The evolution of the Sub Pop empire will be examined at Fantagraphics Bookstore in SODA POP: Super Sugar Big Buzz opening Saturday, July 13. These hand made publications serve as exquisite time capsules of early 80s indie culture. I recall sessions at Rosco Louie gallery with Bruce Pavitt and Russ Battaglia in 1981 individually coloring issues of Sub Pop #3 with crayons. The only directive I remember was "Don't stay inside the lines." Covers and random interior pages were scribbled with infantile abandon. Multiple examples of these early Sub Pop zines (with a quaint 80¢ cover price) will be on display.
In 1983 Pavitt migrated north from Olympia to Seattle, enabling him to interact with a larger cultural community. He soon found a home for Sub Pop as a regular feature in TheRocket, where he joined an extended family of talented writers, artists, cartoonists, and graphic designers that would play an important role in the future development of the Sub Pop aesthetic. The second installment of the column in May 1983 featured an early appearance of what would become Sub Pop's signature logo, designed by future Fantagraphics art director DaleYarger. TheRocket regularly ran comix and illustrations by LyndaBarry, CharlesBurns, Matt Groening, GaryPanter, RobertCrumb, GilbertandJaime Hernandez, and PeterBagge, among others. Several examples of these important columns will be featured in the SODA POP exhibition, along with art and artifacts by Barry, Burns, Bagge, DanielClowes, Charles Peterson, JimWoodring, and more.
At 1:00 PM on July 13, I'll moderate a panel discussion, PopGoesSeattle, with Pavitt, Bagge, Peterson and DannyBland on the formative period of the Sub Pop phenomenon. This informal but informative talk will be followed by a short reading by Danny Bland and GregDulli of Afghan Whigs from Bland's debut novel, InCaseWeDie, set in grunge-era Seattle. Patrons at the reading will be the first in the country with the opportunity to acquire this essential book. Russ Battaglia will spin period platters following the reading. Then the real fun begins. Free concerts by Mudhoney, BuilttoSpill, Chad VanGaalen, JMascis, TomPriceDesertClassic, and countless others right outside the bookstore. Don't miss a minute. Arrive early. Stay late. Buy comix!
We love all of our books but are especially happy for the creators of the Eisner-nominated books. You can vote until June 12 online. If you haven't read all of them, check 'em out individually or via our list!
Still no sure which to read? Heidi MacDonald, Cal Reid and company discuss the nominations on the Publishers Weekly podcast. Meanwhile, Chris Sims, Matt D. Wilson and more of War Rocket Ajax discuss the nominations, although I'm not sure how long the podcast will be up at this link.
Some of the nominations gather in our mail room. See you in JULY!
So, instead check out that WFMU tee that Gary Panter designed for them! (The lime green kittycat one; the radio zombies are by Mayuko Fujino, who we don't publish, but I just couldn't bear to crop them out...)
For a measly gift of $50 or more, it can be yours, plus you'll have the radiance of someone who supported commercial-free non-profit radio, and that goes quite well with a Gary Panter tee.
The fullest mailbox of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Interview: Alex Dueben interviews Richard Sala about Delphine on CBR . "The main story, which is depicted with ruled borders, was always linear. But I allowed myself more room with the main character's inner life. All of that -- the memories, dreams, fantasies, wishful thinking -- all of that is depicted in panels with soft, cloud-like, non-ruled borders. And so I was able to add to the character's inner life -- his thoughts and fears and confusion -- as I went along." And,edit to the article, we also have The Hidden and The Grave Robber's Daughter available at comiXology.
• Interview:Wilfred Santiago is interviewed by Christopher Borelli about Bull on Parade for the Chicago Tribune and Michael Jordan's 50th birthday. "[Santiago] said a graphic novel seemed like a perfect medium for exploiting athleticism, then added: 'But also, Jordan, as a figure, never seemed that interested in satisfying people. Which is interesting to me.'"
• Plug: Tom Spurgeon on the Comics Reporter talks about TCJ 302, edited by Gary Groth, Kristy Valenti and Michael Dean. "There's an amazing Roy Crane section in there that's as good as you can imagine practical advice from a practical-minded comics craft master being. The Sendak is hilarious and sad." Spurgeon gives a review for TCJ 301 as well. "Publishing Groth's big interviews in print like this is an effective use of one of comics' most versatile thinkers and aiming a very good and only intermittent writer like Kreider at something as odd yet Journal-appropriate as the entirety of Cerebus seems to me fine editorial planning."
