• List: At Robot 6, Sean T. Collins's top 6 "deeply creepy 'alt-horror' cartoonists" includes Renee French ("her frequently deformed (more like unformed) characters and hazy, dreamlike, soft-focus pencils recall [David] Lynch's unnerving debut Eraserhead with its dust-mote cinematography and mewling infant thing"), Hans Rickheit ("It just so happens that his 'normal' is grotesque and harrowing to the rest of us"), Al Columbia ("It's as though a team of expert [animation] craftsmen became trapped in their office sometime during the Depression and were forgotten about for decades, reduced to inbreeding, feeding on their own dead, and making human sacrifices to the mimeograph machine, and when the authorities finally stumbled across their charnel-house lair, this stuff is what they were working on in the darkness") and Josh Simmons ("one of a very few comics creators still capable of shocking... doing serious, dangerous work")
• Review: "West Coast Blues is a brilliant story, and Manchette was a phenomenal writer of the modern world, putting others to shame at times. Just that simple, really. This is a book that can’t be reduced to familiar genre markers." – Brian Lindenmuth, BSCreview
• Review: "Bruce Paley tells his tale with no frills and no holds barred. ... The book is at times quite funny and other times terribly depressing, but it is never dull and I found it hard to put down. Carol Swain’s artwork fits the mood of the book well. It’s fairly simple but it hits all the right notes and evokes the right emotions. I was completely unfamiliar with her work prior to this book, but I’ll keep an eye out for her in the future. ... I found this book to be incredibly compelling in its own laid back sort of way. ... There’s no shortage of books out there about the 1960’s and ‘70s, but this one felt a lot more personal than most. Paley’s words mingled with Swain’s artwork so perfectly that you almost felt like the guy was sitting across the table from you, sharing a beer or two and swapping stories. If you’re interested in that era or you just like a good autobiography, I’d give Giraffes in my Hair: A Rock 'n' Roll Life a shot." – Chad Derdowski, Mania.com
Your daily dose of Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: "Maybe it’s because blood and brain matter look somewhat more disturbing in the chunky, primitive black and white favored by famed French cartoonist Tardi, but there’s something particularly creepy about his adaptation of the late Manchette’s crime novel [West Coast Blues] that wouldn’t have been well served by color. ... Manchette’s plot is pure pulp, with a driving engine for a plot and a Lee Marvin-like inclination toward swift and unreflective action. Tardi’s art delivers the action with admirable punch and attitude to spare." – Publishers Weekly
• Review: "Rock Candy is a wonderful book. [Femke] Hiemstra's work is a tribute to folk tales and surreal nightmares.It could not be better portrayed than how designer Jacob Covey of Fantagraphics has done it.This compact book, in style with Hiemstra's art, depicts her imaginative work in a playful way.Sketches, examples and inspirations then give a look behind the scenes how Hiemstra's childhood dreams and nightmares are established.An absolute must!" – Cadoc.nl (translated from Dutch)
• Plugs: At Robot 6, Sean T. Collins runs down his SPX haul, including a bunch of our Ignatz Series titles
• (Wild) Things to see: Vice magazine has a series of strips they commissioned to tie in with the Where the Wild Things Are movie by some of our favorite cartoonists selected by Johnny Ryan; Josh Simmons contributed this strip and reveals a different one that was rejected (for PG-13 gore)
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.
• Review: PLAYBACK:stl analyzes Comics Are for Idiots! by Johnny Ryan: "Ryan's loathing of the precious, the celebrity-obsessed, the hypocritical, and so on bleeds thru the best of these sorts of cartoons... Ryan's yen for out-offending every book he's done before is really just more righteous anger dressed up as sick comedy."
• Review: The Comics Reporter on Blazing Combat: "Like many of the best reprint projects... this republication of the four-issue Warren war magazine into spiffy hardcover form features work that you can't easily buy anywhere else, is historically significant and offers its buyers a lot of very good comics... Blazing Combat is simply a handsome, well-presented selection of very good comics that for having them around we're all a bit richer as comics readers. I'm glad it's here."
• Review: Rob Clough examines Mome Vol. 14, saying the issue "juxtapos[es] stories with ambiguous images and endings to create a dizzying and fascinating array of visual styles... The balance struck by editors Eric Reynolds and Gary Groth between unpublished, up-and-coming artists, alt-comics legends with short stories to publish and international stars with stellar work that needed translation has been a delicate one, but when everything comes together just so (especially in... this issue), then Mome becomes a crucial component in understanding alt-comics as they stand today."
• Review: NPR.org on Humbug: "Certainly, Fantagraphics, the exemplary Seattle-based archivists of comics and comic-strip history, couldn't have lavished more care in restoring Humbug's yellowing pages had they been original Shakespeare folios... it serves to fill in the missing piece on a seminal period of satiric shenanigans and to evoke an era when making nose-thumbing comedy was the work of smart alecks in creased slacks, pressed white shirts and skinny ties. It'd make a helluva TV series; you could even call it Mad Men."
"Special Nice Cosmic Hyperdeath" is the name of the show, at Secret Headquarters this Friday, new and newish drawings and paintings, also, very small run minicomics of Josh Simmons' recent stories: "In a Land of Magic," "Cockbone," and "Batman."
• Review of the Year: Brick Weekly holds forth on The Wolverton Bible: "If you think that God was the greatest contributor to the Bible then you are wrong. In fact, when compared to the creative feats of legendary cartoonist Basil Wolverton, God’s work seems trite and superficial at best. So, throw out all of your old Bibles because you don’t need them any more..." And it goes on from there...
• Reviews: The San Antonio Current says "The Wolverton Biblecollects everything [Basil Wolverton] did for the [Worldwide Church of God], presenting illustrations in chronological Biblical order — from Adam springing up from earth á la Spider-Man’s nemesis the Sandman all the way through the Old Testament and then hopping to the fantasy-friendly Book of Revelation, where eyeless corpses run rampant and jet planes tumble helplessly from the sky"; furthermore, "Humbugcould be a comics blockbuster... it fills gaps in some cartoonists’ CVs and entertains like hell while doing it."
• Reviews: Andrew Wheeler rounds up some recent books: of The Lagoon by Lilli Carré he says "Carré has an expressive style reminiscent of Richard Sala -- and her stories are in the same literary territory as Sala's as well, so the gloomy blacks and busy cross-hatching add to the ominous, overwhelming feeling... there's real spookiness in these pages -- and she's telling a story in ways (particularly trying to evoke sounds and scents through a comics page) that I've rarely seen"; and of Jessica Farm Vol. 1 by Josh Simmons, Wheeler says "Josh Simmons might just be the Gutzon Borglum of comics. Simmons's... plan... is crazy, and I admire it for that."
We've been posting these as we've found them, but here's a (slightly OCD) alphabetical list of Fantagraphics titles and whose year-end lists that they've appeared on, for your handy reference. (Links will continue to be added as we find them.) Rankings appear in parentheses; no number means the list was unranked: