• Interview: Dan Wagstaff, a.k.a. The Casual Optimist, has a Q&A with Jason: "I have ideas in my brain, just lying there, that I sometimes think about. This can last years. Then suddenly I can get ideas for dialogues. I write this down. It’s maybe four or five pages. I can start working on those, and at the same time think about what’s going to happen next. I don’t write a full script. It’s based on improvisation. I write pieces of dialogue. Or sometimes I sketch out the pages first, the images, and write the dialogue after. I usually work on nine or ten pages at the same time, pencil a bit here , then ink it, and then pencil a bit there and ink that. It’s the completely wrong way of doing it, by the way, but it seems to be the only way I can work."
• Plugs: Martha Cornog of Library Journal spotlights a few of our upcoming releases in the latest "Graphic Novels Prepub Alert":
Creeping Death from Neptune: Horror and Science Fiction Comics by Basil Wolverton: "The line between horror and humor dissolves easily, and Wolverton's extravagantly grotesque drawings drew chortles and chills from readers of MAD magazine and numerous comics from the 1940s to the 1950s.... Now a few years after a successful New York exhibit plus several published collections of illustrations and shorter pieces, this volume reprints important sf/horror sequential work, carefully restored, plus material from his personal ledgers and diaries."
Jack Jackson's American History: Los Tejanos & Lost Cause: "With the pen name of 'Jaxon,' Jackson (1941-2006) drew Texas history into comics that included Mexican as well as Anglo legacies. Los Tejanos ('the Texans' of Mexican ancestry) fixes on Juan Seguín, a tragic figure in the 1835-75 Texas-Mexican conflict. Lost Cause chronicles the state's turmoil during Reconstruction, in the wake of the Civil War. Jackson's detailed, realistically drawn accounts will be useful for anyone interested in those coordinates of U.S. history or in Latino-Anglo heritage."
No Straight Lines: Four Decades of Queer Comics: "Herewith a color and black-and-white sampler from a little-recognized underground of gay comics from the past four decades, including [Alison] Bechdel and [Howard] Cruse, Europe's Ralf Koenig, and 2011 ALA keynoter Dan Savage. Huh? Dan Savage wrote comics?! Indeedy, indeedy. Fantagraphics promises 'smart, funny, and profound' — and uncensored."
• Review/Interview: "Leslie Stein is a pretty lady who made a comic [Eye of the Majestic Creature] in which she is a cute/gross little humanoid with eyes that are like coins and a best friend who is a guitar. Her comical alter ego is named Larry Bear and her guitar's name is Marshy. They live in a house in a field, but it's pretty clear that almost everything they experience is some joked-up fantasized autobiographical story. It's hard to know what's based on reality and what isn't, and which characters are based on real folks and which are just supposed to be Leslie's internal feelings personified.... Leslie's work communicates an urban loneliness that I relate to a lot, seeing as we live in the same place. It's cute and sad and familiar, especially if you're 30 or under." – Nick Gazin, who also talks to Leslie at Vice: "I think for the most part she represents the lighter side of my personality. I'm happy when I'm drawing and I hope that comes across through her on the page, in whatever situation she is in. She dresses a bit weirder than I do, so that's fun. I'm not really a shy person, but I feel like I'm constantly embarrassing myself. She doesn't have that self-consciousness."
