• Plugs: Cynthia Clark Harvey of the Phoenix New Times looks at "Noteworthy Graphic Novels by Women," including C. Tyler's You'll Never Know — "The first two installments of Tyler's wonderful trilogy, a memoir about her father's WWII soldiering and its effects on her family, were on best and award lists. I liked Book 1 and loved Book 2, leaving me on tenterhooks for Book 3..." — and Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons — "...as I look at O'Connor's early cartoons, I'm sure I'll be thinking: What if she were working today? What if she'd been able to fully express her literary vision with her first love, comics? What if Flannery O'Connor wrote Wise Blood as a graphic novel? Imagine that."
• Review:VICE's Nick Gazin looks at some of his favorite strips from The Complete Peanuts 1983-1984: "There's this one where Schroeder actually tries to communicate his understanding of beauty to Lucy. Of course Lucy doesn't really care about his inner world, she's just a groupie and wants the idea of Schroeder. It answers the question of what would happen if Schroeder actually gave Lucy the time of day. This is a moment where it seems like Sparky is really opening up to us about his own personal ways of relating to women, falling in love with distant princesses. It also harkens back to that scene in Citizen Kane when a guy mentions that he never forgot a beautiful girl he saw crossing the street decades earlier."
• Review: "Complete Crumb Comics Vol. 1 by Robert Crumb — This is a newly revamped edition of the inaugural volume, featuring some new, (I’m assuming) just discovered art... The real discovery here is the Jim and Mabel story, as Crumb is able to wring an amazing amount of depth and characterization from this seemingly simple story of a surly twenty-something woman bringing lunch to the elementary school kid who’s got a crush on her. As raw and awkward as it is at times it’s also rather poignant and shows how skilled he was at an early age." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review (Audio): Washington, DC (and environs) comic shop Big Planet Comics also has a podcast and call Kolor Klimax: Nordic Comics Now "one of the best anthologies I've ever read" on the Feb. 24, 2012 episode (review starts at 35:40; thanks to KK editor Matthias Wivel for the info)
• Plug: "Having read and reread and rereread the previous Nancy strip collections and nearly committing all their contents to memory, having some new (relatively speaking) material to enjoy really is a treat." – Mike Sterling, Mike Sterling's Progressive Ruin
• Book Reports: For a fresh critical perspective, check out the student reviews of many graphic novels published by us and others collected at the Graphic Novels Reading Rainbow blog (and the accompanying photos and illustrations can be a hoot too)
• List: John Mueller of ComicImpact names The Hidden by Richard Sala one of the Best Comics & Art Books of 2011: "Imagine your unease if all the ghouls and ghosts of the Halloweens of your forgotten youth were suddenly made real, so real that they are about to come crashing through your front door at any moment. Oh, and don’t bother running to the neighbor’s because the monsters have stopped there first. That’s what reading The Hidden is like and that’s also what makes it not only one of the best books of the year, but one of Sala’s best works period."
• List: Curt Holman of Creative Loafing Atlanta lists his "most anticipated new books of 2012" including Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons: "While Flannery O'Connor secured her fame with her Southern Grotesque fiction such as the novel Wise Blood, she set out to be a cartoonist as a young woman. This anthology focuses on O'Connor's work for high school and college publications in the 1940s, and offers an intriguing glimpse into the gestation of a great Southern writer."
