I thought I could keep up with Online Commentary & Diversions while at Comic-Con. Ha ha ha ha ha.
• Coming Attractions: At Robot 6, Chris Mautner takes a look through the 46 (!!!) upcoming books listed in our Fall/Winter catalog (note: listed release dates may no longer be accurate and are all subject to change)
• History/Profile/Review: "What A Drunken Dream reveals is an author whose childhood passion for Frances Hodgson Burnett, L.M. Montgomery, and Isaac Asimov profoundly influenced the kind of stories she chose to tell as an adult. ... For those new to Hagio’s work, Fantagraphics has prefaced A Drunken Dream with two indispensable articles by noted manga scholar Matt Thorn. ... Taken together with the stories in A Drunken Dream, these essays make an excellent introduction to one of the most literary and original voices working in comics today. Highly recommended." – Katherine Dacey, The Manga Critic
• Review: "Anyone interested in the historical development of manga and the women who’ve contributed to the art form should read this book. I hope A Drunken Dream sells well enough for Fantagraphics or other publishers to consider putting out some of Hagio’s longer works. Her short stories are great, but I’d love to see what she does with a longer storyline." – Anna Neatrour, TangognaT
• Plug: "What Osamu Tezuka is to shonen and seinen manga, Moto Hagio is to shojo manga -- a true innovator who challenged and stretched the conventions of the medium by created touching, memorable and truly artistic comics stories. ... Fantagraphics had copies of the absolutely gorgeous hardcover edition of A Drunken Dream available for sale at their [Comic-Con] booth..." – Deb Aoki, About.com: Manga
• Interview:The Comics Journal's Shaenon Garrity sat down with Moto Hagio & translator Matt Thorn for a conversation at Comic-Con International: "I find it very embarrassing to read my very early work, but when you see the stories arranged chronologically it gives a good overall impression of my career. In Japanese, too, it’s common to present an author’s works in a sample spanning his or her whole career, so it’s turned out very much like that."
• Review: "Deadpan dialogue, drawings that move from panel to panel with the strange and deliberate force of kung fu performance art, and a subtle interweaving of humor and angst come together to make [Werewolves of Montpellier] a brief knockout of a book." – Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
• Review: "...[T]his cartwheeling shaggy-dog story begins, like a lot of metafiction, with the semblance of reality... But by the time a frog demon reanimates a 19th-century French peasant whose brains it has eaten, it’s fairly clear that Deitch is making stuff up. The fun of [The Search for Smilin' Ed] is the way it constantly darts back and forth across the line between genuine show-business lore (a favorite Deitch theme) and delirious whole-cloth invention. There are stories within stories, unreliable explainers, secret passageways that lead from one part of the tale to another." – Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
• Review: "Wally Gropius is a book that’s constantly lying to the reader, with a terrifying chaos roiling just immediately below its surface. The book is a flood of visual and textual information, but the information itself is near constantly false. ... For me, it’s a book that lies constantly, that lies at its very core, but that nevertheless ends up getting at a greater truth of things. And so, yeah: I thought that was pretty neat." – Abhay Kholsa, The Savage Critics
• Review: "There’s more derring-do [in Prince Valiant Vol. 2: 1939-1940] than you can shake a sword at! Foster’s stories are filled with vivid, colorful characters, none more engaging than the aptly named Valiant and his never-ending quest for adventure. The artwork is breathtaking. Foster’s figures are handsome and graceful whether eating a sumptuous feast or fighting on a crowded battlefield. ... Even if the age of chivalry is not your flask of ale, Foster’s art and storytelling will win you over." — Rich Clabaugh, The Christian Science Monitor
• Review: "This book is why Fantagraphics is one of the best and most important comic publishers in the business today. [Blazing Combat] is a series that could have easily been forgotten to the ages but Fantagraphics always is at the forefront of making sure important works of sequential art are remembered. ... This is a brilliant collection of stories that should be required reading. Intelligent, gripping stories and fantastic art! Grade A +" – Tim Janson, Mania and Newsarama
