One of the first people in line was this awesome little girl! Jim's wife Mary tells us: "That cute little girl, now 8, has been a fan since the age of 4. Her favorite book for a long time was Seeing Things." Smart girl!
Large-scale reprints of Jim's sketchbook drawings adorn our gallery wall...
... while the original Moleskines are in a case below, some featuring his amazing 3-D pop-outs!
Admittedly, I didn't take a ton of pictures that night since I was DJing before and after our Yo La Tengo debut, but as I was segueing into "This Here Giraffe" by the Flaming Lips, this woman walked in, dressed as a giraffe! Uncanny!
Jim's exhibit will continue to be on display at the Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery through Thursday, February 7th. Drop by to see it in person at 1201 S. Vale Street in Seattle's Georgetown district. Open daily 11:30 to 8:00 PM, Sundays until 5:00 PM. Phone: (206) 658-0110.
The chest rackiest cough of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review: Andy Shaw reviews Chris Wright's Blacklungon Grovel. "The characters have enormous depth, and the book explores interesting themes on the nature of violence. It’s particularly strong on class structure, exploring the different levels of what’s acceptable to different people in different walks of life…While extremely dark this is definitely one of the most sophisticated horror books I’ve read in some time."
• Review: Blacklung by Chris Wright makes another best of list on Comic Book Resources. Greg Burgas writes "Wright’s pirate comic is a strange animal – it’s extremely graphic, both violently and sexually, yet it’s a bizarre meditation on religion and good and evil, all with characters who don’t look quite human.… Blacklung is a comic that deserves a lot of thought, so you might as well read it and think about it!"
• Review: Page 45 looks at Problematic by Jim Woodring. And "whilst there is indeed the odd everyday observation, the vast majority of it is Frank-related musings, thumbnails and roughs," pens Jonathan Rigby.
• Review:Page 45 enjoys the newest Richard Sala book, Delphine. "Truly this is the stuff of nightmares: a frantic evocation of being lost, misled and out of your depth in surroundings which barely make sense – except when they do after which you dearly wish that they hadn’t," says Stephen L. Holland.
• Plug:Graham Chaffee's Good Dog was singled out on Wired to be one of THE books of 2013. "The world does not have nearly enough graphic novels told from the perspective of adorable dogs. Let alone graphic novels that have a good chance of making you feel delighted on one page, then maybe like you might cry a little bit on the next page…it has all the polish and purpose borne by most books put out by fancy-pants publisher Fantagraphics," writes Erik Henriksen.
• Review: Page 45 enjoys Castle Waiting Vol. 1 (softcover) by Linda Medley. "Life in these stories gently flows along at the same pace as the early Bone stories, and the timing is as perfect as Linda’s art is impeccable…From what appear to be stock fairy-tale archetypes, Medley creates life and energy," writes Tom Rosin.
• Review: Johanna Draper Carlson of Comic Worth Reading reads I Love Led Zeppelin after catching Ellen Forney fever with Marbles. "it’s an entertaining, spicy read. For me, it provided new context for the background behind her story, fleshing out a decadent life in strong, distinctive lines."
I don't even know where to start in listing all the ties between indie rock veterans Yo La Tengo and our own Uncle Jim. Jim did some of the illustrations in their CD The Sounds of the Sounds of Science. Their bassist James McNew has Pupshaw and Pushpaw tattooed on his arm. James' solo project Dump can also be heard on Jim's Visions of Frank DVD...
And this Saturday, you and Jim Woodring will be two of the first to hear their forthcoming album in its entirety, before it's even in stores! Fade officially comes out Tuesday, January 15th (or Monday, January 14th in Europe) on the fine Matador Records label.
