We're doing a special cross-promotion with our colleagues at Americaware, producers of fine t-shirts (and now hoodies!) featuring artwork by Northwest comics legends Peter Bagge, Jim Blanchard, Basil Wolverton and Jim Woodring. With every order you make with us you'll get a $5 coupon to use on an Americaware order, and with every Americaware order you'll get a 20% off coupon to use when ordering from us! You could get into an endless loop of savings! I personally have several Americaware shirts and lemme tell ya, they are niiiiice.
We're off road and on safari and I'm disappointed by the scenery and lack of wildlife. Who knew safari would be a web-ready-low-res-jpg. Tim Root is at the helm of his beautiful van and very-sludgy-slow-dirge-metal spills from the speakers, punctuated by off-tempo-crunchy-fat-dub-beats. Eric Reynolds is sitting to my left and is giving me shit for not paying attention to Africa (both politically and aesthetically). I'm trying to draw comix despite the bumpy ride and "exotic" locale. Three dimensional shapes made of crosshatching rise from the panels I'm drawing. Sitting across from me is Kim Thompson, chortling. Kim's finding endless laffs and curiosity from my magical crosshatch comix. "Whatcha doing Jason? Haw! That's silly! Har Har! Are you cross-eyed from all that cross-hatching? Heh heh!" With every pot-hole my .001 Rapidograph slips resulting in a loud-sputtering-snort-guffaw from Kim. Rather pissed, I scold Kim, telling him he should expand his view of comix and that what I'm attempting is similar to what Lars Von Trier (one of Kim's favorite filmmakers) has done with Dogme 95 and his film-obstructions experiments. Without warning, Jim Woodring's visage oozes from the van's dome-light and declares "The content and flatulent ass eats horse-meat and white-corn from The Field of Ignorance and Tranquility." Kim overflows with laughter pointing at me and alleging, "I did that!"
Why is Eric kicking out the back window of Tim's van? "We've got company!!" yells Eric.
Eric, Olivier Schrauwen and myself are sitting with our legs dangling from the van's back window as a charging Audi approaches. The Audi is stuffed with spitting camels garbed in saris. The camels are keeping pace with us as they start cocking their Kalashnikov rifles.
Jason: "What the fuck are we going to do!" Eric: "I don't know but I'm not happy about this and I'm not going to stand for it!" Eric tries to stand up. "Fucking camels! I'm not partial to their kind and I'll be damned if this will be the end of me!!"
Sparkly tears are streaming down Olivier's face. His tense cheeks frame the biggest-most-genuine-smile I've ever seen. Cheesy-retro-computer-generated-rotateey-things undulate around Olivier's eyes. He lovingly looks at the aggressive camels and starts barking. At this point I'm uncertain as to whether or not Olivier Schrauwen is Jesus Christ. With each bark the camels disintegrate. Eric sits down. The camels are almost gone.
My crosshatched comic is now a finished book and as I ruefully hand a copy to Kim and point out that he's paid for the printing and distribution. Kim giggles as he flips through my book, "It's good work, Jason. My mother loves it."
Jim Woodring has recently relaunched his official website with a completely new design and architecture. You can browse galleries of his artwork and comics; download and share various media; purchase artwork, prints, toys, signed-and-drawn-in books (such as below), and other merch in the revamped Jimland Novelties store; and more. So much to explore! So much to enjoy! So much to buy! And that new layout is so clean and inviting. 'At's-a good website! (Update: I just noticed there's a semi-secret adventure starring Pupshaw & Pushpaw as you explore the site — pay attention!) (Updated again to credit Plexipixel with the excellent new design.)
