The cleanest sock you've never lost of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review: The Comics Journal and Tucker Stone hit up two of our books this week. Stone lauds Jacques Tardi's New York Mon Amour, "The later three stories are all excellent installments in the various ways the city can grind you into oblivion. . . " And on the subject of The Furry Trapby Josh Simmons, "There’s been a solid amount of recommendations already for this volume, and there’s not going to be any contrarian tut-tutting to be found here: this is worth reading, owning, and possibly gifting . . . having this much nasty in one hardcover is a reading experience like no other, and one you’d do well to deny not one minute longer."
• Review:The Comics Reporter reviews Lorenzo Mattotti and Jorge Zentner's latest translated collaboration. "The Crackle Of The Frost finds an elegant balance between abstraction and more traditional cartoon rendering. . . it's fully realized, and satisfying, and occasionally beautiful."
• Review:The Library Journal sent us this review of The Hypo by Noah Van Sciver, M. C. says "Perhaps our most beloved president, Abraham Lincoln threatens merely to disappear into sainthood for most of us. Van Sciver has made him real by portraying one of the most difficult times in the future leader’s younger life. . . It’s rather like an American version of Dickens infused into a Jane Austen love story, and Van Sciver’s moody cross-hatching works exceedingly well in showing these lesser-known facets of Lincoln’s nonpolitical life. . . An excellent choice for compelling leisure reading as well as for use in classrooms."
• Review:Comics Bulletin covers what goes on under the covers of Sexytime edited by Jacques Boyreau. Jason Sacks says, "Sexytime is a glorious representation of work that was forgotten shortly after it was created, but is full of joyful reminders of the recent past. . .Oh god! Oh god! Oh god! Yes! Yes! Yes! is this a great book."
The freshest fried-this-morning Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review: Tucker Stone on The Comics Journal gives a thumbs-up to Dungeon Quest Vol. 3 by Joe Daly. "Dungeon Quest–the mumbling stoner counterpart to its methed up metal freak cousin, Prison Pit–has a whole new stack of penis-obsessed pages to play with. It’s tempting to single out one part of this volume to label as best, but that temptation dissipates upon the realization that it’s going to be impossible to pick a winner."
• Review:BookGasm raves about Jacques Tardi's New York Mon Amour. JT Lindroos says, "It shuffles in elements from Tardi’s other books, but distills those familiar ingredients into a wholly unique concoction. . . It’s a love letter to an imaginary city bursting with life, depression and death, a city you love to observe from a distance."
• Plug:Noah Van Sciver finished out the TCJ Comic Diary week with a visit by Gary Groth. Heidi MacDonald of The Beat said nice things about The Hypo: "an extremely well researched look at Abraham Lincoln’s early days as a depressed young lawyer, will be one of the buzz books of the fall."
• Plug:Bleeding Cool and Rich Johnston show off some pages from Today is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life by Ulli Lust, coming out this fall.
• Plug:Robot 6 and Bridget Alverson are excited for both the upcoming Wilfred Santiago books on Michael Jordan and John Brown. "If the images are any indication, Santiago is busting out from the limited palette he used for the Clemente book to full, brilliant color, applied in a bold, painterly style."
• Plug: The Covered blog continues to highlight new versions of Love and Rockets covers. This time it's L&R #50 drawn by Robert Goodin. Check out Goodin's eerie treatment of a classic.
• Plug: The Love and Rockets Northeast Tour is mentioned on BoingBoing. Thanks, Marc!
• Interview:Casey Burbach interviews editor John Benson on fanzine Squa Tront's issue #13 (forty years after issue #1 came out) and the EC collections that have been published: "I thought that the color in the latest “EC Archives” series was pretty bad, at least in the book that I saw – not appropriate for comics of that era. . . The Fantagraphics series will be produced with quality and taste, I’m sure. Hopefully, with a different distribution set-up, going into bookstores, they may also reach a new audience."
• Review (audio): The Comic Books are Burning in Hell podcast recently chatted up Johnny Gruelle's Mr. Twee-Deedle edited by Rick Marschall. Around the 38 minute mark is where they predict ". . . it'll wind up a real contender for 2012's 'thru the cracks' award for most sadly obscure release. . ." Let's avoid ANY books falling through the cracks, check out this broadsheet-sized wonder today!
