|First Look: The Best American Comics Criticism|
|Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Drew Friedman, Coming Attractions, Ben Schwartz||19 Jan 2010 11:44 AM|
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Category >> Drew Friedman
Holy smokes, has it really been 20 years since Warts and All first came out? Movie Morlocks, the official blog of cable network TCM, posted a lengthy and loving tribute to the book. While it was originally published by Penguin, we've had the honor of keeping it in print in recent years. I was influenced by this book at an impressionable age and, like the author of the TCM post, I can still recall some of the gags to this day ("We'll have sex in a minute, honey. First I got to go to the toilet — you know I got diarrhea!"). Thank you to Drew and Josh Alan Friedman for warping my soft young mind.
The latest limited-edition fine art print offering from Drew Friedman is this handsome portrait of groundbreaking radio comedians Bob Elliott (right) and Ray Goulding. Click here to order and to learn more about the duo. There's also a link to download an MP3 of one of their shows — highly recommended!
(Note that this will also be included in Drew's forthcoming book of celebrity portraits, Too Soon? And Drew read my mind and confirms that Bob's son Chris owns one of these prints already.)
Online Commentary & Diversions:
• List: Critic John Seven names Safe Area Gorazde by Joe Sacco one of the Decade's Best Graphic Novels, in a list focused on "graphic novels for people who don’t want to read comics." (via The Comics Reporter)
• List: Matthew Price of The Oklahoman gives Ganges #3 the 9th position on his 10 Best Periodical Comic Books of 2009: "Kevin Huizenga continues to be one of comics' brightest indie creators... Huizenga uses his talents to immerse the reader inside Ganges' head."
• List/reviews/analysis: On the Inkstuds radio program, a roundtable of prominent critics (Sean T. Collins, Tim Hodler, & Chris Mautner) join host Robin McConnell for a discussion of 2009's standout books, including our two "You" books, You Are There by Tardi & Forest and You'll Never Know, Book 1 by C. Tyler
• Reviews/analysis: The Hooded Utilitarian's contrarian critical roundtable of Ghost World marches on with Ng Suat Tong, Vom Marlowe, Kinukitty again, and more Noah Berlatsky, who also points out that you can follow the whole thing here
• Review: "What's better than a new story by Jason? Why, several in one volume, of course! ...[T]he more of Jason's weird energy and quirky, poignant storytelling that I can consume at one time, the better. ... It's kind of a mystery how well he's able to do it, crafting easy-to-follow stories in such a minimalist style, but luckily, they're incredibly enjoyable, so one can easily get lost in them, forgetting questions of craft and technique because those aspects become all but invisible. ... [Low Moon] is another great example of the strange alchemy that Jason has mastered, drawing readers in to compelling tales of people caught up in oddly familiar situations, even when they're dealing with something that's off-kilter from reality as we know it. That's the Jason touch, and long may it continue to grace our pages." – Matthew J. Brady
• Plug: In Richard Metzger's profile of Steve Ditko for Dangerous Minds, he says "I may be a little late to the game on this one, but I recently got a copy of Blake Bell’s Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko, a coffeetable book published by Fantagraphics last year and it is a wonderful and fascinating look at Ditko’s life and work. Kudos to Bell for putting together such a volume which was clearly a labor of love and unique erudition."
• Things to see: If you haven't seen the comics section in the San Francisco Panorama from McSweeney's yet (featuring Dan Clowes, Chris Ware, Kim Deitch, Seth, Art Spiegelman etc.), Flickr user Steve Rhodes has a mess of photos of the whole dang paper
• Things to see: Paul Pope draws Captain Easy in action (our Captain Easy, Soldier of Fortune: The Complete Sunday Newspaper Strips Vol. 1 is currently scheduled for February) (via The Comics Reporter)
Oh man these Online Commentary & Diversions links really pile up:
• List: The Daily Cross Hatch presents The Best Damned Comics of 2009 Chosen by the Artists, this year's edition of their essential annual survey of comics pros' top 5 comics. I won't quote all the lists' commentary here since that would steal some of their thunder (not to mention take me all night), but Pim & Francie by Al Columbia merits 5 mentions; You'll Never Know, Book 1 by C. Tyler is on 3 lists; The Squirrel Machine by Hans Rickheit, Tales Designed to Thrizzle Vol. 1 by Michael Kupperman, Like a Dog by Zak Sally, Prison Pit Book 1 by Johnny Ryan, Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me by Peter Bagge are all mentioned twice; and The Wolverton Bible, Locas II by Jaime Hernandez, Humbug, Popeye Vol. 4, Low Moon by Jason, You Are There by Tardi & Forest, A Mess of Everything by Miss Lasko-Gross, Prince Valiant Vol. 1, Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 1, and Lilli Carré's work in Mome all show up once each (plus a couple of 2008 releases like Zak Sally's Sammy the Mouse #2 and Bottomless Belly Button by Dash Shaw sneak in there)
• List: Details magazine names Ghost World #10 on The 25 Greatest Gen X Books of All Time: "This caustically funny duo-tone tale follows the iconic cat-eyed adolescent Enid Coleslaw in her quest to find meaning, or at least cruel humor, in an age where everything's disposable."
