Holy smokes, there's no shortage of Online Commentary & Diversions today:
• Review: "...Prison Pit... is nothing less than a continuous, no-holds barred, violent assault on the eyes. It is literally one god damned, bloody fight scene after another... The book's genius lies in Ryan's sheer nerve and imagination in setting up these battles; he constantly ups the ante in the most bizarre and inventive ways possible. ... Ryan's love of body functions goes into full gonzo mode here. ...you've got a book where body horror extends far beyond the repulsive into the truly sublime and inspired. ... Despite the gore, or perhaps, because of it, Prison Pit is a fantastic, accomplished work." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "Page after page [of The Squirrel Machine] features one of the brothers traversing through some odd, off-kilter landscape, either out in the woods, or, more often, in their home. Between the floorboards and walls seem to exist an endless array of paths and rooms, each cluttered with an endless array of junk, machines and the occasional disturbing, inexplicable oddity. The end result resembles more of an old-style adventure video game than a comic. It's Myst, directed by David Cronenberg." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6 (same link as above)
• Review: "Perhaps what makes West Coast Blues so captivating is how well it highlights the similarities between film and comics, while simultaneously showcasing its own unique ability as a graphic novel to capture the noir aesthetic through word and image. ... Not unlike many noir films, West Coast Blues is replete with car chases, hit-men, drinking, guns, and the occasional salacious scene. All of this is set in Tardi’s straightforward drawing style which is a good fit for the almost matter-of-fact, unsentimental manner in which violence, sex, and life in general are met with during the course of the book." – Sara Cole, PopMatters
• Review: "Most comic strips today, especially those that are humor strips, often avoid topical subjects. Schulz embraced the topics of the era. They may date the strip, but it never leaves them outdated. ... Schulz was also not afraid to carry on-going storylines for several days or in some cases, even a couple of weeks. ... [The Complete Peanuts 1973-1974 ] also features all the favorite subjects like Linus’ annual wait for the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown’s trip to Summer camp, and Sally’s letters to Santa Claus. This is why Peanuts is the greatest strip ever!" – Tim Janson, Newsarama
• Review: "Jason seems to delight in building firm plots, only to swiftly tug them out of sync. The resulting offbeat dynamic is punctuated with deadpan verbal, narrative and graphic punch lines, which pin the stories down at the same time that they suggest grander meanings. 'Where am I?' asks a prisoner. 'I think I'll do some gardening,' says a murdered man. 'Which way?' a son asks his father in 'You Are Here' — the heartrending emotional core of the collection [Low Moon] — as they search for his mother on a barren planet. Each line and frame could mean nothing or could mean everything in this quiet, gripping book." – Becky Ferreira, The L Magazine
• Interview: Jason speaks frankly about Low Moon with Becky Ferreira of The L Magazine (different link than above): "Low Moon, the story, wasn't long enough for a book of its own, so I had to include some other stories to fill it out. They were just ideas for shorter stories I had lying around. There wasn't meant to be any thematic unity. Death, I guess, is a repeating theme. People die a lot."
• Interview: Tommy Hill of the Columbia Daily Spectator talks to The Comics Journal assistant editor Kristy Valenti about comics criticism and The Importance of Comics: "I teach my interns that nobody cares about them and their feelings and their dog when they were 8; while their experience and perspective is valuable, it’s just a jumping off point to get at bigger things."
• Plug: "You Are There...: More beautiful Jacques Tardi, a seminal work in comics for adults in the French-language market and a first-paragraph mention work for both Tardi and writer Jean-Claude Forest." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
• Plug: "[You Are There] is a strange, wordy, spicy satire, seeing a man struggle to live on the walls surrounding land stolen from him; maybe it's best to see for yourself." - Joe McCulloch, Jog - The Blog (read the rest of his blurb for some interesting background info on the book)
We just wrapped up our listings for the November issue of Previews, for our releases scheduled for January 2010. The issue's not even printed yet, but we've already posted the listings over in our News section! Get the details on King of the Flies Vol. 1: Hallorave by Pirus & Mezzo, the new volumes of our Mome and Hotwire Comics anthologies, the second volume of Unlovable by Esther Pearl Watson, and our collection of out-of-print Jason stories, Almost Silent! Follow Fantagraphics as we forge ahead into the second decade of the 2000s!
