• Review: "Any new work from Norwegian cartoonist Jason is worthy of a comics fan’s full attention, but the new, all-original short-story collection Athos in America is one of the best books of Jason’s career, which automatically makes it one of the best books of this year." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "...Joost Swarte... brought a nose-thumbing avant-garde sensibility to 'ligne claire' style Eurocomics in the ’70s and ’80s, even before he landed stories in the seminal art-comics anthology Raw. Is That All There Is? collects nearly 150 pages of Swarte’s most groundbreaking work... With his architectural sense of design and his punk-rock attitude, Swarte fused craft and nihilistic flippancy in stories about adventurers, harlots, musicians, and scientists, creating true 'modern art.'" – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "About all that was missing from Blake Bell’s 2010 Bill Everett biography Fire & Waterwas extended samples of Everett’s artist’s actual comics. Bell now remedies that by serving as editor on Amazing Mysteries: The Bill Everett Archives Vol. 1... These publications rode the superhero wave initiated by the companies that would later become DC and Marvel, and while they didn’t withstand the test of time, they’re still a kick to read, buoyed by their no-nonsense action plots and by Everett’s propensity for drawing narrow figures poised to commit acts of violence." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "This collection is the ultimate love letter to all those 1960s kid comic books, but with a modern twist.... Each person is a well-defined character with strong flaws and backgrounds. With so much diversity, there is bound to be at least one character you will like.... If you are looking for a kid-friendly book with some charm, go ahead and pick [Yeah!] up." – Kevin Brown, City Book Review
• Profile:Steve Appleford of the Los Angeles Times (via a few of their suburban affiliates like the Glendale News Press) visits Tony Millionaire in his garage studio: "In his introduction to 500 Portraits, Millionaire writes that life experience has taught him that 85% of all people are 'bogus' or worse. In the garage, he describes himself as misanthropic, but admits his drawings often suggest otherwise. 'As it turns out, you can tell by looking at these portraits, I obviously love people — even the [jerks]. Hitler's done very lovingly,' he says. 'I think it's nice to have the juxtaposition of my disgust for humanity mixed with my obvious love for humanity. You can't draw like that if you really hate something.'"
• Profile: The Ottawa Citizen's Bruce Deachman catches up with Dave Cooper: "'There are different facets of my creative mind,' he says. 'I feel I need a lot of contrast, so I have all these things happening, but they’re all necessary to make me feel satisfied. It’s got to be this big pot happening, with everything boiling at once. It’s therapy for me,' he adds. 'I don’t see ever wanting to retire from the thing that I love to death.'" There's a short video, too, which Dave has posted on his blog
• Plug:Robot 6's Brigid Alverson is partway through Jim Woodring's Congress of the Animals: "Woodring’s art has a real solidity to it and like the best surrealists, he creates unreal shapes and figures that seem real—he has figured out how to make new bodily orifices that mimic the old and yet are totally different. Like visions in a dream, they are convincing and false at the same time."
"Jason teams up with Fabien Vehlmann to craft a dark comedy about someone following a mysterious map in a bottle to and island where something strange is happening. The premise itself is a spoiler, as it’s a laugh-out-loud moment when the reader finds out what is going on. Jason’s work is as stellar as ever, just with a lot more dialogue this time around."
"Safe Area Goražde wasn’t a new book in 2011, but the special edition it got last year was enough to earn it a spot on this list. Joe Sacco reigns as the preeminent comics journalist, and Safe Area Goražde is another great reason why."
• Review (Video): It's a pretty safe bet you've never seen a review quite like Héctor G. Olarte's take on the Spanish edition of Jason's Athos in America for el Mundo's el Cultural — from the text intro (in translation): "If you have not read any of Jason, I can not think of a better way to start than with Athos. Most likely not be the last work of this author that passes through your hands."
• Plug: "Fantagraphics has released the cover for Popeye Vol. 6, the final volume of their handsome reprint series of E.C. Segar’s immortal Thimble Theater strips. We’re eager to get this if only to finish selling out POPEYE on the back of the books. Great design, great strip — one of those 'must haves' for every well-stocked comics library for sure." – Heidi MacDonald, The Beat
• Commentary:The Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon again, endorsing Jim Woodring's fundraising efforts for his in-progress book Fran: "Jim Woodring is one of the great cartoonists of his generation, and probably one or two generations on each side of his own. He's one of those cartoonists that raises one's estimation of the entire art form for him being [in] it." Joe at Forbidden Planet International adds "I doubt I am alone in thinking Jim creates some of the most amazing art in the medium and he’s an artist well worthy of support." Amen to both.
