The Giant Robot Post-It Show 8 runs from December 8th through 16th at GR2 [ 2062 Sawtelle Blvd., Los Angeles, CA ] with an opening reception event on Saturday, December 8th from 6:00 - 10:00 PM. Come prepared to "cash-and-carry"!
The first rain-free (HA!) day of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review:The Comics Journal looks at Ron Rege Jr.'s The Cartoon Utopia. Katie Haegel writes, "Almost impossible to categorize, the work in Cartoon Utopia is both fully realized in a formal sense and wonderfully idiosyncratic. Like, it’s really out there. . . to me the work is much stronger when it depicts magic in action, which Regé accomplishes by telling us stories about historical figures and their relationship to the natural world."
• Review:Robot 6 reviews The Cartoon Utopia by Ron Rege Jr. Chris Mautner writes "with Rege drawing science, new age spiritualism, the occult, astrology and Jungian archetypes to come up with a personal grand unification theory. There are no plots or characters in the book to speak of, instead Rege merely muses and illustrates his theories, which mainly have to on the interconnectedness of all living matter."
• Plugs: Best covers of the week by Andy Khouri on Comics Alliance. Ron Regé Jr'sThe Cartoon Utopia: "This cover really makes me smile, and maybe gives me a sense of four-color spiritual well-being. But cartoon utopia looks more outdoorsy than I expected."
• Review:Page 45 enjoys the gentle pages of The Cartoon Utopia. Stephen L. Holland states, "Regé is back with a spiritual manifesto and ode to creativity: a singular, secular vision delivered with all the fervour of a religious sermon. It’s a call not to arms but to peace and perception unshackled from the conditioning of ages, exhorting all to see new possibilities, infinite possibilities, so enabling one’s full potential to be realised in both senses of the word."
• Review:Barack Hussein Obamaby Steven Weissman is reviewed on Bookslut. Martyn Pedler says, "His Obama begins as a kind of smug, stoner everyman: telling 'your momma' jokes, discussing old movies with visiting dignitaries . . . Weissman’s pages -- drawn in ballpoint into a moleskin notebook -- use a four-panel gag structure that makes the book immediately addictive."
• Review:Publishers Weekly takes on Barack Hussein Obama by Steven Weissman.". . . readers will likely have to be content with being one part giddy and three parts puzzled. . . Perhaps that’s Weissman’s point: that the farce of contemporary politics has the capacity to make one simultaneously giddy, confused, and disenchanted."
• Interview (audio): Speaking of Steven Weissman, Obama and the elections, he is interviewed on KPFK 90.7 FM's show Beneath the Surface.
• Review: Cartoonist Lilli Carré finds herself Boing-Boing-ed. Brian Heater describes Heads or Tails collection, "These strips, which originally in the pages of places like The Believer and Mome, find the artist dipping her toes into new pools, the sort of freedom afforded by the low commitments of the short story form, often to truly wonderful effect."
• Interview: Eddie Wright of MTV Geek interviews Johnny Ryan about Prison Pit 4 and why us humans love it so much. "Well, I think it connects to comic fans because it's the stripped down essence of what popular superhero comics are, which is men beating the living shit out of each other. People love it."
• Review:Reglar Wiglar spit takes while reading Johnny Ryan's Prison Pit 4. Chris Auman says, "This is Ryan’s depraved ID unleashed in its purest form: blood, guts, genitalia and fecal matter abound—actually they don’t abound so much as they’re sprayed all over absolutely everything in a fantastical sci-fi orgy of digustedness."
• Plugs: Best covers of the week by Andy Khouri on Comics Alliance. continues with Wallace Wood's Came the Dawn: "And while we're talking smart use of interior art, here's another superb example. This collection is all about the mastery of Wally Wood, so the cover presents a taste of his work in an uncluttered and respectful way, while also establishing a trade dress for Fantagraphics' new EC artists line." Chris Wright's Blacklung: "I see a lot of Joann Sfar in this densely demonic and stylishly constructed cover, and that's enough to convince me to investigate the work of newcomer Chris Wright." Spacehawk mini-comic by Basil Wolverton: "Basil Wolverton may be best known for his grotesque caricatures in MAD Magazine, but he worked in a lot of genres. Spacehawk was evidently one of his early works, and if this gorgeously lurid cover is anything to go by it was a delightfully daffy sci-fi pulp."
• Review:Booklist Online carves out a place in their hearts for Wallace Wood's Came the Dawn. Ray Olson writes, "This volume presenting all his horror and crime stories chronologically shows him refining what is at first a crude though powerful sense of mise-en-scène into one that is assured, highly detailed, and lightly caricatural."
