After establishing the world of the prickly heroine with the first two episodes of this classic series (combined in Fantagraphics’ The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec Volume 1), Jacques Tardi plunges us back into Belle-Époque Paris for another double dosage of heroic derring-do, evil and crazy malefactors, mad actresses (yes, "Clara Benhardt" makes a return appearance) and monsters!
In “The Mad Scientist” the science that brought us revived dinosaurs now results in a pithecanthrope stalking the streets of the City of Light, climaxing in an amazing car chase involving a foe from the previous volume. Will the perpetually inept Inspector Caponi just make things worse? Probably. Then in the second episode, “Mummies on Parade,” the mummy glimpsed in Adèle’s apartment in previous episodes comes alive! The volume concludes with the sudden startling (and delightful) incursion of some characters familiar to Tardi fans, and a shocking climax that leaves the future of both Adèle and this series in doubt as World War I erupts. (It’s the only story in the entire series not to feature an “in our next episode” teaser.)
The Extraordinary Adventure of Adèle Blanc-Sec Volume 2 is the lucky seventh book in Fantagraphics’ acclaimed series of Tardi reprints, showcasing the rich variety of graphic novels from one of France’s greatest living cartoonists.
Download an EXCLUSIVE 12-page PDF excerpt (2.1 MB) with the beginning pages of each story.
• Review: "Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse: Race To Death Valley by Floyd Gottfredson will be warmly received by comics aficionados but should also intrigue Disney animation buffs who aren't necessarily plugged into comic strip history. Editors David Gerstein and Gary Groth have not only scoured the planet for the best surviving artwork on Gottfredson's first epic continuity, which ran in newspapers from April to September of 1930; they've provided background essays (by a raft of experts), vintage press materials and artwork to put it into the context of Walt Disney's burgeoning career, and Mickey Mouse's budding stardom.... I have a feeling that this book, crafted with such obvious care, will earn Gottfredson a new legion of admirers." – Leonard Maltin
• Review: "Popeye hawking newspapers? Donald Duck selling gasoline? You'll find them and a whole cavalcade of comic strip characters in Drawing Power: A Compendium of Cartoon Advertising, edited by Rick Marschall and Warren Bernard. In a hundred-plus pages you are treated to a sampling of cartoon print ads from the 1890s to 1940s. There are short informative blurbs about the cartoonists (some of whom were featured in ads themselves) and the history behind the ads. A great treat for fans of comic strips, Americana, and ephemera." – The Christian Science Monitor "Top Picks"
• Review: "Not long ago a very interesting book was released which aims precisely to investigate and chronicle the parallel paths of comics and advertising from 1870 until 1940 entitled Drawing Power: A Compendium of Cartoon Advertising. Fantagraphics Books offers a hearty volume... which is our guide with text and images to the 'commercial' roots of the comic strip and the amazing work that resulted from comics creators who worked in advertising.... Drawing Power: A Compendium of Cartoon Advertising is a book that will surely pique the interest of those involved in the communication sector, but also all who are drawn to pop culture. An excellent edition from Fantagraphics..." – Lida Tsene, Comicdom (translated from Greek)
• Review: "Richard Sala’s The Hidden is yet another undead saga, though it’s more ambitious than most.... As the backstory deepens, Sala ties The Hidden to older literary traditions, weaving in pieces of folktales and the legend of Frankenstein. Because Sala has had a career-long fascination with B-movies, gothic illustrations, and general ghoulishness, this plot is right in his wheelhouse. But The Hidden isn’t just an entertaining riff on well-worn horror concepts. Taking his cues from Mary Shelley, Sala explores human vanity and arrogance as a way of showing how everything can go so wrong so fast." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "...Mome 22 concludes the run of one of alt-comics' longest-running and most essential anthologies. Like Weirdo before it, Mome bridged the gap between veteran cartoonists and the new breed... Here’s hoping that as with Zap, Raw, Arcade, and so many that have gone before, another anthology will rise to take Mome’s place. And soon." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "...Shimura Takako is a master at portraying subtle events in a slice of life story about adolescence that never feels didactic.... One of the things I like about Wandering Son is the way many of the events in the book are simultaneously safe and filled with dramatic tension.... Like the storyline, Shimura’s art is simple but nuanced.... As you’d expect from Fantagraphics, the production quality for Wandering Son is excellent. I hope that more manga is on the horizon from them. While I’ll happily read more cheaply produced manga, it is nice to have a variety of options. Carefully curated manga like Wandering Son is a treat." – Anna Neatrour, Manga Report
• Review: "Jason’s deadpan, anthropomorphic characters make his books must-reads for me.... I'd give [Isle of 100,000 Graves] to my daughter... and my wife... in hopes that, after laughing at the Hangman’s Academy’s students, teachers, and administrators, they’ll agree to dress up in multi-colored hoods and carry instruments of torture next Halloween." – Gene Ambaum, The Unshelved Book Club
• Review: "Chun fills his collections with the best cartoons – the ones that can still delight readers, and Covey uses his lively and inventive design sense to make these old cartoons fresh and vital. With The Pin-Up Art of Humorama, Chun and Covey will once again make you believe that the art of Humorama is still alive and kicking – although the line ceased to exist decades ago. [Grade:] A" – Leroy Douresseaux, I Reads You
• Review: "This Fantagraphics edition collects the first two French albums of Les Aventures Extraordinaires d’Adèle Blanc-Sec (Pterror Over Paris and The Eiffel Tower Demon) in a large format hardback edition, and it’s beautifully presented. First released in 1976, Jacques Tardi’s story has a timeless quality, set in an alternative, steam-punk universe, shortly before World War I.... Tardi’s art recreates the scenery beautifully, with stunning backdrops bringing the architecture and beauty of Paris to life. ...[A] compelling and enjoyable mystery story with an alternative Victorian feel." – Grovel
• Review: "Comic fanboys have read Sgt. Rock or The Howling Commandos which are realistic in many ways, but there was a time when a comic mag got down right truthful. I’m speaking of Blazing Combat #1-4 (1965-66, Warren) and recently Fantagraphics collected the run in both hardcover and softcover. Blazing Combat was an anthology comic that showed the very dark and very real side of war. A loose followup to the EC Comics War genre books, it showed US G.I.’s dying in terrible ways, commanders giving orders with little regard for consequences and the militaristic definition of collateral damage. Jim Warren let it all hang out when it came to editing Archie Goodwin’s writing... Of course Goodwin is a genius and I’m usually more of a word-man when it comes to comics, but this time it’s the art that captured my attention. It’s a who’s-who of monster talent..." – Chris Marshall, Collected Comics Library
• Review: "Fred [the Clown] is a figure of innocence, a lovelorn sad sack who keeps getting hit by custard pies — and, even harder, by life — over and over again, but keeps standing back up to go on. Langridge mostly tells his story in short wordless comics stories... in his usual style, a crisp modern interpretation of the classic '20s animation look... They're slapsticky stories of a sad clown, using the accouterments of vaudeville and early Hollywood, that nonetheless feel entirely new and fresh and funny. I don't know how Langridge does it, but he does it very very well." – Andrew Wheeler, The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.
• Plug: "You must buy @DaveMcKean's NSFW book 'CELLULOID' at your local comics or book store. Or in a plain brown wrapper..." – Neil Gaiman
• Preview/Plug:Comicsphere re-formats and re-presents one of our previews of Johnny Ryan's Prison Pit Book 3 to their readers, with Josh West saying "This is set to be 120 pages of ‘once you see it, it can’t ever be unseen’ scenarios and, honestly, Comicsphere couldn’t be more excited! Unbelievably unpredictable, violent, satirical and likely to entertain more than anything else on the shelves through September, the Prison Pit makes Hell look like nothing more than a relaxing Sunday morning stroll through a (really hot) meadow."
