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Category >> Hal Foster

2010 Eisner Nominees announced, on sale
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Trina RobbinsTony MillionaireThe Comics JournalRichard SalaPrince ValiantPeter BaggeNell BrinkleyMaakiesJacques TardiHumbugHal FosterGahan WilsonFrom Wonderland with LoveCarol TylerBlazing CombatawardsAbstract Comics 8 Apr 2010 12:42 PM

Eisner Award Nominee Seal

We are exceedingly pleased to report that Fantagraphics publications and artists received a record 18 nominations for the 2010 Eisner Awards. To celebrate, we're offering these titles at 18% off for a limited time! Click here for the full sale selection. (Sale is valid for online and phone orders only.) Winners will be announced at a ceremony on Friday, July 23, 2010 at Comic-Con International in San Diego. Congratulations to all the nominees! Fantagraphics' nominations are as follows:

From Wonderland with Love: Danish Comics in the Third  Millennium

• Best Short Story: "Because I Love You So Much," by Nikoline Werdelin, in From Wonderland with Love: Danish Comics in the Third Millennium  

Ganges #3

• Best Single Issue: Ganges #3, by Kevin Huizenga

Drinky Crow's Maakies Treasury

• Best Humor Publication: Drinky Crow's Maakies Treasury, by Tony Millionaire

Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me and Other Astute Observations

• Best Humor Publication: Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me and Other Astute Observations, by Peter Bagge

Abstract Comics: The Anthology

• Best Anthology: Abstract Comics, edited by Andrei Molotiu

West Coast Blues

• Best Adaptation from Another Work: West Coast Blues, by Jean-Patrick Manchette, adapted by Jacques Tardi
• Best U.S. Edition of International Material: West Coast Blues, by Jean-Patrick Manchette, adapted by Jacques Tardi

The Brinkley Girls: The Best of Nell Brinkley's Cartoons   1913-1940

• Best Archival Collection — Strips: The Brinkley Girls: The Best of Nell Brinkley's Cartoons 1913-1940, edited by Trina Robbins
• Best Publication Design: The Brinkley Girls, designed by Adam Grano

Gahan Wilson: Fifty Years of Playboy Cartoons

• Best Archival Collection — Strips: Gahan Wilson: Fifty Years of Playboy Cartoons, by Gahan Wilson, edited by Gary Groth
• Best Publication Design: Gahan Wilson: Fifty Years of Playboy Cartoons, designed by Jacob Covey

Prince Valiant Vol. 1: 1937-1938

• Best Archival Collection — Strips: Prince Valiant, Vol. 1: 1937-1938, by Hal Foster, edited by Kim Thompson

Blazing Combat

• Best Archival Collection — Comic Books: Blazing Combat, by Archie Goodwin et al., edited by Gary Groth

Humbug

• Best Archival Collection — Comic Books: Humbug, by Harvey Kurtzman et al., edited by Gary Groth

You'll Never Know Book 1: A Good and Decent Man

• Best Writer/Artist — Nonfiction: Carol Tyler, You'll Never Know: A Good and Decent Man
• Best Painter/Multimedia Artist: Carol Tyler, You'll Never Know: A Good and Decent Man

The Comics Journal #300

• Best Comics-Related Periodical: The Comics Journal, edited by Gary Groth, Michael Dean, and Kristy Valenti

Delphine #4

• Best Lettering: Richard Sala, Delphine (Fantagraphics), Cat Burglar Black (First Second)



Daily OCD: 4/7/10
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Rick AltergottreviewsPrince ValiantPeter BaggeLove and RocketsLos Bros HernandezLinda MedleyHotwireHal FosterDaily OCD 7 Apr 2010 4:32 PM

Online Commentary & Diversions:

Castle Waiting

Review: "Knowing full well that I had to be at work at 9:00 the next morning, I nonetheless stayed up past 2:00 with Castle Waiting. And when I got to that last page, bleary-eyed and struggling to stay awake, all I wanted was more. I wanted the story to keep going. ... The stories are captivating and exciting and surprisingly deep. She is never heavy-handed about it, but Medley explores some weighty topics, including domestic violence, religious conversion, and sacrifice. ... I laughed frequently as I read the book, and cried once — not because I was sad, but because I was moved by the story." – Jessica Zellers, Blogging for a Good Book (Williamsburg Public Library)

Hotwire Comics Vol. 3

Review: "...Hotwire Comics #3... is big in page size, big in color, big in imagination... [M]y favorite work in the entire anthology, 'Keen on a Clown,' [is] Rick Altergott’s straight-faced satire of romance comics of long ago... The final page — and especially the final panel — is a killer." – Rod Lott, Bookgasm

Hate Annual #8

Plug: "I love Hate, particularly the increasingly oddball Buddy Bradley stories that come once a year with these annuals. ... Every comics fan should have the vast majority of whatever Peter Bagge has in print, and these volumes would be a great value for a cartoonist only 2/3 as talented." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter

Love and Rockets Book 25: High Soft Lisp Love and Rockets Library (Locas Book 4): Penny Century

Plugs: Love & Maggie has the rundown on all the latest releases from the Hernandez Brothers

