We love all of our books but are especially happy for the creators of the Eisner-nominated books. You can vote until June 12 online. If you haven't read all of them, check 'em out individually or via our list!
Still no sure which to read? Heidi MacDonald, Cal Reid and company discuss the nominations on the Publishers Weekly podcast. Meanwhile, Chris Sims, Matt D. Wilson and more of War Rocket Ajax discuss the nominations, although I'm not sure how long the podcast will be up at this link.
Some of the nominations gather in our mail room. See you in JULY!
The tantric release of Online Commentaries & Release:
• Review:The LA Times and Noel Murray interviews Gilbert Hernandez about Julio's Day, Marble Season (from D&Q), plus the future books Love and Rockets: New Stories #6 and Maria M. LA Times: Gilbert says " ‘Julio’s Day’ is very simple. I mean, there’s a lot of heavy stuff going on, but I wanted it to read like a very simple, direct story."
• Interview:comiXology interviews Gilbert Hernandez about his most recent comic Julio's Day on their podcast.
• Review: Tom Spurgeon looks at Gilbert Hernandez's latest work, Julio's Day, on the Comics Reporter. "I found Julio's Day moving at times, again for reasons I'm not really certain I can fully articulate. The idea that we may be known as much for the choices of those around us and things that happen in proximity to ourselves as much as if not more than by the choices we make is either the ultimate comfort or the first back-of-throat rumblings of an existential howl."
• Plug:Publishers Weekly lists Julio's Day as a pick of the week: "A marvelous and tightly scripted epic whose last page is a heart-stopper."
Review: Charles Hatfield of The Comics Journal flips through Julio's Dayby Gilbert Hernandez. "When it comes to Beto, the lightning keeps striking, and if it doesn’t strike exactly the same place twice, it does testify to the same divided genius…It is the great lost Beto comic, belatedly given new form and new life.
• Review:Grovel's Andy Shaw reads Julio's Dayby Gilbert Hernandez. "Just buy it now. This is Gilbert Hernandez at his finest, distilling a lifetime into a single volume of pleasure and pain.Julio’s Day is a literary classic, and another incredible piece of work from a true master of comics."
• Plug:Largehearted Boy plugs Julio's Day. "Gilbert compresses the history of the 20th century as well as the life of a man into a riveting, masterful story," writes Benn Ray.
• Review:The A.V. Club looks at The Adventures of Jodelle by Guy Peellaert. "The essays-which at 80 pages take up more of the book than Jodelle-are this volume's real selling point... Peellaert foregrounded the eroticism of advertising, and exposed how pulp imagery affects the public's understanding of everything from politics to gender. And he did it without resorting to polemics. The Adventures Of Jodelle book-both the comic strip and the supplemental material-is a delight both visually and intellectually," writes Noel Murray.
• Plug:Largehearted Boy plugs The Adventures of Jodelle by Guy Peellaert. "Think of Barbarella animated in that Yellow Submarine style and you get the idea of what Jodelle's adventures look like. This is comics as art."
• Plug: Angel House Press is celebrated National Poetry Month with a focus on visual poetry, inspired by latest collection of it The Last Vispo, edited by Nico Vassilakis and Crag Hill. Check here for a month of visual poetry.
• Review: Heroes Complex at the LA Times looks at 50 Girls 50 by Al Williamson. Noel Murray writes, "These pieces are classic EC: punchy, knowing and ironic in the best sense of the word, in that they force readers to examine their own expectations. The best stories in '50 Girls 50 have readers rooting for heels, or celebrating war, all while framing the situation in such a way that readers question their responses." In reference to the whole EC Comics Library line, Murray writes, "All of these books are essential purchases for comics fans, but for those on a budget who are looking to prioritize…These are the books that best show off how EC took genre stories seriously, striving to create comics that didn’t treat readers as naive or ignorant."
• Review:Fangoria reviews the next two EC books. Rick Trembles enjoys 'Tain't the Meat by Jack Davis. "Jack Davis’ dark comedic touch is all over this collection, diffusing the ghastly nature of the stories somewhat, an aspect to his work that was obviously lost on his opponents." Meanwhile with Al Willliamson's 50 Girls 50, Trembles writes "here we’re dazzled by romanticized sci-fi heroics and delicate line-work of the ilk of FLASH GORDON’S original artist Alex Raymond, Williamson’s main inspiration. Dinosaurs, spaceships, and outlandish otherworldly creatures populate the flora of faraway worlds, accompanied by buxom, exotically garbed beauties."
• Review: Nick Gazin sets his VICE sights on 'Tain't the Meat by Jack Davis. "Even though he wasn't a perfectionist, Jack Davis's laziness is better than most people's best work. When Davis does invest himself in a drawing it's just a mind bender. This is a must have for anyone who loves horror, EC, Jack Davis, any of that stuff."
• Review: Comics Bulletin looks at 3 New Stories from Dash Shaw. "This is a short, floppy-sized comic, but it's incredibly rich in complexity and depth. Shaw delivers an amazing collection of stories here."
