• Reviews: In three separate posts, Andrew Wheeler of The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent. looks at three of the Jason books which are compiled in Almost Silent: Meow, Baby! ("Jason knows the wellsprings of comedy: sex and death, embarrassment and familiarity. And he mixes and matches those elements, using his iconic cast, for a hundred and fifty wry and deeply amusing pages. ...a great introduction and a decently comprehensive catalog of his style, subjects, and strengths"), You Can't Get There from Here ("It's the touching story of Frankenstein's Monster and His Bride... one of the better Jason books; it has an inevitability to it, but it's not entirely bleak..."), and Tell Me Something ("a sad nearly-wordless noir story about some people and how none of them get what they want").
• Review: "...I’m happy to have this excellent collection [of Blazing Combat], handsomely packaged..., and all in one place for a good evening’s read. ... For lovers of great art, lovingly rendered in black and white and grey ink wash..., this is as good as it gets... This is one collection of war comics that even those not inclined to care about the genre can appreciate, and now it’s more affordable than ever." – Johnny Bacardi, Popdose
• Review: "Bottomless Belly Button is a 720-page family drama filled with neurosis, romance, mystery, comedy, fond memories, bad parenting, teen angst and sexual awakening. The book is big but not overwhelming, and sad with out being tragic. This is a graphic novel of the tallest order, from one of the most unique voices in the medium today." – Steve Ponzo, Multiversity Comics
• Review: "[Castle Waiting Vol. 1] is a massive and stunning work of art, from the production values by Fantagraphics to the beautiful comprehensive work inside. ... Not unlike Fables, Medley’s Castle Waiting tackles traditional fairy tales with inspired re-invention and especially to my liking, is that it does so with a bit of a feminist slant. The tales inside Castle Waiting are extremely female friendly and are something I’d love to see offered up to every little boy and girl as the required alternative to our more standard ‘happily ever after’ tales. ... The illustration... is flat out phenomenal. ...[T]he attention to detail, the consistency (every panel is picture perfect), the clarity of story telling, and the character design – down to the smallest facial expression, is just top notch. ... One of the best things about Medley’s Castle Waiting is the wonderful cohesiveness... It feels absolutely like a singular and uncorrupted vision in a way that few books manage. And I strongly believe that it is that uncorrupted and singular vision that makes this book so strong." – Kelly Thompson, Comic Book Resources
• Review: "It’s difficult not to be charmed by [Castle Waiting Vol. 1] as the stories are light, funny and entertaining. ... It’s a fun read. It’s well and clearly written. The art is top-notch for being b&w. ... This one comes recommended for those looking to get into comics and not knowing where to start, or those who enjoy comics from time to time but don’t want to invest in some huge story." – Emily Dresner, /project/multiplexer
• Profile: "It’s easy to fall in love with Jaime [Hernandez]’s characters, not only because of their obvious features, but also from their lifelike gestures and expressions, naturalistic in everyday scenes and exaggerated in comedic and suspenseful ones. His teachers, like Archie Comics artists Bob Bollings, Dan DeCarlo, and Harry Lucey, were experts in gestural drawings with their simplified cartooning. It’s a trait Jaime Hernandez has successfully adopted and made his own. 'I’m just happy that I’m still allowed to do comics. They’re still letting me because they’re paying my rent.'" – Christopher Irving, Graphic NYC (photos by Seth Kushner)
• Interview: The PsiOp Radio podcast talked to Hotwire editor/cartoonist Glenn Head on Sunday evening — download an MP3 here (they warn that there are some audio issues in the first hour)
• Plug: "[Unlovable] Volume II has just been released from Fantagraphics Books for your perusing pleasure and it doesn't disappoint. ... I can't ever get enough of Tammy Pierce, the awkward teenager that Esther Pearl Watson has brought to life over the years..." – Meighan O'Toole, My Love for You Is a Stampede of Horses (unfortunately the event mentioned in the post is canceled)
• Plug: "I'm all about vintage. Especially vintage comics. Fantagraphics Books wants you to like vintage comics as well and are releasing Our Gang Vol. 4 (1946-1947), a vintage 1946-1947 comic in a new TPB." – Omnicomic
• Shout-out:Jaleen Grove, who gave the talk about Russell Patterson at TCAF last weekend, gives her report from the festival with an important correction
UPDATE: Regrettably, this event is canceled for now.
Join Esther Pearl Watson at Skylight Books in Los Angeles this Wednesday at 7:30 PM for a signing and what is sure to be a hilarious and delightful discussion with "an awesome slideshow of inspiration, sketches and behind-the-scenes craziness" for Unlovable Vols. 1 & 2. More info here.
Thanks to all the artists, attendees, and MoCCA staff & volunteers for helping make the 2010 MoCCA Art Festival our most successful ever! We sold out of numerous titles, some within hours (and to the chagrin of our artists who ran out of books to sign — sorry!), and had mobs of fans turn out for our signings.