Seattle is once again the center of the alternative comix universe with shows opening all over town this weekend. On Friday, January 11 at Roq la Rue from 6:00 to 9:00 PM is the post-apocalyptic group show "I'll Love You Til The End Of The World" featuring Fantagraphics favorites Camille Rose Garcia and Scott Musgrove. The same evening you'll find "Friends" at Cairo, featuring Intruder artists Max Clotfelter, Darin Shuler, Aidan Fitzgerald, Tom Van Deusen, Marc J. Palm, David Lasky, Nikki Burch, Ben Horak, Jason T. Miles, Tim Miller, James Stranton, Kazimir Strzepek and Alexa Kristine Koenings. (The future of alternative comix now.)
The comix action moves to Georgetown on Saturday evening, with a show of "Paintoons" by John Ohannesian at the One Night Stand Gallery (located directly above Fantagraphics Bookstore.) John has been busy in recent months as a Fantagraphics freelancer faithfully restoring classic strips like Nancy, Buz Sawyer, and Popeye for your reading pleasure. It'll be interesting to see how this exercise informs his cartoon paintings. Across the street at LxWxH Gallery is Bette Burgoyne's "Forest," a 30-foot narrative scroll drawing. And, of course, don't miss the Problematic reception with Jim Woodring at our bookstore. Lots of great surprises await.
Join us at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery this Saturday, January 12 from 6:00 to 9:00 PM for the book launch party of Jim Woodring’s Problematic. An exhibition of imagery not included in the book will be displayed, as well as the artist’s original sketchbooks, including examples of Woodring’s inventive pop-up drawing constructions. Get a rare glimpse inside the creative process of this iconoclastic master of modern cartooning. The artist will be available to sign copies of his exquisite new book.
This event coincides with the colorful Georgetown Art Attack, featuring festive art events and exhibitions throughout the neighborhood. Fantagraphics Bookstore is located at 1201 S. Vale Street in the heart of Georgetown’s historic arts community. Open daily 11:30 to 8:00 PM, Sundays until 5:00 PM. Phone 206.658.0110. See you soon.
FINALLY! Jim Woodring and his throbbing universe lead character Frank into the digital realm at comiXology. Weathercraft is Woodring's first full-length graphic novel set in the world of his most beloved character, Frank -- 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). What happens when we are stretched to our limit? Will we come out the other end a changed person (or hog)?
A 2010 Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, Weathercraft is not to be missed. Head over to comiXology now and get yourself a one-way ticket.
"It’s always darkest before the dawn, and the psychedelic body-horror of Jim Woodring has never been darker than it gets here. His hapless, villainous Manhog is made to suffer like you’ve seen few comics characters suffer before in any style or genre…only to emerge enlightened and overjoyed on the other side in a final act that feels like that first breath of fresh cool air after you’ve hidden your head under the covers in terror for minutes on end." – Sean T. Collins, Comic Book Resources
"Merely calling Jim Woodring’s comics surreal is selling them short. …Woodring’s vivid draftsmanship and narrative linearity operate just as easily as parable, gospel, and even slapstick. …Weathercraft… pushes his iconography and storytelling into new areas of grotesquerie and revelation, all without his characters uttering a word." – Jason Heller, The A.V. Club
This week's comic shop shipment is slated to include the following new titles. Read on to see what comics-blog commentators and web-savvy comic shops are saying about them (more to be added as they appear), check out our previews at the links, and contact your local shop to confirm availability.
(Note that this includes some books that haven't been officially announced as shipping yet -- unless we missed it -- but we're pretty confident they've shipped over the last couple of weeks and we got tired of waiting to post the blurbs.)
