• 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: "...Mark Twain’s Autobiography 1910-2010 is both hilarious and very strange. The book exudes a unique mood of giddy amazement... Credit for both the mirth and oddness belong to cartoonist Michael Kupperman, who illustrated the book based on a manuscript he says was given to him by Twain. Given the fact that the off-kilter humour of the book is very similar to the sensibility displayed in Kupperman’s earlier work, notably his dada-esque comic book Tales Designed to Trizzle, the cynical might assume that Mark Twain is only the nominal author of this book. Yet it’s fair to say that the spirit of Twain hovers near the volume.... Aside from his debt to Twain, Kupperman belongs to the tradition of erudite humor that runs from Robert Benchley to Monty Python." – Jeet Heer, The National Post
• Review: "...[Eye of the Majestic Creature] is phenomenal.... The character, Larry, who is leagues more animatic and expressive than some of the characters around her (no doubt on purpose, as the character leaps out of each panel) is responsible for carrying the entire weight of the narrative through dialog. She does so fluidly, and through nuanced avenues.... I really enjoyed this collection, and I want to see more from this creator.... There is significant depth to this fantastic story about a girl, her guitar, and the quirks associated with staying alive." – Alex Jarvis, Spandexless
• Review: "Set to Sea is the kind of comic that you give to people you love with a knowing look that says 'read this, you'll thank me later.' The kind of book that is not exclusively reserved for aficionados of the comics art form. The kind of work that, by virtue of its poetry, leaves the reader in an emotional state once he's read the final page, and that simply demands to be flipped through again immediately so that the reader might breathe in this adventure's perfume for a little longer." – Thierry Lemaire, Actua BD (translated from French)
• Review: "Paul Hornschemeier uses the medium of cartooning [in The Three Paradoxes] as the message he is sending, as each new chapter in the book references different cartoon styles and axioms.... The skill of Hornschemeier is abundant on these pages, as he effortlessly transitions from style to style. Despite that, each style fits within the story; none is so strange that it breaks the reader out of the story.... The book gets a lot of information packed into its relatively smaller frame. The book’s presentation is similarly phenomenal...; it’s really solid and uniform.... I loved it. Well done, Paul." – Alex Jarvis, Spandexless
• Plug: "Fantagraphics has prepared a nice preview video for the fourth and final [Final??? Not at all — I don't know where they got that idea. – Ed.] issue of Love and Rockets: New Stories in stores soon. It features a 35-page story called ‘King Vampire’. Oh boy, if even the Hernandez bros succumb to the vampire craze, this really is the end of the world now, isn’t it?" – Frederik Hautain, Broken Frontier
The central character is a big lug and an aspiring poet who runs up tabs at the local bars by day and haunts the docks by night, writing paeans to the seafaring life. When he gets shanghaied aboard a clipper bound for Hong Kong, he finds the sailor’s life a bit rougher than his romantic nautical fantasies. He helps rebuff a pirate assault, survives a gunshot to the eye, and learns to live — and love — a Conradian life on the sea, all the while writing poetry about pirates, bad food, unceremonial funerals, foreign ports, and unexpected epiphanies. By the end of his life, he’s found satisfaction in living a life of adventure and finding a receptive and appreciative readership. What more could one ask for?
This is Drew Weing’s debut graphic novel, after honing his craft with numerous, lovingly produced self-published comic stories. Drawn in an elaborate crosshatched style that falls somewhere between Gustave Doré engravings and E. C. Segar’s Popeye, Set to Sea is part rollicking adventure, part maritime ballad told in visual rhyme. Every page is a single panel, every panel is a stunning illustration, every illustration a part of a larger whole that tells a story in the deft language of cartooning.