• Scene: On the Sequential Artists Workshop blog Tom Hart writes "Tim Kreider came to SAW to discuss with Cartoonist Majed Badra and myself the issues of expressing charged themes in single images, in addressing concerns of sensitivity, the powerful vs the powerlessness, coming to historical understandings in political situations, plus also just cramming concepts and images together to get strong visceral cartoons."
• Review: "Besides a particularly gleeful dark humour, this collection of short stories by Norweigan artist Jason [Athos in America] is tied together by a certain obsession with Hollywood genres: science-fiction and crime are the main targets, and Jason infuses them with both a slightly tweaked pathos and a taste for melancholy macabre. His drawing style is sparse and uncluttered, but that works something like keeping an even tone during a dry remark: his punchlines and gut-punches are that much sharper for having played it cool. All of these stories have an underlying sadness — something that seems to stem from the bleak futility of all our existence — but the best has to be 'Tom Waits on the Moon,' four seemingly unconnected vignettes that ruminate on various relationship troubles before tying up in [a] surprising and funny end. That’s not to discount any of these, though: this is just fantastic stuff for sad bastards and the people who love them." – David Berry, National Post
• Review: "I’m going to go out on a limb and assume anyone reading a review of comics is aware enough of Walt Kelly’s landmark Pogo series that they don’t need much in the way of description, but suffice to say that any strip artist worth their salt has taken serious cues from Kelly’s rich dialogue, playful illustration and at-times fierce politics. This first edition, which features for the first time full-colour Sunday strips, definitely leans towards the sweeter side, but there’s simply no denying Kelly’s mastery: he evokes full characters with nothing but a few choice words, and the sprightliness of his visual style is all fun here, laying the groundwork for what would become profoundly subversive later. The included essays, as is usually the case for Fantagraphics reissues, absolutely nail the context and import of the strip, too. I just don’t think you can say you love comics and not have this around." – David Berry, National Post
• Review: "[Action! Mystery! Thrills! Comic Book Covers of the Golden Age] is a fucking mind blower for me since it's just full-size reproductions of cover art of the most important comic book issues you never saw, printed on glossy paper with information about what makes them so special on the back.... The brain of the casual art looker or person who thinks comics are a genre and not a medium will look at this stuff and try to make it ironic or perverse. To appreciate the work in this book you have to turn off those parts of your cynicism and open whatever part of yourself receives beauty. America's golden-age comic books are some of the greatest art our country has produced." – Nick Gazin, VICE
• Interview:The Believer presents the fourth and concluding part of Ross Simonini's 2008 interview with Jim Woodring (which can be read in its entirety here): "I don’t believe in art like I used to. I believe in something beyond it, something that contains art and everything else. But I just don’t quite have the nerve to chuck drawing and painting. Part of it is that I enjoy IT too much, and part is that I don’t have the courage to renounce the world. I don’t want to move out of this nice neighborhood so that I can live in a shed and devote myself to meditating and touching something I can’t feel. I’m addicted to the fun of playing in the world."
