• Review: "A powerful eco-report, Oil and Water also manages to be a report on the gap between classes that isn’t about who has what, but rather about what 'having' means to different groups of Americans.... The large black-and-white images are realistic and create individual characteristics for the cast; its smudged texture is an excellent vehicle for the intrusion of oil on beaches, birds, livelihoods, and prospects for the future. Quick to read, but of lasting weight for readers from either side of the divide." – Francisca Goldsmith, School Library Journal
• Review: "...Nelson wrote like Fitzgerald or O’Connor, his prose full of god and anxiety... Paul Nelson knew you were that kid that needed a noir detective to crack the case for you, to demystify the rock god world while not for a second taking the romance and realness out of it. He signed on for a pittance and wrote elegantly and truthfully about an industry that was usually nothing but awkward boasts and queasy lies.... I’m not kidding when I say that you need to get on [Everything Is an Afterthought] ASAP if you do any music writing at all. It’s the Scribes Sounding Off book of the year, in a pretty great year of them..." – Chris Estey, The KEXP Blog
• Interview:Comic Book Resources' Chris Mautner has a fascinating and playfully cantankerous Q&A with Kevin Huizenga about the new issue of Ganges: "I totally would rather work on a minicomic more than working on a 'real' project. Working on something where other people are involved really screws me up. It's some kind of disorder. I assume they're going to be disappointed, and I resent them for that in advance, and then I start to hate the work and half-ass the project. I'd much rather work on something that no one wants, that no one has asked for. This has not helped my career."
• Review: "Like WWI itself, it's difficult to summarize It Was the War of the Trenches — each moment and story is precise and poignant and devastating, and they add up to far more than the sum of their parts, but they add up as a mosaic does, with each shard forming a point of color that only makes sense from a distant perspective. [...] Tardi is one of the giants of world comics, and this is one of his strongest works, a rare combination of ability, ambition, and subject. ...It Was the War of the Trenches is immediate and moving and deeply involving from page to page, showing once again the power that comics has to both illuminate dark corners of the world and to turn them into a compelling narrative accessible to nearly everyone." – Andrew Wheeler, The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.
• Feature: At The SF Site: Nexus Graphica, Rick Klaw dubs Jacques Tardi "the Martin Scorsese of European comics" and runs down his reactions to all of our recent English reprints of Tardi's work: "Before my discovery of the French artist Jacques Tardi, how did I enjoy comics?"
• Interview (Audio): Guests Jean Schulz, Nat Gertler (The Peanuts Collection) and Kevin Fagan (Drabble) discuss the legacy of Charles M. Schulz on yesterday's episode of Southern California Public Radio's AirTalk (via Spurge)
From our colleagues at Dargaud comes this video footage of Jean Schulz at the opening of the Peanuts exhibit at the Angoulême Festival yesterday with U.S. Ambassador to France Charles Rivkin and other dignitaries in attendance. Vive le Snoopy! (Via Bleeding Cool.)
Enjoy "Good Grief: The Story of Peanuts", a half-hour BBC Radio 4 audio documentary on Charles M. Schulz and Peanuts, hosted by Pete Paphides, who talks to Jean Schulz and members of Schulz's family as well as fans like Chris Ware, Chip Kidd and Russell T. Davies, interspersed with vintage clips of Schulz himself and audio from the Peanuts TV specials. (Via Bleeding Cool.)
