The most checked-out book of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review: Prison Pit Book 4 by Johnny Ryan is getting the hits this week. Gene Ambaum of Unshelved writes,"This reminds me of nothing as much as the violent, disturbed drawings I’ve seen in some middle-school boys’ notebooks. Next year, I’m going to tell [my daughter] it’s like a mind-map for her male classmates. If she believes me, I hope we can put off conversations about her dating for a few extra years."
• Review: Mark L. Miller of Ain't It Cool News enjoysJohnny Ryan's latest Prison Pit Book 4. "This is the kind of sick shit that would warrant a trip to the school counselor if you found this crudely etched into the back of your child’s Trapper Keeper. Johnny Ryan once again taps into something primal and pure with his crude drawings of gore, sex, and violence."
• Review:The Quietus and Mat Colgate leaf through some of the best books of 2012 including Prison Pit Book 4 by Johnny Ryan. "Every second spent reading 'Prison Pit' is a joy. A violent, scatological, faecal matter, blood and pus smeared hoot.…There's something brilliantly subversive about 'Prison Pit'," chuckles Colgate.
• Review: The AV Club checks out some new releases like The Comics Journal 302, co-edited by Kristy Valenti and Mike Dean. Noel Murray states, "Business as usual for a publication that was treating the cultural significance of comics as a known fact decades before graphic novels were making the bestseller list."
• Review:The Quietus and Mat Colgate leaf through some of the January releases including 7 Miles a Second by David Wojnarowicz, James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook. Colgate states, "Wojnarowicz was fearless about his artistry and aware that the mere facts of a life are barely a percent of the whole, preferring to reveal the truth through dreams, violent fantasy and allusion. 7 Miles a Second is a shocking book, but for all the right reasons."
• Review: Forbidden Planet's Daily Planet looks at some new releases from Fantagraphics like 7 Miles a Second by David Wojnarowicz, James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook. Matthew Rosenbery states, "The stories serve as beautiful and brutal snapshots of a brilliant life lived too hard and extinguished too soon. It is not too much to say that we all owe a great cultural debt to Mr. Wojnarowicz and picking up this book and trying to understanding his life is a good first step toward understanding that debt."
• Review: Comics Bulletin looks at Tales Designed to Thrizzle Vol. 2 by Michael Kupperman. Daniel Elkin finds it smirk-worthy: "Tales Designed to Thrizzle Volume Two has its place in the construct. It is 'silver and exact' like Sylvia Plath's Mirror and reflects the 'terrible fish' that has become our understandings of the world."
• Review: The Heart of Thomas by Moto Hagio gets the a full styling by Manga Bookshelf. Melinda Beasi writes "…teens and pre-teens who go to regular, modern public schools essentially live in their own society that is very much separate from the rest of the world, and it’s a society that is, frankly, terrifying…it views that kind of sacrifice as… well, ultimately pointless…Hagio makes it clear that running away is not the answer." Melinda continues on the book as a whole, "I also expected it to be very dated and I thought the story might not appeal to my tastes as a modern fan. Instead, I found it to be both beautiful and emotionally resonant to an extent I’ve rarely experienced—especially in [Boy's Love] manga. This is a book I’d wholeheartedly recommend to any comics fan, without reservation. It’s an absolute treasure."
• Review: The AV Club checks out some new releases like The Heart of Thomasby Moto Hagio. "with small cliffhangers at the end of each chapter to pull readers deeper into Hagio’s fantasyland. The intrigue deepens page by page (and this is a 500-page novel, mind), while Hagio develops her bracingly radical vision of a mini-society where homosexual attraction is so commonplace as to be the norm…" writes Noel Murray.
• Review:You'll Never Know Book Three: A Soldier's Heart by Carol Tyler gets a thorough and thoughtful review from Rob Clough on High-Low. "…this sounds a bit all over the map, that's because it is, but Tyler slowly pulls the strings of her narrative taut in some astonishing ways, especially in the third volume…It's a remarkable example of an artist being totally honest about their own feelings of grief and joy in a manner that provokes growth and fully embraces the relationship between the two."
• Review: Dylan Thomas of Minneapolis' Southwest Journal looks at Tom Kaczynski's Best Testing the Apocalypse. "Kaczynski uses science fiction as a microscope, poking at contemporary anxieties like blooming bacteria in a Petri dish. The genre provides the room he needs to examine the systems that shape our lives, whether they be architecture, urban design or capitalism."
• Review: Hillary Brown of Pasteenjoys the dark ride of Delphine by Richard Sala. "Sala’s rules; like testing gravity by dropping a penny from a building, the coin’s never going to fall up. Delphine is worth reading at least twice. Sala’s spell is strong."
• Review: SF Signal looks at Ralph Azham Volume 1: "Why Would You Lie to Someone You Love?" by Lewis Trondheim. "His humanoid animals, a staple of his work, place the story squarely into fantasy – along with the medieval-esque village and the magic – but the wry humor gives the story a modern feel" says Carrie Cuinn.
• Plug:Paste Magazine looks forward to the most anticipated books of 2013. These include Lost Cat by Jason. "The cranky Norwegian has seemed to soften a bit as he’s aged, and the description (detective searches for potential soulmate) goes along with that impression," write Hillary Brown. On Dash Shaw'sNew Schooland 3 New Stories. "In a few short years, Dash Shaw has proven himself a restless artist, committed to pushing what comics can do and what his own talents can accomplish… it’s nice to see him return with two works, no less."
• Plug: Publishers Weekly also released a list of the most anticipated books of 2013 which included Dash Shaw's New School. "The art disorients the reader and brings you right inside the troubled protagonists’ mind."
• Interview (video): Speaking of Dash, he recently spent a few days at Sundance for his Sigur Ros animated music video. A very short interview awaits you.
• Interview: Alexander Theroux is interviewed on Rain Taxi by Paul Maliszewski. Theroux, author of Estonia , The Strange Case of Edward Gorey , Laura Warholic and more states, "Revenge—I have written about this somewhere before—is the main subject of the modern novel, if it isn’t that of literature in general."
