Publishers Weekly just posted their comics reviews for July and we thought they'd make a nice post all on their own. Excerpts follow:
Celluloid by Dave McKean: "McKean’s ability to master many artistic styles and use them to present an ever-changing surreal visual narrative is on full display.... The work has a dreamlike quality throughout, sometimes confusing, sometimes nightmarish, sometimes bizarre, as shapes and people meld and twist into one another. Nothing is ever really explained or resolved, putting the burden on reader to take their own meaning away from the night’s events."
Queen of the Black Black by Megan Kelso: "This long-out-of-print collection of short stories by Kelso is an intriguing and evocative look into her early work, quiet little tales filled with realistic emotion and more than a little narrative ambiguity.... Kelso’s art is simple and somewhat 'cartoony,' but the style meshes perfectly with the book’s thoughtful narrative qualities. Kelso’s strength is a gentle understanding of the various undercurrents of longing and memory that motivate us, and these stories show that in abundance."
Isle of 100,000 Graves by Jason & Fabien Vehlmann: "Jason and Vehlmann’s story of a young girl seeking the help of pirates to track down her lost father mixes elements of grim family drama with light and dark comedy to create an engrossing story that keeps readers surprised with sudden twists in both plot and mood.... Jason’s characteristic style of animal people with minimal expressions conveys a surprisingly wide array of emotions, even when one wears a hangman’s hood showing only eye holes and a thin mouth. Short and yet complex, it’s a strong story with unexpected laughs."
Willie & Joe: Back Home by Bill Mauldin: "This time capsule is the second collection of Mauldin’s cartoons from Fantagraphics, this time covering the post-World War II period of 1945-1946.... The linework and chiaroscuro are amazing... Editor Todd DePastino’s introduction, covering key events in Mauldin’s life during the creation of these cartoons, is essential to comprehending some of the content, but other cartoons — such as those featuring forgotten veterans, lying politicians, or creeping consumerism—are universal."
• List:School Library Journal names Linda Medley's Castle Waiting Vol. 2 one of "39 Graphic Novels That Kids Can't Resist": "Both volumes of Castle Waiting are vivid and enchanting, as any good fairy tale should be. Handsomely bound and printed on rich, creamy paper, the most important element — the story — is charming, filled with slowly building plots and compelling characters, and the slow pace means readers can spend the summer hours with some good company.... With clean black-and-white art and impeccable pacing, Castle Waiting remains a favorite for older kids and younger teens."
• List: Rick Klaw's "Top Ten of the Half Year '11" at The Geek Curmudgeon includes Joe Daly's Dungeon Quest at #9 ("Littered with violence, inappropriate sexual innuendos, misguided bravado and infused with hilarity, Dungeon Quest... promises a uniquely entertaining graphic novel experience.") and 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente by Wilfred Santiago at #3 ("In this emotionally moving biography, the Puerto Rican Wilfred Santiago magnificently chronicles the often tragic life of this icon.... Santiago expertly traverses Clemente's tribulations, losses, and success with ease and skill. His portrayal of the baseball games rank among the finest ever attempted in this medium. Under the masterful hands of Santiago, 21 evolves into far more than just a biography of a sports figure. It showcases a life worth emulating.")
• Profile: "...21: The Story of Roberto Clemente... is drawn with a jagged whimsy that gets at the sudden sharpness of a baseball game's action, the frenzy that comes from out of nowhere to temporarily replace the long, slow stretches of waiting, scratching, spitting and eyeballing opponents that are endemic to the sport. The result is a captivating work that reflects the complexity of Clemente (1934-1972), a dedicated humanitarian as well as an uncommonly gifted athlete.... 'I knew the culture he came from, because I came from the same place,' [Wilfred] Santiago says. 'And there was a mythic aspect to him that was part of the story I wanted to tell. Comic books bring a different kind of narrative that's not possible in any other medium — not books, not movies.'" – Julia Keller, Chicago Tribune
• Review: "A little boy is mistaken for his older sister and is bewildered by the feeling that this stirs in him. Thus begins the story of the Wandering Son, a daring fairy-tale about two unusual children in the time before the riot of puberty and their struggles with who they are and who they want to be.... The artwork in Wandering Son is appealing and sensitive.... Wandering Son mercifully isn’t a political screed and its characters, equally mercifully, are not pressured into making political points out of their inner lives.... They are allowed under that protective charm 'kawaii' to explore their feelings and identity and are treated with the utmost compassion and dignity by their author. That makes Wandering Son a most compelling fantasy... Wandering Son chooses for the most part to dwell on the possibility of choice, of self-knowledge and the love of a friend who knows your secret." – Michael Arthur, The Hooded Utilitarian
• Review: At his High-Low blog, Rob Clough re-posts his Sequart review of the first 5 volumes of Mome: "I can't help thinking of Mome as the comics equivalent of a baseball farm league club. You know you're good if you're invited by the major league club to come on, but there's an expectation of getting better, of being productive, of working hard in order to become great. And the creators in this book seem to range across a wide variety of ages and levels of experience, much like a minor league baseball team. Some are raw rookies, others have been laboring in obscurity for years and are just now getting an opportunity at the big time."
