The Psychedelic Furs dropped by Fantagraphics Bookstore on Saturday to stock up on records and comix ahead of their set at the Showbox. It was amusing to hear Chicago-born saxophonist Mars Williams, a Krazy Kat enthusiast, attempt to explain the decidedly American brickbat humor of the strip to his British bandmates. Mars graciously agreed to a photo op next to Krazy Kat book designer and fellow Chicagoan Chris Ware's Building Stories display. Thanks to the band for putting us on the guest list. Fun show (below).
• Awards: Congratulations to the great Joost Swarte, awarded the 2012 Marten Toonder Prize and its concomitant fat cash prize by the Netherlands Foundation for Visual Arts, Design and Architecture, as reported by Tom Spurgeon at The Comics Reporter
• Review (Audio):Inkstuds host Robin McConnell is joined by Paul Gravett, Joe McCulloch and Tom Spurgeon for a roundtable discussion of Cruisin' with the Hound by Spain Rodriguez and other books
• Review: "Here are the early ejaculations from the primordial form of what was to become one of the great American writers. Here is Flannery O'Connor as she is formulating her unique vision of America and all that it entails.... What value does Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons have inherently? I think the answer to that question is entirely subjective. ...I personally wish to thank Fantagraphics for going out on a limb and publishing this book, if for no other reason than to put Flannery O'Connor back into the pop culture discussion for however briefly it may be." – Daniel Elkin, Comics Bulletin
• Review: "Anyone can be grotesque and horrifying. To truly get under the skin of the audience is an ability not many have. Someone who does is Thomas Ott, and he uses his ability to the highest effect in Cinema Panopticum. ...[I]f you are looking for an unsettling horror story rendered beautifully by an expert craftsman there is no doubt this should be in your collection." – Taylor Pithers, The Weekly Crisis
• Interview (Audio): Spend 3 minutes with Michael Kupperman as Tom Gambino of Pronto Comics talks to Michael from the floor of last April's MoCCA Fest on the ProntoCast podcast
• Film Studies: At Boing Boing, Jim Woodring writes about the 1931 Fleischer Bros. short that expanded his young mind: "I might have come to grips with the overwhelming mystery of life in a rational, organic manner if it weren't for a cartoon I saw on my family's old black and white TV in the mid '50s when I was three or four years old. This cartoon rang a bell so loud that I can still feel its reverberations.... Whatever [the creators'] motivation and intent, 'Bimbo's Initiation' became my prime symbolic interpreter, the foundation of my life's path and endlessly exploding bomb at the core of my creative output."
• Commentary: "The completion of Fantagraphics's Krazy [Kat] Sunday series also means, quite possibly, the end of Krazy Kriticism — a brand of writing that, as far as I can tell, only the Kat engenders. Critic Gilbert Seldes first articulated its credo in the 1924 article 'The Krazy Kat That Walks by Himself.' After comparing Herriman to Dickens, Cervantes, and Charlie Chaplin, Seldes threw up his hands: 'It isn't possible to retell these pictures; but that is the only way, until they are collected and published, that I can give the impression of Herriman's gentle irony, of his understanding of tragedy, of the sancta simplicitas, the innocent loveliness in the heart of a creature more like Pan than any other creation of our time.' Thus did the gates open to a flood of ecstatic, mimetic writing in which every critical impulse was mercilessly drowned in gushing praise and fervent prayers to put the comics between covers." – Sarah Boxer, Los Angeles Review of Books
• Commentary: At Print magazine, Steven Brower looks at different ways comics publishers restore and present vintage comics material, including his own compilation of Mort Meskin comics, Out of the Shadows: "For the Mort Meskin collection, we hoped that a contemporary audience would rediscover him; Fantagraphic’s fresh, newly minted approach goes a long way toward achieving that."
