Online Commentary & Diversions returns from a sick day:
• Review: "With elegant simplicity, this comic-book fable [Set to Sea] unfurls the tale of a life cast on an unexpected course and the melancholy wisdom accrued upon the waves. First-time graphic-novelist Weing has produced a beautiful gem here, with minimal dialogue, one jolting battle scene, and each small page owned by a single panel filled with art whose figures have a comfortable roundness dredged up from the cartoon landscapes of our childhood unconscious, even as the intensely crosshatched shadings suggest the darkness that sometimes traces the edges of our lives. [...] Weing’s debut is playful, atmospheric, dark, wistful, and wise." – Jesse Karp, Booklist (Starred Review)
• Review: "...[A]n absolutely stunning [book], collecting some of the best and most trenchantly funny illustrations by a contender for the title of America’s Greatest Living Caricaturist in a lavish, full-colour hardback. [...] Friedman is a master craftsman who can draw and paint with breathtaking power, and his work is intrinsically funny. [...] His caricatures are powerful, resonant and joyful, but without ever really descending to the level of graphic malice preferred by such luminaries as Ralph Steadman or Gerald Scarfe. Too Soon? is a book for art lovers, celebrity stalkers and anyone who enjoys a pretty, good laugh." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Review: "...A Drunken Dream showcases the full range of Hagio’s short stories, while also granting readers insight into the themes of lost innocence, family dysfunction and perseverance in the face of abuse that underscore much of her work. [...] With distinct character designs, detailed backgrounds and emotive character acting, Hagio’s artwork conveys the full emotional range of her stories, with dollops of humor mixed into sagas of sadness, survival and hard-won contentment. [...] A Drunken Dream and Other Stories finds another important voice in Japanese comics history washing up on American shores. One hopes that Hagio, whose work manages to be both stark and beautiful, finds a welcoming and receptive audience." – Michael C. Lorah, Newsarama
• Review: Sean T. Collins looks at "La Maggie La Loca" and "Gold Diggers of 1969" from Love and Rockets Vol. II #20 as part of his "Love and Rocktober" series at Attentiondeficitdisorderly: "Maggie may just be an apartment manager anymore, she may now get in way over her head (literally) when she attempts to have a fun island adventure like she used to, but the way Rena sneaks into her room at night just to watch her sleep reveals that the aging heroine could use a dose of the community and camaraderie that's part and parcel of Maggie's dayjob."
• List: Sam Costello of iFanboy names House by Josh Simmons as one of "13 Great Horror Comics for Halloween": "Josh Simmons is some kind of horror savant. There are few really, truly, deeply disturbing comics out there. If you’re willing to take the risk of reading a comic that you’ll literally want to cover your eyes while you read, Simmons’ work is for you. House, his nearly wordless tale of a trio of friends exploring a dilapidated, cavernous mansion, is less explicit, but worth a look. Its suffocating, despairing loneliness is affecting." (Via Robot 6)
• Commentary: "It was like the sky: pleasant, visually appealing, reliable. Peanuts had a Picture of Dorian Gray quality; you kept getting older and more decrepit and more cynical, but it didn't. By the time you started reading it, you were already older than the characters in the strip, so it immediately made you nostalgic for childhood. Not necessarily for your childhood, but for the childhood Lucy and Charlie and Linus were having." – Joe Queenan, The Guardian
• Interview: At Comic Book Resources, Chris Mautner talks to Johnny Ryan about Prison Pit: "I think in a strange way the book(s) are very revealing about myself. I felt as if I was really exposing myself here. I was very anxious about that."
