The thinly-veiled excuse to come over of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review:The Comics Reporter reviewed Prince Valiant Vol. 6: 1947-1948by Hal Foster. Tom Spurgeon writes, "The comic in this attractively-packaged and produced edition gives off the handsome sheen of mass entertainment that knows its commercial value. Prince Valiant may be 75, but this material at least still has all its hair and a hell of a tan." Damn, did Tom Spurgeon pick an excellent image or what?
• Review:Rain Taxi looks at The Last Vispo edited by Crag Hill and Nico Vassilakis. Chris Funkhouser writes, "With each turn of a page in The Last Vispo Anthology, we experience yet another imaginative method uniting thought and expression through visual representation.…The Last Vispo Anthology contains an abundance of wordless, asemic writing that by definition demands a type of integral participation, far beyond interpretation, by the reader."
• Review:Tales Designed to Thrizzle Vol. 2 by Michael Kupperman is reviewed by Richard Pachter in the Miami Herald. "Humor and profundity collide and embrace once again, as his straight-faced retro art illuminates the never-ending, laugh-out-loud absurdity."
• Review: The Miami Herald and Richard Pachter look at Beta Testing the Apocalypse by Tom Kaczynski. "He combines socioeconomic fact, fantasy and farce in this seriously paranoid criticism of modernity, and the result is a disturbing but hilarious tale of identity loss and consumerism run amok."
• Review:The Morton Report and Bill Baker interview Tom Kaczynski about Beta Testing the Apocalypse. Kaczynski says, "J.G. Ballard was big influence, especially on the first four stories in the book. I was reading all of his books at the time I worked on them and his world view contaminated everything I was doing."
• Review:The Comics Journal and Sean T. Collins review Johnny Ryan's Prison Pit Book 4. It "made even a seasoned hand at the rough stuff like me emit weary moans of repulsion and disgust with seemingly each new pustule-encrusted beast that appeared…To spend a prolonged period of time in Prison Pit is to open your mental orifice to Ryan’s razor-studded art-cock"
• Plug: University of Texas (El Paso) is fundraising for "The Hernandez Brothers Collection of Hispanic Comics and Cartoon Art at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), which is named after Jaime, Gilbert and Mario Hernandez and has as its mission the preservation and sharing of comics materials from or featuring Hispanics/Latino/as/Chicana/os" as posted on the Comics Reporter. There is a Jaime special edition art print available so act now!
• Review: Martin Wisse profiles Joost Swarte in video form. A must.
Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/02/03/3210819/zombies-teen-angst-and-more-in.html#storylink=cpy#storylink=cpy"
•Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/02/03/3210819/zombies-teen-angst-and-more-in.html#storylink=cpy#storylink=cp
The most intricate house sigil of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review:The LA Times enjoys their reading of7 Miles a Secondby David Wojnarowicz, James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook. "Part of the power of Wojnarowicz’s work is that he dealt with such concepts accessibly; he didn’t have time to waste. It was the source of his restless imagination, his willingness to experiment with unexpected forms," writes David L. Ulin.
• Plug:NY1 (New York 1) and Don Kois talk about 7 Miles a SecondDavid Wojnarowicz, James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook. "…this graphic novel is an amazing document of the gaudy, dangerous world of clients and johns and artists and thugs downtown in the 1980s."
• Interview: Nick Hanover of Comics Bulletin interviews Tom Kaczynski on Beta Testing the Apocalypse. Kacyznski writes, "All these stories started to feel like they were linked and eventually things like the noise stories and the themes of sound started to kind of inject themselves into the rest of the material…I'm interested in utopias, and utopian societies. And a lot of what Communism is is essentially an attempted utopia that failed. "
• Review:Art Rocker and Wee Claire look at Delphine by Richard Sala. "Delphine is arguably Richard Sala's darkest tale to date and a brilliant gateway for those new to his whimsical storytelling style…There are comparisons to Snow White dotted throughout the story but Sala's indie-goth execution tinged with a 70s horror atmosphere make for a much more interesting tale."
• Review:The Toronto Star reads and reviews our books like Heads or Tails by Lilli Carré. "Carré’s work, fittingly titled Heads or Tails, probes choice, ambivalence and fate; in her stories, there’s a flip side to everything, rendered in full and brilliant colour,"says Laura Kane.
• Review: Noah Bertlatsky on the Hooded Utilitarian looks at the art of Lilli Carré comics from Heads or Tails through the gendered lens of Bart Beaty. "If art is both hyperbolic masculine swagger and small-scale feminized detail, though, for Carré the form that mediates between the two is something that looks a lot like comics."
• Interview (partial): Dan Nadel of The Comics Journal posts part of the interview of Jacqes Tardi by Kim Thompson from TCJ 302.
• Plug: "It's astonishing to me that The Comics Journal will have outlasted Wizard, Hero Illustrated and CBG, but I'm happy for that fact," says former TCJ editor, Tom Spurgeon. TCJ 302 was co-edited by Kristy Valenti and Mike Dean.
• Review:Mort Meskin gets the full hello-how-are-ya when his collections are reviewed, edited by Steven Brower. "Out of the Shadows was such an enjoyable find that when it ended we were hungry for more of Meskin’s work." So Scoop turns to From Shadow to Light, "Meskin is so skilled in portraying body language that he doesn’t need a face to tell us know exactly what someone is thinking…a thorough and very detailed look at a man’s life, his family and the work he valued."
• Plug:Kotaku and Evan Narcisse get teary-eyed over Peanuts Every Sunday by Charles M. Schulz. "The daily black-and-white comics were great but the full-color Sunday strips gave Schulz a big, beautiful canvas to let his expert pacing and amazing linework breathe in a rainbow of color…it's really the entire mix of characters …and their mix of adult prickliness and childlike naiveté that made Charles Schulz's iconic comics strips so timeless."
