• Review: "It's a surprisingly rare thing to find the great comic artist who can not only draw with poetry and beauty, but write like a demon as well. In this lavish scrapbook of uncollected ads, posters, covers, ephemera and one-offs [All and Sundry], [Paul] Hornschemeier's skills are nearly as verbal as they are visual, his art encompassing many different styles, from richly layered classical surrealism to densely structured and primary color-heavy McSweeney's-style illustrations. But taken together, the work exhibits an instantly recognizable and distinctive panache. The depth of his art truly comes to life in the melancholic squibs of text and short fictions studding this collection. For all his talents, Hornschemeier is a working artist who clearly takes on all kinds of assignments, from bookstore ads and bookmarks to a quirky little piece on Anderson Cooper commissioned by CNN. Perhaps the intrusion of the journeyman keeps an exquisite volume like this so rewarding and yet grounded." – Publishers Weekly (starred review)
• Review: "What I liked [in Abstract Comics], I liked for more than just the strips themselves--I liked them for the proof they offer that comics really is still a Wild West medium in which one's bliss can be followed even beyond the boundaries of what many or even most readers would care to define as 'comics.' That an entire deluxe hardcover collection of such comics now exists is, I think, one of the great triumphs for the medium in a decade full to bursting with them." – Sean T. Collins
• Review: "Hallelujah... for Michael Kupperman! He returns with his second collection, Tales Designed to Thrizzle Vol. 1, which brings under one cover the first four issues of the same-named comic. And comic it sure as hell is. I'm not entirely certain when I've read anything that made me laugh out loud as often as this volume, with the possible exception of Kupperman's debut Snake 'n' Bacon's Cartoon Caberet. Women who've given birth to multiple children and older readers are advised to secure some kind of adult diaper." – Late Reviews and Latest Obsessions
• Review: "Willie & Joe is an extraordinarily compiled and presented tribute to Bill Mauldin, the two-time Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist who chronicled life in the U.S. Army from 1940 to 1945. The set is bound in army green canvas and typeset in the font of an old manual typewriter, the kind an army clerk might have used during the Second World War. The collection is a sensory delight, pleasing to touch and beautiful to see. ... There are many scholarly works written on the topic of World War II, and those books can teach us a lot about the war, but anyone who wants to feel what American soldiers felt during the Second World War should seek out Willie & Joe. ... For the winner of two Pulitzer Prizes, for the man who was once America’s most celebrated enlisted man, Willie & Joe is a fitting, and wonderful, tribute." – David Mitchell, BiblioBuffet
• Review: "[Prison Pit Book 1 by Johnny Ryan is an] over-the-top, ultra-violent, gross-out, juvenile, yet fun and hilarious book... The dialogue that does exist retains his comic sense of disjunction and fights are as demented as you’d expect. This is not a jokey book, but his humor is retained in subtle ways—if you can envision subtle Johnny Ryan humor. ... This is just a balls-out, funny, sicko, good time. My only complaint with Prison Pit is how quickly the story ends, but hopefully the subtitle (Book One) is a promise and not a joke." – Lincoln Michel, The Faster Times [Ed. note: Book Two is in progress and due next year.]
• Review: "Longtime [Richard] Sala readers will recognize some familiar tropes right away [in Delphine]: strange surroundings, shady characters who seem to hold malevolent secrets. And Sala's art is familiar as well, but taken to a new level — lovely watercolors on the covers and moody washes on the gray interiors. The creamy paper that's typical of the Ignatz releases lends additional otherworldly, othertimely atmosphere to the story. And the logo itself is so good it deserved to be used for a long-running series. But it's the story that departs from Sala's work in some major ways... so resonant and unsettling that... it has to rank as one of Sala's major works." – Christopher Allen, Comic Book Galaxy
• Plug: "Reading [The Complete Peanuts 1971-72 and 1973-74] in one fell swoop, I've kind of come to the conclusion that this period is really the apex of Schulz's career. ...he was never as consistently hilarious or as poignant as he was in the early to mid-70s. If you're only buying two volumes of this series, it should be these two." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Profile: Dan Taylor of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat catches up with Monte Schulz on his book tour for This Side of Jordan: "'It’s weird doing this,' Schulz said by phone from Nevada City during a break between book shop dates. 'It makes me nervous, at every single stop. I just realized I’m not a very public person.'"