• Review:AV Club reviewed all our new books Came the Dawn by Wallace Wood and Corpse on the Imjin by Harvey Kurtzman. Noel Murray writes, "in writer/artist-driven volumes, printed in black and white, with additional essays and archival material . . . [and] both immediately reveal the value in the artist-driven approach. . . Feldstein’s stories were like the comic-book equivalent to some of the seediest B-movies, and Wood’s art fit Feldstein’s text, with lots of deep shadows and wrinkles reflecting a complicated world." On Basil WolvertonSpacehawk, "As with Kurtzman’s war comics, it’s remarkable to see art so twisted applied to such vivid pulp tales—almost as though Wolverton was trying his hardest to be Alex Raymond, but couldn’t help turning out images to rival Salvador Dalí." Gary Panter's "Dal Tokyo would evolve, strip-by-strip, into a distinctly Panter-esque swirl of science fiction and pure abstraction, in keeping with the artist’s one-of-a-kind sense of design, and his pursuit of comics that resemble music and poetry."
•Plug:Web Cast Beacon reviews all free Halloween Comics Fest freebies. They enjoy Tales from the Crypt and Spacehawk. YES, mail in those ad coupons, people.
• Interview:Jim Woodring is interviewed by Peter Bebergal on hippies, hallucinations and all the good stuff that goes into his latest work, Problematic, a skechbook. "I frequently saw things at night — silently jabbering heads at the foot of my bed, distorted animals and objects hanging in the air over me. Often I saw a huge staring eye that made me vomit with fear."
• Plug: On Boing-Boing, Mark Frauenfelder tips his digi-hat to Floyd Gottfredson: "Gottfredson's Mickey is a plucky, goodhearted imp, bursting with energy and impulsively eager for adventure. . . [Carl] Barks will always have a special place in my heart, but I've added Gottfredson to my short list of great American cartoonists."
• Review: Page 45 looks at The Lost Art of Ah Pookand Stephen L. Holland ponders "Malcom Mc Neill has taken the time to put this eye-frazzling book of art – some of it sequential – into context, for the work itself is very much lost. . . There are vast scenes of ancient ritual, carnal lust and very modern warfare transcending time just as they were always intended."
• Review:Booklist Online likes Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge: Only a Poor Old Manby Carl Barks. Ian Chipman states, "from the bitter cold of the Klondike to the bottom of the Caribbean. . . Barks’ comics are an absolute treasure that have aged remarkably well, and are finally getting wide-scale publication to introduce them to a new generation of readers."
• Review: Gene Ambaum of Unshelved happily views covers from Action! Mystery! Thrills!, edited by Greg Sadowski. "Beautiful full-color reproductions of unblemished comic book covers show the amazing art and the breadth of genres on the newsstands before Fredric Wertham screwed everything up in the 1950s. . . The colors are bright, and the art is just plain fun."
• Review: Is That All There Is? by Joost Swarte gets reviewed on Bookgasm. JT Lindroos states, ". . . it’s impossible not to enjoy this ultimately all-too-brief volume for every single panel it presents. Swarte is consistently projecting an incisive and curious mind at work, perfectly tuned to his showstopping skills as an artist nonpareil."
• Review: Rod Lott of Bookgasm spends a long, loooong time checking out Sexytime. "[Editor Jacque Boyreau] has a knack for picking images; much like Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart and hardcore porn, Boyreau knows it when he sees it. And luckily, he shares it, this time from the visual-presentation experts of Fantagraphics Books — a match made in poster-art heaven."
• Plug: Matt Bielby writes about The Complete Crumb Volume 1 by R. Crumb in Comic Heroes Magazine: "It's incredible stuff, much of it obviously for completists only, but even the most obscure volumes track a fascinating, and developing, world view."
• Interview: Charles Burns is interviewed on Cult Montreal by Emily Raine about The Hive, his creepy artwork and the Black Hole movie. "It’s not my intention to be creepy per se, or that’s not the reason I’m writing stories. I think they end up being whatever they are. Maybe I’m just a creepy guy, I don’t know."
• Interview (audio): One of our favorite creators, Ellen Forney, speaks to KUOW/NPR on bi-polar disorder, comics and her new work, Marbles.
• Plug:Jaime Hernandez will be at the Copenhagen Comics Fest in Copenhagen, Denmark in June of 2013. Mark them calendars!
This is what our table looked like for most of the day. It was very busy, just like SPX so we barely left the table for pictures, let alone peeing or eating (one of those could solve the other, you decide the order).
WHOA, did you just catch a glimpse of an advance copy of Moto Hagio's The Heart of Thomas in that bottom right corner (pictured above)?! Cartoonist Jose-Luis Olivares and a calvacade of others flipped through the 500+ page masterpiece, ready to read it as soon as it was available for purchase.
