The longest, unabridged edition of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review: The Village Voice is almost hospitalized while reading Michael Kupperman's Tales Designed to Thrizzle Vol. 2. "Kupperman heaps absurdity upon absurdity…The result is a jubilant rococo, the strips all thrilling ornamentation…No exaggeration: I coughed hot soup out of my nose while reading the new hardbound volume of deadpan dadaist Michael Kupperman…" states Alan Scherstuhl.
• Review: Comic Book Resources looks at Tales Designed to Thrizzle Vol. 2 by Michael Kupperman. Brian Cronin loves the Moon 69 story. "The devolution of the ads as the story continues might be my favorite part…The second collection of Kupperman’s individual Thrizzle issues JUST came out and it includes [Moon 69]! So go buy it, dammit!"
• Review:Tales Designed to Thrizzle Vol. 2byMichael Kuppermanshines at The AV Club. "Kupperman's work only gets funnier when read in bulk... Kupperman's comics take pre-existing popular culture-TV shows, advertising, other comics-and tweak them just a little until they become hilariously absurd," states Noel Murray.
• Review: Glen Weldon reviews The Comics Journal #302 on New Republic, exclusively the Maurice Sendak interview conducted by Gary Groth. "Why on earth would I want to read 100 pages of caustic carping? Because Sendak is funny. Deeply, passionately so. Read in full, Sendak’s zingers lose their venom and evince a sincere and surprising warmth. He comes off as bitter, but not embittered—a fine distinction, perhaps, but a real one."
• Plug:USA Today's Pop Candy mentions TCJ #302. "This week I've been reading the wonderful (and massive) issue No. 302, which contains a huge Maurice Sendak tribute as well as his final interview"
• Revew: Chris Estey of KEXP writes on some of our new titles like The Comics Journal #302, edited by Gary Groth, Kristy Valenti and Michael Dean. "Probably my favorite single issue magazine of 2013, it is actually a freakily-elevated edition of the long-running only-trustable trade magazine devoted to comics…it gives us a chance to sample the gamut of an ever-evolving and surprisingly inspiring art-form."
• Revew: Chris Estey of KEXP reviews our newest book of music criticism The Grammar of Rockby Alexander Theroux. "Ripping through this hilarious rage on banality and unexpected pleasures I thought, they don’t make writers like this anymore…Drop that boring band biography and fetch this, if only for the mountains of lists of rarely-heard missing gems he has sampled and tasted beforehand for you."
• Review: Pop Matters has to tune into The Grammar of Rock by Alexander Theroux. John L. Murphy writes, "Naturally, the fun of The Grammar of Rock lies in its acerbic prose as well as its aesthetic insight…You’ll either laugh or you won’t. I laughed."
• Review:Washington Independent Review of Books also looks at Alexander Theroux's The Grammar of Rock. "Reading Alexander Theroux’s The Grammar of Rock is like hitching a ride with a suspiciously awake truck driver who talks endlessly for hours…All in all, this book is a very cold love letter," says DJ Randy Cepuch.
• Plug: Wired runs 10 sketches by Janet Hamlin featured in her upcoming book,Sketching Guantanamo. Hamlin remembers sketching Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, "He would turn and pose — a deliberate turn, facing me, holding very steady."
• Review:Julio's Day by Gilbert Hernandez gets reviewed on on The AV Club. "Julio's Day(Fantagraphics) is as much about what's not on the page as what is...Fashions, mores, and technologies change; but desires and disappointments do not," writes Noel Murray.
• Review:Nerds of a Feather give an outstanding rating and review a recent reprint of Jack Jackson's work. Philippe Duhart writes, "Los Tejanos and Lost Cause are the products of serious historical research, and as such they are clear exhibitions of comics' potential as a viable media for academic and journalistic work…I appreciate that Johnson sticks with the perspective of the “losers” -- Juan Seguin's struggles against racism following Texas’ rebellion and Texan Confederates' struggle to regain a sense of honor following the defeat of their cause."
• Review:Fingers on Blast reads Linda Medley's Castle Waiting Vol. 1. "The tales weave their way together seamlessly thanks to Medley's art. There is no simple way to describe it, but to say it draws you ever deeper into the story."