• Interview: At Marvel.com, Sean T. Collins' series of chats with Strange Tales contributors continues with Stan Sakai talking about the creation of Samurai Hulk: "Actually, I tried to make it as much of a parallel to the modern Hulk as possible. Such as his name-he is referred to asSashimono, which means 'banner.' It's a samurai banner. And obviously there's no gamma rays, so he's cursed into turning into the Hulk by a witch called Gama, which is Japanese for 'toad' — she kinda looks like a toad." Oh man I can't wait for that.
• History: Steve Duin at The Oregonian digs up a nugget: Gary Groth on the 50th anniversary of Superman in Amazing Heroes, 1988: "My only interest in Superman, marginal at that, stems from his continuing presence as a symbol of banality and infantilism in the history of the American comic book." And it goes on!
• Random quote of the day: "Guido Crepax: popular enough to have an entire half-shelf in the Fantagraphics library, circa mid-1990s; not popular enough to have his books stolen by the interns." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
Your daily dose of Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: "Maybe it’s because blood and brain matter look somewhat more disturbing in the chunky, primitive black and white favored by famed French cartoonist Tardi, but there’s something particularly creepy about his adaptation of the late Manchette’s crime novel [West Coast Blues] that wouldn’t have been well served by color. ... Manchette’s plot is pure pulp, with a driving engine for a plot and a Lee Marvin-like inclination toward swift and unreflective action. Tardi’s art delivers the action with admirable punch and attitude to spare." – Publishers Weekly
• Review: "Rock Candy is a wonderful book. [Femke] Hiemstra's work is a tribute to folk tales and surreal nightmares.It could not be better portrayed than how designer Jacob Covey of Fantagraphics has done it.This compact book, in style with Hiemstra's art, depicts her imaginative work in a playful way.Sketches, examples and inspirations then give a look behind the scenes how Hiemstra's childhood dreams and nightmares are established.An absolute must!" – Cadoc.nl (translated from Dutch)
• Plugs: At Robot 6, Sean T. Collins runs down his SPX haul, including a bunch of our Ignatz Series titles
• (Wild) Things to see: Vice magazine has a series of strips they commissioned to tie in with the Where the Wild Things Are movie by some of our favorite cartoonists selected by Johnny Ryan; Josh Simmons contributed this strip and reveals a different one that was rejected (for PG-13 gore)
• Analysis: For Comics Comics, Dash Shaw pens an appreciation of the work of Tim Hensley: "It’s like what he chooses to draw in the environment (and what he chooses not to draw) is determined by some graphic Feng Shui. When his comics are at their most beautiful, these environments function both as the story’s world and abstractly... With his best dialogue, a line that you first read as being surreally disconnected on a second reading is funny and on a third reading reveals a wider scope of the story."
