Cartoonist Josh Simmons of The Furry Trap, House and the on-going Jessica Farm recently got behind the camera. Soon to be released, The Leader features the same home-brewed style of horror as Simmons' comics, the kind that happen in your backyard or the parking lot of your local grocery store. Watch the trailer now and start counting your sleepless nights until this short film is released.
•Interview (audio): NPR affliate 89.c KPCC interviewed both Significant Objects' editor Joshua Gleen and contributor Mark Frauenfelder (of BoingBoing and MAKE). Madeleine Brand says, "One's man trash is another man's treasure, especially if it comes with a really good story."
•Review:The Comics Journal shakes down Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons, edited by Kelly Gerald.
•Interview (video):Bill Moyers interviews on comics journalist Joe Sacco "I'm not interested in tears, I'm not even interested in sentimentality. But I am interested in telling peoples' stories who are repressed or are poor." Sacco and collaborator Chris Hedges will join Bill Moyers for a chat TONIGHT, Wednesday, July 25 at 2 PM ET.
•Commentary: More insight on upcoming books from Fantagraphics as Bleeding Cool covered the SDCC Fantagraphics/D&Q panel. On Chris Wright's Black Lung:"The story was hard to follow, but that’s a good thing, because it sounds like the sort of surreal, go for broke, graphic storytelling that readers expect when they buy a Fantagraphics book. . . lyrical, anthropomorphic, violent and layered. Enough praise couldn’t be shed for this book. . ." On Ron Rege, Jr.'s Cartoon Utopia: "Beings from the future try to help us evolve, sending us messages, trying to show us what life can be like without “forced entertainment” (i.e. television). Drawn in an idiosyncratic, gorgeous, dense style. . ."
•Review:The Comics Journal locks their tractor beam onto Josh Simmon's collection called The Furry Trap. Brandon Soderberg says, "Josh Simmons’ work eschews the cheap thrills and glib cynicism of most horror comics. . .Simmons is a belligerent cartoonist, drawing without censure, adding a nervous energy to an ostensibly pleasant, bubbly style — like Gary Panter doing Where’s Waldo?, or Peanuts with all the existential despair laid completely bare. And he’s fully dedicated to simple, panel-to-panel pay-off, . . ."
•Plug: Summer art sales continue, this time with Johnny Ryan's A Famous Night (gig posters for concerts the never happened). Buy one for your walls and never have to entertain you in-laws at home again.
•Review:Comic Book Resources focuses on Barry Windsor-Smith's The Freebooters. While examining the first page, Greg Burgas said,"It’s amazing that Barry Windsor-Smith didn’t go blind drawing this page and the two that follows it, but luckily for readers, he managed to produce many beautiful pages after this. This is a fantastic way to begin this comic. . ."
My very first Comic-Con International at San Diego was rather fan-freakin'-tastic. It is easier than people make it out to be but I imagine that if it started on TUESDAY night instead of Wednesday, we all would have died. This pictures are my con pictures so if that are mostly different than our previous CCI photo diaries. The caveat train is pulling away from the station!
Wednesday: I showed up the morning times with PR Director Jacq Cohen and our co-workers, Mike Baehr and Janice Headley had the table set UP! Aside from our many new releases we were thrilled to have new Love and Rockets shirts available. Here is the Fanta-crew dressed in all but that one with all those dirty words on it. Soak it in, that's the one time you'll ever see Gary Groth with his shirt untucked.
Oni Press and SCAD teacher Chris Schweizer immediately came over to look at his favorite cartoonist, Jason. Everyone will be sportin' a Schweizer nose-tupee next year, just you watch.
Then we caught Eddie Campbell reading our Prince Valiant while at the Top Shelf booth but once again, who could blame him?!
Speaking of Top Shelf, we spent most of the week occasionally locking gazes these lovely gents. Director of Digital, Chris Ross, and cartoonist of Cleveland, Joseph Remnant.
