• List: To the surprise of few, The Hooded Utilitarian's International Best Comics Poll tops out with Charles M. Schulz's Peanuts in the #1 spot. HU editor Noah Berlatsky writes, "If you like charming, Peanuts is charming, and if you like dark, it’s dark, but it isn’t just charming, or just dark, or even just charming and dark. There are countless ways to like Peanuts, which is no doubt why it — deservedly, inevitably — tops this poll."
• Review: "The squeaky-voiced character from the animated shorts was especially bold in his daily newspaper comic strip [Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse]. Its memorable continuities were largely the responsibility of one man: Floyd Gottfredson. ...Gottfredson and his collaborators crafted two-fisted tales that remain entertaining, thrilling and funny up to 80 years on.... This inaugural issue in a planned Gottfredson library is a handsome hardback, prepared with the same care as Fantagraphics's archive of Charles Schulz's Peanuts." – Owen Heittman, The Australian
• Review: "Sibyl-Anne vs. Ratticus is a wonderful time and read!... The writing and art are grade A for this, and I cannot recommend it enough. It does have a feeling much like Peyo’s Smurfs, but I prefer Macherot’s Sibyl-Anne over it. His story telling is a bit more better put together, and action scenes are more exciting (if one has to compare to something, that is). Plus Sibyl-Anne is just cute.... Sibyl-Anne vs. Ratticus has something every comic lover can enjoy." – Drew McCabe, ComicAttack.net
• Review: "Knowing me, if I wait until I’ve finished all 624 pages of [The Comics Journal #301], I’ll never get around to reviewing it, so I figured I’d just do it in parts. After a solid Introduction by Editor-in-Chief Gary Groth, in which he extols Crumb’s virtues as a cartoonist, and explains the reason Genesis deserved TCJ’s lengthiest critical symposium ever (the reason is that Groth thinks the book deserves it), we get a long and surprisingly warm and easygoing chat between Groth and Crumb. Neither has ever come off this…normal." – Christopher Allen, Trouble with Comics
• Review: "The harmony of words and illustration strengthen Kelso’s voice as a narrator of stories that appeal to women of all ages.... This collection of short stories is a fantastic starting point for those of you who still view comics as Marvel/DC, or as ‘kiddie’ entertainment. (Shame!!) While playing with fantasy elements we all loved reading as little kids, Kelso incorporates today’s real life issues — STDs, pregnancy, being broke, infidelity — into her comics. Raw, yet refined, Queen of the Black Black is an enjoyable, meaty read that left me pumped to experiment with my own comics style." – Erina Davidson, Bust
• Review: "The book itself is stunning.... Fantagraphics is well-known for their quality book projects and this may be one of their best yet.... The Mickey Mouse strip itself is a hoot — especially in these early days. Mickey’s a feisty little guy in the strips, more so than in most of his animated appearances. He frequently packs heat (gasp!), knows all kinds of dirty tricks, and isn’t afraid to get into some real fisticuffs.... Even if you don’t care much for Mickey or the whole Disney mouse machine, this book should be on your bookshelf just for the slice of 1930s Depression-era Americana and the amazing joy of Mickey’s flinty 'can-do' attitude.... Watch for this wonderful series to do very well in various comics awards next year. This is important stuff." – K.C. Carlson, Comics Worth Reading
• Review: "There's still an agreeable edge to the series at this point [The Complete Peanuts 1979-1980] — Peppermint Patty's resigned acceptance to a life of D-minuses is really kind of savage — but Charles Schulz was relaxed enough to enjoy a few in-jokes and celebrity shout-outs to the likes of Bill Mauldin and various tennis stars.... Each time that Schulz started one of his longer, weirder stories..., readers will find themselves wondering how in the world he resolved it. He succeeded every single time." – Grant Goggans, The Hipster Dad's Bookshelf (via Spurge)
• Review: "Like crisps, chocolate and bad puns; once you get the taste of Robert Crumb on your palate, it’s almost impossible to shift the craving for more. Here’s another re-released edition [Vol. 13] from the superb and multi-award winning Complete Crumb Comics series that will tickle the bad-taste-buds of discerning comics cognoscenti and is bound to make a whole new generation of fans among the cool kids..." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Scene/Plug:Comic Book Resources' Sonia Harris shares a charming Hernandez Bros. anecdote from Comic-Con and plugs the new Love and Rockets: "I won’t spoil it for you, but I can tell you that it is even better than the 3 that have come before it (and they were fantastic.) Seriously, Love and Rockets is just getting better and better."
Well, well, we've got some real humble artists here at Fantagraphics!