• Review: "...[L]ike Herge, another exemplary creator who made comics primarily for kids and later found an audience of devoted adults, Barks’ duck stories are richer, more compelling and smarter than a cursory glance might suggest... Most reprint projects worth their salt these days require some thoughtful essays and supplemental materials and [Walt Disney's Donald Duck:] Lost in the Andes is no different.... In short, this is exactly the book that Barks fans and the curious have been waiting for. ...Barks remains an exemplary cartoonist. His work is thrilling, funny and rather knowing about human nature without ever seeming trite or obvious, and despite the occasional pop culture reference it hasn’t aged much over the decades either. How good was Carl Barks? Pretty goddamned good." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Reviews: "First and foremost, Willie & Joe are funny. Fantagraphics has put the WW II years out in paperback, but I've got the also available hardcover, a great looking slipcase in army green with two fat volumes of his captivating artwork. Never having served (or even fired a gun), it's an absorbing glimpse into the day to day life of soldiers while it was happening and the end not known. It's easy to identify with: employees in any capacity gripe about their bosses. But the more specific Mauldin is, the more biting and fascinating his work is.... Finally, it's Willie & Joe: Back Home that moved me the most.... Mauldin is always funny, but those with a rosy image of WW II will be surprised by the complex world shown here... Fantagraphics has captured Mauldin's most enduring characters in two releases that do him justice." – Michael Giltz, Huffington Post
• Commentary: On Amazon's books blog Omnivoracious, Alex Carr looks at Amazon's list of Best Comics & Graphic Novels of 2011 and comments, "Perhaps most rewarding, though, are Jaime Hernandez’s short stories in Love and Rockets: New Stories Vol. 4. The longtime creator completes a long-running narrative without grandiose preening, and the art is full of expression and effortless charm. The final pages speed toward a finish that will satisfy new readers and bring bittersweet conclusion for fans. It’s the best feeling for a Love and Rockets devotee: not wanting the decades-long love story to end but being so pleased with the way it may have (if this truly is the conclusion)."
• Interview:Comics Bulletin's Jason Sacks talks with Kevin Huizenga about the new issue of Ganges: "I don't like [the term] 'experimental,' because it gives the impression that the usual qualities of a good story are less important to me than formal trickery. I'm trying to draw something that I want to read, that I haven't seen before and that is still nicely designed and readable."
• Plug: "I have just received my review copy of Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse: 'Trapped on Treasure Island' and as amazing as it sounds David Gerstein and Fantagraphics have managed to do it again: they have produced at the same time the best Disney comic book of 2011 and one of the best Disney history books of the year." – Didier Ghez, Disney History
• Review: "Comic strips, as printed in American papers, have been linked to advertising since their very inception, and have been a constant staple of ad campaigns. Now a good-looking, large-format book shows much of the history of advertising cartoons: Drawing Power: A Compendium of Cartoon Advertising 1870s - 1940s... Many of the cartoons in this colorful collection are handsome, and in hindsight, many are so silly that they call into question any 'American Intelligence,' despite what Lucky Strikes told us. That cartoons made such pitches, and with seeming success for their time, is a little embarrassing; either people were dumb enough to fall for the ridiculous pitches here, or high paid advertising companies thought they were. It is, however, all part of the enormous fun of this volume." – Rob Hardy, The Dispatch
• Review: "Jaime has not only managed to maintain the standard that he set in his Locas stories back in the 1980s and ’90s, at times I would say his work is better than ever.... [Love and Rockets: New Stories] #4 sees the end of 'The Love Bunglers,' a story that is every bit as tragic, funny, and ultimately life-affirming as one could wish. In the incoherent words of Reno, Jaime sums up what his stories and his characters are about: 'there’s somethin’ that happened once in our lives that keeps us … keeps us livin', hopin' that…'." – Tony Keen, FA
• Review: "It should go without saying by now that any new volume of Love and Rockets is a must for any serious comics fan... [and] New Stories 4 is... one of the major events of the comics year ... [A]nyone who loves brilliant cartooning technique should appreciate the way Jaime draws the casual sag of a post-coital naked body, or the way he illustrates a pre-schooler tugging at his mother, oblivious to any notion of 'personal space.' And anyone who’s alive in the world should be moved by this story’s depiction of life as a series of accidents, miscommunications, and embarrassments, which sometimes work out okay regardless." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Love: At The Tearoom of Despair, Bob Temuka offers some spoiler-filled thoughts on Love and Rockets: New Stories #4, saying "this is no review. This is love. The art is as beautiful as always, evocative of time and place, and Jaime still draws the best body language and facial expressions in the medium, telling entire stories in a frown or wink.... While it’s no surprise that Jaime Hernandez is still producing magnificent and beautiful comics, it is also still incredible to see how big his storytelling balls are, man."
