• List:FEARnet's Joseph McCabe names Richard Sala's The Hidden to their Best of 2011: Books and Comics: "Sala's unique brand of creepy quirk combines Edward Gorey, Chester Gould, and Charles Adams with his own unclassifiable magic. The Hidden, from Fantagraphics Books, is his most ambitious work -- an intimate apocalypse."
• List:The SF Site's Rick Klaw ranks 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente at #4 on his top graphic novels of 2011: "In this emotionally moving biography, the Puerto Rican Wilfred Santiago magnificently chronicles the often tragic life of this icon.... Santiago expertly traverses Clemente's tribulations, losses, and success with ease and skill. His portrayal of the baseball games rank among the finest ever attempted in this medium. Under the masterful hands of Santiago, 21 evolves into far more than just a biography of a sports figure. It showcases a life worth emulating."
• Review: "I’ve been eagerly anticipating Wilfred Santiago’s graphic biography 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente since I first heard it was the works... Santiago uses black and white and some yellow-orange fill-ins, but really that’s all he needs. His style is clean, ranging in depiction of Clemente throughout the years to religious leaders to baseball action scenes, which he often depicts in a seemingly photo-realistic style with ballplayers drawn against what appears to be a collaged photo background of a baseball setting but is instead a note perfect drawing. ...Santiago does Clemente proud with 21." – David A. Kirschenbaum, Boog City (PDF download)
• Review: "Looking for someone to turn lemons into lemonade? In his own distinctive way, Alexander Theroux might be your man.... In Estonia: A Ramble Through the Periphery, he mines his disappointment and catalogs his discontents to impressively crotchety effect. ...[L]ike the country's many invaders—Russians and Germans, and, before them, Swedes and Danes—Mr. Theroux largely uses Estonia as a space for his own purposes, transforming this admirable country into a grotesque but clever caricature perfect for use as... a stage for Mr. Theroux's verbal pyrotechnics and some fine jokes... I laughed a lot, but guiltily." – Andrew Stuttaford, The Wall Street Journal
• Review: "After years and years and years, Fantagraphics has finally started their deluxe reprint series of Walt Kelly's comic strip Pogo. The first volume is available right now, and it's absolutely beautiful, a big comic book with real heft and majesty.... Pogo always felt, to me, like a strip you should read like a novel, a continuing sitcom about the personality-heavy critters who live in a swamp. This collection proves that I was right. This isn't a book you read so much as sink into: Kelly's brilliant ear for dialect and voice lulls you along, and then you're lost in his beautiful artwork.... The whole book is... a series of packed — but crystal clear — panels that grow together to establish a world of curious characters whose misunderstandings lead to great adventures. If I had to make one complaint about this Pogo collection, it'd be that it ends too soon.... If you like comics, or if you know any kids who read comic strip collections, this is the Christmas book for you." – Paul Constant, The Stranger
• Review: "[My] gripes are minor in relation to the beauty and quality of this book presentation, as well as the stories themselves.... The stories, of course, are outstanding. Most of the long adventure tales are classics in their own right.... Plus, Barks comes up with some of the most brilliant schemes and swindles — most perpetrated against Donald for comedic effect. The super-compressed plotting makes everything more frenetic — and more funny! Walt Disney’s Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes is an excellent start to Fantagraphics’ Carl Barks Library." – K.C. Carlson, Comics Worth Reading
• Review: "It was the best of Momes, it was the worst of Momes. Alright, that’s not quite accurate, and not quite fair, either. But this unwittingly penultimate issue of Fantagraphics’ long-running alternative-comics anthology — page for page the longest-running such enterprise in American history! — is a hit-or-miss affair in the mighty Mome manner. ...[T]he hits... are strong enough to make the book worth checking out.... You gotta take the rough to find the diamonds." – Sean T. Collins, Attentiondeficitdisorderly