• Review:The Los Angeles Review of Books looks at Gary Panter's Dal Tokyo. Nicole Rudick writes "Panter’s medium is comics rather than architecture, but the effect of his work is the same: Dal Tokyo questions accepted notions of structure and meaning — taking them not as truth but as convention — and, taking Brecht’s advice, builds not 'on the good old days, but on the bad new ones.' "
• Review:The Weekly Crisis dissects the first panel of "Landscape!" a comic within Blazing Combat and how it contributed to the end of the series coinciding with the Vietnam War. Dan Hill states "At a time when an anti-war stance was tantamount to being a traitor to your country, it was also the beginning of comics beginning to tackle the uglier aspects of war, telling us exactly ‘how it is’. It showed us that comics could discuss and show issues more related to the real world than capes, tights and outlandish fantasy."
• Review:Paste Magazine looks at Linda Medley's Castle Waiting Vol. 1 (softcover). Sean Edgar writes, "Ultimately, Castle Waiting is an elegantly-written, uplifting take on European folklore supported by sterling art. As long as voices as talented and creative as Medley’s are around, stories like this will always be timeless."
• Interview: Robin McConnell of Inkstuds interviews Chris Wright for a second time, this time on his most recent graphic novel, Blacklung.
• Plug:The GLBT Roundtable's Rainbow Project lists best books for teens that encapsulate the GLBT-community issues. The Rainbow Project lists Shimura Takako's Wandering Son series as part of the Top Ten Books of 2012 as the characters "tackle problems such as gender identity, love, social acceptance, and puberty."
• Plug: The GLBT Roundtable also released a list of the best books for adults, Over the Rainbow, and the comics anthology No Straight Lines, edited by Justin Hall,was listed in the top ten.
• Interview: Tim O'Shea interviews Lilli Carré for Comic Book Resources on her process with Heads or Tails. "I went through all my stuff and arranged them not chronologically, but by how they each fed into each other… I don’t know if the dialogue I write or the way I draw is particularly well-crafted or not, but with both the art and dialogue I go with my gut and do what feels natural to me."
• Review: New York Journal of Books takes a turn around the room with The Complete Syndicated Pogo Vol 2 "Bona Fide Balderdash" by Walt Kelly. Mark Squirek writes, "Like the greatest of myths and fables, Pogo travels across time and ages. It is a world much like that of Aesop and trickster tales. It is a world capable of making a six year old smile with glee, a hipster smirk whether they want to or not, and a college professor laugh out loud… So graceful is his work with pencil and pen that you could loose yourself for hours in shear artistry of the panels he constructs."
• Plug:Westfield Blog suggests some books for you likeThe Complete Syndicated Pogo Vol 2 "Bona Fide Balderdash" by Walt Kelly."Walt Kelly’s art is a joy to look at and his dialogue and word play is just stunning. Pogo is a strip that you get more and more out of the more you read it," states Wayne Markley. And for Basil Wolverton's Spacehawk, "In the history of comics, there are very few, if any, that had such a unique style as Wolverton which, while as far away as you can get from classic illustrators like Raymond or Foster, it is every bit as good in its own unique way."
• Review: HeroesOnline looks at the latest Prince Valiant Vol. 6: 1947-1948. Andy writes "…the pace is fast, the action and intrigue are plenty and the violence is un-apologetically bloody. In addition, Foster was a stickler for historical accuracy in depicting everyday life in the 6th century."
• Review: Ryan Sands of Same Hat writes his 'belated' best of list which inludes Nancy Likes Christmas by Ernie Bushmiller and The End of the Fucking World by Charles Foresman.
• Plug: Tom Spurgeon announced the Peanuts Every Sunday book on Comics Reporter. More information tomorrow.
• Plug: Robot6 talks about Great but Forgotten anthologies. Fantagraphics' "Zero Zero ran for 27 issues, a longer run than most of the anthologies on this list received, but I don’t think it’s ever gotten its due as the truly great anthology of the ’90s." Chris Mautner continues with Blab, "I do think people have forgotten how cutting edge and exemplary an anthology Blab was, at least initially. For a while there it was running some seriously incredible work, like Al Columbia’s apocalyptic The Trumpets They Played, and the Jimmy Corrigan story that eventually became Acme Novelty #10, easily the most harrowing and darkest material Ware has produced to date." And finally Blood Orange, "Lasting a mere four issues, Blood Orange offered a mind-bending array of cutting-edge comics." WORRY NOT, we still have issues from someofthese.
This Thursday, Dr. Ana Merino will give the first lecture in spring series at the Ohio State University. "Comic Books and Latino Identities: The Power of Los Bros Hernandez" is the title of her talk on Thursday, January 31st at the Cartoon Room of the Ohio Union. Join this comics scholar, who has worked as an ICAF Executive Committe member, professor at Dartmouth College and the Center for Cartoon Studies and much more, from 4-5:30pm for her critical analysis of culture, identity and the printed page.
From the OSU press release: In the 1980s, Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez transformed the way most comic characters were developed by adding a crucial landscape of alternative identities and cultures to the white mainstrem American. Both Brothers projected aspects of their own experience growing up as Latinos in the USA with "Love and Rockets" They consolidated a rich and inspiring way to develop graphic fiction in their work, strong women, especially US Latina and Latin American characters, became the cornerstone of a new vision for comics. DIversity in every sense was added to the space of comics, bringing a much needed multiethnic vision.
Gilbert, Jaime and Mario Hernandez started something grand 30 years ago that Beto and Jaime still produce. Should Dr. Merino's talk spark an interest in a new reader, you know where to find us. Heck, we even made a handy dandy reading guide .
The gnarliest gnome of Online Commentaries and Diversions:
• Review: Zack Davisson of Comics Bulletin reads the weighty Castle Waiting Vol 1 (softcover) by Linda Medley. "It is whimsical, unexpected, packed with a deep knowledge of folklore and fairytales, irreverent, interesting and a whole lot of other adjectives that add up to something great… I would rank it up there with Bone in terms of just being a sheer delight to read…I'm a 40-year old guy, and I don't really see gender issues coming into play here -- Castle Waiting is just a great comic, with interesting characters and an addictive story for everyone who likes charm and wit and fantasy."
• Review: Richard Sala's latest fairy tale of woe Delphine gets a starred review from Publishers Weekly. "…Sala’s era-conflating fairy tale is coated in the kind of atmosphere the artist is known for: a creepy, gnarled darkness that evokes German Expressionism, Universal horror films of the 1930s, and secrets hiding in dank old mansions and haunted forests."
