Today's Online Commentary & Diversions starts with a bang:
• Review: "...[A]n astonishingly rich and convincing picture of uncertain, developing human relationships. Besides the masterful storytelling, [Locas II: Maggie, Hopey & Ray] is notable for superb black and white artwork. Panel by panel and page by page, it's a delight to watch darkness crowding into open space, while supple linework dances freely in its allotted territory. This is a landmark in comics literature." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)
• Review: "From Wonderland with Loveis anexcellent introduction to the part of the Danish comics scene that tries to push the boundaries of the medium – and in particular to the “wild bunch” that emerged at the beginning of this millennium. If you’re an open-minded reader, there’s no getting past this book, even if it – as a Dane – at times feels a bit odd to read Danish comics in English. […] If you love the place where art challenges the status quo and moves the fence posts, gaining new land in the process, you’ll feel right at home here." - Ulf Reese Næsborg, tegneseriesiden (updated with new translation from the author - thanks Ulf)
• Review: "[From Wonderland with Love] is a beautiful book, full of very different temperaments and different styles. All comics are from the 21st century and together they show both the great width and breadth of Danish comics. There are quiet, direct, hard hitting stories... And there are more poetic, allegorical, dreamy stories... And if you want new, interesting and strange, look no further." - Fredrik Strömberg, Sekventiellt (books by Strömberg)
• Interview: At Marvel.com, Sean T. Collins continues his series of Strange Tales MAX contributor interviews with Michael Kupperman: "People are going to be very interested in the changes I've made to the Marvel canon. They're probably going to have to scrap everything they've ever published and start over. The new version of SECRET WARS is going to be called OVERT WARS."
• Interview: The Daily Cross Hatch's Brian Heater kicks off a 3-part talk with Jordan Crane: "Well, I’m trying to make [Uptight] less sporadic. I want to do it two times a year, solid. It’s been kind of a chaotic last couple of years. So now I’m focusing everything I can on it."
We received the list of our nominees for this year's Ignatz Awards. It's a good lookin' list, and we're especially proud to have staffer Jason T. Miles nominated for Outstanding Comic! As is traditional, we've put all of our nominated titles on sale -- 15% off for a limited time! Click here to browse & buy. Recipients of the brick will be announced at SPX on September 26. For all the nominees, head to the SPX website for the official announcement.
Tim Hensley, Mome (Fantagraphics), Kramer's Ergot #7 (Buenaventura)
Congratulations to everybody, including T. Edward Bak, nominated for Outstanding New Talent even before his amazing Mome story was eligible, and Dash Shaw, nominated for Outstanding Online Comic for Bodyworld.
A new week brings an avalanche of new Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Profile: For the Philadelphia Inquirer, Tirdad Derakhshani looks at the past, present, and future of Prince Valiant: "The release Tuesday of Prince Valiant, Vol. 1: 1937-1938, the first in a new series of gorgeously printed, hardcover Valiant collections from Fantagraphics Books, served as a bittersweet reminder of the century-long rise and eventual decline of a great American art form, the comic strip."
