• Review: "As with Chun's earlier volumes in the series, it is fantastic to see this work brought back. The original digests were pervasive and invasive...they once arrived by the pallet to newsstands all over the country, but because of their risque and sexist slant, they've been Orwelled right out of our world. It is nice to see them presented here as the art they were. Other than their super-busty raunch (and the occasional spanking) the girly gags of Humorama have aged well because they were hidden for some fifty years. They are also harmless, sometimes woman-friendly and FUNNY." – Jim Linderman, Vintage Sleaze
• Review: "Isle of 100,000 Graves represents his first true collaboration, with writer Fabien Vehlmann providing a template that is a remarkable complement to Jason’s deadpan style.... At a crisp 57 pages, Vehlmann and Jason cram a surprising amount of plot and character development into this graphic novella, yet the book has a pleasantly unhurried pace and plenty of room for gags.... The secret hero of this book’s success is the colorist Hubert, who brings a vivid richness to the book that gives it a quality not unlike that of Carl Barks’ work.... The result is pure storytelling pleasure, a kind of narrative eye-candy that is doubly attractive for its sense of restraint and Vehlmann’s deadpan story beats." – Rob Clough, The Comics Journal
• Review: "I never thought I could look at Poe in a way that was fresh. Poe has been done a thousand times and, while it’s always fun to watch someone else do their thing with Poe’s work, it tends to all go pretty much the same. [The Raven] is different, though. This is scaling back layers of dead flesh — Poe’s, Reed’s and Mattotti’s — and then grafting all of the raw, naked skin together to make a creature that is both disturbing and beautiful.... Knowing that this work came from a musical, I thought perhaps I might be missing a large piece of it, experiencing it through only one sense. I was wrong, however — Mattotti’s art combined with the inherent lyrical quality of the writing to make a more beautiful song than anyone could sing." – Lyndsey Holder, Innsmouth Free Press
• Review: "Fenwick's use of fonts is fascinating, as he seems obsessed with their aesthetic and decorative qualities as a way of eliciting a certain kind of reaction.... Fenwick slips between the absurd, the thoughtful, the existential and the sublime from page to page, keeping the reader off-balance but engaged.... Mascots flips from image to image with a dream logic that's sometimes whimsical, sometimes creepy, sometimes weird and always vivid. It's that vividness that gives the book its energy and an almost hallucinatory quality. Readers should not expect a coherent narrative but rather simply enjoy the ride." – Rob Clough, High-Low
• Review: "Josh Simmons picked an interesting way to write a graphic novel... Jessica seems to be a child in an abusive situation but either she’s found how to stay sane within her own imaginary world with a host of friends or she’s found a way to fight back. I’m not sure if her courage is a shield or a weapon. [Jessica Farm is a]n interesting life project and I think, well worth a read." – Terry Grignon, Golbing
• Quote of the Week: At The Comics Journal, R. Fiore's review of Luc Besson's film adaptation of Tardi's The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec contains this bon mot: "My rule of thumb is that making a movie out of a comic strip is like making a love song out of a blowjob: You may well make a perfectly decent love song out of it, but it will lack the characteristics one values in the original experience."
We'll be catching up on the past week's Online Commentary & Diversions over the next several days.