• Revew: Chris Estey of KEXP writes on some of our new titles Peter Bagge's Other Stuffwhich" features Bagge doing some sharp-witted journalism (on comedy festivals, especially) and historical stories…it is an electric, howlingly funny, bona-fide classic mangle of manic music history, prickly satire, and perfectly rendered cartooning."
• Review:Novi Magazine picks apart feminist storytelling in Moto Hagio's The Heart of Thomas. "While Thomas depicts male characters, Hagio codes femininity into every element of the story, with every effort towards drawing in her assumedly female audience…" writes Dan Morrill.
•Review:BookDragon plugs The Heart of Thomas by Moto Hagio. "…it’s certainly proved its lasting effects. Never mind the rockets, sometimes turbulent feelings can take you much, much further…" writes Terry Hong.
• Plug:Comics Forge is looking foward to The Adventures of Jodelle by Guy Peellaert as much as we are! "This was one of the trend setting 1960’s comics that you will see echoed worldwide during that time and when this style of pop art was raging as the most important thing since sex was invented…It looks like it is going to be a beautiful book, like most of the books that Fantagraphics puts out, you can feel the love."
• Review:Scoop covers Buz Sawyer Vol. 2: Sultry's Tiger by Roy Crane in one hell of a history lesson on newspaper and adventure comics. "Buz Sawyer may be the peak of the adventure strip as a genre…Crane’s ability to walk a fine line between hyper-realism while still incorporating an easy to read and understand style places him among the greats in comic history," says Mark Squirek.
• Review:Scoop covers Mort Meskin's Out of the Shadows. "He is so skilled at body language that without reading a single word you can see the kid’s enthusiasm for his grandfather’s story grow across the first three panels,"writes Mark Squirek.
• Interview: Comic Book Resources and Alex Dueben interview Tom Kacyznski about his books. Kacyznski says, "There's an easy willingness to imagine the collapse of everything instead of small changes in the political system that could fix a lot of the problems that we're having. Those kinds of themes interest me."
• Review:Beta Testing the Apocalypse by Tom Kaczynski gets a look-see on B-Sides & Rarities. Elizabeth Simins writes, "Kaczynski’s style involves a pretty dedicated commitment to setting scenes with lyrical descriptions as much as imagery, which is something I associate with the space between “regular” fiction and comics…You should read it."
• Review:Grovel reviews The Hypo by Noah Van Sciver. "It’s a surprising but fascinating insight into the psyche of a man that outsiders would normally assume to be a sort of political superhuman, but Sciver adds depth and soul to the two-dimensional image of the man with half a beard and a top hat," penned Andy Shaw.
• Review:Comic Pusher enjoys their read of Chris Wright's new book: "In Black Lung Wright presents a world of ceaseless violence and pain, his reflectively brutal cartooning interwoven with elegiac prose, with the very syntax of comic storytelling breaking down under the memory and transformative agony of loss and obsession," says Jeffrey O. Gustafson.
• Plug: Jade at D&Q Bookstore digs into Your Vigor for Life Appalls Me by R. Crumb. "The extraordinary title is only matched by the incredible insight into the iconoclast’s mind and the ultra-snazzy portrait of an early Crumb on the cover, sporting a corduroy jacket and tie…A definite must-read for any Crumb fan."
• Review:The Comics Journal digs Black is the Color by Julia Gfrörer. Sean T. Collins writes, "Gfrörer’s most moving comic to date, Black Is the Color eroticizes suffering not to glamorize it, but to endure it."
• Interview: Robin McConnell interviews Julia Gfrörer about her webcomic and soon-to-be-in-print book,Black is the Color on Inkstuds.
• Review: Comics Bulletin loves Charles Forsman's The End of the Fucking World. Geoffrey Lapid writes "Instead of allowing you to step back and look at James and Alyssa through wistful adult hindsight, Forsman's fluid and subdued linework take us right into those moments that you only understand when you're 17 years-old, proudly oblivious and doomed…James and Alyssa feel like real, substantial characters rather than simple broad strokes alluding to a deeper history."
• Interview: Ed Piskor is interviewed by Jackie Mantey for Columbus Alive during his Ohio art residency and on Hip Hop Family Tree. "The purity of intent is something that’s important to me with anything I come across," Piskor believes.
• Interview: Kelli Korducki interviews Jaime Hernandez on behalf of Hazlitt about Love and Rockets. Jaime answers, "I like the way women react to situations. Guys in a certain situation mostly try to keep it cool, keep their cover, keep things in control. With a lot of women I know, you get eight different reactions to a situation."