• Review: "I mean this in the nicest possible way but self-confessed obscurist Hans Rickheit is clearly not all there in the head. ...[Folly: The Consequences of Indiscretion] is a collection of shorts from over the years, frequently featuring the same characters, in particular identical twins Cochlea & Eustachia, who inevitably get themselves into all sorts of unpleasant bother. Definitely the type of read to make you wary of opening doors when you’re not entirely sure what’s on the other side, as Hans frequently surprises his characters, and us readers, by taking you somewhere you’d never expect, nor probably want to go to." – Jonathan Rigby, Page 45
• Review: "‘Plunder Island’ is the fourth of six oversized volumes collecting all of E.C. Segar’s Popeye-era Thimble Theatre strips.... The Segar book is every bit as good as the three volumes that preceded it – brilliant cartooning and laugh-out-loud funny gags. The only difference this time around is that the Sunday strips fill the first half of the book and the dailies fill the second half (it’s usually the other way around) but otherwise it’s business as usual. I don’t have a single bad thing to say about Segar’s Popeye, and the whole book was thoroughly enjoyable..." – Rob Wells, Comics – On The Ration
• Profile: Andrew Dansby of the Houston Chronicle profiles Daniel Clowes: "Clowes describes an eerie but common sight in his studio. Since eyes are the last thing he draws when he's working, the room is full of characters without them. 'I've had other cartoonists come over, and they've told me it's pretty creepy to see all these faces with no eyes staring back,' he says. 'But that's where I can get the last 10 percent of the emotion on the page. If I get it just right, you can subtly influence any expression through the eyes more than any other feature. They're where the character comes to life.'"
• Review: "This thing [The Furry Trap] is a nightmarish monster. It's pretty great. ...[W]hat Simmons does so well -- without peer, honestly -- is smash together sweetness and nightmare. Innocence and the most vile corruption imaginable. The stories are unsettling, but Simmons takes it three steps further than many other creators in this vein and then pushes the events into exceedingly horrific territory and then shows how unsettled even the characters are, when they realize the kind of world they live in.... Yeah, this stuff is really good, in surprisingly different ways from story to story. It's a reprint collection that feels like a wonderfully terrible, vibrantly new manifesto on what comics are capable of." – Tim Callahan, Comic Book Resources
• Review: "Popeye Vol. 6: Me Li’l Swee’ Pea... is the last of the real, 'classic' Popeye volumes, meaning it’s the last batch of Popeye comics E.C. Segar did before dying of leukemia in 1938. Underscoring the tragedy is the fact that Segar’s skills hadn’t dimmed at despite his illness. The final daily storyline, King Swee’ Pea, is as strong and hilarious as Segar’s best material... This volume is also special as it contains one of the saddest sequences I’ve ever read in comics, wherein Swee’ Pea is taken from a distraught Popeye. ...I think it speaks to Segar’s genius about how verklempt this sequence still makes me." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "Krazy & Ignatz 1922-24: At Last My Drim of Life Has Come True... is the final volume in Fantagraphics’ Krazy Kat collection, though for roundabout publishing reasons, it catches the strip midway through its run. Reading this latest collection, I feel like I have a deeper appreciation for Herriman’s narration, which I always kind of saw as entertaining, but secondary to the dialogue and situations. I’m not sure why, but I feel like something 'clicked' here and another piece of the Herriman puzzle has fallen into place for me. Another great thing about this book: A whole run of Herriman’s 'Us Husbands' strip as well as some really early stuff." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "[Pogo: Vol. 1 of the Complete Syndicated Comic Strips:] Through the Wild Blue Wonder is an absolute peach of a collection; it features the typically handsome deluxe binding we’re used to from Fantagraphics and a beautiful cover, and the non-strip material within is more than enough to justify the double-sawbuck price tag.... Of course, any such collection lives and dies by the quality, readability and durability of the strips inside... [Pogo's] art... is simply breathtaking; the facial expressions and body language in these strips are often deceptively simple, but they offer a master class in how to communicate emotion and expression in cartooning.... [Kelly's] backgrounds are lovely and provide a perfect balance to the detail in the character illustrations... But what puts Pogo way, way over the top in terms of sheer audacious greatness isn’t its art, great as that is. It’s Kelly’s remarkably eclectic writing and inventive use of language that makes the strip." – Leonard Pierce, A Schediastic Hootenanny
