pit Vol. 2 ($12.99) Johnny Ryan’s sequel to his exquisitely Grand Guginol, no-holds-barred, incredibly violent and scatological action comic. To say this comic is not for the faint of heart is the understatement of the year — it features an insane amount of blood and viscera, an abundance of fecal matter and [Spoiler redacted – Ed.]. It’s also rather brilliant at the same time — a free-flowing, constantly imaginative display of pure cartooning power that is both disgusted and invigorated by the horror of its ideas. The first volume was one of the best books of last year. Will the second match its power? Bet on it." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
204-page full-color 8.25" x 10.75" hardcover • $29.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-357-6
"Being a new 204-page Fantagraphics hardcover collection of illustrations by Drew Friedman, who probably didn’t need a link to his website as a means of your realizing who he his, but still!" – Joe McCulloch, Comics Comics
"Since I’m [hypothetically] splurging, I’ll also pick up a copy of Too Soon? by Drew Friedman, because, you know, it’s Drew Friedman." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
The next one is not officially being released this week; read on for the explanation:
104-page black & white 7.5" x 9.25" softcover • $14.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-379-8
"Oh God the Hernandez brothers are so good. This isn't even on the Diamond list for this week, but it's on the Midtown list, it's propagating to lots of comics stores, and you need it: Jaime telling the sad story of Maggie's brother who nobody ever talks about, and Gilbert messing with everyone's mind. Plus Fantagraphics is running a special where all three issues so far of 'New Stories' are thirty bucks total." – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
"Finally arriving, the 3rd 'annual' version of Love and Rockets is, by all accounts, the best yet." – Chris Butcher, The Beguiling
• Review: "Anyone coming to this volume [of The Complete Peanuts] looking for the rumored decline that is supposed to have happened in the second half of the 1970s might shut the book after its last page slightly confused. Energized by the Peppermint Patty/Marcie duo's emergence into the prime of their own vitality as characters and as a classic comic-strip team (I'd never thought of it before, but there are obviously elements of Easy and Tubbs there), Schulz's dailies were as strong and funny as ever." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
• Review: "...[N]ot being a big manga reader, I didn’t expect to like the stories nearly as much as I did. But then smartly done genre tales make for some of the best literature, comics, film, etc. What I liked most about the different pieces in A Drunken Dream is the psychological form of sci-fi she employs (strictly speaking, the title story is the only sci-fi one, but I think a looser definition that incorporates the social aspects of the genre also applies here). I thought often of Tarkovsky’s Solaris." – Nicole Rudick, Comics Comics
• Feature: "When historians compile lists of the stuff that helped make America America, they don’t even rank the DeMoulin’s Patent Lung Tester alongside even relatively minor inventions like the cotton gin, the telegraph, and the automobile, much less epic game-changers such as instant coffee and air conditioning. Surely this is an oversight. [...] Along with hundreds of similar devices, the Lung Tester appears in Catalog No. 439: Burlesque Paraphernalia and Side Degree Specialties and Costumes. Originally published in 1930 by DeMoulin Bros. & Co., this strange volume has been newly reprinted by Fantagraphics Books. Like the more iconic Sears, Roebuck and Co. catalog, it illuminates its moment in American history as deftly and instructively as any novelist has ever done." – Greg Beato, The Smart Set
• Plug: "Are you a fan of pop culture-related art? Or possibly just of distorted human features? Well run don't walk... to purchase [Too Soon?,] the new book by Drew Friedman, longtime illustrator for The Observer, Mad Magazine and other publications." – Dan Duray, The New York Observer
• Profile: At Il Sole 24 Ore, Luca Boschi looks at the work of Mort Walker & Jerry Dumas, calling our collection of Sam's Strip "an exceptional volume of comic strips... As always, Fantagraphics' presentation is superb and worth sharing." (Translated from Italian)
• List:Publishers Weekly's Calvin Reid and Heidi MacDonald run down some "Graphic Novels as Gifts" suggestions, including Norman Pettingill: Backwoods Humorist ("A wooden cover introduces the amazing outsider art of Pettingill, who crafted detailed postcards of wildlife and rustic humor") and A Drunken Dream and Other Stories by Moto Hagio ("Haunting stories of longing, memory, and love from the legendary manga-ka who changed the face of Japanese comics").