This past weekend at the San Diego Comic-Con, Inkpot Awards were received by our artists Joyce Farmer, Frank Stack, and editor Bill Schelly! But no one brought their award back to the booth! So, instead you get this absolutely charming photo of Joyce and Frank.
Okay, we can't offer you the ninety-minute wait in ninety-degree weather outside the convention center, the greasy ten-dollar pizzas, the terrifying crush of Saturday afternoon attendees here to get an autograph from a Battlestar: Galactica co-star, or the sight of costumed attendees who apparently only chose the Flash costume because their more appropriate pick, Jabba the Hutt, was out. But what we can do is this!
SORRY YOU WON'T GET THE EARLY BOOKS?
The following books will have their world premiere in San Diego. If you order them directly from us we will have them sent to you directly from our main U.S. distributor's warehouse where they land on their journey from overseas in August, which means you will be getting your copy a few days before even the first of our distributors get them. (Note: U.S. orders only. Rush shipping not available — choose Media Mail from the shipping options to avoid being overcharged.) To this list we will even add The Armed Garden, The Cabbie, and Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse by Floyd Gottfredson Volume 2, three books that for various reasons will miss San Diego and thus you will really be the first customers to get!
You can preview many of those books right now here on our website, and the rest of them shortly after our web guy comes back from San Diego! Just hit those links above and you'll see links to download PDF excerpts, and stay tuned for our usual photo and video previews.
Part of everyone's San Diego experience is to ask the Fantagraphics moguls penetrating questions such as "Where the hell is Pogo?" and "Why don't you publish XXXX??" and "Which Jacques Tardi album should I buy first?" For this weekend only, if you have a question for Gary Groth, Kim Thompson, or Eric Reynolds, add your question to your order and whoever you're addressing will personally answer it!
SORRY YOU CAN'T TAKE ADVANTAGE OF DESPERATION SALES?
On the last day of the convention, as Gary, Kim, and Eric survey the piles of unsold books and "God, do we have to lug all these back home?" panic sets in, suddenly fantastic sales deals begin to materialize faster than you can say "HOW MUCH for that Box Set?" Therefore we are not only offering 20% OFF EVERYTHING on our website — use coupon code FANTACON11 at checkout — but a whopping 50% OFF ALL our biggest and heaviest books (see them all here — note that items are discounted 40%, which works out to 50% when the coupon discount is applied) during the convention and beyond, from Thursday, July 21 (that's today!) through Monday, July 25 — and you won't even have to lug them home or pay all those extra baggage fees! We'll send them to you!
Fantagraphics is puttin' the "comics" back in Comic-Con as we head to San Diego this week with a slew of scintillating signings, almost two-dozen dynamite debuts, and a collection of comics sure to please any comics fan... and fill those enormous free tote bags they give away at the door.
Friday, July 22nd: • 10:30-11:30 Comics Arts Conference Session #5: Critical Approaches to Comics: An Introduction to Theories and Methods— Matthew J. Smith and Randy Duncan with panelist, Andrei Molotiu. [Room 26AB] • 1:00-2:00 Comics Arts Conference Session #6: Wordless Comicswith Andrei Molotiu. [Room 26AB] • 12:00-1:00 CBLDF Master Session 3: Jaime Hernandez [Room 30CDE] • 1:00-2:00 Publishing Queer: Producing LGBT Comics and Graphic Novels with moderator Justin Hall [Room 9] • 1:00-2:30 The Golden Age of the Fanzine moderated by Bill Schelly. [Room 24ABC] • 10:30-11:30 Cartoon Network Comedy: Regular Show/The Problem Solverz and More! The Problem Solverz talent includes Ben Jones, John Pham, and Jon Vermilyea. [Room 6A]
• Review: "In Joyce Farmer’s powerful Special Exits the people are more people-like than I have encountered in comics in a long time.... It is moving without being sentimental. Real without being pedantic; a solid graphic novel that reads, well, like a novel! ...Special Exits is packed with details that can only come from observation and experience. Farmer is a close observer.... Special Exits is one of the most engrossingly human comics and, ultimately, one of the most moving... Joyce Famer has brilliantly conveyed what it is to be human. To live, to die. To ripe, to rot. And thereby hangs her tale." – Paul Karasik, The Comics Journal
• Review: "Here is Volume One of Roy Crane's Captain Easy, a wonderfully colorful and nicely designed Sunday page from 1933-35. Crane’s style is a wonderful paradox: broadly cartoony characters against nice filigrees of background illustration. The eye is lost in the pastel colors, the bold crossword puzzle layouts, the simple lines, and the breathless breezy action. The adventures never let up, and no scrape is too tight for this impossibly ingratiating and resourceful hero.... This book is more than a historically interesting sociological artifact; it’s a delight. Rating 9/10" – Michael Barrett, Popmatters
• Review: "[In Isle of 100,000 Graves] Vehlmann seamlessly takes on Jason's laconic style and deadpan irony for a genre-blending adventure with all the subversive wit one would expect from a Jason tale…. This light, entertaining take on 19th century adventure stories is sheer enjoyment. Grade: A" – Mike Sebastian, Campus Circle
• Plug:Comics Alliance's Caleb Goellner recommends Thursday's Love and Rockets panel at Comic-Con: "Even if you haven't had a chance to delve into the admittedly dense (in a very good way) Love & Rockets stories by Gilbert, Jaime, and Mario Hernandez, you can soak up some serious inspiration from this panel and L&R's 30 years of history. Fantagraphics co-founder and The Comics Journal EiC Gary Groth is moderating, which means the book's cultural significance should resonate beyond the fan speak usually associated with these kinds of things. If you've got a free hour, we recommend investing in this panel and checking out L&R on the floor afterward."