• Review: "Fantagraphics Books, which has previously done such an amazing job of collecting other classic comic strips like Prince Valiant and Peanuts , once again hits it out of the park with this collection [Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Vol. 1].... From the beautifully reproduced strips to the densely packed ancillary features, this must be the book that editors David Gerstein and Fantagraphics’ co-founder Gary Groth wanted for years for their own libraries. Their enthusiasm shows in the wonderfully designed package. This book is highly recommended for any Disney fan and fans of America's rich comic strip history." – Rich Clabaugh, Christian Science Monitor
• Review: "Murder by High Tide introduces Maurice Tillieux’s private detective Gil Jordan to America, collecting two 1950s stories from an acclaimed series that has never before been translated into English. Tillieux isn’t quite Hergé, but he’s adept at writing and drawing suspenseful detective stories with brief flurries of action. ...Tillieux’s plotting and deft hand at action, figures, and environments make Murder by High Tide a thrilling read." – Garrett Martin, Paste
• Review: "...Fantagraphics is always a good place to start if you’re worried about trying something new. The venerable comics publisher is a stamp of quality, a guarantee that the vetting process has been serious and that, at very least, the book you hold in your hands will have been beautifully printed. Wandering Son [Vol.] 1 bears all that out.... It’s a lovely, tactile-y rich object, but it’s also a sweet book in terms of content. ...[T]he characters are pleasant to spend time with, the art is emotive and expressive (embarrassment comes up a lot), and there is a gentleness to the whole project that is welcome." – Hillary Brown, Paste
• Review: "...Shimura Takako's Wandering Son, with its direct treatment of transgenderism, feels simultaneously natural and singular in the world of manga.... The true distinction of Wandering Son is not its subject matter so much as Shimura Takako's quiet and sensitive handling of it. Fifth grade is a difficult time and age for any author to handle well, and throwing transgenderism into the mix merely adds to the challenge. By keeping the story's focus on the intensely personal thoughts, experiences, and emotions of the characters, Shimura avoids both heavy-handed preachiness and overly melodramatic scenes, keeping the tone of the story sympathetic and realistic and — most importantly — a story." – Caleb Dunaway, Otaku USA
• Review: "...Fantagraphics' edition is beautifully presented as a full-sized hardcover with excellent print and paper quality. The volume is just as lovely to behold as it is to read.... Instead of following a strictly linear narrative, Wandering Son provides a somewhat fragmented view. To me, it seems more like a collection of memories, glimpses of important and influential moments in the characters' lives. Though told chronologically, the story has an impressionistic quality to it. Wandering Son is lovely and quiet with tremendous emotional depth.... I was very pleased with the first volume of Wandering Son and greatly look forward to the release of the second volume." – Ash Brown, Experiments in Manga
• Review: "Brought straight to your chamber door from the ever-awesome Fantagraphics, we finally have The Raven graphic novel. Personally commissioned by Reed, legendary illustrator Lorenzo Mattotti (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Stigmata) has sketched some remarkably vivid scenes for what amounts to the definitive bard of Baltimore project from New York City’s own poet laureate.... Hardcovered, with a jacket by Grammy-nominated designer Jesse LeDoux, the whole presentation is indeed first-class." – Logan K. Young, Paste
• Review: "...Taking Punk to the Masses: From Nowhere to Nevermind... is a dense tome... packed with beautiful photos of EMP’s vast collection of instruments, posters and flyers and assorted rock and punk memorabilia, with commentary and excerpts from the oral history project, featuring testimonials from people like Greg Ginn and J Mascis and Grant Hart and Novoselic, on facing pages. The effect is that of taking a guided tour through the museum, exhibit by exhibit, with headphones on.... There’s an awful lot to look at here, and the book stands up to repeated readings.... Taking Punk to the Masses is a definite keeper for anyone who loves the bands of the Pacific Northwest or the history of rock in America." – John G. Nettles, Flagpole
• Review: "Simply put, if you’ve enjoyed any of Alex Chun and Jacob Covey’s series of glamour-girl cartoon retrospectives they’ve assembled for Fantagraphics over the years, you’ll want — if not need — their latest, The Pin-Up Art of Humorama.... As with Chun and Covey’s previous collaborations, the captions to the cartoons rarely matter — sometimes, they don’t even match what’s depicted. All that matters is the art, full of lovely, curvy, super-sexy women whose bra sizes run deep into the alphabet. It may not come in a brown paper wrapper, but yeah, this book’s hot. It spills over with an abundance of retro tease to please." — Rod Lott, Bookgasm
• Reviews: At his High-Low blog, Rob Clough looks at several of our translated volumes of the work of Jacques Tardi: "Tardi is an interesting figure because he felt comfortable writing mainstream material like detective stories, mysteries, fantasy and even science-fiction (though usually of a period nature; The Arctic Marauder, for example is a steampunk book) as well as more experimental and mature fare. No matter what the subject, his books always have a density and meatiness to them that rewards multiple readings. I'll briefly examine each book roughly in order of narrative complexity."
• Plug:Library Journal's Martha Cornog spotlights Diane Noomin's Glitz-2-Go in the latest Graphic Novels Prepub Alert: "Retro-glamgirl DiDi Glitz, Noomin's signature character, originally appeared in the women's comics anthology Twisted Sisters and other collections. Hypno Magazine described her as a 'shamelessly campy, mai-tai-swilling swinger with a voracious appetite for polyester, poodles, and doomed relationships.' Also, 'hysterically funny.' This volume collects nearly 40 years of Noomin comics. Catch this transcript of a Noomin presentation about her work, with sample strips, some NSFW."