• Review: "Post-apocalyptic stories tend to be grim, but The Hidden is very dark indeed.... The book feels like a modern-day gothic horror. The survivors are metaphors for humanity, with a heroic few battling an onslaught of monsters, human or otherwise. Humanity is on the brink of extinction, and still people bring out the worst in one another.... Sala’s illustration is compelling... ★★★★ [out of 5]" – Grovel
• Review: "[Kevin] Avery’s book, Everything Is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson, is an admirably unorthodox construction that starts with a bracing 180-page biography of Paul followed by a 265 page collection of Nelson’s music writing, primarily that from the seventies focusing on the artists he was particularly drawn to.... What’s impressive about Avery’s biographic half of the book is that he’s produced both an intimate personal bio and a comprehensive professional bio as well. He’s talked to virtually everyone who Nelson inspired or mentored in rock criticism starting in the latter half of the sixties and into the Rolling Stone years. These knuckleheads are a who’s who of American rock criticism, God help us." – Joe Carducci (SST Records, Rock and the Pop Narcotic), The New Vulgate
• Review: "I was looking forward to this new book [Setting the Standard] a/ because it's Alex Toth and b/ because it reprints 60 stories, Toth's entire contribution to the catalogue of a long defunct publisher whose material we rarely see reprinted.... Toth's work has long been admired for its distilled simplicity of black and white design, but these early pages fizz and bubble with life.... The book under discussion is from Fantagraphics, with the original printed pages restored in all their colours by Greg Sadowski, who put the whole package together with extensive notes..." – Eddie Campbell (via The Comics Reporter)
• Plugs: Brian Ralph's choices for his guest contribution to Robot 6's weekly "What Are You Reading?" column include Captain Easy Vol. 2 by Roy Crane ("It’s a fun combination of action and laughs. Sometimes very serious and other times very cartoony, in both story and art style. I just love the way Roy Crane draws these goons. And the colors! The palettes are unusual and beautiful.") and Setting the Standard: Comics by Alex Toth 1952-1954 ("I’ll read one of these [stories] before I go to bed. I like that in a short page count he quickly develops a rich story and twilight zoney twist. Sometimes it’s a bizarre romance or horror story with a stunning conclusion. They’re a fun read.")
• Review: "Brief but witty dialogue and black humor come together in a brutal satire of deception, torture and the death penalty. This comic is a good comedy that combines the sense of adventure and intrigue of Jason's comics, his 'tempo' and narrative tone, with a trio of protagonists who I came to appreciate in very few pages. Emotion, gags, surprises, and an ending that you do not expect. Isle of 100,000 Graves is an original and very enjoyable read that keeps Jason as a safe bet in the shopping cart. Between tenderness and cruelty, of course the contribution of writer Fabien Vehlmann to the Norwegian cartoonist's particular universe could not have been more successful." – Alita News (translated from Spanish)
• Review: "Warm-hearted, deceptively heart-wrenching, challenging, charming and irresistibly addictive, Love and Rockets: New Stories is a grown up comics fan’s dream come true and remains as valid and groundbreaking as its earlier incarnations — the diamond point of the cutting edge of American graphic narrative." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Interview:The Comics Reporter 's Tom Spurgeon talks to backbone Mome contributor T. Edward Bak about his experience at Boomfest in St. Petersburg, Russia: "There were so many things going on. There were people interested in all of the presentations. They took place over four or five hours, in three or four different centers. A lot of artists were there. For these kinds of presentations, it was other artists attending. It was like APE: you have people that are making comics or are interested in making comics."
• Interview: At The Comics Journal, Matt Seneca enjoys a studio visit and thoughtful discussion with Gary Panter: "That’s one of the games that modern art plays: where does it go, and what does it affect by trying to go? And so, usually in fine art, you’re making a kind of pregnant or puzzling object, or some object that has presence and which calls to people, hopefully. It arrests them for a second and various things happen, whereas in a comic, I want people lying in bed reading it. I want people lying in bed and reading it, and you forget you’re reading it, and you go in the story, and you’re like, 'Whoa! What happened?' And you either remember it or you don’t."
• Commentary:The Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon responds to The Comics Journal's Love and Rocketslove-fest yesterday with some thoughts of his own: "I agree with Nadel, Santoro, Tomine and many of the comment-makers that Jaime Hernandez's new work represents a phenomenal achievement. I'm maybe not as interested in finding its place in the pantheon right this second. There's plenty of time for that down the road. One thing that's exciting and should never be denied about a creative achievement on the level of what Hernandez seems to have given us here is what that work might say to us in the future that it doesn't say right now."
• Commentary:Robot 6's Sean T. Collins responds, in turn, to Tom Spurgeon's response linked above: "If you’re looking for realistic and well-rendered women characters, or for women creators operating on an equal playing field, or for a serious examination of issues of gender and sexuality in all their glory and misery, then yeah, you can kick against the pricks and hope that someday an issue of Captain Copyright or the Teen Trademarks will deliver these things. Or you can put those comics down, walk a few aisles over or click on a different website, and discover things like Jaime’s 'Browntown'/'The Love Bunglers' suite, which over the course of two issues of Love and Rockets packs in more quality fiction about love, aging, motherhood, fatherhood, marriage, divorce, adultery, sexual assault, queerness, mental illness, adolescence, friendship, and sex than the last half-dozen comics-internet contretemps-causing comics combined."