• Review: Jon Longhi looks at Spain Rodriguez in Having a Book Moment.Cruisin' with the Hound, a recent collection, is "it's all gang fights, hot rods, teenage mayhem and its wonderfully entertaining and beautifully illustrated."
The newest office of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review: Glen Weldon from NPR Books pontificates on the wondrous LGBT-centric graphic novels and reviewed Moto Hagio's The Heart of Thomas "…whenever the emotions roiling just under her narrative's surface threaten to overtake her characters, Hagio's otherwise exacting and detailed art goes expressively feathery at the edges, like a ghost vanishing softly into the ether."
• Review:Fantasy Book Review reviews The Heart of Thomas by Moto Hagio. "This is not an uplifting tale until at the end, but it is a very well drawn period manga that gives glimpses of what boys that age would have felt being in such an enclosed place. There is a sense of Oscar Wilde about the whole school, but that depends on your impression of the piece," writes Sandra Scholes.
• Review: Glen Weldon from NPR Books pontificates on the wondrous LGBT-centric graphic novels and reviewed Wandering Son Vol. 1 by Shimura Takako. "Takako presents their stories with admirable sensitivity and restraint.…"
• Review: Glen Weldon from NPR Books pontificates on the wondrous LGBT-centric graphic novels and reviewed No Straight Lines edited by Justin Hall. "From Stonewall and the AIDS crisis to the terrifying specter of domesticity, this clear-eyed, unsentimental collection demonstrates the extent to which, for LGBT people, the personal and the political have always bled together."
• Review:Comics Bulletin looks at The Cartoon Utopia by Ron Regé Jr. "With this book, Ron Regé has emerged as comics' answer to Walt Whitman.…Thankfully, Regé's overarching concept -- that a vivid and transcendent comic book experience is within our grasp, if we're willing -- is not a hard one to understand at all." says R.J. Ryan.
• Review:Grovel and Andy Shaw look at The Cavalier Mr. Thompson by Rich Tommaso. "The story is wonderfully told. It has the feel of a classic movie, something from a bygone era…complete with the usual cast of chancers, crooks and have-a-go heroes.…It’s a thoroughly enjoyable book, with a stunning backdrop and a deeply believable and interesting cast."
• Plug:Alan Wood asks R. Crumb about Bill Griffith. Crumb stated, "He's about the only guy in America who's doing a readable, interesting daily comic strip for daily newspapers. He' s the only one left, as far as I know. I don't know of any others."
• Review: Dutch magazine Knack Focus recently ran a review of George Herriman 's work. Kim Thompson read it, translated it in his synapse-heavy polyglottal mind and said this: "Here's a nice five-star review (in Dutch) of the gorgeous new French edition of KRAZY KAT, created from the Fantagraphics edition. The article is mostly a pocket summary of KRAZY, although it does point out that Herriman's unique approach to language have made the strip virtually untranslatable (forcing European readers to fall back on the English language versions)... until, at least for francophones, now."
Now that the mess of Halloween is swept under the rug and Thanksgiving is over or has turned into subcutaneous fat around your middle-section, we can get back to what is really important: egg nog and books to buy for your loved ones be they the birthday-celebrating Sagittarius or Capricorn in your life or for an annual wintertime holiday. Many of our books have been featured on holiday gift guides and we even have thematic releases coming out just in time for the holidays. So peruse while you finish up your holiday shopping lists. (And remember our CYBER MONDAY sale is going on RIGHT NOW for 30% off 2012 titles and more)
For the monster in you and that book to connect generations of family members, look no further than SPACEHAWK by Basil Wolverton. Cory Doctorow of Boing Boing believes "what you read it for is the character design, that amazing Wolverton grotesque that is as unmistakable as it is unforgettable. I mean to say, this guy could really draw monsters [in this] weighty tome that almost strobes with awesome."
For the completist and nostalgic fan, Publishers Weekly gift guide highlights the first three volumes of Krazy & Ignatz: Complete Sunday Strips 1916-1924 by George Herriman (for a whopping $95). PW states "One of the most admired and influential comic strips of all time, Krazy & Ignatz is collected in Krazy & Ignatz: Complete Sunday Strips 1916–1924, which contains the first nine years of George Herriman’s masterpiece into one (of three) handsome tomes."