• Review:Page 45 reviews 7 Miles a Second by David Wajnarowicz, James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook. "Romberger painfully captures the frailty of forms and tenderness of touch, but equally the delirium of David’s mad fucking visions and dreams. Marguerite Van Cook’s colours are virtually toxic…This is not a beautiful book; it’s an ugly book, a brilliant book, a Last Will & Testament which I hope you will hear," writes Stephen L. Holland.
• Interview: James Romberger interviews Tom Kaczynski about Beta Testing the Apocalypseon the Hooded Utilitarian. Kaczynski made a list, we love those: "Overall I can cite 3 primary ways I use color in the book. 1. Color as a naturalistic element (as lighting, depth, etc.) 2. Color as pure design element. 3. Color as information."
• Review: Julien of the D&Q Bookstore is excited to read Moto Hagio's The Heart of Thomas. "Like the other Magnificent 49ers (the legendary first wave of female comic artists), Hagio's work is fearlessly avant-garde and visually stunning. Over her fruitful and now slightly less under-translated career, she has set the bar for all manga artists to follow, up to this day, and not just shonen-ai or shoujo mangaka."
• Review:Publishers Weekly loves Tales Designed to Thrizzle Vol. 2 by Michael Kupperman. "Kupperman deploys a stunning arsenal of art styles to bring home the laughs, from stilted woodcut art to a kind of Tintin lite…Kupperman is pretty much his own genre of humor now."
• Interview: Gary Panter was interviewed by Nick Gazin on VICE on Dal Tokyo, creativity and other fun. Gazin describes the book, "…trying to follow the story like it was a traditional comic is hard it feels like we're seeing the inside of Panter's brain. We go where he wants to take us and the landscape reflects his current mood and interests. Not everybody can do whatever they feel like and make it as interesting as this book."
• Plug: Jeff Kinney from Diary of a Wimpy Kid reminisces about his father and their shared love of Carl Bark's duck comics at Disney Dads. Kinney says, "I consider [Carl Bark's comics] to be the best form of storytelling I’ve ever read. My father always made sure to leave the comics page open in the newspaper in the morning so we kids could read them. I think that without my father, I wouldn’t have ended up on the career path that I’m on.
• Review: Johanna Draper Carlson reviews Young Romance edited by Michel Gagné on Comics Worth Reading. "It’s neat to read these long-ago tales of girls acting out of jealousy or determining how to make the right love decision in such an easy-to-hold hardcover with restored coloring. I love seeing more of this forgotten period of comic history, particularly since it was so widely popular and yet so ignored these days," writes Carlson.
• Plug: Jim Hanley's Universe blog creates The Definitive Love & Rockets Reading Guide and Full Bibliography by Jeffrey O. Gustafson to whet your appetite for our Love and Rockets Companion and Reader. "Featuring mature, character based stories, the quality in art and story of the work of [Hernandez brothers] represent the high-water mark of independent, creator-owned comics, indeed comics period."
• Plug:Peter Bagge 'hates' on Beavis and Butthead in this month's MAD magazine, reported by Paste.
• Plug:Noah Van Sciver continues the funny at Denver Westword with the 10 biggest buzzkills at a concert. Read this and laugh or maybe recognize the horrible person that you are.
Hey, you're a busy person. We get that. Or maybe you and your sweetie boo said you weren't doing anything but then you found a six pack of that craft brew you love so much or the full Battlestar Galactica series on DVD waiting for you. Well, we've got some cards for you to print out fast at work, while everyone is reading the cards their moms mailed to the office. They aren't going to save you but its better than handing someone a Slim Jim you bent in the shape of a heart while filling up your car at the gas station. Or is it? (Valentine above uses panels from Prison Pit 4 by Johnny Ryan)
The most checked-out book of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review: Prison Pit Book 4 by Johnny Ryan is getting the hits this week. Gene Ambaum of Unshelved writes,"This reminds me of nothing as much as the violent, disturbed drawings I’ve seen in some middle-school boys’ notebooks. Next year, I’m going to tell [my daughter] it’s like a mind-map for her male classmates. If she believes me, I hope we can put off conversations about her dating for a few extra years."
• Review: Mark L. Miller of Ain't It Cool News enjoysJohnny Ryan's latest Prison Pit Book 4. "This is the kind of sick shit that would warrant a trip to the school counselor if you found this crudely etched into the back of your child’s Trapper Keeper. Johnny Ryan once again taps into something primal and pure with his crude drawings of gore, sex, and violence."
