The saltiest sounds of the ocean's Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Interview: Dubbing them "The Four Horseman of AltComix" Sean T. Collins interviews Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez, Chris Ware and Dan Clowes all in one go onRolling Stone. What a beautiful meetup of minds. Ware says, "Well, there are better cartoonists now than there ever have been. I firmly believe that. There's some amazing work being done." While Gilbert laments the change in alt comics, "That's what was missing from alternative comics after us: The art got less and less good."
• Interview (video): George O'Connor with co-host Natalie Kim recap SPX on InkedTV, including an interview with Gilbert Hernandez, and George shows off his Love and Rockets shirt.
• Plug:Dan Clowes is interviewed on what inspires him by the NY Times : "I didn’t really listen to the Kinks growing up at all — I was just vaguely aware of them, like everybody else — so when I was in my mid-20s I bought a couple of their records, just on a whim, and got sort of obsessed with them."
• Review:Comics Alliance reviews Lorenzo Mattotti's newest collaboration The Crackle of the Frostwith Jorge Zentner. Sarah Horrocks points out,". . . what you're looking at in The Crackle of the Frost is a largely amazing new Mattotti release for North American audiences, with fantastic art that has to be seen to be believed. It is a work that is better than most of what you can get on the stands on any given Wednesday. But it's also a book that is hurt by how achingly close it gets to its own perfection."
• Review:InkedTV reviews Joe Daly's Dungeon Quest Volumes 1-3 on their new video reviews featuring Natalie Kim and George O'Connor. "You will never find a book or a series of books that is so genetalia-obssessed as this book." Take a gander at our back catalog and you might find more.
• Plug:The Comics Journal lets Philip Nel tell a bit of the tale before the legend of Crockett Johnson, from his biography on the man called Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss. Fans have their eyes on the horizon for Johnson's Barnaby, edited by Nel and Eric Reynolds. Nel writes, "But before Barnaby, there was Crockett Johnson. And before Crockett Johnson, there was David Johnson Leisk."
• Review:Broken Frontier covers King of the Flies by Mezzo and Pirus. "King Of The Flies by Mezzo & Pirus is one hell of a hardcore comic. It is noir on acid, dark and unrelenting. It is one of the most thorough examinations of the cimmerian darkness the human species can dwell on and it will hit you square in the chest." But what about Book 2? "King Of The Flies 2 : Origin Of The World is maybe even better than its original and though it bears the number 2 it can just as well be read on its own."
• Profile: Esteemed underground comix historian Patrick Rosenkranz at The Comics Journal: "Spain Rodriguez acknowledges that age hasn’t necessarily brought wisdom, but it does help him appreciate his youthful adventures more, especially the unique experience of growing up in Buffalo, New York in the 1950s, which he portrays in his latest book,Cruisin' with the Hound.... This new volume from Fantagraphics Books tells more about his childhood, the guys and girls in his neighborhood, early encounters with sex, religion, and science fiction, and the birth of rock and roll." Sample quote from Spain: "Each moment is unique. That’s the thing about comics. If affords you the potential to be able to capture that moment, probably more than anything else. It has certain objective and subjective potentiality. It’s something that nobody else can do. Each person is unique, each person sees things in their individual way and comics give you that opportunity."
• Review: "A book with 400 pages of Alex Toth comics is a dream come true. Toth is one of the early greats of comics. Many of the golden age and early silver age comic artists made drawings that were charmingly crude, but there were a few supergeniuses among them. Alex Toth's art is obviously a cut above a lot of his peers. His understanding of how to use areas of black is unequaled. Cartoonists like Frank Miller and Charles Burns, who really like to use as much black as possible, owe a lot to Toth as a guy who really broke new ground in blacking it up. If you want to learn something about shading and composition you go get this book [Setting the Standard] and just black out." – Nick Gazin, VICE
• Review: "I still like looking at Ditko's stuff and think his work is valid. He's not a great drawer but he is clearly full of intense feelings and a lot of rage. Although his actual rendering skills aren't as strong as someone like Toth his ideas, feelings, and visual concepts are strong. This book [Mysterious Traveler] collects various sci-fi and horror comics he drew that are all pretty fun to look at and have neat visual ideas littered throughout." – Nick Gazin, VICE
• Review: "[Glitz-2-Go] deals with feeling unattractive and dressing kinda like a drag queen and being dissatisfied with relationships. The Didi Glitz comics were produced at a time when doing art about the hidden perversions of the 50s was big. Pee Wee Herman, Blue Velvet, John Waters, a lot of stuff Devo did — it all fits in with this book." – Nick Gazin, VICE
• Interview: At PSFK, an excerpt of Rob Walker talking about Significant Objects in Need to Know Magazine: "People value and are attracted to stories, and this often plays out in the world of objects. What we tried to do is take that observation in a different direction. Instead of a traditional story ‘about an object’ (where it was made, why it’s so great, how it will make your life better), we wanted creative writers to invent stories inspired by objects, which can lead to all kinds of unpredictable results. And in this case, the results turned out to be strong enough that the stories stood on their own."