• Review:The Australian checks out Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons, edited by Kelly Gerald. Owen Heitmann says, "Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons is primarily of historical interest, documenting the early development of the first postwar female writer to merit inclusion in the Library of America series. Editor Kelly Gerald has taken this archival approach to heart, reproducing apparently every extant example of O'Connor's cartooning, even doodles from later handwritten letters."
The fresh-popped Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review:Publishers Weekly discusses The Hypo by Noah Van Sciver, "Van Sciver’s psychologically astute examination of what might be termed Abraham Lincoln’s “lost years” (1837–1842) is as gripping and persuasive as the best historical fiction. . .This characterization of Lincoln is thoroughly human and identifiable, tracking a shadowy but formative period in the very uneven life of a man who shows little signs of becoming known as one of the greatest Americans. A thoroughly engaging graphic novel that seamlessly balances investigation and imagination." Wow!
• Plug: Noah Van Sciver's diary comics are showing up at The Comics Journal. Enjoy Day #1, Day #2 and Day #3.
• Plug:Comics Alliance JUMPED at the chance to be the first to comment on Naked Cartoonists. Senior writer Chris Sims comments, "Have you ever wanted to see Dilbert creatorScottAdams naked? Yeah, we haven't either, but apparently [Gary Groth] thought that was a good idea . . . joining artists like Will Eisner, For Better Or For Worsecreator Lynn Johnston, Jeff Smith (feel free to make your own Bone joke here) and . . . legendary MAD artist Sergio Aragones."
• Review:The Mary Sue names Moto Hagio's A Drunken Dream and Other Stories one of the 10 Feminist Manga to Read, that is licensed in the USA. Kellie Foxx-Gonzalez says,"Hagio is not only a storyteller, she is undoubtedly a feminist author, using her manga to explore gender, power, and women’s issues. If extended metaphors in manga as an avenue to explore philosophical questions is as appealing to you as it is to me, please, don’t hesitate to pick up this anthology."
• Commentary: Shannon O'Leary of Publishers Weekly says,". . . with No Straight Lines , the most definitive collection of queer comics to date, [Justin] Hall and Fantagraphics have made the voluminous but largely hidden history of LBGT (lesbian, bi-sexual, gay, transgender) comics finally visible as well."
• Review:The Awl and Kim O'Connor talk about autobio comics and include such underground greats like Aline Kominsky Crumb, Carol Tyler in addition to Chris Ware and Joe Sacco. While on the subject of Aline: "An important part of her project was to promote self-loathing as normal and even funny in an era when to do so was extremely unfashionable." O'Connor touched on the rawness of Chris Ware's work,"there's this sense of playful geometry that's deeply satisfying, even if it sometimes gives you the impression the artist's memory palace looks a lot like the Container Store. But the central delight in reading Jimmy Corrigan, as in all of Ware's work, is how it's painfully awkward and incredibly cool at the same time."
• Review: Rob Clough on the High-Low reviews Jim Woodring's Congress of the Animals: ". . . is interesting because it's much more linear a narrative than most of his comics.. . .Unlike the typical Frank story, there's a greater sense of urgency to Frank's wanderings, as he encounters many temptations and pitfalls along his journey to a destination unknown to even him."
• Review:The Critcal Mob released their short list of summer reads and a few Fantagraphics titles made the cut. Paul Guie looks at Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons: "O'Connor's artwork is frequently abstract and raw-looking. . .Nevertheless, her cartoons are always pleasing to look at thanks to the author's strong sense of composition. Panels are rarely cluttered by unnecessary lines, and O'Connor frequently frames her characters with an eye toward visual balance." Peanuts latest volume is also on Guie's radar: ". . . these later comics remain consistently witty and entertaining, and reflect Schulz's continued mastery of comedic timing within a four-panel layout.. . .Consistently subtle yet always timely, after 30 years, Schulz still had a winning formula on his hands." Last but not least, Guie takes Buddy Does Seattle to the beach,"Bagge's artwork [takes] the public's perception of '90s youth as angry and volatile and pushed it to hysterical levels. Heavily influenced by late-'60s counterculture cartoonists like Crumb, Bagge's drawings are fluid and grimy-looking, with frequent use of exaggerated facial expressions helping to cultivate an atmosphere of chaos."