Prince Valiant Vol. 1: 1937-1938

Profile: "I get tired of hearing about Mozart. Yeah, he’s a genius and he started composing music when he was 5-years-old. I get it, fine, blah, blah, blah. You know who else is brilliant? Harold 'Hal' Foster, the critically-acclaimed creator-writer-artist on Prince Valiant. He created his most famous and enduring work when he was 45-years-old." – Tom Mason, Comix 411

Daily OCD: 4/5/10
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under reviewsPrince ValiantPopeyePeter BaggePeanutsNell BrinkleyMichael KuppermanLove and RocketsKevin HuizengaJohnny RyanJoe DalyJim WoodringJaime HernandezJacques TardiHumbugHans RickheitHal FosterGilbert HernandezEC SegarDaily OCDCharles M SchulzCarol TylerBest of 2009Al Columbia 5 Apr 2010 5:56 PM

Online Commentary & Diversions:

List: Look out, it's Tom Spurgeon's Best of 2009 list at The Comics Reporter. Fantagraphics category rankings are listed below, with complete lists and Tom's commentary to be found at the link above:

Best Archival/Reprints:
14: Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me by Peter Bagge
13: The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book by Joe Daly
12: The Complete Peanuts 1971-1974 by Charles M. Schulz
10: The Brinkley Girls: The Best of Nell Brinkley's Cartoons 1913-1940
8: You Are There by Jacques Tardi & Jean-Claude Forest
7: Luba by Gilbert Hernandez
4: Locas II: Maggie, Hopey & Ray by Jaime Hernandez
3: Popeye Vol. 4: Plunder Island by E.C. Segar
2: Humbug by Elder, Kurtzman, Jaffee, Roth et al.

Best Comics (First Run Or Definitively Collected):
23: Prison Pit Book 1 by Johnny Ryan
18: "Ti-Girl Adventures" by Jaime Hernandez in Love and Rockets New Stories #2
14: The Squirrel Machine by Hans Rickheit
12: Tales Designed to Thrizzle Vol. 1 by Michael Kupperman
11: You'll Never Know, Book 1: A Good and Decent Man by C. Tyler
10: Ganges #3 by Kevin Huizenga
3: Pim & Francie by Al Columbia

Locas II: Maggie, Hopey & Ray

Review: "Somehow, some way, Jamie Hernandez is getting better and better. ...Locas, the first gigantic hardcover compilation of Jamie’s 'Maggie and Hopey' stories, stands as one of the highlights of my life as a reader. Now, unbelievably, Locas II exceeds the original’s standard. ... In Locas II: Maggie, Hopey and Ray, he’s crafted perhaps his most universal work to date, a saga of three people who’ve left behind the postures of their youth to stumble, unsure and hesitant, across the landscape of their adult lives. It’s strange and scary, funny and sweet, confused and enlightening. Locas II is a master as the top of his game, and a true comic book classic." – Michael C. Lorah, Newsarama

Prince Valiant Vol. 1: 1937-1938

Review: "It is interesting to see the rapid evolution of the graphics and drawings [in Prince Valiant Vol. 1: 1937-1938], a little reticent and schematic at first, but soon becoming highly detailed and expressive. Adventure prevailed in the stories, but there was room for humor, romance and tragedy." – Top Comics (translated from Portuguese)

The Portable Frank

Review: "OK sure but trust me it's not for those who just want to look at dumbed down pictures and drool on themselves as anorexic telepathic women parade in wonder bras nor is this Babar's color by number. [The Portable] Frank is engaging on all levels and asks the reader to not just lose themselves but to participate fully and that's why this is my pick of the week!!" – Coast City Comics

The Frank Book

Plug: "This book is amazing and bat%$#* crazy.  There are no words, just check it out of the library asap." – Cold Bullets















Daily OCD: 3/22/10
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under videoSteve DitkoreviewsPrince ValiantPeanutsJohnny RyanJacques TardiHo Che AndersonHal FosterEsther Pearl WatsonDaily OCDCharles M SchulzBrian KaneBlake Bell 22 Mar 2010 7:00 PM

Online Commentary & Diversions:

Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko

Review: "Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko by Blake Bell... [is] fantastic! ... It’s part biography, part art book - an amazing recap of Steve Ditko’s entire career in comics, from the early days with Charlton to the present. ... It’s also one of the best designed books I’ve read recently, including lots of rare pencil pages, out-of-print rarities, and full color scans on virtually every page. There’s a lot more to Steve Ditko than just Doctor Strange and Spider-Man." – Marc Sobel, Comic Book Galaxy

King - A Comics Biography: The Special Edition

Review: "Vitally, Anderson draws an earthy King, one who likes soul food and soulful women, but who is also capable of inspiring and challenging oratory, theological radicalism and courageous leadership, even when faced with fists, firebombs, and F.B.I. persecution. Anderson reminds one of U.S. poet Walt Whitman: He keeps publishing the same book, in different editions. But what a book!" – George Elliott Clarke, The Halifax Herald

You Are There

Review: "This is a very strange comic... You Are There works best as an absurdist critique of society and politics. ... The absurdity of Forest's script is brought to amazing life... It's a tremendous work of art, heightening the weirdness of the narrative very well. ... I would recommend You Are There because it's a thoughtful look at the pressure of conformity and what drives a man mad. ... Tardi is fantastic and makes the book even wackier, which isn't a bad thing." – Greg Burgas, Comic Book Resources

