The fully charged Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review:School Library Journal will happily be lending out copies of Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons to library patrons. Francisca Goldsmith says, "O’Connor’s viewpoint as a college student during the early years of World War II at an all-female Southern institution adds another layer of texture, too, for contemporary teen artists and observers of places and situations that fall outside popular media’s scope."
• Review: On Comics Worth Reading, Johanna Draper Carlson checks out Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Vol. 3: High Noon at Inferno Gulch by Floyd Gottfredson, edited by David Gerstein with Gary Groth. "While the strips are surprisingly entertaining to readers not used to such a vibrant version of the title character, I enjoy the supplemental material just as much. The introduction by Thomas Andrae puts the work in context and point out key observations that aid in getting more out of the comics."
• Review:AV Club thumbs through the finest of our collection. Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons, edited by Kelly Gerald, features "a Barry Moser introduction into how O’Connor used the medium and a Kelly Gerald-penned look at how O’Connor’s early life influenced her art. The Moser and Gerald pieces are so well-researched that they’d be worth reading even without the cartoons between them." Noel Murray continues onto Mort Meskin's Out of the Shadows, "Not tied down to any one character, Meskin was free to work in a variety of genres, most of which are represented here: jungle adventure, supernatural horror, westerns, science fiction, romance, crime, etc." The trip down comics-memory-lane makes at stop at Uncle Scrooge: Only a Poor Old Man by Carl Barks: "[the stories] are just as rich in their original form, packed with clever plans, narrow escapes, and a lead character who enjoys amassing and hoarding his huge fortune, even though it makes him a little nutty." On Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Vol. 3: High Noon at Inferno Gulch by Floyd Gottfredson, Murray points out, "[editors] Gerstein and Gary Groth have assembled the usual outstanding array of contextual material, including a Gottfredson-inspired Italian Donald Duck strip from 1937 that helped seed that country’s still-fertile contributions to Disney comics…"
• Review: Nick Gazin at Vice looksSexytime up and down. The Jacques Boyreau-edited collection is a mighty fun read because ". . . every one of the posters in this book is fascinating for one reason or another. It might just be that design is so ugly that even the lowest-level design from the 70s is better than the best of what anyone's making right now. . . Portable Grindhouse was a nearly-perfect book and so is this one."
• Plug:Comic Book Resources mentions the The Art of Joe Kubert edited by Bill Schelly and mainstream comics. Augie De Blieck Jr. says, "I learned a lot about Joe Kubert from Fantagraphics' biography on him that I read last fall. It immediately made me want to go buy some reprints of 50 year old DC material that I previously had no affection for." Kubert was a master and will be missed.
• Review:San Francicso Chronicle reviews No Straight Lines edited by Justin Hall. Charlie Wells writes, "Hall's book provides a striking example of how entwined the history and literature of the gay rights movement have been since the early days of the battle.
• Review:Chicago Tribune likes the premise of the Significant Objectseditedby Joshua Glenn and Rob Walker but was not bowled over by the micro-fiction. Christopher Borrelli said, " . . . attaching a story is partly the appeal of a farmer's market, a Happy Meal. The right back story for a brand such as Apple, the editors argue, helps build a phenomenon. . . A note about the physical book, itself a gorgeous, significant object. . ."
• Review: Recently found a Robot 6 review from SCAD cartoonig professor and cartoonist, Chris Schweizer, on Chris Wright's Black Lungbefore it was signed to Fantagraphics. According to Schweizer, his opinions still hold true: "It’s a graphic novel, both in its vernacular term and in a more literal sense, violent and horrible and poetic at the same time – the sort of thing McCarthy might write if he were more interested in pirates than cowboys or Appalachians."
• Plug: Torsten Adair posts on The Beat how to order and find those SPECIAL Halloween comics that your store may or may not give out for free. Buy a stack of 20 comics for $5 and this exclusive Spacehawk comic by Basil Wolverton can be yours! "You should offer to pay for them in advance, since the comics shop will most likely consider these unusual items, and be hesitant to place the order. Of course, if they’re a cool store, they are probably participating in Halloween ComicFest, and will be happy to add your order to their store order."
• Plug: Speaking of shopping, Johanna Draper Carlson gives some tips on finding that first volume of Wandering Son by Shimura Takako on Comics Worth Reading. Good news though, the second printing will arrive within the month!
• Plug: Tom Spurgeon gets worked up over the Daniel Clowes Reader on The Comics Reporter. Fantagraphics is releasing a "Ken Parille-edited book on Dan Clowes in early 2013. Ken Parille's stuff is routinely pretty great. . . Count me in."
• List: Moto Hagio's The Heart of Thomas tops Deb Aoki's list of the Most-Anticipated New Manga of 2012 at About.com Manga: "This 3-volume story from 1974 has been on many manga connoisseur's wish lists for years, so it's a real joy to see that Fantagraphics will be publishing the entire saga in English in one volume."
