• Interview: Sean T. Collins's series of interviews with Marvel Strange Tales MAX contributors at Marvel.com continues with Peter Bagge: "The Hulk story's about both the Hulk and Bruce Banner trying to cope with their many issues via the use of modern pharmacology, in the form of head pills, Viagra, et cetera. Needless to say, wackiness ensues."
• Interview: And another one from Sean at Marvel.com, this time with Jason: "With the Spider-Man story I pretty much followed the Stan Lee formula of him being a super hero but a screw-up as a private person."
• Interview: In the second part of his talk with Brian Heater at The Daily Cross Hatch, Seth discusses his involvement and design for The Complete Peanuts series: "The design evolves slightly for each decade, but it’s all about subtle change. For example, the end papers change each decade. The color scheme changes each decade, but it’s a very subtle shift."
• Review: "Fantagraphics' recent release Abstract Comics, while nicely designed and filled with some fantastic artwork (kudos to editor Andrei Molotiu and the Fantagraphics team), brings up an interesting argument...: at what point do you stop calling something comics and start calling it... well, something else?... I'm not sure there is an answer, but it's an interesting debate. Check out this book and come to your own conclusions." - Paul DeBenedetto, Wednesday's Child
• Review: Comic Book Bin's Leroy Douresseaux examines The Comics Journal #298, calling the Trevor Von Eeden interview "scandalous and provocative," saying R.C. Harvey's "Comicopia" column is "both thoughtful and insightful, the kind of exceptional writing that would normally earn a magazine about comic books an Eisner Award," and overall grading the issue an A-
• Plug: "I can't recommend Johnny [Ryan]'s comics highly enough. They go places no one else would dare and, like all great art, show you something you've always known but never have seen before." - Benjamin Marra
In this second big omnibus collection of his ongoing tales of the “Locas,” Jaime Hernandez continues telling stories featuring his main characters Maggie, Hopey and Ray. This volume picks up shortly after Maggie and Hopey’s long-awaited reunion at the end of the first Locas.
Even though her love life remains as chaotic as ever, Hopey takes her first few steps toward responsible adulthood with a real job (as a teacher), while a demoralized, divorced Maggie ends up as the manager of a fleabag apartment building where she continues to wrestle with the demons of her past — most prominently in the stunning centerpiece of the volume, the graphic-novel-length “Maggie” serial, with its stunning, hallucinatory dream finale.
Meanwhile, Ray still carries a major torch for Maggie, but falls in with the “Frogmouth,” the volatile bombshell whose ties to local thugs cause him no small amount of grief.
Of course, Maggie, Hopey, and Ray’s paths continue to intersect in Hernandez’s increasingly complex, intricate, and always vitally realized world.
This omnibus volume compiles stories originally printed in the pages of the comics Penny Century, the one-shot special Maggie & Hopey Color Fun (presented here in black and white), and Love and Rockets Vol. II, and was formerly collected in the volumes Dicks and Deedees, Locas in Love, Ghost of Hoppers and The Education of Hopey Glass.
You know the drill: Check out our previews at the links above, give your local shop a ringle-dingle to confirm availability, and then give them your hard-earned money for these hefty hunks of comics heaven.
• Review: "An eye-opening cornucopia of visual storytelling styles traversing a wide variety of narrative avenues, this anthology [From Wonderland with Love] gives a strong representation of contemporary Danish comics as a thriving comics culture. Largely surreal, the work is tough to nail down, but much of it is lighthearted even when dealing with very dark issues; it's devoid of the self-conscious self-referentialism that so often dogs American comics both genre and literary... An essential volume for those interested in comics' global development and newest voices." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)
• Review: "...[R]idiculously imaginative... Grotesque is a comic book that might sound the 'more of these' alarm... An inhalation and reformatting of a classic trope here and there, that's not something the shelves are lacking, what's lacking is the skill with which Ponchione ejects them, creating something wholly his own." - Tucker Stone, The Factual Opinion
• Interview: Robot 6's Tim O'Shea talks with Carol Tyler. On the positive reviews for You'll Never Know: "I would like to kiss the reviewers because those comments uplift me during the weed pulling, wheelchair pushing, dog poop picking up moments that pepper my life."
