This week it is time for terror in an uncomfortable way what only Hans Rickheit can create. All 161 pages of Folly: Consequences of Indiscretion is now available via comiXology to haunt you. This volume is a steam punk descendent of the counterculture comics of the '60s, and is as wildly imaginative and richly artistic as it is subversively sexual and violent.
This digital edition includes an exclusive story, "Sigmund Freud," a tribute to Jack Kirby which does not appear in the print edition! Originally distributed into the world as Xeroxed pamphlets, these "underground comix" reflect the true nature of its nomenclature: Here are the archeological findings of the subterranean ruins of the psyche. Finally, these scattered elements have been compiled into a compact, lushly illustrated bedside reader. Give your cerebellum a tug and become a spelunker of the subconscious as we trespass among the scorched archaic wastelands of the offspring of apes and fools. Here we find the profane, beautiful progeny of prurient ideals. Immerse yourself in the nocturnal meanderings of unnamed protagonists. Ponder the uncomfortable sexuality of the twins, Cochlea & Eustachia. Recoil at the doings of a dwarfish malefactor in "Hail Jeffrey," or simply stare at the pretty pictures. Suffice to say that readers of The Squirrel Machine will not be disappointed especially for only $18.99.
When asked about his work, Rickheit instructs you not misuse this tome. Keep it as your own cherished object; a shameful, guarded secret. The filter for reality’s blinding glare. Detritus of the Under-Brain. The Unspeakable Thing You Always Knew.
"It's as if other masters of visual bodyhorror — Cronenberg, Burns, Dan Clowes, Tarsem Singh — are weird by choice. Rickheit, it seems, just can't help it. There's a conviction to his creepiness, a compulsive nature even in his early draftsmanship." -S.I. Rosenbaum, The Boston Phoenix
The weekend's newest Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Plug: The best footnote IN THE WORLD? appeared on Grantland's excerpt of Marvel Comics: The Untold Story written by Sean Howe. It refers to Marvel's idea of hiring Gary Groth. . . Look for footnote 7.
•Review: Johnny Ryan'sPrison Pit: Book 4 is reviewed on Nick Gazin's Comic Book Love in #73 and Mr. Ryan himself is interviewed. . . via text. "There's no point in trying to explain Prison Pit. You can only experience it to understand it. Start buy buying all of them at once if you haven't yet. . . It wears its intentional stupidness and violence on its sleeve while also showing off Johnny Ryan's sophisticated sense of composition and black and white ink prettiness."
• Review: Comics Bulletin likes Rich Tommaso's The Cavalier Mr. Thompson. Nick Hanover says, "Tommaso's distinctly minimalist, animation-influenced style adds another seemingly disparate element that actually serves to enliven the material all the more, finding some sweet spot between the Coen Brothers and Popeye."
• Plug:Comics Alliance lists their favorite covers of the month and include Rich Tommaso's The Cavalier Mr. Thompson. Andrew Wheeler says,"I'm drawn to the graphic simplicity of this cover. It plays with scale, line and color in creative ways, and the composition pulls it all together."
• Review: Rick Klaw at RevolutionSF flips through Dungeon Quest 3 by Joe Daly ". . .rousing adventure and ass-kicking action — all staged in front of fantastic backdrops replete with strange vegetation, ancient ruins and steampunk imagery."
• Commentary:The Beat reports on an SPX panel with Daniel Clowes and his editors, Alvin Beaunaventura and Ken Parille, for The Daniel Clowes Reader. Hannah Means-Shannon states,"Clowes, who appeared energetic and amused by such a large crowd commented that working on the retrospective book with Buenaventura was a welcome thing because he’s 'lonely and working all the time'so it was 'fun to have someone to hang out with'. . . Little details provided by Buenaventura and Clowes about the research process set the scene for comedy, including Buenaventura rifling through Clowes’ closets constantly and 'measuring his art' while Clowes wondered what dirty laundry the writer might dig up that he had forgotten about."
• Review: Rob Clough of High-Low picks up The Squirrel Machine, which is being reprinted in soft cover next spring, by the creeptacular Hans Rickheit. "Rickheit's stories tend to take place in a more upscale, reserved and even Victorian setting, which befits his delicate, sensitive line. . . Rickheit strikes at the heart of what it means to be human: connecting with other emotionally and physically, seeking to express oneself through art, investigating the world around us--in other words, to be emotionally and intellectually curious."