• Review: "The conventional wisdom surrounding Prince Valiant these days characterizes it as a fussily drawn, belabored relic of the past. Of course, critical judgments of a comic stop mattering once you read it. A few pages into the fourth of Fantagraphics’ beautifully reprinted new editions of Hal Foster’s masterpiece and it’s difficult indeed to remember that this isn’t the greatest comic ever.... And the mastery Foster brings to bear on his every panel may have been equaled both before and since his prime, but it’s never been surpassed." – Matt Seneca, The Comics Journal
• Plug: "I could easily write a whole post about the brilliance of Barks (and probably WILL, at some point down the road!) but for now I will just say that this December Fantagraphics is releasing the first volume of a NEW Carl Barks Library, which is going to finally, finally, FINALLY put Barks's work back into print in America, in an accessible full-color format.... So please, if you have a kid in your life, PLEASE, for ME, buy them this book! And if you have never read any Barks and you don't understand why I'm being so crazy about this, buy one for yourself. I can personally guarantee that you won't regret it!" – Alec Longstreth
• Review: "It should go without saying by now that any new volume of Love and Rockets is a must for any serious comics fan... [and] New Stories 4 is... one of the major events of the comics year ... [A]nyone who loves brilliant cartooning technique should appreciate the way Jaime draws the casual sag of a post-coital naked body, or the way he illustrates a pre-schooler tugging at his mother, oblivious to any notion of 'personal space.' And anyone who’s alive in the world should be moved by this story’s depiction of life as a series of accidents, miscommunications, and embarrassments, which sometimes work out okay regardless." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Love: At The Tearoom of Despair, Bob Temuka offers some spoiler-filled thoughts on Love and Rockets: New Stories #4, saying "this is no review. This is love. The art is as beautiful as always, evocative of time and place, and Jaime still draws the best body language and facial expressions in the medium, telling entire stories in a frown or wink.... While it’s no surprise that Jaime Hernandez is still producing magnificent and beautiful comics, it is also still incredible to see how big his storytelling balls are, man."
• Review: "Though not strictly a comic book, Michael Kupperman’s Mark Twain’s Autobiography 1910-2010 is very much of a piece with the cartoonist’s gleefully absurdist Tales Designed To Thrizzle series. ...Kupperman picks up the story of an American icon beginning with what the newspapers reported as Mark Twain’s 'death.' Kupperman’s Twain quickly sets the record straight, then relates what he’s been up to for the past century: fighting in World War I, losing a fortune by investing in chocolate-covered olives, making gangster pictures inspired by The Wizard Of Oz… y’know, the usual. Kupperman’s working method seems to be just to let his mind wander, making stream-of-consciousness associations that fuse into comedy." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "Initially published in the ’80s, [The Cabbie] mimics the basic comic strip format — even going as far as aping the way Chester Gould used thick black lines for basically everything with Dick Tracy — but is supremely screwed up. The protagonist, a cab driver is obsessed with money, has a tricked out cab, happens upon bizarre crimes, and even gets tortured by a family living in the slums. It is a really uncomfortable experience from cover to cover, and I am stoked it exists." – Sam Hockley-Smith, The Fader
• Review: "This is a harsh and uncompromising tale of escalating crime and uncaring punishments: blackly cynical, existentially scary and populated with a cast of battered, desolate characters of increasingly degenerate desperation. Even the monsters are victims. But for all that The Cabbie is an incredibly compelling drama with strong allegorical overtones and brutally mesmerizing visuals. Any adult follower of the art form should be conversant with this superb work and with a second volume forthcoming hopefully we soon all will be." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Interview: At The Comics Journal, Jay Ruttenberg sits down for brunch with Drew Friedman to kibbitz about the Old Jewish Comedians books: "Well, I found Jerry [Lewis] to be completely delightful. Just great. He’s very inquisitive about the process about what I do. He asks, 'Drew, how do you do what you do?' So I say, 'Jerry, how do you do what you do?' You gotta butter him up: 'I especially love drawing you, Jerry.' But a lot of them hate each other. It’s very funny. You bring up one comedian to another comedian, and there’s venom. It’s amusing to me. There’s nothing funnier than angry comedians. Nothing better!"
