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Category >> Johnny Ryan

Daily OCD: 1/3/12
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Willie and JoeWalt KellyTrina RobbinsreviewsPopeyePeter BaggeOlivier SchrauwenNoah Van SciverMickey MouseMichael KuppermanMichael J VassalloMartiLove and RocketsLos Bros HernandezKevin HuizengaJoyce FarmerJohnny RyanJim WoodringJasonJaime HernandezGilbert HernandezFloyd GottfredsonEC SegarDisneyDavid BDave McKeanDaily OCDCharles BurnsCarl BarksBlake BellBill MauldinBest of 2011 4 Jan 2012 1:43 AM

The first Online Commentary & Diversions post of the year might very well end up being the longest:

Love and Rockets

List: Humorist and television personality John Hodgman, asked to name his 5 favorite comics in an open Q&A session on his Tumblr blog, says "Love and Rockets: I don’t like to choose between brothers, but Jaime Hernandez is one of the greatest drawers of human faces and human want on the planet."

Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge: Only a Poor Old Man by Carl Barks

List: Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge: Only a Poor Old Man by Carl Barks is #39 on The A.V. Club 's list of "most anticipated entertainments of 2012": "Only a Poor Old Man will bring Scrooge McDuck, possibly Barks’ greatest creation, into the spotlight. The bespectacled miser will dive around in his money bin and burrow through it like a gopher, and his timeless adventures will get the treatment they deserve."

Love and Rockets: New Stories #4Ganges #4Prison Pit Book 3

List: Tucker Stone, whose Best of 2011 previously appeared at comiXology, presents a slightly modified list for Flavorwire's "10 of the Year's Most Buzzed-About Comic Releases":

"Last year’s Love and Rockets was a huge deal, but this year’s installment is arguably even better.... Comics has yet to provide Love and Rockets with anything approximating 'competition,' but it doesn’t appear that the Hernandez brothers have any reason to be concerned about that quite yet. They’re still way better at this than everybody else on the planet."

"The big thing this year was watching all the great young cartoonists of the early 2000s carving out their places in the pantheon. Huizenga’s a perfect example — he’s been regularly turning out excellent comics for years now, and yet Ganges #4 still reads like a revelation.... It’s a fascinating experience reading these comics, and they’re gorgeous to boot."

"The continuing adventures of Johnny Ryan’s most violent fantasies run amuck, [Prison Pit] is rapidly becoming the comic that I look forward to the way a fat kid looks forward to syrup-encrusted cake. There’s no getting around the hoary old cliche — 'these aren’t for everybody' — so God help you if you can’t figure out a way to enjoy these books."

Congress of the AnimalsThe Armed Garden and Other StoriesLove from the Shadows

List: The prolific Sean T. Collins, after having contributed to CBR's Top 100, runs down his personal 20 Best Comics of 2011 on his Attentiondeficitdisorderly blog AND at Robot 6, with Ganges #4 by Kevin Huizenga at #15...

"Huizenga wrings a second great book out of his everyman character’s insomnia. It’s quite simple how, really: He makes comics about things you’d never thought comics could be about, by doing things you never thought comics could do to show you them. Best of all, there’s still the sense that his best work is ahead of him, waiting like dawn in the distance."

...Congress of the Animals by Jim Woodring at #14...

"...[T]he payoff... feels like a weight has been lifted from Woodring’s strange world, while the route he takes to get there is illustrated so beautifully it’s almost superhuman. It’s the happy ending he’s spent most of his career earning."

...The Armed Garden and Other Stories by David B. at #11...

"Religious fundamentalism... has worn a thousand faces in a millennia-long carnevale procession of war and weirdness, and David B. paints portraits of three of its masks with bloody brilliance. Focusing on long-forgotten heresies and treating the most outlandish legends about them as fact, B.’s high-contrast linework sets them all alight with their own incandescent madness."

...Love from the Shadows by Gilbert Hernandez at #4...

"I picture Gilbert Hernandez approaching his drawing board these days like Lawrence of Arabia approaching a Turkish convoy: 'NO PRISONERS! NO PRISONERS!' In a year suffused with comics funneling pitch-black darkness through a combination of sex and horror, none were blacker, sexier, or more horrific than this gender-bending exploitation flick from Beto's 'Fritz-verse.'"

...and Love and Rockets: New Stories #4 by Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez at #1:

"...[L]et's add to the chorus praising Jaime's 'The Love Bunglers' as one of the greatest comics of all time, the point to which one of the greatest comics series of all time has been hurtling toward for thirty years.... You can count the number of cartoonists able to wed style to substance, form to function, this seamlessly on one hand with fingers to spare. A masterpiece."

Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Vol. 1: Race to Death ValleyThe Cabbie Vol. 1The Man Who Grew His Beard

List: In the same Robot 6 piece, Chris Mautner lists his favorites top to bottom, leading off with Love and Rockets: New Stories #4 by the Hernandez brothers at #1...

"The hype and acclaim surrounding Xaime Hernandez’s conclusion to his 'Love Bunglers' saga has been overwhelming, and every ounce of it is deserved. This is simply a phenomenal achievement in comics. A moving, thoughtful story of missed opportunities, loss and eventual reconciliation that provides in many ways a fitting conclusion to all of Xaime’s 'Locas' stories. I’d be hard pressed to think of a better comic that came out this year."

...Congress of the Animals by Jim Woodring at #4...