• Review: Chad Parenteau reviews Hans Rickheit's newer Folly on We Got Issues. "Rickheit clearly wrestles with the meaning and purpose of his work with every page he creates, as other artists do. Hans might be consider rude for speaking so out loud about it if more people hung around long enough to listen. Me, I’m so ensconced in his Underbrain, I’m taking notes."
• Review:Comic Impact soaks up The Crackle of the Frost by Jorge Zentner and Lorenzo Mattotti. John Mueller states, "Frost is a sharply written book that takes the reader deeper into a character’s psyche more than any other comic in recent memory. Still, as well-written as the book is, what will undoubtedly get people to pick it up is the sensational art by the acclaimed Mattotti. . . the styles of the art can jump from impressionism to expressionism, symbolism to Hopper-esque realism often within the space of just two panels."
• Review:Bookgasm reviews The Crackle of the Frost by Jorge Zentner and Lorenzo Mattotti. JT Lindroos thinks,"THE CRACKLE OF THE FROST is realistic in a manner very few graphic novels are, pinpointing a phantasmagorical and poetic vision of human relationship in its naturally nonlinear movement. It’s also a perfect example of a work that might appeal to someone not customarily interested in comics"
• Interview:The Chicago Tribune talks to Chris Ware about life, comics and Peanuts. "When he was a child, Ware connected deeply with Charlie Brown, he said. He remembers connecting so deeply that he sent Charlie Brown a valentine." Fitting that Fantagraphics has published work by both.
• Commentary: Hannah Means on The Beat comments on the SPX Ignatz Awards. "The presence of the Hernandez brothers at SPX this year brought a great deal of energy, and often hilarity, and the Ignatz awards were no exception."
• Commentary: Hannah Means covered the Brooklyn Book Festival on The Beat including the 'Sex and Comics' panel that included Gilbert Hernandez. She describes, "Hernandez was asked whether he has used sex in his works as a plot device, but countered this possibility rather precisely by explaining the undesirable tendency of depictions of sex to slow down plot movements rather than usher them along."
• Interview (audio): Sean T. Collins interviewed Gilbert Hernandezrecently at SPX. Check out the full interview today.
• Interview: Vince Brusio caught up with Jaime Hernandez on the Northeast Coast Tour and interviewed him for PREVIEWSworld.
• Plug: On Forbidden Planet's Desert Island series, Gary Northfield said he could not live without Buddy Does Seattle by Peter Bagge and I Shall Destroy All Civilized Planets by Fletcher Hanks, edited by Paul Karasik. "This guy knew exactly what he was doing; his panels are graphically stunning, boldly drawn in full manipulation of the crude 4 colour printing processes being used to churn out the pulpy monthly comics. Monthly adventure comic books were in their infancy and finding their feet and Hanks was ploughing his own crazy, psychopathic path" meanwhile "Peter Bagge’s deranged, yet no doubt closely auto-biographical soap opera is an expert lesson in slice of life story-telling and comic book narrative."
This month's issue of Booklist reviewed two recent releases by Fantagraphics creators, excerpted below:
Folly: The Consequences of Indiscretion by Hans Rickheit: "Here are early stories by the graphic novelist whose work... comes closer than any other’s (except Nate Powell’s) to the prose stories of Zoran Živkovi, Andrew Crumey, Kelly Link, Ray Vukcevich, Theodora Goss, Benjamin Rosenbaum, and other practitioners of what’s been called slipstream fiction. They feature people, animals, and flesh-and-machine hybrids in all stages of development and dissolution, from fetus and pupa to suppurating near-corpse to skeleton . . . Among their protagonists, a bear-headed man in a long coat and high boots and identical teen sisters Cochlea and Eustachia, who wear only black masks and very short-skirted tops, recur often. Rescued from their original appearances in Rickheit’s slim, stapled-together Chrome Fetus Comics, these stories are less polished than his current stuff . . . but fully developed in every other aspect of his puzzling, engrossing, and disturbing storytelling." — Ray Olson
Interiorae by Gabriella Giandelli: "A large and (mostly) invisible rabbit looks over the affairs of various tenants in a modern apartment building: an elderly woman dying in one apartment, a couple entrenched in unhappiness and unfaithfulness in another, young schoolgirl friends in a third, and a happy group of ghosts in a fourth . . . the rabbit as harbinger of change [leaps] from panel to panel, view to view, addressing the reader enough to keep the outsider engaged in asking what might happen to whom next. The images are gorgeously penciled and inked, with coloring to note moods and approaching climaxes and denouements in the various tales. The rabbit’s own identity — or power — finds explanation in an Algonquin tale found in an open book on a bed in one scene; figuring out who is the Boss in the basement, sometimes referenced by the rabbit, takes more digging. Beautifully rendered art and sweetly told, serious stories." — Francisca Goldsmith
• Interview: On the National Post, Nathalie Atkinson interviews Gabriella Giandelli on her graphic novel, Interiorae., and the retrospective exhibit at the Italian Cultural Institute. Giandelli states, "There are some stories where it would be possible to have the soundtrack of what you listened to during the work for every page of the story. Or sometimes the song is inside my work — nobody knows but for me it’s there."
