Today's Online Commentary & Diversions from NPR, Techland–TIME.com, HTMLGIANT, Woot!, and elsewhere:
• List: At Techland–TIME.com, Douglas Wolk names his top 10 Best Graphic Novels of 2010:
#6: Weathercraft: "The first standalone Frank book from Jim Woodring is as gloriously mind-expanding as anything he's drawn. It's a wordless Hieronymous Bosch-via-Chuck Jones parable about cartoon animals in a cruel, psychedelic landscape, in which the wicked Manhog attains enlightenment, then sacrifices it again."
#5: Artichoke Tales: "Megan Kelso's magnum opus is technically a fantasy — her characters live in an imaginary country, riven by a civil war between foragers and canners, and have artichoke leaves instead of hair on their heads. It's also a set of meditations on the way cultures establish their identities through stories, and how both political violence and personal connections can damage or repair those identities."
#3: You'll Never Know, Book 2: Collateral Damage: "The second volume of C. Tyler's trilogy of family stories that crystallized around the revelation of her father's experiences in World War II turns personal tragedy into universal art. Everyone's stories deepen; everything is more complicated and sadder than it seems at first. And Tyler's incredible sense of design and color makes even her quietest images linger."
• List:Comics Alliance also ranks Weathercraft on their Top 10 Best Comics of 2010. Jason Michelitch writes: "Woodring is a cartoonist of frightening power, and Weathercraft is him performing at full strength, a high note sustained for every panel on 100 pages. His work is of a caliber where it's hard to know what to say about it, so struck dumb are you by the immensity of the rendering and storytelling skill on the page. [...] There is no other comic this year that so successfully creates such a viscerally compelling and hermetically individual fictional world, or which displays such a thorough mastery of visual storytelling, provoking complex thoughts and feelings with simple, beautiful strokes. Weathercraft is essential."
• List: Oh mercy, it's The Daily Cross Hatch's epic and essential end-of-year top-five survey The Best Damn Comics of 2010 Chosen by the Artists. Below, in order of appearance, the books chosen, who chose them and how/if they ranked them; click over for any commentary:
Artichoke Tales by Megan Kelso: Ellen Abramowitz (MoCCA Executive Director), #3; Darryl Ayo Brathwaite (Little Garden Comics), unranked;
Weathercraftby Jim Woodring: Brian Heater (The Daily Cross Hatch), #4; Gabby Schulz/Ken Dahl (Monsters), #4
• List: At Four Colours and the Truth, Tim Reinert names Drew Weing's Set to Sea one of his Favourite Comics of 2010: Best Original Graphic Novels: "A unique adventure story that skirts the line between high concept art book and ribald adventure tale quite well. Weing’s patient pacing, and unerring knack for maximizing panel space make him an interesting talent to watch out for."
• List: At The SF Site: Nexus Graphica, Mark London Williams and Rick Klaw each count down their Ten Best Comics of 2010 in tandem, in two parts covering #10-6 and #5-1 (with additional commentary from Mark at Guys Lit Wire):
• List: At Comikaze, Mauricio Matamores names Love and Rockets: New Stories #3 one of Los Mejores Cómics de 2010: "Published by Fantagraphics, this title presented top-notch storytelling by the Hernándezes and perfection with Xaime, specifically." (Translated from Spanish.)
• List: Also at Comikaze, Santiago Fernández names Yo maté a Adolf Hitler (I Killed Adolf Hitler) one of Los Mejores Cómics de 2010: "This [Norwegian] author seems to tell his story of time travel, Nazis and romance as though he were a 10 year old child, proof that this is a fun story even though it really is rather complex, complete with a message that provides sweetness. Great gift for the girlfriend." (Translated from Spanish.)
• Interview (Audio): Mark Herz of Connecticut NPR affilliate WSHU visits with Bill Griffith in his studio to talk all things Zippy
• Interview: Jason Toon of Woot! talks to Zack Carlson & Bryan Connolly about Destroy All Movies!!! The Complete Guide to Punks on Film: "We can't stop even now. It's become a depressing compulsion. We can't enjoy a movie the way you would. Actually, it went beyond watching movies. We got so immersed in what we were doing, when we'd take a break to go get a pizza and see a kid riding by on a skateboard with blue hair, we'd try to pause reality."
