• Interview: Dan Wagstaff, a.k.a. The Casual Optimist, has a Q&A with Jason: "I have ideas in my brain, just lying there, that I sometimes think about. This can last years. Then suddenly I can get ideas for dialogues. I write this down. It’s maybe four or five pages. I can start working on those, and at the same time think about what’s going to happen next. I don’t write a full script. It’s based on improvisation. I write pieces of dialogue. Or sometimes I sketch out the pages first, the images, and write the dialogue after. I usually work on nine or ten pages at the same time, pencil a bit here , then ink it, and then pencil a bit there and ink that. It’s the completely wrong way of doing it, by the way, but it seems to be the only way I can work."
• Plugs: Martha Cornog of Library Journal spotlights a few of our upcoming releases in the latest "Graphic Novels Prepub Alert":
Creeping Death from Neptune: Horror and Science Fiction Comics by Basil Wolverton: "The line between horror and humor dissolves easily, and Wolverton's extravagantly grotesque drawings drew chortles and chills from readers of MAD magazine and numerous comics from the 1940s to the 1950s.... Now a few years after a successful New York exhibit plus several published collections of illustrations and shorter pieces, this volume reprints important sf/horror sequential work, carefully restored, plus material from his personal ledgers and diaries."
Jack Jackson's American History: Los Tejanos & Lost Cause: "With the pen name of 'Jaxon,' Jackson (1941-2006) drew Texas history into comics that included Mexican as well as Anglo legacies. Los Tejanos ('the Texans' of Mexican ancestry) fixes on Juan Seguín, a tragic figure in the 1835-75 Texas-Mexican conflict. Lost Cause chronicles the state's turmoil during Reconstruction, in the wake of the Civil War. Jackson's detailed, realistically drawn accounts will be useful for anyone interested in those coordinates of U.S. history or in Latino-Anglo heritage."
No Straight Lines: Four Decades of Queer Comics: "Herewith a color and black-and-white sampler from a little-recognized underground of gay comics from the past four decades, including [Alison] Bechdel and [Howard] Cruse, Europe's Ralf Koenig, and 2011 ALA keynoter Dan Savage. Huh? Dan Savage wrote comics?! Indeedy, indeedy. Fantagraphics promises 'smart, funny, and profound' — and uncensored."
• Review/Interview: "Leslie Stein is a pretty lady who made a comic [Eye of the Majestic Creature] in which she is a cute/gross little humanoid with eyes that are like coins and a best friend who is a guitar. Her comical alter ego is named Larry Bear and her guitar's name is Marshy. They live in a house in a field, but it's pretty clear that almost everything they experience is some joked-up fantasized autobiographical story. It's hard to know what's based on reality and what isn't, and which characters are based on real folks and which are just supposed to be Leslie's internal feelings personified.... Leslie's work communicates an urban loneliness that I relate to a lot, seeing as we live in the same place. It's cute and sad and familiar, especially if you're 30 or under." – Nick Gazin, who also talks to Leslie at Vice: "I think for the most part she represents the lighter side of my personality. I'm happy when I'm drawing and I hope that comes across through her on the page, in whatever situation she is in. She dresses a bit weirder than I do, so that's fun. I'm not really a shy person, but I feel like I'm constantly embarrassing myself. She doesn't have that self-consciousness."