• Review: "Originally appearing from 1958 to 1960, these insouciant, stylish, and thrilling dramas should appeal to readers of all ages. If they don't hook a whole new batch of bande dessinée fans, France needs to take back the Statue of Liberty in a huff.... Both stories zip by with nary a dull patch. Confections lacking in gravitas, they nevertheless own the supreme virtues of lightness and panache. Tillieux's art is always easy on the eye.... If Spielberg is looking for a second franchise after Tintin, he couldn't go wrong with Gil Jordan." – Paul Di Filippo, The Barnes & Noble Review
• Review: "Thanks to well known translator Matt Thorn, this volume is a very smooth read. I don’t often comment on such things, but Thorn took great care in interpreting and presenting this book, and it pays off in a very pleasing flow of text. The art is also quite lovely, very simplistic, and flows well from panel to panel. The color pages in the beginning have a beautiful, water color look to them. Fantagraphics has put out a gorgeous hardcover book with Wandering Son." – Kristin Bomba, ComicAttack.net
• Review: "Fantagraphics’ The Pin-Up Art of Humorama collects hundreds of racy cartoons from the once-ubiquitous tasteless humor mag.... The Fantagraphics edition, edited by Alex Chun and Jacob Covey, 'remasters' these toons with a two-color treatment that really captures the graphic feel of the mouldering pulps that still grace the ends of yard-sale tables in cities across America. It must be said that none of these are very funny, but they’re often quite beautiful and nostalgic." – Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing
• Review: "Every once in a while, a book comes along that is simply spectacular. This collection of [Mickey Mouse] comic strips by Floyd Gottfredson is a perfect example of how to present, analyze and reconstruct subject matter that is viewed differently today. The series editors (David Gerstein and Gary Groth) pull no punches in discussing why Mickey was carrying a gun or the use of slang that is noticeably offensive by today's standards. This is a wonderful vehicle for presenting historically accurate art. Other companies should take notice.... This is a stunning work. The historical presentation is flawless, as is the artwork." – George Taylor, Imaginerding
• Review: "[In Celluloid], McKean is attempting to subvert hardened notions of both comics and pornography. It's a book that gets the blood racing just as it raises questions that just won't go away about the nature of art, porn, and the male gaze.... By painting an erotic sequence with a surrealist's brush, McKean reveals the raw sexual current that underscores all pornography." – Peter Bebergal, Bookslut
• Review: "An unapologetically hard-core hardcover, Celluloid follows a young woman’s sexual epiphany... and feels almost like a silent, erotic Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, with the White Rabbit and the rabbit-hole replaced by an ancient movie camera and a doorway to…somewhere else. By itself, typically, McKean’s technical mastery (beginning with pen and ink and finishing with photography) steals the breath away; ditto his visual motifs — involving fruit, say, or eyes. A bravura performance, Celluloid (which ends, by the way, with signal wit) constitutes an astounding fusion of the Dionysiac and the Apolline, in Nietzschean terms, and less invites reading than demands rereading." – Bryan A. Hollerbach, PLAYBACK:stl
• Review: "In the oneiric power of his work as a writer/artist, Jim Woodring enjoys few rivals in contemporary comics... Within the first ten pages of Congress of the Animals, calamity literally descends on poor Frank in the form of a wood-boxed croquet set. In the next ten, our bucktoothed, bobtail boyo suffers both a labor dispute and a credit crisis, and thereafter, in the U.S. in 2011, it should come as no surprise that things fast go from bad to worse; just for starters, Frank has to enter the working world. Ameliorating all of his tribulations, at least from readers’ vantage, are his creator’s nonpareil pen and undulant line — a quivery visual seduction courtesy of Higgins. Moreover, by the finale, Frank’s [spoiler redacted – Ed.] — so the little guy ain’t doin’ too bad, y’know?" – Bryan A. Hollerbach, PLAYBACK:stl
• Review: "LikeWeathercraft, this new work [Congress of the Animals] is completely silent, showcasing Woodring's amazing talent to convey a story without a word, with seemingly little effort. It's just an eye-popping visual feast of amazing illustrations in this crazy world where Woodring can put whatever he wants on the page, to a stunning end result." – Dave Ferraro, Comics-and-More (via the SPX Tumblr)
• Review: "How wrong I was to underestimate the powerful storytelling medium of the emerging graphic novel platform, especially when masterfully rendered by an author and artist as remarkably talented as Santiago. I expected an exciting visual presentation, and was not disappointed, as Santiago’s heavy-lined, representational graphic style was, in turn whimsical, arresting, quirky, and most of all, emotional. But I wasn’t prepared for the wonderfully passionate portrayal of the human side of Clemente’s legendary journey from Puerto Rico into baseball immortality.... Captivating, revealing, and dramatic, 21 accomplished through art, creative use of informed imagination, and pure passion, far more than I thought possible from a graphic novel. I believe I now have a more complete picture of Roberto Clemente, but not of his statistics, or even his style of play, or of his place in baseball history. I have a truer sense of his heart." – Mark W. Schraf, Spitball
Gracie: Charlie Brown! He's the one who thinks, "Life is going bad... I'm an awful person... Nothing good ever happens to me..." Dad: Would you be friends with him? Gracie: I would. I love him. My love for him goes to the ceiling of a skyscraper. But nothing good ever happens to him ever. Once he won a race -- that's probably the only thing he's ever won. And the prize was 5 free haircuts... Dad: Ha! Gracie: He's only got a twist of hair in front. And he's like, "Five free hair cuts? I don't have much hair to cut! And even if I did... my dad is a barber!" Dad: Poor Charlie Brown. Gracie: Yeah, nothing good ever happens to him. He's always getting teased for his perfectly round head.