• Review: "These latest tales from the art comics trailblazers are sure to draw readers in with their melancholic tone and the adventurous comic art that has enthralled readers for decades. ...[W]e see Jaime's superheroes going wild, both narratively and visually.... 'Sad Girl' is... classic character-driven storytelling from Gilbert and will be welcomed by all the Luba fans out there. His second story, 'Hypnotwist,' is the cherry on top of this volume... The narrative's dreamlike quality and its rich and mesmerizing imagery make it a surreal tour de force." – Publishers Weekly
• Review: "...Brunetti [knows] that for shock art to have any value behind it at all, you have to have some degree of conscience as the engine. As readers we’re required to know and agree that this sort of thing is untenable, in order for us to constantly re-evaluate and come to terms with our own morals. Which would make the title of this book [Ho! The Morally Questionable Cartoons of Ivan Brunetti] rather appropriate. So you should read this book and make your mind up. But be warned, it will play with your disgust and your chuckle muscle in ways you might not have imagined beforehand." – Will Fitzpatrick, Bookmunch
• Review: "Carol Swain... portray[s] Paley’s excursions (Giraffes in my Hair: A Rock’n’Roll Life is a sort of anecdotal graphic short story collection in many ways, albeit a graphic short story collection with a bunch of recurring characters) in a scratchy, pencil, black and white style that somehow perfectly sums up the stories – just as Bruce scratches around for money, so Swain’s pencil scratches around at the background detail.... [I]f you’re a fan of rock’n’roll, if you dig the Beats, if you like grimey tales of excess and the underbelly of success, this is for you." – Bookmunch
• Review: "[Joe] Daly's art is interesting, earthy pastel tones helping to create a sort of sun-kissed backdrop against which his figure work recalls Joe Spent (albeit Joe Spent by way of Cheech & Chong or Harold & Kumar). There are some great effects..., some great chuckle-out-loud writing and the sort of page-turning graphic novel that'll have you filing the name Joe Daly away for future reference, with a wee Post-It note saying, ‘Make sure to check out anything else this guy gets up to' attached. [The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book is] a real breath of fresh air, an enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours, the kind of graphic novel you'll want to pass on to your buddies who dig that kind of thing — what more can you ask?" – Bookmunch
• Review: "I still think of Hey, Wait as [Jason's] best work, the most nuanced, the most beguiling. Even rereading it before writing this, there are so many things I feel like I only half-understand, images that hint at something I can never grasp all the way.... If you haven’t read Hey, Wait yet, mm-mm you’ve got some good reading ahead of you." – Dustin Harbin, The HeroesOnline Blog
• Review: "...[Our Gang Vol. 3] is excellent. You need no knowledge of the films to follow the action, and each issue was self-contained, so you can read it in chunks.... An essay at the beginning of the book puts the stories into the context of their times, very important for any comic book from that era.... Definitely worth a read if you are a fan of old comics that don't involve superheroes." – Laura Gjovaag
• Analysis: At Bleeding Cool, Adisakdi Tantimedh looks at Jaime Hernandez's "Ti-Girl Adventures" from Love and Rockets: New Stories in the context of superhero crossover events: "It really is his Final Crisis, only he effortlessly and breezily beats Grant Morrison at his own game.... 'Ti-Girl Adventures' is pretty much a testament to why we like superhero stories as kids and look back on them with fondness and might continue to like them."
