We love all of our books but are especially happy for the creators of the Eisner-nominated books. You can vote until June 12 online. If you haven't read all of them, check 'em out individually or via our list!
Still no sure which to read? Heidi MacDonald, Cal Reid and company discuss the nominations on the Publishers Weekly podcast. Meanwhile, Chris Sims, Matt D. Wilson and more of War Rocket Ajax discuss the nominations, although I'm not sure how long the podcast will be up at this link.
Some of the nominations gather in our mail room. See you in JULY!
The first peak of sun of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review: Noah Berlatsky on Slate reviews 7 Miles a Second by David Wojnarowicz, James Romberger, and Marguerite Van Cook. "That feared and desired encounter is in part the collision of comics and art—but it's also, and emphatically, the intermingling of queer and straight…7 Miles a Second still represents a road largely avoided…even if 7 Miles a Second never went mainstream, this new edition remains a stirring reminder that everything pushed to the side isn't gone."
• Review:Full Page Bleed and Tom Murphy read 7 Miles a Second by David Wojnarowicz, James Romberger, and Marguerite Van Cook. "Like David Wojnarowicz's vision of himself, this is a volume that has an impossible amount of energy and emotion packed into its slim dimensions. It's a blistering book that, having been revived by Fantagraphics in the format it deserves, should now take its rightful place in the comics/graphic memoir canon."
• Review: The North Adams Transcript blog reviewed Delphine by Richard Sala. "Prince Charming’s journey is creepy and jarring, and the trappings of the likes of the Grimm Brothers take on a heightened presentation that becomes more personal than you would ever expect them to be," John Seven.
• Plug:The D&Q bookstore is ready to read prose book The Grammar of Rock by Alexander Theroux. Jade writes, "Cliché lyrics, diva meltdowns, and inarticulate diction are all up for close examination in Theroux’s comprehensive exploration of language in pop, rock, jazz, folk, soul, and yes, even rap (Ghostface Killah!)."
• Plug:LAMBDA announces nominees for awards and includes Justin Hall's No Straight Lines. Lambda Literary Awards celebrate achievement in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) writing for books published in 2012. More information here!
• Review:The Savage Critic looks at Gilbert Hernandez's Love from the Shadows. "It’s the work of a comics master tearing into the stained brown paper parcel of his unconscious, and finding a piping hot slurry composed of decades of pop culture detritus."
• Plug:The Daily Optimist shows off a few panels of Nancy Likes Christmas by Ernie Bushmiller. Dan Wagstaff writes, "I do have a strange and peculiar love of Ernie Bushmiller’s ‘Nancy’ comic strips… Fantagraphics are doing a great job of collecting them properly into books (designed by Jacob Covey)."
• Plug: Tom Heintjes on Cartoonician gives a short and concise history of Fritzi Ritz aka Aunt Fritzi from Ernie Bushmiller's Nancy. She was the star of her own strip before that created by Larry Whittington. "A young cartoonist named Ernie Bushmiller took the reins and went with his strength: the simple gags that would forever earn both the scorn and admiration of millions of comics fans."
• Interview: The Comics Reporter and Tom Spurgeon interviews Publisher Gary Groth: "I can look at most books and come up with a pretty accurate estimate as to how it will sell. Occasionally I'm wrong."
• Plug: Fantagraphics fan and friend, JT Dockery has a fundraising campaign/pre-order for his Despair book which features art from Chris Wright and Julia Gfrörer. I hope they are on a ship.
• Plug: Sam Costello at Full Stop lists The End of the Fucking World by Charles Forsman as one of the most anticipated books of 2013. "While there’s certainly violence and horror here, Forsman handles the subject as a character study, not a lurid glorification, making James sympathetic and his deeds all the more monstrous."
• Review: Michael May reviews Mr. Twee Deedle by Johnny Gruelle on School Library Journal. In reference to Good Comics for Kids, "There’s plenty for children to enjoy in the collection, but parents and educators will be even more rewarded. Not only by the history and context that Marschall provides, but by the sheer sweetness and transportive beauty of the illustrations as well. Each of the full-page, full-color strips is something not only to linger over, but to revisit often."
• Review: The Weekly Crisis looks at West Coast Blues by Jacques Tardi. "The narrative is almost a ‘dark twin’ of Hitchcock’s North by Northwest as George is forced to adapt and go on the run as the forces arrayed against him close in."
• Plug:Jessica Abel posted some cool ideas on visual scripting and laying out your ideas she learned from Alison Bechdel.
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."
