Online Commentary & Diversions returns from the U.S. holiday:
• List:About.com: Manga places Moto Hagio's A Drunken Dream and Other Stories at #19 on their list of "50 Essential Manga for Libraries": "Collected for the first time in a gorgeous hardcover edition, A Drunken Dream offers a rare glimpse into the work of one of Japan's most distinctive and influential creators in shojo manga, and heck, manga, period. Worth recommending to both older teen and adult readers alike."
• Review: "Hagio draws these stories as if a full symphonic score were playing in the background. Her delicate, razor-thin pen line expertly captures her characters’ wide-eyed, open-mouthed anguish effectively. [...] I, certainly, am very glad that Fantagraphics made the effort (and judging by the exceptional production values it was a tremendous effort) to get this book out there ...because... beyond Hagio’s historical significance, [A]Drunken Dream [and Other Stories] is a book that deserves attention." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "Ever since it was announced in March (was it really that long ago?), I’d been looking forward to reading [A Drunken Dream and Other Stories] by legendary Moto Hagio. [...] It would be a real shame if Fantagraphics didn’t get any supportive business from this collection and demand for more. [...] I’m looking forward to reading more, and adding to the crying list!" – Sunday Comics Debt (who also provides the following two links)
• Review: "BUY. THIS. BOOK. No, seriously, buy it now. [...] I don’t think there is a single thing wrong with this book; Hagio-sensei touches on each of the topics she chooses to use with such perfection and …delicacy? that you can’t help but be amazed at how she does it. [...] I can’t wait for the next volume of manga Fantagraphics chooses to put out! They did a beyond amazing job with [A Drunken Dream and Other Stories]." – Kelakagandy's Ramblings
• Plug: "This week... everything fades in the presence of a newly-released collection of short manga from shojo pioneer Moto Hagio, A Drunken Dream and Other Stories. [...] Simply put, this book is gorgeous. [...] This is a release I’ve been eagerly anticipating since its announcement. Visit your local bookstore to find out why." – Melinda Beasi, Manga Bookshelf
• Review: "'Greatest Generation' hoopla will never seem the same after You’ll Never Know: Collateral Damage, book two in Carol Tyler’s sprightly but relentlessly honest 'graphic memoir'... [T]his is the story of not just a family but a generation, or two or three. And all are told with a saving dash of humor. Tyler’s form, a mix of scrapbook, diary, and cartoon panels, is likewise messy and eccentric, but it pays off in layered textures and viewpoints. Two famous precedents, Art Spiegelman’s Maus and Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, seem almost one-dimensional by comparison." – Eric Scigliano, Seattle Met
• Review: "While there aren’t necessarily many surprises in the story, Set to Sea is more about the savoring of a series of vivid moments (both for the lead character and the reader) than any sort of narrative complexity. With each page acting as a single panel, the true joy of reading Set to Sea is luxuriating in Weing’s intense crosshatching and detail. [...] Indeed, in a book whose visuals have such a powerful impact, Weing’s decision not to overwrite (and especially not to over-narrate) was his wisest. With nearly 70 of the book’s pages appearing as silent, the result was a book that understood and maximized its charms." – Rob Clough, The Comics Journal
• Interview:Nicola D'Agostino presents the original English text of the Drew Weing interview which ran at Comicsblog.it so you don't have to struggle through the mangled autotranslation: "So one day in 2005, I drew a panel with a guy sleeping. The only thing I knew about him was that he was a big fellow. I spent more than a year adding to it bit by bit, just improvising panels as I went. I started Set to Sea with no idea that it would be set in the past, or even set on the sea, so to speak!"
