• Review: "This latest in Fantagraphics' line of books featuring Jacques Tardi and the second of those books to feature an adaptation of the work of Jean-Patrick Manchette is lovely-looking, stylish and bleak as hell.... The short third act, where we learn what becomes of the assassin, proves so ruthlessly depressing it's almost a human rights violation. Tardi's artwork is beautiful here, although you probably already knew that. No one in comics does the frowning face better than Tardi, and Like a Sniper [Lining Up His Shot] proves to be an absolute showcase of down-turned mouths and the unhappy people bearing them.... What a show." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
• Review: "These are two masters at their best [in Like a Sniper Lining Up His Shot]. Crime novelist Manchette pulls no punches in delivering gritty, violent episodes that still can shock even the most jaded reader. Jacques Tardi’s confident, almost brazen artwork is just as dark, cold and gripping. His beautiful fluid lines juxtaposed with the stark ambivalence Martin Terrier, the contract-killer antihero adapts in applying his brutal trade is something that has to be experienced. Get this book!" – "Horatio Hornblower," The Comic Book Snob
• Review: "Undisputable fact: a new full-length Richard Sala book is a literary and comics event that makes you sit up and take notice. It's appointment reading, and ought to demand the attention of any serious enthusiast of the medium.... The newest from Sala is the graphic novel The Hidden... This book is a magic trick, the kind you'll want to share with friends because you can hardly believe what you've witnessed when it's all done.... Around the hundred page mark this book started scaring the living shit out of me. Sala's art is wonderful and holds up to a close analysis.... Like his peers from Fantagraphics' all-star squad, Sala conveys internal truth (fear, pride, jealousy) through body language and a minimum of lines. There's not a jot or gesture wasted on the page, and his color work is loose and instinctive but still pleasing." – R.J. Ryan, Comics Bulletin
• Review: "...[Johnny Ryan] is easily one of the four or five most vital and important cartoonists working today. Prison Pit is like someone making a comic strip out of Mayhem's Live in Leipzig, played at half speed and double the volume your speakers can safely process. If you've never heard that album, then I'll spell it out for you: this is a brutal fucking comic.... The cosmic brutality of Ryan's story is emphasized by his lingering gaze. He doesn't just draw the big action moments, but the lulls and gaps and silences between them. The pace is non-stop, but that doesn't mean it can't slow down. In fact, it's those slowed-down sections that give the skull-smashing and throat-fisting the impact that they deserve." – Patrick Tobin, Multiversity Comics
• Plug: "Prison Pit 2 was TACO’s book of the year in 2010, and Prison Pit 3 is the early frontrunner for 2011. Featuring the series’ characteristic extreme ultra-violence, gore, scatophilia, and brutality, it’s another hit from artist Johnny Ryan." – L.A. TACO
• Review: "Here's the plot of Mark Twain's Autobiography [1910-2010]: Mark Twain, freed from the shackles of mortality, bums around the Twentieth Century doing whatever the hell he feels like and occasionally having untroubling yet far-fetched adventures.... Kupperman maintains a straight face throughout this look into the world that might have been, had Mark Twain roamed the earth, immortal and more than a little strange. This poker-faced treatment of juvenile, abstracted humor pays off in strokes both broad and small." – Patrick Tobin, Multiversity Comics
• Review: "Very few words are needed in Weing's debut graphic novel [Set to Sea] to tell the story of a poet wanna-be who is kidnapped by pirates and learns the ways of the sea through hard labor and even tougher battles. The cross-hatch styling is reminiscent of old engravings and perfectly suits the subject matter. Each page features just one frame, full of detail and atmosphere. With hints of The Odyssey, Moby Dick, Popeye and Treasure Island, Weing has created a modern classic in the pirate genre." – School Library Journal
• Plug: "Artist, editor, entrepreneur, publisher and cartooning auteur; in his 70-year career in comics this pioneering creator has done it all. The deluxe full-color coffee table book [The Art of Joe Kubert] traces Kubert’s history of comics spanning career from 1938 to the present with beautifully reproduced artwork alongside critical commentary." – "Horatio Hornblower," The Comic Book Snob
• Plug: "David B. intertwines history and myth in his carefully crafted tales of magic gods and grand battles. A master storyteller, his bold, timeless artwork and literary senses creates a kind of magic all their own. The Armed Garden and Other Stories collects three epic tales of adventure, faith, power, and love." – "Horatio Hornblower," The Comic Book Snob
• Scene: Daniel Herbert reports on the Friars Club launch party for Drew Friedman's Even More Old Jewish Comedians for The Paris Review: "The crowd’s spirits were high, which seemed due to more than just the release of Friedman’s book, or even the emergence of more canapés. Guests were happy to meet their idols; the comics were happy to convene for an event that wasn’t a funeral. And the celebration of the comedians’ Jewishness was significant."