The enigmatic and rarely-seen Josh Simmons appeared out of a subway mist much to his fans appreciation. Many fans stopped by to crack wise with the dark master while he signed The Furry Trap, including fellow cartoonists Dean Haspiel, Joe Infurnari and Nick Abadzis.
The intensity in this guy's face as he hands Gary Panter his copy ofDal Tokyo cannot be beat.
Intern Anna and I were watching said Panter fan to make sure he never put on THAT murder face, you know, that one Josh Simmons draws a lot:
Olivier Schrauwen stopped by as well to sign The Man Who Grew His Beard but left his pencil case full of pens so thank you for the gift (ha ha, don’t worry we’ll take care of them).
Writer and CBR reporter, Alex Dueben, grabs one of the last copies of Heads or Tails.
Art Spiegelman blew smoke quaintly into my face and Josh Simmons’ on the search for Lilli Carré, whom he couldn’t get enough of. That empty space on the wooden table between them is where her giant stack of Heads or Tails was before it sold out.
Chris Ware came to see how the show was going for Fantagraphics and to escape the hotbox upstairs. We gabbed about the printmaking department at the University of Texas, our shared alma mater, and Civil War reenactment. I think I spot a Nate Doyle to the left of him too.
We caught up with future Fantagraphics creator and Oily Comics entrepreneur Charles Forsman pictured here with brother Tobey and cartoonist Melissa Mendes hanging out at Bergen Street Comics.
As the hands of the humid clock ticked past 7, we thanked our lucky stars for being a part of Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival. Here is Josh Simmons, intern Anna Pederson and me ready for some yum-yums wrapped in bacon.
Brooklyn, Gabe, Dan and Bill: thank you all so much for your gorgeous hospitality and smiles. Thank you, Robin McConnell for providing some photos. See you all next year!
• Eugene, OR: The Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at the University of Oregon in Eugene, OR is hosting the exhibit GOOD GRIEF! Original Art from 50 Years of Charles M. Schulz's PEANUTS, and our own Gary Groth will discuss the importance of Charles Schulz's work within the larger tradition of newspaper strip comics. This event begins at 5:30 PM, and is co-sponsored by the UO School of Journalism. (more info)
Saturday, November 10th
• Seattle, WA: Ellen Forney will discuss her courageous new graphic memoir Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, & Me at the Seattle Public Library Central Branch at 7:00 PM. Her slide presentation in the Microsoft Auditorium will be followed by a book signing. Copies will available at the event. Admission is free. (more info)
Hurricanes can't stop comics! Visit Fantagraphics at the Brooklyn Comics & Graphics Festivalthis Saturday, November 10th from 12:00 - 7:00 PM! Our lovely Marketing, PR and Outreach Fiend Jen Vaughn will be bringing you the fun!
PROGRAMMING: These will all take place at The Knitting Factory [ 361 Metropolitan Avenue ], and the panels are free and open to the public:
11:00 AM // The Architecture of Comics: Ware, McGuire & Spiegelman: Comics are more than illustrated literature: they are the poetic application of structure to visual art. Their distinct modes of operation permit unique ways of exploring perception and expressing meaning. Richard McGuire, author of the seminal short comics story “Here,”Art Spiegelman, author of the modern classic Maus and works including In the Shadow of No Towers, and Chris Ware, author of Building Stories and Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth will consider the architecture of comics in conversation with Bill Kartalopoulos.
12:30 PM // Shape, Line and Color: Blexbolex, Carré & Schrauwen: Comics have traditionally been bounded by a visual approach that privileges a linear, outline-based approach to art that can survive historically poor methods of reproduction. As technology has developed and as comics have gained from contact with other areas of art, contemporary cartoonists have increasingly embraced a greater variety of approaches to producing narrative graphics. Bill Kartalopoulos will discuss developing aesthetics with Blexbolex(Seasons, No Man’s Land), Lilli Carré (Heads or Tails) and Olivier Schrauwen(The Man Who Grew His Beard).
4:30 PM // The Narrative Collage: Burns, Hensley & Ricard: The mainstream publishing industry has often imposed the standards of conventional literary fiction on the comics form, suppressing comics’ essential status as an assemblage of potentially—and productively—discordant fragments. Charles Burns (Black Hole, The Hive), Anouk Ricard (Anna and Froga) and Tim Hensley (Wally Gropius, Ticket Stub) will discuss the possibilities and pleasures of crafting narratives that capitalize on the collage-like qualities of the comics form—in matters of structure, style and format—in a conversation moderated by Tom Spurgeon.
So, pull on your galoshes and we'll see you there!
The most feathered pom-pom of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Interview: Steven Weissman is a popular man with his presurrealidential comic, Barack Hussein Obama. Comic Book Resources and Alex Dueben interviews Weissman on the evolution of a comic and re-engaging your audience.
