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
Via The A.V. Club and other internet sources comes news that MTV has a new website for Liquid Television, and they've posted a whole mess of classic clips from the original run of the beloved and long-departed alternative-animation anthology show (along with some newer stuff, it seems)! Watch Charles Burns and Tony Halton's entire live-action Dog Boy serial (part 1 embedded below)...
...and many other classics. This is fantastic news, and a definite improvement over the bootleg-quality stuff that's been floating around on YouTube. (Now if the original creators are getting royalty payments from it, that's even better. I also wish they had complete credits on the site but I guess you can't have everything.)
• Review: "It should go without saying by now that any new volume of Love and Rockets is a must for any serious comics fan... [and] New Stories 4 is... one of the major events of the comics year ... [A]nyone who loves brilliant cartooning technique should appreciate the way Jaime draws the casual sag of a post-coital naked body, or the way he illustrates a pre-schooler tugging at his mother, oblivious to any notion of 'personal space.' And anyone who’s alive in the world should be moved by this story’s depiction of life as a series of accidents, miscommunications, and embarrassments, which sometimes work out okay regardless." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Love: At The Tearoom of Despair, Bob Temuka offers some spoiler-filled thoughts on Love and Rockets: New Stories #4, saying "this is no review. This is love. The art is as beautiful as always, evocative of time and place, and Jaime still draws the best body language and facial expressions in the medium, telling entire stories in a frown or wink.... While it’s no surprise that Jaime Hernandez is still producing magnificent and beautiful comics, it is also still incredible to see how big his storytelling balls are, man."
• Review: "Though not strictly a comic book, Michael Kupperman’s Mark Twain’s Autobiography 1910-2010 is very much of a piece with the cartoonist’s gleefully absurdist Tales Designed To Thrizzle series. ...Kupperman picks up the story of an American icon beginning with what the newspapers reported as Mark Twain’s 'death.' Kupperman’s Twain quickly sets the record straight, then relates what he’s been up to for the past century: fighting in World War I, losing a fortune by investing in chocolate-covered olives, making gangster pictures inspired by The Wizard Of Oz… y’know, the usual. Kupperman’s working method seems to be just to let his mind wander, making stream-of-consciousness associations that fuse into comedy." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "Initially published in the ’80s, [The Cabbie] mimics the basic comic strip format — even going as far as aping the way Chester Gould used thick black lines for basically everything with Dick Tracy — but is supremely screwed up. The protagonist, a cab driver is obsessed with money, has a tricked out cab, happens upon bizarre crimes, and even gets tortured by a family living in the slums. It is a really uncomfortable experience from cover to cover, and I am stoked it exists." – Sam Hockley-Smith, The Fader
• Review: "This is a harsh and uncompromising tale of escalating crime and uncaring punishments: blackly cynical, existentially scary and populated with a cast of battered, desolate characters of increasingly degenerate desperation. Even the monsters are victims. But for all that The Cabbie is an incredibly compelling drama with strong allegorical overtones and brutally mesmerizing visuals. Any adult follower of the art form should be conversant with this superb work and with a second volume forthcoming hopefully we soon all will be." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Interview: At The Comics Journal, Jay Ruttenberg sits down for brunch with Drew Friedman to kibbitz about the Old Jewish Comedians books: "Well, I found Jerry [Lewis] to be completely delightful. Just great. He’s very inquisitive about the process about what I do. He asks, 'Drew, how do you do what you do?' So I say, 'Jerry, how do you do what you do?' You gotta butter him up: 'I especially love drawing you, Jerry.' But a lot of them hate each other. It’s very funny. You bring up one comedian to another comedian, and there’s venom. It’s amusing to me. There’s nothing funnier than angry comedians. Nothing better!"
• Interview: Jason Diamond at Jewcy also gets a crack at Drew Friedman: "I kinda bounce around the [nerd] map. I don’t really fit into one category. I love comedians, comic books, and old movies. Really anything from the past. With these Old Jewish Comedian books, they have nothing really to do with comic books, but everything I’ve done in my career led to these books."