• Review: "As journalist Avery documents in this cohesive biography-cum-first anthology of the onetime Rolling Stone record review editor’s oeuvre [Everything Is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson], Nelson was a gifted early practitioner of new journalism and, though a child of the Sixties folk and rock counterculture, one of its most vocal critics.... Reading his inconceivably insightful profiles of Bruce Springsteen, Leonard Cohen, Warren Zevon, and Rod Stewart helps make sense of a needlessly guilt- and disappointment-laden life — here was a hyper-romantic Midwesterner by birth but a New Yorker by necessity who thought he could transcend mundane cruelties by dedicating himself to the popular arts. Seamlessly incorporating the perspectives of Nick Tosches, Robert Christgau, and Jann Wenner, Avery has crafted both a cautionary tale and a celebration of a noir-influenced writer who deserves a place alongside Lester Bangs for his ability to live, always, in the music. Devotees of folk, establishment rock ’n’ roll, and pulp fiction will rue not having discovered Nelson sooner." – Heather McCormack, Library Journal (Starred Review)
• Review: "[Richard Sala's] latest appetising shocker The Hidden returns to the seamy, scary underbelly of un-life with an enigmatic quest tale... Clever, compelling and staggeringly engaging, this fabulous full-colour hardback is a wonderfully nostalgic escape hatch back to those days when unruly children scared themselves silly under the bedcovers at night and will therefore make an ideal gift for the big kid in your life — whether he/she’s just you, imaginary or even relatively real." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This
• Review: "I had the opportunity to do a Q&A panel with Johnny Ryan at SPX last weekend. One of the more interesting parts of discussion was when Ryan said how each volume of Prison Pit had to have a different vibe or theme so that the different books didn’t feel interchangable. That’s certainly true in volume three, as we see the inclusion of a new character, who, while just as violent and vicious as CF, is completely different in attitude and demeanor. Plus, he has one of the most amazing (and utterly grotesque) resurrection scenes I’ve ever seen. There’s also a neat little bit toward the end where it seems like Ryan is heavily drawing upon the Fort Thunder crowd, particularly Mat Brinkman. All in all, it’s another excellent volume." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "This [fourth] volume [of Prince Valiant] covers the most of the WWII years, 1943-44, when the paper shortage was at its highest. As Brian Kane notes in the introduction, this meant creator Hal Foster had to format the strip so parts could be cut for papers that had been forced to shrink their page count.... Still, while no doubt hampered by this new situation, it did nothing to harm his storytelling skills, and Valiant remains a hugely enjoyable action strip, as Valiant battles a variety of ne’r do wells on a quest to find his true love, Aleta." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "I’ve talked at length before about how good the Mome anthology has been, and while I’m sad to see it come to a close, it’s nice to see it end on such a high note. Seriously, this is the best volume of Mome yet, with standout contributions by Chuck Forsman, Eleanor Davis, Laura Park, Dash Shaw, Jesse Moynihan and Sara Edward-Corbett. But really, there’s not a bad story in this entire book. It might seem weird recommending the last book of a series, but if you gotta only read one of these things, this would be the one." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Interview: Brian Heater's conversation with Drew Friedman at The Daily Cross Hatch continues: "But a couple of guys claimed that I didn’t get their names right, like Don Rickles. His PR guy contacted us and said, 'he’s really angry. His name is not Archibald, it’s Donald Rickles.' So, we said in the second book 'Don Rickles says his name is not Archibald, so that will be corrected in a future volume.' Sid Caesar was annoyed. He called Fantagraphics and started yelling at Kim Thompson, because he claimed his name is not Isaac. He was on the phone with him for half an hour. He was doing Jewish schtick and German dialect. Kim was amazed."
