• Review: "If you've never heard the name Carl Barks, then you probably see this book [Walt Disney's Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes] and wonder, 'What makes this Donald Duck comic so great? Is this, like, an ironic VICE thing? Did I just get VICEd?' This is no goof, this book is the first in a series of volumes collecting some of the best examples of comic bookery ever produced.... In many ways these comics feel more similar to European adventure comics like Tintin or the Smurfs than they do with other American comics. The lines are so clean and bouncy and the stories all seem weirder and more sophisticated than run-of-the-mill children's shit from that era. ...Fantagraphics made my dreams come true with this perfect book. For $25 you get 200 pages of some of the most important comics ever made and about 30 pages of the story of Carl Barks' life along with story notes and annotations. This is a fucking steal. Thank you, Fantagraphics! Your books continue to give me bright bursts of joy even in the grimmest of times!" – Nick Gazin, VICE
• Review/Scene:Pulp Serenade's Cullen Gallagher shares some great photos of Kevin Avery's appearance at the Strand Bookstore in NYC last night, saying of the book: "Kevin’s biography, Everything Is an Afterthought, tells the whole sad story. It’s heartbreaking as hell, but I couldn’t put it down. Paul was a compelling and complex as any of the artists he wrote about — and just as talented.... One of the nicest touches to Everything Is an Afterthought (aside from making the book resemble a box of Nat Shermans, Paul's favorite) is its organization: part one is the biography, and part two is filled with some of Paul’s best pieces (including his Ross Macdonald obit). First you get to know the man through his life, and second you get to know the man through his art. When you finish the book, you begin to realize how Paul’s biography would be incomplete without his own writing."
• Review: "Artists of vision toiling within the gears of a vision-suppressing machine, Carl Barks and Floyd Gottfredson drew and wrote great swathes of the best popular art of the twentieth century, mostly in the least auspicious venues available: comic books and comic strips credited to Walt Disney.... Fantagraphics is currently collecting the work of both artists: Barks's transcendent Donald and Scrooge McDuck comics, and Gottfredson's sprightly Mickey Mouse serials. To the publisher's credit, the books are gorgeous but designed for readability rather than coffee-table displaying. This is great art you can feel guilt-free perusing in the bathtub....
"The initial volume in the Barks series is... all pleasure, a treasury of deceptively simple gag and adventure stories that fashioned with wit, irony, and impeccable craftmanship.... The longer stories here... are suspenseful, surprising, funny, and fresh... These kids' comics are far from kids' stuff -- this is for everyone....
"Like the goofy, violent, darker-than-expected cliffhangers of the second Indiana Jones flick, Gottfredson's Mickey Mouse -- especially in in its second volume, covering 1932 and '33 -- is an exhausting achievement in can-you-top-this adventure storytelling.... This kids' stuff isn't for kids, either. But it's revealing and thrilling, both a guide to what's long been wrong with this country -- and guide to what's great in its imagination." – Alan Scherstuhl, SF Weekly
• Review: "...I’d been looking forward to the Fantagraphics [Carl Barks Library] series, and I’m happy to say it’s being done right.... I like to think that Carl Barks, an unpretentious storyteller who created for an audience of children whose intelligence, ingenuity and decency he never doubted, would approve and be gladdened by how his work, this time around, is being put back out into the world." – Tom De Haven, The Comics Journal
• Review: "...[I]n this insightful and riveting biography, Avery has brought the flat-capped, sunglassed, mustachioed, Nat Sherman-smoking, hamburger eating, and Coca-Cola guzzling wordsmith back to life; a writer as fascinating -- and frustrating -- as many of his interview subjects.... Thankfully, more than half of the books pages are given over to reprints of Nelson's own work... And while Everything Is an Afterthought will bring renewed attention to the work of Paul Nelson, it's the work of Kevin Avery that resonates most as he tries -- and succeeds as much as possible -- to unravel the enigma of Paul Nelson's mind." – Bob Ruggiero, Houston Press
• Review: "Michael Kupperman’s Tales Designed to Thrizzle #7 has many more laughs than it does pages. It’s jokes that build on jokes that lead to more jokes through left turns, fakes, surprises, and nerdy pop culture references.... One premise leads to the next, like one of the better episodes of Monty Python or Mr Show... – this book is funny enough to make you crack up on a crowded bus." – Tom Mohrman, CultureMob
• Interview: David Fernández of Zona Negativa has a career-spanning Q&A (in English and Spanish) with Jason: "You don’t do comics for the money. You do it for love of the medium, for the need to tell stories in images. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. You feel a connection to other struggling cartoonists. It’s something you have in common. There some humility in it. So there are very few cartoonist assholes. I haven’t met any."