Diana Schutz of Dark Horse visits with Mario & Gilbert while Jaime keeps his nose to the grindstone. Citizen Rex sequel, anyone?
Steven Weissman & Jon Vermilyea compare notes on strap-fondling techniques. Hey, there's Zack Carlson partially visible over Steven's shoulder — a special shout-out to Zack for his good spirit and volunteerism this week. (Zack also made one of the most amazing Comic-Con purchases I've ever heard about: a 1964 Chevrolet Corvair.)
Young Romance is a real page-turner, as editor Michel Gagné demonstrates.
Eric and Tom Spurgeon yak it up while D&Q's Tom Devlin ponders the unspeakable and Janice looks on.
Scott McCloud looks happy to have found some (mc)clouds in Johnny Gruelle's Mr. Twee Deedle (shut up, I'm tired).
Comic-Con Sundays are always too hectic for much picture-taking:
Old friend Roger Langridge popped by and sketched the Great Gonzo for Clem Reynolds, to papa Eric's delight.
Thanks to the thousands of folks who visited our booth this year (especially those who spent their money in it), Comic-Con staff & volunteers, our wonderful artists, our kick-ass staff, all of our pals & colleagues... another humdinger of a year! I'm off for a week of R&R so I'll catch you all next week.
Somebody brought an old Who's Who in the DC Universe for Trina to sign the page with her Cheetah illustration. That lady's done it all!
Another DC character also made an appearance at the No Straight Lines signing. (At least I think that's Poison Ivy.)
Matt Groening showed off his pal Gary Panter's Dal Tokyo while Akbar & Jeff walked past in the background. Matt recounted for us how he helped save the strip from being dumped at the L.A. Weekly back in the 1980s by arguing that it's one of the greatest works of art of the 20th century.
Eric shows off Johnny Gruelle's Mr. Twee Deedle to Matt, who was particularly taken with Gruelle's "birds-eye view" strips in the book and walked away with it under his arm.
Shannon Wheeler was signing Oil and Water before he even had a chance to sit down.
•Review:The New York Review of Books takes a look at Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons. Barry Moser: "[Flannery O'Connor] also said that a story—or a linoleum print, if you will—has to have muscle as well as meaning, and the meaning has to be in the muscle. Her prints certainly have muscle, and a lot of it."
•Plug:Kotaku was pleased with their copy of God and Science by Jaime Hernandez in an article called "Four Comics That Will Vibrate Your Molecules This Week." Evan Narcisse expands on an idea, "It's as if [the Hernandez Brothers] never shook their adolescent fascination with rayguns and capes, choosing instead to deepen the metaphoric and escapist elements of such genre tropes."
•Plug:Comics Crux snagged a copy of Jaime Hernandez' God and Science plus the FIB mini. Jess Pendley matter-of-factly states: "If you are a fan of either Jaime Hernandez or traditional capes-and-tights stories, you’ll only be doing yourself a service by purchasing this right now."
•Interview (video): Watch an 'Outrageous Tub' interview featuring No Straight Lines editor Justin Hall on Accidental Bear. In reference to a superhero question "Are you good or bad?" Hall replied, "I haven't made a decision yet." Be bad, be sooo bad.
•Plug: The guys over at Stumptown Trade Review got excited about No Straight Lines, edited by Justin Hall: "It was just the other day that I mentioned one could never tell what was coming from Fantagraphics. As if to prove my point, they are at it again. . ."
•Review:Paste Magazine had a lovely time reading Mr. Twee Deedle (edited by Rick Marschall): "[Johnny Gruelle's] strips seem crafted mostly to impart lessons (be kind, don’t wiggle, giving is better than receiving), and there’s no question that they can feel preachy and simplistic, but the art, deliberately old-fashioned even at the time and reminiscent of Kate Greenaway’s illustrations, rescues them."
•Plug:Robot 6 caught the scent of a very good book slated for September by Chris Wright. Michael May is excited for Blacklung: "Depressing, existential AND romantic? I couldn’t sign up quickly enough for Chris Wright’s original graphic novel debut."
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.