• Interview: Jason Diamond at Jewcy also gets a crack at Drew Friedman: "I kinda bounce around the [nerd] map. I don’t really fit into one category. I love comedians, comic books, and old movies. Really anything from the past. With these Old Jewish Comedian books, they have nothing really to do with comic books, but everything I’ve done in my career led to these books."
• Interview:Robot 6's Tim O'Shea has a quick chat with Mome contributor Eleanor Davis about her contribution to that Nursery Rhyme Comics anthology
• Feature: October means features on horror comics, and Casey Burchby's look at the history of the genre at SF Weekly says "A recent collection called Four Color Fear, edited by Greg Sadowski, collects terrific examples of horror comics from non-EC sources, including Eerie, Web of Evil, and Chamber of Chills. The work in this volume is much wider ranging in subject matter and style than Tales from the Crypt, which tended to follow a handful of formulas."
• Commentary:Robot 6's Chris Mautner lobbies us to put out a collection of Mack White's Villa of the Mysteries and other comics, saying "CIA conspiracies. Carny shows. Obscure pagan rituals. Snake handlers. Brainwashed assassins. Nudist nuns. Roman gods. Psychedelic western landscapes. Very short men with very, very large penises. Such are the essential elements found in the comics of Mack White, who, for the past couple of decades, has created some of the most bizarre, paranoid and succulently pulpish comics around. Born and raised in Texas, Mack's comics are infused with the Lone Star state's own unique blend of rugged individualism and suspicion of authority."
• Plug: At Comic Book Resources, Greg Burgas goes "Flippin' Through Previews and finds "Fantagraphics offers Flannery O’Connor: The Cartoons on page 294. Yes, you read that correctly. Apparently O’Connor was quite the cartoonist in the 1940s. This has to be awesome, right?"
• Review: "Sala creates stories in which brightly colored, cartoony art and characters who speak in casual idiom tell of events that aren’t so much humorous or casual as provocative and scary. In [The Hidden], he combines motifs of a postapocalyptic landscape, wanderers, some vampiric businessmen, and, ultimately, Dr. Frankenstein. The stew works perfectly: readers have no chance to engage in incredulity... Characters are introduced at a steady but manageable pace, and it is only at story’s end that the opening pages become horrifyingly clear. Sala works with a full palette of beautiful, gemlike hues held in generous panels. Even the monsters have individuated faces, which only ramps up the horror." – Francisca Goldsmith, School Library Journal
• Interview:Comic Book Resources' Shaun Manning talks to Richard Sala about The Hidden: "It's a story about consequences. It's about what happens when you set wheels in motion that maybe you can't control, that in fact spin completely out of control. What do you do? Do you take responsibility for what comes next or, or do you run away and distance yourself from what you've caused and try to pretend it doesn't matter. And it's about what happens when you finally realize that it's up to you to stop what you started. Is that vague enough?! It's not exactly a 'high concept' description, I'm afraid."
• Review: "A dark horse contender for comics creator of the year can be found in the unlikely personage of the late artist Alex Toth... Setting the Standard aims at... a conceptually sound and compelling [goal]: the publication of Toth's work between 1952 and 1954 for the long-defunct comics publisher Standard... The work is in a variety of sturdy, popular genres. The presentation of the comics themselves proves crisp and strong. The manner in which the increasingly valuable Sadowski and his publisher chose to present the supporting material is even better." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
• Review: "I think the most important thing you need to know about [Mark Twain's Autobiography 1910-2010] is that it made me laugh out loud not once, but close to a dozen times. At one point, during an exchange with a famous cartoon strip writer, I think I laughed for a solid minute. It might have been longer, except the neighbors threatened to shoot me. And if they'd done me in, I'd never have gotten a chance to review this and tell you that this is one of the best books -- if not *the* best book -- I've read all year." – Rob McMonigal, Panel Patter
• Interview:Comic Book Resources' Alex Dueben chats with Gahan Wilson about Nuts: "On the whole, [the comic] was mostly autobiographical. It just rolled out and it was and continues to be very satisfying to me. It helped me see kids better, too. They're just wonderful. The creativity of children is kind of frightening. They all do these drawings which are just gorgeous and profound, and they'll do poetry. They're brilliant.... I think they're very encouraging because they give you a peek at what we could be if we grew up right. I think there's hope for us all, and kids are evidence of that."
• Interview: At The Comics Journal it's a Mome dude tête-à-tête as Frank Santoro quizzes Jesse Moynihan: "I did some color guides with Photoshop for a piece called Simon Magus (MOME 22). That was helpful but not usually how I do things. Since I’m using a medium that can build layers, it’s not difficult to go back in and edit the color scheme to an extent. For the most part I trust that my eye can decide what needs to happen on the fly."
• Interview (Audio): On the latest episode of the Panel Borders podcast, Alex Fitch talks to David B. about his new book Black Paths (audio in multiple formats at the link)
• Interview (Video): At SPX, Paul Hornschemeier sat down for an on-camera chat with Joe Mochove and Rusty Rowley. "We discuss all of the important topics of the day: Earnest Borgnine, mobility scooters, terrorism, and delicious orange juice," says Paul at his blog. (What is it with the Borgnine?)
• Review: "As journalist Avery documents in this cohesive biography-cum-first anthology of the onetime Rolling Stone record review editor’s oeuvre [Everything Is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson], Nelson was a gifted early practitioner of new journalism and, though a child of the Sixties folk and rock counterculture, one of its most vocal critics.... Reading his inconceivably insightful profiles of Bruce Springsteen, Leonard Cohen, Warren Zevon, and Rod Stewart helps make sense of a needlessly guilt- and disappointment-laden life — here was a hyper-romantic Midwesterner by birth but a New Yorker by necessity who thought he could transcend mundane cruelties by dedicating himself to the popular arts. Seamlessly incorporating the perspectives of Nick Tosches, Robert Christgau, and Jann Wenner, Avery has crafted both a cautionary tale and a celebration of a noir-influenced writer who deserves a place alongside Lester Bangs for his ability to live, always, in the music. Devotees of folk, establishment rock ’n’ roll, and pulp fiction will rue not having discovered Nelson sooner." – Heather McCormack, Library Journal (Starred Review)
• Review: "[Richard Sala's] latest appetising shocker The Hidden returns to the seamy, scary underbelly of un-life with an enigmatic quest tale... Clever, compelling and staggeringly engaging, this fabulous full-colour hardback is a wonderfully nostalgic escape hatch back to those days when unruly children scared themselves silly under the bedcovers at night and will therefore make an ideal gift for the big kid in your life — whether he/she’s just you, imaginary or even relatively real." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This
• Review: "I had the opportunity to do a Q&A panel with Johnny Ryan at SPX last weekend. One of the more interesting parts of discussion was when Ryan said how each volume of Prison Pit had to have a different vibe or theme so that the different books didn’t feel interchangable. That’s certainly true in volume three, as we see the inclusion of a new character, who, while just as violent and vicious as CF, is completely different in attitude and demeanor. Plus, he has one of the most amazing (and utterly grotesque) resurrection scenes I’ve ever seen. There’s also a neat little bit toward the end where it seems like Ryan is heavily drawing upon the Fort Thunder crowd, particularly Mat Brinkman. All in all, it’s another excellent volume." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "This [fourth] volume [of Prince Valiant] covers the most of the WWII years, 1943-44, when the paper shortage was at its highest. As Brian Kane notes in the introduction, this meant creator Hal Foster had to format the strip so parts could be cut for papers that had been forced to shrink their page count.... Still, while no doubt hampered by this new situation, it did nothing to harm his storytelling skills, and Valiant remains a hugely enjoyable action strip, as Valiant battles a variety of ne’r do wells on a quest to find his true love, Aleta." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "I’ve talked at length before about how good the Mome anthology has been, and while I’m sad to see it come to a close, it’s nice to see it end on such a high note. Seriously, this is the best volume of Mome yet, with standout contributions by Chuck Forsman, Eleanor Davis, Laura Park, Dash Shaw, Jesse Moynihan and Sara Edward-Corbett. But really, there’s not a bad story in this entire book. It might seem weird recommending the last book of a series, but if you gotta only read one of these things, this would be the one." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Interview: Brian Heater's conversation with Drew Friedman at The Daily Cross Hatch continues: "But a couple of guys claimed that I didn’t get their names right, like Don Rickles. His PR guy contacted us and said, 'he’s really angry. His name is not Archibald, it’s Donald Rickles.' So, we said in the second book 'Don Rickles says his name is not Archibald, so that will be corrected in a future volume.' Sid Caesar was annoyed. He called Fantagraphics and started yelling at Kim Thompson, because he claimed his name is not Isaac. He was on the phone with him for half an hour. He was doing Jewish schtick and German dialect. Kim was amazed."