• Interview:The Daily Cross Hatch's Brian Heater continues his conversation with Mome editor Eric Reynolds: "I don’t know if there’s an official reason. I just felt like the time had come. It had been over five years. I’m really happy with it. I’m proud of what we did. But at the same time, there are always compromises you make along the way. I felt I’d already run my course with it. I could have kept it going. I sort of set myself up with a template that was fairly easy to do, three or four times a year."
• Review: "Excellent quality reproduction of the cartoons, interesting texts...; a supreme book treatment by a 'bibliophile publisher': something that convinces even the most recalcitrant Disney collectors to buy something that they might already have seen and have read the contents of the first volume in multiple dressings and in multiple languages, and possess it in different forms." – Luca Boschi, Il Sole 24 Ore (translated from Italian)
• Plug: "Mickey Mouse 'Race to Death Valley' has the first MM strips from 1930-32 by Floyd Gottfredson, considered the finest of all the MM artists and much collected. Several complete episodes and a wonderful 68-page section devoted to essays, early Mickey artwork and special features. I'm eager to sit down and digest it all myself." – Bud Plant
• Review: "Schulz's jokes are fine; his characters are likable and instantly recognizable; and Peanuts is never dull. But, in these years, it settled for being a consistently entertaining standard comic strip rather than digging any more deeply than that into the sources of human sadness and discomfort." – Andrew Wheeler, The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.
• Plugs: The latest "Comics College" reader's guide from Chris Mautner at Robot 6 delves into George Herriman and Krazy Kat: "If you... want to dig deeper, the next logical choice is Fantagraphics’ lovely collection of Sunday strips, dubbed Krazy & Ignatz.... If all those books seem like too much shopping for you, Fantagraphics has collected much of the same material in two hardcovervolumes, with a presumed third one coming along the way sometime in the near future.... Fantagraphics has announced their intention to collect the daily Krazy Kat strips as well, but that’s down the line a bit. In the meantime, there are really only two ways to get a solid sampling of the daily strip, one of which is The Kat Who Walked in Beauty, an oversize tome that pairs together strips from the 1910s and 1920s, as well as some other Krazy-related ephemera."
• Plug: "Fantagraphics Books publishes one of my all-time favorites; Jason, short for John Arne Saerterøy. Jason’s animal people inhabit satirical but celebratory genre pieces. In about 50 pages, Jason’s The Last Musketeer tells the story of Athos, the last depressed musketeer in the 21st century. A meteor hits Paris, and Martians start invading. Before too long, Athos stows away to Mars to save the Martian princess in order to save Earth from total annihilation." – Victoria Elliott, The Daily Texan
• Review: "Expectations are foiled at every turn [in Congress of the Animals] precisely because Woodring is digging deep into the rich soil of his own imagination; he's pulling these stories up from the same place that myths and legends come from, and in that way, his books have the weird weight and unmistakable freshness of myth. These are stories that haven't been told before, but they come from the place where stories are born, so they're instantly recognizable to everyone. And because they live in the prelinguistic language of cartoons, almost anyone on the planet can look at a page and immediately understand what is happening." – Paul Constant, The Stranger
• Plug: Further, Jim Woodring's appearance at Elliott Bay Book Company tonight is today's "The Stranger Suggests," Paul Constant saying "Every one of Woodring's comics is an epic poem, a psychedelic novel, and a deeply personal memoir. If you can't identify with his protagonist, the innocent-but-fickle Frank, there's something wrong with you."