• Review: "...Al [Columbia] decided to dredge up old ghosts, unfinished pieces, trifles he had thrown away then reconsidered and offered them up to us as proof that he hasn’t forgotten us. This 240-page book [Pim and Francie: The Golden Bear Days, Fall 2009]... has certainly filled in some gaps for me as to what goes on in Columbia’s mind... There seems to be something both amazing and horrifying around every corner, in any dark space, in the thick of the forest, in the bulbous eyes of maniacal creatures and the straight realistic lines of buildings that all have a dark window somewhere... It is truly a viscous treat and I am sure this one will never wash off." - Rachael M Rollson, Panel to Panel
• Review: "Though Low Moon doesn’t have the slow-building impact of Jason’s longer works, he’s still one of comics’ best storytellers, and it’s always a treat to spend time in his world of off-brand pulp clichés and not-always-so-funny animals. [Grade] B+" - The A.V. Club
• Review: "Jason is an immensely skilled artist capable of manipulating his self-restricted vocabulary to stretch space and time. Low Moon moves in a slow burn as the two antagonists move closer to their eventual showdown. In what is probably the best story in the book You Are Here, time moves more quickly as a father and son attempt to deal with the alien abduction of the father's wife. The father builds a rocket while the son grows up and has a life of his own. Eventually they pile into the rocket, and things end badly, but perhaps a bit more emotionally than with the other stories." - Michael Buntag, NonSensical Words
• Review: "Rage of a different kind in Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me and Other Astute Observations by Peter Bagge. This collection of satirical rants from the American libertarian magazine Reason... is philosophically more about punk individualism than Ayn Rand, and artistically the heir to 1980s indie comics. Indeed, Bagge is an indie star, famous for his wonderfully elastic cartooning style and punk-inflected comedies." - Roger Sabin, The Observer
• Review: "These are good comics [in Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me and Other Astute Observations], fun to read and definitely funny, definitely searing and when he hits a target he gets it right. Also there’s something to be said for the journalist tone of the writing and the structure of the strips would translate well into a proper newspaper, were he so inclined." - Ibrow
• Review: "For fresh talent in comics, you have to go to the anthologies and there's none better at the moment than Mome... the highlight [of Vol. 15] is Dash Shaw's hallucinatory story about a tidal wave, which uses swaths of colour and elongated panels to create a sense of vertigo." - Roger Sabin, The Observer (same link as above)
• Review: "Schulz had gone from a fairly grounded sense of consensus reality to Snoopy's flights of fancy to outright weirdness... That seems to be the essence of Sparky Schulz to me: even with the pressure of the daily grind and his position as the lynchpin of what had become a vast empire, Schulz wrote to amuse himself... At his best in this volume [The Complete Peanuts 1973-1974], Schulz gave the readers some of the best stories of his career." - Rob Clough
• Review: "Ace cartoonist Jordan Crane makes a curious split comic choice. The first half [of Uptight #3 ], 'Vicissitude,' is the opening chapter of a brooding adult tale of marital dysfunction and deceit, while the second, 'Freeze Out,' is a kid’s story, the further adventures of Simon and his cat Jack, who were featured in Crane’s great graphic novel, The Clouds Above. Miraculously, the pairing works — each is superior in its own genre — but you might want to wait until 'Freeze Out' is collected on its own before showing it to your kids." - John Seven, Worcester Magazine
• Review: "Blazing Combat (Fantagraphics, 2009) collects the entire run in a beautiful, incredibly well-bound hardcover book... The stories' tone is very 1960s, ironic with a cynicism stemming from brokenhearted humanism." - Carol Borden, The Cultural Gutter
• Review: "Needless to say, I love the streak of darkness that permeates [Charles] Burns' work. I mean that both figuratively and literally, as his one-of-a-kind illustration style is at-a-glance recognizable because of his heavy use of black ink... That starkness emphasizes the cruel features on the faces of his characters - deep wrinkles, harsh teeth, beady eyes and unflattering noses, to say nothing of the occasional freak. Like the look of his characters, Burns is one of a kind, and Skin Deep is a good introduction to the man's singular vision - a good way to get your toe wet before diving in." - Rod Lott, Bookgasm
• Review: "[A.B.] Frost looked like he was painting with the line…on a half-dozen cups of coffee. Trust me, that’s hard to do... Also, it looks like Fanta-Graphic Books might have brought Stuff and Nonsense back in print in 2003. [Yes. -Ed.] Pick up and copy and be ready to weep - this work is untouchable." - Tony DiTerlizzi
• Plug: "Carol Tyler's You'll Never Know is my favorite book of the year thus far. This memoir/biography/scrapbook is both formally challenging and emotionally devastating. Any critic serious about compiling a year-end list needs to keep this book under consideration." - Rob Clough, Robot 6 (guest contributor)
• Tweet: "Still, the most beautifully designed bk so far this yr is still IMO Fantagraphics 'The Brinkley Girls': http://bit.ly/CSYpH Swoon-worthy." - bookjones
A few more photos from the backlog for you, this time of Uptight #3 by Jordan Crane. The slideshow player is embedded below; if it's not visible to you, or to see it full-screen (recommended), click here; if you don't like slideshows, browse here.