• Interview:Comics Alliance's J. Caleb Mozzocco interviews Steven Weissman on Barack Hussein Obama. "The Barack Hussein Obama that ultimately emerges from the book is a pretty regular guy trapped in a comic strip, struggling to be all things to all people," states Mozzocco.
• Review:Jim Woodring's sneak peek at his sketchbooks that eventually became Problematic was up on BoingBoing before the video went 'kaput,' now there is Jim inking like a badass with a nib. You can still see sample pages here for Problematic. Video made and featuring the hands of Marketing Director, Mike Baehr, coming soon!
• Plug: Comics Reporter comments on a few of our releases from this week. In reference to The Cartoon Utopia, Tom Spurgeon states, "Ron Regé Jr. is one of those special cartoonists where I buy everything he does without asking questions first. On the strength of this latest collection, with which I'm only about halfway done, Lilli Carré may join that group of cartoonists much sooner than I thought possible. . . " with her collection of stories in Heads or Tails.
• Interview: Andrew Wheeler of Comics Alliance interviews Justin Hall, editor of No Straight Lines. "It's also a testament to how good those early creators were. Howard Cruse, Trina Robbins, Roberta Gregory, they're some of the best cartoonists in the business and they were doing work of surprising sophistication from the very beginning."
What's new around our mail-order operation in the past month? Oh, just FOURTEEN new books. (Actually sixteen, but two of them snuck onto last month's recap.) We've got Mickey Mouse! We've got Charlie Brown! We've got Cannibal F***face! Our eagerly-awaited first EC Comics Library volumes have arrived, along with 3 major books by cutting-edge talents, the final volume of a masterful memoir series, the start of a wonderful fantasy-adventure series from one of the greats, and some bold experimental books for those of you interested in the various ways literature and images can intersect. (Remember, our New Releases page always lists the 20 most recent arrivals, and our Upcoming Arrivals page has dozens of future releases available for pre-order.) Read on for all the details:
Chris Wright’s Blacklung is unquestionably one of the most impressive graphic novel debuts in recent years, a sweeping, magisterially conceived, visually startling tale of violence, amorality, fortitude, and redemption, one part Melville, one part Peckinpah. Blacklung is a story that lives up to the term graphic novel, that could only exist in sequential pictures — densely textured, highly stylized, delicately and boldly rendered drawings that is, taken together, wholly original.
In a night of piratical treachery when an arrogant school teacher is accidentally shanghaied aboard the frigate Hand, his fate becomes inextricably fettered to that of a sardonic gangster. Dependent on one another for survival in their strange and dangerous new home, the two form an unlikely alliance as they alternately elude or confront the thieves and cutthroats that bad luck has made their companions and captors. After an act of terrible violence, the teacher is brought before the ship’s captain and instructed to use his literary skills to aid him in writing his memoirs. He is to serve as scribe for a man who, in his remaining years, has made it his mission to commit as many acts of evil as possible in order to ensure that he meet his dead wife in hell. As the captain’s protected confidant, finding his only comfort in the few books afforded him, the teacher bears witness to monstrous brutality, relentless cruelty, strange wisdom, and a journey of redemption through loss of faith.
“I could not have imagined how impressive a work Blacklung would turn out to be. It’s a graphic novel, both in its vernacular term and in a more literal sense, violent and horrible and poetic at the same time – the sort of thing McCarthy might write if he were more interested in pirates than cowboys or Appalachians. Blacklung is a great book; canonically great.” —Chris Schweizer (Crogan’s Adventures)
“A truly organic and interesting way to cartoon, the complete package of verbal cadence and informative visual style.” – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
The 20th century had hit its exact midpoint. Social upheaval — sexual, social, racial, cultural — was in the air; and the fledgling EC comics line was about to become a vital part of it.
Working within the horror, war, crime, and science fiction genres, publisher William Gaines and editor/writer Al Feldstein combined a deliciously disreputable, envelope-pushing sensibility with moments of genuine, outraged social consciousness, which shone a hard light onto such hot-button topics as racism, anti-Semitism, mob justice, and misogyny and sexism.
The 1950s were also a launching pad for some of the greatest comic book artists in history, many of whom worked for EC — including Wallace Wood, whose hypnotically detailed, lushly expressive brushwork brought to life menacing thugs, ominous cityscapes, and small-town America, as well as Everymen grappling with profound moral issues — not to mention some of the most heart-stoppingly beautiful women ever to sashay across a comic book page.
Came the Dawn collects all 26 Wood-drawn horror and crime stories — including the full baker’s dozen of EC’s most courageous and politically charged dramas.
