At ComicAttack.net, Ken Meyer Jr. has posted another "Ink Stains" column featuring Gary Groth's pre-Fantagraphics Fantastic Fanzine — this time, number 11, focused on Jim Steranko, from 1970. The entire issue is available as a free PDF download, and Meyer provides some historical background and commentary: "How a high school kid managed to score so many amazing pieces of art points to Groth’s future success as a publisher and muckraker."
Just found in a neglected cranny in our warehouse, the following 6 issues of The Comics Journal, previously thought to be sold out! There are some classic issues in this batch, including the notorious Groth vs. McFarlane throwdown, the "Violence in Comics" issue featuring Wertham & Woodring, and some rare early Dan Clowes sketchbook pages. There's only a handful of each so get them while you can:
#68: Two panel discussions with Frank Miller, Denny O'Neil, Louise Jones, Roy Thomas, Julius Schwartz, Jim Shooter, and Len Wein. X-Men cover by Kevin Nowlan; a Guide to Holiday Animated Specials; Rick Marschall; R.C. Harvey; Superman II; more!
#124: Jules Feiffer speaks out in a far-ranging interview that covers politics, Will Eisner, the Popeye movie, Jack Nicholson, working for Playboy, and more. Plus the legendary "Summer Reading List," "Funnybook Roulette," news and more!
#133: Special "Violence in Comics" issue with a lurid cover by Jim Woodring and featuring interviews with Dr. Thomas Radecki and Dr. Fredric Wertham; "Siren Song of Blood": the rise of remorselessly violent vigilantes; Comics on Trial 1954: a look back at the infamous Senate hearings; more!
#144 : Tim Truman is grilled with customary mercilessness by Gary Groth about the art and business of comics; Jack Jackson's review of "Blueberry"; an interview with Bernie Mireault; Caribbean comics; and a sketchbook by Dan Clowes!
#152: Art vs. commerce! Todd McFarlane takes on Gary Groth in a no-holds-barred interview. Then Chris Claremont speaks up for the first time since his dismissal from Marvel. Alan Moore and others also weigh in. The cover: Gary Groth's decapitated head!
#272: Interviews with political cartoonists Steve Bell & Jeff Danziger; part 2 of Gary Groth's interview with Jerry Robinson; John Stanley's Thirteen presented by Seth; reviews of Epileptic, Promethea, Embroideries; and much more!
• Review: "What to say about Catalog 439? It's a crazy-arse thing, full of richly illustrated intricate drawings of smartly dressed men torturing each other with ridiculous devices. [...] What you get with this book then is not just a fascinating glimpse into a little known corner of American social history, but the template for many of the ad pages from the silver and bronze age comics that so many of us comic collectors love. I really enjoyed it and, although it isn't about comics, I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in the history of comic book advertising." – Dom Sutton, London Loves Comics
• Review: "At this point, I don’t know what else there is to say about Jamie Hernandez or Love and Rockets. I suspect that one day he’s going to make a truly terrible comic, if only because he must feel at least a little bit bad about showing nearly every other creator up so often. ...Penny Century is yet another masterpiece from a guy who turns them out seemingly like clockwork. If you haven’t read it, you need to. ...Jamie Hernandez’s exploration of life continues as an unimpeachable standard for comic book mastery." – Michael C. Lorah, Newsarama
• Review: "[Artichoke Tales] is far and away the best comic I've ever read from Megan Kelso, succeeding on almost every level. Her clear-line style gives an airy ease to her often detail-heavy drawings of nature and the people who inhabit it; similarly, her complex exercise in fantasy worldbuilding — and I don't mean detailed maps with funny names, I mean real worldbuilding, constructing cultural and religious and economic structures rooted in environment and history and exerting macro and micro influence across the lives of all the characters involved — is subsumed into an absorbing, briskly moving house-divided family soap opera. [...] I dug this book to a degree that surprised me and look forward to returning to it. It's a rich vein of alt-fantasy being tapped here." – Sean T. Collins, Attentiondeficitdisorderly
• Review: "Kelso's simple line and rounded forms belie the seriousness of the story. [...] Ultimately, Artichoke Tales is not so much a story about conflict as a story about the people reacting to the conflict, doing their best to live lives of integrity in a land of constant unrest. Although good intentions are often thwarted, it ends on a note of hope." – Brigid Alverson, Graphic Novel Reporter
• Plug: "I picked [A Drunken Dream and Other Stories] up at San Diego and it's one of those 'seminal' manga works that actually lives up to its hype. If you like Tatsumi, this is a good bet." Lydia Park, Ask Yavin IV (Funny, we don't remember seeing her at San Diego... That's a joke because she's a cartoon character.)
• Plug: "This is amazing news — one of my favourite cartoonists finally receives his due. I was starting to think that he had slipped through the cracks of cartoon history. ...[Rand Holmes] was a fantastic draftsman, surprisingly old-school, and his meticulous inking something that I could only ever hope to dream to aspire to." – Rod Filbrandt
• Plug: "...[T]he second volume of [Johnny Ryan's] battle epic Prison Pit... is amazing, nasty, and Lovecraftian." – Ryan Sands, Same Hat!
• Interview: "Newsarama: Billy Hazlenuts is like a children’s fable gone wrong, reminiscent in way of the old, dark Grimm Brothers tales with a modern, high-octane approach. Is that what you’re going for? Tony Millionaire: Take a closer look at those Grimm's Fairy tales, or even better, Hans Christian Anderson, and you'll tell me my stories are chocolate milk sopped on toast compared to that stuff."
Thanks to everyone who came out to the Sydney Opera House to see Gary Groth's presentation at the GRAPHIC festival this past weekend. According to various accounts on Twitter and from Bernard Caleo (whose sketch of Gary is below), Gary's talk was a highlight of the weekend. Photo above courtesy Karen Beilharz.
Gary was asked to speak about the history of The Comics Journal and Fantagraphics (as it says in the event description on the GRAPHIC website) but decided that that was too aggrandizing even for us, so he decided to weave those two subjects into a broader history of alternative and independent comics from the '70s to present; don't worry, though, he promises that it'll still be megalomaniacal enough to posit the centrality of those two stellar institutions to the rise of indie comics. There will be many amusing moments related with gusto and verve and accompanied by many images in a PowerPoint slideshow. Gary and our crack team of interns have been working hard on this presentation over the last week or so and Gary's wealth of knowledge and unique perspective should make it an enlightening and entertaining morning.
Our fearless leader Gary Groth will be traveling to Australia next week to participate in the GRAPHIC festival at Sydney Opera House. Gary will be presenting a special "Focus on Fantagraphics" talk on Sunday, August 8, at 11 AM, giving an overview of the company and its mission from the early days of The Comics Journal through the present day. Apparently there's currently a 2-for-1 deal on tickets for the session if you use the code "comic" when booking online or by phone at (02) 9250 7777.
If any of our antipodean friends have any suggestions as to where in Sydney Gary might be able to indulge his prodigious sweet tooth during his visit, please leave a comment.