(Also out this week and highly coveted by me: Dark Horse's collection of Carol Swain short stories Crossing the Empty Quarter — if you haven't picked up Giraffes in My Hair yet, why not make it a Swain two-fer?)
Harken back to those thrilling days of yesteryear when the advent of rental videos astonished the movie-going consumer who could only feed his addiction by going to the theater or watching chopped up movies in between commercials on TV. Like vinyl, here is the revenge of another analog cast-off: the VHS is once again insinuating itself into American culture, and this book celebrates the anarchic design art of those early VHS boxes.
Portable Grindhouse: The Lost Art of the VHS Box is a feast for exploitation cognoscenti, reprinting some of the most louche, decadent, minimo-pervo artwork to ever grace a VHS box, featuring such movies as From Beyond, Penitentiary II, Beast of the Yellow Night, Cop Killers, Bay of Blood, Escape from Death Row, and Cocaine Wars. Readers will be agog at the plethora of supertrash movie titles, and then move on to rediscover the anarchic box designs. Throughout, editor and cultural historian Jacques Boyreau succinctly narrates the household-piercing story of VHS: “On par with the jukebox, disco, and neon, VHS reformatted the world’s product-intake and boosted a libertarian aesthetic that conquered TV in the same way TV conquered comic books in the 1950s, and allowed us to hold movies in our hands. Posters in the lobby could advertise, even fetishize a movie; credit sequences could identify the participants, but somehow, VHS box-art ‘became’ the iconic equivalent of the movie.”
Portable Grindhouse is published in a VHS “format,” slyly packaged inside a facsimile VHS box, and contains almost a hundred reproductions of VHS art with commentary.
Download an EXCLUSIVE PDF excerpt (3.6 MB) featuring seven 2-page spreads from the book.
• Review: "Like a Dog compiles several of [Zak Sally's] stories from the last 15 years in one sweet, annotated hardcover. I'm amazed by how the styles vary -- one minute Sally can talk about working in a punk-rock T-shirt shop, the next he's going on about Dostoevsky -- but most stories are quite compelling and, man, the guy is just so cool. Sally is an intensely personal writer, and I appreciate how much he reveals about himself within these pages. His work can get a little messy sometimes, but I say that's just another reason to like it." – Whitney Matheson, USA TODAY Pop Candy
• Review: "...[T]he work contained in [Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 1] (and kudos to Fantagraphics on the excellent and handsome production work) constantly reminds you of just how stellar an artist Ditko would prove to be. ... For historians, both amateur and otherwise, who thrill to the prospect of seeing that maturity take place, this is the book for you." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "[Gilbert] Hernandez's latest solo work The Troublemakers is the second in a series of self-contained graphic novel 'B-movies,' featuring one of his recurring characters, the cannonball-breasted Rosalba 'Fritz' Martinez. Here, Fritz plays Nala, one of a trio of hustlers trying to hook up with 200,000 smackers. Whether the money actually exists and who has it are anyone's guess in this drama-filled thriller — good for folks who like their graphic novels grim, gritty, and sleazy." – Brad Buckner, Portland Mercury
• Review: "Strange Suspense [The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 1]... is an absolute treat! ...[T]his book looks amazing. ...[It's] filled with images that will remain seared into your psyche long after you’ve put it down. ... Strange Suspense is an absolute must have for any student of sequential art history... It’s an excellent collection of long lost work from a man whose importance cannot be overstated. There’s really no other grade to give it than an A." – Chad Derdowski, Mania.com
• Review: "Wolverton is helped [in The Wolverton Bible]... by his bold compositional sense, which aids in pushing some of his images beyond the doldrums of camp and into a certain monumentality, a grandeur that retains a shabby earthiness, without being lofty, hollow or pretentious. Without being, in a word, 'churchy.'" – Chris Lanier, The Comics Journal (beta)
• Review: "Johnny Ryan’s Prison Pit is probably as close as comics are likely to come to exploitation cinema. Like the best exploitation dreck from Texas Chainsaw to Death Race 2000, Prison Pit is pure, bottom-dwelling schlock... And yet, again as with exploitation fare, the single-minded commitment to vileness is so perversely pure that it goes right past lowest-common-denominator entertainment and on into snooty, fancy-pants art. ... Ryan’s world is essentially Waiting for Godot, from the bleak landscape to the slapstick violence." – Noah Berlatsky, The Comics Journal (beta)
FANTAGRAPHICS BOOKSTORE & GALLERY CELEBRATES THIRD ANNIVERSARY ON DECEMBER 12 WITH ART, MUSIC, COMIX & MORE!
