• List: Look out, it's Tom Spurgeon's Best of 2009 list at The Comics Reporter. Fantagraphics category rankings are listed below, with complete lists and Tom's commentary to be found at the link above:
• Review: "Somehow, some way, Jamie Hernandez is getting better and better. ...Locas, the first gigantic hardcover compilation of Jamie’s 'Maggie and Hopey' stories, stands as one of the highlights of my life as a reader. Now, unbelievably, Locas II exceeds the original’s standard. ... In Locas II: Maggie, Hopey and Ray, he’s crafted perhaps his most universal work to date, a saga of three people who’ve left behind the postures of their youth to stumble, unsure and hesitant, across the landscape of their adult lives. It’s strange and scary, funny and sweet, confused and enlightening. Locas II is a master as the top of his game, and a true comic book classic." – Michael C. Lorah, Newsarama
• Review: "It is interesting to see the rapid evolution of the graphics and drawings [in Prince Valiant Vol. 1: 1937-1938], a little reticent and schematic at first, but soon becoming highly detailed and expressive. Adventure prevailed in the stories, but there was room for humor, romance and tragedy." – Top Comics (translated from Portuguese)
• Review: "OK sure but trust me it's not for those who just want to look at dumbed down pictures and drool on themselves as anorexic telepathic women parade in wonder bras nor is this Babar's color by number. [The Portable] Frank is engaging on all levels and asks the reader to not just lose themselves but to participate fully and that's why this is my pick of the week!!" – Coast City Comics
• Plug: "This book is amazing and bat%$#* crazy. There are no words, just check it out of the library asap." – Cold Bullets
• Review: "The quality of [Gilbert] Hernandez's cartooning is unassailable. Part of the reason [High Soft Lisp] is so hard to quantify is his uncanny ability to shift focus on a moment's notice, effortlessly jumping from one character to another, suggesting whole thought processes and histories with just a handful of images." – Jason Michelitch, Comics Alliance
• Review: "The sort of horror Columbia presents in Pim & Francieworks even better without the trappings of recitation and the cause and effect on which they depend. This sort of dread-inducing fright functions without regard to the recognizable comforts of logic and the niceties of narration. This is visceral, elemental terror that generally festers below — or alongside invisibly — human reckoning. ... Frontwards, backways, sneak-a-peek sideways, it all packs a monumentally disturbing wallop." – Rich Kreiner, "Yearlong Best of the Year," The Comics Journal
• Plugs: The Gosh! Comics Blog highlights recent arrivals Penny Century by Jaime Hernandez ("This volume picks up right after Perla La Loca left off, beginning with the now out-of-print graphic novel Whoa Nellie! which is probably the best female wrestling comic in town") and It Was the War of the Trenches by Jacques Tardi ("Since only a fraction ofTrenches was ever available to us English-speaking folk it’s a nice to see the whole lot of it in one place.")
• Panel:The Comics Journal presents the first part (of three) of a never-before-published panel discussion between Charles Burns , Chip Kidd, Seth and Chris Ware, moderated by Jeet Heer, that occurred October 29, 2005 at the International Festival of Authors in Toronto, Canada
• Interview:The Daily Cross Hatch 's Brian Heater, who says "Released late last month, Fantagraphics’ massive collection, Newave, has already made a strong case for its place on 2010’s list of most essential reissues," talks to the book's editor Michael Dowers: "I’ve always been into art and stuff, so I thought that [minicomics] would be fun to do. I used to do paintings, I did a bunch of wood carving, I built a few stringed instruments. I was always doing things with my hands. It wasn’t until I discovered minicomics that it just all came together. I never dreamed that, 30 years later, I would be writing a book about this stuff."
Picking up right after Perla La Loca, the third volume of the definitive “Maggie” series repackaging, this compilation of stories from Jaime Hernandez’s solo comic Penny Century and his subsequent return to Love and Rockets (Volume II) charts the further lives of his beloved “Locas.”
But first... wrestling! Penny Century starts off with a blast with “Whoa, Nellie!,” a unique graphic novelette in which Maggie, who has settled in with her pro-wrestler aunt for a while, experiences that wild and woolly world first-hand.
Then it’s back to chills and spills with the old cast of Hopey, Ray Dominguez, and Izzy Ortiz — including Maggie’s romantic dream fantasia “The Race” and the definitive Ray story, “Everybody Loves Me, Baby.”
