Gary Panter began imagining Dal Tokyo, a future Mars that is terraformed by Texan and Japanese workers, as far back as 1972, appropriating a friend’s idea about “cultural and temporal collision” (the “Dal” is short for Dallas).
Why Texan and Japanese? Panter says, “Because they are trapped in Texas, Texans are self-mythologizing. Because I was trapped in Texas at the time, I needed to believe that the broken tractor out back was a car of the future. Japanese, I’ll say, because of the exotic far-awayness of Japan from Texas, and because of the Japanese monster movies and woodblock prints that reached out to me in Texas. Japanese monster movies are part of the fabric of Texas.”
In 1983, Panter finally got a chance to fully explore this world, and share it with an audience, when the L.A. Reader published the first 63 strips. A few years later, the Japanese reggae magazine Riddim picked up the strip, and Panter continued the saga of Dal Tokyo in monthly installments for over a decade. But none of these conceptual descriptions will prepare the reader for the confounding visual and verbal richness of Dal Tokyo, as Panter’s famous “ratty line” collides and colludes with near-Joycean wordplay, veering from more or less intelligible jokes to dizzying non-sequiturs to surreal eruptions that can engulf the entire panel in scribbles. One doesn’t read Dal Tokyo; one is absorbed into it and spit out the other side.
•Commentary: Ron Richards of iFanboy writes a con review and 1/2 of his swap was Fantagraphics fun, "I did a little dance when I saw [Love and Rockets: New Stories #5] was available . . . After the amazing #4 of this series, I can’t wait to see what Los Bros Hernandez come up with this time out"
•Commentary: Heidi MacDonald and Cal Reid finalize their digital SDCC thoughts on Publishers Weekly: "Comixology announced [many] new e-book distribution deals . . . . and perhaps most significantly, Fantagraphics, which had been a staunch hold out on the digital front. The Fantagraphics partnership will kick-off with the jewel in the crown: the much-loved work of the Hernandez Brothers starting with Love and Rockets New Stories #1-4 ."
•Commentary (photos): Cal Reid and Jody Culkin on Publishers Weekly photo-document a lot of the fun going on at Comic-Con including the Hernandez Brothers panel and signing.
•Commentary: Sonia Harris enjoyed her Comic-Con experience according to the report on Comic Book Resources. "[No Straight Lines editor] Justin Hall had a big year, speaking on panels about gay comic book characters and hosting a party on Friday night at the increasingly interesting Tr!ckster event for the launch of No Straight Lines."
•Interview:Chicago Pride finds the time to talk to editor Justin Hall on No Straight Lines, "My worry was that the literary queer comics were going to vanish, that there was no one looking out for that work. Especially with the gay publishers and the gay bookstores dying out."
•Review: Tom Spurgeon on the Comics Reporter covers the Tales Designed to Thrizzle digital comics release, "Kupperman's work looks super-attractive in print, which while that sounds counter-intuitive to its digital chances, is actually a vote for the print version having its own sales momentum that digital won't all the wayoverlap."
•Review:NPR hits home with Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons. Glen Waldon: "What emerges is a portrait of a much-beloved artist as a young woman, when the sardonic and even brutal humor behind O'Connor's most memorable creations is still gestating."
•Plug (award): Cannibal Fuckface from Johnny Ryan's Prison Pit is a nominee in the Designer Toy Awards for "Best Toy from a Comic." Cast your vote today or we might bludgeon you.
•Plug (pictures): Can't make it Los Angeles? Check out artwork Keenan Marshall Keller posted from FREAK SCENE art show featuring Johnny Ryan (with Prison Pit pages), Jason T. Miles, Jim Rugg and many more.
•Commentary:A.V. Club enjoyed the Fantagraphics/D&Q panel at San Diego and Noel Murray believes, "real legacy of Comic-Con [is] the elevation of the medium’s literary merit and public profile combined with the preservation of its past . . . The outcome of all that? Handsome hardcover editions of Floyd Gottfredson Mickey Mouse strips . . ."