• Review: "The ability to make me cry is not generally something I praise in a book.... But in Special Exits Joyce Farmer pulls off something much more difficult — she takes a true story and plays it straight without any overly dramatic embellishment. Her frank honesty lays bare the emotional core of the story.... Farmer’s black and white line drawings are detailed and expressive, but never flashy. Her art is straightforward, as befits the story.... The end product is as honest and unembellished as a personal journal and we’re lucky Farmer’s chosen to share it with us." – Andrew Fuerste-Henry, No Flying No Tights
• Review: "Despite [Taking Punk to the Masses'] coffee table book appearance, McMurray tries to keep the punk rock do-it-yourself ethic by letting the artifacts and punk denizens speak for themselves.... The quotes from the publisher/artists who created them and musicians who were featured weave together nicely to give a sense of moment. And sometimes the creator and object merge, such as the Nirvana show posters hand-drawn by Kurt Cobain." – Ian S. Wilder, Boog City (PDF download)
• Interview: At Heeb, Eli Valley chats with Drew Friedman about old Jewish comedians and Old Jewish Comedians: "A lot of these guys, they get to a point where they’re angry they’re not getting the attention they used to get. I guess that’s true for anybody getting old who used to be in the limelight. I wanted to capture that. 'Pay attention to me, I’m old but I’m still funny and I want you to pay attention to me.' These guys are still in your face, they never slow down, but basically it’s over. There’s no more work. A lot of them would just be happy to receive an award for their work. You just don’t want to be forgotten."
Drew Friedman has a wonderful, photo-packed account of his time with the great Jack Davis in New York City a couple of weeks ago at the Brooklyn Comics & Graphics Festival, including a recap of the panel discussion with Davis he co-hosted at the festival with Gary Groth. Go, read, be delighted! (Photo by Ryan Flanders.)
For the first time ever, Fantagraphics will be exhibiting at the Brooklyn Comics & Graphics Festival! Come visit us this Saturday, December 3rd from 12:00 - 9:00 PM for a wealth of debuts, artist appearances, and the great Gary Groth manning the table!
Gary will be joined by a truly all-star cast of artists for our first BCGF:
Where can you find all this awesome? Fantagraphics will be in the downstairs section at the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church [ 275 North 8th Street ], at tables 31 & 32:
And finally, make sure you don't miss our artists in these panels! These will all take place at Union Pool [ 484 Union Avenue # A ], and the panels are free and open to the public:
1:30 PM // JACK DAVIS Q+A
Legendary cartoonist Jack Davis made his mark producing horror and war stories for EC Comics, before finding his métier in satire as one of the original (and longest running) artists for MAD Magazine. As a prolific illustrator, Davis defined the caricatural style of the 1960s and 1970s—and beyond. In this rare public appearance, Davis will discuss his career with Fantagraphics co-publisher Gary Groth and illustrator Drew Friedman.
[ Jack Davis fans, please note: he will also be appearing on Friday, December 2nd at the opening of his exhibit at the Scott Eder Gallery! Don't miss it! ]
2:30 PM // GESTURAL AESTHETICS
As comics have evolved beyond their commercial roots toward more individualistic modes of expression, they have been infused with new influences from other fields of art including printmaking, collage and painting. Additionally, new printing technologies have permitted the reproduction of artwork that more closely shows the work of an artist’s hand. Austin English, Dunja Jankovic and Frank Santoro will discuss new aesthetics in comics with moderator Bill Kartalopoulos.
6:00 PM // THE LANGUAGE IN COMICS
The recent embrace of graphic novels by the publishing industry has led to misguided attempts to evaluate comics according to the standards and conventions of literary fiction. The writing in comics occupies a more peculiar place, with its own constraints and opportunities. John Porcellino, Gabrielle Bell, and David Sandlin will discuss the particular demands of writing within a visually-driven form in this conversation moderated by novelist Myla Goldberg.
So, get ready! And we'll see you in Brooklyn this Saturday!
