Blurbs, "Babe" and big bucks in this episode of Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: "The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book features two full-length stories, 'The Leaking Cello Case' and 'John Wesley Harding.' Both stories start off in the every day then morph into oddball mysteries that never go quite where you expect them to. As odd as some of the capers and misadventures get they are always conveyed with a kind of casual, deadpan poker face that manages to make them all the more believable. ... The art is a curious mix of cartoonish realism, and the city of Cape Town is vividly portrayed... Red Monkey Double Happiness Book is a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining read for the mystery/crime comic fan looking for something a bit different than the harder noir stuff that seems to dominate these days." – Brian Lindenmuth, BSCreview
• Review: "...[T]he appearance this week in bookstores of Hans Rickheit’s comix masterpiece, The Squirrel Machine, is a genuine milestone in the... artistic business of reconciling one’s inside to one’s outside, so much so that I must confess that I am truly taken aback by Rickheit’s entire effort, in the best sense of the word. This carefully constructed tale... strikes me as being one of the few original works of art that I’ve seen published in North America over the last two decades, on a par with the better work of Dan Clowes or Charles Burns. ... This is not a tale for the squeamish nor is it a tale for the literal-minded; it is very much a bravura performance in the tradition of Surrealism, or Fantastic Art, or even Symbolism... In short, strongly recommended!" – Mahendra Singh
• Feature: Matthew J. Brady presents "12 Things I Learned from Supermen!" including "In these stories, disbelief must often not only be suspended, but strung up and mercilessly whipped, then drawn and quartered"
• $$$: Via The Beat, somebody sold a mint slabbed copy of Albedo #2 (1st appearance of Usagi Yojimbo) on eBay for $5100, making it possibly the most expensive Fantagraphics comic ever sold (corrections welcome); Stan Sakai comments on his LiveJournal
• Review: "Where has Joe Daly been hiding? ... The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book... brings us... a tasty blend of cleanly detailed art straight out of Herge, hipster stoner humor and a couple of mysteries that work just as well in Cape Town as they would in the Los Angeles of Robert Towne's Chinatown or Ross Macdonald's Lew Archer stories." – John Mesjak, my3books
• Review: At Robot 6, Tom Bondurant gives his impressions partway through The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book: "So far I've gotten through the relatively-short first story, 'The Leaky Cello Case,' and found it to be nice and laid-back, if a little talky. ...Daly's style is quite appealing, and his use of color really brings his panels to life."
• Review: "[Kevin] Huizenga uses cartoon language to diagram the fuzzy chaos of mental insomnia with absolute clarity and precision [in Ganges #3]. He’s also really made the Ignatz format his own, with stunning use of limited color." – Bill Kartalopoulos, Robot 6 (same link as above)
Late nite link blogging for your Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: "You wanna talk about a gateway comic? How 'bout handing this sucker [Ganges #3] to anyone who's ever had trouble falling asleep? The whole thing is dedicated to nothing more or less than reproducing the mental and physical sensations of insomnia. Ironically it's Huizenga's most action-driven comic this side of Fight or Run or the video-game bits in Ganges #2. ... Combine it with one of the most effective uses yet of the Ignatz series' two-tone color palette--here a cool small-hours blue--and the experience is almost tactile, as though you're physically tunneling through the mysteries of your own mind." – Sean T. Collins [ed. note: I swear I'll have the issue up for presale on the website next week]
• Review: "No one is safe in Al Columbia’s world. Not the kittens (they get decapitated) nor the children (they get baked into pies) nor the bunnies (they carry scythes). Correspondingly, no one is innocent. Grandmothers are evil, grandfathers are greedy, and trees grow baby heads instead of apples and oranges. What a wonderful world it is. That’s not an entirely ironic evaluation of Pim & Francie, a collection of sketches, strips, stills and other valuable ephemera from the mind of Columbia (creator of the 1990s cult classic Biologic Show). The twisted narratives and characters are presented so deftly — with such humor and visual panache — that their wrongness becomes right; and thus is the singular charm of Al Columbia." – Molly Young, We Love You So
• Review/Profile: "Earlier this year, Fantagraphics gave readers the opportunity to encounter [Harvey] Kurtzman’s creative energy in complete form by reissuing a boxed collection of Humbug, his short-lived but monumental periodical that began publication in summer of 1957. It’s Humbug that functions as the spiritual father for magazines such as National Lampoon, Spy and The Onion, among many others, but there’s something invigorating about it because of its vantage point in the supposedly stodgy and bland 1950s. Coming out of that decade, Humbug really did break new ground." – John Mitchell, North Adams Transcript