For more strip and comic book archival collections Tom Spurgeon of The Comics Reporter suggests Walt Kelly's Pogo Vol. 1-2 Box Set. "I love the early Pogo work best of all the Pogo work, and these volumes are attractive in a way that's extremely difficult to guarantee with a post-World War 2 offering. They were cramming the strips into papers by then, making tear sheets and originals an even greater premium than is usual." A little history with your recommendation.
Speaking of historyPublishers Weekly calls it a 'good yarn,' but The Hypo by Noah Van Sciver is also for 'that person who loved the film Lincoln' as Comic Book Resources puts it. "This is an angle of Lincoln that rarely gets seen, and Van Sciver's strong plotting and detailed artwork make this an engaging and easily accessible read to any reader."
In the mood for more biographies or memoirs? Publishers Weeklysuggests No Straight Lines: Four Decades of Queer Comics, edited by Justin Hall. The NY TIMES also featured this "sampling of comic books and comic strips featuring gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender themes and characters has strong language and sexual situations, but a lot of laughs too. It is a wonderful toe dip into the genre," states George Gene Gustines.
"For the person who reads John Hodgman" cartoonist, quippest and sharpest tack on the internet block Michael Kupperman is the man for you. Rob McMonigal at Panel Patter continues, "He's the author of my favorite book of 2011, Mark Twain's Autobiography 1910-2010, as well as the Tales Designed to Thrizzle anthology series. His work features outrageous satire . . . sending Twain off on wacky hijinks with Albert Einstein. Nothing is sacred and everything is skewered by Kupperman, who is a perfect fit for the lovers of Daily Show-like comedy.
For the person who enjoys process over narrative the "punk icon Gary Panter’s angular world of neon brutalism" Dal Tokyo is the perfect gift for the 'Visual Splendor', says Publishers Weekly.
Tom Spurgeon of The Comics Reporter recommends comics for people WHO ALREADY LIKE THEM. #1 on his list is anything by The Hernandez Brothers. "They made some of the very best comics the year that Love and Rockets began; they made some of the very best comics this year." Start from the beginning with Gilbert's Palomar Series in the book Heartbreak Soup or with Jaime's Locas Series starting with Maggie the Mechanic. Is your loved one a huge fan? Get the latest book, Love and Rockets: New Stories #5.
But wait! (There's more) We also have blue spruce trimmed books for your holiday and year-long enjoyment. First up is the perfect stocking stuffer Charlie Brown's Christmas Stocking, this adorable little package collects two of Charles M. Schulz's best "extras" from the 1960s: two Christmas-themed stories written and drawn for national magazines are FINALLY collected in book form. The Comics Reporter says, "There aren't a whole lot of Charles Schulz-related items that have yet to be published; this holiday-related book is one of the few hold-outs." Charlie Brown's Christmas Stocking was also featured on The LA Times Gifts for Under $25 "Charlie, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus, Schroeder, Frieda, Violet, Shermy and Sally all make appearances, and the book also includes a pocket-sized biography of Schulz." Created in the classic square style of Charlie Brown small book collections, this book is sure to warm your hearts without the need of a glowing fire or mug of mulled cider.
Walt Disney's Donald Duck: A Christmas for Shacktown by Carl Barks is the third book in our Carl Barks Library which chronologically prints stories from this master. "A Christmas for Shacktown" is a rare 32-pager that stays within the confines of Duckburg, featuring a storyline in which the Duck family works hard to raise money to throw a Christmas party for the poor children of the city’s slums (depicted by Barks with surprisingly Dickensian grittiness). The Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon states, "I used to love the unabashed sentimentalism that saturates a story like this one, at least in the initial pages."
The rest of the book is also full of GOLD and not necessarily snow-covered. 240 pages in full-color glory make this a must-have no matter what the season. Featured on The LA Times Gifts for Under $50 "Fantagraphics has been reprinting Carl Barks’ classic Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge work, and this third volume focuses on Barks’ peak period in the early 1950s."
Finally, the second book of Ernie Bushmiller's famous strip Nancy is out for pre-order. Nancy Likes Christmas: Complete Dailies 1946-1948 is three more punny years of the fabulous life of an odd looking little girl. Order through us and you'll receive an FBI mini comic to throw in that stocking over the fireplace (be it real or the Netflix fireplace) as well. Spurgeon again, "it sounds good. I'm pro-Nancy and everything." It's kinda like being pro-education. We all agree it's a good thang.
