|Is That All There Is? by Joost Swarte - Robot 6 exclusive preview|
|Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under previews, Joost Swarte||3 Jan 2012 2:40 PM|
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Category >> Joost Swarte
Today's Online Commentary & Diversions:
• List: The National Post's David Berry names The Best Graphic Novels of 2011, saying of his #3 choice "This does feel somewhat like cheating, since there’s only a few sequences of proper graphic work here, but why quibble about format: Mark Twain’s Autobiography 1910-2010 is, quite simply, one of the funniest things you’ll read in any genre. Kupperman has a child’s free-ranging imagination and an aging intellectual’s dry wit... This supposed telling of Mark Twain’s 20th-century life... would be an awe-inspiring work of imagination if it wasn’t so absurdly hilarious. Somewhere between John Hodgman and Graham Roumieu, Kupperman has found stark comic brilliance."
• List: Comic Book Resources continues their Top 100 comics of 2011 countdown, with Ganges #4 by Kevin Huizenga coming in at #48 and Brian Cronin calling it "mind-boggling" and "remarkable. Absolute top notch sequential work."
• List: Comic Book Resources columnist Sonia Harris lists "My Top 10 Comics (for ANY Year)" with Love and Rockets taking the #2 spot: "Read Love & Rockets, all of them, both brothers, everything you can find. Your life will be richer."
• List: Bookgasm's J.T. Lindroos, running down the Best Euro Comics as part of the Best Books of 2011, writes "Fantagraphics continued its Jacques Tardi lineup, and I was particularly delighted by the proto-steampunk The Arctic Marauder, although I think one should own every single book in the series. I was also happy to see some less well-known artists get their chance, and both Sibyl-Anne Vs. Ratticus by R. Macherot and Murder by High Tide by Maurice Tilleux were wonderful surprises in the classic Franco-Belgian 'bigfoot' style. Fantagraphics is quickly becoming the Criterion Collection of comics publishing."
• List: Richmond VA comic shop Velocity Comics counts down their top ten Best Graphic Novels 2011, with Jim Woodring's Congress of the Animals at #9: "There are few artists’ work I can endlessly stare at with as much feverish perplexitude as Jim Woodring’s. Yes, I just made that word up."
• List: Vancouver BC culture site The Snipe surveys local comics industry folks for their favorite comics of the year. The Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse series by Floyd Gottfredson is named Best Collected Edition or Reprint by cartoonist Steve LeCouiliard...
"Floyd Gottfredson is one of the overlooked masters of the comic strip. Like Carl Barks, his work was always signed 'Walt Disney' but his craft and storytelling brilliance shone through. Comic strips really don’t provide much more pure joy than Gottfredson’s Mickey Mouse."
...and by VanCAF organizer Shannon Campbell...
"The two-volume collection of Floyd Gottfredson’s run of Mickey Mouse, hands down! These books chronicle the glory days of the old-school Mickey Mouse comics when Gottfredson did both art and story (from 1930-1934)."
...while the staff of Lucky's Comics can't pick just one:
"This has been a boon year reprint editions, but take your pick from Fantagraphics Books’ amazing editions of Pogo by Walt Kelly, Donald Duck by Carl Barks, Mickey Mouse by Floyd Gottfredson, and Prince Valiant by Hal Foster. Fantagraphics has done such an incredible job on book designs, colors, paper… all of the details that make these editions glow."
"Love & Rockets. Three little words, but for those of us who love independent comic books, they mean so much.... As usual with L&R, the stories are sweet, sad, sexy, humorous, and above all, fun."
...21: The Story Of Roberto Clemente by Wilfred Santiago at #13...
"It’s not just the subject matter that’s a winner here. Santiago has a knack for simplicity in his storytelling approach, and in a medium that’s often beset by needless complexity, that’s a rare gift."
...and The Hidden by Richard Sala at #6:
"...[P]robably the best pure horror comic I read this year... and one that quite frankly shocked the hell out of me. Sala’s expressionist art style might not be the most obvious choice for telling blood-curdling horror stories, but its innocent cartoony quality somehow makes a perfect (and terrible) fit with the horrible, almost nihilistic story that Sala is telling."