• Review: "Even though Woodstock casts a large shadow on the cover of Fantagraphics’ The Complete Peanuts 1973-1974, it’s Peppermint Patty who should get star billing. Not to take anything away from Snoopy’s yellow-feathered avian sidekick – who does make several appearances through the hardcover tome – it’s just that Patty eventually gets the brunt of character development attention, while Woodstock exists as the perfect foil for Snoopy. ... Also of note is Schulz’s repeated use of standard gags (Lucy pulling the football from Charlie) along with a few new ones, including the consoling 'Poor, sweet baby.' Because of his tendency to keep running gags contained within a year’s span, it makes a trade collection work better than with most comic strips." – Christopher Irving, Graphic NYC
• Review: "What quickly becomes clear is that the graphic novel is a particularly apt form for inhabiting unconventional characters, and very few do this as well as The Squirrel Machine. Wielded skilfully, images are as expressive as words, and occasionally more so. Rickheit's drawings convey the boys' tortured feelings of persecution, elation and curiosity — as well as their uncouth creative urges — in a succinct and often gruesome way. Rickheit's frames vary from the cluttered to the stark, and his ability to pack detail into four square inches is rivalled only by his ingenious use of white space. ...The Squirrel Machine convinces anew that a picture is worth a thousand words." – Molly Young, Intelligent Life
• Interview: For Marvel.com, Sean T. Collins talks to Strange Tales contributor Tony Millionaire: "Just as you called, I was reading an old collection of THOR... It's funny: 'I say thee nay'? I didn't realize that was such a popular phrase."
Cripes, September is over already? Here's your Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: "The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book makes for pleasant midday reading, maybe perched somewhere outdoors in the sun with a glass of ginger ale at your side. Read it in a lazy mood, identify with the slacker characters, and speculate on whether you could solve demented mysteries as well as they could. (Answer: probably not.)" – Molly Young, We Love You So
• Plug: "Man, if that Crumb book weren't coming out [Prison Pit: Book 1] would easily be my main pick for the week. Johnny Ryan does straight on fantasy/action, with no tongue in cheek, but without forsaking a single ounce of blood or guts. In fact, this may be even more gory and gruesome than his humor stuff... but those with strong stomachs will thrill to Ryan's grotesque and truly imaginative fight fest." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "These latest tales from the art comics trailblazers are sure to draw readers in with their melancholic tone and the adventurous comic art that has enthralled readers for decades. ...[W]e see Jaime's superheroes going wild, both narratively and visually.... 'Sad Girl' is... classic character-driven storytelling from Gilbert and will be welcomed by all the Luba fans out there. His second story, 'Hypnotwist,' is the cherry on top of this volume... The narrative's dreamlike quality and its rich and mesmerizing imagery make it a surreal tour de force." – Publishers Weekly
• Review: "...Brunetti [knows] that for shock art to have any value behind it at all, you have to have some degree of conscience as the engine. As readers we’re required to know and agree that this sort of thing is untenable, in order for us to constantly re-evaluate and come to terms with our own morals. Which would make the title of this book [Ho! The Morally Questionable Cartoons of Ivan Brunetti] rather appropriate. So you should read this book and make your mind up. But be warned, it will play with your disgust and your chuckle muscle in ways you might not have imagined beforehand." – Will Fitzpatrick, Bookmunch
• Review: "Carol Swain... portray[s] Paley’s excursions (Giraffes in my Hair: A Rock’n’Roll Life is a sort of anecdotal graphic short story collection in many ways, albeit a graphic short story collection with a bunch of recurring characters) in a scratchy, pencil, black and white style that somehow perfectly sums up the stories – just as Bruce scratches around for money, so Swain’s pencil scratches around at the background detail.... [I]f you’re a fan of rock’n’roll, if you dig the Beats, if you like grimey tales of excess and the underbelly of success, this is for you." – Bookmunch
• Review: "[Joe] Daly's art is interesting, earthy pastel tones helping to create a sort of sun-kissed backdrop against which his figure work recalls Joe Spent (albeit Joe Spent by way of Cheech & Chong or Harold & Kumar). There are some great effects..., some great chuckle-out-loud writing and the sort of page-turning graphic novel that'll have you filing the name Joe Daly away for future reference, with a wee Post-It note saying, ‘Make sure to check out anything else this guy gets up to' attached. [The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book is] a real breath of fresh air, an enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours, the kind of graphic novel you'll want to pass on to your buddies who dig that kind of thing — what more can you ask?" – Bookmunch