Comic-Con keeps rolling out their 2011 programming schedule — today they've posted Saturday's lineup and it features our can't-miss 35th Anniversary panel which will include a couple of announcements that will knock your socks off. Here's what Fanta fans will want to catch:
10:00-11:30 50 Years of Comic Fandom: The Founders— It's hard to believe but it's been fifty years (more or less) since that peculiar institution called Comic Book Fandom was born. Meet some of those who were there at the inception, including Jean Bails, Paul Levitz, Dick and Pat Lupoff, Richard Kyle, Bill Schelly, Roy Thomas, and Maggie Thompson along with moderator Mark Evanier, as they discuss how fandom came to be and just what it was. Room 24ABC
11:30-12:30 Bill Blackbeard: The Man Who Saved Comics— In the 1960s, while writing a history of the American comic strip, Bill Blackbeard learned that most of the nation's libraries were discarding their newspaper archives in favor of microfilm, destroying countless pages of comics in the process. Over the course of the next three decades, Blackbeard and his volunteers at the San Francisco Academy of Comic Art amassed a collection of more than 2.5 million comics, including virtually every comic strip ever syndicated in U.S. newspapers. When he passed away earlier this year, Blackbeard had contributed to more than 200 comic strip collections, including the beloved Smithsonian Collection of Newspaper Comics, and his work had inspired generations of cartoonists, historians and fans. Cartoon Art Museum curator Andrew Farago, publishers Gary Groth and Dean Mullaney, editor and herstorian Trina Robbins, and Jenny Robb, curator/assistant professor from Ohio State University's Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum celebrate Blackbeard's life and legacy. Room 24ABC
12:30-1:30 Fantagraphics 35th Anniversary— Fantagraphics Books was founded in 1976 with the launch of their first publication, The Comics Journal. Since then, they've grown to become one of the world's foremost publishers of literary comix and comic strips. Publishers Gary Groth and Kim Thompson offer a multimedia presentation highlighting their favorite works from the past 35 years, as well as previewing some of their upcoming favorites. Expect a major announcement or two, as well! Room 24ABC
1:00-2:00 Spotlight on Anders Nilsen— Comic-Con special guest Anders Nilsen debuts his magnum opus, the 800+-page Big Questions, which he began self-publishing over 10 years ago and which quickly placed Nilsen at the forefront of alternative cartoonists. He is part of the Chicago comics collective The Holy Consumption with Jeffrey Brown, John Hankiewicz, and Paul Horsnchemeier and was recently featured in the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. Join him as he presents a slideshow of his work from his haunting postmodern fable. Room 4
2:30-3:30 The Art of the Graphic Novel—Andrew Farago (curator, Cartoon Art Museum) talks with graphic novelists Chester Brown (Paying for It), Seymour Chwast (Dante's Divine Comedy), Eric Drooker (Blood Song), Joyce Farmer (Special Exits, A Memoir), Joëlle Jones (Troublemaker), Jason Shiga (Empire State: A Love Story (Or Not)), and Craig Thompson (Habibi) about their work in the genre that has elevated comics to mainstream bookstores all over the world. Room 24ABC
Comic-Con has announced their programming for Thursday July 21, the first full day of the convention, and here are the panels to circle in your program or plug into your smartphone app or scribble on the back of your hand (we will, of course, give a complete run-down along with our signing schedule and more info in the near future):
12:30-1:30 Spotlight on Bill Schelly— Comic-Con special guest Bill Schelly (The Golden Age of Comic Fandom, The DC Archives) is a leading fandom and comics historian. Moderator Gary Brown interviews Bill about his work, with special emphasis on his latest books The Art of Joe Kubert (debuting at Comic-Con 2011) and Founders of Comic Fandom, followed by a Q&A session. Room 8
1:00-2:00 CBLDF Master Session 2: Shannon Wheeler— From DIY zine making to the pages of the New Yorker and every flavor of independent press in between, Shannon Wheeler has distinguished himself for an ability to craft humor strips that are equal parts sardonic and existential. Take a close-up look at his approach to creating cartoons and gain insight into the nuts and bolts of making cartoons that connect with editors and readers at this CBLDF Master Session! The pieces created during this event will be available for bidding in Saturday's CBLDF Benefit Auction! Room 30CDE (Recommended by The Washington Post's Michael Cavna: "From zines to New Yorker magazine, Portland’s own has much knowledge to share with the aspiring.")