• Commentary: Best Cover EVER on Forbidden Planet according to Richard: "The absolute iconic image. The raw power. Jaime’s incredible use of black in his art. The faces of the crowd. The stagediver (in heels) who’s just left the stage. But most of all, it’s the best comic cover ever because I swear that I’ve never looked at this cover and NOT heard the music they’re playing." The next best thing for Richard? Buying the new shirt featuring the cover of Issue 24.
• Plug:Comics Alliance and Caleb Goellner collect the most recent Adventure Time covers. James Hindle PLAYS an homage to Jaime Hernandez's distinctive cover. Check it out!
• Review:io9 recently created a list of the 10 Comic Characters Cooler than Batman. Jaime Hernandez's Maggie (the Mechanic) and Jacques Tardi's Adele Blanc-Sec topped the list. "Maggie is a survivor, who never stops kicking ass even she's dealing with depression and heartbreak." says Charlie Jane Anders and in reference to Adele Blanc-Sec:"She's a writer in pre-World War I Paris, which automatically makes her cool. . . She's not afraid to shoot guns, drink the hard stuff, or smoke like a man. She spent World War I in cryogenic suspension and then rocked the 1920s."
• Plug:The Last Vispo's editor Nico Vassilakis recently curated an online group of visual artists called Ten Turkish Visual Poets at Trickhouse.
• Interview: The powerful and deft Friedman brothers were interviewed about Any Similarity to Persons Living or Dead is Purely Coincidental by William Michael Smith of the Houston Press. Josh Alan Friedman talks about his brother's artwork,"Originally [Drew Friedman] worked with stippling technique, using a rapidograph pen. Bent over a desk like a watchmaker, doing thousands of dots. A technique made famous by 'Sunday in the Park with Georges' Seurat, but strictly shunned by art schools in the 20th century."
• Plug: Ron Regé, Jr. is up to something sneaky! At We Can Do It.
The short-toothiest Online Commentaries & Diversions:
•Plug: Island of Dr. Moral and Mome contributor Jem Eaton (aka Jeremy Eaton) is have a big ol' summer art blow out. From now until July 29th you can purchase original pages of art at half their normal price. Parodies galore in four color fury with that Eaton touch can hang on your wall; it is hard to pass up art with titles like ROCK NERD FEVER!
•Review:Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge: Only a Poor Old Man gets a ringing endorsement from Captain Comics. Andrew Smith bluntly states, "If you're not buying the Carl Barks library, you should be. . . At no point does anything ring false; at all times the reader feels comfortably wrapped in the comforting folds of an old blanket. You're in the hands of a master, and the ride couldn't be smoother -- or funnier."
•Review:Full-Page Bleed focuses on Michael Kupperman's Tales Designed to Thrizzle #7 & 8. Tom Murphey says, ". . . Tales Designed to Thrizzle,are wild but beautifully executed super-accelerators that smash bizarre ideas together at high speed. His stories flow with an unstoppable dream logic, so the wildest leap of imagination is treated like the next reasonable step."
•Commentary:CNN Geek Out discusses the rise of digital comics at SDCC and notes the Hernandez Brothers will have work available via comiXology."ComiXology’s other big announcement at the show was a long-awaited deal with Fantagraphics to bring Los Bros Hernandez beloved alt-comics classic Love and Rockets to digital format," said Rob Saulkowitz.
•Plug: As a fundraiser, the University of Texas at El Paso is running a limited edition sale of Maggie prints (50 in total). The tax-deductible purchase will help support the Hernandez Brothers Collection of Hispanic Comics and Cartoon Art, housed at the University of Texas at El Paso Library. Ordering information is available at the site.
•Review (audio):Factual Opinion covers Jacques Tardi's New York Mon Amour in extensive detail thanks to Matt Seneca, Tucker Stone, Chris Mautner and Joe McCulloch. "It's a tourist's New York, no, not that - it's a Kafka New York."
My very first Comic-Con International at San Diego was rather fan-freakin'-tastic. It is easier than people make it out to be but I imagine that if it started on TUESDAY night instead of Wednesday, we all would have died. This pictures are my con pictures so if that are mostly different than our previous CCI photo diaries. The caveat train is pulling away from the station!
Wednesday: I showed up the morning times with PR Director Jacq Cohen and our co-workers, Mike Baehr and Janice Headley had the table set UP! Aside from our many new releases we were thrilled to have new Love and Rockets shirts available. Here is the Fanta-crew dressed in all but that one with all those dirty words on it. Soak it in, that's the one time you'll ever see Gary Groth with his shirt untucked.
