Uncle Jim takes you on a narrated tour through his upcoming book Problematic: Sketchbook Drawings 2004-2012 (due next month) and shows off a few of the original Moleskine notebooks from which the drawings in the book were taken, describing it all in his inimitable style. Hey, this means I don't have to shoot the usual preview video of the book — although in a bit of a switcheroo, Jim has loaned us 4 of his sketchbooks for us to shoot and upload video of those (they're just sitting around in my living room right now, no big deal, PLOTZ), so stay tuned for that!
The first rain-free (HA!) day of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review:The Comics Journal looks at Ron Rege Jr.'s The Cartoon Utopia. Katie Haegel writes, "Almost impossible to categorize, the work in Cartoon Utopia is both fully realized in a formal sense and wonderfully idiosyncratic. Like, it’s really out there. . . to me the work is much stronger when it depicts magic in action, which Regé accomplishes by telling us stories about historical figures and their relationship to the natural world."
• Review:Robot 6 reviews The Cartoon Utopia by Ron Rege Jr. Chris Mautner writes "with Rege drawing science, new age spiritualism, the occult, astrology and Jungian archetypes to come up with a personal grand unification theory. There are no plots or characters in the book to speak of, instead Rege merely muses and illustrates his theories, which mainly have to on the interconnectedness of all living matter."
• Plugs: Best covers of the week by Andy Khouri on Comics Alliance. Ron Regé Jr'sThe Cartoon Utopia: "This cover really makes me smile, and maybe gives me a sense of four-color spiritual well-being. But cartoon utopia looks more outdoorsy than I expected."
• Review:Page 45 enjoys the gentle pages of The Cartoon Utopia. Stephen L. Holland states, "Regé is back with a spiritual manifesto and ode to creativity: a singular, secular vision delivered with all the fervour of a religious sermon. It’s a call not to arms but to peace and perception unshackled from the conditioning of ages, exhorting all to see new possibilities, infinite possibilities, so enabling one’s full potential to be realised in both senses of the word."
• Review:Barack Hussein Obamaby Steven Weissman is reviewed on Bookslut. Martyn Pedler says, "His Obama begins as a kind of smug, stoner everyman: telling 'your momma' jokes, discussing old movies with visiting dignitaries . . . Weissman’s pages -- drawn in ballpoint into a moleskin notebook -- use a four-panel gag structure that makes the book immediately addictive."
• Review:Publishers Weekly takes on Barack Hussein Obama by Steven Weissman.". . . readers will likely have to be content with being one part giddy and three parts puzzled. . . Perhaps that’s Weissman’s point: that the farce of contemporary politics has the capacity to make one simultaneously giddy, confused, and disenchanted."
• Interview (audio): Speaking of Steven Weissman, Obama and the elections, he is interviewed on KPFK 90.7 FM's show Beneath the Surface.
• Review: Cartoonist Lilli Carré finds herself Boing-Boing-ed. Brian Heater describes Heads or Tails collection, "These strips, which originally in the pages of places like The Believer and Mome, find the artist dipping her toes into new pools, the sort of freedom afforded by the low commitments of the short story form, often to truly wonderful effect."
• Interview: Eddie Wright of MTV Geek interviews Johnny Ryan about Prison Pit 4 and why us humans love it so much. "Well, I think it connects to comic fans because it's the stripped down essence of what popular superhero comics are, which is men beating the living shit out of each other. People love it."
• Review:Reglar Wiglar spit takes while reading Johnny Ryan's Prison Pit 4. Chris Auman says, "This is Ryan’s depraved ID unleashed in its purest form: blood, guts, genitalia and fecal matter abound—actually they don’t abound so much as they’re sprayed all over absolutely everything in a fantastical sci-fi orgy of digustedness."
• Plugs: Best covers of the week by Andy Khouri on Comics Alliance. continues with Wallace Wood's Came the Dawn: "And while we're talking smart use of interior art, here's another superb example. This collection is all about the mastery of Wally Wood, so the cover presents a taste of his work in an uncluttered and respectful way, while also establishing a trade dress for Fantagraphics' new EC artists line." Chris Wright's Blacklung: "I see a lot of Joann Sfar in this densely demonic and stylishly constructed cover, and that's enough to convince me to investigate the work of newcomer Chris Wright." Spacehawk mini-comic by Basil Wolverton: "Basil Wolverton may be best known for his grotesque caricatures in MAD Magazine, but he worked in a lot of genres. Spacehawk was evidently one of his early works, and if this gorgeously lurid cover is anything to go by it was a delightfully daffy sci-fi pulp."