• Interview:Robot 6's Tim O'Shea has a quick chat with Mome contributor Eleanor Davis about her contribution to that Nursery Rhyme Comics anthology
• Feature: October means features on horror comics, and Casey Burchby's look at the history of the genre at SF Weekly says "A recent collection called Four Color Fear, edited by Greg Sadowski, collects terrific examples of horror comics from non-EC sources, including Eerie, Web of Evil, and Chamber of Chills. The work in this volume is much wider ranging in subject matter and style than Tales from the Crypt, which tended to follow a handful of formulas."
• Commentary:Robot 6's Chris Mautner lobbies us to put out a collection of Mack White's Villa of the Mysteries and other comics, saying "CIA conspiracies. Carny shows. Obscure pagan rituals. Snake handlers. Brainwashed assassins. Nudist nuns. Roman gods. Psychedelic western landscapes. Very short men with very, very large penises. Such are the essential elements found in the comics of Mack White, who, for the past couple of decades, has created some of the most bizarre, paranoid and succulently pulpish comics around. Born and raised in Texas, Mack's comics are infused with the Lone Star state's own unique blend of rugged individualism and suspicion of authority."
• Plug: At Comic Book Resources, Greg Burgas goes "Flippin' Through Previews and finds "Fantagraphics offers Flannery O’Connor: The Cartoons on page 294. Yes, you read that correctly. Apparently O’Connor was quite the cartoonist in the 1940s. This has to be awesome, right?"
• Review: "Beautifully bound, this is graphic journalism on a human and environmental disaster with long-term consequences far beyond here-and-gone traditional news coverage. Honestly told, well written, beautifully illustrated and accessible to a wide audience: Oil and Water should reach readers of all ages and satisfy the most discerning critics. BRAVO!" – Craig Seasholes, JacketFlap
• Review: "More a graphic book than straight comic book or straight novel, it plays to the strengths of both mediums. Kupperman’s prose recalls the casual absurdity of early Woody Allen or Douglas Adams, and as there is no real overarching narrative other than Mark Twain’s fictional life, he is able to indulge his every comedic whim, be it a film noir genre parody or a chapter that’s mostly just a list of silly names. The artwork, rendered in black, white and blue, is fabulous as always. The greatest part of his art is how deadpan it is. His simple, clean lines have a retro style that wouldn’t be out of place in a Golden Age comic book or an old magazine advertisement....Mark Twain’s Autobiography 1910-2010is a testament to Kupperman’s strengths as both writer and artist." – Brandon Beck, Spandexless
• Review: "...Gilbert Hernandez... and... Peter Bagge... design an alternative dimension for alternative music in their graphic novel Yeah!, one that includes the spazzy siren call and pratfalls of teenage girls and the twitchy slapstick of music business screw-ups from other galaxies. ...[T]hese two secret masters of rock fandom and mavericks of cartooning show zest-finesse and feisty satire chronicling the lives lived on the margins of collaborated garage bomp in a series of outrageous stories that could only be true in the music world they’ve personally known..." – Chris Estey, KEXP
• Interview: Jean-Emmanuel Deluxe of French record label Tricatel talks to Drew Friedman (en Français), and so of course the first topic is Jerry Lewis: "The French understand clearly what so many Americans are unable to grasp, that is to say that Jerry Lewis is an actor AND a brilliant and innovative director. Unfortunately, people will not realize it until long after his death."
• Interview: Brian Heater of The Daily Cross Hatch wraps up his chat with Drew Friedman. Oh look, here's a familiar topic: "Jerry Lewis is a very serious guy. When I talk him, he’s very serious. He asks me what I’m doing and how I do this and that, as if he’s taking notes. He’s so interested in what I’m doing. He doesn’t want to talk about himself, which is kind of strange."
• Interview: Brian Heater's conversation with Drew Friedman at The Daily Cross Hatch continues: "Another reason I want to quit these books is that there’s always younger comedians coming up, and I just can’t keep up. Howard Stern’s gonna be an old guy in a couple of years.... I’m not crazy about some of them, and I just don’t want to think about drawing Adam Sandler when he’s an old man, or Ben Stiller, or even Jerry Seinfeld. It just doesn’t appeal to me."
• 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."