Penny Century also features two major “flashback” stories: “Bay of Threes” finally reveals the full back story behind Beatriz “Penny Century” Garcia, Maggie’s long-time, bleached-blonde bombshell friend (who gives this volume its name and can be seen as a super-villainess in the first two issues of Love and Rockets: New Stories), while “Home School” is one of Hernandez’s popular looks at his characters’ lives from when they were little kids, drawn in an adorable simplified Dennis the Menace type style. This volume also includes the Maggie & Hopey Color Fun one-shot, reproduced here in glorious black and white.
144-page black & white 6.5" x 9.75" softcover • $16.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-318-7
At Comics Alliance, Douglas Wolk calls it "The most riveting, chilling graphic novel I've read so far this year" and "a great, shockingly dark piece of work." At Comics Comics, Joe McCulloch describes this correctly as "the newest of Fantagraphics ‘classic’ line of tall(-ish), thin(ner) softcovers, an all-Beto book collecting short stories featuring the character Fritz." The Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon calls this and Penny Century below "Some of the best comics in the world..."
240-page black & white 7.5" x 9.25" softcover • $18.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-342-2
This is "another 240-page entry in the short(er), fat(ter) line of catch-up-quick softcovers which you can promise yourself to, body and soul, in the hopes of an eventually comprehensive reading experience," says Comics Comics' Joe McCulloch, who also declares "my heart belongs to the 1996 miniseries Whoa, Nellie!, a leaner-than-usual action piece adoringly dotted with monolithic images of lady wrestlers in action – it’s like a superhero comic of the period, only just perfectly different enough." Douglas Wolk at Comics Alliance says "It's all great — I'm not sure Jaime could draw a bad comic if he tried..."
120-page black & white 7.75" x 10.5" hardcover • $24.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-353-8
At The Comics Reporter Tom Spurgeon declares "I'd say this is the release of the week: one of the great works from one of the great, important cartoonists." Comics Comics' Joe McCulloch says of Tardi "few artists possess dual OG certification with RAW and Heavy Metal" and calls the book "a human patchwork of WWI service, perhaps the artist’s keystone work." At Comics Alliance, Douglas Wolk describes it as "Tardi's ferocious graphic novel about the horrors of war in general and World War I in particular..."
104-page b&w/color 7.5" x 10.25" softcover • $18.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-284-5
Joe McCulloch sums it up at Comics Comics: "You may have missed this too, when Fantagraphics released it as a hardcover in 2004 – now these 104 pages of vintage Humorama digest illustrations won’t run you $78.99 new, if you believe Amazon sellers." Tom Spurgeon recalls that the original hardcover edition of this "was a really nice book" in his Comics Reporter recommendation.
Previews and information a-plenty can be had at the links above so you can gather knowledge before you gather your wallet and head out to your local shop.
• List:Booklist's Ray Olson names the Top 10 Graphic Novels of the past 12 months, including You'll Never Know, Book 1: A Good and Decent Man by C. Tyler ("Alt-comics veteran Tyler fully demonstrates her artistry in a book about her father’s WWII experiences, her childhood and present struggles raising her daughter, and her growing realization of war’s long-term effects on soldiers and their families.") and A Mess of Everything by Miss Lasko-Gross ("With washed and faded and wildly varied artwork and writing that sounds utterly like a teen’s voice, Lasko-Gross makes high-schooler Melissa’s late-teen experience real enough to nip incipient nostalgia in the bud.")
• Review: "This charming collection of stories from the long-running and much acclaimed Love and Rockets explores friendship and romance through the interconnected experiences of several characters over many years. ... What's impressive about Hernandez's work isn't so much each story on its own as it is how all the pieces fit together into a whole world that's almost but not quite like our own. ... Hernandez's gorgeous art is both expressive and simple... It all comes together to construct a world and people easy to relate to." – Publishers Weekly
• Review: "Tardi's work which is distinguished by an unstinting attention to locale and detail, captures the true horror of war in a way that no other artist has been quite able to achieve. ... [It Was the War of the Trenches] is the story of man against the system, with the system as the ultimate winner. This is a story for our times." – Peter Richardson (via ¡Journalista!)