• Review: "Swarte’s visuals are always gorgeous and distinctive, with a strong influence from Hergé but an even more rigidly mapped out structure. The more you look at them, especially the large ones, the more you see, as in a one-panel, one-pager that lays out a parodic vision of comics production as if it resulted from a Roger Corman-esque movie studio. His eye is careful and his line even more so. ...[Is That All There Is?] is a real pleasure to read and to look at, and it makes a case for Swarte as a real comics guy, not just an illustrator." – Hillary Brown, Paste
• Profile: At City Journal, an essay by Stefan Kanfer with a history of Walt Kelly and Pogo: "He frequently quoted a line that he had written for Porky Pine: 'Don’t take life so serious, it ain’t nohow permanent.' No, it ain’t. But art — even comic art — can be, in the hands of a master. Every book, every comic, every panel verifies the claims of Kelly’s fervent cheering squad: after 63 ever-lovin’ blue-eyed years, Pogo is still incomparabobble." (Via The Comics Reporter)
• Plug: Seattlest's Heather Logue spotlights Tony Millionaire's upcoming appearance and art show at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery: "Aside from the fact that he has an amazing superhero name, Tony Millionaire also has the extraordinary talent to back it up. The cartoonist will be at Fantagraphics with his latest book 500 Portraits -- a collection of portraits (duh) of everything from the very famous face, to the very small bug. All meticulously crafted in his beautiful, yet grotesque way -- you're not going to want to miss Tony's take on portraiture."
• Scene: At his blog, Drew Friedman recounts his experience as keynote speaker at the International Society of Caricature Artists' annual convention last month, with lots of photos, a couple video clips and a transcription of a Q&A session
• Commentary: On his blog, proud book-papa Blake Bell runs down the reasons he's so excited about the imminent release of Amazing Mysteries: The Bill Everett Archives Vol. 1, which he edited
I always was very fond of the mini-comics format -- take two to four 8 1/2 x 11 sheets, fold them once, staple, and voilà! You have an adorable little 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 comic book for mere pennies. But I could never really figure out what to do with this old-school, low-tech format.
For this catalog season, we have created 21 "FBI•MINI" booklets (most in this format, although there are a few oddities), as premiums for customers who order books directly from us. They are available free with the purchase of their "matching" book or books -- or for those customers who've already bought those books but are desperate to get the FBI•MINI, free with the purchase of $50 worth of any other Fantagraphics mail-order merchandise.
We've put together some pretty amazing stuff. For instances, there are four foreign FBI•MINIs featuring material that is being released in English for the very first time: an eight-page David B. story from the 1990s, an eight-page full-color Sibyl-Anne story by Raymond Macherot, a twelve-page collection of Joost Swarte's very earliest, most underground-y work -- the stuff that didn't make it into Is That All There Is? -- and most amazing of all, 21 pages of an abandoned Manchette/Tardi story that has only been printed once in an obscure French collection, and never in English. That's 49 page of prime European comics available here for the first time.
There are four sketchbook collections (an amazing gathering of Jim Woodring work preparing for Congress of the Animals, an intricate set of sketches and more by Stephen DeStefano for Lucky in Love, a collection of Kim Deitch's legendary pencilled conceptualization drawings... and a hilarious blurt of Prison Pit character doodles from Johnny Ryan).
There's a non-Segar Popeye strip from the Segar era that didn't make it into our Popeye series (since it wasn't by Segar)... a collection of terrific "coming attractions" pages from Golden Age comics to go with Greg Sadowski's upcoming Golden Age covers collection... a dozen great "Humorama" drawings that didn't quite get into the Humorama book... a striking facsimile of a Maurice Tillieux original Gil Jordan page, complete with watercolored color indications on the back... and a never-before published Joe Sacco strip.
Plus 16 pages of Alex Toth art from the Setting the Standard era, but here reproduced in crisp black and white from the original photostats... Tony Millionaire's hilarious illustrated essay on failing to secure a TV gig for Billy Hazelnuts, complete with a preview of his upcoming Billy Hazelnuts Volume 3... a collection of the legendary Ivan Brunetti Nancy strip try-out... and 12 gorgeous full-color pages of scary Richard Sala faces.