128-page two-color (with some full color) 7.25" x 10" hardcover • $24.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-590-7
"I've wanted a collected edition of Sala's version of Snow White ever since it was released in Fantagraphics' great-looking, but difficult to store Ignatz format. And now I'm finally getting it. Merry Christmas to me." – Michael May, Robot 6
528-page black & white (with some color) 7" x 9.5" hardcover • $39.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-551-8
"A very early contender for manga release of 2013 arrives in the form of The Heart of Thomas, a 524-page all-in-one hardcover compilation of a mid-'70s landmark in Japanese comics-for-girls, Moto Hagio's epic of gnawing desire among sparkling schoolboys." – Joe McCulloch, The Comics Journal
240-page full-color 7.5" x 10.75" hardcover • $39.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-581-5
"Even older (and somewhat differently-themed) comics can be enjoyed in Weird Horrors & Daring Adventures: The Joe Kubert Archives Vol. 1, a 240-page, Bill Schelly-edited ‘best of' collection for pre-Code genre pieces by the late Kubert." – Joe McCulloch, The Comics Journal
364-page black & white 5.25" x 8" hardcover • $28.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-594-5
"And then you can just throw finished comics aside entirely in favor of Problematic: Sketchbook Drawings 2004-2012, a 5.25″ x 8″, 364-page collection of Moleskine pieces, 'much of it... too baffling to be harnessed for any practical use,' by the awesome Jim Woodring." – Joe McCulloch, The Comics Journal
136-page two-color 6.5" x 9.25" softcover • $19.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-541-9
"...[T]here are a lot of good books out this week. The new Tom Kaczynski book Beta Testing the Apocalypse comes most immediately to mind..." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"Terror of the present, as Tom Kaczynski collects his excellent short stories of uneasy habitation into Beta Testing the Apocalypse, a 136-page softcover boasting substantial a new piece." – Joe McCulloch, The Comics Journal
"Just read page 1 of Tom @unciv Kaczynski's Beta Testing the Apocalypse published by @fantagraphics Best thing I've read in ages! ONE PAGE!!!" – OK Comics
320-page black & white 7.5" x 10.25" hardcover • $35.00 ISBN: 978-1-60699-504-4
"Struggles of the past, as Texas history returns to print in Jack Jackson's American History Vol. 1: Los Tejanos & Lost Cause, the 320-page first of three hardcover volumes set to collect the entirety of the underground pioneer's nonfiction graphic novels." – Joe McCulloch, The Comics Journal
•Los Angeles, CA: As we've mentioned previously on FLOG, when the great Ron Regé, Jr. isn't making awesome comics, he can be found making music, and this Wednesday, he'll be making a rare, special appearance at the Hyperion Tavern as "The Discombobulated Ventriloquist," performing songs on his new Casiotone mt400v! Do not miss this! (more info)
The sweetest tea of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review:The Atlantic writes on The Heart of Thomas by Moto Hagio. Noah Berlatsky looks at it from every angle, "The boys' love genre, then, freed Hagio and her audience to cross and recross boundaries of identity, sexuality, and gender…Bodies and character flicker in and out, a sequence of surfaces, tied together less by narrative than by the heightened emotions of melodrama—jealousy, anger, trauma, desire, friendship, and love in the heart of Thomas."
• Plug: David Brothers and Comics Alliance posts a preview of The Heart of Thomas plus a few thoughts on Moto Hagio that works outside of his comfort zone. "What there is, though, isdrama. No -- it has melodrama…the sheer level of theatrical drama in this book is enough to keep a skeptic hooked…Heart of Thomas is a trip, and a good one. I wasn't expecting to enjoy it as much as I did, and it was nice to enjoy something outside of my usual comfort zones."
• Plug: Johanna Carlson of Comics Worth Reading is ready for the world to read The Heart of Thomas by Moto Hagio. "This solid hardcover contains the entire classic shojo series, and it’s a must-read for anyone interested in the development of the genre. It’s also surprisingly gripping in its own right…"
• Review: Chris Mautner interviews Jim Woodring's Problematic on Robot 6. "Problematic is both a stroll through Woodring’s unique imagination and an opportunity to see his working process" and Woodring thinks "having a pocket sketchbook on me at all times means fleeting impressions and ideas that might otherwise be lost are captured…Everything I draw is reality-based."