Oni Press and SCAD teacher Chris Schweizer immediately came over to look at his favorite cartoonist, Jason. Everyone will be sportin' a Schweizer nose-tupee next year, just you watch.
Then we caught Eddie Campbell reading our Prince Valiant while at the Top Shelf booth but once again, who could blame him?!
Speaking of Top Shelf, we spent most of the week occasionally locking gazes these lovely gents. Director of Digital, Chris Ross, and cartoonist of Cleveland, Joseph Remnant.
That night, Comics Reporter Tom Spurgeon, CBR's Kiel Phegley, International Freelancer Douglas Wolk and Fantagraphics' Jacq Cohen and I posed for a bunch of photos and examined gorgeous work at the CBLDF fundraiser.
. . . Until the BOSS showed up. Then we took Gary Groth and heir-to-the-throne Conrad to the Tri!ckster spot on J avenue to browse their books (our own event to happen on Friday night)
Friday: Two of the funniest men in comics, Steven Weissman and Johnny Ryan (creators of Chocolate Cheeks and Prison Pit respectively) chat up Jacq and Janice.
Gary Panter's Dal Tokyo finally came out for this show. Jon Chad's Leo Geo from Roaring Brook is a similar trim shape. They are perfect for the collector of art objects with really, really deep bookshelves. Trim de jour!
This photo COMPLETELY encapsulates the family aspect of not only Fantagraphics but most comic companies. Gary Groth watches, eats and even signs some of Gilbert Shelton's Fabulous Furry Freak books.
The Hernandez Brothers continued to work hard interviewed by MTV (below), Entertainment Weekly, MultiShow Brazil and many other news outlets.
For the Tr!ckster event parties, we co-sponsored a queer-themed drink and draw party to coincide with our new queer comics anthology called No Straight Lines. Check out this big sexy bear!
Drag Queens Dolly Disco and Grace Towers posed in the best Michael Jackson-Circus of the Damned leotards and put all us ladies to shame.
Jacq and I ran as fast as our heels could take us to the Eisners, saw Mickey Mouse Vol. 1 and 2 be awarded for Best Archival Collection/Print in comic strips! Eddie Campbell and Andrew Aydin tried to steal me away but no siren song is as sweet as Fantagraphics.
Saturday: No worse for the wear, Jacq Cohen and I adhered to my STRICT 5-2-1 rule. 5 hours of sleep, 2 meals a day and 1 shower to maintain humanity at cons. Jacq added 2 sets of clothes and I admit, it pays off. (And you like that OLD SCHOOL equipment? I'm trying to refit the credit card slider into a denim fanny pack . . . maybe for SPX)
Meanwhile, Drawn and Quarterly upped their dress game with full-on bow ties for Tom Devlin from Beguiling owner Peter Birkemoe. We were a bit jealous.
The Hernandez Brothers continued their BREAKNECK pace of signing books and getting visits from artists like Joe Keatinge, Matt Fraction and Bongo Comics' editor Chris Duffy!
While it may seem like you have seen a hundred Hopeys at comic cons (or dated a hundred Hopeys -- Jacq Cohen), this is the first cosplay the Hernandez Brothers have seen in thirty years of comics. Thank you, Dawn, for your Boot Angel get-up!
Jaime Hernandez and cartoonist Ed Piskor talked shop.
Almost had a heart attack when we saw this. I'm not ruining anyone's day by saying over 50% of our books are not for kids so it is sometimes surprising to see them pouring over Peanuts or Uncle Scrooge Comics (especially when The Furry Trap is TEN feet away)
BOOM! designer and fellow Center for Cartoon Studies alum, Carol Thomspon, laid her hands on our sweet trans-manga Wandering Son and couldn't let go.
So that's the whole she-bang! Thank you to the CCI organizers and all the people who helped out, bought comics, asked questions and brought me coffee. See you next year!
The newest and week-old pre-SDCC stinky socks found under your bed-style Online Commentaries and Diversions minus the hullabaloo about Love and Rockets:
•Interview (video):Noah Van Sciver is interviewed by documentary film maker Dan Stafford on his upcoming book about Lincoln's depression, The Hypo, coming out this fall. "Lincoln battled things his whole life. He battled with poverty in his youth; the part that I cover, battling with depression; the struggle of his own fate followed by keeping the nation together, how we know him best."