• Feature: At New Orleans-based website Gambit, Alex Woodward looks at Oil and Water — "As the book gets deeper south and deeper into the complexities and relationships of oil to the Gulf and its people, the stories get murky and collide, mimicking an ebb-and-flow that at first is much like oil and water, then gradually homogenizes. The Portlanders come to grips with their own misconceptions, and the characters that were once miles away from their lives become embedded into their own." — and talks to the book's creators (writer Steve Duin, artist Shannon Wheeler and editor Mike Rosen)
• Review: "...Mark Twain's Autobiography 1910-2010... is mainly an excuse to insert Twain, Zelig-like, into every decade between 1910 and today. Of course he made a lot of money in the 1920s and lost it all in the 1930s. Of course he and Albert Einstein were repeatedly struck in the head by a hammer-wielding monkey. And of course he sleeps with Mamie Eisenhower ('this lady was one hot dish.') It's all told in Kupperman's Marx Brothers-style absurdist deadpan voice, and if you like Tales Designed to Thrizzle, then you'll love this book. It's packed with laugh-out-loud moments..." – Paul Constant, The Stranger
• Review: "Gahan Wilson's Nuts features kids talking the way adults really talk... The kids in Nuts are vain, covetous, not so very bright, and they stagger around, reeling, from one unpleasant surprise to the next. They get their hair cut ('Sometimes I wonder if it's just that he's a lousy barber...') they look at some gory magazines, ('We're just not ready for that shit') and they attend funerals of uncles ('My God—I never saw them acting this way before! They've all fallen apart!'). Weirdly, by giving his kids the vocabularies of adults, he really captures the neuroses of childhood. We begin life as we live it now: Dazed, angry, and bitter at our own fundamental lack of control." – Paul Constant, The Stranger
• Review: "Fantagraphics has a nice introduction giving a brief biography of Kelly, and describing many of the struggles he had with Pogo and syndication. There is also a fantastic notes section at the end, which points out historical trivia as well as giving the context for some of the strips.... It’s possible that the appeal of Pogo may be lost on folks who are so used to everything that it influenced, be it talking animal comedies or political satires. Doesn’t matter to me, though. This strip is funny, well-drawn, and features a huge mass of likeable characters doing entertaining things. Put it together with Fantagraphics’ excellent presentation, and you have a definite must-buy." – Sean Gaffney, Manga Bookshelf
• Review: "Greg Sadowski and Fantagraphics’ Setting the Standard is perhaps the best book on Alex Toth that has been published thus far... Sadowski takes a straightforward, comprehensive approach and so Setting the Standard can rest comfortably on the bookshelf next to Fantagraphics’ other excellent recent collections of essential comics such as Hal Foster’s Prince Valiant, Roy Crane’s Captain Easy and Buz Sawyer and Carl Barks’ Disney epics.... There are... many passages of thoughtful comics storytelling. The romance work is often brilliantly articulated and visualized... Toth’s handling of horror and suspense is intuitive, sometimes harrowing and exhibits his more radical inventions.... In Sadowski’s book, Toth’s work speaks for itself and the artist likewise. The book’s assemblage and design are very well done to make a package which is pulpy but tasteful, not cheap nor overly slick, not high/low cute or old-boy sentimental. It provides a complete and important body of work by a great cartoonist." – James Romberger (contributor to the final Mome), The Hooded Utilitarian
Drew Friedman's heavenly new portrait of Swedish wrestler-turned-thespian Tor Johnson is now available as a limited-edition fine art print from Drew Friedman Fine Art Prints. Who wouldn't want Tor's floating head decorating their home? No one worth knowing, that's who.
The 2011 convention runs November 13th through 18th in St. Pete Beach, Florida, and unfortunately, it's only open to members of the ISCA, but if you happen to be one, you can look forward to what's sure to be a delightful keynote address from Drew!
CORRECTION: Drew informs us that day passes to the convention are available to the general public! –Ed.
