• List:The New York Times's George Gene Gustines recommends Moto Hagio's A Drunken Dream and Other Stories in their "Graphic Books Roundup — Holiday Gift Guide 2010": "This 10-story anthology shifts from young romance to supernatural mystery to kitchen-sink drama, so there will probably be a touchstone tale for everyone."
• List:New York Magazine presents "Dan Kois's Great New Autobio Graphic Novels," including Joyce Farmer's Special Exits at #4: "The final four years in the lives of underground cartoonist Farmer’s father and stepmother, told with honesty and humor. A book that will resonate for anyone facing the loss of a loved one."
• List: At Robot 6, Chris Mautner compiles "Six x-rated comics you can read without shame," half of which are old (mostly out of print) Eros gems: Birdland by Gilbert Hernandez, Small Favors by Colleen Coover, and Nipplez 'n' Tum Tum by Mary Fleener.
• Review: "Authors Zack Carlson and Bryan Connolly spare no one in Destroy All Movies!!! from the moment the introduction starts. Yes, there are swear words in the book. If you appreciated your time during the 1980s this cultural reference goes beyond just scenes in movies that have punks in them. [...] The short reviews of each flick give an honest and hilarious appraisal of each piece. I wish every movie review would be as succinct as these two authors because it would save a lot of reading and muck to wade through in a film review. [...] If you are a punk film buff, Destroy All Movies!!! is definitely worth the purchase." – William Browning, Yahoo! Movies/Associated Content
• Review: "Zack Carlson and Bryan Connolly got the wild notion to write a guide to every movie that ever contained a punk in it, and the result of their labors is the loveably cumbersome Destroy All Movies!!! The Complete Guide to Punks on Film. ...[I]t's a treat that it exists, and we're lucky to reap the benefits from Carlson and Connolly's obsession." – Ned Lannamann, The Portland Mercury
• Review: "Among the 1,100 titles cataloged, mocked and celebrated by [Zack] Carlson and co-editor Bryan Connolly in this future coffee-table classic [Destroy All Movies!!!] are Hack-O-Lantern,Rock and Roll Mobster Girls,Revenge of the Nerds IV and Invasion of the Mindbenders, none of which you have seen, of course, but all of which you will desperately want to experience after dipping into Connolly and Carlson’s obsessive-compulsive masterwork. If you ever wondered what it would be like if the 'Psychotronic' section of sleazebag anti-classics at Movie Madness grew a brain and then threw up on you, well, here’s your chance." – Chris Stamm, Willamette Week
• Plug: "There's no shortage of scholarship about every conceivable genre of film, from film noir to Westerns to crazy-disturbing B-movie schlock. But admit it: when was the last time you found a comprehensive study of punks on film? Well, that appallingly underrepresented genre can boast its own volume: Destroy All Movies!!!: The Complete Guide to Punks on Film, published by our Seattle friends, Fantagraphics Books." – Kristi Turnquist, The Oregonian
• Review: "Being free of logical constraint and internal consistency, Zippy’s daily and Sunday forays against The Norm can encompass everything from time travel, talking objects, shopping lists, radical philosophy, caricature, packaging ingredients, political and social ponderings and even purely visual or calligraphic episodes. It is weird and wonderful and not to everybody’s tastes… The collected musings of America’s most engaging Idiot-Savant have all the trappings of the perfect cult-strip and this latest volume [Ding Dong Daddy from Dingburg] finds cretin and creator on absolute top form. If you like this sort of stuff you’ll adore this enticing slice of it. Yow!" – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Review: "Fear of Comics is a wonderful book, one of the finest short-story collections the medium has ever produced. It’s laugh-out-loud funny at times, filthy at others, disgusting and poetic and black as midnight at still others. And it’s a showcase for comics’ premier naturalist to abandon that style altogether, to take his distinctive and exaggerated figurework to their absolute extremes, to tell stories that feel like neither the magic realism nor the science fiction for which he is best known but rather like fairy tales, or even myths of some creepy nihilistic religion." – Sean T. Collins, Attentiondeficitdisorderly
• Review: "Richard Sala... knows how to skillfully mix humor with horror and the grotesque. [Peculia] is a collection of short stories whose protagonist is a mysterious girl who lives in a world populated by monsters and strange creatures... Dreams are mixed with reality and the stories could go on forever, and even if the book has a conclusion, this does not answer the questions and doubts of the reader. Never mind, because the stories are still entertaining and illustrated with an original style that combines influences from gothic expressionist cinema and even a purely pop style and very fun." – Valerio Stive, Lo Spazio Bianco (translated from Italian)
• Plug: Our pals at Tiny Showcase are excited for Ray Fenwick's new book Mascots and hint that they're scheming something up for the launch
(not final cover)
• Coming Attractions: Bleeding Cool's Rich Johnston notes our May 2011 publication of Lou Reed and Lorenzo Mattotti's adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe's The Raven
The only thing possibly harder than being a parent is being an adult child watching your parents' health deteriorate. On this Sunday, Nov. 14 at noon, graphic novelist JOYCE FARMER and author Beth Harpaz will discuss their roles in this "Sandwich Generation" at the Painted Bride Art Center as part of the First Person Arts Festival in Philadelphia. Go HERE for further details and ticketing information.