• Interview:MTV Geek interviews Charles Forsman about The End of the Fucking Worldand life. Forsman answersEddie Wright's question, "I do love sparse cartooning. Like Schulz which I think comes through in mine a bit. I've heard people descibe this stuff as "Peanuts" all grown-up and violent."
• Review:Nerds of a Feather look at Ed Piskor's Hip Hop Family Tree, to be printed later this year. Philippe Duhart gives it a rare 10 out of 10, "…those familiar with the genre can attest, it's difficult to separate the music from other elements of the "culture" -- b-boying, graffiti, lingo, style. Piskor demonstrates an affectionate respect for the interrelations between these phenomenon, telling a story of a culture, rather than a musical genre."
• Review: Anime News Network reviews and givest The Heart of Thomas by Moto Hagio an 'A-'. Rebecca Silverman writes, "The Heart of Thomas may be the grandmother of the boys' love genre, but it would be shortsighted to simply classify it as such…Heartfelt and dreamlike, it is a window into the lives of those affected by the sudden death of one of their own."
• Review:The Toronto Star reads and reviews our books like The Cartoon Utopia by Ron Regé, Jr. The Cartoon Utopia "is visionary, but also unmistakably influenced by ’70s psychedelia… the thrilling, one-of-a-kind art will stretch your imagination and, at the very least, make you believe in the power of comics to explore the impossible," writes Laura Kane.
• Review:The Toronto Star reads and reviews our books like Came the Dawn by Wallace Wood and Corpse on the Imjin! by Harvey Kurtzman. Laura Kane writes, "In dark shadows, bold lines and intense close-ups, [Wallace Wood] perfectly illustrates the stories — which ran the gamut from B-horror to confronting social issues such as racism, anti-Semitism and sexism." As for Corpse on the Imjin!, "In these violent, blood-spattered pages, [Kurtzman] lays bare the devastation of war."
• Review/Commentary: Eddie Campbell on The Comics Journal compares and contrasts recent reviews of the EC Comics being reprinted at Fantagraphics and how critics struggle and feel the need to analyze comics at literature. Distilling the article to a mere quote is abhorrent so we tried but please read it. "If comics are any kind of art at all, it’s the art of ordinary people. With regard to Kurtzman’s war comics, don’t forget that the artists on those books were nearer to the real thing than you and I will ever be."
• Review: Elliot Bay Books reviews No Straight Lines, edited by Justin Hall. Dave Wheeler writes, "Impossible to be even close to a complete collection of the genre, No Straight Lines instead seeks to trace the parallel trajectories toward visibility for both comics and LGBTQ identities…these are the stories of real people, or they are people transfigured by folklore."
• Plug: Greg Akers of the Memphis Flyer enjoyed reading Love and Rockets: New Stories #4 by Jaime Hernandez and Gilbert Hernandez. "Jaime breaks me every time. The conclusion to "The Love Bunglers" is an all-time great. Tears in my eyes, destroyed emotionally."
• Plug: Joost Swarte sings the blues at Angouleme, thanks to Paul Karasik.
• Review:SequArt looks at Black Hole by Charles Burns. Faith Brody Patane point out "…it’s a story that’s meant to be devoured with intent to possibly make you have freaky nightmares. Black Hole is one of those stories that lingers long after you read it…This group of teens is far from Riverdale and far more desperate."
The sweetest tea of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review:The Atlantic writes on The Heart of Thomas by Moto Hagio. Noah Berlatsky looks at it from every angle, "The boys' love genre, then, freed Hagio and her audience to cross and recross boundaries of identity, sexuality, and gender…Bodies and character flicker in and out, a sequence of surfaces, tied together less by narrative than by the heightened emotions of melodrama—jealousy, anger, trauma, desire, friendship, and love in the heart of Thomas."
• Plug: David Brothers and Comics Alliance posts a preview of The Heart of Thomas plus a few thoughts on Moto Hagio that works outside of his comfort zone. "What there is, though, isdrama. No -- it has melodrama…the sheer level of theatrical drama in this book is enough to keep a skeptic hooked…Heart of Thomas is a trip, and a good one. I wasn't expecting to enjoy it as much as I did, and it was nice to enjoy something outside of my usual comfort zones."
• Plug: Johanna Carlson of Comics Worth Reading is ready for the world to read The Heart of Thomas by Moto Hagio. "This solid hardcover contains the entire classic shojo series, and it’s a must-read for anyone interested in the development of the genre. It’s also surprisingly gripping in its own right…"
• Review: Chris Mautner interviews Jim Woodring's Problematic on Robot 6. "Problematic is both a stroll through Woodring’s unique imagination and an opportunity to see his working process" and Woodring thinks "having a pocket sketchbook on me at all times means fleeting impressions and ideas that might otherwise be lost are captured…Everything I draw is reality-based."
• Plug:BoingBoing is ready for Jim Woodring's Problematic to come out. "There are many reasons to be grateful to be alive, and owning this brand new facsimile edition of artist Jim Woodring's Moleskine sketchbooks is as good as any," says Mark Frauenfelder.
• Interview/Review:Publishers Weekly looks at 7 Miles a Second, and Grace Bello interviews artists James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook on writer David Wojnarowicz, the gay activist who wrote the comic before dying of AIDS-related complications. Romberger is quoted, "It really is so much about what David was about, channeling his anger into a statement…" "The gay experience is not only 'less invisible'—it’s on prime time TV. But the feral energy and raw hunger in 7 Miles a Second still resonate" states Bello.
• Review: Jason Sacks of Comics Bulletin presents 20 Facts and Opinions on Joe Kubert's Weird Horrors & Daring Adventures, edited by Bill Schelly. "Schelly and the always sterling Fantagraphics production team do a nice job of preserving the look and feel of these comics…the master cartoonist was equally at home doing broad humor as intense action/adventure as well as lighter, Archie-style teen humor."
