San Diego hosts Comic Con International this week and every comics "insider" has an opinion about CCI and most of the opinions I hear are exasperated ones, heavy with a burned-out tone. Granted, I've only been to one year of Comic Con-- 2007-- but I loved it. I'm a guy who hates crowds but still I LOVE COMIC CON. Comic Con is filled wall-to-wall with people who are SO FUCKING EXCITED to be THERE. Everyone is excited just to be among comics and people who also like comics. Not that they know what to do with that energy-- it's still largely poorly-socialized individuals-- but they are EXCITED.
In fact, literally 10% or better of them are so excited that they even made a costume to show everyone how excited they are to be in this place. Probably more than that. I mean, some people you see and their queer pastiche of street clothes and odd baubles makes you wonder if they maybe started off at 5 in the morning donning a fantastically curated getup and then slowly, over breakfast and the drive down, began to question their confidence about walking around as a superhero so now they just have the appearance of someone who got off work, went to the gym, then a disco bar, and got too drunk to remember which clothes were for what. AND IT DOESN'T MATTER. The saggy guy still gets to walk among the throngs as Superman in public for a day, which is more than Clark Kent ever got to do.
Anyway, I love that energy. Even guys like Eric Reynolds, third arm at Fantagraphics, has gone to Comic Con every year for something like twenty years (except the one year his daughter was born) and he gets weary but, still, he loves it. He loves any opportunity to see masters of the medium, like the Hernandez Brothers. Here he is enjoying Gilbert's and Mario's company:
Of course, he'd say he loves all the Bros. equally but he clearly REALLY enjoys Jaime best:
The point is Eric's just another guy who loves comics in a sea of people who seriously love comics. And everybody there has the chance to talk with a hero.
In 2007 I got to meet Kevin Eastman, who was a ridiculously nice guy. He was supposed to contribute to BEASTS2 but I guess he didn't get my emails:
Even Steven Weissman got the chance to meet a hero. Here he is with Gwar or maybe it's just an S&M community theatre troop. I guess I'm not sure but he and the guy in underpants were both pretty happy to see each other:
But, alas, this year the Art Department of Fantagraphics Books (Adam Grano and I) are just too busy to trek down to The Con. Besides having too much work to do, we are spearheading the first ever Fantacon, which is mostly just him and me drinking a beer at lunch. But crowds are welcome.
NOTE: Thanks to Mike and Janice for the photo of the TMNT bus rolling into SD09.
Locas II: Maggie, Hopey & Ray is the second omnibus hardcover collection of "Locas" stories by Jaime Hernandez, compiling roughly a decade's worth of masterful comics from the pages of Penny Century and Love and Rockets Vol. II under one set of covers. You can pre-order the book now for delivery later this month; it will also be debuting at Comic-Con in San Diego this week (with Jaime in attendance) and it should hit stores some time next month (dates subject to change).
Jordan Crane is offering an enormous screenprint of one of the most classic comic book covers ever made-- Jaime Hernandez's art for Love and Rockets #24. Epic. Perfect.
Plus, he's got new prints of his own work, including the sure-to-be-classic cover of his latest issue of "Uptight". You buy these two prints, you put them on your wall, it's your funeral when your mind explodes.
Plus you can buy the second in his series of objects, this time of raffle tickets. Buy prints here.
• Review: "Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me is as combative, iconoclastic, and embittered as its title suggests it would be. It is also smart, thought-provoking, and funny as hell. Disconcertingly, you'll agree with at least half of what [Peter] Bagge says. Then, gratifyingly, you'll realize that everybody is stupid except for you, too." - Tim Heffernan, Esquire
• Review: "There’s a bittersweet quality to You’ll Never Know, C. Tyler’s disarming memoir about attempting to learn what her father went through in World War II... Tyler’s impressive drawings and inks [are] vividly colored in an amazing array of fluidity... You’ll Never Know is so compellingly honest and unself-conscious that it makes its point all the more poignant." - John Hogan, Graphic Novel Reporter
• Review: "Both visually and narratively, [C.] Tyler keeps [the] threads [of You’ll Never Know] nicely wound into an account that carries readers along and shows how various pasts inform the present, how vulnerable parents can be, and how wartime can create minefields later in life. Her gently colored artwork is expressive and goes far to bring eras of the past to life through dress, hairstyles, and dance moves... [T]he story here will touch those who are just realizing that the older people they think they know have their own burdens and secrets." - Francisca Goldsmith, School Library Journal
• Review: "The cruelties, indignities, rebellion, and lack of self-confidence that form the high school experiences of many teens are well captured in [A Mess of Everything]... This is a spot-on portrait of one girl's struggle for intellectual and emotional honesty... [which] will touch teens who themselves have just succeeded in negotiating the mess of learning to be a mature social being." - Francisca Goldsmith, School Library Journal (same link as above)
• Review: Rui Gonçalves of Portuguese blog Crónicas da (e depois da) Califórnia calls Eightball #22 & #23 "the last two issues of the American comic written by one of the most imaginative and schizophrenic creators of comics from the other side of the Atlantic." (Translation help from Google)