• Review: "Fantagraphics is giving us another opportunity to revisit R. Crumb's iconic character in a hardcover edition of his collected adventures, called The Life and Death of Fritz the Cat.... Despite Fritz's demise 40 years ago, these stories maintain their wit, satirical edge, and their ability to offend and shock. The earlier stories are funny and bizarre..., and the later ones are funny and angry... Even the final story can be viewed as funny in an extraordinarily dark context, although it helps to be aware of Crumb's intentions. To read 'Fritz the Cat, Superstar' first, or without knowledge of Crumb, would feel a lot like confronting a knife-wielding lunatic in a dark alley.... Fantagraphics' new hardcover edition of the Fritz portfolio is unburdened by editorial commentary or contextual material of any kind. This encourages readers to experience the comics as if for the first time -- and find that the acid in Crumb's humor still stings." – Casey Burchby, SF Weekly
• Review: "Just released by Fantagraphics, [Action! Mystery! Thrills!] is one the best books yet done on Golden Age Comics! Sadowski is by far my favorite editor of compilations/retrospectives on comic book art!... A fascinating and important look at an exceptional period of American art! My highest recommendation to anyone interested in 20th Century illustration and of course the comics!" – Golden Age Comic Book Stories (via The Comics Reporter)
• Review: "[Athos in America]'s the usual collection of laconic oddness and outright weirdness.... Yes, it would be fair to say if you're looking for examples of dark humour in comics, Jason probably would be a very good place to start." – Jonathan Rigby, Page 45
• Review: "Mixing illustrated text pieces with short comic strips, Kupperman uses [an] oddball conceit [in Mark Twain's Autobiography 1910-2010] to deliver a wacky, adventure-filled romp that sends you laughing your way through the twentieth century.... The thick, precise lines of Kupperman’s drawing style bring a much needed dead-pan expression to a book that might otherwise feel out of control. The text pieces are often well-used, giving Kupperman more room to play with Twain’s voice and toss in frequent verbal puns." – Matthew L. Moffett, No Flying No Tights
• Review: "Athos in America is a tour de force that showcases Jason’s immense talents as both an artist and a storyteller. These haunting stories will stick with you long after you’ve turned the last page. Rating: 10 out of 10" – Edward Kaye, Newsarama
• Interview:Comic Book Resources' Shaun Manning gets the inside scoop about the I Killed Adolf Hitler film project from Jason ("I hope it will be good. Or really bad. One of those. The disappointment would be if it's a mediocre film") and screenwriter D.C. Walker ("I viewed 'IKAH' as a jewel like the french short film 'La Jetee.' All the key themes were in place, it was just a matter of expanding on them like they did in 12 Monkeys (the film 'IKAH' will most resemble).")
• Plug: "I gotta say I'm not a big fan of the illustration on this [Kolor Klimax] cover, but the design, color, and font choice made me stand up and take notice. I 'klimaxed' a little when I first saw it. Uggh, sorry, that was too much information." – Dave Johnson, Johnson's Cover Hi-lo
Fantagraphics is excited to announce that Studio Eight has optioned the film rights to the Eisner award-winning graphic novel I Killed Adolf Hitler in association with Up Country Productions. The graphic novel by acclaimed Norwegian comics artist Jason (aka John Arne Sæterøy) and published by Fantagraphics Books in 2007 revolves around a hitman sent back to 1938 by a scientist to kill the Führer and avert the Holocaust. Complications ensue.
Jamie and Alex Brown of Studio Eight have teamed on the project with screenwriter D.C. Walker of Up Country Productions, who adapted the material.
This week's comic shop shipment is slated to include the following new title. Read on to see what comics-blog commentators and web-savvy comic shops are saying about it (more to be added as they appear), check out our previews at the link, and contact your local shop to confirm availability.
196-page full-color 6.5" x 8.75" hardcover • $24.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-478-8
"A new and even-odder-than-usual book of short pieces by the marvelous Norwegian cartoonist Jason; as usual, I find that his stuff seems very lightweight at first and then sneaks up on me. My favorite of the stories in here is 'The Brain That Wouldn't Virginia Woolf,' which is (in both form and content) an attempt to graft together things that don't actually fit together at all." – Douglas Wolk, ComicsAlliance