• Review: "...[T]he Billy Hazelnuts books are safe for children, while still being unique and complex enough for adults. Here Millionaire combines a gung-ho adventure spirit with a tempered yet still present darkness — two strains that have been the keys to so much of the greatest children’s literature. [...] Tony Millionaire is a genius and the Billy Hazelnuts books may be his best work. Imagine if Beatrix Potter had dropped acid with the 60s underground comix crowd or if A.A. Milne had collaborated with Franz Kafka. If you love fun, hilarious, and plain weird stories, then Billy Hazelnuts is for you." – Lincoln Michel, The Faster Times
• Profile/Preview: A gallery of images from the book accompanies this article: "See the work of Dan DeCarlo in the book The Pin-Up Art of Dan DeCarlo, published by Fantagraphics, which plunges into an alternate universe where Betty, Veronica, Sabrina grew up and live out situations that summed up the lewd sexual desire of men in the time before the sexual revolution of the twentieth century." – Ambrosia (translated from Portuguese)
• Interview: At his Cats Without Dogs blog, Jason presents a brief Q&A he recently did with the Spanish newspaper El Periodico de Catalunya: "I can hear the voice of a woman, from somewhere above me. 'Don't cry,' her voice says. 'One day you will see Neal Adams at a comic book convention in America.'"
• Feature:USA Today Pop Candy's Whitney Matheson spotlights Jim Woodring and his giant pen project: "I can't wait to see the pen and the drawings! (Also, can we start a campaign to get a live demonstration in New York?)"
• Commentary: At The Hooded Utilitarian, Ng Suat Tong surveys the use of buildings in comics and then looks specifically at architecture in Josh Simmons’s House
• Review: "It's hard not to get swept away your first time reading this book through. The gentle tug of the stories' allure that keeps you reading is hard to ignore so it's recommended you give in. Read it all the way through at your own pace. Once you're done, wait a few days or a couple weeks even, and then read it again. A Drunken Dream and Other Stories is a collection of subtleties as much as it is one of short stories. While the plots themselves are straight-forward enough (taking to mind how strange some can be), the emotional tone of each individual experience is where these stories truly pack a memorable punch. [...] Inside and out, Moto Hagio's A Drunken Dream and Other Stories is a mature collection of stories that aims to provoke thought and feeling and succeeds endearingly at just that. A piece of manga history that only becomes more engaging with each subsequent read, A Drunken Dream presents a great opportunity to experience the charms, both subtle and poignant, of Moto Hagio's craft." – Lissa Pattillo, Anime News Network
• Review: "While reading A Drunken Dream and Other Stories, it felt like I was not so much reading the stories as getting submerged in pure book, and rather than try to explain why that is, I just feel the need to force everyone I know to buy it while making vaguely incoherent happy cries. [...] It is a dazzling treat, and will mesmerize you. [...] If this doesn't win some awards it will be a travesty. Wholeheartedly recommended." – Sean Gaffney, A Case Suitable for Treatment
• Tweet of the Week: "Best story in Drunken Dream is the antisocial girl/puppy one, though it's missing the last page where Mr. A kicks the shit out of everybody." – Joe "@snubpollard" McCulloch
• Review: "...[T]his superb retrospective compilation and biography [The Artist Himself: A Rand Holmes Retrospective] featur[es] scads of sketches, reproductions of drawings, cartoons and the paintings he created in his later life..., preserved with a copious collection of his wickedly wonderful underground and alternative comic strips for fans and soon to be devotees. [...] Rand Holmes was a true artist in every sense of the world and mostly produced work intended to change society, not fill his pockets. This book is a wonderful tribute and one any grown-up art lover will marvel at and cherish." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Review: "As usual with Jason, these stories [in Low Moon ] are blackly funny, with characters whose core motivations are often unknown. [...] He's been a creator of great stories for many years, but there has always been something glancing and surface-y about his works before. Jason has always been deadpan, but he's showing, some of the time, unexpected depths in that pan." – Andrew Wheeler, The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.
• Review: "There are books that can be easily reviewed — they have straightforward plots that either make sense or don't, characters whose motives are explicable and definable, and settings that relate to places in the real world. And then there are the works of Jim Woodring, where nothing is explained, nothing is stable, and nothing is like anyone else's work. And it's absolutely goddamn genius. [...] There is no one like Jim Woodring, and comics are immeasurably strengthened by the fact that he's chosen this art-form to work in. [...] If you have any feeling in your soul, Weathercraft will confuse and mesmerize you." – Andrew Wheeler, The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.