• Commentary: A Fletcher Hanks creation tops Pip Ury's list of "6 Great Old-Timey Comics for (Traumatizing) Kids" at Cracked: "Fantomah, Mystery Woman of the Jungle is often credited as the first comic book superheroine, debuting in early 1940 and predating Wonder Woman by almost two years. Whoever decided she counted as one, however, has an extremely loose definition of what superheroing entails -- for starters, as far as we know superheroes aren't meant to be mind-numbingly terrifying."
What happens when you have to miss a couple of days of the comics internet is that it takes you almost the whole rest of the week to get fully caught up on Online Commentary & Diversions:
• List:Library Journal's Martha Cornog gives a nice shout-out to Carl Barks and recommends Oil and Water by Steve Duin & Shannon Wheeler as one of "30 Graphic Novels for Earth Day 2012": "Wheeler’s atmospheric, ink-washed greys capture eccentric residents from crabbers to a pelican-rescue team, and Duin’s script catches the ironic resiliency of people exploited by the very industry that feeds them.... Valuable for high schoolers and adults as a glimpse into the crisis, and for general sensitization to environmental issues."
• Review: "When I brought Pogo home from the bookstore on a Sunday afternoon, I called my daughters over, and we lay on the floor in the living room and read it together. I read it aloud, because half of the fun of Pogo is hearing the fantastic dialogue penned by Kelly, and my daughters loved it. I’m sure there were things that went over their heads — jokes that rely on experiences they haven’t had, references to past events, wordplay that’s a little too sophisticated. But the beauty of the strip is that does work on so many levels. There’s slapstick humor, cute little talking animals, and keen observations on the human condition — the last made easier to swallow perhaps because the characters aren’t people, as human as they may be." – Jonathan Liu, Wired – GeekDad
• Review: "[Jason] populates his tales with brightly clad cats and dogs and ducks, but their misbehavior is unmistakably human.... [Athos in America] is... consummately worth reading for its three gems: the lovely title story, the self-portrait 'A Cat From Heaven' and the wonderful 'Tom Waits on the Moon,' in which Jason carefully maps the crossed paths of four lonely people." – Sam Thielman, Newsday
• Review: "Despair threatens to overwhelm the creator’s usual tales of longing [in Athos in America]. In 'A Cat From Heaven,' his characteristic unrequited love story gives way to a somewhat depressing look at a self-absorbed cartoonist named Jason’s bitter relationship. Mercifully, the rest of the collection is a little more playful, from a couple noir parodies to the highlight, 'Tom Waits on the Moon,' in which four solipsistic stories converge in a tragic act." – Mike Sebastian, Campus Circle
• Review: "The Sincerest Form of Parody: The Best 1950s MAD-Inspired Satirical Comics is a wonderful book collecting the best stories of the beginnings of a favorite comic book genre — and I can’t emphasize this enough — it’s put together by people who know what they’re doing. Plus, it’s designed to fit on your bookshelf right next to your MAD Archives volumes. I can’t believe that you haven’t already picked this up! Are you unsane?!?" – K.C. Carlson, Comics Worth Reading
• Review: "If [Wandering Son] Vol. 1 was a masterclass in people not wanting to accept the status quo within their own minds, Vol. 2 shows the uncertainty of the waiting world. The way that Nitori and Takatsuki fumble forward with no plan is painful and endearing. They know the two of them are better together but there’s the problem of dealing with classmates, family and teachers. It’s not easy and well done to Takako for not short-circuiting the process. It’s not easy writing characters in distress but it’s wonderful to read it. If you can recognise the character’s pain and sympathise despite your differences, it proves you’re human and so is the author.... So much of what we read is a kind of literary false economy. We put in so much and get so little out of it. Wandering Son asks so little of you and you get so much out of it.... It is a wonderful, sweet, heartbreaking window into being different, young, unsure, afraid and human." – Eeeper's Choice
