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.
• List: Bdzoom reports that l'Association des Critiques et journalistes de Bande Dessinée (ACBD) has placed Bottomless Belly Button by Dash Shaw on their summer reading shortlist (there's Tardi on there too)
• Review: "Nell Brinkley was an icon for several generations of women... The art [in The Brinkley Girls] has been beautifully restored, a task that must have been pure torture given the density of Brinkley's drawings and that sophisticated color work. My hat's off to whoever did that fabulous job." - Allan Holtz, Stripper's Guide
• Review: "At one point in her comic-style memoir [You'll Never Know Book 1: A Good and Decent Man], Carol [Tyler] talks to us directly and says, 'The war was never really buried under tons of mental concrete. Rather, it was an active shaper of life, affecting moods and outcomes ... more than anyone ever knew.' Indeed. This is an important and deeply spiritual contribution to American culture." - David Crumm, Read the Spirit
• Review: "[You'll Never Know Book 1: A Good and Decent Man] is not your blood and guts portrayal of a ruthless soldier but rather an investigation into the emotional costs that war has on the combatant and the family that they sire, presenting a familiar story of the 'greatest generation' in an unfamiliar way." - Quentin Williams, two.one.five Magazine
• Review: "...Supermen! [is] a beautifully designed volume of early American comics... The edition is both aesthetically pleasing and sturdy, featuring clarified reprinting of the colour strips, covers, and scattered elements of advertisements and back matter." - Michael Leader, Den of Geek
• Review: "[West Coast Blues] is everything you would expect from a suspense thriller... Visually the comic book is also great. It's everything you would expect from Tardi... I don't believe that anybody else than him would have been able to visually translate Manchette's novel so well. It's like they worked together and that the comic book is the original material. Bottom line, this is another great comic book by Tardi. If you have never read anything by him you should. Luckily for North American readers, Fantagraphics announced that they that they were going to translate Tardi's work starting this fall." - Patrick Bérubé, Comic Book Bin
• Review: "You Shall Die By Your Own Evil Creation!... gathers all the remaining material that the alcoholic, abusive [Fletcher] Hanks did during his brief tenure as a comic book creator in the late 1930s and early 40s... [T]here’s still plenty of weird and wonderful tales to delight and disturb... [and] there are panels here that are rather stunning in their ability to create tension and drama... The work remains strange, powerful, funny, terrifying and yes, at times beautiful..." - Chris Mautner, Robot 6 (be sure to read the comments for an important clarification from editor Paul Karasik)
• Review: "Fans of Norwegian cult comics star Jason are in for something of a treat with Low Moon... what we have here are five stories, each of which would’ve previously warranted a collection in its own right, delivered together in one delicious hamper of Jason goodness... There’s never been a better time, then, to jump aboard the Jason train... This is as essential as comics gets." - Bookmunch
• Review: "It’s hard to think of a modern cartoonist with a more recognizable drawing style than Norway’s Jason... But Jason’s storytelling is just as distinctive as his drawing style... [and] the artist’s narrative approach has grown more adventurous over the years. Jason’s latest collection, Low Moon, is evidence of this trend... The reader, meanwhile, just lapses into a giddy comics coma." - Casey Jarman, Willamette Week
• Preview: Previews posts 7 pages from Low Moon. Have we mentioned it's in stores today?
• Interview: Brian Heater of The Daily Cross Hatch concludes his 2-part chat with "the visionary" Jason. Sample quote: "I worked in a furniture factory for nine months... I really hated it. So I went to art school instead. Turned out to be not that much of a difference, of course."