• Interview:Jaime Hernandez reveals what kind of music he listens to while he's working in a survey on the topic by the Village Voice's R.C. Baker: "When told that one artist interviewed didn't want a fondness for a particularly 'retarded' pop song revealed, he cracks up. 'They don't want you to know they have a heart,' he says. 'I was never afraid to show mine — I put it out there in the comic every time.'"
• Scene: From Whitney Matheson's rundown of "50 Things I Learned at Comic-Con" at USA Today Pop Candy: "23. Johnny Ryan aims to scare us all. One of the most frightening moments on the convention floor came when a bloody, shirtless man walked up to the Fantagraphics booth and started screaming. Turns out he was portraying a character in Ryan's Prison Pit."
• Review: "...[L]ike the best coming-of-age stories — comics or otherwise —Wandering Son is meticulously accurate in its details, but universal in its emotions. Gay or not, readers shouldn’t find it too difficult to identify with kids who feel like their bodies and their friends are equally culpable in the worst kind of betrayal, preventing them from realizing the potential they see in themselves." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "The tone of each book is very different, with the Gil Jordan collection favoring clever mysteries, narrow escapes, and broad comic relief, while the Sibyl-Anne book is subtler, dissecting the way miniature societies work, together and in opposition. Both are excellent, though, showing off the strengths of the Eurocomics tradition, with its sprawling narratives spread across small panels, mixing cartoony characters and elaborate backgrounds." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "Reminiscent of the classic Michael Winner-helmed and Charles Bronson-starred The Mechanic, Tardi's follow up to his acclaimed adaptation of a Manchette crime novel West Coast Blues, Like a Sniper Lining Up His Shot... delivers a superior sequential thriller. Violent, sexy, and littered with enough shocks to excite the most hardened crime fiction fan, Tardi once again produces one of the finest examples of the genre." – Rick Klaw, The SF Site: Nexus Graphica
• Review: "McKean has long been established as a master of multimedia imagery and Celluloid represents possibly his finest work. The clarity and seamlessness with which he combines photography with drawings and paintings makes every scene entirely convincing. It’s this hyper-reality that encourages us to submit to the dream-logic of the story." – Gavin Lees, Graphic Eye
• Review: "[Celluloid] is a story of sexual growth and empowerment. ...McKean's artwork gains greater dimensionality as his central character grows more assertive.... The pace of the story is left up to the reader, but McKean has created such lush visuals that many will want to linger and examine the intricacies of the imagery presented....Many of the pages are so well crafted in their surrealistic imagery that they could easily hang beside Picasso. McKean has boldly stepped away from the confines of mainstream comic books with this endeavor, and the result is a masterpiece of eroticism that relies heavily on intellect and emotion, rather than just mere arousal or titillation." – Michael Hicks, Graphic Novel Reporter
• Review: "If Siamese Dream-era Smashing Pumpkins exploded inside a Victorian tea shop, it would look something like [Meat Cake]... The humour is perverse, like an alt-universe Kate Bush who grew up reading penny dreadfuls instead of Brontë, the drawings are obsessively crammed with fever-dream detail, and the author has the advantage of being able to make publicity appearances dressed as her own characters, which is not something most cartoonists should attempt." – Grant Buist, The Name of This Cartoon is Brunswick
• Profile: Rosalie Higson of The Australian talks to Robert Crumb in anticipation of his visit to Sydney next month for the GRAPHIC festival: "There's a unique timing and way of telling a story with comic panels, different to writing novels or a film script. And there are seasons in the life of any artist. Crumb has dropped all his ongoing characters. 'I'm sick of them all. I'm very critical of my own work, when I look back on it I'm not especially proud, I wasn't really serious enough about it. I'm not sure what it all means for posterity, I have no idea. You can be the world's most favourite artist, and be totally forgotten a few years later,' he says."
• Interview:At Print magazine's Imprint blog, Michael Dooley chats with Trina Robbins. Dooley: "Trina's 2009 The Brinkley Girls: The Best of Nell Brinkley's Cartoons from 1913-1940 is a stunning collection as well as a detailed pictorial chronicle of the evolution of fashion and style, from Nouveau to Deco." Robbins: "I love clothes. I love lipstick. I love glamor. And obviously, so have many other women, if you look at the large readership of artists like Nell Brinkley and Brenda Starr's Dale Messick. And in the case of younger readers, at all the girls who loved Katy Keene. There probably are still some women who might want to see me, if not guillotined, then at least sent off to a gulag for promoting such work."