That night, Comics Reporter Tom Spurgeon, CBR's Kiel Phegley, International Freelancer Douglas Wolk and Fantagraphics' Jacq Cohen and I posed for a bunch of photos and examined gorgeous work at the CBLDF fundraiser.
. . . Until the BOSS showed up. Then we took Gary Groth and heir-to-the-throne Conrad to the Tri!ckster spot on J avenue to browse their books (our own event to happen on Friday night)
Friday: Two of the funniest men in comics, Steven Weissman and Johnny Ryan (creators of Chocolate Cheeks and Prison Pit respectively) chat up Jacq and Janice.
Gary Panter's Dal Tokyo finally came out for this show. Jon Chad's Leo Geo from Roaring Brook is a similar trim shape. They are perfect for the collector of art objects with really, really deep bookshelves. Trim de jour!
This photo COMPLETELY encapsulates the family aspect of not only Fantagraphics but most comic companies. Gary Groth watches, eats and even signs some of Gilbert Shelton's Fabulous Furry Freak books.
The Hernandez Brothers continued to work hard interviewed by MTV (below), Entertainment Weekly, MultiShow Brazil and many other news outlets.
For the Tr!ckster event parties, we co-sponsored a queer-themed drink and draw party to coincide with our new queer comics anthology called No Straight Lines. Check out this big sexy bear!
Drag Queens Dolly Disco and Grace Towers posed in the best Michael Jackson-Circus of the Damned leotards and put all us ladies to shame.
Jacq and I ran as fast as our heels could take us to the Eisners, saw Mickey Mouse Vol. 1 and 2 be awarded for Best Archival Collection/Print in comic strips! Eddie Campbell and Andrew Aydin tried to steal me away but no siren song is as sweet as Fantagraphics.
Saturday: No worse for the wear, Jacq Cohen and I adhered to my STRICT 5-2-1 rule. 5 hours of sleep, 2 meals a day and 1 shower to maintain humanity at cons. Jacq added 2 sets of clothes and I admit, it pays off. (And you like that OLD SCHOOL equipment? I'm trying to refit the credit card slider into a denim fanny pack . . . maybe for SPX)
Meanwhile, Drawn and Quarterly upped their dress game with full-on bow ties for Tom Devlin from Beguiling owner Peter Birkemoe. We were a bit jealous.
The Hernandez Brothers continued their BREAKNECK pace of signing books and getting visits from artists like Joe Keatinge, Matt Fraction and Bongo Comics' editor Chris Duffy!
While it may seem like you have seen a hundred Hopeys at comic cons (or dated a hundred Hopeys -- Jacq Cohen), this is the first cosplay the Hernandez Brothers have seen in thirty years of comics. Thank you, Dawn, for your Boot Angel get-up!
Jaime Hernandez and cartoonist Ed Piskor talked shop.
Almost had a heart attack when we saw this. I'm not ruining anyone's day by saying over 50% of our books are not for kids so it is sometimes surprising to see them pouring over Peanuts or Uncle Scrooge Comics (especially when The Furry Trap is TEN feet away)
BOOM! designer and fellow Center for Cartoon Studies alum, Carol Thomspon, laid her hands on our sweet trans-manga Wandering Son and couldn't let go.
So that's the whole she-bang! Thank you to the CCI organizers and all the people who helped out, bought comics, asked questions and brought me coffee. See you next year!
•Interview: Christopher Irving questions the ineffable Pete Bagge on his vast body of work on NYC Graphic. Bagge says, "With the style of work that I do, I like it to look on the surface like it’s shallow and stupid, but when you read it, the context is really sweet. . ." Christopher Irving reports: "Part of what makes Pete Bagge such an effective writer is his ability to tap into personal experiences that are universal. . . being jilted by a lover, getting angry at traffic, or trying to hide something from your parents."
•Review: Tom Spurgeon sits down for a good read with God and Science: Return of the Ti-Girls on The Comics Reporter: "It's only when you try to unpack the story that you realize what a graceful and economical storyteller Jaime Hernandez has become no matter what genre he might choose to utilize."