At his blog Jason has begunposting panels from his new as-yet-untitled book in progress, saying "For the moment it looks like it will be around 150-160 pages. So I guess this will be my first graphic novel. That means I'm a... I'm a... graphic novelist! Woo hoo!" The dialogue above translates as "Fucking hell..."
• Review: "This slim volume is finely edited, and its narrative tone resides on the border between fairy stories and unbowdlerized folk tales. In other words, it is suffused with equal dismay and delight at the nature of the world. The drawings, printed in two crisp colors, would be worth the price of the book if it were stripped of words. Like Craig Thompson’s Habibi (which it precedes in its original publication date, pre-translation) and Umberto Eco’s Baudolino, it has a great deal of wonder in it, which it conveys in a surprisingly matter-of-fact way. Do note that the book is full of penises and violence (and I mean full), so you may not want to buy it for your ten-year-old niece, but if you are still under the spell of story, The Armed Garden will delight you." – Hillary Brown, Paste
• Reviews:Cosmic Treadmill begins their survey of the complete works of Jason with Hey, Wait... ("What starts out as a series of cute and fun moments of the protagonist’s childhood turns into one of the most memorable comic book moments I can think of.... This should be on everyone’s to-read list"), Sshhhh! ("utterly engrossing... another quite memorable book"), and The Iron Wagon ("Full of deceit, paranoia and some great characterisation, The Iron Wagon won’t soon be forgotten") — all of which are collected in What I Did
• Plug: "I loved [Mascots], and if you're the kind of person that this kind of thing might appeal to, I highly recommend it. It lands a tricky acrobatic mix of poetry, graphic design, painting, and general sketchbook goofballery." – Kevin Huizenga\
• Interview: Dan Wagstaff, a.k.a. The Casual Optimist, has a Q&A with Jason: "I have ideas in my brain, just lying there, that I sometimes think about. This can last years. Then suddenly I can get ideas for dialogues. I write this down. It’s maybe four or five pages. I can start working on those, and at the same time think about what’s going to happen next. I don’t write a full script. It’s based on improvisation. I write pieces of dialogue. Or sometimes I sketch out the pages first, the images, and write the dialogue after. I usually work on nine or ten pages at the same time, pencil a bit here , then ink it, and then pencil a bit there and ink that. It’s the completely wrong way of doing it, by the way, but it seems to be the only way I can work."
• Plugs: Martha Cornog of Library Journal spotlights a few of our upcoming releases in the latest "Graphic Novels Prepub Alert":
Creeping Death from Neptune: Horror and Science Fiction Comics by Basil Wolverton: "The line between horror and humor dissolves easily, and Wolverton's extravagantly grotesque drawings drew chortles and chills from readers of MAD magazine and numerous comics from the 1940s to the 1950s.... Now a few years after a successful New York exhibit plus several published collections of illustrations and shorter pieces, this volume reprints important sf/horror sequential work, carefully restored, plus material from his personal ledgers and diaries."
Jack Jackson's American History: Los Tejanos & Lost Cause: "With the pen name of 'Jaxon,' Jackson (1941-2006) drew Texas history into comics that included Mexican as well as Anglo legacies. Los Tejanos ('the Texans' of Mexican ancestry) fixes on Juan Seguín, a tragic figure in the 1835-75 Texas-Mexican conflict. Lost Cause chronicles the state's turmoil during Reconstruction, in the wake of the Civil War. Jackson's detailed, realistically drawn accounts will be useful for anyone interested in those coordinates of U.S. history or in Latino-Anglo heritage."
No Straight Lines: Four Decades of Queer Comics: "Herewith a color and black-and-white sampler from a little-recognized underground of gay comics from the past four decades, including [Alison] Bechdel and [Howard] Cruse, Europe's Ralf Koenig, and 2011 ALA keynoter Dan Savage. Huh? Dan Savage wrote comics?! Indeedy, indeedy. Fantagraphics promises 'smart, funny, and profound' — and uncensored."
