• Review: "It's a surprisingly rare thing to find the great comic artist who can not only draw with poetry and beauty, but write like a demon as well. In this lavish scrapbook of uncollected ads, posters, covers, ephemera and one-offs [All and Sundry], [Paul] Hornschemeier's skills are nearly as verbal as they are visual, his art encompassing many different styles, from richly layered classical surrealism to densely structured and primary color-heavy McSweeney's-style illustrations. But taken together, the work exhibits an instantly recognizable and distinctive panache. The depth of his art truly comes to life in the melancholic squibs of text and short fictions studding this collection. For all his talents, Hornschemeier is a working artist who clearly takes on all kinds of assignments, from bookstore ads and bookmarks to a quirky little piece on Anderson Cooper commissioned by CNN. Perhaps the intrusion of the journeyman keeps an exquisite volume like this so rewarding and yet grounded." – Publishers Weekly (starred review)
• Review: "What I liked [in Abstract Comics], I liked for more than just the strips themselves--I liked them for the proof they offer that comics really is still a Wild West medium in which one's bliss can be followed even beyond the boundaries of what many or even most readers would care to define as 'comics.' That an entire deluxe hardcover collection of such comics now exists is, I think, one of the great triumphs for the medium in a decade full to bursting with them." – Sean T. Collins
• Review: "Hallelujah... for Michael Kupperman! He returns with his second collection, Tales Designed to Thrizzle Vol. 1, which brings under one cover the first four issues of the same-named comic. And comic it sure as hell is. I'm not entirely certain when I've read anything that made me laugh out loud as often as this volume, with the possible exception of Kupperman's debut Snake 'n' Bacon's Cartoon Caberet. Women who've given birth to multiple children and older readers are advised to secure some kind of adult diaper." – Late Reviews and Latest Obsessions
• Review: "Willie & Joe is an extraordinarily compiled and presented tribute to Bill Mauldin, the two-time Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist who chronicled life in the U.S. Army from 1940 to 1945. The set is bound in army green canvas and typeset in the font of an old manual typewriter, the kind an army clerk might have used during the Second World War. The collection is a sensory delight, pleasing to touch and beautiful to see. ... There are many scholarly works written on the topic of World War II, and those books can teach us a lot about the war, but anyone who wants to feel what American soldiers felt during the Second World War should seek out Willie & Joe. ... For the winner of two Pulitzer Prizes, for the man who was once America’s most celebrated enlisted man, Willie & Joe is a fitting, and wonderful, tribute." – David Mitchell, BiblioBuffet
• Review: "[Prison Pit Book 1 by Johnny Ryan is an] over-the-top, ultra-violent, gross-out, juvenile, yet fun and hilarious book... The dialogue that does exist retains his comic sense of disjunction and fights are as demented as you’d expect. This is not a jokey book, but his humor is retained in subtle ways—if you can envision subtle Johnny Ryan humor. ... This is just a balls-out, funny, sicko, good time. My only complaint with Prison Pit is how quickly the story ends, but hopefully the subtitle (Book One) is a promise and not a joke." – Lincoln Michel, The Faster Times [Ed. note: Book Two is in progress and due next year.]
• Review: "Longtime [Richard] Sala readers will recognize some familiar tropes right away [in Delphine]: strange surroundings, shady characters who seem to hold malevolent secrets. And Sala's art is familiar as well, but taken to a new level — lovely watercolors on the covers and moody washes on the gray interiors. The creamy paper that's typical of the Ignatz releases lends additional otherworldly, othertimely atmosphere to the story. And the logo itself is so good it deserved to be used for a long-running series. But it's the story that departs from Sala's work in some major ways... so resonant and unsettling that... it has to rank as one of Sala's major works." – Christopher Allen, Comic Book Galaxy
• Plug: "Reading [The Complete Peanuts 1971-72 and 1973-74] in one fell swoop, I've kind of come to the conclusion that this period is really the apex of Schulz's career. ...he was never as consistently hilarious or as poignant as he was in the early to mid-70s. If you're only buying two volumes of this series, it should be these two." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Profile: Dan Taylor of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat catches up with Monte Schulz on his book tour for This Side of Jordan: "'It’s weird doing this,' Schulz said by phone from Nevada City during a break between book shop dates. 'It makes me nervous, at every single stop. I just realized I’m not a very public person.'"
• Interview: At Marvel.com, Sean T. Collins' series of chats with Strange Tales contributors continues with Stan Sakai talking about the creation of Samurai Hulk: "Actually, I tried to make it as much of a parallel to the modern Hulk as possible. Such as his name-he is referred to asSashimono, which means 'banner.' It's a samurai banner. And obviously there's no gamma rays, so he's cursed into turning into the Hulk by a witch called Gama, which is Japanese for 'toad' — she kinda looks like a toad." Oh man I can't wait for that.
• History: Steve Duin at The Oregonian digs up a nugget: Gary Groth on the 50th anniversary of Superman in Amazing Heroes, 1988: "My only interest in Superman, marginal at that, stems from his continuing presence as a symbol of banality and infantilism in the history of the American comic book." And it goes on!
• Random quote of the day: "Guido Crepax: popular enough to have an entire half-shelf in the Fantagraphics library, circa mid-1990s; not popular enough to have his books stolen by the interns." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
Unofficial Gary Groth History Week continues, this time at ComicAttack.net, where Ken Meyer Jr. looks back at Gary's pre-Fantagraphics Fantastic Fanzine, specifically issue #10, with lots of background and commentary from Gary and a PDF download of the full issue. Looks like Ken will be looking at more issues of FF in the future, too, so we'll be sure to alert you when that happens.
