It's not as though you need any additional convincing to pick up our 2010 Free Comic Book Day offering Weathercraft and Other Unusual Tales by Jim Woodring at your participating comic shop tomorrow (right?), but here are a few glimpses of the finished product to whet your appetite. (Click here if the embedded slideshow player below isn't displaying, or to view it larger in a new window.)
Mark your calendars! Desert Island in Brooklyn welcomes Kim Deitch for a signing and celebration of his new collection of The Search for Smilin' Ed! on Friday, May 14, 2010. Then, on Saturday, June 19, Jim Woodring will be in the house to meet fans and sign his new graphic novel Weathercraft. As usual with Desert Island, exclusive silkscreen show prints will be available at the events — that's a process picture of one of the screens for Kim's print above, and you can see the others on the Desert Island blog. We'll let you know more details as they become available, but in the meantime you can RSVP on Facebook for Kim here and for Jim here.
Ahem. Jim's Weathercraft and Jason's Low Moon are nominated for 2010 Sproing Awards (Best Translated Comic and Best Norwegian Comic, respectively), which are awarded at the festival. Congratulations to both!
Saturday, May 1 marks the 9th installment of Free Comic Book Day. This annual promotion is intended to expose new readers to the medium and acknowledge loyal patrons with a free comic book produced especially for the occasion. Over 30 books in a variety of genres were produced for Free Comic Book Day this year.
Fantagraphics Books’ contribution to Free Comic Book Day is a delightful comic by Jim Woodring sure to appeal to readers of all ages. WEATHERCRAFT and Other Unusual Stories showcases Woodring’s visionary approach to cartooning. Included is an excerpt from Jim’s forthcoming full-length WEATHERCRAFT graphic novel, a Woodring character guide, artworks rendered in his singular style, and other features. Yours for the asking at your local participating comic book retailer.
Jim Woodring himself will appear at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery in Seattle on Free Comic Book Day from noon to 1:00 PM to pass out complimentary copies. We’ll also have a supply of Drawn & Quarterly’s free comic book YOW! featuring John Stanley stories from Nancy, Melvin Monster and 13 Going on 18. You’ll have one last chance to view the stunning exhibition of original art by Gilbert Hernandez and peruse a bevy of beautiful new books from the world’s greatest cartoonists. See you then.
For over 20 years now, Jim Woodring has delighted, touched, and puzzled readers around the world with his lush, wordless tales of “Frank.”
Weathercraft is Woodring’s first full-length graphic novel set in this world — indeed, Woodring’s first graphic novel, period! — and it features the same hypnotically gorgeous linework and mystical iconography.
As it happens, Frank has only a brief supporting appearance in Weathercraft, which actually stars Manhog, Woodring’s pathetic, brutish everyman (or everyhog), who had previously made several appearances in “Frank” stories (as well as a stunning solo turn in the short story “Gentlemanhog”).
After enduring 32 pages of almost incomprehensible suffering, Manhog embarks upon a transformative journey and attains enlightenment. He wants to go to celestial realms but instead altruistically returns to the unifactor to undo a wrong he has inadvertently brought about: The transformation of the evil politician Whim into a mind-destroying plant-demon who distorts and enslaves Frank and his friends. The new and metaphysically expanded Manhog sets out for a final battle with Whim...
Weathercraft also co-stars Frank’s cast of beloved supporting characters, including Frank’s Faux Pa and the diminutive, mailbox-like Pupshaw and Pushpaw; it is both a fully independent story that is a great introduction to Woodring’s world, and a sublime addition to, and extension of, the Frank stories.
• Review: "When most people try to employ dream logic in their work they fail miserably but Jim [Woodring] is great at it. The closest thing to a peer he might have is David Lynch but even that’s a stretch. Jim Woodring is the only Jim Woodring and no one has done what he does except for him. ... There’s not much point in trying to sum up the story of [Weathercraft]. There’s no text, the art is beautiful, and you’re totally consumed by the world he’s created and you exist inside it while you’re reading it." – Nick Gazin, Vice
• Review: "You know who is awesome and holds more water than anyone in comics? Basil Wolverton, that’s who. I might have gone overboard there but Basil Wolverton is so fucking funny that it’s no laughing matter. ... This little hardcover [of The Culture Corner] is sweet. The left page of each spread contains the pencil sketch of every comic that it’s available for and even the sketches for comics that never got finished. It is rad as hell." – Nick Gazin, Vice (same link as above)
• Review: "Holy crap, I love [Ganges]. Huizenga has this amazing way of writing and drawing comics that hit me in the soul, either directly reflecting an experience I can relate to (having trouble falling asleep in #3) or a feeling (like missing the good old days of a group of awesome work friends). Plus, his art style is this amazing mix of surreal and everyday imagery that mimics the daily weirdness of being a creative, introspective person and also takes on the look of a classic comic strip (Glenn’s nose reminded me of Popeye for some reason)." – T.J. Deitsch, United Monkee (via Sean T. Collins)
• Review: "Opulent; florid; intermittently bizarre: Red Barry,Will Gould’s gangling, glowering, undercover cop, countered Chester (no relation) Gould’s grimly taciturn Dick Tracy with a ripely atmospheric, robustly theatrical, unflinchingly lurid theater, replete with run-on dialogues, soliloquies and, not infrequently, faces that appeared to be 'made up' in the pointed, dagger-like beards, eye patches, and whiskers that would earn a chuckle of recognition from George Jean Nathan (once-and-forever dean of American drama critics)." – Donald Phelps, The Comics Journal
• Plug: On his News and Head Lice blog Paul Hornschemeier says "if you're not yet reading anything and everything Tim Lane and Tim Hensley produce, you're missing out. Hensley's comics and posts are always a welcome addition to any day over at Blog Flume and Lane's ongoing strip, Belligerent Piano reminds of me of the baby produced from the time Chester Gould had a three-way with Alex Raymond and Spain Rodriguez. Who's the one with the womb? I'm not telling."