• Review/Interview: "Leslie Stein is a pretty lady who made a comic [Eye of the Majestic Creature] in which she is a cute/gross little humanoid with eyes that are like coins and a best friend who is a guitar. Her comical alter ego is named Larry Bear and her guitar's name is Marshy. They live in a house in a field, but it's pretty clear that almost everything they experience is some joked-up fantasized autobiographical story. It's hard to know what's based on reality and what isn't, and which characters are based on real folks and which are just supposed to be Leslie's internal feelings personified.... Leslie's work communicates an urban loneliness that I relate to a lot, seeing as we live in the same place. It's cute and sad and familiar, especially if you're 30 or under." – Nick Gazin, who also talks to Leslie at Vice: "I think for the most part she represents the lighter side of my personality. I'm happy when I'm drawing and I hope that comes across through her on the page, in whatever situation she is in. She dresses a bit weirder than I do, so that's fun. I'm not really a shy person, but I feel like I'm constantly embarrassing myself. She doesn't have that self-consciousness."
• Review: "Post-apocalyptic stories tend to be grim, but The Hidden is very dark indeed.... The book feels like a modern-day gothic horror. The survivors are metaphors for humanity, with a heroic few battling an onslaught of monsters, human or otherwise. Humanity is on the brink of extinction, and still people bring out the worst in one another.... Sala’s illustration is compelling... ★★★★ [out of 5]" – Grovel
• Review: "[Kevin] Avery’s book, Everything Is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson, is an admirably unorthodox construction that starts with a bracing 180-page biography of Paul followed by a 265 page collection of Nelson’s music writing, primarily that from the seventies focusing on the artists he was particularly drawn to.... What’s impressive about Avery’s biographic half of the book is that he’s produced both an intimate personal bio and a comprehensive professional bio as well. He’s talked to virtually everyone who Nelson inspired or mentored in rock criticism starting in the latter half of the sixties and into the Rolling Stone years. These knuckleheads are a who’s who of American rock criticism, God help us." – Joe Carducci (SST Records, Rock and the Pop Narcotic), The New Vulgate
• Review: "I was looking forward to this new book [Setting the Standard] a/ because it's Alex Toth and b/ because it reprints 60 stories, Toth's entire contribution to the catalogue of a long defunct publisher whose material we rarely see reprinted.... Toth's work has long been admired for its distilled simplicity of black and white design, but these early pages fizz and bubble with life.... The book under discussion is from Fantagraphics, with the original printed pages restored in all their colours by Greg Sadowski, who put the whole package together with extensive notes..." – Eddie Campbell (via The Comics Reporter)
• Plugs: Brian Ralph's choices for his guest contribution to Robot 6's weekly "What Are You Reading?" column include Captain Easy Vol. 2 by Roy Crane ("It’s a fun combination of action and laughs. Sometimes very serious and other times very cartoony, in both story and art style. I just love the way Roy Crane draws these goons. And the colors! The palettes are unusual and beautiful.") and Setting the Standard: Comics by Alex Toth 1952-1954 ("I’ll read one of these [stories] before I go to bed. I like that in a short page count he quickly develops a rich story and twilight zoney twist. Sometimes it’s a bizarre romance or horror story with a stunning conclusion. They’re a fun read.")
• Review: "Brief but witty dialogue and black humor come together in a brutal satire of deception, torture and the death penalty. This comic is a good comedy that combines the sense of adventure and intrigue of Jason's comics, his 'tempo' and narrative tone, with a trio of protagonists who I came to appreciate in very few pages. Emotion, gags, surprises, and an ending that you do not expect. Isle of 100,000 Graves is an original and very enjoyable read that keeps Jason as a safe bet in the shopping cart. Between tenderness and cruelty, of course the contribution of writer Fabien Vehlmann to the Norwegian cartoonist's particular universe could not have been more successful." – Alita News (translated from Spanish)
• Review: "Warm-hearted, deceptively heart-wrenching, challenging, charming and irresistibly addictive, Love and Rockets: New Stories is a grown up comics fan’s dream come true and remains as valid and groundbreaking as its earlier incarnations — the diamond point of the cutting edge of American graphic narrative." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Interview:The Comics Reporter 's Tom Spurgeon talks to backbone Mome contributor T. Edward Bak about his experience at Boomfest in St. Petersburg, Russia: "There were so many things going on. There were people interested in all of the presentations. They took place over four or five hours, in three or four different centers. A lot of artists were there. For these kinds of presentations, it was other artists attending. It was like APE: you have people that are making comics or are interested in making comics."
• Interview: At The Comics Journal, Matt Seneca enjoys a studio visit and thoughtful discussion with Gary Panter: "That’s one of the games that modern art plays: where does it go, and what does it affect by trying to go? And so, usually in fine art, you’re making a kind of pregnant or puzzling object, or some object that has presence and which calls to people, hopefully. It arrests them for a second and various things happen, whereas in a comic, I want people lying in bed reading it. I want people lying in bed and reading it, and you forget you’re reading it, and you go in the story, and you’re like, 'Whoa! What happened?' And you either remember it or you don’t."