• Analysis: At Comics Comics, Jeet Heer looks back on the history and formative influences of The Comics Journal: "It’s difficult for anyone now to understand how baffling and upsetting the Journal was in its early years."
• Plug: "Jaime Hernandez, as far as I'm concerned most days, is the best cartoonist in America. I know a few people who've been scared off exploring his work by the amount of stuff he's published, but part of the beauty of it is that you can jump in almost anywhere. Like, say, this volume [Locas II]... I envy anyone getting to read this for the first time, either way." - Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
• Plug: "Some serious coffee-table-book action here: an Andrei Molotiu-edited anthology of comics [Abstract Comics] that are just abstract images in sequence, by people from the fine-art and art-comics world, as well as some people I wouldn't have expected: Patrick McDonnell? Mark Badger? Of course, a lot of the fun of reading this is noticing your mind automatically trying to impose narrative on these abstractions." - Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance (same link as above)
• Plug: "Abstract Comics: The Anthology: You wanted this. You may not have known it, and you probably didn't say it, but your heart was read, your soul scoured, your eyes met to understand what your mind could only scream in silence. Abstract comics. Wednesday is almost here. Let them in...; your $39.99 gets you what's looking like the most intriguing comics anthology of 2009." - Joe McCullough, Jog - The Blog
• Plug: "Making [Abstract Comics] my pick of the week isn’t going to do anything to alleviate my reputation as Snooty McSnootenstein, mayor of Snobville, but this is one hell of a gorgeous book... I liked this book very, very much." - Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Plug: "[Locas II] is a lot of really, really great comics for a pretty decent price. [Ghost of] Hoppers in particular is one of the best things Hernandez has ever done." - Chris Mautner, Robot 6 (same link as above)
The wait is over! Love and Rockets: New Stories #2, which debuted to a sell-out response at Comic-Con, is now available for pre-order. The second issue of L&R's new annual 100-page format features the conclusion of "Ti-Girls Adventures" by Jaime and two brand new stories, "Hypnotwist" and "Sad Girl," by Gilbert. You can download a 10-page PDF sneak peek, featuring 5 pages from each brother, at our product page, which also has all the other info you need to know about the book. Pre-order now for late-August delivery; it will be in stores in September (subject to change).
PLUS! We've reformatted Gilbert's striking cover image into a desktop & mobile wallpaper for your FREE enjoyment -- choose your size below!
Let's see what kind of Online Commentary & Diversions the weekend held for us... a lot, apparently:
• Review: "Carol Tyler is a unique figure in the world of comics... She's now put together the first volume of what promises to be her masterwork, a 'graphic memoir' about her father's experiences in World War II that effortlessly mixes media in a charming, affecting, and devastating package. You'll Never Know goes beyond biography, autobiography and even as a means a therapy to ask a number of deeper questions that may well not have ready answers. It's a stunning achievement, a perfect marriage of form and content, and is my early contender for not only comic of the year, but comic of the decade." - Rob Clough
• Review: "Jordan Crane's Uptight series is a lo-fi throwback of a series... Crane's line is elegant but unfussy, with slightly scratchy character designs that have a grace and fluidity to them reminiscent of Jaime Hernandez." - Rob Clough
• Review: "Grotesque has been one of the most playful entries in the underappreciated Ignatz line. Sergio Ponchione has a very 'American' quality to his line in terms of his line (thick and rubbery) and character design (a series of homages to masters like EC Segar and more contemporary figures like Charles Burns)... Ponchione's sight gags in this issue were something to behold, like a dead baron's tombstone growing arms and legs and coming after his brothers." - Rob Clough (same link as above)
• Review: "Issue #4 of Delphine was the conclusion of the series, and it certainly did not disappoint... Delphine benefitted from the Ignatz format: big pages that let the backgrounds breathe, nice paper, and creepy one-tone color. It was a perfect format for a fairy tale gone horribly wrong." - Rob Clough (same link as above)