"Jason’s stuff is always awesome and this sort-of prequel to The Last Musketeer should be no exception." – Michael May, Robot 6
"The Beguiling Recommends: ...New Jason!" – Chris Butcher, The Beguiling
"If you are already a fan of Norwegian artist Jason’s work, you’ll probably just pick this. His output has been consistently that good. Some folks get turned off by the anthropomorphism or ligne clair (some call it simplistic) style of his work but fans like the mix of tragic themes and adult writing mixed with the fun adventure graphic novel style of the Tintin books. His coloring is moody with a warm, somewhat noirish palette. As usual with his books, it looks good on a shelf with it’s cloth-bound spine and hardcover format. Oh and the book collects six new stories of 'love, crime, alcohol, and severed heads.' Oh my." – Perry Shirley, The Escapist
"If I had $30, I’d... grab Athos in America, the latest book by cartooning superstar Jason. Instead of a stand-alone story, this is a collection of short tales along the lines of his Low Moon, one of which involves the title character, previously seen in The Last Musketeer. There’s also a take-off on The Brain that Wouldn’t Die that’s surprisingly sad and bittersweet." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"...all Diamond will list is Athos in America, the newest 196-page hardcover collection of original color work by the fabulous Jason, and that’d be enough for me..." – Joe McCulloch, The Comics Journal
"Book of the week... Fantagraphics gives us: Athos in America. A new collection by Cartoonist Jason. Absurd, funny...." – Señor Hernandez
"I'm in the midst of reading this new short-story collection from Jason. It's good, but Jason is so reliable you can basically [buy] the new works sight unseen at this point. I'm warming up to the hardcover presentations of this material." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
In this month's issue of Booklist you can find reviews of three of our recent releases, excerpted below:
Bill Griffith: Lost and Found – Comics 1969-2003: "Prefaced by Griffith’s long, anecdotal accounting of his work and including stories featuring other characters who’d eventually join the strip’s cast as well as 48 pages in full color..., this collection attests the perdurable wit, style, and smarts of one of the greatest of the 1960s San Francisco underground cartoonists." – Ray Olson (Starred Review)
Athos in America by Jason: "What’s amazing is how much [Jason] can squeeze from so little. Though their emotional register usually falls somewhere between disappointment and death, the stories make an eclectic bunch.... Sure, Jason’s following his muse down the wormiest of rabbit holes these days, but you wouldn’t want him any less weird." – Ian Chipman
The Big Town by Monte Schulz: "It is as impressive as it is ponderous, and the maximalist mentality of overloaded historical detail is precisely what some will love and others will leave. Readers as taken by the era as Schulz is won’t find a bigger bonanza." – Ian Chipman
"Gilbert's stories are typically excellent in this issue, as he manages a certain luridness in one story that brings sexuality to the fore, and goes the other direction in a more oblique, subtle story. Of course, the story that got everyone buzzing was the second half of Jaime's "The Love Bunglers", which is an ending for this thirty-year cycle of stories--and one where Jaime sticks the landing with authority."
"This was Bagge's first feature-length Buddy Bradley story in years, and it's a doozy. Buddy, Lisa and young Harold visit Lisa's parents in a story called 'Hell,' and Bagge truly pulls out all the stops in depicting extreme familial weirdness. His dialogue is as sharp as ever, his line is quite lively and his uncanny ability to depict the creeping weirdness of suburbia is even more disturbing than in the initial run of New Jersey stories in Hate."
"Kupperman's 'Quincy, M.E.' story in this issue is a tour-de-force of twisting narrative structures and just plain crazy silliness. Kupperman's art has become increasingly bland as his aesthetic references have changed from 1920s comic strips to 1950s comic books, forcing the reader to perform double-takes at the crazy juxtapositions he creates. If his comics aren't as visually exhausting and exciting as they once were, he still provides an avalanche of ideas and jokes for the reader to sort through."