• Plug:BoingBoing is ready for Jim Woodring's Problematic to come out. "There are many reasons to be grateful to be alive, and owning this brand new facsimile edition of artist Jim Woodring's Moleskine sketchbooks is as good as any," says Mark Frauenfelder.
• Interview/Review:Publishers Weekly looks at 7 Miles a Second, and Grace Bello interviews artists James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook on writer David Wojnarowicz, the gay activist who wrote the comic before dying of AIDS-related complications. Romberger is quoted, "It really is so much about what David was about, channeling his anger into a statement…" "The gay experience is not only 'less invisible'—it’s on prime time TV. But the feral energy and raw hunger in 7 Miles a Second still resonate" states Bello.
• Review: Jason Sacks of Comics Bulletin presents 20 Facts and Opinions on Joe Kubert's Weird Horrors & Daring Adventures, edited by Bill Schelly. "Schelly and the always sterling Fantagraphics production team do a nice job of preserving the look and feel of these comics…the master cartoonist was equally at home doing broad humor as intense action/adventure as well as lighter, Archie-style teen humor."
• Review:Comics Alliance and Caleb Goellner continues their Best of 2012 series with Prison Pit Book 4by Johnny Ryan. "It was like looking at a baby book of bad ideas from boyhood as an adult who'd learned to function in polite society…it's bliss to kick back and watch humankind's most immature impulses play out in the safety of Ryan's Prison Pit."
• Review:The Weekly Crisis lists its Top 10 books of 2012 and Johnny Ryan's Prison Pit Book 4 lands at #2. Taylor Pithers states "he is interested in is fighting and hyper violence, which to be fair, would be more acceptable to the masses if it was drawn by Ivan Reis or another one of Geoff Johns' collaborators…Honestly, there isn't a comic that has given me more belly laughs in my entire life."
• Review: Comiks Debris posts its Best of 2012 books and Johnny Ryan'sPrison Pit Book 4 comes in as #8.Marc-Oliver Frisch writes "structurally, Prison Pit reminds me a lot of Jarmusch's The Limits of Control… The artwork looks ugly, crude and perfunctory. The characters eat, shit, fuck and, most of all, fight their way through the book…It's one mean, sick motherfucker of a comic, and I can't wait what happens next."
• Plug: Tucker Stone on The Comics Journal rates his top comics of 2012. Prison Pit Book 4by Johnny Ryan comes in at 18. "…it’s hard to explain how intense the surprise was for a follower of Angry Youth and Ryan’s humiliation comics to open that first Prison Pit…"
• Review:Delphine by Richard Sala gets reviewed on Comic Book Resources. Kelly Thompson claims, "One part comic book and one part fever dream…Rare is the opportunity that I'm so engaged I consider yelling at an inanimate object such as a book…Delphine is also a nice contrast to the unrelentingly bright and happy fairy tales that are so often seen when it comes to modern reinterpretations of those early dark tales."
• Review:The New York Journal of Books thumbs through Spacehawk by Basil Wolverton. "Basil Wolverton rises to the occasion and gives the reader a detailed and hilarious look at megalomania while throwing in some fantastic aerial fight scenes…Fantagraphics Publishing brings Wolverton’s art to the reader in as detailed and perfect a form as possible. Each wave of space, every geometric shape and all the incredibly ugly aliens look better than they ever have in their entire lives," writes Mark Squirek.
• Review: Crave Online looks at Spacehawk by Basil Wolverton. "This is the medium when there were no rules, no event series and no giant corporations standing watch over what the creators were doing. If you love the Golden Age, science fiction and adventure, nothing compares to the world Basil Wolverton put together for Spacehawk," writes Iann Robinson.
• Review: The Weekly Crisis lists its Top 10 books of 2012 and Josh Simmon's The Furry Trap ranks as #1. Taylor Pithers writes, "The Furry Trap is pure exploitation; violent, disgusting, and bound to make you feel uncomfortable but it also does what the best fiction is meant to, it stays with you long after you have put the book down…Simmons is a cartoonist of the highest caliber. This is not a book for the faint hearted, but if you can stomach it will be a true experience."
