• Review: "Since its 1996 Olio Press inception with The Curse of Brambly Hedge, writer/artist Linda Medley’s sweetly Grimm magnum opus has sometimes appeared fitfully, and this week, Castle Waiting Vol. II #16 continues that trend. More specifically, as her publishers note in a one-page introduction, three years have passed since last the black-and-white Fantagraphics Books neofable graced comics shops. Still, those same publishers — Gary Groth and Kim Thompson, not exactly gentlemen known for lavishing praise profligately — also characterize the series as 'one of the greatest and most beautifully drawn fantasy comic books of all time,' and the verity of that characterization, even after so long a hiatus, earns Castle Waiting this column’s most heartfelt recommendation, as does the series’ gentle humor. Regarding its visuals, by way of example, a two-page view of Jain’s new quarters sparks astonishment for the impeccability of its draftsmanship; regarding its wit, meanwhile, a gentle chuckle should greet Rackham’s comment about the castle’s three handmaidens: 'They’ve been old biddies for so long, it’s hard to imagine that they were once young biddies…'" – Bryan A. Hollerbach, PLAYBACK:stl
• List:Time Out New York names the "50 Funniest New Yorkers," and coming in at #16: "Cartoonist Michael Kupperman transports his readers to another world altogether. In the recurring comic Tales Designed to Thrizzle and book-length parody Mark Twain's Autobiography 1910–2010, Kupperman perverts antiquated cultural signifiers into a jungle of foreplay robots, nut bras and absurd character concoctions such as the Mannister (a man whose superpower is turning into a bannister). Even in his live appearances — during which he occasionally appears as Twain — Kupperman has the same sort of folksy okey-doke quality as his pulpy '50s source material; but make no mistake, there's an uncanny comedy brain teeming underneath his cool exterior." – Matthew Love
• Review: "...Swarte’s work does have that free-wheeling and even irreverent feel that you’ll find in the best work of Gilbert Sheldon and Robert Crumb. Chris Ware writes the introduction to this book, and he does a good job of setting up the collection. As he points out, Is That All There Is?contains most of Swarte’s work, which has me wondering what comics were left out, and why. Regardless, this is an incredible collection that spans Swarte’s career from the early 1970s to today." – Derek Parker Royal, Ph.D.
• Review: "Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, the marquee team of the early days of comics, pioneered the romance genre in 1947 with this title, and, as you'd expect from the creators of Captain America, Young Romance wasn't bad. It had its fair share of melodramatic tear-jerkers, and occasional forays into misogyny (stupid women who need a man to teach them how to live), but Simon & Kirby also flirted with social issues like class distinctions and religious conflicts. And they didn't restrict themselves to small towns or big cities, like most romance stories, finding romance out West or in the Korean War. Young Romance offers 21 of the best of Simon & Kirby's romance stories, and that's probably just the right amount." – Andrew A. Smith, Scripps Howard News Service
• Analysis: At The Hooded Utilitarian, Robert Stanley Martin presents "one comics critic’s analysis and judgments of [Robert] Crumb’s career. I hope it’s of more interest than a pronouncement that his work is a single big project and one should just read all of it. Breaking his work down into distinct periods does, I think, help one to get a better handle on Crumb, no matter what one’s opinion of this or that individual effort. I certainly don’t think this essay is the last word. With Crumb, no essay ever is."
• Review: "Here’s the thing about Pogo. There’s never been anything like it. It’s utterly unique and individual in the same fashion that Peanuts, or Calvin and Hobbes or Little Nemo or any other of the great 20th century comic strips are.... It’s a much weirder strip than I think most people give it credit for and that is certainly something worth both recognizing and admiring." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "I highly recommend anyone who has an interest in LGBT issues to pick up Wandering Son, regardless of whether or not you read a lot of manga. It is, in many ways, distinctly Japanese, but its straightforward and honest deception of gender issues is rare in any medium, and it shines equally as a coming-of-age tale, especially for anyone who's ever felt they never quite fit in." – Anne Lee, Chic Pixel
• Review: "Prior to 1947, romance existed in comics but primarily as the humorous teenage variety for young readers, typified by the gang from Riverdale in Archie Comics. Simon and Kirby re-imagined the concept with mature stories aimed at adults, primarily women.... Fantagraphics recently collected many of these stories in the handsome hardcover Young Romance: The Best of Simon & Kirby's Romance Comics. Within the true artistic mastery of Kirby becomes evident. The same man, well known at the time for his bombastic stories, delivers these subtle, very human tales of angst, betrayal, and of course love. The volume's essays place these tales within the proper historical context. The beautiful reproductions were completely restored and unlike some of the Marvel Kirby reprints, nothing was recolored." – Rick Klaw, The SF Site: Nexus Graphica
• Interview:Drew Friedman writes us: "I wanted to share. This is the new online issue of INK, SVA's Student run comics mag, featuring an interview with me, also an article about WFMU radio's connection to cartoonists. This is pretty impressive I think. Enjoy!"
