Make plans for Labor Day weekend in Seattle now! The Bumbershoot art and music festival promises to be the best in recent memory. In addition to performances by the likes of Bob Dylan, Neko Case, Hole, the Decemberists, Weezer and countless other bands, the festival includes a large exhibition of contemporary Seattle cartoonists.
Organized by Fantagraphics resident curator Larry Reid, "Counterculture Comix: A 30-Year Survey of Seattle Alternative Cartoonists" begins with Lynda Barry's work circa 1980 and continues through the present. The show reveals Seattle as the ancestral home of the alternative comix genre and examines the role comix played in Seattle's youth movement of the 90s, which penetrated popular culture globally.
Come see readings by Jim Woodring (Weathercraft), Megan Kelso (Artichoke Tales), Lucy Morehouse (Ong Ong), Greg Stump (Dwarf Attack), Zach Mandeville (Funwater Awesome), Max Clotfelter and Kelly Froh (Stewbrew), Raleigh Briggs and Julia Lipscomb. Live music by Helen Parson! [Ed. note: our own Jason T. Miles will also be there with his Profanity Hill zine distro!]
• List: "A new, superb Frank book called Weathercraft came out a few weeks ago, but I treasured Frank as a periodical, and I'd love to sit down with a few hundred issues of it when I'm an old man. ... I think it's healthy for adolescent boys to have access to well-written, well-drawn comics about war, as long as the comics in question [like Blazing Combat] constantly pound home the message that war is futile, stupid and contemptible." – Douglas Wolk, "Ten Comics That Should Run Forever," TIME/Techland
• Review: "If you are in search for fresh ideas or even tried and true ideas presented in a fresh light, this is the book you've been yearning for. Werewolves of Montpellier is one of those true indie gems that make me glad I took a chance reading something outside of the mainstream. ... Werewolves of Montpellier is by far my favorite Indie Book of the Year so far. ... If you're a fan of the Coen Brothers or David Lynch, it's a safe bet that any work by Jason is going to be right up your alley. ...[I]n Werewolves of Montpellier, Jason takes his style of irreverence and perfects it. I guarantee if you take a chance with this book you will not forget it and seek out more Jason. It's one of those stories that sits with you long after page last comes to pass. Hilarious, profound, fun, and meaningful. Werewolves of Montpellier is filled with indie goodness." – Mark L. Miller, Ain't It Cool News
• Review: "Eisner Award winner Kim Deitch has been weaving a complex universe of ghosts, aliens, demons, puppets, spiritual leaders, and complicated animal characters for over 40 years, and in the tradition of Vonnegut, Deitch occasionally places himself in the middle of his own madness. If that sounds a bit meta, that’s only the barest tip of the squirmy, lascivious iceberg that Deitch has planned for you [in The Search for Smilin' Ed]. ... The lines between fiction and fact are so effectively blurred and made bizarre that I still retain a bit of paranoia and doubt about the veracity of any evidence that Smilin’ Ed was ever on TV... The images are so dense that it’s amazing they retain the clarity that they do, but it’s an amazing and unexpected study in the principles of positive and negative space." – Collin David, Graphic Novel Reporter
• Review: "By being both foreboding and accessible, menacing and friendly — and doing so without suffering from sort of comic book schizophrenia, Hensley manages to create something rather unique and deeply rewarding in Wally Gropius. This is a comic that rewards multiple readings and contemplation. It's also one of the best — and funniest — books of the year." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "Speaking of strange, what an oddly delightful little book [Dungeon Quest Book 1] is, a mash-up of Dungeons & Dragons-type adventuring and stoner attitude... To some degree, this book is a distant cousin to Johnny Ryan's Prison Pit. The main difference being that Daly is more concerned with pot jokes than gore. Both though, are part of this seemingly new try to find ways to give the familiar fantasy genre a clever twist. And both are concerned with exploring different ways to portray action and violence in comics. ... Based on the strengths of this introductory volume... I'm willing to go where the adventure leads to." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• List:Library Journal's Martha Cornog names You'll Never Know, Book 1: A Good and Decent Man by C. Tyler as one of "12 Graphic Novels for Father's Day": "A newly single parent trying to understand her middle-aged self, Carol Tyler sets out to find the real human being and the real soldier behind her World War II veteran dad's familiar and taciturn persona. Her colorful, historically detailed art re-creates the wartime period expressively, and this first in a trilogy inspires curiosity and empathy for those who serve but don't talk about it much. Everything is connected, and the past is never just the past."