• Review: "[The Man Who Grew His Beard]’s a big batch of critic-friendly comic strips, comics which resemble curios excavated from some none-too-defined European past and more often than not have all the daring shallow-space visual syntax of a Garfield strip. They’re less stories than contraptions that wear their artifice and structure on their sleeve, like those medieval homunculi which transparently show their cogs and mechanisms while making their programmed movements." – Rich Baez, It's Like When a Cowboy Becomes a Butterfly
• Review: "Action! Mystery! Thrills!... beautifully resurrects all the Golden Age favorites, from superheroes to killer robots to cowboys and occult Nazis. This time capsule collection of cover art spans from 1933-45... An index in the back gives the fascinating stories behind the covers, while the full-page, color reproductions reveal them for what they are: works of art." – Mike Sebastian, Campus Circle
• Review: "Primarily known for his ghoulish comic strips in Playboy and The New Yorker, Gahan Wilson showed his tender side (kind of) with Nuts. Originally a series of one-page vignettes running in National Lampoon, Nuts is presented here in its entirety as a classic warts-and-all reminiscence of childhood, from sick days to family gatherings, the joys of candy to the terrors of the dark basement." – Mike Sebastian, Campus Circle
• Review: "R. Crumb hit it big in the ‘60s alternative Comix scene with his creation of Fritz the Cat (originally conceived as an adolescent). The feline protagonist remained Crumb’s avatar for lambasting American culture until a lackluster film adaptation prompted some divine retribution from his creator. The Life and Death of Fritz the Cat collects all of Fritz’s essential stories." – Mike Sebastian, Campus Circle
• Awards:GalleyCat reports that Author Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer, contributor to Significant Objects, has won the $1,000 Sidney Prize, which rewards "the author of the best new American story," and has a link to an excerpt from the winning story
• Opinions:Robert Crumb's got 'em! In the third installment of the "Crumb On Others" series, he lets you know exactly what he thinks of a bunch of prominent personalities, from Hitler to Ghandi (in whose homeland Crumb can be seen above) and from Kurtzman to Van Gogh
• Interview: When The Comics Journal posted the Q&A with Bill Griffith conducted by Gary Panter, I called it the must-read of the day, and it still stands as your must-read of the week: "I’ve only taken LSD twice in my life. Once on the beach in Martha’s Vineyard in 1967, which was pleasant, but not ego-shattering or anything. And once in New York after I’d started doing comics. All I remember about the second time was, I got hemorrhoids."
• Interview: Who better to talk to Matthias Wivel, editor of our Scandinavian comics anthology Kolor Klimax, than Steffen Maarup, editor of our Danish comics anthology From Wonderland with Love? A taste: "Putting together a good anthology is similar to making a good mixtape. Whatever the individual merits of a piece, it won’t do to include it if it doesn’t somehow work for the anthology as a whole. There has to be a consistent idea or tone to the book, which doesn’t mean that there can’t be dissonance — there’s some of that in Kolor Klimax, and I think for the better — but the individual parts still have to generate something greater than their sum. It’s incredibly difficult to achieve, but also a lot of fun." Read more at The Metabunker
Editor Greg Sadowski just provided us with this update on one of our most-anticipated books of the year:
Basil Wolverton opus Creeping Death from Neptune is taking a few extra months due to the inclusion of material not originally planned — nearly a hundred pages, including unpublished 1936-38 sci-fi strips and Wolverton's complete non-humorous Marvel comics. Here's a panel from "Eye of Doom" (1952).
Very excited to be putting this one together. I'll be amazed if it doesn't sell out quickly. Do yourself a favor and pre-order a copy today — if you love comics it doesn't get better than this.
