As part of our "Tardi Tuesday" presentation, here is a "lost" preview of West Coast Blues , one of the batches of photos & video that we never got a chance to upload last summer. Better late than never! Click here if the embedded player isn't visible below or to enlarge it in a new window (recommended).
Both a rip-roaring adventure series set in pre-World War I Paris and a parody of same, Adèle Blanc-Sec has been enchanting, thrilling, and puzzling readers worldwide through four decades.
With various American attempts to publish Adèle having dribbled into nothing decades ago, Fantagraphics Books, fresh from its triumphs with Tardi’s West Coast Blues, You Are There, and It Was the War of the Trenches, launches a spectacular, newly retranslated, hardcover series that intends to collect every one of its nine (soon ten) volumes.
In this premiere installment, Adèle becomes involved in an interlocking series of mysteries that involve a revived pterodactyl, a frightful on-stage murder, a looming execution by guillotine, and a demon from the depths of hell — plus of course moronic gendarmes, loyal (or perhaps traitorous?) henchmen, and a climax atop the Eiffel Tower.
The Adèle Blanc-Sec series is currently being adapted into a series of films by the renowned action director Luc Besson (The Professional, The Fifth Element), bringing this quirky, very French series to a new worldwide audience.
"...Plot twists aplenty, including a murder or two, as well as a parade of mysterious characters and double-crosses... In crisp drawings with just the right combination of caricature and architectural precision, Tardi wonderfully captures turn-of-the-century Paris." – Publishers Weekly
Download an EXCLUSIVE 12-page PDF excerpt (2.7 MB) with the beginning pages of each story.
• Review: "...Moto Hagio, whose work might officially be classified as shōjo manga, ...is apparently one important, daring renegade in the manga world. This handsome collection that encompasses almost four decades (from 1971-2007) of Hagio’s short stories comes complete with a thorough, illuminating interview with Hagio conducted by the volume’s translator, Matt Thorn. [...] Hagio’s collection of 10 short manga stories [A Drunken Dream and Other Stories is] filled with unexpected twists and endings." – Terry Hong, BookDragon (Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program)
• Review: "Malkasian weaves her story carefully [in Temperance], pulling the different narrative threads together in unexpected places, and while the parallels to the real world are clear, this is no simplistic fable. [...] Malkasian’s art is incredibly expressive, and her characters are filled with vitality..." – Brigid Alverson, Robot 6
• Review: "There are no great deeds in Tardi’s comic [It Was the War of the Trenches]. No Légion d’honneurs, no Croix de guerres, no Victoria or Iron Crosses. No suggestion that only the brave and courageous have the right to cry out in protest. No sense of fellowship, no pitched battles to gratify our base senses and desires, and certainly nothing of that most typical of war time sensations, boredom." – Ng Suat Tong, The Hooded Utilitarian
• Review: "In many ways, Ghita is like a female, uncensored Conan. ...Everything has its place in the script. The artwork, with excellent black ink, I do not need to explain that is excellent..." – Andreas Michaelides, Comicdom (translated from Greek)
• List: Feel the love as 50 comics pros each name their 5 favorite Fantagraphics releases (minus some ringers as determined by Tom Spurgeon) at The Comics Reporter; read some additional flattering commentary by participant Mike Sterling; Sean T. Collins comments "The result shows just how deep a bench that publisher can field. Greatest comics publisher of all time."
• Interview:Comic Book Resources' Shaun Manning gets all the latest scoop from Stan Sakai, including details about the long-gestating Usagi Yojimbo Special Edition set (coming in December): "It'll be all the Fantagraphics stories in a two-volume slipcase hardcover edition. I'm looking forward to it. It's also going to publish all the extras that were only in the hardcover [collections], with the exception of the full-color story that was published in the book 4 hardback, because that was reprinted recently in [Dark Horse's] 'The Art of Usagi Yojimbo.' But this is the sketches and covers and things that were included with the hardcover editions. So it'll be a lot more, plus it'll be about the same price as buying them in the trade paperback."