Taking its title from one of Wood’s all-time classics, the evil little paranoid thriller “Came the Dawn,” this collection features page after page after page of Wood’s sleek and meticulously crafted artwork put in the service of cunning twist-ending stories, most often from the typewriter of EC editor Al Feldstein. These tales range from supernatural shockers from the pages of Tales From the Crypt and The Haunt of Fear (“The Living Corpse,” “Terror Ride,” “Man From the Grave,” “Horror in the Freak Tent”) to often pointedly contemporary crime thrillers from Crime SuspenStories (“The Assault,” “The Whipping,” and “Confession,” which was singled out for specific excoriation in the anti-comics screed Seduction of the Innocent, thus giving it a special cachet), but the breathtaking art and whiplash-inducing shock endings are constants throughout.
Like every book in the Fantagraphics EC line, Came the Dawn features extensive essays and notes on these classic stories by EC experts — but the real “meat” of the matter (sometimes literally, in the grislier stories) is supplied by these ofted lurid, sometimes downright over-the-top, but always compelling and superbly crafted, classic comic-book masterpieces.
The creation of MAD would have been enough to cement Harvey Kurtzman’s reputation as one of the titans of American comics, but Kurtzman also created two other comics landmarks: the scrupulously-researched and superbly-crafted war comics Two-Fisted Tales and Frontline Combat. Here were finally war comics without heroic, cigar-chomping sergeants, wisecracking privates from Brooklyn, or cartoon Nazis and “Japs” to be mowed down by the Yank heroes, but an unflinching look at the horror and madness of combat throughout history.
Kurtzman employed some of the finest of the EC artists including Jack Davis, John Severin, and Wallace Wood, but his vision came through clearest in the dozen or so stories he both wrote and drew himself, in his uniquely bold, slashing, cartoony-but-dead-serious style (“Stonewall Jackson,” “Iwo Jima,” “Rubble,” “Big ‘If ’,” and Kurtzman’s own favorite, “Air Burst”) — as well as his vividly colored, narratively-dense covers, all 23 of which are reproduced here in full color in a special portfolio.
Corpse on the Imjin! is rounded off with a dozen or so stories written and laid out by Kurtzman and drawn by “short-timers,” i.e. cartoonists whose contributions to his war books only comprised a story or two — including such giants as designer extraordinaire Alex Toth, Marvel comics stalwart Gene Colan, and a pre-Sgt. Rock Joe Kubert... and such unexpected guests as “The Lighter Side of...” MAD artist Dave Berg and DC comics veteran Ric Estrada — as well as a rarity: a story by EC regular John Severin inked by Kurtzman.
Like every book in the Fantagraphics EC line, Corpse on the Imjin! features extensive essays and notes on these classic stories by EC experts — but Kurtzman’s stories, as vital, powerful, affecting, and even, yes, modern today as when they were created 60 years ago, are what makes this collection a must-have for any comics reader.
Ron Regé, Jr. is a very unusual yet accomplished storyteller whose work exudes a passionate moral, idealistic core that sets him apart from his peers. The Cartoon Utopia is his Magnum Opus, a unique work of comic art that, in the words of its author, "focuses on ideas that I've become intrigued by that stem from magical, alchemical, ancient ideas & mystery schools." It's part sci-fi, part philosophy, part visual poetry, and part social manifesto. Regé's work exudes psychedelia, outsider rawness, and pure cartoonish joy.
In The Cartoon Utopia, "Utopians" of the future world are attempting to send messages through consciousness, outside of the constricts of time as we understand it. They live in a world of advanced collective consciousness and want to help us understand how to achieve what they have accomplished. They get together to perform this task in a way that evolved out of our current system of consuming information and entertainment. In other words, the opposite of television. Instead, these messages appear in the form of art, music and storytelling.
Praise for Ron Regé, Jr.:
"One of a handful of cartoonists in the history of the medium to not only reinvent comics to suit his own idiosyncratic impulses and inspirations as an artist, but also to imbue it with his own peculiar, ever changing emotional energy. To me, he is unquestionably one of 'the greats.'" – Chris Ware
"Slow down when you read his pictures and ornately lettered words, quivering, scintillating, radiant, and they will leave you awake and awakened." – Paul Gravett
During his fifty-year career, ninety-nine percent of Charles Schulz's creative energies went into the daily Peanuts comic strip. But once in a while he would create a special something else on the side, and this adorable little package collects two of his best "extras" from the 1960s: two Christmas-themed stories written and drawn for national magazines.
Created in 1963 (two years before the Charlie Brown Christmas TV special) as a supplement for Good Housekeeping magazine, "Charlie Brown's Christmas Stocking" comprises 15 original captioned vignettes featuring the entire Peanuts cast of the time — Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus, Schroeder, Frieda, Violet, Shermy, and Sally — each with a joke or reflection about the season.
"The Christmas Story" is an original tale created for Woman's Day in 1968, this one focusing just on Snoopy and the Van Pelt siblings, with Lucy and Linus each explaining the meaning of the holiday to Snoopy. "I’m going to have to be careful," Snoopy reflects at the end of the story, resting on his doghouse next to his bone-decorated tree; "all this theology could ruin my Christmas."