• Plug: "At the age of seven (right on schedule!) Dylan has discovered Charles Schulz, and has polished off my entire collection of The Complete Peanuts hardcovers, from 1950 to 1976. As a result, by my math, he has read nearly 9,500 daily and Sunday strips. Most published before I was born, let alone before he was born." – Ken Jennings
• Plug (no pun intened): "Michael Kupperman is a funny guy, and pretty weird. His Tales Designed to Thrizzle carries on the madness... This one, however, rises to new heights with its appreciation of DRAINAGE!" – Lichanos, Journey to Perplexity
• Plug: "Drew Weing has finished his nautical adventure Set to Sea, bringing the story neatly back around in a circle. Told in a series of beautifully drawn single panels, Weing’s comic is the story of a sea-loving poet who gets shanghaied and learns the real thing is rougher and yet more beautiful than he had imagined. Fantagraphics has published a lovely print volume, and Weing is selling the original panels as well." – Brigid Alverson, Robot 6
• Interview: Our Italophone readers (or readers with the patience to work through a slightly jumbled autotranslation) will want to check out Comicsblog.it's interview with Set to Sea creator Drew Weing
• Coming Attractions: "It seems like it’s been forever since the gorgeous hardcover collection of the first set of Linda Medley's Castle Waiting stories. Fantagraphics will release 384 more pages of charming comics about the family-of-choice residents of a falling-down castle along the way." – David Welsh, The Manga Curmudgeon
• Review: "Oh, the things men do to torture themselves. [Catalog No. 439:] Burlesque Paraphernalia and Side Degree Specialties and Costumes is an amazing flashback to a time before the Internet, television, radio, movies and pretty much every other form of entertainment. [...] This book is chock full of some of the funniest and most sadistic devices ever dreamed up by the human mind. It’s almost as if the guy from the Saw movies had wanted to get laughs instead of frights — and fans of current outrage cinema may be happily startled to find something actually called 'The Human Centipede' in its pages." – Siobhan Greene, Fangoria
• Review: "It's an odd little notion, the idea that you've lived a better, fuller life for having killed people. That's probably a somewhat unfair aspect of Drew Weing's good-natured, lushly drawn storybook (that's the term the comic practically demands I use) Set to Sea — a tale of a big lummox of a poet whose lackluster verses about life on the open sea are given new verve when he's shanghai'd into service on an actual ship — for me to seize on. After all, Weing's bigfooted style and inviting rather than intimidating illustrative chops place him squarely in the adventure-comics tradition of Carl Barks and Jeff Smith." – Sean T. Collins, Attentiondeficitdisorderly
• Review: "Freed from the burden of making a 'serious' work, Anderson delves into some grim and gritty pulp material, and you can feel his relish and delight coming off the page. [Sand & Fury: A Scream Queen Adventure] basically deals with the story of a murdered woman who comes back from the dead as a banshee and eventually seeks revenge against her killer, who in turn may be a supernatural demon himself. It sounds like a Jim Balent comic, but Anderson creates a lovely noir atmosphere here, full of blood, sex and other nasty goings-on that never once becomes camp. It’s a nice, effective little horror comic." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Plug:The Venture Bros. co-creator Jackson Publick writes: "Venture alumnus, super-pal and yiddish-loving Italian-American Stephen DeStefano premiered his new graphic novel, Lucky in Love at the San Diego Comic Con, and I was fortunate enough to snag a copy. Now it's your turn. Go buy one."
• Interview:Graphic NYC 's Christopher Irving talks to Michael Kupperman. Irving on Tales Designed to Thrizzle: "Toss comic book art from the '40s and '50s into a blender with the dirty brand of humor that runs rampant in underground comics, and give it the pacing and spontaneity of skit comedy, and you get Kupperman’s distinctive Tales Designed to Thrizzle. Kupperman’s slick art has the polish and stiffness of old advertising art, creating a posed disconnect that adds a layer of absurdism to his offbeat stories." Sample Kupperman quote: "What I’m doing is more along the lines of sketch comedy. I grew up with Monty Python and SCTV, and those shows had a profound influence on me, through the writing and tone. My comic is humor for childish adults. I think I’m actually going to start putting that on the cover. It’s stuff that makes me laugh and part of my working method is to make stuff that will make others laugh as well."
