• List/Review: At Seen, Sam Humphries ranks Special Exits by Joyce Farmer #6 on the Best of 2010: "Sure, Special Exits is sad. But it’s also funny, touching, thought-provoking, and life-affirming. It’s never trite, cheap, or hokey, like, say, Patch Adams. This is the raw, unvarnished truth about the end of life, elegantly put to page by Farmer’s lyrical drawings, a welcome, thoughtful evolution of the raucous underground style of the 60s and 70s. Most of all, Special Exits is powerful. It’s vital; almost essential. [...] It’s not for the faint of heart, but it’s one that everyone can benefit from reading. Your future self will thank you."
• List:Fangoria's Michael Koopmans puts two of our classic reprints on their list of the 10 Best Horror Comic Releases of 2010:
"If you asked me to make a list of my all-time favorite comic artists, I’d just hand you [Four Color Fear], because all the greats are present in this terror tome... This is a truly amazing, thick collection of rare treats, as well as a nice reminder that EC wasn’t the only ones churning out the goods back in the 1950’s."
"A companion piece to last year's Strange Suspense (Vol. 1), this volume [Unexplored Worlds] continues to showcase the goods from one of my all-time favorite artists. And by 'goods' I mean the most unique and disturbing horror and sci-fi comics you will ever come across! As is the case with all Fantagraphics releases, the original works are untainted and scanned perfectly."
"Set to Sea, by Drew Weing, is actually the unqualified top of my list. My absolute favourite of the year, just for the sheer pleasure of it. It’s the deceptively simple life story of a struggling young poet who finds a life for himself at sea, and it’s a proper misty-eyed treat."
"Weathercraft, by Jim Woodring, is my tip to the old hands that brought out work this year. As much as I love the others..., Woodring is for me in a class of his own. Reading an extended work by the man, you find yourself falling into a different state of mind, a world of sickly, queasy imaginings. [...] Few are as adept at drawing you so deeply into worlds which are so utterly alien, yet so incredibly personal."
• Review: "If this is your first encounter with The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec, I feel I should warn you about the faint regret you'll feel for not having a chance to read these earlier in your life. These comics feel lost in time; they are reminiscent of Victorian adventure novels but maintain a strong contemporary cultural relevance. [...] Whatever your age, this is escapist reading of the finest sort — readers will get lost in Tardi's breathtaking ornamental artwork and marvel at how captivating an old-fashioned yarn can really be." – Jeff Alford, About.com: Contemporary Literature
• Review: "Action action action. Balls to the wall and guts to the ground action. And sick sick drawings. That's what you will find in this book. [...] Is this an evolution of Johnny Ryan we are witnessing with this series? Is he taking his unique manner of storytelling to another level with Prison Pit? Whatever, but there's obviously more to come with this series and I will be eagerly awaiting the next installment." – P.D. Houston, Renderwrx Productions
• Review: "Seattle-based publisher Fantagraphics' second volume of the collected Prince Valiant by series creator Hal Foster is a sumptuous package bringing together the Sunday strips that were published during 1939-40. ...[T]his restoration of one of the most influential comic strips of all time... [is] an essential purchase for anyone interested in the history of the American comic strip." – James Peaty, Den of Geek
• Review: "Throughout it all, Segar's art is energetic and expressive, the printed-page equivalent of the black-and-white cartoons of the '20s, and his characters are broad and exciting but always identifiable. Popeye in particular has depths that later stories rarely dealt with... Segar's Thimble Theatre stories are great American originals, and they suffered the fate of every other great American original: to be watered down and redone a thousand times by a thousand hacks in search of a quick buck and a sure thing. But the original endures to be rediscovered, as often as necessary, and that's no small thing." – Andrew Wheeler, The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.
• Review: "Coming in at nearly 1,000 pages, [Meanwhile...] was done with the late Caniff’s full cooperation and benefits from the fact that he and Harvey were friends. [...] Any storyteller as influential as Caniff was and is deserves a biography of this caliber." – Tim O'Shea, Robot 6
• Review: "As biographer and historian, Bell excels. He is able to really understand the cartoonist he is documenting and boil it down to the essentials. [...] The production on [Fire & Water] is amazing. Bell is able to reproduce a good amount of original artwork that allows you to see just how skilled a draftsman Everett was." – Robin McConnell (Inkstuds), Robot 6
• Review: At The Panelists, a "One-Panel Review" from Jim Woodring's The Book of Jim by Charles Hatfield: "Something I miss in Jim Woodring‘s current work is a sense of fear being enacted directly through his drawing, through his handiwork—in other words, a sense that the drawings themselves are shivering and smearing and decomposing out of sheer, gut terror."