• Review: "Post-apocalyptic stories tend to be grim, but The Hidden is very dark indeed.... The book feels like a modern-day gothic horror. The survivors are metaphors for humanity, with a heroic few battling an onslaught of monsters, human or otherwise. Humanity is on the brink of extinction, and still people bring out the worst in one another.... Sala’s illustration is compelling... ★★★★ [out of 5]" – Grovel
• Review: "[Kevin] Avery’s book, Everything Is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson, is an admirably unorthodox construction that starts with a bracing 180-page biography of Paul followed by a 265 page collection of Nelson’s music writing, primarily that from the seventies focusing on the artists he was particularly drawn to.... What’s impressive about Avery’s biographic half of the book is that he’s produced both an intimate personal bio and a comprehensive professional bio as well. He’s talked to virtually everyone who Nelson inspired or mentored in rock criticism starting in the latter half of the sixties and into the Rolling Stone years. These knuckleheads are a who’s who of American rock criticism, God help us." – Joe Carducci (SST Records, Rock and the Pop Narcotic), The New Vulgate
• Review: "I was looking forward to this new book [Setting the Standard] a/ because it's Alex Toth and b/ because it reprints 60 stories, Toth's entire contribution to the catalogue of a long defunct publisher whose material we rarely see reprinted.... Toth's work has long been admired for its distilled simplicity of black and white design, but these early pages fizz and bubble with life.... The book under discussion is from Fantagraphics, with the original printed pages restored in all their colours by Greg Sadowski, who put the whole package together with extensive notes..." – Eddie Campbell (via The Comics Reporter)
• Plugs: Brian Ralph's choices for his guest contribution to Robot 6's weekly "What Are You Reading?" column include Captain Easy Vol. 2 by Roy Crane ("It’s a fun combination of action and laughs. Sometimes very serious and other times very cartoony, in both story and art style. I just love the way Roy Crane draws these goons. And the colors! The palettes are unusual and beautiful.") and Setting the Standard: Comics by Alex Toth 1952-1954 ("I’ll read one of these [stories] before I go to bed. I like that in a short page count he quickly develops a rich story and twilight zoney twist. Sometimes it’s a bizarre romance or horror story with a stunning conclusion. They’re a fun read.")
• Review: "Brief but witty dialogue and black humor come together in a brutal satire of deception, torture and the death penalty. This comic is a good comedy that combines the sense of adventure and intrigue of Jason's comics, his 'tempo' and narrative tone, with a trio of protagonists who I came to appreciate in very few pages. Emotion, gags, surprises, and an ending that you do not expect. Isle of 100,000 Graves is an original and very enjoyable read that keeps Jason as a safe bet in the shopping cart. Between tenderness and cruelty, of course the contribution of writer Fabien Vehlmann to the Norwegian cartoonist's particular universe could not have been more successful." – Alita News (translated from Spanish)
• Review: "Warm-hearted, deceptively heart-wrenching, challenging, charming and irresistibly addictive, Love and Rockets: New Stories is a grown up comics fan’s dream come true and remains as valid and groundbreaking as its earlier incarnations — the diamond point of the cutting edge of American graphic narrative." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Interview:The Comics Reporter 's Tom Spurgeon talks to backbone Mome contributor T. Edward Bak about his experience at Boomfest in St. Petersburg, Russia: "There were so many things going on. There were people interested in all of the presentations. They took place over four or five hours, in three or four different centers. A lot of artists were there. For these kinds of presentations, it was other artists attending. It was like APE: you have people that are making comics or are interested in making comics."
• Interview: At The Comics Journal, Matt Seneca enjoys a studio visit and thoughtful discussion with Gary Panter: "That’s one of the games that modern art plays: where does it go, and what does it affect by trying to go? And so, usually in fine art, you’re making a kind of pregnant or puzzling object, or some object that has presence and which calls to people, hopefully. It arrests them for a second and various things happen, whereas in a comic, I want people lying in bed reading it. I want people lying in bed and reading it, and you forget you’re reading it, and you go in the story, and you’re like, 'Whoa! What happened?' And you either remember it or you don’t."
• Review: "Every now and then, if I’m lucky, I might just bump into a stone cold masterpiece. The kind of art that makes you just want to shout and scream it is so good. So, in the interest of doing just that, let me say that this Jaime Hernandez’s 'The Love Bunglers' (Love and Rockets: New Stories no. 4) is such a work. I don’t even need to qualify it for myself (i.e. 'what’s coming later; what’s come before; shouldn’t there be a cooling period?') when I say: This is not just Jaime’s finest work, but one of the best (at this moment I’d rank it in my top five of all time) works ever created in the medium. You can hold that over me in twenty years and I’ll still be right..." – Dan Nadel, The Comics Journal [SPOILER WARNING]
• Review: "Jaime Hernandez is my favorite cartoonist. I think he is the greatest cartoonist of all time. My opinion.... No art moves me the way the work of Jaime Hernandez moves me. I am in awe of his eternal mystery." – Frank Santoro, The Comics Journal
• Review: "I picked up a copy of the new issue at a signing Jaime was doing here in Brooklyn a few weeks ago. It was a packed house, and there were a lot of people I was happy to talk to. Amidst all the socializing, I allowed myself a quick glimpse inside the comic, and when I randomly flipped to pages 92 and 93, I felt like I’d been blind-sided. I had to look closer to make sure I was seeing what I thought I was seeing." – Adrian Tomine, The Comics Journal
• Commentary:Robot 6's Sean T. Collins spotlights the above TCJ links, saying "Paying off thirty years of continuity and character development. Delivering shocks, gasps, cheers, and tears in equal measure, seemingly at the author’s whim. Offering a master class in everything from laying out a double-page spread to drawing clothes. Telling a story about beloved characters so emotionally engaging that even their most ardent fans wouldn’t mind if this were the last one ever told. Any way you slice it, Jaime Hernandez's 'The Love Bunglers' — his contribution to the recently released Love and Rockets: New Stories #4 and the conclusion to the already wildly acclaimed 'The Love Bunglers'/'Browntown' suite from last year’s issue — is a hell of a comic. But you don’t have to take my word for it."
