Hair fresh from my shower, I walk into the Fantagraphics office, still in my robe. Gary has convened a meeting and is complaining vociferously about misuse of an intern, who was apparently given a job to perform above normal intern capabilities — or who had screwed up a job as a result, I'm not quite sure which. He starts quizzing me about it, and in fact I suspect it was me who gave this intern (note to current and past interns: it was none of you) a huge interview-transcribing job that is the issue, but I deflect the interrogation by pointing out that I just got up and need a moment to settle in. He subsides, at which point Leslie Stein (of Eye of the Majestic Creature fame), who is standing next to him, picks up a microphone and begins signing a pop hit, with full musical accompaniment. (Fantagraphics has a karaoke machine? I don't question it.) Her singing is excellent. I decide I need to find a specific Tintin album for some reason, and as I'm looking for it on the office bookshelves — I keep finding clusters of Tintin books, but the one I need is always missing — I realize that Leslie is singing a Britney Spears song. (I don't remember which one. It's not one of the big hits, like "Oops! I Did it Again" or "Womanizer," and not that awful new Autotuned one either.) I smugly think to myself, "I bet Gary has no idea that's a Britney Spears song." (That Gary, he's so out of it.) Leslie finishes the song to deserved applause from the staff. She starts into a second one. In the meantime my search has shifted over to a search for a Love and Rockets collection, with similar lack of success. I hear a dog barking in the distance. It is my dog Ludvig. I wake up; he's downstairs barking to be let out.
Dream guaranteed 100% accurate. For earlier dreams go here and here.
The last time I walked into the Fantagraphics office in a robe with wet hair was 1984. I am not (at all) a Britney Spears fan, although I do think this is pretty awesome.
• Review: "...Mark Twain’s Autobiography 1910-2010 is both hilarious and very strange. The book exudes a unique mood of giddy amazement... Credit for both the mirth and oddness belong to cartoonist Michael Kupperman, who illustrated the book based on a manuscript he says was given to him by Twain. Given the fact that the off-kilter humour of the book is very similar to the sensibility displayed in Kupperman’s earlier work, notably his dada-esque comic book Tales Designed to Trizzle, the cynical might assume that Mark Twain is only the nominal author of this book. Yet it’s fair to say that the spirit of Twain hovers near the volume.... Aside from his debt to Twain, Kupperman belongs to the tradition of erudite humor that runs from Robert Benchley to Monty Python." – Jeet Heer, The National Post
• Review: "...[Eye of the Majestic Creature] is phenomenal.... The character, Larry, who is leagues more animatic and expressive than some of the characters around her (no doubt on purpose, as the character leaps out of each panel) is responsible for carrying the entire weight of the narrative through dialog. She does so fluidly, and through nuanced avenues.... I really enjoyed this collection, and I want to see more from this creator.... There is significant depth to this fantastic story about a girl, her guitar, and the quirks associated with staying alive." – Alex Jarvis, Spandexless
• Review: "Set to Sea is the kind of comic that you give to people you love with a knowing look that says 'read this, you'll thank me later.' The kind of book that is not exclusively reserved for aficionados of the comics art form. The kind of work that, by virtue of its poetry, leaves the reader in an emotional state once he's read the final page, and that simply demands to be flipped through again immediately so that the reader might breathe in this adventure's perfume for a little longer." – Thierry Lemaire, Actua BD (translated from French)
• Review: "Paul Hornschemeier uses the medium of cartooning [in The Three Paradoxes] as the message he is sending, as each new chapter in the book references different cartoon styles and axioms.... The skill of Hornschemeier is abundant on these pages, as he effortlessly transitions from style to style. Despite that, each style fits within the story; none is so strange that it breaks the reader out of the story.... The book gets a lot of information packed into its relatively smaller frame. The book’s presentation is similarly phenomenal...; it’s really solid and uniform.... I loved it. Well done, Paul." – Alex Jarvis, Spandexless
• Plug: "Fantagraphics has prepared a nice preview video for the fourth and final [Final??? Not at all — I don't know where they got that idea. – Ed.] issue of Love and Rockets: New Stories in stores soon. It features a 35-page story called ‘King Vampire’. Oh boy, if even the Hernandez bros succumb to the vampire craze, this really is the end of the world now, isn’t it?" – Frederik Hautain, Broken Frontier
Larrybear has moved back to New York after having lived in the countryside. She finds herself employed at a dress shop run by an absentee boss in the East Village, and living with her old friend Seashell in an infested Brooklyn apartment. Of course, Marshmallow and her anthropomorphic friends are there too, but being magical they are not allowed to leave the house. Not that this stops Marshmallow, who is becoming increasingly depressed and drinking way too much.
On a nice winter day, roaming around Manhattan, Larry finds herself drawn to the Visionary Arts Museum, and is amazed to find they are having a retrospective of Victorian Sand Counters. Inspired, Larry begins to count sand seriously, but in a world where this is largely a forgotten art form, where can it possibly take her?
