Heading into the weekend, here's your Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: "Carol Tyler’s You’ll Never Know [Book 1: A Good and Decent Man] mines similar territory to women graphic novelists before her -- the life of her father and its relationship to her own foibles -- and manages to make a work entirely her own, neither derivative nor overly familiar... with genuinely gorgeous illustration... It’s a gripping mix of biography and autobiography... There’s more for Tyler to explore in another volume, and she manages to make this one immensely satisfying on its own terms while alternately leaving you with anticipation for the next." - John E. Mitchell, North Adams Transcript
• Review: "...[Y]ou could do much, much, much, much, much, much worse than to spend 25 bucks and an inch on your bookshelf on yet agoddamnnother collection of murderously bleak and astonishingly well-executed high-concept existentialism [Low Moon], drawn with an unimpeachable clean line and colored like unto a thing of beauty. Time and time again during these five stories I was almost physically impacted by Jason's skill as a storyteller ...his skill and his bravado left me shaking my head with amusement and/or amazement time and time again. He's one of the best, as is this book." - Sean T. Collins
• Interview: Seth talks a bit about his design work for The Complete Peanuts in an interview with Alex Carr at Amazon's Omnivoracious blog. Sample quote: "The series was meant to be a setting for the jewel that is Schulz's masterpiece. I wanted to make sure that Schulz's work was treated with the utmost seriousness and dignity."
• Plug: In an interview with Robot 6, MoCCA Festival organizer Karl Erickson singles out Humbug's Arnold Roth & Al Jaffee and Mome's Derek Van Gieson & Sara Edward-Corbett as highlights of the 2009 festival
Another short Online Commentary & Diversons update... I guess everyone's too busy talking about Wednesday Comics to pay attention to us, boo hoo:
• Review/Interview: Chris Beckett of On the Fly Publications/Warrior27 looks at two recent releases by Jason and has a brief Q&A with "one of the most exciting cartoonists working today." From the reviews: "I heartily recommend The Last Musketeer for any fan of fantastic adventure yarns as well as anyone who enjoys a refreshing character study with a very real emotional tug at one’s heartstrings. Check this book out... [I Killed Adolf Hitler] is a masterful story that can be read on more than one level, which is always appealing. [It] is unique and tender and will challenge any preconceptions one might have about the book." Jason, from the interview: "I started doing comics when I was around 13 years old, and at that age I didn't have a camera, I didn't have a typewriter, but I had paper and a pencil."
• Review: "Low Moon, the latest collection from this Norwegian-born graphic novelist [Jason], is certainly as funny as his previous books, but the humor is quieter, more mature. It balances the awkward sexuality and cynical humor of a teenage boy with the disillusionment and longing of an old man... Basically, it's been a while since I read a book and thought, 'This is changing the way I think about short fiction.' So, I've been carrying the book around, like a buddy, trying to understand out what makes Low Moon so perfect." - Heidi Broadhead, Publicola
• Review: "You’ll Never Knowis, for good or ill, going to elicit a lot of comparisons to Maus... Yet while Tyler’s work... certainly deserves any accolades it receives, it’s a much different book — warmer, more overtly affectionate and more personal to a certain extent as well... Tyler’s art is constantly inventive and alive throughout the book. full of color and energy yet incredibly lyrical and graceful when need be... Tyler has long been a cartoonist’s cartoonist, which basically translates as 'Why is no one paying attention to the awesome stuff Carol Tyler is doing?' Both in subject matter and in delivery, she seems poised to finally break free of that term." - Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Plug: "Everybody Is Stupid Except For Me and Other Astute Observations: Damn it Peter Bagge, now what am I going to call my autobiography? This is a nice-looking collection of a decade's worth of the master cartoonist's cartoons from Reason magazine. I'm working my way through a preview copy at the moment, but I can personally attest to the first two chapters being pretty great." - J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
• Plug: "Peter Bagge has become quite the comics pundit in recent years, sounding off on a variety of issues like drugs, gun control and abortion in the pages of Reason magazine. This book [Everybody Is Stupid Except For Me] — love the title, by the way — collects most of them... [I]t’s really funny and you should buy it." - Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Plug: "Bigger, harder, thicker and better colors. Fantagraphics has decided to repackage Hal Foster’s seminal 'knights and text' once again, this time in a hardcover format [Prince Valiant Vol. 1: 1937-1938] and with improved production values... I was quite surprised how entertaining this strip was back in the day." - Chris Mautner, Robot 6 (same link as above)
• Things to see: On the Covered blog, Steven Weissman has some alternate choices for new Avengers members in re Avengers #221
Holy moly there's a lot of links today! There's a few major interviews in today's Online Commentary & Diversions, so let's lead off with those:
• Interview: At Amazon's Omnivoracious blog, Heidi Broadhead talks to our own Kim Thompson about translating the works of Jason ("His latest collection, Low Moon... has filmic moments and comic pathos that have set a new standard for me for short fiction") and other Eurocomics. Sample quote: "But I'm also more invested in these books because I work so hard on them, and in many cases, of course, such as Tardi, I'm literally fulfilling a childhood dream by translating them."