• Review: "Graphic novelist Richard Sala cures the zombie apocalypse malaise with a new book that takes the basic set-up of those tales and turns it into an artsy, comical, downright weird exercise in terror that brings together several slices of the horror genre... into something modern and surprising. Equally, Sala’s art style helps the story ride high -- his dark cartoons manage to suck you into the narrative while still highlighting the meta quality of the story. This is a story about horror as much as it is a horror story, examining the themes that draw us into these stories as much as they are utilized by authors to comment on the real world. Somewhere between those two intentions lies The Hidden, a modernist horror tale that acts like the zombies it evokes, cannibalizing the genres from which it sprang and spewing out something new from those entrails." – John Seven, North Adams Transcript
• Review: "The stories [in The Frank Book] are fantastical, phantasmagorical fables full of transmogrification, mostly silent so that you can bring to them what you will and interpret them as you like, and if you were to sit down with someone else and discuss any given piece you’d find it very revealing – both of yourself and of your friend. I often describe them as 'mind-altering, yet legal.' Enlightening too, as I say.... [Jim Woodring] is a visionary, a veritable shaman with a love of Persian architecture and that rare ability to communicate wisdom — and folly (umm, yes, mostly folly!) — with skill. As a visual craftsman he totally floors me, his wrinkled-line textures placed just-so, leaving each panel on the page a perfect composition. A beautiful, beautiful book." – Stephen L. Holland, Page 45
• Interview:Comics Bulletin's Jason Sacks talks to Gahan Wilson about his new collection of Nuts: "The thing that inspired me and put me on the kids' side, kept moving me along on it, was that the grownups -- and more grownups do it wrong than right -- that they don't understand how complicated that little rascal is. How much they're taking in. How alive they are. How much they apprehend. And how seriously they take it. They are astoundingly alive with bad things and good things."
• Interview: Hanna Brooks Olsen of Seattlest talks with Megan Kelso about her upcoming presentation at Richard Hugo House this Friday: "I'm using a series of rotating images on a loop. Unlike when you're reading a comic by yourself, where you can go back and re-read a panel or flip back a page (if someone's reading aloud), suddenly it's going by, almost like a film, and you don't control the page. And I think that that control is what people love about comics. You get to entirely control that space. A lot of the things that are magical about reading comics on a page are lost when they're performed live."
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. (Please note we have several additional explanatory notes below as well!)
352-page black & white/color 8.75" x 11.25" hardcover • $45.00 ISBN: 978-1-60699-513-6
NOTE: The hardcover edition is already sold out from the distributor! This means that once a shop sells out of their initial shipment, they won't be able to order more copies. So if you want it and your store has it, pounce!
"A new edition (in both hardcover and paperback) of Jim Woodring's early Frank stories, which are utterly wonderful -- the first one, 'Frank in the River,' is my single favorite comics story ever at least 20% of the time. I can't think of much other art that's both so unironically devoted to pleasure and entertainment (in this case, in the form of funny-looking animals doing amusing things in colorful, inventively odd settings) and so deeply, primally unsettling and ambiguous." – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
"...[I]f you're a fan of any and all good things in life you definitely want the Frank work by the great cartoonist Jim Woodring in as many forms as you can pull it across the table and into your lap." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
"A softcover edition of Woodring's landmark Frank features an anthropomorphic cat in a pyschedelic world." – Benn Ray (Atomic Books), Largehearted Boy
"...I’d pick up the second volume of Floyd Gottfredson’s Mickey Mouse. The first volume was a real treat, not just in terms of reintroducing myself to Gottfredson’s stellar work, but also in the sheer amount of incisive historical information about the strip, Gottfredson and his various Disney helpers. I’m sure Vol. 2 will be more of the same." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"These Floyd Gottfredson-created adventure strips following the early years of the now-neutered corporate icon are everything you want from a feature like this: exuberant, lovely-looking and a lot of fun." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
32-page two-color 8.5" x 11" comic book, with jacket • $7.95 Part of the Ignatz Series
NOTE: Again, this title is not on the official shipping list but we have confirmed reports that some stores received it last week and we believe it should be available everywhere tomorrow. Again, check with your local shop blah blah blah.
"Kevin Huizenga has blessed us all with another issue of Ganges, totally unexpected and entirely wonderful. Let's not disappoint him." – Chris Butcher, The Beguiling
"CONFLICT OF INTEREST RESERVOIR: My other favorite comic of 2011 so far is Jim Woodring’s Congress of the Animals, though I confess a lot of the effect it had on me (elation) was due to having lived with the mechanics and boundaries of Woodring’s wordless storytelling for so long that deviations from it proved meaningful – as luck would have it, new hardcover and softcover editions of The Frank Book are out this week to catch you up on most of the major stuff; $34.99 ($45.00 in hardcover). Elsewhere in ambulating creature-things, Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse Vol. 2: Trapped on Treasure Island offers more from Floyd Gottfredson and his hungry team of pre-Imagineers; $29.99. And while it’s still not on Diamond’s list, keep an eye out for Kevin Huizenga’s Ganges #4, which I understand has floated into a store or two, maybe; $7.95."