• Review:The Quietus and Mat Colgate leaf through some of the best books of 2012 including Prison Pit Book 4 by Johnny Ryan. "Every second spent reading 'Prison Pit' is a joy. A violent, scatological, faecal matter, blood and pus smeared hoot.…There's something brilliantly subversive about 'Prison Pit'," chuckles Colgate.
• Review: The AV Club checks out some new releases like The Comics Journal 302, co-edited by Kristy Valenti and Mike Dean. Noel Murray states, "Business as usual for a publication that was treating the cultural significance of comics as a known fact decades before graphic novels were making the bestseller list."
• Review:The Quietus and Mat Colgate leaf through some of the January releases including 7 Miles a Second by David Wojnarowicz, James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook. Colgate states, "Wojnarowicz was fearless about his artistry and aware that the mere facts of a life are barely a percent of the whole, preferring to reveal the truth through dreams, violent fantasy and allusion. 7 Miles a Second is a shocking book, but for all the right reasons."
• Review: Forbidden Planet's Daily Planet looks at some new releases from Fantagraphics like 7 Miles a Second by David Wojnarowicz, James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook. Matthew Rosenbery states, "The stories serve as beautiful and brutal snapshots of a brilliant life lived too hard and extinguished too soon. It is not too much to say that we all owe a great cultural debt to Mr. Wojnarowicz and picking up this book and trying to understanding his life is a good first step toward understanding that debt."
• Review: Comics Bulletin looks at Tales Designed to Thrizzle Vol. 2 by Michael Kupperman. Daniel Elkin finds it smirk-worthy: "Tales Designed to Thrizzle Volume Two has its place in the construct. It is 'silver and exact' like Sylvia Plath's Mirror and reflects the 'terrible fish' that has become our understandings of the world."
• Review: The Heart of Thomas by Moto Hagio gets the a full styling by Manga Bookshelf. Melinda Beasi writes "…teens and pre-teens who go to regular, modern public schools essentially live in their own society that is very much separate from the rest of the world, and it’s a society that is, frankly, terrifying…it views that kind of sacrifice as… well, ultimately pointless…Hagio makes it clear that running away is not the answer." Melinda continues on the book as a whole, "I also expected it to be very dated and I thought the story might not appeal to my tastes as a modern fan. Instead, I found it to be both beautiful and emotionally resonant to an extent I’ve rarely experienced—especially in [Boy's Love] manga. This is a book I’d wholeheartedly recommend to any comics fan, without reservation. It’s an absolute treasure."
• Review: The AV Club checks out some new releases like The Heart of Thomasby Moto Hagio. "with small cliffhangers at the end of each chapter to pull readers deeper into Hagio’s fantasyland. The intrigue deepens page by page (and this is a 500-page novel, mind), while Hagio develops her bracingly radical vision of a mini-society where homosexual attraction is so commonplace as to be the norm…" writes Noel Murray.
• Review:You'll Never Know Book Three: A Soldier's Heart by Carol Tyler gets a thorough and thoughtful review from Rob Clough on High-Low. "…this sounds a bit all over the map, that's because it is, but Tyler slowly pulls the strings of her narrative taut in some astonishing ways, especially in the third volume…It's a remarkable example of an artist being totally honest about their own feelings of grief and joy in a manner that provokes growth and fully embraces the relationship between the two."
• Review: Dylan Thomas of Minneapolis' Southwest Journal looks at Tom Kaczynski's Best Testing the Apocalypse. "Kaczynski uses science fiction as a microscope, poking at contemporary anxieties like blooming bacteria in a Petri dish. The genre provides the room he needs to examine the systems that shape our lives, whether they be architecture, urban design or capitalism."
• Review: Hillary Brown of Pasteenjoys the dark ride of Delphine by Richard Sala. "Sala’s rules; like testing gravity by dropping a penny from a building, the coin’s never going to fall up. Delphine is worth reading at least twice. Sala’s spell is strong."
• Review: SF Signal looks at Ralph Azham Volume 1: "Why Would You Lie to Someone You Love?" by Lewis Trondheim. "His humanoid animals, a staple of his work, place the story squarely into fantasy – along with the medieval-esque village and the magic – but the wry humor gives the story a modern feel" says Carrie Cuinn.
• Plug:Paste Magazine looks forward to the most anticipated books of 2013. These include Lost Cat by Jason. "The cranky Norwegian has seemed to soften a bit as he’s aged, and the description (detective searches for potential soulmate) goes along with that impression," write Hillary Brown. On Dash Shaw'sNew Schooland 3 New Stories. "In a few short years, Dash Shaw has proven himself a restless artist, committed to pushing what comics can do and what his own talents can accomplish… it’s nice to see him return with two works, no less."