• Interview:DigBoston and Clay Fernald talk to Dash Shaw about 3 New Stories, New School, Bottomless Belly Button and more. Shaw says, "Words and pictures are very different. They don't sit comfortably next to each other. Some cartoonists try to bring them closer together. Ware is like that. I like that space between things. I want the differences between things to be activated."
• Plug: Largehearted Boy hosts Atomic Books look at new comics included 3 New Stories. "Dash Shaw is a modern comics master. He experiments with everything from structure to narrative to color. If you're unfamiliar with his work, he's sort of like Gary Panter illustrating a Chris Ware story, or, in this case, 3 stories of dystopian societies," writes Benn Ray from Atomic Books.
• Review:Nerds of a Feather enjoys Tom Kaczynski's Beta Testing the Apocalypse. Beta Philippe Duhart states "The thin lines, sharp angles, and rigid geometry…brings a clarity and simplicity that expertly balances the abstractness of the themes at the heart of Beta Testing the Apocalypse…One doesn’t need to have read iek to grasp Beta Testing’s themes and criticisms. One only needs to have only gone apartment hunting."
• Interview:Comics Bulletin and Keith Silve interview James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook on 7 Miles A Second. Van Cook remembers, "David was a poet of the soul, there was always a tension between beauty and the vileness of what society did to anyone who was not of the mainstream. I once asked him what he did with the money he got from hustling when he was so young and he told me he would take a bus to the country and walk around. We thought it was so ironic that selling one's body and selling art had many of the same qualities. We laughed rather darkly, about how the body and art are commodified and priced so arbitrarily."
• Interview (video): Back in January, Carol Tyler spoke to University of Southern California Provost's Professor Henry Jenkins and students as part of the USC Visions and Voices series. Mike Lynch was good enough to blog about it as soon as USC put up on the internet. She speaks about personal life and drawing comics, including the You'll Never Know series.
• Plug:Manga Bookshelf lists its first quarter favorites of 2013 and include Moto Hagio's newest book. "The Heart of Thomas was my most eagerly anticipated manga of the year, and while its January release date set the bar perhaps unfairly high for the year to come, I can’t bring myself to be sad about that."
• Review:Comics Worth Reading pulls out the Castle Waiting Vol. 2: Definitive Edition by Linda Medley. Johanna Draper Carlson writes "…it’s engrossing and beautifully drawn. I was surprised, reading the whole thing at once, how much of what figures in the final chapters was mentioned very early on. It gave me new appreciation for Medley’s long-term storytelling."
• Review:Calgary Public Library's Teen Blog speaks out on Castle Waiting Vol. 1 and 2 by Linda Medley. Adrienne writes, "Castle Waiting is a great comic book that takes elements from fairytales such as 'Sleeping Beauty' and combines them with a good dose of humour and plots about bearded ladies, two-headed girls, pregnancy and hidden libraries..I highly recommend her"
• Review: Strange Journal reviews Castle Waiting. "I’ve really fallen for it, it’s what they’d call a triple threat in show business: It can sing, dance AND act…In the tradition of Jeff Smith’s Bone and the better parts of Dave Sim’s Cerebus, Medley has conjured an amazing and beautiful world and filled it with flawed, interesting folks eking out their existence in a castle on the edge of the world," states Adam Blodgett.
• Review: Delphine by Richard Sala is reviewed on Comics Bulletin. Jason Sacks "We're used to fairy tales telling the story of a journey by a girl from innocence to the real world. Delphine inverts the gender of those classic tales, but uses those familiar tropes to tell a familiar story. Richard Sala treads a world of metaphor and allusion, a world that feels as familiar as Grimm's Fairy Tales and as mysterious as our own heart."
• Review: Nick Gazin sets his VICE sights on Out of the Shadows by Mort Meskin (edited by Steven Brower). "Shadows everywhere. The stories are just a lot of old timey chatter where people call each other chum and stuff but the compositions and choices that Mort Meskin made are pretty sophisticated."
• Interview:The Comics Journal posts an article titled Crockett Johnson and the Invention of Barnaby. Philip Nel writes about it all including the creation of fairy godfather, Mr. O'Malley's favorite catchphrase. Barnaby is coming so soon, we'll all cry "Cushlamochree!"
• Review: iFanboy hypes up Impossible Tales: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 4 (by Steve Ditko and edited by Blake Bell) coming out this May. Josh Christie states: "Steve Ditko is one of those guys you could picture on the Mount Rushmore of comics creators…Like so many of the great comics from the 1950s, the drug-fueled, macabre scenes look more like something out of an alternate dimension rather than from the states’ apple pie and bubblegum past."
• Review:Arkham Comics reviews Messages in a Bottle by B. Krigstein (edited by Greg Sadowski). A rough translation states, "Messages in a Bottle is a magicalbook,atimeless andstunningclarity:a lesson incomics aswe do notmeet every day."