• Review: "As I finished reading Love and Rockets: New Stories #4, I had to sit back and just take a moment to take it all in and collect myself, as I know that I had just completed reading one of the greatest works in comics for 2011. Love and Rockets has been a source of inspiration within the comics industry for years, so it’s not like I’m the first one to praise the Brothers Hernandez for their contribution. But it’s even more incredible to see that after nearly 30 years, both Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez are creating some of the best comics of their careers and making them completely accessible to new readers. Love and Rockets: New Stories #4 is an achievement for the Brothers Hernandez and has earned a permanent spot on my required reading list for anyone interested in reading the great works of modern comics creators." – Ron Richards, iFanboy "Book of the Month"
• Review (Audio): "The artwork [in Pogo] is fantastic because Kelly, coming from a Disney background, had really great technical chops and he was able to put a lot of detail into a small daily strip while at the same time giving it breathing room despite the fact that the characters are quite talkative…. He crowded an awful lot into each panel without making it feel crowded, which is a neat trick. He really pulled it off well. …It's just a joy to look at, and it's so much fun to read too because the characters all have really funny personalities that are… very dimensional… It is beautifully designed by Walt Kelly's daughter Carolyn Kelly, and she and Fantagraphics did a really good job of finding all these strips… lovingly scanned and restored so that you get to see the line art in all its detailed glory…. I highly recommend it -- it's going to be one of my prize books... that I'm going to hang onto for a long time." – Mark Frauenfelder, Boing Boing "Gweek" podcast
• Review: "When you read the first volume of Fantagraphics' complete reprint of Gottfredson's Mickey Mouse — the first of its kind anywhere — you understand quickly why Disney decided to keep him on the daily strip. He was simply a natural talent." – Matthias Wivel, Nummer 9 (translated from Danish)
• Commentary: "...Jim Woodring is not one to rest on his laurels where his funny-animal protagonist Frank is concerned. Lately he’s been posting breathtaking images... to his blog on a surprisingly regular basis. They appear to show Frank up to his old mischievous tricks, and to augur another Frank book on the horizon. Check them out here and here, and marvel that a cartoonist of Woodring’s caliber is tossing these things out there for free like it ain’t no thing." – Sean T. Collins, Robot 6
Jason has been honored in his native Norway with his own postage stamp! It's one of a series of 4 featuring artwork by contemporary Norwegian cartoonists in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the first comic to be published in Norway, as Jason explains on his blog. If we can just get the USPS to follow suit with some Love and Rockets or Eightball stamps, it might save them from bankruptcy!