• Plug: Publishers Weekly also released a list of the most anticipated books of 2013 which included Dash Shaw's New School. "The art disorients the reader and brings you right inside the troubled protagonists’ mind."
• Interview (video): Speaking of Dash, he recently spent a few days at Sundance for his Sigur Ros animated music video. A very short interview awaits you.
• Interview: Alexander Theroux is interviewed on Rain Taxi by Paul Maliszewski. Theroux, author of Estonia , The Strange Case of Edward Gorey , Laura Warholic and more states, "Revenge—I have written about this somewhere before—is the main subject of the modern novel, if it isn’t that of literature in general."
• Review:The Los Angeles Review of Books looks at Gary Panter's Dal Tokyo. Nicole Rudick writes "Panter’s medium is comics rather than architecture, but the effect of his work is the same: Dal Tokyo questions accepted notions of structure and meaning — taking them not as truth but as convention — and, taking Brecht’s advice, builds not 'on the good old days, but on the bad new ones.' "
• Review:The Weekly Crisis dissects the first panel of "Landscape!" a comic within Blazing Combat and how it contributed to the end of the series coinciding with the Vietnam War. Dan Hill states "At a time when an anti-war stance was tantamount to being a traitor to your country, it was also the beginning of comics beginning to tackle the uglier aspects of war, telling us exactly ‘how it is’. It showed us that comics could discuss and show issues more related to the real world than capes, tights and outlandish fantasy."
• Review:Paste Magazine looks at Linda Medley's Castle Waiting Vol. 1 (softcover). Sean Edgar writes, "Ultimately, Castle Waiting is an elegantly-written, uplifting take on European folklore supported by sterling art. As long as voices as talented and creative as Medley’s are around, stories like this will always be timeless."
• Interview: Robin McConnell of Inkstuds interviews Chris Wright for a second time, this time on his most recent graphic novel, Blacklung.
• Plug:The GLBT Roundtable's Rainbow Project lists best books for teens that encapsulate the GLBT-community issues. The Rainbow Project lists Shimura Takako's Wandering Son series as part of the Top Ten Books of 2012 as the characters "tackle problems such as gender identity, love, social acceptance, and puberty."
• Plug: The GLBT Roundtable also released a list of the best books for adults, Over the Rainbow, and the comics anthology No Straight Lines, edited by Justin Hall,was listed in the top ten.
• Interview: Tim O'Shea interviews Lilli Carré for Comic Book Resources on her process with Heads or Tails. "I went through all my stuff and arranged them not chronologically, but by how they each fed into each other… I don’t know if the dialogue I write or the way I draw is particularly well-crafted or not, but with both the art and dialogue I go with my gut and do what feels natural to me."
• Review: New York Journal of Books takes a turn around the room with The Complete Syndicated Pogo Vol 2 "Bona Fide Balderdash" by Walt Kelly. Mark Squirek writes, "Like the greatest of myths and fables, Pogo travels across time and ages. It is a world much like that of Aesop and trickster tales. It is a world capable of making a six year old smile with glee, a hipster smirk whether they want to or not, and a college professor laugh out loud… So graceful is his work with pencil and pen that you could loose yourself for hours in shear artistry of the panels he constructs."
• Plug:Westfield Blog suggests some books for you likeThe Complete Syndicated Pogo Vol 2 "Bona Fide Balderdash" by Walt Kelly."Walt Kelly’s art is a joy to look at and his dialogue and word play is just stunning. Pogo is a strip that you get more and more out of the more you read it," states Wayne Markley. And for Basil Wolverton's Spacehawk, "In the history of comics, there are very few, if any, that had such a unique style as Wolverton which, while as far away as you can get from classic illustrators like Raymond or Foster, it is every bit as good in its own unique way."
• Review: HeroesOnline looks at the latest Prince Valiant Vol. 6: 1947-1948. Andy writes "…the pace is fast, the action and intrigue are plenty and the violence is un-apologetically bloody. In addition, Foster was a stickler for historical accuracy in depicting everyday life in the 6th century."
• Review: Ryan Sands of Same Hat writes his 'belated' best of list which inludes Nancy Likes Christmas by Ernie Bushmiller and The End of the Fucking World by Charles Foresman.
• Plug: Tom Spurgeon announced the Peanuts Every Sunday book on Comics Reporter. More information tomorrow.