• Review: "When experienced animators turn to creating comics or illustrating children’s books, I usually find the results successful and quite satisfying. That’s certainly the case with animator Mitch Schauer (Angry Beavers) and his first graphic novel, RIP M.D. (from Fantagraphics). [...] RIP M.D. would make an amazing 2D animated feature — if Hollywood were still making those. For now, graphic novels such as this are a great outlet for ambitious creators with ample imaginations. Check it out." – Jerry Beck, Cartoon Brew
• Review: "Temperance is a fascinating comic. Malkasian gives us an odd, fairy-tale-esque world where we must accept unreal things so that she can make her points. [...] Malkasian does a fine job of grounding the tale of Blessedbowl in a real-world concern while still making sure it’s fantastical enough so a sentient wooden doll doesn’t seem too out of place. Malkasian’s art is tremendous, as well. [...] Temperance is a fascinating book to read, and while it’s not difficult to figure out, it does raise some important questions about society and what people do to live in one. Malkasian has a lot on her mind, and it’s impressive that she manages to get her real-world concerns into this fable without becoming preachy. [...] It’s a very thoughtful comic, and I encourage you to check it out." – Greg Burgas, Comic Book Resources
• Interview:Robot 6's Tim O'Shea talks to Jason about Werewolves of Montpellier and other topics: "I’ve done boy meets girl and one of them dies in the end several times, so yes, I was a bit afraid of starting to repeat myself. But I think Werewolvesis sufficiently different. It’s a platonic relationship between the two characters for one thing, and none of them dies in the end."
• Interview: At About.com: Manga, Deb Aoki presents a transcription of Moto Hagio's panel appearances at Comic-Con (with translator Matt Thorn) and conducts her own Q&A with the creator of A Drunken Dream and Other Stories: "Well, when I was a child, I used to read manga and cry myself. I had similar reactions watching movies and reading comics. Basically, I'm just expressing my own feelings like that. So it was with my own parents, and for a lot of people of that generation, who said that manga is just for small children, it's very simplistic. But from my point of view, manga is just one medium like movies and novels; it can be just as deep and just as moving."
• Interview:io9's Cyriaque Lamar, who brilliantly sums up Prison Pit: Book 2 as "not unlike Masters of the Universe...if Masters of the Universe was a hentai that starred Gwar," talks to its creator Johnny Ryan: "I wanted to do a book about monster-men beating the shit out of each other. That's my main idea, that's all it's about. There's no real subtext to it. It's about the fighting."
• Interview: Thomas Papadimitropoulos of Comicdom catches up with Bill Griffith on the latest Zippy the Pinhead developments (the intro is in Greek but the interview is presented in English): "I keep trying to surprise myself with the daily Zippy strip. Zippy’s 'discovery' of his hometown, 'Dingburg,' where everyone is a pinhead like him, has taken the strip in a new direction for the last few years. It’s still a lot of fun for me to explore all the different pinhead personalities in Dingburg."
• Interview: At Marvel.com, Sean T. Collins talks to Frank Santoro about his match-made-in-heaven Silver Surfer story for Marvel's Strange Tales II: "I thought of this as my try-out for Marvel. I didn't take this as a chance to do a funny mini comic kinda thing. This was my shot! Was I ever gonna get another one? I'm gonna try to knock it out of the park! That was my thinking."
• Interview: At Pikaland, Melanie Maddison has an extensive chat with Lilli Carré: "My book The Lagoon, which is very mood-driven, took me about 3 years to finish, because I had a lot of starts and stops when working on it. This was partially due to still being in school and working at that time, but also because it was hard to always be in the right mindset to work on such a moody piece and figure out the trajectory of the story."
• Plug: "The inimitable Drew Friedman has a new hardcover book out of his incredible celebrity portraits and caricatures drawn over the last 15 years... Our pals at Fantagraphics published the handsome hardcover, titled Too Soon?: Famous/Infamous Faces 1995-2010." – David Pescovitz, Boing Boing
• Plug: "A new Love and Rockets is out. It apparently contains one of the best Jaime Hernandez stories ever, which makes me shiver with excitement. In celebration, I photographed and uploaded my current favorite Jamie Hernandez story ever 'Penny Century.'" – Will Hines [Ed. note: Reproducing so much of the story is a little borderline, but what the hey.]
