Some major comics writing out there over the holiday weekend making for an extra-beefy (and late) Online Commentary & Diversions update:
•Review/Profile: "Sure I'd read [Hal] Foster before, but I'd never found a way in. Fortunately, Fantagraphics recently released Prince Valiant Vol. 1: 1937-38, and I was able to absorb the material in a wholly new way.... I found this first book completely engrossing. Prince Valiant opens up a world that I wanted to stay in -- a wide-eyed early 20th century approach to fantasy with a now-vanished sincerity and wholesomeness. It's an all too rare pleasure in comics." - Dan Nadel, Comics Comics
• Review: "Medieval swordplay and adventure have never been as glorious as in Foster's Sunday-only comic strip. Although much reprinted (including an earlier version from the same publisher), this edition has been reproduced from pristine printer's proofs to give the gorgeous artwork its crispest version ever.... Foster's script is literate and full of vivid characterizations, like the headstrong but cunning Val and carefree Sir Gawain. But nothing surpasses his artwork—rich with details of armor, weapons and dress, the story comes to life with a palpable sense of magic and danger. Each drawing is a flawless illustration, perfectly composed; even a battle of 20 men comes alive in a tiny panel, with every action clearly delineated. Prince Valiant is one of the best-drawn comics ever, and this new edition does ample justice to its achievement." - Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
• Review: "Underneath the screaming and plagues, the giddy joy that [Basil Wolverton] seems to take in his art radiates off the page, just like it does in his secular work.... His creatures from sci-fi and horror, his fascination with grotesque bodily exaggeration, his devout Christian faith -- here it all comes together into an operatic and apocalyptic peak.... The Wolverton Bible might seem like a paradox to its religious audience and its alt-comics fans -- even if Wolverton himself never saw the contradiction." - Martyn Pedler, Bookslut
• Review: "As an historical object, sure, great. I think it should be in print. Kurtzman was a very important figure in comics, and the art and design of the pieces here are of an exceedingly high quality. I'm glad I can see more examples of Jaffee's, Elder's and Davis' work." Otherwise, Chris Allen gives up on Humbug
• Review: Joe McCulloch of Jog - The Blog has a major review of Tardi & Manchette's West Coast Blues -- I've read through it three times and it's too complex for a simple pull quote
• History/preview/profile/analysis: "The 300th issue of The Comics Journal is soon to hit the stands, and the magazine everyone in comics loves to hate rattles on, chugging and sputtering and picking up disreputable beardy guys like a Toonerville Trolley of spite.... In some Inglourious Basterds-like alternate history, the 1990s ended with the twisted faces of Kim Thompson and Gary Groth hovering, laughing maniacally, over the charred and bullet-riddled corpse of Wizard magazine." - Shaenon K. Garrity, comiXology
• Analysis: du9 presents a new translation by Derik Badman of a 2006 piece by David Turgeon on Poison River by Gilbert Hernandez: "What first strikes the reader about this work is its narrative density. It isn’t uncommon for a single page to show as many places, times, and situations as there are panels." (Via Journalista)
• Interview: Jason Thibault of Optimum Wound talks to Tim Lane as part of their "Masters of Ink" series: "You do what seems the impossible and most absurd: you learn to breathe underwater, and revel in it. Get drunk on the water in your lungs. Cultivate a functional level of positive insanity. And develop tough skin. Stick with it if only because your reasons are inexplicable."
• Interview: The Daily Cross Hatch wraps up presenting Brian Heater's chat with Jordan Crane: "I was in Portugal and I saw a really tiny kid with a really giant cat. He looked exactly like the kid in The Clouds Above. The kid was so small that the cat was the same size as him — it’s not a big cat, but next to him, he was huge. And then I just kind of went from there."
• Plug: At Super I.T.C.H., Steven Johnston takes note of Humbug ("much of it is prime satire from the creators of MAD!") and The Wolverton Bible ("particularly including some genuinely horrific scenes from the Book of Revelations").