• Review:NPR and Glen Weldon write on Books of 2012 they haven't told you about. Heads or Tails by Lilli Carré "The whole collection has the feel of a dream in which remembering how to fly is as simple as forgetting that you can't."
• Review: Noel Murray and The A.V. Club write about the Top 10 Fiction books of 2012. Heads or Tails comes in at #7. "Lilli Carré’s stories are like dreamy what-ifs that take the familiar and tweak it."
• Plug: Whitney Matheson of USA Today's Popcandy mentions her favorite things including Heads or Tailsby Lilli Carré: "…a lovely volume from one of my favorite cartoonists that includes several beautifully strange short stories. I'm a longtime fan and even have a framed Carre print hanging in the baby's room."
• Interview:The Comics Journal interviews Ron Regé, Jr. on The Cartoon Utopia, evolving comics and more. Regé on his book, "People should use bibilomancy—randomly opening to a page—to access the information if they’d like. Nothing in the book tells you to treat it that way, but I think people will get the idea anyway."
• Interview (audio): Erik Davis and Expanding Mind interview Ron Regé, Jr. on the radio about The Cartoon Utopia! Adventure indeed.
• Review:Comics Bulletin and Jason Sacks investigate Blacklung. "Chris Wright seems to channel Melville or Conrad in this book as he explores the uniquely idiosyncratic world that he creates…nobody has ever created characters that look like the characters in this book, with their strange faces and lumpy, malformed bodies…This slim graphic novel is a dense read unlike anything else you've read in comics."
• Review: Noel Murray and The A.V. Club write about the Top 10 Fiction books of 2012. Athos in America is #5. "Jason’s blank-faced animal-headed characters reveal unexpectedly deep passion via deadpan tales of dislocation."
• Review: Sonia Harris of Comics Book Resources places Love and Rockets: New Stories #5 by Jaime Hernandez and Gilbert Hernandez as #5 of her Top 16 Books of 2012. Harris says,"Watching these people’s lives change on the page, along with the gradual evolution of the Hernandez brother’s art and writing is the closest thing to real life created in a comic book. Nothing on the screen could ever compare to the life and complexity these two men breathe into their characters year after year with such consistent quality and affection."
• Plug: Tucker Stone on The Comics Journal rates his top comics of 2012. Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez have cause to celebrate as Love and Rockets:New Stories #5makes it at #13. "It was great, and of course it was, because it’s them, and it was great for all the same reasons you’d expect it to be…"
• Review:NPR and Glen Weldon write on Books of 2012 they haven't told you about like Wandering Son by Takako Shimura. "Wandering Son is not the kind of manga in which a happy ending is guaranteed… You'll thus be grateful for the moments of realistic, untempered joy Shimura allows her two protagonists here, as you wait with nervous anticipations for the travails that lie ahead for them…"
• Review:Manga Bookshelf recounts its Favorite Manga Series of 2012 including Wandering Son by Takako Shimura. "This series about two transgender children in modern-day Japan has been a favorite since it debuted last year thanks to its delicate, truthful storytelling and understated artwork…Its most recent volume (three) goes a bit darker and deeper, only heightening my interest in the series" says Melinda Beasi.
• Review: Noel Murray and The A.V. Club write about the Top 5 Archival books of 2012. Harvey Kurtzman's Corpse on the Imjin! landed at #1. "Kurtzman book is especially stunning, almost like a coffee-table art-book combined with a literary collection…an anthology with a strong individual perspective that tries to tell the truth about what war is like from the point of view of the people on both sides of the battlefield."
• Review: Noel Murray and The A.V. Club write about the Top 5 Archival books of 2012. Ernie Bushmiller's Nancy Is Happy: Complete Dailies 1946-48: "bristle-headed Nancy and poor slob Sluggo inadvertently irritate the grown-ups in their lives, in scenarios that Bushmiller illustrated with absurd visual gags—so basic that anyone, anywhere, at any time, could get the joke."
