• Review: "Picking up immediately following the events of the first Fantagraphics collection, The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec Vol. 2 continues the unusual escapades of the novelist title character.... Though the concepts and action propel the tale, the droll heroine with her asides and astute observations drives these fantastic comics. After a second attempt on her life almost succeeds, Blanc-Sec stands among a train wreckage and declares 'I am being taunted!' Tardi frequently breaks down the fourth wall to a humorous effect and his magnificent color art recalls the best of Hergé's TinTin stories." – Rick Klaw, The SF Site
• Plug (Video):Westfield Comics' Roger Ash talks up Is That All There Is?, our upcoming collection of Joost Swarte comics — and demonstrates how to pronounce Joost Swarte — in his latest "Westfield Comics Pick" video (stick it out to the end for some amusing outtake Easter eggs)
• Review: "With [Mark Twain's Autobiography 1910-2010] and the seventh issue of his Thrizzle series, Kupperman takes back the crown of Funniest Cartoonist Alive... Whatever direction he moves in, there is a consistent level of dizzying joy to be found in Kupperman’s work, a kind of humor that features dark and occasionally satirical edges but is mostly just a barrage of inspired wordplay, deadpan humor, and deceptively simple images." – Rob Clough, The Comics Journal
• Review: "...Barks truly was a master at the medium. We all have been hearing this for so long and for those who have not yet read any of his comics, this book [Walt Disney's Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes] and the rest of the upcoming series should put all those doubts to rest. Carl Barks used ducks to shine a light on the human condition and make jokes while also making commentary on us all. Despite these stories being published in 1948 and 1949, they truly stand the test of time. But what was truly amazing about his work was that it appeals to both children and adults. ★★★★★" – Nick Boisson, Comics Bulletin
• Review: "Happily, Woodring never tries to offer up his own explanations for what transpires in his stories [in The Frank Book]. The closest he gets is some vague, oblique hints in this collection's afterword, but -- like those occasions when David Lynch pretends to try to enlighten viewers about his similarly challenging movies -- Woodring's clues only lead to more questions." – Dave Wallace, Comics Bulletin
• Review: "The no-nonsense mademoiselle Blanc-Sec returns for another round or two of occult mentalism and monster-mash madness... Don’t expect it to make any sense, you clearly won’t if you read and loved Volume One of Adele’s extraordinary adventures as I did. Indeed much like, what seems an odd comparison on the face of it I’ll grant you, Umbrella Academy you just have to enjoy the ever mounting sense of the ridiculous jammed in page after page, which Tardi is an absolute master at." – Jonathan Rigby, Page 45
• Plug:Newsarama's Zack Smith chats with humorist John Hodgman [squee] about the current state of comics: "It’s funny – when I started writing about comics a few years ago, I discovered a lot of new things, one of them being the Glenn Ganges comics by Kevin Huizenga. I just love his work."
In this month's issue of Booklist you can find praise for three of our recent releases:
The Complete Peanuts 1981-1982 by Charles M. Schulz: "These early 1980s episodes see Snoopy reunite with his brother Marbles (who’s baffled by his sibling’s WWI fantasies), Linus and Lucy plant a garden, and Peppermint Patty apply to a school for gifted children (she thinks they’re going to give her presents). But the strip’s fragile heart remains good ol’ Charlie Brown, who faces a crisis when liability issues bar him and his team from their baseball field. In a moving introduction to the volume, cartoonist Lynn Johnston (For Better or For Worse) writes about her close friendship with Schulz." – Gordon Flagg
The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec Vol. 2 by Jacques Tardi: "The second collection of the Belle Époque exploits of Adèle Blanc-Sec sees the intrepid occult investigator confronting things walking the streets of Paris that shouldn’t be: a prehistoric ape-man revived by a mad scientist and a reanimated mummy from her own collection of artifacts. With their wryly overwrought captions, melodramatic dialogue, and convoluted plotlines, the stories work both as gentle genre parodies and full-out fantasy-detective thrillers, thanks in great part to Tardi’s lithe cartooning, which vividly evokes the period while sporting an entirely contemporary sensibility." – Gordon Flagg
Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Vol. 2: Trapped on Treasure Island by Floyd Gottfredson: "For contemporary audiences who know Mickey Mouse only as the bland corporate mascot of the Disney empire, these 1932–33 newspaper comic strips featuring the famous rodent will be a revelation. As in his contemporaneous animated cartoons, this Mickey is a feisty, wisecracking daredevil, who searches tropical lands for buried treasure (encountering stereotyped cannibals that are offensive even by the era’s insensitive standards), treks to the frozen north to recover a stolen orphanage fund, and starts a detective agency with second banana Goofy. Gottfredson’s charmingly old-fashioned drawings accentuate the gags and briskly propel the plotlines." – Gordon Flagg
This week's comic shop shipment is slated to include the following new title. Read on to see what comics-blog commentators and web-savvy comic shops are saying about it (more to be added as they appear), check out our previews at the link, and contact your local shop to confirm availability.
