Not sure if there will be an Online Commentary & Diversions update tomorrow or Monday, as your humble correspondent will be en route to and from San Francisco for APE. Say, we should have an APE announcement coming up any time now.
• Review: "Femke Hiemstra, a Dutch artist, was 'raised on liquorice and buttermilk,' in her words. Fittingly enough, her work is an alluring mixture of sweet and sour. ... Hiemstra... does a wonderful job of offsetting her cuteness with a measure of tears, skeletons, Venus fly-traps and demons. The palette, meanwhile, is unrepentantly pretty — can we call it girly? — and Hiemstra's paintings emit the sort of candy-charged excitement of Halloween night. Rock Candy is a jewelbox of a book, with its deep mauve die-cut cover and metallic red lettering. ... Rock Candy is... a delightful new work for those who like liquorice and buttermilk, or better yet, both." – Molly Young, More Intelligent Life
• Commentary: Chris McLaren of Homo Sum looks at a Jules Feiffer strip from Explainers that remains relevant after all these years
• Review: "From the opening panel until the final words, Tardi's adaptation of Manchette's crime novel [West Coast Blues] sizzles with a dazzling graphic intensity... Much like the 1950s American crime novels they emulate, Tardi and Manchette offer a impressive display of destructive violence, wanton love, and disregard for life. Showcasing Tardi's singular artistic talents, the brilliant West Coast Blues emerges as one of the best crime graphic novels ever produced." - Rick Klaw, The SF Site: Nexus Graphica
• Review: "[West Coast Blues] is slyly funny without being jokey; thrilling without ever seeming manipulative; cool, distant and ironic in its narrative voice; immediate in its depiction of violence. What do Tardi's illustrations add? Mostly a crowded sense of daily life, an ironic, sense-sharpening departure from the dark, shadowy atmospherics that sometimes nudge noir toward mere style." - Peter Rozovsky, Detectives Beyond Borders
• Review: "If you were a Martian trying to figure out America in the second half of the 20th century, you could do worse than to start by reading Jules Feiffer’s Village Voice cartoons [collected in Explainers]." - Sarah Boslaugh, PopMatters
We didn't forget the Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: "The Lagoon is a horror story, if a low-key one; like much of the best horror it makes the connection between horror and the absurd... [Lilli] Carré's sinuous, snaking treatment of sound provides a through-line... but it still feels disconnected in ways that few writers today are gutsy enough to attempt. The overall effect is like Clive Barker fed through a twee filter. This'll stick to you." - Sean T. Collins
• Review: "Who knew that Prince Valiant, a comic strip I always assumed appeared next to the word 'boredom' in the dictionary, was so vibrant, colorful, action-packed and gosh-darned fun?... This new edition [Prince Valiant Vol. 1: 1937-1938] ups the ante not just through the fancy hardcover, but via state of the art technology that allows for a pristine detail and rich color that’s about as close to Foster’s initial intentions as we may ever be likely to get... The strip is full of brio and vigor and hits the ground running right from the start... Foster’s fight scenes are sumptuous in detail but economical in execution, with Foster rarely showing a glinting sword unless it’s either about to or already has carved someone in half... In a world where too often most art turns out to be exactly as shallow as first glance suggests, it’s nice to discover that something like Prince Valiant is capable of surprising, and even enthralling, the modern reader." - Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Interview: The wheres and whens are a little confusing, but I guess Indy Mogul's The Reel Good Show did or is doing a live video interview with Dash Shaw today... if it gets archived we'll link it
• Events: As part of his current residency at Dartmouth College, Jules Feiffer gave a lecture Wednesday; The Dartmouth's Fan Zhang has the report (via The Daily Cartoonist). A highlight: "I was doing what so many comic book artists at the time were doing — I was stealing. You learn by stealing, you learn by swiping and, God willing, you emerge into your own style." Zhang also reports that Feiffer will participate in a panel discussion with fellow cartoonists Edward Koren, Edward Sorel and Jeff Danziger on politics in cartooning on August 12
Let's see what Online Commentary & Diversions are out there:
• Review: "[Michael Kupperman's] work is sublime in the truest sense of the word, speaking to me as a reader in ways that can be discussed and broken down but not quite fully communicated in their Rightness... About the only other humorists who have affected me in the same way were the Marx Brothers... Kupperman saturates each page [of Tales Designed to Thrizzle Vol. 1] with crazed ideas, bizarre connections, and references that aren't really references. Even a reader who may not be familiar with what Kupperman's (often obliquely) mocking is still pulled full-tilt into the gag. No matter what the concept, once Kupperman's laid his hands on it, it's no longer recognizable as anything but his." - Rob Clough
• Review: "...[T]he deadpan expressions of the characters [in I Killed Adolf Hitler] say more than pages of words could say... there’s a kinda sweet little love story in there about the protagonist and his girlfriend, and what they find out about themselves and each other in the process of trying to correct history." - Thinking About...