• Review: "Formally inventive and emotionally acute, Bottomless Belly Button indeed proves to be all those things: as fascinating and affecting a depiction of family ties as Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections or Wes Anderson's The Royal Tenenbaums." – Ed Park, Los Angeles Times
• Plugs: Alex Carr of Amazon's Omnivoracious blog has Weathercraft by Jim Woodring ("I am woefully ignorant when it comes to Woodring’s Frank comics, and this looks like the weirdest place to start") and Dungeon Quest Book 1 ("After The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book, I will read anything Joe Daly produces") on his summer vacation reading list
• History: For the Los Angeles Times, Ben Schwartz compiles an oral history of the 1980s heyday of L.A. alternative comics with Matt Groening, Gilbert & Jaime Hernandez, David Lynch (!), and Gary Panter
• Review: "A book that sticks with you like a virus, Woodring's newest collection of tales of vague morality and definite oddity [Weathercraft] keeps intact his status as one of comics most eccentric auteurs. ... Woodring's wordless story is a looping and circumstantial affair, concerned more with fantastically rendered backgrounds — his starkly layered landscapes play like minimalist woodcuts of the deepest unconscious — than matters of plot and story. There is a creeping message of sorts, about the wages of greed and what happens to curious cats, but it's mired in a universe of deeply strange beauty and not always easy to divine." – Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
• Review: "...[A] gorgeously-produced best-of collection from shojo manga creator Moto Hagio, A Drunken Dream and Other Stories... The material showcased here has been assembled from across thirty years of Moto’s career, and shows her switching nimbly between storytelling modes. On the face of the evidence there was very little she could not do, some things she did well, and a few things she did magnificently. ... This book’s further evidence that 'shojo' need not be thought of as closed-ended and insular a category as “science fiction” once was." – Serdar Yegulalp, Genji Press
• Review: "Where most American gag strips were about the silly things that happen every day, Peanuts was about how to keep on living when you don't get what you want. It was still vital and true at this point [1973-1974], even if more and more of the stories focused on Snoopy quaffing root beers with Bill Mauldin, or writing bad novels, or playing tennis." – Andrew Wheeler, The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.
• Review: "Medley has a real talent for character, and she does a wonderful job of exploring and expanding upon standard fairy tale tropes. With her signature creation, Castle Waiting, she takes the bare bones of several well-known stories and redrafts them to account for the human element. ... The first volume of Castle Waiting... is available in a gorgeous hardcover edition from Fantagraphics Books... and the finished product is stunning..." – Stella Matutina
• Plug: "Megan Kelso's Artichoke Tales... is earning comparisons with epics like Cold Mountain and The Thorn Birds, and Kelso's nimble, cartoonish two-color art will remind readers of Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis. – Michael Bagnulo, Shelf Awareness
• Interview:Stephen DeStefano talks shop in a "Cartoonist Survey" Q&A with David Paccia of David-Wasting-Paper: "I recall when I first got to DC Comics as a teenager, Joe Kubert lectured me on starting my reference file. This way, no matter what I wanted to draw, I always had a photo to reference. In this age of Google Image Search, the idea of a reference folder seems positively quaint!"
• Interview: At HiLobrow, Joshua Glenn presents a previously unseen 2002 Q&A (missing the Qs) with Kim Deitch: "Yeah, Waldo represents individualization. His edges can’t be smoothed off — even by me. That’s why I try not to over-use Waldo. If I haven’t got a good idea with him, I’ll let him sit on the shelf for years." (Via ¡Journalista!)
• Profile: The Cincinnati Enquirer's Lauren Bishop spotlights the Comic-Con-bound Carol Tyler: "It's sure to be quite a different experience from the last time Tyler attended Comic-Con, in 1988, when she received the inaugural Dori Seda Memorial Award for Best New Female Cartoonist. 'When I went, it was pretty small,' she says. 'I slept on somebody's floor.'"