• Review:Booklist Online carves out a place in their hearts for Wallace Wood's Came the Dawn. Ray Olson writes, "This volume presenting all his horror and crime stories chronologically shows him refining what is at first a crude though powerful sense of mise-en-scène into one that is assured, highly detailed, and lightly caricatural."
• Review:AV Club reviewed all our new books Came the Dawn by Wallace Wood and Corpse on the Imjin by Harvey Kurtzman. Noel Murray writes, "in writer/artist-driven volumes, printed in black and white, with additional essays and archival material . . . [and] both immediately reveal the value in the artist-driven approach. . . Feldstein’s stories were like the comic-book equivalent to some of the seediest B-movies, and Wood’s art fit Feldstein’s text, with lots of deep shadows and wrinkles reflecting a complicated world." On Basil WolvertonSpacehawk, "As with Kurtzman’s war comics, it’s remarkable to see art so twisted applied to such vivid pulp tales—almost as though Wolverton was trying his hardest to be Alex Raymond, but couldn’t help turning out images to rival Salvador Dalí." Gary Panter's "Dal Tokyo would evolve, strip-by-strip, into a distinctly Panter-esque swirl of science fiction and pure abstraction, in keeping with the artist’s one-of-a-kind sense of design, and his pursuit of comics that resemble music and poetry."
•Plug:Web Cast Beacon reviews all free Halloween Comics Fest freebies. They enjoy Tales from the Crypt and Spacehawk. YES, mail in those ad coupons, people.
• Interview:Jim Woodring is interviewed by Peter Bebergal on hippies, hallucinations and all the good stuff that goes into his latest work, Problematic, a skechbook. "I frequently saw things at night — silently jabbering heads at the foot of my bed, distorted animals and objects hanging in the air over me. Often I saw a huge staring eye that made me vomit with fear."
• Plug: On Boing-Boing, Mark Frauenfelder tips his digi-hat to Floyd Gottfredson: "Gottfredson's Mickey is a plucky, goodhearted imp, bursting with energy and impulsively eager for adventure. . . [Carl] Barks will always have a special place in my heart, but I've added Gottfredson to my short list of great American cartoonists."
• Review: Page 45 looks at The Lost Art of Ah Pookand Stephen L. Holland ponders "Malcom Mc Neill has taken the time to put this eye-frazzling book of art – some of it sequential – into context, for the work itself is very much lost. . . There are vast scenes of ancient ritual, carnal lust and very modern warfare transcending time just as they were always intended."
• Review:Booklist Online likes Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge: Only a Poor Old Manby Carl Barks. Ian Chipman states, "from the bitter cold of the Klondike to the bottom of the Caribbean. . . Barks’ comics are an absolute treasure that have aged remarkably well, and are finally getting wide-scale publication to introduce them to a new generation of readers."
• Review: Gene Ambaum of Unshelved happily views covers from Action! Mystery! Thrills!, edited by Greg Sadowski. "Beautiful full-color reproductions of unblemished comic book covers show the amazing art and the breadth of genres on the newsstands before Fredric Wertham screwed everything up in the 1950s. . . The colors are bright, and the art is just plain fun."
• Review: Is That All There Is? by Joost Swarte gets reviewed on Bookgasm. JT Lindroos states, ". . . it’s impossible not to enjoy this ultimately all-too-brief volume for every single panel it presents. Swarte is consistently projecting an incisive and curious mind at work, perfectly tuned to his showstopping skills as an artist nonpareil."
• Review: Rod Lott of Bookgasm spends a long, loooong time checking out Sexytime. "[Editor Jacque Boyreau] has a knack for picking images; much like Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart and hardcore porn, Boyreau knows it when he sees it. And luckily, he shares it, this time from the visual-presentation experts of Fantagraphics Books — a match made in poster-art heaven."