Attendees will enjoy a lunch of bánh mi (Vietnamese hoagies) from Bridget Foy's.
This should be a very special event. In her new graphic memoir SPECIAL EXITS, Joyce Farmer chronicles the decline of her parents' health, their relationship with one another and with their daughter, and how they cope with the day-to-day emotional fragility of the most taxing time of their lives. It's a brutally honest look at transitioning into the role of caretaker for the loved ones who always took care of you.
R. Crumb says Special Exits is "One of the best long-narrative comics I've ever read, right up there with Gen of Hiroshima and Maus. It had a powerful effect on me... towards the end I actually found myself moved to tears."
Publisher's Weekly, in a starred review, says "The story is stunning for its antisentimental realism, as well as for the glimpses of fantasy (Lars's hallucination of Hades' ferryman, Charon, rowing by in the hallway) that flicker by like ghosts."
Joyce Farmer’s memoir chronicles the decline of the author’s parents’ health, their relationship with one another and with their their daughter, and how they cope with the day-to-day emotional fragility of the most taxing time of their lives.
Elderly parents Lara and Rachel, who have enjoyed a long and loving married life together, are rendered in fine, confident pen lines. Set in southern Los Angeles (which makes for a terrifying sequence as blind Rachel and ailing Lars are trapped in their home without power during the 1992 Rodney King riots), backgrounds and props are lovingly detailed: these objects serve as memory triggers for Lars and Rachel, even as they eventually overwhelm them and their home, which the couple is loathe to leave. Special Exits is laid out in an eight-panel grid, which creates a leisurely storytelling pace that not only helps to convey the slow, inexorable decline in Lars’ and Rachel’s health, but perfectly captures the timbre of the exchanges between a long-married couple: the affectionate bickering; their gallows humor; their querulousness as their bodies break down.
Though Lars and Rachel are the protagonists of Special Exits, Farmer makes her voice known through creative visual metaphors and in her indictment of the careless treatment of the elderly in nursing homes. Special Exits gracefully deals with the hard reality of caring for aging loved ones: those who are or who have been in similar situations might find comfort in it, and those who haven’t will find much to admire in the bravery and good humor of Lars and Rachel.
Joyce Farmer, best known for co-creating the Tits ’n Clits comics anthology in the 1970s, a feminist response to the rampant misogyny in underground comix, spent 11 years crafting Special Exits, a graphic memoir in the vein of Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home or Harvey Pekar, Joyce Brabner, and Frank Stack’s Our Cancer Year, about caring for her dying father and stepmother.