• Review: "Jack Cole... was undeniably a master of his craft, with deft, lovely lines and a witty sensibility. This new book, Classic Pin-Up Art of Jack Cole, from Fantagraphics focuses mostly on the titillating and gracefully naughty one-panel comics done for the Humorama publishing concern. ... This is the best sort of cheesecake. The historical text piece puts these works and the career of Mr. Cole into context, and creates a fascinating, entertaining, and timeless volume. ...I'm betting you'll read it again and again. Author rating: 9/10" – Jeremy Nisen, Under the Radar
• Review: "Jack Cole is known for creating Plastic Man, the superhero whose limbs can stretch. But the artist also drew cartoons capable of making readers’ other parts stretch, and the proof is in the prurient pudding of Classic Pin-Up Art of Jack Cole, newly available in paperback from Fantagraphics Books. The 100 pages’ worth of cartoons of comely, curvy cuties come culled from low-rent men’s digest magazines of the 1940s and 1950s — now-forgotten rags with happy-go-lucky names like Romp, Joker and Laugh Riot. But Cole’s contributions are visually indelible." – Rod Lott, Bookgasm
• Review: "With Woodring’s skill, I never found myself confused [by Weathercraft], at least, more than you’re supposed to be. I’ve never read a statement by Woodring saying this, but I always got the impression he wanted you to work for the meaning behind his stories. Even if it’s not the case, I highly enjoy the process. In one graphic novel, I got what I think may have been a love story, a treatise on spiritual enlightenment and sometimes just a whole lot of fun." – Joe Keatinge, Neon Monster
• Analysis: "[Weathercraft], which centres on the evolutionary and spiritual journey of Manhog, is breathtakingly original, and looking at it just brings home to me how timid many of us in this business are. ... These works, Weathercraft and Rupert [the Bear], should be poles apart, and yet they have much in common; both are brilliant ideas, both are brilliantly drawn, both 'exist' in fully imagined worlds, worlds familiar enough to be like the world we know, but different enough from the world we know for magic to happen. It may be a fanciful notion on my part, but I can see much more craft in these two magical comic creations than chaotic meanderings, and I'm relieved." – Rod McKie
• Review: "And as with other works like Shadowland and Boulevard of Broken Dreams, it’s nearly impossible not to be sucked in [by The Search for Smilin' Ed], as Deitch digs deeper and deeper into his own seedy universe. It’s also impossible not to pull the old volumes off the shelf for another exploratory re-read. I wouldn’t be entirely surprised to discover even more sprawling themes amongst the seemingly dissonant puzzle pieces, the pursuit of which will be a downright blast." – Brian Heater, The Daily Cross Hatch
At each event, Jim will entertain audiences a fantastic slide show and discussion of the hidden meanings behind every mysterious idea and totem in WEATHERCRAFT. And in Brooklyn, on June 18, New Yorkers will have the opportunity to view all of the original artwork from the book, as well as many preliminary pieces that went into making it.
ABOUT WEATHERCRAFT: After 30 years of making acclaimed comic books, Jim Woodring has created his first-ever, long-form original graphic novel. WEATHERCRAFT sends Jim's sloth-like character, Manhog, on a psychedelic quest for enlightenment. Woodring's transformative imagination lures the reader in and makes that person part of a looping story in which actions speak and words don't exist. Wooodring's fluid panels and detailed linework makes this journey though the "Unifactor" universe one that rewards with exquisite new discoveries upon every reading.