The Psychedelic Furs dropped by Fantagraphics Bookstore on Saturday to stock up on records and comix ahead of their set at the Showbox. It was amusing to hear Chicago-born saxophonist Mars Williams, a Krazy Kat enthusiast, attempt to explain the decidedly American brickbat humor of the strip to his British bandmates. Mars graciously agreed to a photo op next to Krazy Kat book designer and fellow Chicagoan Chris Ware's Building Stories display. Thanks to the band for putting us on the guest list. Fun show (below).
• Awards: Congratulations to the great Joost Swarte, awarded the 2012 Marten Toonder Prize and its concomitant fat cash prize by the Netherlands Foundation for Visual Arts, Design and Architecture, as reported by Tom Spurgeon at The Comics Reporter
• Review (Audio):Inkstuds host Robin McConnell is joined by Paul Gravett, Joe McCulloch and Tom Spurgeon for a roundtable discussion of Cruisin' with the Hound by Spain Rodriguez and other books
• Review: "Here are the early ejaculations from the primordial form of what was to become one of the great American writers. Here is Flannery O'Connor as she is formulating her unique vision of America and all that it entails.... What value does Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons have inherently? I think the answer to that question is entirely subjective. ...I personally wish to thank Fantagraphics for going out on a limb and publishing this book, if for no other reason than to put Flannery O'Connor back into the pop culture discussion for however briefly it may be." – Daniel Elkin, Comics Bulletin
• Review: "Anyone can be grotesque and horrifying. To truly get under the skin of the audience is an ability not many have. Someone who does is Thomas Ott, and he uses his ability to the highest effect in Cinema Panopticum. ...[I]f you are looking for an unsettling horror story rendered beautifully by an expert craftsman there is no doubt this should be in your collection." – Taylor Pithers, The Weekly Crisis
• Interview (Audio): Spend 3 minutes with Michael Kupperman as Tom Gambino of Pronto Comics talks to Michael from the floor of last April's MoCCA Fest on the ProntoCast podcast
• Film Studies: At Boing Boing, Jim Woodring writes about the 1931 Fleischer Bros. short that expanded his young mind: "I might have come to grips with the overwhelming mystery of life in a rational, organic manner if it weren't for a cartoon I saw on my family's old black and white TV in the mid '50s when I was three or four years old. This cartoon rang a bell so loud that I can still feel its reverberations.... Whatever [the creators'] motivation and intent, 'Bimbo's Initiation' became my prime symbolic interpreter, the foundation of my life's path and endlessly exploding bomb at the core of my creative output."
• Commentary: "The completion of Fantagraphics's Krazy [Kat] Sunday series also means, quite possibly, the end of Krazy Kriticism — a brand of writing that, as far as I can tell, only the Kat engenders. Critic Gilbert Seldes first articulated its credo in the 1924 article 'The Krazy Kat That Walks by Himself.' After comparing Herriman to Dickens, Cervantes, and Charlie Chaplin, Seldes threw up his hands: 'It isn't possible to retell these pictures; but that is the only way, until they are collected and published, that I can give the impression of Herriman's gentle irony, of his understanding of tragedy, of the sancta simplicitas, the innocent loveliness in the heart of a creature more like Pan than any other creation of our time.' Thus did the gates open to a flood of ecstatic, mimetic writing in which every critical impulse was mercilessly drowned in gushing praise and fervent prayers to put the comics between covers." – Sarah Boxer, Los Angeles Review of Books
• Commentary: At Print magazine, Steven Brower looks at different ways comics publishers restore and present vintage comics material, including his own compilation of Mort Meskin comics, Out of the Shadows: "For the Mort Meskin collection, we hoped that a contemporary audience would rediscover him; Fantagraphic’s fresh, newly minted approach goes a long way toward achieving that."