"It takes a bit of daring to be willing to alter the status quo in a respected body of work and considerable talent to be able to do so in as assured manner as Woodring does here."

...Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Vol. 1: Race to Death Valley by Floyd Gottfredson at #10...

"More than the new Carl Barks collection, more than the return of Pogo, the resurrected, re-appreciated comic strip I found myself falling in love the most with this year was Gottfredson’s plunky, adventure-loving mouse, a scrappier version of Disney’s iconic creation. More to the point, I was completely taken with the stunning packaging and background information Fantagraphics and the books editor put together for this series. It’s new benchmark for reprint projects."

...Ganges #4 by Kevin Huizenga at #14...

"The arrival of a new issue of Ganges is always a treat and this one, a continuation of lead character Glenn Ganges’ ever-failing attempts to get a decent night’s rest, is no exception."

...Prison Pit Book 3 by Johnny Ryan at #15...

"Three volumes into this grand guginol series and it continues to surprise and delight, this time introducing a new character and suggesting via an end sequence that Ryan has been reading a lot of Fort Thunder comics."

...Walt Disney's Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes by Carl Barks at #16...

"Do I really have to explain at this point why Carl Barks matters or how nice it is to finally see an affordable book-length collection of his work? Can’t wait for volume 2."

...The Cabbie Vol. 1 by Marti at #17...

"In his interview with Tom Spurgeon, publisher Kim Thompson described this as 'Dick Tracy on crank' that’s about as good a description of this fever-pitched crime noir tale as I can come up with."

...and The Man Who Grew His Beard by Oliver Schrauwen at #18:

"Incredibly inventive, Schrauwen, like Yokoyama, seems intent on pushing the comics medium into new and interesting directions. But where Yokoyama is concerned mainly with motion and exploration, Schrauwen is concerned mainly with perception and the interior world of the mind. This is great, mind-blowing work."

List: More Robot 6 listmaking from Matt Seneca, who has Ganges #4 by Kevin Huizenga and Love and Rockets: New Stories #4 tied for 10th place

Pogo Vol. 1

List: Also on Robot 6's roundup of best-of lists from its writers, Tim O'Shea ranks Pogo Vol. 1 at #9: "Damn if this was not worth the wait... Volume 1 of the complete syndicated daily strips of Pogo would be enough to put this book on my list. But the fact that Fantagraphics has a foreword by Jimmy Breslin; an introduction by Steve Thompson; a piece on the Pogo Sunday Funnies by Mark Evanier; and Swamp Talk (R.H. Harvey annotations on the strips) is just icing on the cake."

Walt Disney's Donald Duck: Lost in the AndesWalt Disney's Mickey Mouse Vol. 2: Trapped on Treasure Island

List: Praise for designer Jacob Covey as Robot 6's Kevin Melrose names the 50 Best Covers of 2011 including Walt Disney's Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes and Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Vol. 2: Trapped on Treasure Island

List: Here's Frank Santoro at The Comics Journal with a year-end favorites list that includes Love and Rockets: New Stories #4 and Ganges #4 and Love from the Shadows

Celluloid

List: David McKean's Celluloid gets a "See Also" shout-out on Cyriaque Lamar's list of The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Comics of 2011 at io9: "A decidedly adult erotica graphic novel with no dialogue, this is the famed Sandman cover artist going at page after page of a sexy hallucination, whipped up by a magic porno movie projector. Dreamscapes with boners."

List: Comics Journal contributor and Fantagraphics pal Gavin Lees names his Top Comics of 2011 on his own Graphic Eye site, including Love and Rockets: New Stories #4...

"After 'Browntown' in last year’s installment of New Stories, there was a worry that Jaime might have peaked — how on earth was he going to top that story? The achingly beautiful conclusion to 'The Love Bunglers' in this volume was the answer. Pulling together strands from Maggie’s entire 30-year history in two pages was nothing short of stunning, with his art as cooly confident as ever, making it a real emotional sucker punch. Gilbert’s work developing Fritz’s movie back-catalogue is a real mind-bender, too, weaving inter- and meta-textual strands together that lets his characters say so much, while saying so little. It is terrifying how talented these guys are."

... and Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Vol. 1: Race to Death Valley by Floyd Gottfredson:

"Forget Pogo and Carl Barks — we already knew they were classics — the real reprint revelation of 2011 was good ole' Mickey Mouse.... To read these strips is to rediscover a love for Mickey and marvel at Gottfredson's amazing grasp of storytelling and humour, as well as his flawless artwork. Naturally, with Fantagraphics overseeing the reprints, the design, packaging and presentation is gorgeous — a real worthy successor to their Peanuts series."

Walt Disney's Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes

List: Noah Van Sciver lists his top five favorite comics of 2011 in a comic for the Atomic Books blog, with Walt Disney's Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes his second choice: "Being a big Robert Crumb fan, I took great pleasure in reading the stories that the young Crumb was so influenced by."

Review: At The Hooded Utilitarian Domingos Isabelinho casts a detailed critical eye on Walt Disney's Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes by Carl Barks

Plug: "I’m a little mortified to admit that Walt Disney's Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes is my first exposure to Carl Barks (after decades of being interested in finally seeing why he’s so revered as a comic creator), but it definitely won’t be my last. Fantagraphics’ first volume of Barks material is a great place to start; a mixture of epic quests, short stories, and gag strips that are all impressively funny and awesome." – Greg McElhatton, Robot 6

Special Exits

List: On his Domino Books blog, Austin English explains why Joyce Farmer's Special Exits is his favorite comic of 2011: "Farmer's cartooning allows for her characters to act out their illness and struggles in front of the reader. Farmer's drawing of her aging father is something to behold — it's not Farmer saying 'here is what my sick father went through.' Instead we see a drawing age and wither in front of us, and speak to us with both intelligence and dementia. I’ve never seen anything in comics done with such skill — let alone see a graphic novel (often the territory of poorly conceived topical heart wrenchers) speak about tragedy with so much depth and clarity."