•Review: On the Spandexless Reads, Josh Simmons' newest work gets a thorough once-over. Shawn Starr on horror book, The Furry Trap: "The Furry Trap is what your parents warned you about. It’s what Fredric Wertham warned America about. . . Simmons takes the normal, the stale, and adds an “edge” like none other, taking the tropes of each genre to the edge of a sharp cliff and then hurling them off so he can re-examine their splattered remains."
•Review: In a one-two punch by Tucker Stone, both Walt Disney's Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes and Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge: Only a Poor Old Man are reviewed on comiXology. Stone continues on about Carl Barks' work: "Everything I could want out of a comic is there--it's funny, gorgeous, and I'd make a smoke alarm wait just so I could read it in one sitting. . . I'm not blind to the fact that the stories were created with the intent of engaging with children, in fact, I have to wonder how much of what I perceive to be their greatness stems from that basic restriction."
•Plug:Stumptown Trade Review enjoys the book based on Joshua Glenn and Rob Walker's experiment, Significant Objects: "The experiment, in short, was a smash hit. The Significant Objects book features 100 moving, absurd, surprising, and always entertaining stories from the project’s three volumes."
• Review: At Boing Boing, as part of their "Mind Blowing Movies" series of guest posts, Amy Crehore examines the Ghost World film: "I knew it was going to be good, but I had no idea that the movie Ghost World (2001) would bathe me in such an uncanny sense of deja vu from start to finish. The characters are so real and familiar that they could have been based on my friends and me."
• Commentary:Ashok Karra has a short but thought-provoking analysis of elements of the Ghost World graphic novel: "A ghost world could be three things. Two of them are types of haunting: either by the past (nostalgia for childhood) or the present (the glow of the television). The third possibility is that you pass through as a ghost."
• Plug: At Flavorwire, Emily Temple includes Ghost World on the list of "30 Books Everyone Should Read Before Turning 30," saying "Clowes writes some of the most essentially realistic teenagers we’ve ever come across, which is important when you are (or have ever been) a realistic teenager yourself."
• Plug/Preview: At The Beat, Jessica Lee posts a 5-page sneak peek of New York Mon Amour by Jacques Tardi et al., saying "This newest Tardi release... is slated for a July release, just in time for Independence Day, where we can all revel in the patriotic depictions of New York that Tardi has provided — oh wait. True to his new realism style, 'Manhattan' retains the same kind of gritty aesthetic as his illustrations of WWI trench warfare as well as Parisian life."
• Review: "The 11 horror stories in [The Furry Trap] showcase Simmons’s possession of a dark and capable imagination, one that has discomfort down to an exact science.... Simmons is at his best in stories like 'Mutant' and 'Demonwood,' where rash decisions and chance encounters lead to nightmarish consequences ... Simmons’s brand of deep unease permeates all of [these stories], even in the opening story, 'In a Land of Magic,' which features a scene of sexual and physical violence that could lead to sleepless nights. The book is also filled with illustrations and short comics that just add to the pile of evidence that Simmons has a wide-ranging talent, with an artistic sense that brings to life his most ghoulish creations. These stories are, hopefully, harbingers of even stronger and more sinister work in the future..." – Publishers Weekly
• Review: "The action [in God and Science] ebbs and flows, but the story remains engaging and exciting. I had to read it all in one afternoon because I just couldn't put it down. I was enjoying it too much to stop reading.... [There]'s another great thing about this comic — there's some subtle philosophical questions nudged in that the characters (and reader) have to answer themselves.... I can't recommend this title enough. I can easily say that I want more Ti-Girls, or at least comic characters like them." – Sheena McNeil, Sequential Tart