Agreed! And Greg's right: demand for this one is through the roof! Thanks Greg!
• Review: "Besides a particularly gleeful dark humour, this collection of short stories by Norweigan artist Jason [Athos in America] is tied together by a certain obsession with Hollywood genres: science-fiction and crime are the main targets, and Jason infuses them with both a slightly tweaked pathos and a taste for melancholy macabre. His drawing style is sparse and uncluttered, but that works something like keeping an even tone during a dry remark: his punchlines and gut-punches are that much sharper for having played it cool. All of these stories have an underlying sadness — something that seems to stem from the bleak futility of all our existence — but the best has to be 'Tom Waits on the Moon,' four seemingly unconnected vignettes that ruminate on various relationship troubles before tying up in [a] surprising and funny end. That’s not to discount any of these, though: this is just fantastic stuff for sad bastards and the people who love them." – David Berry, National Post
• Review: "I’m going to go out on a limb and assume anyone reading a review of comics is aware enough of Walt Kelly’s landmark Pogo series that they don’t need much in the way of description, but suffice to say that any strip artist worth their salt has taken serious cues from Kelly’s rich dialogue, playful illustration and at-times fierce politics. This first edition, which features for the first time full-colour Sunday strips, definitely leans towards the sweeter side, but there’s simply no denying Kelly’s mastery: he evokes full characters with nothing but a few choice words, and the sprightliness of his visual style is all fun here, laying the groundwork for what would become profoundly subversive later. The included essays, as is usually the case for Fantagraphics reissues, absolutely nail the context and import of the strip, too. I just don’t think you can say you love comics and not have this around." – David Berry, National Post
• Review: "[Action! Mystery! Thrills! Comic Book Covers of the Golden Age] is a fucking mind blower for me since it's just full-size reproductions of cover art of the most important comic book issues you never saw, printed on glossy paper with information about what makes them so special on the back.... The brain of the casual art looker or person who thinks comics are a genre and not a medium will look at this stuff and try to make it ironic or perverse. To appreciate the work in this book you have to turn off those parts of your cynicism and open whatever part of yourself receives beauty. America's golden-age comic books are some of the greatest art our country has produced." – Nick Gazin, VICE
• Interview:The Believer presents the fourth and concluding part of Ross Simonini's 2008 interview with Jim Woodring (which can be read in its entirety here): "I don’t believe in art like I used to. I believe in something beyond it, something that contains art and everything else. But I just don’t quite have the nerve to chuck drawing and painting. Part of it is that I enjoy IT too much, and part is that I don’t have the courage to renounce the world. I don’t want to move out of this nice neighborhood so that I can live in a shed and devote myself to meditating and touching something I can’t feel. I’m addicted to the fun of playing in the world."
• Review: "Fantagraphics is giving us another opportunity to revisit R. Crumb's iconic character in a hardcover edition of his collected adventures, called The Life and Death of Fritz the Cat.... Despite Fritz's demise 40 years ago, these stories maintain their wit, satirical edge, and their ability to offend and shock. The earlier stories are funny and bizarre..., and the later ones are funny and angry... Even the final story can be viewed as funny in an extraordinarily dark context, although it helps to be aware of Crumb's intentions. To read 'Fritz the Cat, Superstar' first, or without knowledge of Crumb, would feel a lot like confronting a knife-wielding lunatic in a dark alley.... Fantagraphics' new hardcover edition of the Fritz portfolio is unburdened by editorial commentary or contextual material of any kind. This encourages readers to experience the comics as if for the first time -- and find that the acid in Crumb's humor still stings." – Casey Burchby, SF Weekly
• Review: "Just released by Fantagraphics, [Action! Mystery! Thrills!] is one the best books yet done on Golden Age Comics! Sadowski is by far my favorite editor of compilations/retrospectives on comic book art!... A fascinating and important look at an exceptional period of American art! My highest recommendation to anyone interested in 20th Century illustration and of course the comics!" – Golden Age Comic Book Stories (via The Comics Reporter)
• Review: "[Athos in America]'s the usual collection of laconic oddness and outright weirdness.... Yes, it would be fair to say if you're looking for examples of dark humour in comics, Jason probably would be a very good place to start." – Jonathan Rigby, Page 45
• Review: "Mixing illustrated text pieces with short comic strips, Kupperman uses [an] oddball conceit [in Mark Twain's Autobiography 1910-2010] to deliver a wacky, adventure-filled romp that sends you laughing your way through the twentieth century.... The thick, precise lines of Kupperman’s drawing style bring a much needed dead-pan expression to a book that might otherwise feel out of control. The text pieces are often well-used, giving Kupperman more room to play with Twain’s voice and toss in frequent verbal puns." – Matthew L. Moffett, No Flying No Tights
• Feature:The Stranger's Dave Segal talks to Pat Thomas about the creation of Listen, Whitey! The Sights and Sounds of Black Power 1965-1975 and says of the book, "Listen, Whitey! presents Black Power's volatile ups and downs with stunning imagery. Designed by Fantagraphics' Jacob Covey, the copiously illustrated Listen, Whitey! is a joy to behold as well as to read.... Ultimately, Thomas captures the revolutionary spirit of myriad vital strands of the movement and stokes your desire to hear these recordings."