•Commentary: Cameron Hatheway of Bleeding Cool was a bit livid that Mickey Mouse Vol. 1 and 2 beat out our other title up for the Archival Reprint Collection/Project Eisner. "A part of me thought Prince Valiantwould be a sure thing because of its 75th anniversary this year, and people would be getting all nostalgic. Way to go, majority of voters; Prince Valiant will continue to roam the seven seas and seeking adventure without an Eisner to his name. I hope you’re all proud of yourselves! How do you even sleep at night? A pox upon your castles!"
•Commentary: Directly from the Comic-Con floor, Tom Spurgeon from The Comics Reporter is rich with the compliments, "speaking of Fantagraphics, I was surprised to see the Dal Tokyo book. It looks great. I also really liked the design on the second Buz Sawyer volume, a really atypical image being used."
•Commentary: Tom Spurgeon dishes up the best comics to buy at Comic-Con International and online on The Comics Reporter. On Gary Panter's Dal Toyko, ". . . I'm trying to get over the notion of only recommending comics that catch some sort of big-time marketing hook or novelty current as opposed to just being awesome comics. This is the kind of book that has peers, not betters." In reference to the Kickstarted, Fantagraphics-distributed The Cavelier Mr. Thompson by Rich Tommaso, Spurgeon mentions "It's one of the works that the generation-two alt-cartoonist serialized on-line. I heard three different people on the [Comic-Con] floor waxing rhapsodic about Tommaso's natural-born cartooning sensibilities."
•Commentary: Director of PR, Jacq Cohen, was interviewed on the Graphic Novel Reporter about her Comic-Con memories and First Second editor, Calista Brill, loves our books: "I got myself the latest in Fantagraphics' beautiful collected Uncle Scrooge series."
•Commentary: Overheard at Comic-Con. Matt Groening was talking to Eric Reynolds about Twee-Deedle in reference to "perfect" comics reproduction and he said, "Speaking of perfect..." and leaned over and grabbed a Donald book and said, "These are PERFECT."
•Plug: Mark Frauenfelder on BoingBoing mentions Significant Objects (because he's in it!): "Culture jammers extraordinaire Rob Walker and Joshua Glenn bought a bunch of less-than-worthless objects at thrift stores and garage sales and then assigned people to write a short story about one of the objects."
•Review:Reason.com reviews Daniel Clowes work making comics into art. Greg Beato says, "Clowes. . . brought a different sensibility to his comics: An obsessive compulsive commitment to craftsmanship. . . Clowes strove to make the comic book as artful as possible, a complex but organic object that was perfect in all its parts. "
•Interview:The Guardian prints a small Q&A with Daniel Clowes who IMMEDIATELY posts his full answers to some the questions since someone had fun in the editing room. "It doesn't take much to alter the tone or meaning of someone's words in an interview with some editing."
•Interview: Gary Groth interviews Gilbert Shelton at SDCC on the Beat and The Comic Books, Heidi MacDonald, "Among the topics were origins of Wonder Worthog and Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, talked about working with Harvey Kurtzman and how he knew Janis Joplin. . ."
•Plug:The Comics Bulletin covers the Comic-Con International and the Fantagraphics panel on new releases. Danny Djeljosevic says, "Fantagraphics is Fantagraphics. They put out killer material and in beautiful packages to boot."
•Review (audio): Dann Lennard of Kirby Your Enthusiasm podcast covers THREE of our books in his Australian-based comics podcast. Is That All There Is? by Joost Swarte "If you like Herge and Tintin, it might not be for you. It's pretty full-on. . . if you're into sex and violence, you might like this." On Sincerest Form of Parody, edited by John Benson: "This full color book . . .collects work from another EC publication called Panic, not quite as good as MAD and didn't last as long, but features quite good artists and humor. It's the pick of the other titles." In regards to The Hidden by Richard Sala, Lennard says its "actually quite a powerful, horrific book of violence, it's really quite sickening in places."
Somebody brought an old Who's Who in the DC Universe for Trina to sign the page with her Cheetah illustration. That lady's done it all!
Another DC character also made an appearance at the No Straight Lines signing. (At least I think that's Poison Ivy.)
Matt Groening showed off his pal Gary Panter's Dal Tokyo while Akbar & Jeff walked past in the background. Matt recounted for us how he helped save the strip from being dumped at the L.A. Weekly back in the 1980s by arguing that it's one of the greatest works of art of the 20th century.