• Review: "Prince Valiant Vol. 5 — As the war years draw to a close, the strip finds Valiant settling down — at least a little bit — by finally winning his true heart’s love, Aleta. There’s still enough brigands and evildoers to keep Val busy, but a lot of Vol. 5 is spent with the couple developing their relationship, and Harold Foster deepening and developing Aleta’s character in the process. ...[I]t remains a thrilling, boisterous work." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "Dungeon Quest Book Three — Joe Daly’s faithful D&D fantasy by way of Harold and Kumar proceeds apace, with lots of bloody skirmishes with fierce animals and fiercer bandits and an abundance of jokes about penises, pot, hand-jobs and the like.... His incredibly detailed forest backgrounds are really quite exquisite, and the full panel sequences of his band of adventurers simply trekking along a forest path or walking through a stream were my favorite parts of the book." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Commentary: It's been interesting seeing the evolution of the "hey, they should bring Love and Rockets to the screen" article in the age of the serialized cable drama. Arthur Smith at The Paley Center for Media is the latest to add his voice to the chorus
• Plug: "Got this beautiful Popeye compilation book (Fantagraphics) a couple of days ago. Haven't had a chance to even crack it open, but my son is now running around going 'Arf, arf.' It's a hit." – Ruben Bolling
• Tribute: At The New York Times, Tim Kreider remembers the great Ray Bradbury: "Prescience is not the measure of a science-fiction author’s success — we don’t value the work of H. G. Wells because he foresaw the atomic bomb or Arthur C. Clarke for inventing the communications satellite — but it is worth pausing, on the occasion of Ray Bradbury’s death, to notice how uncannily accurate was his vision of the numb, cruel future we now inhabit."
• Review: "The sad, forgotten beauty of the in-between moments of daily life: playing a board game at a kitchen table just cleared from a family dinner; listening to music having just slipped off your shoes; daydreaming while doing the dishes. What would it be like if a series of graphic novellas tried to capture these moments? What if it also featured an omnipresent, invisible rabbit that could change sizes and a dark, cloud-shaped creature ('the Big Blind') living in the basement of an apartment building that fed on the memories, dreams, and nightmares of its inhabitants? It would probably be something like the Italian comic-book creator Gabriella Giandelli’s... Interiorae." – Nicholas Rombes, Oxford American
• Preview: At The Beat, Jessica Lee presents a 5 page sneak peek of the new book by Josh Simmons, saying "Toying with the vulnerability of characters that seem timelessly recognizable, i.e. fairies in a fantastical land or a batman-esque figure scaling a wall, The Furry Trap is a graphic novel that is set to shock and appall its reader, yet Simmons is able to retain an even stronger range of visual style that makes this graphic novel’s scope extend further than being just a horrific tale."
• Plug: "...[T]he new volume of Prince Valiant, volume 5, is here and an event all its own. Fantagraphics' new hardcover printings of these wonderful Hal Foster Sunday pages offers the finest reproduction yet, far superior to their old softcover series. While I own the original Sunday pages, collected years ago, I could not resist sitting down with these new volumes and getting re-hooked on the stories AND art by one of the very true masters of comic art." – Bud Plant
• Plug: "Out of the Shadows deserves your attention. Meskin is one of my favorite artists from the 1940s and 1950s.... Mort's work here are some of the hidden gems of the Golden Age.... This book comes a long way to reveal this incredible talent who rose above the mass of Golden Age artists." – Bud Plant
• Preview/Interview: At Print Magazine, Michael Dooley presents a bunch of pages of The Sincerest Form of Parody: The Best 1950s Mad-Inspired Satirical Comics and has a quick Q&A with editor John Benson: "When Isaac Asimov edited his massive Before the Golden Age anthology of 1930s science fiction... he relied entirely on his memories of reading the stories when they first appeared, and that's how he made his selections. Similarly, Jules Feiffer largely relied on his memories of the stories from his original reading when making selections for his seminal The Great Comic Book Heroes in 1965. Like the Asimov and Feiffer books, The Sincerest Form of Parody is partly an exercise in nostalgia, so in making my selections, I think it's fair to give some consideration to my reaction to the material when I first saw it."