• Review:Comics Alliance and Caleb Goellner continues their Best of 2012 series with Prison Pit Book 4by Johnny Ryan. "It was like looking at a baby book of bad ideas from boyhood as an adult who'd learned to function in polite society…it's bliss to kick back and watch humankind's most immature impulses play out in the safety of Ryan's Prison Pit."
• Review:The Weekly Crisis lists its Top 10 books of 2012 and Johnny Ryan's Prison Pit Book 4 lands at #2. Taylor Pithers states "he is interested in is fighting and hyper violence, which to be fair, would be more acceptable to the masses if it was drawn by Ivan Reis or another one of Geoff Johns' collaborators…Honestly, there isn't a comic that has given me more belly laughs in my entire life."
• Review: Comiks Debris posts its Best of 2012 books and Johnny Ryan'sPrison Pit Book 4 comes in as #8.Marc-Oliver Frisch writes "structurally, Prison Pit reminds me a lot of Jarmusch's The Limits of Control… The artwork looks ugly, crude and perfunctory. The characters eat, shit, fuck and, most of all, fight their way through the book…It's one mean, sick motherfucker of a comic, and I can't wait what happens next."
• Plug: Tucker Stone on The Comics Journal rates his top comics of 2012. Prison Pit Book 4by Johnny Ryan comes in at 18. "…it’s hard to explain how intense the surprise was for a follower of Angry Youth and Ryan’s humiliation comics to open that first Prison Pit…"
• Review:Delphine by Richard Sala gets reviewed on Comic Book Resources. Kelly Thompson claims, "One part comic book and one part fever dream…Rare is the opportunity that I'm so engaged I consider yelling at an inanimate object such as a book…Delphine is also a nice contrast to the unrelentingly bright and happy fairy tales that are so often seen when it comes to modern reinterpretations of those early dark tales."
• Review:The New York Journal of Books thumbs through Spacehawk by Basil Wolverton. "Basil Wolverton rises to the occasion and gives the reader a detailed and hilarious look at megalomania while throwing in some fantastic aerial fight scenes…Fantagraphics Publishing brings Wolverton’s art to the reader in as detailed and perfect a form as possible. Each wave of space, every geometric shape and all the incredibly ugly aliens look better than they ever have in their entire lives," writes Mark Squirek.
• Review: Crave Online looks at Spacehawk by Basil Wolverton. "This is the medium when there were no rules, no event series and no giant corporations standing watch over what the creators were doing. If you love the Golden Age, science fiction and adventure, nothing compares to the world Basil Wolverton put together for Spacehawk," writes Iann Robinson.
• Review: The Weekly Crisis lists its Top 10 books of 2012 and Josh Simmon's The Furry Trap ranks as #1. Taylor Pithers writes, "The Furry Trap is pure exploitation; violent, disgusting, and bound to make you feel uncomfortable but it also does what the best fiction is meant to, it stays with you long after you have put the book down…Simmons is a cartoonist of the highest caliber. This is not a book for the faint hearted, but if you can stomach it will be a true experience."
• Review:NPR and Glen Weldon write on Books of 2012 they haven't told you about. Heads or Tails by Lilli Carré "The whole collection has the feel of a dream in which remembering how to fly is as simple as forgetting that you can't."
• Review: Noel Murray and The A.V. Club write about the Top 10 Fiction books of 2012. Heads or Tails comes in at #7. "Lilli Carré’s stories are like dreamy what-ifs that take the familiar and tweak it."
• Plug: Whitney Matheson of USA Today's Popcandy mentions her favorite things including Heads or Tailsby Lilli Carré: "…a lovely volume from one of my favorite cartoonists that includes several beautifully strange short stories. I'm a longtime fan and even have a framed Carre print hanging in the baby's room."
• Interview:The Comics Journal interviews Ron Regé, Jr. on The Cartoon Utopia, evolving comics and more. Regé on his book, "People should use bibilomancy—randomly opening to a page—to access the information if they’d like. Nothing in the book tells you to treat it that way, but I think people will get the idea anyway."
• Interview (audio): Erik Davis and Expanding Mind interview Ron Regé, Jr. on the radio about The Cartoon Utopia! Adventure indeed.
• Review:Comics Bulletin and Jason Sacks investigate Blacklung. "Chris Wright seems to channel Melville or Conrad in this book as he explores the uniquely idiosyncratic world that he creates…nobody has ever created characters that look like the characters in this book, with their strange faces and lumpy, malformed bodies…This slim graphic novel is a dense read unlike anything else you've read in comics."
• Review: Noel Murray and The A.V. Club write about the Top 10 Fiction books of 2012. Athos in America is #5. "Jason’s blank-faced animal-headed characters reveal unexpectedly deep passion via deadpan tales of dislocation."
• Review: Sonia Harris of Comics Book Resources places Love and Rockets: New Stories #5 by Jaime Hernandez and Gilbert Hernandez as #5 of her Top 16 Books of 2012. Harris says,"Watching these people’s lives change on the page, along with the gradual evolution of the Hernandez brother’s art and writing is the closest thing to real life created in a comic book. Nothing on the screen could ever compare to the life and complexity these two men breathe into their characters year after year with such consistent quality and affection."
• Plug: Tucker Stone on The Comics Journal rates his top comics of 2012. Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez have cause to celebrate as Love and Rockets:New Stories #5makes it at #13. "It was great, and of course it was, because it’s them, and it was great for all the same reasons you’d expect it to be…"
• Review:NPR and Glen Weldon write on Books of 2012 they haven't told you about like Wandering Son by Takako Shimura. "Wandering Son is not the kind of manga in which a happy ending is guaranteed… You'll thus be grateful for the moments of realistic, untempered joy Shimura allows her two protagonists here, as you wait with nervous anticipations for the travails that lie ahead for them…"
• Review:Manga Bookshelf recounts its Favorite Manga Series of 2012 including Wandering Son by Takako Shimura. "This series about two transgender children in modern-day Japan has been a favorite since it debuted last year thanks to its delicate, truthful storytelling and understated artwork…Its most recent volume (three) goes a bit darker and deeper, only heightening my interest in the series" says Melinda Beasi.