• Review: "Yes, both of these books are like kryptonite to good taste. But there are a couple of big differences between what Johnny Ryan is doing in Comics Are for Idiots!, his latest Blecky Yuckerella strip collection, and what he's doing in Prison Pit, his ultraviolent action-comic debut... The four-panel Blecky strips often feel like a breakneck race to the punchline through some kind of bizarre obstacle course requiring the basic premise of the gag to get more ridiculous with each panel... Ryan's rep as altcomix's premier overgrown juvenile delinquent is well deserved--and don't get me wrong, you can absolutely enjoy Prison Pit on that level--but the poetic savagery he depicts here is the work of a grown-ass man." - Sean T. Collins
• Review: "[Delphine], Richard Sala's contribution to Fantagraphics's prestigious Ignatz Series, is some of his strongest and most personal work yet... He sets his pop-cultural influences aside this time to lead us down a grimmer path... As for the art -- well, what can I say? It's recognizably Sala's, and at the top of his game, but taken to the next level, in that the usual precision of his black-and-white work is here inflected with sepia washes that give an added visual dimension to the murkiness of the hero's experience... The heavy dustjackets, with such gorgeous full-color art not only front and back but on both big inside flaps, deliver a lush visual and tactile experience that no bonus gallery in a collection will be able to duplicate... By whatever route you get here, I highly recommend this." - Curt Purcell, The Groovy Age of Horror
• Review: "Even when she's not especially inspired, Dame Darcy creates superior goth comics: cheerfully mean-spirited, idiosyncratically stylish, and oozing with surreal ichor... In [Meat Cake #17], Darcy indulges her goth tropes and her feminism: men are tormented, sisterhood is affirmed, and light-hearted squick is relished by all. And, as always, Darcy's eccentric drawing is a joy, with perspective, proportion, and visual logic all flattened out to fit into geometrically obscure but oddly elegant patterns." - Noah Berlatsky, The Comics Journal (reprinted at The Hooded Utilitarian)
• Plug: "The big story here [in The Comics Journal #299] is Bob Levin's spectacular essay on Michel Choquette and his never-completed comics anthology... Sadly, the project never got off the ground, and Levin details in his typical stellar fashion why and how. It's a fascinating tale, one well worth your $12." - Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Plug: "This is a particularly excellent issue of TCJ, thanks to Bob Levin's magnificent 50-page... history of 'The Someday Funnies'... You really need to read it." - Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
• Interview: Seth continues discussing his design work for The Complete Peanuts in the final part of Brian Heater's interview at The Daily Cross Hatch: "Schulz’s work is right there in the book. Every line in those strips is his. But the design stuff is just design stuff. It’s a setting to put a gem in. The setting is not the gem."
• Things to see: At the Covered blog, Anthony Vukojevich does a Gilbert Hernandez Birdland cover
• Plug: Certain Fantagraphics employees will be excited to learn that Noel Fielding of The Mighty Boosh is a fan of Daniel Clowes and Eightball, as revealed in Brian Heater's interview at The Daily Cross Hatch
• Plug: "You Shall Die by Your Own Evil Creation!, the second and final collection of Fletcher Hanks’ Golden Age superhero and adventure comics work, ...is a bunch more bat-shit insane weirdness and violence. Paired with I Shall Destroy All Civilized Planets!, You Shall Die will comprise a complete collection of Hanks’ small but potent body of work." - J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
• Plug: "Collecting the remainder of material (at least that we know of) by early Golden Age artist Fletcher Hanks, [You Shall Die by Your Own] Evil Creation is pretty much a must-buy for anyone who picked up and enjoyed the first volume, I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets." - Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Plug: "Both books are really good: Sala’s Delphine is the one that will probably get the most attention since he’s the better known cartoonist, but you really should take the time to track down Sergio Ponchione’s Grotesque. It’s a surreal charmer." - Chris Mautner, Robot 6 (same link as above)
• Plug: "I’m always curious as to what other countries get up to, comics-wise, so I’m a bit eager to check out this collection of Danish comics [From Wonderland with Love]. A quick thumb-through suggests a wide swath of styles." - Chris Mautner, Robot 6 (same link as above)
Online Commentary & Diversions updates resume next week. Off to Comic-Con tomorrow! I'll be Twittering from the show as much as I can.