• Interview: The hosts of The Comix Claptrap podcast "talk comics shop and try to get LA gossip from talented cartoonist, John Pham, of Sublife, Kramers Ergot 7 and Mome fame"
• Plug: "Low Moon: It’s the latest from Jason. Or, in other words, it’s one of this week’s absolute must-reads." - J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
• Plug: "Pick of the week: Low Moon... [B]y this point Jason has proven himself to be one of the stellar talents in Fantagraphics' roster (which is really saying something, by the way) and this collection of short stories... should likely only cement that reputation as the artist plays with such traditional genres as the Western, film noir, and alien abductions. All offered with the usual dollops of sardonic humor and heartfelt sympathy." - Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Plug: "Low Moon: New Jason, from Fantagraphics. All I need to know... This guy's a treasure." - Jog - The Blog
• Plug: John Jakala of Sporadic Sequential takes us to task for the smaller trim size of Luba vs. Palomar, but concedes "the smaller size is actually easier to handle when reading. OK, you win this round, Fantagraphics"
Let's see what Online Commentary & Diversions are out there:
• Review: "[Michael Kupperman's] work is sublime in the truest sense of the word, speaking to me as a reader in ways that can be discussed and broken down but not quite fully communicated in their Rightness... About the only other humorists who have affected me in the same way were the Marx Brothers... Kupperman saturates each page [of Tales Designed to Thrizzle Vol. 1] with crazed ideas, bizarre connections, and references that aren't really references. Even a reader who may not be familiar with what Kupperman's (often obliquely) mocking is still pulled full-tilt into the gag. No matter what the concept, once Kupperman's laid his hands on it, it's no longer recognizable as anything but his." - Rob Clough
• Review: "...[T]he deadpan expressions of the characters [in I Killed Adolf Hitler] say more than pages of words could say... there’s a kinda sweet little love story in there about the protagonist and his girlfriend, and what they find out about themselves and each other in the process of trying to correct history." - Thinking About...
• Profile: "...The Brinkley Girls [was] a sophisticated series capturing the modern American working girl with a combination of glamour, spunk, feminine allure and curly hair..." - "I Want to Be a Brinkley Girl," First Person Singular
I've run out of time again! Hopefully we'll finally be caught up with our Online Commentary & Diversions tomorrow. For now, here's a few links that were sent to me:
• Review: "...Low Moon is the best work I’ve seen from [Jason] yet... I don’t care that 'Emily Says Hello' is illustrated fiction, because it deserves to be on any year-end list of 2009’s finest crime stories, no matter what the format... One and all, these are excellently told tales from a unique talent." - Rod Lott, Bookgasm
• Review: "[Nell] Brinkley was praised for her writing (it’s easy to see why: overblown, yet so satisfying; maybe the only word to describe it is 'delicious') but her drawings made her famous. Each one is an orgiastic, atmospheric feast for the eye... The Brinkley Girls is a tantalizing primer, and a perfect summer read." - Macy Halford, The New Yorker
• Oddity: Dull Tool Dim Bulb has the story of the Gene Deitch-John Lee Hooker connection -- although they misidentify Gene as Czech (he merely lives in Prague) and as the creator of Krazy Kat (he animated George Herriman's creation) so perhaps some of the other details of the story are suspect as well...
Still catching up with Online Commentary & Diversions. There's more, but I'm out of time, so more catch-up tomorrow!
• Review: "The backbone of the family, and also its Achilles heel, Luba is a larger-than-life personality who jumps off every page, whether she's the focus of the segment or just a background player. [Gilbert] Hernandez collects over 100 stories here, ranging from graphic novellas to single-page episodes, with his usual dizzying cocktail of sexual intrigue, humor and soap opera-style angst." - Publishers Weekly (Starred Review - near end of page)
• Review: "There are two excellent interviews in the back of [Blazing Combat]... The interviews are part of what makes the comic so fascinating. Of course, it wouldn’t matter if the stories weren’t good, and they are... [Archie] Goodwin does a fine job keeping each story fresh and even getting into the heads of the characters... It’s a testament to Goodwin’s ability that he manages to write 28 (generally) anti-war stories, but never feels like he’s simply repeating himself... The art helps the book shine, as well... There’s not a poorly-illustrated story in the entire book, and some are eerily beautiful... These are both excellent comics and fascinating historical documents, and Blazing Combat is totally worth a read." - Greg Burgas, Comic Book Resources
• Profile: I don't think I would have guessed that Joost Swarte was influenced by Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, but so says he: The Walrus spotlights Swarte, who provides a cover illustration for the current issue, and whose long-gestating Fantagraphics collection Modern Swarte is still in the works
• Interview: At Newsarama, Zack Smith enjoys a lengthy chat with Jules Feiffer (and breaks the news to him that Explainers is nominated for an Eisner Award... oops, sorry Jules)
• List: Moolies posts his/her (?) "Top 10 graphic novels," including Safe Area Gorazde by Joe Sacco ("It's truly appalling reading, and the reason is because he's such a great artist, and a great listener too"), Peter Bagge's Buddy Bradley saga ("There's so much painful and embarrassing truth in Bagge's work, and it's carried along by a sharp, wisecracking sense of humour"), and Love and Rockets ("A stunning, extraordinary, even feminist (or humanist) body of work... It's always a joy, and I'm so glad they're still writing these stories")
• Plug: "We should all learn about Nell Brinkley in college. So if you’re currently in college, go check out The Brinkley Girls already. And if you’re out of college already, well go check it out anyway, because everyone seriously needs to see this book—Brinkley was that good." - J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
Your Online Commentary & Diversions return from a short vacation. More catch-up tomorrow.