• Review: "Norwegian cartoonist Jason has returned with more full-color stories populated by lonely, and at times sociopathic, anthropomorphic characters. Cats, dogs, and ducks steal, fight, murder, and drink themselves into oblivion. Although brimming with black humor, the tales are far from ridiculous; the disjunction between the cute creatures and their actions often serves to highlight the despair inherent in their lives. Text is light, as the images drive the narratives. In these spare, mute panels, infused with flat oranges, greens, and browns, small movements covey great meaning and emotion.... Visually exciting, at times hilarious and at times devastating, Athos in America will only add to Jason’s well-deserved reputation as a star of the graphic novel world." – Publishers Weekly
• Review: "This volume [Amazing Mysteries: The Bill Everett Archives Vol. 1] provides an illuminating look at the artist’s numerous attempts at catching Sub-Marineresque lightning in a bottle for a second time, a task that mostly eluded him. The comics studios of the golden age were product mills that threw any idea against the wall in hope it would stick, and Everett did much the same. Forgotten sci-fi and superhero creations, as well as forays into westerns, historical retellings, and crime comics, populate this loaded volume, which reads like it fell straight out of some four-color twilight zone." – Publishers Weekly
• Review: "Over 150 pages of reprints, a brilliant back-of-the-book by Benson running 26 pages, and an introduction by my old buddy, cartoonist/historian Jay Lynch..., this book is a welcome addition to any comics library.... [I]f nothing else, The Sincerest Form of Parody saves you a lot of time separating the wheat from the chaff. But in and of itself, it is a very worthy book – entertaining on his own, and critical from a historical point of view. You should check this one out..." – Mike Gold, ComicMix
• Review: "[Jordan] Crane’s comic, The Last Lonely Saturday, explores the trials and release of life after loss. Crane’s story beautifully follows a husband’s weekly ritual to pay respect to his wife. In no more than a few pages, Crane retells the husband and wife’s entire history. From the comic’s meticulous book design, with its quaint size and the rounded, hand-lettered type in the first pages, readers can expect the story to be heart-warming. But Crane pulls at readers’ heartstrings with surprising grace. While the story is rooted in the traditional American cliché of lovers reunited in the afterlife, the story is told deftly." – Juan Fernandez, The Tartan (via Robot 6)
• Review: "[Freeway] captures the frustration of being stuck in traffic, particularly the array of images (violent and otherwise) that traffic brings to my mind (even better than Falling Down). Like me, Alex also relieves his frustrations with a lot of swearing." – Gene Ambaum, The Unshelved Book Club
• Plug: "I ran into animator Michel Gagné at the Annie Awards last week (where he picked up an Annie for Best Video Game, Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet) and asked him about his next project. Turns out Gagne had been toiling on a labor of love (literally) that has just gone on sale this week.... That book, Young Romance: the Best of Simon & Kirby’s Romance Comics, is not the usual thing we endorse here at Cartoon Brew – but as a life-long Jack Kirby fan and oddball comic book buff, this project is right up my alley.... I’ve ordered my copy and highly recommend it, sight unseen. Thanks, Michel!" – Jerry Beck, Cartoon Brew
• Plug: "Joe Simon and Jack Kirby created Captain America but they literally created the romance comic genre. The pages [of Young Romance] were packed with dialogue and dramatic art as women fought for love." – Will Harris, KOMO News
• Review: "If Spielberg shed the skin of Hergé’s style in an effort to get to the heart of his stories, the compelling work of Dutch cartoonist Joost Swarte performs the procedure in reverse.... Swarte, equally inspired by the underground comix that emerged from the American counterculture of the 1960s and ’70s, adapted the clear line and reanimated it with subversive content unlike the perennially chipper Boy Scoutism of Hergé’s Tintin. ...Is That All There Is?, collecting the bulk of his comics oeuvre to date (excluding a body of children’s comics), provides an overdue opportunity to linger over and consider his narrative work.... Like a Rube Goldberg machine designed according to De Stijl aesthetics—with a rhythm and blues soundtrack—Swarte’s comics communicate a historically freighted, European sense of the absurd, poised toward a globalizing, postmodern present." – Bill Kartalopoulos, The Brooklyn Rail
• Review: "The real joy of Swarte’s work... is the architectural elegance of his illustrations and his fine ability to colour them using everything from watercolour to retro duo-tones. Looking at Swarte’s mostly 20th century work [in Is That All There Is?] now, what’s also — and tangentially — interesting is the retro-futuristic look of it: the settings are near-future, but everything’s styled circa the 1940s, much in the same way Ridley Scott imagined the future in Bladerunner. For sheer design swagger you need to check Swarte out." – Miles Fielder, The List
• Review: "These stories [in Athos in America] are a little less open-and-shut than Jason usually makes. His comics are always good, but I usually don't think about them too much after reading them. This one's more of a think stimulator than previous books.... It's a beautiful book. This is definitely Jason's best book yet. Good job, Jason." – Nick Gazin, VICE
• Interview:Chicago Publishes has an interview with Mome contributor Laura Park: "I’m really happy with the stories I did for MOME. I love short stories. Novels are the format now — it’s a selling format. You can have graphic novels in a bookstore, because non-comics people might buy them. Whenever you can get a comic from the comic shop into a bookstore, it’ll make more money. But short stories are kind of magical to me. My favorite writer is Flannery O’Connor. She has novels, but her short stories are the ones that linger and itch away through you."