• Review: "Every now and then, if I’m lucky, I might just bump into a stone cold masterpiece. The kind of art that makes you just want to shout and scream it is so good. So, in the interest of doing just that, let me say that this Jaime Hernandez’s 'The Love Bunglers' (Love and Rockets: New Stories no. 4) is such a work. I don’t even need to qualify it for myself (i.e. 'what’s coming later; what’s come before; shouldn’t there be a cooling period?') when I say: This is not just Jaime’s finest work, but one of the best (at this moment I’d rank it in my top five of all time) works ever created in the medium. You can hold that over me in twenty years and I’ll still be right..." – Dan Nadel, The Comics Journal [SPOILER WARNING]
• Review: "Jaime Hernandez is my favorite cartoonist. I think he is the greatest cartoonist of all time. My opinion.... No art moves me the way the work of Jaime Hernandez moves me. I am in awe of his eternal mystery." – Frank Santoro, The Comics Journal
• Review: "I picked up a copy of the new issue at a signing Jaime was doing here in Brooklyn a few weeks ago. It was a packed house, and there were a lot of people I was happy to talk to. Amidst all the socializing, I allowed myself a quick glimpse inside the comic, and when I randomly flipped to pages 92 and 93, I felt like I’d been blind-sided. I had to look closer to make sure I was seeing what I thought I was seeing." – Adrian Tomine, The Comics Journal
• Commentary:Robot 6's Sean T. Collins spotlights the above TCJ links, saying "Paying off thirty years of continuity and character development. Delivering shocks, gasps, cheers, and tears in equal measure, seemingly at the author’s whim. Offering a master class in everything from laying out a double-page spread to drawing clothes. Telling a story about beloved characters so emotionally engaging that even their most ardent fans wouldn’t mind if this were the last one ever told. Any way you slice it, Jaime Hernandez's 'The Love Bunglers' — his contribution to the recently released Love and Rockets: New Stories #4 and the conclusion to the already wildly acclaimed 'The Love Bunglers'/'Browntown' suite from last year’s issue — is a hell of a comic. But you don’t have to take my word for it."
• Review: "As I finished reading Love and Rockets: New Stories #4, I had to sit back and just take a moment to take it all in and collect myself, as I know that I had just completed reading one of the greatest works in comics for 2011. Love and Rockets has been a source of inspiration within the comics industry for years, so it’s not like I’m the first one to praise the Brothers Hernandez for their contribution. But it’s even more incredible to see that after nearly 30 years, both Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez are creating some of the best comics of their careers and making them completely accessible to new readers. Love and Rockets: New Stories #4 is an achievement for the Brothers Hernandez and has earned a permanent spot on my required reading list for anyone interested in reading the great works of modern comics creators." – Ron Richards, iFanboy "Book of the Month"
• Review (Audio): "The artwork [in Pogo] is fantastic because Kelly, coming from a Disney background, had really great technical chops and he was able to put a lot of detail into a small daily strip while at the same time giving it breathing room despite the fact that the characters are quite talkative…. He crowded an awful lot into each panel without making it feel crowded, which is a neat trick. He really pulled it off well. …It's just a joy to look at, and it's so much fun to read too because the characters all have really funny personalities that are… very dimensional… It is beautifully designed by Walt Kelly's daughter Carolyn Kelly, and she and Fantagraphics did a really good job of finding all these strips… lovingly scanned and restored so that you get to see the line art in all its detailed glory…. I highly recommend it -- it's going to be one of my prize books... that I'm going to hang onto for a long time." – Mark Frauenfelder, Boing Boing "Gweek" podcast
• Review: "When you read the first volume of Fantagraphics' complete reprint of Gottfredson's Mickey Mouse — the first of its kind anywhere — you understand quickly why Disney decided to keep him on the daily strip. He was simply a natural talent." – Matthias Wivel, Nummer 9 (translated from Danish)
• Commentary: "...Jim Woodring is not one to rest on his laurels where his funny-animal protagonist Frank is concerned. Lately he’s been posting breathtaking images... to his blog on a surprisingly regular basis. They appear to show Frank up to his old mischievous tricks, and to augur another Frank book on the horizon. Check them out here and here, and marvel that a cartoonist of Woodring’s caliber is tossing these things out there for free like it ain’t no thing." – Sean T. Collins, Robot 6