The book that has been sold-out twice in a row comes to you, dear reader, in digital form. Four Color Fear: Forgotten Horror Comics of the 1950s. The finest non-EC horror covers and stories of the pre-code era by artist perennials Jack Cole, Reed Crandall, George Evans, Frank Frazetta, Jack Katz, Al Williamson, Basil Wolverton, and Wallace Wood, collected in a robust and affordable volume. And by volume, we mean four. This book is SO BIG, SO HUGE that we had to break it up into four parts: CMYK for the printing colors Cyan (blue), Magenta, Yellow and Black or parts one, two, three, four.
Editors John Benson and Greg Sadowski have sifted through hundreds of rare books to cherry-pick the most compelling scripts and art, and they provide extensive background notes on the artists, writers, and companies involved in their creation. Digital restoration has been performed with subtlety and restraint, mainly to correct registration and printing errors, with every effort made to retain the flavor of the original comics, and to provide the reader the experience of finding a most delightful read in their dusty, creaky attic. Each part is only 6.99 for 80-something pages bound to terrify and keep you up all night long, glowing from your tablets thanks to comiXology.
"[Its] a wonderfully creepy hurtle through the exuberant, cheerfully gross and icky horror comics that prevailed in the golden, pre-Comics-Code era. ...[T]he art is brilliant: indistinct piles of slimy viscera, purple-green zombies, skull-faced vampires and demons, Satan in a dozen guises, witches and occult symbols, creatures from the eleven hells of the darkest mythos of the human spirit." – Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing
The saltiest sounds of the ocean's Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Interview: Dubbing them "The Four Horseman of AltComix" Sean T. Collins interviews Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez, Chris Ware and Dan Clowes all in one go onRolling Stone. What a beautiful meetup of minds. Ware says, "Well, there are better cartoonists now than there ever have been. I firmly believe that. There's some amazing work being done." While Gilbert laments the change in alt comics, "That's what was missing from alternative comics after us: The art got less and less good."
• Interview (video): George O'Connor with co-host Natalie Kim recap SPX on InkedTV, including an interview with Gilbert Hernandez, and George shows off his Love and Rockets shirt.
• Plug:Dan Clowes is interviewed on what inspires him by the NY Times : "I didn’t really listen to the Kinks growing up at all — I was just vaguely aware of them, like everybody else — so when I was in my mid-20s I bought a couple of their records, just on a whim, and got sort of obsessed with them."
• Review:Comics Alliance reviews Lorenzo Mattotti's newest collaboration The Crackle of the Frostwith Jorge Zentner. Sarah Horrocks points out,". . . what you're looking at in The Crackle of the Frost is a largely amazing new Mattotti release for North American audiences, with fantastic art that has to be seen to be believed. It is a work that is better than most of what you can get on the stands on any given Wednesday. But it's also a book that is hurt by how achingly close it gets to its own perfection."
• Review:InkedTV reviews Joe Daly's Dungeon Quest Volumes 1-3 on their new video reviews featuring Natalie Kim and George O'Connor. "You will never find a book or a series of books that is so genetalia-obssessed as this book." Take a gander at our back catalog and you might find more.
• Plug:The Comics Journal lets Philip Nel tell a bit of the tale before the legend of Crockett Johnson, from his biography on the man called Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss. Fans have their eyes on the horizon for Johnson's Barnaby, edited by Nel and Eric Reynolds. Nel writes, "But before Barnaby, there was Crockett Johnson. And before Crockett Johnson, there was David Johnson Leisk."
• Review:Broken Frontier covers King of the Flies by Mezzo and Pirus. "King Of The Flies by Mezzo & Pirus is one hell of a hardcore comic. It is noir on acid, dark and unrelenting. It is one of the most thorough examinations of the cimmerian darkness the human species can dwell on and it will hit you square in the chest." But what about Book 2? "King Of The Flies 2 : Origin Of The World is maybe even better than its original and though it bears the number 2 it can just as well be read on its own."
The freshest fried-this-morning Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review: Tucker Stone on The Comics Journal gives a thumbs-up to Dungeon Quest Vol. 3 by Joe Daly. "Dungeon Quest–the mumbling stoner counterpart to its methed up metal freak cousin, Prison Pit–has a whole new stack of penis-obsessed pages to play with. It’s tempting to single out one part of this volume to label as best, but that temptation dissipates upon the realization that it’s going to be impossible to pick a winner."
• Review:BookGasm raves about Jacques Tardi's New York Mon Amour. JT Lindroos says, "It shuffles in elements from Tardi’s other books, but distills those familiar ingredients into a wholly unique concoction. . . It’s a love letter to an imaginary city bursting with life, depression and death, a city you love to observe from a distance."