(I should also note that The Manara Library Vol. 1 is out this week from Dark Horse, translated by our very own Kim Thompson. I'd sure like to see his "Adventures in Translation" notes for THAT series.)
The hardcover reprint and new softcover edition of Jim Woodring's The Frank Book are headed to comic shops this week (and the hardcover print run is already sold out from the distributor — and from us — so grab it if you see it!), and PREVIEWSworld presents a 7-page sneak peek from the book!
• Review: "Every now and then, if I’m lucky, I might just bump into a stone cold masterpiece. The kind of art that makes you just want to shout and scream it is so good. So, in the interest of doing just that, let me say that this Jaime Hernandez’s 'The Love Bunglers' (Love and Rockets: New Stories no. 4) is such a work. I don’t even need to qualify it for myself (i.e. 'what’s coming later; what’s come before; shouldn’t there be a cooling period?') when I say: This is not just Jaime’s finest work, but one of the best (at this moment I’d rank it in my top five of all time) works ever created in the medium. You can hold that over me in twenty years and I’ll still be right..." – Dan Nadel, The Comics Journal [SPOILER WARNING]
• Review: "Jaime Hernandez is my favorite cartoonist. I think he is the greatest cartoonist of all time. My opinion.... No art moves me the way the work of Jaime Hernandez moves me. I am in awe of his eternal mystery." – Frank Santoro, The Comics Journal
• Review: "I picked up a copy of the new issue at a signing Jaime was doing here in Brooklyn a few weeks ago. It was a packed house, and there were a lot of people I was happy to talk to. Amidst all the socializing, I allowed myself a quick glimpse inside the comic, and when I randomly flipped to pages 92 and 93, I felt like I’d been blind-sided. I had to look closer to make sure I was seeing what I thought I was seeing." – Adrian Tomine, The Comics Journal
• Commentary:Robot 6's Sean T. Collins spotlights the above TCJ links, saying "Paying off thirty years of continuity and character development. Delivering shocks, gasps, cheers, and tears in equal measure, seemingly at the author’s whim. Offering a master class in everything from laying out a double-page spread to drawing clothes. Telling a story about beloved characters so emotionally engaging that even their most ardent fans wouldn’t mind if this were the last one ever told. Any way you slice it, Jaime Hernandez's 'The Love Bunglers' — his contribution to the recently released Love and Rockets: New Stories #4 and the conclusion to the already wildly acclaimed 'The Love Bunglers'/'Browntown' suite from last year’s issue — is a hell of a comic. But you don’t have to take my word for it."
• Review: "As I finished reading Love and Rockets: New Stories #4, I had to sit back and just take a moment to take it all in and collect myself, as I know that I had just completed reading one of the greatest works in comics for 2011. Love and Rockets has been a source of inspiration within the comics industry for years, so it’s not like I’m the first one to praise the Brothers Hernandez for their contribution. But it’s even more incredible to see that after nearly 30 years, both Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez are creating some of the best comics of their careers and making them completely accessible to new readers. Love and Rockets: New Stories #4 is an achievement for the Brothers Hernandez and has earned a permanent spot on my required reading list for anyone interested in reading the great works of modern comics creators." – Ron Richards, iFanboy "Book of the Month"
• Review (Audio): "The artwork [in Pogo] is fantastic because Kelly, coming from a Disney background, had really great technical chops and he was able to put a lot of detail into a small daily strip while at the same time giving it breathing room despite the fact that the characters are quite talkative…. He crowded an awful lot into each panel without making it feel crowded, which is a neat trick. He really pulled it off well. …It's just a joy to look at, and it's so much fun to read too because the characters all have really funny personalities that are… very dimensional… It is beautifully designed by Walt Kelly's daughter Carolyn Kelly, and she and Fantagraphics did a really good job of finding all these strips… lovingly scanned and restored so that you get to see the line art in all its detailed glory…. I highly recommend it -- it's going to be one of my prize books... that I'm going to hang onto for a long time." – Mark Frauenfelder, Boing Boing "Gweek" podcast
• Review: "When you read the first volume of Fantagraphics' complete reprint of Gottfredson's Mickey Mouse — the first of its kind anywhere — you understand quickly why Disney decided to keep him on the daily strip. He was simply a natural talent." – Matthias Wivel, Nummer 9 (translated from Danish)
• Commentary: "...Jim Woodring is not one to rest on his laurels where his funny-animal protagonist Frank is concerned. Lately he’s been posting breathtaking images... to his blog on a surprisingly regular basis. They appear to show Frank up to his old mischievous tricks, and to augur another Frank book on the horizon. Check them out here and here, and marvel that a cartoonist of Woodring’s caliber is tossing these things out there for free like it ain’t no thing." – Sean T. Collins, Robot 6
eaders who haven't discovered Jim Woodring's Frank stories will find a treat waiting for them in the pages of this book. Since publication in 1991 of the award-winning, epoch-making "Frank in the River," these lusciously hypnotic fables have dazzled cartoon lovers the world over.