• Review: Noel Murray and The A.V. Club write about the Top 5 Archival books of 2012. Harvey Kurtzman's Corpse on the Imjin! landed at #1. "Kurtzman book is especially stunning, almost like a coffee-table art-book combined with a literary collection…an anthology with a strong individual perspective that tries to tell the truth about what war is like from the point of view of the people on both sides of the battlefield."
• Review: Noel Murray and The A.V. Club write about the Top 5 Archival books of 2012. Ernie Bushmiller's Nancy Is Happy: Complete Dailies 1946-48: "bristle-headed Nancy and poor slob Sluggo inadvertently irritate the grown-ups in their lives, in scenarios that Bushmiller illustrated with absurd visual gags—so basic that anyone, anywhere, at any time, could get the joke."
• Review: Nick Gazin of VICE has a pretty fuckin' fancy (his words) edition of The Clouds Above by Jordan Crane. "Jordan Crane is a cartoonist with supreme abilities. He's great at making lines, hand text, and backgrounds and stuff…This is beautifully colored also. Did I mention Jordan Crane's great color sense? His colors are good."
• Review: Steve Donaghue enjoys Prince Valiant Vol. 1 by Hal Foster on Open Letters Monthly. "The ambition becomes most emphatic the more you scrutinize the work. Foster often said he put in between 50 and 60 hours a week on creating the strip, and it shows in these magnificent reproductions, done in a sturdy hardcover with oversized pages and entirely restored colors and shadings."
• Plug:Record Collector magazine (UK) picks Listen, Whitey! by Pat Thomas as one of the top 12 books of 2012. "A socio-polictal account of American racial struggles...an extraordinary study of the way the message of [the Black Panther] movement was recounted and defined on vinyl. "In-depth" doesn't begin to describe it."
• Plug: Tucker Stone on The Comics Journal rates his top comics of 2012. Dungeon Quest 3 by Joe Daly makes the mark at 17. "in times like these, with sandwiches like mine, you have to root for the one who brung you, and that’s dick jokes. Dungeon Quest had so many of them, and they were all wonderful."
Happy New Year's! Here's to a great year of books and the next year and the year after that. We salute you and thank you for your friendship and purchases. Some of you sent in photos reading books from this year (and a few past ones).
The luckiest Powerball ticket of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review:Drawn's John Martz is ready for Heads or Tails. "Lilli Carré is one of those cartoonists who has been putting out plenty of great work. . . She’s a master of short stories, so this collection is a welcome addition to my bookshelves. Rainbow Moment, a smartly-crafted story of nested memories all told in different colour palettes is the stand out work, and worth the price of admission alone."
• Review: John Martz of Drawn looks at Barack Hussein Obama. "Steven Weissman has been posting his odd comic strip, named after and starring a Bizarro-Universe version of Barack Hussein Obama . . . and it quickly became one of my favourite comics online. . . Obama’s re-election, if anything, hopefully means another four years of this strange and delightful oddity."
• Plug: On Librairie D + Q, staffer Helen lists Wandering Son Vol. 3 in her picks for 2012. "Shimura Takako treats her two young, trans* protagonists (or an approximation of "trans*", in the context of Japanese gender politics and identities) with gentleness, but does not fall into the trap of painting an overly rosy picture of their experience . . . while [they navigate] the general difficulties and anxieties of tween-hood."
• Plug: Maria Popova creates her 10 Best Design Books of 2012 and reiterates her love of Significant Objects on Brain Pickings. " 'The universe is made of stories, not atoms,' poet Muriel Rukeyser famously remarked. Hardly anyone can back this bombastic proclamation with more empirical conviction than [editors] Rob Walker and Joshua Glenn."
• Review:Geekrocker looks at Gabriella Giandelli's Interiorae. Wee Claire says, "Giandelli's pale ghostly illustrations reflect the sombre, mysterious mood Giandelli skilfully creates. This isn't a story about great feats of human strength or otherworldly adventures, this is a simple tale about real human lives.. . . Interiorae shows us that if we look hard enough, there's a little bit of magic waiting around every darkened corner."
• Plug:Chris Butcher recommends you pre-order 7 Miles a Second. "James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook do a phenomenal job at bringing [writer David Wojnarowicz's] story to life, and this is a vital and important piece of gay history that had been denied to me as a gay teen, and which has been out of print for far too long."
• Plug:Boing Boing posted their 2012 Gift Guide and included two of our books again, Is That All There Is?by Joose Swarte. "This anthology of Swarte's alternative comics from 1972 showcases his famous clean-line style that makes reading his work a pleasure." Mark Frauenfelder also includes Joe Kubert's Weird Horrors that showcases "his versatility in a variety of genres, including horror, humor, and romance."
• Review: Avid fan and writer Benjamin Herman rereads Love and Rockets, while making some great conclusions on the way. "[Duck Feet] was my first real exposure to Gilbert’s stories of Luba and the denizens of the Latin American village of Palomar, and I really enjoyed it. Gilbert’s writing was full of character, containing a distinctive voice, his artwork imbued with real atmosphere. . . Gilbert expertly crafted an almost epic tale that spans across a generation, giving us very real, flawed, dysfunctional characters." For Jaime's work "one of the key elements of Jaime’s stories is the process of growing up, of maturing, the struggle to become an adult and leave childhood behind. Maggie and Hopey both have to face the choice of pursuing long-term adult relationships or continuing teenage flings."