• Review: The Hidden by Richard Sala is reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux on I Reads You."This graphic novel is essentially a parable about ethical-free, morality-light, cutting-edge science. Why do anything? Why play God? The answer to both questions is 'because we can.' 'Damn the consequences' is The Hidden’s unspoken refrain."
• Plug: Chris Mautner of Robot 6 writes the list for the 6 Most Criminially Ignored Books of 2012. Carol Tyler's You'll Never Know Book 3: Soldier's Heart lands on the list. "While Tyler’s discursive, homey storytelling style might not appeal to everyone, she proves in these pages she is a cartoonist capable of producing sequences of exquisite beauty and deep emotional heft. It’s a book — and a series — that deserves more attention than it’s gotten so far."
• Plug: Paul Gravatt releases his Best of 2012 list and for Best Autobiography/Biography..."in the end what floored me, in its level of craft and care, complexity and clarity, was the third and final book of Carol Tyler’s You’ll Never Know."
• Review: The Complete Syndicated Pogo Vol. 2 "Bona Fide Balderdash" gets reviewed by the Chicago Tribune. Michael Robbins trills on about Walt Kelly, "As brilliant as Kelly's political satire is, it's only one reason 'Pogo' might be the greatest comic strip of all time (its only rivals are 'Krazy Kat' and 'Peanuts,' both of which Fantagraphics has also been reprinting in gorgeously designed editions)."
• Review:Bookgasm doubles their pleasure by reading TWO of our EC books. JT Lindroos starts with Corpse on the Imjin! by Harvey Kurtzman. "The ability of Kurtzman to have conflicting viewpoints to the myriad stories and situations within this volume is what makes it so rich." Lindroos continues onto Came the Dawn by Wallace Wood, "His line is much more precise and realistic than anything in the Kurtzman volume, but he has a flair for a dynamic layout and positioning of characters that pulls the art to the kind of pulpy mayhem for which EC is best known."
• Plug: Chris Mautner of Robot 6 writes the list for the 6 Most Criminially Ignored Books of 2012. Malcom McNeill'sThe Lost Art of Ah Pook is on there. "Ten or 20 years ago the release of an long-lost and unfinished comic by [William Burroughs] would generate a lot more heat than the release of this work…did. Perhaps now that comics have garnered more respect from the outside world, this sort of thing impresses us a lot less…Still, there’s some amazing, hallucinatory imagery here (and in McNeill’s companion memoir, Observed While Falling), to marvel at and make you wish the project had reached some better form of completion."
• Interview: Tom Kaczynski of Beta Testing the Apocalypse is interviewed on Rumpus by Greg Hunter and answers deep questions like "throughout the book we see instances of an object or system standing in for an even larger system—worlds upon worlds of simulacra. Do you believe in any sort of binary between authentic and inauthentic modes of experience?"
• Interview (audio): Ross Reynolds of KUOW interviews Jaime Hernandez on the secret to 30 Years of Love and Rockets. Did you know BLUE FOOD was a title in the running for L&R? Jaime mentions the influence of the punk movement and DIY culture on their work.
• Review:Comic Book Daily reads the masterful Carl Barks stories in Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge: Only a Poor Old Man. Anthony Falcone states "I would like to see more companies take Fantagraphics’ approach to the reproduction and presentation of material.…These are true 'all-ages' stories that can be enjoyed by adults and with your children at story time."
• Plug: Kuriousity plugged Moto Hagio's The Heart of Thomas as it "is probably the best example of the earliest of boys’ love works. It helped define the genres of shoujo and boys’ love as we know them today, and I couldn’t wish for anything more substantial as a starting point," writes Lissa Pattillo.
• Plug:Spacehawk by Basil Wolverton gets the hi-how-are-ya? from the D&Q Bookstore. Jade says "This is one cool book folks, with intense colors, funny looking characters, and very weird plots…Even the end papers are extraordinary!"
• Plug: Holy hot suit, did you see Lorenzo Mattotti's NEW YORKER cover? Damn. If you like that, check out his most recent graphic novel The Crackle of the Frost (written by Jorge Zentner) or 2011's Stigmata (written by Claudio Piersanti).
• Plug: Maria Popova's Brain Pickings features animation and comics pages from Lilli Carré's Heads or Tails which is "a sublime collection of Carré’s short story comics from the past five years, was published last November and is an absolute treat."
• Plug: All About Jazz looks at Kevin Avery's Everything is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson. "Avery's account of Nelson's life reveals an almost claustrophobic existence of the writer in general…Paul Nelson may have only been equaled by Greil Marcus for sheer love of music and music writing. He went entirely too gently into that good night, leaving the majority of us in the shadows…" writes C. Michael Bailey.
• Plug: Harriet Staff of the Poetry Foundation reads The Last Vispo edited by Nico Vassilakis and Craig Hill. "… the anthology highlights the way the digital and computerized tools of visual poetry are transforming not only visual poetry, but how we experience all poetry," notes Staff and Alison Watkins.
• Plug: TV superstar Lena Dunham's ideal bookshelf on Vulture includes Daniel Clowes' Ghost World.
• Plug: Buzzfeed cracks open Sean T Collins' David Bowie sketchbook and out jumps some of your favorite artists: Tom Kaczynski, Michael Kupperman, Jaime Hernandez, Gilbert Hernandez, Gary Panter, Charles Burns and Johnny Ryan. GO LOOK!
Here's a preview of the sassy Libby aka Lady Liberty as drawn by THE Jaime Hernandez for the 2013 Comic Book Legal Defense Fund's card. And they must have answered my prayers because I've been wanting a new baseball tee for a long time. I'll let Deputy Director Alex Cox tell you more below:
Legendary cartoonist Jaime Hernandez rings in 2013 for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund by providing the art for this year's membership program! CBLDF protects the freedom to read comics by providing legal aid, resources, and education in the service of protecting the comics medium's First Amendment rights. Members provide the monetary foundation CBLDF needs to protect perform that important work, and this year every member is being rewarded with a membership card designed by Hernandez. Members who can afford to join at higher levels will also be able to receive exclusive items featuring Hernandez's striking art, including a member exclusive t-shirt, a limited letterpress print, and more!