Today's Online Commentary & Diversions (with one carried over from yesterday's post-less day):
• Review: "Normally I wouldn’t put in a spoiler warning for a few blog notes, but this is a special case. I’m going to be talking about Love and Rockets: New Stories #3, which contains what is arguably one of the best comics stories ever... It’s so easy to take the Hernandez Bros. for granted: they’ve been around so long, put out work regularly, and often use the same characters. So the temptation is to just think that they’re a stable public resource, like the library or a museum: they’ll always be there and we can ignore them for years, checking in on them only when we need to. But really, these guys are among the best cartoonists who have ever lived. Like Seth, Chris Ware, Dan Clowes, and Kim Deitch, they are constantly pushing themselves to do better work, and are now at a career peak. We need to give thanks for this, loudly and publicly." – Jeet Heer, Comics Comics
• Review: "Really, it’s hard to know what to make of [Norman Pettingill:] Backwoods Humorist, the first time you flip through its lovingly-curated pages. [...] I fell in love with it almost immediately, first caught completely off guard by the amateurish art in a book compiled by Fantagraphics. Why, precisely had the publisher chosen to compile these works in such a beautiful volume? There is, however, something disarmingly bewitching amongst Pettingill’s grotesque caricatures of country life. [...] In the great scheme of 20th century art, it’s difficult to imagine that Pettingill’s work will ever be regarded as much more than a somewhat high profile curiosity. For those seeking to discover an utterly fascinating body of work, however, that curiosity is certainly worth the price of admission." – Brian Heater, The Daily Cross Hatch
• Review: "Greg Sadowski and John Benson did a superb job on this collection of early 1950s horror stories [Four Color Fear]... In addition to Greg's attractive design throughout, he delivers meticulous, pixel-perfect restorations... There are 25 pages of fascinating, informative notes by both Greg and John. [...] This book is like time-traveling, a document of an era. [...] This will stand as an important reference work that should be shelved alongside David Hajdu's The Ten-Cent Plague." – Bhob Stewart, Potrzebie
• Review: "...Mome 19... is the best volume of the series so far. [...] Josh Simmons' 'White Rhinocerous Part 1'... is short, makes sense, is funny: great comic. The rest of Mome 19 doesn't fall apart on the job either... But the real prize here is DJ Bryant... Alongside a group of contemporaries who possess some of comic's most innovative talents, he chose refinement. It fucking worked." – Tucker Stone, The Factual Opinion
• Plugs: "Fire & Water... is a look at the life and body of work created by Bill Everett, the man who created the Sub-Mariner - the character upon which Marvel Comics would be built. [... In] The Sanctuary [Nate] Neal uses a cave-dwelling tribe to explore themes of communication and language and reveals himself to be a master storyteller. [...] Ding Dong Daddy from Dingburg... is the newest collection of comics legend Bill Griffith's Zippy the Pinhead comic strip. In this volume — Joan Rivers, Charles Bukowski, God, riboflavin, and more! Surreal and absurd yuks abound." – Benn Ray (Atomic Books), Largehearted Boy
• Plug: "...[I]f you’re in the mood for some dazzling, filthy violence then perhaps Johnny Ryan’s Prison Pit Volume 2 is... up your alley. It’s got CF the barbarian from outer space on the cover, dripping in blood and wearing nowt but pants." – The Gosh! Comics Blog
• Plug: At Comix 411, Tom Mason, profiling Leslie Turner, Roy Crane's successor on Captain Easy, notes "For those interested in the origins of Captain Easy, you can’t do better than Fantagraphics Books which is reprinting Roy Crane’s classic strip, starting at the beginning."
• Almost Plug: The 1930s "Human Centipede" image that Mark Frauenfelder Boing Boinged today happens to be found in our book Catalog No. 439: Burlesque Paraphernalia and Side Degree Specialties and Costumes
A lot of catching up to do with this batch of clips & strips — click for improved/additional viewing and possible artist commentary at the sources:
• A couple of things Bill Griffith has recently shared on Facebook: the rejected first draft of the home screen for the Zippy Comix iPhone app, and a "lost" Wacky Packages design that Bill says is "almost sacrilegious"
We have reached the landmark 20th volume of Mome. For those of you who read the box scores, that’s 5 years, 20 volumes, 72 artists, and 2,352 pages of comics.
Much is new in this anniversary volume. Fantagraphics' flagship anthology now boasts a new design courtesy of art director Adam Grano (who also chips in a few pages of art), and we have 4 other artists making their Mome debuts: Steven "Ribs" Weissman's haunting story "This Already Happened" makes its first appearance in print after being serialized at What Things Do; Sergio Ponchione provides a full-color prequel story to his acclaimed series Grotesque (translated from its appearance in Italy's Linus magazine); and we welcome Chicago stalwart Jeremy Tinder and Portland illustrator Aidan Koch to the fold with their new stories.
From our returning champions: another "Blind Date" from Dash Shaw; a forest fable from Sara Edward-Corbett; part 2 of "The White Rhinoceros" from Josh Simmons and The Partridge in the Pear Tree; the continuation of T. Edward Bak's "Wild Man," Derek Van Gieson's "Devil Doll," and cover-boy Ted Stearn's "Fuzz and Pluck in: The Moolah Tree" serials; another atmospheric Conor O'Keefe story; a star-studded story in verse from Nate Neal; and more autobiographical vignettes by Nicolas Mahler. It all adds up to another diverse and rewarding volume of this literary comics juggernaut.
Download an EXCLUSIVE 15-page PDF excerpt (4.3 MB) with a page from every artist in the issue, plus the Table of Contents.
Online Commentary & Diversions returns from the U.S. holiday:
• List:About.com: Manga places Moto Hagio's A Drunken Dream and Other Stories at #19 on their list of "50 Essential Manga for Libraries": "Collected for the first time in a gorgeous hardcover edition, A Drunken Dream offers a rare glimpse into the work of one of Japan's most distinctive and influential creators in shojo manga, and heck, manga, period. Worth recommending to both older teen and adult readers alike."
