How are you celebrating World UFO Day today? Rewatching The X-files? Wearing your favorite tin hat? Gazing at the sky?
Why not pick up a sci-fi title or two as well? We've got some delectable tales, new and old, that explore humankind's fascination with space and aliens. From the kid-friendly to the delightfully perverse, we have plenty of recommendations to help you celebrate this (actual) holiday!
New Release Somewhere in the outer cosmos, beyond reckoning or observation, the mysterious Dr. Z has enlisted three space heroes, Furz, Venus, and Dogstar, to search the galaxy for the fabled Twelve Gems of Power. Wall-to-wall humor and action!
The charming all-ages stories from Measles (plus a new story done just for this book!) starring Luba’s smart, gutsy and imaginative niece, collected for the first time in a super-affordable little hardcover.
Spacehawk had but one mission in life: to protect the innocent throughout the Solar System, and to punish the guilty. Every story from Spacehawk’s intergalactic debut in 1940 to his final, Nazi-crushing adventure in 1942.
At the turn of the 20th century, a young woman meets a mysterious eccentric who wants her to star in a film about some remarkable religious artefacts he claims to possess. He is accompanied by a strangely intelligent dog…
Sixteen solo Feldstein sci-fi classics from Weird Science & Weird Fantasy (plus a few collaborations). Things from outer space, flying saucers, robots and the end of the world! Plus a new interview with Feldstein.
• Interview: Our own Eric Buckler talks to Wilfred Santiago at our own The Comics Journal: "Unlike working with someone else’s script, there’s no linear method when I work on my own. That is to say I write while I ‘toon, and I ‘toon while I write. So the most important step is editing–what’s left on the page before going to the printer and into the sweaty hands of readers. I do believe writing has improved my cartooning. I don’t think it’s an accident that some of the best cartoonists are writers. I’m not putting myself in that group but I strive for it."
• Review: "This is a wonderful collection of golden age material from Bill Everett, all never before reprinted.... For fans of golden age material or Bill Everett Amazing Mysteries: The Bill Everett Archives, Vol. 1 is a must have look at early comics from lesser known publishers... At $40 it’s an investment into rarely seen material." – Scott VanderPloeg, Comic Book Daily
• Review: At Danish comics website Nummer9, Nikolaj Mangurten Rubin looks at Kolor Klimax: Nordic Comics Now, calling it "A many-headed troll monster of a book" and giving it a 4 out of 5 rating
• Review: "Not many music writers warrant a biography. Lester Bangs was one. Maybe Tosches or Kent. But Everything Is an Afterthought, by Kevin Avery, is a singular piece of work, a hybrid bio and anthology. Nelson was the Orson Welles of rock letterdom, a man whose profiles of Springsteen and Zevon were masterpieces of the form. A slow stone-cutter of a writer, a cinephile and a noir buff (and an inveterate deadline-misser), he shot himself in the foot many times, but Avery’s book makes the reader misty-eyed for a time when music journalism was populated by hard-nosed evangelists, not suck-ups or career snarks." – Peter Murphy, "Blog of Revelations," Hot Press
• Review: As part of ComicsAlliance's series focusing on sex in comics, Douglas Wolk looks at Gilbert Hernandez's Birdland: "Birdland has been out of print for a while, which is a pity. It's witty, eccentric, bursting with joy, and utterly, cheerfully smutty.... And the whole thing is drawn in a style that's the erotic equivalent of Jack Kirby's fight scenes: grounded in the way actual bodies interact, but pumped up to an imaginative intensity way beyond anything the naked eye has ever seen. On top of that, Birdland is funny -- not corny-funny or nudge/wink-funny, but absurd and sly, with a terrific sense for what can make the overfamiliar language of pornography fresh again."