Eric shows off Johnny Gruelle's Mr. Twee Deedle to Matt, who was particularly taken with Gruelle's "birds-eye view" strips in the book and walked away with it under his arm.
Shannon Wheeler was signing Oil and Water before he even had a chance to sit down.
Everybody wants to know: what new books will Fantagraphics be debuting at the San Diego Comic-Con? Well, attendees, get ready to be among the very first to feast your eyes on the following, most of these fresh from the printers! Find 'em all at Booth #1718!
• The Adventures of Venusby Gilbert Hernandez A rare foray into all-ages work, “The Adventures of Venus” was Gilbert Hernandez’s contribution to the kids’ anthology Measles which he edited in 1999 and 2000. This super-affordable little hardcover collects all the previously uncollected “Venus” stories from Measles, plus a new story done just for this book!
• The Lost Art of Ah Pook Is Here: Images from the Graphic Novel by Malcolm McNeill (not officially out 'til October!) In 1970, William S. Burroughs and artist Malcolm McNeill agreed to collaborate on a book-length meditation on time, power, control, and corruption that evoked the Mayan codices and specifically, the Mayan god of death, Ah Pook. McNeill created nearly a hundred paintings, illustrations, and sketches for the book, and these, finally, are seeing the light of day in The Lost Art of Ah Pook.
• Observed While Falling: Bill Burroughs, Ah Pook, and Me by Malcolm McNeill (not officially out 'til October!)Observed While Falling is an account of the personal and creative interaction that defined the collaboration between the writer William S. Burroughs and the artist Malcolm McNeill on the graphic novel Ah Pook Is Here. The memoir chronicles the events that surrounded it, the reasons it was abandoned and the unusual circumstances that brought it back to life.
• Barack Hussein Obama by Steven Weissman (not officially out until September!) It’s neither a biography nor an experiment, but a whole, fully-realized parallel America, a dada-esque, surrealistic satirical vision that is no more cockeyed than the real thing, its weirdness no more weird, its vision of the world no more terrifying, where the zombie-esque simulacra of Joe Biden and Hillary and Newt and Obama wander, if not exactly through the corridors of power, through an America they made and have to live in, like it or not.
• Buz Sawyer Vol. 2: Sultry's Tigerby Roy Crane (not officially out until September!) In the last adventure in our 2nd volume, Buz is kidnapped and flown to Africa by mysterious assailants. His friend Chili Harrison bets International Airways chief Mr. Wright $200 that even in this desperate situation, Buz will manage to get involved with a pretty girl. Long-time readers of the strip will have no trouble guessing who wins that bet.
• The Cavalier Mr. Thompson: A Sam Hill Novel by Rich Tommaso (not officially out until August!)Welcome To Big Spring, Texas and The Cavalier Hotel. A place brimming with all manner of colorful characters. And then, Ross Thompson – a slick operator from Chicago — came into their humble abode and turned everything upside down. Big Spring was a just string of yarn for Mr. Thompson to pull and pull at, until the entire community came unraveled! Now you’ll have to crack open this here book for yourself to find out just how he done it...
• The Crackle of the Frost by Lorenzo Mattotti & Jorge Zentner (not officially out until September!)In 2011, Fantagraphics presented the extraordinary Stigmata, a stunning display of Mattotti’s whirling, emotional, black and white linework, as well as his painted illustrations for Lou Reed’s The Raven. The Crackle of the Frost ups the visual ante even on those masterpieces, combining the narrative drive of the former with the lush color illustrations of the latter to create a graphic-novel masterpiece with panel after panel of sumptuous full-color paintings.
• Dal Tokyo by Gary Panter (not officially out until August!)Gary Panter began imagining Dal Tokyo, a future Mars that is terraformed by Texan and Japanese workers, as far back as 1972, appropriating a friend’s idea about “cultural and temporal collision” (the “Dal” is short for Dallas).
• Is that All There Is? (softcover) by Joost Swarte (not officially out until September!) Under Swarte’s own exacting supervision, Is That All There Is? collects virtually all of his alternative comics work from 1972 to date, including the RAW magazine stories that brought him fame among American comics aficionados in the 1980s.