List: Comics writer Vito Delsante declares Love and Rockets: New Stories #4 the Best Single Issue of 2011 on his Best of 2011 blog post: "The Hernandez Brothers, since New Stories 3, have really created the most important mythology in comics since Stan and Jack (and Steve).... Jaime Hernandez should win every single award in comics in 2012."

List: iFanboy's Ron Richards names Love and Rockets: New Stories #4 the Best Original Gaphic Novel of 2011: "See my Book of the Month review for my reasons."

Popeye Vol. 5:

List: On his blog The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent., Andrew Wheeler chooses Popeye Vol. 5: "Wha's a Jeep?" by E.C. Segar as one of his top 12 Favorite Books of 2011

List: We rank 4 entries on Renee Lott's Top 10 Comics of 2011 at her Blogwithfeet

Jason Conquers America

Review: "I've been digging the new Fantagraphics release Jason Conquers America which commemorates ten years of the venerable publisher's relationship with the Norewegian artist.... My favorite story in the collection revolves around a crow who naps in a bed in a field and wakes up obliviously in an entirely new life. (Telling any more would spoil the revelation.) In 23 short wordless panels, Jason creates a powerful and compelling commentary that proves how powerfully expressive comics can be." – Stray Riffs

Tales Designed to Thrizzle #7

Review: "A new comic from the top humorist in comics is always welcome. This issue [of Tales Designed to Thrizzle] is the usual combination of dada and surprisingly tightly-wrapped narrative gags surrounding the sort of cultural detritus mined by Drew Friedman & Mark Newgarden.... 'Quincy, M.E.'... is one of Kupperman's best strips because he keeps adding new layers of plot to an already-ridiculous story.... I still miss the sheer density of detail in Kupperman's older work that made reading it almost exhausting, but the avalanche of ideas remains intact, as does his ability to elicit laughs." – Rob Clough, High-Low

Prison Pit

Review: "...Prison Pit... [is] a marriage of pro wrestling, manga, bromance and filth.... Johnny Ryan has an almost Kirbyesque level of character design, but with obviously more genitalia, and it can at times be a joy just to see what is going to come on the next page.... Johnny Ryan is a cartoonist at the top of his game right now and he may just be the closest thing the comic world has to marmite." – Taylor Pithers, The Weekly Crisis

Willie & Joe: Back Home

Interview: The Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon talks with Todd DePastino, biographer of Bill Mauldin and editor of our Willie & Joe books. Spurgeon says Willie & Joe: Back Home is "one of my three favorite comics-related books from 2011, and, I think, one of the year's best." From DePastino: "When I look at these cartoons, I think of literary critic Dominic LaCapra's claim that some books are good to think about and a very few are good to think with. Mauldin's postwar cartoons are good to think with. They not only provide a window to the times, like, say, good photographs or reporting might, but they also raise fundamental questions and issues that are with us still."

Review: "These comics are beautiful. Each single-panel comic is blown up to a full page, so that Mauldin’s artistry can truly (and easily) be admired without squinting. The sentiments expressed are astonishing and bravely progressive for the time.... I’d never thought or heard about the poor reception combat vets received after WWII. (I mistakenly thought that only happened to our soldiers after the Vietnam War.) I wish I knew what they experienced. I’ll settle for giving [Willie & Joe: Back Home] to the next WWII vet I meet and hope that it sparks a conversation." – Gene Ambaum, The Unshelved Book Club

Palomar: The Heartbreak Soup Stories [Sold Out]

Discussion (Audio): Hosts of the Deconstructing Comics podcast Tim and Kumar and special guest Tom Spurgeon examine the work of Gilbert Hernandez

Elysian Nibiru label - Charles Burns

Plug: Alex Carr of Amazon.com's Omnivoracious blog takes note of our "12 Beers of the Apocalypse" collaboration with Elysian Brewing, featuring the artwork of Charles Burns

The Secret History of Marvel Comics - preliminary cover art

Behind the Scenes: Co-author Blake Bell gives you another behind-the-scenes look at The Secret History of Marvel Comics

Trina Robbins at the Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery, October 8, 2011

Coming Attractions?: The wonderful Trina Robbins reveals not one but THREE possible projects she's talking with us about at The Beat as part of their year-end creators' survey

Peter Bagge

Curmudgeonliness: Peter Bagge also participates in The Beat's year-end creators' survey: "Does 'paying my bills' count as a guilty pleasure?" Classic Pete.

Daily OCD: 12/27/11
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Wilfred SantiagoSteve DuinShimura TakakoRichard SalareviewsOil and WaterMichael KuppermanmangaLove and RocketsLos Bros HernandezLorenzo MattottiLeslie SteinKevin HuizengaJohnny RyanJim WoodringJasoninterviewsGilbert HernandezEdward GoreyDisneyDave McKeanDaily OCDCarl BarksBest of 2011Alexander Theroux21 27 Dec 2011 11:07 PM

Today's Online Commentary & Diversions:

Congress of the AnimalsMark Twain's Autobiography 1910-2010Prison Pit Book 3

List: The first part of Comic Book Resources' Top 100 Comics of 2011 countdown includes Jim Woodring's Congress of the Animals at #88...