• Review: "Every now and then, if I’m lucky, I might just bump into a stone cold masterpiece. The kind of art that makes you just want to shout and scream it is so good. So, in the interest of doing just that, let me say that this Jaime Hernandez’s 'The Love Bunglers' (Love and Rockets: New Stories no. 4) is such a work. I don’t even need to qualify it for myself (i.e. 'what’s coming later; what’s come before; shouldn’t there be a cooling period?') when I say: This is not just Jaime’s finest work, but one of the best (at this moment I’d rank it in my top five of all time) works ever created in the medium. You can hold that over me in twenty years and I’ll still be right..." – Dan Nadel, The Comics Journal [SPOILER WARNING]
• Review: "Jaime Hernandez is my favorite cartoonist. I think he is the greatest cartoonist of all time. My opinion.... No art moves me the way the work of Jaime Hernandez moves me. I am in awe of his eternal mystery." – Frank Santoro, The Comics Journal
• Review: "I picked up a copy of the new issue at a signing Jaime was doing here in Brooklyn a few weeks ago. It was a packed house, and there were a lot of people I was happy to talk to. Amidst all the socializing, I allowed myself a quick glimpse inside the comic, and when I randomly flipped to pages 92 and 93, I felt like I’d been blind-sided. I had to look closer to make sure I was seeing what I thought I was seeing." – Adrian Tomine, The Comics Journal
• Commentary:Robot 6's Sean T. Collins spotlights the above TCJ links, saying "Paying off thirty years of continuity and character development. Delivering shocks, gasps, cheers, and tears in equal measure, seemingly at the author’s whim. Offering a master class in everything from laying out a double-page spread to drawing clothes. Telling a story about beloved characters so emotionally engaging that even their most ardent fans wouldn’t mind if this were the last one ever told. Any way you slice it, Jaime Hernandez's 'The Love Bunglers' — his contribution to the recently released Love and Rockets: New Stories #4 and the conclusion to the already wildly acclaimed 'The Love Bunglers'/'Browntown' suite from last year’s issue — is a hell of a comic. But you don’t have to take my word for it."
• Review: "As I finished reading Love and Rockets: New Stories #4, I had to sit back and just take a moment to take it all in and collect myself, as I know that I had just completed reading one of the greatest works in comics for 2011. Love and Rockets has been a source of inspiration within the comics industry for years, so it’s not like I’m the first one to praise the Brothers Hernandez for their contribution. But it’s even more incredible to see that after nearly 30 years, both Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez are creating some of the best comics of their careers and making them completely accessible to new readers. Love and Rockets: New Stories #4 is an achievement for the Brothers Hernandez and has earned a permanent spot on my required reading list for anyone interested in reading the great works of modern comics creators." – Ron Richards, iFanboy "Book of the Month"
• Review (Audio): "The artwork [in Pogo] is fantastic because Kelly, coming from a Disney background, had really great technical chops and he was able to put a lot of detail into a small daily strip while at the same time giving it breathing room despite the fact that the characters are quite talkative…. He crowded an awful lot into each panel without making it feel crowded, which is a neat trick. He really pulled it off well. …It's just a joy to look at, and it's so much fun to read too because the characters all have really funny personalities that are… very dimensional… It is beautifully designed by Walt Kelly's daughter Carolyn Kelly, and she and Fantagraphics did a really good job of finding all these strips… lovingly scanned and restored so that you get to see the line art in all its detailed glory…. I highly recommend it -- it's going to be one of my prize books... that I'm going to hang onto for a long time." – Mark Frauenfelder, Boing Boing "Gweek" podcast
• Review: "When you read the first volume of Fantagraphics' complete reprint of Gottfredson's Mickey Mouse — the first of its kind anywhere — you understand quickly why Disney decided to keep him on the daily strip. He was simply a natural talent." – Matthias Wivel, Nummer 9 (translated from Danish)
• Commentary: "...Jim Woodring is not one to rest on his laurels where his funny-animal protagonist Frank is concerned. Lately he’s been posting breathtaking images... to his blog on a surprisingly regular basis. They appear to show Frank up to his old mischievous tricks, and to augur another Frank book on the horizon. Check them out here and here, and marvel that a cartoonist of Woodring’s caliber is tossing these things out there for free like it ain’t no thing." – Sean T. Collins, Robot 6