• Analysis: Splinter's Reviews offers a slightly different take on "Ti-Girl Adventures": "It's very difficult to actually compare this Love and Rockets offering to the revisionist tales of Alan Moore and Grant Morrison that have memorably tackled some of the similar themes. Jamie Hernandez may tackle the same subjects of scientific and magical origins of the superhero characters, their eternal youth, and the sexism in comics, but he does it in a completely different way." (via The Comics Reporter)
• Interview: The Daily Cross Hatch talks to Hans Rickheit about his upcoming book tour in the last part of their 4-part interview: "I’ve actually pondered the idea of hiring a good looking actor—or actress—to be me. I’ll do a rubber life mask of my face and have them wear it, and they can be friendly and say all of the right things."
With all of our event announcements today this Online Commentary & Diversions update is blissfully short:
• Review: "Jason’s books are entirely plot-driven, yet delivered with a dry, morose humor that gives the narrative an offbeat tone. Coupled with his ear for snappy dialogue, Jason’s plots become surprising romps that mash up divergent adventure clichés.... All told, Jason’s books, including The Last Musketeer, are pure escapist fun romps.... I’ll be looking for more of Jason’s comics, and hopefully more readers will also check his stuff out." - Michael C. Lorah, Newsarama
• Review: "...I was expecting something offbeat and madcap (and certainly wasn't disappointed in that regard), but I was also surprised by just how emotional Jason was able to make a story about an Anthro-dog murder society and time travelling hitmen. Yeah, the entire thing is patently absurd on every level - self-consciously and humorously so - but it's also a story about the impermanence of rage and the importance of forgiveness, alongside what a goddamn twat Adolf Hitler can be when all you want to do is shoot the bastard.... [I Killed Adolf Hitler] is a quick read and very rewarding, and something I imagine I'll come back to from time to time for a while. Smart, funny and surprisingly poignant, this was VERY GOOD." - David Uzumeri, The Savage Critics
Have a great holiday weekend in the USA; Online Commentary & Diversions updates will resume on Tuesday.
• Review: "If there is a 'true truth' in relation to Jason it is that the Nordic author can resist no genre. From Western noir to science fiction of manners, everything passes through his own personal, non-transferable filter to offer these stories, parsimonious in words but full of 'depth charge.'Low Moon... is no exception to this maxim." - Alita Cómics (translated from Spanish)
• Review: Chris Mautner of Robot 6 says Nikoline Werdelin's story "Because I Love You So Much" in From Wonderland with Love is "one of finest comics I've read this year."
• Interview: Paul Karasik always gives good interview, as you'll find out when you tune in to his chat with the Inkstuds radio program
• Preview: Robot 6 guest-blogger Sean T. Collins has the scoop on this Fall's releases from the Cold Heat crew, including the prequel stories in Mome Vol. 16
• Tweet: "Bottomless Belly Button is a great read. started it last nite, finding it to be patient and inventive. nice!" - Zack Gonzales (zg512)
• Review: "Monte Schulz proves that his father was not the only talented storyteller in the family.... Monte has carved out his own stake with This Side of Jordan, the first novel of a planned trilogy.... Even though there are moments of brutal violence in the vein of Cormac McCarthy, Jordan is more about the young man facing his future with uncertain terms.... You’ll find yourself enraptured by his style, fittingly written in honor of his father." - Bruce Grossman, Bookgasm
• Review: "Overall, I liked West Coast Blues quite a bit, enough so that it makes me want to search out Manchette's novels that have been translated into English. If you enjoy hardboiled crime graphic novels, you should certainly give this one a try." - James Reasoner
• Review: "Boody’s absurdism is patently blue-collar. There is nothing heady or cynical or mean-spirited in these strips. They owe far more to the tradition of wives tales and folk legends than Kafka. As their syndication would likely demand, Boody’s bizarre comics are Golden Age nuggets of an off-kilter author who found a particular release in his medium." - Erik Hinton, PopMatters
• Review: "Chusid and Economon once again prove to be wise stewards of the Flora archives. [The] Sweetly Diabolic [Art of Jim Flora] reveals many largely unknown aspects of his work, but also fruitfully revisits his classic Columbia-era work. Thanks to the quality of the reproductions and design of the book itself, the vitality of Flora's art comes through on each page. An effective introduction to Flora's art and a satisfying crowd-pleaser for his established fans, Diabolic is another richly entertaining treasury of Flora's 'baroque and subversive' art." - Joe Bendel, J.B. Spins
• Profile: John Mesjak of my3books looks at the works of Jason, with a focus on his "beautiful" new book Low Moon
The first issue of Marvel's new 3 part anthology mini-series, STRANGE TALES, is in comic shops this week. It features my long-delayed "Incorrigible Hulk" story, which has been broken up into 3 parts, with one part in each issue. My original cover will also serve as the cover of ST #2 (see above).
