For everyone interested in the history of underground and alternative comics, Treasury of Mini Comics Volume Two gathers prime examples—more than 800 pages' worth—from a quintessential self-publishing format in this compact but hefty hardcover. Previously only seen in limited-run pamphlets, these comics are startling, visionary, hilarious, profane, and profound. This volume also takes a look back at the wild 8-page sex comics called "Tijuana Bibles" that sprang from the 1930s underworld, as context for the contemporary comics that compose this book. Editor and mini comics pioneer Michael Dowers provides a historical survey of several decades' worth of some of the best that DIY comics has to offer, from some of the medium's most talented independent creators, including: Johnny Ryan, Trina Robbins, R.K. Sloane, Jeffrey Brown, Jim Rugg, Tom Neely, Ellen Forney, Esther Pearl Watson, Renée French, Lisa Hanawalt, J.R. Williams, Pat Moriarity, Souther Salazar, Theo Ellsworth, Nick Bertozzi, Dan Zettwoch, Marc Bell, and many others.
As the leaves begin to turn shades of red and orange (or fall straight off and green depending on where you live), backpacks are dusted off in preparation for a new load of textbooks, and we move into fall, we figure you could use some cause for celebration. How about our Labor Day/Back-To-School Sale? We've got great titles of all-ages, young-adult, and non-fiction titles at a whopping 40% Off from Saturday, August 30th through Monday, September 1st!
School can be anything you make of it, especially you don't give a damn. For the guy or girl that knows everything, try Unlovable 1and 2by Esther Pearl Watson. She may only break wind and not hearts, but Tammy Pierce is unstoppable. For some short stories from all walks of life, ugly and less ugly, grab Daniel Clowes' Caricature, often compared to to Nabokov for their complex naturalism and sense of humor.
Is cutting class altogether a common memory for you? How about a classic Fantagraphics alternative comic, sure to win even the most jaded of hearts: Daniel Clowes' Ghost World (now in its 20th printing) is for you. Already have it? Try the male version of Ghost World, Celebrated Summer by Charles Forsman, that came out in 2014. Night Fisher by R. Kikuo Johnson also follows the teenage trail of growing up and growing apart.
Cutting class was too weak? You just dropped out all together? Damn, you might enjoy Giraffes in My Hair, a Jack Kerouac-style story lived by Bruce Paley and drawn by his partner,Carol Swain, all about the summer of '67. On the cusp of flunking out with a drug habit, A Mess of Everything by Miss Lasko-Gross, is an intense and raw look at her own high-school experience. If you're looking for more personal and semi-autobiographical comic stories look no further than The Squirrel Mother by Megan Kelso. It also contains stories about the idea of America and American history, such as a trilogy of short pieces about Alexander Hamilton.
Consider some new books about comics as an assignment for a graded discussion. Black Images in the Comics by Fredrik Strömberg walks through comics, old and new, to enlighten the audience about the hideous caricatures racism produces so that we may never stray there again. Best American Comics Criticism compiled by Ben Schwartz features the best essays on comics from Chris Ware on Rodolphe Töpffer, Dan Clowes on Mad's Will Elder, The Daily Show's John Hodgman on Jack Kirby and more!