• Review: "Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse: Race To Death Valley by Floyd Gottfredson will be warmly received by comics aficionados but should also intrigue Disney animation buffs who aren't necessarily plugged into comic strip history. Editors David Gerstein and Gary Groth have not only scoured the planet for the best surviving artwork on Gottfredson's first epic continuity, which ran in newspapers from April to September of 1930; they've provided background essays (by a raft of experts), vintage press materials and artwork to put it into the context of Walt Disney's burgeoning career, and Mickey Mouse's budding stardom.... I have a feeling that this book, crafted with such obvious care, will earn Gottfredson a new legion of admirers." – Leonard Maltin
• Review: "Popeye hawking newspapers? Donald Duck selling gasoline? You'll find them and a whole cavalcade of comic strip characters in Drawing Power: A Compendium of Cartoon Advertising, edited by Rick Marschall and Warren Bernard. In a hundred-plus pages you are treated to a sampling of cartoon print ads from the 1890s to 1940s. There are short informative blurbs about the cartoonists (some of whom were featured in ads themselves) and the history behind the ads. A great treat for fans of comic strips, Americana, and ephemera." – The Christian Science Monitor "Top Picks"
• Review: "Not long ago a very interesting book was released which aims precisely to investigate and chronicle the parallel paths of comics and advertising from 1870 until 1940 entitled Drawing Power: A Compendium of Cartoon Advertising. Fantagraphics Books offers a hearty volume... which is our guide with text and images to the 'commercial' roots of the comic strip and the amazing work that resulted from comics creators who worked in advertising.... Drawing Power: A Compendium of Cartoon Advertising is a book that will surely pique the interest of those involved in the communication sector, but also all who are drawn to pop culture. An excellent edition from Fantagraphics..." – Lida Tsene, Comicdom (translated from Greek)
• Review: "Richard Sala’s The Hidden is yet another undead saga, though it’s more ambitious than most.... As the backstory deepens, Sala ties The Hidden to older literary traditions, weaving in pieces of folktales and the legend of Frankenstein. Because Sala has had a career-long fascination with B-movies, gothic illustrations, and general ghoulishness, this plot is right in his wheelhouse. But The Hidden isn’t just an entertaining riff on well-worn horror concepts. Taking his cues from Mary Shelley, Sala explores human vanity and arrogance as a way of showing how everything can go so wrong so fast." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "...Mome 22 concludes the run of one of alt-comics' longest-running and most essential anthologies. Like Weirdo before it, Mome bridged the gap between veteran cartoonists and the new breed... Here’s hoping that as with Zap, Raw, Arcade, and so many that have gone before, another anthology will rise to take Mome’s place. And soon." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "...Shimura Takako is a master at portraying subtle events in a slice of life story about adolescence that never feels didactic.... One of the things I like about Wandering Son is the way many of the events in the book are simultaneously safe and filled with dramatic tension.... Like the storyline, Shimura’s art is simple but nuanced.... As you’d expect from Fantagraphics, the production quality for Wandering Son is excellent. I hope that more manga is on the horizon from them. While I’ll happily read more cheaply produced manga, it is nice to have a variety of options. Carefully curated manga like Wandering Son is a treat." – Anna Neatrour, Manga Report
• Review: "Jason’s deadpan, anthropomorphic characters make his books must-reads for me.... I'd give [Isle of 100,000 Graves] to my daughter... and my wife... in hopes that, after laughing at the Hangman’s Academy’s students, teachers, and administrators, they’ll agree to dress up in multi-colored hoods and carry instruments of torture next Halloween." – Gene Ambaum, The Unshelved Book Club
• Review: "Chun fills his collections with the best cartoons – the ones that can still delight readers, and Covey uses his lively and inventive design sense to make these old cartoons fresh and vital. With The Pin-Up Art of Humorama, Chun and Covey will once again make you believe that the art of Humorama is still alive and kicking – although the line ceased to exist decades ago. [Grade:] A" – Leroy Douresseaux, I Reads You
• Review: "This Fantagraphics edition collects the first two French albums of Les Aventures Extraordinaires d’Adèle Blanc-Sec (Pterror Over Paris and The Eiffel Tower Demon) in a large format hardback edition, and it’s beautifully presented. First released in 1976, Jacques Tardi’s story has a timeless quality, set in an alternative, steam-punk universe, shortly before World War I.... Tardi’s art recreates the scenery beautifully, with stunning backdrops bringing the architecture and beauty of Paris to life. ...[A] compelling and enjoyable mystery story with an alternative Victorian feel." – Grovel
• Review: "Comic fanboys have read Sgt. Rock or The Howling Commandos which are realistic in many ways, but there was a time when a comic mag got down right truthful. I’m speaking of Blazing Combat #1-4 (1965-66, Warren) and recently Fantagraphics collected the run in both hardcover and softcover. Blazing Combat was an anthology comic that showed the very dark and very real side of war. A loose followup to the EC Comics War genre books, it showed US G.I.’s dying in terrible ways, commanders giving orders with little regard for consequences and the militaristic definition of collateral damage. Jim Warren let it all hang out when it came to editing Archie Goodwin’s writing... Of course Goodwin is a genius and I’m usually more of a word-man when it comes to comics, but this time it’s the art that captured my attention. It’s a who’s-who of monster talent..." – Chris Marshall, Collected Comics Library
• Review: "Fred [the Clown] is a figure of innocence, a lovelorn sad sack who keeps getting hit by custard pies — and, even harder, by life — over and over again, but keeps standing back up to go on. Langridge mostly tells his story in short wordless comics stories... in his usual style, a crisp modern interpretation of the classic '20s animation look... They're slapsticky stories of a sad clown, using the accouterments of vaudeville and early Hollywood, that nonetheless feel entirely new and fresh and funny. I don't know how Langridge does it, but he does it very very well." – Andrew Wheeler, The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.