The book also includes notes on the provenance of the stories and a pocket-sized biography of Schulz. A perfect gift item for the season!
Add Lilli Carré's acclaimed debut The Lagoon to your order for just $9.99 ($5 off)! Use the option menu when ordering.
The creator of 2008’s acclaimed graphic novel The Lagoon — named to many annual critics’ lists including Publishers Weekly and USA Today’s Pop Candy — is back with a stunningly designed and packaged collection of some of the most poetic and confident short fiction being produced in comics today. These stories, created over a period of five years, touch on ideas of flip sides, choices, and extreme ambivalence.
Carré’s elegant short stories read like the gothic, family narratives of Flannery O’Connor or Carson McCullers, but told visually. Poetic rhythms — a coin flip, a circling ferris wheel — are punctuated by elements of melancholy fantasy pushed forward by character-driven, naturalistic dialogue. The stories in Heads or Tails display a virtuosic breadth of visual styles and color palettes, each in perfect service of the story, and range from experimental one-pagers to short masterpieces like "The Thing About Madeline" (featured in The Best American Comics 2008), to graphic novellas like "The Carnival" (featured in David Sedaris’ and Dave Eggers’ 2010 Best American Nonrequired Reading, originally published in MOME), to new work created for this book.
Fantagraphics spotlights the intersection of art and language in this innovative new collection — without peer in English — that gathers the work of visual poets from around the world into one stunning volume. The alphabet is turned on its head and inside-out and the results culminate in a compilation of daring and surprising verbo-visual gems.
The Last Vispo Anthology is composed of vispo (a portmanteau of the words “visual” and “poetry") from the years 1998 to 2008, during a burst of creative activity fueled by file sharing and email, which made it possible for the vispo community to establish a more heightened and sophisticated dialogue with one another. The collection extends the dialectic between art and literature that began with ancient “shaped text,” medieval pattern poetry, and dada typography, pushing past the concrete poetics of the 1950s and the subsequent mail art movement of the 1980s to its current incarnation. Rather than settle into predictable, unchallenged patterns, this vibrant poetry seizes new tools to expand the body of work that inhabits the borderlands of visual art and poetic language.
The Last Vispo Anthology features 148 contributors from 23 countries on five continents. It includes 12 essays that illuminate the abundant history and the state of vispo today. The anthology offers a broad amalgam of long-time practitioners and poets new to visual poetry over the last decade, underscoring the longevity and the continued vitality of the art form.
“The descriptor ‘visual poetry’ cannot begin to hint at the wealth of potent mystery that The Last Vispo contains. It knocked my mind right off its cozy little track and sent it sprawling through a myriad of brand new experiences. I can’t remember the last time I encountered something so charged, mysterious, deep and pleasurably upsetting as this book.” – Jim Woodring
“A delightful cornucopia of imaginary languagescapes, opening the eye to other alphabetic climes, beyond the ho-hum regimentation of linear normalcies. & all from (just about) the past decade. Visual poetries: alive and expanding. It’s positively viral.” – Charles Bernstein
“Staring your way into and through the letter as object — the letter as solitary sign, the letter as crowned king. Staring gives us the keys to the kingdom. This book is a glorious adjunct to the long history of concrete and visual poetry. Long live the king!” – Harry Mathews
In 1970, William S. Burroughs and artist Malcolm McNeill began a small collaborative project on a comic entitled The Unspeakable Mr. Hart, which appeared in the first four issues of Cyclops, England’s first comics magazine for an adult readership. Soon after, Burroughs and McNeill agreed to collaborate on a book-length meditation on time, power, control, and corruption that evoked the Mayan codices and specifically, the Mayan god of death, Ah Pook. Ah Pook Is Here was to include their character Mr. Hart, but stray from the conventional comics form to explore different juxtapositions of images and words.
Ah Pook was never finished in its intended form. In a 1979 prose collection that included only the words from the collaboration, Ah Pook is Here and Other Texts (Calder, 1979), Burroughs explains in the preface that they envisioned the work to be “one that falls into neither the category of the conventional illustrated book nor that of a comix publication.” Rather, the work was to include “about a hundred pages of artwork with text (thirty in full-color) and about fifty pages of text alone.” The book was conceived as a single painting in which text and images were combined in whatever form seemed appropriate to the narrative. It was conceived as 120 continuous pages that would "fold out." Such a book was, at the time, unprecedented, and no publisher was willing to take a chance and publish a “graphic novel.”
