Ian Burns has his fortune told by Dame Darcy, July 10, 2010
Ian Burns is the second-most recent staff acquisition here at Fantagraphics (designer Tony Ong holds current "new guy" status) — you may know him as one of the voices who answers our phone and takes your orders, or as the friendly bearded fellow at our Emerald City Comicon booth this year, or perhaps you've read his "Diaflogue" interviews with Leslie Stein and Kim Deitch. If the latter, you know that Ian is a pretty thoughtful guy about comics, and I'm happy to learn that he's been contributing essays to Graphic Eye, the recently-launched comics reviews-and-interviews site headed up by our erstwhile intern, steadfast supporter and good pal Gavin Lees (which in itself is great news). Here's Ian's discussion of "Merlock Jones," the shape-shifting detective in E.C. Segar's Thimble Theatre (as seen in Popeye Vol. 3), and here's his analysis of Jim Blanchard's portrait of Osama bin Laden which appeared on the cover of The Stranger earlier this year. Not only that, Ian's also been contributing to The Comics Journal website, including this well-traveled recent interview with Brandon Graham. (And if you ever meet Ian in person, ask to see his theme sketchbook of Animal from The Muppet Show — it's giving my Yoda sketchbook a run for its money, I tell you what.)
• Review: "Though he was one of the genre’s pioneers, Roy Crane’sCaptain Easy is arguably the most idiosyncratic of all the adventure strips. But it’s this blend of loud slapstick, young-boys-styled adventure and blatant sex appeal that make Captain Easy such a winning, fun strip to read." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "From any other culture this type of story would be crammed with angst and agony: gratuitously filled with cruel moments and shame-filled subtext, but Takako Shimura’s genteel and winningly underplayed first volume in this enchanting school saga [Wandering Son]... is resplendent with refined contentment, presenting the history in an open-minded spirit of childlike inquiry and accepting optimism that turns this book into a genuine feel-good experience." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Review: "...[T]he fifth [Popeye] collection, "Wha's a Jeep?", is just as vital and zippy as any of [the] earlier books, particularly in the daily strips.... This is great stuff — as I've said before, Segar's Popeye is not just one of the great American comics, it's one of the great comedy/adventure works of all time, full of brawling, joking, inexhaustible life." – Andrew Wheeler, The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.
• Review:The Comics Journal's R. Fiore on David B.'s The Littlest Pirate King, in its entirety: "Speaking of comics that would make good movies, if Henry Selick is looking for his next project, this is it, right here."
Curious about that first pair, I dug around a little online, and came across these beauts, and some more information. Apparently, back in the 1970's, Clemente lent his name to this brand of Super Pro sneakers, sold exclusively in his homeland of Puerto Rico! I propose supplemental material on these shoes in a future Special Edition of 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente.
And I saved the best (in my girly-opinion) for last with these exquisite shoes, inspired by E.C. Segar's Popeye fashionista Olive Oyl. I sure wanna kidnap these handcrafted beauties by Israeli shoe designer Kobi Levi, but oops, looks like they're one-of-a-kind. Kobi, I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a pair of these today?