November 25, 2009 - SEATTLE, WA. The third anniversary celebration for Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery on Saturday, December 12, from 6:00 to 9:00 PM, promises to be an unforgettable affair. The event features appearances by an international cadre of compelling cartoonists and artists as well as the world premiere of PORTABLE GRINDHOUSE with editor Jacques Boyreau. An entertaining panel discussion will be held the following Sunday afternoon, December 13.
PORTABLE GRINDHOUSE: The Lost Art of the VHS Box collects colorful cover art from a selection of vintage exploitation genre films. Cleverly packaged in a VHS slipcase, this anthology celebrates the film format that changed pop culture forever. On opening night Portland-based editor and B movie aficionado Jacques Boyreau will unveil a monumental site-specific "Portable Grindhouse" mural designed by Candice Schroeder. Boyreau commissioned Schroeder to create an equally impressive mural for his "SuperTrash" movie memorabilia exhibition currently on display at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh.
December 12 also marks the third anniversary of Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery. To celebrate the occasion, Fantagraphics Books has assembled an amazing group of cartoonists to socialize and sign books. Among the stellar line-up of guests: Femke Hiemstra (ROCK CANDY) from Amsterdam, Paul Hornschemeier (ALL & SUNDRY) and Jay Ryan (BEASTS!) from Chicago, Portland's Dame Darcy (MEAT CAKE), and Seattle's own Peter Bagge (HATE), Jim Woodring (FRANK), Scott Musgrove (THE LATE FAUNA OF EARLY NORTH AMERICA), and Jim Blanchard (TRUCKER FAGS IN DENIAL.) Musical entertainment will be provided by Bagge's pop combo CAN YOU IMAGINE? featuring Steve Fisk and an opening set by the enchanting DAME DARCY.
On Sunday, December 13 from 4:00 to 6:00 PM, Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery presents a panel discussion focusing on PORTABLE GRINDHOUSE. Five distinguished experts in the field will screen short clips from their favorite exploitation film and discuss its influence on their work, as well as the broader social implications of the genre.
Panelists include artist Lisa Petrucci (KICKASS KUTIES ) of Something Weird, cartoonist Marc Palm of Scarecrow Video, Seattle Times pop culture critic Mark Rahner with film critic and curator Robert Horton, co-writers of horror comic ROTTEN. The panel is moderated by PORTABLE GRINDHOUSE editor Jacques Boyreau and will be followed by a book signing and reception. Admission is free as always.
Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery Third Anniversary Celebration Saturday, December 12, 6:00 - 9:00 PM
PORTABLE GRINDHOUSE Book Launch Party Featuring Editor Jacques Boyreau
CAN YOU IMAGINE? featuring Steve Fisk And DAME DARCY
From Chicago Paul Hornschemeier (ALL & SUNDRY) & Jay Ryan (BEASTS!) From Amsterdam Femke Hiemstra (ROCK CANDY) From Portland Dame Darcy (MEAT CAKE) Seattle's own Peter Bagge (HATE), Jim Blanchard, Jim Woodring (FRANK) and more!
Sunday, December 13, 4:00 to 6:00 PM
PORTABLE GRINDHOUSE PANEL & BOOK SIGNING
Screening and panel discussion on vintage exploitation video with
Lisa Petrucci (KICKASS KUTIES) Something Weird Video. Mark Rahner (ROTTEN) Seattle Times pop culture critic Robert Horton KUOW film critic and Frye Art Museum film curator Marc Palm (AKA Swellzombie) Scarecrow Video Moderated by PORTABLE GRINDHOUSE editor Jacques Boyreau
Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery
1201 S. Vale Street (at Airport Way S.) Seattle, WA 98108 206.658.0110 Open daily 11:30 to 8:00 PM, Sundays until 5:00 PM www.fantagraphics.com
• List: Graphic Novel Reporter begins their Best of 2009 survey of educators and comics pros; so far A Mess of Everything by Miss Lasko-Gross ("Lasko-Gross’ words and pictures felt incredibly authentic") and Luba by Gilbert Hernandez have been named
• Review: "Rolling in like a slow, fuzzed-out guitar line from an Orange-brand amp, The Red Monkey Double Happiness Booklives up to the good vibes promised in its title. ... Having recently finished Thomas Pynchon's Inherent Vice and Jonathan Lethem's Chronic City, I couldn't help but consider The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book as a distant third-cousin to those titles. ...The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book is a weekend read, best consumed with your feet propped up, opposable digits or not." – Alex Carr, Omnivoracious (Amazon.com)
• Review: "Paul Hornschemeier excels at a sort of cryptic-cute comic that is better read than described. It's a blend of darkness and sharply delineated perfectionism that, whether he likes it or not, sometimes brings to mind his Chicago contemporary Chris Ware What he knows, though, is that he can go places Ware can't — Hornschemeier's style is every style. ... His diversity of styles is most apparent in All and Sundry: Uncollected Work 2004-2009... It's just a stew of stuff that, like the best sketchbooks, offers an intimate invitation to spy on the ramblings of a formidable creative." – Byron Kerman, PLAYBACK:stl