• Review: "Meat Cake is a tour de force showcasing the most primal of passions! It is an issue of Creepy edited by Edward Gorey! It is a Gothic soap opera as written by Victorian lolitas! It is a celebration of love and hubris, beauty and decay! There is no other comic in the world that offers a titillating parade of mermaids, ghosts, sailors, sirens, faeries, witches and wolfmen in intriguing and compromising situations! You will be dazzled, you will be entertained, but above all, you will be enchanted!" – STORM (guest columnist), Robot 6
• Review: "Werewolves of Montpellier is a sad and even somewhat funny novel about the fact that loneliness is not hiding under the mask. Is this novel better or worse than other works of Jason? Probably not. Despite repeated methods in his books, [his] novels are utterly worth reading. If you have a werewolf friend, buy him this book. If you don’t, buy two." – Ray Garraty, Endless Falls Up
• List:The Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon names Ici Même (You Are There) as one of "25 Emblematic Comics of the '70s": "This grand effort by Jacques Tardi and Jean-Claude Forest may seem like an extravagant oddity now, but it gets credit from some for igniting a wave of alternative voices in a French-language comics industry whose mainstream had the added appeal of actually making its creators popular and wealthy successes. Even if you don't like the tune — and while it's a song I could personally listen to every day, I know many people couldn't — at the time I have to imagine that many comics readers weren't even aware that the medium could play some of these notes."
• Profile: "Just like Peter Parker, the most celebrated co-creation of the subject of his first book, Toronto writer Blake Bell was bitten by a strange bug as a youngster. And just like Peter Parker, he was transformed beyond all recognition — into the Amazing Comic Book Historian Guy." – Canadish
• Review: "From the start, Cathy Malkasian's turbulent fantasy Temperance reels you in... It is not hard to spot allegories in this to today’s war on terror, and to the Cold War, in Temperance‘s portrait of siege mentality and the exaggeration of external threats. ... No Shrek or Toy Story, Temperance confounds fairy-tale expectations with a disturbing, resonant parable about propaganda, memories and other lies." – Paul Gravett, The Times Literary Supplement
• Review: "First of all, I have to say how much I enjoy the format. Fantagraphics has done a fine job with this book, with a striking cover, sturdy spine, and essentially giving me everything I want in my comic books in terms of collected treatment. ... Jason’s simple, elegant artwork... allows any reader to dive right in. ... He’s a master of pacing out a gag, and he appreciates the fun of genre entertainment while still acknowledging the absurdity of it all. If I had to sum up Jason’s comics in one word, that word would be silly. They’re funny, and absurd, tinged with sadness and loneliness, outrageously goofy, slapstick, human and just plain pretty to look at. But mostly, they’re delightfully, delightfully silly. It’s a treat to enjoy a comic like Almost Silent." – Michael C. Lorah, Newsarama
• Review: "Prison Pit is fucking awesome and you really need to read it. It’s a kids book, in the sense that it very likely was something Johnny Ryan created when he was 12 years old, assuming the man was sniffing a lot of glue and simultaneously watching Cannibal Holocaust and WWF wrestling as a pre-teen. ... Grade: A" – Chad Derdowski, Mania
• Review: "Prison Pit 2 is mental, obscene, and grotesque... But the book is also pretty astonishing and at least several parts awesome... I'm dazzled by the bloody chutzpah and dirty bravado of Ryan's fight comic, the sheer devotion he shows to violence for violence's sake, thoroughly removed from any hollow 'redeeming values' or 'character development.' ...[T]o anyone wondering if Prison Pit 2 really delivers all the weird, filthy violence it promises, the answer is a resounding yes." – Jason Michelitch, Comics Alliance
• Review: "I read Megan Kelso's Artichoke Tales almost in a single sitting, which is probably a good way to do it. ... This book deals with some standard themes — strong women and intellectual, impractical men, the impulse that leads to war, technology vs. rural simplicity — but none is treated in a standard way. Kelso definitely has a point of view, but she doesn't insult the reader's intelligence, and there's plenty of nuance; she's telling a story, not making a point. Also, it's beautiful just to look at." – Bridgid Alverson, Robot 6
• Review: "Honestly, I’m still not sure how I ultimately feel about Artichoke Tales. I was put off by the book’s downbeat, resigned demeanor, yet at the same time impressed by Kelso’s ability to handle such a multi-layered story so effectively. Perhaps my feelings toward the book can be best summed up by the same word that one would use to describe both the political and personal relationships found in the book, and the real-life relationships she no doubt hoped to evoke: complicated." – Chris Mautner, The Comics Journal
• Interview:Robot 6's Tim O'Shea talks to Megan Kelso about Artichoke Tales: "The artichoke people started as a casual doodle. I think I was riffing on The Jolly Green Giant's sidekick, Sprout. So I just started drawing these people whenever I was on the telephone, or just playing around in my sketchbook. The more I drew them, the more ideas I had about their world, and I just slowly started to build a story about them. This was the first time since starting to make comics, that I generated a story from a drawing rather than from an idea, or from something I'd written. It was excitng to me because it seemed more like 'pure comics' to me, coming from a drawing."