•Interview: The Advocate and Jase Peeples takes some time to speak to No Straight Lines editor Justin Hall on comics and the LGBTQ community. Hall says, "There are interesting parallels between comics and queers; both have a hard time getting respect by the dominant culture, and both have problems understanding their own history."
•Interview (audio): On the heel's of Pride Month, Comic Book Queers interview a gaggle of people including No Straight Lines editor Justin Hall. Hall states, "We turned the project into a class. I taught at the California College for the Arts and the backbone of the class was bringing in queer cartoonists and had the students interview them."
•Commentary: On The Rumpus editor Justin Hall writes about the history of Queer Comics. You can read more in the anthology!
•Interview:The New York Times and Penelope Green cover uncoventional taxonomy in Significant Objects while interviewing editor Joshua Glenn. Glenn states, "Even if we don’t identify ourselves as collectors, we are collectors of things. And things are collectors of meaning in various ways."
•Commentary:Electric Literature covered the fun book launch of Significant Objects at the Strand on July 10th. Editor Joshua Glenn is quoted by Karina Briski: "the stories become the things of value, all on their own."
•Review:Pop Matters enjoys Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge and Mickey Mouse Vol. 3: High Noon at Inferno Gulch (edited by David Gerstein and Gary Groth) with childlike wonder but still has those nagging questions. Michael Barrett: "There’s still no explanation for how some animals are “humans” while others are just animals, like how Mickey can ride a horse in the West and then come home to be greeted by his pal Horace Horsecollar."
•Review: The Tearoom of Despair takes a look at the Hate Annuals by Pete Bagge. Bob Temuka laments, "Bagge has actually done so many comics over the past decade and a half, that he is almost – shamefully – taken for granted. While new books by the likes of Clowes or Ware are almost an Event, a new mini series from Bagge might get a couple of reviews, most of which will point out that it’s more of the same."
•Commentary: Video gamesite, 1Up features some satirical video game adaptations including Pete Bagge's Hate, Ghost World by Dan Clowes and the most epic Jimmy Corrigan panel by Chris Ware.
•Review: Music magazine and site Under the Radar enjoys the writings of Stephen Dixon's What Is All This? Uncollected Stories. Hays Davis: "Stephen Dixon has a gift for revealing mundane environments as vibrant social microcosms. With that, it seems almost apropos that Dixon's flown under the radar commercially for decades, though he's always garnered respect in literary circles"
•Review: The long-awaited Comics Journal review of Gabriella Giandelli's graphic novel Interiorae is online. Sean T. Collins: "As the rabbit floats from one [apartment] to another, a sort of soporific rhythm sets in, a familiarity with the emotional and visual palette that allows individual moments to stand out. It’s not just the weird or grand stuff . . . but thoughtful and attractive details as well."
•Plug: The Stumptown Trade Review is as pumped as Fantagraphics is have the all-ages graphic novel The Adventures of Venus by Gilbert Hernandez. "Luba’s niece [Venus] creates and collects comic books, walks through a scary forest, plays soccer, schemes to get the cute boy she likes, laments the snowlessness of a California Christmas, catches measles, and travels to a distant planet. . ."
•Plug:Comics Alliance lists the Best Comic Covers of June 2012 and Jacques Tardi's New York Mon Amour makes the grade. Andrew Wheeler says, "romance is not the vibe evoked by this menacing red sky over Tardi's exquisitely rendered New York street. This cover tells you that this is not a love story."
[In in the return of our Editors Notes series, Kim Thompson interviews himself (in a format he's dubbed "AutoChat") about New York Mon Amour by Jacques Tardi, now available to order from us and at a comics shop near you. – Ed.]
This is going to be a particularly discursive and rambling one, so reader, be forewarned. I don’t want to see any complainin’ in the comments section about how self-indulgent this is; you’re being told that going in. That said…
Okay, so… New York Mon Amour. This is what, your eighth? Ninth Tardi book?
I’ve reached the point where I have to go back to our website and count them off myself to keep track. Eighth. A Fellini-esque 8½ if you count the Fatale giveaway.
You’re cranking them out — eight in two and a half years. Why the hurry?