• Plug: Robot6 talks about Great but Forgotten anthologies. Fantagraphics' "Zero Zero ran for 27 issues, a longer run than most of the anthologies on this list received, but I don’t think it’s ever gotten its due as the truly great anthology of the ’90s." Chris Mautner continues with Blab, "I do think people have forgotten how cutting edge and exemplary an anthology Blab was, at least initially. For a while there it was running some seriously incredible work, like Al Columbia’s apocalyptic The Trumpets They Played, and the Jimmy Corrigan story that eventually became Acme Novelty #10, easily the most harrowing and darkest material Ware has produced to date." And finally Blood Orange, "Lasting a mere four issues, Blood Orange offered a mind-bending array of cutting-edge comics." WORRY NOT, we still have issues from someofthese.
The gnarliest gnome of Online Commentaries and Diversions:
• Review: Zack Davisson of Comics Bulletin reads the weighty Castle Waiting Vol 1 (softcover) by Linda Medley. "It is whimsical, unexpected, packed with a deep knowledge of folklore and fairytales, irreverent, interesting and a whole lot of other adjectives that add up to something great… I would rank it up there with Bone in terms of just being a sheer delight to read…I'm a 40-year old guy, and I don't really see gender issues coming into play here -- Castle Waiting is just a great comic, with interesting characters and an addictive story for everyone who likes charm and wit and fantasy."
• Review: Richard Sala's latest fairy tale of woe Delphine gets a starred review from Publishers Weekly. "…Sala’s era-conflating fairy tale is coated in the kind of atmosphere the artist is known for: a creepy, gnarled darkness that evokes German Expressionism, Universal horror films of the 1930s, and secrets hiding in dank old mansions and haunted forests."
• Review: The Hidden by Richard Sala is reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux on I Reads You."This graphic novel is essentially a parable about ethical-free, morality-light, cutting-edge science. Why do anything? Why play God? The answer to both questions is 'because we can.' 'Damn the consequences' is The Hidden’s unspoken refrain."
• Plug: Chris Mautner of Robot 6 writes the list for the 6 Most Criminially Ignored Books of 2012. Carol Tyler's You'll Never Know Book 3: Soldier's Heart lands on the list. "While Tyler’s discursive, homey storytelling style might not appeal to everyone, she proves in these pages she is a cartoonist capable of producing sequences of exquisite beauty and deep emotional heft. It’s a book — and a series — that deserves more attention than it’s gotten so far."
• Plug: Paul Gravatt releases his Best of 2012 list and for Best Autobiography/Biography..."in the end what floored me, in its level of craft and care, complexity and clarity, was the third and final book of Carol Tyler’s You’ll Never Know."
• Review: The Complete Syndicated Pogo Vol. 2 "Bona Fide Balderdash" gets reviewed by the Chicago Tribune. Michael Robbins trills on about Walt Kelly, "As brilliant as Kelly's political satire is, it's only one reason 'Pogo' might be the greatest comic strip of all time (its only rivals are 'Krazy Kat' and 'Peanuts,' both of which Fantagraphics has also been reprinting in gorgeously designed editions)."
• Review:Bookgasm doubles their pleasure by reading TWO of our EC books. JT Lindroos starts with Corpse on the Imjin! by Harvey Kurtzman. "The ability of Kurtzman to have conflicting viewpoints to the myriad stories and situations within this volume is what makes it so rich." Lindroos continues onto Came the Dawn by Wallace Wood, "His line is much more precise and realistic than anything in the Kurtzman volume, but he has a flair for a dynamic layout and positioning of characters that pulls the art to the kind of pulpy mayhem for which EC is best known."
• Plug: Chris Mautner of Robot 6 writes the list for the 6 Most Criminially Ignored Books of 2012. Malcom McNeill'sThe Lost Art of Ah Pook is on there. "Ten or 20 years ago the release of an long-lost and unfinished comic by [William Burroughs] would generate a lot more heat than the release of this work…did. Perhaps now that comics have garnered more respect from the outside world, this sort of thing impresses us a lot less…Still, there’s some amazing, hallucinatory imagery here (and in McNeill’s companion memoir, Observed While Falling), to marvel at and make you wish the project had reached some better form of completion."
• Interview: Tom Kaczynski of Beta Testing the Apocalypse is interviewed on Rumpus by Greg Hunter and answers deep questions like "throughout the book we see instances of an object or system standing in for an even larger system—worlds upon worlds of simulacra. Do you believe in any sort of binary between authentic and inauthentic modes of experience?"
• Interview (audio): Ross Reynolds of KUOW interviews Jaime Hernandez on the secret to 30 Years of Love and Rockets. Did you know BLUE FOOD was a title in the running for L&R? Jaime mentions the influence of the punk movement and DIY culture on their work.