• Review:The Weekly Crisis solves the weekly dilemma for you with a "buy it" verdict for Gabriella Giandelli's Interiorae. Taylor Pithers says, "Giandelli also weaves magic on the way the other characters speak. There is a certain rhythmic beauty to the dialogue that gives the whole book a feeling of quiet, almost as if everyone is speaking in soft tones."
• Review: The Boston Phoenix gets a slap in the face from Hans Rickheit and asks for more. In the review of Folly: The Consequences of Indiscretion, S.I. Rosenbaum says, "It's as if other masters of visual bodyhorror — Cronenberg, Burns, Dan Clowes, Tarsem Singh — are weird by choice. Rickheit, it seems, just can't help it. There's a conviction to his creepiness, a compulsive nature even in his early draftsmanship."
•Commentary: BEA was last week and Publishers Weekly couldn't get enough of Associate Publisher Eric Reynolds and new book, The Hypo by Noah Van Sciver. Heidi MacDonald and Calvin Reid teamed up to cover the event: "Eric Reynolds said it was a good show for the house, noting that all the galleys for Van Sciver books were taken and there was “huge interest” in Fantagraphics titles, like the Flannery O’Connor: The Cartoons."
•Review:The Comics Bulletin reviewed God and Science: Return of the Ti-Girls by Jaime Hernandez. In the wake of near-universal criticism for super hero comics, Jason Sacks gives an angsty-yet-positive review: "[God and Science] is indeed very indy and quirky and idiosyncratic and personal and uncompromising as any of Jaime's comics."
•Plug: The blog for CAKE (Chicago Alternative Comics Expo) mentioned the our newest collection, No Straight Lines. "LGBTQ cartooning has been one of the most vibrant artistic and countercultural movements of the past 40 years, tackling complex issues of identity and changing social mores with intelligence, humor, and an irreverent imagination. No Straight Lines: Four Decades of Queer Comics . . . is the most definitive collection to date of this material, showcasing the spectrum from lesbian underground comix, to gay newspaper strips, to bi punk zines, to trans webcomics." Debuting this weekend at Cake in Chicago, you can find editor, Justin Hall, at table 76.
•Review: A short-and-sweet review on Scripp News popped up today. Andrew A. Smith tips his hat to Mysterious Traveler: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 3. " . . .despite the stultifying constriction of the draconian Comics Code of 1954, Ditko managed a remarkable body of work in both volume and content. Even more amazing is his accelerated learning curve, which shoots straight up from first page to last."
• Preview/Interview: At Print Magazine, Michael Dooley presents a bunch of pages of The Sincerest Form of Parody: The Best 1950s Mad-Inspired Satirical Comics and has a quick Q&A with editor John Benson: "When Isaac Asimov edited his massive Before the Golden Age anthology of 1930s science fiction... he relied entirely on his memories of reading the stories when they first appeared, and that's how he made his selections. Similarly, Jules Feiffer largely relied on his memories of the stories from his original reading when making selections for his seminal The Great Comic Book Heroes in 1965. Like the Asimov and Feiffer books, The Sincerest Form of Parody is partly an exercise in nostalgia, so in making my selections, I think it's fair to give some consideration to my reaction to the material when I first saw it."