Today's (and yesterday's — sorry for the interruption) Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: "Yes, [Special Exits] is a heartbreaking — even harrowing — tale, one made all the more moving and immediate by the creator’s nuanced gift for capturing the essence of her parents on the page. But it’s also a tale told with consummate skill, filled with mordant humor and real compassion, an almost embarrassing amount of candor, and a deep abiding love and respect for its subjects. [...] Ultimately, it’s these simple and true moments of mundane magic which marks Special Exits as more than just one of the best books released this year. It is, without a doubt, also one of the most significant contributions to the comics medium this side of the millennium, a modern masterpiece which celebrates the human condition." – Bill Baker, ForeWord Reviews
• Review: "Ultimately, ...the book churns itself into a seething sludge of psychic toxicity that’s less a shockfest and more a satire of existence itself. Mercilessly graphic and superbly unspooled, Prison Pit funnels the fantastic, violent notebook sketches of the middle-school miscreant into a funny, pulsing, disgustingly purgative eruption. [Grade] A-" – The A.V. Club
• Review: "Prison Pit Two is one of the most gruesome and beautiful new comics I've seen. It's the comics equivalent of Voivod's Rrröööaaarrr. Buy buy buy. Die die die." – Nick Gazin, Vice
• Review: "There have been plenty of comic-book memoirs, but few with the complex structure of You’ll Never Know, which seems at times to be rambling from topic to topic with no clear direction, until it unexpectedly circles back to an earlier point and makes the purpose of one tiny anecdote clear. Because this is still a work-in-progress — and an idiosyncratic one at that — it’s too early to tag it as a masterpiece. But damned if it isn’t well on its way. [Grade] A-" – The A.V. Club
• Review: "With each passing year, Bill Griffith’s venerable comic strip Zippy the Pinhead gets weirder, moving away from direct social commentary and toward a more abstract expression of Griffith’s worldview. The latest Zippy collection, Ding Dong Daddy from Dingburg, is dominated by a long tour through a town run by pinheads — an absurdist spin on consumer utopia that rivals Superman comics’ Bizarro World for its down-is-up jargon and attitudes. The joke? That this is more or less the America of the early 21st century... [Grade] B" – The A.V. Club
• Review: "The Hernandez Brothers have... been on a constant incline. They never treaded water or plateau'd. In fact this issue, the third issue of the third volume [of Love and Rockets], is one of the very best things they've ever done. [...] This is a perfect volume by guys who've been getting perfecter all the time. [...] At their worst the Hernandez Brothers make work that's merely good and entertaining. At their best they make this." – Nick Gazin, Vice
• Review: "Adele Blanc-Sec is a sort of actiony, science fictiony comic for people who aren't retarded. It's like a Europeaner Hellboy or Indiana Jones. [...] This isn't my absolute favorite Tardi book — there's slightly too much dialogue and slightly too many characters with mustaches to keep up with — but it's still a fucking masterpiece. Everything he draws and the moods he conveys are worth the price of admission alone." – Nick Gazin, Vice
• Review: "In [Mome] Vol. 19, [editor Eric] Reynolds shifted gears and used fewer but longer entries to put together perhaps the single best issue of the entire series (only Vol. 12 surpasses it in my estimation). Beyond its quality, Mome Vol. 19 also seems to be the issue that best reflects Reynolds’ taste as an editor. Reynolds has always been more on the underground side of the fence than in the literary fiction camp when it comes to comics. This issue’s mix of the transgressively funny, pulpish noir, surrealism, scatology and innovation was sequenced in such a way that every transition from story to story was nearly seamless. More importantly, the stories frequently complemented each other in a way that acted as a form of editorial storytelling on its own. [...] Secrets and mysteries are at the core of every story in this volume, and Reynolds expertly put together this jigsaw puzzle of styles and visual approaches to create a coherent, deeply affecting book. It’s certainly on my short list of best comics of the year." – Rob Clough, The Comics Journal
• Review: "Mome... is where the smart kids with the sharpest pencils, shiniest pens, biggest brushes and best software go to play before they blow your minds in great big award-winning graphic novels. It is intense, sometimes hard to read and crafted to the highest production standards. Considered by most to be the successor to Art Spiegelman’s Raw, it doesn’t come out nearly often enough. [...] This volume is perfect for newcomers to jump aboard... Whether you’re new to comics, currently searching beyond the mainstream or just want something fresh; these strips and this publication will always offer a decidedly different read. You may not like all of it but Mome will always have something you can’t help but respond to. Why haven’t you tried it yet?" – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Review: "Jacques Tardi's masterful It Was the War of the Trenches was originally published in Europe in 1993, and thanks to Fantagraphics it has finally made it to the U.S. It was worth the wait. [...] I was nauseated. I was horrified. I was transfixed. Everyone should read this book and relearn the lesson that war is not diplomacy by other means, but the most hellish, useless and destructive tool at our disposal, and should be found somewhere past the last resort." – Andrew A. Smith, Scripps Howard News Service
