• Review: "Gender-bending is nothing new in manga, but it's rare to see the transgender sexual identity issues depicted in a realistic way, rather just as a plot gimmick. With her spare, elegant art and slice-of-life storytelling, Shimura resists the urge to use sensationalism, to tell her sweet and sensitive, albeit unusual, coming-of-age tale.... Just as Shimura treats her two tween characters with respect, so does Fantagraphics' hardcover edition of this story. By presenting Shimura's simple, yet elegant artwork in a larger page format and reproducing her lovely color pages on thick, creamy paper, Fantagraphics has showcased this story in a very special way. The translation is also worth noting, for finding a happy medium between conversational English and maintaining the Japanese setting of this story. Wandering Son is a refreshing example of a graphic novel that gives readers a glimpse of a life rarely seen and a story rarely told. Worth a read, and worth sharing." – Deb Aoki, About.com — Manga
• Review: "In Like a Sniper Lining Up His ShotJean-Patrick Manchette and Jacques Tardi present an unrelenting and unforgiving French noir graphic novel by two masters of the genre. As straight as a shotgun’s barrel and as tight as a bullet, the story bulldozes over people and ethics to an ending that is as merciless as the protagonists themselves. Highly recommended." – Bart Croonenborghs, Broken Frontier
• Review: "If you’re not familiar with Trondheim’s cartooning (and hoo-boy, you should be), he blends funny-animal body-types with breezily convincing cityscapes to create an imminently readable and visually gorgeous narrative. Trondheim is one of the easiest cartoonists to read, and one of the most satisfying to experience. Approximate Continuum Comics wanders far and wide among topics and settings, but the whole book also tells one long tale about a period in its creator’s life, and by the time you’re done with it you feel you’ve spent some very worthwhile time with a great storyteller. Because you have." – Alan David Doane, Trouble with Comics
• Review: "In their graphic novel Stigmata, Lorenzo Mattotti and Claudio Piersanti have created an exceptional example of a successful collaboration of art and text. Stigmata, which tells the story of a man suddenly afflicted with the eponymous phenomenon, is rendered entirely in astonishingly frenetic, swirling line work. Mattotti has hidden a world of grotesqueries under a smokescreen of pen and ink, and through his perfectly restrained, gritty parable, Piersanti shapes that world into a contemplative and captivating read." – Jeff Alford, About.com
• Review: "For a reader who knows little or nothing about religious tradition outside the caricatures created through self-promoters of the strident and extreme, by those who abuse their faith and others under the cloak of religion, or by the media this story [Stigmata] may very well intrigue, horrify, and maybe even move. It is not a doctrinaire work; it is a human one." – Grant Barber, Three Percent (University of Rochester)
• Interview: At The Comics Journal, Nicole Rudick talks to Jim Woodring: "I had the story before I knew I was going to do it as a hundred-page comic, and those Frank stories kind of write themselves. I set out to gather material for them and when I have enough of it, and it’s the right kind of stuff that fits together in such a way, it makes a whole that works. So I didn’t really set out to write Congress of the Animals as a personal story, but once I had the story in hand and I realized that it was that personal — I had that in mind all the time I was drawing it and that influenced some of the visuals, the factory, for example, and the faceless men."