However, Malcolm McNeill created nearly a hundred paintings, illustrations, and sketches for the book, and these, finally, are seeing the light of day in The Lost Art of Ah Pook. (Burroughs’ text will not be included.) McNeill himself is an exemplary craftsman and visionary painter whose images have languished for over 30 years, unseen. Even in a context divorced from the words, they represent a stunning precursor to the graphic novel form to come.
Sara J. Van Ness contributes an historical essay chronicling the long history of Burroughs’ and McNeill’s work together, including its incomplete publishing history with Rolling Stone’s Straight Arrow Press, the excerpt that ran in Rush magazine, and the text that was published without pictures.
Observed While Falling is an account of the personal and creative interaction that defined the collaboration between the writer William S. Burroughs and the artist Malcolm McNeill on the graphic novel Ah Pook Is Here. The memoir chronicles the events that surrounded it, the reasons it was abandoned and the unusual circumstances that brought it back to life. McNeill describes his growing friendship with Burroughs and how their personal relationship affected their creative partnership. The book is written with insight and humor, and is liberally sprinkled with the kind of outré anecdotes one would expect working with a writer as original and eccentric as Burroughs. It confirms Burroughs’ and McNeill’s prescience, the place of Ah Pook in relation to the contemporary graphic novel, and its anticipation of the events surrounding 2012. The book offers new insights into Burroughs’ working methods as well as how the two explored the possibilities of words and images working together to form the ambitious literary hybrid that they didn’t know, at the time, was a harbinger of the 21st century “graphic novel.” McNeill expounds on the lessons of that experience to bring Ah Pook into present time. In light of current events, Ah Pook is unquestionably Here now.
Observed While Falling presents a unique view of the creative process that will be of interest to artists, writers and general readers alike. A perspective evoked by a literary experiment that has endured for forty years and still continues to “happen.”
As always, a plot summary of the latest installment of Johnny (Angry Youth Comix) Ryan’s hugely popular sci-fi-prison-planet-gore-fest-slugfest-a-thon serial must, in order to be presentable to normal, decent human beings, be cut into fine Belgian lace. And so, with apologies:
“Cannibal F***face discovers the only way to escape the Caligulon is to brainf*** the Slorge and create a giant, brainless oafchild that only knows how to annihilate everything in its path. And what happens when the Slugstaxx show up and use their nightj*** to turn this mindless monster against CF? Total F***ing Mayhem.”
Advance Praise: "You know you're reading Prison Pit when there's a character called Undigestible Scrotum and someone tries to see if he lives up to his name... Prison Pit is what you read when no one is home and you're not eating." – Chris Mautner
Within his tiny village, Ralph Azham is considered an insolent good-for-nothing layabout, a virtual pariah — particularly since he was supposed to be a Chosen One. (Things didn’t work out.) Yet his odd azure coloration and a few unique abilities (he can predict births and deaths) suggest that there may be more to him than meets the eye. And when the terrifying Horde stages one of its regular raids on his village, Ralph takes the young Raoul under his wing and sets out for a series of adventures...
Trondheim is already well known to fantasy buffs for the worldwide success Dungeon, the complex set of interlocking series he created with fellow cartoonist Joann Sfar and a raft of artists. While Ralph Azham works within the same genre, this is a far more tightly focused, single-character-starring new series for which Trondheim is solely responsible — that is, except for the stunningly rich coloring, provided by his longtime collaborator Brigitte Findakly working in hand-executed watercolors for the first time in over a decade.
Witty and fleet-footed like all of Trondheim's work, madly inventive in terms of characters, creatures, and events, Ralph Azham is scheduled to run for at least six volumes and is presented in a distinctive "landscape" format.
"Trondheim is a master! Fun, irreverent, and filled with moments of truthiness! Just when you think you know where he's taking you, he suddenly turns sideways and surprises." – Jeff Smith, creator of Bone
Who says dead men tell no tales? When grim grinning ghosts come out to socialize, they’ll find fearless Mickey all ready to rumble — as soon as he’s done fighting gangsters, bandits, and international men of mystery, that is! From Africa to Eastern Europe, our favorite big cheese is in for terrifying thrills — and he’s bringing Goofy, Donald Duck, and that big palooka Pegleg Pete along for the ride!
When Mickey sets out to eject "The Seven Ghosts" from Bassett Manor, he finds more than just specters providing the scares! Next, moving smoothly from horror to science fiction, our hero discovers an awesome "Island in the Sky" — and meets its maker, the powerful atomic scientist Dr. Einmug!
Lovingly restored from Disney’s original negatives and proof sheets, House of the Seven Haunts also includes more than 50 pages of spooky supplementary features! You’ll enjoy rare behind-the-scenes art, vintage publicity material, and fascinating commentary by a haunted houseful of Disney scholars.
In one of the most eagerly-anticipated graphic novels of 2012, Soldier’s Heart concludes the story of Carol Tyler and her delving into her father’s war experiences in a way that is both surprising and devastating — and rather than trying to summarize this episode and thus possibly spoil it for readers, we prefer to simply offer a selection of comments on the first two installments of this autobiographical masterpiece.
