Here is a book that we are very proud to be presenting this December: Jack Jackson's American History: Los Tejanos & Lost Cause, combining two of Jackson's historical graphic novels from the 1980s into a new, lovingly-produced hardcover volume (the first in a series of three). Together they comprise a masterful and unflinching look at Texas during its decades-long pre-Civil War conflict with Mexico and its struggles during the Reconstruction. Combining historical verisimilitude with crisp, muscular artwork, Jackson's uncompromising work is unparallelled in his milieu, and we are pleased to present his great works in a format befitting their stature. More copious previews are in the works; for now you can read 26 pages, with excerpts from both stories, right here.
Our production department has been cranking away and all the rest of our books coming out in 2012 (and one for next year) are now at the printer. I have a bunch of new cover images and excerpts to share, so let's take a peek, shall we?
Have you seen this man? We want to include this historical portrait of Juan Seguín in our upcoming book Jack Jackson's American History: Los Tejanos & Lost Cause, as we did on the back cover of our original edition of Los Tejanos (which predates the era of digital production by many years). We're in a hurry and high-res images aren't available online. We would just scan it from a file copy of the book but, as you can see, our file copies are in pretty rough shape. If you have a pristine copy of the book (or another source for the image) and can send us a high-res scan (300 dpi), we'll send you a free copy of the new Jack Jackson book when it comes out if we use your scan! (And we won't use it but it would be nice to have a clean digital copy of the front cover as well.) Please send your scan(s) to our "fbicomix@" email address. The race is on!
• Review: "If Spielberg shed the skin of Hergé’s style in an effort to get to the heart of his stories, the compelling work of Dutch cartoonist Joost Swarte performs the procedure in reverse.... Swarte, equally inspired by the underground comix that emerged from the American counterculture of the 1960s and ’70s, adapted the clear line and reanimated it with subversive content unlike the perennially chipper Boy Scoutism of Hergé’s Tintin. ...Is That All There Is?, collecting the bulk of his comics oeuvre to date (excluding a body of children’s comics), provides an overdue opportunity to linger over and consider his narrative work.... Like a Rube Goldberg machine designed according to De Stijl aesthetics—with a rhythm and blues soundtrack—Swarte’s comics communicate a historically freighted, European sense of the absurd, poised toward a globalizing, postmodern present." – Bill Kartalopoulos, The Brooklyn Rail
• Review: "The real joy of Swarte’s work... is the architectural elegance of his illustrations and his fine ability to colour them using everything from watercolour to retro duo-tones. Looking at Swarte’s mostly 20th century work [in Is That All There Is?] now, what’s also — and tangentially — interesting is the retro-futuristic look of it: the settings are near-future, but everything’s styled circa the 1940s, much in the same way Ridley Scott imagined the future in Bladerunner. For sheer design swagger you need to check Swarte out." – Miles Fielder, The List
• Review: "These stories [in Athos in America] are a little less open-and-shut than Jason usually makes. His comics are always good, but I usually don't think about them too much after reading them. This one's more of a think stimulator than previous books.... It's a beautiful book. This is definitely Jason's best book yet. Good job, Jason." – Nick Gazin, VICE
• Interview:Chicago Publishes has an interview with Mome contributor Laura Park: "I’m really happy with the stories I did for MOME. I love short stories. Novels are the format now — it’s a selling format. You can have graphic novels in a bookstore, because non-comics people might buy them. Whenever you can get a comic from the comic shop into a bookstore, it’ll make more money. But short stories are kind of magical to me. My favorite writer is Flannery O’Connor. She has novels, but her short stories are the ones that linger and itch away through you."
• Review: "[Newave: The Underground Mini Comix of the 1980s] was a treasure to find for me, because I got to read some of the stuff I was reading in the Chicago burbs being all 'punk rock' and 'rebel rebel.' You have to live it to understand it, and while I’ll look at 1960’s underground comics as a history tour, this comic brought back live living memories of awesome underage shows, best friends forever, hard dancing, stage diving, and all the other fun things that these comics represented to us. Rating this an enthusiastic five of five, it holds a place of honor on my book shelf, and oh you betcha, I’m reading this to my grand children. You need to go buy this one, because it is totally special." – Dan Morrill, Comics Forge
• Review: "This anthology [God's Bosom and Other Stories] is an interesting take on early American history and Texas.... Overall, this was a bizarrely wonderful journey through some of the things I missed because I was essentially a very small child during the time, and I doubt anyone would really have brought a four year old to a free love in concert in a park that goes horribly wrong.... I am rating this comic book five of five stars, because it is extraordinarily well done, and is an interesting and approachable way of getting a look at early underground comic books. This one is well worth owning, and loving in your physical comic book collection." – Dan Morrill, Comics Forge
• Interview: Dan Wagstaff, a.k.a. The Casual Optimist, has a Q&A with Jason: "I have ideas in my brain, just lying there, that I sometimes think about. This can last years. Then suddenly I can get ideas for dialogues. I write this down. It’s maybe four or five pages. I can start working on those, and at the same time think about what’s going to happen next. I don’t write a full script. It’s based on improvisation. I write pieces of dialogue. Or sometimes I sketch out the pages first, the images, and write the dialogue after. I usually work on nine or ten pages at the same time, pencil a bit here , then ink it, and then pencil a bit there and ink that. It’s the completely wrong way of doing it, by the way, but it seems to be the only way I can work."