• Commentary: This week's guest contributor to Robot 6's "What Are You Reading?" feature is Oil & Water artist Shannon Wheeler
• Review: "...Artichoke Tales and The Squirrel Mother have established Kelso as one of the most original talents in comics. The dozen stories in Queen of the Black Black show an emerging talent, but not a fully-formed one; Kelso tries out a variety of styles here, from primitivist to expressionistic, and tries out a variety of genres too, from slice-of-life to historical fantasy. This book isn’t the best introduction to Kelso — that would be The Squirrel Mother — but it’s essential for fans..." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "Now collected and translated into English, Approximate Continuum Comics is almost more valuable now than it was at the time, serving as a historical document of one of some of the most significant cartoonists in Eurocomics. The book also exemplifies Trondheim’s distinctive autobiographical style, which allows plenty of room for dream sequences, slapstick, digressions, and all the virtues that make his fiction work such a delight." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "For Isle of 100,000 Graves, Norwegian cartoonist Jason works his animal-headed characters into a rip-roaring pirate tale written by Fabien Vehlmann. The result is a little more dialogue-heavy and a little less existential than Jason’s usual books, but it’s still funny and imaginative, telling the story of a young girl who joins a band of buccaneers to look for her father and ends up meeting a hapless lad who’s enrolled in school for executioners. The action barrels straight ahead to a sweet finish, but the highlights of Isle of 100,000 Graves come in that school, where kids dispassionately learn to maim and torture in ways that perfectly suit Jason’s deadpan style." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "Isle of 100,000 Graves is the first work of Jason's to be written by someone other than himself. Boy, did he choose a good one!... Visually it is much the same as Jason's other works, which in my opinion are stunning in their simplicity. The sparse composition of the panels, the 'ligne claire' art style (yeah, I just got pretentious on yo' ass) and the fantastic use of negative space all add to the understated, dead pan wit of the tale. A fun and entertaining adventure that just goes towards further proving the talent of these men." – 2 Bad Guys from an 80s Movie
• Review: "...Woodring returns with Congress of the Animals, a 100-page book focused on Frank. The style and format will be familiar to Woodring devotees — wordless and surreal, with each panel packed with thick, squiggly lines — but the story’s more clearly allegorical than usual, following the buck-toothed, easygoing Frank as he moves into a new home and learns what it means to work a soul-crushing job to maintain a standard of living. The theme is heavy, but there’s a strong slapstick comedy element too, which endures right up to the point where things take a turn from the merely weird to the mind-meltingly weird." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "If Mauldin’s World War II strips were a needed corrective to the public’s glorification of war, then his post WWII work fulfilled the same function for those who thought of post-war America as some kind of euphoric utopia.... The production values for this volume, like the hardcover edition for The WWII Years, are impeccable.... DePastino’s introduction is jammed with illustrative biographical details and is livened up with promotional materials.... Back Home is a study of an artist in transition, both in terms of his art and his life. At the same time, it’s a study of a nation in transition, where the political and cultural ground was shifting and a battle over the nature of that national discourse was being waged." – Rob Clough, The Comics Journal
• Plug: "I re-read both the Hernanadez brothers collected works about once a year and there’s not a lot between them. But somehow the subject matter and sheer storytelling verve of Locas tips the balance for me. I’m constantly in awe of how they both can chronicle the lives of huge casts of characters. The hardback collections of Locas and Palomar are absolutely essential." – Oli Barratt, Lost At E Minor
• Review: "Congress of the Animals is a beautifully illustrated modern fable, which manages to say more without words, than most graphic novels can with hundreds of words. The tale rewards repeat readings, with each successive exposure to the story revealing new and interesting details that were not at first apparent. Woodring has really outdone himself here, and has created the finest work of his career. This is a strong contender for graphic novel of the year, if not the decade!" – Edward Kaye, Hypergeek
• Plug: "...Jim Woodring has created a universe that is as unique as it is brilliant.... Congress of the Animals is due out at the end of May and without knowing anything about it I’m certain that it will be worth owning. If his last book Weathercraft is anything to go by you’ll probably read through the full book in one sitting and then spend weeks thinking about the terrifying images that you saw there." – Phillip Buchan, Starburst Magazine (registration required)
• Review: "Approximate Continuum Comics is a black and white collection of stories that feel different, but are still distinctly Trondheim.... The fact is, there aren't too many cartoonists who can do this kind of work today, period. And there weren't many who could do it a decade ago, which is how old this material is.... At $19 for 144 pages' worth of material, the book is worth the price. As usual, Fantagraphics goes out of its way to design something nice here..." – Augie De Blieck Jr., Comic Book Resources