"One of the best long-narrative comics I've ever read, right up there with Maus... I actually found myself moved to tears. – R. Crumb
Today's (and yesterday's — sorry for the interruption) Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: "Yes, [Special Exits] is a heartbreaking — even harrowing — tale, one made all the more moving and immediate by the creator’s nuanced gift for capturing the essence of her parents on the page. But it’s also a tale told with consummate skill, filled with mordant humor and real compassion, an almost embarrassing amount of candor, and a deep abiding love and respect for its subjects. [...] Ultimately, it’s these simple and true moments of mundane magic which marks Special Exits as more than just one of the best books released this year. It is, without a doubt, also one of the most significant contributions to the comics medium this side of the millennium, a modern masterpiece which celebrates the human condition." – Bill Baker, ForeWord Reviews
• Review: "Ultimately, ...the book churns itself into a seething sludge of psychic toxicity that’s less a shockfest and more a satire of existence itself. Mercilessly graphic and superbly unspooled, Prison Pit funnels the fantastic, violent notebook sketches of the middle-school miscreant into a funny, pulsing, disgustingly purgative eruption. [Grade] A-" – The A.V. Club
• Review: "Prison Pit Two is one of the most gruesome and beautiful new comics I've seen. It's the comics equivalent of Voivod's Rrröööaaarrr. Buy buy buy. Die die die." – Nick Gazin, Vice
• Review: "There have been plenty of comic-book memoirs, but few with the complex structure of You’ll Never Know, which seems at times to be rambling from topic to topic with no clear direction, until it unexpectedly circles back to an earlier point and makes the purpose of one tiny anecdote clear. Because this is still a work-in-progress — and an idiosyncratic one at that — it’s too early to tag it as a masterpiece. But damned if it isn’t well on its way. [Grade] A-" – The A.V. Club
• Review: "With each passing year, Bill Griffith’s venerable comic strip Zippy the Pinhead gets weirder, moving away from direct social commentary and toward a more abstract expression of Griffith’s worldview. The latest Zippy collection, Ding Dong Daddy from Dingburg, is dominated by a long tour through a town run by pinheads — an absurdist spin on consumer utopia that rivals Superman comics’ Bizarro World for its down-is-up jargon and attitudes. The joke? That this is more or less the America of the early 21st century... [Grade] B" – The A.V. Club
• Review: "The Hernandez Brothers have... been on a constant incline. They never treaded water or plateau'd. In fact this issue, the third issue of the third volume [of Love and Rockets], is one of the very best things they've ever done. [...] This is a perfect volume by guys who've been getting perfecter all the time. [...] At their worst the Hernandez Brothers make work that's merely good and entertaining. At their best they make this." – Nick Gazin, Vice
• Review: "Adele Blanc-Sec is a sort of actiony, science fictiony comic for people who aren't retarded. It's like a Europeaner Hellboy or Indiana Jones. [...] This isn't my absolute favorite Tardi book — there's slightly too much dialogue and slightly too many characters with mustaches to keep up with — but it's still a fucking masterpiece. Everything he draws and the moods he conveys are worth the price of admission alone." – Nick Gazin, Vice
• Review: "In [Mome] Vol. 19, [editor Eric] Reynolds shifted gears and used fewer but longer entries to put together perhaps the single best issue of the entire series (only Vol. 12 surpasses it in my estimation). Beyond its quality, Mome Vol. 19 also seems to be the issue that best reflects Reynolds’ taste as an editor. Reynolds has always been more on the underground side of the fence than in the literary fiction camp when it comes to comics. This issue’s mix of the transgressively funny, pulpish noir, surrealism, scatology and innovation was sequenced in such a way that every transition from story to story was nearly seamless. More importantly, the stories frequently complemented each other in a way that acted as a form of editorial storytelling on its own. [...] Secrets and mysteries are at the core of every story in this volume, and Reynolds expertly put together this jigsaw puzzle of styles and visual approaches to create a coherent, deeply affecting book. It’s certainly on my short list of best comics of the year." – Rob Clough, The Comics Journal