• Interview:The Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon talks to Daniel Clowes: "I can't say that I would never do another comic and call it Eightball. I say there's actually a very high probability that I would do that some day. Kind of for old time's sake, or something. Or just to kind of rethink what a comic book means at some point. But right now it sure doesn't feel like the thing to do."
• Interview: And another great interview from Tom at The Comics Reporter, this time with Jaime Hernandez: "Gilbert and me always ask each other, 'So, what do you got in the new issue? What's coming up?' And I go, 'Well, I got this one story about Maggie, blah blah blah...' and I called it 'Maggie in Palomar.' I kind of aimed it that way, where I'm like, 'Oh, boy. A place where nothing happened.' It gives them room to do everything, because there's nothing there."
• Interview:The Los Angeles Times asks Drew Friedman for his thoughts on the Academy Awards: "The Social Network gets my vote for best film. Aside from it being the only film I've seen this year, I always support films with Jewish leading men playing Jews, even if the Jew is Mark Zuckerberg via Jesse Eisenberg. Good for the Jews!"
• Coming Attractions: More reporting and commenting on our Carl Barks news from Matthias Wivel at The Metabunker
Yeah, we're great, and our books are late. Why, what did you think the headline meant?
Anyway, a new year is upon and it's time to 'fess up about all the late Fantagraphics titles you were expecting to have by now, and don't, because we suck. Specific apologia and weaseling have been added to some titles, others we just pass under mortified silence. 2011 will be better!
The following have been rescheduled: • THE ANTIC CARTOON ART OF T.S. SULLIANT will be reformatted, rethought, re-solicited, and released in early 2012 • FORLORN FUNNIES VOLUME 1 by Paul Hornschemeier will be released in the Summer of 2011 • THE HIDDEN by Richard Sala will be re-solicited and released in July 2011 • HOW TO READ NANCY will be re-solicited and released in 2012 in a vastly expanded version from what we first expected • IS THAT ALL THERE IS? (né MODERN SWARTE, originally announced for 2007) in late Fall 2011: Yes, Joost has turned in all the files and publishers in three countries are synchronizing their watches! • NANCY IS HAPPY will be released in late 2011: It turns out that there was more production work than we anticipated to make the book as perfect as humanly possible.) • POGO VOLUME 1 will be released in the Fall of 2011 - yes, seriously, for real this time
This post has been in progress for nearly a month now... with so much to catch up on, I'll just be highlighting a few selected items and then giving you links to the regularly-updated stuff. As always, click for better viewing and possible commentary at the sources.
• Reviews: At Vice, it's time for another installment of "Nick Gazin's Comic Book Witch Hunt":
"Name a funnier comic than Popeye. Wrong, idiot, there isn’t one. Not only is Popeye the best ever, but this volume of Fantagraphics Popeye series is the best one yet. Oh yeah? Name a better one. Wrong. ... Like most great strips, Popeye has a strong philosophy. That philosophy is the world’s full of crooks. I wish there was a real Popeye to enforce some sort of rough fist-justice but I’m pretty sure there’s no justice and there’s certainly no Popeye, just crooks."
"The original [Prince Valiant] was a giant Sunday page with some of the greatest illustrations ever done. The colors in the latest reprint series are so superior to those in the previous printings that the old ones might as well have been in black and white. This shit is tremendous. ... Get this book or I’ll get you."
"I keep waiting for the quality of the comics in these [Complete Peanuts] books to take a sharp downturn but it hasn’t hit yet. ... So many personality types that I find in adult life were first found in these comics."
"Jason returns with another really good comic [Werewolves of Montpellier]... Jason uses just a few lines but his aesthetics are super superior and he can express intense emotions with simplicity."
"...[T]he art and colors [in Captain Easy Vol. 1] are mind bogglingly beautiful. It’s like Darger. Beautiful candy-colored lunacy."