• Review: "Hagio draws these stories as if a full symphonic score were playing in the background. Her delicate, razor-thin pen line expertly captures her characters’ wide-eyed, open-mouthed anguish effectively. [...] I, certainly, am very glad that Fantagraphics made the effort (and judging by the exceptional production values it was a tremendous effort) to get this book out there ...because... beyond Hagio’s historical significance, [A]Drunken Dream [and Other Stories] is a book that deserves attention." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "Ever since it was announced in March (was it really that long ago?), I’d been looking forward to reading [A Drunken Dream and Other Stories] by legendary Moto Hagio. [...] It would be a real shame if Fantagraphics didn’t get any supportive business from this collection and demand for more. [...] I’m looking forward to reading more, and adding to the crying list!" – Sunday Comics Debt (who also provides the following two links)
• Review: "BUY. THIS. BOOK. No, seriously, buy it now. [...] I don’t think there is a single thing wrong with this book; Hagio-sensei touches on each of the topics she chooses to use with such perfection and …delicacy? that you can’t help but be amazed at how she does it. [...] I can’t wait for the next volume of manga Fantagraphics chooses to put out! They did a beyond amazing job with [A Drunken Dream and Other Stories]." – Kelakagandy's Ramblings
• Plug: "This week... everything fades in the presence of a newly-released collection of short manga from shojo pioneer Moto Hagio, A Drunken Dream and Other Stories. [...] Simply put, this book is gorgeous. [...] This is a release I’ve been eagerly anticipating since its announcement. Visit your local bookstore to find out why." – Melinda Beasi, Manga Bookshelf
• Review: "'Greatest Generation' hoopla will never seem the same after You’ll Never Know: Collateral Damage, book two in Carol Tyler’s sprightly but relentlessly honest 'graphic memoir'... [T]his is the story of not just a family but a generation, or two or three. And all are told with a saving dash of humor. Tyler’s form, a mix of scrapbook, diary, and cartoon panels, is likewise messy and eccentric, but it pays off in layered textures and viewpoints. Two famous precedents, Art Spiegelman’s Maus and Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, seem almost one-dimensional by comparison." – Eric Scigliano, Seattle Met
• Review: "While there aren’t necessarily many surprises in the story, Set to Sea is more about the savoring of a series of vivid moments (both for the lead character and the reader) than any sort of narrative complexity. With each page acting as a single panel, the true joy of reading Set to Sea is luxuriating in Weing’s intense crosshatching and detail. [...] Indeed, in a book whose visuals have such a powerful impact, Weing’s decision not to overwrite (and especially not to over-narrate) was his wisest. With nearly 70 of the book’s pages appearing as silent, the result was a book that understood and maximized its charms." – Rob Clough, The Comics Journal
• Interview:Nicola D'Agostino presents the original English text of the Drew Weing interview which ran at Comicsblog.it so you don't have to struggle through the mangled autotranslation: "So one day in 2005, I drew a panel with a guy sleeping. The only thing I knew about him was that he was a big fellow. I spent more than a year adding to it bit by bit, just improvising panels as I went. I started Set to Sea with no idea that it would be set in the past, or even set on the sea, so to speak!"
• Review: "...[T]he Billy Hazelnuts books are safe for children, while still being unique and complex enough for adults. Here Millionaire combines a gung-ho adventure spirit with a tempered yet still present darkness — two strains that have been the keys to so much of the greatest children’s literature. [...] Tony Millionaire is a genius and the Billy Hazelnuts books may be his best work. Imagine if Beatrix Potter had dropped acid with the 60s underground comix crowd or if A.A. Milne had collaborated with Franz Kafka. If you love fun, hilarious, and plain weird stories, then Billy Hazelnuts is for you." – Lincoln Michel, The Faster Times
• Profile/Preview: A gallery of images from the book accompanies this article: "See the work of Dan DeCarlo in the book The Pin-Up Art of Dan DeCarlo, published by Fantagraphics, which plunges into an alternate universe where Betty, Veronica, Sabrina grew up and live out situations that summed up the lewd sexual desire of men in the time before the sexual revolution of the twentieth century." – Ambrosia (translated from Portuguese)
• Interview: At his Cats Without Dogs blog, Jason presents a brief Q&A he recently did with the Spanish newspaper El Periodico de Catalunya: "I can hear the voice of a woman, from somewhere above me. 'Don't cry,' her voice says. 'One day you will see Neal Adams at a comic book convention in America.'"
• Feature:USA Today Pop Candy's Whitney Matheson spotlights Jim Woodring and his giant pen project: "I can't wait to see the pen and the drawings! (Also, can we start a campaign to get a live demonstration in New York?)"
• Commentary: At The Hooded Utilitarian, Ng Suat Tong surveys the use of buildings in comics and then looks specifically at architecture in Josh Simmons’s House
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