• Review: "When life is on the skids, there are those who just lean into it and those who try to drive their way out. Some get run over, some step on the gas. In Pop. 666 [by Francesca Ghermandi, serialized in Zero Zero], fortunes change at moment’s notice, and events are never anything short of bizarre... This weird and creepy sci-fi horror crime comic is a loopy piece of work, and it deserves to be experienced by more readers..." - Jamie S. Rich, Robot 6
• Review: "I realize as I was reading the book that I’d previously thought of Val as a bit of a wimp due to his hairstyle, but nothing could be farther from the truth. In the first volume he kills a giant crocodile, wears a false mustache, scares an ogre to death, enters a jousting tournament in disguise, gets drunk, falls in love with a girl who already has a fiance, pursues girl with said fiance when she is kidnapped by vikings, and fights off a horde of vikings single-handed. That Prince Valiant is a busy guy!... It is really great seeing an essential part of comics history like Prince Valiant being treated so respectfully in this new edition." - TangognaT
• Review: "Imagine a book publisher had released a retrospective on 'The Graphic Novel' in 1976, or that a cinema hosted a look back at France’s nouvelle vague in 1957, or that a gallery exhibit somewhere spotlighted American Abstract Expressionism in, say, 1946. The experience would have been not unlike reading Abstract Comics: The Anthology today." - Sean Rogers, The Walrus
• Review: "[The Wolverton Bible] is a fascinating testimony to the peculiar vision of the life of an original artist and a somewhat unorthodox view of the 'holy book' by a faithful believer." - Iconoctlán (translation from Google)
• Review: "Popeye Vol. 1 would be enthralling if only for the change in the Thimble Theatre order of things, letting the reader watch as a new character takes over and reshapes the strip into his own image. Fortunately, what it's turned into is a thoroughly fun adventure strip that made me eager for more... There are so many fun newspaper reprint projects going on right now that it's easy to miss a lot of them. Now that I know how good Popeye is, I'm making it a priority to read the rest." - Greg McElhatton, Read About Comics
• Review: "[Bottomless Belly Button is a] wonderful book that I strongly recommend for every comic fan... Dash Shaw is a name to remember." - Laurent De Maertelaer, freaky.be (translation from Google)
• Plugs: "Abstract Comics: ...[I]t's fascinating to see what you can do with comics when you're dealing with non-representational, non-narrative imagery, stretching the limits of the medium... Locas II: Oh man, it's another huge collection of Jaime Hernandez's amazing stories from Love and Rockets... Greatness." - Matthew J. Brady
• Plug: "Nobody else’s comics read like these [in You Shall Die By Your Own Evil Creation!]. They’re savage and brutal but have moments of eerie and unexpected beauty... And don’t read this stuff right before bed: strange dreams are a documented side-effect." - Matt Maxwell, Robot 6 (same link as above)
• Preview: Hans Rickheit has a peek at the hardcover of The Squirrel Machine
• Profile: "Michael Kupperman does funny very well... 'Right now, I'm working on two more short pieces for Marvel, one featuring the Avengers, and I'm going to try to get some of that Marvel spirit of the '70s, with the explosive, sound-effect laden fight scenes.'" - Gary C.W. Chun catches up with Kupperman in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin
• Interview: "I've greatly enjoyed Chicago-based cartoonist, artist and animator Lilli Carré's first few forays into the world of comics. Longer works such as Tales of Woodsman Pete and especially The Lagoon were stuffed with undeniably interesting formal techniques... There's a soulful element to Carré's writing that helps greatly to involve the reader in the surface narratives..." - Tom Spurgeon, introducing his Q&A with Lilli at The Comics Reporter
• Comic-Con Rhetorical Question of the Day: "...[H]ow many members of the 501st Stormtrooper Legion do you see at the Fantagraphics booth?" - Sean T. Collins (The Unneeded Answer: we had maybe 2 cosplayers, period, in the booth all week, and no Stormtroopers, although they are more than welcome.)
A quiet day for Online Commentary & Diversions in the wake of Comic-Con:
• Review: "...A Mess of Everything surprised me. It turned out to be quite worthy: funny, insightful, and at times, moving. It’s not a revolutionary book — it doesn’t stretch or redefine the bounds of its genre — but [Miss] Lasko-Gross reminded me that the beauty of her chosen genre is that everyone’s story is, in fact, different and unique. If the author is a skilled storyteller, it’s as good as a reason as any to read yet another graphic novel about growing up, even if you’ve already read many." - Jillian Steinhauer, The Daily Cross Hatch
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.