• Review: "I mean this in the nicest possible way but self-confessed obscurist Hans Rickheit is clearly not all there in the head. ...[Folly: The Consequences of Indiscretion] is a collection of shorts from over the years, frequently featuring the same characters, in particular identical twins Cochlea & Eustachia, who inevitably get themselves into all sorts of unpleasant bother. Definitely the type of read to make you wary of opening doors when you’re not entirely sure what’s on the other side, as Hans frequently surprises his characters, and us readers, by taking you somewhere you’d never expect, nor probably want to go to." – Jonathan Rigby, Page 45
• Review: "‘Plunder Island’ is the fourth of six oversized volumes collecting all of E.C. Segar’s Popeye-era Thimble Theatre strips.... The Segar book is every bit as good as the three volumes that preceded it – brilliant cartooning and laugh-out-loud funny gags. The only difference this time around is that the Sunday strips fill the first half of the book and the dailies fill the second half (it’s usually the other way around) but otherwise it’s business as usual. I don’t have a single bad thing to say about Segar’s Popeye, and the whole book was thoroughly enjoyable..." – Rob Wells, Comics – On The Ration
• Profile: Andrew Dansby of the Houston Chronicle profiles Daniel Clowes: "Clowes describes an eerie but common sight in his studio. Since eyes are the last thing he draws when he's working, the room is full of characters without them. 'I've had other cartoonists come over, and they've told me it's pretty creepy to see all these faces with no eyes staring back,' he says. 'But that's where I can get the last 10 percent of the emotion on the page. If I get it just right, you can subtly influence any expression through the eyes more than any other feature. They're where the character comes to life.'"
• Review: "This thing [The Furry Trap] is a nightmarish monster. It's pretty great. ...[W]hat Simmons does so well -- without peer, honestly -- is smash together sweetness and nightmare. Innocence and the most vile corruption imaginable. The stories are unsettling, but Simmons takes it three steps further than many other creators in this vein and then pushes the events into exceedingly horrific territory and then shows how unsettled even the characters are, when they realize the kind of world they live in.... Yeah, this stuff is really good, in surprisingly different ways from story to story. It's a reprint collection that feels like a wonderfully terrible, vibrantly new manifesto on what comics are capable of." – Tim Callahan, Comic Book Resources
• Review: "Popeye Vol. 6: Me Li’l Swee’ Pea... is the last of the real, 'classic' Popeye volumes, meaning it’s the last batch of Popeye comics E.C. Segar did before dying of leukemia in 1938. Underscoring the tragedy is the fact that Segar’s skills hadn’t dimmed at despite his illness. The final daily storyline, King Swee’ Pea, is as strong and hilarious as Segar’s best material... This volume is also special as it contains one of the saddest sequences I’ve ever read in comics, wherein Swee’ Pea is taken from a distraught Popeye. ...I think it speaks to Segar’s genius about how verklempt this sequence still makes me." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "Krazy & Ignatz 1922-24: At Last My Drim of Life Has Come True... is the final volume in Fantagraphics’ Krazy Kat collection, though for roundabout publishing reasons, it catches the strip midway through its run. Reading this latest collection, I feel like I have a deeper appreciation for Herriman’s narration, which I always kind of saw as entertaining, but secondary to the dialogue and situations. I’m not sure why, but I feel like something 'clicked' here and another piece of the Herriman puzzle has fallen into place for me. Another great thing about this book: A whole run of Herriman’s 'Us Husbands' strip as well as some really early stuff." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "[Pogo: Vol. 1 of the Complete Syndicated Comic Strips:] Through the Wild Blue Wonder is an absolute peach of a collection; it features the typically handsome deluxe binding we’re used to from Fantagraphics and a beautiful cover, and the non-strip material within is more than enough to justify the double-sawbuck price tag.... Of course, any such collection lives and dies by the quality, readability and durability of the strips inside... [Pogo's] art... is simply breathtaking; the facial expressions and body language in these strips are often deceptively simple, but they offer a master class in how to communicate emotion and expression in cartooning.... [Kelly's] backgrounds are lovely and provide a perfect balance to the detail in the character illustrations... But what puts Pogo way, way over the top in terms of sheer audacious greatness isn’t its art, great as that is. It’s Kelly’s remarkably eclectic writing and inventive use of language that makes the strip." – Leonard Pierce, A Schediastic Hootenanny