Jaime Hernandez is best known as the co-creator (with brothers Gilbert and Mario) of the of the epoch defining masterpiece Love & Rockets. His characters Maggie and Hopey among the most iconic characters in the history of independent comics. This year marks the 30th Anniversary of LOVE AND ROCKETS' debut, and the CBLDF is proud to have Mr. Hernandez's insightful take on Lady Liberty as the mascot for our 2013 membership program. When discussing helping the CBLDF, by creating this extraordinary piece of art, Mr. Hernandez stated simply, "It's pretty much a no brainer. We need the CBLDF."
This year we're asking everyone who supports the freedom to read comics to become an intellectual freedom fighter and join the CBLDF! As a member, you will be an active part of the field's most proactive advocacy group, and ensure that our important work protecting the right to read, create, own, and sell comics can continue to grow. Your support will help advance our important legal and education work from courtrooms to classrooms and beyond. Your membership contribution makes you an essential part of the team that helps protect and advance the rights of this incredible art form. All members will receive the 2013 membership card by Hernandez. When you join at the $100 Advocate Level, you will receive an exclusive long sleeve t-shirt, available only to members, as well as button pack and sticker set! This shirt features the gorgeous Jaime Hernadez line art, and will only be available to members who join the CBLDF in 2013! Other levels offer other incentives, including a limited edition signed and numbered letterpress art print, and CBLDF branded items including sports bottles, hooded sweatshirts, and embroidered polo shirts. All of these premiums thank our members for their generosity, and let them show that they're a proud member of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund team, who are always ready to stand up for the freedom to read comics!
• Review:Publishers Weekly gives a starred review to 7 Miles a Second by David Wojnarowicz, James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook. "The author’s prose is poetic, arriving with a light touch while delivering a heavy, dark, and understandably angry message. Part of what makes the book unusual is that it does not go out of its way to be uplifting… Romberger and Van Cook’s art is hyperactive, with splattery color that suggests the out-of-body acid-trip world of contradictory values and constantly shifting danger that Wojnarowicz lived in."
• Preview:Publishers Weekly also posted a preview of the comic 7 Miles a Secondby David Wojnarowicz, James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook, compiled by Ada Price for your prereading pleasure.
• Review: Beta Testing the Apocalypse by Tom Kaczynski gets reviewed on Publishers Weekly. "Kaczynski’s range is wide, and in these chronologically arranged stories, we can trace an artistic development that begins as self-satisfied…and becomes more searching and curious…although his worldview won’t connect with everyone, there is plenty of smart humor and honest perspective."
• Interview:The Writing Disorder interviews Steven Weissman on his Barack Hussein Obama graphic novel, process and original art he owns. Weissman says, "I never had a scientist’s desire for the truth. I’ve always been comfortable not knowing things."
• Interview:Shelf Life of EW.com interviews Jaime Hernandez on the 30th Anniversary ofLove and Rockets. Solvej Schou asks, "So how do you and your brothers get along, being involved in the same project?" Jaime admits, "Our secret is why we can still do it is we don't collaborate."Read more!
• Plug:Noah Van Sciver's The Hypo receives an excellent rating on the Lone Star Book Review. "… an interesting look at young Abe Lincoln and his melancholic. This is a side of Lincoln that is often overlooked…"
• Review:Four Color Fear edited by Greg Sadowski continues to generate reviews after two sold out printings. Kitty Sneezes' Rev. Syung Myung Me writes "Greg Sadowski put together a wonderful collection complete with in-depth notes in the back of some of the best from comics that tend to be thought of dismissively as also-rans…if you’re a type who has the complete EC horror libraries along with a subscription to Creepy, this will slot in real well in your collection. And, well, even if you’re not that type, it’s still a great collection of some unjustly overlooked comics from the 1950s."
The sweetest tea of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review:The Atlantic writes on The Heart of Thomas by Moto Hagio. Noah Berlatsky looks at it from every angle, "The boys' love genre, then, freed Hagio and her audience to cross and recross boundaries of identity, sexuality, and gender…Bodies and character flicker in and out, a sequence of surfaces, tied together less by narrative than by the heightened emotions of melodrama—jealousy, anger, trauma, desire, friendship, and love in the heart of Thomas."
• Plug: David Brothers and Comics Alliance posts a preview of The Heart of Thomas plus a few thoughts on Moto Hagio that works outside of his comfort zone. "What there is, though, isdrama. No -- it has melodrama…the sheer level of theatrical drama in this book is enough to keep a skeptic hooked…Heart of Thomas is a trip, and a good one. I wasn't expecting to enjoy it as much as I did, and it was nice to enjoy something outside of my usual comfort zones."
• Plug: Johanna Carlson of Comics Worth Reading is ready for the world to read The Heart of Thomas by Moto Hagio. "This solid hardcover contains the entire classic shojo series, and it’s a must-read for anyone interested in the development of the genre. It’s also surprisingly gripping in its own right…"
• Review: Chris Mautner interviews Jim Woodring's Problematic on Robot 6. "Problematic is both a stroll through Woodring’s unique imagination and an opportunity to see his working process" and Woodring thinks "having a pocket sketchbook on me at all times means fleeting impressions and ideas that might otherwise be lost are captured…Everything I draw is reality-based."
• Plug:BoingBoing is ready for Jim Woodring's Problematic to come out. "There are many reasons to be grateful to be alive, and owning this brand new facsimile edition of artist Jim Woodring's Moleskine sketchbooks is as good as any," says Mark Frauenfelder.
• Interview/Review:Publishers Weekly looks at 7 Miles a Second, and Grace Bello interviews artists James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook on writer David Wojnarowicz, the gay activist who wrote the comic before dying of AIDS-related complications. Romberger is quoted, "It really is so much about what David was about, channeling his anger into a statement…" "The gay experience is not only 'less invisible'—it’s on prime time TV. But the feral energy and raw hunger in 7 Miles a Second still resonate" states Bello.
• Review: Jason Sacks of Comics Bulletin presents 20 Facts and Opinions on Joe Kubert's Weird Horrors & Daring Adventures, edited by Bill Schelly. "Schelly and the always sterling Fantagraphics production team do a nice job of preserving the look and feel of these comics…the master cartoonist was equally at home doing broad humor as intense action/adventure as well as lighter, Archie-style teen humor."