• Review: "...Action! Mystery! Thrills! Comic Book Covers of the Golden Age 1933-1945 [is] wonderful. ...Sadowski offers up an incredibly diverse gallery of forgotten superheroes, pistol-toting gangsters, cartoonish Nazis, and talking animals. Each cover has been painstakingly restored to pristine condition, and is presented in full color on glossy paper. It’s as close to browsing the comics rack of a World War II-era drugstore as most of us will ever get.... Sadowski... is one of the most adept chroniclers of comic-book history working today. He offers succinct but informative notes on each cover, but his most notable achievement in this volume is his selection of covers. The notes are helpful and fun, but it’s the progression of images itself that is the most telling.... At a perfectly reasonable $29.99, it’s a must for any comic-book fan’s library." – April Snellings, Knoxville Metro Pulse
• Review: "Set to Sea is a book to read and contemplate on, a book to look at and think about, a book to read slowly and then to read again. It's a lovely graphic novel from a creator I hope to see a lot more from as the years go on, and I hope his own busy life affords him enough leisure and time to continue to make gemlike, poetic stories like this one." – Andrew Wheeler, The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.
• Analysis:Buz Sawyer administers a spanking (and a beatdown) and Robot 6’s Matt Seneca analyzes the action in an October 1944 Roy Crane strip
• Review: "There really is no cartoonist in the world quite like the great Joost Swarte. His stories are surreal, silly, sexy and sometimes spectacular. They're gorgeously drawn in a classic European style that lights up every page of this wonderful and gorgeous book [Is That All There Is?]. Don't worry about these stories being too obscure or strange -- this book fun and silly and awesome. ★★★★★" – Jason Sacks, Comics Bulletin
• Review: "Wilfred Santiago’s graphic novel captures the talent of Clemente the baseball player while also showcasing and illuminating the many simple and human qualities of the man that forged him into an honest and authentic hero. 21′s complex yet accessible narrative and profound artwork make it a swift and affecting experience, one that I plan to enjoy on multiple future readings. If you’re a fan of baseball and things that are really well done, you could do a whole lot worse than to check out the novel for yourself." – Kyle Davis, Call to the Pen
• Review: "Editor/designer Greg Sadowski returns to his tireless exploration of the comic book with this magnificent collection of 176 full color covers [Action! Mystery! Thrills!], dating from the Golden Age. As in his previous volumes..., Sadowski supplies copious end notes and annotations. Though this time, the information additionally reads as an entertaining history of early comics.... Sadowski once again delivers an essential book for anyone with an interest in comics history." – Rick Klaw, The SF Site: Nexus Graphica
• Review: "Nearly every cover in this collection [Action! Mystery! Thrills! Comic Book Covers of the Golden Age 1933-45] sizzles like a good slice of breakfast bacon. Pop art and the peculiar modernist aesthetic that defined postwar American culture really started here, with the liberation of comics from the funny pages and their metamorphosis into this most dynamic and demented of mediums. As a result, every deli and newsstand in America became its own peculiar gallery exhibit, a nexus of transient mass culture. This magical and immersive communion is now a thing of the past, but flipping through the gory, scary, and often beautiful pages of this discerning and honest anthology is an intoxicating experience." – Publishers Weekly
• Review: "If you think you've seen all the best early comic covers, this'll make you think again.... I have a bias here myself...I helped Greg put parts of this together, with rare and fun covers from my own collection. Here you find the really cool and offbeat stuff... And Greg writes a concise bio of every cover and cover artist, putting each in perspective. I can't wait to show this to my Golden Age collecting buddies, it's a must-have book. You have my word on it." – Bud Plant
