Los Angelinos and animation aficionados rejoice, as Cinefamily presents a tribute to the great Gene Deitch on Tuesday July 6, 2010 at 8 PM, hosted by Jerry Beck and featuring a rare U.S. appearance (he lives in Prague don't you know) by Gene himself! They'll be screening shorts from throughout Gene's career, including the Oscar-winner Munro, with a Q&A afterward. More info & tickets here.
• Review: "Over the last few decades, Jim Woodring has been drawing a series of wordless, blissfully cruel slapstick fables, set in a world of grotesque entities and psychedelic minarets: half unshakable nightmare, half Chuck Jones cartoon filtered through the Bhagavad Gita. Weathercraft... flows so smoothly and delightfully from each image to the next that it’s easy to ignore that it has its own idea of sense, which may not jibe with anybody else’s." – Douglas Wolk, The New York Times
• Review: "For those who find the work involving enough, Weathercraft will resonate with them on some emotional level — there's moments that unnerve, moments that touch — and while it is an immersive experience, the comic, especially in its hardcover form, operates most like a testimony of events. It's a comic, through and through, but it hews closer to a religious tome than it does a Love & Rockets installment." – Tucker Stone, comiXology
• Review: "It’s better to experience Woodring’s work than to try and understand it. Weathercraft focuses on Frank’s frequent nemesis Manhog — a representative of humanity at its morally weakest — as he goes through multiple stages of degradation on his way to almost achieving a higher consciousness. The humanoid mongrel Frank hangs around the edges of the story with his loyal pets, but Weathercraft is mainly about how Manhog — and by extension the reader — sees how sick, freaky, and beautiful the world can be… [Grade] A-" – The A.V. Club
• Review: "Megan Kelso is best known for elegant, small-scale comics... with a historical or memoiristic bent. So it’s surprising and wonderful that Artichoke Tales, her first novel-length work, is the sort of world-building fantasy story that comes with a family tree and a map on its endpapers. ... Kelso’s ligne claire artwork is consistently sweet and airy, depicting blobby, dot-eyed characters whose body language says as much as their words. The approach provides a likable surface for a story with much darker and stickier depths, about a land whose cultural heritage is rotting away in the aftermath of a civil war." – Douglas Wolk, The New York Times
• Review: "South African comic book writer/artist Joe Daly’s Dungeon Quest: Book One takes a hilariously askew look at the madness of fantasy quest games. ...[R]eaders with a high tolerance for absurdity and a healthy sense of humor about the subject matter will probably love what's on offer here." – Matt Staggs, Suvudu
• Review: "Watching [Wally] and his equally gangly, geometric cohorts stretch and sprint and smash their way across Hensley's brighly colored backgrounds and block-lettered sound effects is like reading your favorite poem — or even... Wally Gropius itself — as translated into a language with a totally different alphabet. ... And wonder of wonders, the book finds its own way to be really funny amid all these highfalutin hijinks..." – Sean T. Collins, Attentiondeficitdisorderly
• Review: "[Wally Gropius] has quickly become one of my favorite graphic novels. ... The comic is too odd to be described as 'commentary.' It seems far more synthetic than parodic: it blends recognizable influences into something truly new... The plot of Wally Gropius has been described as surreal or random, but it’s coherent and far more complex than I first thought... The book is an encyclopedia of cartoony facial expressions and bodily gestures, and should be studied at the CCS as such. WG radiates a real sense of joy, of 'cartooning unfettered.' ... Hensley is one of the best, and most idiosyncratic, writers of text in comics." – Ken Parille, Blog Flume