"Though Watson illustrates Tammy’s life in excruciating, embarrassing detail to often-hilarious effect, her clear affection and empathy for her subject shines through. She universalizes Tammy’s experiences, taking us back to relive our own tortured, giddy, deadly serious, horny, boring, and horribly self-conscious teenage years." – Robert Kirby, The Comics Journal
"This is exactly what summer blockbusters should be, only Milburn’s is a singular vision. He exploits clichés by embracing them, and he busily captures hyperspace hilarity, while the black and white pages never feel overwhelmed by the dark backdrops or Milburn’s detailed designs." – Alex Carr, Broken Frontier
"Tardi is unremitting in his focus on the small, human details of the catastrophe—not just the look of uniforms and weaponry, but the way one soldier advances in an awkward, stiff-armed posture, 'protecting my belly with the butt of the rifle,' and the way another makes sculptures and rings from discarded shells, to sell to his comrades." – Gabriel Winslow-Yost, The New York Review of Books
"Many of Davis’ stories here explore the way people live with each other and try to find themselves in the modern world. They are funny, surprising, touching, and insightful. Some have a sci-fi slant to them, some are fantasy, and some are just about real people." – Rich Barrett, Mental Floss
"The title story might be the best known in the entire EC comics oeuvre… EC tales often sported morals reinforcing decency and forward-thinking that were decades ahead of their time. 'Judgment Day' is one such story, an O. Henry type of tale about an Earthling astronaut who visits a robot-inhabited planet that is strictly divided along color lines…When the twist ending comes, it carries a surprise even today; sadly, this reflects as much on our own time as the era in which the story was produced." – David Maine, Spectrum Culture
"I was amazed to find that many of these people were born in the late 1800s and that most of them have military service as part of their illustrious resumes. These weren’t hoity-toity art students born with silver spoons in their mouths; these were hard-working American mutts that, against nearly impossible odds – using only their imaginations, a lot of blood, sweat and tears (and apparently a huge amount of cigarette smoke) – managed to craft a uniquely American artistic medium that would influence countless generations to come." – Bob Leeper, Nerdvana
"The story unfolds asynchronously, creating a sense of mystery. Why does the kids’ teacher, Miss Sakaki, have bandages on her face? Why is the class bully so affected by what happened to Arié? Why is the new kid at school, Amahiko, willing to jump out of his classroom’s window? And why are there glowing butterflies everywhere?" – Unshelved
Plug:Paul Gravett has a feature on French artist Jacques Tardi: "The exhibition and much of Tardi’s work reveals his strong anti-war feeling. It’s an obsession that goes back to his childhood, part of it spent in post-War Germany."
Commentary:MTV.com on social issues being discussed and dissected at Comic-Con. Trina Robbins "described the underground comics world being like a boys' club she wasn't invited into. So she and other women made their own comics. 'I produced the very first all-woman comic book in the world, in 1970,' she said. Her new book, 'Pretty in Ink,' is about women cartoonists, and only the latest book by this herstorian of women in comics."
Beloved multi-media Brooklyn gallery, Cinders, is celebrating 10 years of not just existing, but of bringing a community together through their diverse group of artists. This special anniversary show, A Decade of Decadunce (+10 pun points), features an impressive list of artists who have helped shape them over the past 10 years into the non-profit art organization they are today. Check out this lineup:
Maya Hayuk, Brian Chippendale, Diane Barcelowsky, Allyson Mellberg, Jocko Weyland, Jungil Hong, Esther Pearl Watson, Kyle Ranson, Blok, Jim Tozzi, Travis Egedy, Matt Furie, Anna Hellsgard, Ron Rege Jr., and Ric Ocasek (lead singer of the CARS!), plus many many many more. This list just scratches the surface.
Ron Rege Jr. was also the gallery's June Artist of the Month (an excellent choice), and you should read their interview with him to hear more about his airy, and magical cartooning style.
Opening reception party kicks off Thursday, July 10th, from 7-10 pm, with DJ Dave Potes, at the Dossier Outpost on the South Street Seaport in Manhattan. A beautiful, colorful building that's the perfect location for a beautiful Thursday night party!
The How to Be Happy tour is most likely a-comin' to you West Coast. This ain't no flim-flamy snake oil juice we're forcing you to swallow, cartoonist Eleanor Davis KNOWS the secret to happiness and more. Start out the fun in Portland, OR at Floating World Comics on Wednesday, July 9th from 6-8pm with a presentation at 7pm.
Next stop? The Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery on Sunday, July 13th from 3-5pm with Esther Pearl Watson. Seattle's always got the best cartoonists visiting and this event coincides with the Georgetown Garden Walk (more details here). Head straight south to Mission Comics on Monday, July 14th from 6-7pm for some San Francisco-style book signing. Zip over to LA and Thank You Comics on Wednesday, July 16th. The signing is from 6-8pm with a presentation at 7pm.
THEN the big show is happening at San Diego Comic-Con. From July 24th-27th, Eleanor will be signing at the Fantagraphics booth #1718 (details SOON, just keep clicking on this link until it updates or you break your clicking finger).