"Jacques Tardi's deadpan, slightly tongue-in-cheek turn-of-the-previous-century adventure series continues: this volume contains two of the French volumes, rendered here as 'The Mad Scientist' and 'Mummies on Parade.'" – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
"Again, an easy choice for me — the second volume of Jacques Tardi’s Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec from Fantagraphics. I’m on a big Tardi kick right now, having just recently read the first Adele collection, and am eager to experience more." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"CONFLICT OF INTEREST RESERVOIR: It’s been out for a while on the comics show circuit, but now Diamond-serviced retailers will have The Extraordinary Adventures Of Adele Blanc-Sec Vol. 2: The Mad Scientist and Mummies on Parade, a new pair of albums from Jacques Tardi’s ongoing adventure series, sporting maybe the most bracingly downbeat ending imaginable in this particular installment; $24.99." – Joe McCulloch, The Comics Journal
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.
• Review/Interview: Marc Campbell of Dangerous Minds calls Everything Is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson "music book of the year," saying "the thing I really appreciate in reading Paul’s writings is you get to a place where even if you disagree with him you want to really explore why. He challenges you, not outrightly, but through the sheer force of his own enthusiasm and the particulars of why he digs what he digs. That’s what great rock writers do - they send you to the music. Of all the books I’ve read this year, Everything Is an Afterthought is the one that has meant the most to me." Campbell also talks to the book's author/editor, Kevin Avery: "You could tell it was important for him to accurately convey how he heard the work he was writing about; how it made him feel. At the same time, there was often the suggestion that whatever he wrote about was in some way part of his own story. Though it was never overt. There was an ongoing mystery to it."
• Review: "It's fascinating to see the great intentions of good people of liberal Oregon run aground on the slick and complicated story on the ground... Duin and Wheeler spend much of [Oil and Water] showing the kind of cultural imperialism or Liberal Guilt that the Oregonians feel when trying to help their brethren from the South, and the resentment that the Southerners feel back at them. ...Shannon Wheeler's calm, quiet and almost abstract images capture the story in a way that allows the story to stray from straight reportage to a quieter meditation on the events that happen.... The story lives in the present and the past, both itself and something more." – Jason Sacks, Comics Bulletin
• Review: "The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec are extraordinary indeed.... The amazing Jacques Tardi creates a fully realized world in the two stories contained in this book, stories in which strange, almost mythological, creatures live right next to the Eiffel Tower, famous French cemeteries and the Louvre.... Tardi delivers an ending to the second half of this book that is thoroughly shocking. Adele and her friends aren't Doctor Who and his companions, gallivanting across space and time and always emerging unscathed. The adventures that occur in this book are real and terrible in their consequences. They may seem a bit outlandish... but they are real in a way that feels oddly intense for American readers." – Jason Sacks, Comics Bulletin
• Review: "This isn't your father's Mickey Mouse (it's more likely your great-grandfather's), and it's a shame we don't see him this way as much anymore. Floyd Gottfredson is one of the most talented artist/gag writers in comics history and it is wonderful to see his talent recognized in a medium and a manner so deserving of preservation. This giant-sized book is only mildly unwieldy, but it is the perfect size to replicate and do justice to every single panel of such a singularly perfect work.... Mickey Mouse is one of the most important and revered characters in pop culture, and no other creator has written him so human, so interestingly, so uniquely fun and vibrant as Floyd Gottfredson has. The cover price is too little to ask, as the stories in this book are a treasury of the highs sequential art can hit." – Rafael Gaitan, Comics Bulletin
• Review: "The Hidden is ridiculously good, silly fun... A great big orgy of schlocky gore and cartoon deaths, the plot is every old horror film rolled into one glorious genre cliché... and Richard Sala’s absurd humour bleeds through the lot like red ink on a crisp white collar.... As ever, the true joy here is seeing Sala in brilliant colour. Layer upon layer of masterfully applied paint creates every shadow, shade and unlikely bright pajama in the cartoon horror. Undead eyes stare from blue and green sunken sockets, blood splashes across the page in spurts of dark crimson. It is, to hammer it home with a bloody mallet, an absolute demented joy." – Hayley Campbell, The Comics Journal
• Interview (Translated): Gerardo Vilches of The Watcher and the Tower says of Joyce Farmer's Special Exits, which was just published in Spain by Astiberri, "I read this comic a few months ago and I think it is not only one of the comics of the year but the last decade" translates Alex Dueben's December 2010 Comic Book Resources interview with Farmer into Spanish, adding "I also wanted to do my bit to raise awareness of an awesome comic I hope has the impact it deserves."
