• Plug: Pamela Paul of The New York Times asks "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" creator Jeff Kinney about his favorite books from childhood: "...[T]he works that stood head and shoulders above the rest were Carl Barks’s ‘Donald Duck’ and ‘Uncle Scrooge’ comics from the 1940s through the 1960s. Mr. Barks wrote tales of high adventure generously peppered with moments of high comedy.... Classics such as ‘Lost in the Andes,’ ‘Only a Poor Man’ and ‘A Christmas for Shacktown’ left a deep impression on me. Mr. Barks taught me that comics could be high art, and I consider his work to be the best storytelling I’ve experienced in any form. ...Fantagraphics has announced that it is publishing the Barks collection in beautiful hardcover books that do great honor to the cartoonist and his stories, and I can’t wait to buy them for my kids. Proof that great storytelling endures from generation to generation."
• Review: "This volume [Walt Disney's Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes] reprints tales from December 1948 through August 1949, when Barks was in high feather as a creator of breathless adventures and light comedies for his Ducks... Great pop culture, great analysis. Scrooge is always searching for more gold, and there’s plenty here. [Rating] 10/10" – Michael Barrett, PopMatters
• Review: "The finale of the story Jaime has been telling over the past couple of annual issues [of Love and Rockets: New Stories] is a moment of bravura comics storytelling, but the buildup to it in the opening portions of this issue is pretty great as well... Ah, but as nice as these stories are, they all seem to be prelude to the dazzlingly virtuosic end of this chapter in the Locas saga... This could signal an end to the current era of Locas stories, but these characters are less figures of Jaime's imagination than real people alive in the minds of readers everywhere at this point, and even if another story featuring them never appears, we can rest assured that they will continue to live on, somewhere, sometime." – Matthew J. Brady, Warren Peace Sings the Blues
• Review (Audio): Introducing the latest episode of the Wait, What? podcast, co-host Jeff Lester says "we dollop more praise on Ganges #4 by Kevin Huizenga because honestly that sucker could probably use another five or six dollops."
• Plugs: "Fantagraphics’ collections featuring Charles Schulz’s comic strip masterpiece, Peanuts, are fantastic and if you’re a Peanuts fan, you need to be reading these. Floyd Gottfredson probably did as much to shape the personality of Mickey Mouse and his supporting cast as Carl Barks did for the Disney Ducks, yet his work has never received the same degree of attention as the work of Barks. Fantagraphics is correcting that with Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse. The first two volumes of this series are fantastic and the strips probably look better here than they did when they were originally published. It’s a joy to watch Gottfredson develop as a storyteller as Mickey and the gang evolve along with him.... There’s also plenty of background material to place the stories into historical perspective. And the collection of Walt Kelly’s Pogo that hits stores this week is gorgeous. I have some of Fantagraphics’ previous Pogo volumes and this one blows them away. I’m also getting into Popeye for the first time with their collections of Segar’s classic strip." – Roger Ash, Westfield Comics Blog
• Commentary: At Comic Book Resources, Laura Sneddon, who is documenting her experiences in the postgraduate Comic Studies program at the University of Dundee in Scotland, examines the work of Robert Crumb and Aline Kominsky-Crumb for the class topic "Comics and Gender"
In this month's issue of Booklist you can find praise for three of our recent releases:
The Complete Peanuts 1981-1982 by Charles M. Schulz: "These early 1980s episodes see Snoopy reunite with his brother Marbles (who’s baffled by his sibling’s WWI fantasies), Linus and Lucy plant a garden, and Peppermint Patty apply to a school for gifted children (she thinks they’re going to give her presents). But the strip’s fragile heart remains good ol’ Charlie Brown, who faces a crisis when liability issues bar him and his team from their baseball field. In a moving introduction to the volume, cartoonist Lynn Johnston (For Better or For Worse) writes about her close friendship with Schulz." – Gordon Flagg
The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec Vol. 2 by Jacques Tardi: "The second collection of the Belle Époque exploits of Adèle Blanc-Sec sees the intrepid occult investigator confronting things walking the streets of Paris that shouldn’t be: a prehistoric ape-man revived by a mad scientist and a reanimated mummy from her own collection of artifacts. With their wryly overwrought captions, melodramatic dialogue, and convoluted plotlines, the stories work both as gentle genre parodies and full-out fantasy-detective thrillers, thanks in great part to Tardi’s lithe cartooning, which vividly evokes the period while sporting an entirely contemporary sensibility." – Gordon Flagg
Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Vol. 2: Trapped on Treasure Island by Floyd Gottfredson: "For contemporary audiences who know Mickey Mouse only as the bland corporate mascot of the Disney empire, these 1932–33 newspaper comic strips featuring the famous rodent will be a revelation. As in his contemporaneous animated cartoons, this Mickey is a feisty, wisecracking daredevil, who searches tropical lands for buried treasure (encountering stereotyped cannibals that are offensive even by the era’s insensitive standards), treks to the frozen north to recover a stolen orphanage fund, and starts a detective agency with second banana Goofy. Gottfredson’s charmingly old-fashioned drawings accentuate the gags and briskly propel the plotlines." – Gordon Flagg
• Review: "...Kevin Avery’s Everything Is an Afterthought... chronicles the dramatic life of one of music’s keenest observers, Paul Nelson, and curates his finest critiques.... I read and adored [Nelson] growing up, but reading [him] in the context of today’s critical standards gave me the literary equivalent to the bends. It goes without saying that, in the age of the Internet, the whole idea of a critic has changed." – Jim Farber, New York Daily News
• Review: "It could well be ten years since I last read these stories [in Queen of the Black Black], and I’d either forgotten or never appreciated (my money’s on the latter) how astute and insightful they could be. Like a proto-Kevin Huizenga, [Megan Kelso] repeatedly turns up little rocks of human experience and chronicles what’s going on underneath, reintroducing us to feelings, sensations, and experiences we’d forgotten we’d had but recognize as if they happened this morning." – Sean T. Collins, The Comics Journal
• Review: "This collection of early stories from Megan Kelso shows a natural flair for the form, mixed with a self-critical determination to hone her craft, that’s helped her blossom into a master storyteller.... Anyone looking for a masterful example of the short story in comics would do well to give [Queen of the Black Black] a try. Beautifully written and well illustrated, this a wonderful portfolio of work from a creator showing a deep well of promise from the start." – Grovel
• Review: "...[E]asily... one of my favorite horror comics and one of my contenders for my Best of 2011 list.... Not only is the book carefully structured, it looks stunning.... The Hidden is a story that must be experienced to fully appreciate... There is an excellent story of slow-building despair to be found in its pages, with gorgeous depictions and coloring and a horror story that shocks, surprises, and entertains. Don't let this one get hidden on your shelves! It may not be Halloween, but I still give this book my highest recommendation!" – Rob McMonigal, Panel Patter
• Review: "Volume 2 of Fantagraphics' Gottfredson Library, which takes us up through the beginning of 1934, maintains the high production standards and copious ancillaries of the first volume.... Tom Andrae's opening essay emphasizes, with good reason, how Gottfredson "spun off" many of his early narratives from the plots of animated cartoons. IMHO, however, the Mickey strip truly became "great" once Gottfredson gained the confidence to craft his own plots." – Chris Barat
• Profile:Paul Gravett surveys the work of David B. and presents a transcript of his bookstore discussion with the artist this past summer (hat tip to TCJ.com's Tim Hodler)
• Plug: Pulitzer-winning author and known Love and Rockets fan Junot Díaz names Poison River by Gilbert Hernandez (collected in Beyond Palomar) one of his top 10 favorite books in an excerpt from Unpacking My Library: Writers and their Books posted at The Financial Times
• Plug:Oil and Water receives an excellent feature in the new issue of the Audubon Society of Portland Warbler newsletter, which can be downloaded here
• Tribute: At The Comics Journal, Bill Griffith remembers meeting, and later collaborating with, the late Bil Keane: "I was surprised when Bil told me he read Zippy in his local Arizona paper and liked it. He didn’t even qualify his opinion with the usual, “Of course, I don’t always get it.” Until then, I hadn’t paid much attention to The Family Circus, but I slowly began to see that you could read more into it than what appeared on the surface. This was before internet wise guys began mashing up random Friedrich Nietzsche lines for Billy and Jeffy’s and riffing on the strip as unconscious surrealism. But The Family Circus didn’t need hipsters to substitute incongruous dialogue to make the case that it was unconscious surrealism. It was unconscious surrealism on its own."