• Review: "In Weathercraft, his first foray into graphic-novel territory, Seattle denizen Jim Woodring employs his repertory troupe of ambiguous, liminal characters — Frank, Manhog, Pupshaw, and Pushpaw — to tell the kind of Pilgrim's Progress tale that David Lynch might have conjured up if he were a cartoonist. ... Impermanence, the conundrum of physical senses that guide and ensnare at the same time, the challenge of a rational response to an irrational universe — all this and more await the returning fan or the open-minded acolyte in Woodring's best work yet. And for an artist of his caliber, that's saying something." – Damian Van Denburgh, Critical Mob
• Review: "Loaded with hipster irony, profanity and long digressive conversations, it’s a loving tribute to half-repudiated childhood pleasures. ... At times, Dungeon Quest captures the anything-goes wanderlust of Calvin & Hobbes — if Calvin’s fantasies were real, set in rundown Los Angeles neighborhoods and loaded with swearing." – Jason Thompson, The Comics Journal
• Review: "The relationship stuff all rings true, and when it gets weird at the end, it doesn’t seem random and arbitrary, and that’s a difficult trick to pull off. ... I found Werewolves [of Montpellier] to be a delightful read; no profound life lessons were learned, but Jason’s storytelling is first-rate and life lessons are overrated anyway." – Johnny Bacardi, Popdose
• Reviewer:On his blog, Jason reviews the film Léon Morin, prêtre
• Review: "Deep within the barroom psychosis, Lane looks into the abyss and thinks about spitting into it. The drive that leads to destruction can also be a powerful and satisfying personal experience. While each story in Abandoned Cars ties together in a thick knot of dread, the best story sees Lane go on a blatantly autobiographical adventure, and head out for an adventure by jumping on trains." – Bob Temuka, The Tearoom of Despair
THIS is one of my most favorite things I've ever seen. Please click through and support this project. If Jim Woodring pulls this off, he will be the cock of the cartoonist block for all eternity, short of Charles Burns building a 2 story-tall Winsor Newton Series 7 and inking the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Watch the video. If anyone else outside of possibly Chris Ware proposed this, you would laugh at them. But in Jim's able hands, you can't help but BELIEVE. I am sold. Just listen to him. If you are a cartoonist, especially, I implore you: click the above and watch the video, you won't regret it. Then mobilize immediately amongst your cartooning corps. This MUST happen. If Jim were a preacher, I'd have joined his congregation already.
I don't quite understand this, but it's pretty cool. Sent to me by Olivier Schrauwen, he says, "It's a homage to Jim Woodring's Frank by the Dutch comics-collective Lamelos. They are four guys, they each did one page. They replaced Frank and his pet by their characters 'cheesehero and poophead'." And why not?
• Review: "His wordless tale filled with an eerie landscape and creatures that are both familiar and horrifyingly alien evokes dread and mystery. Equal parts parable, fable and surreal (and perhaps at times unfathomable) vision, Weathercraft further cements Woodring's reputation as one of the true geniuses of comics." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "The pace of this tale [Billy Hazelnuts and the Crazy Bird] is relentless; once Millionaire pushes you down the hill you don’t stop for many miles, and you’ll hit many bumps along the way…it’s one of the most fun stories I’ve read in quite some time, full of humor and odd characters and vividly realized by Millionaire’s art... ...[I]f you like high-spirited and whimsical fun, I think this is as good an example of that as any you might come across." – Johnny Bacardi, Popdose
• Plugs: "The two new Fantagraphics releases are both highly recommended, envelope-pushing works of art — the wordless Weathercraftfollows Manhog through Jim Woodring's psychedelic and symbolically substancial alternate universe... while Wally Gropius is a clever, absurd, funny and offputting work that evokes 1950s teenage humor comics with a twist (make that a bunch of twists actually). ... Wally Gropius is a book you'll come back to often, in hopes of getting it more and more each time. ...Weathercraft is a haunting, beautiful and epic story..." – 211 Bernard (Librairie Drawn & Quarterly)
• Interview:The A.V. Club's Jason Heller talks to Jim Woodring about Weathercraft and his career in comics: "It still is a bit of a hustle, to be honest. I really never know what I’m going to be doing or how I’m going to be making money. It’s the life I chose for myself, so I’m used to it, and I can handle it. But sometimes I sit back and think, 'You know, how am I making a living here? I don’t even know what’s going on.'"
• Feature:The Guardian's Alex Rayner on the Significant Objects project: "The texts are good. Meg Cabot's acutely phrased teen tale reads like the perfect high-school diary entry, William Gibson's ashtray anecdote is filled with military-industrial intrigue, Sheila Heti pours a lot of sexual frustration into a miniature porcelain Cape Cod souvenir shoe, and Neil LaBute's golden-bunny-candle narrative is as sinister as you'd expect."
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