• Profile:CT.com's Alan Bisbort talks to Michael Kupperman in advance of his appearance at Hartford's Mark Twain House tomorrow: "Kupperman, to be clear and fair, is quite fond of Twain, so his own caricatures are done with the affection one has for an eccentric uncle. His portrayals of Twain are interchangeable with his equally affectionate depictions of Albert Einstein — Twain and Einstein have, in fact, regularly appeared together in Kupperman's comic strips over the years — so he was pleasantly surprised by a recent serendipitous Internet purchase. 'I ordered a Twain wig and mustache from the official Twain website,' he says. 'And the label said "Twain/Einstein" so I must be on the right track.'"
• Interview:Paul Hornschemeier has a brief chat with MSN Postbox: "I think both my stories’ trajectories and my [philosophy] degree are both symptoms of a central disease. While I tend to gravitate toward comedy and joking around in a social context, I think that I’ve always been pretty introspective when I’m sitting around by myself. Which you tend to do a lot as a cartoonist — as in all of the time."
• Review: "Fantagraphics keeps the hits rolling throughout 2011 and The Arctic Marauder is the latest in their Jacques Tardi translations line.... The art is wonderful. Tardi has this rounded style that is unique and easily identifiable, all at once his signature. The level of detail is astounding, in the background and mechanical details as rendered faux woodcuts. The 9×11.75″ pages present the art in gloriously large detail: be sure to drink in every inch of this black and white work.... At $17 for a sixty-four page oversized hardcover this is a great value: while the vintage prose was lost on me it stands as a great period work with wonderfully detailed art." – eBabble
• Review: "Sala’s work is like a fusion of Hergé and Charles Addams, yielding a simple, cartoon-like style that makes his moments of gothic horror all the more disturbing. ...[The Hidden] is a beautifully pulpy and incredibly imaginative book that gives a fresh spin on a well-used set-up." – Publishers Weekly
• Review/Interview:SF Weekly's Casey Burchby, who says "Richard Sala's new full color graphic novel, The Hidden, fuses two classic horror tropes — the story of Frankenstein's monster, and the ever-popular zombie apocalypse — into a new form that is surprisingly free of cliché and enriched with a strange sensitivity, owing far more to the classic horror literature of the 19th and early 20th centuries than it does to more contemporary EC horror comics, slasher flicks, or Stephen King," talks to Sala, who says "...as I began to write the book, elements of it started to seem oddly autobiographical — on some kind of psychological level, that is — and I realized the story had become less about Frankenstein specifically and more about the act of creation and its consequences."