WEATHERCRAFT: Black-and-white, 104 pages, 7" by 9.75" • ISBN: 978-1-60699-340-8 • $19.99 US
• Review: "Over the last few decades, Jim Woodring has been drawing a series of wordless, blissfully cruel slapstick fables, set in a world of grotesque entities and psychedelic minarets: half unshakable nightmare, half Chuck Jones cartoon filtered through the Bhagavad Gita. Weathercraft... flows so smoothly and delightfully from each image to the next that it’s easy to ignore that it has its own idea of sense, which may not jibe with anybody else’s." – Douglas Wolk, The New York Times
• Review: "For those who find the work involving enough, Weathercraft will resonate with them on some emotional level — there's moments that unnerve, moments that touch — and while it is an immersive experience, the comic, especially in its hardcover form, operates most like a testimony of events. It's a comic, through and through, but it hews closer to a religious tome than it does a Love & Rockets installment." – Tucker Stone, comiXology
• Review: "It’s better to experience Woodring’s work than to try and understand it. Weathercraft focuses on Frank’s frequent nemesis Manhog — a representative of humanity at its morally weakest — as he goes through multiple stages of degradation on his way to almost achieving a higher consciousness. The humanoid mongrel Frank hangs around the edges of the story with his loyal pets, but Weathercraft is mainly about how Manhog — and by extension the reader — sees how sick, freaky, and beautiful the world can be… [Grade] A-" – The A.V. Club
• Review: "Megan Kelso is best known for elegant, small-scale comics... with a historical or memoiristic bent. So it’s surprising and wonderful that Artichoke Tales, her first novel-length work, is the sort of world-building fantasy story that comes with a family tree and a map on its endpapers. ... Kelso’s ligne claire artwork is consistently sweet and airy, depicting blobby, dot-eyed characters whose body language says as much as their words. The approach provides a likable surface for a story with much darker and stickier depths, about a land whose cultural heritage is rotting away in the aftermath of a civil war." – Douglas Wolk, The New York Times
• Review: "South African comic book writer/artist Joe Daly’s Dungeon Quest: Book One takes a hilariously askew look at the madness of fantasy quest games. ...[R]eaders with a high tolerance for absurdity and a healthy sense of humor about the subject matter will probably love what's on offer here." – Matt Staggs, Suvudu
• Review: "Watching [Wally] and his equally gangly, geometric cohorts stretch and sprint and smash their way across Hensley's brighly colored backgrounds and block-lettered sound effects is like reading your favorite poem — or even... Wally Gropius itself — as translated into a language with a totally different alphabet. ... And wonder of wonders, the book finds its own way to be really funny amid all these highfalutin hijinks..." – Sean T. Collins, Attentiondeficitdisorderly
• Review: "[Wally Gropius] has quickly become one of my favorite graphic novels. ... The comic is too odd to be described as 'commentary.' It seems far more synthetic than parodic: it blends recognizable influences into something truly new... The plot of Wally Gropius has been described as surreal or random, but it’s coherent and far more complex than I first thought... The book is an encyclopedia of cartoony facial expressions and bodily gestures, and should be studied at the CCS as such. WG radiates a real sense of joy, of 'cartooning unfettered.' ... Hensley is one of the best, and most idiosyncratic, writers of text in comics." – Ken Parille, Blog Flume
• Review: "[Daniel] Clowes isn’t as zany as he used to be, so there’s a void to be filled here, and Wally Gropius does that ably: The hardcover collects Hensley’s Gropius stories from the anthology seriesMome (with a little extra material thrown in), and his immaculate, vaguely ’50s style owes as much to Mort Walker, Archie Comics, and other vintage teen-humor strips as it does to Clowes. ... [Grade] B" – The A.V. Club
