Fantagraphics is puttin' the "comics" back in Comic-Con as we head to San Diego this week with a slew of scintillating signings, almost two-dozen dynamite debuts, and a collection of comics sure to please any comics fan... and fill those enormous free tote bags they give away at the door.
Friday, July 22nd: • 10:30-11:30 Comics Arts Conference Session #5: Critical Approaches to Comics: An Introduction to Theories and Methods— Matthew J. Smith and Randy Duncan with panelist, Andrei Molotiu. [Room 26AB] • 1:00-2:00 Comics Arts Conference Session #6: Wordless Comicswith Andrei Molotiu. [Room 26AB] • 12:00-1:00 CBLDF Master Session 3: Jaime Hernandez [Room 30CDE] • 1:00-2:00 Publishing Queer: Producing LGBT Comics and Graphic Novels with moderator Justin Hall [Room 9] • 1:00-2:30 The Golden Age of the Fanzine moderated by Bill Schelly. [Room 24ABC] • 10:30-11:30 Cartoon Network Comedy: Regular Show/The Problem Solverz and More! The Problem Solverz talent includes Ben Jones, John Pham, and Jon Vermilyea. [Room 6A]
• Review: "In Joyce Farmer’s powerful Special Exits the people are more people-like than I have encountered in comics in a long time.... It is moving without being sentimental. Real without being pedantic; a solid graphic novel that reads, well, like a novel! ...Special Exits is packed with details that can only come from observation and experience. Farmer is a close observer.... Special Exits is one of the most engrossingly human comics and, ultimately, one of the most moving... Joyce Famer has brilliantly conveyed what it is to be human. To live, to die. To ripe, to rot. And thereby hangs her tale." – Paul Karasik, The Comics Journal
• Review: "Here is Volume One of Roy Crane's Captain Easy, a wonderfully colorful and nicely designed Sunday page from 1933-35. Crane’s style is a wonderful paradox: broadly cartoony characters against nice filigrees of background illustration. The eye is lost in the pastel colors, the bold crossword puzzle layouts, the simple lines, and the breathless breezy action. The adventures never let up, and no scrape is too tight for this impossibly ingratiating and resourceful hero.... This book is more than a historically interesting sociological artifact; it’s a delight. Rating 9/10" – Michael Barrett, Popmatters
• Review: "[In Isle of 100,000 Graves] Vehlmann seamlessly takes on Jason's laconic style and deadpan irony for a genre-blending adventure with all the subversive wit one would expect from a Jason tale…. This light, entertaining take on 19th century adventure stories is sheer enjoyment. Grade: A" – Mike Sebastian, Campus Circle
• Plug:Comics Alliance's Caleb Goellner recommends Thursday's Love and Rockets panel at Comic-Con: "Even if you haven't had a chance to delve into the admittedly dense (in a very good way) Love & Rockets stories by Gilbert, Jaime, and Mario Hernandez, you can soak up some serious inspiration from this panel and L&R's 30 years of history. Fantagraphics co-founder and The Comics Journal EiC Gary Groth is moderating, which means the book's cultural significance should resonate beyond the fan speak usually associated with these kinds of things. If you've got a free hour, we recommend investing in this panel and checking out L&R on the floor afterward."
Joyous news for those of us who feared we had seen the last of Tammy Pierce: Esther Pearl Watson reports on Facebook that she's completed the first 120 pages of Unlovable Vol. 3! Will it cover summer vacation at Meemaw's on Lake Texoma or jump to first semester Junior year? I can't tell from these tantalizing glimpses of the work in progress. Esther's always busy with multiple projects so a completion date is unknown, but in the meantime if you haven't experienced Tammy's sophomore year yet, get to it!
• Review: "Clemente blazed trails and provided a role model to millions who needed one. Santiago's work here manages to capture the magic and mystery of that position by putting Clemente on something of a pedestal, but it all hangs together very well. It's exciting and incredibly easy to read. Santiago's art is fantastic. [...] Santiago's 21 is a treat. Its 200 pages fly by, the visuals are great, and the dialogue dead-on. The last few pages are heartbreaking and effective." – David Brothers, Comics Alliance
• Review: "Unlovable by Esther Pearl Watson has to be the best contemporary comic strip. [...] One would think the story of some suburban high school girl in the eighties has been done before. And, yes, it has been done before time and time again. Yet, what Watson does is somehow find a strange world that has yet to be traversed, regardless of time period: it crosses the lines Ghost World drew and that Freaks & Geeks clarified, but it views it through the eyes of a more confident Anaïs from Fat Girl. The result is a brilliant and 'Ain’t Too Proud To Beg' account from a high school wannabe who thought she was — and wanted to be — it all. It’s brilliant: the comic anthology is the best piece of literature that I have read since the last time I read any sort of book in its entirety..." – Kyle Fitzpatrick, The Fox Is Black
• Interview: The subject of Richard Gehr's latest "Know Your New Yorker Cartoonists" column for The Comics Journal is Gahan Wilson: "But the outfit I fit in with instantly, was National Lampoon. That was a remarkable assemblage of brilliant sons of bitches. Its spirit was insidious. It was like being part of a pirate crew. We were like some kind of religious sect. We were out to show the bastards, by God, and we did, very effectively. I just wish something like that would happen again. But there’s no sign of it whatsoever, even though things are much worse now than they were then."