Publishers Weekly: “(Starred Review) In the first volume of Tyler’s planned trilogy of graphic memoirs, she dug into the eruptive, violent memories of her father’s WWII experiences while simultaneously dealing with a husband who decided to go find himself and leave her with a daughter to raise. [Book Two] is no less rich and overwhelming. Tyler gets back to the business of detailing her father’s war stories — difficult given that he is ‘one of those guys who closed it off and never talked about it’ — as well as coming to terms with her already touchy parents’ increasingly ornery attitudes. Closing the circle somewhat is Tyler’s concern over her daughter’s troubled nature, which seems to mirror her own wild past. While the language of Chicago-raised and Cincinnati-based Tyler has a winningly self-deprecating Midwestern spareness to it, her art is a lavishly prepared kaleidoscope of watercolors and finely etched drawings, all composed to look like the greatest family photo album of all time. The story’s honest self-revelations and humane evocations of family dramas are tremendously moving. Tyler’s book could well leave readers simultaneously eager to see the third volume, but also nervous about the traumas, home front and war front, that it might contain.”
Booklist: “Tyler’s fluid, expressive linework, complemented by subtly overlaid watercolors, gives ideal visual expression to a narrative that’s at once sensitive and hard-nosed... Decades of drawing mostly autobiographical stories have honed her skills, enabling her to produce a work that ranks in quality with the graphic memoirs of Alison Bechdel (Fun Home) and Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis).”
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.
"This is a super-strong week for the Seattle-based alt-comics mainstay publishing house. In fact, that would be a strong season for a lot of publishers." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
240-page black & white/color 7.25" x 10.25" hardcover • $28.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-545-7
"If I could splurge, I’d snatch up EC: Wally Wood – Came the Dawn and Other Stories. I’ve been aware of Wally Wood for a almost two decades now, but I tend to go through periods of simply floating around before I consume and learn more about him in short but voracious periods." – Chris Arrant, Robot 6
"...I feel like I haven’t read enough Kurtzman, so I’d like to read [Corpse on the Imjin]..." – Brigid Alverson, Robot 6
"I’m pretty excited for the new Fantagraphics EC books..." – Brian Hibbs (Comix Experience), The Savage Critics
"Fans of the old, influential genre stuff will enjoy Corpse on the Imjin! and Other Stories and Came the Dawn and Other Stories, two b&w collections of EC material focused on, respectively, Harvey Kurtzman and Wally Wood..." – Joe McCulloch, The Comics Journal
"The EC books I'm looking forward to devouring on some rainy afternoon in the next three or four weeks. I find that work pleasurable, and I look forward to seeing if reading these comics arranged by author (mostly) changes my opinion about any of the artists in question." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
"These @fantagraphics EC Libraries are slick!!" – Pulp Fiction
144-page black & white 10.25" x 12.25" hardcover • $24.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-596-9
"...I’ll first mention The Cartoon Utopia, a 144-page 'part sci-fi, part philosophy, part visual poetry, and part social manifesto' hardcover by the always-interesting Ron Regé, Jr." – Joe McCulloch, The Comics Journal
"Ron Regé Jr. is one of those special cartoonists where I buy everything he does without asking questions first." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
200-page full-color 7" x 9" softcover • $22.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-597-6
"Poetic short fiction pieces from an artist Chicago is proud to call its own." – Quimby's Bookstore
"...Heads or Tails [is] a nice-looking collection of short stories by up-and-comer Lilli Carré (The Lagoon), most of which ran in the Mome anthology..." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"Lilli Carré returns after 2008′s The Lagoon with Heads or Tails, a 200-page collection of short stories..." – Joe McCulloch, The Comics Journal
"On the strength of this latest collection, with which I'm only about halfway done, Lilli Carré may join that group of [special] cartoonists [where I buy everything she does without asking questions first] much sooner than I thought possible, and I really liked her previous work. There's nothing about Heads or Tails that has to be processed through the 'promising cartoonist' filter, if that makes any sense." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
336-page full-color 8" x 10" softcover • $39.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-626-3
"Finally, The Last Vispo Anthology: Visual Poetry 1998-2008 presents 336 pages of visual poetry to tickle your image/text fancy." – Joe McCulloch, The Comics Journal
"I'm not even sure what Last Vispo Anthology is, but I'd look at it -- I assume it's the visual poetry thing that's been a big part of the lives of several people that have worked the last 20 years." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
This weekend, Saturday, October 27th and Sunday, October 28th, the festival focuses on abstract animation and unconventional character animation. The festival showcases outstanding experimental animation of all sorts: classic films, new works and rare masterpieces.
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