BONUS! We've turned Jordan's stunning cover image into a desktop & mobile wallpaper in a variety of sizes; download below!
• Review: "...Jason elevates his skewering of filmic genres to a whole new level in his latest collection, Low Moon, which sees his unique takes on film noir, westerns and screwball comedy. All of the tales are informed by his signature clean lines, bright colors, sparse dialogue and taste for a particularly brutal brand of slapstick humor and occasional moments of dark, incisive brilliance that are often reached without uttering a word... Featuring tawdry sex, alien abductions, existential crises, betrayal, and a hundred and one different varieties of murder, this is a book that pretty much has it all." - Ian Chant, PopMatters
• Review: "...Jason's Low Moon... [is] a collection full of mostly wordless comedic pleasures." - Richard Gehr, The Village Voice
• Review: "A question regarding the title of Michael Kupperman's Tales Designed to Thrizzle Volume One: Does 'thrizzle' mean 'pee your pants a little from laughing so hard'? Because if so, it just about achieved its promise..." - Rod Lott, Bookgasm
• Review: "[Boody: The Bizarre Comics of Boody Rogers ] is one of the funniest comics I've ever read, and all I do is read comics... Just looking at his drawings makes me laugh... If you like Johnny Ryan, you should check this out. And they weren't fooling around with that title. These comics are as weird as hell... This book is essential. Get it or get out." - Nick Gazin, Vice
• Review: "[Uptight] doesn't come out often enough... Jordan Crane is an immense talent; I just wished he worked faster. He's one of the best new guys of the past five years." - Nick Gazin, Vice (same link as above)
• Review: "This is one of the greatest works of American art of the past century and fuck you if you were ignorant of this. Prince Valiant was and is one of the greatest comics of all time and most would agree that it's the greatest adventure comic... Reading Prince Valiant has the same thrill as reading Sherlock Holmes. He's smarter, handsomer, and a better fighter than everyone around him. Reading his adventures and watching him sneak around castles, swordfight small armies, and romance medieval bitches is more exciting to me than almost any other comic. I'm getting pumped just thinking about it... It's so beautiful. I want to be Prince Valiant and I want to be Hal Foster." - Nick Gazin, Vice (same link as above)
• Review: "Fantagraphics, the gold standard when if comes to collecting and reprinting newspaper strips, has released the first volume of Prince Valiant, covering the years 1937 to 1938 in all-new remastered color, the result is breathtaking! Foster is truly one of the great comic illustrators who ever lived but has never got his just due it seems because he didn't work in the traditional comic book medium. One needs only to read the first few pages of the book to grasp his incredible ability... This is graphic storytelling at its finest and a true treasure! Grade A" - Tim Janson, Mania
• Review: "The cover [of The Pin-Up Art of Dan DeCarlo] sums it up -- a man who looks disturbingly like Riverdale’s Mr. Lodge gazes lasciviously at a lingerie-clad young woman who looks disturbingly like a (very) bosomy Veronica. That is just so wrong... Breasts swell and sag with the weight of flesh, not silicone; thighs press firmly and meatily together, hips and butts strain against fabric, threatening plentiful wardrobe malfunctions. And the wardrobes!... The overall effect is -- well, I can’t describe the overall effect. Let’s just say that in trying to take it all in I may have stretched my eyes permanently out of shape." - Noah Berlatsky, The Hooded Utilitarian