• Commentary: "...Any Similarity to Persons Living or Dead is Coincidental... is a beautiful book, and I’ve been thinking a lot about it recently. There’s a certain brand of mean-spirited, petty humor that’s been pretty popular over the last few decades, in which the main point seems to be laughing at some celebrity or another who no longer has a thriving career. As if failing to maintain A-list status in as fickle and luck-dependent as Hollywood was a valid reason to be mocked. At first glance, some of Friedman’s work, with its cast of has-beens and never-weres, can seem to be another example of this kind of comedy, but it isn’t — most of these strips cut a lot deeper than that. The reader feels the sting and pain of failure and despair too strongly to feel superior. In other words, we’re all Rondo Hatton." – Tim Hodler, The Comics Journal
• Review: "The white rabbit who serves as our guide suggests Alice in Wonderland, but despite fantastical touches, Interiorae is much more concerned with the world as it presents itself. Intertwining the lives of the people who live in an apartment complex, it’s in some sense a book-length meditation on a rather beautiful idea, that the day-to-day lives of all the little people aren’t just worth paying attention to, but are essential to the very fabric of the spaces we inhabit. Giandelli doesn’t entirely avoid mushy sentimentality nor the excesses of an open heart — absolutely no one is deserving of even so much as mild criticism here, which feels more naive than accepting — but her feel for our inner lives, as well as a visual style that evokes the richness of life as she sees it, win out in the end." – David Berry, National Post
• Review: "Nicolas Mahler’s childishly cute drawings put an adorable face on a satire with a pretty deep cynicism with the superhero comics industry. A creation of Korporate Komics, Angelman is pink dumpling with wings, blessed with the superpowers of sensitivity, open-mindedness and being a good listener, at least until focus groups and lagging sales put him through a gritty reboot and a some deep-seated neuroses about being a second-rate hero. Mahler’s points about corporate art certainly don’t aim for subtlety, but that doesn’t make them any less true, and a droll sense of humour keeps things from getting too preachy." – David Berry, National Post
• Review: "Athos in America... is another collection of graphic novellas and graphic short stories from master of deadpan presentation Jason in the style of Low Moon, and, as with the release of all new work from Jason, a cause for celebration.... This book is chock-full of examples of Jason’s inspired appropriation of classic trash pop culture, and his repurposing of it in formally experimental (or is playful a better word?) explorations of the human experiment.... Jason’s comics are among the hardest in the world to review, as it’s difficult to say anything beyond 'Well, that was perfect' in terms of assessment, and the specific magic he works is so difficult to describe in words, and so easy to communicate by simply pointing to a random volume of his work and saying, 'Hey, check this out.'" – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Robot 6
• Review: "For a list price of $39.99... this book [Amazing Mysteries] does a wonderful job of showing off Bill [Everett]’s early work and lets us learn a lot about the man. .... Bill was an enormous talent for telling stories. Bill’s work, often as writer and artist holds up much better then many other artists from his time. This volume is a lot of fun as you can flip through it and see how much Bill played with layouts and panel design.... Bill was an amazing talent.... Bill’s style is so distinct it is often easy to tell when he did all the work. Bottom line for a good collection of a master in his early days, this book is hard to beat." – Jim Martin, Comics and... Other Imaginary Tales
• Review: "There are only a handful of rock journalists who could have a collection of their work seem like a necessity, and Paul Nelson would be at the very top of that list.... Kevin Avery's book [Everything Is an Afterthought] gathers many of Nelson's finest pieces, most for Rolling Stone magazine... As amazing as all those stories are, it's also Avery's riveting biographical chapter on Paul Nelson that really takes a sledgehammer to the soul. Weaving together the recollections of many of Nelson's peers, the portrait we're left is of a man that struggled to maintain a hold on reality, finding higher enjoyment in the world of the mind.... Paul Nelson took what was already life-changing, and the way he saw it and could speak about it, made it even more thrilling. Now we can celebrate him all over again." – Bill Bentley, The Morton Report
• Profile: The lead-in to TCAF at Canada's National Post continues with David Berry talking to Zak Sally: "His latest book, Sammy the Mouse, had an original home as part of Fantagraphics’ Ignatz series, but is now being collected and bound by Sally himself, by hand in his Minnesota studio. The world of Sammy reflects this hands-on approach: it feels immediate and lived-in, almost less like a story than a tour of Sally’s internal brain architecture, with a slight misanthropy and freewheeling visual style that recall work like Chester Brown’s Yummy Fur. 'For me, finding those first underground comics was incredible,' says Sally, who got his start reading superhero tales, but was quickly turned. 'It turned comics into something you realized you could just do yourself: just get your s–t together and do it.'"