• Analysis:Love & Maggie continue their series of detailed, annotated rundowns of their Top 10 Issues of The Comics Journal with the third part of their examination of issue #71
You can see Howard Stern's blurb for Drew Friedman's Too Soon? right there on the front cover, and this morning Howard plugged the book on his Sirius satellite radio show, captured on video and posted to Facebook by Liz Belmont. The upshot: "Very good. Love that guy. ... I think Drew Friedman's my favorite artist. ... I still to this day don't know how he draws like that. It's fabulous."
It's a collection of the last 15 years' worth of Drew Friedman's illustrations, caricatures and portraits lampooning the rich, the famous, the infamous, and the never-will-be-famous.
And — promise! — no "Friends."
Too Soon? gathers Friedman's best, most strident and scathing work from some of the most popular publications including Time, Newsweek, The New Yorker, The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, The New Republic, The Weekly Standard, Blab! and more — yes, even Field & Stream.
Too Soon? casts its net over the entirety of the forced-smiling-celebrity/politico congregation, political animals on one side of the aisle, showbiz beasts on the other... and the sad, innocent victims of their crimes that languish in the middle.
Too Soon? is naturally replete with liver spots, wrinkles, burst capillaries, blood, sweat and tears. No one is spared, no matter which side of the aisle he or she inhabits.
Too Soon? is Friedman's first book of artwork produced in HI-DEF, so be prepared. Drew Friedman's work is always brutally honest, WARTS & ALL.
Too Soon? is in fact not TOO SOON — it's about time.
Praise for Drew Friedman:
"I'm grateful to Drew Friedman for every new piece of his vast, riveting panorama of the jacked-up, hellbent American spectacle: comic and horrific, loving and appalled, obsessive and devil-may-care, brilliant and vulgar, familiar and uncanny. He's our William Hogarth and Thomas Rowlandson and George Grosz all wrapped into one." – Kurt Andersen, host of NPR's "Studio 360"
"I would like Drew Friedman to draw me, but I’m scared of what he’d uncover, what he’d reveal about my inner nature that I’d rather not see. Because that’s what he does—he’s not a mere caricaturist, he’s a ridiculously talented artist who’s practically an x-ray machine. One that makes you laugh your balls off.” – Chip Kidd, author of The Cheese Monkeys
"Friedman's liver-spots-'n'-wrinkles style of cartoon realism is completely mesmerizing..." – Entertainment Weekly
"The Thomas Nast of our time." – Slate
"Friedman distorts the images we've grown comfortable with, skewering the way we've let addicts and half-wits become our national idols..." – The Onion
"Friedman remains the finest, most excruciatingly mordant, somehow most humane caricaturist going". – Booklist
"Of low artistic quality." – Rush Limbaugh, big fat idiot.
• Review: "The real reason to read Lucky in Love, of course, is DeStefano's art, which is intensely expressive and cartoony, among his best work, with fabulous panel designs, wonderful grotesque characters, and amazing energy throughout." – Andrew Wheeler, The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.
• Review: "The Book of Mr. Natural by the legendary and infamous... R. Crumb is a gorgeous mini-coffee table comic book published by Fantagraphic Books. [...] This book is for Mr. Natural’s legions of cult followers, 60’s believers, as well as new and younger readers who can hack the raunchy non-PC wisdom the guru ejaculates." – Phil Semler, San Francisco Book Review
• Review: "Culled from the output of postcard self-publisher and Wisconsin native Norman Pettingill, this triumphant collection of outsider art offers an insider view of a world that most viewers of the work probably won’t enter. Pettingill’s concern was with the insular existence of backwoods hunters, from their lodges to their excursions, pulling humor from the grotesque and bawdy elements in a style that mixes the works of cartoonists like Basil Wolverton and Harvey Kurtzman, and the sweeping tapestries of Hieronymous Bosch. Satire abounds, but no matter how ugly it gets, it’s never vicious — this weirdness is all part of the landscape of Pettingill’s life." – John E. Mitchell, North Adams Transcript
• Interview:Comic Book Resources' Shaun Manning has a thought-provoking chat with our own Kim Thompson about his translation projects, including our recent Jacques Tardi books and the upcoming Milo Manara collections for Dark Horse: "Generally, my core belief is that you have to betray the source material to remain faithful. The Italians have the phrase, 'Traduttori, Traditori,' meaning, 'translators, traitors,' which most would read as an insult but I read as sound advice."
• Interview in the Future:Drew Friedman will be the guest on Bob Andelman's Mr. Media show on BlogTalkRadio on October 4 at 11 AM (not sure what time zone) — start prepping your questions for the call-in session!