Because I’m afraid someone will catch on and stop me? No, it’s just that these are some of my very favorite comics, and I think it’s disgraceful that it’s taken this long for them to be released in English — so I’m making up for lost time.
And, to be honest, they’ve been selling unexpectedly well. I went into this Tardi venture with a samurai assume-you’re-dead-when-going-into-battle mindset figuring we could publish a handful before dire sales drove us into the ground, but on the contrary, we’re into second printings of four of our first five — in some cases third — and they’ve gone over great. So why not?
This book, or at least most of it, has already been released in English in one form or another. Why pick this one?
Well, with the exception of one short story which is buried in a huge British-published crime anthology, all of it’s been out of print for a while. And I had some problems with the way "Tueur de cafards" had been presented in the NBM title, including the reproduction and the lettering…
Yes, the new edition is noticeably better.
I don’t want to rag on the NBM version because the digital revolution has helped us so much in the intervening years. Our printing is far cleaner because we had first-generation digital files rather than second- or third-generation negatives or Photostats, and being able to use fonts instead of hand lettering, especially with Tardi’s eccentric caption design, is so much easier. So I am being helped by that. But I’d like to think that we added our own skills to the mix in addition to just surfing on those advances.
You even changed the title, from “Roach Killer” to “Cockroach Killer”…
I always hated the Dark Horse/NBM title, “Roach Killer.” As Tony Montana reminded us, “Cockroach” is such a great word, with its hard “k” sounds, and the BAM-bam BAM-bam rhythm of the whole title; I never understood why they opted for what they did. It always, uh, bugged me. Apparently Art Spiegelman didn’t either, because when he wrote the introduction for the NBM book version he automatically used the title “Cockroach Killer” (and that’s how they printed it in the book).
Did you go back to the earlier English translations?
Yes and no, mostly no. For “(Cock)roach Killer,” I remember thinking the original translator just hadn’t quite nailed the gritty conversational urban tone of the work, and I take some pride in my way around unbridled profanity, so I did that from scratch. “Hung’s Murderer” was short enough that I figured it was just as easy for me to do it rather than to fiddle around getting the rights…
What about “Manhattan,” which was printed in RAW?
Well, it’s fucking RAW. Spiegelman and Mouly knew their shit. I went over the RAW translation and I didn’t think it could be improved upon, at all; I just asked Art if I could use it and he said “Sure.” (Just as with the Joost Swarte strips for his book.) I think I changed one word, literally. And even though the original lettering was excellent, I re-lettered it using our Tardi font just for the sake of consistency throughout the book.
One interesting thing: There was one caption in the RAW version that’s not in the new version. It wasn’t in the new French version’s files I was working on and I emailed Casterman wondering if they’d left it off by accident, and no, Tardi had decided upon reflection that it was superfluous and eliminated it. So there you go.
Whose idea was it to combine “Killer” with the three other New York based stories for this book?
Apparently everyone’s. I had figured out I wanted to add “Manhattan” and “Hung’s Killer” to the book and was going to propose it to his publisher, Casterman, and then they beat me to the punch and put out exactly the book I had envisioned, throwing in a fourth story I was not familiar with, the John Lennon one. They even got a new cover out of Tardi for it. So it was pretty much kismet.
The Casterman book had some text pieces which you didn’t use…
They were too much “a European explaining the U.S. to other Europeans,” and they had too much of that French… impressionistic approach to essays that doesn’t travel real well, at least to my mind. There was this book by Bernard-Henri Lévy a few years ago that purported to explain America, and I’m sure it read fine in French but by the time it made it over here… Well, I didn’t read it, but I remember Garrison Keillor stomping all over it with hob-nailed boots, hilariously. Tardi’s book just seemed better off without them.
The fact is, there are some oddities in fact and tone in the comics stories themselves that… I wouldn’t say betray it, but reveal it as very much a book about the U.S. by someone who’s not an American. Even the premise of the lead story…
You mean the assertion that there are no 13th floors in New York buildings?
Exactly. It’s one of those urban (literally) myths that Tardi took off and ran with, but any New Yorker will go “What the…?” And the conspiracy-thriller ideas and urban-hell vision are clearly formed more by American movies rather than anything else. It just doesn’t have the authoritative ring of authenticity that Tardi’s books set in Europe do.
