Today's (and yesterday's when it was slow) Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: "The Dutch artist and designer Joost Swarte has a tremendous reputation among cartoon-art aficionados, given his tiny body of comics work. The answer to the title of his 40-year retrospective, Is That All There Is?, is: 'Pretty much, yeah.'... Plot is beside the point. Swarte is more concerned with formal purity, and with making the deep structures of cartooning visible. He pares his art to mechanical, hard-edged vectors and curves: caricature triple-distilled into symbolic visual shorthand, with every line canted just so. His geometrically precise, nearly architectural drawings are the bridge between the Tintin creator Hergé and contemporary artists like Chris Ware, who wrote this volume’s foreword." – Douglas Wolk, The New York Times
• Review: "Now we're talkin'! The first two volumes in Fantagraphics' Steve Ditko Archives (edited by Blake Bell) were rewarding collections of the offbeat auteur's early work, and among the best archival books of horror comics published in the last several years. But in volume 3, a.k.a. Mysterious Traveler, we see Ditko's lunacy reach its full maturation... The bold dynamism and moody linework that would characterize Ditko's Spider-Man and Dr. Strange work just a few years later, as well as his horror tales for Creepy and Eerie, is in evident throughout.... Volume 3 is essential for classic horror comics fans, and further cements Ditko's reputation as an artist without peer." – Joseph McCabe, FearNet
• Review: "Kevin Avery has compiled an incredibly thorough account of one of folk and rock music’s most important critics of the 20th Century: Paul Nelson. Avery reveals Paul Nelson as not just a music critic, but also a true writer who loved his subject matter possibly more than anything else. After reading, I felt that I knew more about Nelson than simply his life’s accomplishments—I knew him as the man he was: an observer who secluded himself with his books, film and music." – SLUG Magazine
• Review: "Madcap university mystery. Girl detective Judy Drood, with the hapless Kasper Keene, investigates the disappearances of girls on campus. Beautiful young women (some dressed like pirates), monstrous old men (some of them professors), photography, a puppet, and a misguided quest for eternal youth all figure in.... The dark edge in Sala’s other work is fully expressed here [in Mad Night]. The book is incredibly violent (though the dark, woodcut-like art makes it feel absurd). Here’s a body count by how victims meet their end..." – Gene Ambaum, The Unshelved Book Club
• Plug: "Published three years ago in an indie porn comic, Josh Simmons’ 'Cockbone' remains a high water mark for today’s horror comic.... The Furry Trap will collect that story, along with ten others being described by the publisher as 'hard-edged horror.' You already know if you can handle this stuff, so if you can, it’s time to start counting days. Eli is, most definitely, coming." – Tucker Stone, "Flavorpill's 10 Most Anticipated Comics Releases, April-July 2012"
• Plug: "While it’s a bit of an exaggeration to call Dal Tokyo Panter’s lost masterpiece, it certainly hasn’t been the easiest thing to come by. That’s to be the case for anything that’s serialized over the course of multiple years, multiple publications, and two different continents. Thankfully, the entire book has finally found a home at Fantagraphics, and those of us without access to early-’80s copies of the LA Reader can finally experience 'a future Mars that is terraformed by Texan and Japanese workers' as only Gary Panter — one of the most influential cartoonists alive — can provide. For some of us, this book has been a long time coming." – Tucker Stone, "Flavorpill's 10 Most Anticipated Comics Releases, April-July 2012"
• Interview (Audio): Yesterday's Pat Thomas radio guest spot to discuss and spin Listen, Whitey! on The Hear and Now on Berkeley's listener-powered KPFA can be streamed from their website for another couple of weeks
• Analysis (Video):At his blog, Paul Hornschemeier shares video of two "talks given during my recent graphic novelist's residency at Thurber House in Columbus, Ohio. Tammy Birk (Professor of English, Otterbein University) discusses themes in Mother, Come Home while Ryan Jordan (Department of Philosophy, The Ohio State University) examines the nature of paradoxes in general, using Zeno's paradoxes in The Three Paradoxes as a launching point."
• Analysis: At where else but The Hooded Utilitarian: "'Lightning Only Strikes Twice Once, Y'Know': Phallic Mothers, Fetishism, and Replacement in the Comics of Los Bros Hernandez," Part I (focusing on Gilbert's work) and Part II (focusing on Jaime), by Eric Berlatsky
This month's Diamond Previews catalog came out yesterday 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 May 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.
For the first time ever, Fantagraphics will be exhibiting at the Brooklyn Comics & Graphics Festival! Come visit us this Saturday, December 3rd from 12:00 - 9:00 PM for a wealth of debuts, artist appearances, and the great Gary Groth manning the table!
Gary will be joined by a truly all-star cast of artists for our first BCGF:
Where can you find all this awesome? Fantagraphics will be in the downstairs section at the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church [ 275 North 8th Street ], at tables 31 & 32:
And finally, make sure you don't miss our artists in these panels! These will all take place at Union Pool [ 484 Union Avenue # A ], and the panels are free and open to the public:
1:30 PM // JACK DAVIS Q+A
Legendary cartoonist Jack Davis made his mark producing horror and war stories for EC Comics, before finding his métier in satire as one of the original (and longest running) artists for MAD Magazine. As a prolific illustrator, Davis defined the caricatural style of the 1960s and 1970s—and beyond. In this rare public appearance, Davis will discuss his career with Fantagraphics co-publisher Gary Groth and illustrator Drew Friedman.