"It takes a bit of daring to be willing to alter the status quo in a respected body of work and considerable talent to be able to do so in as assured manner as Woodring does here." – Chris Mautner

...Mark Twain's Autobiography 1910-2010 by Michael Kupperman at #87...

"Through war, animal make-out sessions and film writing, Kupperman takes Twain through the ringer in a hilariously catastrophic epic that the real-life 'Adventures of Huckleberry Finn' author would surely have appreciated. Although reading it won't score you any points on a history-class term paper, the book will certainly open your eyes to one of the funniest writers working in comics right now." – Brian Warmoth

...and Johnny Ryan's Prison Pit Book 3 at #86...

"The excessive violence is still here, more refined, more imaginative, more disturbing. Ryan pushes himself artistically in the second half of the book, delivering a stunning sequence that still haunts me." – Chad Nevett

Love from the Shadows  Eye of the Majestic Creature

...and in the second part of CBR's countdown, Love from the Shadows by Gilbert Hernandez at #70...

"I picture Gilbert Hernandez approaching his drawing board these days like Lawrence of Arabia approaching a Turkish convoy: 'NO PRISONERS! NO PRISONERS!' In a year suffused with comics funneling pitch-black darkness through a combination of sex and horror, none were blacker, sexier, or more horrific than this gender-bending exploitation flick from Beto's 'Fritz-verse.'" – Sean T. Collins

...and Leslie Stein's Eye of the Majestic Creature at #61:

"Leslie Stein burst onto the comics scene this year when Fantagraphics published the collection of four of her self-published comics... The comic is both surreal and mundane, the story of a young woman who moves to a New York complete with humanoid animals and talking musical instruments. ...Stein [is] one of the best independent creators to emerge in recent years." – Alex Dueben

StigmataGanges #4Celluloid

List: Robot 6's Graeme McMillan picks his 5 favorite books of 2011, including Stigmata by Lorenzo Mattotti & Claudio Piersanti...

"Way back at the end of last year, I called this the best graphic novel of 2011, and if I’m now a little more reticent to make that claim, it has more to do with the high quality of a lot of other releases this year than anything else because this is still a masterpiece that, were I some kind of unlikely comics czar, I’d make compulsory reading for everyone interested in the medium. Just a breathtaking book."

...Ganges #4 by Kevin Huizenga...

"Another book that I raved about earlier this year, and another one that I’m still raving about as strongly months later. A tour-de-force of cartooning from a creator who just continually improves, and pushes at the medium in almost everything he does."

...and Celluloid by Dave McKean:

"It’s a disturbing book in many ways – questions about exploitation and power are very present in the text – but also a beautiful, seductive one. It’s a book that sticks with you for a long time afterwards, and for that alone, it’s one I’ve returned to many times since first reading it."

Wandering Son Vol. 1

List: Panel Patter's Rob McMonigal names his Best of 2011: Manga Edition, with Wandering Son Vol. 1 by Shimura Takako in the #5 spot: "This is one of the most serious manga series I've ever read, and I finished it unable to come to grips with the best way to review it. Dealing with two children who come to realize they are trapped in the wrong gender, it's a story of secrets, revelations, understandings, and occasional cruelty. The book handles the topic with care and respect, however, which is part of why it is so good."

Isle of 100,000 GravesThe HiddenMark Twain's Autobiography 1910-2010

List: Another top-10 from Panel Patter's Rob McMonigal, whose Best of 2011: Indie Comics, is topped by 3 of our titles: Jason & Fabien Vehlmann's Isle of 100,000 Graves...

"Isle of 100,000 Graves has Jason's trademark deadpan humor, resolute protagonist, and ending that leaves the reader thinking."

...The Hidden by Richard Sala...

"At first, The Hidden feels like a typical apocalyptic story, albeit one painted amazingly well by Sala. But as things progress, the tale morphs and twists into one of the best horror comics I've read, with a twist towards the end that I never saw coming. That's what makes a comic stand out, and puts it near the top of my best of list."

...and Mark Twain's Autobiography 1910-2010 by Michael Kupperman at #1:

"I laughed out loud so many times over this mixture of text and illustration. It's a pitch-perfect book with almost no mis-steps, and I hereby call it my Best Indie Comic of 2011."

Love and Rockets: New Stories #4

List: At the Forbidden Planet International blog, comics creator John Riordan names Love and Rockets: New Stories #4 as one of his 3 favorite comics of the year, commenting only "My… aching… heart…"

21: The Story of Roberto Clemente

Review: "I found myself turning back and re-examining the pages often, digging through the many details that the words and images delivered. The story unfolds in earth tone – sepia illustrations, not gaudy, in keeping with the artist’s respect for the story and the subject. Clemente’s early life is here and one gets a real feel for his family and friends, and not without humor.... [21: The Story of Roberto Clemente] should appeal to graphic novel fans, baseball fans,  anyone who likes a great 'bigger then fiction' story, and many others." – Mark Hodgens, Skyscraper Magazine