• Interview: "Carol Tyler is one of the best cartoonists currently working. She has been for years... Earlier this year Tyler released the first of an expected three volumes that seek to explore her father's time in World War II. You'll Never Know: A Good And Decent Man gently peels back the layers on these seminal experiences while at the same time providing an earnest portrait of the artist and her most important relationships during the time she started on the project. Tyler combines the unflinching eye of the late underground with the self-deprecating portrait of the alternative comics movement with the poetic qualities that some of the best post-alternatives are able to wring from their art. I really love Carol Tyler's work, and I was delighted she agreed to talk to me." - Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
• Interview: "In a perfect and just world, John Kerschbaum would be one of its most famous cartoonists." - Rob Clough, presenting his Q&A with Kerschbaum from The Comics Journal #295. Sample quote: "And when you're doing work for kids you just leave out the cursing… and tits - no tits."
• Review: "Wolverton... had a knack, too, for nightmarish drama... [He] saved his most enthralling pieces for the Bible. An ordained minister for a wacky Oregon church, he produced, in the mid 1950s, a series of apocalyptic scenes for the Book of Revelations; men and women, foregrounded in close-up, writhe under dominant skies of fire, plague, and war." - Robert Shuster, The Village Voice, on the Wolverton exhibit at Gladstone Gallery; hat tip once again to Drew Friedman
• Review: "Jason's unique skill of meshing cut-out Hollywood genres with fleeting moments of missed opportunities is like a unique cocktail - one part Hitchcock, one part Kubrick with a dash of Woody Allen... Low Moon is a slow-moving delight. Jason has crafted a perfectly executed yarn that is at once both familiar and bizarre. This collection is an exceptional entryway for reader still unaware of one of sequential arts greatest contributors." - Ascot J. Smith, examiner.com
• Review: "Known for his ability to convey melancholic, deadpan humor, Jason is as on top of his game as ever with this release... Each story expresses a different degree of the author’s range, mixing dark or mature themes with absurdity to varying degrees... Since it demonstrates Jason’s range and is priced fairly modestly..., Low Moon makes for a great starting point for those unfamiliar with Jason’s work." - Anthony Farruggia, examiner.com
• Review: "Jason's work is something to be revered... His comics are stark and morbid and often hilarious. Low Moon presents five beautifully illustrated stories that show a mastery of the craft... The stories range from violent to funny to sad, and the tragedies, murders, and pratfalls therein never seem out of the ordinary. It all fits into four rectangular panels on each page that seem like they were drawn to make you understand something more." - Gabe Bullard, PLAYBACK:stl
• Review: "Ho!... promises the most degenerate and juvenile one-panel gag comics ever penned by a working college professor... You're either loving it or deeply concerned for the author." - Byron Kerman, PLAYBACK:stl
• Review: "Kevin Huizenga introduces a relatable and unusual story with his quirky sequel to the first Ganges in the 'Ignatz' series from Fantagraphics. A tale about morality, realism, and video games, Ganges [#2] spins a web of confusion for those universal questions that lurk at the edge of our minds... 'Pulverize' makes a bold attempt to portray how living in a technological age can confuse as well as enlighten you to great lengths. Touching and unique, Huizenga creates a quirky story for the win." - Melissa Kay, Girls Entertainment Network
• Review: "My choice for the greatest comic strip in history would be Hal Foster's epic adventure strip Prince Valiant. And now Fantagraphics is reprinting the series in a series of spiffy, oversized hardcover collections, with the first volume out this week. And even though I own the whole 40-volume set of the Foster-drawn pages that Fantagraphics published in the 1990s, I’m perfectly happy to buy this new series, with larger pages, better-quality paper, and much better-quality coloring... It’s excellent stuff, and I look forward to enjoying it all over again." - Michael Rawdon, Fascination Tangents