• Plug: Matt Bielby writes about The Complete Crumb Volume 1 by R. Crumb in Comic Heroes Magazine: "It's incredible stuff, much of it obviously for completists only, but even the most obscure volumes track a fascinating, and developing, world view."
• Interview: Charles Burns is interviewed on Cult Montreal by Emily Raine about The Hive, his creepy artwork and the Black Hole movie. "It’s not my intention to be creepy per se, or that’s not the reason I’m writing stories. I think they end up being whatever they are. Maybe I’m just a creepy guy, I don’t know."
• Interview (audio): One of our favorite creators, Ellen Forney, speaks to KUOW/NPR on bi-polar disorder, comics and her new work, Marbles.
• Plug:Jaime Hernandez will be at the Copenhagen Comics Fest in Copenhagen, Denmark in June of 2013. Mark them calendars!
The most feathered pom-pom of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Interview: Steven Weissman is a popular man with his presurrealidential comic, Barack Hussein Obama. Comic Book Resources and Alex Dueben interviews Weissman on the evolution of a comic and re-engaging your audience.
• Interview:Comics Alliance's J. Caleb Mozzocco interviews Steven Weissman on Barack Hussein Obama. "The Barack Hussein Obama that ultimately emerges from the book is a pretty regular guy trapped in a comic strip, struggling to be all things to all people," states Mozzocco.
• Review:Jim Woodring's sneak peek at his sketchbooks that eventually became Problematic was up on BoingBoing before the video went 'kaput,' now there is Jim inking like a badass with a nib. You can still see sample pages here for Problematic. Video made and featuring the hands of Marketing Director, Mike Baehr, coming soon!
• Plug: Comics Reporter comments on a few of our releases from this week. In reference to The Cartoon Utopia, Tom Spurgeon states, "Ron Regé Jr. is one of those special cartoonists where I buy everything he does without asking questions first. On the strength of this latest collection, with which I'm only about halfway done, Lilli Carré may join that group of cartoonists much sooner than I thought possible. . . " with her collection of stories in Heads or Tails.
• Interview: Andrew Wheeler of Comics Alliance interviews Justin Hall, editor of No Straight Lines. "It's also a testament to how good those early creators were. Howard Cruse, Trina Robbins, Roberta Gregory, they're some of the best cartoonists in the business and they were doing work of surprising sophistication from the very beginning."
If you've ever wished you could get a glimpse into Jim Woodring's sketchbooks — and why wouldn't you? — your desires are soon to be fulfilled in spades as we present Problematic, a curated assortment of about 300 of the thousands of pages Jim has filled over the last 8 years or so in his pocket-sized Moleskine notebooks. Printed at larger than actual size in a chunky hardcover cleverly disguised as an actual sketchbook (complete with trompe l'oeil stickers on the covers), these drawings provide a previously unseen view into the creative mind of one of comics' great visionaries. Look for the book in January; survey a 21-page sample, and pre-order your copy, right here.
The blackest ink in the pot of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review:AV Club shows presidential love for Barack Hussein Obama and The Hypo. Noel Murray on Steven Weissman's book: "For the most part Barack Hussein Obama is just wild fun, built around the notion that a president can be easily reduced to his public image—and that we, the people, have the right to manipulate that image for our own delight." And Murray on The Hypo: "[Noah Van Sciverrenders] an American icon as a lumpen everyman, fighting through the same fog that many people find themselves in—even if few of those ordinary folks wind up in the Oval Office."
• Review:Publishers Weekly picks The Hypo by Noah Van Sciver as one of the best new books of the month. "Van Sciver’s psychologically astute examination of what might be termed Abraham Lincoln’s “lost years” (1837–1842) is as gripping and persuasive as the best historical fiction. . . .A thoroughly engaging graphic novel that seamlessly balances investigation and imagination."
• Review:Paste Magazine reviews Steven Weissman's newest book and Hillary Brown gives it a 8.1 (outta 10). "With its gold foil stamp and red, white and blue partial jacket, Barack Hussein Obama could well be a semi-official graphic rendering of a presidency. . . If this book is a portrait of anything, it shows the grind and the way that hope and idealism erodes when faced with the everyday, and that is valuable"
•Review:La Tempestad on Barack Hussein Obamaby Steven Weissman. Rough translation states "Through these pages, Weissman satirizes and creates a parallel reality of based on the stewards of American power."