• Review: "...Fantagraphics recently unlocked whatever crate must have been used to house Mr. Twee Deedle: Raggedy Ann's Sprightly Cousin: The Forgotten Fantasy Masterpieces of Johnny Gruelle. Over a foot long and over a foot-and-a-half tall, the hardcover features the most beautiful endpapers in recent memory. Gruelle’s artwork is full of whimsy, presented in both the richest nostalgic color and black and white. The narrative involves two children on a journey through a magical land as guided by a wood sprite, but this is truthfully an art book. It’s meant to be read sprawled out on the floor, the only surface in an average reader’s home that is likely large enough to properly balance this fine luxury. Rick Marschall provides a lengthy, informative essay that is lavishly accompanied by further illustrations." – Alex Carr, Omnivoracious
• Review: "In an age of indie-comics dependent upon the banality of the everyday, a hesitant realism, Rickheit eschews reality in favor of the impossible, a state of existence that is truly fantastical. But this is not a utopia, this is a world entirely of the body, though not only the body of human beings, but the body of all living meat, of anything that breathes and shits. This is a world of pure imagination, of subconscious desires let loose with an acutely detailed drawing style. And ultimately, [Folly]’s a perfect work for those who refuse to float away from their bodies but are ready to let their heads go where-ever one can find the new." – Invisible Mike, HTMLGIANT
• Tweet of the Day: "I just read The Furry Trap by Josh Simmons; I'll be on the Internet the rest of the day looking for instructions on how to boil my eyes." – Tom Spurgeon (@comicsreporter)
• Review: "Josh Simmons' book The Furry Trap is truly disturbing in its depravity. Makes Ultra Gash Inferno look cute. An inspiring & exhilarating read! How many comics can you honestly say made you sick or upset when you read them? Furry Trap made me question the First Amendment at times." – Sammy Harkham
• Review: "By this point, the reader will know if [Dungeon Quest] is their cup of tea; anyone who enjoys alt-comics takes on fantasy and/or stoner humor will find this a sheer delight. I'd say the sheer level of craftsmanship and the way Daly shifts storytelling modes so quickly would at least interest other readers, especially those who enjoy deadpan absurdism, since that's the core of Daly's sense of humor. For the continuing fan of this series, Daly continues to raise the stakes in each volume and adds richness and depth for those who are looking for more detail. Above all else, he does for the reader what he does with his party: he keeps things moving even when his characters are navel-gazing." – Rob Clough, High-Low
• Review: "...Moto Hagio has more on her agenda than simply trotting out tired 'girly' storylines. Her protagonists struggle with loss, rejection, and insecurity in a manner sure to strike readers as honest and familiar, never reductive or patronizing.... The stories collected here [in A Drunken Dream] span 31 years of Hagio’s career and, while the later stories do seem a bit looser and more confident, the earlier stories certainly don’t suffer by comparison." – Andrew Fuerste-Henry, No Flying No Tights
• Review: "Boasting [Fantagraphics'] usual high-production values and showcasing the genesis of the indie comics icon, [Usagi Yojimbo, Book 1:] The Ronin is a meticulously curated artifact of comics history.... The book is worth buying for the art alone. Sharply reproduced on gratifyingly durable stock, the quality of the lines leap out from the page even in these early stories." – Abhimanyu Das, Slant Magazine
• Profile: At Comic Book Resources, Shaun Manning talks to Nicolas Mahler about his superhero spoof Angelman: "Mahler said he does not have an in-depth knowledge of the major events and storylines [in superhero comics] of recent years, but said he is still familiar with the culture. 'I think my point of view is very '80s, that is when I stopped reading them,' he said. 'After that, I only have very superficial information. I know more about the fanboys, actually. I enjoy the scene around superheroes more than the stories themselves. I like it when people take this very seriously, and can debate endlessly about little faults in a superhero's universe."'
• Interview: Following an introduction in his native Greek, Comicdom's Tomas Papadimitropoulos posts his untranslated (i.e. English) Q&A with Hans Rickheit: "I am compelled to draw these comics.... These stories follow a certain pattern of logic that makes sense to me. I don’t have the vocabulary to explain how it works, that is why I draw them as comic strips."