• Interview:Comic Book Resources' Tim Callahan has a wide-ranging conversation with Johnny Ryan about Prison Pit and other topics: "I guess I have this fascination with stories where the 'hero' is not a hero at all. He's a loser or an idiot or a scumbag, but somehow the author makes us give a shit about him or her.... I think this is a strain that also runs through my work. It's about bad people, doing bad things, but I try and trick people into caring about or liking these people."
• Preview/Plug:Comicsphere gives the same treatment as above to our excerpt of Jacques Tardi & Jean-Patrick Manchette's Like a Sniper Lining Up His Shot, with Josh West saying "...Jacques Tardi returns to the world of guns, crime, betrayal and bloodshed with this stunning, grisly, and remarkably faithful interpretation of Manchette’s last completed crime thriller."
"Athos in America – Jason returns to The Last Musketeer and includes other Jasony stories like 'The Brain That Wouldn’t Virginia Woolf.'"
• Plugs:Graphic Novel Reporter includes almost everything we have coming out over the next 3 months in their "Great Graphic Novels of Fall 2011" roundup, particularly the Adult Fiction and Nonfiction categories (though we feel we should point out that Alexander Theroux's Estonia is neither fiction nor a graphic novel)
• Plug: "We’re over halfway done, and have moved into the last 20 years of the strip with the release of The Complete Peanuts: 1981 to 1982. Can you believe how fast time is flying? Kudos to Fantagraphics for maintaining the incredibly high standard of quality and presentation they established at the outset, with this entry featuring an introduction from cartoonist Lynn Johnston. More!" – Ken Plume, FRED
• Interview:Newsarama's Albert Ching talks to Michael Kupperman about his new book Mark Twain's Autobiography 1910-2010: "One other character I frequently think of when doing Twain — writing that book, or doing him in Thrizzle — is Dave Thomas from SCTV doing Walter Cronkite. Which in some ways is very similar — this kind of roguish, semi-self-befuddled character, roaming around having adventures."
• Interview:The Daily Cross Hatch's Brian Heater begins a multi-part chat with Drew Friedman: "Basically when Monte Beauchamp who edits those books invited me to do a book, I thought about what I like to draw the most. I like to draw comedians and old Jews. So I put those two together and started working on them between assignments over a year. I just got pleasure in drawing them. I could put aside any annoying assignment I had and just get down to drawing those old Jewish faces. That’s what it came down to."
• Interview:Washington City Paper's Mike Rhode had a little pre-SPX Q&A with Noah Van Sciver: "I'm excited to stop by the Fantagraphics table and say hello to those guys and see what's new." Well shucks!
• Lore: "’71 was a weird year for me. I never had quite so many women coming and going, as I did that year in the apartment I shared with Gary. But I was still drinking too much and just overdoing it in general, hedonistically speaking. I was getting very little good work done (gosh, I wonder why?) and was generally pretty miserable." – Kim Deitch's epic memoir-in-music "Mad About Music: My Life in Records" at TCJ.com forges into the 1970s
• Staff picks: Our own Ambassador of Awesome (and funniest Flogger) Janice Headley is the guest contributor to this week's Robot 6 "What Are You Reading?" column
• Plug: "I’ve only had the brick for two weeks, and I’ve barely made it through one-fourth of it, happily so. For over 30 years, The Comics Journalhas been a comics respite from hype and fluff. It keeps the rest of in check and on our toes. I’m a better comics reader because of it (and a reluctantly patient fan)." – Alex Carr, Omnivoracious (Amazon.com)
• Commentary: Sean T. Collins re-posts Comic Book Resources' video interview with Jaime Hernandez on that site's Robot 6 blog, adding his own commentary: "Ask anyone who’s reading the series in its book-formatted New Stories incarnation — including this autumn’s #4, which picks up where last year’s massively acclaimed 'Browntown'/'The Love Bunglers' storyline left off — and they’ll tell you: Jaime’s making some of the best work of his career, some 30 years after L&R made its debut."