• List/Review:Manga Worth Reading's Johanna Draper Carlson ranks Wandering Son the #2 Best New Manga of 2011 and recommends Volume 2 in her review: "Shimura Takako’s young figures are adorable. They look unspoiled, with their future ahead of them, which puts their struggles into greater relief.... Translator Matt Thorn’s essay at the back of this volume addresses the issue of being 'Transgendered in Japan' directly, providing valuable information on cultural context, as well as warning us that the children’s lives may be very difficult in years (and stories) to come. There is no more handsome manga than Fantagraphics’ presentation of Wandering Son."
• List:Forbidden Planet International asks comics creator Martin Eden his 3 favorite comics of 2011: "My attention had been waning a bit with the Love and Rockets comics, and then 2010′s Love and Rockets [New Stories] 3 came out and it blew my mind – it was one of the most incredible things I’ve ever read. So much so, that I found myself re-reading the entire series and tracking down all the issues I’d missed. This year’s Love and Rockets[New Stories] 4... was still utterly mind-blowing, and Jaime Hernandez is producing the best work he’s ever done, in my opinion."
• Review: "One of comics revered masters gets a fresh new reprinting [Walt Disney's Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes ] worthy of his work and accessible to kids.... This volume finds [Barks] at a creative peak, combining the bold adventuring of Tintin with the wisely cynical view of human weakness of John Stanley.... Donald is an everyman of frustration whose life is one big Chinese finger trap—the harder he fights, the harder the world fights back.... Despite the dark undertones, the comic expressions and dialogue is still laugh-out-loud funny. A wonderful project that should put Barks’s name in front of new generations of admirers." – Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
• Review: "This exceptional first volume of the collected adventures of Pogo Possum should remind readers of the substantial legacy left behind by Kelly.... The volume is beautifully put together, including excellent insights into Kelly and his work... One only needs to get a short way into the adventures of Pogo and his pals in Okefenokee Swamp to recognize the impact Pogo has had on so many cartoonists... With Pogo Possum and [his] supporting characters..., Kelly was able to blend hilarious humor, exceptional storytelling, keen political satire, and brilliant wordplay into a strip that could be appreciated both by children and adults. The more one reads this volume, the clearer picture one has of Kelly as comics’ answer to Lewis Carroll, with Alice having changed into a possum and left Wonderland behind for a swamp." – Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
• Review: "The Art of Joe Kubert contains extensive commentary by Bill Schelly that contextualizes Kubert's work with the development of comics as a medium. ...[I]t's an informative and briskly engaging essay. In reviewing the vast panorama of Kubert's eight-decade career, The Art of Joe Kubert allows readers previously unfamiliar with the artist to share an appreciation of his abiding interest in human nature (as opposed to just superhero theatrics) through a surprising variety of storytelling styles and subject matter. Kubert's great influence on other cartoonists came from the way he embraced the comics medium as a whole, instead of just a particular niche or character type." – Casey Burchby, SF Weekly
• Interview:The A.V. Club's Sam Adams chats with Jack Davis: "I’ve said this many a time; I’ll tell it again. When I was going to kindergarten, and that’s a very young age, my mother used to walk me to school. I would go up past a chain gang — that was the old days when the prisoners wore stripes and everything — and I saw that. I would go to kindergarten, and they’d put a piece of construction paper in front of me, and crayons, and I did, probably, a stick figure, but I put stripes on him. And from that, they thought I had talent. My mother thought I was great. And from then, I’ve always drawn. Drawn pictures. I love to draw cartoons."
• Interview:Nerve gets sex advice from a trio of cartoonists including Rick Altergott — "If you want to talk about inking brushes or pens or what kind of paper or even something as broad as 'who's your favorite cartoonist?' 'Do you know Robert Crumb?' 'Do you know the Hernandez brothers?' Once you get the answer, you can fine-tune it from there. Before you know it, you're probably going to end up in bed." — and Anders Nilsen
• Plugs: The fine folks at L.A.'s Secret Headquarters are posting their staff gift suggestions: Julie recommends Leslie Stein's Eye of the Majestic Creature ("Good for: Anyone with an overactive imagination; fans of whimsy and good times") and Malachi suggests The Cabbie Vol. 1 by Martí ("A European (and comically sordid) take on the American crime genre") and Walt Kelly's Pogo Vol. 1 ("The essential collection of Pogo – A comic that expertly integrates social satire into the daily newspaper format")
• Review: "A lot of the conventions with which we are familiar from Pogo were birthed during this period, and most of the characters with which we are most familiar have already been fully realized during the initial Dell Comics run. Walt Kelly’s wit and charm is unmatched in the history of sequential storytelling, and is in evidence here fully developed. I’d get this book for Jimmy Breslin’s introduction alone. Go. Read this. You’ll charm the pants off of yourself." – Mike Gold, ComicMix
• Review: "Fan/historian Bill Schelly who, like Roy Thomas is from the first generation of organized comics fandom, knows his stuff and it shows. This isthe definitive biography of Joe Kubert, and I would say it is lavishly illustrated but the word 'lavishly' pales in comparison by even a quick flip-through of this 232-page tome. Pure and simple, this is the tribute that Joe deserves." – Mike Gold, ComicMix (same link as above)
• List: The Austin American-Statesman's Joe Gross names Love and Rockets: New Stories #4 the best comic of 2011: "One of the wonderful things about seeing a masterpiece in the making is the mysterious feeling, the racing of the soul that takes place when it hits you that you are, in fact, seeing a masterpiece in the making.... Symphonic, tragic, revelatory, exciting and devastating as only great art can be, 'The Love Bunglers' is one of the best comics ever made."