• Review:Comics Alliance and Caleb Goellner continues their Best of 2012 series with Prison Pit Book 4by Johnny Ryan. "It was like looking at a baby book of bad ideas from boyhood as an adult who'd learned to function in polite society…it's bliss to kick back and watch humankind's most immature impulses play out in the safety of Ryan's Prison Pit."
• Review:The Weekly Crisis lists its Top 10 books of 2012 and Johnny Ryan's Prison Pit Book 4 lands at #2. Taylor Pithers states "he is interested in is fighting and hyper violence, which to be fair, would be more acceptable to the masses if it was drawn by Ivan Reis or another one of Geoff Johns' collaborators…Honestly, there isn't a comic that has given me more belly laughs in my entire life."
• Review: Comiks Debris posts its Best of 2012 books and Johnny Ryan'sPrison Pit Book 4 comes in as #8.Marc-Oliver Frisch writes "structurally, Prison Pit reminds me a lot of Jarmusch's The Limits of Control… The artwork looks ugly, crude and perfunctory. The characters eat, shit, fuck and, most of all, fight their way through the book…It's one mean, sick motherfucker of a comic, and I can't wait what happens next."
• Plug: Tucker Stone on The Comics Journal rates his top comics of 2012. Prison Pit Book 4by Johnny Ryan comes in at 18. "…it’s hard to explain how intense the surprise was for a follower of Angry Youth and Ryan’s humiliation comics to open that first Prison Pit…"
• Review:Delphine by Richard Sala gets reviewed on Comic Book Resources. Kelly Thompson claims, "One part comic book and one part fever dream…Rare is the opportunity that I'm so engaged I consider yelling at an inanimate object such as a book…Delphine is also a nice contrast to the unrelentingly bright and happy fairy tales that are so often seen when it comes to modern reinterpretations of those early dark tales."
• Review:The New York Journal of Books thumbs through Spacehawk by Basil Wolverton. "Basil Wolverton rises to the occasion and gives the reader a detailed and hilarious look at megalomania while throwing in some fantastic aerial fight scenes…Fantagraphics Publishing brings Wolverton’s art to the reader in as detailed and perfect a form as possible. Each wave of space, every geometric shape and all the incredibly ugly aliens look better than they ever have in their entire lives," writes Mark Squirek.
• Review: Crave Online looks at Spacehawk by Basil Wolverton. "This is the medium when there were no rules, no event series and no giant corporations standing watch over what the creators were doing. If you love the Golden Age, science fiction and adventure, nothing compares to the world Basil Wolverton put together for Spacehawk," writes Iann Robinson.
• Review: The Weekly Crisis lists its Top 10 books of 2012 and Josh Simmon's The Furry Trap ranks as #1. Taylor Pithers writes, "The Furry Trap is pure exploitation; violent, disgusting, and bound to make you feel uncomfortable but it also does what the best fiction is meant to, it stays with you long after you have put the book down…Simmons is a cartoonist of the highest caliber. This is not a book for the faint hearted, but if you can stomach it will be a true experience."
• Review:NPR and Glen Weldon write on Books of 2012 they haven't told you about. Heads or Tails by Lilli Carré "The whole collection has the feel of a dream in which remembering how to fly is as simple as forgetting that you can't."
• Review: Noel Murray and The A.V. Club write about the Top 10 Fiction books of 2012. Heads or Tails comes in at #7. "Lilli Carré’s stories are like dreamy what-ifs that take the familiar and tweak it."
• Plug: Whitney Matheson of USA Today's Popcandy mentions her favorite things including Heads or Tailsby Lilli Carré: "…a lovely volume from one of my favorite cartoonists that includes several beautifully strange short stories. I'm a longtime fan and even have a framed Carre print hanging in the baby's room."
• Interview:The Comics Journal interviews Ron Regé, Jr. on The Cartoon Utopia, evolving comics and more. Regé on his book, "People should use bibilomancy—randomly opening to a page—to access the information if they’d like. Nothing in the book tells you to treat it that way, but I think people will get the idea anyway."
• Interview (audio): Erik Davis and Expanding Mind interview Ron Regé, Jr. on the radio about The Cartoon Utopia! Adventure indeed.
• Review:Comics Bulletin and Jason Sacks investigate Blacklung. "Chris Wright seems to channel Melville or Conrad in this book as he explores the uniquely idiosyncratic world that he creates…nobody has ever created characters that look like the characters in this book, with their strange faces and lumpy, malformed bodies…This slim graphic novel is a dense read unlike anything else you've read in comics."
• Review: Noel Murray and The A.V. Club write about the Top 10 Fiction books of 2012. Athos in America is #5. "Jason’s blank-faced animal-headed characters reveal unexpectedly deep passion via deadpan tales of dislocation."
• Review: Sonia Harris of Comics Book Resources places Love and Rockets: New Stories #5 by Jaime Hernandez and Gilbert Hernandez as #5 of her Top 16 Books of 2012. Harris says,"Watching these people’s lives change on the page, along with the gradual evolution of the Hernandez brother’s art and writing is the closest thing to real life created in a comic book. Nothing on the screen could ever compare to the life and complexity these two men breathe into their characters year after year with such consistent quality and affection."
• Plug: Tucker Stone on The Comics Journal rates his top comics of 2012. Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez have cause to celebrate as Love and Rockets:New Stories #5makes it at #13. "It was great, and of course it was, because it’s them, and it was great for all the same reasons you’d expect it to be…"
• Review:NPR and Glen Weldon write on Books of 2012 they haven't told you about like Wandering Son by Takako Shimura. "Wandering Son is not the kind of manga in which a happy ending is guaranteed… You'll thus be grateful for the moments of realistic, untempered joy Shimura allows her two protagonists here, as you wait with nervous anticipations for the travails that lie ahead for them…"
• Review:Manga Bookshelf recounts its Favorite Manga Series of 2012 including Wandering Son by Takako Shimura. "This series about two transgender children in modern-day Japan has been a favorite since it debuted last year thanks to its delicate, truthful storytelling and understated artwork…Its most recent volume (three) goes a bit darker and deeper, only heightening my interest in the series" says Melinda Beasi.
• Review: Noel Murray and The A.V. Club write about the Top 5 Archival books of 2012. Harvey Kurtzman's Corpse on the Imjin! landed at #1. "Kurtzman book is especially stunning, almost like a coffee-table art-book combined with a literary collection…an anthology with a strong individual perspective that tries to tell the truth about what war is like from the point of view of the people on both sides of the battlefield."