• Review: "In Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse Vol. 1, part of an ambitious, multi-volume reprint project from Fantagraphics, 21st century readers are reintroduced to this largely forgotten Mickey and his unfortunately largely forgotten cartoonist. It’s like meeting Mickey Mouse for the first time — and learning the little guy is actually a total badass. ★★★★ [out of 5]" – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Las Vegas Weekly
• Review: "Mordantly hilarious, this superbly cynical fable [Isle of 100,000 Graves] rattles along in captivating fashion: a perfect romp for older kids and a huge treat for fans looking for something a little bit different. Jason’s work always jumps directly into the reader’s brain and heart, using his beastly repertory company to gently pose eternal questions about basic human needs in a soft but relentless quest for answers. That you don’t ever notice the deep stuff because of the clever gags and safe, familiar 'funny-animal' characters should indicate just how good a cartoonist he is. His collaboration here with the sly and sardonic Vehlmann has produced a genuine classic that we’ll all be talking about for years to come." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Plug: "...[W]hile it seems like an oddball idea to put an individual spin on masterworks like Poe's, [The Raven] actually looks gorgeous, the artwork fantastic and macabre..." – Sydney Brownstone, The L Magazine
• Plug: "Lou Reed has been quite busy these days. When he's not collaborating with Metallica on a record, he's spending time putting together a graphic novel based around his 'spiritual forefather' Edgar Allen Poe, called, appropriately, The Raven. ...Reed's Poe-esque lyrics have been collected into a book and illustrated with paintings by New Yorker cartoonist Lorenzo Mattotti. And yes, the book looks just as creepy as you'd expect." – Jamie Feldmar, Gothamist
• Interview (Audio):Inkstuds host Robin McConnell's latest guest: "Wilfred Santiago’s comic biography of Roberto Clemente  is a great look at a specific time in not only baseball, but also touching on mid century american racial and political tones. Wilfred skillfully tackles a range of issues in this great collection. It was a delight to discuss this great book with him."
• Lore:Kim Deitch's "Mad About Music: My Life in Records" column continues over at TCJ.com, with the new third installment focusing on television
We're trying something new! Every couple of weeks we'll be spotlighting a loosely thematic selection of a few of our recent and older titles just to, you know, remind you that they exist, and to entice you to buy them we're offering them at a whopping 40% off for four days only, Friday through Monday! Selections and themes have been suggested by our warehouse manager, who is chock full of good ideas. This outing: "A Hairy Bestiary"!
Beasts! Book 1 [Softcover Edition]: A classic mythological menagerie, comprised of creatures that were thought at one time to actually exist, depicted by about a hundred acclaimed artists and cartoonists. Now in softcover after 2 sold-out hardcover editions. Regularly $24.99, now $14.99 — Order Now
Billy Hazelnuts and the Crazy Bird by Tony Millionaire: The long-awaited sequel to the Eisner-winning graphic novel! The cantankerous little golem's second adventure is a crazy potion of all-ages fun, humor, thrills and chills in the inimitable Millionaire style. Regularly $19.99, now $11.99 — Order Now
Rocky Vol. 1: The Big Payback by Martin Kellerman: This mostly autobiographical daily strip details the rudely hilarious travails of a young cartoonist and his layabout pals and neurotic girlfriends. A smash hit in its native Sweden, now in English for the first time. Regularly $12.95, now $7.77 — Order Now
Werewolves of Montpellier by Jason: A faux werewolf-cum-burglar runs afoul of a real society of werewolves who don't take kindly to the pretender. Lycanthropic thrills, romantic dilemmas, situation comedy, existential drama — in other words, pure Jason. Regular price $12.99, now $7.79 — Order Now
Remember, these savings are only good through Monday, June 27!
• Review: "...Artichoke Tales and The Squirrel Mother have established Kelso as one of the most original talents in comics. The dozen stories in Queen of the Black Black show an emerging talent, but not a fully-formed one; Kelso tries out a variety of styles here, from primitivist to expressionistic, and tries out a variety of genres too, from slice-of-life to historical fantasy. This book isn’t the best introduction to Kelso — that would be The Squirrel Mother — but it’s essential for fans..." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "Now collected and translated into English, Approximate Continuum Comics is almost more valuable now than it was at the time, serving as a historical document of one of some of the most significant cartoonists in Eurocomics. The book also exemplifies Trondheim’s distinctive autobiographical style, which allows plenty of room for dream sequences, slapstick, digressions, and all the virtues that make his fiction work such a delight." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "For Isle of 100,000 Graves, Norwegian cartoonist Jason works his animal-headed characters into a rip-roaring pirate tale written by Fabien Vehlmann. The result is a little more dialogue-heavy and a little less existential than Jason’s usual books, but it’s still funny and imaginative, telling the story of a young girl who joins a band of buccaneers to look for her father and ends up meeting a hapless lad who’s enrolled in school for executioners. The action barrels straight ahead to a sweet finish, but the highlights of Isle of 100,000 Graves come in that school, where kids dispassionately learn to maim and torture in ways that perfectly suit Jason’s deadpan style." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "Isle of 100,000 Graves is the first work of Jason's to be written by someone other than himself. Boy, did he choose a good one!... Visually it is much the same as Jason's other works, which in my opinion are stunning in their simplicity. The sparse composition of the panels, the 'ligne claire' art style (yeah, I just got pretentious on yo' ass) and the fantastic use of negative space all add to the understated, dead pan wit of the tale. A fun and entertaining adventure that just goes towards further proving the talent of these men." – 2 Bad Guys from an 80s Movie
