We are currently offering on eBay (go HERE for full listing and scan) a rare piece of original art by the great RUSS HEATH from page 27 of 1957's HUMBUG #4, edited by Harvey Kurtzman. The actual illustration measures 8 1/2" x 3 1/2" on a piece of illustration board measuring 12 3/4" x 16 3/4". A rare chance to own a piece of original art from one of the great comic magazines of all-time. This piece is being sold by Fantagraphics Books on behalf of Mr. Heath; all proceeds from this auction will go to Mr. Heath himself. Bid early and often!
• Plug: "Wally Gropius, Tim Hensley’s debut 'graphic novel' (still not comfortable enough with that term to remove the quotes) is my favorite book of the year by a wide margin. What looks like a European reprint of a mid-1960s hybrid of Archie and Richie Rich is upon closer inspection a brilliant, hilarious, deeply complex and wholly original work that rewards a fifteenth reading as much as a first. The story—the adventures of a lovesick teenage millionaire (no relation [I think] to the Bauhaus founder)—is told in language both verbal and visual that feels entirely without precedent, yet the book has a potent, jarring familiarity, as though Hensley has found his way into a profound well of our collective unconscious." – Daniel Clowes at The Daily Beast
• Guide:Robot 6 's Chris Mautner gives an introductory "Comics College" overview to the work of Harvey Kurtzman
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 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: 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: 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: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: 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: "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: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."
FANTAGRAPHICS & EDITOR GREG SADOWSKI PARTNER ON SIX NEW BOOK COLLECTIONS OF CLASSIC COMIC BOOK MATERIAL
Fantagraphics Books is proud to announce that it has struck a deal with comics historian and editor Greg Sadowski to produce six new collections of classic comic book material for the Seattle publisher. Sadowski is a Harvey and Eisner Award-nominated editor who has previously overseen the publication of the acclaimed collections SUPERMEN: THE FIRST WAVE OF COMIC BOOK HEROES 1936-1941, as well as B. KRIGSTEINand B. KRIGSTEIN COMICS. He is a former staff editor and designer for Fantagraphics Books and currently works freelance from his home on San Juan Island in Washington State's Puget Sound.
"Greg has written one of the landmark cartoonist biographies (and only the first half yet!) with B. Krigstein, and the collections of comics from the '40s and '50s that he's edited for us — B. Krigstein Comics and Supermen!, to date — have been meticulously assembled, with an eye toward selection, flow, and accompanying historical text. We're pleased that he's got such an ambitious agenda ahead," says Fantagraphics Publisher Gary Groth, who acquired the books.
The books will be released one per season, beginning with FOUR COLOR FEAR: FORGOTTEN HORROR COMICS OF THE 1950s in June 2010 and produced in collaboration with comics historian John Benson (SQUA TRONT). The second book, due in Fall 2010, will be a collection of legendary artist Alex Toth's work for Standard Comics in the 1950s. The remaining books will be release in subsequent seasons, with exact schedules to be announced. The full list of books follows after the jump below.