• Review: "Though not strictly a comic book, Michael Kupperman’s Mark Twain’s Autobiography 1910-2010 is very much of a piece with the cartoonist’s gleefully absurdist Tales Designed To Thrizzle series. ...Kupperman picks up the story of an American icon beginning with what the newspapers reported as Mark Twain’s 'death.' Kupperman’s Twain quickly sets the record straight, then relates what he’s been up to for the past century: fighting in World War I, losing a fortune by investing in chocolate-covered olives, making gangster pictures inspired by The Wizard Of Oz… y’know, the usual. Kupperman’s working method seems to be just to let his mind wander, making stream-of-consciousness associations that fuse into comedy." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "Initially published in the ’80s, [The Cabbie] mimics the basic comic strip format — even going as far as aping the way Chester Gould used thick black lines for basically everything with Dick Tracy — but is supremely screwed up. The protagonist, a cab driver is obsessed with money, has a tricked out cab, happens upon bizarre crimes, and even gets tortured by a family living in the slums. It is a really uncomfortable experience from cover to cover, and I am stoked it exists." – Sam Hockley-Smith, The Fader
• Review: "This is a harsh and uncompromising tale of escalating crime and uncaring punishments: blackly cynical, existentially scary and populated with a cast of battered, desolate characters of increasingly degenerate desperation. Even the monsters are victims. But for all that The Cabbie is an incredibly compelling drama with strong allegorical overtones and brutally mesmerizing visuals. Any adult follower of the art form should be conversant with this superb work and with a second volume forthcoming hopefully we soon all will be." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Interview: At The Comics Journal, Jay Ruttenberg sits down for brunch with Drew Friedman to kibbitz about the Old Jewish Comedians books: "Well, I found Jerry [Lewis] to be completely delightful. Just great. He’s very inquisitive about the process about what I do. He asks, 'Drew, how do you do what you do?' So I say, 'Jerry, how do you do what you do?' You gotta butter him up: 'I especially love drawing you, Jerry.' But a lot of them hate each other. It’s very funny. You bring up one comedian to another comedian, and there’s venom. It’s amusing to me. There’s nothing funnier than angry comedians. Nothing better!"
• Interview: Jason Diamond at Jewcy also gets a crack at Drew Friedman: "I kinda bounce around the [nerd] map. I don’t really fit into one category. I love comedians, comic books, and old movies. Really anything from the past. With these Old Jewish Comedian books, they have nothing really to do with comic books, but everything I’ve done in my career led to these books."
• Interview:Robot 6's Tim O'Shea has a quick chat with Mome contributor Eleanor Davis about her contribution to that Nursery Rhyme Comics anthology
• Feature: October means features on horror comics, and Casey Burchby's look at the history of the genre at SF Weekly says "A recent collection called Four Color Fear, edited by Greg Sadowski, collects terrific examples of horror comics from non-EC sources, including Eerie, Web of Evil, and Chamber of Chills. The work in this volume is much wider ranging in subject matter and style than Tales from the Crypt, which tended to follow a handful of formulas."
• Commentary:Robot 6's Chris Mautner lobbies us to put out a collection of Mack White's Villa of the Mysteries and other comics, saying "CIA conspiracies. Carny shows. Obscure pagan rituals. Snake handlers. Brainwashed assassins. Nudist nuns. Roman gods. Psychedelic western landscapes. Very short men with very, very large penises. Such are the essential elements found in the comics of Mack White, who, for the past couple of decades, has created some of the most bizarre, paranoid and succulently pulpish comics around. Born and raised in Texas, Mack's comics are infused with the Lone Star state's own unique blend of rugged individualism and suspicion of authority."
• Plug: At Comic Book Resources, Greg Burgas goes "Flippin' Through Previews and finds "Fantagraphics offers Flannery O’Connor: The Cartoons on page 294. Yes, you read that correctly. Apparently O’Connor was quite the cartoonist in the 1940s. This has to be awesome, right?"