Unlovable Vol. 1

Review: "It is hard to convey how much of the joy of Unlovable comes not only from the wandering plotline (if there is any in this book) but also from the accompanying visuals. Tammy's attentions, interests and emotions are all scattered. The author's style of drawing lends to the feeling of chaos and scatteredness; the reader senses it in the erratic lines and messy fonts of various sizes. An erratic view of an erratic time of life." – Julia Eussen, AnnArbor.com

Prison Pit: Book 1

Review: "Johnny Ryan’s Prison Pit is something I keep coming back to — and not just because it’s the only comic book I’ve ever seen that can actively liven up a party. It’s a hilarious, visceral and quick read... for really dumb fun, this is pretty much unbeatable. I’ve considered that maybe the fun isn’t as dumb — that maybe Cannibal Fuckface’s journey through the wastes of the prison pit are a Bunyan-style metaphor for, I don’t know, man coming to terms with the restrictions of modern life, but then I remember it’s a comic that features the term 'burnt jizz,' and I stop thinking and laugh." – David Uzumeri, Robot 6

The Definitive Prince Valiant Companion [Softcover Ed.]

Review: "I'd ignored Hal Foster's knights-and-adventure strip until Fantagraphics remastered, recolored and repackaged the first two years of [Prince] Valiant (1937-38) into one of the loveliest reprint volumes of 2009. I became a Foster fan immediately, and bought Brian Kane's Definitive Prince Valiant Companion to learn more about Foster and the other talents (John Cullen Murphy, Gary Gianni and Mark Schultz) who'd worked on the comic during its 70+ years." – Craig Fischer, Thought Balloonists; the remainder of Fischer's take on the Companion is mixed-to-unfavorable, but we still recommend checking it out for his insights and some additional commentary he brings to the table

Review: In this nicely-done video, Ab. Velasco of the Toronto Public Library recommends The Complete Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz

Things to see: 3/17/10
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Tom KaczynskiThings to seeSteven WeissmanRenee FrenchOriginal ArtMarco CoronaKevin HuizengaHal FosterDash Shaw 17 Mar 2010 4:09 PM

 Dash Shaw BodyWorld print

Dash Shaw models his "Dieball Trophy" BodyWorld silkscreen print, now available from Desert Island in Brooklyn

I, Anonymous - Steven Wiessman

• This week's "I, Anonymous" spot by Steven Wiessman

Prince Valiant layout - Hal Foster

• At The Hooded Utilitarian, Ng Suat Tong examines some examples of Hal Foster's original art

Marco Corona

Marco Corona presents some "drawings from the crypt"

thewlis 4 - Renee French

Renee French is on a mouth/teeth kick lately

Glenn Ganges - Kevin Huizenga

Glenn & Wendy looking grumpy, presented without context by Kevin Huizenga

Structure 0024 - Tom Kaczynski

'Nother one of these guys from Tom Kaczynski

Daily OCD: 3/15/10
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Tom KaczynskiThe Comics JournalSteve DitkoreviewsPrince ValiantNewaveLove and RocketsJoe DalyJasonHans RickheitHal FosterGilbert HernandezGabrielle BellDaily OCDBlazing CombatB Krigstein 15 Mar 2010 4:53 PM

Online Commentary & Diversions:

The Left Bank Gang [New Printing]

List: For Library Journal, Tom Batten recommends a handful of recent "Classic Graphic Novels," including The Left Bank Gang by Jason: "Supporting his highly imaginative and quirky storytelling, Jason's deceptively simple cartooning carries a great deal of intensity in each line."

Dungeon Quest, Book 1  [Pre-Order]

Review: "Winning a coveted Jury prize at the 2010 Angouleme festival, Dungeon Quest succeeds on so many levels: the art and character design are superb, the dialogue is acerbic yet measured, the page construction has a flow to it that verges on perfection, the meter of the storytelling is spot-on, and, most importantly, it’s actually really funny. ... As the first volume in a series projected to last for a good few books yet, readers are advised to party-up with the cast of Dungeon Quest immediately." – Martin Steenton, Avoid the Future

Blazing Combat [Softcover Ed. - Pre-Order]

Review: "The series only lasted four issues, but it is among the high points of 1960s comics, and this handsome collection is one of the most welcome reprint volumes of the last few years. ... Blazing Combat showed comics readers the gritty downside of war..." – Robert Martin, The Comics Journal

The Squirrel Machine

Review: "...[S]ome books just leave a reviewer pointing and jabbering, unable to coherently explain what he's just been through or to find any words that will adequately explain what he has seen. The Squirrel Machine is a book of [this] kind... Reading The Squirrel Machine is very much like watching some German Expressionist movie: it's a series of alternately wondrous and appalling scenes, clearly connected by some kind of logic, the true meaning of which resolutely remains beyond the knowledge of the viewer." – Andrew Wheeler, The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.

Newave! The Underground Mini Comix of the 1980s

Plug: The fine folks at Librairie D&Q say "Now in store is this little jewel just published by Fantagraphics Books. On top of being a well-researched collection of underground mini-comix of the 1980's, this book compiles pages and pages of interviews and commentary on the creative, edgy, weird and free-spirited post-Crumb scene. While it may not necessarily represent the global landscape of underground comix in the 80's (one could argue it needs more wemin-ahtists, for example), Newave! is definitely a praise-worthy sampler of work most often hidden in the shadows of the underground comix movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s."