• Commentary: "...Any Similarity to Persons Living or Dead is Coincidental... is a beautiful book, and I’ve been thinking a lot about it recently. There’s a certain brand of mean-spirited, petty humor that’s been pretty popular over the last few decades, in which the main point seems to be laughing at some celebrity or another who no longer has a thriving career. As if failing to maintain A-list status in as fickle and luck-dependent as Hollywood was a valid reason to be mocked. At first glance, some of Friedman’s work, with its cast of has-beens and never-weres, can seem to be another example of this kind of comedy, but it isn’t — most of these strips cut a lot deeper than that. The reader feels the sting and pain of failure and despair too strongly to feel superior. In other words, we’re all Rondo Hatton." – Tim Hodler, The Comics Journal
• Review: "The white rabbit who serves as our guide suggests Alice in Wonderland, but despite fantastical touches, Interiorae is much more concerned with the world as it presents itself. Intertwining the lives of the people who live in an apartment complex, it’s in some sense a book-length meditation on a rather beautiful idea, that the day-to-day lives of all the little people aren’t just worth paying attention to, but are essential to the very fabric of the spaces we inhabit. Giandelli doesn’t entirely avoid mushy sentimentality nor the excesses of an open heart — absolutely no one is deserving of even so much as mild criticism here, which feels more naive than accepting — but her feel for our inner lives, as well as a visual style that evokes the richness of life as she sees it, win out in the end." – David Berry, National Post
• Review: "Nicolas Mahler’s childishly cute drawings put an adorable face on a satire with a pretty deep cynicism with the superhero comics industry. A creation of Korporate Komics, Angelman is pink dumpling with wings, blessed with the superpowers of sensitivity, open-mindedness and being a good listener, at least until focus groups and lagging sales put him through a gritty reboot and a some deep-seated neuroses about being a second-rate hero. Mahler’s points about corporate art certainly don’t aim for subtlety, but that doesn’t make them any less true, and a droll sense of humour keeps things from getting too preachy." – David Berry, National Post
• Review: "Athos in America... is another collection of graphic novellas and graphic short stories from master of deadpan presentation Jason in the style of Low Moon, and, as with the release of all new work from Jason, a cause for celebration.... This book is chock-full of examples of Jason’s inspired appropriation of classic trash pop culture, and his repurposing of it in formally experimental (or is playful a better word?) explorations of the human experiment.... Jason’s comics are among the hardest in the world to review, as it’s difficult to say anything beyond 'Well, that was perfect' in terms of assessment, and the specific magic he works is so difficult to describe in words, and so easy to communicate by simply pointing to a random volume of his work and saying, 'Hey, check this out.'" – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Robot 6
• Review: "For a list price of $39.99... this book [Amazing Mysteries] does a wonderful job of showing off Bill [Everett]’s early work and lets us learn a lot about the man. .... Bill was an enormous talent for telling stories. Bill’s work, often as writer and artist holds up much better then many other artists from his time. This volume is a lot of fun as you can flip through it and see how much Bill played with layouts and panel design.... Bill was an amazing talent.... Bill’s style is so distinct it is often easy to tell when he did all the work. Bottom line for a good collection of a master in his early days, this book is hard to beat." – Jim Martin, Comics and... Other Imaginary Tales
• Review: "There are only a handful of rock journalists who could have a collection of their work seem like a necessity, and Paul Nelson would be at the very top of that list.... Kevin Avery's book [Everything Is an Afterthought] gathers many of Nelson's finest pieces, most for Rolling Stone magazine... As amazing as all those stories are, it's also Avery's riveting biographical chapter on Paul Nelson that really takes a sledgehammer to the soul. Weaving together the recollections of many of Nelson's peers, the portrait we're left is of a man that struggled to maintain a hold on reality, finding higher enjoyment in the world of the mind.... Paul Nelson took what was already life-changing, and the way he saw it and could speak about it, made it even more thrilling. Now we can celebrate him all over again." – Bill Bentley, The Morton Report
• Profile: The lead-in to TCAF at Canada's National Post continues with David Berry talking to Zak Sally: "His latest book, Sammy the Mouse, had an original home as part of Fantagraphics’ Ignatz series, but is now being collected and bound by Sally himself, by hand in his Minnesota studio. The world of Sammy reflects this hands-on approach: it feels immediate and lived-in, almost less like a story than a tour of Sally’s internal brain architecture, with a slight misanthropy and freewheeling visual style that recall work like Chester Brown’s Yummy Fur. 'For me, finding those first underground comics was incredible,' says Sally, who got his start reading superhero tales, but was quickly turned. 'It turned comics into something you realized you could just do yourself: just get your s–t together and do it.'"