• Interview:Robot 6's Tim O'Shea has a Q&A with Kevin Huizenga: "Seems to me like you’re doing something wrong as a writer if you’re not affected or surprised by your own work. But it’s not something to talk about. You’re not supposed to laugh at your own jokes. The author at his desk, deeply moved by his own work is a pretty funny image."
• Scene: "In the exhibition, titled, 'Modern Cartoonist: The Art of Daniel Clowes,' we find the artist revealing the weird underbelly of America through quick and methodical strokes of a pen. Furrowed brows, sneers, and nervous beads of sweat accompany many of Clowes' odes to anxiety, causing us to acknowledge the strange and desperately sad state of his characters, who are striving to fit in." – Kathleen Massara, The Huffington Post
Finally back in print, Any Similarity... is a collection of Drew Friedman’s earliest comic strips and illustrations, featuring his most obsessively stippled black-and-white panels and his most hilarious wise-guy takes on the stars and demi-stars and never-quite-stars of that swamp we like to call showbiz.
In these strips, many of them written by his brother Josh Alan Friedman (both are sons of the legendary Bruce Jay Friedman: humor genes will tell!), the artist works out his obsession with such celebrities as Jim Nabors, Frank Sinatra Jr., Joe Franklin, Bob Hope, Andy Griffith... and Ed Wood, Jr. film star Tor Johnson, whom Friedman actually catapulted back into some sort of semi-fame when these strips were first published in the 1980s.
Friedman is the kind of pop-culture aficionado whose Three Stooges worship is focused not on Moe, Larry or Curly but on Shemp (whose unmistakable mug graces the new cover of this edition), and whose teasing adoration can often be mistaken for mockery or contempt. But who but a worshipful fan would lavish quite so many dots on the loving delineation of these greats’ every pimple and wrinkle?
“I stand in awe of Drew Friedman’s technique and the certain flavor of sad old America he captures.” – R. Crumb
I gotta say, Drew Friedman can do no wrong in my book, but there's something about this portrait of blues legend Muddy Waters that is especially electrifying. The expression, the black and muted green pallette, the evocative landscape... well done, Drew. And you can own it in the form of a limited-edition archival print.
Just beginning to catch up on Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Profile: With his big new art book out and his museum retrospective on the way, Daniel Clowes gets the New York Times profile treatment from Carol Kino: "Mr. Clowes can create a striking face with a few deftly placed lines or brush strokes, often seizing on some specific characteristic that summons up an indelible personality. Think of Enid Coleslaw, the snarky teenage anti-heroine of Ghost World, and her big, black nerdy-hip glasses; they cover most of her face, but they can’t conceal the tiny shifts in expression that loudly telegraph her mood."
• List:Daniel Clowes may be headed for a museum retrospective, but he is neither dead nor retired — but that doesn't stop Flavorwire's Elona Jones from naming 10 candidates to carry the torch of "his storytelling skills, interest in surrealism, and eye for biting observations," including Jason, who "receives international acclaim for his brilliant storytelling."