Zak Sally has sent out word: The Kim Deitch Files print portfolio is now available to order from Zak's La Mano 21 press in both regular and deluxe editions. Featuring Kim's pencil studies for his story pages as well as previously unseen artwork, hand-assembled in hand-printed packaging, it's another beautiful, lovingly produced item in the La Mano catalog. We had the privilege of debuting the set for the West Coast at the 4th anniversary party for Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery, where copies are still available.
Seems like the Crumbs aren't the only family of talented alternative cartoonists. Jim and Mary Woodring, together with their son Max, all have pieces in the Friends of the Nib "Medieval Thinkers" exhibition at Fantagraphics Bookstore this Saturday, December 11 — part of the store's festive fourth anniversary celebration.
Of course the Deitch family - father Gene and siblings Simon and Kim — qualify as well. We're thrilled to include an original drawing by Kim Deitch in the exhibition. In addition, the event will mark the debut of the Kim Deitch File, a portfolio published on Zak Sally's La Mano 21 imprint. See you all this Saturday.
As you hopefully know, many of our books are available with exclusive signed bookplates as a free bonus when you order direct from us — there's a whole great big list here, and we're currently adding and replenishing plates for many titles, including (in no particular order):
This is just the tip of the iceberg — we have dozens and dozens more titles with signed bookplates, and more are arriving every week. You can't get these plates anywhere else, and they're all available at no extra charge — but supplies are super limited and can run out without notice, so don't hesitate to get your order in!
Since opening in December 2006, Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery has become a treasured civic asset. In addition to feeding Northwest residents' insatiable appetite for challenging contemporary culture, the space has attracted visitors from across the country and around the world. Saturday, December 11 marks the bookstore's 4th anniversary, and to celebrate the occasion we're once again hosting the season's most festive party featuring amazing music, comix, art, and more!
The evening includes solo music sets by Zak Sally and Mark Pickerel. Zak was a founding member of alternative music legends Low and continues solo music endeavors while publishing great comics with Fantagraphics as well as producing exquisitely crafted small press projects on his own La Mano 21 imprint. This event will mark the debut of his ambitious Kim Deitch File portfolio project, among other recent La Mano offerings. Zak will be joined by Fantagraphics friend Mark Pickerel, who began his musical career with the highly acclaimed Screaming Trees and now fronts Mark Pickerel and His Praying Hands, in addition to being the proprietor of Seattle pop culture emporium Damaged Goods.
An exhibition of comix art curated by Jason T. Miles and Max Clotfelter, in association with Friends of the Nib, features promising emerging cartoonists. together with masters of the medium. "Medieval Thinkers" includes original works by Peter Bagge, Bruce Bickford, D. J. Bryant, Chris Cilla, Max Clotfelter, Eleanor Davis, Kim Deitch, Heidi Estey, Kelly Froh, Justin Green, Gerald Jablonski, Megan Kelso, Jason T. Miles, Nate Neal, Bob Rini, Zak Sally, Dash Shaw, Matt Tamaru, Drew Weing, Jim Woodring, Mary Woodring, Max Woodring, Martine Workman, and Chris Wright. According to Friends of the Nib co-curator Miles, "Many of these artists work with antiquated materials most commonly associated with 19th and 20th century cartooning, specifically the metal dip pen or crowquill pen nibs, although use of these tools was not a requisite for inclusion. What brings these artists together is an imagist approach to picture-making and a willful ignorance of the aesthetics, fashion, and politics of the fine art industry. Medieval thinkers organize their experience by executing lessons in perspective, balance, humor and alchemy."
All this plus screaming deals on comix, celebrity guests, holiday libations, demented Christmas platters spun by DJ Russ Fallout, and a few surprises makes Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery's 4th anniversary party the place to be on Saturday, December 11. This event coincides with the colorful holiday version of the Georgetown Art Attack with amazing visual and performing arts presentations throughout the historic arts community.
Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery's 4th Anniversary Celebration Music, Comix, Art and More!