• Review:MetroPulse enjoys reading Ralph Azham Vol. 1 "Why Would You Do That To Someone You Love" by Lewis Trondheim. Matthew Everett states "There’s action, drama, pratfalls, bad-ass mercenaries, and a last-panel surprise that promises future volumes will head off in entirely unexpected directions. . . Ralph Azham is off to a near-perfect start. It’s a quietly marvelous addition to the English-language catalog of a working world master. Get it while you can."
• Review:The Quietus peeks at Dal Tokyo by Gary Panter. Mat Colegate can barely contain himself: "Panter is probably one of the single most influential underground American cartoonists of all time, a kind of Ramones to Robert Crumb’s Jefferson Airplane, which makes his relative unknown status a bit baffling. A cartoonists’ cartoonist, maybe?. . . The man’s inks are practically sentient, devouring white space like it was candy floss as his crude likenesses become imbued with a very deliberate purpose, that of guiding the reader through Panter’s personal inferno: the urban Twentieth Century."
• Review:The Quietus continues comic coverage on Joe Daly's Dungeon Quest: Book Three. Mat Colgate states,"Dear J.R.R. certainly never had one of his characters wank off a gnome, did he? Indeed Dungeon Quest’s good natured, silly humour gives it much of its character and combines with Daly’s beautiful Charles Burns-esque artwork to make the book much more than the sum of its parts. It feels like a real labour of love and when you read it you’ll see why. Nerdgasm guaranteed. I’m in love with this comic."
• Review:Unshelved looked at Dungeon Quest: Book Three by Joe Daly. Gene Ambaum writes "I never know where this weird, Dungeons & Dragons-ish adventure will take me next. . . Every dungeon should have a vending machine [a la Dungeon Quest]! Makes more sense than turning a corner and finding an elf with a fully-stocked shop where there’s little to no foot traffic."
• Review:The Quietus focuses New York Mon Amour by Jacques Tardi. Mat Colgate states"Using only black, white and red, Tardi illustrates a seedy, roach-infested New York that’s utterly plausible. You can practically smell the trash on the sidewalks as you follow the hapless narrator’s spiral into madness and murder. . . .if you know anyone looking to take the plunge into comics, someone who’s interested in what the medium can do and the fascinating ways it can do it, then point them in this books’ direction."
• Review:BUTT Magazine sinks its teeth into No Straight Lines, edited by Justin Hall. "Justin’s 328-page anthology is a very thorough introduction to the world of GLBT comics. His knowledge on the subject is pretty extensive, probably because he’s been a fan of the medium since he was a kid. Justin tells me that’s how he learned to read. . . In fact, the entire collection features a healthy dose of realism from a genre usually characterized by fantasy."
• Interview: Brandon Soderberg of The Comics Journal interviews the elusive Josh Simmons on The Furry Trap and his recent short film, The Leader, plus horror in all aspects: "Often, the best horror is about losing. And maybe struggling to keep a shred of dignity while you do. But often, you don’t even get that. Sometimes, you get your throat cut while a clown is pulling your pants down. It’s not enough that you’re getting murdered, you’re being humiliated at the same time!" Simmons eloquently states.
• Review: Los Angeles Review of Books ponders Listen, Whitey! The Sights and Sounds of Black Power by Pat Thomas. Rickey Vincent says,"The book is meticulously detailed, reflecting Thomas’s skills as a researcher (and record producer), yet conversational in tone, balancing the voice of a rock critic with the heft of a historian. . .The book remains consistent with its vision, and Thomas delivers black power with authority."
• Commentary:SFWeekly talks about Love and Rockets' art show at the Cartoon Art Museum, Chris Hall explains "If Love and Rockets brought one innovation to the comics field, it could be its lack of misogyny. . . Love and Rockets has, from the beginning, been praised for consistently depicting strong, complex women characters."
• Commentary:Jordan Hurder posted some APE coverage on the Hernandez Brothers and our company: "Fantagraphics crushed this show. It helps that they had Los Bros celebrating 30 years of Love and Rockets and Jim Woodring was already there as a special guest, but there was a consistent buzz around their table, and there were lines for pretty much every signing they had."