Late nite link blogging for your Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: "You wanna talk about a gateway comic? How 'bout handing this sucker [Ganges #3] to anyone who's ever had trouble falling asleep? The whole thing is dedicated to nothing more or less than reproducing the mental and physical sensations of insomnia. Ironically it's Huizenga's most action-driven comic this side of Fight or Run or the video-game bits in Ganges #2. ... Combine it with one of the most effective uses yet of the Ignatz series' two-tone color palette--here a cool small-hours blue--and the experience is almost tactile, as though you're physically tunneling through the mysteries of your own mind." – Sean T. Collins [ed. note: I swear I'll have the issue up for presale on the website next week]
• Review: "No one is safe in Al Columbia’s world. Not the kittens (they get decapitated) nor the children (they get baked into pies) nor the bunnies (they carry scythes). Correspondingly, no one is innocent. Grandmothers are evil, grandfathers are greedy, and trees grow baby heads instead of apples and oranges. What a wonderful world it is. That’s not an entirely ironic evaluation of Pim & Francie, a collection of sketches, strips, stills and other valuable ephemera from the mind of Columbia (creator of the 1990s cult classic Biologic Show). The twisted narratives and characters are presented so deftly — with such humor and visual panache — that their wrongness becomes right; and thus is the singular charm of Al Columbia." – Molly Young, We Love You So
• Review/Profile: "Earlier this year, Fantagraphics gave readers the opportunity to encounter [Harvey] Kurtzman’s creative energy in complete form by reissuing a boxed collection of Humbug, his short-lived but monumental periodical that began publication in summer of 1957. It’s Humbug that functions as the spiritual father for magazines such as National Lampoon, Spy and The Onion, among many others, but there’s something invigorating about it because of its vantage point in the supposedly stodgy and bland 1950s. Coming out of that decade, Humbug really did break new ground." – John Mitchell, North Adams Transcript
• Review: "Even though Woodstock casts a large shadow on the cover of Fantagraphics’ The Complete Peanuts 1973-1974, it’s Peppermint Patty who should get star billing. Not to take anything away from Snoopy’s yellow-feathered avian sidekick – who does make several appearances through the hardcover tome – it’s just that Patty eventually gets the brunt of character development attention, while Woodstock exists as the perfect foil for Snoopy. ... Also of note is Schulz’s repeated use of standard gags (Lucy pulling the football from Charlie) along with a few new ones, including the consoling 'Poor, sweet baby.' Because of his tendency to keep running gags contained within a year’s span, it makes a trade collection work better than with most comic strips." – Christopher Irving, Graphic NYC
• Review: "What quickly becomes clear is that the graphic novel is a particularly apt form for inhabiting unconventional characters, and very few do this as well as The Squirrel Machine. Wielded skilfully, images are as expressive as words, and occasionally more so. Rickheit's drawings convey the boys' tortured feelings of persecution, elation and curiosity — as well as their uncouth creative urges — in a succinct and often gruesome way. Rickheit's frames vary from the cluttered to the stark, and his ability to pack detail into four square inches is rivalled only by his ingenious use of white space. ...The Squirrel Machine convinces anew that a picture is worth a thousand words." – Molly Young, Intelligent Life
• Interview: For Marvel.com, Sean T. Collins talks to Strange Tales contributor Tony Millionaire: "Just as you called, I was reading an old collection of THOR... It's funny: 'I say thee nay'? I didn't realize that was such a popular phrase."
• Review: "West Coast Blues is an adaptation of a 70s crime novel by Jean-Patrick Manchette (Le Petit Bleu de la Côte Ouest), and it is a reminder of how good they did paranoid crime thrillers in the 70s. It is also a reminder of how good Tardi has done comics for forty years. ...Tardi's remarkable energy and range as a visual storyteller... will have you gobbling this book up in one gigantic gulp and then going back to appreciate the details and the nuance." – Jared Gardner, Guttergeek
• Reviews/Preview: The Abstract Comics blog has links to several reviews of the anthology from around the world (and their translations), plus a video preview of the book which accompanies one of the reviews
• Profile: For the AIGA website, Michael Dooley casts a spotlight on Harvey Kurtzman: "Either directly or indirectly, he’s had an effect on everything and everybody: from Saturday Night Live to The Daily Show, from the Zucker brothers to the Wayans brothers, from National Lampoon to The Onion, and from John Kricfalusi to Matt Groening."
• Review: Bookforum says of the two volumes of Beasts!: "Covey’s brave band of 180 artists... put these mythological and folkloric beings on vivid display. The distinct and varied styles of the cartoonists, illustrators, and graphic artists give further evidence of each creature’s unique characteristics... The enthusiastically detailed evocations in these books give us all reason to believe."
• Review: Dear Stranger reads The End #1 by Anders Nilsen and declaims "It’s sad. In that way that things are only ever sad when they’re really honest, so it’s beautiful, but you feel a bit guilty for thinking so -- because under the beauty, it’s still sad, honestly so."
• Review: The Star Clipper Blog says "[Esther Pearl Watson's] Unlovable spares no degrading detail, but still remains an ironically loving tribute to the awkward protagonist... these monstrous depictions of early puberty could be found in just about anyone's high school yearbook... perhaps the perfect teenage girl experience."
DAZZLING REVIVAL OF HARVEY KURTZMAN’S TIMELESS SATIRE MAGAZINE HUMBUG AT FANTAGRAPHICS BOOKSTORE & GALLERY.