• Review: "Mome... is where the smart kids with the sharpest pencils, shiniest pens, biggest brushes and best software go to play before they blow your minds in great big award-winning graphic novels. It is intense, sometimes hard to read and crafted to the highest production standards. Considered by most to be the successor to Art Spiegelman’s Raw, it doesn’t come out nearly often enough. [...] This volume is perfect for newcomers to jump aboard... Whether you’re new to comics, currently searching beyond the mainstream or just want something fresh; these strips and this publication will always offer a decidedly different read. You may not like all of it but Mome will always have something you can’t help but respond to. Why haven’t you tried it yet?" – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Review: "Jacques Tardi's masterful It Was the War of the Trenches was originally published in Europe in 1993, and thanks to Fantagraphics it has finally made it to the U.S. It was worth the wait. [...] I was nauseated. I was horrified. I was transfixed. Everyone should read this book and relearn the lesson that war is not diplomacy by other means, but the most hellish, useless and destructive tool at our disposal, and should be found somewhere past the last resort." – Andrew A. Smith, Scripps Howard News Service
• Review: "An effective biography and a great showcase of classic comics artwork, [Fire and Water: Bill Everett, the Sub-Mariner and the Birth of Marvel Comics] provides an intriguing look into the life of a man who played an important role in the shaping of the creative side of the comics industry. [...] Abetted by plentiful examples of Everett’s illustrative prowess (both at his peak and when in the depths of addiction), it’s a valuable tool for anybody interested in the history of the medium or the men behind their favorite stories and characters. And it’s fortunate that men like Blake Bell and publishers like Fantagraphics are committed to telling these stories so that we don’t lose sight of our roots." – Michael C. Lorah, Newsarama
• Review: "Do you ever stop to think that David Lynch's work doesn't make sense? No, not in that way — I don't mean in terms of story logic, I mean in terms of his aesthetic/generic approach. [...] Something about what Lynch does, the confidence with which he does it, makes it feel seamless, like 'of course' rather than 'what the?'. Looking at the cover for The Girl from H.O.P.P.E.R.S., I realized the same is true of Jaime Hernandez's comics. [...] He created his own kind of story." – Sean T. Collins, Attentiondeficitdisorderly
• Review: "To call it 'comic book as nightmare' would certainly sound too glib by half and too cliche by whole orders of magnitude, and yet nothing else provides so apt a model for the kind of experience Columbia has crafted here. [...] In short, Pim & Francie is a monumental achievement. Columbia's brilliance is on full display... to some of the most truly dreadful effect I've ever experienced." – Curt Purcell, The Groovy Age of Horror (via Sean T. Collins)
• Plug: "Stephen DeStefano and George Chieffet's new book Lucky in Love was recently released by Fantagraphics Books and I just received a copy courtesy of the artist so I want to plug one of my favorite artists working in comics and animation. As always Stephen's art is amazing. Pick up a copy today!" – Kevin Langley, Cartoons, Model Sheets, & Stuff
• Plug: "I escaped LA for a week and spent time relaxing in Seattle with some of my favorite people. On the way to the airport, we made a spontaneous stop at Fantagraphics Books, a place I never heard of before. They describe themselves as a publisher of 'comics for thinking readers – readers who like to put their minds to work, who have a sophisticated understanding of art and culture, and appreciate personal expression unfettered by uncritical use of cliché.' So, if you’re looking to read bland, mainstream superhero comics, you won’t find them there. [...] If you ever find yourself in Seattle, you won’t regret stopping at the store. A bonus is the record store that shares the same space with the bookstore." – What's Good With It
• Profile: "Jason is a Norwegian graphic novelist/comic book artist who makes the finest short stories. [...] It’s beautiful to see how Jason has refined everything; stripping away anything that could be considered filigree, cutting out any words that don’t need saying. He has mastered the barely story, telling imperceptible narratives vaguely inferred, and a crispness of drawing that ignores unnecessary fill. All that remains is a wry sociopathy you can’t help but fall in love with. Jason is the best thing I’ve come across in the last couple of years." – Gregory Povey, Mount Analogue
• Interview:Comics Comics' Dan Nadel, who says "As a [Mort] Meskin admirer (I put a Golden Lad story in Art in Time) I am thrilled to have a beautifully made book that showcases his thoughtful, vividly executed and highly influential work," talks to the author of that book, From Shadow to Light, Steven Brower: "There were two things that drew me to his story. The first was the mystery of why someone who began so strong, influencing his peers, faded so quickly from view. The second attraction: his personal story. Mort was someone who suffered greatly at times emotionally and overcame his struggles. I felt there was a larger story to tell than just someone who was a very good artist."
• Interview:Comic Book Resources' Kiel Phegley talks to Jean Schulz about the Peanuts 60th Anniversary: "I say I'm 'condemned' to keep learning more about the comic strip because I didn't take it seriously enough when Sparky was alive. That's sort of a joke, but it's true. You can go back over them again and again and look at them in different thematic settings."