• Review: "[Daniel] Clowes isn’t as zany as he used to be, so there’s a void to be filled here, and Wally Gropius does that ably: The hardcover collects Hensley’s Gropius stories from the anthology seriesMome (with a little extra material thrown in), and his immaculate, vaguely ’50s style owes as much to Mort Walker, Archie Comics, and other vintage teen-humor strips as it does to Clowes. ... [Grade] B" – The A.V. Club
• Review: "...Captain Easy follows a mysterious agent-for-hire as he travels exotic lands, battling bad guys. ...Crane’s art is stunning, combining simple cartoony figures with richly detailed backgrounds in clever, colorful layouts. It isn’t even necessary to read the dialogue or captions to follow the action; just scan Crane’s dynamic lines, which make every panel look like a unique work of pop art… [Grade] A-" – The A.V. Club
• Review: "I was pretty excited when I found out that Fantagraphics was publishing an anthology of The Best American Comics Criticism. ... Editor Ben Schwartz did a great job selecting pieces that comprise a vibrant narrative of the industry. From graphic novels with literary aspirations to comics about capes, the breadth of content in here is really fantastic. ... But of all the essays in the book, only one is written by a woman. That’s a big let down." – Erin Polgreen, Attackerman
• Plug: "Drew Friedman is the master American caricaturist of our time. Not only are his portraits of the famous so realistic, they induce double takes, but he also captures truths about personality and draws out (pun intended) the funny in everyone." – Michael Simmons, LA Weekly
• Plug:G4 drops a nice mention of "the ongoing and lovingly assembled Complete Peanuts series" in their review of the Snoopy Flying Ace game for Xbox 360
• Interview:Comics Comics' Nicole Rudick sat Al Columbia down for his most candid and revealing interview ever: "So, yeah, I can still draw Pim and Francie. They’re a lot of fun to draw. Almost too much fun. You start to get intoxicated working on them. It’s like, 'This is too much fun. This shouldn’t be allowed. This shouldn’t be legal.' I always put it aside because it just gets me too . . . they’re very intense and fun and maybe fun upsets me."
• Interview:The Daily Cross Hatch's Brian Heater concludes his conversation with Gene Deitch: "I hate the term '2D.' That’s bullshit. They put us in that category. They say they’re making 3D. They’re not 3D. What Pixar does is not 3D because it’s shaded. The screen is flat. It’s a flat picture. It’s just an illusion."
• Profile: Taylor Dungjen of University of Cincinnati student newspaper The News Record profiles U of C faculty member C. Tyler: "You might say Tyler is a proud American. You might even call her a patriot. She says she is a liberal hippie chick who supports American troops."
• Review: "Whether you love the swords and sorcery genre, high adventure, romance, or any or all of the above, Hal Foster’s early work on Prince Valiant is well worth reading. ... Fantagraphics has done a remarkable job remastering these strips, which, thanks to the use of original proof sheets and advances in printing technology, are even brighter and crisper than when they were first published 70 years ago. This second volume from Fantagaphics is due to ship in June 2010." – James Henry, Mid-Ohio-Con
• Review: "In form, content and effect, [Muzzlers, Guzzlers and Good Yeggs] is a hell of a book. Coleman's intricate line drawings capture phantasmagorical scenes of horror and pathos, mixing nightmares with satire and surreal portraiture. There a strange and powerful sense of vitality at play, and a feeling of obsession mixed with a furious sort of joy." – Oliver Ho, PopMatters
• Plug:New York magazine places Wally Gropius by Tim Hensley well on the "brilliant" side of their Approval Matrix, says reading it "is like taking acid during a time-machine trip to the sixties."
• Interview:The Daily Cross Hatch's Brian Heater continues his conversation with Gene Deitch: "When it rained, we had to shove the drawings under our coats and run from one room to another. But it was exciting. We really felt we were pioneers, no question about it. These people were very intelligent and were very cultured in art."