• Review: Noel Murray and The A.V. Club write about the Top 5 Archival books of 2012. Ernie Bushmiller's Nancy Is Happy: Complete Dailies 1946-48: "bristle-headed Nancy and poor slob Sluggo inadvertently irritate the grown-ups in their lives, in scenarios that Bushmiller illustrated with absurd visual gags—so basic that anyone, anywhere, at any time, could get the joke."
• Review: Nick Gazin of VICE has a pretty fuckin' fancy (his words) edition of The Clouds Above by Jordan Crane. "Jordan Crane is a cartoonist with supreme abilities. He's great at making lines, hand text, and backgrounds and stuff…This is beautifully colored also. Did I mention Jordan Crane's great color sense? His colors are good."
• Review: Steve Donaghue enjoys Prince Valiant Vol. 1 by Hal Foster on Open Letters Monthly. "The ambition becomes most emphatic the more you scrutinize the work. Foster often said he put in between 50 and 60 hours a week on creating the strip, and it shows in these magnificent reproductions, done in a sturdy hardcover with oversized pages and entirely restored colors and shadings."
• Plug:Record Collector magazine (UK) picks Listen, Whitey! by Pat Thomas as one of the top 12 books of 2012. "A socio-polictal account of American racial struggles...an extraordinary study of the way the message of [the Black Panther] movement was recounted and defined on vinyl. "In-depth" doesn't begin to describe it."
• Plug: Tucker Stone on The Comics Journal rates his top comics of 2012. Dungeon Quest 3 by Joe Daly makes the mark at 17. "in times like these, with sandwiches like mine, you have to root for the one who brung you, and that’s dick jokes. Dungeon Quest had so many of them, and they were all wonderful."
Happy New Year's! Here's to a great year of books and the next year and the year after that. We salute you and thank you for your friendship and purchases. Some of you sent in photos reading books from this year (and a few past ones).
The most returned sweater of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Interview: Tom Spurgeon of the Comics Reporter interviews cartoonist Carol Tyler about her You'll Never Know series about her father, WWII and family bonds. He starts of the interview right, "You've lived with these books for a very long time. How did it feel to get some closure on this work?". Click here for the answers and more.
• Review:Comics Bulletin looks at You'll Never Know Book 3: Soldier's Heart by Carol Tyler. Jason Sacks states "You'll Never Know is a breathtaking graphic novel because Carol Tyler is honest enough to know that stories are seldom as tidy nor as dysfunctional as they seem on TV…It's a tremendously real story straight from the heart, told by a master cartoonist."
• Plug:Comic Book Resources and Brian Cronin investigate the legend around the FBI examining Pogo comic strips searching for hidden messages.
• Plug: Geekosystem has suggestions for our 20% sale like Pogo by Walt Kelly. "Are you a Calvin and Hobbes fan, dear reader?…If you are a fan, we’d point you towards one of the strip’s inspirations, Walt Kelly’s classic Pogo cartoons. By turns razor-edged political satire and old-fashioned slapstick comedy gold, these strips are being given their due."
• Review:Reality Studio looks and relooks at Observed While Falling and The Lost Art of Ah Pook Is Here by Malcolm McNeill on his collaboration with William S. Burroughs. Jan Herman writes "Observed While Falling brings a fresh analytical eye to the familiar Burroughsian fixations — synchronicity and doppelgangers, control systems, the word as virus, the number 23 — that dominate this memoir, while still offering a straightforward chronicle of the author’s relationship with le maître. Luckily for us, McNeill is an artist who can write. Really write.…the hard work, the exhilaration and, ultimately, the frustration of a project that failed to achieve its original goal — is largely treated with brilliant introspection and loving grace."
• Review:Forbidden Planet International continues their Best of 2012 lists. Douglas Noble places Chris Wright's Blacklung on the list. "Unforgettable, and Wright's beautiful, scratchy art is a treat, like EC Segar working with Yuichi Yokoyama designs."
• Review:Comics Alliance announced their Stephanie Brown Memorial awards. On Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse: House of Seven Haunts by Floyd Gottfredson, Chris Sims writes, "They're one of the few things that I get excited about to the point of giddiness, and House of the Seven Haunts! was the best volume yet…It's one wild adventure after another, and they're all done with an incredible skill that still holds up almost 80 years later."
• Review:Comics Alliance announced their Stephanie Brown Memorial awards. The Furry Trap by Josh Simmons makes the list "The faux-Batman comic, which details the Bat's horrifically misanthropic ways, might be a reason to check out the contents of this hardcover collection of Simmons stories, but the entire volume is full of troubling tales worth your attention…The unexpected happens, consistently, and that's about the only thing you can be sure of," states Tim Callahan.
• Plug:NO releases its Best Comics of 2012 list and Sean Collins breathtakingly writes about The Furry Trap, "Josh Simmons shits in your heart, again and again in ways that grow exponentially more refined and chilling as the book progresses. A perfect statement of rancid intent."
• Review:Comics Alliance announced their Stephanie Brown Memorial awards. Designer Dylan Todd writes on Barack Hussein Obama by Steven Weissman. "There's something vaguely Peanuts-esque at work here, with a cast of recognizable characters… all with their own quirks and personalities, all delivering punchlines while the specter of death and soul-crushing doubt hangs over their heads. It's funny, but like any good comedy, it's tied up in uncomfortable and relatable truths…It's surreal, nonsensical, and a little depressing -- so, huh, maybe it's an accurate portrayal of political life in the 21st century after all."
• Review: Timothy Callahan of Comic Book Resources looks back on 2012 and Steven Weissman's Barack Hussein Obama is #20 on his Best Of list. "It's just such a fragmented work of narrative, but Weissman plays with repetition and transformation in a near-musical way, and that ends up mattering most…This comic is difficult to discuss without sounding ridiculous, but I can't stop thinking about its unsettling strangeness."
• Review:Paste Magazine's guest writers Nathan Bulmer and Kevin Huizenga pick out some of our books as the Best of 2012 including Steven Weissman's Barack Hussein Obama, Jason's Athos in America, and Chris Wright's Blacklung. Bulmer looks at Weissman, "I have so many feelings about this book. This, to me, is the most gorgeous book of the year and is one that I will be returning to often."