• Conflict of Interest: Our own Eric Buckler spotlights Mome Vol. 22 in his weekly "Indie Comics Digest" for The Snipe
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.
136-page full-color 8.25" x 8.25" hardcover • $19.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-386-6
"Then there’s also Richard Sala’s new book The Hidden ($19.99) about a group of strangers [description redacted due to being based on preliminary and out-of-date info - Ed.] during a global crisis. I’m going to want all three of those, but I reckon I’d grab The Hidden first." – Michael May, Robot 6
"For my splurge, I’d be hard-pressed to pick between [redacted] and The Hidden by Richard Sala ($19.99)." – J.K. Parkin, Robot 6
104-page black & white 7.5" x 10.75" hardcover • $18.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-448-1
"A new one from Jacques Tardi, an extrordinarily bleak noir thriller. If you're digging Criminal and want to know what to read next, don't miss Tardi's work — he's a master of the form." – Chris Butcher, The Beguiling
"I don’t know very much about this book, except for a few points that make me want to read this without even reading the solicitation text: 1. It’s drawn by Jacques Tardi. His It Was the War of the Trenches was an incredible book – a dark and beautiful graphic novel about the first world war that had a number of surprises and truly chilling moments. 2. It’s about snipers. Snipers are cool.... 3. These Fantagraphic editions are nice to own. They are very well designed, maintaining the original size of the French books, and have very high production values. That’s enough for me." – James Fulton, Inside Pulse
"...I’m saving my money to get Like a Sniper Lining Up His Shot ($18.99), the latest Jacques Tardi book from Fantagraphics, another hard boiled (and ultra-violent) noir in the same vein as West Coast Blues, which is not terribly surprising considering its the same writer, Jean-Patrick Manchette." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"A sure thing, I'd imagine, another collaboration between pantheon-level cartoonist Jacques Tardi and the crime writer Jean-Patrick Manchette, whose previous English-language release West Coast Blues impressed many when it came out a while back." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
240-page full-color 7" x 9" softcover • $19.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-395-8
"A double-sized farewell issue, with return visits from a lot of the artists who've graced it in the past. I really hope that some new, regular print vehicle takes the place of this within the comics ecosystem, but it doesn't seem likely." – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
"The FINAL volume of Mome, the great white hope for aspiring cartoonists to get published at Fantagraphics. An excellent overall anthology with moments of true greatness — the comics industry is much poorer for the loss of this fine publication. Our sincere thanks to Fanta and Eric Reynolds for 22 volumes of this series. We highly recommend them. In this final, double sized volume, thrill to new comics by Gabrielle Bell, Lilli Carre, Jordan Crane, Eleanor Davis, Tom K, Anders Nilsen, Laura Park, Jim Rugg, and a dozen more excellent cartoonists." – Chris Butcher, The Beguiling
"I should also point out that the final volume of Mome is out this week and easily the best volume of an already excellent series, featuring stellar work by folks like Eleanor Davis, Josh Simmons, Chuck Forsam, Tim Hensley and more. A steal at $20." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
36-page full-color 10" x 10" hardcover • $16.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-489-4
"CONFLICT OF INTEREST RESERVOIR: The Hidden is a new Richard Sala book, in color; $19.99. Even More Old Jewish Comedians collects portraits by Drew Friedman; $19.99. Like a Sniper Lining Up His Shot is a recent crime comic from the great Jacques Tardi; $18.99. And MOME Vol. 22 lays a long-running anthology to rest with a double-sized 240-page final issue; $19.99." – Joe McCulloch, The Comics Journal
The new Diamond Previews catalog is out today and in it you'll find our usual 2-page spread with our releases scheduled to arrive in your local comic shop in November 2011 (give or take — some release dates may have changed since the issue went to press). We're pleased to offer additional and updated information about these upcoming releases here on our website, to help shops and customers alike make more informed ordering decisions.