In this month's issue of Booklist you can find reviews of three of our recent releases, excerpted below:
Amazing Mysteries: The Bill Everett Archives Vol. 1, edited by Blake Bell: "Dating from 1938–42, most [stories] feature superheroes designed to compete with the then-new Superman, such as Amazing-Man, who gained his powers from the Tibetan monks who raised him; the Flash Gordon-derived Skyrocket Steele; and Hydroman, who could transform himself into a waterspout. The stories and artwork are laughably crude by modern standards, although no more so than those in other comic books from the period. But even the earliest ones show traces of the sleek polish that would become Everett’s hallmark. By the later stories, his mature style is firmly in place, a sign that future volumes in the series will be of even greater interest." – Gordon Flagg
Krazy & Ignatz 1922-1924: At Last My Drim of Love Has Come True by George Herriman: "Herriman’s graphically dazzling, ineffably beguiling creation remains unequaled a century after its first appearance, and the 13 volumes amassing his three decades’ worth of fanciful Sunday funnies are mandatory purchases for any comics-art collection. This volume is filled out with Herriman rarities, including his first daily comic strips, from 1903, and the full run of Us Husbands, a far-more-conventional Sunday strip about married life that Herriman drew throughout 1926." – Gordon Flagg
The Sincerest Form of Parody: The Best 1950s MAD-Inspired Saritical Comics, edited by John Benson: "MAD historian Benson presents 32 stories and nine covers from the copycats fielded by nine publishers, and at the end of the book discusses them. If you read the stories before the notes and you’re a devotee of the early MAD, you’ll have recognized the imitative qualities Benson points out, such as how MAD’s Jack Davis and Bill Elder had the drawing styles that were aped, and how Elder’s habit of adding what he called chicken fat — jokey signs, bits of business going on in the background, incongruous decoration — to every panel was swallowed whole by the knockoffs. But as Benson tells us, none of the pretenders quite 'got' MAD or, more important, its nearly sole writer, Harvey Kurtzman, whose all-important 'touch' lay in his jaundiced, derisive, smart attitude toward American commercial culture. Prime Americana." – Ray Olson
• Review: "The names here are mysterious, but the book makes a good case for many of the artists to be better known, which seems to be its intent. Tommi Musturi’s 'Samuel' stories, for example, several of which are included, are colorful, wordless, and Zen-like in their focus on the here and now. Joanna Rubin Dranger’s 'Always Prepared to Die for My Child' is another highlight, with simple drawings that manage to convey a lot. And Jenni Rope’s minimalist stories, which nearly bookend the volume, are poetic and impressive.... The number of woman cartoonists is also worth noting, partially because there’s no attention called to it. Kolor Klimax is a good first offering and may well indicate a series worth revisiting." – Hillary Brown, Paste
• Review: "Between the heavy cross hatching and almost wood-carved appearance of Rickheit’s art and his fixation on the degraded physical form, Folly often looks like a Jan Svankmajer film or Tool video adapted by Geof Darrow or Jim Woodring. Rickheit’s work is visually striking... Folly is a gorgeous but uncomfortable collection best enjoyed a few pages at a time." – Garrett Martin, Paste
• Review: "Like a Velvet Glove [Cast in Iron] is an early work by a creator who will later become one of the artform's greatest creators. There are themes and moments in this book that will be revisited in Clowes's later works, and revisited in smarter and more focused ways in some of his newer and greater works. Daniel Clowes is clearly building his skillset in this book, as he works on his art style, story progression and thematic obsessions. But it's still an incredible work of art that shifted my perceptions of the world a bit as well." – Jason Sacks, Comics Bulletin
• Interview (Audio): Mike Dawson's final guest as host of The Comics Journal's "TCJ Talkies" podcast is Tim Kreider, about whom Dawson writes in his intro, "Tim has often insisted that he doesn’t consider himself a proper political cartoonist, but was only drafted into writing about current events by the lunacy of the times. It’s true that going back and re-reading Tim’s comics in the run-up to the Iraq war, is a vivid reminder of how hysterical things were at that time (not in a good way)."
• Analysis: Matt Seneca examines a 1937 Krazy Kat strip for his column at Robot 6: "This page expresses a single gem of an idea, duality of character. It’s an idea both simple and profound, perfectly suited to Herriman’s aesthetic, and the way it’s put forth is so straightforward that it’s easy to read the strip over time and again before realizing that what it achieves could only be done using the comics medium."
This week's comic shop shipment is slated to include the following new titles. Read on to see what comics-blog commentators and web-savvy comic shops are saying about them (more to be added as they appear), check out our previews at the links, and contact your local shop to confirm availability.