Quotes throughout by Theodore Dreiser, from his fantastic 1900 book Sister Carrie.
48 pages, color cover and back cover, black and white insides, Newsprint
I love this series. Buy this now!
Leslie will be making appearances in late Sept./early Oct. on the west coast, including APE, so stay tuned for more info.
Ran out of time to finish yesterday's Online Commentary & Diversions so here's a two-fer:
• Review: "With skill, restraint and a deep sensitivity to the roiling emotions involved, Shimura relates the tale of fifth-grade boy Shuichi, who wants to be a girl, and his classmate Yoshino, a girl who wants to be a boy. This is the first volume of the Japanese saga [Wandering Son] to be published in English, and translator Thorn does great work parsing the complex gender honorifics of the Japanese language. We only just begin to get to know our two leads, but Shimura's approach allows us to feel their confusion, their heartache and — when a perceptive mutual friend orchestrates a plan that starts them down the road to self-acceptance — their quiet, nervous joy." – Glen Weldon, NPR - Monkey See
• Review: "Gender roles and cross-dressing are often fodder for laughs in anime and manga, but this is the most serious and thoughtful take I've seen on the subject. And I love how Shimura doesn't make things too angsty for the characters. Maybe that will come later, but for now it's more of a quiet discomfort -- the reader is finding out at the same time as the characters, and it's quite touching. ...Wandering Son is a tender take on a taboo subject. I wish it success in the American market." – Eric Henrickson, The Detroit News - Geek Watch
• Review: "Wandering Son by Shimura Takako is a heartfelt story of two people who I desperately feel for and for their families and friends.... The main thing that drew me to this book was the fact that unlike a lot of western media that plays off the fact that a transgender teenager would have to deal with their friends and peers ostracising or bullying them for being different, Wandering Son goes straight for the heart, tackling the more important idea of how the person in the story feels. Reading the first volume, I can feel their awkwardness at them coming to the decision that they are different from other people and that they need to do something about it.... I want to be alongside these characters as they discover who and how they are. I want to see them triumph in ways that many of us never get to. Most of all, I want to be there at the end even if it ends in failure." – Eeeper's Choice
• Review (Audio): Phillip of Eeper's Choice, Erica Friedman, and David Welsh (The Manga Curmudgeon) discuss Wandering Son Vol. 1 with hosts Ed Sizemore and Johanna Draper Carlson on the Manga Out Loud podcast. At Manga Worth Reading, Carlson notes "We talk about the value of translation/cultural end notes (which inspired a followup post by David) and the pacing of the series in light of Takako Shimura’s career. It’s a wonderful read that we all enjoyed and recommend."
• Review: "Collected in oversize hardbacks that present the pages at their original size, these beautiful books restore one of the original adventure heroes of the strips -- the affable (albeit two-fisted) mercenary who was much more interested in excitement than money or women, which is what he was supposedly after. [Captain] Easy moved through a more innocent — and largely unexplored — world, and there's no better word for this adventure strip than 'charming.'" – Andrew A. Smith, Scripps Howard News
• Review: "...Leslie Stein is a young lady out of Brooklyn, NY who has been crafting literary/illustrative dub versions of her tastes and trials and laying them out in meticulously crafted yet still oodles-of-eye-fun anecdotes and tall tales. Fanta has collected them all into Eye of the Majestic Creature, a big-sized anthology of her work, with color covers and B&W insides and a whole lot of heart reproduced superbly for proper long-term keeping.... Stein's easy-on-the-eyes drawing style shows an affinity for the same greatly defined, goofy universe Pete Bagge's youthful wanderers once trolled though Seattle in... I found it irresistible, and will come back to its gentle humor and delightful glimpses into woozy alt-country gal delights again and again." – Chris Estey, Three Imaginary Girls
• Review: "Growing up to this era of punk rock, I feel an initial offense taken to McMurray’s collection of punk rock relics. It seems strange and kitschy to run across a book like Taking Punk to the Masseswhen you lived it. My first reaction was that we are not a novelty, punk was defined from a purpose and we are that purpose, not an exploitation. But the curious person that I am, I skimmed through it. Then I skimmed through it again. Then I read it. And then I fell in love with it." – Andrew Duncan, ZapTown
• Commentary: At Robot 6, Sean T. Collins comments on the Jim Woodring letter to Hans Rickheit we shared here yesterday: "Woodring, an intrepid chronicler of the underbrain in his own right, clearly recognized a kindred spirit in Rickheit when the younger cartoonist sent him a copy of his elaborate and powerful Fantagraphics graphic novel The Squirrel Machine."
• Interview:The Daily Cross Hatch's Brian Heater continues his conversation with Mome editor Eric Reynolds: "My two passions in comics are old strips like Popeyeand the great cartoonists that I came of age reading, like Clowes and Charles Burns and the Hernandez Brothers. But, as much as that’s the stuff I dearly love, it’s the new stuff we’re publishing, the new artists, the sort of unexpected things that, on a day to day basis, keep me motivated and keep my interest in publishing, from day to day."
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