This mini-series also features many indy comics superstars,all of whom get to interpret one or more of Marvel's well known characters in their own style. Each issue is also 48 pages long and only $3.99. Quite a deal!
Jason's Sshhhh! is being adapted into a short film by Norwegian animators Animidas (with the slightly shortened title Shhh!). Follow the progress of the production and see lots more stills at the official Shhh! blog.
A new week brings an avalanche of new Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Profile: For the Philadelphia Inquirer, Tirdad Derakhshani looks at the past, present, and future of Prince Valiant: "The release Tuesday of Prince Valiant, Vol. 1: 1937-1938, the first in a new series of gorgeously printed, hardcover Valiant collections from Fantagraphics Books, served as a bittersweet reminder of the century-long rise and eventual decline of a great American art form, the comic strip."
• Review: "...Al [Columbia] decided to dredge up old ghosts, unfinished pieces, trifles he had thrown away then reconsidered and offered them up to us as proof that he hasn’t forgotten us. This 240-page book [Pim and Francie: The Golden Bear Days, Fall 2009]... has certainly filled in some gaps for me as to what goes on in Columbia’s mind... There seems to be something both amazing and horrifying around every corner, in any dark space, in the thick of the forest, in the bulbous eyes of maniacal creatures and the straight realistic lines of buildings that all have a dark window somewhere... It is truly a viscous treat and I am sure this one will never wash off." - Rachael M Rollson, Panel to Panel
• Review: "Though Low Moon doesn’t have the slow-building impact of Jason’s longer works, he’s still one of comics’ best storytellers, and it’s always a treat to spend time in his world of off-brand pulp clichés and not-always-so-funny animals. [Grade] B+" - The A.V. Club
• Review: "Jason is an immensely skilled artist capable of manipulating his self-restricted vocabulary to stretch space and time. Low Moon moves in a slow burn as the two antagonists move closer to their eventual showdown. In what is probably the best story in the book You Are Here, time moves more quickly as a father and son attempt to deal with the alien abduction of the father's wife. The father builds a rocket while the son grows up and has a life of his own. Eventually they pile into the rocket, and things end badly, but perhaps a bit more emotionally than with the other stories." - Michael Buntag, NonSensical Words
• Review: "Rage of a different kind in Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me and Other Astute Observations by Peter Bagge. This collection of satirical rants from the American libertarian magazine Reason... is philosophically more about punk individualism than Ayn Rand, and artistically the heir to 1980s indie comics. Indeed, Bagge is an indie star, famous for his wonderfully elastic cartooning style and punk-inflected comedies." - Roger Sabin, The Observer
• Review: "These are good comics [in Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me and Other Astute Observations], fun to read and definitely funny, definitely searing and when he hits a target he gets it right. Also there’s something to be said for the journalist tone of the writing and the structure of the strips would translate well into a proper newspaper, were he so inclined." - Ibrow
• Review: "For fresh talent in comics, you have to go to the anthologies and there's none better at the moment than Mome... the highlight [of Vol. 15] is Dash Shaw's hallucinatory story about a tidal wave, which uses swaths of colour and elongated panels to create a sense of vertigo." - Roger Sabin, The Observer (same link as above)