• Review:Comic Book Daily reads the masterful Carl Barks stories in Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge: Only a Poor Old Man. Anthony Falcone states "I would like to see more companies take Fantagraphics’ approach to the reproduction and presentation of material.…These are true 'all-ages' stories that can be enjoyed by adults and with your children at story time."
• Plug: Kuriousity plugged Moto Hagio's The Heart of Thomas as it "is probably the best example of the earliest of boys’ love works. It helped define the genres of shoujo and boys’ love as we know them today, and I couldn’t wish for anything more substantial as a starting point," writes Lissa Pattillo.
• Plug:Spacehawk by Basil Wolverton gets the hi-how-are-ya? from the D&Q Bookstore. Jade says "This is one cool book folks, with intense colors, funny looking characters, and very weird plots…Even the end papers are extraordinary!"
• Plug: Holy hot suit, did you see Lorenzo Mattotti's NEW YORKER cover? Damn. If you like that, check out his most recent graphic novel The Crackle of the Frost (written by Jorge Zentner) or 2011's Stigmata (written by Claudio Piersanti).
• Plug: Maria Popova's Brain Pickings features animation and comics pages from Lilli Carré's Heads or Tails which is "a sublime collection of Carré’s short story comics from the past five years, was published last November and is an absolute treat."
• Plug: All About Jazz looks at Kevin Avery's Everything is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson. "Avery's account of Nelson's life reveals an almost claustrophobic existence of the writer in general…Paul Nelson may have only been equaled by Greil Marcus for sheer love of music and music writing. He went entirely too gently into that good night, leaving the majority of us in the shadows…" writes C. Michael Bailey.
• Plug: Harriet Staff of the Poetry Foundation reads The Last Vispo edited by Nico Vassilakis and Craig Hill. "… the anthology highlights the way the digital and computerized tools of visual poetry are transforming not only visual poetry, but how we experience all poetry," notes Staff and Alison Watkins.
• Plug: TV superstar Lena Dunham's ideal bookshelf on Vulture includes Daniel Clowes' Ghost World.
• Plug: Buzzfeed cracks open Sean T Collins' David Bowie sketchbook and out jumps some of your favorite artists: Tom Kaczynski, Michael Kupperman, Jaime Hernandez, Gilbert Hernandez, Gary Panter, Charles Burns and Johnny Ryan. GO LOOK!
As Gary tells us, "The gallery flooded and has had a lot of repairs and toil to get back in business. My work luckily was on a high shelf and so was not destroyed in the flood and so you can still see it rather than blobs of flotsam."
Support the arts and hurricane recovery, and take a trip to Chelsea for the opening reception from 6:00 to 8:00 PM. Fredericks & Freiser is located at 536 West 24th Street in NYC.
The sweetest tea of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review:The Atlantic writes on The Heart of Thomas by Moto Hagio. Noah Berlatsky looks at it from every angle, "The boys' love genre, then, freed Hagio and her audience to cross and recross boundaries of identity, sexuality, and gender…Bodies and character flicker in and out, a sequence of surfaces, tied together less by narrative than by the heightened emotions of melodrama—jealousy, anger, trauma, desire, friendship, and love in the heart of Thomas."
• Plug: David Brothers and Comics Alliance posts a preview of The Heart of Thomas plus a few thoughts on Moto Hagio that works outside of his comfort zone. "What there is, though, isdrama. No -- it has melodrama…the sheer level of theatrical drama in this book is enough to keep a skeptic hooked…Heart of Thomas is a trip, and a good one. I wasn't expecting to enjoy it as much as I did, and it was nice to enjoy something outside of my usual comfort zones."
• Plug: Johanna Carlson of Comics Worth Reading is ready for the world to read The Heart of Thomas by Moto Hagio. "This solid hardcover contains the entire classic shojo series, and it’s a must-read for anyone interested in the development of the genre. It’s also surprisingly gripping in its own right…"
• Review: Chris Mautner interviews Jim Woodring's Problematic on Robot 6. "Problematic is both a stroll through Woodring’s unique imagination and an opportunity to see his working process" and Woodring thinks "having a pocket sketchbook on me at all times means fleeting impressions and ideas that might otherwise be lost are captured…Everything I draw is reality-based."
• Plug:BoingBoing is ready for Jim Woodring's Problematic to come out. "There are many reasons to be grateful to be alive, and owning this brand new facsimile edition of artist Jim Woodring's Moleskine sketchbooks is as good as any," says Mark Frauenfelder.