• List:Paste ranks Dave McKean's Celluloid at #5 on The 10 Best New Comics of 2011: "The visionary art director behind The Sandman’s covers creates a coital masterwork that elicits beauty and excitement in equal measure.... Celluloid is a treasure of technical finesse and sensual mystique that transcends its potential controversy."
• List:Paste's list of The Ten Best Reissues/Collections of 2011 includes Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Vol. 1: Race to Death Valley by Floyd Gottfredson at #9 ("Gottfredson had an animator’s knack for storytelling, and his layouts remain clear no matter how busy they get. Much of the humor is stilted by modern standards, but you’ll be too enthralled by the exciting plots and likable characters to care"), Jack Davis: Drawing American Pop Culture – A Career Retrospective at #7 ("Fantagraphics has finally given him the grand and serious treatment he deserves, without minimizing his goofy sense of humor"), and Walt Disney’s Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes in the #1 spot ("Barks’ strips combine high adventure with humor and subtle cultural commentaries, but they remain grounded in character... Lost in the Andes is a gorgeously packaged collection of some of the finest comics ever made.")
• List: At Poopsheet Foundation, Justin Giampaoli names Kevin Huizenga's Ganges #4 one of the "Best Mini-Comics & Small Press Titles of 2011": "It’s the continuing adventures of Glenn Ganges and his latest nocturnal outing, as he navigates his sleepless existence on a seemingly endless night. With the degree of interactivity occurring between the page and the readers, there’s as much technique on display here as there is original storytelling."
• List: Leeds, UK comic shop OK Comics posts their Top Ten Graphic Novels of 2011: "9. Like a Sniper Lining Up His Shot by Jaques Tardi published by @fantagraphics. A hitman's reluctance to perform one last job leads to an emotional breakdown. Legendary French comics artist Jacques Tardi on fine form."
• List:The Globe and Mail includes Pogo - The Complete Syndicated Comic Strips Volume 1: Through the Wild Blue Wonder by Walt Kelly in their "2011 gift book guide": "Fans of what for many is the greatest of all comic strips have waited a long time for this, the first of a projected 12 volumes (1949-1950) from the brilliant Walt Kelly. The congenial Pogo Possum and his swampland friends... spring to life in this collection of daily and Sunday comics, filled with Kelly’s characteristic wordplay. One hopes this will introduce a new generation to this comic, satiric masterwork."
• Review: "Pogo: The Complete Syndicated Comic Strips: Volume 1—Through the Wild Blue Wonder proves to be worth the wait.... Overall, the package serves Pogo well.... The biggest revelation of reading the first two years of Pogo is how polished and funny the strip was right from the start, and also how nearly every Pogo panel is a delight unto itself. Kelly didn’t necessarily build to big punchlines; he’d slip funny sight gags and memorable lines everywhere there was room. ...[T]here’s a classic Pogo moment on just about every page of this book." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "Even now, Barks’ stories are clever and funny, as he leads the ducks into impossible situations and then gives them unexpected ways out. And they’re poignant in their own way, too.... What’s impressive about Fantagraphics’ Lost in the Andes is that it encourages both a fannish and an intellectual approach to the material. For those who want to skew highbrow, the book includes an appendix with scholarly analysis of each story.... And for those who just want to curl up with more than 200 pages of some of the best-written comics ever published, Lost in the Andes has all the square eggs, rubber bricks, golden Christmas trees, and races around the world that any kid or grown-up could ever want." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "Fantagraphics’ initial release of its new series of Carl Barks books is titled, Walt Disney’s Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes and reprints one of the most famous, and most BELOVED, comic book stories which Carl ever wrote and drew! ...I’m impressed with the quality of the publication. In my estimation, the coloring is excellent and the format engaging…. The critical essays composed by a number of Barks scholars are also insightful and well written.... In my opinion, as a Carl Barks fan, this initial volume is well worth acquiring!" – Carl Barks Fan Club Newsletter
• Reviews: "Two... giants of American illustration get the handsome coffee-table-book treatment with Jack Davis: Drawing American Pop Culture and The Art of Joe Kubert... The Kubert book — edited by Bill Schelly — is more text-heavy, covering Kubert’s early years as a journeyman penciler and inker on a slew of indistinct superhero and adventure comics, then exploring how Kubert developed the fine shading and gritty realism he’d become famed for starting in the late ’50s. The Davis book saves most of its biographical detail and critical analysis for the intro and appendix, filling the intervening 200 pages with full-sized examples of the half-cartoony/half-photographic approach that Davis brought to Mad magazine and countless movie posters. Both offer ample visual evidence of how two men found the 'art' in commercial art, turning work-for-hire assignments into opportunities to express their particular visions of the world." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "To (re-)discover a first-rate critic, and read about a life that went wrong in a harrowing way, you must read Everything Is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson, by Kevin Avery.... This volume is exhilarating. Avery tells with great energy Nelson’s tale, with copious details about the active period of his subject’s life, and in so doing limns a portrait of a certain kind of pop-culture/bohemian existence in the late-70s. And Avery’s generous selection of Nelson’s writings are certainly among Paul’s best..." – Ken Tucker (Entertainment Weekly), The Best American Poetry