I talked to Spiegelman about the book when we were preparing it; as a New Yorker he is much more sensitive to those oddities, and he felt it needed to be put in context as one of those interesting works about America by non-Americans whose “errors” have to be accepted — acknowledged, but accepted. The example Art used was Kafka’s Amerika, with its scene of a ship sailing into New York harbor, with the Statue of Liberty brandishing her trademark, uh, sword… I like to think of Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America, too, which is set in the most densely packed city in the Western world, and Leone’s own widescreen visual quirks led him to show all these enormous, broad avenues and Manhattan grocery stores that are the size of skating rinks. (Not that it isn’t a totally awesome movie.)
But Tardi’s visual research is so impeccable — as one can tell, he traveled to New York and did so much photo research that he was able to use the photos as backgrounds for the epilogue to the story without missing a beat — that I think he ultimately pulls it off. It’s not one of my very favorite of Tardi’s books, but as with all the books I translate I grew to appreciate it much more as I worked on it. (The Arctic Marauder went from one of my least favorites to one of my favorites.) And it was fun to take French dialogue in an American setting and translate it into its “real” language, it’s almost like this is the original version and the French one is a translation. I get that effect with some of the Jason stories set in the U.S., too.
The black-and-red “Schindler’s List little girl with the red dress” technique is pretty unique.
Don’t say that, Tardi hates Schindler’s List. He did a hilarious drawing about it for a movie column written by a friend of his I should show here that kind of says it all:
Don’t forget, Schindler’s List was released the same year as Jurassic Park. American critics found this admirable; European critics found it dismally revelatory.
Anyway, Tardi had some bad experiences with color early in his career, both in terms of reproduction and having to hand off coloring to another colorist because of time constraints, and for most of the 1980s and early 1990s he really avoided it (except for the contractually-mandated Adèle books). But he always liked going beyond pure linework and experimenting with tones, including Craftint…
Like in “Hung’s Murderer.”
Exactly. He’s never done a whole book with that, but he played around with it for an alternate version of the ill-fated Fatale, too. I remember reading about him asking friends who traveled to America to see if they could find Roy Crane strips to bring back to him to study. He’d also used Letratone sheets for It Was the War of the Trenches (in the upcoming interview I did with him for the Journal he told me he loved the sensual aspect of cutting up and scratching away at those sheets) and had been using photographically-shot overlays for his Nestor Burma books. Recently, including in his upcoming book, he’s used digital tones. Add in the wild scratchboard effects for The Arctic Marauder and Tardi has messed around with pretty much every way of producing tones except maybe gray washes — and so much of Goddamn This War!, even though technically in color, falls into the monochrome that that could qualify.
Who is Benjamin Legrand, who wrote "Cockroach Killer"?
He’s a writer buddy of Tardi’s, a crime writer and translator. (Tom Wolfe and Robert Ludlum, among others.) To be honest I know as much about him as anyone who can consult Wikipedia. From what I understand "Cockroach Killer" was Tardi’s concept and Legrand came in to execute it. Last year Legrand was hired to write the novelization of Besson’s Adèle Blanc-Sec movie, which I assume was Tardi going, “Well, if such a thing must be done, might as well give it to my pal, and he’ll do a good job.” As a footnote, Legrand wrote the new Druillet book Delirius II (after the writer of the original Delirius died). He also co-wrote the screenplay for Le Monde Truqué, the feature-length animated film Tardi designed that we mentioned a few weeks ago, and for a more tenuous Tardi connection, worked on the French Nestor Burma TV series. So he seems to be part of the comics orbit and Tardi’s specifically.
What’s next for Tardi at Fantagraphics? Still cranking?
Oh, yes. Well, of course there is the 28,000-word interview I did with him that’s going in the next Comics Journal. But yeah, we’re already in production on the ninth book, which will be Goddamn This War! (sort of a sequel to War of the Trenches) and we’ve announced the tenth, his third Manchette adaptation, for early 2013. Then we need to do Adieu Brindavoine, his first solo graphic album from 40 years, because it’s part of the Adèle continuity and we have to release it before the third Adèle. By then we’ll have published… maybe half of his comics oeuvre? And he’s still producing. His next graphic novel is over 300 pages long, slated for completion next year, and might very well turn out to be his masterpiece. See the Journal interview for details!
So I could easily plot out the next five years or ten Tardi books on a napkin right now. No rest for the weary!