• Interview/Review:Publishers Weekly looks at 7 Miles a Second, and Grace Bello interviews artists James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook on writer David Wojnarowicz, the gay activist who wrote the comic before dying of AIDS-related complications. Romberger is quoted, "It really is so much about what David was about, channeling his anger into a statement…" "The gay experience is not only 'less invisible'—it’s on prime time TV. But the feral energy and raw hunger in 7 Miles a Second still resonate" states Bello.
• Review: Jason Sacks of Comics Bulletin presents 20 Facts and Opinions on Joe Kubert's Weird Horrors & Daring Adventures, edited by Bill Schelly. "Schelly and the always sterling Fantagraphics production team do a nice job of preserving the look and feel of these comics…the master cartoonist was equally at home doing broad humor as intense action/adventure as well as lighter, Archie-style teen humor."
• Review:Comics Alliance and Caleb Goellner continues their Best of 2012 series with Prison Pit Book 4by Johnny Ryan. "It was like looking at a baby book of bad ideas from boyhood as an adult who'd learned to function in polite society…it's bliss to kick back and watch humankind's most immature impulses play out in the safety of Ryan's Prison Pit."
• Review:The Weekly Crisis lists its Top 10 books of 2012 and Johnny Ryan's Prison Pit Book 4 lands at #2. Taylor Pithers states "he is interested in is fighting and hyper violence, which to be fair, would be more acceptable to the masses if it was drawn by Ivan Reis or another one of Geoff Johns' collaborators…Honestly, there isn't a comic that has given me more belly laughs in my entire life."
• Review: Comiks Debris posts its Best of 2012 books and Johnny Ryan'sPrison Pit Book 4 comes in as #8.Marc-Oliver Frisch writes "structurally, Prison Pit reminds me a lot of Jarmusch's The Limits of Control… The artwork looks ugly, crude and perfunctory. The characters eat, shit, fuck and, most of all, fight their way through the book…It's one mean, sick motherfucker of a comic, and I can't wait what happens next."
• Plug: Tucker Stone on The Comics Journal rates his top comics of 2012. Prison Pit Book 4by Johnny Ryan comes in at 18. "…it’s hard to explain how intense the surprise was for a follower of Angry Youth and Ryan’s humiliation comics to open that first Prison Pit…"
• Review:Delphine by Richard Sala gets reviewed on Comic Book Resources. Kelly Thompson claims, "One part comic book and one part fever dream…Rare is the opportunity that I'm so engaged I consider yelling at an inanimate object such as a book…Delphine is also a nice contrast to the unrelentingly bright and happy fairy tales that are so often seen when it comes to modern reinterpretations of those early dark tales."
• Review:The New York Journal of Books thumbs through Spacehawk by Basil Wolverton. "Basil Wolverton rises to the occasion and gives the reader a detailed and hilarious look at megalomania while throwing in some fantastic aerial fight scenes…Fantagraphics Publishing brings Wolverton’s art to the reader in as detailed and perfect a form as possible. Each wave of space, every geometric shape and all the incredibly ugly aliens look better than they ever have in their entire lives," writes Mark Squirek.
• Review: Crave Online looks at Spacehawk by Basil Wolverton. "This is the medium when there were no rules, no event series and no giant corporations standing watch over what the creators were doing. If you love the Golden Age, science fiction and adventure, nothing compares to the world Basil Wolverton put together for Spacehawk," writes Iann Robinson.
• Review: The Weekly Crisis lists its Top 10 books of 2012 and Josh Simmon's The Furry Trap ranks as #1. Taylor Pithers writes, "The Furry Trap is pure exploitation; violent, disgusting, and bound to make you feel uncomfortable but it also does what the best fiction is meant to, it stays with you long after you have put the book down…Simmons is a cartoonist of the highest caliber. This is not a book for the faint hearted, but if you can stomach it will be a true experience."
• Review:NPR and Glen Weldon write on Books of 2012 they haven't told you about. Heads or Tails by Lilli Carré "The whole collection has the feel of a dream in which remembering how to fly is as simple as forgetting that you can't."
• Review: Noel Murray and The A.V. Club write about the Top 10 Fiction books of 2012. Heads or Tails comes in at #7. "Lilli Carré’s stories are like dreamy what-ifs that take the familiar and tweak it."
• Plug: Whitney Matheson of USA Today's Popcandy mentions her favorite things including Heads or Tailsby Lilli Carré: "…a lovely volume from one of my favorite cartoonists that includes several beautifully strange short stories. I'm a longtime fan and even have a framed Carre print hanging in the baby's room."