• Review: "Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse: Race To Death Valley by Floyd Gottfredson will be warmly received by comics aficionados but should also intrigue Disney animation buffs who aren't necessarily plugged into comic strip history. Editors David Gerstein and Gary Groth have not only scoured the planet for the best surviving artwork on Gottfredson's first epic continuity, which ran in newspapers from April to September of 1930; they've provided background essays (by a raft of experts), vintage press materials and artwork to put it into the context of Walt Disney's burgeoning career, and Mickey Mouse's budding stardom.... I have a feeling that this book, crafted with such obvious care, will earn Gottfredson a new legion of admirers." – Leonard Maltin
• Review: "Popeye hawking newspapers? Donald Duck selling gasoline? You'll find them and a whole cavalcade of comic strip characters in Drawing Power: A Compendium of Cartoon Advertising, edited by Rick Marschall and Warren Bernard. In a hundred-plus pages you are treated to a sampling of cartoon print ads from the 1890s to 1940s. There are short informative blurbs about the cartoonists (some of whom were featured in ads themselves) and the history behind the ads. A great treat for fans of comic strips, Americana, and ephemera." – The Christian Science Monitor "Top Picks"
• Review: "Not long ago a very interesting book was released which aims precisely to investigate and chronicle the parallel paths of comics and advertising from 1870 until 1940 entitled Drawing Power: A Compendium of Cartoon Advertising. Fantagraphics Books offers a hearty volume... which is our guide with text and images to the 'commercial' roots of the comic strip and the amazing work that resulted from comics creators who worked in advertising.... Drawing Power: A Compendium of Cartoon Advertising is a book that will surely pique the interest of those involved in the communication sector, but also all who are drawn to pop culture. An excellent edition from Fantagraphics..." – Lida Tsene, Comicdom (translated from Greek)
• Review: "Richard Sala’s The Hidden is yet another undead saga, though it’s more ambitious than most.... As the backstory deepens, Sala ties The Hidden to older literary traditions, weaving in pieces of folktales and the legend of Frankenstein. Because Sala has had a career-long fascination with B-movies, gothic illustrations, and general ghoulishness, this plot is right in his wheelhouse. But The Hidden isn’t just an entertaining riff on well-worn horror concepts. Taking his cues from Mary Shelley, Sala explores human vanity and arrogance as a way of showing how everything can go so wrong so fast." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "...Mome 22 concludes the run of one of alt-comics' longest-running and most essential anthologies. Like Weirdo before it, Mome bridged the gap between veteran cartoonists and the new breed... Here’s hoping that as with Zap, Raw, Arcade, and so many that have gone before, another anthology will rise to take Mome’s place. And soon." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "...Shimura Takako is a master at portraying subtle events in a slice of life story about adolescence that never feels didactic.... One of the things I like about Wandering Son is the way many of the events in the book are simultaneously safe and filled with dramatic tension.... Like the storyline, Shimura’s art is simple but nuanced.... As you’d expect from Fantagraphics, the production quality for Wandering Son is excellent. I hope that more manga is on the horizon from them. While I’ll happily read more cheaply produced manga, it is nice to have a variety of options. Carefully curated manga like Wandering Son is a treat." – Anna Neatrour, Manga Report
• Review: "Jason’s deadpan, anthropomorphic characters make his books must-reads for me.... I'd give [Isle of 100,000 Graves] to my daughter... and my wife... in hopes that, after laughing at the Hangman’s Academy’s students, teachers, and administrators, they’ll agree to dress up in multi-colored hoods and carry instruments of torture next Halloween." – Gene Ambaum, The Unshelved Book Club