• Review: "The most influential adventure strip ever produced, Foster's gorgeous Prince Valiant inspired generations of artists. While the Sunday-only strip has been reprinted several times, this edition contains for the first time images shot from Foster's own color engraver's proofs. Published at the strip's original dimensions and complete with an introduction by Hal Foster biographer Brian M. Kane and the insightful 1969 Hal Foster interview with Fred Schreiber, the hardcover Prince Valiant Vol. 1: 1937-1938 finally presents these lush tales in a format worthy of the material." - Rick Klaw, The SF Site - Nexus Graphica
• Review: "Like H.L. Mencken, [Peter] Bagge favors a scorched-earth satirical attack, tearing down arguments by ridicule as much as reason. Unlike Mencken, Bagge's work is more playful and less likely to attempt to install himself as a know-it-all (even if he thinks he does) because of his nebbishy self-portrayal... It's rare to see a cartoonist branch out into this kind of second act of a career with this much flourish and skill... his work here [in Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me] demands a reader's attention every bit as much as the more famous editorial cartoonists in America... Best of all, Bagge is still funny... and this is a very good thing for both his hardcore fans and new readers alike." - Rob Clough
• Review: "[Peter] Bagge made his reputation with the wicked social satire of Hate, but since 2001 he’s also produced these short comics [in Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me] for the libertarian magazine Reason... His visual style—in which people are all huge-mouthed, squinty-eyed, rubber-limbed caricatures—is turned up all the way to 'jeer'; it’s also pretty funny on its own. Bagge aims his (constitutionally protected) satirical blunderbuss at both the left and the right, and occasionally points it at fellow libertarians and even himself." - Publishers Weekly
• Review: "...Norwegian cartoonist Jason’s latest wheeze of a graphic novella [I Killed Adolf Hitler] invents a time-travelling professional assassin who attempts to exterminate the Fuhrer with predictably bizarre results... The deadpan humour, pared-down plotting and simple illustrations featuring Jason’s trademark zoomorphic characters make for a brisk and extremely enjoyable read." - 2012
• Plug: "OMG reading Low Moon on lunch IT IS SO GOOD how long can comics stay this awesome?" - Dustin Harbin, via Twitter
• Plug: Portuguese shop Ghoulgear recommends the comics work of Jason, "who reinvented the narrative language of comics... He is an author that is worth knowing."
• Plug: "There's some great material in [Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me], whether you agree with the opinions or not, since Bagge does some great cartooning and good journalism, providing hilarious insights into topics like art, public transportation, homelessness, and gun ownership." - Matthew J. Brady
• Plug: "[Love and Rockets] was like an underground Archie, with Hispanic characters, plus it was literally oozing with a sensuality that simply couldn't be found in mainstream funnybooks... If you have the opportunity to pick up any L&R comics, I highly recommend it, as it is still some of the consistently very best comics that is being produced." - Robert J. Sodaro (former Fantagraphics employee)
• Plug: "I’m currently reading through the latest issue of The Comics Journal, number 298... I’m really looking forward to the interview with Thriller artist Trevor Von Eeden. Also, the Percy Crosby Skippy strips included in the gallery section are a wonder." - Chris Mautner, Robot 6; also, their guest contributor this week is Paul Karasik
• Things to see: Comic Book Resources presents a bunch of work by Terry LaBan (whose Fantagraphics titles are all out of print)
Celebrate independents this weekend at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery in Seattle. Drop by and browse our hot new summer reading selections. It's also your last chance to view the amazing exhibition by international comics sensation Jason. And check out Larry and Bella's badass Spongebob piñata outfitted with a suicide blast belt that'll blow him back to Bikini Bottom (in very small pieces.)