• 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
A nice batch of reviews in today's Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: "Starstudded. The comics medium merges with pictorial art into a groundbreaking narrative form in a new gorgeous anthology [From Wonderland with Love] with the Danish highlights of the last ten years.… jam-packed with cherry-picked quality material which is guaranteed to find happy readers far beyond the circle who consider themselves comics fans." - Nikolaj M. Lassen, Weekendavisen (translated from Danish)
• Review: "..[T]his brilliant, anarchic collection of errant dips into the cultural gestalt is laugh-out-loud hilarious. Like stuff that's fearless, brilliant and non-linear? Thrizzle is for shizzle." - Richard Pachter, The Miami Herald
• Review: "Fantagraphics continues on its quest to reprint and repackage history’s greatest and most influential comics in glorious, high-quality collections. This first collection of Hal Foster’s Prince Valiant strips has to be seen to be believed – it’s a lovingly crafted, tabloid-sized book with the highest production values. The artwork has been recreated from Foster’s own engraver’s proofs, providing better quality than even the original newspaper run would have got. Prince Valiant is widely regarded as one of the best adventure comics ever created, and there’s two years worth of material here – a real treat for fans of the original or new readers looking for some classic medieval adventure." - Grovel
• Review: "I certainly prefer Norwegian cartoonist Jason to Hemingway. For one thing, Jason doesn't hate women, as far as I can tell. And for another, his new book of short graphic stories, Low Moon, has a bunch of clever touches that made me chuckle out loud." - Noah Berlatsky, comiXology
• Review: "...[E]ven if the very mention of the word 'abstract' makes you poke your fingers in your ears and go 'La la la la,' I’d strongly recommend the book, as it contains a number of strikingly beautiful images and sequences... I found Abstract Comics to be a revealing, thought-provoking and genuinely lovely book that I’ll be sure to be rereading in the months to come." - Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "MILFs on Mars, by the artist known as Rebecca... is a collection of black and white pin-up drawings of naked (or mostly naked) women posing in spacey science fiction Martian environments... The drawings are well done and almost tame enough to not be called hard core. However, that cannot be said (or written) because some of the poses consist of inquisitive homosexual women physically probing other people. Need I say more?" - Bernard C. Cormier, Brunswick News
• Things to see: Not enough artists exploit the animated GIF as a medium; Lilli Carré has done it twice recently, to wondeful effect
Due to the somewhat obsessive nature of my link gathering, I had the idea to start calling these posts "Daily OCD: Online Commentary & Diversions." What do you think, readers? Too cutesy-poo? Offensive to sufferers of real OCD?
• List: The Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon names "The Ten All-Time Best Long-Running Comics Series," with Love and Rockets Vol. I at #2 ("The best long-running and organic artistic achievement in serial comic book form... The Hernandez Brothers inspired and outworked a greatest generation of comics auteurs. Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez are each among that handful of artists who must be given serious consideration when talking about the best cartoonists working. In Love & Rockets each created fictional worlds for the ages and used them as a vehicle for enormous artistic development, lapping the majority of their peer group. One so inclined could argue with seriousness a top 25 of American graphic novels where 1/3 of the titles listed came from this series") and Acme Novelty Library at #8 ("...a mind-bending achievement... ACME punched right in the scrotum the notion that every issue of a single comic book series had to look like the others... Its primary value is that it presented [Chris] Ware's giant talent to enough of an audience to bring him thousands of hardcore fans... Ware can dream up a single-page that if it were the only thing he ever published people might still know his name")
• List: The A.V. Club's Noel Murray offers commentary on Spurge's list ("There’s no one definitive L&R storyline; it’s just story after amazing story, accumulating over the past three decades like personal correspondence. [...] Ware... turn[ed] comic books into a kind of readable sculpture...") and lobbies for the inclusion of Johnny Ryan's Angry Youth Comix
• Review: "Miss Lasko-Gross' self-caricature in her autobio stories [in A Mess of Everything] is an interesting mash-up of a typical teen with low self-esteem and that of an indignant outsider determined to make her increasingly confident voice heard -- and loudly. [...] Lasko-Gross' greatest strengths as an artist are her character design, gesture and use of body language. It's the way she stages her characters that makes looking at each page interesting... I love the touch of the exaggerated and the grotesque that she injects into her drawings, distorting faces and bodies to reflect emotional tumult." - Rob Clough
• Review: "Formerly-suppressed, entirely classic, these stories [in Blazing Combat] are all solid examples of comic storytelling and craftsmanship... [T]he teams here make things look too easy. Not surprising since we’re talking about master artists like Toth, Frazetta, Severin, Crandall and others. The stories have all aged surprisingly well... Highly recommended..." - Matt Maxwell, Robot 6
• Events: Portland, your Free Comic Book Day cup runneth over, as Andrice Arp and the other contributors to the excellent free anthology comic Bird Hurdler will be appearing at various locations throughout town -- Andrice has the full itinerary and details on her blog
• Review: For Robot 6's "What Are You Reading?" column, guest contributor Kevin Church says of Sam's Strip, "It was either going to be the biggest success in the world or end within two years. Since it’s all collected in one volume now, you can likely work out how it went down."