• Review: "Alex Toth worked in a multitude of genres while at Standard (crime, romance, and horror among them) and they are, to the last one, collected here. Also, Toth’s Standard work has been reprinted somewhere between infrequently and not at all, and to have it all collected (and collected beautifully; the digital restoration keeps the original look perfectly) in this work fills in a sizable gap in comics history. Bravo for Fantagraphics.... If you’ve ever wanted to see what the 'big deal' is with Alex Toth, I can think of absolutely no better place to start. There’s no better bang for your buck this year thanSetting the Standard." – Alonso Nunez, Giant Fire Breathing Robot
• Review: "Field mouse Sibyl-Anne... lives a quiet life in the French countryside, alongside her friends Sergeant Verboten (a porcupine), Floozemaker (a crow), and fellow mouse Boomer. When the greedy, power-hungry rat Ratticus shows up, his destructive ways turn the animal community upside down.... Macherot’s plotting is lively and unexpected... Thompson’s translation is colloquial and funny and, one can assume, smooths out some of the original’s mid-century social attitudes." – Publishers Weekly
• Interview:Comic Book Resources' Alex Dueben talks to Gabrielle Bell about her comics and her experience being in Mome at the beginning and end: "Well, it was very stressful. I wasn't very fast. I was really struggling, and it was hard to do. It was a good challenge. It really helped me to learn to put out comics regularly, but I think I wanted my own space to put my comics. Now I have my blog, and it certainly doesn't bring me much money or fame [laughs], but it does feel good that it's mine. I'm doing it as almost my own personal newsletter. Mome was very helpful and a good challenge. Maybe I outgrew it?"
• Review: "It would take Gottfredson a few years to hit his stride: Many of his best Mickey stories appeared in the later ’30s and ’40s. But the basic characteristics that would make the print version of Mickey popular after the studio curtailed his animated antics can clearly be seen in these first installments.... Race to Death Valley is the latest entry in Fantagraphics’ reprints of classic comic strips, and is sure to delight fans of Mickey Mouse as well as comic strip aficionados. The strips are clearly printed in a readable size, and editors Gerstein and Groth carefully document the origins of the strip." – Charles Solomon, Los Angeles Times Hero Complex
• Review: "A new book from Fantagraphics helps restore the balance to Toth's broader reputation. In Setting the Standard: Comics by Alex Toth, 1952-1954, editor Greg Sadowski has assembled all of the crime, war, science-fiction, horror, and romance titles that Toth produced during his two years working for Standard Comics.... Setting the Standard pays tribute to Toth... by collecting genre-bound stories that the artist made fascinating through the sheer force of his talent." – Casey Burchby, L.A. Weekly
• Review: "Setting the Standard is chock full of stories... Lovers of good retro stories that support heroic warriors and the emotional problems of young women whose heart is between two men will be delighted." – Le Blog de Li-An (translated from French)
• Review: "For anyone with an interest in the Seattle music scene of the 1980s and ‘90s, the subgenre that became known as grunge, Taking Punk to the Masses: From Nowhere to Nevermind is essential reading.... If you can’t make it out to Seattle to visit Experience Music Project’s Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Masses exhibit, this book is a suitable substitute. Tons of gig posters, set lists, and album artwork provide further context. These visuals, accompanied by McMurray’s straightforward commentary and the extensive DVD interviews, create a compelling document of a unique era of music history." – Blogcritics
This week's comic shop shipment is slated to include the following new titles. Read on to see what comics-blog commentators and web-savvy comic shops are saying about them (more to be added as they appear), check out our previews at the links, and contact your local shop to confirm availability.