• Review: "Chun fills his collections with the best cartoons – the ones that can still delight readers, and Covey uses his lively and inventive design sense to make these old cartoons fresh and vital. With The Pin-Up Art of Humorama, Chun and Covey will once again make you believe that the art of Humorama is still alive and kicking – although the line ceased to exist decades ago. [Grade:] A" – Leroy Douresseaux, I Reads You
• Review: "This Fantagraphics edition collects the first two French albums of Les Aventures Extraordinaires d’Adèle Blanc-Sec (Pterror Over Paris and The Eiffel Tower Demon) in a large format hardback edition, and it’s beautifully presented. First released in 1976, Jacques Tardi’s story has a timeless quality, set in an alternative, steam-punk universe, shortly before World War I.... Tardi’s art recreates the scenery beautifully, with stunning backdrops bringing the architecture and beauty of Paris to life. ...[A] compelling and enjoyable mystery story with an alternative Victorian feel." – Grovel
• Review: "Comic fanboys have read Sgt. Rock or The Howling Commandos which are realistic in many ways, but there was a time when a comic mag got down right truthful. I’m speaking of Blazing Combat #1-4 (1965-66, Warren) and recently Fantagraphics collected the run in both hardcover and softcover. Blazing Combat was an anthology comic that showed the very dark and very real side of war. A loose followup to the EC Comics War genre books, it showed US G.I.’s dying in terrible ways, commanders giving orders with little regard for consequences and the militaristic definition of collateral damage. Jim Warren let it all hang out when it came to editing Archie Goodwin’s writing... Of course Goodwin is a genius and I’m usually more of a word-man when it comes to comics, but this time it’s the art that captured my attention. It’s a who’s-who of monster talent..." – Chris Marshall, Collected Comics Library
• Review: "Fred [the Clown] is a figure of innocence, a lovelorn sad sack who keeps getting hit by custard pies — and, even harder, by life — over and over again, but keeps standing back up to go on. Langridge mostly tells his story in short wordless comics stories... in his usual style, a crisp modern interpretation of the classic '20s animation look... They're slapsticky stories of a sad clown, using the accouterments of vaudeville and early Hollywood, that nonetheless feel entirely new and fresh and funny. I don't know how Langridge does it, but he does it very very well." – Andrew Wheeler, The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.
• Plug: "You must buy @DaveMcKean's NSFW book 'CELLULOID' at your local comics or book store. Or in a plain brown wrapper..." – Neil Gaiman
• Preview/Plug:Comicsphere re-formats and re-presents one of our previews of Johnny Ryan's Prison Pit Book 3 to their readers, with Josh West saying "This is set to be 120 pages of ‘once you see it, it can’t ever be unseen’ scenarios and, honestly, Comicsphere couldn’t be more excited! Unbelievably unpredictable, violent, satirical and likely to entertain more than anything else on the shelves through September, the Prison Pit makes Hell look like nothing more than a relaxing Sunday morning stroll through a (really hot) meadow."
• Interview:Comic Book Resources' Tim Callahan has a wide-ranging conversation with Johnny Ryan about Prison Pit and other topics: "I guess I have this fascination with stories where the 'hero' is not a hero at all. He's a loser or an idiot or a scumbag, but somehow the author makes us give a shit about him or her.... I think this is a strain that also runs through my work. It's about bad people, doing bad things, but I try and trick people into caring about or liking these people."
• Preview/Plug:Comicsphere gives the same treatment as above to our excerpt of Jacques Tardi & Jean-Patrick Manchette's Like a Sniper Lining Up His Shot, with Josh West saying "...Jacques Tardi returns to the world of guns, crime, betrayal and bloodshed with this stunning, grisly, and remarkably faithful interpretation of Manchette’s last completed crime thriller."
"Athos in America – Jason returns to The Last Musketeer and includes other Jasony stories like 'The Brain That Wouldn’t Virginia Woolf.'"