• Jewish Images in the Comics by Fredrik StrömbergJewish Images in the Comics showcases more than 150 comic strips, comic books and graphic novels from all over the world, stretching over the last five centuries and featuring Jewish characters and Jewish themes.
• Love and Rockets: New Stories #5 by Gilbert & Jaime Hernandez(not officially out until September!) In Jaime's story “Crime Raiders International Mobsters and Executioners,” Tonta comes to visit for a weekend and sees what kind of life the Frog Princess is living with Reno and Borneo. On the other-brother side, Gilbert celebrates the 30th anniversary by bringing one of his current characters (“Killer,” granddaughter to the legendary Luba) into the Palomar milieu.
• Sexytime: The Post-Porn Rise of the Pornoisseur edited by Jacques Boyreau(not officially out until August!) An oversized coffee table book celebrating the art of the 1970s porn movie poster, Sexytime collects over a hundred of the most outrageously over-the-top porn movie posters of the era. It includes “classics” like The Sex-Ray Machine, Candy Goes to Hollywood, and The Senator’s Daughter starring such ’70s porn stalwarts as Annie Sprinkle, John Holmes, and Seka.
• Tales Designed to Thrizzle #8 by Michael KuppermanBreak out your crayons as Red Warren, "America's Grandpa," brings you his highly educational "Train & Bus Coloring Book." The guests at a sophisticated weekend party sure get nervous when a certain mystery writer shows up on her goat. Learn the story of French national hero Bertrand de Copillon, a.k.a. "The Scythe." And originally serialized in the Washington City Paper and online at Fantagraphics.com, the true story of the first lunar mission, "Moon 69." All this and more in the eighth and final issue of the series that changed the face of comic book humor, Tales Designed to Thrizzle!
• Significant Objects edited by Joshua Glenn & Rob WalkerSignificant Objects began in 2009 as a bold online inquiry into the relationship between narrative and the value of everyday objects. It has been the subject of speculation by everyone from NPR to litbloggers to The New York Times’ Freakonomics crew. A collection of one hundred Significant Objects stories is published in this hardcover volume.
• No Straight Lines: Four Decades of Queer Comicsedited by Justin Hall Queer cartooning encompasses some of the best and most interesting comics of the last four decades, with creators tackling complex issues of identity and a changing society with intelligence, humor, and imagination. This book celebrates this vibrant artistic underground by gathering together a collection of excellent stories that can be enjoyed by all.
• Jack Davis: Drawing American Pop Culture - A Career Retrospective by Jack Davis Jack Davis arrived on the illustration scene in the euphoric post-war America of the late 1940s when consumer society was booming and the work force identified with commercial images that reflected this underlying sense of confidence and American bravado. Jack Davis: Drawing American Pop Culture is a gigantic, unparalleled career-spanning retrospective, between whose hard covers resides the greatest collection — in terms of both quantity and quality — of Jack Davis’ work ever assembled!
• Wandering Son Vol. 3 by Shimura Takako; edited and translated by Matt Thorn As shown in the first two volumes of this acclaimed series, Shuichi and his friend Yoshino have a secret: Shuichi is a boy who wants to be a girl, and Yoshino is a girl who wants to be a boy. After an unhurried, almost leisurely buildup that gave us an opportunity to get to know and understand our protagonists, artist Shimura picks up the pace in this latest volume, with tears and laughs aplenty. A sophisticated work translated with rare sensitivity by veteran translator and comics scholar Matt Thorn.
• Castle Waiting Vol. II #17 by Linda MedleyLinda Medley continues to gather loose ends and drop new hints in this new issue of the beloved series. Chess has a surprising revelation about the identity of baby Pinter's father — could it be tied in with the war? The Hammerlings Dayne & Tolly bid farewell to the castle, but not before leaving behind a surprise gift which Rackham discovers later (along with the strange gift Dr. Fell left in an earlier issue). Sister Peace has a tete-a-tete with the demon Leeds regarding religious artifacts — did you know demons collect them? Simon struggles with his reading lessons until Jain helps him have a breakthrough. And Jain faces off with the castle ghost!
• Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons by Flannery O'Connor; edited by Kelly Gerald Flannery O’Connor: The Cartoons, the first book devoted to the author’s work in the visual arts, emphasizes O’Connor’s most prolific period as a cartoonist, drawing for her high school and college publications in the early 1940s. Her cartoons are a creative threshing floor for experimenting and trying out techniques that are deployed later with such great success in her fiction.
• God and Science: Return of the Ti-Girls byJaime Hernandez Originally serialized in Love and Rockets: New Stories, “Ti-Girls Adventures” managed to be both a rollickingly creative super-hero joyride. Aside from being presented in a large format that really displays Jaime Hernandez’s stunning art, God and Science will be a “director’s cut” version that includes a full 30 new pages in addition to the original 100-page epic, including four new full-color faux Ti-Girls covers, several expansions of scenes, an epilogue set back in Maggie’s apartment, and a long fantasy/timewarp sequence that draws the focus back on Penny’s awful predicament.
Seeing is believing! After a loooooooooong wait we're extremely excited to finally be able to hold Gary Panter's Dal Tokyo in our hands as our advance copies were delivered late last week. This green monster (measuring over 16" wide) collects the long-running punk/sci-fi strip in all its confounding visual and verbal richness in one giant volume. We're looking forward to showing you more — stay tuned for our full set of previews. The book is scheduled to hit stores in September — if you buy it via our mail-order you can be among the first to get it if you pre-order now.
Fantagraphics is heading over to the mighty 2012 MoCCA Fest this weekend, with so much awesomeness in store for you all! Visit us this Saturday, April 28th and Sunday, April 29th at the Lexington Avenue Armory in New York City!
First off, take a look at all the debuts we're bringing! Many of these books won't be in stores for several more months, and copies are limited, so make our table your first stop:
Find all of this, and even more, at the Fantagraphics booth, located at our usual spot at #J1, J2, K1, K2:
And hey! Check out these panels!
Saturday, April 28th
12:15 pm // With Nicolas Mahler and Tom Gauld: Brian Heater interviews two artists; Tom Gauld of Scotland, and Nicolas Mahler of Austria. (Room B)
1:15 pm // Checklist for a New Comic: A Guide to Getting Started: In this brief seminar, Jessica Abel and Matt Madden will walk you through the many considerations you should keep in mind when you embark on a new comic of any kind. Abel and Madden will help you strategize and come up with a working plan for your next project, and will cover: creative block and coming up with ideas; choosing a format and platform that makes sense; setting goals and scheduling your time so that you can reach them; finding an audience and looking for collaborators and/or publishers. So bring some paper and be ready to take notes on your next big (or small) project! (Room B)
3:15 pm // Hans Rickheit in Conversation: Brian Heater takes on Hans Rickheit -- musician, performance artist, cartoonist. (Room B)
3:15 pm // A Nordic Roundtable with Fredrik Strömberg (SE), Peter Madsen (DK), Kaisa Leka (FI), Bendik Kaltenborn (NO) and Mattias Elftorp: The comics culture of northern Europe is brimming with energy, talent and innovation, among other things visible in the new anthology Kolor Klimax from Fantagraphics. Come and meet some of the Nordic artists present at MoCCA. (Room A)
5:15 pm // Carousel with Michael Kupperman, Domitille Collardey, Shannon Wheeler, Leslie Stein, Lauren Weinstein and R. Sikoryak: Live comics brought to life by cartoonists and a team of talented voice actors. With voices by Julie Klausner, Dave Hill, Scott Adsit. (Room A)
Sunday, April 29th
2:00 pm // A Discussion with Josh Neufeld and Shannon Wheeler: These two creators interview one another about their work in comics, especially as it relates to their approaches to documenting tragedy on the Gulf Coast. (Room B)
Be sure to drop by tables #J1, J2, K1, K2 to say hi to Jacq, Kristy, who is making her MoCCA debut, and Jen, the latest addition to the Fantagraphics Marketing team! See you at MoCCA!