The new Diamond Previews catalog is out today and in it you'll find our usual 2-page spread (download the PDF) with our releases scheduled to arrive in your local comic shop in December 2011 (give or take — some release dates may have changed since the issue went to press) and a selection of gift book suggestions. We're pleased to offer additional and updated information about these upcoming releases here on our website, to help shops and customers alike make more informed ordering decisions.
• Review: "I find myself wondering how long Prison Pitcan continue. I don’t really know what’s going on beyond a series of beautiful, awesome things, but that’s reason enough for me to continue loving it." – Nick Gazin, Vice
• Review: "Move over Tintin, Gil Jordan is here to rock! This book is a nice surprise. There’s mystery. There’s a ton of action. There’s really hip looking artwork. Put those three things together and what else do you need from a title? Gil Jordan: Murder By High Tide collects two tales of the classic comic by Tillieux... and doesn’t disappoint in any way, shape, or form.... Both stories are solid detective tales. Each one engaging and a pleasure no matter what age you are. Even more impressive is the art.... Gil Jordan feels like real Europe, where not everything is pretty.... A highly recommended pick up, out on stands now." – Drew McCabe, ComicAttack.net
• Plugs: Martha Cornog of Library Journal spotlights some of our upcoming releases in the latest "Graphic Novels Prepub Alert":
Pogo: The Complete Daily & Sunday Comic Strips Vol. 1: Through the Wild Blue Wonder by Walt Kelly: "'We have met the enemy and he is us.' Pogo Possum's lament from the 1971 Earth Day strip could be Kelly's most enduring and, unfortunately, accurate legacy. Various Pogo collections have appeared in the past, but the entire daily, plus Sunday run, has never been systematically collected as Fantagraphics is doing in 12 volumes."
Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons: "O'Connor was past mistress of disturbing Southern fiction, the grotesques and violence of flawed lives. But — not making this up — this icon of American literature wanted to be a cartoonist while growing up and drew throughout high school and college. Learning narrative techniques and caricature in the process, she worked in both pen-and-ink and linoleum cuts, lampooning student life and current events issues of the early 1940s. Developing as a visual precursor to her prose, her art suggests a nastily amusing cross between James Thurber and Marjane Satrapi."
The Sincerest Form of Parody: The Best 1950s MAD-Inspired Satirical Comics, ed. by John Benson: "No, these aren't parodies published in Mad magazine. They're parodies inspired by MAD, published in copycat wannabes like Crazy, Whack, Unsane, and Bughouse whose backers were looking to tap into MAD's popularity. Needless to say, the work is not of MAD caliber, but sometimes it's just as funny parodies of films, TV shows, comic strips, novels, plays, ads, classics, and historical vignettes. Look for dense panels crammed with background gags and some familiar artists — like Will Elder, who drew for MAD, too."
• Review: "...[F]eisty art-comics publisher Fantagraphics, for its new multivolume hardcover series devoted to Gottfredson’s rarely seen comic-strip work [Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse ], has gone back to the beginning, lavishing upon the cartoonist’s marvelously fluid, thrillingly kinetic serial adventures the same loving attention the company has brought to its benchmark Complete Peanuts library. Given that Fantagraphics is an adult-oriented press, production and restoration values are superlative, as are the more than 60 pages of historical essays and archival features that accompany these peerless black-and-white strips.... Anyone who ventures into this gorgeous 288-page tome will come away with a fresh appreciation for just what made Mickey an all-American comic-strip hero." – Steve Smith, Time Out New York
• Review: "Fantagraphics fucking whip ass at knowing what a beautiful book is.... The Mickey Mouse in this collection is a dynamic teenager with a whole lot of strong feelings, and it's both awesome and foreign to see him get mad or feel suicidal.... Fantagraphics are masters at collecting and presenting old comics.... This volume not only presents comics that you probably haven't seen before, but it places them in the proper context with about eight[y] pages of supplementary writing, images, and in-depth explanations that could merit their own little volume." – Nick Gazin, Vice
• Interview: Gazin follows up his Vice review of Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Vol. 1 with a brief chat with series co-editor David Gerstein: "Floyd's greatest achievement... was his portrayal of Mickey himself. Instead of seeing the Mouse as a kind of dull, smiley-faced everyman — the way a lot of people seem to envision him — Floyd portrayed Mickey as what he called 'a mouse against the world.' He was a stubbornly optimistic, imperfect but determined youth trying to prove himself in a competitive, scary, adventurous place. Floyd gave Mickey length and depth."