two 344-page black & white 8.5" x 7" hardcovers in a custom slipcase • $49.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-472-6
"The early '80s were an uncertain time for Peanuts — looking at this volume, you can sometimes see Charles Schulz coasting on his innate gifts and barely bothering with joke-writing. At other times, he's trying different kinds of humor than he'd worked with before: more absurdity, more formalist gags. This isn't 'classic' Peanuts by a long shot, and it still pretty obviously deserves its place at the top of the all-time poll." – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
"I liked Lynn Johnston's Peanuts introduction, as it focuses on Schulz's resistance to getting older and the appeal of having an entire world completely in your control." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
"Here is the book you should be paying attention to, in comic shops on Wednesday... Fantagraphics continues their fantastic reprinting of the entirety of Charles Schulz' classic comic strip." – Dave Ferraro, Comics-and-More
432-page full color 7.5" x 10.5" softcover • $39.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-408-5
"An anthology of early comics by the master-without-a-masterpiece, from the early post-superhero period of his career--romance comics, as well as more violent genres. Edited by Greg Sadowski, who's really good at this particular kind of book." – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
"This is one nice-looking book, certainly the one I'd place my greedy paws on for a look-see in a comics shop excellent enough to carry it. Greg Sadowski always does the job. It's intriguing to me how elusive an appraisal of Alex Toth's work has become despite the work having among its primary virtues directness and simplicity." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
"CONFLICT OF INTEREST RESERVOIR: Editor Greg Sadowski returns with Setting the Standard: Comics by Alex Toth 1952-1954, a 432-page collection of Toth things bolstered by a 1968 interview and the now-familiar heavily illustrated Sadowski endnotes; $39.99. The Complete Peanuts Vol. 16: 1981-1982 will probably be exactly that, with a foreword by Lynn Johnston; $28.99."
• Review: "...[T]he cartoons in Willie & Joe: Back Home capture Mauldin at a low ebb personally, and ferociously inspired professionally.... The material in Back Home is bitter but witty, and remarkable for its courage. Given the platform of a major syndicate, Mauldin used his moral authority — as a firsthand observer of atrocity, venality, and want — to try and make his complacent countrymen feel a little shame. Where his wartime cartoons had said, 'I am one of you' to grunts in the trenches, his post-war work said, 'What the hell happened to you?' to the people who stayed home. At the time, the public rejected Mauldin’s lectures. Today they’re a blistering reminder that life after WWII wasn’t all suburban bliss and baby boom." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "Told with humor and a great depth of sensitivity, these comics offer a human lens to an epic more often expressed in grandiose terms. Over the past couple of years Fantagraphics has amazed me consistently with its archival releases of seminal cartoonists' work, and Willie and Joe: The WWII Years is yet another fine example." – David Gutowski, Largehearted Boy
• Review: "Toth brought clarity and drama to the page — the equivalent of a top Hollywood director elevating rote material through elegant framing and camera moves.... Nearly every drawing in this book is purposeful and exciting, and they flow together to tell stories so clearly that the words are often superfluous. Setting the Standard is a treasure trove..." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "...Jacques Tardi is certainly in Toth’s league when it comes to rendering seamy genre fare with real artistry. Like a Sniper Lining Up His Shot ... is a wonderfully wicked piece of work, tracking a hitman as he tries to sever all ties with his past and retire with his childhood sweetheart. The story’s a familiar one... but Manchette’s approach is especially violent and gory, with a tough twist ending. And Tardi picks up on the sadness underlying the brutality, sketching a black-and-white world where the choice to go to the dark side is irrevocable, no matter how hard characters work to wrest control of their fates." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "...Belgian artist Olivier Schrauwen does a fine job of approximating the high weirdness of early-20th-century newspaper comics in The Man Who Grew His Beard, a collection of seven deeply strange short stories.... Schrauwen mixes ink and paint in ways that blur the distinctions between comics and fine art, and he brings back certain themes — instruction and erotica, primarily — that suggest how men try and fail to place parameters on the primal. But The Man Who Grew His Beard isn’t meant to be 'understood' so much as it is to be entered and experienced, in all its wildness." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "Kevin Huizenga’s Ganges #4 continues the artist’s increasingly masterful hybrid of direct storytelling and experimental abstraction.... The story suits Huizenga’s style, since he can document both the familiar minutiae of daily life and the sense of unreality that takes hold whenever someone is up half the night. Huizenga works in visual motifs of endlessly branching possibilities and spiraling shapes, showing how becoming 'lost in thought' can be terrifying. In short: This is another terrific installment of a series that’s fast becoming a classic." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "Mr. Twee Deedle, Raggedy Ann’s Sprightly Cousin: The Forgotten Fantasy Masterpieces of Johnny Gruelle... collects the strip that illustrator Gruelle created to fill the void left by Little Nemo when Winsor McKay departed The New York Herald. Though not as imaginative as McKay, Gruelle’s Mr. Twee Deedle was every bit as colorful and lavishly rendered, telling gentle fairy stories that explore a rich fantasy world existing in tandem with our own, like children having elaborate playtimes mere feet away from their parents’ more prosaic lives." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club (NOTE: This review was based on samples of the strip provided to the reviewer; the book itself is incomplete and still in production.)