• Preview: "Now Jason publishes a collection of his short, sharp works ...called Low Moon, in which his trademark anthropomorphic animals get into all sorts of trouble — including, in the story 'Emily Says Hello,' murder, revenge and sexual domination." - New York Magazine presents an exclusive five-page excerpt from Low Moon
• Review: "All of Jason’s tales in Low Moon play like a black comedy, tragic yet humorous. Maybe it’s his protagonists blank eyed stares or the fact the characters are all cute animals being put through some troubling things that give these outwardly simple and light cartoons a heavy feel. If you’re a comic fan looking for a change of pace from the tired summer/blockbuster/epic/crossover comic events then this one’s for you." - Mishka Bloglin
• Review: "What surprised me the most [about Prince Valiant Vol. 1: 1937-1938]... was... how much [Hal] Foster had brought me to care about these characters... [P]erhaps for the first time ever, we’re able to see just how detailed and elaborate Foster’s art really was... More importantly, though, was how well Foster set up his pages. His layouts draw the reader across the page from one panel to the next, often culminating in a truly impressive final panel... Prince Valiant was good all along. Who knew?" - Greg McElhatton, Read About Comics
• Review: "I mean, holy. Effing. Shit... Was [Fletcher] Hanks insane or otherwise mentally handicapped? Dunno, but as editor Paul Karasik points out in his meaty introduction [to You Shall Die by Your Own Evil Creation!], this was a man mean enough to kick his 4-year-old son down a flight of stairs... You’ll love how much you hate [these works]; you’ll hate how much you love them." - Rod Lott, Bookgasm
• Plug: "Boy, that Prince Valiant [Vol. 1: 1937-1938] hardcover looked great, didn’t it? The color is just stunning. The stories (what I’ve read so far, at least) are fun as well, with a nice mix of realism and fantasy. I’m looking forward to future volumes, both to see how Hal Foster’s style and Val’s character develop over the years." - Tom Bondurant, Robot 6
This coming week Kevin Huizenga will be delivering the hotly-anticipated Ganges #3, featuring insomnia and cops. Expect this one to be released just in time to premiere at SPX in late September, and then show up in stores in late October/early November. Here is a preview!
Next up, likely to be released toward the end of the year, is a double whammy of Niger #3 by Leila Marzocchi (check out the cover of this wild ecological fable), and the fourth and concluding installment of Ponchione's Grotesque (with another standalone story). Then Spring 2010 will, if everything goes well, see the release of the fourth issue of Igort's cartoonist-graphic-novel-a-clef Baobab; the fourth (and concluding) issue of Gabriella Giandelli's hard-to-pronounce magical apartment building story Interiorae; and the third issue of Zak Sally's otherworldly picaresque Sammy the Mouse.
Missing in action at this point, alas, are new issues of the Gipi series Wish You Were Here and Marti 's Calvario Hills, as both cartoonists are focusing on other work at this time, but we're keeping our fingers crossed there will be a new issue of David B.'s Babel sometime in 2010.
Of course, if you've missed picking up any of these issues in the past (including the already concluded three-issue series New Tales of Palomar by Gilbert Hernandez, Reflections by Marco Corona, and Insomnia by Matt Broersma), remember, any comic you haven't read yet is a new comic...
It's here! The horrifying final chapter of the critically acclaimed macabre mini-series by Richard Sala, the gleefully demented creator of Peculia and The Chuckling Whatsit. Lauded by Rue Morgue magazine, among others, Delphine follows a traveler searching for his lost love and encountering a number of frightening obstacles along the way. These include witches, werewolves, bloody murder and a pack of sinister dwarfs (did we mention that this is a twisted re-imagining of "Snow White"?). Despite all this, the traveler persists, staggering onward towards a hair-raising climax and an inevitable confrontation with unspeakable evil!
In the second half of the two-part "Cryptic City" epic, Professor Hackensack continues his battle against the Wicked Barons alongside Inspector Doppiofaccio, the mysterious Lady Puzzle, and an unexpected ally from beyond the grave — with the enigmatic Mr. O'Blique on the sidelines. This amazingly inventive work of surreal fantasy from one of Italy's hottest new talents is proving to be a sleeper hit!
Long a superstar in his native Italy, Lorenzo Mattotti has made sporadic incursions into the U.S. via appearances in RAW magazine, the classic Fires graphic novel, and the more recent, 2003 Eisner-winning Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde adaptation from NBM. (Not to mention regular gigs in The New Yorker.) All of these previous works have showcased his full-color painter style, but Chimera, with its intricate, hyper-expressive swirls of crisp line work, shows that Mattotti's genius is bound by no single technique. A wordless fantasia of birth, death, gods, monsters, and humans, Chimera is the most astonishing visual narrative you'll see all year.