• Interview:The A.V. Club's Keith Phipps has a great Q&A with Daniel Clowes: "I can look at my early work and see what a pained struggle it was to draw what I was drawing. I was trying so hard to get this specific look that was in my head, and always falling short. I could see the frustration in the lines, and I remember my hand being tensed and redrawing things a thousand times until I finally inked it, and just having this general tense anxiety about every drawing. I think that comes through in the artwork, and gives it this certain kind of manic energy, this kind of repressed energy, so you feel like it’s sort of bursting at the seams or something."
• Interview (Audio):Daniel Clowes sits down for a chat on Bay Area NPR station KQED's Forum with host Michael Krasny
• Video: Via Meltdown Comics and Boing Boing, a charming short film by Rocío Mesa about a couple of dedicated Daniel Clowes fans
• Plug: "...[W]e recommend checking out Love and Rockets Library: The Complete Vol. 1 from Fantagraphics, which collects every issue of the landmark alt-comic series between 1982 and 1996. In Love and Rockets, Gilbert and his brother Jaime Hernandez wrote stories ranging from satire to political intrigue, and introduced such noteworthy characters as Luba, the temperamental, full-figured mayor of a Central American village, and Maggie Chascarrillo, a punk rock-loving Mexican girl who becomes a solar mechanic. ...[T]here's no better time to become a Los Bros Hernandez zombie than right now." – Phil Guie, Critical Mob
• Commentary: "The completion of Fantagraphics's Krazy [Kat] Sunday series also means, quite possibly, the end of Krazy Kriticism — a brand of writing that, as far as I can tell, only the Kat engenders. Critic Gilbert Seldes first articulated its credo in the 1924 article 'The Krazy Kat That Walks by Himself.' After comparing Herriman to Dickens, Cervantes, and Charlie Chaplin, Seldes threw up his hands: 'It isn't possible to retell these pictures; but that is the only way, until they are collected and published, that I can give the impression of Herriman's gentle irony, of his understanding of tragedy, of the sancta simplicitas, the innocent loveliness in the heart of a creature more like Pan than any other creation of our time.' Thus did the gates open to a flood of ecstatic, mimetic writing in which every critical impulse was mercilessly drowned in gushing praise and fervent prayers to put the comics between covers." – Sarah Boxer, Los Angeles Review of Books
• Commentary: At Print magazine, Steven Brower looks at different ways comics publishers restore and present vintage comics material, including his own compilation of Mort Meskin comics, Out of the Shadows: "For the Mort Meskin collection, we hoped that a contemporary audience would rediscover him; Fantagraphic’s fresh, newly minted approach goes a long way toward achieving that."
• Review: "I mean this in the nicest possible way but self-confessed obscurist Hans Rickheit is clearly not all there in the head. ...[Folly: The Consequences of Indiscretion] is a collection of shorts from over the years, frequently featuring the same characters, in particular identical twins Cochlea & Eustachia, who inevitably get themselves into all sorts of unpleasant bother. Definitely the type of read to make you wary of opening doors when you’re not entirely sure what’s on the other side, as Hans frequently surprises his characters, and us readers, by taking you somewhere you’d never expect, nor probably want to go to." – Jonathan Rigby, Page 45
• Review: "‘Plunder Island’ is the fourth of six oversized volumes collecting all of E.C. Segar’s Popeye-era Thimble Theatre strips.... The Segar book is every bit as good as the three volumes that preceded it – brilliant cartooning and laugh-out-loud funny gags. The only difference this time around is that the Sunday strips fill the first half of the book and the dailies fill the second half (it’s usually the other way around) but otherwise it’s business as usual. I don’t have a single bad thing to say about Segar’s Popeye, and the whole book was thoroughly enjoyable..." – Rob Wells, Comics – On The Ration
• Profile: Andrew Dansby of the Houston Chronicle profiles Daniel Clowes: "Clowes describes an eerie but common sight in his studio. Since eyes are the last thing he draws when he's working, the room is full of characters without them. 'I've had other cartoonists come over, and they've told me it's pretty creepy to see all these faces with no eyes staring back,' he says. 'But that's where I can get the last 10 percent of the emotion on the page. If I get it just right, you can subtly influence any expression through the eyes more than any other feature. They're where the character comes to life.'"