And we've also got some obscurities, such as 12 pages of Bill Griffith comics that got axed from his epochal Lost and Found, a never-before-reprinted Critters-era "Nilson Groundthumper" story by Stan Sakai, and some truly Jurassic-era comics from Peter Bagge and Los Bros. Hernandez.
If any of these catch your interest (and if you're reading this blog surely at least one of them will) you can click right on any of them to a more detailed listing on our website -- or just click right here and all 21 will pop up for you to peruse.
Today's Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: "Picking up immediately following the events of the first Fantagraphics collection, The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec Vol. 2 continues the unusual escapades of the novelist title character.... Though the concepts and action propel the tale, the droll heroine with her asides and astute observations drives these fantastic comics. After a second attempt on her life almost succeeds, Blanc-Sec stands among a train wreckage and declares 'I am being taunted!' Tardi frequently breaks down the fourth wall to a humorous effect and his magnificent color art recalls the best of Hergé's TinTin stories." – Rick Klaw, The SF Site
• Plug (Video): Westfield Comics' Roger Ash talks up Is That All There Is?, our upcoming collection of Joost Swarte comics — and demonstrates how to pronounce Joost Swarte — in his latest "Westfield Comics Pick" video (stick it out to the end for some amusing outtake Easter eggs)
The new Diamond Previews catalog came out recently and in it you'll find our usual 2-page spread (download the PDF) with our releases scheduled to arrive in your local comic shop in January 2012 (give or take — some release dates may have changed since the issue went to press). We're pleased to offer additional and updated information about these upcoming releases here on our website, to help shops and customers alike make more informed ordering decisions.
This month's Spotlight item is editor John Benson's The Sincerest Form of Parody: The Best 1950s MAD-Inspired Sarirical Comics; Listen, Whitey!: The Sights and Sounds of the Black Power Movement 1965-1975 by Pat Thomas is "Certified Cool"; and the issue also includes Popeye Vol. 6: "Me Li'l Swee'Pea", the final (alas) E.C. Segar volume; more pre-Spidey classics in Mysterious Traveler: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 3 edited by Blake Bell; the über-definitive guide to R. Crumb art The Crumb Compendium by Carl Richter; the heretofore uncollected underground memoir Cruisin' with the Hound: The Life and Times of Fred Tooté by Spain Rodriguez; and the long-awaited, eagerly-anticipated Is That All There Is? by Joost Swarte.
Today's Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: "Artists of vision toiling within the gears of a vision-suppressing machine, Carl Barks and Floyd Gottfredson drew and wrote great swathes of the best popular art of the twentieth century, mostly in the least auspicious venues available: comic books and comic strips credited to Walt Disney.... Fantagraphics is currently collecting the work of both artists: Barks's transcendent Donald and Scrooge McDuck comics, and Gottfredson's sprightly Mickey Mouse serials. To the publisher's credit, the books are gorgeous but designed for readability rather than coffee-table displaying. This is great art you can feel guilt-free perusing in the bathtub....
"The initial volume in the Barks series is... all pleasure, a treasury of deceptively simple gag and adventure stories that fashioned with wit, irony, and impeccable craftmanship.... The longer stories here... are suspenseful, surprising, funny, and fresh... These kids' comics are far from kids' stuff -- this is for everyone....