• Review: "What makes Wandering Son work is its slow-burn pace and calm atmosphere. It takes a delicate subject – transgender children- and explores it slowly and carefully. Much like its characters, it moves at its own pace, easing the reader into the characters’ lives.... I am really eager to read volume two of Wandering Son, though a little hesitant as well. I know that the road in front of Shu and Yoshino isn’t going to be an easy one and I don’t want to see them get hurt. But the fact that I’m talking about the characters as though they’re real people just shows how deep this manga has gotten under my skin." – Shannon Fay, Kuriousity
• Review: "Richard Sala is one of those creators that holds a fairly unique voice in comics. Many people have tried to replicate his off-beat brand of horror, but ultimately nothing out there quite like his. So with a new graphic novel called The Hidden out, the question for most people won’t be, 'Should I read it?' but 'When should I read it?'... The Hidden isn’t perfect... but what Sala does well, he does very well indeed. There’s quite a lot to love in The Hidden, with some scenes in particular that will stick with the reader for a long time." – Greg McElhatton, Read About Comics
• Plug: "Have you ever wondered what happened after 'Happily Ever After'? This graphic novel [Castle Waiting] is a modern tale that incorporates fairytale characters and settings. Funny, thoughtful and not at all what you'd expect." – The Victoria Times Colonist
• Interview:Wall Street Journal subscribers can read a Q&A with Jack Davis conducted last week in NYC by Bruce Bennett here: "Every time you went in to see Bill Gaines, he would write you a check when you brought in a story. You didn't have to put in a bill or anything. I was very, very hungry and I was thinking about getting married. So I kept the road pretty hot between home and Canal Street. I would go in for that almighty check, go home and do the work, bring it in and get another check and pick up another story." [Update: A clever reader has pointed out that non-subscribers can read the article in Google's cache]
• Profile:CNN's Todd Leopold profiles the great Al Jaffee: "After a bumpy several years in which he bounced like a pinball between his parents -- moving from Savannah, Georgia, to Lithuania, to one borough and then another of New York City, back to Lithuania and back again to New York -- art was something to hold on to, a way to establish an identity. He had no idea it would lead anywhere."
• Review: "Rick Marschall and Warren Bernard’s Drawing Power is a provocative visual examination of the wonderful world of cartoon advertising.... Marschall and Bernard have mixed an unusual batch of artistic and economic history. After reading this book, you’ll never look at comic strips and capitalism the same way again." – Michael Taube, The Washington Post
• Review: "It's a little silly for me to do the full-disclosure tap dance... I'm quoted ten times in Kevin Avery's Paul Nelson biography-collection-tribute, Everything Is an Afterthought, and thanked prominently in the acknowledgments.... [The book is] better than you might figure.... With Nelson, the wild card was Avery, an unknown from Utah whose national track record starts here. But he's done inspired, diligent work. Constructed from a greater proportion of direct quotes than is normally deemed proper, the biography is doubly gripping as a result... And though the critical analyses that triggered this admiration shone less brightly than I'd hoped, the narrative writing I'd put less stock in compensated." – Robert Christgau, The Barnes & Noble Review
• Review: "Over the past decade, probably the single biggest frustration we've experienced here at The Copacetic Comics Company was the inability to offer customers the opportunity to experience the magic of Carl Barks in book form.... The influence on American culture of the Disney duck comic books Carl Barks wrote, penciled, inked and lettered for roughly a quarter century is incalculably large.... Carl Barks is one of the true titans of comic books, one of the very few who can hold their own with the likes of Jack Kirby, Will Eisner, Harvey Kurtzman and R. Crumb. His fluid cartooning and storytelling is simply unmatched.... Now, at last, ...his collected works will once again become available for North American readers... in what — based on the evidence of the first volume — is sure to be the most outstanding edition ever produced.... The Fantagraphics edition of The Carl Barks Library is ideal in almost every way and is sure to be the definitive edition of the works of this great comics master." – Bill Boichel (we presume), The Copacetic Comics Company
• Interview:Comics Bulletin's Jason Sacks sat down for a chat with Bill Schelly about chronicling the life and art of Joe Kubert: "Think of the effect he's had. It's like an amplifier. He's used amplification through all his students. His philosophy about good storytelling techniques, solid drawing fundamentals and all those things he's imbued in all those students who go out to every field of artistic endeavor and, in fact, internationally. So his effect is really international."