The spendiest debit card of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Interview:Robot 6 and Tim O'Shea interview Chris Wright about Blacklung. Wright answers, "the characters in Blacklung, particularly Brahm, are wrapped up in these hellish cycles, of destruction, and grief, and that quote seemed, not so much to sum up the philosophical point of view of the book, but to act dynamically with it, and become part of it’s dialogue. How responsible are we really for our own fates, and how much of what we become, and what we experience is beyond our influence."
• Review:Anime News Network looks at The Heart of Thomas by Moto Hagio. Jason Thompson writes " . . this story isn't about same-sex attraction and social prejudice as much as it's about love itself; at heart, this is a manga about spiritual love between two souls. . . The Art Nouveau artwork and the prose-poetry that accompanies it, the dream sequences, the images of ghosts and doubles, all add to a feeling of unreality. Hagio's work often approaches surrealism. . ."
• Review: On Manga Worth Reading, Johanna Draper Carlson reviews The Heart of Thomas by Moto Hagio. "It all felt strange and foreign. . . but I kept turning pages, hoping for these children to find more settled hearts. The question of how much responsibility someone else’s feelings for you place on you is a universal one, never to be answered, but I enjoyed reading about these young men dealing with the problem and its consequences."
• Plug:MTV Geek puts The Heart of Thomas on its Manga Lovers List. Brigid Alverson says "one of the first boys-love manga and a masterpiece in its own right. Translated by manga scholar (and friend of Moto Hagio) Matt Thorn, this manga is complete in one single, oversized volume." Stumptown Trade Review adds "Fantagraphics is not normally known for publishing manga. So, when they do choose to publish a manga graphic novel it is worth noting. The Heart of Thomas is no exception."
• Review:Experiments in Manga writes a thankful note for Shimura Takako's Wandering Son series, "I needed a story like Wandering Son growing up. I've only recently realized how crucial and important it is for young people to have characters that they can personally identify with in the media that they watch, read, and play . . Ultimately Wandering Son isn't so much about issues [of sexuality and gender identity] as it is about people."
• Review:Castle Waiting #18 by Linda Medley is reviewed on Comic Book Resources. Kelly Thompson states, issue #18 "ties up that volume beautifully and puts the characters exactly where they need to be both for closure purposes and as a set up for future stories to continue at any time. . . Medley approaches these characters and ideas with a boundless creativity that never feels forced, instead there is an effortless element to how her stories unfold, natural and without true purpose."
• Interview:The Quietus interviews Joost Swarte on his new book,Is That All There Is? collecting his life in comics so far. Aug Stone states,"these are works to behold, to marvel at their beauty and composition, all presented with a good sense of fun. The backgrounds brim with amusing and interesting details, the stories themselves bursting with mishaps, mayhem, music, and sex."
• Review:Broken Pencil Magazine released their printed review of Is That All There Is? by Joost Swarte. "Taking visual cues from Tintin creator Hergé’s clean line style, Swarte added a healthy dose of 70s-style countercultural mores and boasted an incredible capacity for experimentation and playfulness that went above and beyond many of his peers," to quote Matthew Daley.
• Plug: In an nice history lesson and review of The Complege Pogo: Vol. 1-2 by Walt Kelly in the Washington Times, Michael Taube states, "Pogo was intellectual, thought-provoking, cynical, controversial and downright brilliant. It broke barriers and didn't fit into societal norms. You didn't even have to agree with Kelly's politics to respect his genius as an artist and a commentator."
Pogo” was intellectual, thought-provoking, cynical, controversial and downright brilliant. It broke barriers and didn’t fit into societal norms. You didn’t even have to agree with Kelly’s politics to respect his genius as an artist and a commentator.
Pogo” was intellectual, thought-provoking, cynical, controversial and downright brilliant. It broke barriers and didn’t fit into societal norms. You didn’t even have to agree with Kelly’s politics to respect his genius as an artist and a commentator.
• Review: Matthew Daley reviews Athos in America by Jason for Broken Pencil Magazine. He writes, "these stories can tread on some pretty dark, even bleak ground, and in the hands of a different artist, it could wear the reader down. However, the simple art and bright flat colours and the aforementioned deadpan characters make the bleakness a bit easier to take."
• Plug: A much looked-forward to release on Heroes Online is Tony Millionaire's Green Eggs and Maakies. Seth Peagler says, "Millionaire’s highly regarded for the way he combines classic strip cartooning (and fine line work) with subversive humor."
• Review: Rob Clough of High-Low profiles Paul Hornschemeier and his book Let Us Be Perfectly Clear. "There's a certain grimness and melancholy that's dominated his major works, but I always found his humorous pieces to be every bit as involving. . . What I like most about [Let Us Be] is its intricacy and the way it yo-yos back and forth between emotional distance and the immediacy of Dennis' unbalanced mind. . . I'll be curious to see what his newer comics will look like, and if we're due for another round of unbridled innovation from Hornschemeier."
• Review:Popeye by E.C. Seger gets the twice over by Roger Ash on Westfield Comics Blog. "I’ve only read the first two volumes so far, and they are fantastic and eye opening. This is a very different Popeye that what I knew. He’s still gruff and lovable, but spinach has nothing to do with his strength. . . He routinely survives stabbings and shootings and is a terror in the boxing ring. . ." and "Because of the size of the book, a whole week’s worth of dailies fit on one page. Due to their age, the quality of the reproduction of the strips can vary, but in general they look very nice."
• Plug:Comics Alliance's Best Art This Week compiled by Andy Khouri includes a little Richard Sala and Jaime Hernandez! Way to go, team.
• Plug: Ellen Forney touches on her time as a creator for Fantagraphics in a Publishers Weekly article by Grace Bello.
The first rain-free (HA!) day of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review:The Comics Journal looks at Ron Rege Jr.'s The Cartoon Utopia. Katie Haegel writes, "Almost impossible to categorize, the work in Cartoon Utopia is both fully realized in a formal sense and wonderfully idiosyncratic. Like, it’s really out there. . . to me the work is much stronger when it depicts magic in action, which Regé accomplishes by telling us stories about historical figures and their relationship to the natural world."