• Review: "It’s often argued that the key element to any successful manga is a relatable protagonist. Shimura has crafted hers so meticulously and is revealing their natures so carefully that it’s virtually impossible not to be deeply invested in them. In part, it’s the actual portrayal in this volume [of Wandering Son], but it’s also the tremendous potential they have. I want to see them age and mature, struggle and succeed, and find their ways to lives that give them happiness and peace. I don’t think there’s any more a reasonable person could ask of a story like this." – David Welsh, The Manga Curmudgeon
• Review: "...[Wandering Son] is an elegantly-crafted, character-driven story that lets us into its characters’ private worlds with both candor and delicacy. We are brought into their lives completely, and though we’re privy to their some of their most private thoughts and fears, there is never a sense that we’re observing them as 'subjects' or invading their privacy—something I often feel when experiencing 'issue'-focused fiction." – Melinda Beasi, Manga Bookshelf
• Review: "[Mattotti's] enigmatic, brooding scenes [in The Raven] harness the terror and beauty of the texts which span three centuries. They're uncompromising — and that's a quality that has always been applicable to the force that is Lou Reed." – Dean Mayo Davies, AnOther
• Review: "Drawing Power: A Compendium of Cartoon Advertising... is 124 pages of some of the best advertisements from the 1870s to the 1940s. Starring both cartoonists and cartoon characters, the book surveys an immense collection of cartoon advertising, focusing on the commercial roots of the comic strip and the fantastic artwork that came from cartoonists' freelance work in advertising. There are surprising and also familiar examples of products, ad campaigns, widely known catch-phrases, and cartoon figures.... Lovers of vintage advertisements and classic cartoons, you're in for a walk down memory lane..." – Nicole Torres, Print
• Review: "Love from the Shadows is somewhat inappropriately titled, as it sounds like a romance, but is really a sci-fi sex mash-up, with a big dash of David Lynch-ian 'what the fuck just happened here?' It’s definitely no chick flick, despite its strong female lead." – Rod Lott, Bookgasm
• Review: "Congress of the Animals... [is] Woodring’s second book-length Frank story. Not so overtly horrific as last year’s Weathercraft, but somehow more unsettling to me. Perhaps I’m just traumatized by the destruction of Frank’s house. Fantastic wordless storytelling, as always." – M. Ace, Irregular Orbit
• Plug: "You may think of Flannery O’Connor as a writer of the sorts of books that are all words, but in her younger days she yearned to be a cartoonist—and she wasn’t half bad. Fantagraphics will publish Flannery O’Connor: The Cartoons in December..." – Brigid Alverson, Robot 6
At Forbes magazine's Booked blog, Vanna Le shares a slideshow of images from Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons, our collection of the great writer's early graphic work coming in December, saying "The entire collection has just the right amount of charm you would expect from a young and witty O’Connor. But it’s more than just a book for laughs — it offers some insight into O’Connor’s personal life as well as her mockery towards the pretensions of her social environment."
• Review: "Fantagraphics, always a publisher you can count on to rescue classic comic material from oblivion, has published a gorgeous 288 page hardcover archive edition of Mickey [Mouse]'s earliest serialized comic strip adventures and he's quite a different character than we know today...a little rambunctious, a little mischievous, and a whole lot of fun. This book takes readers on a glorious ride through depression-era adventures as Mickey battles villains, becomes a fireman, visits a circus, and meets his faithful pup Pluto for the first time. Besides the many great comic strips, Fantagraphics has filled the book with a ton of supplemental material... This is an absolute must-have for any Mickey Mouse fan. Grade A" – Tim Janson, Mania
Burgas: "McKean’s art is astounding, as it always is. He moves from his very rough pencil work that he used on Cages and moves quickly into a multimedia extravaganza, with photographs interspersed with film reels (more photographs, of course, but used in a different way) and paintings and more detailed pencil work. The colors are magnificent, too... It’s an astonishing work of art, to be sure..."