• Review: "I still think of Hey, Wait as [Jason's] best work, the most nuanced, the most beguiling. Even rereading it before writing this, there are so many things I feel like I only half-understand, images that hint at something I can never grasp all the way.... If you haven’t read Hey, Wait yet, mm-mm you’ve got some good reading ahead of you." – Dustin Harbin, The HeroesOnline Blog
• Review: "...[Our Gang Vol. 3] is excellent. You need no knowledge of the films to follow the action, and each issue was self-contained, so you can read it in chunks.... An essay at the beginning of the book puts the stories into the context of their times, very important for any comic book from that era.... Definitely worth a read if you are a fan of old comics that don't involve superheroes." – Laura Gjovaag
• Analysis: At Bleeding Cool, Adisakdi Tantimedh looks at Jaime Hernandez's "Ti-Girl Adventures" from Love and Rockets: New Stories in the context of superhero crossover events: "It really is his Final Crisis, only he effortlessly and breezily beats Grant Morrison at his own game.... 'Ti-Girl Adventures' is pretty much a testament to why we like superhero stories as kids and look back on them with fondness and might continue to like them."
• Analysis: Splinter's Reviews offers a slightly different take on "Ti-Girl Adventures": "It's very difficult to actually compare this Love and Rockets offering to the revisionist tales of Alan Moore and Grant Morrison that have memorably tackled some of the similar themes. Jamie Hernandez may tackle the same subjects of scientific and magical origins of the superhero characters, their eternal youth, and the sexism in comics, but he does it in a completely different way." (via The Comics Reporter)
• Interview: The Daily Cross Hatch talks to Hans Rickheit about his upcoming book tour in the last part of their 4-part interview: "I’ve actually pondered the idea of hiring a good looking actor—or actress—to be me. I’ll do a rubber life mask of my face and have them wear it, and they can be friendly and say all of the right things."
• Review: "...[L]ike the rest of Fantagraphics’ spectacular catalogue of books, [Mome] takes some of the most exciting talent around in comics at the moment (both Paul Hornschemeier and Dash Shaw feature in this volume, for example), adds some raw talent that you might not have heard of, and collates it into a cutting-edge anthology. An excellent taster in bite-sized portions for those who want to experiment with a range of sophisticated comics artists without breaking the bank." – Grovel
• Review: "[The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book] has a nice laid-back vibe to it, as Dave and Paul wander into and out of adventures. It's kind of fun to just watch them drive around in Dave's sweet red convertible and look at the scenery. The art has a simple, clean look that retains enough detail to make the setting feel like a real place. And, as I said, it's pretty damn funny. I liked this book and recommend it." – Sandy Bilus, I Love Rob Liefeld
• Things to see: The masthead for McSweeney's Quarterly #33's "San Francisco Panorama" Sunday-style newspaper sure looks like Clowes to me, and there for sure will be comics by Clowes, Ware and others inside (via The Beat)
• Review: "With The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book, [Joe] Daly maintains some of the psychedelic trappings of his earlier stories but puts them within a framework of stoner noir (ala the film Pineapple Express) buddy story, only with Big Lebowski-style absurdity. However, the book can't really be reduced to familiar genre markers all that easily, and [a] firm, eccentric sense of place is the biggest reason why it works." - Rob Clough
• Review: "Needless to say, one could study the art found within Abstract Comics: The Anthology (published by Fantagraphics Books) for months, or one could flip through the entire thing in five minutes, and the conclusions one could draw from either experience of the volume could easily be justified as informed and insightful." - Alan David Doane, Comic Book Galaxy
• Review: "[Prince Valiant] creator Hal Foster is justly hailed for his stupendous full-pagers, full of panorama and carefully-researched settings.... We moderns are fortunate that superb reprint editions of these classics are readily available..." - Brenda Clough, Book View Cafe Blog
• Review: "I love [Richard Sala's] older work and newer work alike - the evolution of Sala's inky, angular charmers is a treat to see - and [Delphine] (a retelling of Snow White) has been such a wonderful foreboding wander through the twisty, turn-y, dark forest." - Emily Martin, Inside a Black Apple
• Plug: "This week I started reading Prison Pit Vol. 1and ... I ... it ... um ... the thing is ... it's .... wow." - Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Analysis: Blog Flume's Ken Parille on Tim Hensley: "I can’t think of another cartoonist who approaches space -- and what we might call 'spatial color' -- in such a rigorously strange way."