• Plugs: "Just in time for Christmas, Fantagraphics has published the first volumes of two archival comics series that promise to be amazing.... Carl Barks’s Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes — is a beautiful, 240-page, full-color collection... If you’ve got kids, it’s a terrific introduction to Barks’s DD mythos.... Walt Kelly’s Pogo was one of the great hilobrow comic strips of all time.... Go, Fantagraphics, go!" – HiLobrow
• Astrology: We totally almost missed that VICE talked to Dame Darcy about The Day of Elevens.
• Review: "Barks, the artist, is a master cartoonist, drawing lively, expressive characters with a graceful sense of movement. His beautiful, detailed backgrounds plant the ducks in a fully realized world that adds weight to his storytelling.... But besides the entertaining plots, Barks’ appeal is in his characters. He gives his ducks many human frailties and while they usually try to do the right thing, they make mistakes, get angry, frustrated, and even fail. Fantagraphics Books... does its usual high quality work here as well. The design and layout of the book is a handy comic-book size hardcover with bright, colorful reproductions of the comics. Besides the comics, there are articles on Barks and analysis on each story... For both newcomers to Barks' work and diehard fans, [Walt Disney's Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes] is a book that any comic book reader would love to find under the Christmas tree." – Rich Clabaugh, The Christian Science Monitor
• Interview: At The Comics Reporter, Tom Spurgeon talks with Rich Tommaso about his coloring work on our Carl Barks Library series — "[Disney] said we didn't have to be so religious about it. They wanted to make sure the color for the ducks, the reds and blues and the yellows, that those were pretty much bang-on. But they agreed that there was a little bit of leeway. If something looked like a bad color choice, you could find something in the ballpark range of that color. So that's what I would do." — and about his own comics work
• Review: "All aspects of Kubert's career are touched on in this tome, which is loaded with beautiful colour reproductions of its subject's artwork and complemented by a lengthy and insightful critical commentary by comic book historian Bill Schelly. Over the course of the book's 224 pages, you can see quite clearly how Kubert's art evolved and how his storytelling skills developed, but also how his unique style, those striking touch and sinewy images that could have been rendered by no one else, has remained intact. As with Fantagraphics' previous coffee table comic art books, The Art of Joe Kubert makes you want to see more — all! — of the artist's work." – Miles Fielder, The List
• Review: "Frank Zappa once said 'most rock journalism is people who can’t write, interviewing people who can’t talk, for people who can’t read.' However true that might be, Paul Nelson was one who most definitely could write. And he interviewed people who could talk, and plenty of people read what he wrote. Kevin Avery certainly read what Nelson wrote, and has now written Everything Is an Afterthought, which is both a biography of Nelson and a collection of his work, including some pieces that have never been published.... Like the best critics, Nelson was primarily a fan of what he wrote about, subjects that struck a chord with him. And here’s a bio and a collection of his work written by a fan of his." – Robert O'Connor, Spike Magazine
• Plug: Proud contributor to our first Walt Kelly Pogo volume Mark Evanier talks up the book on his blog: "It's a wonderful book and though I am a Consulting Editor — I think that's my title — I can rave about it because I deserve very little credit for its wonderfulness. Any book that properly presents the work of Mr. Kelly is going to be, by definition, wonderful...and Carolyn Kelly (daughter of Walt, companion of mine) and Fantagraphics Books made sure it was properly presented."
Plug: "...Michael Kupperman's new book [Mark Twain's Autobiography 1910-2010]... has everything a boy could want, including Mark Twain on the track of the elusive yeti!... Albert Einstein is a major supporting player in the book (he and Twain open a detective agency, natch) and somehow it behooves me to remind everyone that in real life for really real, Einstein's granddaughter married a renowned bigfoot hunter. That is a fact you can look up on your computer!" – Jack Pendarvis
• Interview:Robot 6's Tim O'Shea talks with Shannon Wheeler, with a couple of revealing behind-the-scenes tidbits about Oil and Water in the second half: "Steve [Duin] understands a scene really well. When all the characters visited the bird cleaning facility there was a large storytelling arc with multiple subplots. I would have been afraid to juggle so many elements. I would have focused on the single note of the horror of the facility. Steve isn’t afraid to trust the reader to understand. I’m a lot less trusting of the reader. Steve showed me how to have more faith in the narrative."