• Review: "Monte Schulz proves that his father was not the only talented storyteller in the family.... Monte has carved out his own stake with This Side of Jordan, the first novel of a planned trilogy.... Even though there are moments of brutal violence in the vein of Cormac McCarthy, Jordan is more about the young man facing his future with uncertain terms.... You’ll find yourself enraptured by his style, fittingly written in honor of his father." - Bruce Grossman, Bookgasm
• Review: "Overall, I liked West Coast Blues quite a bit, enough so that it makes me want to search out Manchette's novels that have been translated into English. If you enjoy hardboiled crime graphic novels, you should certainly give this one a try." - James Reasoner
• Review: "Boody’s absurdism is patently blue-collar. There is nothing heady or cynical or mean-spirited in these strips. They owe far more to the tradition of wives tales and folk legends than Kafka. As their syndication would likely demand, Boody’s bizarre comics are Golden Age nuggets of an off-kilter author who found a particular release in his medium." - Erik Hinton, PopMatters
• Review: "Chusid and Economon once again prove to be wise stewards of the Flora archives. [The] Sweetly Diabolic [Art of Jim Flora] reveals many largely unknown aspects of his work, but also fruitfully revisits his classic Columbia-era work. Thanks to the quality of the reproductions and design of the book itself, the vitality of Flora's art comes through on each page. An effective introduction to Flora's art and a satisfying crowd-pleaser for his established fans, Diabolic is another richly entertaining treasury of Flora's 'baroque and subversive' art." - Joe Bendel, J.B. Spins
• Profile: John Mesjak of my3books looks at the works of Jason, with a focus on his "beautiful" new book Low Moon
• Review: "From the opening panel until the final words, Tardi's adaptation of Manchette's crime novel [West Coast Blues] sizzles with a dazzling graphic intensity... Much like the 1950s American crime novels they emulate, Tardi and Manchette offer a impressive display of destructive violence, wanton love, and disregard for life. Showcasing Tardi's singular artistic talents, the brilliant West Coast Blues emerges as one of the best crime graphic novels ever produced." - Rick Klaw, The SF Site: Nexus Graphica
• Review: "[West Coast Blues] is slyly funny without being jokey; thrilling without ever seeming manipulative; cool, distant and ironic in its narrative voice; immediate in its depiction of violence. What do Tardi's illustrations add? Mostly a crowded sense of daily life, an ironic, sense-sharpening departure from the dark, shadowy atmospherics that sometimes nudge noir toward mere style." - Peter Rozovsky, Detectives Beyond Borders
• Review: "If you were a Martian trying to figure out America in the second half of the 20th century, you could do worse than to start by reading Jules Feiffer’s Village Voice cartoons [collected in Explainers]." - Sarah Boslaugh, PopMatters
It's time for your Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: "[Editor Andrei] Molotiu has created a fun and accessible anthology here, one that’s smart and well-researched but not in the slightest bit obtuse. You don’t need to be an art snob to appreciate it; you just need an open mind. With that, the reward for Abstract Comics is quite lovely. And quite possibly a good opportunity for you to increase your appreciation for the comics format exponentially." - John Hogan, Graphic Novel Reporter
• Review: "...Giraffes in My Hair is a pleasure to read. The insights are genuine and the humanity is quite bare. Once I started reading, I didn’t stop until the book was over. This survivor’s tales were well worth the journey, once again, through two well-trodden decades." - John Hogan, Graphic Novel Reporter
• Review: "West Coast Blues... gets under your skin and remains impossible to resist from start to finish... Darkly amusing and undeniably entertaining, West Coast Blues keeps the mystery and interest alive by carefully doling out pieces of the story and introducing intriguing characters with loads of personality... Tardi does an excellent job of adapting what must be a massively entertaining book into a graphic novel form for all who seek a slightly different but no less thrilling mystery/adventure story to enjoy." - Avril Brown, Comics Waiting Room
• Review: "The Squirrel Machine should be called nothing less than a masterpiece: a true culmination and maturation of illustrative style and story. The atmosphere portrayed in black and white is meticulous and unsettling. Even the banal moments of the story have depth and direction... [a] lovely and blasphemous affair." - R.M. Rollston, Panel to Panel
NOTE: BECAUSE OF OUR CONTRACT WITH THE LICENSOR THIS BOOK CANNOT BE SOLD OUTSIDE OF NORTH AMERICA. IF YOU RESIDE ANYWHERE OTHER THAN THE U.S. OR CANADA PLEASE DO NOT TRY TO ORDER IT FROM OUR WEBSITE; YOUR ORDER WILL NOT BE PROCESSED.