The up-to-the-minute Online Commentaries & Diversion:
•Plug: Our newest Jacques Tardi release, New York Mon Amour is out and available at your favorite comic shops. One of our such shop, Forbidden Planet, is very excited to have it in stock. Joe says, "I’m so glad the Fanta crew has been making these titles available again to English language readers."
•Interview:WMFU host of Too Much Information, Benjamin Walker, questions Michael Kupperman about comics as a serious form of literature at his MIT Center for Civic Media conference talk. Kupperman: "You see high points. You have to build to that humor. Sometimes there's just enough for three panels—I like to keep it short, keep the audience wanting more. It's kind of—there can be a central idea I need to do it."
•Review: On The Comics Journal, Jeet Heer takes a close look at Spain Rodriguez's newest collection of stories. In Heer's words, Cruisin' with the Hound: The Life and Times of Fred Toote "is a splendid book, a startling view of a plebeian world that tends to be submerged by the North American tendency to pretend that class doesn’t exist. The book is also evidence of the strength of the autobiographical comics tradition, which has room not just for minute introspection but also for stories of lively brutality."
•Review:Comics Worth Reading sits down with the latest issue (#16) of Linda Medley's Castle Waiting series. Johanna Draper Carlson glowingly states, "it’s [Medley's] character work, the small bits of perfectly realized dialogue, that make this series so rewarding."
This week's comic shop shipment is slated to include the following new titles. Read on to see what comics-blog commentators and web-savvy comic shops are saying about them (more to be added as they appear), check out our previews at the links, and contact your local shop to confirm availability.
84-page black & white/duotone 8.25" x 10.75" hardcover • $19.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-524-2
"Four short stories by the French Tardi set in New York City. The biggest thing about Tardi is his range, even within the confines of a single story. He can effortlessly move from silly, mannered humor to explosive, gruesome violence. Tarantino, if he had become a cartoonist, would have wished that he could be this guy." – Ao Meng, Novi Magazine
"Among this week’s crop of new releases is another in Fantagraphics’ excellent and continuing series of extremely welcome English language editions of the diverse body of work by the great Jacques Tardi, surely one of the top exponents of the comic form.... I’m so glad the Fanta crew has been making these titles available again to English language readers." – Joe Gordon, Forbidden Planet International
"I mentioned New York Mon Amourlast week, but how can you possibly cite Jacques Tardi too many times? All I know is that four NYC stories are included, in black, white & red; $19.99." – Joe McCulloch, The Comics Journal
"If I had $30, I’d make the difficult choice between two top-notch offerings from Fantagraphics this week. One: New York Mon Amour, a collection of Manhattan-themed stories by the one and only Jacques Tardi, including the Kalfkaesque “Cockroach Killer.” The other would be the third volume in the ongoing Mickey Mouse collection, High Noon at Inferno Gulch. I’m an unabashed Floyd Gottfredson fan, so the Mickey book would probably win out. But I’d be sure to save my coins for next week so I can get the Tardi book then." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
200-page full-color 7.5" x 10.5" softcover • $26.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-532-7
"Assuming I don’t blow all my splurge dough on the Tardi book, there’s a number of solid options here [including] Out of the Shadows, a collection of Mort Meskin’s early non-DC work..." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"Also dropping is Out of the Shadows, a 200-page collection of Golden Age comics by Mort Meskin, edited and designed by Steven Brower; $26.99." – Joe McCulloch, The Comics Journal
"The Mort Meskin book is a must-have simply because of the way Meskin has muscled his way into the conversation about great and influential mainstream craftsmen -- I think maybe through a door left ajar a few places by Art Spiegelman, although I honestly couldn't tell you the exact provenance of his rediscovery." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
280-page black & white/color 10.5" x 8.75" hardcover • $29.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-531-0
"These volumes have been a revelation, showing a generation who had only seen the dull, squeaky clean corporate Mickey exactly why he was the darling of the 1930s. Pure rollicking high-adventure, they’re also filled with background material and essays by cartoon scholars such as editor David Gerstein. A must for any cartoon fan collection." – Sean Gaffney, Manga Bookshelf
"...Fantagraphics’ hilarious little mascot returns for more Floyd Gottfredson-headed antics in Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse Vol. 3: High Noon at Inferno Gulch, boasting 60 or so pages of supplements toward a 280-page total; $29.99. " – Joe McCulloch, The Comics Journal
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