• Review: "An effective biography and a great showcase of classic comics artwork, [Fire and Water: Bill Everett, the Sub-Mariner and the Birth of Marvel Comics] provides an intriguing look into the life of a man who played an important role in the shaping of the creative side of the comics industry. [...] Abetted by plentiful examples of Everett’s illustrative prowess (both at his peak and when in the depths of addiction), it’s a valuable tool for anybody interested in the history of the medium or the men behind their favorite stories and characters. And it’s fortunate that men like Blake Bell and publishers like Fantagraphics are committed to telling these stories so that we don’t lose sight of our roots." – Michael C. Lorah, Newsarama
• Review: "Do you ever stop to think that David Lynch's work doesn't make sense? No, not in that way — I don't mean in terms of story logic, I mean in terms of his aesthetic/generic approach. [...] Something about what Lynch does, the confidence with which he does it, makes it feel seamless, like 'of course' rather than 'what the?'. Looking at the cover for The Girl from H.O.P.P.E.R.S., I realized the same is true of Jaime Hernandez's comics. [...] He created his own kind of story." – Sean T. Collins, Attentiondeficitdisorderly
• Review: "To call it 'comic book as nightmare' would certainly sound too glib by half and too cliche by whole orders of magnitude, and yet nothing else provides so apt a model for the kind of experience Columbia has crafted here. [...] In short, Pim & Francie is a monumental achievement. Columbia's brilliance is on full display... to some of the most truly dreadful effect I've ever experienced." – Curt Purcell, The Groovy Age of Horror (via Sean T. Collins)
• Plug: "Stephen DeStefano and George Chieffet's new book Lucky in Love was recently released by Fantagraphics Books and I just received a copy courtesy of the artist so I want to plug one of my favorite artists working in comics and animation. As always Stephen's art is amazing. Pick up a copy today!" – Kevin Langley, Cartoons, Model Sheets, & Stuff
• Plug: "I escaped LA for a week and spent time relaxing in Seattle with some of my favorite people. On the way to the airport, we made a spontaneous stop at Fantagraphics Books, a place I never heard of before. They describe themselves as a publisher of 'comics for thinking readers – readers who like to put their minds to work, who have a sophisticated understanding of art and culture, and appreciate personal expression unfettered by uncritical use of cliché.' So, if you’re looking to read bland, mainstream superhero comics, you won’t find them there. [...] If you ever find yourself in Seattle, you won’t regret stopping at the store. A bonus is the record store that shares the same space with the bookstore." – What's Good With It
• Profile: "Jason is a Norwegian graphic novelist/comic book artist who makes the finest short stories. [...] It’s beautiful to see how Jason has refined everything; stripping away anything that could be considered filigree, cutting out any words that don’t need saying. He has mastered the barely story, telling imperceptible narratives vaguely inferred, and a crispness of drawing that ignores unnecessary fill. All that remains is a wry sociopathy you can’t help but fall in love with. Jason is the best thing I’ve come across in the last couple of years." – Gregory Povey, Mount Analogue
• Interview:Comics Comics' Dan Nadel, who says "As a [Mort] Meskin admirer (I put a Golden Lad story in Art in Time) I am thrilled to have a beautifully made book that showcases his thoughtful, vividly executed and highly influential work," talks to the author of that book, From Shadow to Light, Steven Brower: "There were two things that drew me to his story. The first was the mystery of why someone who began so strong, influencing his peers, faded so quickly from view. The second attraction: his personal story. Mort was someone who suffered greatly at times emotionally and overcame his struggles. I felt there was a larger story to tell than just someone who was a very good artist."
• Interview:Comic Book Resources' Kiel Phegley talks to Jean Schulz about the Peanuts 60th Anniversary: "I say I'm 'condemned' to keep learning more about the comic strip because I didn't take it seriously enough when Sparky was alive. That's sort of a joke, but it's true. You can go back over them again and again and look at them in different thematic settings."
• Commentary: At Trouble with Comics, Alan David Doane imagines a Peanuts spin-off strip called Shells, sort of a Rosenkranz & Guilderstern Are Dead to the Hamlet of Peanuts
• Profile:The Stranger's Paul Constant profiles the newsweekly's 2010 Literature Genius, Jim Woodring: "There are only a small number of medium-changing geniuses in the history of cartooning who have managed to develop a singular visual language, and Jim Woodring is one of them."