Enjoy all the fun that Eleanor Davis has to offer in first collection of her amazing and prismatic comics.
A massively overdue collection of Online Commentaries and Diversions, now on a weekly (or so) basis:
Review: the Absolute on The Amateurs by Conor Stechschulte. "Where The Amateursand Stechschulte truly shine are the moments of calm reflection that heighten the tension between episodes of violence and dismemberment. The butchers continually discuss their predicament, shifting between sorrow, fear, rage, and exhaustion." – Marie Anellothe Absolute
Review: Comics Worth Reading recommends An Age of License by Lucy Knisley. "Like the best travelogues, An Age of License shows you what it would be like to visit a place while reminding you that you can never have the same experience. If you liked her last book, Relish: My Life in the Kitchen, you should definitely check this out — there are some food mentions you’ll appreciate, but where Relish focused on past events, An Age of License gives more insight into the person Lucy Knisley is now." – Johanna Draper Carlson, Comics Worth Reading
Review: The Irish Times discusses how The Love Bunglers by Jaime Hernandez exemplifies the strengths of the graphic novel format. "As ever with Hernandez, it’s funny, complex, unsettling and beautifully drawn. It’s also a reminder that a graphic novel can do things that a novel told in straightforward prose simply can’t." – Anna Carey, The Irish Times
"That's the fascinating paradox of John Severin's war comics, and of Kurtzman's war comics in general. A story like "Night Patrol!" may have all the details of the soldier's uniforms correct, portray their formations precisely and even be photo-referenced from the landscape of the region in which these men hike. But what really stands out here (maybe my favorite piece in the book due to its noir feel) is the sense that the men are trapped by their surroundings and their job, oppressed by the desolate landscape, unfeeling sky and cold rain that conspire to make their lives miserable." – Jason Sacks, Comics Bulletin
Review: The Comics Alternative examines the political and historical contexts of Wallace Wood's Cannon. "For anyone familiar with spy fiction, the stories serialized in this collection are fairly standard, often serving as political mirrors that reflect the disillusionment felt by soldiers and veterans exiting the Vietnam War. In the course of the book, Cannon fights South American insurgents (led by Hitler in disguise, of course), domestic terrorists, right-wing militias, emasculated conmen, and neo-Nazis (but not the ones led by Hitler in disguise)." – Kenneth Kimbrough, The Comics Alternative
Check out this amazing video on S. Clay Wilson, with highlights from the upcoming Pirates in the Heartland: The Mythology of S. Clay Wilson Vol. 1:
Review: Comics Bulletin on Mickey Mouse Outwits the Phantom Blot by Floyd Gottfredson. "This is a gorgeous, surprising, wonderful package of stories full of thrills, surprises and a heady level of quality cartooning. The twists and turns that the masterful Floyd Gottfredson delivers are wonders to behold. If you think that Mickey is just a boring corporate icon, you need to read his battles with the Phantom Blot." – Jason Sacks, Comics Bulletin
Review: Comics Bulletin on M.K. Brown's collected works in Stranger than Life. "Brown is one of those rare cartoonists who's been able to follow her own muse for most of her career, and while some of the material presented in this book has the sort of off-center approach that many of the bestNew Yorker cartoonists take (as in the excerpts above), other pieces are more freeform, more of what seems like a reflection of Brown's unique inner life; all bulbous people drifting through life, doing faintly ridiculous things for pretty much no good reason." – Jason Sacks, Comics Bulletin
Review:Comics Alliance looks at Inio Asano's Nijigahara Holograph and it's legacy of violence. "Nijigahara Holograph manages to do many things very well. It's a sprawling story that never loses its focus on characters. It's symbolically laden without being heavy handed...It carries a palpable dread that will haunt you well after you put it down." – Kevin Church, Comics Alliance
Review: HTML Giant on Cosplayers by Dash Shaw. "This comic looks to both examine and excise our notions of otaku, nerds, geeks, and the like. Cosplayers will strike a chord with anyone who turns to reading as an escape, be they lit-nerd, comic geek, messageboard troll, or a little mixture of all of the above." – HTML Giant