Today's (and yesterday's when it was slow) Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: "The Dutch artist and designer Joost Swarte has a tremendous reputation among cartoon-art aficionados, given his tiny body of comics work. The answer to the title of his 40-year retrospective, Is That All There Is?, is: 'Pretty much, yeah.'... Plot is beside the point. Swarte is more concerned with formal purity, and with making the deep structures of cartooning visible. He pares his art to mechanical, hard-edged vectors and curves: caricature triple-distilled into symbolic visual shorthand, with every line canted just so. His geometrically precise, nearly architectural drawings are the bridge between the Tintin creator Hergé and contemporary artists like Chris Ware, who wrote this volume’s foreword." – Douglas Wolk, The New York Times
• Review: "Now we're talkin'! The first two volumes in Fantagraphics' Steve Ditko Archives (edited by Blake Bell) were rewarding collections of the offbeat auteur's early work, and among the best archival books of horror comics published in the last several years. But in volume 3, a.k.a. Mysterious Traveler, we see Ditko's lunacy reach its full maturation... The bold dynamism and moody linework that would characterize Ditko's Spider-Man and Dr. Strange work just a few years later, as well as his horror tales for Creepy and Eerie, is in evident throughout.... Volume 3 is essential for classic horror comics fans, and further cements Ditko's reputation as an artist without peer." – Joseph McCabe, FearNet
• Review: "Kevin Avery has compiled an incredibly thorough account of one of folk and rock music’s most important critics of the 20th Century: Paul Nelson. Avery reveals Paul Nelson as not just a music critic, but also a true writer who loved his subject matter possibly more than anything else. After reading, I felt that I knew more about Nelson than simply his life’s accomplishments—I knew him as the man he was: an observer who secluded himself with his books, film and music." – SLUG Magazine
• Review: "Madcap university mystery. Girl detective Judy Drood, with the hapless Kasper Keene, investigates the disappearances of girls on campus. Beautiful young women (some dressed like pirates), monstrous old men (some of them professors), photography, a puppet, and a misguided quest for eternal youth all figure in.... The dark edge in Sala’s other work is fully expressed here [in Mad Night]. The book is incredibly violent (though the dark, woodcut-like art makes it feel absurd). Here’s a body count by how victims meet their end..." – Gene Ambaum, The Unshelved Book Club
• Plug: "Published three years ago in an indie porn comic, Josh Simmons’ 'Cockbone' remains a high water mark for today’s horror comic.... The Furry Trap will collect that story, along with ten others being described by the publisher as 'hard-edged horror.' You already know if you can handle this stuff, so if you can, it’s time to start counting days. Eli is, most definitely, coming." – Tucker Stone, "Flavorpill's 10 Most Anticipated Comics Releases, April-July 2012"
• Plug: "While it’s a bit of an exaggeration to call Dal Tokyo Panter’s lost masterpiece, it certainly hasn’t been the easiest thing to come by. That’s to be the case for anything that’s serialized over the course of multiple years, multiple publications, and two different continents. Thankfully, the entire book has finally found a home at Fantagraphics, and those of us without access to early-’80s copies of the LA Reader can finally experience 'a future Mars that is terraformed by Texan and Japanese workers' as only Gary Panter — one of the most influential cartoonists alive — can provide. For some of us, this book has been a long time coming." – Tucker Stone, "Flavorpill's 10 Most Anticipated Comics Releases, April-July 2012"
• Interview (Audio): Yesterday's Pat Thomas radio guest spot to discuss and spin Listen, Whitey! on The Hear and Now on Berkeley's listener-powered KPFA can be streamed from their website for another couple of weeks
• Analysis (Video):At his blog, Paul Hornschemeier shares video of two "talks given during my recent graphic novelist's residency at Thurber House in Columbus, Ohio. Tammy Birk (Professor of English, Otterbein University) discusses themes in Mother, Come Home while Ryan Jordan (Department of Philosophy, The Ohio State University) examines the nature of paradoxes in general, using Zeno's paradoxes in The Three Paradoxes as a launching point."
• Analysis: At where else but The Hooded Utilitarian: "'Lightning Only Strikes Twice Once, Y'Know': Phallic Mothers, Fetishism, and Replacement in the Comics of Los Bros Hernandez," Part I (focusing on Gilbert's work) and Part II (focusing on Jaime), by Eric Berlatsky