• Commentary:Jaime, Gilbert and Mario Hernandez appeared at APE much to JK Parkin of Robot 6 's delight. "All three Hernandez Brothers were at the show, and when they hit the Fantagraphics table the crowds surrounded them."
• Interview:The Comics Reporter links to some great vids from SPX interviews with Jaime Hernandez, Gilbert Hernandez and Daniel Clowes.
• Review:Simcoe looks at Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge: Only a Poor Old Man by Carl Barks. Glenn Perrett says, "The stories are entertaining and the illustrations are excellent with a wonderful use of colour. . . Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge: Only a Poor Old Man will appeal to young and old."
• Review:Pat Afforo looks at Stigmata by Lorenzo Mattotti and Claudio Piersanti. "If anyone has not read it you are definitely in for a ride and it is not a smooth one at the very least. This book covers a lot of different topics: religion, redemption, reincarnation, sin, good vs. evil, and above all love."
• Review:AV Club has high hopes for Rich Tommaso and his future books starring The Cavalier Mr. Thompson. Noel Murray posits,"Tommaso’s talented enough that The Cavalier Mr. Thompson might one day be seen as the lurching beginning to something truly great. . ."
•Interview:The Guardian asks Chris Ware some questions. In answer to Rosanna Greenstreet's question 'Which living person do you most admire and why?' Ware answers,"For intellect: Art Spiegelman. For art: Robert Crumb. For poetry and vision: Gary Panter. For decency: Barack Obama. For genuine goodness: Charles Burns. For genius: Charlie Kaufman. For soulfulness and love: Lynda Barry. For words: Zadie Smith. For unique life's work and superhuman effort expended: Ira Glass, Dave Eggers."
Thank you to everyone who came by our booth this past weekend at APE: the Alternative Press Expo in San Francisco, CA! Look at how happy you made our Marketing Director, Mike Baehr! We hope we were able to make you guys happy, too, with all our amazing debuts and wonderful guests.
Our good pal Daniel Clowes made an unofficial appearance, and braved the crowds for a visit with The Hernandez Bros! I think that lady to the right just realized who cut in front of her in line...
Jim Woodring delighted fans with sketches of his iconic characters, and he somehow did it with just a cheapie ballpoint pen! (His usual drawing pen decided to give up the ghost right before signings began.)
The great Mark Kalesniko was all-smiles as he signed copies of his books for fans! Mark also brought both an electronic slideshow and some originals, which was a wonderful lesson in cartooning for everyone who stopped by.
We didn't manage to snap a pic of the elusive Tim Hensley, but he was at APE, debuting his Ticket Stub collection with Rina Ayuyang's Yam Books! And, good lord, can I tell you people, it is a thing of freakin' beauty. Get one, seriously.
Speaking of elusive, the rumors were true: Zak Sally did make an unexpected secret appearance at the show! He snuck away before I could take a photo, though!
While I visited with Fanta-friends Tom Neely and Emily Nilsson of Sparkplug Comics, Mike had to contend with that line you see in the upper-righthand corner of this pic for the Love and Rockets signing! Yikes, sorry, Mike!
A quick run back to our own booth, and I was able to catch the adorable Brett Warnock of Top Shelf kanoodling with Rich Koslowski across the aisle!!!
Going through our photos, I was surprised that neither Mike nor I snapped any pictures of my birthday-buddy Tom Devlin of Drawn & Quarterly. (We both turned a year older on Saturday of the show.) But his v-neck sweater really did look great with the collared-shirt. Happy birthday, dear Tom!
Yay, that was fun! Let's do it again next year, San Francisco!
And don't miss these excellent panels, featuring our great Fantagraphics artists:
Saturday, October 13th
• 2:45 PM // Queer Cartoonists Panel: LGBT comics, with a storied history of over four decades, have never been more vibrant. A true renaissance of queer stories is taking place, as they begin to take their rightful place in the comics world and fans increasingly demand more material that speaks to them and represents the genuine diversity in which we all live. It's all happening at the ninth annual APE Queer Cartoonists Panel, with talented, fabulous, and uppity panelists Tara Madison Avery (Dirtheads, Gooch), Tony Breed (Finn and Charlie Are Hitched), Dylan Edwards (Transposes), Steve MacIsaac (Shirtlifter), and Leia Weathington (The Legend of Bold Riley), with moderator Justin Hall (No Straight Lines, Glamazonia). On top of all that, at the end of the panel the recipient of the Prism Comics Queer Press Grant 2012 will be announced.