• Review: "...[D]amned if [Prison Pit: Book 2] isn’t one of the most entertaining, hilarious, and addictively fun comics I’ve read all year. [...] The violence itself is both brutish and ugly, but is direct and unapologetic, and drawn with such passion and beauty by Ryan. [...] It’s over-the-top, extreme, uncompromising, and very, very funny. It’s the sort of book you can’t put down even after you’re done; you just keep jumping around and admiring the stark viciousness that jumps off the page." – Chad Nevett, Comic Book Resources
• Review: "...[Mort] Meskin was and is one of the unsung greats of the Golden and Silver Ages, was influential on many of the later legends such as Joe Kubert and (especially) Steve Ditko (Ditko's style, especially early on, is VERY reminiscent of Meskin), and is definitely someone any right-thinking comics and/or illustration fan should get better acquainted with. [From Shadow to Light] is a very good place to start. It also works wonderfully as a snapshot of a time and a way of life in the comics industry that is gone, never to return." – Johnny Bacardi, Popdose
• Roundtable:Techland's panel of critics (Douglas Wolk, Evan Narcisse, Mike Williams, Lev Grossman and Graeme McMillan) has an opinionated (and spoiler-filled) discussion about Love and Rockets: New Stories #3
• Coming Attractions:Library Journal's Martha Cornog spotlights Stigmata by Lorenzo Mattotti & Claudio Piersanti in the latest Graphic Novel Prepub Alert: "A hand-to-mouth lowlife makes do day to day, and then his palms begin to bleed. This apparent gift of sainthood brings certain benefits, but tragedy as well. The original Italian comic inspired a 2009 Spanish live-action film and was one of British comics guru Paul Gravett's 2004 picks for the 'twenty best untranslated European graphic novels you haven't read' and only the fifth to be translated since. Intense, swirly black-and-white linework."
• Interview: The San Francisco Chronicle's Peter Hartlaub talks to Jean Schulz about the Peanuts legacy and other topics: "I don't want to say the last 10 years have been an awakening, because I always felt that he was a genius. But the last 10 years have been a really wonderful experience for me. And without me realizing it, this museum has been the forum for me to explore all these things." (Via The Daily Cartoonist)
10:00-11:00 Publishing Comics— Four publishers—Matt Gagnon (BOOM!), Gary Groth (Fantagraphics), Dallas Middaugh (Del Rey Manga), and Mark Siegel (First Second Books) -- each from a different part of the comics industry, discuss what's involved in running a publishing company and in creating and fostering a unique comics ideology. Moderated by Graeme McMillan (Techland). Room 8
10:30-11:30 Spotlight on Moto Hagio— Comic-Con special guest Moto Hagio is considered to be the mother of shōjo (young girl) manga. Her large body of work is renowned the world over, and Fantagraphics Books is publishing a new collection of her short stories, Drunken Dreams. Celebrate her first-ever visit to the U.S. at this special Q&A session, moderated by Matt Thorn, associate professor in the department of manga production at Kyoto Seika University in Japan. (Thorn decided to translate shōjo manga into English after reading Thomas no Shinzō by Moto Hagio in the mid-1980s). Room 5AB
12:00-1:00 Spotlight on C. Tyler— Comic-Con special guest C. Tyler is known for her personal brand of storytelling. Her latest book, You'll Never Know, Book 1: A Good and Decent Man chronicles the story of her father's life during World War II and interweaves it with her own story. Fantagraphics publisher Gary Groth interviews Tyler about her work. Room 4
2:00-3:00 Graphic Novels: The Personal Touch— You know when you read it: that certain something that sticks out in a graphic novel. It's the personal touch, a work that draws on the life of the creator or the people around him or her. Call the work autobiographical, call it reality—many times it results in truly personal and inspiring comics. Comics creator and journalist Shaenon Garrity (Narbonic, Skin Horse) talks to Comic-Con special guests Gabrielle Bell (Cecil & Jordan in New York), Howard Cruse (Stuck Rubber Baby), Vanessa Davis (Make Me a Woman), Larry Marder (Beanworld), Jillian Tamaki (Skim), and C. Tyler (You'll Never Know Book 1: A Good and Decent Man) about their very personal work. Room 4