Walt Disney's Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes

Review: "Fantagraphics is now giving Barks’ Duck comics a whirl, and based off this first volume alone if there’s any justice in the comics world, fame should finally (belatedly) be coming for the late, great Barks.... The reproduction on these strips are beautiful; Fantagraphics hired cartoonist Rich Tommaso to re-color the works, and Tommaso wisely uses gentle flat tones to keep with the overall feel of Barks’ crisp, classic art. I also appreciated the essays about the different stories in the back of the book.... Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes is a handsome looking book, and trust me when I say it’s just the first of many I plan on reading by Barks." – Greg McElhatton, Read About Comics

Tales Designed to Thrizzle #7

Review: "So cue the squeals, and scan the racks at your friendly neighborhood comics retailer for writer/artist Michael Kupperman’s Tales Designed to Thrizzle #7. Beyond a cover whose hilarity strangely if successfully depends on its all-day-sucker coloring — tangerine, lemon, lime — this dadaistic offering opens with a six-page excerpt from Scary Bathtub Stories, a faux-Golden Age comic, and thereafter spirals further and further into neo-psychedelic weirdness." – Bryan Hollerbach, PLAYBACK:stl

Review: "I like to imagine [Michael Kupperman] sitting in some tiny hellhole of a studio apartment packed deep into the bowels of New York -- these noble creatures lose their mystique when they own homes -- doing mutant Thrizzle pages until they stop paying him or until he gets a gig in the back pages of Vice. Some feminine if not female voice of reason hovers next to his desk, thumbing through the newest set as he leans back in his chair, wondering if Fantagraphics paid him enough to afford blowing the budget on a beer, wiping entirely imaginary sweat from his brow." – Patrick Tobin, Multiversity Comics

Oil and Water

Interview: The Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon talks to Oil and Water writer Steve Duin: "I'm too new to all of this to fully grasp how the perfect union of writer and artist is formed... and there were times when Shannon [Wheeler] and I struggled to find common ground. But a great deal of my understanding of what we were dealing with in the Gulf owes to Shannon's perceptions and his sketchbook. He was refreshingly aggressive in dealing with the BP clean-up teams disinclined to give us access. His original poster for the group -- a naked woman starring incredulously at the oil derrick in her bed, and saying 'What do you mean, it broke?' -- is brilliant."

The Strange Case of Edward Gorey [Expanded Hardcover Edition]

Interview: Bookforum's John Madeira, who says "...Alexander Theroux’s writing... is grandiloquently lyrical, dizzyingly erudite, and often acerbic," talks with Theroux about The Strange Case of Edward Gorey ("a smart, engaging, and insightful monograph asking as many questions about the quirky artist as attempts at answers") and other topics: "Edward Gorey was very ornate — Corinthian! — in his love of language, and when he was in a chatty mood his conversation, crackling with allusions, was rich and often rare, exaggerated, campy to a degree, invariably tinctured with lots of movie-love, sarcasm, irony. Mind you, it was not that the man was trying to be something, contriving, say, to appear a cavalcade of wit, merely that, rather like Dr. Samuel Johnson, he happened to have sharp, remarkable 'views' on all sorts of subjects, almost all worthy of note."

Fantagraphics Books logo - shield emblem by Daniel Clowes

Plugs: One more from Panel Patter's Rob McMonigal, who recommends some things to pick up in our current 40%-off Inventory Reduction Sale

Daily OCD: 12/23/11
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under reviewsLove and RocketsKevin HuizengaJohnny RyanJim WoodringJaime HernandezJacques TardiDisneyDavid BDaily OCDCarl BarksBlake BellBest of 2011 23 Dec 2011 8:25 PM

Today's Online Commentary & Diversions:

Congress of the AnimalsPrison Pit Book 3

List: Tucker Stone counts down The Best of 2011 at comiXology. and we sure like the looks of his top 5:

At #5, Jim Woodring's Congress of the Animals: "Deftly exploring the individual's relationship with labor, consequence and love, Congress of the Animals might be Woodring's least nightmarish work yet. (Although there's still a decent portion of it involving face-robbed humanoids that you shouldn't leave lying open if you have junkies visiting.)"

At #4, Prison Pit Book 3 by Johnny Ryan: "Back in 2009, when Ryan began Prison Pit, it was a revelation; a bone-crushing giant, born fully clothed.... Make no mistake: if Jack Kirby was born today, these are the kinds of comics he'd be drawing."

Ganges #4

At #2, Ganges #4 by Kevin Huizenga: "While it has been two years since the release of Ganges #3, the only thing that could possibly have dulled would be the audience's memory of how extraordinary the series can be.... As with Yokoyama's Color Engineering, the audience becomes participatory witness, buried head to toe alongside Glenn, living and dying by his attempts to conquer. The shaggy dog ending -- weirder than the last one -- only seems cruel for the length of time it takes you to remember: being broken out of a trance is supposed to hurt."

Love and Rockets: New Stories #4

And in the #1 spot, Love and Rockets: New Stories #4: "...Love and Rockets 4 saw Jaime Hernandez making good on the promise of decades. Resolving with as much finality as one could ask the question of 'how's this gonna end,' the final passage of this issue's Maggie story was without comparison. There was absolutely nothing else like reading those pages for the first time -- the gasp held tight in your throat, the 8 panel grids giving way only once, for a two page silent recap of the last 30 years of a life only we seem to know was well-lived."

Walt Disney's Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes

List: At Trouble with Comics, Alan David Doane names his 10 Best Comics of 2011, including Walt Disney’s Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes by Carl Barks — "Quite simply, some of the best comics of all time, in the most beautiful design and format of any book I saw all year."