Luba

Plug: Roberto C. Madruga of Evolve Happy on Luba by Gilbert Hernandez: "The story is Hernandez at his best and the artwork is simplistically gorgeous."

Prince Valiant Vol. 1:  1937-1938 [BLACK & WHITE Libri Impressi Edition - NORTH AMERICA  ONLY]

Plugs: The latest Robot 6 "What Are You Reading?" roundup includes several Fantagraphics mentions, and guest contributor Ng Suat Tong on the black & white Prince Valiant Vol. 1: 1937-1938 from Libri Impressi, available in the U.S. exclusively from us: "The new Fantagraphics and Portugese books are the only way one should read Foster's masterwork."

Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 1

Analysis: At PopMatters, Oliver Ho compares and contrasts two stories from B. Krigstein Comics and Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 1: "The strangeness comes not so much from the individual stories, but from the way each comic and artist appears to be a sort of mirror image of the other."

The Comics Journal #59

Links: Love & Maggie begins their detailed, annotated breakdown of the second entry on their list of the top 10 issues of The Comics Journal, #59

Mome Vol. 1 - Summer 2005

Profile: Comic Book Resources' Kelly Thompson looks at the work of Gabrielle Bell

Corporate Critter - Tom Kaczynski

Interview: The Comics Journal's Kent Worcester presents an edited transcript of his on-stage interview with Tom Kaczynski from the 2009 MoCCA festival

Daily OCD: 3/8/10
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Usagi YojimboThe Comics JournalStan SakaireviewsJacques TardiHo Che AndersonHal FosterDennis the MenaceDash ShawDan NadelDaily OCDBurne HogarthBill Mauldin 8 Mar 2010 6:12 PM

The latest Online Commentary & Diversions:

The Unclothed  Man in the 35th Century A.D.

Review: "Dash Shaw seems set to become a name to be reckoned with in comics... [The Unclothed Man in the 35th Century A.D.] is a wonderful introduction to Shaw’s work, and should certainly find its way into the hands of those craving more." – Grovel

Usagi Yojimbo Book 1: The  Ronin

Review: "I'm so glad I started reading this series and can't wait to catch up. Usagi Yojimbo is that rare breed of animal comic that works for me, blending Sakai's cartoon style with a story that would not be out of place in Lone Wolf and Cub. Fans of comics set in historical Japan should definitely check this out. You'll be glad you did. I think it would also be a good fit for manga fans looking to try a non-Japanese comic. I enjoyed this book a lot, and look forward to reading more." – Panel Patter

Hank Ketcham's Complete Dennis the Menace 1961-1962 (Vol. 6)

Review: "Yet another reason to love Fantagraphics is their meticulous sequential collections of classic newspaper strips such as... Hank Ketcham’s Dennis the Menace. This volume collects the strips from 1961 - 1962 in a huge 654-page volume. What has always stood out about the Dennis the Menace strips is that they were single panel cartoons. It takes an incredible level of talent write a single panel cartoon and Ketcham was one of the best. ... Truly a delight that has lost none of its humor in fifty years.  Grade A" – Tim Janson, The Gouverneur Times

West Coast Blues - Jacques Tardi

Review: "West Coast Blues might be an off-kilter story of insufficiently motivated violence and random ennui, but it's a gorgeous-looking one." – Andrew Wheeler, The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.

Sand  & Fury: A Scream Queen Adventure [Pre-Order]

Review: "...Ho Che Anderson's Sand & Fury... [is] a slightly twisty tale of sex, serial killers, and the supernatural, told very stylishly in black, white, and red. Blood and shadows therefore get a lot of play across Anderson's desolate southwestern landscapes; and although his lines can be thick and blocky, his figures evoke a good bit of emotion. There's a lot of nudity, a whole lot of violence, and so the plot can be boiled down to a very simple level: revenge, good vs. evil, etc. However, Anderson's anonymous main character, and the people she befriends, are more than just nominally sympathetic. I feel like I'm not doing the book justice, because it is a very raw tale, full of death and sex, and I liked it a lot." – Tom Bondurant, Robot 6

Plug: Sequential spotlights Ho Che Anderson's Sand & Fury, saying it's "nice to see something new after he told Howard Chaykin he was giving up comics in the Comics Journal 300 interview."

Plug: "King creator Ho Che Anderson has a brand new Scream Queen book, Sand & Fury. Ho's work always looks good, and I'm personally pretty happy to see this one..." – Chris Butcher, The Beguiling

King - A  Comics Biography: The Special Edition

Interview: At Robot 6, Tim O'Shea talks to Ho Che Anderson about the new Special Edition of King ("That’s one thing I wish I could have done more of, slashing dialog, rewriting more of it, but at a certain point you gotta let it go. (Yes, George Lucas, I am talking about you.)") and his new graphic novel Sand & Fury ("To me, sex and horror or sex and violence seem to go naturally together. They seem to stem from the same twisted areas of our psyches. What scares us can often arouse us, sometimes despite ourselves, and vice versa.")