[ Jack Davis fans, please note: he will also be appearing on Friday, December 2nd at the opening of his exhibit at the Scott Eder Gallery! Don't miss it! ]
2:30 PM // GESTURAL AESTHETICS
As comics have evolved beyond their commercial roots toward more individualistic modes of expression, they have been infused with new influences from other fields of art including printmaking, collage and painting. Additionally, new printing technologies have permitted the reproduction of artwork that more closely shows the work of an artist’s hand. Austin English, Dunja Jankovic and Frank Santoro will discuss new aesthetics in comics with moderator Bill Kartalopoulos.
6:00 PM // THE LANGUAGE IN COMICS
The recent embrace of graphic novels by the publishing industry has led to misguided attempts to evaluate comics according to the standards and conventions of literary fiction. The writing in comics occupies a more peculiar place, with its own constraints and opportunities. John Porcellino, Gabrielle Bell, and David Sandlin will discuss the particular demands of writing within a visually-driven form in this conversation moderated by novelist Myla Goldberg.
So, get ready! And we'll see you in Brooklyn this Saturday!
Special double-sized FINAL issue! After 6 years and over 2500 pages of comics, MOME heads into the sunset with an all-star, jam-packed farewell bonanza. Several past MOME favorites return for the swan song, including Kurt Wolfgang, Tom Kaczynski, Joe Kimball, Eleanor Davis, Anders Nilsen, Tim Hensley, Paul Hornschemeier, Gabrielle Bell, and Zak Sally (those covers!). Meanwhile, several newcomers get in just under the wire: Jesse Moynihan, Malachi Ward, James Romberger, Nick Drnaso, Joseph Lambert, Nick Thorburn, Victor Kerlow, and Ignatz Award-winners Jim Rugg and Chuck Forsman! Recent MOME favorites also return, such as Sergio Ponchione, Steven Weissman, Sara Edward-Corbett, Laura Park, Josh Simmons (plus collaborators The Partridge in the Pear Tree and Wendy Chin), Derek Van Gieson (with collaborator Michael Jada), Tim Lane, Nate Neal, Lilli Carré, T. Edward Bak, Dash Shaw, Ted Stearn and Noah Van Sciver. Over 30 artists in all, including a surprise contributor we don't want to give away!
Wendy does lovely work on her own, as well, including this piece off her website.
And here's her collaboration with Josh for Mome 22 -- a heartwarming portrait of the friendship between... rocker Axl Rose and auteur James Cameron. Pre-order now, and be among the first to read of their adventures! And stay tuned as we introduce you to more first-time Mome artists on the FLOG!
• Review: "As with Chun's earlier volumes in the series, it is fantastic to see this work brought back. The original digests were pervasive and invasive...they once arrived by the pallet to newsstands all over the country, but because of their risque and sexist slant, they've been Orwelled right out of our world. It is nice to see them presented here as the art they were. Other than their super-busty raunch (and the occasional spanking) the girly gags of Humorama have aged well because they were hidden for some fifty years. They are also harmless, sometimes woman-friendly and FUNNY." – Jim Linderman, Vintage Sleaze
• Review: "Isle of 100,000 Graves represents his first true collaboration, with writer Fabien Vehlmann providing a template that is a remarkable complement to Jason’s deadpan style.... At a crisp 57 pages, Vehlmann and Jason cram a surprising amount of plot and character development into this graphic novella, yet the book has a pleasantly unhurried pace and plenty of room for gags.... The secret hero of this book’s success is the colorist Hubert, who brings a vivid richness to the book that gives it a quality not unlike that of Carl Barks’ work.... The result is pure storytelling pleasure, a kind of narrative eye-candy that is doubly attractive for its sense of restraint and Vehlmann’s deadpan story beats." – Rob Clough, The Comics Journal
• Review: "I never thought I could look at Poe in a way that was fresh. Poe has been done a thousand times and, while it’s always fun to watch someone else do their thing with Poe’s work, it tends to all go pretty much the same. [The Raven] is different, though. This is scaling back layers of dead flesh — Poe’s, Reed’s and Mattotti’s — and then grafting all of the raw, naked skin together to make a creature that is both disturbing and beautiful.... Knowing that this work came from a musical, I thought perhaps I might be missing a large piece of it, experiencing it through only one sense. I was wrong, however — Mattotti’s art combined with the inherent lyrical quality of the writing to make a more beautiful song than anyone could sing." – Lyndsey Holder, Innsmouth Free Press
• Review: "Fenwick's use of fonts is fascinating, as he seems obsessed with their aesthetic and decorative qualities as a way of eliciting a certain kind of reaction.... Fenwick slips between the absurd, the thoughtful, the existential and the sublime from page to page, keeping the reader off-balance but engaged.... Mascots flips from image to image with a dream logic that's sometimes whimsical, sometimes creepy, sometimes weird and always vivid. It's that vividness that gives the book its energy and an almost hallucinatory quality. Readers should not expect a coherent narrative but rather simply enjoy the ride." – Rob Clough, High-Low
• Review: "Josh Simmons picked an interesting way to write a graphic novel... Jessica seems to be a child in an abusive situation but either she’s found how to stay sane within her own imaginary world with a host of friends or she’s found a way to fight back. I’m not sure if her courage is a shield or a weapon. [Jessica Farm is a]n interesting life project and I think, well worth a read." – Terry Grignon, Golbing
• Quote of the Week: At The Comics Journal, R. Fiore's review of Luc Besson's film adaptation of Tardi's The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec contains this bon mot: "My rule of thumb is that making a movie out of a comic strip is like making a love song out of a blowjob: You may well make a perfectly decent love song out of it, but it will lack the characteristics one values in the original experience."