• Review: "[C.] Tyler’s fluid, expressive linework, complemented by subtly overlaid watercolors, gives ideal visual expression to a narrative that’s at once sensitive and hard-nosed. [You'll Never Know, Book 1] is Tyler’s first book-length effort, but decades of drawing mostly autobiographical stories have honed her skills, enabling her to produce a work that ranks in quality with the graphic memoirs of Alison Bechdel (Fun Home) and Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis)." - Gordon Flagg, Booklist (Starred Review; no link)
• Review: "Norwegian-French cartoonist Jason’s new book [Low Moon] is the first premiered in hardcover in the U.S. and contains his most minimally formatted stories... If you’re into genre fiction, have a sense of humor but no time for condescension, and haven’t encountered Jason yet, wait no longer." - Ray Olson, Booklist (Starred Review; no link)
• Review: "This is the best thing I have ever been sent to review. I didn't think that this book would ever exist but now it does and it'd better than I could have imagined... The eleven issues of Humbug are faithfully reprinted in this two-volume hardcover set and it comes in a fancy and sturdy box. The magazines were funny and beautiful with art by Will Elder and Jack Davis and some other folks. If you don't buy this book then I don't want to know you... There is no excuse for not buying this right now. Sell your hair, blood, or skin to get it." - Nick Gazin, Vice
• Review: "Luba encompasses everything a turn-of-the-21st-century graphic novel should be: paraliterary or lowbrow tropes of comics, pornography, soap opera, blended seamlessly with a highbrow literary accomplishment of pathos and familial history. It is as profane as it is dense. Almost postmodern in its self-reference... and frequently silly in its blatant cartoonishness, Luba is surreal and bizarre and arousing and gut-wrenching and hilarious." - Dusty Horn, CarnalNation
• Review: "If you grew up 'different'... you’ll find a lot that’s familiar in A Mess of Everything. [Miss] Lasko-Gross is close enough to this material to keep it particular – she avoids the sweeping gesture and the grand statement at all times – and distanced enough from it to see it as part of her past, fodder for stories rather than a raw wound. It’s a fine book from a very talented creator, and I expect we’ll see much more from Miss Lasko-Gross as the years go on." - Andrew Wheeler, ComicMix
• Review: "...[Miss Lasko-Gross] displays... subtlety and balance in her portrayal of her teen-age years... [I]n its portrayal of the importance and tenuous nature of teenage friendships, [A Mess of Everything] glows with sharp recognition." - Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "[Uptight #3] is very very good... The plot [of 'Vicissitude'] is a bitter little thing, steeped in infidelity, alcohol, career dissatisfaction, hints of class self-consciousness, and frustration with the path your life has taken -- like a Pulp song, almost.... Crane's Sam and Jack stories unfold like the pipes and vents upon which this tale centers: they bend and twist and wind in comically baroque ways, yet Crane's control of his visuals and the story's tone are so self-assured that it all seems completely logical, like a mind consciously built it this way and if you have a little faith, it'll work like it's supposed to." - Sean T. Collins
• Review: "Just a quick mention of what may turn out to be my favorite damn cover of 2009... check out Uptight issue #3..." - Blair Butler, G4 Fresh Ink Online (video; review starts around 1:34)
• Plug: "Jason is really one of the best cartoonists at work today, and you should check out this reading." - Paul Constant, The Stranger, recommending last Saturday's appearance by Jason at our Seattle bookstore
• Interview: Brian Heater of The Daily Cross Hatch got some face time for a Q&A with Jason at the 2009 MoCCA Festival. Sample quote: "I think it’s fun to bring different genres together and try to bring in something new, to see it from a new angle, that it’s a bit more than just a pastiche."