• Interview:The Comics Journal interviews Ron Regé, Jr. on The Cartoon Utopia, evolving comics and more. Regé on his book, "People should use bibilomancy—randomly opening to a page—to access the information if they’d like. Nothing in the book tells you to treat it that way, but I think people will get the idea anyway."
• Interview (audio): Erik Davis and Expanding Mind interview Ron Regé, Jr. on the radio about The Cartoon Utopia! Adventure indeed.
• Review:Comics Bulletin and Jason Sacks investigate Blacklung. "Chris Wright seems to channel Melville or Conrad in this book as he explores the uniquely idiosyncratic world that he creates…nobody has ever created characters that look like the characters in this book, with their strange faces and lumpy, malformed bodies…This slim graphic novel is a dense read unlike anything else you've read in comics."
• Review: Noel Murray and The A.V. Club write about the Top 10 Fiction books of 2012. Athos in America is #5. "Jason’s blank-faced animal-headed characters reveal unexpectedly deep passion via deadpan tales of dislocation."
• Review: Sonia Harris of Comics Book Resources places Love and Rockets: New Stories #5 by Jaime Hernandez and Gilbert Hernandez as #5 of her Top 16 Books of 2012. Harris says,"Watching these people’s lives change on the page, along with the gradual evolution of the Hernandez brother’s art and writing is the closest thing to real life created in a comic book. Nothing on the screen could ever compare to the life and complexity these two men breathe into their characters year after year with such consistent quality and affection."
• Plug: Tucker Stone on The Comics Journal rates his top comics of 2012. Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez have cause to celebrate as Love and Rockets:New Stories #5makes it at #13. "It was great, and of course it was, because it’s them, and it was great for all the same reasons you’d expect it to be…"
• Review:NPR and Glen Weldon write on Books of 2012 they haven't told you about like Wandering Son by Takako Shimura. "Wandering Son is not the kind of manga in which a happy ending is guaranteed… You'll thus be grateful for the moments of realistic, untempered joy Shimura allows her two protagonists here, as you wait with nervous anticipations for the travails that lie ahead for them…"
• Review:Manga Bookshelf recounts its Favorite Manga Series of 2012 including Wandering Son by Takako Shimura. "This series about two transgender children in modern-day Japan has been a favorite since it debuted last year thanks to its delicate, truthful storytelling and understated artwork…Its most recent volume (three) goes a bit darker and deeper, only heightening my interest in the series" says Melinda Beasi.
• Review: Noel Murray and The A.V. Club write about the Top 5 Archival books of 2012. Harvey Kurtzman's Corpse on the Imjin! landed at #1. "Kurtzman book is especially stunning, almost like a coffee-table art-book combined with a literary collection…an anthology with a strong individual perspective that tries to tell the truth about what war is like from the point of view of the people on both sides of the battlefield."
• Review: Noel Murray and The A.V. Club write about the Top 5 Archival books of 2012. Ernie Bushmiller's Nancy Is Happy: Complete Dailies 1946-48: "bristle-headed Nancy and poor slob Sluggo inadvertently irritate the grown-ups in their lives, in scenarios that Bushmiller illustrated with absurd visual gags—so basic that anyone, anywhere, at any time, could get the joke."
• Review: Nick Gazin of VICE has a pretty fuckin' fancy (his words) edition of The Clouds Above by Jordan Crane. "Jordan Crane is a cartoonist with supreme abilities. He's great at making lines, hand text, and backgrounds and stuff…This is beautifully colored also. Did I mention Jordan Crane's great color sense? His colors are good."
• Review: Steve Donaghue enjoys Prince Valiant Vol. 1 by Hal Foster on Open Letters Monthly. "The ambition becomes most emphatic the more you scrutinize the work. Foster often said he put in between 50 and 60 hours a week on creating the strip, and it shows in these magnificent reproductions, done in a sturdy hardcover with oversized pages and entirely restored colors and shadings."
• Plug:Record Collector magazine (UK) picks Listen, Whitey! by Pat Thomas as one of the top 12 books of 2012. "A socio-polictal account of American racial struggles...an extraordinary study of the way the message of [the Black Panther] movement was recounted and defined on vinyl. "In-depth" doesn't begin to describe it."
• Plug: Tucker Stone on The Comics Journal rates his top comics of 2012. Dungeon Quest 3 by Joe Daly makes the mark at 17. "in times like these, with sandwiches like mine, you have to root for the one who brung you, and that’s dick jokes. Dungeon Quest had so many of them, and they were all wonderful."