• Review: "...Peter Bagge's new compilation of comics, Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me and Other Astute Observations... turns out also to be a rude form of local history... [H]is craftsmanship - in the tradition of Mad's Don Martin and Nancy creator Ernie Bushmiller - lies in his ability to reduce his drawings to the simplest possible details needed to tell the story. His rants are funny, but the frictionless gag-delivery systems of his panels are an even more effective rebuke to the willful obscurity of contemporary art." - David Stoesz, Seattle Weekly
• Review: "Collecting 10 years’ worth of cartoons originally done for Reason magazine, as well as a few odds and sods, [Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me] finds Bagge as sharp and irate as ever, and his art has improved while still being recognizably his own. Bagge is also, thankfully, still possessed of a great sense of humor, especially about himself—even the title reveals an element of self-mockery among all the self-righteousness." - The A.V. Club
• Review: "There are few comics in the history of the medium as universally beloved as Love and Rockets... The Palomar stories, while extraordinarily literate and often brilliant in how they straddle the line between magical realism and gritty serial drama, are complex narratives which benefit greatly from being read from the very beginning; Jaime’s lighter, simpler approach is probably a better place to start." - Leonard Pierce, The A.V. Club, offering advice on how to start reading Love and Rockets; here's our advice
• Interview: Robot 6's Tim O'Shea talks to John Kerschbaum about Petey & Pussy, self-publishing and other topics. Sample quote: "It’s what it would look like if Elmer Fudd REALLY blew Daffy’s beak off. But I’ve always felt that humor and horror are very closely related. That they naturally play off of each other. The funny bits make the scary bits scarier and vice versa."
• Interview: At The A.V. Club, Sam Adams gets Michael Kupperman to reveal some of the secrets of his comedy genius and the future of Thrizzle. For example: "Certainly I enjoy the outré and I enjoy artistic comics and surrealism in comics very much. But the decision I made and have stuck with and refined was the decision to try to be funny and communicate humor. Once you put that ahead of everything else, it resolves those other questions for you."
• Plug: Jog - The Blog spotlights 3 of our new releases from last week
Among the many awesome things Mark and Esther will have for sale will be this limited deluxe edition of Unlovable Vol. 1 with a glow-in-the-dark silkscreened dustjacket and the Pretty in Pink-style Tammy Pierce silkscreen print (also glow-in-the-dark!) shown below. (Not going to Comic-Con? Don't despair, you can order them on Mark and Esther's site funchicken.com.)
Steven will have a new set of his adorable "Tiny Joe & Junior" prints (preview more on his blog)...
...and Johnny, Steven, Mark, and Esther will all have new Stinckers! Phoo! Bring yer pocketbook!
Jordan Crane is offering an enormous screenprint of one of the most classic comic book covers ever made-- Jaime Hernandez's art for Love and Rockets #24. Epic. Perfect.
Plus, he's got new prints of his own work, including the sure-to-be-classic cover of his latest issue of "Uptight". You buy these two prints, you put them on your wall, it's your funeral when your mind explodes.
Plus you can buy the second in his series of objects, this time of raffle tickets. Buy prints here.