Martin Terrier, ice-cold mercenary-turned-contract-killer, has his future all mapped out: He has just executed what he intends to be his final job and is ready to move on to the next phase of his life, which involves discreet retirement accompanied by a long-lost girlfriend. But Terrier’s employers are emphatically not pleased with his decision, old enemies begin to re-emerge, and soon Terrier is forced to once again ply his brutal trade.
Five years after West Coast Blues, his acclaimed adaptation of Jean-Patrick Manchette’s Le Petit bleu de la côte ouest (a.k.a. Three to Kill), Jacques Tardi returns to the world of guns, crime, betrayal and bloodshed with this stunning, grisly, and remarkably faithful interpretation of Manchette’s last completed crime thriller. Manchette himself claimed to have written the novel in an attempt to emulate the ultraviolent, hellbent-for-leather, pitch-black ambiance of Robert Aldrich’s Kiss Me Deadly, and Tardi matches him bullet for bullet and blow for blow. As The Village Voice noted of the original novel (La Position du tireur couché, released in English under the title The Prone Gunman by City Lights in 2001), “Thirty pages before the finale, it’s hard not to wonder how the book could possibly end... But the book does end, in circumstances far worse than you might easily imagine, on a note of extraordinary bleakness.”
• Review: "...Shimura Takako tells this story in such a gentle, unobtrusive way, one might believe that this story flows naturally – as if it simply spun itself from nature and is the way it is supposed to be. I think Matt Thorn’s tidy translation, which goes down the mental gullet with such smoothness, is a big reason for how readable this is. Wandering Son is not flashy or aggressive, nor does it pander or try to be hip and stylish. Takako draws the reader in so quietly that some may be surprised to find themselves on a journey of discovery and exploration with these characters. It’s like seeing preadolescence for the first time or seeing it again through fresh eyes and a new perspective.... If only more comic books were so evocative and so clear in their storytelling like Wandering Son, an ideal comic book. Ages 8 to 80 will like Wandering Son. [Grade] A" – Leroy Douresseaux, I Reads You
• Review: "Of the three books collected in this volume [What I Did], Hey, Wait... is a really evocative portrait of how childhood experiences can affect one throughout his entire life, and The Iron Wagon (which adapts an early-twentieth-century Norwegian novel) is a pretty good murder mystery that makes good use of Jason's deadpan style, but it's the middle entry, Sshhhh!, that really sticks with me, immediately jumping to the top of my favorites among the cartoonist's works.... It's sad, wonderful, exhilarating work, a great example of how amazing Jason is at what he does, and how nobody else can do it like him." – Matthew J. Brady, Warren Peace Sings the Blues
• Review: "The plot often takes a sharp turn towards the absurd and downright crazy, but eventually the story always comes back to our heroine. Adele Blanc-Sec takes no crap... It’s really nice to see such a strong female character at the centre of all this mayhem, and her character really pulls the book together.... Tardi’s artwork is great to look at; his panels are vibrant and full of life. In his hands Paris 1911 is a busy metropolitan city still hanging on to its 18th century spirit and facade.... The first volume ofThe Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec left me with more questions than answers, and volume 2’s release date of November seems all to far away! I look forward to reading more of Adele Blanc-Sec’s adventures." – Will Pond, Good Comic Books
• Review: "Glenn Ganges — the protagonist of the first volume of the series Ganges — is a dreamer, an eccentric, a loving husband, but first and foremost a restless man. Meaningless details do not give rest to him, he makes a mountain out of a molehill, and his fantasies replace the reality. Five stories under one cover are the five pieces of a day in the life of Ganges.... I’d like to meet this Ganges." – Ray Garraty, Endless Falls Up
We're all a-buzz over the 2011 Small Press Expo, which is just around the corner on September 10th & 11th in Bethesda, Maryland! And here are our Fantagraphics panel highlights -- plot your weekend accordingly:
Saturday, September 10th
Excruciating Detail: Drawing the Grotesque 1:00 pm | White Flint Amphitheater
Historical comics ranging from Chester Gould’s Dick Tracy to the horror comics of the 1950s have specialized in images of the grotesque. Sean T. Collins will speak with cartoonists Lisa Hanawalt (I Want You), Benjamin Marra (Night Business), Tom Neely (The Wolf), and Johnny Ryan (Prison Pit) about the act of drawing horrific, visceral, visual detail in contemporary comics that speak to horrors that are both timeless and contemporary.