• Interview: At The Daily Cross Hatch, part 3 of 4 of their interview with Hans Rickheit: "I can’t work from a script. If the book were really tightly scripted, I promise you I’d lose interest in it, and I might force myself to draw it, but the artwork would just become a lifeless thing. The book would suffer dramatically."
• Review: "...[T]he velvety ease of the narrative and the facile blend of sexual, familial and natural intimacies on display suggest one of those steps forward with which the comics medium has been blessed over and over again this past decade. One falls through The Squirrel Machine as much as reads it, and the collection of feelings it imparts is as much due to the clarity of its narrative as it is the horror show that occasionally surges toward the reader from some deep place in Rickheit's mind, righteous and angry and wet." - Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
• Review: "Throughout all 179 pages of The Squirrel Machine [Hans] Rickheit tells a rich, fluid tale, all the while approaching, but not quite revealing any implicit meaning the story itself might have. The result, a daring, surreal, often grotesque work, is more visceral than it is cognitive." - Paul DeBenedetto, Wednesday's Child
• Review: "Though far from savage, at its heart, [Tales Designed to] Thrizzle has some rather pointed things to say about the crap we consume on a daily basis. Plus, it's really, really, really funny.... [The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book] is basically Herge by way of the Big Lebowski with a little bit of Repo Man thrown in for good measure.... very funny..." - Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Plugs: The gang at Robot 6 (really just Chris Mautner) looks at some of the titles coming out in our New Comics Day bonanza today (along with the week's other notable releases)
New comics arrive in comics shops on Thursday this week due to the U.S. holiday. That gives you an extra day to count up your nickels because HOO BOY do we have a ton of stuff scheduled to land in shops this week! Such as:
Get yourself educated on all of the above titles by clicking their links and checking out the descriptions and previews. Check with your local shop to make sure they'll have what you're looking for, then take the hammer to the ol' piggy bank and load up on all these beautiful books!
September is a-cumen in with Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: "[The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book], about a monkey-footed man who muddles around a beach community in South Africa, is amazing... Both stories are laid-back, funny, and entertaining... Totally [recommended]. [Joe] Daly is one of my favorite new talents in comics, and... this is... one of my top five comics to be released this year so far." - Paul Constant, The Stranger
• Review: "You'll Never Know... is a daughter's pursuit of her father's untold war story as she seeks to recover what he has wilfully held back from her... [Carol] Tyler manages to unravel the saga brilliantly at every level of narrative and artistic execution. Basic training for the war, courtship of her mother that happens almost simultaneously, the invasion of north Africa and conflicted events in the artist's own life with husband, daughter and father in turmoil emerge seamlessly. Memory and the present flow together, make sense together... After all this time, the second world war has grown closer to comic art in the best sense." - Paul Buhle, Morning Star
• Interview: At The Daily Cross Hatch, Brian Heater begins a multi-part Q&A with The Squirrel Machine creator Hans Rickheit: "I kind of live in my own insular world. The notion that anyone reads my comics other than myself is kind of weird and mystical."