• Review: Las Vegas Weekly gives Sam's Strip 4 stars: "How on earth did Sam's Strip... fail to set the funny pages on fire back in 1961...? The answer -- provided through this complete collection of 500 strips -- is that the time just wasn't right. Well, it's certainly right now."
• Review: Thought Balloonist Charles W. Hatfield examines Bottomless Belly Button by Dash Shaw: "Shaw is very good and getting better... With Bottomless Belly Button he has pulled off something remarkable: a 700-plus page book that doesn't feel like a stunt but rather is perfectly proportioned, intimate, and subtle, a privileged entryway into a private world that nonetheless feels universal in its emotive resonance and applicability... Bottomless Belly Button has depths. It evokes the power of memory and the phenomenal richness of ordinary experience with the sort of Proustian precision of observation and recall that alternative comics have been chasing since Spiegelman."
• Review: The title of The Washington Post's Express Night Out review of The Complete Peanuts 1971-1972 makes what is surely the first reference to Spin¨al Tap in a Peanuts review. From the review: "[These] volumes... are a spectacular tribute to Schulz's work... References to Bob Dylan's age aside (one strip mentions his 30th birthday — yikes!), Peanuts remains surprisingly fresh and timeless. Although Charles Schulz wrote these strips over 20 years ago, the ongoing popularity of the made-for-TV holiday specials... means that the Peanuts gang continue to remain relevant in popular culture. It would be a pity, however, to relegate Peanuts to special occasions only — Schulz's work should and can be enjoyed all year round."
• Review: Sacha Peet says "I finally read Unlovable by Esther Pearl Watson the other day. I love it. The drawings are great, and the life of Tammy Pierce is enthralling."
• Review: From Publishers Weekly's starred review of Humbug: "MAD's early years have been justly lauded for their japing assault on postwar American culture, but this outstanding two-volume boxed set reflects the history of comedy in the period after staff stars like Kurtzman jumped ship in 1956... for dry cocktail laughs and low schoolboy snorts, it's hard to think of a better pair of books to have at your nightstand."
• Review: Comics Bulletin takes a good look at the revelations contained in The Complete Peanuts 1971-1972, concluding "The Complete Peanuts 1971-1972 reprints [some] of what many consider the peak years of the comic strip... [it] was better than perfection; it was glorious."
• Commentary: Jog presents an appreciation of Muñoz and Sampayo's Sinner
Scheduled to arrive in comics shops this week from our Eros Comix imprint: The Tijuana Bibles Hardcover Vol. 1, containing 500+ pages of explicitly smutty vintage tomfoolery. Hit that link for more info and previews and then hit your local shop tomorrow (as always, call ahead to confirm availability).
• Review: Dutch blog Koen says of Dash Shaw's Bottomless Belly Button (according to the Google translation) that "Shaw proves himself a master of the portrayal of inner pain and dysfunctional relationships without being depressing, with the addition of humor and mystery... This book is one of the best comics of 2008."
• Preview: Introducing an exlusive 7-page excerpt from Unlovable Vol. 1 by Esther Pearl Watson, New York Magazine says "Tammy [Pierce]'s hopes, dreams, and humiliations are brought vividly to life in Watson's grotesque-but-touching book Unlovable. Even if you never wore leg warmers with high heels, you'll still recognize your teenage self in Tammy Pierce's unguarded, most secret thoughts. And if you did wear leg warmers with heels, well, maybe this was your diary."
• Blurb: Italian blog Nuvole Parlanti, looking at Birdland, calls Gilbert Hernandez "the king of American erotic comics"