Your must-read link of the day: at Comics Comics, Jeet Heer presents a scan of a 1972 Washington Post profile of 17-year-old Gary Groth. Plus ça change: Gary still types with two fingers, and still forgets to close the door. (Also: evidence that the cliché of using sound effects in comics-story headlines dates back at least 37 years.)
If you've got pictures of Fantagraphics at SPX, let us know! Here's a few that we've found on our own or have been sent to us. Con reports abound on the web: Rob Clough has a good one to start with, and Sean T. Collins has audio from the Critics Roundtable panel featuring our own Gary Groth.
Here comes your Online Commentary & Diversions for today:
• Interview: We Love You So, the blog of Spike Jonze's Where the Wild Things Are movie, talks to newly-minted Ignatz winner Jordan Crane, saying "Presenting melancholy tales of workaday worries and broken relationships right alongside whimsical, child-friendly fare, Uptightprovides a fascinating peek inside Crane’s constantly shifting thoughts, and never fails to entertain." From Jordan: "When I’m writing something I usually have a particular person in mind that I’m writing it for. Not a general thing like 'I’m writing for someone between the ages of 25 and 50' but rather an actual person."
• Plug: "Oh yes, it's finally here — Johnny Ryan's bloody sexual fight comic [Prison Pit Book 1], ...a two-fisted smash-up of international comics influence and the universal joy of tight-wound one-on-one combat, so tight that everything that comes out of a body becomes a weapon, and doesn't that have a way of mixing pleasure and pain? ... I liked this a hell of a lot." – Joe McCulloch, Jog - The Blog
Our head honchos and "the best known good cop/bad cop team in comics today" Gary Groth & Kim Thompson appeared on Bob Andelman's "Mr. Media" interview show on Blog Talk Radio Monday night to talk about all things Fantagraphics. Needless to say, if you have any interest in the history and current state of comics and the comics industry, it's a must-listen. Listen in streaming audio in the embedded player below or, if you don't roll that way, click the link above.
Bob Fingerman was in attendance when legendary cartoonists Al Jaffee and Arnold Roth, two of the co-creators of Humbug, discussed the magazine's short lifespan with el jefe Gary Groth at the Strand Bookstore in NYC on April 14, 2009, and was kind enough to pass along his photos!
See a whole bunch more in our Flickr set right here. Thanks Bob!
Saturday at BEA was extremely busy, and my enthusiasm for picture-taking waned after a promising start Friday. We hosted a signing with Monte Schulz, whose novel This Side of Jordan is going to surprise a lot of folks this fall. It's fantastic.
That's Monte above, signing galleys for a big line in the autographing area, and graciously answering questions not only about his book, but also his father, Charles M. Schulz, for whom Monte wrote the book. Monte looks uncannily like his father. I couldn't get over this all weekend.
After the show, Gary, Jason and I had dinner with Monte, which included a surreal encounter with Katie Couric that I sadly got no pictures of. But so as not to completely disappoint you, here's a picture of Kathie Lee Gifford:
After a fantastic dinner, Gary insisted on a nightcap. Now, for me, "nightcap" usually involves whiskey. Not Gary. For Gary, it involves ice cream and hot fudge. We cabbed it up to Serendipity, the famous dessert place that I think Gary must own stock in.
Gary ate as much ice cream as Jason, Monte and myself combined, and threatened to eat more before we dragged him out. We continued elsewhere, meeting up with Monte's pals Sid & Karen, talking books until the wee hours of the morning, or to at least what passes as the wee hours of the morning to this pathetic dad who is usually up at 5AM with his one-year-old.
ABOVE: Gary, contended with a gut full of hot fudge.
ABOVE: My requisite Jason Miles Big Hands photo (sorry ladies, he's taken).
With MoCCA already in the rear-view mirror, it's a bit late to be recapping the 2009 Book Expo America, which took place the weekend before at the wonderfully air-conditioned Javits Center. But who doesn't like convention photos? Don't let the lack of cosplay action fool you, BEA was a great time for myself, Jason Miles and Gary Groth, and we enjoyed hanging out with the likes of Kim Deitch, Monte Schulz, Michael Kupperman, and Dash Shaw.
We flew in Thursday morning, Jason and I waking up at 4:00AM only to get to the airport by 5:00AM so I could get dissed at the Hudson News Stand by Spike Lee. Side note to Mr. Lee: if you do not want to be recognized, even at 5AM, I recommend not wearing the same designer eyeglasses, Yankees cap, and Nike sweatsuit jacket that you were wearing on the FRONT PAGE of the daily newspaper that same morning.
Friday was the start of the show, and here's Jason Miles, unusually well-dressed (sorry ladies, he's taken), prepping for the morning onslaught in our swanky new space within W.W. Norton's mighty BEA pavilion.
Friday was the official "Salute to Graphic Novels" day at BEA, and we hosted signing with Dash Shaw, Kim Deitch, and Michael Kupperman. All three were utter gentlemen, signing books for fans in our booth and in the official autograph area:
That evening, we stopped in at a BEA/DAP party where Jason regaled us with the story of a ukranian giant who, like Izzy in Love & Rockets, can't seem to stop growing due to a botched thyroid surgery. We ran into some old friends like Gabrielle Bell and Last Gasp's Kristine Anstine, and later enjoyed a great dinner with Dash his girlfriend, Jane Samborski. Conversation veered from Alex Toth to David Mazzucchelli to French comics and Manga. Oh, and "The Pussy Generation," as Clint Eastwood calls those of us who dare to question the meaning of life rather than just punch it in the face.
That's Dash & Jane up top, and Jason and Gary below. I have an exceptional gift for capturing pictures of Jason's remarkably large hands (sorry ladies, he's taken).