The Armed Garden and Other Stories

Review: "...[The Armed Garden] is absolutely marvelous, a gorgeous and searing series of comics from an artist who earns the description 'freakishly talented' as completely as anyone this side of his trans-Atlantic fellow in crafting dreamy/nightmarish parables of violent spirituality, Jim Woodring. These comics are just as lovely and just as frightening, and just as singularly the work of their creator and no other." – Sean T. Collins, Attentiondeficitdisorderly

Like a Sniper Lining Up His Shot / West Coast Blues

Profile: At HiLobrow, Luc Sante gives a brief introduction to Jean-Patrick Manchette, from whose novels Jacques Tardi adapted West Coast Blues and Like a Sniper Lining Up His Shot

The Comics Journal #271

Anecdote: When Blake Bell titles a blog post "Being Punked by Jerry Robinson and Other Memories" you know that's going to be good (Pictured: The Comics Journal #271 with Gary Groth's interview of Robinson)

Daily OCD: 12/19/11
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Walt KellyreviewsOlivier SchrauwenmerchLove and RocketsLeslie SteinJohnny RyanJim WoodringJaime HernandezFantagraphics BookstoreDisneyDaily OCDCharles BurnsCarl BarksBest of 2011 19 Dec 2011 6:19 PM

Today's Online Commentary & Diversions:

The Frank Book  Eye of the Majestic Creature

List: USA Today's pop culture maven Whitney Matheson starts counting down her People of the Year at Pop Candy, with Jim Woodring kicking things off at #100 ("This year the artist constructed a seven-foot-long fountain pen that even Lloyd Dobler would be proud to own") and Leslie Stein coming in at #78 ("She had me at the talking guitar: The Brooklyn-based cartoonist's Eye of the Majestic Creature provided a joyous reading experience")

Congress of the AnimalsPrison Pit Book 3

List (Audio): Jim Woodring's Congress of the Animals and Johnny Ryan's Prison Pit Book 3 are among the books discussed by Inkstuds host Robin McConnell and his guests Tim Hodler, Joe McCulloch and Matt Seneca for his "Best of 2011 with the Critics" episode

Love and Rockets: New Stories #4

List: Librairie Drawn & Quarterly's Jade names her Top 5 Books of 2011 on the 211 Bernard blog: "Thirty years after the first Love and Rockets issue, the Hernandez Brothers continue to impress with some of their best work to date in Love and Rockets: New Stories #4. Both brothers produce storylines that are absolutely amazing... I can’t even begin to imagine what these guys will come up with next."

Pogo Vol. 1

Review: The Seattle Times' Mary Ann Gwinn looks at Pogo Vol. 1 and the "Playing Possum" exhibit at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery: "Kelly had an uneasy relationship with the newspapers that ran the strip. Though Pogo was hilarious, it could also be extremely pointed. Fantagraphics curator Larry Reid says the Hoover strips, featuring a bulldog with an uncanny resemblance to the FBI director, aggravated Hoover no end. 'He was driven to distraction' by the notion that the strips had hidden messages embedded in them, says Reid. 'He had cryptographers trying to decipher swamp talk.'"

Review: At Artdish, Gary Faigin also looks at "Playing Possum": "Kelly was both famous and honored in his lifetime (over 50 collections of Pogo were published, and the strip appeared in most major newspapers), but just enough time has passed since his demise in 1973 that many people, younger ones especially, are not familiar with his work.  While that’s a good reason to celebrate the Pogo show and book launch at the Fantagraphics Gallery this month, an even better reason is the opportunity to be reminded how fresh, lively, and relevant his work is, decades after it first appeared."

The Man Who Grew His Beard

Review: "These are deeply strange short stories [in The Man Who Grew His Beard], centered on ideas and effects I’m not sure I’d have come up with even with the proverbial infinite number of monkeys at my disposal; even in this short-story-saturated alternative comics climate, there’s nothing else like his gestalt of finely calibrated nonsense. It’s good to see that comics can do things you’d never think to ask of them in the first place." – Sean T. Collins, Attentiondeficitdisorderly

Walt Disney's Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes

Review: "Although Barks didn’t create Donald Duck, it is his interpretation that probably resides in most people’s memories.... Donald in the animated shorts was a hot-headed buffoon. Barks’ Donald was an actor called upon to play whatever role Barks needed: from exasperated parent to worldly adventurer. It was Barks’ duck comics that spurred my early interest in sequential storytelling, and probably my love of reading in general." Norman Cook, Axolotlburg News

Love and Rockets Library (Locas Book 4): Penny Century [with FREE Signed Bookplate]

Review: "Love & Rockets is the only series that I don't mind purchasing and repurchasing in multiple editions... I like the way that Jaime Hernandez's stories read in different configurations. Approaching his little slices of life through flashback or in different sequences lets little details, the sort of which most readers probably miss the first time around, take new shapes and new levels of importance. I really love these paperback editions... As ever, there's just a tiny hint of extra-normal fantasy at work in the stories [in Penny Century], just enough for readers to accept that there's something very strange over the horizon or in Izzy's psyche, but never enough to overwhelm the wonderful, human reality of these beloved characters. Highly recommended for older readers." – Grant Goggans, The Hipster Dad's Bookshelf (via The Comics Reporter)

Elysian Nibiru label - Charles Burns

Plug: Comics Alliance's Caleb Goellner reports on our upcoming Charles Burns-art-festooned "12 Beers of the Apocalypse" with Elysian Brewing, predicting them to be "Apocalypticious!"