• Profile: "One hundred-plus years after the newspaper comic strip was born in San Francisco, a reader might well ask: Who was the greatest comic artist of all time? Some scholars say the question was settled in 1924 by New York arts critic Gilbert Seldes, whose book on the American cultural scene, The 7 Lively Arts, devoted an entire chapter to a reclusive cartoonist in the Hollywood Hills named George Herriman and his avant-garde comic strip, Krazy Kat." – Anthony Mostrom, The Los Angeles Times (via The Comics Reporter)
• Profile: Katharine Zarrella of Interview magazine talks to Robert Pollard about his collage art and current exhibit thereof in New York City: "A handful of ex-bandmates are on Pollard's guest list, but what do they think of his artwork? 'It seems a lot of them dig it. I think secretly, and sometimes openly, my peers respect the insanity.'"
• Profile: "One of the most serious gaps that this blog has not yet filled is as follows: having been scandalously silent of the great art of Drew Friedman, one of the most popular and recognizable contemporary American illustrators, a genius capable of combining, with previously unpublished results, a technique of hyper-realistic depiction with the strong sense of the grotesque that characterizes the creative temperament." – Lucca Boschi, Il Sole 24 Ore (translated from Italian)
• Events: At AOL's TV Squad, Aaron Broverman recaps Blake Bell's presentation "Steve Ditko & Bill Everett: Spider-Man, Sub-Mariner, Daredevil & Beyond" at Fan Expo in Toronto, "a panel I expect will be one of the hidden gems of the weekend"
"Set to Sea... is the real thing: a one-off nautical action book (a hardcover version of Drew Weing's sweet, lively web-comic) that's a real pleasure to look at and linger over. Every panel-as-page just radiates joy in drawing." – Douglas Wolk
"I positively adore this format. [...] I could pull half or more of the pages in this book and hang them as wall art. [...] I gave this book one of my highest distinctions. I made my girlfriend read it."– Mike Williams
"Man... this book! ...Weing creates a wonderful modulation of tone throughout Set to Sea. [...] Maybe it's corny to call a book about a would-be poet lyrical, but that's exactly what Set to Sea is." – Evan Narcisse
"Set to Sea is just beautiful, emotional in all the right ways, and mixed with unexpected moments to pull it away from sugary sentiment and tweeness... There's such a gentleness here, so much heart, that it's completely compelling, and the way Weing structured it, a panel a page, makes the reading experience wonderfully slow, to match the story. [...] I just really, really loved this book. Like you said, Douglas, this is the real thing." – Graeme McMillan
• Plug:Techland's Mike Williams praises Set to Sea further in his "Panel of the Week" column: "Every page is a single gorgeous cross hatched panel that tells the story of a hulking poet forced into the life of a sailor. Do yourself a favor and go out and buy this small hardcover gem."
• Review: "Portable Grindhouse is a tributary 'don't know what you've got 'till it's gone' love letter to the awesomeness that was the 80s videotape box. [...] Beautifully encased in a faux cardboard videotape box, PG is a stroll through the shameless, sensationalist 'grab me off the shelves!' graphic design exploits and tacky taglines of an era when terrible action films, teen sex comedies, hilarious horror and strange sci-fi oddities still debuted weekly. Airbrushed atrocities and cartoon abominations abound." – Wilfred Brandt, TwoThousand (photo from the article)
• Commentary: "Magic realism in comics is nothing new, of course. The defiance of logic and physics is rooted in its pulp tradition, from superheroes to introspective character studies. Its effect helps us grab on to the ephemeral qualities of our experiences, giving us a shot at understanding their meaning and significance. In that context, its hard not to look at Scott Pilgrim and recall another time-bending tale of the modern comics era, albeit not so epic in its epicness: Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez’s Love and Rockets." – Scott Cederlund, Indie Pulp
• Coming Attractions:Library Journal's "Graphic Novels Prepub Alert" for November releases highlights Linda Medley's Castle Waiting Vol. 2: "Medley's black-and-white art draws on fairy tale standbys to spin a witty, inventive comedy of manners."