Fantagraphics is puttin' the "comics" back in Comic-Con as we head to San Diego this week with a slew of scintillating signings, almost two-dozen dynamite debuts, and a collection of comics sure to please any comics fan... and fill those enormous free tote bags they give away at the door.
Friday, July 22nd: • 10:30-11:30 Comics Arts Conference Session #5: Critical Approaches to Comics: An Introduction to Theories and Methods— Matthew J. Smith and Randy Duncan with panelist, Andrei Molotiu. [Room 26AB] • 1:00-2:00 Comics Arts Conference Session #6: Wordless Comicswith Andrei Molotiu. [Room 26AB] • 12:00-1:00 CBLDF Master Session 3: Jaime Hernandez [Room 30CDE] • 1:00-2:00 Publishing Queer: Producing LGBT Comics and Graphic Novels with moderator Justin Hall [Room 9] • 1:00-2:30 The Golden Age of the Fanzine moderated by Bill Schelly. [Room 24ABC] • 10:30-11:30 Cartoon Network Comedy: Regular Show/The Problem Solverz and More! The Problem Solverz talent includes Ben Jones, John Pham, and Jon Vermilyea. [Room 6A]
• Review: "...[F]eisty art-comics publisher Fantagraphics, for its new multivolume hardcover series devoted to Gottfredson’s rarely seen comic-strip work [Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse ], has gone back to the beginning, lavishing upon the cartoonist’s marvelously fluid, thrillingly kinetic serial adventures the same loving attention the company has brought to its benchmark Complete Peanuts library. Given that Fantagraphics is an adult-oriented press, production and restoration values are superlative, as are the more than 60 pages of historical essays and archival features that accompany these peerless black-and-white strips.... Anyone who ventures into this gorgeous 288-page tome will come away with a fresh appreciation for just what made Mickey an all-American comic-strip hero." – Steve Smith, Time Out New York
• Review: "Fantagraphics fucking whip ass at knowing what a beautiful book is.... The Mickey Mouse in this collection is a dynamic teenager with a whole lot of strong feelings, and it's both awesome and foreign to see him get mad or feel suicidal.... Fantagraphics are masters at collecting and presenting old comics.... This volume not only presents comics that you probably haven't seen before, but it places them in the proper context with about eight[y] pages of supplementary writing, images, and in-depth explanations that could merit their own little volume." – Nick Gazin, Vice
• Interview: Gazin follows up his Vice review of Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Vol. 1 with a brief chat with series co-editor David Gerstein: "Floyd's greatest achievement... was his portrayal of Mickey himself. Instead of seeing the Mouse as a kind of dull, smiley-faced everyman — the way a lot of people seem to envision him — Floyd portrayed Mickey as what he called 'a mouse against the world.' He was a stubbornly optimistic, imperfect but determined youth trying to prove himself in a competitive, scary, adventurous place. Floyd gave Mickey length and depth."
• Review: "It’s often argued that the key element to any successful manga is a relatable protagonist. Shimura has crafted hers so meticulously and is revealing their natures so carefully that it’s virtually impossible not to be deeply invested in them. In part, it’s the actual portrayal in this volume [of Wandering Son], but it’s also the tremendous potential they have. I want to see them age and mature, struggle and succeed, and find their ways to lives that give them happiness and peace. I don’t think there’s any more a reasonable person could ask of a story like this." – David Welsh, The Manga Curmudgeon
• Review: "...[Wandering Son] is an elegantly-crafted, character-driven story that lets us into its characters’ private worlds with both candor and delicacy. We are brought into their lives completely, and though we’re privy to their some of their most private thoughts and fears, there is never a sense that we’re observing them as 'subjects' or invading their privacy—something I often feel when experiencing 'issue'-focused fiction." – Melinda Beasi, Manga Bookshelf
• Review: "[Mattotti's] enigmatic, brooding scenes [in The Raven] harness the terror and beauty of the texts which span three centuries. They're uncompromising — and that's a quality that has always been applicable to the force that is Lou Reed." – Dean Mayo Davies, AnOther
• Review: "Drawing Power: A Compendium of Cartoon Advertising... is 124 pages of some of the best advertisements from the 1870s to the 1940s. Starring both cartoonists and cartoon characters, the book surveys an immense collection of cartoon advertising, focusing on the commercial roots of the comic strip and the fantastic artwork that came from cartoonists' freelance work in advertising. There are surprising and also familiar examples of products, ad campaigns, widely known catch-phrases, and cartoon figures.... Lovers of vintage advertisements and classic cartoons, you're in for a walk down memory lane..." – Nicole Torres, Print
• Review: "Love from the Shadows is somewhat inappropriately titled, as it sounds like a romance, but is really a sci-fi sex mash-up, with a big dash of David Lynch-ian 'what the fuck just happened here?' It’s definitely no chick flick, despite its strong female lead." – Rod Lott, Bookgasm
• Review: "Congress of the Animals... [is] Woodring’s second book-length Frank story. Not so overtly horrific as last year’s Weathercraft, but somehow more unsettling to me. Perhaps I’m just traumatized by the destruction of Frank’s house. Fantastic wordless storytelling, as always." – M. Ace, Irregular Orbit
• Plug: "You may think of Flannery O’Connor as a writer of the sorts of books that are all words, but in her younger days she yearned to be a cartoonist—and she wasn’t half bad. Fantagraphics will publish Flannery O’Connor: The Cartoons in December..." – Brigid Alverson, Robot 6
Ten words I got to use in my translation of the upcoming second Adèle Blanc-Sec book (trying valiantly for an SPX premiere!): bollix, bolster (as a noun), deucedly, dingus, harridan, insensate, pied-à-terre, pithecanthropus, plinth, and thoroughfare.
