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.
• List: Gustavo Guimaraes of Brazilian culture & entertainment site Ambrosia names "The best comics published in the U.S. in 2011 - Alternative and classic," including Congress of the Animals by Jim Woodring (all quotes translated from Portuguese)...
"The world created by Woodring is unique, beautiful and scary. His stories can be incomprehensible at times, but always intriguing and charming."
"Sala's characters look like something out of old horror and mystery movies, and his plots possess a rare levity for narratives of the genre. The colorful art makes the his twisted drawings even more attractive."
"Walt Kelly was a complete artist, his drawings were graceful, his stories were simple and fun while at the same time provoking the reader with hints of metalanguage and political content. His writing was faceted with the sensibility of a great satirist."
"A masterpiece of old adventure comics continues today thanks largely to Foster's fantastic realistic art. Landscapes and epic battles are played to perfection by the author, turning the limited space of each panel into a window to a world where historical characters live with mythological beings. Careful printing in oversize hardcover as well as meticulous reproduction of the beautiful original colors make this collection from Fantagraphics a model for classic comics publishing."
"Even if you already have all of Carl Barks' comics of you will want to buy this book. It is the first time that these comics are being reissued with the original colors, digitally restored. This deluxe edition, with hard covers and high-quality paper, includes articles on all the comics collected in the volume."
• Review: "To say that it has been worth the wait is wild understatement. Pogo Through the Wild Blue Wonder is beautifully produced — no surprise to anyone familiar with the work of Fantagraphics Books in Seattle — and a joy to read. It comes as a genuine gift to anyone who loved Pogo and, it is to be hoped, as an introduction for younger readers to what many people believe was the best comic strip ever drawn in this country." – Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post
• Review: "Wilson's genuine bravery, as this strip makes clear, is not that he set himself up as a rival to Charles Schulz but rather the directness with which Nuts confronts genuinely painful and baffling topics like sickness, mental illness, and death. When dealing with master artists, any ranking becomes absurd because each creator is memorable by the individual mark he or she leaves. So let’s leave Peanuts comparisons aside and say that Nuts is one of the major American comic strips and we’re lucky to have the complete run in this handsome, compact volume." – Jeet Heer, The Comics Journal
• Review: "Jacques Tardi’s interpretation of Jean-Patrick Manchette’s book [Like a Sniper Lining Up His Shot] is an intense and shocking thriller.... Dark, brutal and uterly compelling, classic thriller fans should lap this up. Put a few hours aside before picking it up though, because you won’t want to put it down and it’s a feast worth savouring." – Grovel
• Review: "I gave Roy Crane’s Captain Easy, Solder Of Fortune: The Complete Sunday Newspaper Strips Volume 1 1933-1935 a good thumbing many, many times before picking it up. The artwork was too simple, the stories silly. One day in my local comic shop with nothing new to read I picked it up. What I failed to comprehend as I stood in the comic shop flipping pages in this book is that Crane chose the elements of his strip carefully, especially those I dismissed it for. Simple character design, bright colours, fictional locations and action with a sense of humour. After finishing the volume I applaud his choices." – Scott VanderPloeg, Comic Book Daily
• Interview (Audio):The Comics Journal presents a recording of the Jack Davis interview conducted by Gary Groth and Drew Friedman at last month's Brooklyn Comics & Graphics Festival (posted here after a slight delay due to technical audio issues)
• Interview:Culture Brats has "Seven Questions in Heaven" with Esther Pearl Watson: "Even though now I have a huge collection of mini-comics, I try not to look at other comic artists as influences. They draw too nice, or have their thing down. Comic storytelling styles can be as individual as fingerprints. We spend years creating our own narrative language. Instead I look at naive drawing and self-taught artists to de-skill."
• Conflict of Interest: Our own Larry Reid names Love and Rockets: New Stories #4 one of his favorite comics of 2011 in a guest column at Graphic Eye: "The conclusion of Jaime’s poignant 'Love Bunglers' story alone made this book essential reading in 2011. Almost unfathomably, Love & Rockets keeps getting better with age."
Drew Friedman illustrated "Dave Barry's Year in Review 2011" for this past weekend's edition of the Washington Post magazine, with the cover and 8 spots (including H.R.H. Queen Rupert below) which can be seen in a slideshow on the WaPo website.
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