• Review: "...[T]he adventures [in Take a Joke] start at an outrageousness level that’s over-the-top and go north of there, until they climb higher, then scale a wall, then take an elevator, then an escalator, and finally jump real high. They never, ever come down.... In any other artist’s hands, I’d probably hate the damn thing. But Ryan’s cartoon style... makes the filth seem innocent, as if the deviant behavior within his panels [is] perfectly acceptable.... While I admit I found some it very, very funny, I’ll never be able to look at a bottle of A-1 sauce the same way again. Or Robert Crumb, Yogi Bear and The New Yorker, all of whom take quite the licking. Licking just what, I leave to you to discover on your own. – Rod Lott, Bookgasm
• Review: "The protagonist in Fantagraphics Books new Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse: Race to Death Valley isn't your father's Mickey Mouse. It's your grandfather's. These early newspaper strips, beginning in 1930, by Floyd Gottfredson... show a character who seeks out adventure, gets in fights, jumps from speeding trains, steals a car and chases after bad guys out west.... Gottfredson's drawings are just about perfect.... The artist could capture both the excitement... and the wit..." – Michael Chevy Castranova, The Sparrow Papers
• Review: "...[O]ne could not have asked for a better presentation, with the reproduction about as good as it gets for 80-year-old comic strips, and a veritable plethora of extras.... It's rather startling... to see the amount of depth we get in these comic strips presented here.... I also found the language in these strips extraordinary.... To sum up, anyone who likes Disney, cartoons, or comic strips will find tons of things to love about [Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Vol. 1: Race to Death Valley]. The comics are exciting adventure strips for the most part, though there's a lot of standard 'gag' stuff as well.... A terrific book, highly recommended." – Sean Gaffney, A Case Suitable for Treatment (via The Comics Reporter)
• Plug: At the Forbidden Planet International blog, Wim Lockefeer comments on our Guy Peellaert publishing news: "You don’t need to know that Jodelle and Pravda were based respectively on French chanseuses Sylvie Vartan and Françoise Hardy to enjoy these books, and I think they will prove to be a very good addition to Fantagraphics’ continually growing library of classic comics from round the world."
• Interview: At Comics Bulletin, Jason Sacks talks to Shannon Wheeler about Oil & Water and shares some never-before-seen artwork from the book: "A lot of our goals had to do with keeping the environmental disaster on the radar nationally, saying 'This is something that what we did that's a travesty,' basically, and 'How do we keep paying attention to it so it gets cleaned up and never happens again?' It's a big deal."
• Book Club: If you would like to take part in a recorded podcast discussion about Jason & Fabien Vehlmann's Isle of 100,000 Graves on Saturday, head over to Inkstuds to find out the details (and of course we'll let you know when the recording is posted)
Ran out of time on Friday's Online Commentary & Diversions, so it's combined with links from the weekend:
• Review: "Now Fantagraphics has risen to the fore with [Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Vol. 1:] Race to Death Valley... It’s a pretty spiffy package, sharply designed and full of smart, well-written essays that provide a rich portrait of the artist and his times, as well as some great comics.... As impressive as Gottfredson's work is, it's in the ancillary materials or 'special features' that makes this book really shine. Editors Gary Groth and David Gerstein have gone the extra mile here... With its shameless abundance of riches, Mickey Mouse Vol. 1 sets a new standard in reprint publication." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Plug: "Only a small handful of Gottfredson's collected works have been published and most are out of print. He pioneered a trendsetting style of adventure comics, though in his lifetime remained largely unrecognized.... Fantagraphics has kindly republished a bit of the Gottfredson Mickey run in their new book [Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Vol. 1:] Race to Death Valley, beautifully restored [and] repackaged..." – Green Apple Books
• Review: "The latest volume of The Complete Peanuts: 1979-1980 continues with Charles Schulz’s herculean output of his beloved comic strip. Schulz supplies the customary laughs in stand-alone gag strips and some short 'continuing' storylines.... As I have said in previous reviews, Fantagraphics does such a marvelous job with these hardcover Peanuts volumes. From the cover by designer Seth, to the crisp black-and-white reprinting (3 dailies per page, 1 Sunday per page), to the handy index to help you find your favorite strip, Fantagraphics takes creating a permanent archive of this beloved humor strip very seriously. Children of all ages should all get their hands on this American treasure." – Rich Clabaugh, The Christian Science Monitor
• Commentary: Mike Sterling makes a few observations about The Complete Peanuts 1979-1980: "SPOILER ALERT: Peppermint Patty gathers evidence and uses skeptical, critical thinking to resolve her particular issue here."