• Commentary: At Trouble with Comics, Alan David Doane imagines a Peanuts spin-off strip called Shells, sort of a Rosenkranz & Guilderstern Are Dead to the Hamlet of Peanuts
• Review: "Underground feminist comic artist Farmer’s account of how she looked after her aging parents [Special Exits] is a quiet wonder. ... Farmer renders everything in busy, densely packed black-and-white frames whose cluttered look mimics the dusty house, its surfaces thick with cat hair and memories. The story is stunning for its antisentimental realism, as well as for the glimpses of fantasy... that flicker by like ghosts." – Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
• Review: "Billy Hazelnuts and the Crazy Bird is kind of horrifying, but hilarious nonetheless, and so lovingly detailed that one can’t help but enjoy reading it. ... It’s as crazy and weird as one would expect from a Millionaire story — and laugh-out-loud funny to boot. ... But it’s the humanity of his characters and their emotions that serve as our way into the story. ... The dense linework gives everything volume and weight, along with a leap-off-the-page energy. ... Millionaire’s narrative world is built on zany chaos, and a true storytelling wonder to behold. Yet, while it would be a scary and nightmarish place in which to live, it’s sure fun to spend some time there." – Matthew J. Brady, Indie Pulp
• Review: "Delving into the hidden world of secret societies of the Victorian Age in America, Charles Schneider blows the lid on the craziness... These revelations are culled from listings in DeMoulin Brothers Catalog No. 439... The actual catalog is a wishbook of possible DIY projects for the clever or crazy... As retail histories go, this is a vibrant one — if nothing else, it lets you know what foolishness your grandfather was up to when he looks back to the good old days and bemoans 'these kids today.' At least these kids today aren’t making a habit of using a Lifting And Spanking Machine on their friends." – John E. Mitchell, The North Adams Transcript
• Review: "Jack Cole was a brilliant artist and one of the most significant figures in American comics. ... In essence, these are single panel cartoons, beautifully composed and drawn as you would expect, accompanied by a gag or punchline. They are pleasing to look at and vaguely amusing, to be sure, but there is none of the surreal, chaotic, rollercoaster quality to be found in Cole’s comic book art. There is nothing too objectionable [in Classic Pin-up Art of Jack Cole] either, unless you regard cheesecake as commodification – which you’re perfectly entitled to do, of course." – P.P.O. Kane, The Compulsive Reader
• Interview:Comic Book Resources' Shaun Manning talks to Jason about his new graphic novel Werewolves of Montpellier: "Originally, I had thought the two werewolves would kill Igor, to make it more personal for Sven to go after them. But it just seemed so typical, it's what would have happened in any Hollywood film. It just didn't interest me. A conversation about looking at girls asses or the politeness of Frenchmen is more interesting."
• Interview:Caustic Cover Critic's Peter Lutjen talks to Bob Fingerman about book design: "My book Connective Tissue was my art, but the designer, Jacob Covey, completed it with his design and I was delighted. I really admire Jacob's work."
• Interview: At The Daily Cross Hatch, Brian Heater talks to Robert Pollard about his collage art: "It’s inspired by a recurring dream I used to have when I was in high school and college. In my dream was an unattended record store with racks and rows full of record sleeves by imaginary or dreamt rock bands. Needless to say, I was very disappointed when I awoke [and discovered] that it wasn’t real. Now it sort of is. At least slightly more real than the dream."