• Review: "...Fantagraphics recently unlocked whatever crate must have been used to house Mr. Twee Deedle: Raggedy Ann's Sprightly Cousin: The Forgotten Fantasy Masterpieces of Johnny Gruelle. Over a foot long and over a foot-and-a-half tall, the hardcover features the most beautiful endpapers in recent memory. Gruelle’s artwork is full of whimsy, presented in both the richest nostalgic color and black and white. The narrative involves two children on a journey through a magical land as guided by a wood sprite, but this is truthfully an art book. It’s meant to be read sprawled out on the floor, the only surface in an average reader’s home that is likely large enough to properly balance this fine luxury. Rick Marschall provides a lengthy, informative essay that is lavishly accompanied by further illustrations." – Alex Carr, Omnivoracious
• Review: "In an age of indie-comics dependent upon the banality of the everyday, a hesitant realism, Rickheit eschews reality in favor of the impossible, a state of existence that is truly fantastical. But this is not a utopia, this is a world entirely of the body, though not only the body of human beings, but the body of all living meat, of anything that breathes and shits. This is a world of pure imagination, of subconscious desires let loose with an acutely detailed drawing style. And ultimately, [Folly]’s a perfect work for those who refuse to float away from their bodies but are ready to let their heads go where-ever one can find the new." – Invisible Mike, HTMLGIANT
• Tweet of the Day: "I just read The Furry Trap by Josh Simmons; I'll be on the Internet the rest of the day looking for instructions on how to boil my eyes." – Tom Spurgeon (@comicsreporter)
Graphic novelist Josh Simmons (House) returns with a harrowing and genre-bending collection of modern horror short stories that could curl the toes of a corpse in a state of rigor mortis. Simmons’ disturbing, uncomfortable and even confrontational stories often work on multiple levels: straight, uncompromising horror; blackly humorous, satirical riffs on the genre; or as vicious assaults against the political correctness that rules so much of our popular culture. His artwork excels in conveying a feeling of dread and claustrophobia, and the stories herein all share an unmistakably and uncompromising commitment to exploring the crossroads of abomination and hilarity.
The Furry Trap contains 11 short stories, varying in length from one to 30 pages, as well as a number of “extras” that will flesh out the reader’s experience. From the title creatures in “Night of the Jibblers,” to the witches and ogres of “Cockbone,” to the Godzilla-sized, centaur-bodied depiction of the title character in “Jesus Christ,” to the disarmingly cute yet terrifying demons of “Demonwood,” to the depraved, caped crusading antihero in “Mark of the Bat,” Simmons is a master of creating terrifying beasties that inspire and inflict nightmarish horrors, usually taken to unforgettable extremes.
The individual stories in The Furry Trap stand on their own as mini-masterpieces of skin-crawling terror, but collectively complement each other in a way that only heightens the anxiety and dread pouring from page to page. Just remember: You’ve been warned.
• Review: "Josh Simmons' book The Furry Trap is truly disturbing in its depravity. Makes Ultra Gash Inferno look cute. An inspiring & exhilarating read! How many comics can you honestly say made you sick or upset when you read them? Furry Trap made me question the First Amendment at times." – Sammy Harkham
• Review: "By this point, the reader will know if [Dungeon Quest] is their cup of tea; anyone who enjoys alt-comics takes on fantasy and/or stoner humor will find this a sheer delight. I'd say the sheer level of craftsmanship and the way Daly shifts storytelling modes so quickly would at least interest other readers, especially those who enjoy deadpan absurdism, since that's the core of Daly's sense of humor. For the continuing fan of this series, Daly continues to raise the stakes in each volume and adds richness and depth for those who are looking for more detail. Above all else, he does for the reader what he does with his party: he keeps things moving even when his characters are navel-gazing." – Rob Clough, High-Low
• Review: "...Moto Hagio has more on her agenda than simply trotting out tired 'girly' storylines. Her protagonists struggle with loss, rejection, and insecurity in a manner sure to strike readers as honest and familiar, never reductive or patronizing.... The stories collected here [in A Drunken Dream] span 31 years of Hagio’s career and, while the later stories do seem a bit looser and more confident, the earlier stories certainly don’t suffer by comparison." – Andrew Fuerste-Henry, No Flying No Tights
• Review: "Boasting [Fantagraphics'] usual high-production values and showcasing the genesis of the indie comics icon, [Usagi Yojimbo, Book 1:] The Ronin is a meticulously curated artifact of comics history.... The book is worth buying for the art alone. Sharply reproduced on gratifyingly durable stock, the quality of the lines leap out from the page even in these early stories." – Abhimanyu Das, Slant Magazine
• Profile: At Comic Book Resources, Shaun Manning talks to Nicolas Mahler about his superhero spoof Angelman: "Mahler said he does not have an in-depth knowledge of the major events and storylines [in superhero comics] of recent years, but said he is still familiar with the culture. 'I think my point of view is very '80s, that is when I stopped reading them,' he said. 'After that, I only have very superficial information. I know more about the fanboys, actually. I enjoy the scene around superheroes more than the stories themselves. I like it when people take this very seriously, and can debate endlessly about little faults in a superhero's universe."'
