As the year draws to an end, allow me the indulgence of fawning over Fantagraphics.
FOUR COLOR FEAR is a phenomenal book. The wonderful pre-code horror comics inside provide colorful context to a wider understanding of mid-century America. I'm a child of the fifties and these amazing comic books still speak to me in a meaningful way. Our country was caught in the grip of a Cold War with perceived enemies that threatened the end of civilization. As impressionable kids, there were daily reminders of this terrifying reality — and we all felt totally helpless. Maybe in some subconscious way these horror stories were manifestations of this pervasive sense of fear. I vaguely recall the irony of indignant politicians and preachers railing against comic books when our very existence was at stake. As a result of this hysteria, I wasn't allowed to read comic books of any sort, which naturally increased their allure. I was seduced. My innocence lost.
FOUR COLOR FEAR is not only a fun read, it's essential to an appreciation of American popular culture in the last half of the 20th century. Truly remarkable. Must buy now.
Ho, ho, ho. One week to go. And you have yet to buy a single gift for anybody? If you live in the Northwest, you're in luck. Simply drop by Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery in Seattle and we'll set you up quick. Skip the manic mall crowds and parking problems. We've got exquisite gifts to suit everyone on your list. If you're on a tight budget, we recommend the dozen books below, all under $20 — many below $10! Check ‘em out.
For the love of your life: LOVE & ROCKETS! We suggest MAGGIE THE MECHANIC, where it all started. Fall in love all over again with Maggie, Hopey and the gang. This essential book is only $14.95. A companion stocking stuffer is a set of LOVE & ROCKETS TRADING CARDS. Colorful pictures and bios of all the characters provide a primer for new readers and a refresher for those returning to the series. On sale at the insane price of $6.48.
Get your innocent infatuation a copy of Jordan Crane's wistful "picto-novella" THE LAST LONELY SATURDAY, on sale for only $5.33. Or perhaps the more brazen LUST, Ellen Forney's kinky on-line personal ad illustrations from Seattle alternative paper The Stranger, complete with insightful, and occasionally hilarious, interviews. $19.95
Ladies love the work of Camille Rose Garcia. THE MAGIC BOTTLE combines her arresting imagery with the tale of Lulu, whose bleak world changes when she discovers a magic bottle with a pirate map inside. A real treasure on sale for $9.97. Young buccaneers will enjoy THE LITTLEST PIRATE KING, David B's adaptation of the classic French high seas adventure by Pierre Mac Orian. A full-color hardcover for $16.99.
Get the guys MUZZLERS, GUZZLERS AND GOOD YEGGS — timeless tales of misfits and miscreants from visionary artist Joe Coleman. Only $13.00 while they last. Speaking of visionary artists, pick up a copy of TROSPER, a full color CD booklet by genius Jim Woodring with musical accompaniment by Grammy-winning guitarist Bill Frisell (spotted last Saturday at our festive 4th anniversary celebration.) Just $14.95!
For our secular celebrants there's KAFKA, the inspired collaboration of R. Crumb and David Zane Mairowitz, which seamlessly weaves biographical context into some of the famed author's most compelling stories. The bookstore's best selling title at the low price of $14.95.
Then there's LITTLE MAAKIES ON THE PRARIE, the latest collection of Tony Millionaire's seemingly sophomoric, yet strangely sophisticated comic strip. A handsome Chip Kidd production at only $19.99.
Lest we show exclusive fealty to Fantagraphics, the bookstore also carries a full line of alternative comics and classics from our esteemed colleagues. We like THE 120 DAYS OF SIMON, which chronicles a 4-month tour by Swedish cartoonist and rap star (?) Simon Gärdenfors. Unlike the cloying cuddle porn that characterizes many Top Shelf productions, this book is... uhm, well... OK. It's cuddle porn, too. But it's Swedish! A good read for $14.95. We're also fond of DIARY OF A MOSQUITO ABATEMENT MAN by John Porcellino on Zak Sally's La Mano 21 imprint. In a departure from most King-Cat comics, in this book Porcellino actually does something. Spoiler alert! He abates mosquitoes. Hand crafted in Minneapolis for only $12.