• Plug: Geekosystem has suggestions for our 20% sale like Athos in America by Jason. "Fact: New Jason books are weird, funny, and always bring something new and unexpected to the table. Conjecture: This book probably deserves a place on your shelf…"
• Review: KC Carlson of Comics Worth Reading dives not into a vault of money but Carl Barks' books. While reading Uncle Scrooge: "Only a Poor Old Man"she can't help but write,"One way or another, all of these stories are classics (if not masterpieces) of early comic book storytelling. And not just for kids." When flipping to Donald Duck: "A Christmas for Shacktown" Carlson notes,"It’s probably one of the least sentimental Christmas stories around (and thus a favorite of many fans). It features an early example of Scrooge’s lack of charity, counterbalanced by his steadfast work ethic…I can’t say enough about how much I love these new Fantagraphics collections of this 'should always be in print' Carl Barks material."
• Review: Andrew Wheeler over at Anticks Musings enjoys Peanuts Vol. 17: 1983-1984 by THE Charles M. Schulz. Wheeler states, "they're reliably funny and occasionally moving. The deep sadness that used to manifest in Charlie Brown now comes up, less rawly, . . . For work done by the same one man, day after day, more than thirty years after he started that project, that's not just impressive, it's amazing."
• Review (video): Jon Longhi in episode 2 of Having a Book Moment features Spacehawk by Basil Wolverton "who was an amazing underground cartoonist with exp, surrealist view of reality that created some of the I think, most unique comics ever invented. . ."
• Review:Robot 6 enjoys SpacehawkbyBasil Wolverton. Chris Mautner writes "Wolverton’s Spacehawk has a vitality — at times it practically throbs with life — that the more static Stardust simply does not have. Spacehawk not only the best reprint project of the year, it’s the best reprint project of the past several years. It’s a revelation."
• Review:Comics Alliance announced their Best Comics of 2012. Basil Wolverton's Spacehawk "remind[s] you of some kind of Buck Rogers Technicolor serial as designed by Robert Crumb…Spacehawk is the freakishly charming sideshow to the more popular main event, but everyone who's seen its wonders would find themselves bored with what the guy in the big hat in the center ring is babbling on about," writes Tim Callahan
• Review:Comics Bulletin and Jason Sacks give Spacehawk by Basil Wolverton a rating of 4.5 outta 5 stars. "This book is really fucking exhilarating and awesome and eye-popping, and you have to add it to your bookshelf if you loved I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets…Spacehawk is lunatic, manic genius."
• Review:Delphine by Richard Sala gets BoingBoinged. Mark Frauenfelder writes, "I've long admired the gothy work of cartoonist Richard Sala. He delicately balances the line between horror and humor as few can. His latest graphic novel, Delphine, is his darkest effort to date."
• Review: Comic Book Resources counts down the Top 100 Comics of 2012 and includes The Hypo by Noah Van Sciver at #54. Brian Cronin states "Van Sciver spotlights a fascinating time in Lincoln's life where he barely resembles the man who would one day become one of the most famous presidents in U.S. history…The artwork is strong, as is the research." Cronin's own Top 10 Comics of 2012 listed Van Sciver at #2.
• Review:Panel Patter lists the Favorite Graphic Novels of 2012 and Noah Van Sciver is #2 for The Hypo. Rob McMonigal writes "Given that Van Sciver specializes in characters who are at their wit's end and have horrible things going on in their lives, he's picture perfect in his presentation."
• Interview: Tom Spurgeon interviews editor and fan Marc Sobel on living life breathing Love and Rockets at the Comics Reporter. Sobel started writing, critiquing the Hernandez Brothers work, interviewing them that led to writing and co-editing The Love and Rockets Reader and The Love and Rockets Companion, coming out next year.Sobel pondered, "I decided to read Love & Rockets in its original format and blog about each issue as a way to teach myself about one of the medium's classics while still keeping active as a writer."
• Review:Comic Book Resources counts down the Top 100 Comics of 2012 and #35 is Love and Rockets: New Stories #5. "…the Bros turned in another installment of comics that are simultaneously agonizing to witness and darkly funny while they’re serving up stone-cold dramatic situations," writes Brian Warmoth
• Plug:Gilbert Hernandez receives some attention from Sean T. Collins at Carnival of Souls in regards to upcoming Julio's Day and D&Q's Marble Season. "A now-completed collection of work he serialized during Love & Rockets‘ second volume and a pseudoautobiography, these could send him in the direction of critical and audience reappraisal that the outré sex and violence of his recent comics have denied him."
• Interview (video): As part of the 30th Anniversary celebration, Vegas Seven posted a short interview with Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez conducted at Alternative Reality Comics in Las Vegas.
• Plug: Glyn Dillon writes the Best of the Year 2012 for Forbidden Planet International and shares the love for Jaime Hernandez's God and Science. "I'm not really a fan of the super hero genre, but he delivers it in such a fun way, it's hard to resist it's charm. It almost feels as though it's from an alternative universe, a universe where super hero comics are good."
• Review:The Chicago Tribune gets all fancy to read our EC Library Comics: Corpse on the Imjin by Harvey Kurtzman and Came the Dawn by Wallace Wood. "Kurtzman often evinces a grim humor in these war comics, they don't elicit laughs. His beautiful line-work — thick black strokes and quick black curves — captures the grit of battle and its aftermath: Corpses reach up from rubble, cones of fire erupt from gun barrels." Michael Robbins continues, "Wood's alternately claustrophobic and desolate brushwork lurches into life: spreading puddles and slanting rain, Rock Hudson jawlines and Jane Wyman curves, vertiginous angles, hallucinatory things with too many eyes."
•Plug:NO releases its Best Comics of 2012 list and Sean T Collins recommends Prison Pit 4 by Johnny Ryan. "Choose your monsters-transforming-and-pursuing-ultimate-murder poison: if you favour grossness, reality-breaking sci-fi and heavy manga inflections, go with Ryan."
• Plug:Michael Kupperman'sTales Designed to Thrizzle #8 is ranked 81 out of the Top 100 Comics of 2012 according to Comic Book Resources. "The latest 'Tales Designed to Thrizzle' very well might be the funniest edition of the annual comic yet! Kupperman's outrageously unpredictable sense of humor is on full force in this issue" states Brian Cronin. Cronin's own Top 10 Comics of 2012 listed Kupperman at #4.