• Review: "For being a company that puts out the reprints of one of the safest comics of all time, Peanuts, Fantagraphics sure lives on the edge of the comics medium, particularly in the realm of anthologies. Blab! is just such an anthology, featuring a variety of visual quirks that hover closer to straight up art pieces than comics work, but still do not seem out of place with the more narrative pieces that slide between the pictorial pages. ...[T]here's probably someone for everyone in Blab!, if you take the time to look." – Panel Patter
• Review: "Richard Sala’s reinvention of Snow White is a sparkling macabre gem. The 2-color art glows in handsome sepia that is pitch perfect for this delightfully demented tale of a strange land. Sala populates Delphine with cast of horror carnival rejects that is diverse enough to both excite and confound the imagination. This issue [#3]’s creepy locales: dark tunnels, a creepy house, and a gloomy castle are the true stars of this chapter. They make this scary tale an absolute winner. ...[Grade] A" – Leroy Douresseaux, Comic Book Bin
• Reviewer: A new book review from Laura Warholic author Alexander Theroux for The Wall Street Journal, this time of an interesting-sounding collection of "literary invective" called Poison Pens
• Plug: "I grew up in the video age and I’m still in awe of the technology that first allowed me to watch thousands of movies in the privacy of my own home. Call me sentimental and nostalgic, but when I first got wind of Jacques Boyreau’s upcoming book Portable Grindhouse: The Lost Art of the VHS Box it made me giddy with excitement." – Kimberly Lindbergs, Cinebeats
As part of our festive 3rd anniversary celebration, Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery presents a panel discussion focusing on PORTABLE GRINDHOUSE on Sunday, December 13 from 4:00 to 6:00 PM. Five distinguished experts in the field will screen short clips from their favorite exploitation films and discuss its influence on their work, as well as the broader social implications of the genre.
Panelists include artist Lisa Petrucci (KICKASS KUTIES) of Something Weird, cartoonist Marc Palm of Scarecrow Video, Seattle Times pop culture critic Mark Rahner with film critic and curator Robert Horton, the co-writer of horror comic ROTTEN. The panel is moderated by PORTABLE GRINDHOUSE editor Jacques Boyreau and will be followed by a book signing and reception. Admission is free as always.
Don't wait till then. Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery is open daily at 1201 S. Vale Street just south of downtown Seattle. Phone 206.658.0110.
The third anniversary celebration for Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery on Saturday, December 12 promises to be an unforgettable affair. The event features appearances by an international cadre of compelling cartoonists and artists as well as the world premier of PORTABLE GRINDHOUSE with editor Jacques Boyreau.
Online Commentary & Diversions with a hockey mask:
• Review: "[Jacques] Boyreau’s new art book, Portable Grindhouse, is more than a stunning collection of VHS box art. Anyone with a sense of nostalgia for cruising the shelves at the local Video Depot will recognize old favorites alongside more than a few bizarre rarities within its pages, and if you don’t feel a sense of loss over the current state of DVD box art, you just don’t have any feelings. ... Like the VHS boxes of old, Boyreau’s introductory essay is less a history of the VHS format and the culture of the rental business than it is a heady evocation of how exciting it was when it first arrived. ...[A] book as lovingly edited as this could only have been put together by someone whose appreciation for these objects is matched by a real love of cinema." – Matthew Caron, Vol. 1 Brooklyn
• Review: "...West Coast Blues... is... a tightly-plotted little crime noir, just the sort of thing that today's discerning comic book readers seem to be interested in... It's noir by way of existential hell, which, let's face it is very French. This is... an admirable book, tightly plotted and full of great cartooning moments. ...You Are There is a heavily dense and convoluted book... presented with a decidedly absurdist and surreal air. ... You Are There constantly skirts the edge of comedy — it knows the language and does the dance — but never becomes the outright farce it so clearly and consistently hints at evolving into. ... Whatever flaws these two books might posses, they and Tardi remain too interesting and rich to be easily dismissed." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Interview: Martha's Vineyard Magazine's Karla Araujo has a Q&A with Jules Feiffer ("Success is nothing to sneeze at, but failure has many possibilities"), followed by an excerpt from Feiffer's upcoming memoir Backing Into Forward
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