We have countless other bargain books, as well as a substantial assortment of beautiful art books, prints, and graphic novels for those with slightly higher limits. We suggest the awesome DESTROY ALL MOVIES coupled with a gift card from Scarecrow Video; THE BRINKLEY GIRLS, Trina Robbins' thoughtful anthology of Nell Brinkley's sensuous ingénue illustrations; or maybe GAHAN WILSON: FIFTY YEARS OF PLAYBOY CARTOONS with over 1,000 timeless gag cartoons by the master of macabre. (The deluxe edition includes a set of Christmas cards the artist created for Playboy magnate Hugh Hefner.) The list goes on.
Drop by the store at 1201 S. Vale Street in Seattle and our friendly staff will help you select the perfect gift, with enough left over to get something for yourself. Open daily 11:30 to 8:00 PM, Sundays until 5:00 PM. We'll be open until 4:00 PM on Christmas Eve. Phone 206.658.0110. See you soon.
Here are some photos (and a video) I took at our 4th Anniversary party last Saturday night. See a whole bunch more (including photos of the entire "Medieval Thinkers" art exhibit) over on our Flickr page.
If you weren't able to make it, be sure to drop by the store to see the art show, peruse hand crafted publications by exhibiting artists, check out amazing new releases from Zak Sally's La Mano 21 imprint, and wonderful new offerings from Fantagraphics books, natch.
The store is open every day 11:30 to 8:00 PM, Sundays until 5:00 PM. We have delightful and affordable gifts to suit just about any taste. Ask our friendly staff for suggestions. See you all soon.
[Photos by "Medieval Thinkers" contributor Matt Tamaru — see more on his Flickr page. – Ed.]
Fans of alternative culture in Seattle are in for a wild weekend. This Friday, Mark Pickerel's pop culture emporium Damaged Goods hosts a poster exhibition by Fantagraphics pal and graphic design guru Art Chantry. Later that evening alternative music group Low plays the Tractor Tavern.
To commemorate Zak Sally's appearance, we'll be offering his wonderful comix collection Like a Dog at 20% off. And while supplies last, we'll be giving away a Sally silkscreen print with every purchase of Sammy the Mouse #3. (The original artwork will be on display.)
Complimentary refreshments, DJ Russ spinning delightfully demented holiday platters, and adventurous art action all over Georgetown make Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery a major destination. See you all on Saturday.
If you happen to find yourself in Seattle this Saturday December 11th then truly find yourself at the Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery 4th Anniversary Party , to study Justin Green's contribution to the Medieval Thinkers portion of the event. Justin illuminated the piece below especially for the show and having had the opportunity to work with such a titan of ink and ideas is a dream come true for me. If this is your first time encountering Justin's work than I heartily recommend you track down a copy of Binky Brown Meets The Holy Virgin Mary and Sacred & Profane as both truly rank amongst the rare masterpieces of comic art.
"The piece was a convergence of many factors, not the least of which was a dream. It was about a new 'green' industry that used many thicknesses of recycled corrugated cardboard to prop up young saplings prior to laying in a foundation."
• KEXP's Chris Estey names 3 of our books among the Most Rocking Comix 2010:
"King of the Flies: 2. The Origin of the World... is the second volume in a three-book series on the creepy doings of a Twin Peaks-like small city seriously doped and boozed, thrashed by random violence and impulsive sexuality, the old deforming the desires of the young, and unfulfilled ghosts melt through everyday lives. [...] It is a multi-leveled, wide expanse of delicate things falling apart and souls keeping it together somehow, full of... sexy, damaged, freaky people. That you somehow care deeply for, even if they can’t help but hurt themselves, stalk each other, and screw with the universe itself."
"Illustrative Ibogaine, Woodring’s own cartoon-streamlined use of false world-obliviating imagery makes God’s invention of time seem like a quaint abstraction. [Weathercraft] is as necessary as Genesis by Robert Crumb, the Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators, Philip K. Dick’s UBIK, The Art of War by Sun Tzu, and 2001: A Space Odyssey."