Bill Mauldin US postage stamp

Profile: CNN's Bob Greene pays tribute to Bill Mauldin on the occasion of the release of Mauldin's commemorative US postage stamp this month: "Mauldin, and his work, meant so much to the millions of Americans who fought in World War II, and to those who had waited for them to come home. He was a kid cartoonist for Stars and Stripes, the military newspaper; Mauldin's drawings of his muddy, exhausted, whisker-stubbled infantrymen Willie and Joe were the voice of truth about what it was like on the front lines." (hat tip to Walt Simonson)

The Comics Journal #166

Commentary: At Comics Comics, Dan Nadel pulls a quote about Hal Foster from the interview with Burne Hogarth in The Comics Journal #166

Daily OCD: 1/5/09
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under reviewsPrince ValiantKevin HuizengaJoost SwarteHal FosterGilbert HernandezGahan WilsonBest of 2009Al Columbia 5 Jan 2010 10:59 PM

Apologies for the late late Online Commentary & Diversions update:

List: Comic Book Resources continues listing their Top 100 Comics of 2009, with Pim & Francie by Al Columbia at #33 ("A totally creepy homage to the ink blot stylings of the early animation era, the book works as part horror comic, part abstract tour de force, part satire and all face melter, cementing Columbia's place as one of the most unique and mysterious voices in comics." – Kiel Phegley) and Ganges #3 by Kevin Huizenga at #20 ("a brilliant, insightful comic with inventive layouts and dead-on emotion" – John Parkin)

List: Don MacPherson of Eye on Comics names the short list for the 2009 Glass Eye Awards for Best Original Graphic Novel: "Gilbert Hernandez’s The Troublemakers was no doubt a delight for fans of the Love and Rockets writer/artist, but as an only casual reader of his work, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. The quirky combination of slice-of-life elements and a crime drama worked incredibly well, and while The Troublemakers boasts a connection to the world of L&R, one needn’t be aware of it or versed in those other comics to appreciate this graphic novel."

Review: "[Hal] Foster’s classic tales of knightly derring-do are a beloved part of the newspaper comics section. It’s difficult to laud Foster too excessively; he was one of the undisputed masters of the craft. A new effort to reprint the Valiant epic in sequential order is off to a roaring start with Prince Valiant, Vol. 1: 1937-1938, a handsome oversize volume reprinting the first two years’ worth of the Arthurian saga’s Sunday strips. Despite its creation in the late 1930s..., the comic strip’s otherworldly setting and taut characterization keep this an evergreen favorite for readers of all ages, an American epic born of a tale of European romance." – Aaron Ragan-Fore, Eugene Weekly

Review: "This incredible boxed set of three gorgeous hardcovers celebrates one of art's funniest and most disturbing cartoonists. ... Gahan Wilson: Fifty Years of Playboy Cartoons is the most comprehensive and attractive Wilson book ever produced." – Rick Klaw, The SF Site: Nexus Graphica

Plug: Jason Pettigrew, editor-in-chief of Alternative Press magazine, lists our forthcoming Joost Swarte collection as one of the 5 things he's most looking forward to in 2010 — except that the book is now on tap for 2011 and the title has changed from Modern Swarte to Is That All There Is?

Things to see: A new strip and sketchy stuff from Kevin Huizenga

Daily OCD: 1/4/10
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under The Comics JournalSupermenSteve DitkoStephen DeStefanoRoger LangridgereviewsPrince ValiantPopeyePeter BaggePeanutsPaul KarasikNoah Van SciverMomeLove and RocketsLos Bros HernandezKevin HuizengaJohnny RyanJoe SaccoJasonJaime HernandezJacques TardiHumbugHotwireHarvey KurtzmanHans RickheitHal FosterGilbert HernandezGabrielle BellFletcher HanksEC SegarDrew WeingDavid LevineDash ShawDaniel ClowesCraig YoecontestsComing AttractionsCharles M SchulzCarol TylerBrian KaneBob LevinBlake BellBest of 2009Arnold RothAbstract Comics 4 Jan 2010 3:33 PM

The first Online Commentary & Diversions of the new year might be the longest one ever, so let's get to it:

List/Review/Interview: As part of The Comics Reporter 's unique series of critical discussions on notable comics of the decade, Tom Spurgeon talks to Tucker Stone about Kevin Huizenga's Ganges: "That's the thing about Ganges #3 that makes it a unique comic -- it cannot be told in another medium and work. How are you going to write that down, that aspect of Glenn chasing his own thoughts and memories about completely personal, mundane life aspects, without drawing the character swimming around in his own head?" Elsewhere, Sean T. Collins responds to some of Stone's points

List: Robot 6 lists The 30 Most Important Comics of the Decade. In part one, Safe Area Gorazde by Joe Sacco is at #19 ("What's more, it showed that comics could handle not only tough subject matters, but deal with timely, true-life subjects in a hard-hitting, journalistic fashion"). In part two, The Complete Peanuts is at #15 ("If you believe, as I do, that we are living in the Golden Age of Reprints, chances are The Complete Peanuts is your Exhibit A")

List: Newsarama 's Michael C. Lorah names his Best of 2009 Comics, including Prince Valiant Vol. 1: 1937-1938 by Hal Foster and Luba by Gilbert Hernandez

List: Newsarama's J. Caleb Mozzocco names his top 10 comics of the year, with The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book by Joe Daly at #8: "...[W]hat he delivers in the two stories collected in this book are unlike anything else I’ve seen in popular comics."