• Review: "Wearing its stylistic debt to Chester Gould’s classic Dick Tracy strips on its sleeve, this Spanish-produced series [The Cabbie] (which was originally printed in the ’80s) revels in a stark and sleazy noir aesthetic that drags the reader on a vicious trip through the scabrous underbelly of 'the Big City.'... An intriguing throwback to the days of heroes with worldviews defined in terms as rigidly black and white as the panels they battled their way through, this visual and thematic love letter to (and simultaneous critique of) Gould’s tropes is highly recommended for grownups with a taste for refreshingly lurid pulp fiction." – Publishers Weekly
• Review: "The Hidden feels like a Poe short story, but Richard Sala actually reaches further back into gothic literature for information, filtering Frankenstein through a zombie apocalypse. Just like Poe, the fun here is all in the telling, and Sala’s campfire-ghost-story illustration is blunt enough to be cynically hilarious and cruelly gory, often at the same time. The allegory is the same as from Shelley’s original, but like the best gothic writing, the fun comes from putting the pieces — all the pieces — together at the end." – David Berry, National Post
• Interview:Robot 6's Chris Mautner has a brief chat with Richard Sala about a book that's not ours (the Nursery Rhyme Comics anthology from First Second) but any interview with Richard is worthwhile
• Review: "The final edition of Mome leaves a vacuum that thus far has always managed to get filled — let’s hope the graphic world hasn’t lost its taste for short stories just yet — but it will always be a shame to file something this sharply curated in the shelf. The fifth installment of Devil Doll is likely the most beautiful piece here, and there’s a terrific streak of humour throughout — Laura Perk’s Hobbesian, malevolent George is the pitch-black highlight, but there’s plenty of other strains — all adding up to an end that’s perfectly fitting, but no less unfortunate." – David Berry, National Post
• Review: "Last month, Fantagraphics released The Art of Joe Kubert, a wonderful oversized art book that traces the career of the comics legend who has worked successfully in all the major 'Ages' of comics. While seeing the art in a larger format is nice, it's the text that winds through the book that opened my eyes to a lot of new things in comics that I had never known before.... Schelly's words opened up a new world of art critique for me.... The Art of Joe Kubert is probably the best DC book I read in September, and DC didn't even publish it. Fantagraphics did, and a wonderful job they did, from the raw materials to the book design and packaging." – Augie DeBlieck Jr., Comic Book Resources
• Review: "Maybe, perhaps, at last, the time is right for a mass re-evaluation of the Duck comics, as Fantagraphics steps into the breach to produce a definitive library of Carl Barks' oeuvre. Not only do they step in, but they do so fearlessly... The series starts in November with Walt Disney's Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes, an impressively affordable $25 hardcover... Happily, the stories look great and the book is a wonder to hold in your hand.... As to the content, itself, it's just as remarkable an achievement in comics as I remembered.... The contents of the book are as good as they're going to get, produced with an eye towards recapturing as much of the look of the original printings as possible, without sacrificing clarity or design. The quality of the black and white line work is top notch, too.... Pre-order today. Just do it. You can thank me later." – Augie DeBlieck Jr., Comic Book Resources
• Interview: Speaking of short interviews about books that aren't ours, there's a Q&A with Michael Kupperman on the Marvel website about his contribution to their upcoming humor anthology Shame Itself
• Review: "This latest in Fantagraphics' line of books featuring Jacques Tardi and the second of those books to feature an adaptation of the work of Jean-Patrick Manchette is lovely-looking, stylish and bleak as hell.... The short third act, where we learn what becomes of the assassin, proves so ruthlessly depressing it's almost a human rights violation. Tardi's artwork is beautiful here, although you probably already knew that. No one in comics does the frowning face better than Tardi, and Like a Sniper [Lining Up His Shot] proves to be an absolute showcase of down-turned mouths and the unhappy people bearing them.... What a show." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