The Secret History of Women in Comics 1:30 pm | Brookside Conference Room
The increased involvement of women in the comics field over the past several years has been a significant positive change in a historically male-dominated industry. However, just as it’s worth celebrating this progressive revolution, it is also worth noting that today’s women cartoonists are part of a lineage of pioneering women who have made many contributions to the field. Heidi MacDonald will discuss this history with Jessica Abel, Robyn Chapman, Alexa Dickman and Diane Noomin.
Anders Nilsen: Questions and Answers 2:00 pm | White Flint Amphitheater
This year Drawn and Quarterly publishes Anders Nilsen’s opus Big Questions. A dozen years in the making, this book sensitively depicts a philosophical crisis in a community of birds whose lives are forever changed by the destructive intervention of human violence. Nilsen has also published books including Dogs and Water, Don’t Go Where I Can’t Follow, Monologues for Calculating the Density of Black Holes, and more. Nilsen will discuss his work with moderator Bill Kartalopoulos.
The entry of comics as “graphic novels” into the publishing landscape has encouraged work that conforms to the narrative biases of conventional literary fiction. Joe “Jog” McCulloch will talk to Marc Bell (Pure Pajamas), Matthew Thurber (1-800-MICE) and Jim Woodring (Congress of the Animals) about producing graphic narratives that follow less conventional, more associative, and even visually based narrative logics that lend integrity to apparent surreality.
Stories of Cultural Identity 3:30 pm | Brookside Conference Room
America’s own culture wars are only part of a global struggle with identity, as nations the world over attempt to address the challenges of assimilating multiple cultures within a stable society. Moderator Rob Clough will talk to Jessica Abel (La Perdida), Marguerite Dabaie (The Hookah Girl), Sarah Glidden (How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less) and G. B. Tran (Vietnamerica) about comics that deal with issues of cultural identity.
Johnny Ryan Q+A 5:30 pm | Brookside Conference Room
As comics have increasingly entered into the worlds of literary publishing and gallery arts, Johnny Ryan has almost single handedly extended comics’ satirical, parodistic, disreputable and scatological traditions in his comic book series Angry Youth Comix. More recently, he has entered the realm of visual pulp with his epic, no-holds-barred, manga-inflected graphic novel series Prison Pit. Ryan will discuss the development of his work with moderator Chris Mautner.
Sunday, September 11th
You Don’t Know Jacques: The Work of Jacques Tardi 1:00 pm | White Flint Amphitheater
In a special slideshow presentation, Fantagraphics co-publisher Kim Thompson will discuss the career of seminal French cartoonist Jacques Tardi, whose work Thompson has been translating in a new series of English-language editions. Relatively unknown until recently in the US, Tardi is a giant of French comics publishing. Active for over forty years and the author of dozens of books, Tardi is a foundational figure of auteurial bande dessinée.
In the early 2000s, corporate publishers nearly raced to acquire graphic novels. Now, as the mainstream publishing industry faces severe contractions and as online media assumes many traditional functions of publishing, cartoonists face a rapidly changing publishing landscape, one that includes a resurgent small press. Johanna Draper Carlson will speak with Domitille Collardey, Mike Dawson, Meredith Gran, Roger Langridge and Julia Wertz about publishing options today.