• Review: "Birdland is a rare venture into the world of folly and fetish by award winning Gilbert Hernandez. ... [L]ocate a copy of Birdland yourself and enjoy and marvel at the bewildering release of limbs, torsos and groins in a madcap sexual adventure. The term 'graphic novel' will never mean the same again!" – partikal7
• Plug: "Rip M.D. is a creepy, fun-filled all-ages adventure saga... [Mitch] Schauer told ICv2 that the inspiration for Rip M.D. was all those horror and monster movies he saw as a child — movies that made him care more about the fate of the colorful monsters and fiends than the B movies' human characters who always seemed to triumph in the end. Rip M.D. is the logical emotional outgrowth of those accumulated cinematic disappointments, the story of a boy who is able to help the horror and monster movie characters that he loves the most." – ICv2
• Analysis: At Techland, Douglas Wolk looks at The Troublemakers by Gilbert Hernandez as an example of the successful use of a "widescreen" panel layout: "Aside from its title page, the entire thing is laid out as four identically shaped wide horizontal panels on each page, and the movie-screen shape is formally appropriate — the book is supposedly a kind of comics translation of a (nonexistent) B-movie. The Troublemakers is brutally effective as cartooning, though: Hernandez has designed it so that something's happening horizontally in almost every panel, and there's usually a different kind of motion from each panel to the next."
• Analysis:Love & Maggie continue their series of detailed, annotated rundowns of their Top 10 Issues of The Comics Journal with the first part of their examination of issue #71
• Commentary:The Hooded Utilitarian's critical roundtable on Popeye continues with Andrew Farago's look at the character's various multimedia incarnations
• Review: "By the 1980s, however, the anti-establishment sensibility of the underground comix had been replaced by a faith in just 'do-it-yourself' — making your own 'zines,' and that sense of independence is what [editor Michael] Dowers praises [in Newave! The Underground Mini Comix of the 1980s]." – George Elliott Clarke, The Chronicle Herald
• Review: "...Jim Woodring's Weathercraft creates a fantastic alternative universe. ...Woodring constructs a nightmarish tale in which Manhog falls victim to the villainous depredations of the all-too-aptly named Whim and the spells of the witchy pair Betty and Veronica. Those unfamiliar with the Woodring dreamscape may want to pick up The Frank Book collection as a primer, but the stand-alone Weathercraft requires no real prep work — just an openness to disturbing, id-derived imagery." – Cliff Froehlich, St. Louis Post-Dipatch
• Review: "Although King of the Flies... is anchored in a sharply delineated but deliberately generic suburbia, the book plunges us into an often violent, always profane environment that recalls David Lynch's Blue Velvet. Using multiple narrators, the book is an intricately constructed series of interlocking short stories that acidly etch a disquieting portrait of modern alienation and unease." – Cliff Froehlich, St. Louis Post-Dipatch
• Review: "French master Tardi gives an infantry-level view of World War I's meat-grinder carnage in grim vignettes that primarily keep tight, telling focus on the stories of individual soldiers. ...[It Was the War of the Trenches] deserves a place on the top shelf of graphic lit." – Cliff Froehlich, St. Louis Post-Dipatch
• Review: "Reading Jacques Tardi's It Was the War of the Trenches, I realized just how short most American war comics fall in portraying the reality and horror of war. ... Tardi brings every ounce of his talent to the task of trying to articulate the sheer horror of this war. And while he doesn't flinch once, neither does he resort to trite 'war is bad' or 'good versus evil' oversimplifications. He merely puts you directly in the soldiers' viewpoint and then tries to relate their experiences to you. ... It's a raw, uncompromising, devastating book, and, I'm kind of sad to say, unlike anything that's been published on these shores." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "...St. Louisan Tim Lane's Abandoned Cars, one of 2008's essential comics, has recently been reissued in paperback with two variant covers that vividly recall the lurid pulps of the 1930s." – Cliff Froehlich, St. Louis Post-Dipatch