• Interview: Following an introduction in his native Greek, Comicdom's Tomas Papadimitropoulos posts his untranslated (i.e. English) Q&A with Hans Rickheit: "I am compelled to draw these comics.... These stories follow a certain pattern of logic that makes sense to me. I don’t have the vocabulary to explain how it works, that is why I draw them as comic strips."
• Interview:The A.V. Club's Keith Phipps has a great Q&A with Daniel Clowes: "I can look at my early work and see what a pained struggle it was to draw what I was drawing. I was trying so hard to get this specific look that was in my head, and always falling short. I could see the frustration in the lines, and I remember my hand being tensed and redrawing things a thousand times until I finally inked it, and just having this general tense anxiety about every drawing. I think that comes through in the artwork, and gives it this certain kind of manic energy, this kind of repressed energy, so you feel like it’s sort of bursting at the seams or something."
• Interview (Audio):Daniel Clowes sits down for a chat on Bay Area NPR station KQED's Forum with host Michael Krasny
• Video: Via Meltdown Comics and Boing Boing, a charming short film by Rocío Mesa about a couple of dedicated Daniel Clowes fans
• Plug: "...[W]e recommend checking out Love and Rockets Library: The Complete Vol. 1 from Fantagraphics, which collects every issue of the landmark alt-comic series between 1982 and 1996. In Love and Rockets, Gilbert and his brother Jaime Hernandez wrote stories ranging from satire to political intrigue, and introduced such noteworthy characters as Luba, the temperamental, full-figured mayor of a Central American village, and Maggie Chascarrillo, a punk rock-loving Mexican girl who becomes a solar mechanic. ...[T]here's no better time to become a Los Bros Hernandez zombie than right now." – Phil Guie, Critical Mob
• Review: "Known to her classmates at Georgia State College for Women as 'the cartoon girl,' Flannery O'Connor provided satirical illustrations GSCW's student newspaper, The Colonnade, and other school publications while earning a social sciences degree and planning a career in journalism. Executed in the high-contrast technique of linoleum cut from the fall of 1942 until her graduation in 1945, her cartoons skewering the denizens of the Milledgeville campus — roughly drawn but formally dynamic, and often accompanied by punchy, dialogue-driven captions — are the subject of a revelatory new book by O'Connor scholar Kelly Gerald.... While her cartoons only hint at the fully drawn grotesques of O'Connor's mature fiction, they foreshadow her vividly imagistic prose and close observation of her characters' quirks and foibles-and, in their own right, they are delightful." – Stephen Maine, Art in America
• Commentary: At Bleeding Cool, Cameron Hatheway gives his picks for the 2012 Eisner Awards, selecting our Prince Valiant collections for the win in Best Archival Collection/Project – Strips: "If it’s one thing Fantagraphics knows how to do, it’s superb high quality hardcovers of collected works. ...Fantagraphics continues to give you the most bang for your buck with this Hal Foster classic series. One of the reasons the art looks much cleaner than previous softcover collections is because Fantagraphics obtained access to Foster’s own collection of the pristine art proofs, housed at Syracuse University. It’s that attention to detail and commitment that just scream ‘Eisner worthy’ in my opinion."