Diane Noomin Q+A 4:00 pm | White Flint Amphitheater
Jim Woodring: Seeing Things 5:00 pm | White Flint Amphitheater
Jim Woodring first made his mark with his probing, autobiographically-based series Jim. Since then, he has expansively focused on his character Frank, an anthropomorphic cartoon character moving wordlessly through a hallucinatory world of delight and terror, drawn in both meticulous pen-and-ink and gem-like color. His latest book is the Frank graphic novel Congress of the Animals. He will discuss his career in this spotlight session with moderator Ken Parille.
• Review: "...[T]he cartoons in Willie & Joe: Back Home capture Mauldin at a low ebb personally, and ferociously inspired professionally.... The material in Back Home is bitter but witty, and remarkable for its courage. Given the platform of a major syndicate, Mauldin used his moral authority — as a firsthand observer of atrocity, venality, and want — to try and make his complacent countrymen feel a little shame. Where his wartime cartoons had said, 'I am one of you' to grunts in the trenches, his post-war work said, 'What the hell happened to you?' to the people who stayed home. At the time, the public rejected Mauldin’s lectures. Today they’re a blistering reminder that life after WWII wasn’t all suburban bliss and baby boom." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "Told with humor and a great depth of sensitivity, these comics offer a human lens to an epic more often expressed in grandiose terms. Over the past couple of years Fantagraphics has amazed me consistently with its archival releases of seminal cartoonists' work, and Willie and Joe: The WWII Years is yet another fine example." – David Gutowski, Largehearted Boy
• Review: "Toth brought clarity and drama to the page — the equivalent of a top Hollywood director elevating rote material through elegant framing and camera moves.... Nearly every drawing in this book is purposeful and exciting, and they flow together to tell stories so clearly that the words are often superfluous. Setting the Standard is a treasure trove..." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "...Jacques Tardi is certainly in Toth’s league when it comes to rendering seamy genre fare with real artistry. Like a Sniper Lining Up His Shot ... is a wonderfully wicked piece of work, tracking a hitman as he tries to sever all ties with his past and retire with his childhood sweetheart. The story’s a familiar one... but Manchette’s approach is especially violent and gory, with a tough twist ending. And Tardi picks up on the sadness underlying the brutality, sketching a black-and-white world where the choice to go to the dark side is irrevocable, no matter how hard characters work to wrest control of their fates." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "...Belgian artist Olivier Schrauwen does a fine job of approximating the high weirdness of early-20th-century newspaper comics in The Man Who Grew His Beard, a collection of seven deeply strange short stories.... Schrauwen mixes ink and paint in ways that blur the distinctions between comics and fine art, and he brings back certain themes — instruction and erotica, primarily — that suggest how men try and fail to place parameters on the primal. But The Man Who Grew His Beard isn’t meant to be 'understood' so much as it is to be entered and experienced, in all its wildness." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "Kevin Huizenga’s Ganges #4 continues the artist’s increasingly masterful hybrid of direct storytelling and experimental abstraction.... The story suits Huizenga’s style, since he can document both the familiar minutiae of daily life and the sense of unreality that takes hold whenever someone is up half the night. Huizenga works in visual motifs of endlessly branching possibilities and spiraling shapes, showing how becoming 'lost in thought' can be terrifying. In short: This is another terrific installment of a series that’s fast becoming a classic." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "Mr. Twee Deedle, Raggedy Ann’s Sprightly Cousin: The Forgotten Fantasy Masterpieces of Johnny Gruelle... collects the strip that illustrator Gruelle created to fill the void left by Little Nemo when Winsor McKay departed The New York Herald. Though not as imaginative as McKay, Gruelle’s Mr. Twee Deedle was every bit as colorful and lavishly rendered, telling gentle fairy stories that explore a rich fantasy world existing in tandem with our own, like children having elaborate playtimes mere feet away from their parents’ more prosaic lives." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club (NOTE: This review was based on samples of the strip provided to the reviewer; the book itself is incomplete and still in production.)