• Interview:The Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon talks with Stan Sakai: "Usagi was first published 27 years ago, and that time I just concentrated on the next story. It was around maybe... I would say with book four, The Dragon Bellow Conspiracy. That was the first major storyline. It took maybe 10 issues or something, I'm not exactly sure. Maybe eight issues.... Before then, I was thinking, 'Usagi's going to be canceled any month.' [laughter] 'I can't spend too much time devoting myself to a long storyline.' But once I did that and got over that hurdle, that's when I realized that hey, this could go on for a long time."
• List:The Hooded Utilitarian begins revealing the top 10 results in their International Best Comics Poll, with Walt Kelly's Pogo coming in at #8
• Plug: "A trip to the comics shop yesterday netted me a copy of Drew Weing’s Set to Sea. It’s pure indulgence, because I have already read the story online, but Fantagraphics’ small, almost jewel-like presentation is really beautiful. Weing tells his story one panel at a time, and each panel could be framed as a work of art in itself, so having it in a book, without the clutter of the web, is a worthy investment." – Brigid Alverson, Robot 6
• Scene:Comic Book Resources' Marlan Harris gives a recap of our 35th Anniversary panel at Comic-Con — unfortunately it contains several factual errors, some of which I have endeavored to correct in the comments thread
Trying to keep up with Online Commentary & Diversions while also at Comic-Con may be foolhardy, but I'll be giving it a go:
• Plug: "Reviewers will compare [Everything Is an Afterthought] to Lester Bangs’s Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung, but Avery’s palpable esteem for his subject elevates the book above anthology to research-rooted valentine; indeed, the book is partly a biography of a Minnesota-grown rock journalist whose lean style recalls the film noir he adored." – Heather McCormack, Library Journal
• Interview: At Comicdom, Thomas Papadimitropoulos talks to Michael Kupperman (interview in English follows introduction in Greek): "Despite having some enchanted associations, I still very much feel I'm an outsider, and I need very much to prove myself every day. This is one of the simplest rules of life - creativity is at it's strongest when it comes from necessity. I sincerely hope that at some point in the future I will be more successful and then I will not be as funny. That's how it works."
Drew Weing gave an illuminating talk about his career and the creation of his debut graphic novel Set to Sea a short while ago at the behest of the Pennsylvania Center for the Book in Philadelphia after the book received the 2011 Lynd Ward Prize for Best Graphic Novel Honor Award (runner-up to the main prize) earlier this year. Watch the complete talk, with introduction and follow-up Q&A session, embedded above or on YouTube here; also, in this video, you can watch the jurors for the Lynd Ward Prize discuss their selection of the book.
Heroes Con is this weekend, June 3rd through 5th, at the Charlotte Convention Center in Charlotte, NC. And while Fantagraphics won't be there ourselves, a couple of our awesome artists will be in attendance!
Visit Drew Weing in the Artists Alley at Booth 423! According to his Twitter Account, it's your chance to get one of the last few precious copies of the first printing of his acclaimed debut novel Set to Sea. He'll also have some mini-comics and original art for sale.
Catching up on several days' worth of Online Commentary & Diversions:
• List/Plugs: In an article titled "Fantagraphics: The Greatest American Comics Publisher," GUY.com's Rob Gonsalves says "What the Criterion Collection is to DVDs, Fantagraphics is to comics. Any self-respecting collection of graphic novels, any library public or personal, needs to sport at least one Fantagraphics book," and recommends a nicely idiosyncratic top-20 list of our publications which includes some of our more obscure releases
• Review: "While there definitely were some hardships, Clemente’s life was as unique and joyful as his persona and ball playing skills were, and Wilfred Santiago’s 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente reflects this uniqueness and joy through its own unique retelling of Clemente’s life. [...] The simple joy conveyed in this book is universally appealing... Baseball is a game that is full of life and story, and every year the game blooms in the spring with the trees and flowers of the season. 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente celebrates life, and new life, as much as it does baseball." – Andy Frisk, Comic Book Bin
• Interview: Pittsburgh City Paper's David Davis, who says "In his new graphic novel 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente, the author of 2002's In My Darkest Hour uses Clemente's life to explore issues on and off the diamond. These include the thorny politics of Puerto Rico (statehood or commonwealth status?) as well as the racism Clemente faced in America as a dark-skinned Latino. The result is both a superhero cartoon and a lyrical time-machine, rendered in the regal black-gold-and-white of the Bucs' uni," has a brief Q&A with Wilfred Santiago: "I began my career working on superhero cartoons. That's the look I wanted to get -- somewhere between a cartoon and a painting. I wanted to get the camera right there with him and you're experiencing the action up close."