Starting to catch up on Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: "The frighteningly hilarious world of Rickheit’s graphic novel is a deranged cabinet of curiosities, full of biomechanical tanks, writhing organic matter, amorphous monsters birthing adorable kittens, men and women in animal masks, and countless tubes, gas masks, sex toys, and pseudo-Victorian apocalyptic landscapes. It would all be too oppressive if Rickheit’s sense of humor weren’t so addictive.... This juxtaposition of dry humor undercuts the richly drawn horror of Folly, simultaneously adding to its strangeness and making it bearable for a casual read... The result is a narrative mosaic that pairs sumptuous, horrific imagery against a strange but lighthearted sense of humor." – Publishers Weekly
• Review:Walter Wehus looks at Kolor Klimax; key quote as translated by Kolor Klimax editor Matthias Wivel: "the common aspect is quality"
• Review: "While exploring this collection, I found myself enjoying the various challenges it presented. It did dare me to eschew my 'western' values of linear, results oriented thinking and simply give way to my intuitive understanding of the art before me. I can’t honestly say I 'get' every comic contained withing this anthology [Abstract Comics]... nor can I truly say I learned something about the medium that I didn’t already know. But to see comics stripped of their representational elements does amplify certain things that are so unique about the medium and probably reveals its potential even more fully. These are comics to be experienced." – Jason Newcomb, StashMyComics
• Preview:The Beat's Jessica Lee presents a 6-page preview of Nicolas Mahler's Angelman, saying "If you’ve noticed yourself to be a comic enthusiast who has become more and more disillusioned with the corporate transformation of super-hero comics, Angelman could well be the fresh breath of illustrated air you’ve been yearning for. What could easily be one of the most comedic releases thus far this year, Fantagraphics is releasing (in hardcover no less!) a new graphic commentary of the often-times outrageous and unbelievable trends in the comic industry."
• Profile:The Wall Street Journal's Ralph Gardner Jr. on the work and career of Drew Friedman: "Mr. Friedman's genius is that, on some level, his work is never utterly absent affection, or his subjects black and white, even when they're literally drawn in black and white. It might be a stretch to say that the artist captures their underlying humanity. What he does provide is a picture window onto their troubled psyches so that they and their moral afflictions, whatever they are, must be taken seriously."
• Interview: I don't think we've previously linked to Ted Widmer's career-spanning interview with Robert Crumb from the Summer 2010 issue of The Paris Review: "I was so eccentric when I was seventeen, eighteen, I used to walk around town wearing an Abe Lincoln frock coat and a stovepipe hat that I’d found in some junk store, defying people to ridicule me or think me eccentric. I was a teenage social outcast. At the time it made me feel very depressed, and rejected by girls. Later I realized I was actually quite lucky because it freed me. I was free to develop and explore on my own all these byways of the culture that, if you’re accepted, you just don’t do. I was free to explore the things that interested me."
• Interview (Audio): The Daniel Clowes victory lap continues with an appearance Monday on NPR's Morning Edition: "Clowes never aimed to be the kind of artist museums collect. But now, the walls of the Oakland Museum of California are covered with his drawings. It's 'quite embarrassing,' he laughs. After a stint as an art student at Brooklyn's Pratt Institute in the 1970s, Clowes tried unsuccessfully to get work as an illustrator. Sitting around drawing comics on his own, he decided to send a strip to underground publisher Fantagraphics. He was expecting rejection. Instead, 'they called me up and offered me a monthly comic book, and I felt like I hadn't earned anything,' he says. 'You know, it's like all of a sudden, you're being made president after you've been like, you know, on the city council in Cleveland.'" KQED also posts a couple of outtakes from the interview
• Interview: At The Comics Journal, Nicole Rudick talks with Diane Noomin about her new collection of DiDi Glitz stories, Glitz-2-Go: "In 1974, I did a full-fledged DiDi story for Wimmen’s Comix. It was four pages and was called “She Chose Crime”, and when I was putting this book together I realized that DiDi came out almost fully developed. She hasn’t changed, she hasn’t grown or anything like that. If I look at that first story, the drawing has changed and I’d like to think that certain things have gotten better, but in that story, DiDi’s persona is it. I don’t think I’d realized that."