• Plug: "As painful as it is to wait a year for new Love and Rockets now that the Hernandez brothers have switched to an annual format, it’ll be worth the wait if each issue is going to be as good as this one [L&R: New Stories #1]. Jaime Hernandez created the best superhero story of 2008 for this issue, and it should be required reading for anyone who reads or creates comics." - Corey Henson, Newsarama
• Interview: I can't wait to listen to the Inkstuds interview with one of the best and most outspoken artists in comics, Mr. Jordan Crane
• Review: "Issue #3 of Jordan Crane's Uptight serves as a wonderful example of just how good pamphlet format comics can be... Uptight #3 delivers 24 pages of beautifully focused storytelling... If you like Crane's work or simply want to try something a little different, do go out and buy this. Uptight represents everything single issue comics should be but so very rarely are. Fact is, we need more comics like this, so vote with your wallets and support the fine folks at Fantagraphics..." - Matthew Dick, Exquisite Things
• Review/Profile: "...[Boody Rogers's] command of dream-state narrative logic and language-mangling dialogue remains unnerving and uproarious in about equal measure... Now comes the Fantagraphics edition of Boody: The Bizarre Comics of Boody Rogers — a 144-page whopper, rich in humor and dreamlike oddities..." - Michael H. Price of the Fort Worth Business Press recounts meeting Rogers in the 1980s and also reviews Rogers's memoir, Homeless Bound
• Review: "For his latest... book [Low Moon], Jason has decided to try something a bit different... In attempting to stretch himself, though, he offers some of his weakest work to date, but some of his strongest and emotionally wrenching as well... Longtime readers... will definitely want to pick it up..." - Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Plug: "Literally jam-packed with strips that constantly vary in sizes, [Tales Designed to Thrizzle Vol. 1] shines with [Michael] Kupperman's earth-shattering wit, his excellent vintage-comics-inspired draftsmanship and his genius comedic timing. Thanks Fantagraphics!" - Librarie D+Q
• Plug: "You'll Never Know[Book 1: A Good and Decent Man] by C. Tyler arrived this week... it is funny, moving, sad -- highly recommended." - Librarie D+Q
• Plug: "The Comics Journal #298: Lotsa good interviews in this issue... For me though, the meat of the issue is the wealth of daily Skippy strips by Percy Crosby reproduced in the gallery section." - Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Interview: Publishers Weekly has a Q&A with Peter Bagge about his new collection Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me. Money quote: "I could have taken the Doonesbury route and pandered to my fellow libertarians by pretending I (and they) had all the answers, but that would have been both too easy and dishonest."
• Interview: Newsarama's Zack Smith talks to Sam's Strip creators Mort Walker and Jerry Dumas about the creation of the strip and the new Fantagraphics collection. Sample quote from Walker: "You always put something personal in every strip, so it’s wonderful to see all these old strips again."
• Charity: ComicList reports that Jaime Hernandez will participate in Comic Book Legal Defense Fund fundraising at Comic Con with an autograph card and original art auction
• Oddity: What does Popeye have in common with Michael Jackson? Well, now they're both subjects of Jeff Koons artwork, according to this Reuters story
Let's see what Online Commentary & Diversions popped up over the weekend:
• Review: "Abstract Comics: The Anthology is an impressive collection of old and new work with unique pages covering exactly what the title says... bold... intriguing... This is a book for readers who like fine art or those who would like to expand their sequential art experiences. A hearty slap on the back for Fantagraphics for choosing to create this marvelous example of a widely unknown artistic expression." - Kris Bather, Comic Book Jesus
• Review: "I had always equated [Prince] Valiant with everything that is dull and lifeless and boring and supposedly good for you, but it turns out I was completely and utterly wrong. On the contrary, it's a rip-snorting good time, full of high adventure and thrilling escapades. And Valiant, far from being the schoolmarmish goody two-shoes I imagined him being, is full of piss and vinegar and quite a bloodthirsty young chap, which makes him a good deal more interesting than some of his contemporaries on the comics page." - Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "Tales Designed to Thrizzle #5, like all the previous issues by Michael Kupperman, did not fail at thrilling or dazzling me." - Brian Cronin, Robot 6 (same link as above)
• Review: "...C. Tyler's You'll Never Know Book One: A Good and Decent Man isn't... much like any other autobio comic I've encountered... It’s a really rather fascinating work, and the longer one thinks about it, the more important and universal it seems to be. On the surface level, of course, it’s an extremely interesting, rather unique story of a couple different life’s stories, and how they overlap, but there plenty of other levels waiting to be discovered and ruminated over. I won’t be at all surprised to see this book taking slots on a lot of best of the year lists in another six months or so." - J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
• Review: "Don’t think of [The Wolverton Bible] as an exception or a bizarre footnote in religious art but one and maybe the 20th century continuation... By the end of the book, pages after pages of doom and destruction, you realize that Wolverton is maybe the only person to illustrate the The Old Testament and the Book of Revelation -- the most 'savage' books of the bible." - Are You a Serious Comic Book Reader?