• Review: "This French artist's unabashedly campy tribute to Jules Verne's proto-steampunk adventure yarns [The Arctic Marauder] is all about the art — spectacularly composed black-and-white evocations of arctic landscapes and Victorian contraptions.... Tardi has drawn a tribute to a venerable genre that partakes of its wonders while poking gentle fun at its preposterous twists and turns. The result is pure fun." – Laura Miller, "The Best New Graphic Novels," Salon
• Review: "Ryan’s line work is at its best in some parts of this volume, showing the ability to continually come up with inventive weird visuals. The first half of the book is nothing but new forms of violence and strange creatures that become different strange creatures. Every page brings a new visual that you will never, ever be able to forget. The second half shows off more minimalist compositions, giving the book an interesting asymmetry. The only bad thing about Prison Pit Book 3 coming out is that it will be another year until Book 4 is released, especially with the cliffhanger that this volume ends on." – Chad Nevett, Comic Book Resources
• Review: "Johhny Ryan’s artwork on Prison Pit could be described as cartoonish, but to be honest it’s better described as looking like the insane doodling of a madman, as found etched upon the walls of his padded cell — I would not be surprised to find out that this book was ghost-written by Charles Manson!... Ryan draws gore like no one else, and his creature designs are the stuff of nightmares — one of the monsters in the latter part of the story makes Cthuhlu look like a character from a children’s story!... Prison Pit: Book 3 is a comic unlike anything you’ve ever read before — the plot is outlandish, and the artwork is violent, bloody, gory, and completely unapologetic in its brutality.... Rating: 10 out of 10" – Edward Kaye, Newsarama
• Commentary:Robot 6's Sean T. Collins comments on the must-read Comics Journal interview with Johnny Ryan: "I’ve spent years enjoying Ryan’s scabrously offensive humor comics like Angry Youth Comix and Blecky Yuckerella, as well as his extravagantly vicious action comic Prison Pit, and I’ve often wondered where his search-and-destroy ethos originated.... Thanks to Pearson and Ryan’s jawdroppingly candid conversation, I finally feel like I understand..., at least a little."
• (Not a) Review (Per Se): "This isn't a formal review, per se, but instead a few gut-reaction thoughts on the remarkable new issue of Love & Rockets: New Stories (#4). I've never bothered to do this before in a review, but the nature of this issue demands that I note that there are spoilers below." – Rob Clough, High-Low
• Review (Audio): The Extra Sequential podcast discusses "the whacky and funny Fantagraphics collection of Carl Barks’ much loved 1940s Donald Duck stories," Walt Disney's Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes: "We tell you why creator Carl Barks is loved for his storytelling prowess and surprisingly funny and absurd humour in his Donald, Scrooge, etc. tales..."
• Interview:Comic Book Resources' Tim O'Shea has a funny and informative Q&A with Michael Kupperman: "Actually I’ve been hearing from [Twain] a lot. I thought that one meeting would be it, but since then he keeps reappearing, asking for help dealing with today’s publishing industry. He’s written a new novel called Prairie Rumpus, which I feel is dated in its use of slang and locale. Meanwhile I’ve got a lot of interest in my novel The Fart Vampires, a lotta heat building up."
• Commentary: At About.com Manga, Deb Aoki reports on our publishing announcement regarding Moto Hagio's The Heart of Thomas (note that the "The" was initially left off our announcement by mistake), calling it a "very exciting development" and saying "Fans of A Drunken Dream and Other Stories will also be glad to hear that Matt Thorn, the translator of this critically acclaimed book will also be handling the editing/translation duties on this title as well."
I am pleased to announce that we have amended our territorial contract with the respective licensors and are now able to sell all of our Jacques Tardi books throughout the world, including in the United Kingdom. Mail order, distribution through wholesalers and retailers, etc.
And in the "my life is better than yours" gloating category, I believe I am the only person in the world who has read both Jason's next book (Athos in America, going to the printer in a week or two) and Tardi's next book (the new Manchette adaptation Ô Dingos! Ô Châteaux!, which we are planning to release in 2013) — both of which are just as unfathomably awesome as you might expect. Bonus: The ruthless killer (who dispatches an unfortunate victim with a sawblade through the heart in the first page of the book, as seen below) is named Thompson!