• Plugs: Martha Cornog of Library Journal spotlights a few of our upcoming releases in the latest "Graphic Novels Prepub Alert":
Creeping Death from Neptune: Horror and Science Fiction Comics by Basil Wolverton: "The line between horror and humor dissolves easily, and Wolverton's extravagantly grotesque drawings drew chortles and chills from readers of MAD magazine and numerous comics from the 1940s to the 1950s.... Now a few years after a successful New York exhibit plus several published collections of illustrations and shorter pieces, this volume reprints important sf/horror sequential work, carefully restored, plus material from his personal ledgers and diaries."
Jack Jackson's American History: Los Tejanos & Lost Cause: "With the pen name of 'Jaxon,' Jackson (1941-2006) drew Texas history into comics that included Mexican as well as Anglo legacies. Los Tejanos ('the Texans' of Mexican ancestry) fixes on Juan Seguín, a tragic figure in the 1835-75 Texas-Mexican conflict. Lost Cause chronicles the state's turmoil during Reconstruction, in the wake of the Civil War. Jackson's detailed, realistically drawn accounts will be useful for anyone interested in those coordinates of U.S. history or in Latino-Anglo heritage."
No Straight Lines: Four Decades of Queer Comics: "Herewith a color and black-and-white sampler from a little-recognized underground of gay comics from the past four decades, including [Alison] Bechdel and [Howard] Cruse, Europe's Ralf Koenig, and 2011 ALA keynoter Dan Savage. Huh? Dan Savage wrote comics?! Indeedy, indeedy. Fantagraphics promises 'smart, funny, and profound' — and uncensored."
Yesterday's and today's Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: "Sala consistently introduces red-cheeked, innocent characters and then puts them through the meat-grinder, and in The Hidden he plays with mad science. ...Sala’s novel features plenty of 'tell,' because if it’s one thing mad scientists enjoy, it’s expository dialogue. There are gorgeous single-panel pages filled with huge dialogue balloons, and it’s to the author and illustrator’s credit that it’s always a hoot; Sala is a professional when it comes to tongue-in-cheek visuals (the friendly looking characters with spilled intestines) and storytelling.... Its ending is... abrupt..., but it leaves ample room for a welcome continuation. The lushly colored package is vintage Fantagraphics, of course." – Alex Carr, Omnivoracious (Amazon.com)
• Review: "Relaunching in a book-sized format, Comics Journal #301 came out from Fantagraphics this summer, and has already gone through a second printing. The magazine is dense, with over three hundred pages, containing enough essays, interviews, reviews, and art pages to easily fill 2-4 of the old issues.... Where else in comics journalism are you going to find a viewpoint of comics encompassing enough to put so many different realms of the artform under the same microscope and give it all due consideration? The drastic shift in format indicates a willingness of Fantagraphics to take risks with its flagship publication." – Greg Baldino, Bleeding Cool
• Review: "...[T]his gentle, inviting series about two transgendered elementary school students... has truly captured my attention.... Wandering Son feels at times more like a series of character sketches that all connect together than a narrative-driven book, but it’s a structure that makes me that much more intrigued... Takako’s art is beautiful here, delicate line drawings that fit well with her story.... Last but not least, props need to go to Fantagraphics for a great physical design of the book.... This isn’t quite like anything else on the market right now, and I’m thrilled to see Fantagraphics exposing it to a wider audience." – Greg McElhatton, Read About Comics
• Interview: The normally Love and Rockets-focused Love & Maggie blog steps out of their usual purview to hit up Gary Groth for more information about our forthcoming series Jack Jackson's American History (starting next year with Los Tejanos/Lost Cause) — if you're at all interested in these books, definitely check this out
• Lore: "Before resuming I should say this: Drug taking, by myself and others, really peaks in this chapter. It isn’t something I’m proud of or a thing I endorse. But it is the way it all happened." So begins the ninth installment of Kim Deitch's epic memoir-in-music "Mad About Music: My Life in Records" at TCJ.com
• Review: "Whether you want to take a stroll down mammary lane with grandpa or are searching for new pomo tattoo ideas, this omnibus look at the various gagsters that brought their pens and inks to the pages of Humorama's various digests from 1938 until the sexual revolution will give you a window into your sexual soul that you didn't know existed and will finally gives rest to the lie that sex was invented in the 60s.... Whether gag panels or slice of life renderings, this is a loving look back at all the dead trees that wound up hidden in the back of sock drawers of the greatest generation as some of the greatest fantasies of all time got them through several wars. Fun stuff in delightful overdrive." – Chris Spector, Midwest Record
• Review: "I love Santiago’s style and his depiction of Clemente’s childhood in Puerto Rico ... Santiago really captures the feeling of listening to a ball game on a hot summer day, and his story is rich and complex, if flawed. I’m glad I read ." – Brigid Alverson, Robot 6
• Plug: "If you tend to think of Mickey Mouse as nothing more than a bland corporate spokesman, prepare to be both fascinated and delighted by the incredible comic strip adventures of the 30’s by Floyd Gottfredson, collected for the first time in Mickey Mouse: Race To Death Valley, the first volume of hopefully the entire run. Get it! Now!" – Ken Plume, FRED
• Plug:The Beat's Torsten Adair looks forward to Jack Jackson's American History: Los Tejanos & Lost Cause, coming early next year: "Remember all that fuss about R. Crumb’s Genesis? Jack Jackson was doing that sort of thing back in the 1990s. Doing it so well, that the Texas Historical Association awarded him a lifetime fellowship. He produced one of the first underground comics in 1964, and co-founded Rip Off Press. He deserves more attention and recognition from comics fans and historians, and I hope this book does that."
In addition to the inductees selected by the judges, the nominees to be selected by voters and announced at Comic-Con this summer include comics scholar Bill Blackbeard, who edits our Krazy & Ignatz series, and Kim Deitch. You can also find the work of nominee Harvey Pekar in our Complete Crumb Comics series. Eligible voters can cast their ballot right here.