2:00-3:00 Love and Rockets —Gilbert, Jaime, and Mario Hernandez converse with Gary Groth about 30 years of creating their landmark comic book series, Love & Rockets. Since 1982, Love & Rockets has virtually defined alternative comics and culture, launching from the punk rock scene in Los Angeles and growing into one of the most mature bodies of work ever produced in the medium. Room 9 (Recommended by The Washington Post's Michael Cavna: "The Brothers Hernandez talk with Gary Groth about three glorious decades of L&R.")
2:30-3:30 Joyce Farmer: Special Exits, A Memoir — Can graphic work become serious literature through excellent artwork, writing ,and subject matter? Where does graphic work belong in bookstores and libraries? This Q&A with Comic-Con special guest Joyce Farmer examines her Eisner Award-nominated book Special Exits, A Memoir (Fantagraphics) in this spotlight panel. Room 4 (Recommended by The Washington Post's Michael Cavna: "Her Eisner-nominated Fantagraphics graphic-novel memoir is a must-read. Which makes Farmer a must-see.")
3:30-4:30 Spotlight on Frank Stack— Comic-Con special guest Frank Stack, pioneer of underground comix in the 1960s with such titles as New Adventures of Jesus, Feelgood Funnies, Amazons, and Dorman's Doggie, remains active as a fine artist and cartoonist. His Jesus stories were recently reprinted as The Second Coming by Fantagraphics. Frank will present a visual presentation and Q&A. Room 4
6:00-7:00 Comics for Social Justice: The Making of Oil and Water —Oil and Water is a book-length comic (Fantagraphics, Summer 2011) that is a partly fictionalized account of a 10-day trip that 22 Oregonians (activists, teachers, business owners, scientists, and artists) took last summer to "bear witness" to the BP oil spill on the Gulf Coast. Shannon Wheeler will briefly present the historic impact of comics on issues of contemporary social relevance and give a quick overview of why this project was conceived and what it hopes to accomplish. He'll then present his sketches from the Gulf Coast and show how he and collaborator Steve Duin transformed them into a compelling portrait of what hope and challenges remain along a ravaged coastline, one awash in both seafood and oil, that will be changed as irrevocably as those Oregonians that chose to bear witness to the tragedy. Q&A session to follow. Room 9
Whew! Get ready for a lot of running from room to room. Why, you'll barely have time to hit our booth and buy books!
• Review: "There is no one remotely like Jim Woodring. I admire dozens of living cartoonists, but Jim's wordless comic book stories... are some of the most mindbending books I've ever read.... Is there a lesson to be learned from Congress of the Animals? What is the meaning behind it, and Woodring's other books? That's the question I'm unable to answer. His comics affect the part of my brain that can think and feel, but cannot verbalize. His comics change me, but I can't say why or how." – Mark Frauenfelder, Boing Boing
• Review: "Every step along the way is documented thoroughly and honestly, effectively killing any romantic notions I still had about my final years.... Reading [Special Exits] was like watching an incredibly slow train wreck, where you got to know everyone on board before it crashed... Laura was inspiring in that she continued to respond with love and wanted to help." – Dawn Rutherford, The Unshelved Book Club
• Review: "Fantagraphics Books has put out a lot of amazing collections. Most notably, their year-by-year reprinting of the works of America’s greatest philosopher: Charles Schulz. But my new favorite project of theirs has to be the multi-volume Steve Ditko Archives.... The Steve Ditko Archives lovingly and chronologically reproduce large swaths of both Ditko’s pre- and post-code output, highlighting his ability to draw gallons of emotion and inner turmoil in tiny sequential frames.... Ditko is one of the most elusive and complex characters of comics’ golden age, but these volumes (two so far, Strange Suspense and Unexplored Worlds, both with illuminating forwards by Blake Bell) at least give a compelling glimpse into the creative development of the man behind the panels." – singer/songwriter Chris Mills, guest editor at Magnet