• 4:45 PM //Using Childhood Experiences to Create Adult Stories: The experiences from our youth are often those that have the biggest impact on the adults we grow up to be, but how do we share those stories with others? Miriam Libicki (jobnik!), Jim Woodring (Jim, Weathercraft), Kraig Rasmussen (monkeygong.com), and Derek Kirk Kim (Tune, Same Difference) explain how they molded their childhood memories into stories aimed at adults. Moderated by the Cartoon Art Museum's Andrew Farago.
• 5:45 PM // Spotlight on the Hernandez Brothers: 30 Years of Love and Rockets: The creators of the acclaimed Love and Rockets discuss the trials, tribulations, and joy that go into writing and drawing a series for over 30 years! Jaime, GilbertandMario Hernandez, talk to Andrew Farago (Cartoon Art Museum) about their three decades on one of comics' most popular and acclaimed indie series.
Sunday, October 14th
• 2:30 PM // "Gigantes" Walk Among Us!: Almost 100 years of cartooning takes the stage as APE special guests Jaime, GilbertandMario Hernandez of Love and Rockets fame join legendary MAD cartoonist Sergio Aragonés to discuss how their Latino/Hispanic experiences contributed to their amazing comic art. Join moderator Ricardo Padilla (Latino Comics Expo) as we celebrate these unique creators of this American artform.
• 3:45 PM // Spotlight on Jim Woodring: APE special guest Jim Woodring, the creator of the wordless Frank comics, waxes eloquent about his influences, motivations, and career experiences in "Please Stand By," a 45-minute narrated slide and video presentation followed by a 15-minute Q&A session. Topics include Woodring's animation studio work with Jack Kirby and Gil Kane, and the cartoon that irreversibly changed his life. If you have ever wondered what drives his enigmatic work, this is your chance to get the inside dope.
Marketing Director Mike Baehr and I can't wait to see you! Just swing by our usual spot at APE, tables 112-115! (Right by our good friends Jim Blanchard and J.R. Williams at table 116!)
Cartoonist Jem Eaton is messing with our minds in a creepy way! With his Cartoon Jumbles, Eaton is mashing up all of the best comic characters for an upcoming APOPALYPTIC AMERICA show as we mentioned before but this time, its personal. Jim Woodring personal!
To quote Jem, "Woodring’s enigmatic Frank is reborn into the boneyard skin of EC Comics’ The Crypt Keeper, the transcendent meeting the corporal, the material decay of the parochial burial tradition finding itself at odds with the ephemeral grace of the Unifactor, where the notion of 'end' and 'beginning' walk arm-in-arm along fate’s mystical path, lost to each other’s definition, the terror of the Christian resting place illuminated in its absence, the Keeper’s haunted visage set upon his accompanying jiva, itself bound to the skeletal vocabulary of the golgotha, Frank’s animated stride now the dutiful march of the gravedigger’s parade, the earth’s bosom rupturing the toils of his collected trade, the minions of his progressive existence on display, momentary artifacts of entropy’s ever-racing beauty."
The APOPALYPTIC AMERICA exhibit in Seattle, Saturday the 13th, 6-9pm, at One Night Stand Gallery, 6004 12th Ave South, Suite 13A. You can head over there after stopping by the Fantagraphics Store for the THE HORROR: From the EC Comics Library. since it it located in the building RIGHT above the Fantagraphics Store! It's bound to be a frightful night in Georgetown and Seattle!
Hey, we got our hands on some more copies of last year's hardcover reprint of Jim Woodring's classic The Frank Book! These went fast when we first offered them and we don't expect these copies to last long either, so get yours while you can.
Our production department has been cranking away and all the rest of our books coming out in 2012 (and one for next year) are now at the printer. I have a bunch of new cover images and excerpts to share, so let's take a peek, shall we?