In this month's issue of Booklist you can find reviews of three of our recent releases, excerpted below:
Amazing Mysteries: The Bill Everett Archives Vol. 1, edited by Blake Bell: "Dating from 1938–42, most [stories] feature superheroes designed to compete with the then-new Superman, such as Amazing-Man, who gained his powers from the Tibetan monks who raised him; the Flash Gordon-derived Skyrocket Steele; and Hydroman, who could transform himself into a waterspout. The stories and artwork are laughably crude by modern standards, although no more so than those in other comic books from the period. But even the earliest ones show traces of the sleek polish that would become Everett’s hallmark. By the later stories, his mature style is firmly in place, a sign that future volumes in the series will be of even greater interest." – Gordon Flagg
Krazy & Ignatz 1922-1924: At Last My Drim of Love Has Come True by George Herriman: "Herriman’s graphically dazzling, ineffably beguiling creation remains unequaled a century after its first appearance, and the 13 volumes amassing his three decades’ worth of fanciful Sunday funnies are mandatory purchases for any comics-art collection. This volume is filled out with Herriman rarities, including his first daily comic strips, from 1903, and the full run of Us Husbands, a far-more-conventional Sunday strip about married life that Herriman drew throughout 1926." – Gordon Flagg
The Sincerest Form of Parody: The Best 1950s MAD-Inspired Saritical Comics, edited by John Benson: "MAD historian Benson presents 32 stories and nine covers from the copycats fielded by nine publishers, and at the end of the book discusses them. If you read the stories before the notes and you’re a devotee of the early MAD, you’ll have recognized the imitative qualities Benson points out, such as how MAD’s Jack Davis and Bill Elder had the drawing styles that were aped, and how Elder’s habit of adding what he called chicken fat — jokey signs, bits of business going on in the background, incongruous decoration — to every panel was swallowed whole by the knockoffs. But as Benson tells us, none of the pretenders quite 'got' MAD or, more important, its nearly sole writer, Harvey Kurtzman, whose all-important 'touch' lay in his jaundiced, derisive, smart attitude toward American commercial culture. Prime Americana." – Ray Olson
• Review: "The names here are mysterious, but the book makes a good case for many of the artists to be better known, which seems to be its intent. Tommi Musturi’s 'Samuel' stories, for example, several of which are included, are colorful, wordless, and Zen-like in their focus on the here and now. Joanna Rubin Dranger’s 'Always Prepared to Die for My Child' is another highlight, with simple drawings that manage to convey a lot. And Jenni Rope’s minimalist stories, which nearly bookend the volume, are poetic and impressive.... The number of woman cartoonists is also worth noting, partially because there’s no attention called to it. Kolor Klimax is a good first offering and may well indicate a series worth revisiting." – Hillary Brown, Paste
• Review: "Between the heavy cross hatching and almost wood-carved appearance of Rickheit’s art and his fixation on the degraded physical form, Folly often looks like a Jan Svankmajer film or Tool video adapted by Geof Darrow or Jim Woodring. Rickheit’s work is visually striking... Folly is a gorgeous but uncomfortable collection best enjoyed a few pages at a time." – Garrett Martin, Paste
• Review: "Like a Velvet Glove [Cast in Iron] is an early work by a creator who will later become one of the artform's greatest creators. There are themes and moments in this book that will be revisited in Clowes's later works, and revisited in smarter and more focused ways in some of his newer and greater works. Daniel Clowes is clearly building his skillset in this book, as he works on his art style, story progression and thematic obsessions. But it's still an incredible work of art that shifted my perceptions of the world a bit as well." – Jason Sacks, Comics Bulletin
• Interview (Audio): Mike Dawson's final guest as host of The Comics Journal's "TCJ Talkies" podcast is Tim Kreider, about whom Dawson writes in his intro, "Tim has often insisted that he doesn’t consider himself a proper political cartoonist, but was only drafted into writing about current events by the lunacy of the times. It’s true that going back and re-reading Tim’s comics in the run-up to the Iraq war, is a vivid reminder of how hysterical things were at that time (not in a good way)."
• Analysis: Matt Seneca examines a 1937 Krazy Kat strip for his column at Robot 6: "This page expresses a single gem of an idea, duality of character. It’s an idea both simple and profound, perfectly suited to Herriman’s aesthetic, and the way it’s put forth is so straightforward that it’s easy to read the strip over time and again before realizing that what it achieves could only be done using the comics medium."