List: Gil Roth names his Favorite Comics of the Decade, including Ice Haven/Eightball #22 by Daniel Clowes, Eightball #23 by Clowes, The End #1 by Anders Nilsen, Locas II by Jaime Hernandez, Safe Area Gorazde by Joe Sacco, I Killed Adolf Hitler by Jason, Kevin Huizenga's work including the Ganges series, and Fred the Clown by Roger Langridge (via The Comics Reporter)

List: Joe McCulloch of Jog - The Blog prefaces his Top Ten Comics of 2009 list with a "Top Five Caveats of 2009" list of reprinted or unread comics which includes Supermen! The First Wave of Comic Book Heroes 1936-1941: ("Supermen! excited me... for suggesting a burning, manic soul of superhero comics, a reckless freedom differentiated from pulp writing and feature films by gnarled visual style while set apart from newspaper strips by virtue of a restless hunger to entertain quick and hard. It felt like the start of a future, and the comedown only hit when I realized I enjoyed it more than any new superhero comic of 2009") and The Squirrel Machine by Hans Rickheit. On the Top Ten list proper: West Coast Blues by Tardi & Manchette at #8 ("Teeming with fleshy characters prone to bleeding and puking, rippled with burn lines of existential dismay, the story keenly exploits how the thrills promised by bloody adventure outside the law segue into the terror of governmental systems failing to protect their cozy consumer citizens") and Prison Pit: Book 1 by Johnny Ryan at #4 ("as visceral and gory as fantasy throwdowns get, while remaining almost contemplative in its plain-paneled studies of bodily movement").

List: Patrick Montfort, blogging at Articulate Nerd, names his Favorite Comics of 2009: at #10, West Coast Blues by Tardi & Manchette ("A masterfully constructed crime story with an unlikeable protagonist caught in an unlikely circumstance, this very French graphic novel is superior to anything I've seen in the genre from an American cartoonist"); at #9, Abstract Comics: The Anthology ("Handsomely designed and smartly edited... one of the year's most unique releases... thrilling"); at #8, Prison Pit: Book 1 by Johnny Ryan ("Refreshingly devoid of any literary or artistic pretensions, this first of what I hope will be many, many volumes nevertheless comes across as somehow one of the smartest and well crafted books of the year"); at #7, The Complete Peanuts 1971-1972 and The Complete Peanuts 1973-1974 by Charles M. Schulz ("Really strong stuff here, including the 'Charlie Brown wears a sack on his head to summer camp' sequence, surely the 'Poison River' of Peanuts"); and at #2, The Squirrel Machine by Hans Rickheit ("Reminiscent of the best work of David Lynch, there are a lot of powerful themes humming just beneath the surface of the creepy and dreamlike narrative. This one hit hard, and I can't wait to read it again. Really, really impressive")

List: On the Family blog, Sammy Harkham lists 2008's Most Outrageous: The Trials and Trespasses of Dwaine Tinsley and Chester the Molester by Bob Levin as one of his Favorites of 2009

List: Cartoonist David Lasky's Best Graphic Novels of the Decade include Safe Area Gorazde by Joe Sacco at #8 ("More haunting and harrowing than any TV news report on the subject") and The Frank Book by Jim Woodring at #10 ("Jim Woodring's cartoon animal, Frank, learns about life (the hard way) in an odd, visually lush, surreal world")

List: At the Forbidden Planet International Blog Log, Richard Cowdry's Best of the Year picks include E.C. Segar's Popeye ("beautiful Depression era comics") and Johnny Ryan's Prison Pit: Book 1 ("Johnny Ryan takes ideas and styles that have been knocking around the art comics scene for the last few years, and injects them with gallons of fun, attitude and humour. My favourite new comic of the year!"); he also names Noah Van Sciver as a talent to watch; for favorites of the decade he names Love and Rockets ("jaw-droppingly amazing"), Eightball #22, Hotwire Comics, and various issues of Mome ("REALLY good")

List: At Comic Book Galaxy, Marc Sobel declares You'll Never Know, Book One: A Good and Decent Man by C. Tyler to be Book of the Year: "Although this is only the first volume..., You’ll Never Know feels like Tyler’s masterpiece, the crowning achievement that she’s been building toward." (We also racked up 5 Honorable Mentions.)

List: Newsarama's Henry Chamberlain names the comics he was most intrigued by in 2009, including The Squirrel Machine by Hans Rickheit ("Hans Rickheit has been producing work like this for years and he has perfected a certain haunted and exquisite comics style. Take it from me, this story of two very strange brothers is the real deal.")

List: Matthew Price of The Oklahoman names his top 10 graphic novels of the decade, with Joe Sacco's Safe Area Gorazde at #9 ("Joe Sacco's nonfiction account of the war in Bosnia was among the best ever examples of graphic novel journalism.")

List: Norwegian journalist Bente Kalsnes mentions Joe Sacco's Safe Area Gorazde as one of her favorite political comics

List: Edward Kaye of Hypergeek selects The Best Graphic Novels of 2009, including Low Moon by Jason ("At times both bleak and humorous, these beautifully absurd stories will leave you as speechless as one of Jason’s silent characters."), Love and Rockets: New Stories #2 by the Hernandez Brothers ("Los Bros. Hernandez continue to blaze trails with their originality, and the comic industry is better for it. This essential collection should be on every fan’s shelf."), Luba by Gilbert Hernandez ("It’s an astounding collection of stories about family, life, love, and heartbreak... [W]hen you read all of these powerful tales together in one place, you realise that Beto has created an epic here, unrivaled in its scale and depth. Words fail to express just how wonderful this collection is."), Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me by Peter Bagge ("It’s a brilliant piece of work, and perhaps Bagge’s finest achievement to date."), Locas II by Jaime Hernandez ("These tales of the lives of Maggie, Hopey, and Ray, are some of the most enthralling, and sometimes bizarre, stories ever told in the comic medium.") and You Shall Die by Your Own Evil Creation! by Fletcher Hanks ("...[T]hese surreal tales from the dawn of the super hero are uncompromisingly vivid, brutal, and at times, completely insane!")