• Review: "Dungeon Quest: Book One offers an interesting and amusing read, full of lots of laughs about youth and nerd culture, with a surprising layers of sardonic social commentary folded in for good measure." – Jordan Magill, San Francisco Book Review
• Review: "Set to Sea's one-panel-per-page layout lets Weing's visual storytelling shine, but only if you resist the urge to tear through the pages quickly. Go too fast, and you'll miss the touching, wordless way Weing communicates the death of a supporting character. Or, worse, you'll skim over a gorgeous arctic sunset clearly inspired by theGustave Dore engravings for Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner." – Glen Weldon, NPR
• Plug: "Drew Weing’s graphic novel debut [Set to Sea] is a Popeye-esque delight. Weing’s linework — and abundant crosshatching — is a visual feast that well serves the story of a deadbeat poet who is shanghaied and learns to live and love the yarns he’s been spinning." – Benn Ray (Atomic Books), Largehearted Boy
• Plug: "I don't know Drew but I've been reading [Set to Sea] online and I think it's a damn fine yarn worthy of your dollars and a place on your bookshelf." – Steve Rolston (Queen & Country, The Escapists, Ghost Projekt)
• List: "Featuring riotous fake ads, and strips like 'Snake and Bacon,' TDTT is subversive, twisted and awesome. With the 'can comic books be funny?' debate ever-raging, Tales Designed to Thrizzle answers a glorious 'Yes!'" – Max Minor, "Comic Books You Should Be Reading," Nerd City
• List:io9's Cyriaque Lamar recommends the Love and Rockets "Maggie the Mechanic" storylines as one of "5 comic books that will see you through Scott Pilgrim withdrawal," saying "these initial forays into scifi strongly resemble the unexplained weirdness of Pilgrimverse." (via Newsarama)
• Commentary: "Love and Rockets is spectacular, and amazingly approachable (What brought me over to the dark side of actually reading it was free time and finding Locas in my local library...), and the kind of thing that I feel embarrassed to have been reticent to read in the first place, which explains why I admit to it in public like this." – Graeme McMillan, Robot 6
• Commentary:The Hooded Utilitarian's critical roundtable on Popeye concludes with Robert Stanley Martin: "I perceive Segar’s Popeye as a period piece, but I can’t summon a rigorous aesthetic basis for that view. All I can muster is my own idiosyncratic opinion."
• Review: "From the start, Cathy Malkasian's turbulent fantasy Temperance reels you in... It is not hard to spot allegories in this to today’s war on terror, and to the Cold War, in Temperance‘s portrait of siege mentality and the exaggeration of external threats. ... No Shrek or Toy Story, Temperance confounds fairy-tale expectations with a disturbing, resonant parable about propaganda, memories and other lies." – Paul Gravett, The Times Literary Supplement
• Review: "First of all, I have to say how much I enjoy the format. Fantagraphics has done a fine job with this book, with a striking cover, sturdy spine, and essentially giving me everything I want in my comic books in terms of collected treatment. ... Jason’s simple, elegant artwork... allows any reader to dive right in. ... He’s a master of pacing out a gag, and he appreciates the fun of genre entertainment while still acknowledging the absurdity of it all. If I had to sum up Jason’s comics in one word, that word would be silly. They’re funny, and absurd, tinged with sadness and loneliness, outrageously goofy, slapstick, human and just plain pretty to look at. But mostly, they’re delightfully, delightfully silly. It’s a treat to enjoy a comic like Almost Silent." – Michael C. Lorah, Newsarama
• Review: "Prison Pit is fucking awesome and you really need to read it. It’s a kids book, in the sense that it very likely was something Johnny Ryan created when he was 12 years old, assuming the man was sniffing a lot of glue and simultaneously watching Cannibal Holocaust and WWF wrestling as a pre-teen. ... Grade: A" – Chad Derdowski, Mania
• Review: "Prison Pit 2 is mental, obscene, and grotesque... But the book is also pretty astonishing and at least several parts awesome... I'm dazzled by the bloody chutzpah and dirty bravado of Ryan's fight comic, the sheer devotion he shows to violence for violence's sake, thoroughly removed from any hollow 'redeeming values' or 'character development.' ...[T]o anyone wondering if Prison Pit 2 really delivers all the weird, filthy violence it promises, the answer is a resounding yes." – Jason Michelitch, Comics Alliance
• Review: "I read Megan Kelso's Artichoke Tales almost in a single sitting, which is probably a good way to do it. ... This book deals with some standard themes — strong women and intellectual, impractical men, the impulse that leads to war, technology vs. rural simplicity — but none is treated in a standard way. Kelso definitely has a point of view, but she doesn't insult the reader's intelligence, and there's plenty of nuance; she's telling a story, not making a point. Also, it's beautiful just to look at." – Bridgid Alverson, Robot 6
• Review: "Honestly, I’m still not sure how I ultimately feel about Artichoke Tales. I was put off by the book’s downbeat, resigned demeanor, yet at the same time impressed by Kelso’s ability to handle such a multi-layered story so effectively. Perhaps my feelings toward the book can be best summed up by the same word that one would use to describe both the political and personal relationships found in the book, and the real-life relationships she no doubt hoped to evoke: complicated." – Chris Mautner, The Comics Journal
• Interview:Robot 6's Tim O'Shea talks to Megan Kelso about Artichoke Tales: "The artichoke people started as a casual doodle. I think I was riffing on The Jolly Green Giant's sidekick, Sprout. So I just started drawing these people whenever I was on the telephone, or just playing around in my sketchbook. The more I drew them, the more ideas I had about their world, and I just slowly started to build a story about them. This was the first time since starting to make comics, that I generated a story from a drawing rather than from an idea, or from something I'd written. It was excitng to me because it seemed more like 'pure comics' to me, coming from a drawing."