• Review: "Schulz had gone from a fairly grounded sense of consensus reality to Snoopy's flights of fancy to outright weirdness... That seems to be the essence of Sparky Schulz to me: even with the pressure of the daily grind and his position as the lynchpin of what had become a vast empire, Schulz wrote to amuse himself... At his best in this volume [The Complete Peanuts 1973-1974], Schulz gave the readers some of the best stories of his career." - Rob Clough
• Review: "Ace cartoonist Jordan Crane makes a curious split comic choice. The first half [of Uptight #3 ], 'Vicissitude,' is the opening chapter of a brooding adult tale of marital dysfunction and deceit, while the second, 'Freeze Out,' is a kid’s story, the further adventures of Simon and his cat Jack, who were featured in Crane’s great graphic novel, The Clouds Above. Miraculously, the pairing works — each is superior in its own genre — but you might want to wait until 'Freeze Out' is collected on its own before showing it to your kids." - John Seven, Worcester Magazine
• Review: "Blazing Combat (Fantagraphics, 2009) collects the entire run in a beautiful, incredibly well-bound hardcover book... The stories' tone is very 1960s, ironic with a cynicism stemming from brokenhearted humanism." - Carol Borden, The Cultural Gutter
• Review: "Needless to say, I love the streak of darkness that permeates [Charles] Burns' work. I mean that both figuratively and literally, as his one-of-a-kind illustration style is at-a-glance recognizable because of his heavy use of black ink... That starkness emphasizes the cruel features on the faces of his characters - deep wrinkles, harsh teeth, beady eyes and unflattering noses, to say nothing of the occasional freak. Like the look of his characters, Burns is one of a kind, and Skin Deep is a good introduction to the man's singular vision - a good way to get your toe wet before diving in." - Rod Lott, Bookgasm
• Review: "[A.B.] Frost looked like he was painting with the line…on a half-dozen cups of coffee. Trust me, that’s hard to do... Also, it looks like Fanta-Graphic Books might have brought Stuff and Nonsense back in print in 2003. [Yes. -Ed.] Pick up and copy and be ready to weep - this work is untouchable." - Tony DiTerlizzi
• Plug: "Carol Tyler's You'll Never Know is my favorite book of the year thus far. This memoir/biography/scrapbook is both formally challenging and emotionally devastating. Any critic serious about compiling a year-end list needs to keep this book under consideration." - Rob Clough, Robot 6 (guest contributor)
• Tweet: "Still, the most beautifully designed bk so far this yr is still IMO Fantagraphics 'The Brinkley Girls': http://bit.ly/CSYpH Swoon-worthy." - bookjones
• Review: "For my money, [Joe] Daly is hilarious, with an ear for great dialog, a nice feel for the way characters and convertibles glide across the landscape of the comic page, and a zest for uniquely convoluted plots [in The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book]."- Steve Duin, The Oregonian
• Review: "Previous assemblages of [Prince] Valiant being out of print, Fantagraphics, a leader in the field, has stepped forward with gloriously restored art reproduced in generous dimensions and abetted by the essays of experts. This initial volume... demonstrates just why Valiant continues to burn so brightly... Simultaneously nostalgic and eternal, Hal Foster's populist masterwork deserves this accessible enshrinement." - Paul DiFilippo, The Barnes & Noble Review
• Review: "I dont think I’ve ever read anything like Low Moon by Jason and I mean that in a good way... Low Moon has a brilliant almost tightrope deadpan mix of sad and funny... Jason is capable of stories with heart like no other; particularly stories with an aura of heartrending and heartbreak. Low Moon might be the second most melancholy book that I’ve read over the past year... Low Moon by Jason continues to push the medium forward and confound readers expectations with brilliant stories that defy categorization." - Brian Lindenmuth, BSCreview