• Review: "This latest in Fantagraphics' line of books featuring Jacques Tardi and the second of those books to feature an adaptation of the work of Jean-Patrick Manchette is lovely-looking, stylish and bleak as hell.... The short third act, where we learn what becomes of the assassin, proves so ruthlessly depressing it's almost a human rights violation. Tardi's artwork is beautiful here, although you probably already knew that. No one in comics does the frowning face better than Tardi, and Like a Sniper [Lining Up His Shot] proves to be an absolute showcase of down-turned mouths and the unhappy people bearing them.... What a show." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
• Review: "These are two masters at their best [in Like a Sniper Lining Up His Shot]. Crime novelist Manchette pulls no punches in delivering gritty, violent episodes that still can shock even the most jaded reader. Jacques Tardi’s confident, almost brazen artwork is just as dark, cold and gripping. His beautiful fluid lines juxtaposed with the stark ambivalence Martin Terrier, the contract-killer antihero adapts in applying his brutal trade is something that has to be experienced. Get this book!" – "Horatio Hornblower," The Comic Book Snob
• Review: "Undisputable fact: a new full-length Richard Sala book is a literary and comics event that makes you sit up and take notice. It's appointment reading, and ought to demand the attention of any serious enthusiast of the medium.... The newest from Sala is the graphic novel The Hidden... This book is a magic trick, the kind you'll want to share with friends because you can hardly believe what you've witnessed when it's all done.... Around the hundred page mark this book started scaring the living shit out of me. Sala's art is wonderful and holds up to a close analysis.... Like his peers from Fantagraphics' all-star squad, Sala conveys internal truth (fear, pride, jealousy) through body language and a minimum of lines. There's not a jot or gesture wasted on the page, and his color work is loose and instinctive but still pleasing." – R.J. Ryan, Comics Bulletin
• Review: "...[Johnny Ryan] is easily one of the four or five most vital and important cartoonists working today. Prison Pit is like someone making a comic strip out of Mayhem's Live in Leipzig, played at half speed and double the volume your speakers can safely process. If you've never heard that album, then I'll spell it out for you: this is a brutal fucking comic.... The cosmic brutality of Ryan's story is emphasized by his lingering gaze. He doesn't just draw the big action moments, but the lulls and gaps and silences between them. The pace is non-stop, but that doesn't mean it can't slow down. In fact, it's those slowed-down sections that give the skull-smashing and throat-fisting the impact that they deserve." – Patrick Tobin, Multiversity Comics
• Plug: "Prison Pit 2 was TACO’s book of the year in 2010, and Prison Pit 3 is the early frontrunner for 2011. Featuring the series’ characteristic extreme ultra-violence, gore, scatophilia, and brutality, it’s another hit from artist Johnny Ryan." – L.A. TACO
• Review: "Here's the plot of Mark Twain's Autobiography [1910-2010]: Mark Twain, freed from the shackles of mortality, bums around the Twentieth Century doing whatever the hell he feels like and occasionally having untroubling yet far-fetched adventures.... Kupperman maintains a straight face throughout this look into the world that might have been, had Mark Twain roamed the earth, immortal and more than a little strange. This poker-faced treatment of juvenile, abstracted humor pays off in strokes both broad and small." – Patrick Tobin, Multiversity Comics
• Review: "Very few words are needed in Weing's debut graphic novel [Set to Sea] to tell the story of a poet wanna-be who is kidnapped by pirates and learns the ways of the sea through hard labor and even tougher battles. The cross-hatch styling is reminiscent of old engravings and perfectly suits the subject matter. Each page features just one frame, full of detail and atmosphere. With hints of The Odyssey, Moby Dick, Popeye and Treasure Island, Weing has created a modern classic in the pirate genre." – School Library Journal
• Plug: "Artist, editor, entrepreneur, publisher and cartooning auteur; in his 70-year career in comics this pioneering creator has done it all. The deluxe full-color coffee table book [The Art of Joe Kubert] traces Kubert’s history of comics spanning career from 1938 to the present with beautifully reproduced artwork alongside critical commentary." – "Horatio Hornblower," The Comic Book Snob
• Plug: "David B. intertwines history and myth in his carefully crafted tales of magic gods and grand battles. A master storyteller, his bold, timeless artwork and literary senses creates a kind of magic all their own. The Armed Garden and Other Stories collects three epic tales of adventure, faith, power, and love." – "Horatio Hornblower," The Comic Book Snob
• Scene: Daniel Herbert reports on the Friars Club launch party for Drew Friedman's Even More Old Jewish Comedians for The Paris Review: "The crowd’s spirits were high, which seemed due to more than just the release of Friedman’s book, or even the emergence of more canapés. Guests were happy to meet their idols; the comics were happy to convene for an event that wasn’t a funeral. And the celebration of the comedians’ Jewishness was significant."