• 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: "Artists of vision toiling within the gears of a vision-suppressing machine, Carl Barks and Floyd Gottfredson drew and wrote great swathes of the best popular art of the twentieth century, mostly in the least auspicious venues available: comic books and comic strips credited to Walt Disney.... Fantagraphics is currently collecting the work of both artists: Barks's transcendent Donald and Scrooge McDuck comics, and Gottfredson's sprightly Mickey Mouse serials. To the publisher's credit, the books are gorgeous but designed for readability rather than coffee-table displaying. This is great art you can feel guilt-free perusing in the bathtub....
"The initial volume in the Barks series is... all pleasure, a treasury of deceptively simple gag and adventure stories that fashioned with wit, irony, and impeccable craftmanship.... The longer stories here... are suspenseful, surprising, funny, and fresh... These kids' comics are far from kids' stuff -- this is for everyone....
"Like the goofy, violent, darker-than-expected cliffhangers of the second Indiana Jones flick, Gottfredson's Mickey Mouse -- especially in in its second volume, covering 1932 and '33 -- is an exhausting achievement in can-you-top-this adventure storytelling.... This kids' stuff isn't for kids, either. But it's revealing and thrilling, both a guide to what's long been wrong with this country -- and guide to what's great in its imagination." – Alan Scherstuhl, SF Weekly
• Review: "...I’d been looking forward to the Fantagraphics [Carl Barks Library] series, and I’m happy to say it’s being done right.... I like to think that Carl Barks, an unpretentious storyteller who created for an audience of children whose intelligence, ingenuity and decency he never doubted, would approve and be gladdened by how his work, this time around, is being put back out into the world." – Tom De Haven, The Comics Journal
• Review: "...[I]n this insightful and riveting biography, Avery has brought the flat-capped, sunglassed, mustachioed, Nat Sherman-smoking, hamburger eating, and Coca-Cola guzzling wordsmith back to life; a writer as fascinating -- and frustrating -- as many of his interview subjects.... Thankfully, more than half of the books pages are given over to reprints of Nelson's own work... And while Everything Is an Afterthought will bring renewed attention to the work of Paul Nelson, it's the work of Kevin Avery that resonates most as he tries -- and succeeds as much as possible -- to unravel the enigma of Paul Nelson's mind." – Bob Ruggiero, Houston Press
• Review: "Michael Kupperman’s Tales Designed to Thrizzle #7 has many more laughs than it does pages. It’s jokes that build on jokes that lead to more jokes through left turns, fakes, surprises, and nerdy pop culture references.... One premise leads to the next, like one of the better episodes of Monty Python or Mr Show... – this book is funny enough to make you crack up on a crowded bus." – Tom Mohrman, CultureMob
• Interview: David Fernández of Zona Negativa has a career-spanning Q&A (in English and Spanish) with Jason: "You don’t do comics for the money. You do it for love of the medium, for the need to tell stories in images. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. You feel a connection to other struggling cartoonists. It’s something you have in common. There some humility in it. So there are very few cartoonist assholes. I haven’t met any."
Our new Ultimate Catalog, arriving in mailboxes soon! Dig that glorious Floyd Gottfredson artwork. If you’re not already on our mailing list and like getting cool stuff in the mail, contact us to request your free copy. And if you want a tree-free version (although they're already all printed, so you wouldn't really be saving anything) we'll be making it available as a PDF download soon too.