• Review:Comic Attack bangs out the Best 15 All-Ages Titles of 2012. Hal Foster's Prince Valiant is on the list as Drew says "the detail and quality of the art alone along with the more literary form of narration provided the base and inspiration for dozens of artists and imitators after that, all these years still being just as entertaining as when first published, here from Fantagraphics never looking as good as collected before."
• Review: Nick Hanover of Comics Bulletin sits awhile with Tom Kaczynski's new book. Beta Testing the Apocalypse "is weird as all fuck and funny as all shit, a Singles Going Steady for the art comix crowd that merges Burroughs' cut-up commentary with Ballard's keen tech consumer insight and siliconic wit…is where we should be looking if we want to know what comes next, if we want to discern which hip priest had their ear closer to the ground."
• Interview:The Comics Journal's Tim Holder interviews Tom Kaczynski (cartoonist of Beta Testing the Apocalypse)on his comics and publishing endeavors.
• Plug: Jade at the D&Q Bookstore holds onto some serious love for Lilli Carré's Heads or Tails. "Her stories always incorporate some sense of magic realism, where bizarre occurrences are treated as if they were just another aspect of daily life. Equally impressive is Carré’s artistic versatility, always finding the appropriate style, palette and medium to tell her dreamy tales."
• Review:Cosmic Comix reviews The Crackle of the Frost by Mattotti and Zentner. "The story itself is amazing. It’s a story about loneliness, loss, and, most of all, fear…It’s a rare feat in which the words, although separate from the picture, are in perfect synch with it… If you are looking for a book that truly pushes the comics medium, then this is the book for you," writes David Lee.
•Review: Music magazine Ugly Things Issue 34 reviews Kevin Avery's book. Alan Bisbort writes "Everything is an Afterthought would, in another age, be considered 'essential reading' for anyone even remotely hip…these bokos remind us of how deeply some people cared for the music and its larger pop culture that many of us now take for granted."
• Plug: Geekosystem has suggestions for our 20% sale like Joe Sacco's book. "Safe Area Gorazde is a great introduction to his work and to the concept of comics journalism as a whole. This new special edition with notes from the author, updates on the characters, and a behind the scenes look at the creative process is must-own material.
• Plug: Geekosystem has suggestions for our 20% sale like I Shall Destroy All Civilized Planets by Fletcher Hanks. "Weirdness on the highest scale prevails in these collections…these delightfully strange relics deserve a place in the library of any comics art history completist or student of the medium."
• Plug: Filth and Fabulations looks at books for 2013 and The Astonishing Exploits of Lucien Brindavoine by Jacques Tardi is on there. "This book is perhaps a slightly less mature piece than some of Tardi's later self-authored work, but it is filled with a vibrancy and a dark humor that makes it a thing not to be missed, especially so for those who enjoy his amusing riffs on traditional genre pastiches, with a nice dose of violence and sarcasm thrown in". In addition to Goddamn this War! by Tardi and Jean-Pierre Verney. "It looks very promising, and seems to be more of a single narrative spanning the entirety of the war, rather than the looser vignette-style format of the earlier book."
The 30th anniversary Love and Rockets celebration continues with this third of three volumes. Perla La Loca collects the adventures of the spunky Maggie; her annoying, pixie-ish best friend and sometime lover Hopey; and their circle of friends. As usual, Jaime Hernandez spotlights a wide range of headstrong female characters found in previous volumes Maggie the Mechanic and The Girl from H.O.P.P.E.R.S.
Perla begins with the "Wigwam Bam" story, arguably Jaime Hernandez's definitive statement on the post-punk culture (what a good song too!). As Maggie, Hopey, and the rest of the Locas prowl Los Angeles, the East Coast, and parts in between trying to recapture the carefree spirit of those early days. "Wigwam Bam" brings us up to date on all the members of Jaime's extensive cast of characters and then drops a narrative bomb on Hopey (and us) in the very last pages. Split up from Hopey yet again, Maggie bounces back and forth between a one-laundromat town in Texas (the "Chester Square" that serves as the title of two of the strongest stories in the book), where she has to contend with both her own inner demons and a murderous hooker, and Camp Vicki, where she has to fend off her aunt Vicki's attempts to make her a professional wrestler and the unwanted advances of the amorous wrestling champ-to-be, Gina.
"'Wigwam Bam' [is] one of the medium's all-time high points..." – The Onion A.V. Club
"For a relatively inexpensive introduction to the joys of Jaime's good stuff, ...I recommend Perla la Loca, a paperback reprint of a 1990-1996 sequence that kicks off with the fantastic ensemble tragicomedy 'Wigwam Bam,' throws in a bunch of wrestling and decline-and-fall-of-punk business that he draws with obvious, infectious relish, and ends with the mistaken-identity tour de force 'Bob Richardson.'" – Douglas Wolk, TIME/Techland
Cate McGehee attended the 30th Anniversary party for Love and Rockets held at the Fantagraphics Bookstore and wrote about it in The Stranger. Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez were in attendance in addition to hundreds of people ready to see the brothers during their auspicious celebration. Flanked by a gorgeous wall of original art, punk show posters (draw by the brothers) and alt-weekly covers, curated by Larry Reid and editor Kristy Valenti, the room held more wonder than of those in The Mask of the Red Death!
Nearly thirty years of work is laid out on prismatic display (more not pictured). Why has Love and Rockets held up so long? The facts as stated in The Stranger: "It was one of the very first comics to include LGBT characters and people of color, to draw from an underground urban demographic, and to have kick-ass female leads." Or as Larry put it the comics "foreshadowed the contemporary multicultural society." With characters who age, die and get revisited via that time machine called comics, Gilbert and Jaime have created some of the most complex and human characters in the industry.
The article goes on to describe some of the more familiar faces to the Hernandez brothers off the bristol board, their returning fans. One man brought his future wife, who became the bigger fan eventually, then their baby who in turn grew up and "she said her mom couldn't make it, and then rolled up her sleeve to show Jaime her Love and Rockets tattoo." But success hasn't slowed the two cartoonists down, they can't imagine a life without comics or a life without Love and Rockets. And neither can we.
Pictures: Gilbert and Jaime pose with fan, the Love and Rockets Library collection and Gilbert signs for a fan in front of the wall.