• Review: "Strange Suspense collects dozens of Ditko stories from the 1950’s... Almost a decade before Ditko moved to Marvel, these stories bear his unmistakable style. His fine line work and flair for the abstract that would serve him so well on Doctor Strange particularly, is on full display. ... If you only know Ditko for his work at Marvel or later at DC, here is the chance to explore Early Ditko, unconstrained by editors or the Comics Code. While all of this work is marvelous, clearly Ditko is best at home in horror where he could let his imagination run wild, creating monsters and demons and the things that go bump in the night. Rediscover Ditko today!" – Tim Janson, Newsarama
• Review: "Brian Kane, author of the [Definitive Prince Valiant] Companion and surely the world’s foremost authority on the strip and its creator, Hal Foster, has once again done a herculean amount of work, and Fantagraphics has once again clothed that work in a sturdy, pretty volume. Prince Valiant hasn’t been treated this well since the ersatz King of England sang his praises. Those unfamiliar with the character – a young man who finds adventure, fame, and even love at the court of the legendary King Arthur – will find here all the background information they could ever want... But even long-time Prince Valiant fans will find plenty to fascinate them in this volume." – Khalid Ponte, Open Letters
• Review: "Delphine is a morbid interpretation of the symbology of fairy tales resounding with echoes of unrequited love and abandonment. This is perhaps Sala’s darkest and most intricate story ever – impressive in its nuance and ever shifting emotions. One can only hope that it is not ignored." – Ng Suat Tong, The Comics Journal
• Analysis: Hypergeek crunches direct market sales data and declares Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 1 the top small-press trade for November 2009, with Pim & Francie by Al Columbia ranking at #12
• Interview: From TCJ.com: "Every weekday from now until December 25, we’ll be posting a conversation between cartoonists from The Comics Journal #300, complete and online! In today’s installment, it’s a chat between L’Association publisher Jean-Christophe Menu and Kramers Ergot publisher Sammy Harkham."
Rabbit rabbit Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Gift Guide: At RevolutionSF, Rick Klaw includes Gahan Wilson: Fifty Years of Playboy Cartoons in his "Geek Gift Guide": "The incredible three hardcover boxed set celebrates one of art's funniest and most disturbing cartoonists. ... I promise every geek would be thrilled to find this under the tree. I just hope Santa doesn't throw out his back out delivering this massive collection."
• Gift Guide: Love & Maggie presents a "Los Bros Hernandez Chistmas Shopping Guide"
• Review: "[Gilbert] Hernandez is one of the four or five greatest cartoonists in the world, and it's satisfying to see him work through any plot with any restriction he'd like to place on it. The Troublemakers feels like a movie for more than its story: it's either all exterior information or nearly so, it has opening credits, it has a three-act structure, it uses a wide-panel 'shot' throughout. ... Attaching a world of significance to forms recognizable to most of us as pulp isn't a new thing, but I don't think any of the filmmakers famous for it have done it any better than Hernandez." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
• Plug: "Popeye Vol 4: Plunder Island: Prior to Fantagraphics’ awesome collections of E.C. Segar’s awesome comic strip, this was the only storyline from Thimble Theater I’d ever read before…in The Smithsonian Collection of Newspaper Comics. Does that mean it’s some sort of classic? It should be; it’s fantastic. Anyway, the latest collection is $30 and 170 pages, and, like the first three volumes, it’s beautifully designed and so big and sturdy that it’s practically seaworthy." – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
• Plug: "This is it. The crown jewel in the Popeye crown. If you only buy one volume in the series, blah blah blah. Seriously, hopefully you've been collecting all the Popeye books, because it's one of the greatest comics ever, but this volume contains what must surely be E.C. Segar's finest hour, namely, the 'Plunder Island' storyline, where in Popeye and friends search for treasure and come afoul of the Sea Hag." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Plug: "I've been in long time love with Femke Hiemstra. Her smoky and detailed fantasy landscapes are often coupled with outrageous characters, from vegetables to the floating head of Marie Antoinette. ... [Y]ou can pick up a copy of her splendid book, Rock Candy, which would make a perfect Christmas gift for the art lover or art lover to be." – J.L. Schnabel
• Plug: "The charming blend of original and well-known fairy tale characters into one slightly dysfunctional castle household only gets better as it progresses." – School Library Journal, on Castle Waiting Vol. II
• Mutual Appreciation: We love comedy genius Graham Linehan, and he loves us, as evidenced by the set dressing on The IT Crowd (not to mention interviews he's given); apparently he makes it explicit again in the bonus features to the 3rd season DVD set of the show, which we've yet to see, according to the DVD review at Den of Geek
• Things to see: Ted Dawson of Three Men in a Tub presents E.C. Segar's original art for the August 28, 1938 Thimble Theatre (which will appear in our final Popeye volume in 2011; via The Comics Reporter)
• Things to see: Eric Reynolds comments on this link forwarded by Jason T. Miles: "I love knowing that there was a day in Fanta's past when they could call Kevin Nowlan on the phone for a last minute design job!"
UPDATE: Drew writes in to confirm that this portrait will indeed be included in his next book from Fantagraphics Too Soon? coming Summer 2010.
The great Drew Friedman does what he does best on the cover of this upcoming collection of writing and art from the New York Observer. I'm not sure if this piece will be in Too Soon?, our collection of Drew's celebrity portraits coming out in Summer 2010, but it oughta be. Hit Drew's blog for more info and a larger image.
UPDATE: Drew writes in to say that this image won't be included in Too Soon? — dang.
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