'Cause if you did move to California, you could have the chance to see some shows debuting this weekend from Esther Pearl Watson! (It's also the title of one of my favorite Times New Viking songs...)
If you're in the San Francisco area, you can attend the exhibit Land of Magic: Artists Explore Make Believe at the Bedford Gallery. The show spotlights thirteen artists capturing fantasy-scapes in a variety of media, from paintings (like Esther's, seen above) to photography and video. The show runs from April 10th to July 12th, and a reception will be held Thursday, April 14th from 6:00 - 8:00 pm.
And Valencia residents, you are also in luck! Esther is finishing up her first year at the California Institute of the Arts, and you can be among the first to see her latest work in her MFA-1 studio (room A202E) this Sunday, April 10th, from noon to 5:00 pm!
• Review: "Technically (or so says Fantagraphics!) [Toys in the Basement] is a children's book. A children's book by way of your worst adult nightmare. Seriously if there's a child out there who could read this all the way through without pissing his pants, I would like to meet that child and lock him up before he does the rest of society some harm. Because this 'children's' book is twisted. And that's why I enjoyed it so much." – P.D. Houston, Renderwrx Productions
• Review: "...[Unlovable] is crushingly funny and achingly sad. [...] Drawn in a two colour, faux-grotesque manner (you can call it intentionally primitive and ugly if you want) the page by page snapshots of a social hurricane building to disaster is absolutely captivating. [...] Both these big little hardbacks... comprise a delightful and genuinely moving exploration of something eternal... and like those other imaginary diarists Nigel Molesworth, Bridget Jones and Adrian Mole Tammy Pierce’s ruminations and recordings have something ineffable yet concrete to contribute to the Wisdom of the Ages. Modern and Post-Ironic, Unlovable is unmissable; and now that the entire sorry saga is available in this superb and substantial collectors boxed set, you have the perfect opportunity to discover the how and why of girls and possibly learn something to change your life." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
We're especially knocked out by Giant Robot's upcoming group exhibition, Power Punch, curated by Fantagraphics' artist Esther Pearl Watson, along with Mark Todd!
Esther and Mark gave all the artists identical 8" X 8" panels to work on, and starting Saturday, April 2nd, you can see what fellow Fantagraphics artists Johnny Ryan, Jeremy Tinder and Jon Vermilyea did with theirs.
Actually, we've got a sneak peek from Johnny right here:
"Hey, Lep! Fuck you, lucky charms!"
Power Punch opens Saturday, April 2nd at GRSF [618 Shrader Street, San Francisco] with a reception from 6:30 - 10:00 pm. The show runs until April 24th.
This weekend, our friends at Giant Robot kick off a very important exhibit to raise money for the devastation in Japan. Funds will be donated to UNICEF, to help children impacted by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
And not only will Giant Robot donate proceeds from the sale of artwork, they'll also be donating:
1. Proceeds from the sale of water bottles featuring labels created by artists and signed by celebrities.
2. Fifty percent of proceeds from Giant Robot’s small restaurant, gr/eats, on Saturday, March 19.
3. A percentage of all sales at Giant Robot, GR2, and GRSF during the weekend of March 18-20.
4. Raffles for donated merchandise including designer- and artist-signed items, GR gear, horseback rides, and other items.
5. Cash donations accepted for UNICEF.
On top of all that, Intertrend Communications has pledged to match the first $10,000 raised by proceeds and donations through Giant Robot.
Seriously... please help Giant Robot reach this goal, and help the children impacted by this terrible catastrophe. Opening reception is this Saturday, March 19, from 6:30 - 10:00 pm at GR2 [2062 Sawtelle Blvd. Los Angeles, CA], and the show runs until April 13th.