• Review: "...Woodring returns with Congress of the Animals, a 100-page book focused on Frank. The style and format will be familiar to Woodring devotees — wordless and surreal, with each panel packed with thick, squiggly lines — but the story’s more clearly allegorical than usual, following the buck-toothed, easygoing Frank as he moves into a new home and learns what it means to work a soul-crushing job to maintain a standard of living. The theme is heavy, but there’s a strong slapstick comedy element too, which endures right up to the point where things take a turn from the merely weird to the mind-meltingly weird." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "If Mauldin’s World War II strips were a needed corrective to the public’s glorification of war, then his post WWII work fulfilled the same function for those who thought of post-war America as some kind of euphoric utopia.... The production values for this volume, like the hardcover edition for The WWII Years, are impeccable.... DePastino’s introduction is jammed with illustrative biographical details and is livened up with promotional materials.... Back Home is a study of an artist in transition, both in terms of his art and his life. At the same time, it’s a study of a nation in transition, where the political and cultural ground was shifting and a battle over the nature of that national discourse was being waged." – Rob Clough, The Comics Journal
• Plug: "I re-read both the Hernanadez brothers collected works about once a year and there’s not a lot between them. But somehow the subject matter and sheer storytelling verve of Locas tips the balance for me. I’m constantly in awe of how they both can chronicle the lives of huge casts of characters. The hardback collections of Locas and Palomar are absolutely essential." – Oli Barratt, Lost At E Minor
• Review: "...[Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse] is not just a great Mickey Mouse comic, it's one of the best comics of all time.... When Gottfredson took over the Mickey Mouse newspaper strip in 1930, he created stories that still hold up eighty years later as solid well-done comics. That alone would be an incredible achievement, especially considering how few stories from the era even seem readable to a modern audience, but Gottfredson takes things to an entirely different level with comedy that's still funny and adventures that are genuinely thrilling.... As to the book itself, Fantagraphics has done their usual amazing job of design on it... The strips are crisp, there's a ton of bonus material (including biographical information, details on the process, and a bunch of additional strips), and the book even feels nice in your hands while you're reading it. They did a seriously remarkable job putting it together, which is fitting considering how good the material is.... It's a great collection, and one of the few that anyone who likes any sort of comics could — and should — pick up and enjoy." – Chris Sims, Comics Alliance (all emphasis his)
• Review: "It feels like there's been an onslaught of pirate stories in the last several years, but Jason's deadpan visual style mixed with Vehlmann's absurdly dark humor make for a special tale of skullduggery.... Hilarity and adventure ensue, but not without a tremendously affecting and emotionally complicated final scene, making [Isle of 100,000 Graves] a wild ride in the truest sense of the term." – John Seven, Worcester Magazine
• Plug: "Legendary writer Bagge (Hate) and artist Hernandez (Love and Rockets) teamed up ten years ago for this comic [Yeah!] about a spunky all-girl, all-universe rock band. Now the whole series has been collected for the punk/sci-fi girl in your life." – Dan Kois, New York
• Interview: Christopher John Farley has a brief Q&A with Paul Hornschemeier at The Wall Street Journal's Speakeasy blog: "I tend to write far more than I draw, I may have an image pop into my head, but those are usually just isolated points of inspiration: from there the writing takes over."
• Review: "...[J]ust as Woodring’s wordless walkabouts are voyages of discovery for his anthropomorphic protagonists, so they should be for each of us. Wonders wait around every corner, so I’ll leave you to wonder what wonders they’ll be. What I can promise you [in Congress of the Animals] is the same, exquisite level of craftsmanship you’ll have become accustomed to." – Stephen L. Holland, Page 54
• Review: "...[Celluloid is] a spectacularly lush, surreal and expressionistic affair which engages the mind as well as refreshing the parts which other beers fail to reach.... Gorgeous cover, beautiful production values!" – Stephen L. Holland, Page 54
• Review: "[Isle of 100,000 Graves] is an absolutely hilarious adventure romp from Vehlmann and Jason ... Jason’s hangdog art style perfectly complements the deadpan humour [Vehlmann]’s penned here. A child running rings round all and sundry is a tale that’s oft been told, but rarely with the panache and wit displayed you’ll find within these pages." – Jonathan Rigby, Page 54
• Lore: We're very excited about the new column over at TCJ.com: "Mad About Music: My Life in Records," by the great Kim Deitch — if you know Kim's work you know that a) music is a big part of his fictional and actual worlds (and that blurry area where they intersect) and b) he's a great raconteur, so this series should be a treat