[ Props to Devlin Thompson and Cartoon Brew for the scoop! ]
• Review: "Stephen DeStefano is nominated for the 2011 Eisner Awards for his artwork on this book [Lucky in Love Book 1] and understandably so. [...] His style on this book works so well, the feel and mood of the 1940's is dutifully established. The exaggeration in his cartoony style on this book especially with the characters is both hilarious and beautiful. From the linework, to the panel and page design, DeStefano just did an amazing job. Simply beautiful work here. The kind of work that leaves you lingering over every little line or design." – P.D. Houston, Renderwrx Productions
• Plug: "After I read and loved Footnotes in Gaza, I had to get [Safe Area Gorazde: The Special Edition], right? It looks pretty flippin’ awesome, plus for this edition, there’s a lot of frontmatter by Sacco in which he discusses the circumstances in Bosnia in the early 1990s." – Greg Burgas, Comic Book Resources
• Plugs: "It’s an embarrassment of riches from the fine folks at Fantagraphics as they deliver not one, but two fantastic comic collections for aficionados to dive into. Not only do we get the 15th volume of The Complete Peanuts covering the years 1979-1980 and featuring an intro from Al Roker, but we also get the 5th volume of EC Segar’s Popeye, Wha’s A Jeep, which introduces us to the magical Jeep. Both volumes? Brilliant." – Ken Plume, FRED Entertainment
• Review: "Erotic, harrowing, graphically violent, and astonishingly grim, Love from the Shadows sees Hernandez plunging ever further into his own heart of darkness. [...] Every line is heavy with sadness, with the desire of the character, and the character within the character, and the artist, and the audience, to escape. But if there’s one message you can draw from Gilbert Hernandez’s comics, it’s that once you enter that cave, there’s no going back. Christ, what a fucking book." – Sean T. Collins, The Comics Journal
• Review: "Clearly Taking Punk to the Masses will appeal first and foremost to fans of Kurt Cobain, Nevermind, and everything Nirvana — but by placing this groundbreaking band within a cultural and historical context it becomes more than just another Nirvana book. In fact, you’ll be surprised at how much more there is between its covers, and the Nirvana artifacts are kept to a minimum. Instead, it tells the tale of underground American punk, the Seattle scene, and the grunge phenomenon. [...] Even if you haven’t had the chance to check out the EMP’s exhibit, ...Taking Punk to the Masses provides an intriguing visual and oral history of the generation that changed music — and the Northwest — for good." – Dan Coxon, CultureMob
• Review: "The undisputed king of the adventure comic strip was Roy Crane. [...] Suddenly faced with a whole new audience and a world newly at war, Crane created a new strip for Hearst, the exploits of a daring Navy pilot named Buz Sawyer, beginning in 1943. The result was one of the greatest adventure strips ever, the first two years of which have been collected in Buz Sawyer: The War in the Pacific. [...] The bright-eyed, steely resolve of Crane's generation shines in every panel, making it a refreshing bit of nostalgia as well as an exemplar of sequential art. [...] For history buffs and comic fans alike, Roy Crane's flyboy provides a great escape from 21st-century cynicism." – John G. Nettles, Flagpole Magazine
• Review: "It's called Popeye, Vol. 4: "Plunder Island"... and it's just as good and thrilling a mixture of low humor, high adventure, running gags, populist sentiment, brawling action, expressive drawing, and unforgettable characters as ever. [...] This is great stuff, and it's just as funny and enthralling as it was in the mid-30s when Segar was spinning it out, day by day, in the funny papers. Someone who can read Popeye and doesn't has no advantages to speak of over the mule, who cannot read Popeye." – Andrew Wheeler, The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.
This month's issue of Booklist brings a starred review for 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente by Wilfred Santiago and additional favorable reviews of 5 more of our recent releases, excerpted below:
"Nearly every page brings a new compositional marvel, setting energetic, limber figures against stylized photographic backgrounds washed in sepia tones and Pirate-yellow highlights. The in-game sequences, though, are show-stoppers, taking advantage of dizzying perspective shifts to capture the fluid, whirling nature of the game as it moves in fits and starts through huge moments of pause into cracking shots of sizzling drama. It’s not a comprehensive biography by any means, nor does it try to be one. But for a book that matches the pure athleticism, unshakable compassion, and towering legacy of its subject, look no further." — Ian Chipman (Starred Review)
Popeye Vol. 5: "Wha's a Jeep?" by E.C. Segar: "The fifth oversize volume collecting Segar’s vintage 1930s newspaper strip sees two particularly notable events, the introduction of Popeye’s lovable pet from the fourth dimension, Eugene the Jeep, who can foretell the future — a talent that Olive Oyl and Wimpy predictably exploit at the racetrack — and the seafaring quest to find Popeye’s long-lost father, Poopdeck Pappy, who turns out to be even more irascible than his cantankerous son. The out-of-continuity Sunday pages are more humor-driven, allowing Segar’s most brilliant comic creation, the rotundly roguish J. Wellington Wimpy, to take the fore." – Gordon Flagg