Saturday, December 11, 6:00 to 9:00 PM
Music by ZAK SALLY and MARK PICKEREL
Medieval Thinkers original comix exhibition featuring Peter Bagge, Bruce Bickford, D. J. Bryant, Chris Cilla, Max Clotfelter, Eleanor Davis, Kim Deitch, Heidi Estey, Kelly Froh, Justin Green, Gerald Jablonski, Megan Kelso, Jason T. Miles, Nate Neal, Bob Rini, Zak Sally, Dash Shaw, Matt Tamaru, Drew Weing, Jim Woodring, Mary Woodring, Max Woodring, Martine Workman, and Chris Wright. Curated for Friends of the Nib by Jason T. Miles and Max Clotfelter.
Exhibition continues through February 8, 2011.
Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery 1201 S. Vale Street, Seattle, WA 98108 206.658.0110 Open daily 11:30 - 8:00 PM, Sundays until 5:00 PM
"The Kim Deitch Files is a limited edition portfolio of the looseleaf 'story' pages which serve as Kim's sketchbook; it's where he works out the ideas for his comics. included in this folio are selections of the original story pages from many of Kim's major works (Alias The Cat, Boulevard Of Broken Dreams) as well as many of his other projects (Deitch's Pictorama, Southern Fried Fugitives), never before seen projects (the aborted Alice's Adventures Underground) and even a couple pretty jaw dropping life studies. they are exclusively in pencil, many in a fully rendered style that is both insanely gorgeous and (in their way) totally different than what you 'expect' from Kim's art. these pages have rarely been seen, and as individual pieces and as a look into the process of a master cartoonist...this is the real deal, folks."
Mark your social calendars in indelible ink! Saturday, December 11 marks the 4th anniversary of the fabulous Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery. To celebrate this auspicious occasion we're once again hosting the season's most festive party featuring amazing music, comix, art, and more!
The evening includes solo music sets by Zak Sally and Mark Pickerel. Zak was a founding member of alternative music legends Low and continues solo music endeavors while publishing great comics with Fantagraphics as well as producing exquisitely crafted small press projects on his own La Mano imprint. He will be joined by Fantagraphics friend Mark Pickerel who began his musical career with the highly acclaimed Screaming Trees and now fronts Mark Pickerel and His Praying Hands, in addition to being the proprietor of Seattle pop culture emporium Damaged Goods.
All this plus screaming deals on comix, celebrity guests, holiday libations, demented Christmas platters spun by DJ Russ Fallout, and a few surprises makes Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery's 4th anniversary party the place to be on Saturday, December 11. See you all then.
• Review: "We are witness to a man's life unfolding, unraveling, before us in a series of postcards that leave nothing — or is it everything? — to the imagination. I don't know Drew Weing, or whether he's lucky or good, but in Set to Sea , he has reminded me once again just how much story you can share in a brief flurry of comic panels, so long as you know how to trim the sails and catch the wind." – Steve Duin, The Oregonian
• Review: "...Set to Sea... is so much more than a hauntingly inspiring story about a poet who ends up on a sea vessel. It is so much more than page after page of highly-detailed illustrations. It feels like a small precious art book full of engravings or paintings on each page or an old illustrated maritime novel. [...] Weing’s art is mesmerizing. You could stare at one page for hours. Each page is carefully planned and crafted to maximize its storytelling ability and it is easy to see the love and effort that went into each line and crosshatch." – Shawn Daughhetee, The HeroesOnline Blog
• Review: "The pages [of Set to Sea] are incredibly expressive, able to convey longing, panic, rage, camaraderie, mourning, and ultimately peace. Weing manipulates whole compositions to achieve these effects, not merely the expressions on characters’ faces." – Joshua Malbin
• Review: "Drew [Weing] uses the possibilities of the medium to perfection [in Set to Sea], telling the life story of the guy page by page, somehow pulling the impression of a richly lived life through scattered moments." – Kevin Bramer, Optical Sloth
• Review: "Imagine Sad Sack stepping out of his cartoon world and into ours — warts and all — and that’s what Lucky in Love almost feels like. [...] The real star of the show here is artist DeStefano, who mixes up this 1940s world as one-part humor strip outrageousness, and one-part gorgeous Will Eisner-style dramatic noir — a real visual tour de force." – John Seven, Worcester Magazine