128-page full-color 14" x 18" hardcover • $75.00 ISBN: 978-1-60699-411-5
"I have the name Johnny Gruelle permanently stuck in my memory from the Raggedy Ann & Andy books I used to look at as a kid. He was a comic-strip artist, too, and Mr. Twee Deedle ran from 1911 to 1914 after he won a New York Herald competition. It's gorgeous stuff, given the Sunday Press-style super-oversize treatment in this $75 hardcover -- those who like 'Little Nemo in Slumberland' and/or 'Maakies'... should certainly have a look at it." – Douglas Wolk, ComicsAlliance
"...I have fond memories of reading my mother’s old, frayed Raggedy Ann and Andy books as a child, so I’m curious to see Mr. Twee Deedle, a collection of strips done by Raggedy creator Johnny Gruelle prior to his seminal children’s series." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"Mr. Twee Deedle: Raggedy Ann’s Sprightly Cousin – The Forgotten Fantasy Masterpiece of Johnny Gruelle may run a fair risk of getting buried this week, but I’ve had my eye on the strip since Tony Millionaire started referencing it years ago, and these 128 pages are reproduced in a 14″ x 18″ format, so they should be fairly easy to spot, even above the din of stuff that escorts our June into history; $75.00." – Joe McCulloch, The Comics Journal
"This is a staggering-looking book of work from the cartoonist Johnny Gruelle that I think ran concurrently to the Raggedy Ann stuff that found more of a place in the pop-culture firmament. You could see this as a way of exploring where someone like Tony Millionaire came from, or as a precursor to the Peter Wheat book someone out there has to be doing." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
The most recent ramblin' Online Commentaries & Diversions:
•Commentary:ABC News and Amy Bingham picked up a few quotes by a partial interview online by Gary Groth with Maurice Sendak. The full interview will be published in The Comics Journal #302 in December: “Bush was president, I thought, ‘Be brave. Tie a bomb to your shirt. Insist on going to the White House. And I want to have a big hug with the vice president, definitely."
•Commenary:MSNBC's Kurt Schlosser also writes on Maurice Sendak's TCJ #302 interview. In the article, associate publisher Eric Reynolds is also quoted, "[Sendak] was at the point in his life where he clearly didn't give a damn about propriety; he could speak his mind and clearly enjoyed provocation. I see these comments as part and parcel of his personality, not as a legitimate, actionable, treasonous threat."
•Review:The Washington Times takes a close look at Mr. Twee Deedle, edited by Rick Marschall. The long-forgotten artwork of Johnny Gruelle inspired writer Michael Taube: "Mr. Twee Deedle’s world is, quite simply, a series of innocent tales in a fantasyland that any child - and many adults - would have loved to experience, if but for a short while."
•Plug:The Frank Book by Jim Woodring gets a nice staff recommendation on theHarvard Book Store site. Craig H. says, "[Frank] takes us on his adventures through the psychedelic terrain of “The Unifactor,” a universe alive with rich pen-width and symmetrical, flying devices.
•Plug (audio): In the first few minutes of podcast Bullseye with Jesse Thorn, Angelman is recommended. Comics journalist Brian Heater of the Daily Crosshatch says, "it's Sergio Aragonés meets David Foster Wallace. . . about a little red winged superhero and his powers are good listening and empathy."
• 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)
From our Marschall Books imprint comes this magnificent collection of Mr. Twee Deedle, Johnny Gruelle’s masterpiece, unjustly forgotten by history and never before reprinted since its first appearance in America’s newspapers from 1911 to 1914.
The title character in the Sunday color page, Mr. Twee Deedle, is a magical wood sprite who befriends the strip’s two human children, Dickie and Dolly. Gruelle depicted a charming, fantastical child’s world, filled with light whimsy and outlandish surrealism. The artwork is among the most stunning ever to grace an American newspaper page, and Gruelle’s painterly color makes every page look like it was created on a canvas.
Gruelle’s creation was the winning entry out of 1500 submissions to succeed Little Nemo, which the New York Herald was losing at the time to the rival Hearst papers. With such import, the Herald added a $2000 prize, a long contract, and arguably the most care devoted to the reproduction of any color newspaper comic strip before or since.
Yet the wood sprite and his fanciful world have been strangely overlooked, partly because Gruelle created Raggedy Ann immediately after the strip’s run, eclipsing not only Mr. Twee Deedle but almost everything else the cartoonist ever did.
Mr. Twee Deedle stands as a bizarre time-warp: at a time when most children's literature and kids' comic strips were somewhat violent or starkly moralistic (the Brothers Grimm; The Katzenjammer Kids; and even Little Nemo itself, which often depicted nightmares, fears, and dangers), Twee Deedle was sensitive and whimsical. Instead of stark moralizing, it presented gentle lessons. It reads today like a work for the 21st century… indeed for all times, all ages.
Mr. Twee Deedle is edited and includes an introduction by comics historian Rick Marschall. The volume presents the first year of the forgotten masterpiece and selected episodes from later years, as well as special drawings, promotional material, and related artwork.
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