• Review: Nick Gazin of VICE has a pretty fuckin' fancy (his words) edition of The Clouds Above by Jordan Crane. "Jordan Crane is a cartoonist with supreme abilities. He's great at making lines, hand text, and backgrounds and stuff…This is beautifully colored also. Did I mention Jordan Crane's great color sense? His colors are good."
• Review: Steve Donaghue enjoys Prince Valiant Vol. 1 by Hal Foster on Open Letters Monthly. "The ambition becomes most emphatic the more you scrutinize the work. Foster often said he put in between 50 and 60 hours a week on creating the strip, and it shows in these magnificent reproductions, done in a sturdy hardcover with oversized pages and entirely restored colors and shadings."
• Plug:Record Collector magazine (UK) picks Listen, Whitey! by Pat Thomas as one of the top 12 books of 2012. "A socio-polictal account of American racial struggles...an extraordinary study of the way the message of [the Black Panther] movement was recounted and defined on vinyl. "In-depth" doesn't begin to describe it."
• Plug: Tucker Stone on The Comics Journal rates his top comics of 2012. Dungeon Quest 3 by Joe Daly makes the mark at 17. "in times like these, with sandwiches like mine, you have to root for the one who brung you, and that’s dick jokes. Dungeon Quest had so many of them, and they were all wonderful."
Time for your first new-release recap of 2013, and we've got a fine variety for you (as usual). In the past month we've received the new paperback edition of Vol. I of Linda Medley's Castle Waiting, the hardcover collection of Richard Sala's Delphine, the eagerly-anticipated The Heart of Thomas by Moto Hagio, Jim Woodring's sketchbook art book Problematic, and classic vintage Joe Kubert in Weird Horrors & Daring Adventures. Creepy! Fantastical! Romantic! Sometimes all three!
What's more, you can get these books -- and everything else we offer -- for 20% off right now during our New Year's Deja Vu Sale! Just use coupon code DEJAVU when checking out. Don't delay -- Saturday, January 5 is the last day for these savings! (More details here.)
Remember, our New Releases page always lists the 20 most recent arrivals, and our Upcoming Arrivals page has dozens of fut ure releases available for pre-order.
Castle Waiting is the story of an isolated, abandoned castle, and the eccentric inhabitants who bring it back to life. A fable for modern times, it is a fairy tale that’s not about rescuing the princess, saving the kingdom, or fighting the ultimate war between Good and Evil — but about being a hero in your own home. The opening chapter tells the origin of the castle itself, which is abandoned by its princess in a comic twist on “Sleeping Beauty” when she rides off into the sunset with her Prince Charming. The castle becomes a refuge for misfits, outcasts, and others seeking sanctuary, playing host to a lively and colorful cast of characters that inhabits the subsequent stories, including a talking anthropomorphic horse, a mysteriously pregnant Lady on the run, and a bearded nun.
Linda Medley lavishly illustrates Castle Waiting in a classic visual style reminiscent of Arthur Rackham and William Heath Robinson. Blending elements from a variety of sources — fairy tales, folklore, nursery rhymes — Medley tells the story of the everyday lives of fantastic characters with humor, intelligence, and insight into human nature. Castle Waiting can be read on multiple levels and can be enjoyed by readers of all ages.
A mysterious traveler gets off the train in a small village surrounded by a thick sinister forest. He is searching for Delphine, who vanished with only a scrawled-out address on a scrap of paper as a trace.
Richard Sala takes the tale of Snow White and stands it on its head, retelling it from Prince Charming's perspective (the unnamed traveler) in a contemporary setting. This twisted tale includes all the elements of terror from the original fairy tale, with none of the insipid saccharine coating of the Disney animated adaptation: Yes, there will be blood.