• Profile: Benjamin Ivry of Forward looks at the career of Jules Feiffer, who says "From my earliest cartoons, I’ve tried to work in front of audiences who may not be happy with what I’m saying. In the then left-wing Village Voice, I criticized the student left and they weren’t happy. I don’t find it fun to work before audiences who would agree with me; I prefer to challenge their preconceptions. My role is to push and prod and challenge, and I try to do it pleasantly rather than otherwise."
• Interview:Robot 6's Chris Mautner talks to Matt Thorn about editing our upcoming manga line: "My goal is to make a line that will appeal to the twenty-something Sailor Moon/Pokémon generation that feel they've outgrown the bulk of what is currently available, and that will also appeal to intelligent grown-ups who just enjoy a good read, but have never seen themselves as readers of manga, or even comics. I'd like to provide these people with smart, high-quality, accessible manga."
• List:Only the Cinema's Ed Howard concludes counting down The Best Comics of the Decade: the top 20 includes "The Lute String" (available in Mome Vols. 9 & 10) by Jim Woodring at #16 ("It's moving, funny, and as with all of Woodring's work it demands a close reading"), Alias the Cat (originally The Stuff of Dreams) by Kim Deitch at #14 ("It's funny, goofy, exciting and far-ranging in its imaginative nonsense accumulations, and throughout it all Deitch's fond sense of nostalgia for a world that never quite was lends emotional heft to the story's elaborate twists and turns"), Dash Shaw's Bottomless Belly Button and Mome stories (collected in The Unclothed Man in the 35th Century A.D.) at #13 ("Dash Shaw is an utterly brilliant young cartoonist who has, in a few short years, advanced from the academic experiments of his earlier work... into a formalist genius whose skills encompass both a natural gift for color and a feel for subtle, indirect characterization"), Safe Area Gorazde by Joe Sacco at #7 ("Joe Sacco is a unique figure in modern comics: there is no one else who combines sheer cartooning chops with a newspaper reporter's sensibility and instincts in quite the same way. ... Safe Area Gorazde [is] an especially powerful document of the effects of war"), the comics of Kevin Huizenga at #4 ("Kevin Huizenga is the best young artist in comics. It's as simple as that. With his recent Fantagraphics series Ganges (part of the Ignatz line of high-quality pamphlets) Huizenga has matured into one of comics' finest formalists"), Jimbo in Purgatory by Gary Panter at #2 ("The denseness of Panter's references and cross-references makes the experience of reading this book a truly overwhelming experience; every line, every image, spirals into multiple other references and ideas, pulling in the whole wide expanse of world culture as a stomping ground for Jimbo's wanderings through the Purgatory of modern existence towards enlightenment"), and the Love and Rockets Vol. II work of Jaime Hernandez (as collected in Ghost of Hoppers and The Education of Hopey Glass) in the #1 slot ("There is no greater all-around artist in modern comics than Jaime Hernandez, and his recent work builds on his past successes so that his oeuvre as a whole is shaping up to be one of literature's best sustained stories about aging and the shifting of relationships over the course of a life").
• Review: "The best argument that the underground tradition is still alive is Hotwire Comics, edited by Glen Head (one of the most underrated cartoonists around, incidentally). Hotwire Comics is a visual assault, abrasive, confrontational, willing to poke and prod the audience: a real live wire that can shock. Everything a good underground comic book should be." – Jeet Heer, Comics Comics
• Review: "Strange Suspense is a handsome book generally, with a fun front cover and a nice, sturdy, feel. As far as my eye can tell the work is reproduced well; admittedly, I have one of the worst eyes in comics for that sort of thing. It's nice to have a bunch of comics from this time period, particularly the grittier pre-Code or Fear of Code-Like Crackdown work. There are some truly repulsive pieces of throwaway pulp in this book's pages, and Ditko was more than up to the task of illustrating them." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
• Review: "Mother, Come Home is a subtle, dark story about death and madness and fantasy, tied together by symbols and the voice of an older Thomas looking back on his childhood. It's not bleak, though; Thomas survives his traumatic childhood, and perhaps Hornschmeier's lesson is that we all can, if we try — if we step outside our rituals and fantasies and reach out to each other, we can make it through." – Andrew Wheeler, The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent. (via ¡Journalista!)