• Profile: "...The Brinkley Girls [was] a sophisticated series capturing the modern American working girl with a combination of glamour, spunk, feminine allure and curly hair..." - "I Want to Be a Brinkley Girl," First Person Singular
An event featuring Jules Feiffer, Elliott Gould, and Little Murders!
Family presents: A Tribute To Jules Feiffer (feat. Little Murders) Cinefamily hosts another "Family Sunday", where our good friends at Family Bookstore will bring in one of their favorite people to curate and introduce a night of films. This time around, Family brings us Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist/author Jules Feiffer (who in turn is bringing Elliott Gould!), whose pieces appeared in the Village Voice for over 40 years, and whose film adaptation of his stage collaboration with Elliott Gould resulted in one of the funniest, most vicious social satires of the '70s. A bitter black comedy caked in post-'68 disillusionment, Little Murders is an off-the-wall cocktail of fairy-tale, farce, paranoia thriller and comedy of errors. As Alfred Chamberlain, a shut-in photographer so resentful of his own success that he's turned to taking photos of feces, Gould personifies the deep ambivalence of the era, delivering a performance both poignant and irreverent. Alfred improbably falls in love with Patsy, a waspy Manhattanite whose unwavering determination to happiness in a crumbling society gives Alfred a reason to believe - at least, until random acts of terror shatter their dreams. Hilarity does eventually ensue, thanks in part to some unforgettable appearances by Alan Arkin (who also directed the film) as a hysterical detective, and Donald Sutherland as a hippie priest officiating what is easily the greatest wedding sequence in cinema.
Feiffer will also be screening excerpts from his little-seen 1985 TV movie Grown-Ups, starring Charles Grodin, and will sign books following the screenings.
Still catching up with Online Commentary & Diversions. There's more, but I'm out of time, so more catch-up tomorrow!
• Review: "The backbone of the family, and also its Achilles heel, Luba is a larger-than-life personality who jumps off every page, whether she's the focus of the segment or just a background player. [Gilbert] Hernandez collects over 100 stories here, ranging from graphic novellas to single-page episodes, with his usual dizzying cocktail of sexual intrigue, humor and soap opera-style angst." - Publishers Weekly (Starred Review - near end of page)
• Review: "There are two excellent interviews in the back of [Blazing Combat]... The interviews are part of what makes the comic so fascinating. Of course, it wouldn’t matter if the stories weren’t good, and they are... [Archie] Goodwin does a fine job keeping each story fresh and even getting into the heads of the characters... It’s a testament to Goodwin’s ability that he manages to write 28 (generally) anti-war stories, but never feels like he’s simply repeating himself... The art helps the book shine, as well... There’s not a poorly-illustrated story in the entire book, and some are eerily beautiful... These are both excellent comics and fascinating historical documents, and Blazing Combat is totally worth a read." - Greg Burgas, Comic Book Resources
• Profile: I don't think I would have guessed that Joost Swarte was influenced by Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, but so says he: The Walrus spotlights Swarte, who provides a cover illustration for the current issue, and whose long-gestating Fantagraphics collection Modern Swarte is still in the works
• Interview: At Newsarama, Zack Smith enjoys a lengthy chat with Jules Feiffer (and breaks the news to him that Explainers is nominated for an Eisner Award... oops, sorry Jules)
• List: Moolies posts his/her (?) "Top 10 graphic novels," including Safe Area Gorazde by Joe Sacco ("It's truly appalling reading, and the reason is because he's such a great artist, and a great listener too"), Peter Bagge's Buddy Bradley saga ("There's so much painful and embarrassing truth in Bagge's work, and it's carried along by a sharp, wisecracking sense of humour"), and Love and Rockets ("A stunning, extraordinary, even feminist (or humanist) body of work... It's always a joy, and I'm so glad they're still writing these stories")
• Plug: "We should all learn about Nell Brinkley in college. So if you’re currently in college, go check out The Brinkley Girls already. And if you’re out of college already, well go check it out anyway, because everyone seriously needs to see this book—Brinkley was that good." - J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
• Plug: In an interview with Newsarama, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Junot Diaz says "I adore that Richard Sala miniseries Delphine that he's putting out through Fantagraphics" (new issue out this summer!)
• List/reviews: The Metabunker names and reviews their selections for the best comics of 2008, including Explainers by Jules Feiffer ("After half a century, Jules Feiffer’s classic Village Voice strips read at once as a succinct period portrait and an eloquent portrayal of everyday human affairs at any time... His nervous line captures well both the specific anxieties of the time, and the more general ones of simply being alive, with empathy and humour, while his unadorned, precise language captures with precision the way we continue to verbalise these problems to each other and ourselves, most of the time without making much sense. Revelatory and funny human white noise.") and Bottomless Belly Button by Dash Shaw ("...such a rare example of a young artist pulling out all the stops — as a young artist should — creating a vibrant cacophony of formal experiments and engrossing storytelling.")