• Review: "Some of the very first autobiographical works on the French bande dessinée scene, these little gems were a genuine game-changer for cartoonists and storytellers... Superbly skilled at switching imperceptibly from broad self-parody to cripplingly painful personal revelation, wild surrealism to powerful reportage and from clever humorous observation to howling existentialist inquisition, Trondheim’s cartoon interior catalogue is always a supremely rewarding and enjoyable experience and, as these ancient texts [Approximate Continuum Comics] prove, always has been." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Review: "[Blake] Bell is our guide into this rich history of Bill Everett... Bell includes several pieces of artwork and comics that has rarely been seen. A true testament to a man who lived comics throughout his entire life and loved it with a passion...[I]t’s important not only to remember the characters, but the men behind them. Bell’s book here on the life and times of Bill Everett [Fire & Water], and his other biographical material on Steve Ditko, is a testament to that." – Chris Marshall, Collected Comics Library
• Interview: Hillary Chute talks to Joe Sacco for The Believer; I'll use their pullquote: "When you draw, you can always capture that moment. You can always have that exact, precise moment when someone’s got the club raised, when someone’s going down. I realize now there’s a lot of power in that."
• Interview:The A.V. Club's Sam Adams talks to Joe Sacco: "I think if I hadn’t studied journalism I might have taken a different approach, and I’m not saying my approach is the only way you can tell a story journalistically. But because I actually studied it, detail is important and accuracy is really important, so it’s not just about having an accurate quote. The problem with doing things the way I try to do them is that it’s not just an accurate quote, it’s an accurate image of what a place looks like. An absolute literal group of images? You might as well go to a photographer for that. But whatever interpretation I do of it, it has to be informed by reality."
• Profile:HiLobrow's Joshua Glenn on Dame Darcy: "If she sounds like too much to handle, that’s because she is; now you know why her comic is called Meat Cake — they’re two decadent foods, so why not combine them? Darcy’s world is a child’s garden of verses overrun by drunken mermaids, grave-robbing French maids, and Vitalis-groomed cads. If this sort of thing sounds like your cup of spooky-kooky tea, read Meat Cake..."
• Profile: "I made my quarterly pilgrimage down to the Fantagraphics store in Seattle yesterday, and that store never ceases to amaze anyone who walks into it. From the curator/owner to the punk rock pictures on the wall, to the awesome collection of Fantagraphics titles, traditional comics, underground comics, and some adult stuff tucked away in the back room under the stairs, the entire store is a place to go explore the darker side of comic books." – Dan Morrill, Comics Forge
This month's issue of Booklist brings a nice batch of favorable reviews for four of our recent releases, excerpted below:
Approximate Continuum Comics by Lewis Trondheim: "The simple, unadorned black-and-white line drawings are agreeably loose and deceptively casual, compelling in their humorous expressiveness and economy. Trondheim’s autobiographical departure is of a piece with the rest of his sizable body of work, not only in its whimsical intelligence but also in that the characters are portrayed as anthropomorphic animals. Fans of Trondheim’s other efforts will enjoy viewing another facet of his work, and followers of graphic memoirs will appreciate seeing a comics master turn his hand to the genre." — Gordon Flagg
Celluloid by Dave McKean: "...McKean... tears through different artistic styles in explicit imagery that’s too striking for simple titillation, and while the dark edge in his work is palpable, it never turns disturbing (those with different sensibilities, however, may dispute both those assessments). For all its entwined body parts, unblushing exhibitionism, and surreal juxtapositions, this is both high art masquerading as pornography and transgressive erotica with lofty intentions, and it is respectful of both its subject and its audience." — Ian Chipman
Isle of 100,000 Graves by Jason & Fabien Vehlmann: "Norwegian cartoonist Jason works with a writer for the first time, and it’s a terrific match. His hollow-eyed, animal-faced characters deliver the deadest of deadpan humor ('Get out your leather gloves. The strangulation finals are about to begin.'). Like Tony Millionaire’s work, this comic shows that the line between cute and demented is perilously thin — and lots of fun to cross over. Despite the multiple beheadings and (mostly) jokey torturings, this is a fairly gore-free affair, so while some may choose not to foist it on kids, its sense of whimsical brutality is right up their alley." — Ian Chipman