"Like the goofy, violent, darker-than-expected cliffhangers of the second Indiana Jones flick, Gottfredson's Mickey Mouse -- especially in in its second volume, covering 1932 and '33 -- is an exhausting achievement in can-you-top-this adventure storytelling.... This kids' stuff isn't for kids, either. But it's revealing and thrilling, both a guide to what's long been wrong with this country -- and guide to what's great in its imagination." – Alan Scherstuhl, SF Weekly
• Review: "...I’d been looking forward to the Fantagraphics [Carl Barks Library] series, and I’m happy to say it’s being done right.... I like to think that Carl Barks, an unpretentious storyteller who created for an audience of children whose intelligence, ingenuity and decency he never doubted, would approve and be gladdened by how his work, this time around, is being put back out into the world." – Tom De Haven, The Comics Journal
• Review: "...[I]n this insightful and riveting biography, Avery has brought the flat-capped, sunglassed, mustachioed, Nat Sherman-smoking, hamburger eating, and Coca-Cola guzzling wordsmith back to life; a writer as fascinating -- and frustrating -- as many of his interview subjects.... Thankfully, more than half of the books pages are given over to reprints of Nelson's own work... And while Everything Is an Afterthought will bring renewed attention to the work of Paul Nelson, it's the work of Kevin Avery that resonates most as he tries -- and succeeds as much as possible -- to unravel the enigma of Paul Nelson's mind." – Bob Ruggiero, Houston Press
• Review: "Michael Kupperman’s Tales Designed to Thrizzle #7 has many more laughs than it does pages. It’s jokes that build on jokes that lead to more jokes through left turns, fakes, surprises, and nerdy pop culture references.... One premise leads to the next, like one of the better episodes of Monty Python or Mr Show... – this book is funny enough to make you crack up on a crowded bus." – Tom Mohrman, CultureMob
• Interview: David Fernández of Zona Negativa has a career-spanning Q&A (in English and Spanish) with Jason: "You don’t do comics for the money. You do it for love of the medium, for the need to tell stories in images. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. You feel a connection to other struggling cartoonists. It’s something you have in common. There some humility in it. So there are very few cartoonist assholes. I haven’t met any."
Okay, so Joost Swarte threw me one last curve ball with this wordplay-heavy sequence.
The lady is complaining that the fall has broken her just-purchased "ballen" (round Christmas tree ornaments) and her "piek" (an ornament for the top of the tree), but both words have a sexual connotation ("balls" and "dick" if you will), resulting in a Beavis and Butt-head huh-huh-huh effect.
"Balls" works easily in either language, but the "piek" follow-up stumped me for days (not least because I had to ask Joost to explain it, which he did).
And then I figured it out. The penis reference was a cul-de-sac, but...
In one of the stories in Joost Swarte's upcoming Is That All There Is?, translated from the Dutch, a character speaks entirely in rebuses. Accordingly, Joost had to create an entirely new set of drawings for the English-language rebus, which I basically came up with and he tweaked. The whale is Joost's idea, and while the rebus purist in me objects a little to replacing that many letters, it's such an adorable whale I can't really squawk. Can you decode it?
Book goes to the printer next week! With Complete Pogo Volume 1 now in print and the Swarte book at the printer, many are the doubters who are having to eat their words even as I type this.
Today's Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: "Alex Toth worked in a multitude of genres while at Standard (crime, romance, and horror among them) and they are, to the last one, collected here. Also, Toth’s Standard work has been reprinted somewhere between infrequently and not at all, and to have it all collected (and collected beautifully; the digital restoration keeps the original look perfectly) in this work fills in a sizable gap in comics history. Bravo for Fantagraphics.... If you’ve ever wanted to see what the 'big deal' is with Alex Toth, I can think of absolutely no better place to start. There’s no better bang for your buck this year than Setting the Standard." – Alonso Nunez, Giant Fire Breathing Robot
• Review: "Field mouse Sibyl-Anne... lives a quiet life in the French countryside, alongside her friends Sergeant Verboten (a porcupine), Floozemaker (a crow), and fellow mouse Boomer. When the greedy, power-hungry rat Ratticus shows up, his destructive ways turn the animal community upside down.... Macherot’s plotting is lively and unexpected... Thompson’s translation is colloquial and funny and, one can assume, smooths out some of the original’s mid-century social attitudes." – Publishers Weekly
• Interview: Comic Book Resources' Alex Dueben talks to Gabrielle Bell about her comics and her experience being in Mome at the beginning and end: "Well, it was very stressful. I wasn't very fast. I was really struggling, and it was hard to do. It was a good challenge. It really helped me to learn to put out comics regularly, but I think I wanted my own space to put my comics. Now I have my blog, and it certainly doesn't bring me much money or fame [laughs], but it does feel good that it's mine. I'm doing it as almost my own personal newsletter. Mome was very helpful and a good challenge. Maybe I outgrew it?"