• Review: "[Fletcher] Hanks' groove, taken back to back like this, is unsettling... It can be downright creepy. Generally, when you talk about a comic auteur's 'issues,' you're talking page count, not whether he has his head screwed on straight. It's multiplied by Hanks' art style, which at first seems crude but is actually quite stylized and consistent. Many images, such as troupes of unfortunates flying in hurtling, screaming weightlessness, have the impact of nightmares... And the twisted comics universe once inhabited by Fletcher Hanks is eerie and unsettling, and fascinating in what it reveals about the man with the pen." - Burl Burlingame, Honolulu Star-Bulletin
• Review: "Tales Designed to Thrizzle Vol. 1, [Michael] Kupperman's recent collection, is brimming with such a dense compilation of Dada-inspired plots, fake ads and comic book covers that it takes a repeated read-through to absorb the book's potent aura of absurdity... Reading Thrizzle is an expeditious experience, and like all treks you will feel exhausted and somehow improved by this entire gut-busting experience... Tales Designed to Thrizzle is beyond recommendation..." - Ascot Smith, examiner.com
• Review: "Jason is one of the relatively few working artists that even a jaded, cynical, complain-first critic like me will happily declare a true master cartoonist, without reservation. Jason is—how to put this?—good. Really, really, really good... So, Low Moon? It’s Jason. It’s new. It’s obviously really, really good, you know?" - J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
• Review: "Low Moon takes 'funny animals' comics in a disturbingly deadpan direction. The bipedal canines and birds that populate these five short tales somehow convey with their blank eyes, flat expressions and minimal movements a whole seething current of emotional subtext. The title story, first serialized in the New York Times Sunday Magazine, mixes Gary Cooper frontier heroics with chess, and it is no less strange or hilarious than the other vignettes, which play with tropes lifted from science fiction, film noir and Jazz Age romance." - "The Best in Comic Books," Michael Berry, San Francisco Chronicle
• Review: "The new Prince Valiant crackles from the page with an energy and enthusiasm that positively dares anyone to deny this strip’s rightful place in the history of the form. Yes, this is another great day for comics history and most definitely a venture worth supporting into the future." - Guttergeek
• Review: "Uptight #3 -- This comic book made me nuts... Look how goddamned beautiful that cover is... That cover illustrates the first part of a new story Crane is working on, 'Vicissitude,' and Holy Jesus it is one of the best stories I've read this year. I'm a tough sell when it comes to out-and-out fiction in comics, but the unbelievably compelling artwork totally drew me into this fantastic story... damn if that cover and those first few, tantalizing pages aren't like some new, more addictive form of crack cocaine you ingest through your eyeballs. By looking at this comic book. God DAMN, I want more 'Vicissitude.' Don't let another day go by without making sure you're getting Uptight #3." - Alan David Doane
• Interview: "I've long felt Peter Bagge is a significant figure in American comedy in addition to deserving his lofty stature in alternative comics, and I'll interview him any chance I get." - Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter; "I was never allowed to play fast and lose with the truth, much to my occasional creative chagrin! Other than that they allowed me to express myself pretty freely, even if some folks on their staff disagreed with some of the points I was making." - Peter Bagge, from the interview, discussing the Reason editiorial process
• Plug: "I don’t always agree with [Peter Bagge's] position [in Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me], but his exploration is always great. And hearing other opinions and positions (especially well-informed like his), is almost always worthwhile." - Corey Blake
• Plugs: "I am slowly making my way through three recent reprints from Fantagraphics... the three books in question are Humbug, Blazing Combat, and Prince Valiant. Humbug’s easily the best of the three, as it includes so many all-time great cartoonists (Kurtzman, Jaffee, Elder, etc.) at the peak of their powers and ambitions, but the other two are worthwhile, too. With people like Wood, Toth, and Heath involved, I knew the art would be fantastic in Blazing Combat, but I’ve been surprised at the quality of Archie Goodwin’s writing... it’s much more satisfying than expected. I’ve barely begun with Prince Valiant... So far, it’s much more fluid and enjoyable than I would’ve guessed — beautiful work..." - guest columnist Timothy Hodler (Comics Comics), Robot 6
Happy 7-8-9 day... today's Online Commentary & Diversons update is extra short:
• Review: "...[M]y favorite comics collection of the year so far [is] Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me and Other Astute Observations... Think of [Peter Bagge's] strips as angry but really funny protest songs on paper... Bagge wickedly and wonderfully shows a truly individualistic viewpoint, an actual bullshit detector raging full blast (occasionally to the point of anxiety-induced overload), with ideas and observations both fearlessly marginalist and unabashedly mainstream (like the best rock and roll, in my opinion)... it is HOT and FUN. Just out from Fantagraphics, pick it up now!" - Chris Estey, KEXP
• Review: "Jordan Crane is, to be polite, a bit of a disturbed individual... Not that I'm complaining... The [first] story [in Uptight #3 is] a refinement of past themes that, while not as chilling as usual, still can leave you emotionally drained... The second story is "Freeze Out"... The drawing is immaculate... And just when you think the story is over, it twists right at the end from a gentle children's fable... into something else." - squiggly lines!