• Plugs:Graphic Novel Reporter includes almost everything we have coming out over the next 3 months in their "Great Graphic Novels of Fall 2011" roundup, particularly the Adult Fiction and Nonfiction categories (though we feel we should point out that Alexander Theroux's Estonia is neither fiction nor a graphic novel)
• Plug: "We’re over halfway done, and have moved into the last 20 years of the strip with the release of The Complete Peanuts: 1981 to 1982. Can you believe how fast time is flying? Kudos to Fantagraphics for maintaining the incredibly high standard of quality and presentation they established at the outset, with this entry featuring an introduction from cartoonist Lynn Johnston. More!" – Ken Plume, FRED
• Interview:Newsarama's Albert Ching talks to Michael Kupperman about his new book Mark Twain's Autobiography 1910-2010: "One other character I frequently think of when doing Twain — writing that book, or doing him in Thrizzle — is Dave Thomas from SCTV doing Walter Cronkite. Which in some ways is very similar — this kind of roguish, semi-self-befuddled character, roaming around having adventures."
• Interview:The Daily Cross Hatch's Brian Heater begins a multi-part chat with Drew Friedman: "Basically when Monte Beauchamp who edits those books invited me to do a book, I thought about what I like to draw the most. I like to draw comedians and old Jews. So I put those two together and started working on them between assignments over a year. I just got pleasure in drawing them. I could put aside any annoying assignment I had and just get down to drawing those old Jewish faces. That’s what it came down to."
• Interview:Washington City Paper's Mike Rhode had a little pre-SPX Q&A with Noah Van Sciver: "I'm excited to stop by the Fantagraphics table and say hello to those guys and see what's new." Well shucks!
• Lore: "’71 was a weird year for me. I never had quite so many women coming and going, as I did that year in the apartment I shared with Gary. But I was still drinking too much and just overdoing it in general, hedonistically speaking. I was getting very little good work done (gosh, I wonder why?) and was generally pretty miserable." – Kim Deitch's epic memoir-in-music "Mad About Music: My Life in Records" at TCJ.com forges into the 1970s
• Staff picks: Our own Ambassador of Awesome (and funniest Flogger) Janice Headley is the guest contributor to this week's Robot 6 "What Are You Reading?" column
The Friars' Club is the very one, infamous for all those celebrity roasts, and on that note... please excuse their use of "comic sans" in the flyer up there! OOOH! I did a roast!
I kid, I kid! We love The Friars Club for hosting this event. They helped us celebrate the release of More Old Jewish Comediansback in 2008 , and an estimated 400 people were there! And this time around, the event is open to the public! That's right, you do not have to be a friar to attend, and you do not have to RSVP. Just get yourself to The Friars Club from 6:00-8:00 PM... Why so early? Oh, right, 'cause it's the OLD Jewish Comedians trilogy! Ha, ha, ha! I'm gettin' a hang of this "roasting" thing!
Okay, no, I'm not, but you can meet some real comedians at this event who could easily show me a thing or two, and roast me to the ground: Friars comedians Freddie Roman and Stewie Stone (the cover "model" on the new book) will host the event, with special guests Larry Storch, "Professor" Irwin Corey, Bobby Ramsen, Joe Franklin, and our own MAD legend Al Jaffee! Plus, special surprise guests to be announced, and a tribute to the late Mickey Freeman.
So, come buy a book, get it signed by Drew, and meet some of the legends depicted in his books in person! The Friars Club is located at 57 East 55th Street, in New York City.
This week's comic shop shipment is slated to include the following new titles. Read on to see what comics-blog commentators and web-savvy comic shops are saying about them (more to be added as they appear), check out our previews at the links, and contact your local shop to confirm availability.