Exhibition and Book Launch of New HUMBUG Anthology On March 7 in Seattle.
Four years after founding notoriously seditious MAD magazine for EC comics in 1952, celebrated American satirist Harvey Kurtzman and his crew of incorrigible cartoonists joined fledgling publisher Hugh Hefner to produce two issues of the equally irreverent Trump. When economic setbacks forced Hefner to cancel the new title, Kurtzman and collaborators Jack Davis, Will Elder, Al Jaffee and Arnold Roth pooled their limited resources to self-publish 11 issues of Humbug, skewering American popular and political culture of the Cold War era in unparalleled fashion. Fifty years later, Seattle-based Fantagraphics Books has collected the entire series for the first time in a handsome two-volume slipcase edition. To commemorate this momentous occasion, Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery hosts an exhibition of original art and artifacts from Humbug contributors opening Saturday, March 7 and continuing through April Fool’s Day, 2009.
Organized by Humbug anthology assistant editor Jason T. Miles, the exhibition features original illustrations by cartooning legends Will Elder, Al Jaffee, and Arnold Roth together with each of the delicate original issues and related ephemera. The meticulously restored Humbug collection, which includes insightful essays and interviews by Gary Groth and John Benson, will make its debut at the event. The public is invited to preview the exhibition on Saturday, March 7, from 11:30 till 8:00 PM. According to Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Art Spiegelman, "Kurtzman has been the single most significant influence on a couple of generations of comic artists." With the publication of the complete Humbug, an essential element of Kurtzman’s legacy will be preserved for posterity.
Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery is located at 1201 S. Vale Street (at Airport Way S.) in Seattle’s Georgetown arts community. Open daily 11:30 to 8:00 PM, Sundays until 5:00 PM. Phone: 206.658.0110.
Don’t miss a special performance and book signing by cult cartoonist Dame Darcy on Saturday, March 14 from 6:00 to 9:00 PM. Darcy will perform with her three-piece acoustical combo and sign copies of her wildly popular Victorian gothic comic book series Meat Cake, as well as her new graphic novel Gasoline. This event coincides with the colorful Georgetown Second Saturday Art Attack featuring visual and performing arts presentation throughout the historic neighborhood.
A selection of imagery in a variety of formats is available for publication. For additional information contact Eric Reynolds at Fantagraphics.
Humbug Original art and artifacts from Harvey Kurtzman’s classic satire magazine featuring MAD artists Will Elder, Arnold Roth, Al Jaffee and Jack Davis collected in a handsome 2 volume slipcase edition by Fantagraphics Books. Public preview and book launch, Saturday, March 7, 11:30 to 8:00 PM Exhibition continues through April Fools Day
Saturday, March 14, 6:00 to 9:00 PM Dame Darcy Music performance and book signing
Harvey Kurtzman changed the face of American humor when he created the legendary MAD comic. As editor and chief writer from its inception in 1952, through its transformation into a slick magazine, and until he left MAD in 1956, he influenced an entire generation of cartoonists, comedians, and filmmakers. In 1962, he co-created the long-running Little Annie Fanny with his long-time artistic partner Will Elder for Playboy, which he continued to produce until his virtual retirement in 1988.
Between MAD and Annie Fanny, Kurtzman’s biographical summaries will note that he created and edited three other magazines, Trump, Humbug, and Help!, but, whereas his MAD and Annie Fanny are readily available in reprint form, his major satirical work in the interim period is virtually unknown. Humbug, which had poor distribution, may be the least known, but to those who treasure the rare original copies, it equals or even exceeds MAD in displaying Kurtzman’s creative genius. Humbug was unique in that it was actually published by the artists who created it: Kurtzman and his cohorts from MAD Will Elder, Jack Davis, and Al Jaffee, were joined by universally acclaimed cartoonist Arnold Roth. With no publisher above them to rein them in, this little band of creators produced some of the most trenchant and engaging satire of American culture ever to appear on American newsstands. At last, the entire run of 11 issues of Humbug is being reprinted in a deluxe format, much of it reproduced from the original art, allowing even owners of the original cheaply-printed issues to experience the full impact for the first time.