• Events:The Beat reports that Lilli Carré's short film "Head Garden" which you can watch here) is among the films selected for the first annual SPX Animation Showcase
• Review: "...[Rand Holmes] could tell a story, and he hit his stride with lengthy action-comedy epics like 'Wings Over Tijuana' and 'Hitler’s Cocaine,' which explored the shadier sides of drug culture in a style that veered from the shockingly real to the morbidly slapstick. Imagine a Jack Davis MAD magazine piece with heavier overtones; that was Holmes at his best, and that best is well-represented in The Artist Himself. [Grade] B+" – The A.V. Club
• Review: "Drew Weing’s breezy, lyrical graphic novel Set to Sea... tells a simple story about art and experience, delivered in one-step-follows-another fashion. Weing’s cartoony figures and detailed backgrounds — rendered with precise cross-hatching — suit his one-picture-per-page format well, making Set to Sea look like an animated film slowed down to a slideshow. ...Weing’s beautiful art and masterful pacing are so pleasurable that Set to Sea stands up to multiple reads. It’s a catchy little tune that sounds better with each spin. [Grade] A-" – The A.V. Club
• Review: "Fantagraphics has taken care to showcase Hagio’s work in as beautiful a package as possible. ... For the right reader, adult or teen, man or woman, these stories [in A Drunken Dream and Other Stories] can be windows into a world where finally they can see themselves, both their strengths and their flaws. That’s a powerful thing for a book to be able to do and it takes a masterful craftsman like Hagio to be able to do it." – Snow Wildsmith, Graphic Novel Reporter
• Review: "Temperance is a story of awakening and transformation — physical, emotional, and spiritual. A profoundly empathetic reflection upon the systemic societal problems of culturally ingrained violence and brainwashing, Temperance is profound, meaningful, and deserves to be read and reread at length." – Midwest Book Review/ComicList
• Plug: "The excellent graphic novel Special Exits is soon coming out from Fantagraphics. It is a labor of love of more than 10 years by the American comic artist extraordinaire Joyce Farmer. ... Of course another reason I am excited about the publication of Special Exits is because I’ve seen it grow and take shape throughout those years as Joyce Farmer has honored me with her friendship. Some of my students at the Ornerakis Cartoon School would also remember her as she was gracious enough to present her work to them. I am really looking forward to have the book in my hand and re-read it again and again as I think it is one of the best graphic novels ever created!" – Elias Tabakeas, Kailoipalogion
• Review: "This graphic memoir chronicles the author’s struggle with the aging of her father and stepmother. The subject matter isn’t pretty. Still, [Special Exits] is intriguing, well-written and thought-provoking." – Nick Smith, ICv2
• Review: "You have to be a real expert in Jason-character physiognomy to even be able to tell that the lonely expat main character in Werewolves of Montpellier is sometimes wearing a werewolf mask. After all, the guy's an anthropomorphized dog at the best of times. In the end, that ends up being the gag. You're not some uniquely unlovable monster, you're just a guy with problems, like anyone else..." – Sean T. Collins, Attentiondeficitdisorderly
• Review: "I have always had a soft spot in my heart for the Peanuts comic strip. I grew up on the old paperback collections and it was always a great day when my mom bought me a new one. Now, thanks to Fantagraphics, the entire run of Peanuts is available to fans in their beautiful, year-by-year collections of Charles Schulz’ masterful and hilarious comic strip. This collection puts us into the years of 1975 - 1976 and includes all of the daily and Sunday strips for the period. ... Thank you Fantagraphics! Grade A" – Tim Janson, Mania
• Review: "The most recent issue is probably the strongest [Hate] Annual to date, 36 pages of concentrated hilarity, including the longest Buddy Bradley story in quite some time. Just as impressive are his one-page strips about scientists from DiscoverMagazine..." – Rob Clough, The Comics Journal
• Analysis: "For the first time, this hapless figure, this half-man, half-animal is a picture of heroism and nobility, his metamorphosis achieved not through cosmic dances or tops but by cruelties inflicted on him by that creature of many masks and tricks, Whim. Earlier in Weathercraft , an infernal creature plucked from the pig-man’s gullet sanctions enlightenment. He who once resembled the demons surrounding the decapitated Ravana becomes whole and fully clothed, now cognizant of his true nature." – Ng Suat Tong, The Hooded Utilitarian
• Interview: From last Friday, Chris Mautner's revealing conversation with Tim Hensley at Robot 6: "Sometimes it's infuriating to read about a bunch of attractive saccharine pupils in the suburbs. Maybe [Archie] could add a brain damaged character. Maybe Moose, but more likely he never learned to read — have they already done that? Somewhere off-panel there's a convalescent hospital with all the rejects in it. But I wasn't attempting a Dark Knight makeover where everyone has stubble and never prevaricates."