• Plug:Noah Van Sciver finished out the TCJ Comic Diary week with a visit by Gary Groth. Heidi MacDonald of The Beat said nice things about The Hypo: "an extremely well researched look at Abraham Lincoln’s early days as a depressed young lawyer, will be one of the buzz books of the fall."
• Plug:Bleeding Cool and Rich Johnston show off some pages from Today is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life by Ulli Lust, coming out this fall.
• Plug:Robot 6 and Bridget Alverson are excited for both the upcoming Wilfred Santiago books on Michael Jordan and John Brown. "If the images are any indication, Santiago is busting out from the limited palette he used for the Clemente book to full, brilliant color, applied in a bold, painterly style."
• Plug: The Covered blog continues to highlight new versions of Love and Rockets covers. This time it's L&R #50 drawn by Robert Goodin. Check out Goodin's eerie treatment of a classic.
• Plug: The Love and Rockets Northeast Tour is mentioned on BoingBoing. Thanks, Marc!
• Interview:Casey Burbach interviews editor John Benson on fanzine Squa Tront's issue #13 (forty years after issue #1 came out) and the EC collections that have been published: "I thought that the color in the latest “EC Archives” series was pretty bad, at least in the book that I saw – not appropriate for comics of that era. . . The Fantagraphics series will be produced with quality and taste, I’m sure. Hopefully, with a different distribution set-up, going into bookstores, they may also reach a new audience."
• Review (audio): The Comic Books are Burning in Hell podcast recently chatted up Johnny Gruelle's Mr. Twee-Deedle edited by Rick Marschall. Around the 38 minute mark is where they predict ". . . it'll wind up a real contender for 2012's 'thru the cracks' award for most sadly obscure release. . ." Let's avoid ANY books falling through the cracks, check out this broadsheet-sized wonder today!
• Review:The Australian checks out Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons, edited by Kelly Gerald. Owen Heitmann says, "Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons is primarily of historical interest, documenting the early development of the first postwar female writer to merit inclusion in the Library of America series. Editor Kelly Gerald has taken this archival approach to heart, reproducing apparently every extant example of O'Connor's cartooning, even doodles from later handwritten letters."
We rather inconveniently sold out of all of our back issues of Squa Tront: The EC Comics Magazine just before the brand new 13th issue came out, but we've just managed to get our hands on a limited supply of issues 10, 11 and 12! (And we mean limited: we have 2 copies of #12!) These are the last of 'em so get them while you still can!
The most in vogue Online Commentaries and Diversions:
•Interview (audio): Perk up your ears to the soothing interview of Angelman's creator, Nicolas Mahler, on the Inkstuds podcast. Robin McConnell covers all the bases with Mahler: "[My] main influence is American newspaper comics from the 30s, this was what I discovered when I about was 15-16. It was Krazy Kat and Windsor McCay, those were the things that were important to my drawing style. Wouldn't you have guessed from looking at my drawings?"
•Preview: JK Parkin, Robot6, talks up a preview of The Adventures of Venusby Gilbert Hernandez. This previously uncollected work will also have a new story! Can you spot all the references?
•Review: The sweetest review is up on Sequential Tart of The Adventures of Venus. Sheena McNeil gives the book a thumbs-up for kids: "I love that this graphic novel is full of characters from different cultures with different appearances. Venus and her sister live with their bodybuilder-like mom and no dad, Venus's rival, Gilda Gonzalez, is Hispanic and her crush, Yoshio, is Asian. It's refreshing to see all these different types of people together and getting along normally."
•Plug:Book Patrol teases with a few pictures of Jewish Images in the Comics by Fredrik Strömberg. Michael Lieberman says, "Spanning five centuries and featuring over 150 images the book becomes an instant essential reference. . . Who knew Golem was a super-hero?"
•Review:The Comics Bulletin sat down to a round-table review of E.C. Segar's Popeye Vol. 1: "I Yam What I Yam". Columnists Jason Sacks, Daniel Elkin, Danny Djeljosevic and Zack Davisson loved the large format (except for night-time readin' in bed). Sacks says, "There's a depth to these characters, too. They may be incredibly self-involved and aggressive, but there's this odd sort of internal integrity to them that makes them lovable."
•Plug: Glenn Perrett of Simcoe mentions The Sincerest Form of Parody, edited by John Benson, and the juicy ordering details. "You can return to the era when these magazines [Mad, Flip, Nuts, Panic, Madhouse] were popular with The Sincerest Form of Parody which features 'The Best 1950's Mad Inspired Satirical Comcs'."