Holy moly there's a lot of links today! There's a few major interviews in today's Online Commentary & Diversions, so let's lead off with those:
• Interview: At Amazon's Omnivoracious blog, Heidi Broadhead talks to our own Kim Thompson about translating the works of Jason ("His latest collection, Low Moon... has filmic moments and comic pathos that have set a new standard for me for short fiction") and other Eurocomics. Sample quote: "But I'm also more invested in these books because I work so hard on them, and in many cases, of course, such as Tardi, I'm literally fulfilling a childhood dream by translating them."
• Interview: "Carol Tyler is one of the best cartoonists currently working. She has been for years... Earlier this year Tyler released the first of an expected three volumes that seek to explore her father's time in World War II. You'll Never Know: A Good And Decent Man gently peels back the layers on these seminal experiences while at the same time providing an earnest portrait of the artist and her most important relationships during the time she started on the project. Tyler combines the unflinching eye of the late underground with the self-deprecating portrait of the alternative comics movement with the poetic qualities that some of the best post-alternatives are able to wring from their art. I really love Carol Tyler's work, and I was delighted she agreed to talk to me." - Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
• Interview: "In a perfect and just world, John Kerschbaum would be one of its most famous cartoonists." - Rob Clough, presenting his Q&A with Kerschbaum from The Comics Journal #295. Sample quote: "And when you're doing work for kids you just leave out the cursing… and tits - no tits."
• Review: "Wolverton... had a knack, too, for nightmarish drama... [He] saved his most enthralling pieces for the Bible. An ordained minister for a wacky Oregon church, he produced, in the mid 1950s, a series of apocalyptic scenes for the Book of Revelations; men and women, foregrounded in close-up, writhe under dominant skies of fire, plague, and war." - Robert Shuster, The Village Voice, on the Wolverton exhibit at Gladstone Gallery; hat tip once again to Drew Friedman
• Review: "Jason's unique skill of meshing cut-out Hollywood genres with fleeting moments of missed opportunities is like a unique cocktail - one part Hitchcock, one part Kubrick with a dash of Woody Allen... Low Moon is a slow-moving delight. Jason has crafted a perfectly executed yarn that is at once both familiar and bizarre. This collection is an exceptional entryway for reader still unaware of one of sequential arts greatest contributors." - Ascot J. Smith, examiner.com
• Review: "Known for his ability to convey melancholic, deadpan humor, Jason is as on top of his game as ever with this release... Each story expresses a different degree of the author’s range, mixing dark or mature themes with absurdity to varying degrees... Since it demonstrates Jason’s range and is priced fairly modestly..., Low Moon makes for a great starting point for those unfamiliar with Jason’s work." - Anthony Farruggia, examiner.com
• Review: "Jason's work is something to be revered... His comics are stark and morbid and often hilarious. Low Moon presents five beautifully illustrated stories that show a mastery of the craft... The stories range from violent to funny to sad, and the tragedies, murders, and pratfalls therein never seem out of the ordinary. It all fits into four rectangular panels on each page that seem like they were drawn to make you understand something more." - Gabe Bullard, PLAYBACK:stl
• Review: "Ho!... promises the most degenerate and juvenile one-panel gag comics ever penned by a working college professor... You're either loving it or deeply concerned for the author." - Byron Kerman, PLAYBACK:stl
• Review: "Kevin Huizenga introduces a relatable and unusual story with his quirky sequel to the first Ganges in the 'Ignatz' series from Fantagraphics. A tale about morality, realism, and video games, Ganges [#2] spins a web of confusion for those universal questions that lurk at the edge of our minds... 'Pulverize' makes a bold attempt to portray how living in a technological age can confuse as well as enlighten you to great lengths. Touching and unique, Huizenga creates a quirky story for the win." - Melissa Kay, Girls Entertainment Network