• Review: "It can sometimes be hard to get a grip on what Jason is going for in his stories, since even when he approaches a familiar subject, he takes a strange angle and dwells on the types of moments that wouldn’t normally receive focus in these sorts of tales. Werewolves of Montpellier goes even further afield... Leave it to Jason to dwell on the awkwardness of the 29 non-full-moon days of the month in which the werewolf has to pass as a normal human." – Matthew J. Brady, Indie Pulp
• Review: "What I think is most interesting about [The Best American Comics Criticism] is that in his choices of pieces, [editor] Schwartz is laying out a theory of lit comics. It's a theory that rings very true to me. Part of this theory goes that as literary comics grew, they made necessary a reevaluation and relearning of certain classic comics." – Robert Boyd, The Great God Pan Is Dead (via The Comics Reporter)
• Profile: Steve Duin of The Oregonian talks to Patrick Rosenkranz about assembling The Artist Himself: A Rand Holmes Retrospective: "With rare access to Holmes' journals and sketchbooks, Rosenkranz succeeds in giving readers access to the cartoonist that Holmes denied his closest friends. And he succeeds because of a compulsion, born 45 years ago, to understand the world in which these artists moved 'and how what happened in their lives affected their work.'"
• Comic-Con: At About.com: Manga, Deb Aoki gives a quick report from the Moto Hagio Spotlight Panel at Comic-Con 2010, with a promise of more to come: "...Hagio-sensei charmed the audience with her self-effacing wit and matter-of-fact responses to questions..."
• Review: "...[T]he newer crop of contributors [in Mome Vols. 17, 18 & 19 is] a rough and tumble bunch who are bringing some fierce and hard-edged work to the table. ...[T]he balance is definitely in favor of the strong stuff, because it is strong stuff — well drawn in a variety of styles, and potentially troubling without cloaking itself in shopworn tropes. ... Once again, you're getting your bang for your buck." – Sean T. Collins, Attentiondeficitdisorderly
• Review: "And when you’re drawn into the world [of It Was the War of the Trenches] it’s hard not to rhapsodize about the drawing itself – Tardi’s gaze may be level, but his lines are sure and lush. His gentle contour line drawings are almost delicate, but then he fills them with a gray tone, or attaches them to nearly psychedelic intestines. It’s art that comes over you and stays with you – nicely offsetting an otherwise icy stare. ...Tardi seems a master, and this work a rare and intensely humane book." – Dan Nadel, Comics Comics
• Review: "Sequence by sequence and page by page, the re-readability of [Jason's] stories and scenes consistently offer more densely fulfilling reads than any three or four new $4 books... This particular story [Werewolves of Montpellier] ends in a graceful, yet awkwardly suspenseful and open-ended manner, but as with Jason books I’ve encountered before, this landing contributes to the matter-of-fact delivery he often employs in making you feel like you’re witnessing a story sliced out of a larger saga." – Brian Warmoth
• Review: "Those inclined to look for meaning could make a good case for this... as a story about people assuming false identities through a mix of circumstance and personal choice, but what Jason’s comics literally mean matters less than the pleasure of their deadpan humor and unexpected twists: His work has been building a whole habitat of crooks, monsters, and adventurers, just so he can explore their minor personal problems. Werewolves of Montpelier establishes yet another inviting corner of Jasonworld. [Grade] B+" – The A.V. Club
• Review: "...[T]he first 11 issues of [Dame Darcy's] sporadically released pamphlet Meat Cake — collected by Fantagraphics in a new trade-paperback edition — comprise some of the best alt-comics of the past 20 years. ...Darcy’s scratchy, fine-lined, loosely intricate artwork owes a slight debt to Edward Gorey, Victorian illustration, and the more demented wing of the E.C. roster (particularly Graham Ingels), but the dreamy vision and gleefully morbid sensibility are all her. Overall, Meat Cake’s dalliance with folklore, horror, camp, and transcendent bits of autobiography pack more of a poetic punch than the title is generally given credit for… [Grade] A-" – The A.V. Club