• Review: "In reviewing Jaime Hernandez's Penny Century, I could point to the frenetic pace of many of the stories; the cute, odd, and endearing sort of strangeness spawned in this lightly magical universe; or even the beautiful art, which is truly the mark of this master cartoonist. But, no, I am going to hype the very first story, 'Whoa Nellie,' beyond anything else in this fantastic volume. ... Such a wonderful, and grounded, story is a nice start-off point for the still compelling, yet far stranger and sexier, tales that follow. Soup to nuts, this is a great book." – Jeremy Nisen, Under the Radar
• Reviews: The new episode of Easy Rider, the radio show for "rock, punk rock, country, power pop, garage and comics" from Radio PFM out of Arras in northern France, features High Soft Lisp by Gilbert Hernandez and Penny Century by Jaime Hernandez among their Comics of the Week
• Review: "R. Kikuo Johnson's debut graphic novel, Night Fisher, is a compelling yet unsentimental coming of age story. It’s a portrait of awkward adolescence on the cusp of adulthood illustrated with the darker, more realistic tones of teenage life. Night Fisher is filled with bold artwork, psychological intricacies, and mature depictions of immature actions. ... R. Kikuo Johnson has proven himself as a masterful storyteller in his first graphic novel." – Steve Ponzo, Multiversity Comics (via ¡Journalista!)
• Interview: The Los Angeles Times' Noelene Clark questions Tim Hensley about Wally Gropius: "I did grow up in sort of a show business family, so I was continually in an environment of going places where a lot of people were famous, and I was sort of tagging along. I had the idea of somebody who is continually mistaken for someone really famous, but actually has nothing to do with that."
• Interview:The Daily Cross Hatch's Brian Heater continues his conversation with Gene Deitch: "Terr’ble Thompson was a style I adapted for that comics strip. I wanted something that looked like a comic strip, was a little ahead—something that had the UPA influence. ... Of course, if you’ve seen my other book, The Cat on a Hot Tin Groove, my jazz cartoons, that’s a completely different style. I’m used to working in all different styles. I don’t want people to say, 'this is in Gene Deitch’s style.' I want to do everything."
• Review: "Operating in the territory of Rube Goldberg, Wolverton's convoluted plans for achieving his ludicrous goals [in The Culture Corner] rely less on mousetrap-like technical gewgaws than the artist's signature grotesques, which are laugh-out-loud joy. While a must-have for Wolverton completists, even newcomers will find the humor readily accessible." – Publishers Weekly
• Review: "Just what is Dash Shaw on? And may I please have some? ...The Unclothed Man in the 35th Century A.D. [is] an anything-goes anthology quite attractively packaged by Fantagraphics Books, right down to the transparent, animation-cel-esque jacket. ... Yeah, [the title story] is different. Yeah, it’s awesome. ... Much of Unclothed Man is stunning..." – Rod Lott, Bookgasm
• Review: Thanks to our Twitter follower Tim Leng for the following alert: "Awesomely positive review of The Art of Jaime Hernandez (and L&R in general) on BBC 6music this afternoon!" For a limited time the show is streaming here (click on Tuesday)
• Plug: At EarlyWord, Robin Brenner singles out Weathercraft by Jim Woodring as one of "the most artful finds" at TCAF
• Interview: Greek site Comicdom presents a brief Q&A, in Engish, with Peter Bagge: "Almost all my story ideas are based on people and events from real life. Truth is always stranger than fiction."
• Interview:The Daily Cross Hatch presents the first of a 4-part talk with Gene Deitch: "It’s really bad to look back on the communist time with nostalgia [laughs]. There was a downside. But the animation studio here was kind of a Shangri-La. First of all, nobody in the communist hierarchy had any idea what we were doing or how, but they knew it was popular and they left us alone."