• Review: "Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko by Blake Bell... [is] fantastic! ... It’s part biography, part art book - an amazing recap of Steve Ditko’s entire career in comics, from the early days with Charlton to the present. ... It’s also one of the best designed books I’ve read recently, including lots of rare pencil pages, out-of-print rarities, and full color scans on virtually every page. There’s a lot more to Steve Ditko than just Doctor Strange and Spider-Man." – Marc Sobel, Comic Book Galaxy
• Review: "Vitally, Anderson draws an earthy King, one who likes soul food and soulful women, but who is also capable of inspiring and challenging oratory, theological radicalism and courageous leadership, even when faced with fists, firebombs, and F.B.I. persecution. Anderson reminds one of U.S. poet Walt Whitman: He keeps publishing the same book, in different editions. But what a book!" – George Elliott Clarke, The Halifax Herald
• Review: "This is a very strange comic... You Are There works best as an absurdist critique of society and politics. ... The absurdity of Forest's script is brought to amazing life... It's a tremendous work of art, heightening the weirdness of the narrative very well. ... I would recommend You Are There because it's a thoughtful look at the pressure of conformity and what drives a man mad. ... Tardi is fantastic and makes the book even wackier, which isn't a bad thing." – Greg Burgas, Comic Book Resources
• Review: "It is hard to convey how much of the joy of Unlovable comes not only from the wandering plotline (if there is any in this book) but also from the accompanying visuals. Tammy's attentions, interests and emotions are all scattered. The author's style of drawing lends to the feeling of chaos and scatteredness; the reader senses it in the erratic lines and messy fonts of various sizes. An erratic view of an erratic time of life." – Julia Eussen, AnnArbor.com
• Review: "Johnny Ryan’sPrison Pit is something I keep coming back to — and not just because it’s the only comic book I’ve ever seen that can actively liven up a party. It’s a hilarious, visceral and quick read... for really dumb fun, this is pretty much unbeatable. I’ve considered that maybe the fun isn’t as dumb — that maybe Cannibal Fuckface’s journey through the wastes of the prison pit are a Bunyan-style metaphor for, I don’t know, man coming to terms with the restrictions of modern life, but then I remember it’s a comic that features the term 'burnt jizz,' and I stop thinking and laugh." – David Uzumeri, Robot 6
• Review: "I'd ignored Hal Foster's knights-and-adventure strip until Fantagraphics remastered, recolored and repackaged the first two years of [Prince] Valiant (1937-38) into one of the loveliest reprint volumes of 2009. I became a Foster fan immediately, and bought Brian Kane's Definitive Prince Valiant Companion to learn more about Foster and the other talents (John Cullen Murphy, Gary Gianni and Mark Schultz) who'd worked on the comic during its 70+ years." – Craig Fischer, Thought Balloonists; the remainder of Fischer's take on the Companion is mixed-to-unfavorable, but we still recommend checking it out for his insights and some additional commentary he brings to the table
Loosely based on a teenager’s diary from the 1980s found in a gas-station bathroom, Unlovable is the remarkable story of Tammy Pierce, as filtered through the pen of Los Angeles artist Esther Pearl Watson. This second and concluding volume picks up where the first volume left off (winter break) and finishes Tammy’s tragicomic sophomore year of high school in 1985.
Tammy has built a devoted following over the last several years in the pages of Bust magazine, where Unlovable continues to be serialized on the magazine’s back page, and this beautifully produced, dayglo-orange and sparkly pink hardcover presents over 400 pages of her sometimes ordinary, sometimes humiliating, often poignant and always hilarious exploits. Her hopes, dreams, agonies and defeats are brought to vivid, comedic life by Watson’s lovingly grotesque drawings, filled with all the ’80s essentials — too much mascara, leg warmers with heels and huge hair, etc. — as well as timeless teen concerns like acne, dandruff, and the opposite sex (or same sex, in some cases).
Unlovable is about the rawness of trying to figure out who you are in a very public and humiliating way. Unlovable addresses these mysteries of adolescence through Tammy’s naiveté; girls and women in particular will find much that resonates, but men will also relate to Unlovable’s universal humor and wide cast of characters.
In the epic saga that is Unlovable, Tammy finds herself dealing with: tampons, teasing, crushes, The Smiths, tube socks, facial hair, lice, celibacy, fantasy dream proms, gym showers, skid marks, a secret admirer, prank calls, backstabbers, winter ball, barfing, narcs, breakdancing, hot wheels, glamour shots, roller coasters, Halloween costumes, boogers, boys, boy crazy feelings, biker babes, and even some butt cracks. Tammy’s life isn’t pretty, but it is endlessly charming and hilarious.
Another day's worth of Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: "...[Portable Grindhouse] is a nice book to have on the shelf, particularly for folks who love movies and are interested in how design has changed over the years. If you still spend time wandering around video stores looking for the weird and wonderful, check this book out." – Syung Myung Me, Kittysneezes
• Review: "I love this book. I'm probably biased because I was a newave cartoonist and I was lucky enough to have two pages included (78 & 79) in this little slice of comix history. ... The overall quality of the material is very high. ... It's a beautiful volume with production values far more impressive than the original comix it reprints. ... Newave! is a wonderful sampler of what the mini comix of the 1980s where all about. ... Now, at last, Michael Dowers and Fantagraphics have brought those little-known 8-pagers out into the light and given them an appropriate place in comix history." – Richard Krauss, Comic Related
• Review: "Esther Pearl Watson's Unlovable leaves me breathless and with sore abs from laughter. What a great work out." – Brett Von Schlosser, via Facebook
• Interview: On The Comix Claptrap podcast, hosts "Thien and Rina get to talk to Harvey Award-winning and Ignatz-nominated, Steven 'Ribs' Weissmanwho has a new book out with Fantagraphics Books called Chocolate Cheeks. In this interview, Steven talks about the origin of the Yikes! gang, shares his insight on juggling comics-making with having a family, and discusses his web comics "Barack Hussein Obama" and his contributions to the 'What Things Do' comics website. We also try, in vain, to get more LA cartoonist gossip."
• Do-gooding: Once again Michael Kupperman is lending his talents to the annual WFMU pledge drive; Robot 6's Sean T. Collins has all the details