• Review: "Slavishly documenting and lavishly illustrating through band flyers and set lists and rare record sides and marvelous photography, along with first-person textual accounts, this strange, excited dialogue between misfits in America through bands, venues, zines, and lives and how it was all done punk and how punk was done. [...] Taking Punk to the Masses’ gallant bridging of universal punk history with our own in Ecotopia is a reason to celebrate. Your eyes can gnaw on decades of delicious artwork while you read and watch stories you may have heard of, but after this, will never forget." – Chris Estey, The KEXP Blog
• Review: "In Hate Annual #9, Buddy returns to Seattle to meet the dysfunctional family of his wife Lisa who he has never met despite having been with Lisa for close to 20 years. In a tension-filled 72 hours, Buddy is subjected to senile parents, criminals, and drug addicts. Each page is filled with the sardonic humor and high drama that are staples of Bagge's work. [...] Read this issue slowly because once you're done laughing your head off, you are sure to be sad that you'll have to wait another year to check in with one of the best characters of alternative comics." – Rip Ransley, Stray Riffs
• Review: "The particular fascination in this early work [The Arctic Marauder] is seeing one of the unique individual styles in cartooning at a formative stage. [...] As for the subject matter: It’s an example of parody that continues on when the thing parodied has long faded away. [...] Part of the appeal is feeling superior to an earlier age, and another part is being engaged in the traces of the earlier form embedded in the parody, which you would normally feel yourself too sophisticated to enjoy." – R. Fiore, The Comics Journal
• Plug: "At once a parody and a tribute to late 19th, early 20th century mystery/adventure Jules Verne-esque fiction, this gorgeous one-shot [The Arctic Marauder] is masterfully drawn scratchboard style, as to echo the woodcuts of the era. The result is sumptuous, and look at those elegant art-nouveau panels! [...] Fans of concentrated mysteries, steam-operated machines, dramatic adventures and over-the-top vilains should be all over this!" – 211 Bernard (Librairie Drawn & Quarterly)
• Review: "With Woodring’s skill, I never found myself confused, at least, more than you’re supposed to be. I’ve never read a statement by Woodring saying this, but I always got the impression he wanted you to work for the meaning behind his stories. Even if it’s not the case, I highly enjoy the process. In one graphic novel [Weathercraft], I got what I think may have been a love story, a treatise on spiritual enlightenment and sometimes just a whole lot of fun." – Joe Keatinge, Joe Keatinge's Comics & Stories
• Review: "Weathercraft... [is a]nother volume of nightmarishly beautiful wordless comics by the remarkable Mr. Woodring. Even for those accustomed to his work, there is page after page that makes you say, 'I’ve never seen anything like that before!' And then hide under your bed." – M. Ace, Irregular Orbit
• Interview:Book By Its Cover's Jen Rothman, who says "Ray Fenwick has created yet another masterpiece. His second book, Mascots, hit shelves in the beginning of this year and it’s quite a beauty. It’s filled with his signature style that mixes ornate hand lettering and imagery, creating amusing little narratives," has a Q&A with Ray: "I thought of the idea of mascots because they’re these outrageous, often ridiculous figures, but they’re symbolic of something else. The thing they’re there to represent isn’t ridiculous at all. I thought that was similar in a lot of ways to the work in the book."
• Interview:One Two One Two Microphone Check has a cultural Q&A with our own Kim Thompson: "There is no movie I love but would be embarrassed to talk about in a serious, intellectual conversation, because if I love it, it is worth talking about by definition. (I concede this could be taken as arrogant.) That said, I am mildly embarrassed at how much I actually love Love, Actually."
• Interview: Alex Dueben's great interview with Daniel Clowes at Comic Book Resources touches on Dan's design work for our upcoming series of Crockett Johnson's Barnaby collections: "It's probably the best written comic strip of all time. The artwork is disarmingly simple. It's the kind of thing that I would normally not be attracted to. He uses typography instead of hand lettering and very simple diagrammatic drawings, yet they are perfect, and work beautifully in a way that anything added to it would detract from it. My goal with the design of the book is to follow his very severe minimal design style and try to live up to that."
• Interview: At TCJ.com, Sean T. Collins also talks to Clowes: "I was always baffled that people who liked mainstream comics seemed to really gravitate towards [Eightball #22]. I couldn’t quite figure out what it was about that one, specifically, that made them like that so much."
• Commentary:Tim Kreider pens an essay on the state of the cartooning industry for TCJ.com: "When you’re young, it’s exciting and fun just to have your work published in the local alternative weekly, or posted online, “liked” and commented on and linked to; but eventually you turn forty and realize you’ve given away a career’s worth of labor for nothing. What’s happening in comics now is what happened in the music industry in the last decade and what’ll happen to publishing in the next. Soon Don DeLillo will be peddling T-shirts too."
• Commentary:Robot 6 polled Gilbert Hernandez for their weekly "What Are You Reading?" feature: "The new comics I always enjoy are by R. Crumb, Dan Clowes, Richard Sala and Charles Burns. I haven’t seen Burns’ and Sala’s new books yet but I did read The Bible by Crumb, which I found tedious only because of the subject matter and Wilson by Clowes. That was hard to get through because the protagonist is so supremely hateful. Well executed, though."
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