Online Commentary & Diversions — catching up from MoCCA weekend, with more catch-up tomorrow:
• Award: Congratulations to David Sandlin for receiving a 2010-2011 fellowship from the New York Public Library’s Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers. "The fellowship lasts from September to May. Each fellow gets an office in the library’s Stephen A. Schwarzman Building at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, full access to the library’s research collections, and a stipend, which last year was $60,000," reports Kate Taylor of The New York Times. Not too shabby!
• Review: "Few people alive today are old enough to remember World War I, and as it recedes into the past, the 'war to end all wars' becomes more abstract. But French cartoonist Jacques Tardi's graphic novel, It Was The War of the Trenches..., brings the Great War to life in all its mud- and blood-soaked misery. Without a trace of sentimentality, Tardi's richly detailed and grimly rendered vignettes depict the horror, illness, cruel manipulations, and stupidity of this giant black spot in human history." – Mark Frauenfelder, Boing Boing
• Review: "Long-lost astronauts, homicidal bloggers, baseball legends and wayward skaters all find a home in John Pham’s captivating comic series Sublife. With only two issues on the street, Sublife has already established an achingly familiar universe in all of its disparate ongoing narratives. Deftly juggling the melancholy of Adrian Tomine’s Optic Nerve with some Cormac McCarthy-inspired apocalyptic action and plenty of skillfully subdued deadpan humor, Pham proves himself a master of multifarious emotions and artist stylings." – We Love You So
• Review: "While I enjoyed Sakai's artwork in the first volume, this second trade collection is even stronger. ... I'm so glad I'm finally sitting down and reading this series, and my only regret is that I didn't do it sooner. Usagi Yojimbo is a great addition to the canon of samurai stories, and is definitely highly recommended for anyone who is a fan of wandering ronin or just good storytelling." – Rob McMonigal, Panel Patter
• Review: "Culture Corner remains a curiosity in comic book history, rarely remembered, rarely seen, but Basil Wolverton’s status as an important figure in humor cartooning is unimpeachable. Thus, anybody wanting to understand the development of the medium and the evolution of comedy cartooning should pick up Culture Corner to see how Wolverton began the road to comic book legend. Most of the strips have never been seen by today’s readers, and the sheer number of unpublished penciled sketches makes this book a true rarity and a must-have." – Michael C. Lorah, Newsarama
• Review: "I can honestly say that the further we dive into the murky depths of Newave!, the better it gets. Hot on the heels of all the anarchic fun of the first thirty mini comics, come ten more that show, in various ways, a little extra sophistication in content or execution." – Avoid the Future continues their mini-reviews of the contents of Newave! The Underground Mini Comix of the 1980s; this is from part 4, and I think we may have missed linking to part 2 and part 3
• Plug: At IdeaFixa, Claudio Yuge says that reading Love and Rockets "was one of the best things I ever did in life and I recommend it for anyone who likes comics and graphic arts in general." (translated from Portuguese)
• Commentary:Comic Book Galaxy's Christopher Allen & Alan David Doane comment on this year's Eisner nominees, of which we have several; there's too much for me to quote from here
• Interview:Comic Book Resources' Shaun Manning talks to Jim Woodring about Weathercraft: "In a lot of ways, Manhog is the most interesting character in the Unifactor. He has the most potential for change and the widest range of dramatic possibilities. Besides, it's fun to put him in awful circumstances and watch him suffer. There's something about a big fat guy screaming in terror that's just naturally funny. Oliver Hardy got a lot of mileage out of that formula."
• Interview: The Inkstuds radio programme talks with Mome contributor (and, now, kids-comics superstar) Eleanor Davis
• List: Look out, it's Tom Spurgeon's Best of 2009 list at The Comics Reporter. Fantagraphics category rankings are listed below, with complete lists and Tom's commentary to be found at the link above:
• Review: "Somehow, some way, Jamie Hernandez is getting better and better. ...Locas, the first gigantic hardcover compilation of Jamie’s 'Maggie and Hopey' stories, stands as one of the highlights of my life as a reader. Now, unbelievably, Locas II exceeds the original’s standard. ... In Locas II: Maggie, Hopey and Ray, he’s crafted perhaps his most universal work to date, a saga of three people who’ve left behind the postures of their youth to stumble, unsure and hesitant, across the landscape of their adult lives. It’s strange and scary, funny and sweet, confused and enlightening. Locas II is a master as the top of his game, and a true comic book classic." – Michael C. Lorah, Newsarama
• Review: "It is interesting to see the rapid evolution of the graphics and drawings [in Prince Valiant Vol. 1: 1937-1938], a little reticent and schematic at first, but soon becoming highly detailed and expressive. Adventure prevailed in the stories, but there was room for humor, romance and tragedy." – Top Comics (translated from Portuguese)
• Review: "OK sure but trust me it's not for those who just want to look at dumbed down pictures and drool on themselves as anorexic telepathic women parade in wonder bras nor is this Babar's color by number. [The Portable] Frank is engaging on all levels and asks the reader to not just lose themselves but to participate fully and that's why this is my pick of the week!!" – Coast City Comics
• Plug: "This book is amazing and bat%$#* crazy. There are no words, just check it out of the library asap." – Cold Bullets