• Review: "Birdland is a rare venture into the world of folly and fetish by award winning Gilbert Hernandez. ... [L]ocate a copy of Birdland yourself and enjoy and marvel at the bewildering release of limbs, torsos and groins in a madcap sexual adventure. The term 'graphic novel' will never mean the same again!" – partikal7
• Plug: "Rip M.D. is a creepy, fun-filled all-ages adventure saga... [Mitch] Schauer told ICv2 that the inspiration for Rip M.D. was all those horror and monster movies he saw as a child — movies that made him care more about the fate of the colorful monsters and fiends than the B movies' human characters who always seemed to triumph in the end. Rip M.D. is the logical emotional outgrowth of those accumulated cinematic disappointments, the story of a boy who is able to help the horror and monster movie characters that he loves the most." – ICv2
• Analysis: At Techland, Douglas Wolk looks at The Troublemakers by Gilbert Hernandez as an example of the successful use of a "widescreen" panel layout: "Aside from its title page, the entire thing is laid out as four identically shaped wide horizontal panels on each page, and the movie-screen shape is formally appropriate — the book is supposedly a kind of comics translation of a (nonexistent) B-movie. The Troublemakers is brutally effective as cartooning, though: Hernandez has designed it so that something's happening horizontally in almost every panel, and there's usually a different kind of motion from each panel to the next."
• Analysis:Love & Maggie continue their series of detailed, annotated rundowns of their Top 10 Issues of The Comics Journal with the first part of their examination of issue #71
• Commentary:The Hooded Utilitarian's critical roundtable on Popeye continues with Andrew Farago's look at the character's various multimedia incarnations
• Review: "...I had more fun reading this book than just about any other comic I’ve read so far this year. ... There’s a sort of Hergé-like mechanical perfection to his artwork; not only is it super-clean and super-crisp, but the panel-to-panel consistency is so strong that his characters sometimes don’t look drawn so much as stamped out by some sort of automatic drawing machine. ... Steve and Millennium Boy are funny — sometimes on purpose, sometimes not — and it’s a pleasure to walk around with them. ... I haven’t played an RPG since I was a teenager, but I think I’d play a Dungeon Quest one in a heartbeat." – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
• Review: "This amazing, sweeping epic... spans decades of time and hundreds of miles of geography, and it deals with no less than war, fear, religion, trust, memory, violence and the mysterious, barely understood ways in which these broad, vague emotions are used to form communities and society, and/or how they can tear them apart. ... I can’t recommend Temperance highly enough. It’s a book that everyone should read, and then reread." – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
• Review: "If the message and method of delivery seem simple, the artwork is anything but. In that regard, Set to Sea is the comics equivalent of good poetry. It’s not what’s being said so much as how beautifully Weing’s saying it." – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Las Vegas Weekly
• Review: "Combining the utterly irresistible power of nostalgia and insatiable curiosity with science-fiction, conspiracy theory, urban history, fact and legend, show-biz razzmatazz, supernatural horror, Film Noir and a highly developed sense of the meta-real, [in The Search for Smilin' Ed] Deitch once more weaves an irresistible spell that charms, thrills and disturbs whilst his meticulous drawing holds the reader in a deceptively fluffy, yet inescapable grip." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This! (via Bill Kartalopoulos)
• Review: "Widely acknowledged as the greatest adventure strip ever created, Prince Valiant is also arguably the best comic strip in that medium’s history. However, reprint collections have failed to truly capture the beauty and consummate artistry of Hal Foster’s creation…until now, that is. ...[T]his new Fantagraphics edition goes beyond simply correcting the shortcomings of past reprints — in truth, it is more of a revelation than a mere restoration. ... Ultimately, Prince Valiant is much more than a series of fantastic adventures in some legendary era; rather, it is a depiction of the making of a fully rounded and realized human being. ... Hal Foster’s Prince Valiant is a story to be read and cherished — today, tomorrow, always." – ForeWord Reviews