"A fantastical study in a Civil War, this exquisite graphic novel [Artichoke Tales] shows how wide-spread political conflict tears at the very fibers of our families and ourselves, the loops of antagonism between loyalties cursing generation after generation. Like the very best indie pop/rock (Bright Eyes, the National), its mastery is in seeming transcendent but revealing immense pain beneath every battle and rejection."
• Review: "It isn’t often that a reference book succeeds at being as entertaining as it is informative, but Destroy All Movies juggles both with masterful ease. The lengths they’ve gone to in order to identify any and all reference to punks or punk rock culture in film is staggering and makes the book the end-all-be-all of its esoteric subject matter. Even if you feel at arms length with the source material, I can assure you there is no shortage of insight and laughter to be gleaned from this glorious time capsule of sociological film knowledge." – Brian Salisbury, Hollywood.com
• Review: "By the time the narrative concludes (sadly in some respects, asking the big questions – ‘why do people leave?’ – thereby combining the lightness and comedy we’ve come to expect with that gradually darkening thoughtfulness that has been apparent even from the days of Sssshh! and Hey, Wait...) all you want to do is flick back to the start and start over again. So you do. [...] All told, Werewolves of Montpellier is easily as good as everything else Jason has produced. [...] You should check out Werewolves of Montpellier. In fact you should hastily work your way through Jason’s back catalogue... Consider it medicine for your soul." – Peter Wild, Bookmunch
• Review: "The suite of stories Gilbert Hernandez contributed to the relaunched, graphic-novel-format Love and Rockets: New Stories might be his most complex work yet. [...] It was only in reading Beto’s stories in all three volumes that the Chinese puzzle-box intricacy of what he’s doing here revealed itself to me. [...] All told, you could wrap these stories up between two covers and come up with a book of absolutely crushing intelligence, emotional heft, and visual power — a book among the best of Gilbert’s career." – Sean T. Collins, Attentiondeficitdisorderly
• Plug: "Seattle-based, world-slobbered, excellent comics and dazzling-arts publisher Fantagraphics is really going all out for their 4th Anniversary Party this Saturday, December 11, 2010. It will be thrown at their awesome store in Georgetown, and promises 'the season’s most festive party featuring amazing music, comix, art, and more!'" – Chris Estey, Three Imaginary Girls
• Plug: "The cartoonist and illustrator Rand Holmes, who died at Lasqueti Island eight years ago, created hippie hero Harold Hedd, one of the more memorable fictional characters of the 1960s. Among the cognoscenti, Mr. Holmes is a peer of R. (Mr. Natural) Crumb and Gilbert (Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers) Shelton. A 328-page retrospective [The Artist Himself] was released this summer by Fantagraphics Books." – Tom Hawthorn, The Globe and Mail
Seems like the Crumbs aren't the only family of talented alternative cartoonists. Jim and Mary Woodring, together with their son Max, all have pieces in the Friends of the Nib "Medieval Thinkers" exhibition at Fantagraphics Bookstore this Saturday, December 11 — part of the store's festive fourth anniversary celebration.
Of course the Deitch family - father Gene and siblings Simon and Kim — qualify as well. We're thrilled to include an original drawing by Kim Deitch in the exhibition. In addition, the event will mark the debut of the Kim Deitch File, a portfolio published on Zak Sally's La Mano 21 imprint. See you all this Saturday.
Revelers at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery's fabulous fourth anniversary party this Saturday will be the first in the country to see the new line of Frank garments produced by iconoclastic Seattle sportswear company International News on their Americaware label. Jim Woodring will be available from 7:00 to 8:00 PM to sign the new shirts, as well as his award-winning graphic novel WEATHERCRAFT, and other merchandise. The "Medieval Thinkers" comix art exhibition includes a new original drawing by Woodring.
Fantagraphics Bookstore's anniversary party has quickly gained a reputation as one of the region's most festive holiday celebrations - amazing music, awesome art, complimentary refreshments, celebrity guests and more. Make plans to attend the event this Saturday, December 11 from 6:00 to 9:00 PM at 1201 S. Vale Street in the heart of Seattle's colorful Georgetown arts community. Watch this space throughout the week for more exciting announcements.
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