Whether you choose to call them “comics lit,” “graphic novels,” or just “thick comic books,” book-length narratives told in words and pictures confidently elbowed their way into the cultural spotlight in the first decade of this new millennium — beginning with the simultaneous 2001 release of Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth and Daniel Clowes’ David Boring, and continuing on through ground-breaking and best-selling works such as Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, Robert Crumb’s Genesis, Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, and Joe Sacco’s Palestine.
This renaissance in turn brought forth a chorus of critical commentary that not only addressed these recent works, but also initiated a much-needed look back at the previous century’s neglected and forgotten masterpieces.
This chorus, as presented in The Best American Comics Criticism, comprises both criticism (Douglas Wolk on Frank Miller and Will Eisner, Robert C. Harvey on Fun Home, Donald Phelps on Steve Ditko and Phoebe Gloeckner) and history (David Hajdu on the 1950s comic-book burnings, Jeet Heer on Gasoline Alley, Ben Schwartz on Little Orphan Annie, Gerard Jones on the birth of the comic-book business), as well as revelatory peer-on-peer essays by novelists (Jonathan Franzen on Peanuts, John Updike on James Thurber) and cartoonists (Chris Ware on Rodolphe Töpffer, Clowes on Mad’s Will Elder, and Seth on John Stanley).
Add in still more voices (The Daily Show’s John Hodgman on Jack Kirby, Sarah Boxer on Krazy Kat, Ken Parille with a meticulous deconstruction of Clowes’s David Boring), and a selection of revelatory interviews with comics masters (Kim Deitch, Yoshihiro Tatsumi, Marjane Satrapi, Will Elder, Chester Brown) and cartoonist tête-à-têtes (Eisner/Miller, Jonatham Lethem/Clowes, Dan Nadel/Sammy Harkham), and The Best American Comics Criticism offers a riveting and comprehensive look at a medium finally come into its own—not just creatively, but in terms of the respect and prominence within American culture it has so long deserved.
The Best American Comics Criticism is edited by Ben Schwartz, a contributor to The New York Times, The Washington Post, Salon, The Atlantic On-Line, and Bookforum.
See the full Table of Contents and read Ben Schwartz's Introduction in this EXCLUSIVE 15-page PDF download (193 KB).
Monte Beauchamp's annual darling of the graphic design and illustration world is a spectacular collection of cutting-edge comics, illustration, and graphic design. Blab!'s list of contributors past and present reads like a Who's Who of the contemporary visual art world. We're pleased to present the following seven volumes together for one low price: $12 per volume — around 40% off the combined cover prices.
Below is a brief description of the contents of each included volume; click the cover thumbnails for more information about each volume.
Vol. 11: Mark Ryden's spectacular cover is the gateway to this issue's visual feast, starring Spain, Richard Sala, Doug Allen, Stephane Blanquet, Peter Kuper, Drew Friedman, Lloyd Dangle, the first part of the Jonathon Rosen sketchbook, and much more!
Vol. 12: Blanquet, Walter Minus, Peter Kuper, Peter Hoey, Spain, Doug Allen, Matti Hagleberg, Greg Clarke, Drew Friedman, Baseman, DEVO's Mark Mothersbaugh, vintage French nudie photos, Krampus cards, plus covers and a story by the Clayton Brothers!
Vol. 13: Peter and Maria Hoey, the Clayton Bros., Sue Coe, Peter Kuper, Drew Friedman, Marc Rosenthal, Spain, Laura Levine, Baseman, Walter Minus, Blanquet, David Goldin, Christian Northeast, Johnson & Smith novelty ads, and a cover by George Eisner!
Vol. 15: Covers by Pop Art virtuoso Lou Brooks, Christian Northeast, Sue Coe on the so-called bird flu, Matti Hagelberg's undead President of Finland, Jeffrey Steele on the Black Dahlia, Peter Kuper's Little Nemo-inspired fantasy, Baseman, and Kilroy.
Vol. 16: Geoffrey Grahn, Laura Levine, Peter and Maria Hoey, Sue Coe, Judith Brody, Sergio Ruzzier, Mats!, Spain, Peter Kuper, Marc Rosenthal, Gary Baseman, The Clayton Brothers, Bob Staake and more. Covers by Tim Biskup.
Vol. 17 Cover by Jonathon Rosen, Shag!, Bazooka Joe, Sue Coe, Greg Clarke, Drew Friedman, Peter Kuper, Mark Landman, Max Vesta, Lou Brooks, Peter and Maria Hoey, Tim Biskup, Gary Baseman, Fred Stonehouse, Marc Rosenthal, Spain, Mats!, and Sergio Ruzzier.
Vol. 18: Paco Alcazar, Ryan Heshka, Skip Williamson, Steven Guarnaccia, Xavier & Helge, Mark Frauenfelder; newbies Travis Louie, Nora Krug, Travis Lampe, Mark Zingarelli, Richard Bears, Randall Enos; regulars Baseman, Biskup, Coe, Kuper, Shag; more!
"Always, always, always worth your consideration." – The Comics Reporter
Presidents Day does not stop the Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: "In Hernandez’s hands, [The Troublemakers] unspools on the page like a Russ Meyer production, from the in-your-face nudity, right down to the cartoony violence played for laughs. ...[I]t sure is fun." — Rod Lott, Bookgasm
• Review: "Even if I finally accepted that [Sublife Vol. 2] did not answer any of my questions from the first volume... I still admired the growth in Pham’s work on display between the two volumes. Volume 2 shows a terrific range, beginning a Clowes-like opening series of strips about a murderous blogger with an under-read blog that shows a biting wit not on display in the first volume. The tour de force of the volume is the second piece, which picks up (for those paying incredibly scrupulous attention) on a deep space adventure from the inside covers of Volume 1. Here Pham lets his instincts for architectural design sense take off in a trippy sequence that is pure pleasure to look at. ... In some ways — in many ways actually — the first two volumes of Sublife evoke memories of the early volumes of Acme Novelty Warehouse [sic]. And that could be a very good thing." – Jared Gardner, The Comics Journal
• Review: "...I am delighted to report that The Great Anti-War Cartoons offers an impressive showcase of political cartooning. Many of its contributors have never had their work reprinted with as much care. Even the most well-informed reader will stumble across pieces they have never seen or names they have never heard of." – Kent Worcester, The Comics Journal
• Review: "[There are] ...a number of strong stories to be found here [in Mome Vol. 17], and a number of rewards to be gained by those who were following serials like Paul Hornschemeier’s 'Life With Mr. Dangerous' or the second chapters of the stories done by Renee French and Ted Stearn." – Rob Clough, The Comics Journal
• Interview:Newave! The Underground Mini Comix of the 1980s editor Michael Dowers talks to Robot 6's Tim O'Shea: "I want people to see that if you believe in something hard enough and never give up that you can get somewhere in life. Here is a group of creative types who couldn’t take no for an answer and made their own world of comics."
Yes, it's a parody/homage of The Believer, courtesy of editor Ben Schwartz, artist Drew Friedman, and designer Alexa Koenings. Drew provides more background and a larger image at his blog. The book is just off to press and should be out in April.
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.
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