• Review: "Revealed in these pages [of A Drunken Dream and Other Stories] are gentle but dark stories that are preoccupied with the loss and alienation that their intended audiences no doubt feel, often without any tangible reasons beyond the purely psychological. Several stories stand out for cherry pickers, but you’ll be rewarded by each entry." – John Mitchell, North Adams Transcript
• Review: "...The Artist Himself... present[s] a compellingly fresh... approach to the history of the medium... What makes The Artist Himself unique is in the title itself — Rosenkranz has constructed a sprawling portrait of Rand Holmes as a man in conflict with the 'the artist himself' — a man trying to carve out a way to live that allowed for art (never an easy feat) and an art that somehow made sense in his life. ...[A]side from the obvious benefits of learning about Holmes, I found myself selfishly drawing tremendous inspiration from Rosenkranz as he demonstrated the richness possible in writing the history of comics. He draws the curtain back as if to say, 'see, here’s someone you hardly think of, who lived an extraordinary life, and it’s a life that must be reckoned within the history.' It radically broadens what we think of as a cartoonist’s life, and in that Rosenkranz has given us a great gift." – Dan Nadel, Comics Comics
• Review: "If Love and Rockets: New Stories #3 only contained Gilbert Hernandez’s 36-page 'Scarlet By Starlight,' it would still be one of the most significant new comics of the year. [...Jaime's] 'The Love Bunglers' and 'Browntown' offer the kind of rich, intricate stories — packed with sharp observations about human desire and self-justification — that only an author with 30 years of experience with these characters could write. But readers don’t need to have read all the previous Maggie tales to follow them. Everything a newcomer needs to know is woven neatly into the stories themselves... There are acclaimed filmmakers and novelists who can’t do what Jaime Hernandez does — or Gilbert, for that matter. When the two of them are at their most inspired, as they are here, they make almost every other comics creator today look like a fumbling hack. [Grade] A" – The A.V. Club
• Review: "I won't pretend to have a clue as to what Beto's trying to do with this stuff; sometimes he seems to be paying tribute of sorts to junk cinema and/or comment on the current state of the movies, and sometimes it seems like he just wants to draw to naked dudes beating a cop to death with a rock. ...Jaime is note-perfect throughout, using every nuance and trick at his command to engage and move the reader. It's a masterwork, and I'll be damned if I can tell what he'll do for an encore. ...[T]his one brings the goods. If you care at all about this series and those characters, you'll want to get this [issue of Love and Rockets: New Stories]..." – Johnny Bacardi, Popdose
• Review: "...[T]his one is really damn good, with a typically surreal and horrifying story from Gilbert and an excellent bit of character work from Jaime. Isn't it awesome that stuff on this level is what we've come to expect? [...] Yes, it's another great issue of one of the best comics series of all time; what else is new? Jaime and Gilbert are rightfully revered as all-time great creators, but the fact that they are still pumping out incredible work and bettering themselves, sure to keep doing it for as long as possible, should make readers celebrate their wealth and fortune. Even if everybody else quit, we would still be pretty lucky. Long live Love and Rockets!" – Matthew J. Brady, Warren Peace Sings the Blues
• Review: "You open a Xaime story, you know what you’re gonna get. He’s a known quantity/quality on the richest level... With Xaime, you’re going to get a perfectly-told Locas story: clean... and humanistic and relatable, funny, sad, the whole package. Beto, on the other hand …. His shit is scary creative, and sometimes just scary. Gilbert is the higher mathematics, you know what I’m saying? Ever since 'Human Diastrophism' I haven’t felt safe in his company, haven’t trusted that crazy bastard. Because he will do some fucked-up shit when you least expect it. [...] So, boom, right on Jump Street of Love and Rockets: New Stories #3 there’s a Gilbert story. Deep breath. Okay. In we go with gun and flashlight." – Rob Gonsalves, Rob's Comics Zone