List/Coming Attractions/Plugs: Hypergeek lists The Essential Comics and Graphic Novels of 2010, including Almost Silent by Jason ("Jason is one of the greatest cartoonists in the world") and the year's books from the Hernandez Brothers: The Troublemakers ("I loved Chance in Hell, so this follow-up is a must for me. Beto is a wonderful storyteller, and an astonishing artist, so you can't go wrong picking this up, even if you've never read any L&R!"), High Soft Lisp ("This collection is essential for all L&R fans, as it collects together many of Beto's stories from the second L&R series, for the first time."), Penny Century ("Another essential collection for fans of L&R, collection Xamie's Penny Century stories from the Penny Century series and from Love & Rockets Volume II."), and Love and Rockets: New Stories #3 ("If it's a tenth as good as the first two volumes, we're in for a treat!")

Review: "...[G]oofy fun... Supermen! The First Wave of Comic Book Heroes 1936-1941... is worth it for Fletcher Hanks’ 'Fantomah' and 'Stardust' strips and Basil Wolverton’s Spacehawk. The fact that you also get stuff like 'Yarko the Great' and 'Rex Dexter of Mars' can only be counted as a bonus." – Jeff Kapalka, The Post-Standard

Review: "Magnificent art. Panels that range from three or so across medium-sized panels and the occasional painfully detailed and colored super-sized panel. An ongoing story...with blood and gore even! Dooming predictions, wounds, loss and death. Fantagraphics is to be thanked for working so hard to produce a book [Prince Valiant Vol. 1: 1937-1938] that shows Foster's artwork in a decent size and with the colors corrected." – Fred Kiesche, The Lensman's Children

Review: "For a change of pace, it's nice to delve into some work from the great Steve Ditko and find nary a spider-man nor a strange doctor among them. Fantagraphics provides the ideal venue for doing so in Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 1... With the Fantagraphics logo on the sturdy spine, readers can expect — and receive — a top-quality package with crisp pages and handsome design. It's certainly attractive for some stories Ditko dismissed as 'junk,' but we all know there's treasure buried in trash." – Rod Lott, Bookgasm

Review: "Issue #2 [of Sublife] saw a lot of [the] promise [of the first issue] fulfilled in a group of stories that ranged across both genres and visual styles... What connected each story was a common theme: the desire for family and the ways in which that need either created surrogate families or metastasized into something darker." – Rob Clough, The Comics Journal

Plug: "What better way to celebrate the season of peace than [The Great Anti-War Cartoons]?... Pretty fascinating." – Corey Blake

Plug: Filipino blogger Randy Valiente looks at The Definitive Prince Valiant Companion

Plug: Robot 6 guest contributor Shaenon Garrity got Humbug for Christmas: "I love Harvey Kurtzman's failed magazine projects... Kurtzman never had much success in all his long career, but he had a talent for making smart people want to give him a hand... fun stuff. It's got a lot of work by Arnold Roth, whom I love."

Coming Attractions: Robot 6 surveys numerous comics pros as to what they're looking forward to in 2010: in part 1, Evan Dorkin mentions several of our upcoming reprint collections; in part 2, Chris Schweitzer mentions Drew Weing's Set to Sea (July); in part 3, Jamie S. Rich mentions Lucky in Love by Chieffet & DeStefano

Interview: The Daily Cross Hatch's Brian Heater continues (in part 3 of 4) his conversation with Carol Tyler: "I thought I could knock it out really quickly. That’s not case. But that’s not really stopping me, or anything. It’s just that, if it takes another six months to make this nicer, sweeter, and more wonderful, I want to. At first I thought I could get it all out in one package. I had it ready. But I’m not person who can write a script and then go illustrate it. I’m intuitive and I’m intuiting my way into this huge subject matter that hits me like a rock. There’s times when I can’t work because it makes me cry."

Profile: Comic Book Resources' Shaun Manning talks to Dash Shaw about The Unclothed Man in the 35th Century A.D.: "I realize that some people think of comics as being storyboards, or as some kind of preliminary work for a movie, and that's very funny to me. But usually the people who think that are film-industry people who think EVERYTHING is preliminary work for a future film! A book, play, whatever! Ha!"

Survey: The Beat's year-end survey of comics pros includes the following responses. From Jay Lynch: "When I think of comics in the 00s I think of: Johnny Ryan." From Mike Dawson: "What was the biggest story in comics in 2009? The Comics Journal moving almost exclusively online."