• Review: "...Drawing Power... brings together an eclectic set of examples of comics being used to sell products. The pages are fun to look at — from Mickey Mouse pitching Post Toasties to Dr. Seuss illustrating ads for Esso Marine Products — but the topic is a little too large for a 120-page book, especially one so loosely organized. Then again, maybe that’s the point: to create a reading experience as chaotic and laced with odd beauty as cartooning itself." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "I have long admired Woodring’s brilliant, hallucinatory, and bizarre Frank comics. But his work has taken a leap forward with last year’s Weathercraft and this year’s Congress of the Animals. The Frank world is one the reader benefits by being immersed in. What might seem a bit incomprehensible in a short strip blossoms into a dark Dionysian dream in these two graphic novels.... If I keep mention them together, it is because I believe they beg to be read together. They show different but complimentary sides of Woodring’s vision. And also because these two books combine to form, I believe, one of the greatest achievements in recent comics. If you are a fan of the strange, the uncanny, the bizarre, the hallucinatory, and the fantastic, I can’t recommend them enough." – Lincoln Michel, The Faster Times
• Review: For Magnet, Marc Bianchi of the band Her Space Holiday (they're good!) pens an appreciation of Charles M. Schulz's Peanuts, adding "A good place to rediscover the Peanuts is through the retrospective that Fantagraphics started releasing in 2004. They are complete and total masterpieces, from the elegant layouts provided by famed comic-book artist Seth to the wonderful guest introductions each volume has... If you are ever in a shop that carries these books, I highly suggest thumbing through one of them. Especially the earliest works (1950-1952 or 1953-1954). You are guaranteed to find something that in one panel can tear your heart apart and, in the next, put it back together again."
• Review: "To say that Wandering Son isn't a manga for everyone is perhaps stating the obvious, but despite the potential to make light of its cross-dressing, coming of age tale it proves itself to be an impressively subtle and considered take on growing up within this opening volume. ...[G]ive it time and you'll find an impressive, character-driven series beneath its simplistic surface that will both charm and fascinate you, leaving you rooting for its characters and wanting to follow them through to (you hope) eventual happiness." – Andy Hanley, UK Anime Network
• Review: "Supermen!: The First Wave of Comic Book Heroes, 1936-1941 promises to fill gaps in 'the origins and early development of superheroes and the comic book form.' Editor Greg Sadwoski has assembled an eye-catching collection of stories, magazine covers, and house ads showing unfamiliar faces from the first years of American adventures comics. ...Supermen! is most interesting for what didn’t lead anywhere.... Seeing what didn’t work or become the norm can be as illuminating as seeing what did." – J.L. Bell, Oz and Ends (via Robot 6)
• Plug: "...[D]espite his undeniable gift for crafting elegant and vibrant storytelling that transcends all genres, sadly there has never before been a comprehensive, affordably priced reprinting of Carl Barks' Disney work…until now. Fantagraphics Books recently announced that it will begin reprinting the entire catalog of the master’s Disney material, beginning with the release of Walt Disney’s Donald Duck: 'Lost in the Andes' by Carl Barks in October, 2011." – Bill Baker, The Morton Report
• Interview (Audio): The hosts of Comics Alliance's "War Rocket Ajax" podcast talk to Michael Kupperman about his new book Mark Twain's Autobiography 1910-2010, crafting his brand of humor and sundry other topics (such as bleu cheese): "It's about things taking the turn that you don't expect, the ball taking the bounce you don't expect. That for me is an example of trying to make the sentence end up in a place that's different from where it started."
• Tribute: At The Comics Journal, Kim Thompson's obituary of Francisco Solano López: "Argentina’s Francisco Solano López was a titan of South American comics, on a level with the great Alberto Breccia, the temporary honorary Argentinean (during the 1950s) Hugo Pratt, and the hugely influential writer Hector Oesterheld (who collaborated with all three)." (Excerpt courtesy TCJ's Tim Hodler)
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