A SAVAGE NOIR THRILLER REUNITING A MASTER CRIME NOVELIST AND A SUPERLATIVE FRENCH CARTOONIST
George Gerfaut, aimless young executive and desultory family man, witnesses a murder and finds himself sucked into a spiral of violence involving an exiled war criminal and two hired assassins. Adapting to the exigencies of his new life on the run with shocking ease, Gerfaut abandons his comfortable middle-class life for several months (including a sojourn in the countryside after an attempt to ride the rails turns spectacularly bad) until, joined with a new ally, he finally returns to settle all accounts... with brutal, bloody interest.
Originally released in 2005, West Coast Blues (Le Petit bleu de la côte ouest) is Tardi’s adaptation of a popular 1976 novel by the French crime writer Jean-Patrick Manchette. (The novel had been previously adapted to film under the more literal title Trois hommes à abattre, and was released in English by the San Francisco-based publisher City Lights under the English version of the same title, 3 to Kill.)
Tardi’s late-period, looser style infuses Manchette’s dark story with a seething, malevolent energy; he doesn’t shy away from the frequently grisly goings-on, while maintaining (particularly in the old-married-couple-style bickering of the two killers who are tracking Gerfaut) the mordant wit that characterizes his best work. This is the kind of graphic novel that Quentin Tarantino would love, and a double shot of Scotch for any fan of unrelenting, uncompromising crime fiction.
• Review: "As slim, smooth, and hard as its attractive, Adam Grano-designed album-style hardcover format, West Coast Blues is as strong a crime comic as you're likely to see this year (or until whenever the next Gipi Wish You Were Here Ignatz book comes out)... Tardi's art [is] a master class in spotted blacks and lines like garrote wire... This sucker's good." - Sean T. Collins
A few Online Commentary & Diversions links, all killer no filler:
• Feature: Chris Mautner of Robot 6 kicks off that site's new "Comics College" column by giving an introduction to Love and Rockets, "one of the seminal titles... in shaping the sensibilities of the nascent indie scene." This article is a great complement to our own "How to Read Love and Rockets" feature
• Review: "It's been awhile since I've seen Gilbert do a story as deliberately oblique and enigmatic as this, given that much of what he's done of late has been either wrapping up the fates of his American-based Palomar characters or whipping up over-the-top noir/pulp thrillers. For Jaime, his first stories in the new version of L&R have been a return of sorts to his early Mechanics roots, only even more steeped in the fantastic. At the same time, his commanding storytelling prowess and greater subtlety directly inform this story, leading to some surprisingly poignant moments amidst sci-fi twists and costumed mayhem." - Rob Clough
• Review: "...West Coast Blues is a tight, economical and forceful thriller shorn of the self-consciousness that frequently comes when American comics mosey into the same territory... It's a wicked little book." - Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
• Analysis: "Besides being a beautifully done work of artistry and imagination, among particular crowds [Abstract Comics: The Anthology] spurs the question 'If these are comics, then what "are comics"?'" - Neil Cohn
The second entry in our project to bring the works of French great Jacques Tardi to American audiences, You Are There is a landmark book that pairs Tardi with Barbarella creator Jean-Claude Forest. This satirical masterpiece ushered in the graphic novel era to European comics with an unexpected combination of dark cynicism and playful fantasy. This hardcover edition is now available for pre-order in our online shop, and we've made the entire 19-page first chapter available as a free PDF download. This book is scheduled be in stock and shipping in mid-September, and in stores approximately 4 weeks later (subject to change).
For an exclusive 6-page excerpt from Jacques Tardi & Jean-Patrick Manchette's West Coast Blues, in which two hired killers tail our protagonist as he takes his family to the seaside (tense!), head on over to ICv2.com. T-minus about 2 weeks until the book arrives for direct orders.
It begins! Our much-ballyhooed new series of Jacques Tardi translations launches with West Coast Blues, adapted by Tardi from the book by master crime novelist Jean-Patrick Manchette, now available for pre-order in our online shop following its hit debut at Comic-Con last month. An aimless family man is sucked into a spiral of violence involving an exiled war criminal and two hired assassins. Get a taste of this hard-boiled crime thriller with our 10-page PDF preview. This book will be in stock and shipping in about 2-3 weeks, and in stores approximately 4 weeks later (subject to change).