Prince Valiant Vol. 3: 1941-1942 by Hal Foster: "This period, with its far-flung story lines and lavishly detailed artwork, is arguably the acme of Foster’s four decades chronicling the bold exploits of his medieval hero. While the oversize pages don’t approach the expanse of the bygone broadsheet newspapers that were Valiant’s original home, this is the best showcase Foster’s epic creation has had since its original appearance more than 70 years ago." — Gordon Flagg
Krazy & Ignatz 1919-1921: A Kind, Belevolent and Amiable Brick by George Herriman: "Although nearly a century has elapsed since these episodes first saw print, nothing that’s appeared on newspaper comics pages in the intervening years has approached their graphic and linguistic sophistication, let alone their brazenly idiosyncratic singularity. The bounty of Herriman’s fanciful masterwork is enhanced by a pair of informative supplemental essays and Chris Ware’s strikingly stark cover design." – Gordon Flagg
The Complete Peanuts 1979-1980 (Vol. 15) by Charles M. Schulz: "Although Schulz’s much-loved comic strip is considered timeless — the continued reprinting of decades- old episodes in today’s newspapers attests to its perennial appeal — it wasn’t immune to contemporary trends. In these episodes, Peppermint Patty advocates for women’s equity in sports and gets Bo Derek-inspired cornrows. In other anomalous sequences, Charlie Brown’s pals express uncharacteristic affection for him when he’s hospitalized, and Peppermint Patty falls in love with — of all people — Pig-Pen. But most of the strips here display the comfortable tropes, from Snoopy as a WWI flying ace to Linus awaiting the Great Pumpkin, that Peanuts fans grew to love during its five-decade run." – Gordon Flagg
R.I.P.: Best of 1985-2004 by Thomas Ott: "With Ott’s trademark scratchboard style affording the highest possible contrast, this is some of the most stunningly crafted work in comics today." – Ray Olson
• Review: "Last year, Fantagraphics reproduced Catalog No. 439 of the DeMoulin Brothers – the most extensive depiction of initiation contraptions and ritual outfits used by Freemasons and other fraternal orders, like the Odd Fellows, the Knights of Pythias, and E. Clampus Vitus. Bearing the title Burlesque Paraphernalia and Side Degree Specialties and Costumes, this wacky book may shed a shred of light into the outer sanctum of these associations – unless, of course, it is actually a hoax disseminated to lead us astray. [...] Even if Enlightenment should, as always, prove ever elusive, the illustrated designs of Edmund DeMoulin and the handiwork of his brothers Ulysses and Erastus, as reproduced in Burlesque Paraphernalia, will still deliver amusing, if sadistic, anthropology. [...] Book lovers... will fall for its hundred and fifty full-page plates of machines of untold mischief. " – Jeffrey Wengrofsky, Coilhouse
• Review/Commentary: "...I end up seeing Ditko’s work arc from earliest 'dependent work' as he calls it, the charming, imaginative comics collected in Unexplored Worlds, the rockets, superintelligent monkeys, green insect aliens seeking earthling wives, paintings that lead to another world, angelic visitors and poetically just twist endings, to his later work created entirely on his own terms and for his own purpose, but less effective as his characters become 'ciphers' and his design, text-heavy." – Carol Borden, The Cultural Gutter
• Commentary:David Chelsea posts his email debate with Kim Thompson re: Joost Swarte's use of perspective. Kim: "Maybe you aren’t seeing the forest for the trees — or the ground below the trees that comprises the forest because you’re looking at it from a horizontal-oblique perspective." Zing!
• Craft: At TCJ.com, Frank Santoro applies his lessons in page proportion and layout to a Tintin page by Hergé
• Review: "...Freeway is often stunning. Kalesniko spent 10 years on the book, and the time and care is evident in the structural complexity. [...] One of the unique properties of comics — utilized well by artists like Chris Ware and Richard McGuire — is the ability to connect disparate pieces of information using the page like a chart. Kalesniko doesn’t draw any arrows or experiment with layouts, but he does convey the impression of a man dealing with his daily frustrations by letting every sight, sound, and sensation send him on a trip through his own head. And in Freeway, Alex Kalienka’s head is as vivid as the book’s depiction of key Los Angeles landmarks. Kalesniko renders both the exterior and interior spaces with a mix of loving care and impassioned disgust." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "This mesmeric saga [Freeway] is deliciously multi-layered: blending compelling narrative with tantalising tidbits and secret snippets from the golden age of animation with rosy reveries of the meta-fictional post-war LA and the sheer tension of a paranoid thriller. Kalesniko opens Alex mind and soul to us but there’s no easy ride. Like Christopher Nolan’s Memento, there’s a brilliant tale here but you’re expected to pay attention and work for it. Illustrated with stunning virtuosity in captivating black line, Alex’s frustration, anger, despair, reminiscences and imaginings from idle ponderings to over-the-top near hallucinations are chillingly captured and shared in this wonderful book..." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Plug: "Freeway by Mark Kalesniko (published by @fantagraphics) is one of the best graphic novels I've read this year." – Ted Adams (founder/CEO, IDW Publishing)
• Plug:Grovel previews Freeway: "This 400-page epic looks set to be a stunning piece of work, as Kalesniko squeezes a lifetime of events into the mental wanderings of a single car journey."