Essay: At conservative entertainment site Big Hollywood, a new 90-point think piece from Steve Ditko (via Journalista)

Tribute: Robert Birnbaum of The Morning News remembers David Levine; Robot 6 has a good list of more remembrances

Contest: Kevin Church is giving away a copy of West Coast Blues by Tardi & Manchette to one lucky blog commenter

Things to see: Kevin Huizenga's "Postcard from Fielder," part 5

Things to see: Hans Rickheit's Ectopiary, page 5

Things to see: Gabrielle Bell's quest for Crumb consummated

Come on, people: One of my rare editorial comments: Why the hell haven't any "best covers of 2009" lists included Jordan Crane's Uptight #3? Critics: Get with the program!

Daily OCD: 12/31/09
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Tony MillionaireSteve BrodnerPrince ValiantPeanutsPaul KarasikMichael KuppermanKevin HuizengaJordan CraneJohnny RyanJoe SaccoJacques TardiIvan BrunettiHumbugHans RickheitHal FosterGahan WilsonFletcher HanksDavid LevineDash ShawCharles M SchulzBlazing CombatBest of 2009Al Columbia 31 Dec 2009 12:38 PM

Whew, what a year! Online Commentary & Diversions returns next week.

List: Comic Book Resources continues listing their Top 100 Comics of 2009, with Johnny Ryan's Prison Pit: Book 1 at #75 ("A huge kick to the solar plexus, not just in terms of the way-beyond-NC-17 level of gore and bodily fluids on display, but also the sheer wealth of no-holds barred imagination and utter sense of play that's on every page. The craftsmanship on display is just as striking as the violence." – Chris Mautner) and The Squirrel Machine by Hans Rickheit at #56 ("Few artists in comics can tell surreal stories with the level of clarity and precision that Hans Rickheit achieves... In the same way that David Lynch squeezes compelling characters and memorable scenes onto film amid dark and obscured circumstances, Rickheit renders a feeling portrait of a young mad scientist named Edmund in one of the 2009's most inimitable reads." – Brian Warmoth)

List: Jeff Smith names his favorite comics of the decade, including The Complete Peanuts ("Revolutionary.") and Bottomless Belly Button by Dash Shaw ("I was also impressed by the mysteries in the story — and really impressed by Shaw’s restraint in revealing only what he had to — leaving much for the imagination, and keeping my thoughts on the book and its meaning for days afterward.")

List: The writers at Robot 6 name their favorite comics of 2009: Tim O'Shea lists Blazing Combat in his top 10; Chris Mautner lists his 10 favorite reprints, including Humbug ("excellent... packaged with loving care and an eye towards history"), Gahan Wilson: Fifty Years of Playboy Cartoons ("an excellent package of A+ material from a great cartoonist"), Prince Valiant Vol. 1 ("a lively, vibrant strip full of thrilling action and humor"), and You Shall Die by Your Own Evil Creation! ("More Fletcher Hanks? Yes please."); Sean T. Collins's top 25 includes Pim & Francie by Al Columbia at #1, West Coast Blues by Tardi & Manchette at #11, Ganges by Kevin Huizenga at #13, Tales Designed to Thrizzle Vol. 1 by Michael Kupperman at #14, You Are There by Tardi & Forest at #16, The Squirrel Machine by Hans Rickheit at #17, and Johnny Ryan's Prison Pit: Book 1 at #23; and J.K. Parkin lists Ganges #3 ("a brilliant, insightful comic")

List: Comics Alliance's thematic Best of 2009 list names You Shall Die by Your Own Evil Creation! "Best Indie Reprint Volume" ("The utterly insane adventures of the space wizard Stardust continue to be some of the most brilliantly surrealist comics around."), Pim & Francie by Al Columbia "Best Glimpse into a Terrifying Universe that will Haunt my Dreams for Years to Come," and Ganges #3 by Kevin Huizenga "Best comic to read when you can't sleep"

List: Mike Sterling mentions some of his highlights of the past decade, led by Schizo #4 by Ivan Brunetti and including the renaissance of classic comic strip reprints led by The Complete Peanuts

List: Brian Gibson of Edmonton's Vue Weekly lists Safe Area Gorazde by Joe Sacco as one of the Best Graphic Novels of the 2000s: "Sacco’s made comics a serious and messily truthful place for journalism."

List: Living Between Wednesdays lists The Best of 2009: Original Graphic Novels and Collections, including Blazing Combat ("Each panel of Blazing Combat is a stunning work of art, and they are beautifully preserved on heavy paper in this hardcover book. Just as relevant now as when they were first published, these stories should still draw an emotional reaction from anyone who reads them.") and Tales Designed to Thrizzle Vol. 1 by Michael Kupperman ("It’s just something that you have to sit down and read, and when you do you’ll laugh your ass off.")

List: Matthew Dick ranks Uptight #3 by Jordan Crane 7th on his top 10 Best Comics of 2009 on his Exquisite Things blog (here's his review)

List: Sandy Bilus of I Love Rob Liefeld names Tony Millionaire's Billy Hazelnuts and the Crazy Bird as one of the 6 comics he's most looking forward to in 2010

Review: "In ambition, breadth and heft, this far-ranging compilation is the worthy companion to Gilbert’s formidable Palomar volume. While capable of standing on its own, Luba is very much the continuing story of several characters now fully transplanted, unfettered and haunted, from their celebrated Mexican town to the Greater Metropolitan Land of Opportunity. Their histories grow longer, broader, more complex and richer as Hernandez’s rollicking, remorseless social comedy rolls on." – Rich Kreiner, The Comics Journal

Tribute: More on David Levine's passing from Steve Brodner