•History: Reminiscing about comics created and read in the 80's, The Comics Reporter reviews Dalgoda. Created by writer Jan Strnad and art by Dennis Fujitake, Tom Spurgeon states,"It was leisurely paced, and had a genial tone; it was neither pompous nor self-loathing. The art featured that somewhat peculiar, can-still-spot-it-across-the-room Fantagraphics coloring from that era. In fact, Fujitake's art, with its blend of mainstream rendering values, meticulous environmental detail and humorous exaggeration, is what lingers on in memory." You gotta love those striking logo colors.
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.
For a change of pace let's kick things off with...
"CONFLICT OF INTEREST RESERVOIR: Nicolas Mahler parodies the superhero comics industry in his characteristic style with Angelman, a 96-page color hardcover; $18.99. A new softcover edition of Fredrik Strömberg’s Black Images in the Comics (I’ve read and enjoyed the 2003 edition) offers valuable insights on a large collection of depictions; $19.99. And editor John Benson presents Squa Tront #13, an all-new 48-page fanzine on things EC and related; $9.99." – Joe McCulloch, The Comics Journal
96-page full-color 7" x 9.75" hardcover • $18.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-534-1
"A really weird, somewhat adorable little book by the Austrian artist Nicolas Mahler that I am happy to suspect is as close as Fantagraphics is ever going to come to publishing superhero comics. It's a minimalist reaction against, and parody of, mainstream comics' conventions of character, storytelling, drawing, design, financial structure, interaction with their readers... it's attractively executed for sure, and pretty funny..." – Douglas Wolk, ComicsAlliance
"Lotsa good, splurge-worthy stuff this week, including... Angelman, a rather cutting (if you look at the cover you’ll see I’m making a pun here) superhero parody from Austrian cartoonist Nicolas Mahler..." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"For my splurge item, I’m going to take Mautner’s recommendation and grab Nicolas Mahler’s Angelman. I can use some cutting superhero parody this week." – Michael May, Robot 6
"A funny and biting take on superhero comics — or as I often like to spell them, 'sooperhero comics.' Angelman has powers like empathy and enemies like Gender-Bender (a plastic surgeon). A minimal yet endearing art style — and a biting look at superhero comics, fans and the business behind them." – Benn Ray (Atomic Books), Largehearted Boy
"I did not expect to see a nice-looking Fantagraphics hardcover featuring Nicolas Mahler's work, so this was a pleasant surprise." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
304-page black & white 6" x 6" softcover • $19.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-562-4
"...I’m definitely curious enough about Fredrik Stromberg’s Black Images in the Comics (Fantagraphics, $19.99) to pick it up; comics’ early racism is often ignored, so I’m looking forward to learning more, and then getting depressed about it." – Graeme McMillan, Robot 6
"A fascinating survey of... comics from the past 100 years from all over the world all featuring black characters. Each entry includes an accompanying essay. Overall, a compelling look at the changing role of race in comics and therefore culture. – Benn Ray (Atomic Books), Largehearted Boy
48-page black & white/color 8.5" x 11" softcover • $9.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-571-6
"...Fantagraphics has the latest issue of Squa Tront, the longest-running EC-focused crit/fan mag evar. At $10, that’s certainly at least worth a flip-through." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"I've read this and it was as surprise for me. I generally adore Squa Tront, and magazines that use a specific focus to build a perspective on comics more generally. I thought this a strong issue just for the presentation of Jack Davis war-era cartooning. This is the kind of thing I want to do with my own relationship to comics when I grow up." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
272-page black & white 7.5" x 9.25" softcover • $14.95 ISBN: 978-1-56097-851-0
"So you hear people talking all the time about Jaime Hernandez and how he's one of the most amazing cartoonists working in the English language and all that, and there are so many Love and Rockets collections in so many formats, and where do you start? If you're one of the people who prefers to start at the beginning, there is a new printing of this stout little paperback [Maggie the Mechanic] out this week, which collects his earliest, sci-fi/punk-type 'Locas' and 'Mechanics' stories, as well as a new printing of the second volume, The Girl From H.O.P.P.E.R.S., in which he hits the groove in which he's stayed most of the time since then. I never get tired of re-reading these." – Douglas Wolk, ComicsAlliance
"I will... buy everything Jaime Hernandez does just short of new printings. I'd sure check my damn bookshelves to make sure I had one, though. This early material reads quite well in those paperbacks, I think." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
• Preview/Interview: At Print Magazine, Michael Dooley presents a bunch of pages of The Sincerest Form of Parody: The Best 1950s Mad-Inspired Satirical Comics and has a quick Q&A with editor John Benson: "When Isaac Asimov edited his massive Before the Golden Age anthology of 1930s science fiction... he relied entirely on his memories of reading the stories when they first appeared, and that's how he made his selections. Similarly, Jules Feiffer largely relied on his memories of the stories from his original reading when making selections for his seminal The Great Comic Book Heroes in 1965. Like the Asimov and Feiffer books, The Sincerest Form of Parody is partly an exercise in nostalgia, so in making my selections, I think it's fair to give some consideration to my reaction to the material when I first saw it."