• Review: "Dungeon Quest is unlike anything I have ever seen in the comic world. The closest comparison is some old comic strips in Dungeon Magazine from the mid-eighties but Dungeon Questtakes the level of insanity in those strips and adds +100 in delirium bonuses. If you know a manic dice roller, go out and purchase them both editions without thought. They will love you forever. [...] The story sounds a little like Bilbo Baggins' quest, right? Well, take Bilbo and drag him through a funhouse filled with drag queens and stand-up comedians from the eighties and you might end up with Dungeon Quest. The filth that spews from this book will make you blanch and make you laugh your lungs up." – Martin John, The Outhouse
• Review: "In short, The Arctic Marauder is pure fun, silly and dark camp. It’s a beautiful book, with an appealing cover and a sturdy hardcover binding. Tardi’s narrative voice keeps the proceedings puckishly light and pleasant, while the plot itself explores oceanic depths and throws out characters rife with madness and egocentrism. There aren’t many books quite like it; comics readers are better off for having Tardi available here in the States." – Michael C. Lorah, Newsarama
• Review: "The fun of getting caught up in a story that’s convoluted for its own sake, or the dazzle of pictures that preen the skill and effort that went into crafting them — they’re the hallmarks of a book that one reads to relax. Books that require an effort are ultimately more satisfying, but the smaller satisfactions are occasionally what one needs. The Arctic Marauder is fun, and it was nice to sit down with it after a long day." – Robert Stanley Martin, Pol Culture
• Review: "Screenwriter and novelist Claudio Piersanti's dark tale of a man driven to the depths of despair is beautifully captured in Mattotti's astonishing art [in Stigmata]. No artist is better suited to capturing all the intense violence, anger and despair this character suffers through." – John Anderson, The Beguiling blog
• Review: "Daddy's Girl is a comic book with a difference. Debbie Drechser uses mostly black and white illustrations to openly deal with the dark subject of abuse. [...] This is simply put, a masterpiece. The deeply disturbing subject matter of sexual abuse is brought to life with a startling brutality. It's impossible not to be impacted by the experiences within the pages. [...] It's a memorable, moving, bold, and — at times — emotionally challenging read that definitely rates a 5/5 from me." – Charlene Martel, The Literary Word
• Review: "Because Theroux knew Gorey personally — and remains a fervent fan — The Strange Case [of Edward Gorey] jumps from memories of the man to a more generalized biography, in between astute analyses of what makes Gorey books like The Hapless Child and The Gashlycrumb Tinies so haunting. The Strange Case isn’t organized like a conventional bio or critique; it’s more rambling and personal, working carefully past the psychic blockades of a man who once explained away the darkness of his work with the non-committal comment, 'I don’t know any children.'" – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "Rendered in an incomprehensibly lovely panorama of glowing artPrince Valiant is a non-stop rollercoaster of stirring action, exotic adventure and grand romance; blending realistic fantasy with sardonic wit and broad humour with unbelievably dark violence... Beautiful, captivating and utterly awe-inspiring the strip is a World Classic of storytelling and something no fan can afford to miss." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Review: "These superb oversized... hardback collections are the ideal way of discovering or rediscovering Segar’s magical tales. [...] There is more than one Popeye. If your first thought on hearing the name is an unintelligible, indomitable white-clad sailor always fighting a great big beardy-bloke and mainlining tinned spinach, that’s okay: the animated features have a brilliance and energy of their own... But they are really only the tip of an incredible iceberg of satire, slapstick, virtue, vice and mind-boggling adventure… [D]on’t you think it’s about time you sampled the original and very best?" – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Interview: At Newsarama, Zack Smith talks to Hans Rickheit about Ectopiary ("one of those webcomics that has everyone talking"), future plans and coelocanths: "The story divides into three parts which do not resemble each other. I wanted to draw an exotic science fiction, although the first hundred pages will contain very little in that vein. These stories aren't written; they simply occur to me. I prefer it that way. Good science fiction writers write about strange and inexplicable things. My job is make the strange things they write about."