• Review: "[Dan Nadel:] Reading Pim & Francie is an apocalyptic experience — as if Columbia is demolishing both his own work and the idea of 'cartooning' in general. I found it exhilarating and terrifying. ... [Tim Hodler:] ...The fact that so many of these grotesque stories and vignettes don't really resolve contributes to the reader's growing sense of unease. ... Al Columbia's comics... really bring out the surreal terror already buried within cartoon imagery. ... [Frank Santoro:] Pim and Francie's adventure struck a chord in me that's been dormant for a long time. A haunting wonder, perhaps? A curiosity of the unknown that, when found, rattles one to the core?" – Comics Comics critics' roundtable
• Video: Visa denial (for shame!) forced Gene Deitch to deliver his keynote address to China's Xiamen International Animation Festival by video; Cartoon Brew shares the clip along with the text of the speech Gene would have given in person
• Hooray for (the French equivalent of) Hollywood: Comix 411 takes a look at Luc Besson's in-production film adaptation of Jacques Tardi's Adèle Blanc-Sec (which Kim flogged about a few weeks ago); for the Francophones among you, TF1 has some behind-the-scenes video footage
Fifty years ago today Gene Deitch arrived in Prague for a "temporary" gig that stretched into five decades (thanks to the intervention of true love). The English-language weekly The Prague Post caught up with Gene this week to get the story as the anniversary approached. (Photo: Walter Novak/The Prague Post)
I've run out of time again! Hopefully we'll finally be caught up with our Online Commentary & Diversions tomorrow. For now, here's a few links that were sent to me:
• Review: "...Low Moon is the best work I’ve seen from [Jason] yet... I don’t care that 'Emily Says Hello' is illustrated fiction, because it deserves to be on any year-end list of 2009’s finest crime stories, no matter what the format... One and all, these are excellently told tales from a unique talent." - Rod Lott, Bookgasm
• Review: "[Nell] Brinkley was praised for her writing (it’s easy to see why: overblown, yet so satisfying; maybe the only word to describe it is 'delicious') but her drawings made her famous. Each one is an orgiastic, atmospheric feast for the eye... The Brinkley Girls is a tantalizing primer, and a perfect summer read." - Macy Halford, The New Yorker
• Oddity: Dull Tool Dim Bulb has the story of the Gene Deitch-John Lee Hooker connection -- although they misidentify Gene as Czech (he merely lives in Prague) and as the creator of Krazy Kat (he animated George Herriman's creation) so perhaps some of the other details of the story are suspect as well...
Your Online Commentary & Diversions for the first day of June '09:
• Review: "Holy cats!... Wolverton's illustrations [in The Wolverton Bible], done in the same unmistakable, stippled style that characterized his grotesqueries, show off the grim, the violent, and the destructive in the Old Testament, putting the blood and guts in the spotlight. The result is like no illustrated Bible you've ever seen... This is a side of Wolverton I never suspected, but it is perfectly him, humorous, grisly, mad and wonderful." - Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing
• Review/Profile: "...Unlovable by Esther Pearl Watson... was for me like discovering a nugget of gold in a sieve! ...really original and fun." - Lezinfo (translated from French)
• Review: "With great candor and wit, [Peter] Bagge tackles [the] issues... in Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me, a collection of his strips from Reason Magazine. As in his previous works like Hate and The Bradleys, Bagge deftly manages to simultaneously anger and amuse the reader with his intensely personal stories about larger topical issues." - Rick Klaw, The SF Site: Nexus Graphica
• Review: "...[T]he comics in this collection [of Blazing Combat] are astounding... The art is reproduced from 'the original printer’s films,' so the work is clear and detailed, with the washes and shading providing depth and a feeling of realism... The stories are still timely." - Johanna Draper Carlson, Comics Worth Reading
• Interview: The Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon talks to Bob Fingerman about his latest projects, including Connective Tissue. Sample quote: "I think if I did nothing but comics, I would end up hating comics. For a while there I was actually beginning to hate comics."
• Interview: Robot 6's Tim O'Shea talks to Supermen! editor Greg Sadowski about the collection of Golden Age hero stories. Sample quote: "I never liked those 'Archive' editions where they bleach out the old colors and replace them with modern coloring methods printed on glossy paper. That whitewashes all the distinction out of those vintage books and transforms them into a cloyingly slick and artificial product."
• Video: From Paul Hornschemeier's blog: "Via Tuono Pettinato on Facebook: A Peanuts documentary (broken into 5 parts on YouTube) where Charles Schulz discusses the making of the animated Peanuts and the role of music. It's great footage, and makes me miss Schulz's genius all the more."
Between being a father myself and having a preternatural predilection for nostalgia, I can relate to this short piece in the New Yorker all too well, although unlike that writer, it's no surprise to me that the great Gene Deitch is the missing link uniting it all.
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