• Interview: "Frankly, I think it's a losing game to try to generalize about the relationship between biography and literature." - Chris Ware, interviewed by Joan Luna at 13 Milliones de Naves (translation from Google)
• Preview: ICv2 takes a peek at our upcoming collection Gahan Wilson: 50 Years of Playboy Cartoons
• Preview: The Geek Curmudgeon looks forward to From Wonderland with Love: Danish Comics in the Third Millennium
• Events: Zane Austin Grant of PopMatters reports from the "Ah, Humbug!" panel with Al Jaffee and Arnold Roth at the 2009 MoCCA Festival
• Things to see: At Truthout.org, a Drew Friedman illustration from Time illustrates a Bill Maher editorial from the Los Angeles Times
• Staff news: Fantagraphics warehouse manager and noted practitioner of visual poetry Nico Vassilakis has a new book, Protracted Type, which can be purchased or downloaded here
• History: Irwin Chusid notes that yesterday was the 66th anniversary of the opening of Jim Flora's first NYC gallery exhibit
• Feature: For Largehearted Boy, Paul Hornschemeier details his musical playlist for Mother, Come Home and discusses the graphic novel's creation. Sample quote: "But stories you need to tell have weird claws. They make their way back up to the front of your skull, or wherever it is in there that gets the most attention."
I think we're all caught up on our Online Commentary & Diversions now:
• Review: "It's impossible not to love Jason's hapless cartoon characters; they're dog-faced descendants of Charlie Chaplin in that way, usually placed into situations far beyond their control or understanding... The five stories that make up Low Moon, Jason's newest collection of comics, hark back to the classic golden age of film... Each story reverberates with the little eccentricities that Jason has built a career on (instead of gunfights, the cowboys in the title story battle over long games of chess). Remarkably, none of them seem over-the-top or manipulative." - Paul Constant, The Stranger
• Review: "From Jordan Crane and Fantagraphics, Uptight #3. One of the best covers of the year and the last time, I suspect, that the guys in the crowd will read 'Back soon' and not feel that chill at the back of the neck." - Steve Duin, The Oregonian
• Review: "Sublife weaves a tighter, more focused narrative with intelligently ornate Chris Ware inspired design..." - Raina Lee, Lunch
• Review: "The current issue of theComics Journal (#297) has a wonderful in-depth interview with cartoonist Mort Walker, creator of Beetle Bailey, as well as a stable of other strips including Hi and Lois, Sam and Silo, and Boner's Ark that's a fun read." - Randy Reynaldo, WCG Comics
• Commentary: Looking at our recent spate of Special Edition releases at examiner.com, Spencer Ellsworth says "the notes, interviews and annotations give a look into some of the most innovative of the new generation of movers and shakers in the current comics renaissance."
• List: Industry news & analysis site ICv2 ranks sales of The Complete Peanuts at #3 on the list of "Top 10 Humor Properties Q1 2009"
• List: The Comics Reporter reports that at BEA a panel of librarians chose a list of "Hot Fall Graphic Novels," including our forthcoming titles Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 1 and West Coast Blues by Manchette & Tardi
The acclaimed graphic novelist Jason returns with his most eagerly awaited book yet, thanks to the inclusion of the title story, the world’s first (and likely last) chess western, originally serialized in 2008 in the New York Times Sunday Magazine “Funny Pages” section.
This 216-page hardcover book features five yarns — all brand new with the exception of the aforementioned “Low Moon,” which is collected into book form for the first time.
The new stories lead off with “Emily Says Hello,” a typically deadpan Jason tale of murder, revenge and sexual domination. Then, the wordless “&” tells two tales at once: one about a skinny guy trying to steal enough money to save his ill mother, and the other about a fat guy murderously trying to woo his true love. The reason we follow these two parallel stories becomes obvious only on the very last page, in Jason’s inimitable genre-mashing style.
“Early Film Noir” can best be described as The Postman Always Rings Twice meets Groundhog Day. But starring cavemen. And finally, “You Are Here” features alien kidnappings, space travel, and the pain and confusion of family ties, culminating in an enigmatic finale that rivals Jason’s greatest twists.
Funny, poignant, and wry, Low Moon shows one of the world’s most acclaimed graphic novelists at the absolute peak of his powers.