• Review: "...Drawing Power... brings together an eclectic set of examples of comics being used to sell products. The pages are fun to look at — from Mickey Mouse pitching Post Toasties to Dr. Seuss illustrating ads for Esso Marine Products — but the topic is a little too large for a 120-page book, especially one so loosely organized. Then again, maybe that’s the point: to create a reading experience as chaotic and laced with odd beauty as cartooning itself." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "I have long admired Woodring’s brilliant, hallucinatory, and bizarre Frank comics. But his work has taken a leap forward with last year’s Weathercraft and this year’s Congress of the Animals. The Frank world is one the reader benefits by being immersed in. What might seem a bit incomprehensible in a short strip blossoms into a dark Dionysian dream in these two graphic novels.... If I keep mention them together, it is because I believe they beg to be read together. They show different but complimentary sides of Woodring’s vision. And also because these two books combine to form, I believe, one of the greatest achievements in recent comics. If you are a fan of the strange, the uncanny, the bizarre, the hallucinatory, and the fantastic, I can’t recommend them enough." – Lincoln Michel, The Faster Times
• Review: For Magnet, Marc Bianchi of the band Her Space Holiday (they're good!) pens an appreciation of Charles M. Schulz's Peanuts, adding "A good place to rediscover the Peanuts is through the retrospective that Fantagraphics started releasing in 2004. They are complete and total masterpieces, from the elegant layouts provided by famed comic-book artist Seth to the wonderful guest introductions each volume has... If you are ever in a shop that carries these books, I highly suggest thumbing through one of them. Especially the earliest works (1950-1952 or 1953-1954). You are guaranteed to find something that in one panel can tear your heart apart and, in the next, put it back together again."
• Review: "To say that Wandering Son isn't a manga for everyone is perhaps stating the obvious, but despite the potential to make light of its cross-dressing, coming of age tale it proves itself to be an impressively subtle and considered take on growing up within this opening volume. ...[G]ive it time and you'll find an impressive, character-driven series beneath its simplistic surface that will both charm and fascinate you, leaving you rooting for its characters and wanting to follow them through to (you hope) eventual happiness." – Andy Hanley, UK Anime Network
• Review: "Supermen!: The First Wave of Comic Book Heroes, 1936-1941 promises to fill gaps in 'the origins and early development of superheroes and the comic book form.' Editor Greg Sadwoski has assembled an eye-catching collection of stories, magazine covers, and house ads showing unfamiliar faces from the first years of American adventures comics. ...Supermen! is most interesting for what didn’t lead anywhere.... Seeing what didn’t work or become the norm can be as illuminating as seeing what did." – J.L. Bell, Oz and Ends (via Robot 6)
• Plug: "...[D]espite his undeniable gift for crafting elegant and vibrant storytelling that transcends all genres, sadly there has never before been a comprehensive, affordably priced reprinting of Carl Barks' Disney work…until now. Fantagraphics Books recently announced that it will begin reprinting the entire catalog of the master’s Disney material, beginning with the release of Walt Disney’s Donald Duck: 'Lost in the Andes' by Carl Barks in October, 2011." – Bill Baker, The Morton Report
• Interview (Audio): The hosts of Comics Alliance's "War Rocket Ajax" podcast talk to Michael Kupperman about his new book Mark Twain's Autobiography 1910-2010, crafting his brand of humor and sundry other topics (such as bleu cheese): "It's about things taking the turn that you don't expect, the ball taking the bounce you don't expect. That for me is an example of trying to make the sentence end up in a place that's different from where it started."
• Tribute: At The Comics Journal, Kim Thompson's obituary of Francisco Solano López: "Argentina’s Francisco Solano López was a titan of South American comics, on a level with the great Alberto Breccia, the temporary honorary Argentinean (during the 1950s) Hugo Pratt, and the hugely influential writer Hector Oesterheld (who collaborated with all three)." (Excerpt courtesy TCJ's Tim Hodler)