Take a Joke by Johnny Ryan: "In Angry Youth Comix..., the [title] phrase is displaced from an interrogative into an imperative sentence — 'Take a joke, @#$%^&!' In Ryan’s comics universe, that means being cursed, sexually violated, soaked with ordure, dismembered, beheaded, and otherwise savaged. Ryan renders this wanton, pointless mayhem in a style descended from the ultraviolent, silent Felix the Cat animated cartoons and the big-nose school of joke cartoonists immortalized by those rude cocktail napkins you think you’ll never see again, but then you stop for a beer at some roadhouse, and voila! Vile beyond all credence, this stuff reduces its fans to teary, dribbling idiocy, others to nauseated indignation. If you can’t stand Tony Millionaire (Maakies) or the raunchiest of R. Crumb, you’ll hate it. High praise, indeed!" — Ray Olson
This week's comic shop shipment is slated to include the following new titles. Read on to see what comics-blog commentators 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.
160-page black & white 6.75" x 10.25" softcover • $18.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-410-8
"An earlier stab than Little Nothings at comics-as-diary from the prolific cartoonist (and constantly hilarious comics-diarist) Lewis Trondheim, who draws himself as a slightly ruffled bird." – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
"Lewis Trondheim’s Approximate Continuum Comics were some of the first autobiographical works to come out of France. This volume from Fantagraphics collects the first three chapters from The Nimrod (which were originally released in English as regular American floppies) as well as a bunch of previously untranslated stuff, plus a section at the back in which the real life characters pick fault with Trondheim’s depictions of themselves. David B. has got something to say, as does Trondheim’s Mum. How often does that happen?" – Gosh! Comics
"It’s a great little book, sharp and witty, and a good place for Trondheim newbies to dive in." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"On the graphic novel front, I am eager to read Approximate Continuum Comics, a new collection of Lewis Trondheim’s autobiographical pieces." – Johanna Draper Carlson, Comics Worth Reading
"International comics master Trondheim delivers an excellent collection of autobiographical comics. It's a look inside a cartoonist's life. And trust me, it's far more interesting than that may sound." – Benn Ray (Atomic Books), Largehearted Boy
"I greatly enjoyed this English-language edition of a key Trondheim work, a collection of four comic book-sized memoir comics that blend fantasy and reality in an attempt to capture the way the mega-successful cartoonist regarded his life on either side of 30 years old. I found particularly affecting just how funny and poignant its set-pieces were, and how they might connect with lives that have very little big-picture overlap with Trondheim's own." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
128-page black & white/color 7" x 10" softcover • $18.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-464-1
"...Take a Joke! [is] the latest and arguable greatest (and also last) collection of material taken from Johnny Ryan’s finished-for-now series, Angry Youth Comix." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"There’s all manner of potty-mouthed things you’d expect from Johnny Ryan." – Gosh! Comics
"The master of the yuks that disturb, Johnny Ryan is back with a new collection of his hilarious Angry Youth Comix. You'll laugh a lot and feel weird about doing it. Genius!" – Benn Ray (Atomic Books), Largehearted Boy
224-page black & white 7" x 10.25" softcover • $19.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-412-2
"...[C]ome on, if you found out that Robert Altman and Woody Allen had collaborated on a kids' TV show, you'd want to watch that too." – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
"...Fantagraphics collects Peter Bagge and Gilbert Hernandez's all-ages graphic novel Yeah! for the first time in a decade. This title was initially published on Wildstorm [Homage, actually – Ed.] and is about the foibles of an intergalactic Josie and the Pussycats-style girl group." – Cyriaque Lamar, io9