• Review: "The colors are garish, the stories grotesque, and the art much freakier than the norm. Where EC’s comics are more akin to the drive-in fodder of American International Pictures, the comics in Four Color Fear are the equivalent of a David F. Friedman grindhouse roughie: lurid, exploitative, and just plain wrong. In short, this book is awesome. Making it even more awesome is Sadowski’s annotation: ...the layer of scholarship is enough to make reading about decaying zombies and devil-worshippers seem almost ennobling. [Grade] A-" – The A.V. Club
• Review: "Caricature is a bit of a dying art, but there’s still a place for it, especially in a celebrity-obsessed culture like ours that goes out of its way to make its idols look even better than they already do. That’s why we need Drew Friedman, whose precise, pointillist style has been putting the rich and famous to the sword for decades. His new collection, Too Soon?: Famous/Infamous Faces 1995-2010, features another round of his inimitable caricatures, which manage to make everyone from venal creeps to well-meaning politicians look alternately hideous and noble. Friedman is still at the top of his game... [Grade] B+" – The A.V. Club
• Review: "One of the lesser-known lights of the Golden Age, illustrator Mort Meskin was a prolific workhorse whose angular, action-packed style and use of deep shadow effects would prove a huge influence on Steve Ditko. From Shadow to Light: The Life and Art of Mort Meskin, a new biography of Meskin compiling exhaustive interviews with his peers and extensive cooperation from his sons, doesn’t lack for material. It also has plenty of great anecdotes, and through quality reproductions, it skillfully makes its case that its subject was a very talented artist. [Grade] B-" – The A.V. Club
• Review: "The 1930 DeMoulin Bros. catalog, or Catalog No. 439: Burlesque Paraphernalia and Side Degree Specialties and Costumes, ...reached the jester of a more or less pronounced sadistic orientation, and offered them the tools and effects that made it possible to fool friends (?) to put their heart in their throat and give them pain here and there. Fantagraphics Books has recently reprinted the directory again (along with several essays that comment on product selection in a cultural perspective)... Although one might prefer to avoid being exposed to the tricks that comprise the DeMoulin catalog, I must admit that I laughed both three and five times when I looked through the offerings. Most of us probably have a little sadist in us, I guess." – Kjetil Johansen, Nekropolis – Den Historiske Bloggen (translated from Norwegian)
• Plugs: "Well, in our rambunctious endeavour to keep up with the literary radness of the Northwest, we... want to point you toward [Jim] Woodring’s newest graphic novel, Weathercraft, which is out now from Seattle-based publisher Fantagraphic Books. In addition to Weathercraft, we personally recommend their series Love and Rockets, from Los Bros Hernandez. If you’re looking for some reading that really is graphic, like super sexy female bodies comin at ya with homoerotic undertones that are never unleashed but still drive you crazy, you’ll want to pick up Love and Rockets. This series is an endlessly delicious ride through the relationships of men and women in crappy southern California neighborhoods." – Lori Huskey, Dark Sky Magazine
• Profile:Robot 6 presents a "Comics College" introductory guide to the work of Kim Deitch, written by Deitch Universe expert Bill Kartalopoulos: "Kim Deitch is an enormously vital and prolific cartoonist who was also one of the charter members of the underground comix scene that changed comics in the 1960s and 70s. [...] More than forty years later, Deitch stands as one of the few underground cartoonists who has steadily and consistently produced a large body of important work, spanning every available format from the alternative weekly comic strip to the graphic novel."
• Interview:Al Jaffee touches briefly on his Humbug days in this extensive Q&A with Mother Jones's Michael Mechanic: "I loved Harvey [Kurtzman] and I miss him to this day. He was a very, very inspiring guy. He was inventive and inspiring and he also was just a scrupulous editor. He could catch things that most people would just say, 'Let it go through, it really doesn't matter; who's going to know?' But once Harvey pointed it out, I would change it even if it took me the whole day. Harvey knew how to make things work because he wasn't greedy, he wasn't successful." (Via ¡Journalista!)
A lot of catching up to do with this batch of clips & strips — click for improved/additional viewing and possible artist commentary at the sources:
• A couple of things Bill Griffith has recently shared on Facebook: the rejected first draft of the home screen for the Zippy Comix iPhone app, and a "lost" Wacky Packages design that Bill says is "almost sacrilegious"