Caligulon rising
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Johnny Ryanfan art 16 Dec 2011 12:36 PM

Prison Pit tribute

We love this Prison Pit tribute by “shotgunsean” on Instagram.

Things to See: Johnny Ryan's got the 'Cure' for VICE
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Things to seeJohnny Ryan 11 Dec 2011 5:15 PM

Cure by Johnny Ryan

You'll never guess where things end up in Johnny Ryan's latest comic for VICE.

[Follow our Tumblr blog for lots more Things to See every day.]

Daily OCD: 12/9/11
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Tony MillionairereviewsPaul NelsonMichael KuppermanMaurice TillieuxKevin HuizengaKevin AveryJohnny RyanJim WoodringDisneyDaily OCDCarl BarksBest of 2011 9 Dec 2011 11:06 PM

Today's Online Commentary & Diversions:

Mark Twain's Autobiography 1910-2010Prison Pit Book 3

List: Multiversity Comics' David Harper counts down the Best Graphic Novels of 2011, with Mark Twain's Autobiography 1910-2010 by Michael Kupperman — "Part prose, part two color comic, this beautiful hardcover is a fanciful romp through history the way I wish it really was. I can hardly wait for the next hundred years to pass so we ca get the next installment" — and Johnny Ryan's Prison Pit Book 3 — "If it doesn't make you sick, you shouldn't be allowed to walk among the public in the first place. If it doesn't make you giddy for the next one, you don't deserve comics" — tied for 5th place

Gil Jordan, Private Detective: Murder by High Tide

List: ComicsAttack ranks Gil Jordan, Private Detective: Murder by High Tide by M. Tillieux at #6 on their Top 15 All-Ages Titles of 2011: "Fantagraphics has put out some amazing work this year... Gil Jordan sticks out to us in all of its splendor. Yes, it can be compared to a gritty version of Tintin, but at the same time is so much more and its world so much deeper in crime. The adult tones make adults pick it up, and the colors and action give it an appeal to kids, making it an all-ages gem for anyone who picks it up."

Walt Disney's Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes

Review: "Barks' duck stories have been reprinted several times over the years, in different formats of varying quality. Now, Fantagraphics has published the first volume of its new series of hardcover reprints (Walt Disney's Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes), and there's much to be heartened by.... Even the silliest premise, when executed by an artist in perfect control of his gifts, can land with deftness and grace — that's something that strikes you again and again as you read Barks' work. And it's a lesson that won't get lost on any kid with whom you might choose to share it, which is convenient, as this collection makes a perfect introduction to one of the greatest all-ages comics artists of all time." – Glen Weldon, NPR - Monkey See

500 Portraits

Plug: Tony Millionaire's 500 Portraits is one of Publishers Weekly's "PW Picks" for next week

Ganges #4

Plug: "Though I have many contemporary cartoonists and comics writers whose work I admire, there is one artist whose work defies my critical ability to write about it intelligently. This artist is Kevin Huizenga. Mixing a disarmingly simple style with narrative complexity rarely achieved in comics, Huizenga has consistently turned out some of the most interesting and perplexing works of the early 21st century." – Rob Vollmar, LitStack

 Everything Is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson

Plug: "Everything Is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson is a unique collection that serves as both a biography of Nelson and an anthology of his work, written and compiled by Kevin Avery. It features special chapters on and interviews with many of Nelson's favorite artists, including Bruce Springsteen." – Shawn Poole at Springsteen fansite Backstreets.com

Plug: "A definite contender for music book of the year, Kevin Avery's Everything Is an Afterthought is the biography of pioneering rock critic Paul Nelson... It's a fascinating story of an important writer and recommended to anyone who has an interest in sixties and seventies rock 'n roll and music writing in general." – 211 Bernard (Librairie Drawn & Quarterly)

Jim Woodring

Behind the Scenes: Where They Draw takes a look at Jim Woodring's attic-loft studio, with commentary from Jim

Things to See: Johnny Ryan's 'The Riot!' for VICE
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Things to seeJohnny Ryan 8 Dec 2011 3:35 PM

The Riot! by Johnny Ryan

Johnny Ryan’s new comic for VICE would be pretty great even if it ended right there but there’s 6 more panels of that awesomeness.

[Follow our Tumblr blog for lots more Things to See every day.]

This Week in Fantagraphics Events: 12/5-12/11
Written by janice headley | Filed under Walt KellyTony MillionaireTim HensleyT Edward BakSteven WeissmanRenee FrenchMichael KuppermanMartin CendredaLilli Carréjon vermilyeaJohnny RyanJohn PhamJesse MoynihanJeremy TinderJaime HernandezFantagraphics BookstoreeventsEsther Pearl WatsonEleanor DavisBen Jonesart showsAndrice ArpAnders Nilsen 5 Dec 2011 11:48 AM

Thanks to everyone who came by and bought books at the Fantagraphics tables at the Brooklyn Comics & Graphics Festival this past weekend! Here's a look at what events are coming up this week:

Wednesday, December 7th

Los Angeles, CA: It's your last chance to see the The Art of Problem Solving at Giant Robot, a spotlight on the animated series from Ben Jones, featuring fellow Fantagraphics artists Jon Vermilyea and John Pham on staff. Make a pizza date out of it! (more info)