• Review: "Newave!is an astonishing collection of minicomics from the ’70s, ’80s and early ’90s... This book puts the lie to the notion that underground cartooning was fallow during this period; indeed, all it did was really go underground. ... Newave! gains momentum as it proceeds, an impressive feat for a 900-page anthology. ... The back half of Newave! features nary a dud. ... In an era when some cartoonists are learning how to create minicomics as part of a formal art education, Newave! should be a crucial text." – Rob Clough, The Comics Journal
• Review: "Out since last Halloween, this handsome collection of early 1980s exploitation VHS box art [Portable Grindhouse] is shaped like one of those old oversized clamshell cases. The all-color book collects the front and backs of many memorable cassette releases of that bygone era and will send you back to the days prowling dusty mom-and-pop video stores for you schlock fix. ... You won’t learn anything about the movies, but who needs that when the rest of the book is such a nostalgic gas?" – Tony Timpone, Fangoria
• Plug: "Based on reviews, [Werewolves of Montpellier] sounds really good. The art reminds me of Chris Ware or Chris Onstad, and I’m a fan of deadpan, sardonic humour. Do want!" – Werewolf News
• Plug: Joe Gordon of the Forbidden Planet International Blog recommends the works of Jacques Tardi for your Bastille Day reading: "...[W]ith the always fine folks at Fantagraphics translating and publishing Tardi’s work in English several of his works are now easily accessible even to anyone who doesn’t read a word of French. A long-standing interest in the history of World War One and his own family history lead to his It Was the War of the Trenches, recently published in English and one of the most interesting comics on the period since Charley’s War in my book."
• Review: "...Weing produces a classic tale of the sea and self-discovery in his graphic novel debut [Set to Sea]. ... Presented almost like a Big Little Book for grownups, with one lovely panel per page in a small volume, the hero's journey in this tale isn't particularly unpredictable, but Weing's mastery of both small details (the hero's waxing and waning love affair with language) and sweeping vistas (from the glaciers to a steaming port city) gives it richness and emotion. ... Weing's E.C. Segar-influenced drawings elevates what could have been an oft-told story into a powerful fable." – Publishers Weekly
• Review: "I feel like Steve Martin’s character in the movie The Jerk where he dances for joy at the gas station loudly proclaiming to all within earshot, 'The new phone book is here! The new phone book is here!' The new Tales Designed to Thrizzle is here. The new Tales Designed to Thrizzle is here! ... In every way relevant to a distinctly warped sense of humor, this issue represents a tightening of comedic springs and sweetening of the hurled cream pies. Its funny business appears more consummately distilled, concentrated and unremitting. Every page pays off, ratcheting up the risibility with droll efficiency." – Rich Kreiner, The Comics Journal
• Review: "Werewolves of Montpellier is another perfect example of Jason's mundane absurdity. ... The artwork is, once again, so simplistic and so spot on that the only word to describe it is brilliant. ... Year after year, Jason delivers genre-defining works of art, and Werewolves of Montpellier is nothing more than the latest masterpiece from one of the medium's most profound and unique voices." – Steve Ponzo, Multiversity Comics
• Interview:Publishers Weekly's Kate Fitzsimons talks to our own Kim Thompson about bringing Jacques Tardi's The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec to English-language readers: "I wouldn't call them a cult classic, they're more like a mainstream classic. Tardi is very popular and Adele is the work that's so popular that his publisher keeps trying to get him to go back to it again and again. I'd say that in France, Adele is a well known pop culture figure in the same way the Fantastic Four is here. So cult wouldn't exactly be the word."