• Review: "...Fantagraphics recently unlocked whatever crate must have been used to house Mr. Twee Deedle: Raggedy Ann's Sprightly Cousin: The Forgotten Fantasy Masterpieces of Johnny Gruelle. Over a foot long and over a foot-and-a-half tall, the hardcover features the most beautiful endpapers in recent memory. Gruelle’s artwork is full of whimsy, presented in both the richest nostalgic color and black and white. The narrative involves two children on a journey through a magical land as guided by a wood sprite, but this is truthfully an art book. It’s meant to be read sprawled out on the floor, the only surface in an average reader’s home that is likely large enough to properly balance this fine luxury. Rick Marschall provides a lengthy, informative essay that is lavishly accompanied by further illustrations." – Alex Carr, Omnivoracious
• Review: "In an age of indie-comics dependent upon the banality of the everyday, a hesitant realism, Rickheit eschews reality in favor of the impossible, a state of existence that is truly fantastical. But this is not a utopia, this is a world entirely of the body, though not only the body of human beings, but the body of all living meat, of anything that breathes and shits. This is a world of pure imagination, of subconscious desires let loose with an acutely detailed drawing style. And ultimately, [Folly]’s a perfect work for those who refuse to float away from their bodies but are ready to let their heads go where-ever one can find the new." – Invisible Mike, HTMLGIANT
• Tweet of the Day: "I just read The Furry Trap by Josh Simmons; I'll be on the Internet the rest of the day looking for instructions on how to boil my eyes." – Tom Spurgeon (@comicsreporter)
• Feature: At Print magazine, Michael Dooley spotlights the new 13th issue of Squa Tront — "...Squa Tront has set itself out to explore every facet of EC's history, through stimulating, in-depth journalism, scholarly analyses, critiques, bios, interviews, and, of course, illustrations. Under the supervision of its current editor, John Benson, it has established a high standard for fanzine professionalism, in both literary content and production values." — with a generous sampling of images and an interview with Benson: "But really, as far as Squa Tront goes, what sustains my interest most is probably my love of print media and the pleasure of creating a physical package."
• Review: "Oftentimes the first volume of an archival project gets greeted with a lot of ballyhoo while later volumes fail to get any ink, even though the later books represent the subject in question better than the earlier, more fumbling work. So let this serve as notice that the third volume of the Blake Bell-edited series [The Steve Ditko Archives] is the best one yet, showing Ditko in 1957, about to turn 30 and learning to deploy his distinctive faces and abstract shapes in the service of stories with real flow. ...[T]he nightmarish visions of stories like 'The Man Who Lost His Face' and 'The Last One' are classic Ditko, with off-kilter panel designs and anguished figures conveying a sense of sanity slipping away." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "...Blood of Palomar is a thrilling book... Hernández’s writing and artwork are excellent. The black-and-white pen work is perfect — there are a vividness and richness to the action, story, and scenes already that would likely be drowned in color. With 34 characters and multiple story threads, a first read can be dizzying, yet all is exquisitely kept in balance. Though certainly most characters are not given much depth, the large cast gives the sense of a real community. The main characters are complex, flawed, and fascinating.... Blood of Palomar haunted my thoughts long after I finished reading." – Michael Stock, The Capeless Crusader
• Plug: "How to best demonstrate the awesome might of Fantagraphics' new Johnny Gruelle collection, Mr. Twee Deedle?... It's more akin to flipping the pages of a wallpaper sampler than a collection of historic comics.... It dominates the largest clear surface in my house — the kitchen island — like a B-52 bomber somehow parked astride an aircraft carrier's deck. And then you open it up. ...[T]he art on the page is massive, but filled with delicate details.... Many of the strips are illustrated from eye-level of small children, and the natural world around the characters seems almost life-sized." – John Mesjak, My 3 Books
• Plug: "Comics have long been home to a variety of races, be it alien or underground or from an alternate dimension. But in the 100-plus year history of comics, one of the toughest for creators to portray accurately is that of black characters. And now Fantagraphics is putting back in print a key work examining that strained relationship, Fredrik Strömberg‘s Eisner-nominated Black Images in the Comics: A Visual History." – Chris Arrant, Robot 6