• Review: "Gender-bending is nothing new in manga, but it's rare to see the transgender sexual identity issues depicted in a realistic way, rather just as a plot gimmick. With her spare, elegant art and slice-of-life storytelling, Shimura resists the urge to use sensationalism, to tell her sweet and sensitive, albeit unusual, coming-of-age tale.... Just as Shimura treats her two tween characters with respect, so does Fantagraphics' hardcover edition of this story. By presenting Shimura's simple, yet elegant artwork in a larger page format and reproducing her lovely color pages on thick, creamy paper, Fantagraphics has showcased this story in a very special way. The translation is also worth noting, for finding a happy medium between conversational English and maintaining the Japanese setting of this story. Wandering Son is a refreshing example of a graphic novel that gives readers a glimpse of a life rarely seen and a story rarely told. Worth a read, and worth sharing." – Deb Aoki, About.com — Manga
• Review: "In Like a Sniper Lining Up His ShotJean-Patrick Manchette and Jacques Tardi present an unrelenting and unforgiving French noir graphic novel by two masters of the genre. As straight as a shotgun’s barrel and as tight as a bullet, the story bulldozes over people and ethics to an ending that is as merciless as the protagonists themselves. Highly recommended." – Bart Croonenborghs, Broken Frontier
• Review: "If you’re not familiar with Trondheim’s cartooning (and hoo-boy, you should be), he blends funny-animal body-types with breezily convincing cityscapes to create an imminently readable and visually gorgeous narrative. Trondheim is one of the easiest cartoonists to read, and one of the most satisfying to experience. Approximate Continuum Comics wanders far and wide among topics and settings, but the whole book also tells one long tale about a period in its creator’s life, and by the time you’re done with it you feel you’ve spent some very worthwhile time with a great storyteller. Because you have." – Alan David Doane, Trouble with Comics
• Review: "In their graphic novel Stigmata, Lorenzo Mattotti and Claudio Piersanti have created an exceptional example of a successful collaboration of art and text. Stigmata, which tells the story of a man suddenly afflicted with the eponymous phenomenon, is rendered entirely in astonishingly frenetic, swirling line work. Mattotti has hidden a world of grotesqueries under a smokescreen of pen and ink, and through his perfectly restrained, gritty parable, Piersanti shapes that world into a contemplative and captivating read." – Jeff Alford, About.com
• Review: "For a reader who knows little or nothing about religious tradition outside the caricatures created through self-promoters of the strident and extreme, by those who abuse their faith and others under the cloak of religion, or by the media this story [Stigmata] may very well intrigue, horrify, and maybe even move. It is not a doctrinaire work; it is a human one." – Grant Barber, Three Percent (University of Rochester)
• Interview: At The Comics Journal, Nicole Rudick talks to Jim Woodring: "I had the story before I knew I was going to do it as a hundred-page comic, and those Frank stories kind of write themselves. I set out to gather material for them and when I have enough of it, and it’s the right kind of stuff that fits together in such a way, it makes a whole that works. So I didn’t really set out to write Congress of the Animals as a personal story, but once I had the story in hand and I realized that it was that personal — I had that in mind all the time I was drawing it and that influenced some of the visuals, the factory, for example, and the faceless men."
• Commentary: This week's guest contributor to Robot 6's "What Are You Reading?" feature is Oil & Water artist Shannon Wheeler
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