• Review:Robot 6 reviews The Cartoon Utopia by Ron Rege Jr. Chris Mautner writes "with Rege drawing science, new age spiritualism, the occult, astrology and Jungian archetypes to come up with a personal grand unification theory. There are no plots or characters in the book to speak of, instead Rege merely muses and illustrates his theories, which mainly have to on the interconnectedness of all living matter."
• Plugs: Best covers of the week by Andy Khouri on Comics Alliance. Ron Regé Jr'sThe Cartoon Utopia: "This cover really makes me smile, and maybe gives me a sense of four-color spiritual well-being. But cartoon utopia looks more outdoorsy than I expected."
• Review:Page 45 enjoys the gentle pages of The Cartoon Utopia. Stephen L. Holland states, "Regé is back with a spiritual manifesto and ode to creativity: a singular, secular vision delivered with all the fervour of a religious sermon. It’s a call not to arms but to peace and perception unshackled from the conditioning of ages, exhorting all to see new possibilities, infinite possibilities, so enabling one’s full potential to be realised in both senses of the word."
• Review:Barack Hussein Obamaby Steven Weissman is reviewed on Bookslut. Martyn Pedler says, "His Obama begins as a kind of smug, stoner everyman: telling 'your momma' jokes, discussing old movies with visiting dignitaries . . . Weissman’s pages -- drawn in ballpoint into a moleskin notebook -- use a four-panel gag structure that makes the book immediately addictive."
• Review:Publishers Weekly takes on Barack Hussein Obama by Steven Weissman.". . . readers will likely have to be content with being one part giddy and three parts puzzled. . . Perhaps that’s Weissman’s point: that the farce of contemporary politics has the capacity to make one simultaneously giddy, confused, and disenchanted."
• Interview (audio): Speaking of Steven Weissman, Obama and the elections, he is interviewed on KPFK 90.7 FM's show Beneath the Surface.
• Review: Cartoonist Lilli Carré finds herself Boing-Boing-ed. Brian Heater describes Heads or Tails collection, "These strips, which originally in the pages of places like The Believer and Mome, find the artist dipping her toes into new pools, the sort of freedom afforded by the low commitments of the short story form, often to truly wonderful effect."
• Interview: Eddie Wright of MTV Geek interviews Johnny Ryan about Prison Pit 4 and why us humans love it so much. "Well, I think it connects to comic fans because it's the stripped down essence of what popular superhero comics are, which is men beating the living shit out of each other. People love it."
• Review:Reglar Wiglar spit takes while reading Johnny Ryan's Prison Pit 4. Chris Auman says, "This is Ryan’s depraved ID unleashed in its purest form: blood, guts, genitalia and fecal matter abound—actually they don’t abound so much as they’re sprayed all over absolutely everything in a fantastical sci-fi orgy of digustedness."
• Plugs: Best covers of the week by Andy Khouri on Comics Alliance. continues with Wallace Wood's Came the Dawn: "And while we're talking smart use of interior art, here's another superb example. This collection is all about the mastery of Wally Wood, so the cover presents a taste of his work in an uncluttered and respectful way, while also establishing a trade dress for Fantagraphics' new EC artists line." Chris Wright's Blacklung: "I see a lot of Joann Sfar in this densely demonic and stylishly constructed cover, and that's enough to convince me to investigate the work of newcomer Chris Wright." Spacehawk mini-comic by Basil Wolverton: "Basil Wolverton may be best known for his grotesque caricatures in MAD Magazine, but he worked in a lot of genres. Spacehawk was evidently one of his early works, and if this gorgeously lurid cover is anything to go by it was a delightfully daffy sci-fi pulp."
• Review:Booklist Online carves out a place in their hearts for Wallace Wood's Came the Dawn. Ray Olson writes, "This volume presenting all his horror and crime stories chronologically shows him refining what is at first a crude though powerful sense of mise-en-scène into one that is assured, highly detailed, and lightly caricatural."
• Review:AV Club reviewed all our new books Came the Dawn by Wallace Wood and Corpse on the Imjin by Harvey Kurtzman. Noel Murray writes, "in writer/artist-driven volumes, printed in black and white, with additional essays and archival material . . . [and] both immediately reveal the value in the artist-driven approach. . . Feldstein’s stories were like the comic-book equivalent to some of the seediest B-movies, and Wood’s art fit Feldstein’s text, with lots of deep shadows and wrinkles reflecting a complicated world." On Basil WolvertonSpacehawk, "As with Kurtzman’s war comics, it’s remarkable to see art so twisted applied to such vivid pulp tales—almost as though Wolverton was trying his hardest to be Alex Raymond, but couldn’t help turning out images to rival Salvador Dalí." Gary Panter's "Dal Tokyo would evolve, strip-by-strip, into a distinctly Panter-esque swirl of science fiction and pure abstraction, in keeping with the artist’s one-of-a-kind sense of design, and his pursuit of comics that resemble music and poetry."
•Plug:Web Cast Beacon reviews all free Halloween Comics Fest freebies. They enjoy Tales from the Crypt and Spacehawk. YES, mail in those ad coupons, people.
• Interview:Jim Woodring is interviewed by Peter Bebergal on hippies, hallucinations and all the good stuff that goes into his latest work, Problematic, a skechbook. "I frequently saw things at night — silently jabbering heads at the foot of my bed, distorted animals and objects hanging in the air over me. Often I saw a huge staring eye that made me vomit with fear."
• Plug: On Boing-Boing, Mark Frauenfelder tips his digi-hat to Floyd Gottfredson: "Gottfredson's Mickey is a plucky, goodhearted imp, bursting with energy and impulsively eager for adventure. . . [Carl] Barks will always have a special place in my heart, but I've added Gottfredson to my short list of great American cartoonists."