Originally serialized as part of the acclaimed international "Ignatz" series, Delphine is executed in a rich and ominous duotone that shows off Sala's virtuosity — punctuated with stunning full-color chapter breaks.
The setting: A boys' boarding school in Germany, sometime in the mid-20th Century. One winter day, fourteen year-old Thomas Werner falls from a lonely pedestrian overpass to his death, immediately after sending a single, brief letter to another boy at the school:
To Juli, one last time. This is my love. This is the sound of my heart. Surely you must understand.
Thus begins Moto Hagio's The Heart of Thomas — one of the most compelling and enigmatic manga graphic novels ever created, and a pioneer in the popular boys'-romance "shounen-ai" genre. Thomas's death (was it an accident? Suicide? Or even murder?) immediately throws the school into turmoil, while his letter sets off a chain of emotional upheaval both for the recipient and an ever-expanding circle of friends, family, and teachers, as secrets are revealed and shared. And then a new boy who looks exactly like Thomas shows up at school…
Unabashedly romantic and emotionally complex, The Heart of Thomas features an unusual, richly imagined setting and a cast of memorable characters. This timeless masterpiece is now finally available to American readers.
If you are one of the fortunate thousands who enjoy untangling the enigmatic images that fill Jim Woodring's comics and drawings, Problematic is just the book for you to put under your pillow and dream on.
Woodring is a devotee of the pocket-sized Moleskine sketchbook and has filled at least one per month since 2004. Quick concept sketches, figure studies, self-challenges, finished drawings, revenge portraits and caricatures, scene tryouts... everything goes into these idea batteries.
Problematic provides the adventurous viewer with a bounty of unfiltered, hand-captured glimpses of life by an artist that Publishers Weekly called "a modern master of hallucinatory cartoon fables." Lots of this material re-emerges in the form of pictures and storylines but much of it is just too baffling to be harnessed for any practical use. Of course, these untamable notions are the best and most interesting ones; and there are plenty of them here in the 300-page brick of Problematic.
Problematic is a rollicking amalgam of reportage (i.e. the man who blew his arm off), speculative anatomy, fancy women, make-a-face games, picture-puzzles, gags, riffs and burlesques. Catalogue and exhibition simultaneously, Problematic is your best bet for a brief, energizing stroll in a distinctively enjoyable neighborhood.
Joe Kubert sealed his reputation as one of the greatest American comicbook cartoonists of all time with the four-color adventures of Sgt. Rock of Easy Company, Enemy Ace, and Tarzan, all done for DC Comics during the 1960s and 1970s (themselves already the subject of archival editions)... but he had been working in comics since the 1940s. In fact, young Kubert produced an exciting, significant body of work as a freelance artist for a variety of comic book publishers in the postwar era, in a glorious variety of non-super hero genres: horror, crime, science fiction, western, romance, humor, and more.
For the first time, 33 of the best of these stories have been collected in one full-color volume, with a special emphasis on horror and crime. The Kubert work in this book is that of a burgeoning talent attacking the work with tremendous panache, and in the process, developing a style that became one of the most distinctive in the medium.
Since these stories were written and drawn in the pre-Comics Code era, they are more thrilling, violent and sexy (by contemporary standards) than much of his later, Code-constrained work. And just the titles of the comic books from which these stories are taken are wonderfully evocative of a bygone era of four-color fun: Cowpuncher, Abbott and Costello Comics, Three Stooges, Eerie, Planet Comics, Meet Miss Pepper, Strange Terrors, Green Hornet Comics, Whack, Jesse James, Out of This World, Crime Does Not Pay, Weird Thrillers, Police Lineup, and Hollywood Confessions.
As with Fantagraphics’ acclaimed Steve Ditko and Bill Everett Archives series, Weird Horrors and Daring Adventures boasts state-of-the-art restoration and retouching, and an extensive set of historical notes and an essay by the book’s editor Bill Schelly, author of the Art of Joe Kubert art book and Man of Rock Kubert biography.