136-page full-color 8.25" x 8.25" hardcover • $19.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-386-6
"Then there’s also Richard Sala’s new book The Hidden ($19.99) about a group of strangers [description redacted due to being based on preliminary and out-of-date info - Ed.] during a global crisis. I’m going to want all three of those, but I reckon I’d grab The Hidden first." – Michael May, Robot 6
"For my splurge, I’d be hard-pressed to pick between [redacted] and The Hidden by Richard Sala ($19.99)." – J.K. Parkin, Robot 6
104-page black & white 7.5" x 10.75" hardcover • $18.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-448-1
"A new one from Jacques Tardi, an extrordinarily bleak noir thriller. If you're digging Criminal and want to know what to read next, don't miss Tardi's work — he's a master of the form." – Chris Butcher, The Beguiling
"I don’t know very much about this book, except for a few points that make me want to read this without even reading the solicitation text: 1. It’s drawn by Jacques Tardi. His It Was the War of the Trenches was an incredible book – a dark and beautiful graphic novel about the first world war that had a number of surprises and truly chilling moments. 2. It’s about snipers. Snipers are cool.... 3. These Fantagraphic editions are nice to own. They are very well designed, maintaining the original size of the French books, and have very high production values. That’s enough for me." – James Fulton, Inside Pulse
"...I’m saving my money to get Like a Sniper Lining Up His Shot ($18.99), the latest Jacques Tardi book from Fantagraphics, another hard boiled (and ultra-violent) noir in the same vein as West Coast Blues, which is not terribly surprising considering its the same writer, Jean-Patrick Manchette." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"A sure thing, I'd imagine, another collaboration between pantheon-level cartoonist Jacques Tardi and the crime writer Jean-Patrick Manchette, whose previous English-language release West Coast Blues impressed many when it came out a while back." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
240-page full-color 7" x 9" softcover • $19.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-395-8
"A double-sized farewell issue, with return visits from a lot of the artists who've graced it in the past. I really hope that some new, regular print vehicle takes the place of this within the comics ecosystem, but it doesn't seem likely." – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
"The FINAL volume of Mome, the great white hope for aspiring cartoonists to get published at Fantagraphics. An excellent overall anthology with moments of true greatness — the comics industry is much poorer for the loss of this fine publication. Our sincere thanks to Fanta and Eric Reynolds for 22 volumes of this series. We highly recommend them. In this final, double sized volume, thrill to new comics by Gabrielle Bell, Lilli Carre, Jordan Crane, Eleanor Davis, Tom K, Anders Nilsen, Laura Park, Jim Rugg, and a dozen more excellent cartoonists." – Chris Butcher, The Beguiling
"I should also point out that the final volume of Mome is out this week and easily the best volume of an already excellent series, featuring stellar work by folks like Eleanor Davis, Josh Simmons, Chuck Forsam, Tim Hensley and more. A steal at $20." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
36-page full-color 10" x 10" hardcover • $16.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-489-4
"CONFLICT OF INTEREST RESERVOIR: The Hidden is a new Richard Sala book, in color; $19.99. Even More Old Jewish Comedians collects portraits by Drew Friedman; $19.99. Like a Sniper Lining Up His Shot is a recent crime comic from the great Jacques Tardi; $18.99. And MOME Vol. 22 lays a long-running anthology to rest with a double-sized 240-page final issue; $19.99." – Joe McCulloch, The Comics Journal
Master caricaturist/portraitist Drew Friedman’s spectacular visual tribute to, well, old Jewish comedians returns with a third and concluding installment that throws its net a bit wider to include a few women (Olive Oyl voice Mae Questel, Ed Sullivan show regular Jean Carroll, and The Rise of the Goldbergs creator Gertrude Goldberg); a handful of more contemporary figures (Richard Belzer, whose Law & Order: SVU gig has eclipsed his stand-up comedy, and Welcome Back, Kotter’s Gabe Kaplan); and pop-culture legends (Prof. Irwin Corey, legendary Warner Bros. voice artist Mel Blanc), plus among others Marty Ingels, Fyvush Finkel, Gary Morton, Sam Levenson, Bobby Remsen, Max Patkin, Marvin Kaplan, Norm Crosby, Sammy Shore, Joey Adams, Lou Jacobi, and Sid James. It’s a heaping pastrami sandwich of gloriously liver-spotted, wrinkled personalities, that will appeal to anyone who likes old people, Jews, or comedians.
Even More Old Jewish Comedians, which features a cover of comedian Stewie Stone, is augmented with an introduction from not-quite-old-yet Jewish comedian and Comedy Central roasts regular Jeffrey Ross.
"You'd have to be absolutely mushugina to pass this book up." – Juxtapoz
"This is a beautiful tribute to all the men & women who have made life a joy. If Job had a copy and had known these people, he would never had written that terrible book." — Jerry Stiller
"I grew up adoring old Jewish comedians and through Drew Friedman's renditions, I now appreciate and love them more than ever. God bless these books!" – Joe Franklin
“Drew Friedman is better than Picasso.” — Howard Stern
“I’m proud to be in the old Jew book!” — Jerry Lewis
Let me be clear here: Every word that follows is accurate.