• Review: "Gottfredson is in much stronger form here [in Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Vol. 2: Trapped on Treasure Island] than in the first volume, drawing upon the early Mickey cartoons for ideas — mad scientists, treasure hunts, mail pilots — but then expanding and developing them in a way those early Disney shorts were incapable of doing. Over time, Mickey’s personality becomes more refined as well; scrappier, tougher and more determined to seek justice (or an adventure) regardless of the odds. Again, part of the enjoyment for me with this series is the rich amount of historical material editors Gary Groth and David Gerstein are able to provide. From foreign material to biographies of various ancillary contributors, supplemental art, character histories and more, this series is rich with detail, both in the strip itself and in the editorial handling of the material, that puts other reprint projects to shame." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "What is good about Love and Rockets: New Stories [#1], however, is that it throws readers and fans a curve. Just what are Los Bros. going to do now? By going back to their early styles, in essence, they’ve allowed themselves a re-launch or at least a chance to throw many surprises at our expectations. Whatever they choose to do, it’ll still be the most interesting comics coming from America’s most literate, experimental, and adventurous comic book creators." – Leroy Douresseaux, I Reads You
• Plug: "In these days of precious art comics and highfalutin graphic novels, it’s often forgotten that comic strips evolved for one (now quaint) reason: to sell newspapers. Cartoonists were commercial artists, not auteurs. [In Drawing Power: A Compendium of Cartoon Advertising] you’ll find Peter Arno, the sophisticated New Yorker cartoonist, endorsing Rheingold Extra Dry Beer; Mickey Mouse and pals flogging just about everything under the sun except, maybe, mousetraps; and Krazy Kat selling Gulfsteel Nails. They are all Joe Camel’s ancestors." – Dana Jennings, The New York Times
• Interview: At Our Town Downtown, Cullen Gallagher, who says "...Everything Is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson [is] a deeply moving biography that captures not only Nelson’s tragedy, but also celebrates the ardor and artistry of his life and work," talks to the book's author/editor, Kevin Avery: "In the mid-to-late ’70s, rock music was still being discovered. There were no hard and fast rules, so in a way criticism was an act of discovery for these writers and they were just expressing what they liked. Paul was able to do that in a way that was not only personal, but also he would draw from film, books and his knowledge of folk music. You also got the feeling that he was a mysterious character. There would be hints dropped that there was an unhappy guy behind all these reviews. His writing was beautiful. This was music criticism that could be read as literature."
This week's comic shop shipment is slated to include the following new titles. Read on to see what comics-blog commentators and web-savvy comic shops are saying about them (more to be added as they appear), check out our previews at the links, and contact your local shop to confirm availability. (Please note we have several additional explanatory notes below as well!)
352-page black & white/color 8.75" x 11.25" hardcover • $45.00 ISBN: 978-1-60699-513-6
NOTE: The hardcover edition is already sold out from the distributor! This means that once a shop sells out of their initial shipment, they won't be able to order more copies. So if you want it and your store has it, pounce!
"A new edition (in both hardcover and paperback) of Jim Woodring's early Frank stories, which are utterly wonderful -- the first one, 'Frank in the River,' is my single favorite comics story ever at least 20% of the time. I can't think of much other art that's both so unironically devoted to pleasure and entertainment (in this case, in the form of funny-looking animals doing amusing things in colorful, inventively odd settings) and so deeply, primally unsettling and ambiguous." – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
"...[I]f you're a fan of any and all good things in life you definitely want the Frank work by the great cartoonist Jim Woodring in as many forms as you can pull it across the table and into your lap." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
"A softcover edition of Woodring's landmark Frank features an anthropomorphic cat in a pyschedelic world." – Benn Ray (Atomic Books), Largehearted Boy
"...I’d pick up the second volume of Floyd Gottfredson’s Mickey Mouse. The first volume was a real treat, not just in terms of reintroducing myself to Gottfredson’s stellar work, but also in the sheer amount of incisive historical information about the strip, Gottfredson and his various Disney helpers. I’m sure Vol. 2 will be more of the same." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"These Floyd Gottfredson-created adventure strips following the early years of the now-neutered corporate icon are everything you want from a feature like this: exuberant, lovely-looking and a lot of fun." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
32-page two-color 8.5" x 11" comic book, with jacket • $7.95 Part of the Ignatz Series
NOTE: Again, this title is not on the official shipping list but we have confirmed reports that some stores received it last week and we believe it should be available everywhere tomorrow. Again, check with your local shop blah blah blah.
"Kevin Huizenga has blessed us all with another issue of Ganges, totally unexpected and entirely wonderful. Let's not disappoint him." – Chris Butcher, The Beguiling
"CONFLICT OF INTEREST RESERVOIR: My other favorite comic of 2011 so far is Jim Woodring’s Congress of the Animals, though I confess a lot of the effect it had on me (elation) was due to having lived with the mechanics and boundaries of Woodring’s wordless storytelling for so long that deviations from it proved meaningful – as luck would have it, new hardcover and softcover editions of The Frank Book are out this week to catch you up on most of the major stuff; $34.99 ($45.00 in hardcover). Elsewhere in ambulating creature-things, Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse Vol. 2: Trapped on Treasure Island offers more from Floyd Gottfredson and his hungry team of pre-Imagineers; $29.99. And while it’s still not on Diamond’s list, keep an eye out for Kevin Huizenga’s Ganges #4, which I understand has floated into a store or two, maybe; $7.95."