•  Seattle, WA: It's also your last chance to see the Short Run Art Show at the Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery! Curated by Kelly Froh, the exhibit features original comix art, illustration and book works by Max Clotfelter, Patrick Keck, Martine Workman, Elaine Lin, Jason T. Miles, Chris Cilla, Andrice Arp, Tim Root, Billis Helg, Marc Palm, Eroyn Franklin, Tom Van Deusen, Tim Miller, Tory Franklin, Jesse Reklaw, Sean Christensen, and Erin Tanner. (more info)

Tales Designed to Thrizzle Release Party

Friday, December 9th

Brooklyn, NY: Get thrizzled with Michael Kupperman at Bergen Street Comics and celebrate the release of Tales Designed to Thrizzle #7! (more info)

 Playing Possum: The Pogo Art of Walt Kelly at the Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery, Seattle

Saturday, December 10th 

Seattle, WA: The Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery celebrates the publication of Pogo: Through the Wild Blue Wonder, Volume 1 of the Complete Comic Strips with “Playing Possum: The Pogo Art of Walt Kelly.” This exhibition of original Walt Kelly strips coincides on the occasion of the bookstore’s 5th anniversary gala.  Musical entertainment will be provided by Sawsome, a female saw and banjo duet. (more info)

Los Angeles, CA: Join Tony Millionaire at the third annual Feral House/Process Media Winter Solstice Celebration at the La Luz de Jesus Gallery. He'll be signing copies of his gorgeous new collection 500 Portraits. (more info)

Los Angeles, CA: The Giant Robot Post-It Show 7 opens, curated by husband-wife team of Esther Pearl Watson and Mark Todd, and featuring work from Andrice Arp, T. Edward Bak, Lilli Carre, Martin Cendreda, Eleanor Davis, Renee French, Tim Hensley, Jaime Hernandez, Jesse Moynihan, Anders Nilsen, John Pham, Johnny Ryan, Jeremy Tinder, Jon Vermilyea, Esther Pearl Watson, and Steven Weissman. (more info)

Daily OCD: 11/29/11
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Wilfred SantiagoShimura TakakoRichard SalareviewsPaul NelsonmangaLove and RocketsLos Bros HernandezKevin AveryJohnny RyanJasonJaime HernandezinterviewsGilbert HernandezDisneyDaily OCDcontestsCarl BarksBest of 2011 29 Nov 2011 7:36 PM

Today's Online Commentary & Diversions:

Wandering Son Vol. 2

List: At MTV Geek, Brigid Alverson names Wandering Son by Shimura Takako one of The Best Manga Series of 2011: "Wandering Son is a delightful, quiet manga about a girly boy and a boyish girl.... This is not your typical gender-bender manga playing a gender switch for laughs (and fanservice); it's a quiet, subtle story of a boy coming to terms with himself."

 Everything Is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson

Review: "Believe it or not, music criticism was responsible for some of 2011's finest books, with Kevin Avery's impeccably researched Everything Is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson leading the pack.... Avery has done an outstanding job assembling a collection of the writer's work, fully illustrating why he was such an influential presence in his time. But, sadly, especially in our time, it also reads as something of a cautionary tale — ...you might wonder why on earth anyone would ever choose rock criticism as a career in the first place." – Bill Holdship, Detroit Metro Times

Prison Pit Book 3

Review: "I have no idea if it was part of cartoonist Johnny Ryan's overall plan for Prison Pit, but this latest book in the growing-to-classic-status series strikes me as a 'step-back' installment. This is where a series that was once less certain in the market place eschews some of the instant gratification of its first couple of books for the sake of layering in additional plot elements that look like they'll pay off further down the line. It's the kind of work that makes you think that its creator is thinking of the long-term as opposed to focusing solely on the short. Prison Pit had some of that particular swagger from the very beginning; this book seems even more settled and confident.... As was the case with the first two books, Johnny Ryan makes his case for mastery at a second, very specific genre, connected to the first through the extremes of expression involved." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter

Love and Rockets: New Stories #4

Reviews (Audio): The November 20 episode of Easy Rider, the radio show for "rock, punk rock, country, power pop, garage and comics" from Radio PFM out of Arras in northern France, features Johnny Ryan's Prison Pit Book 3, Love and Rockets: New Stories #4 by the Hernandez Bros., and Jaime Hernandez's Esperanza among their Comics of the Week

21: The Story of Roberto Clemente

Interview: At Memory Is Fiction, Craig Staufenberg talks with Wilfred Santiago: "Any subject or theme can work in comics, the narrative has unique, endless breakdowns. It’s a unique prism, anything that’s seen through it is distorted in a comic book way. The author, the cartoonist, just brings to light a particular side of that prism. I try to quit comics but it keeps pulling me back."

Invisible Hands - Richard Sala

Interview: Network Awesome Magazine has a fun Q&A with Richard Sala about the Invisible Hands animated shorts: "They used stop-motion.  The staff would blow up my drawings onto colored paper and then cut out all the figures and  movable parts.   The pieces were then positioned on three layers of glass – to give depth – with the camera looking down.  Next, the director, Denis Morella, carefully moved the pieces around – including the mouths, to match the dialogue – for each click of the camera.  I grew up loving stop-motion – everything from Ray Harryhausen to Gumby – so, I thought doing the animation that way was pretty cool."

Walt Disney's Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes

Plug: Comics writer Jeff Parker reveals that Walt Disney's Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes by Carl Barks is at the top of his holiday wish list at Robot 6

I Killed Adolf Hitler

Contest: Over at The Beat, Heidi MacDonald is giving away her spare copy of Jason's I Killed Adolf Hitler to one lucky winner