• Review: "Austrian cartoonist Nicholas Mahler cheerfully spoofs superheroes and modern comic-book publishing with Angelman... These kinds of jokes about the venality of superhero industry have been made many times before, but Mahler’s little squiggly characters are adorable, and his gags are genuinely funny, especially as poor little Angelman gets more and more loaded down with quirks and complications. Angelman is a satire, yes, but it also revels to some extent in the goofiness of revamps, retcons, and all the other gimmicks that keep mainstream comics afloat." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "The Matthias Wivel-edited anthology Kolor Klimax: Nordic Comics Now offers a generous sampling of recent work by new and veteran cartoonists from Sweden, Finland, Norway, and Denmark.... Overall, it’s a fine survey of creators who are largely unknown here in the States." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "Spain Rodriguez is one of the legends of the original underground comics wave, and he tells his own origin story in Cruisin’ with the Hound: The Life and Times of Fred Tooté, a collection of short stories about coming of age in Buffalo in the ’50s and ’60s. ...Cruisin’ with the Hound... gives a real flavor both of Rodriguez’s work — which was so different in its point of view than the other underground comics of the late ’60s and early ’70s — and from whence it came." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "It's over. And I am so sad. Fantagraphics's breathtaking reprints of some of the greatest comic strips of all time -- E.C. Segar's fabulously wonderful Popeye -- comes to a conclusion with this amazing sixth volume, a perfect collection of comics art that brings joy literally from cover to cover. From the latest spectacular die-cut front cover to the awesomely odd letter reprinted on the inside back cover, the final volume of the adventures of the sailor man and his friends, enemies and pets is pure joy and bliss, a deliriously charming collection... There was no world quite like the insane world that E.C. Segar created in Popeye. And that world is pure magic." – Jason Sacks, Comics Bulletin
• Review: "One of the most beloved comic strips of all time, Charles Schulz's Peanuts chronicled the adventures of Charlie Brown and friends for nearly five decades. Fantagraphics has been working for a few years now on a massive reissue of the entire strip, and their latest edition, The Complete Peanuts 1983-1984, collects work from the post-'classic' Peanuts era of the '60s. While it wouldn't be unfair to expect a bit of staleness at this stage, these later comics remain consistently witty and entertaining, and reflect Schulz's continued mastery of comedic timing within a four-panel layout.... Consistently subtle yet always timely, after 30 years, Schulz still had a winning formula on his hands." – Phil Guie, Critical Mob
• Interview (Audio): Podcaster Jason Barr: "Johnny Ryan guests on this addition of A.D.D. We talk about political correctness, illustration, growing up outside Boston, religion, wanting to be a priest, childhood loves, hating Doonesbury, having a funny family, not giving a shit, confrontational art, marriage & why people are afraid of Johnny Ryan among many other topics."
• Feature: "Love and Rockets has probably been my favorite comic book series for over a decade now. Though it’s been running since the early '80s, I didn’t discover it until Penny Century #1 came out in the late 90s -- I was immediately drawn to the cover art (as seen here), and the story within wasn’t at all what I expected. Of course, I immediately started reading all the collections starting from the beginning, so I could figure out who these characters were and discover their rich backstories." – Alicia Korenman, Chapelboro
• Plug: "Available now is an exceptional collection that just might have missed your attention. I have particularly enjoyed [The Sincerest Form of Parody].... This collects the 30 best stories from all the wild comics that came out to compete with EC's original Mad Comics, in 1953-55.... Plus I enjoy every project editor JohnBenson writes about. He offers fascinating insights into each of these disparate titles, interesting facts about the artists and even what they were spoofing." – Bud Plant
• Plug: On YALSA's The Hub blog, Emily Calkins includes Wandering Son by Shimura Takako on their list of graphic novels featuring LGBTQ characters
48-page black & white/color 8.5" x 11" softcover • $9.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-571-6
Ships in: May 2012 (subject to change) – This item will be available to order simultaneous with its release to comic shops.
Five years in the making and meticulously edited by John Benson, Squa Tront returns with a profusion of rare and interesting features from the EC era: the story behind Basil Wolverton’s first EC art; Howard Nostrand’s last interview; art from the unpublished third issue of Flip; Jack Davis’s WWII cartoons; plus EC era art by Wallace Wood, John and Marie Severin, Harvey Kurtzman, and Roy Krenkel. The longest running EC historical magazine and a perfect companion to Fantagraphics’ new series of EC reprints.
Download and read a 6-page PDF excerpt (1.7 MB) including the Table of Contents.