I answered the phone at Fantagraphics, and it turned out to be Ernest Borgnine. The main cause for his call was to check on an order, but he also talked a little about comics, and generally about how important it was to follow your dream. I wanted to tell him how much I loved The Wild Bunch, but he waved off any talk of his movies.
"What a nice guy," I thought after I hung up, and went to tell Gary Groth. But I found Gary tearfully working on an obituary for Borgnine, which confused me for a couple of reasons, first because I'd just talked to the guy (was it some weird Borgnine impostor I'd spoken to, or was news of Borgnine's death wrong?), second because I wasn't sure why Gary was so upset, third because Gary said he'd been interviewing Borgnine's father for the obituary and it was so sad when your child dies before you do, but how could that be possible, wasn't Borgnine like 90 years old? What was his dad, 115?
Anyway, I went to our order department and tracked down three mail orders from Borgnine, which were also sort of sad, each was just for a couple back issues of nemo: The Classic Comics Library (at the special $2.00 discount price), he'd duplicated his order for a couple of issues between two of them, and two came with personal checks under different names, and one with a postal money order. He was that poor (and confused)? And if he was dead, should we cash the checks and send the orders or not?
Thom Powers was working at the office so I mentioned it to him, and he told me he'd talked to Borgnine about comics himself from time to time, and Borgnine was very knowledgeable except he called Tintin "Tintin" and didn't use the proper French pronunciation "Tang-tang." Given the sad circumstances, I did not tell Thom that, like Evan Dorkin, I think Americans pronouncing Tintin "Tang-tang" is pretentious bullshit.
I found myself in the David Letterman studio, where they were preparing some bit about "Borgnine gravy," and there was this huge tube going up into the studio's rafters, packed full of what looked like turkey gravy. I did not know if this meant they were going to spray Borgnine with gravy, or if like Paul Newman he had some sort of gravy recipe he'd commercialized, or even if (the most disturbing option) it was gravy somehow made out of Borgnine.
Then my wife's alarm went off and I woke up.
(1) The preceding was accurate, as promised, in the sense that it is a 100% accurate transcription of my dream.
(2) I almost never remember dreams, let alone in such detail, except for if I'm woken up right in the middle of one.
(3) Thom Powers hasn't worked for us for 20 years (he was among other things the first EROS Comix editor).
(4) It's not hard to figure out why Borgnine was on my mind: The last thing I did before going to bed was pick an image for our distributor catalog entry for Josh Alan and Drew Friedman's Any Similarity to Persons Living or Dead Is Purely Coincidental, and I'd picked the iconic "For Christsakes! We're all Ernest Borgnines!" image. (This was the first time I'd thought of Ernest Borgnine since he popped up on an SNL "What Up With That" skit several months back.)
(5) The second last thing I did before going to bed was watch a YouTube clip of the French actress Sara Forestier accepting her César award for Le Nom des gens (The Names of Love), which I'd stumbled across because I'd just seen the movie and enjoyed it and was curious if she was as adorable in "person" at an awards show as she was in the movie. (As it turns out, she is. She's also very funny as France Gall in Joann Sfar's Gainsbourg movie, opening later this year in some cities.) Although I genuinely did enjoy talking to Ernest Borgnine, I have to wonder what kind of dream I'd had if I'd reversed my last two actions before going to bed and had had Sara Forestier on my mind instead of Ernest Borgnine. I think I will make a point of watching a Sara Forestier clip as the last thing I do before going to bed every night for the next couple of weeks, just in case.
(6) Ernest Borgnine is still alive, 94 years old, and has to my knowledge never produced, sold, or been covered in gravy. Thom Powers produces movies in New York. There are only two issues of NEMO still available from us and neither is currently discounted to $2.00, although if you do a phone order in the next couple of days and tell the person answering the phone "Ernest Borgnine sent me" we'll sell them to you for two dollars each. Seriously, do catch The Names of Love if you can, she really is cute. Also Gainsbourg.