• Review: "These are two masters at their best [in Like a Sniper Lining Up His Shot]. Crime novelist Manchette pulls no punches in delivering gritty, violent episodes that still can shock even the most jaded reader. Jacques Tardi’s confident, almost brazen artwork is just as dark, cold and gripping. His beautiful fluid lines juxtaposed with the stark ambivalence Martin Terrier, the contract-killer antihero adapts in applying his brutal trade is something that has to be experienced. Get this book!" – "Horatio Hornblower," The Comic Book Snob
• Review: "Undisputable fact: a new full-length Richard Sala book is a literary and comics event that makes you sit up and take notice. It's appointment reading, and ought to demand the attention of any serious enthusiast of the medium.... The newest from Sala is the graphic novel The Hidden... This book is a magic trick, the kind you'll want to share with friends because you can hardly believe what you've witnessed when it's all done.... Around the hundred page mark this book started scaring the living shit out of me. Sala's art is wonderful and holds up to a close analysis.... Like his peers from Fantagraphics' all-star squad, Sala conveys internal truth (fear, pride, jealousy) through body language and a minimum of lines. There's not a jot or gesture wasted on the page, and his color work is loose and instinctive but still pleasing." – R.J. Ryan, Comics Bulletin
• Review: "...[Johnny Ryan] is easily one of the four or five most vital and important cartoonists working today. Prison Pit is like someone making a comic strip out of Mayhem's Live in Leipzig, played at half speed and double the volume your speakers can safely process. If you've never heard that album, then I'll spell it out for you: this is a brutal fucking comic.... The cosmic brutality of Ryan's story is emphasized by his lingering gaze. He doesn't just draw the big action moments, but the lulls and gaps and silences between them. The pace is non-stop, but that doesn't mean it can't slow down. In fact, it's those slowed-down sections that give the skull-smashing and throat-fisting the impact that they deserve." – Patrick Tobin, Multiversity Comics
• Plug: "Prison Pit 2 was TACO’s book of the year in 2010, and Prison Pit 3 is the early frontrunner for 2011. Featuring the series’ characteristic extreme ultra-violence, gore, scatophilia, and brutality, it’s another hit from artist Johnny Ryan." – L.A. TACO
• Review: "Here's the plot of Mark Twain's Autobiography [1910-2010]: Mark Twain, freed from the shackles of mortality, bums around the Twentieth Century doing whatever the hell he feels like and occasionally having untroubling yet far-fetched adventures.... Kupperman maintains a straight face throughout this look into the world that might have been, had Mark Twain roamed the earth, immortal and more than a little strange. This poker-faced treatment of juvenile, abstracted humor pays off in strokes both broad and small." – Patrick Tobin, Multiversity Comics
• Review: "Very few words are needed in Weing's debut graphic novel [Set to Sea] to tell the story of a poet wanna-be who is kidnapped by pirates and learns the ways of the sea through hard labor and even tougher battles. The cross-hatch styling is reminiscent of old engravings and perfectly suits the subject matter. Each page features just one frame, full of detail and atmosphere. With hints of The Odyssey, Moby Dick, Popeye and Treasure Island, Weing has created a modern classic in the pirate genre." – School Library Journal
• Plug: "Artist, editor, entrepreneur, publisher and cartooning auteur; in his 70-year career in comics this pioneering creator has done it all. The deluxe full-color coffee table book [The Art of Joe Kubert] traces Kubert’s history of comics spanning career from 1938 to the present with beautifully reproduced artwork alongside critical commentary." – "Horatio Hornblower," The Comic Book Snob
• Plug: "David B. intertwines history and myth in his carefully crafted tales of magic gods and grand battles. A master storyteller, his bold, timeless artwork and literary senses creates a kind of magic all their own. The Armed Garden and Other Stories collects three epic tales of adventure, faith, power, and love." – "Horatio Hornblower," The Comic Book Snob
• Scene: Daniel Herbert reports on the Friars Club launch party for Drew Friedman's Even More Old Jewish Comedians for The Paris Review: "The crowd’s spirits were high, which seemed due to more than just the release of Friedman’s book, or even the emergence of more canapés. Guests were happy to meet their idols; the comics were happy to convene for an event that wasn’t a funeral. And the celebration of the comedians’ Jewishness was significant."
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.