"...[T]he new Yeah! book... collect[s] the short-lived all ages series that Peter Bagge and Gilbert Hernandez collaborated on, about an all-girl rock group that’s popular throughout the galaxy, but not at home..." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"Back in 1999/2000 Peter Bagge (Hate) and Gilbert Hernandez (Love & Rockets) teamed up for Yeah! – a nine-issue all-ages series about an intergalactically famous girl group who were totally unknown on their home planet Earth." – Gosh! Comics
"I’m curious to see if this re-release... title finds a new audience from quite a different publisher, one more typical of the creators." – Johanna Draper Carlson, Comics Worth Reading
"The summer of Peter Bagge continues! Yeah! collects the comic series from years ago that was a collaboration between Bagge and Hernandez (Love & Rockets). The result is a rollicking intergalactic Josie & The Pussycats-esque all-ages yarn." – Benn Ray (Atomic Books), Largehearted Boy
"This... feels like a notably sturdy volume and seems priced more cheaply than anyone could be expected to find copies of the original funnybooks. It also and probably needed to be re-presented to its potential audience for folks to pay it any attention, in a format that many young readers now prefer. I'm happy to see these comics again." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
"CONFLICT OF INTEREST RESERVOIR: Approximate Continuum Comics collects some nice autobiographical early work by Lewis Trondheim, previously seen in part in The Nimrod and Expo 2000... Take a Joke collects (among other things) the remainder of Johnny Ryan’s Angry Youth Comix, covering its fascinating lunge into increasingly horror-informed material... And Yeah! collects the entirety of a 1999-2000... outer space pop band series from writer Peter Bagge and artist Gilbert Hernandez, in b&w..."
• Review: "Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse: Race To Death Valley kicks off Fantagraphics’ latest series of vintage newspaper strips... About halfway through the [first story] arc, ...Gottfredson’s Mickey Mouse begins to develop the characteristics that would sustain it for decades to come: a fast pace, frequent narrow escapes, and an industrious hero who throws himself fully into every endeavor, in ways that both get him into trouble and help get him out. ...Gottfredson... took the broad idea of a good-natured mouse and sketched in his own attitudes about hard work, courage, and the importance of having reliable friends when the jams get especially sticky." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "[Gilbert] Hernandez’s latest book Love from the Shadows is a confounding hybrid, inserting Love And Rockets’ watermelon-chested, lisping Fritz into a violent dream-novel that combines the fluid reality of Luis Buñuel with the two-fisted crime sagas of Jim Thompson. ...[T]he beauty of comics as a medium is that it invites re-reading; and Hernandez’s mastery makes Love from the Shadows easy to pore back over, savoring how its meaning shifts from page to page." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "There’s fiction, there’s Meta-fiction and then there is Gilbert Hernandez.... Now he returns to his eccentric sideline to translate the wildly experimental independent/exploitation/sexploitation tale Love from the Shadows into a stunning graphic rollercoaster ride of broken families, counter-culture angst, embezzlement, greed madness, obsession, charlatanry, psychics and mysterious aliens in possibly the greatest tribute to scurrilous lowbrow movie maestro Russ Meyer ever seen." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Review: "Speaking of confounding comics, Leslie Stein’s bizarre Eye of the Majestic Creature collects the first four issues of Stein’s self-published comic.... Stein riffs on loneliness, relationships, creativity, family, and intoxication via cutely psychedelic art and short vignettes that are heavy on fancy and light on explanation. At times the book comes from so deep inside Stein’s head that it reads almost like notes for a comic, not a finished work. But then Stein pivots into a moment or image of deep emotional resonance and beauty... and the loose narrative style pays off. These four issues do get better as they go, so consider this a promising introduction to a potentially major new talent." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "...Peter Bagge is back... with Hate Annual #9, the latest in his yearly reports on the life of his slacker-turned-entrepreneur character Buddy Bradley. Usually Bagge fills out the Hate annuals with strips he’s drawn for other publications throughout the year, but #9 is nearly all Buddy, and it’s one of the best Bradley stories in years... The story is wonderfully digressive in the best Bagge tradition, too..." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "An overt attempt to bring back the silly rock-’n’-roll fun of Josie & The Pussycats and Jem & The Holograms, Yeah! follows the adventures of a girl-group that’s wildly popular on other planets, but can’t get any attention on Earth. ...Yeah! is... a pleasure to read, with an anything-goes storytelling style and an infectious affection for pop music, as well as for pop culture about pop music." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "...[T]he comics in Approximate Continuum constitute a highly amusing portrait of that mostly under-explored time in a person's life when things become more important and more ridiculous in equal measure and we find ourselves constantly and even quietly adjusting to wholesale changes in life and attitude and orientation that we once had hopes to master. It speaks to how well-observed the book is that you could pick it up sans context of any kind and find much to enjoy. ...Approximate Continuum Comics consistently hits the pleasure points afforded by great cartooning and a wicked sense of humor, and should be fair comfort to anyone that feels they're at a point in their life when they need to give themselves a good talking-to." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
• Review: "Even if you’ve read the first volume [of The Steve Ditko Archives], Unexplored Worlds offers plenty more surprises.... While the 'twists' rarely match up to the initial imagination of any given piece, Ditko’s art is solid throughout. As always, Fantagraphics’ top-notch presentation makes the publisher the go-to stop for comics preservation." – Rod Lott, Bookgasm
• Interview:At the official R. Crumb website, Alex Wood quizzes Crumb on various historical and pop-cultural figures, from Obama to Tommy James and the Shondells to his underground comix contemporaries to Mozart: "I love the movie Amedeus about him, but the actual music, nnnaaaah."
• Interview:The Daily Cross Hatch continues serializing Brian Heater's MoCCA panel conversation with Gahan Wilson: "...[T]he world for a kid is often very scary. It’s a huge challenge, and it is often scary. I mean, people die, and what the hell is that all about? I explore that sort of thing in Nuts. The stuff that happens to grownups happens to kids, too — these amazing, awful things. And these often terrific things. And they have to somehow wrap themselves around it."
• Feature: The guest contributor to this week's "What Are You Reading?" column at Robot 6 is Dave McKean (who, with his erotic graphic novel Celluloid coming out, weighs in with his thoughts on the erotic work of his sometime-collaborator Alan Moore, Lost Girls)
• Review: "21: The Story of Roberto Clemente brings together comics and baseball, two of America's most popular conveyers of epic mythology. Author Wilfred Santiago also incorporates elements of classical and avant-garde jazz in his sinuously illustrated narrative of Clemente's life. It takes an imagination as rich as Mr. Santiago's to tap into various mythological languages to tell the Pittsburgh Pirate's iconic story... Instead of dwelling on sources of obvious resentment, Mr. Santiago defaults to illustrating Clemente's humanity. We're treated to close-ups of his most noble and ignoble moments. The artist refuses to treat him like a plastic saint, because a perfect Clemente would make boring reading, indeed. ...Wilfred Santiago has done as good a job as anyone ever has in reintroducing the longtime Pittsburgh Pirate to a new generation." – Tony Norman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
• Review: "You’d be hard-pressed to find a more downright affable character than blithely blitzed Larrybear, the young female focus of Leslie Stein’s ongoing semiautobiographical comic [Eye of the Majestic Creature ], whose first four issues are collected here.... Stein gives us the slackerly, star-eyed alternative to a cadre of 'misanthropic, self-pitying comics about unappreciated cartoonists,' as Tom De Haven characterized it... But where the aforementioned Crumb-descended misanthropes have all more or less grown up, Stein’s Larrybear is a naïve woman on the verge of Whatever, a cute Candide floundering about in an increasingly complicated world. ...[T]his book [is] such a pleasure..." – Richard Gehr, The Comics Journal
• Review: "Lewis Trondheim is one of the world’s best cartoonists.... Approximate Continuum Comics is some of Trondheim’s earliest autobiographical work, dating mostly from 1993 and 1996. If you’re read his more recent slivers of life observations... then you already know the sublime wit and casual self-deprecation of Trondheim’s cartooning. Approximate Continuum Comics is where that [tack] begins." – Michael C. Lorah, Newsarama