2:00-3:00 Peanuts Turns 60— On October 2, 1950 the Peanuts comic strip launched in seven American newspapers. Little did anyone know the impact this comic strip would have around the world for decades to come. Nearly 60 years later, Peanuts appears in over 2,200 newspapers, in 75 countries and 21 languages. The animated specials have become a seasonal tradition and thousands of consumer products are available in every country around the world. Moderator Jerry Beck (animation historian/cartoon producer/consulting producer to Warner Bros., Universal, and Disney), Comic-Con special guest Jeannie Schulz (widow of Peanuts creator Charles Schulz), Paige Braddock (creative director of Charles M. Schulz's studio in Santa Rosa), Andy Beall (fix animation lead for Ratatouille, Wall-E, UP), Stephan Pastis (creator of Pearls Before Swine), and Marge Dean (general manager, W!ldbrain Animation Studios), present an in-depth foray into the work of Charles M. Schulz and what new things fans can look out for from Peanuts. Warner Premiere is joining the celebration with a sneak peek of something all new from Peanuts that fans won't want to miss. Room 25ABC
3:00-4:00 Spotlight on Émile Bravo— Eisner Award 2010 nominee -- three nominations for My mommy is in America and she met Buffalo Bill (Fanfare/Ponent Mon) -- and Comic-Con special guest Émile Bravo makes an illustrated presentation: "Graphic Writing, Comics as Calligraphy," with Michele Foschini (BAO Publishing, Italy) and Stephen Vrattos (Captain Gravity; www.heroesinmycloset.com), followed by a Q&A. Room 4
3:30-4:30 Comics Design— How do pages of art become a book? Six designers -- Mark Chiarello (DC Comics), Adam Grano (Fantagraphics), Chip Kidd (Random House), Fawn Lau (VIZ), Mark Siegel (First Second Books), and Keith Wood (Oni Press)—discuss what's involved in the process of comics design, and the importance of design to a book's critical and consumer reception. Moderated by Chris Butcher (The Beguiling). Room 26AB
• Review: "Of course, the Bradleys story remains the best reason to pick up any of these Hate Annuals, and this time Bagge doesn’t disappoint; even though I still can’t stand Buddy in his Popeye the Sailor look, this story of wife Lisa wanting to get out of the house (since the kid is in school) and do something for herself, eventually ending up in a two-woman rock band playing in a strip club, is consistently funny and sharply observed." – Johnny Bacardi, Popdose
• Plug: In the Portland Mercury, Floating World's Jason Leivian recommends Mezzo & Pirus's King of the Flies for fans of Paul Verhoeven's 1980 film Spetters: "Similar stories of fucked up youngsters spiraling into a black hole of self destruction with incredibly rendered artwork that will appeal to fans of Charles Burns."
• Plug: "If you've not checked out Luba by Gilbert Hernandez, you should. Especially if you live in LA. ... Luba is as funny and delightful as ever in these stories (some super short one-pagers, others much longer, over a hundred stories in this collection) of her and her family and the play between their work lives and personal lives is comical and poignant and over the top in classic Hernandez style." – Callie Miller, LAist (via Robot 6)
• Plug: "I've spent most of this week reading "Plunder Island," the fourth and latest collection of classic Popeye comics from Fantagraphics. This is the third time I've read this material... and it still never fails to enthrall me. In fact, I think Popeye has knocked Peanuts and Krazy Kat out of my personal canon to become my MOST FAVORITE COMIC EVER at the moment. There's just something about E.C. Segar's blend of melodrama, adventure and unrestrained, big-footed comedy that really knocks my socks off." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Profile: "Other comics publishers have fallen all over themselves trying to leverage a hoped-for crossover appeal into the mainstream of culture in the last twenty or so years. Meanwhile, Fantagraphics has hung surprisingly tight to their mission statement. But the bigger surprise for me came from learning that Fantagraphics still runs its publishing operation out of the same full-to-bursting house in Maple Leaf where they first planted their Seattle roots in 1989." – E. Magnuson, In North Seattle (Seattle P-I)
• Contest: One lucky person will win a free copy of The Squirrel Machine by Hans Rickheit from Kevin Church, who describes the book as "beautifully drawn, disturbing and sad"