• Review: "...[N]o publisher has done more to preserve the Great American Newspaper Strip than the Seattle-based Fantagraphics, which has undertaken an audacious program of reprints in the last decade.... The most recent addition to the Fantagraphics line is the most anticipated: Walt Kelly’s unassailable funny-animal strip about Pogo the possum and his cadre of friends and antagonists in the Okefenokee Swamp. ...[I]f the company can pull off a complete edition of Kelly’s masterpiece — especially a full series as lovely as the first volume promises — ...it will be a publishing masterpiece of its own." – Matthew Everett, MetroPulse
• Review: "Is Listen, Whitey! The Sights and Sounds of Black Power 1965-1975 the coolest book ever published? Yes, it is. Just out from the stellar Seattle publisher Fantagraphics, Listen, Whitey! is a gorgeously designed and smartly written coffee table book... Author Pat Thomas has done major archeological work to unearth albums from the era; for people like me who love classic record designs from the 1960s and ’70s, it’s heaven.... The book is a joy to leaf through.... Black music, art, and culture has been assimilated, and it’s made America a better, stronger place. Listen, Whitey! is an archival project, not a modern one. To which I, a white guy, can only say: Right on!" – Mark Judge, The Daily Caller
• Review: "The page in [The Cabbie Vol. 1] where the cabbie brings his father’s sewage covered remains home and puts them in what’s left of the coffin and then puts the coffin on top of his mother’s recently deceased body tells you everything you need to know. Unless you’re a Prince Valiant dude, this is the best reprint of the year. Impregnable would be the best word, EXCELLENT! will have to do." – Tucker Stone, Savage Critics
• Review: "Prince Valiant Vol. 4: 1943-1944 is not only a great book, I think it could also serve well as a good jumping-on point for those curious about the strip. By this point Foster has gotten a strong grip on his characters and the format of the strip, and with a new storyline beginning so early on in this volume you don’t have to worry about being lost. And while this volume doesn’t end at a conclusion for the last storyline (running a whopping 20 months in all, as it turns out, only the first 7 months are present here), there’s so much meat here that you’ll be eager for Prince Valiant Vol. 5 so you can find out how it ends. I, for one, can’t wait." – Greg McElhatton, Read About Comics
• Review: "Are you a fan of Ghost World? You might not have noticed that Seattle-based Fantagraphics has reduced the price of their Ghost World: Special Edition to a bargain-priced $25.... The Special Edition is packed with goodies sure to thrill the Ghost World geek.... It’s a great item to add to your Ghost World collection — or to get it started." – Gillian Gaar, Examiner.com
This week's comic shop shipment is slated to include the following new title. Read on to see what comics-blog commentators and web-savvy comic shops are saying about it (more to be added as they appear), check out our previews at the link, and contact your local shop to confirm availability.
208-page full-color 8" x 10.5" softcover • $29.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-494-8
"If I had $30, I’d... pick up Action! Mystery! Thrills!, a colorful collection of comic book covers from the Golden Age edited by Greg Sadowski. It’s not as insightful as some of Sadowski’s other books like Supermen!, but it’s still a clever pop-candy tour through comics’ yesteryear." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"Meanwhile, Fantagraphics brings Action! Mystery! Thrills!: Comic Book Covers of the Golden Age 1933-1945, the latest Greg Sadowski joint, this time a 208-page collection of vintage comic book covers and historical notes on the various publishers and artists populating the scene; $29.99." – Joe McCulloch, The Comics Journal
"I can't think of another collection that gives such an excellent glimpse into the diversity of the Golden Age of comics. Sadowski edits a gorgeous collection of covers by artists like... Jack Cole, Will Eisner, Bill Everett, Walt Kelly, Jack Kirby, and many more." – Benn Ray (Atomic Books), Largehearted Boy
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