The store is open 11:30 to 8:00 PM on Friday, 11:30 to 4:00 PM on Saturday the 4th, and 11:30 to 5:00 PM as usual on Sunday. Located at 1201 S. Vale Street (at Airport Way S.) only minutes from downtown. Phone 206.658.0110. See you all soon.
Online Commentary & Diversions will return Monday. Have a great holiday in the US of A.
• Review: "Like many mysteries, there's something initially frustrating about the end of 'Emily Says Hello,' but it's the best by Jason for a while... it's in the new Low Moon collection... Worth it for 'Emily' alone." - Graham Linehan (The IT Crowd, Father Ted), via Twitter (part 1, part 2)
• Review: "A thin line exists between [Basil] Wolverton’s jokey grotesqueries and the horrors of disfigurement and mutilation that appear in his postwar illustrations of the Book of Revelations (recently published in The Wolverton Bible)... Wolverton’s unsparing depictions of nightmarish prophecies are relentlessly grim but absorbingly so. There are hints of Goya’s crazed, melancholic Saturn and predictions of Charles Burns’s brooding mutant teens." - Nicole Rudick, Artforum (reviewing the Wolverton exhibit currently on view at Gladstone Gallery; hat tip to Drew Friedman)
• Review: "Oh my god.It’s like someone wheeled my senile, racist grandfather onto a metropolitan sidewalk and let him free associate.Unfortunately, my grandfather’s psychosis might have more acuity and humor than Everyone is Stupid [Except for Me]." - Ashley Cardiff, CC2K (via Reason link below; don't say we never post negative reviews)
• Review: "Michael Kupperman is the funniest cartoonist alive, and Tales Designed to Thrizzle is his funniest comic book... Thrizzle has the manic joy of a really good sketch-comedy series... Thrizzle was originally published as four comics, and Kupperman has recolored the series for its hardcover release... [It] should amuse just about anyone who can read." - Paul Constant, The Stranger
• Review: "[Fletcher] Hanks's stuff burns itself into and onto the brain like a giant scalding iron of dementedness." - fústar
• Review: "Certainly nobody takes umbrage with the claim that these are four awesome comics, collected in one hardcover edition [Blazing Combat]... Fantagraphics have done us a big favor by reprinting them all." - The Comic Book Haters (streaming video)
• Plug: "...Reason's own beloved Peter Bagge has a fantastic collection of a near-decade's worth of political cartooning coming out from Fantagraphics [Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me]. The content is king but the actual production is nothing short of stunning, filled with the bright, bright colors that Paul Simon used to sing about back when Kodak was still making film." - Nick Gillespie, Reason
• Interview: At comiXology, Tucker Stone interviews The Comics Journal online editor, the ista! in ¡Journalista!, my comrade-in-linkblogging-arms, Dirk Deppey. Pull quote of all pull quotes: "I got the job at Fantagraphics by making fun of The Comics Journal's website on its message board, basically."