(I should also note that The Manara Library Vol. 1 is out this week from Dark Horse, translated by our very own Kim Thompson. I'd sure like to see his "Adventures in Translation" notes for THAT series.)
• Review/Interview: Marc Campbell of Dangerous Minds calls Everything Is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson "music book of the year," saying "the thing I really appreciate in reading Paul’s writings is you get to a place where even if you disagree with him you want to really explore why. He challenges you, not outrightly, but through the sheer force of his own enthusiasm and the particulars of why he digs what he digs. That’s what great rock writers do - they send you to the music. Of all the books I’ve read this year, Everything Is an Afterthought is the one that has meant the most to me." Campbell also talks to the book's author/editor, Kevin Avery: "You could tell it was important for him to accurately convey how he heard the work he was writing about; how it made him feel. At the same time, there was often the suggestion that whatever he wrote about was in some way part of his own story. Though it was never overt. There was an ongoing mystery to it."
• Review: "It's fascinating to see the great intentions of good people of liberal Oregon run aground on the slick and complicated story on the ground... Duin and Wheeler spend much of [Oil and Water] showing the kind of cultural imperialism or Liberal Guilt that the Oregonians feel when trying to help their brethren from the South, and the resentment that the Southerners feel back at them. ...Shannon Wheeler's calm, quiet and almost abstract images capture the story in a way that allows the story to stray from straight reportage to a quieter meditation on the events that happen.... The story lives in the present and the past, both itself and something more." – Jason Sacks, Comics Bulletin
• Review: "The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec are extraordinary indeed.... The amazing Jacques Tardi creates a fully realized world in the two stories contained in this book, stories in which strange, almost mythological, creatures live right next to the Eiffel Tower, famous French cemeteries and the Louvre.... Tardi delivers an ending to the second half of this book that is thoroughly shocking. Adele and her friends aren't Doctor Who and his companions, gallivanting across space and time and always emerging unscathed. The adventures that occur in this book are real and terrible in their consequences. They may seem a bit outlandish... but they are real in a way that feels oddly intense for American readers." – Jason Sacks, Comics Bulletin
• Review: "This isn't your father's Mickey Mouse (it's more likely your great-grandfather's), and it's a shame we don't see him this way as much anymore. Floyd Gottfredson is one of the most talented artist/gag writers in comics history and it is wonderful to see his talent recognized in a medium and a manner so deserving of preservation. This giant-sized book is only mildly unwieldy, but it is the perfect size to replicate and do justice to every single panel of such a singularly perfect work.... Mickey Mouse is one of the most important and revered characters in pop culture, and no other creator has written him so human, so interestingly, so uniquely fun and vibrant as Floyd Gottfredson has. The cover price is too little to ask, as the stories in this book are a treasury of the highs sequential art can hit." – Rafael Gaitan, Comics Bulletin
• Review: "The Hidden is ridiculously good, silly fun... A great big orgy of schlocky gore and cartoon deaths, the plot is every old horror film rolled into one glorious genre cliché... and Richard Sala’s absurd humour bleeds through the lot like red ink on a crisp white collar.... As ever, the true joy here is seeing Sala in brilliant colour. Layer upon layer of masterfully applied paint creates every shadow, shade and unlikely bright pajama in the cartoon horror. Undead eyes stare from blue and green sunken sockets, blood splashes across the page in spurts of dark crimson. It is, to hammer it home with a bloody mallet, an absolute demented joy." – Hayley Campbell, The Comics Journal
• Interview (Translated): Gerardo Vilches of The Watcher and the Tower says of Joyce Farmer's Special Exits, which was just published in Spain by Astiberri, "I read this comic a few months ago and I think it is not only one of the comics of the year but the last decade" translates Alex Dueben's December 2010 Comic Book Resources interview with Farmer into Spanish, adding "I also wanted to do my bit to raise awareness of an awesome comic I hope has the impact it deserves."