• Review: "The John Benson-edited anthology The Sincerest Form of Parody: The Best 1950s MAD-Inspired Satirical Comics assembles largely forgotten work by the likes of Jack Davis, Will Elder, Ross Andru, and Jack Kirby, parodying everything from Mickey Spillane novels to Rex Morgan, M.D. Some of these pieces can stand up to the best of Mad (or at least match the magazine’s average), but even the stories that are clunky and unfunny are fascinating for the way they rip off Mad shamelessly, including all the asides and mini-gags that Will Elder once labeled Mad’s 'chicken fat.' It’s a testament to how quickly the innovative and subversive can become mainstream." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "Next to Pogo, the newspaper comics collection that fans have been most anticipating would be Ernie Bushmiller’s Nancy, which over the past few decades has garnered a reputation as the purest distillation of the gag cartoon, a triumph of minimalism... Nancy Is Happy: Dailies 1943-1945 joins Bushmiller’s magnum opus in full swing ... Bushmiller’s genius [was] to make everything in his strip so basic that anyone, anywhere, at any time, could get the joke." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review (Video): Video blogger Robert Crayola looks at Nancy Is Happy: "If you like comics or comic strips especially and you haven't read Nancy or if you have and you just want more, I think you'll enjoy this.... Hopefully we can get many more volumes of this. I hope you support it. It's a great book."
• Review: "One of the signature achievements of ’80s alt-comics, Drew and Josh Alan Freidman’s Any Similarity to Persons Living or Dead Is Purely Coincidental: An Anthology of Comic Art, 1979-1985 is now back in print in a spiffy new edition that doesn’t really add anything to the original, but is still a necessary addition to any library that doesn’t already have a copy.... Drew Friedman’s stipple-heavy photo-realism and his brother Josh’s gleefully cruel humor combine to craft an alternate history of American entertainment that’s preposterous and yet feels true. Even now, decades after other cartoonists and comedians have tapped this well, the Friedmans’ pioneering work in the field of 'brattily dicking around with icons' remains unparalleled." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "Folly... serve[s] as a good introduction to Rickheit’s beautifully ugly visions, of a world where cute girls and humanoid stuffed animals commit atrocities against oozing flesh. With a drawing style that resembles Jason Lutes and Charles Burns, and a storytelling style similar to Jim Woodring and Al Columbia, Rickheit excels in making nightmares lucid. Some characters recur from story to story in Folly, but really this book is just page after page of beautiful images juxtaposed with wounds and excreta. The single-mindedness of Rickheit’s approach — and the level of detail he applies to it — is impressively horrifying." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
Regrets? You'll have a few if you don't make it out to the Scott Eder Gallery for the opening reception of Drew Friedman: My Way, his very first New York gallery show of comic strip and illustration art!
It all goes down on Friday, April 27th from 6:00 to 9:00 PM, so kick off your MoCCA weekend right with the largest display of Drew's original artwork to date! What will be on the walls? Well, Drew tells us:
The show will consist of 40 pieces, the earliest dating back to 1982. On display will be many comic strips which were originally collected in the first anthology of my work, Any Similarity to Persons Living or Dead Is Purely Coincidental. The timeline of the show ranges from my first comic strips (some written by Josh Alan Friedman) many of which originally appeared in RAW, Weirdo, High Times, Heavy Metal and National Lampoon, to comics created for Blab!, American Splendor and "Howard Stern's Private Parts", and more recent illustration work for created for Entertainment Weekly, MAD, The New York Observer, Rolling Stone and The New Yorker. Many beloved and familiar faces will be included: Tor Johnson, Shemp Howard, Wayne Newton, talk show host Joe Franklin, etc... the semi-famous, obscure, forgotten and maligned human beings who have resinated with me my entire life and whose legacy I've attempted to keep alive in my work. As my father, the author Bruce Jay Friedman has pointed out: "Drew notices the people that no one else pays attention to."
Alcoholic refreshments, Sodi waters, Artisan Cheeses, Crackers, Gefilte fishes, Pigs in the blankets, Wing Dings, lobster bibs, etc, will be served for your dining pleasures. There will be books, prints, and free My Way event posters! The Scott Eder Gallery is located at 18 Bridge Street, Suite 2i, in Brooklyn, New York.
...and Folly: The Consequences of Indiscretion by Hans Rickheit! Three great books, three long titles. Look for more & better photos and our video flip-through previews in the coming weeks (and about 5 other previews before that — gettin' hectic around here!).
Before there was Frank & Estelle Costanza on Seinfeld there was Leo & Sylvia Schauzer on Car 54, Where Are You?, portrayed by Charlotte Rae and Al Lewis. Car 54 aficionado Drew Friedman brings the bickering couple to life in this new illustration, available now as a signed, limited-edition print from Drew Friedman Fine Art Prints.
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