• Review: "...Captain Easy follows a mysterious agent-for-hire as he travels exotic lands, battling bad guys. ...Crane’s art is stunning, combining simple cartoony figures with richly detailed backgrounds in clever, colorful layouts. It isn’t even necessary to read the dialogue or captions to follow the action; just scan Crane’s dynamic lines, which make every panel look like a unique work of pop art… [Grade] A-" – The A.V. Club
• Review: "I was pretty excited when I found out that Fantagraphics was publishing an anthology of The Best American Comics Criticism. ... Editor Ben Schwartz did a great job selecting pieces that comprise a vibrant narrative of the industry. From graphic novels with literary aspirations to comics about capes, the breadth of content in here is really fantastic. ... But of all the essays in the book, only one is written by a woman. That’s a big let down." – Erin Polgreen, Attackerman
• Plug: "Drew Friedman is the master American caricaturist of our time. Not only are his portraits of the famous so realistic, they induce double takes, but he also captures truths about personality and draws out (pun intended) the funny in everyone." – Michael Simmons, LA Weekly
• Plug:G4 drops a nice mention of "the ongoing and lovingly assembled Complete Peanuts series" in their review of the Snoopy Flying Ace game for Xbox 360
• Interview:Comics Comics' Nicole Rudick sat Al Columbia down for his most candid and revealing interview ever: "So, yeah, I can still draw Pim and Francie. They’re a lot of fun to draw. Almost too much fun. You start to get intoxicated working on them. It’s like, 'This is too much fun. This shouldn’t be allowed. This shouldn’t be legal.' I always put it aside because it just gets me too . . . they’re very intense and fun and maybe fun upsets me."
• Interview:The Daily Cross Hatch's Brian Heater concludes his conversation with Gene Deitch: "I hate the term '2D.' That’s bullshit. They put us in that category. They say they’re making 3D. They’re not 3D. What Pixar does is not 3D because it’s shaded. The screen is flat. It’s a flat picture. It’s just an illusion."
• Profile: Taylor Dungjen of University of Cincinnati student newspaper The News Record profiles U of C faculty member C. Tyler: "You might say Tyler is a proud American. You might even call her a patriot. She says she is a liberal hippie chick who supports American troops."
• Review: "Rather than a narrative arc, with ascensions and declines, Artichoke [Tales] feels like a series of expansions. The characters and their world grow to envelop the reader in a singular, charming way." – Paul Constant, The Stranger
• Review: "Without a single word, Woodring tells an enormous tale of redemption and heartbreak. Weathercraft crackles with the power of myth, and it extends far beyond its pages with a life of its own; one could imagine a postapocalyptic culture forming an entire religion based on this one thin book. You've never read anything quite like Weathercraft, but at the same time it feels eerily familiar, like a dream you had last night." – Paul Constant, The Stranger
• Review: "Weathercraftis at once far wilder and more subtle than I could have imagined. The imagery and the surroundings are more hallucinatory, the mixture of cartoon-cute and skittering, undulating grotesquerie more effectively creepy, and the characterizations and themes more layered and nuanced than any version of this book that played out in my head. ... Weathercraft paints small moments of beauty and mystery on a huge canvas of twisted wonder." – Jason Michelitch, Comics Alliance
• Review: "...[Wally] Gropius is more concerned with verbal jazz and abstract gags, all presented in an innocent-looking approximation of the bright, clean style of ’60s Harvey Comics. ... I liked enough of the gags, and Hensley’s overall confidence in putting them over in such a currently declassé comics art style, that I would recommend it." – Christopher Allen, Comic Book Galaxy
• Review: The French edition of Daniel Clowes 's The Death Ray (Eightball #23) was examined on Le Grand Journal on French television network Canal+ last month (YouTube link) — for non-Francophones Kim Thompson summarizes it thusly: "The guy can't stop gushing about the beauty of the drawings, the coloring, the design, the thematic elements of ennui (yes, he actually says 'ennui') and violence 'even against squirrels.'"
• Roundtable: Speaking of our own multilingualist Kim Thompson, he participates in The Comics Journal's roundtable discussion on comics translation