• Review: "Issue #3 of Jordan Crane's Uptight serves as a wonderful example of just how good pamphlet format comics can be... Uptight #3 delivers 24 pages of beautifully focused storytelling... If you like Crane's work or simply want to try something a little different, do go out and buy this. Uptight represents everything single issue comics should be but so very rarely are. Fact is, we need more comics like this, so vote with your wallets and support the fine folks at Fantagraphics..." - Matthew Dick, Exquisite Things
• Review/Profile: "...[Boody Rogers's] command of dream-state narrative logic and language-mangling dialogue remains unnerving and uproarious in about equal measure... Now comes the Fantagraphics edition of Boody: The Bizarre Comics of Boody Rogers — a 144-page whopper, rich in humor and dreamlike oddities..." - Michael H. Price of the Fort Worth Business Press recounts meeting Rogers in the 1980s and also reviews Rogers's memoir, Homeless Bound
• Review: "For his latest... book [Low Moon], Jason has decided to try something a bit different... In attempting to stretch himself, though, he offers some of his weakest work to date, but some of his strongest and emotionally wrenching as well... Longtime readers... will definitely want to pick it up..." - Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Plug: "Literally jam-packed with strips that constantly vary in sizes, [Tales Designed to Thrizzle Vol. 1] shines with [Michael] Kupperman's earth-shattering wit, his excellent vintage-comics-inspired draftsmanship and his genius comedic timing. Thanks Fantagraphics!" - Librarie D+Q
• Plug: "You'll Never Know[Book 1: A Good and Decent Man] by C. Tyler arrived this week... it is funny, moving, sad -- highly recommended." - Librarie D+Q
• Plug: "The Comics Journal #298: Lotsa good interviews in this issue... For me though, the meat of the issue is the wealth of daily Skippy strips by Percy Crosby reproduced in the gallery section." - Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Interview: Publishers Weekly has a Q&A with Peter Bagge about his new collection Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me. Money quote: "I could have taken the Doonesbury route and pandered to my fellow libertarians by pretending I (and they) had all the answers, but that would have been both too easy and dishonest."
• Interview: Newsarama's Zack Smith talks to Sam's Strip creators Mort Walker and Jerry Dumas about the creation of the strip and the new Fantagraphics collection. Sample quote from Walker: "You always put something personal in every strip, so it’s wonderful to see all these old strips again."
• Charity: ComicList reports that Jaime Hernandez will participate in Comic Book Legal Defense Fund fundraising at Comic Con with an autograph card and original art auction
• Oddity: What does Popeye have in common with Michael Jackson? Well, now they're both subjects of Jeff Koons artwork, according to this Reuters story
To celebrate, our nominated titles, except Peanuts (for contractual reasons), are now 15% off for a limited time! First buy, then (if you're a comics professional) vote!
Congratulations to all of our nominated colleagues, with special shouts-out to Al Jaffee for his Abrams book Tall Tales (multiple nominations), Chris Ware for Acme Novelty Library #19 (Best Single Issue or Story), and Jay Lynch & the Mineshaft folks for Mineshaft #23 (Best Cover Artist).
• Review: "There's always a touch of melancholy in everything that Jason writes, but there's a bleakness in some of these stories [in Low Moon] that I haven't seen since Hey, Wait.... All told, this is still a book every Jason fan should read..." - Rob Clough
Here's a special blog post from our fearless co-captain, Kim Thompson... Kim, take it away...
A shoutout to our buddy Jason, who returned to France last week after a whirlwind tour of the U.S. (New York/Portland/Seattle) to promote his new book LOW MOON and to visit his old haunts (he's lived in all three cities). He manfully signed and sketched for many fans in all three locales despite a persistent miserable cold - a true cartooning hero!
This seems like a good time to answer the "what's next" question from Jason fans...
Jason and I were so enamored of the LOW MOON format that we have decided to repackage all of his black-and-white and two-color books (except POCKETFUL OF RAIN) as two LOW MOON format books -- in the process bringing back into print the out of print YOU CAN'T GET THERE FROM HERE, TELL ME SOMETHING, MEOW, BABY! (currently fetching $40 or more on Amazon), and THE IRON WAGON (up to $68!).
The first book, ALMOST SILENT, will collect the first three above, plus THE LIVING AND THE DEAD, and will be released toward the beginning of next year. (For a sneak peek at the new cover, see above.) The second book, tentatively titled WHAT I DID, will collect that hard-to-find IRON WAGON as well as SSHHHH! and HEY, WAIT, about a year later.
In the interim, that is to say next Summer, we'll be publishing a brand new Jason color album in the HITLER/LEFT BANK format, WEREWOLVES OF MONTPELLIER -- his first graphic novel in the (by then) two and a half years since THE LAST MUSKETEER.