Frank is a generic anthropomorph who lives in a world of mysterious and dangerous beauty. Propelled by forces beyond his control, including his own unquenchable curiosity, he finds himself in one bizarre escapade after another, frequently involving the loathsome Manhog or the power-hungry Whim. Luckily, Frank has a protector and ally in the form of his feisty godling companion, Pupshaw.
Frank's adventures are told in a series of nearly wordless cartoon stories that draw readers deep into a hallucinatory mindscape governed by a profound interior logic that raises The Frank Book to a level above fantasy. As Francis Ford Coppola says in his introduction, "The ancient myths and folk tales of all cultures which have been preserved for so many centuries have meaning for us today because the fantastic elements in them are rooted in immutable reality. The Frank stories belong to this class of literature."
"Jim Woodring may be the most important cartoonist of his generation. The Frank stories are masterpieces, each and every one. Read them. Re-read them. Re-re-read them. Every cell in your body will remember this spellbinding, visionary work." – Scott McCloud
"Frank will take you to another world, re-arrange your consciousness and reprogram the inside of your head. It's cheaper than virtual reality, less risky than recreational pharmaceuticals, and more fun than falling asleep." – Neil Gaiman
"Frank, and I say this without a shred of hyperbole, is a work of true genius by one of the all-time greats." – Daniel Clowes
Free Signature Plate: We found a stash of limited-edition signed bookplates left over from a previous edition which we're giving away for no extra charge with purchase of either of these new editions! Supplies are limited and may run out without notice so get yours before they're gone!
• List:Flavorwire's Emily Temple names Daniel Clowes's Ghost World one of "10 Disturbingly Brilliant Graphic Novels" (a list which includes many of the usual suspects along with some off-the-beaten-path selections): "This novel is a cult classic for a reason (and no, the reason is not Scarlett Johansson): its frank depiction of teenage life, especially in boring, suburban towns, and the awkwardness of growing up garnered an instant following, along with its cynical, hilarious protagonists. It is intensely strange, and yet somehow universal in its strangeness — because who doesn’t think their teen years were completely weird? We know ours were."
• Review: "Trondheim (as depicted by Trondheim) is a mass of neuroses and tics. He's full of self-doubt and more than a little bit of anger. But what sets him apart from oh-so-many other autographical cartoonists is that he's also devoted to his life and his art. You might say that [Approximate Continuum Comics] is a book about beating yourself up in service of self-exploration, which itself is in service of creating great stories." – John R. Platt, Graphic Novel Reporter
• Review: "[Congress of the Animals] is wordless and flows from scene to scene with dream logic, so it’s a quick read. Woodring’s inking is so fabulous that I’ve already reread it, and opened it to specific pages to stare at the varying weights he gives his lines. I particularly liked the textures of the wood walls in the background of the factory where Frank works and how they make the machines stand out from the background." – Gene Ambaum, The Unshelved Book Club
Fantagraphics resident genius Jim Woodring outdoes himself in the new annual edition of The Simpsons' Treehouse of Horror. Li'l Bart discovers a shopworn copy of "Harvest of Fear" — an E.C. knockoff in the tradition of Four Color Fear — at a yard sale and all hell breaks loose. Woodring works within the Simpsons canon while cleverly incorporating his own idiosyncratic sensibilities. In the story, our mischievous protagonist sets out to solve the mystery of the mid-century comic book and finds the last page is the missing piece. Spooky.