• Review: Page 45 looks at The Lost Art of Ah Pookand Stephen L. Holland ponders "Malcom Mc Neill has taken the time to put this eye-frazzling book of art – some of it sequential – into context, for the work itself is very much lost. . . There are vast scenes of ancient ritual, carnal lust and very modern warfare transcending time just as they were always intended."
• Review:Booklist Online likes Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge: Only a Poor Old Manby Carl Barks. Ian Chipman states, "from the bitter cold of the Klondike to the bottom of the Caribbean. . . Barks’ comics are an absolute treasure that have aged remarkably well, and are finally getting wide-scale publication to introduce them to a new generation of readers."
• Review: Gene Ambaum of Unshelved happily views covers from Action! Mystery! Thrills!, edited by Greg Sadowski. "Beautiful full-color reproductions of unblemished comic book covers show the amazing art and the breadth of genres on the newsstands before Fredric Wertham screwed everything up in the 1950s. . . The colors are bright, and the art is just plain fun."
• Review: Is That All There Is? by Joost Swarte gets reviewed on Bookgasm. JT Lindroos states, ". . . it’s impossible not to enjoy this ultimately all-too-brief volume for every single panel it presents. Swarte is consistently projecting an incisive and curious mind at work, perfectly tuned to his showstopping skills as an artist nonpareil."
• Review: Rod Lott of Bookgasm spends a long, loooong time checking out Sexytime. "[Editor Jacque Boyreau] has a knack for picking images; much like Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart and hardcore porn, Boyreau knows it when he sees it. And luckily, he shares it, this time from the visual-presentation experts of Fantagraphics Books — a match made in poster-art heaven."
• Plug: Matt Bielby writes about The Complete Crumb Volume 1 by R. Crumb in Comic Heroes Magazine: "It's incredible stuff, much of it obviously for completists only, but even the most obscure volumes track a fascinating, and developing, world view."
• Interview: Charles Burns is interviewed on Cult Montreal by Emily Raine about The Hive, his creepy artwork and the Black Hole movie. "It’s not my intention to be creepy per se, or that’s not the reason I’m writing stories. I think they end up being whatever they are. Maybe I’m just a creepy guy, I don’t know."
• Interview (audio): One of our favorite creators, Ellen Forney, speaks to KUOW/NPR on bi-polar disorder, comics and her new work, Marbles.
• Plug:Jaime Hernandez will be at the Copenhagen Comics Fest in Copenhagen, Denmark in June of 2013. Mark them calendars!
The cuddliest cat at the shelter of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review:Body Literature reviews The Last VispoAnthology: Visual Poetry 1998-2008 edited by Nico Vassilakis & Crag Hill. Stephan Delbos writes "The Last Vispo Anthology is strange. It is also challenging, eclectic, confounding, erudite, punchy, and, by turns, beautiful. . .overall there is an elegiac note to this anthology, which extends from the title to the feeling, put forth by several of the essays, that visual poetry is facing a turning point.. .visual poetry is the bastard hermaphrodite of arts and letters. In a good way."
• Review:David Fournol looks at The Cavalier Mr. Thompson by Rich Tommaso, a rough translation states, "Exemplified by its beautiful design and the use of only two colors gives the book a slightly dated, authentic look. . . Describing and illustrating people's lives is a major talent of Rich Tommaso's. It is a process that has already been perfected in another of his works. . ."
• Review:Los Angeles I'm Yours gets Barack Hussein Obama by Steven Weissman in a big way. Kyle Fitzpatrick says, "The novel follows a gangly Barack Hussein Obama who is a constant prankster and has absolutely no manners. . . It’s a dark world and Obama is the smarmy asshole king. . . It’s a great pre-election graphic novel with some great, dark laughs."
• Review:Comic Book Resources and Tim Callahan looks at two books from the 'W' section of his library.Barack Hussein Obama by Steven Weissman "seems part of a larger movement (from IDW's Artist's Editions to years of Kramers Ergot) to signify the artwork as the end result rather than as a means of producing an end result. . . And Weissman's work demands ingestion and interpretation rather than declaration. Oh, it's good, too, if that has any meaning after all that abstraction." On Wallace Wood's Came the Dawn from the EC Library, Callahan posits, "This is a serious-looking, important comic, for serious-minded, important people. This isn't some lascivious spectacle. Heck, there's only one female on the cover, and she's facing away from us. No one is carrying around any chopped-off heads or limbs. There's no blood anywhere. No shrieking to be seen."
• Plug: Chris Mautner of Robot 6 looks through our next season catalog. The Endby Anders Nilson, I tend to consider this book. . . to be his best work to date, an absolutely shattering and deeply moving account of dealing with loss and grief." On The Cabbie Vol. 2by Marti, Mautner mentions, "Oh man, I seriously love me some Cabbie. I don’t think the first volume exactly sold like hotcakes, but I’m glad to see their continuing on with Marti’s ultra-dark Chester Gould homage." In reference toStorm P.: A Century of Laughter: "Kim Thompson is going to school us all in the world of Eurocomics or die trying. I, for one, am always eager to learn, however. This coffee-table book features the work of Danish gag cartoonist Robert Storm Petersen, whose work is reminiscent of O. Soglow and other New York cartoonists from the same era."
• Plug:Boing Boing covers a few of their favorite books. Mark Frauenfelder enjoyed flipping through Weird Horrors and Daring Adventuresby Joe Kubert, edited by Bill Schelly. "Best known for Sgt. Rock,Tarzan, and Hawkman in the 1960s and 70s, this anthology of Kubert's 1940s work reveals his versatility in a variety of genres, including horror, humor, and romance." In regards to the Is That All There Is? by Joose Swarte Frauenfelder admits, "I prefer his work over Hergé's (don't shoot me). This anthology of Swarte's alternative comics from 1972 showcases his famous clean-line style that makes reading his work a pleasure."