• Review: "Love from the Shadows is a very strange story. Surreal is such an overused word, but it is the best description I can come up with to describe the tone of the work. There is a disjointed, dream-like progression to the narrative.... As with so much of Hernandez's work, it is beautifully illustrated. The art is suffused with emotion and atmosphere and eroticism. The work Hernandez does is a critical component to his examining all of the societal, psychological, and sexual issues. …Love from the Shadows [is] an intriguing, offbeat story that is open to examination and interpretation. …Love from the Shadows is an intellectually stimulating read. And the artwork is magnificent." – Benjamin Herman, Associated Content
• Review: "The Littlest Pirate King is a wonderful phantasmagoria, as likely to entertain a ten year old as a thirty year eight year old (and I say this having had the book pulled off my lap and spirited away by my own ten year old). There is a lovely innocence to proceedings, a seemingly uncalculated desire to thrill and chill and transport... that has had me flicking back through the book a good dozen times since I’ve read it. This is the kind of book that got me reading books when I was a wee nipper, and it’s the kind of book that keeps me reading now that I’m the furthest possible thing from a wee nipper." – Bookmunch
• Review: "Blazing Combat is a book I'm quite proud to have in my collection. It's a work of art, has a message that's strong even over 40 years after the material was first created, and I'll come back to this at least once every few years." – Philip Reed, BattleGrip
• List:Library Journal's Martha Cornog gathers recommended graphic novels dealing with themes of Health & Medicine, including:
Special Exits by Joyce Farmer: "An excellent alert for those new to the path (for themselves or for relatives) and a validation for those already familiar with this normal yet seemly so abnormal life stage."
Alex by Mark Kalesniko: "This exploration of depression, futile escapism, and the healing power of art has been described as a difficult read but very funny."
Giraffes in My Hair: A Rock 'n' Roll Life by Bruce Paley & Carol Swain: "Hanging out here and crashing there, Paley narrates vignettes of debauchery and daily life in a Woodstock version of American Splendor. Partner Swain's smudgy, black-and-white drawings carry his grimy, nostalgic account."
Mother, Come Home by Paul Hornschemeier: "An exquisitely written and beautifully drawn exploration of grief."
Rip M.D. by Mitch Shauer, Mike Vosburg et al.: "A 'full-color, all-ages adventure' with an animated cartoon series in development, and a promising bet for reluctant readers."
• List:Robot 6's Chris Mautner names "Six noteworthy debut comics," saying of R. Kikuo Johnson's Night Fisher "this tale of disaffected adolescence and drug dealing in Hawaii is certainly compelling and suggests that Johnson is an artist capable of producing great work. Unfortunately, he has yet to follow up on that initial promise. But Night Fisher still marks him as an artist to watch out for."
• Profile:Time Out Chicago's Web Behrens catches up with Paul Hornschemeier: "'It is one of those names: You’re destined to either be a writer or scientist,' says local author-artist Paul, the man both blessed and saddled with the brainy surname. 'You’re not going to be a rock star with a name like Hornschemeier.'"
One of the very first autobiographical graphic novels to come from France, Lewis Trondheim’s Approximate Continuum Comics set the standard for the honest, often hilarious chronicling of a cartoonist’s life. Trondheim’s typically graceful, confident cartooning shows him wrestling with his own demons (sometimes, in dream sequences, literally) and an often malevolent world, while trying to maintain his rising career as one of Europe’s most beloved cartoonists.
Approximate Continuum finally brings American readers the first portion of the “Trondheim autobio trilogy” that also comprises the Eisner-nominated “At Loose Ends” meditation serialized in Mome and the “Little Nothings” series of short slice-of-life stories.
This volume contains the first three chapters serialized in The Nimrod comic book (praised as "A rewarding, pleasurable and entertaining read from a fine talent... well worth the cover price" by The Comics Reporter), the last three (never-before-translated) chapters, and a hilarious “rebuttal” section in which Trondheim’s family and cartoonist friends (including Epileptic creator David B. and Trondheim’s mom) dispute (or ruefully agree with) Trondheim’s depictions.
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