• Plug: "You must buy @DaveMcKean's NSFW book 'CELLULOID' at your local comics or book store. Or in a plain brown wrapper..." – Neil Gaiman
• Preview/Plug:Comicsphere re-formats and re-presents one of our previews of Johnny Ryan's Prison Pit Book 3 to their readers, with Josh West saying "This is set to be 120 pages of ‘once you see it, it can’t ever be unseen’ scenarios and, honestly, Comicsphere couldn’t be more excited! Unbelievably unpredictable, violent, satirical and likely to entertain more than anything else on the shelves through September, the Prison Pit makes Hell look like nothing more than a relaxing Sunday morning stroll through a (really hot) meadow."
• Interview:Comic Book Resources' Tim Callahan has a wide-ranging conversation with Johnny Ryan about Prison Pit and other topics: "I guess I have this fascination with stories where the 'hero' is not a hero at all. He's a loser or an idiot or a scumbag, but somehow the author makes us give a shit about him or her.... I think this is a strain that also runs through my work. It's about bad people, doing bad things, but I try and trick people into caring about or liking these people."
• Preview/Plug:Comicsphere gives the same treatment as above to our excerpt of Jacques Tardi & Jean-Patrick Manchette's Like a Sniper Lining Up His Shot, with Josh West saying "...Jacques Tardi returns to the world of guns, crime, betrayal and bloodshed with this stunning, grisly, and remarkably faithful interpretation of Manchette’s last completed crime thriller."
"Athos in America – Jason returns to The Last Musketeer and includes other Jasony stories like 'The Brain That Wouldn’t Virginia Woolf.'"
• Plugs:Graphic Novel Reporter includes almost everything we have coming out over the next 3 months in their "Great Graphic Novels of Fall 2011" roundup, particularly the Adult Fiction and Nonfiction categories (though we feel we should point out that Alexander Theroux's Estonia is neither fiction nor a graphic novel)
• Plug: "We’re over halfway done, and have moved into the last 20 years of the strip with the release of The Complete Peanuts: 1981 to 1982. Can you believe how fast time is flying? Kudos to Fantagraphics for maintaining the incredibly high standard of quality and presentation they established at the outset, with this entry featuring an introduction from cartoonist Lynn Johnston. More!" – Ken Plume, FRED
• Interview:Newsarama's Albert Ching talks to Michael Kupperman about his new book Mark Twain's Autobiography 1910-2010: "One other character I frequently think of when doing Twain — writing that book, or doing him in Thrizzle — is Dave Thomas from SCTV doing Walter Cronkite. Which in some ways is very similar — this kind of roguish, semi-self-befuddled character, roaming around having adventures."
• Interview:The Daily Cross Hatch's Brian Heater begins a multi-part chat with Drew Friedman: "Basically when Monte Beauchamp who edits those books invited me to do a book, I thought about what I like to draw the most. I like to draw comedians and old Jews. So I put those two together and started working on them between assignments over a year. I just got pleasure in drawing them. I could put aside any annoying assignment I had and just get down to drawing those old Jewish faces. That’s what it came down to."
• Interview:Washington City Paper's Mike Rhode had a little pre-SPX Q&A with Noah Van Sciver: "I'm excited to stop by the Fantagraphics table and say hello to those guys and see what's new." Well shucks!
• Lore: "’71 was a weird year for me. I never had quite so many women coming and going, as I did that year in the apartment I shared with Gary. But I was still drinking too much and just overdoing it in general, hedonistically speaking. I was getting very little good work done (gosh, I wonder why?) and was generally pretty miserable." – Kim Deitch's epic memoir-in-music "Mad About Music: My Life in Records" at TCJ.com forges into the 1970s
• Staff picks: Our own Ambassador of Awesome (and funniest Flogger) Janice Headley is the guest contributor to this week's Robot 6 "What Are You Reading?" column