• Review: "Oh, the things men do to torture themselves. [Catalog No. 439:] Burlesque Paraphernalia and Side Degree Specialties and Costumes is an amazing flashback to a time before the Internet, television, radio, movies and pretty much every other form of entertainment. [...] This book is chock full of some of the funniest and most sadistic devices ever dreamed up by the human mind. It’s almost as if the guy from the Saw movies had wanted to get laughs instead of frights — and fans of current outrage cinema may be happily startled to find something actually called 'The Human Centipede' in its pages." – Siobhan Greene, Fangoria
• Review: "It's an odd little notion, the idea that you've lived a better, fuller life for having killed people. That's probably a somewhat unfair aspect of Drew Weing's good-natured, lushly drawn storybook (that's the term the comic practically demands I use) Set to Sea — a tale of a big lummox of a poet whose lackluster verses about life on the open sea are given new verve when he's shanghai'd into service on an actual ship — for me to seize on. After all, Weing's bigfooted style and inviting rather than intimidating illustrative chops place him squarely in the adventure-comics tradition of Carl Barks and Jeff Smith." – Sean T. Collins, Attentiondeficitdisorderly
• Review: "Freed from the burden of making a 'serious' work, Anderson delves into some grim and gritty pulp material, and you can feel his relish and delight coming off the page. [Sand & Fury: A Scream Queen Adventure] basically deals with the story of a murdered woman who comes back from the dead as a banshee and eventually seeks revenge against her killer, who in turn may be a supernatural demon himself. It sounds like a Jim Balent comic, but Anderson creates a lovely noir atmosphere here, full of blood, sex and other nasty goings-on that never once becomes camp. It’s a nice, effective little horror comic." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Plug:The Venture Bros. co-creator Jackson Publick writes: "Venture alumnus, super-pal and yiddish-loving Italian-American Stephen DeStefano premiered his new graphic novel, Lucky in Love at the San Diego Comic Con, and I was fortunate enough to snag a copy. Now it's your turn. Go buy one."
• Interview:Graphic NYC 's Christopher Irving talks to Michael Kupperman. Irving on Tales Designed to Thrizzle: "Toss comic book art from the '40s and '50s into a blender with the dirty brand of humor that runs rampant in underground comics, and give it the pacing and spontaneity of skit comedy, and you get Kupperman’s distinctive Tales Designed to Thrizzle. Kupperman’s slick art has the polish and stiffness of old advertising art, creating a posed disconnect that adds a layer of absurdism to his offbeat stories." Sample Kupperman quote: "What I’m doing is more along the lines of sketch comedy. I grew up with Monty Python and SCTV, and those shows had a profound influence on me, through the writing and tone. My comic is humor for childish adults. I think I’m actually going to start putting that on the cover. It’s stuff that makes me laugh and part of my working method is to make stuff that will make others laugh as well."
• Profile: "One hundred-plus years after the newspaper comic strip was born in San Francisco, a reader might well ask: Who was the greatest comic artist of all time? Some scholars say the question was settled in 1924 by New York arts critic Gilbert Seldes, whose book on the American cultural scene, The 7 Lively Arts, devoted an entire chapter to a reclusive cartoonist in the Hollywood Hills named George Herriman and his avant-garde comic strip, Krazy Kat." – Anthony Mostrom, The Los Angeles Times (via The Comics Reporter)
• Profile: Katharine Zarrella of Interview magazine talks to Robert Pollard about his collage art and current exhibit thereof in New York City: "A handful of ex-bandmates are on Pollard's guest list, but what do they think of his artwork? 'It seems a lot of them dig it. I think secretly, and sometimes openly, my peers respect the insanity.'"
• Profile: "One of the most serious gaps that this blog has not yet filled is as follows: having been scandalously silent of the great art of Drew Friedman, one of the most popular and recognizable contemporary American illustrators, a genius capable of combining, with previously unpublished results, a technique of hyper-realistic depiction with the strong sense of the grotesque that characterizes the creative temperament." – Lucca Boschi, Il Sole 24 Ore (translated from Italian)
• Events: At AOL's TV Squad, Aaron Broverman recaps Blake Bell's presentation "Steve Ditko & Bill Everett: Spider-Man, Sub-Mariner, Daredevil & Beyond" at Fan Expo in Toronto, "a panel I expect will be one of the hidden gems of the weekend"
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