• Review: "My choice for the greatest comic strip in history would be Hal Foster's epic adventure strip Prince Valiant. And now Fantagraphics is reprinting the series in a series of spiffy, oversized hardcover collections, with the first volume out this week. And even though I own the whole 40-volume set of the Foster-drawn pages that Fantagraphics published in the 1990s, I’m perfectly happy to buy this new series, with larger pages, better-quality paper, and much better-quality coloring... It’s excellent stuff, and I look forward to enjoying it all over again." - Michael Rawdon, Fascination Tangents
• Review: "The most influential adventure strip ever produced, Foster's gorgeous Prince Valiant inspired generations of artists. While the Sunday-only strip has been reprinted several times, this edition contains for the first time images shot from Foster's own color engraver's proofs. Published at the strip's original dimensions and complete with an introduction by Hal Foster biographer Brian M. Kane and the insightful 1969 Hal Foster interview with Fred Schreiber, the hardcover Prince Valiant Vol. 1: 1937-1938 finally presents these lush tales in a format worthy of the material." - Rick Klaw, The SF Site - Nexus Graphica
• Review: "Like H.L. Mencken, [Peter] Bagge favors a scorched-earth satirical attack, tearing down arguments by ridicule as much as reason. Unlike Mencken, Bagge's work is more playful and less likely to attempt to install himself as a know-it-all (even if he thinks he does) because of his nebbishy self-portrayal... It's rare to see a cartoonist branch out into this kind of second act of a career with this much flourish and skill... his work here [in Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me] demands a reader's attention every bit as much as the more famous editorial cartoonists in America... Best of all, Bagge is still funny... and this is a very good thing for both his hardcore fans and new readers alike." - Rob Clough
• Review: "[Peter] Bagge made his reputation with the wicked social satire of Hate, but since 2001 he’s also produced these short comics [in Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me] for the libertarian magazine Reason... His visual style—in which people are all huge-mouthed, squinty-eyed, rubber-limbed caricatures—is turned up all the way to 'jeer'; it’s also pretty funny on its own. Bagge aims his (constitutionally protected) satirical blunderbuss at both the left and the right, and occasionally points it at fellow libertarians and even himself." - Publishers Weekly
• Review: "...Norwegian cartoonist Jason’s latest wheeze of a graphic novella [I Killed Adolf Hitler] invents a time-travelling professional assassin who attempts to exterminate the Fuhrer with predictably bizarre results... The deadpan humour, pared-down plotting and simple illustrations featuring Jason’s trademark zoomorphic characters make for a brisk and extremely enjoyable read." - 2012
• Plug: "OMG reading Low Moon on lunch IT IS SO GOOD how long can comics stay this awesome?" - Dustin Harbin, via Twitter
• Plug: Portuguese shop Ghoulgear recommends the comics work of Jason, "who reinvented the narrative language of comics... He is an author that is worth knowing."
• Plug: "There's some great material in [Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me], whether you agree with the opinions or not, since Bagge does some great cartooning and good journalism, providing hilarious insights into topics like art, public transportation, homelessness, and gun ownership." - Matthew J. Brady
• Plug: "[Love and Rockets] was like an underground Archie, with Hispanic characters, plus it was literally oozing with a sensuality that simply couldn't be found in mainstream funnybooks... If you have the opportunity to pick up any L&R comics, I highly recommend it, as it is still some of the consistently very best comics that is being produced." - Robert J. Sodaro (former Fantagraphics employee)
• Plug: "I’m currently reading through the latest issue of The Comics Journal, number 298... I’m really looking forward to the interview with Thriller artist Trevor Von Eeden. Also, the Percy Crosby Skippy strips included in the gallery section are a wonder." - Chris Mautner, Robot 6; also, their guest contributor this week is Paul Karasik
• Things to see: Comic Book Resources presents a bunch of work by Terry LaBan (whose Fantagraphics titles are all out of print)