• Review: Jason Sacks of Comics Bulletin interviews Justin Hall, editor of No Straight Lines, on queer comics, teaching comics and preserving history. Hall says, "I think in general the queer comics underground is – if you could categorize it with anything, there is a directness and honesty to the work – a real rawness that's quite impressive. I think that comes out of the feminist underground comics: Wimmen’s Comix, Tits and Clits, etc."
• Review:Gay Comics List talks about No Straight Lines, edited by Justin Hall. Francois Peneaud says, "Hall wisely chose to follow a (more or less) chronological path instead of anything fancier, but that doesn’t mean he has nothing interesting to say, far from it. The tension between specialized comics (by which I mean comics made by and for a specific group of people) and mainstream audience, the evolution from the urgent need for visibility to the creation of complexified issues and characters, all these and more are covered in a few pages."
• Review: Editor Kim Thompson speaks to World Literature Today about translating Nicholas Mahler's Angelman and other books in the Fantagraphics library. "Humor is far more difficult to translate than anything else. If you translate a dramatic sequence and your words or rhythm aren’t quite right, it still can work."
• Review:Page 45 enjoys Special Exits by Joyce Farmer. "No punches are pulled, this is life, specifically the twilight years and subsequent demise of elderly parents, told with such honesty, candour and compassion that I actually find myself welling up again as I'm typing this. . . SPECIAL EXITS becomes a testament to the human spirit and the value of a positive outlook on life, especially in one's latter years when faced with failing health," says Jonathan.
• Review:The Comics Reporter enjoys Buz Sawyer Vol. 2: Sultry's Tigerby Roy Crane. Tom Spurgeon says, "To get the obvious out of the way, this book has some almost impossibly beautiful cartooning in it. Even for someone like me that finds the basic visual approach of Buz Sawyer less thrilling than the more rugged, crude cartooning of Crane's Wash Tubbs work, there are several panels of stop and whistle variety."
The kissiest babyface on a campaign of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review: The Las Vegas Weekly breaks out their ballots and their copies of Barack Hussein Obama by Steven Weissman. J. Calob Mozzococco says, "Weissman’s delicate line work and fine-art design style further remove the narrative from the caricature-style visuals usually associated with comics about politicians, and is perfectly suited to the meandering, poetic, almost meditative comic."
•Interview (audio): Steven Weissman talks about comics, math and trying to identify with such public, political characters on the Inkstuds podcast with Robin McConnell. Weissman talks about the impotes impotus for Barack Hussein Obama. "Initially, it was just his name and. . . the dreams his followers had for him. . . I started to treat Hillary Clinton as a Lucy van Pelt character."
• Interview: On the quest to The Cartoon Utopia, Ron Regé Jr. is interviewed by Ryan Ingram on Comic Book Resources. Regé states,"Similar to Lynda Barry's "What It Is," [The Cartoon Utopia] should be approached slowly, as a textbook would. It might also be useful when read via bibliomancy, opening the book to a random page to access the information in a magical way."
• Review (audio):Comic Books are Burning in Hell talks about Johnny Ryan and Prison Pit 4 with all the usual suspects: Joe McCullough, Matt Seneca, Chris Mautner and Tucker Stone. "While visually Prison Pit is very clean, composed and controlled, plotwise, I think, its the ultimate noise comic. Its fucking total destruction and nothing else. And I value the hell outta that."
• Review: Grovel enjoys the comics, yes literary but still comics of Lorenzo Mattotti and Jorge Zentner in The Crackle of the Frost. Andy Shaw states, "It’s a wilfully arty book – more of an essay in mood that just happens to have a plot, than a traditional story – but the writing is interesting and the artwork is stunning. . . so is one for the literary, rather than the mainstream comics enthusiast."
• Interview:Comic Book Resources coverage on the APE panel featuring all three Hernandez Brothers. Steven Sautter writes,"There was no set plan in those early days, no grand storyline or over-arcing plot; the Hernandez brothers simply told the stories they felt like telling, none of them counting on the eventual longevity of "Love and Rockets."
• Plug: Liv Suddall of It's Nice That thoroughly enjoys the content and design of Is That All There Is? by Joost Swarte. "With a more-than-just-a-nod nod to Tintin creator Hergé, this surprisingly raunchy book is a big slice of aesthetic pleasure from start to finish and should probably be on everyone’s wish list this Christmas."
Due to popular demand, in addition to the new softcover edition, we are offering this new hardcover edition at the same increased trim size (and with a new matte cover treatment — see photo below for comparison with the First Edition, which is also still available), limited to 500 copies worldwide!
By appropriating and subverting Tintin creator Hergé’s classic “clear line” style, Joost Swarte revitalized European alternative comics in the 1970s with a series of satirical, musically elegant, supremely beautifully drawn short stories — often featuring his innocent, magnificently-quiffed Jopo de Pojo, or his orotund scientist character, Anton Makassar.
Under Swarte’s own exacting supervision, Is That All There Is? will collect virtually all of his alternative comics work from 1972 to date, including the RAW magazine stories that brought him fame among American comics aficionados in the 1980s. Especially great pains will be taken to match Swarte’s superb coloring, which includes stories executed in watercolor, comics printed in retro duotones, fiendishly clever use of Zip-a-Tone screens, and much more. (There’s even a story about how to color comics art using those screens, with Makassar as the teacher.)
Other noteworthy stories include Swarte’s take on an episode from Hergé’s early days, a Fats Domino story, a tribute to the legendary “Upside-Downs” strip, and a story titled simply “Modern Art.”
“I’ve loved Joost Swarte’s perfect cartoons, drawings and designs for decades and it’s nothing short of ridiculous that a comprehensive edition of this brilliant artist’s work has never been available in America until now. Swarte is considered a national treasure in his native Holland, and if you open this book, you’ll understand why.” — Chris Ware