• Review: "A refreshing counterpoint to the vampire meme... In true Jason form, Werewolves of Montpellier neatly packs a chockful of romance, recreational crime, and existential thrills in this full-color 48-pager." – Space 15 Twenty
• Review: "Norwegian cartoonist Jason's book The Last Musketeer is the kind of whimsy that's easy to do wrong and nearly impossible to get right, but Jason gets it very right indeed. ... It's a story that follows a dreamlike, comic logic, always silly and always fun, and every page has several large grins waiting to jump onto your face as you read." – Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing
• Review: "It should go without saying that if you’re at all interested in women’s comics or manga, you should buy [A Drunken Dream and Other Stories]. But in all honesty, I think even if you just like comics and beautifully-told stories, this should be a part of your bookshelf. ... Hagio’s art is, of course, constantly gorgeous. ... Thorn’s translation definitely seems to be true to Hagio’s stories. He is obviously a great admirer of her and he does her justice. ... This is a beautiful book by an incredible creator. Whether or not you knew of Hagio before or this is going to be your introduction to her, it’s a book you need to have." – Eden Miller, Comicsgirl
• Review: "Underground comics were once the bastard stepchild of the industry. ... These days though they get their due as actual art, and their slouch towards respectability gets a big boost with Fantagraphics Books’ The Artist Himself: A Rand Holmes Retrospective. The collection combines a fascinating biography of Holmes... with chapters of his finest work... The Canadian rarely gets his due among comics aficionados, but The Artist Himself should go a long way toward putting this underground legend on the list of greats." – Alonso Duralde, Modern Tonic
• Review: At The Comics Journal, Bart Croonenborghs looks at the work of Olivier Schrauwen: "Here are some keywords though for the unintiated: Belgian, comic genius, graphical masterblender, darkly ironic, perfectionist."
• Profile:Santiago Garcia uses the release of The Search for Smilin' Ed by Kim Deitch as "an excuse to get an overview of the latest productions of this extraordinary author, who belongs to the first generation of the West Coast underground and has not stopped working from the 60s until now." (Translated from Spanish; via Bill Kartalopoulos)
• Interview:Larry Reid's appearance on The Marty Riemer Show podcast is now archived for your listening pleasure
• Commentary:The Hooded Utilitarian's critical roundtable on E.C. Segar's Popeye continues as Chris Mautner takes a tangential look at the topper strip Sappo
• Review: "Originally serialized in the late ‘90s, this cartwheeling shaggy-dog story begins, like a lot of metafiction, with the semblance of reality... But by the time a frog demon reanimates a 19th-century French peasant whose brains it has eaten, it’s fairly clear that Deitch is making stuff up. The fun of [The Search for Smilin' Ed] is the way it constantly darts back and forth across the line between genuine show-business lore (a favorite Deitch theme) and delirious whole-cloth invention. ... Deitch’s artwork... is... utterly confident, building on the stylistic gestures of both the underground-comics scene that launched his career and the classic animation that inspired his talking-animal characters." – Publishers Weekly
• Review: "Some of the best comics of the last couple of decades are Jim Woodring’s wordless Frank stories. Dreamlike, idyllic and mind bendingly horrific visions are rendered with immaculate penwork and pacing. This tidy, near 200 page collection of black and white stories [The Portable Frank] is sufficient to put a permanent dent in your brain pan." – M. Ace, Irregular Orbit
• Review: "Fantagraphics cycles back to the first three years of Herriman’s Sunday Krazy Kat strips [in Krazy & Ignatz 1916-1918]. I do enjoy these early years of the kat kronikles — a bit more lyrical, a bit more varied, a bit less centered on the kat/mouse/cop routine. Yes, you need it. Of course." – M. Ace, Irregular Orbit
• Interview: In virtue of the Criterion Collection release of Crumb on DVD and Blu-ray, The A.V. Club talks to director Terry Zwigoff: "And I said, 'What did you think of it?' And he said, 'It was mortifying.' I said, 'Is it a bad film?' And he said, 'No, but I’m looking at myself in a mirror, so what am I supposed to say? Is it good? Is it bad? I just don’t want to look at it.' Something like that."
• Panel:The Comics Journal presents video of the "International Comics and Graphic Novels" panel at Comic-Con International last month, with Moto Hagio, Émile Bravo and others — part 1 is embedded above, with 4 additional parts at TCJ.com