24-page black & white 6.75" x 10.25" comic book • $3.95
"Cue the 'they don't call it that for nothing' jokes. Linda Medley puts out an issue of this relaxed, good-natured fantasy series when she feels like it and not a minute before... I'll read it whenever she releases one into the world, though." – Douglas Wolk, ComicsAlliance
"And then there’s Linda Medley, who’s been laying low for awhile, but is back this week with a new issue of her ongoing, low-key fantasy series, Castle Waiting. [This] will probably be [one of] the first comics I read once I get home from the comic store this week." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"That Castle Waiting comic is usually a pretty satisfying package in terms of how it looks and the amount of story it provides." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
"...[M]y most anticipated is the return of Linda Medley’s Castle Waiting! Issue #16 ($3.95) is out from Fantagraphics, and I hope it begins a long and enjoyable run of the title." – Johanna Draper Carlson, Comics Worth Reading
600-page black & white/color 9" x 12" hardcover • $95.00
"[Fantagraphics'] final Chris Ware-designed collection of George Herriman's black-and-white Sunday 'Krazy Kat' strips is augmented by ten extra color Krazys that appeared in 1924, as well as the entire run of two other strips, 1903's 'Mrs. Waitaminnit' and 1926's 'Us Husbands.' Also this week: a fancy hardcover compiling the three volumes of 1916-1924 Sundays. 'Stumble Inn' is the next Herriman project up for the Fantagraphics treatment; I'm hoping they (or somebody) tackle the complete 'Krazy' dailies at some point." [That's the plan! –Ed.] – Douglas Wolk, ComicsAlliance
"It’s not so much a splurge as a must-buy for me — Krazy and Ignatz 1922-24: At Last My Drim of Love Has Come True is the final volume in Fantagraphics’ collection of Sunday Krazy strips and full of the same George Herriman magic as the previous volumes. There’s a tinge of sadness here as I believe the late Bill Blackbeard, who helped bring this project into fruition, has an essay here, as well as a remembrance by Kim Thompson." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"...the final brick in the complete Krazy Kat, a genuinely amazing thing to exist, and almost a reason all by itself to to have irrational hope for humanity’s future. (Does that seem like an overstatement? It obviously is. But read more Krazy Kat and get back to me.)" – Tim Hodler, The Comics Journal
"We at Señor Hernandez declare as book of the week: Krazy & Ignatz the complete Sunday strips HC by @fantagraphics." – Señor Hernandez
"The final volume of @fantagraphics Krazy Kat collections is out today, my Lil' Ainjils! We have the both the paperback and fancy HC version." – Secret Headquarters
"Still may be the best comic. That's a long time to stay on any pedestal constructed by pedestal knocking-over comics fans." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
"CONFLICT OF INTEREST RESERVOIR: A veritable format suite is available to you this week, as Castle Waiting Vol. II #16 takes the form of a 24-page comic book ($3.95), Krazy & Ignatz 1922-1924: At Last My Drim of Love Has Come True wraps up a longstanding softcover reprint series complete with a memorial for preservationist Bill Blackbeard ($24.99) and Krazy & Ignatz: The Complete Sunday Strips 1916-1924 weighs in as a 600-page hardcover alternative to collecting less supple things ($95.00)." – Joe McCulloch, The Comics Journal
Our final limited-edition deluxe Krazy hardcover (it's Volume 1, but the third to be published) collects the three Krazy & Ignatz softcover books which comprehensively compile the first nine years (1916 through 1924) of Krazy Kat Sunday strips, under hard covers. It's not a slipcase, it's a single hardcover book. The covers to the original three softcover books are NOT included, but literally everything else is, including nine years' worth of black-and-white masterpieces (and 10 color strips), plus all the bonuses (other rare strips, the entire Us Husbands). This is the one collectors have been waiting for, enabling you to complete your Krazy Sundays collection in three enormous, deluxe hardcover books designed by Chris Ware.
"The Krazy & Ignatz books have been a godsend to comics fans... Each book is bizarre, sweetly amusing, and blissfully continuity-free." – "The Best Comics of the '00s: The Archives," The A.V. Club
Krazy Kat, with its eternally beguiling love triangle of kat/dog/mouse, its fantastically inventive language, and its haunting, minimalist desert décor, has consistently been rated the best comic strip ever created, and Fantagraphics’ award-winning series one of the best classic comic-strip reprint series ever published.
With our 13th volume, Krazy & Ignatz 1922-1924, the decades-in-the- making project of publishing every single Krazy Kat Sunday created by Herriman comes to a close. (Next: The dailies!)
While the Krazy Kat Sundays were created and published in black and white until 1935 (and therefore the majority of strips in this book are black and white), Herriman’s publisher did briefly experiment with running the strip in color in 1924, and all 10 of these rare full-color strips are presented here. The book also includes more rare photographs of Herriman, a “DeBaffling” section explaining period references and in-jokes, and the usual surprise “goodies” each of these volumes springs on their readers.
Krazy & Ignatz 1922-1924 includes the entire runs of Herriman’s early strip “Little Tommy Tattles” and his very first daily strip “Mrs. Waitaminnit,” which haven’t been printed in over a century. Also featured is the entire run of Herriman’s hilarious mid-20’s domestic comedy Sunday strip Us Husbands. And for the 13th and final time, the cover is by Chris Ware.