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taking a few extra months due to the inclusion of material not originally planned — nearly a hundred pages, including unpublished 1936-38 sci-fi strips and Wolverton's complete non-humorous Marvel comics.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
• Reviews:Robot 6's Chris Mautner looks at our 3 newest Golden Age collections:
"...[W]hile I enjoyed [Action! Mystery!] Thrills[!] (I’m especially grateful for being exposed to the neon-color stylings of L.B. Cole, who seems to prefigure the era of black velvet paintings), it’s definitely the slightest — the most coffee tableish — of Sadowski’s books so far. It feels like a book designed more to flip through than to mull over.... That’s not necessarily a bad thing — there’s certainly pleasures to be had in re-examining these covers..."
"What’s exciting for me about this book is watching Everett develop as an artist and storyteller and figure out the medium in relatively rapid fashion.... The material in Amazing [Mysteries] in no way represents Everett’s strongest work, though they do point to his potential — those thrilling Sub Mariner stories were just around the corner. What you see here are the glimmers of an artist struggling to comprehend the potential of this relatively new medium [and] how he can push it to match his own interests."
"Though modern readers may wince at some of the sexual stereotypes on display, not to mention the occasional forced happy ending, Young Romance underscores Simon and Kirby’s keen storytelling skills. Adhering to a mostly six-panel grid, the duo manage to produce work that is visually arresting and dramatic... It’s also worth mentioning that editor Michel Gagne’s [restoration] work is stellar... For Kirby fans and those who just love to explore comics from generations past, it’s a rather essential read."
• Review: "It’s hard to imagine a comic that’s more ambitious and less pretentious; it’s reader-immersive and reader-friendly. Huizenga’s style recalls the 'big nose' school of cartooning — Glenn Ganges' schnoz is one of the comic’s stars. This unaffected old-timey style lends the narrative a sense of charm and elegance... Perhaps we should judge 2012’s comics according the standard set by Ganges #4." – Ken Parille, The Comics Journal
• Plugs: Martha Cornog of Library Journal Reviews spotlights a few of our upcoming releases in the latest "Graphic Novels Prepub Alert":
Buz Sawyer, Vol. 2: Sultry’s Tiger by Roy Crane: "World War II has ended, and flying ace Buz Sawyer has snagged a civilian job at last: troubleshooter for International Airways, which has him traveling to hotspots all over the world. Of course, he always flies into adventure, here visiting a dangerous woman he first met during the war, taking on the Mad Baron, discovering Mayan treasure, and being kidnapped by mysterious thugs. But whatever the adventure, somehow Buz always gets mixed up with a pretty girl. This volume includes both daily and full-color Sunday strips, originally published between 1945 and 1947, drawn in Crane’s clean, realistic style that in retrospect looks remarkably European."
Kolor Klimax: Nordic Comics Now, ed. by Matthias Wivel: "This lavish sampler of work from Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden offers a wide variety of artistic styles and short plots, some with a more adult focus. See samples here; click 'Expand' for the wonderful cover plus 20 pages. Wivel is a veteran of the Danish comics scene who currently lives in New York."
Black Images in the Comics by Fredrik Strömberg: "First published by Fantagraphics in 2003 and nominated for an Eisner Award, this history of racial depictions in comics has been updated in both its content and its source list. Over 100 entries, each featuring a representative illustration and an instructive short essay, cover an international range of comics, from Moon Mullins through Tintin, Will Eisner, R. Crumb, Peanuts, Boondocks, and beyond. Strömberg is a Swedish comics journalist, editor, and educator who has published numerous books in several languages."
Jewish Images in the Comics by Fredrik Strömberg: "Another of Strömberg’s books, in a similar format: over 150 entries from internationally-originating comic strips, comic books, and graphic novels stretching back 'over the last five centuries' that feature Jewish characters and Jewish themes. The works of Art Spiegelman and Will Eisner are well known to comics aficionados in the United States, but many of the other examples, some 'far less savory,' may not be."
Like the postman making his appointed rounds, we pride ourselves in maintaining normal hours at Fantagraphics Bookstore no matter what the weather. But with TV spokesmodels breathlessly warning of blizzard conditions approaching the Seattle area, we encourage customers to call the store before strapping on their snowshoes. 206.658.0110.
Comix fans should take advantage of the current break in the weather to come pick up a copy of Action! Mystery! Thrills! This book is full of alluring covers from the Golden Age comic books. The imagery bolsters my contention that comix represent the most compelling reflection of the cultural climate of mid-century America. The covers of WWII era comic books combine patriotic themes with appallingly racist depictions of Imperial Japanese soldiers (though our German foes fare no better). Delightful deco aesthetics, garish colors and lurid themes, together with an informative index by Greg Sadowski, create one of the most appealing books in recent memory. The perfect read for a winter day indoors. Bring on the snow.
When we contemplate a memorable old comic book, the first thing that comes to mind is its cover, and that was no accident. Publishers realized fairly quickly that if they spent a little extra to hire a good cover artist, they could fill the insides with mediocrity and still make a sizable profit — that all it took was a striking cover to entice thousands of kids to fork over their dimes.
Even today, covers drive the collectors’ market. Apart from number-one issues and first appearances, the strength of a comic book’s cover is the first consideration in determining its value. Indeed, it is now common practice to entomb the book between slabs of sealed plastic — with only the cover visible — as if the interior pages’ sole purpose was to provide a place to secure the staples.
In order to locate the best possible examples, collectors from around the world have been enlisted to share their rare and valuable comic books. The scores of cover artists represented include Carl Barks, Charles Biro, Dick Briefer, L.B. Cole, Jack Cole, Reed Crandall, Will Eisner, Bill Everett, Lou Fine, Walt Kelly, Jack Kirby, Mac Raboy, and Alex Schomburg. Every comic book genre will be explored, from superhero to detective to Western to funny animal.
Majestic, iconic, chaotic, or downright weird, a classic comic book cover has an undeniable appeal, and Action! Mystery! Thrills! celebrates in spades this unique cultural icon. The covers are printed full-sized on glossy paper to most faithfully replicate the originals, and arranged chronologically to give the reader a sense of the sweeping trends and stylistic developments throughout the medium’s first decade, as inexorable waves of dazzling imagery battled monthly for newsstand attention. This long-overdue collection also includes extensive historical commentary by editor/designer Greg Sadowski (Four Color Fear, Supermen!).