• Plug: "Tales Designed to Thrizzle Vol. 1: It's the collection of the first four issues of Michael Kupperman's hilarious series, now in color! This stuff is comedy gold, so get it if you haven't read it already, and hell, spend the extra money to see the non-monochromatic version if you want." - Matthew J. Brady
• Events: Jared Gardner reports from a panel he moderated with Arnold Roth, Mort Walker and Brian Walker as part of the celebration of the merger of the International Museum of Cartoon Art with Ohio State University's Cartoon Library and Museum, adding that Jean Schulz has set up a matching grant to raise needed funds for the combined museum to move into a new permanent home
• Oddity: At Guttergeek, Chris Reilly interviews himself: "I actually am a big fan of Michael Kupperman and Eric Reynolds from Fantagraphics just sent me a copy of the hardcover Tales Designated to Thrizzle Vol. 1 and I would like to conduct this interview by commenting on the quotes of this book – would that be cool?" Um, 'kay...
• History: Irwin Chusid notes that yesterday was the 66th anniversary of the opening of Jim Flora's first NYC gallery exhibit
• Feature: For Largehearted Boy, Paul Hornschemeier details his musical playlist for Mother, Come Home and discusses the graphic novel's creation. Sample quote: "But stories you need to tell have weird claws. They make their way back up to the front of your skull, or wherever it is in there that gets the most attention."
• Review: "Petey & Pussy is surreal, rude, crass, crude with studied obnoxiousness, and bitterly, bitingly funny in a perfect post-modern manner... an utterly captivating world of bawdy, grown-up laughs that only the most po-faced conservative could resist. Adult fun for slacker smart-asses of all ages guaranteed to make your beer spurt out of your nose so read carefully..." - Win Wiaceck, Now Read This!
• Review: "The Humbug set from Fantagraphics is out and it's great. Fine printing and binding will keep this slipcased two-volume set looking good long after the rest of us are gone." - Harry Lee Green, Hairy Green Eyeball
• Review: "Maybe the business was too young, or maybe these characters were just a warm-up for what was to come so they didn't quite stick, but they are just as cool as any early Superman or Batman comic. The comics are all really neat to read, crude and unfiltered... So if you’re a comics fan, especially of the early stuff, this book is a must-have... [Supermen! The First Wave of Comic Book Heroes 1936-1941] is gritty and exciting, so definitely go check it out!" - Tom Hardej, CC2K
• Review: "A fantastic companion to 2007’s Fletcher Hanks retrospective I Shall Destroy All The Civilized Planets!, [Supermen!] is pure pop culture heaven... While it’s easy to see why these characters have been been consigned to the dustbin of history, there’s an undeniable charm to practically every story in here... The only problem with this book is that it leaves you wanting more..." - Kevin Church
• Review: "...Sam's Strip was an interesting comic in its own right. The phrase 'ahead of its own time' is one that's bandied about frequently when discussing it, and even now the juxtapositions within it are occasionally surreal enough to cause amusement through their sheer audacity... As small a fact as it may be, the near-flawless execution of the book helps to make it feel like more of a prestige package, a celebration of the series rather than just a cheap cash-in... [T]his straightforward but well-made collection is a thoroughly worthy purchase." - Andrew Williams, Den of Geek
• Preview: "Illustrator Nell Brinkley's women were the Roaring Twenties' answer to the aloof Gibson Girl. Curly-haired, rambunctious and more than a bit naughty, the Brinkley Girls were a national sensation..." - She's a Betty
• Preview: "For those of you familiar only with [Peter] Bagge’s Gen X tales of angry, lost youth in Hate, the realisation that Bagge has developed into an opinionated, curmudgeonly middle aged man may seem as disturbing as seeing your favourite band of your teens back on stage now they’re all 40 somethings. But there’s no need to fear -- Bagge’s middle age self displays all the angry, hilarious energy of his younger self, just with more direction and purpose. [Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me is] definitely one to look forward to." - Richard Bruton, The Forbidden Planet International Blog Log
• Interview: Amazon.com's Omnivoracious blog sat down for a chat with Jaime Hernandez at Emerald City ComiCon. Sample quote: "I like to get goofy, off-the-wall [comics], just to have a box of 50s or 60s stuff that doesn’t really make sense. You know, I like to open the box once in a while to look at it for fun stuff, inspiration. Looking at an old comic gets me excited to do comics sometimes."