112-page two-color 7.5" x 10.75" hardcover • $19.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-462-7
"The French artist David B. is one of my favorite living cartoonists--he bridges the visual realms of the real and the unreal like nobody else--and the two of these fabulistic stories that appeared in MOME were both extraordinary. Can't wait to see the whole thing." – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
"Collected several short pieces from David B., author of Epileptic and Babel. Excellent!" – Chris Butcher, The Beguiling
"I’m torn between two books from Fantagraphics. On the one hand there’s The Armed Garden by David B. ($19.99) which collects all the short stories that previously ran in early issues of the Mome anthology. I have all of those issues, however, so... [to be continued]" – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"From the creator of the acclaimed Epileptic comes a collection of historical-based stories — it's history, legend, magic, and gods. Oh yeah, and battles! Epic battles." – Benn Ray (Atomic Books), Largehearted Boy
"Two beautiful and challenging books from Fantagraphics. The first features David B. retelling difficult fables in a way that every single panel is a stop and stare event. The second [see below — Ed.] features Olivier Schrauwen and a suite of stories where deriving even basic meaning doesn't come easy. I'm enamored of both, and have read each one more than once since they arrived." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
232-page full-color 9.25" x 12.25" hardcover • $39.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-487-0
"Great read...a fine example of the Kubert's work and contributions to the art of sequential story telling. Plus, a great customer of mine, Steve, contributed a bunch of scans of covers and original artwork for this book!" – Joey Belden, Atomik Pop
112-page full-color 8.5" x 10.25" softcover • $19.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-446-7
"Also in this week's department of Fantagraphics-published, MOME-alumni, ordinarily Francophone artists releasing English-language books: Belgian artist Olivier Schrauwen's The Man Who Grew His Beard, about which I know nothing except that his stuff is beautiful and often plays with variations on the look and pacing of very early 20th-century comic strips." – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
[Continued from above] "...I’ll likely instead go with The Man Who Grew His Beard ($19.99), a collection of short stories by Olivier Schrauwen, most of which also appeared in Mome. Schrauwen’s work has appeared in English before, but in some ways this is his big American debut. His stuff is really sharp and witty and daring and deserves to be seen by a wider audience." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"A week with new books by Johnny Ryan, David B, ...Michael Kupperman... but [The Man Who Grew His Beard] is the one" – Floating World Comics
"This collection of stories marks famed Belgian cartoonist Schrauwen's first American graphic novel. Surreal, absurd, he's been justifiably called a post-modern genius. Men on safari encounter an obnoxious hunter, how hair can help us classify personality and more." – Benn Ray (Atomic Books), Largehearted Boy
"Now Kupperman is publishing Mark Twain’s autobiography, covering the years from 1910 - 2010. Of course, Twain’s been dead for a hundred years, but that news may well have been exaggerated. I look forward to seeing how one of our age’s talented satirists handles one of the masters of the form." – James Fulton, Inside Pulse
"Wake up - it's here - Mark Twain's Autobiography, 1910-2010, by @MKupperman from @fantagraphics get the belly sutures ready." – Lucky's Books & Comics
"We'll have this modern masterpiece for sale tomorrow: Mark Twain's Autobiography 1910-2010 by @MKupperman!" – Chapel Hill Comics
"There's also cartoonist (and occasional TV Funhouse contributor) Michael Kupperman's Mark Twain's Autobiography: 1910-2010, which sees the famous author embracing wizard-bestowed immortality and fighting yetis." – Cyriaque Lamar, io9
"Did you know that Mark Twain hunted the yeti? Met the Bionic Man? Was involved with in the x-rated film industry? Using Twain's surprise hit autobiography as inspiration, Kupperman's wit goes to town on on America's beloved humorist." – Benn Ray (Atomic Books), Largehearted Boy
"This Michael Kupperman book is mostly prose rather than comics, but it's funny enough not even the biggest comics purist will care. I'd read an entire book of Kupperman listing stupid names of people that Mark Twain ran with in 1970s discos." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
120-page black & white 6.5" x 8.5" softcover • $12.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-497-9
"...Johnny Ryan's Prison Pit Book 3 brutally meanders into stores. In this third volume of scifi horror, taciturn mutants — whose dialogue is mostly swearing — beat the living snot out of each other in a desolate hell dimension. It's violence and excretion and demonic mutation as unadulterated Dadaism." – Cyriaque Lamar, io9
"Although Johnny Ryan’s Prison Pit Book 3 has seen small scale releases here and there since SDCC, it should finally be popping up in your local comic shop today. The Prison Pit books have been some of the most insane/gross/badass/hilarious reading materials that I have ever had the pleasure of consuming, and, from the look of the above previews, Book 3 will not disappoint." – Ben Spencer, Nerd City
"Ryan dumps professional wrestling, video games, grindhouse movies, Gary Panter, and Kentaro Miura into a fetid lava flow and pulls out another disturbingly funny book." – Benn Ray (Atomic Books), Largehearted Boy
Couldn't break these up:
"Splurge: I’d probably pick up some of the other Fantagraphics books out this week, including the Mark Twain Autobiography by Michael Kupperman (note: it’s not really Mark Twain’s autobiography), Prison Pit Vol. 3 and the coffee-table-sized Art of Joe Kubert." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"CONFLICT OF INTEREST RESERVOIR: Jesus, look at this. Okay. The Man Who Grew His Beard is the first-ever North American release by the awesome, awesome Olivier Schrauwen (a Dutch-language release was published by Bries in 2010), collecting seven wildly funny and disarmingly melancholic stories, some seen in MOME; $19.99. The Armed Garden and Other Stories collects three other MOME stories, excellent allegorical religio-political adventure fantasies by L’Association co-founder David B.; $19.99. Prison Pit Book 3 sees Johnny Ryan’s decadent action series introduce new personalities and some fine new stylistics; $12.99. Mark Twain’s Autobiography 1910-2010 is a new 160-page comics/prose/illustration mix by Michael Kupperman, starring one of his fondest favorites; $19.99. And The Art of Joe Kubert is a 232-page illustrated overview of the works of the man of the title, edited by biographer Bill Schelly; $39.99. Now I have even less hair. Fuck you, Archie." – Joe McCulloch, The Comics Journal