Thompson: "I agree that the success of this book is in that it is beautiful from cover to cover. As a rule I tend to prefer McKean’s very rough pencil work, though I very much appreciate the layering mixed media styles he uses, and I found all of it very beautiful and successful in that way. I was impressed with the color choices and the really wonderful cubist look he achieved for some of the work, and some of the mixed media he used toward the end was some of my favorite in the book period.... After discussing it, I feel more pleased with the book as a whole because I’ve been forced to admit that I don’t recall seeing many more effective executions of erotic subject matter as a legitimate work of art in this way..."
Burgas: "What is compelling about Celluloid is that McKean tackles a difficult subject and elevates it beyond a simple porn comic. I think the very fact that Celluloid makes you wonder about sex in many of its iterations is impressive. As you can see, both Kelly and I had our issues with it, but it’s a gorgeous comic nevertheless. It’s definitely something that you don’t see every day!"
• Review: "I have the impression that Lewis Trondheim is the most important European artist of his generation. Such is the creativity and productivity and so the breadth of his work that, for me at least, wins the title deservedly. Approximate Continuum Comics... is the first part of Trondheim's autobiographical adventures.... The brilliant humour of Trondheim, his sharp-tongued reason, the way with which it shows the mix of imagination with reality. Equally impressive is the effortless way in which the most espressive artwork works serving the story." – Aristides Kotsis, Comicdom (translated from Greek)
• Review: "Bell does the best job of any attempt I've ever seen to bring together everything we know about Ditko's life and work. The result [Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko] is fascinating, frustrating and eventually presents a sad portrait of an immense talent that withdrew from the world and denied it of his work and himself of the audience, acclaim and success that was easily within his grasp." – Tom McLean, Bags and Boards
• Preview: At Flavorwire, Emily Temple shares some glimpses of the cartoons to be included in Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons, saying "Her style is distinctive — the charmingly brusque drawings are cut from linoleum and then essentially stamped when she applied ink to the ridges, and while the content is largely related to her experience as a student, you can still feel the slightly skewed, individualistic perspective that appears in O’Connor’s short stories.... Lovers of her work will doubtless find joy and meaning in her cartoons, and other people will probably like them too."
• Preview: Jamie Frevele of The Mary Sue picks up on the preview of Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons, saying "...while not as demented as some of her writing, the dark humor is still there, even in the short span of a single panel."
• Plug: "Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons is the first compilation of her graphic work in pen-and-ink and linoleum cuts. Before her writing career the young student aspired to be a cartoonist, and she developed a visually bold and eye-catching style. The results are witty and acid comments on campus life and American culture that show O'Connor developing her own acerbic point-of-view." – M. Bromberg, BellemeadeBooks
• Interview (Audio): Kevin Avery, author/editor of Everything Is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson, is a guest on the Rockcritics Podcast. Host Scott Woods says "I’ve mentioned a few times here already Kevin Avery’s wonderful book, Everything is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson. Half a personal biography of Nelson, half a compilation of select Nelson reviews and essays, it’s one of the finest books I’ve ever read about a writer — and, needless to say, about rock criticism."
• Profile: "[Basil] Wolverton was one of the pioneers who made today’s highbrow comics scene what it is; his twisted abstract portraiture, all sweatbeads and pleading eyes, floated like a buoy in a sea of banal comic art, influencing kindred spirits like Robert Williams and Big Daddy Roth. Though best known for his nightmare caricatures in the vein of Lena Hyena, his sf and horror work — jewels like the 'Brain Bats of Venus' — is equally disturbing (or invigorating). God knows what brain bat attached itself to Wolverton’s fertile grey matter, but it certainly wasn’t of this atmosphere." – Joe Alterio, HighLobrow