• Review:Noah Van Sciver's The Hypo is reviewed on We Read Comics "Sciver absolutely nails it…We see Lincoln's plain spoken style, his humbleness, his self-doubt, and his honesty here with so much fucking economy and elegance."
• Interview:Noah Van Sciver appears on Comic Impact to talk about The Hypo and his newest comics project.
• Plug:The End of the Fucking World (Spoiler alert!) on The Chemical Box. "Similar to Derf’s analysis of Jeffery Dahmer in 'My Friend Dahmer', you can see James (along with Dahmer) struggling with their basic instincts."
• Plug:The Beat waxes on about Julia Gfrörer and Black is the Color. Zainab Akhtar writes, "Gfrorer’s work is consistently excellent, featuring themes of myth, folk lore, mysticism and spirituality, coupled with her fine-lined, evocative art."
• Plug: Demencha calls Ed Piskor a Hip Hop Archeologist and more in reference to Hip Hop Famiy Tree. "His classic indie comic composition and narrative ease make the strip readable, informative (who knew Rammelzee went tagging with Basquiat?), and respectful to the art forms and artists it covers," writes J.P. McNamara.
• Review: In an oddly religious review, Mirrors of Christ looks at Eye of the Majestic Creature by Leslie Stein. "Sadly in this story the lyre (guitar) did not participate in the worship of God but in the desire of the flesh."
• Review:Orgasm reviews Sexytime edited by Jacques Boyreau. "…if you want an oversized coffee-book that your guests might enjoying flipping through the pages as you bring refreshments, Sexytime is for you. And hey, it might even get you laid."
• Review:Josh Simmons' story from The Furry Trap, 'Mark of the Bat' is reviewed on Vorptalizer. Seat T. Collins comments, " 'Mark of the Bat' picks and picks and picks at our dovetailed drive for cruelty and need to feel superior to others until the fingernail tears off. It leaves a mark."
• Plug:Comics Workbook enjoys reading The Portable Frank digitally thanks to comiXology.Leah writes, "Woodring’s way of transitioning images between panels (in, ya know, a pretty trippy way) lends itself really well to the panel by panel viewing of the digital reader."
• Plug: Tucker Stone mentions the new issue of The Comics Journal on the Comics Journal, not trying to get to incestuous. "The new issue of the Journal is pretty good; the Tardi interview is great."
• Plug:Textures of Ether looks at Abstract Comics. "Do Abstract Comics artists need to be aware of comics history?…Molotiu’s articles explore the theory behind Abstract Comics and are always interesting to read. They would make a welcome addition to any future AC anthology."
• Review: Nick Gazin checks out Cruisin' with the Hound by Spain Rodriguez on VICE. "Spain's comics always feel lively and real and there's this sense that he was probably too cool to be making comics but somehow he was. You can tell he was for real because he put the most energy into drawing motorcycles and cars and his people always look kinda like they're secondary to their machines. Great book from a great artist and story teller."
• Plug: Musical notation in Peanuts is analyzed on the Hooded Utilitarian. "In this sense, Schulz again collapses into Charlie Brown — locked out of high art virtuosity and romantic opportunities, disappointed in art as in love.…Schulz has, perhaps, found a way to invert Lichtenstein," writes Noah Berlatsky.
• Plug (video): Al Jaffee and Robert Grossman are interviewed on the Imperium about the Harvey Kurtzman retrospective at the Society of Illustrators. Jaffee states, "His concepts were, to us at the time, revolutionary because he was breaking the third or the fourth wall, whatever you want to call it."
The annual Stumptown Comics Awards nominees have been announced. Here on out, it's a down-and-dirty voting contest so we have a few recommendation on who you should vote for (Spoiler: our books) and the fact you should ask your mom and her intense network of friends.
Noah Van Sciver is up for Best Cartoonist for The Hypo. His emotionally charged drawing style added depth and charimsa to the beleaguered story of Abraham Lincoln long before he was a president.
Lilli Carré is up for two awards for Best Colorist and Publication Design for Heads or Tails. Carré recently was a Lynd Ward Prize honoree for 2013 for the same book. Filled to the brim with sweet, whimsical short stories that leave you shivering, this one-woman book of tales delivers for either side of the coin.
It was announced last week by Penn State University Libraries and the Pennsylvania Center for the Book that Chris Ware won the Lynd Ward Prize for Best Graphic Novel 2013, Lilli Carré with Heads or Tails was one of the two Honorable Mentions (along with Theo Ellsworth's The Understanding Monster)
"Each story is exquisitely crafted, demonstrating both a compelling literary style and a rich, engaging design sense that can seem deceptively naïve or childlike on first glance but in context reveals striking sophistication and complexity." You're damn right, it was and is! Lilli Carré's book,Heads or Tails is available in its beautiful simplicity and accumulating complexity at our online store or a bookstore near you.
Fantagraphics' own Lilli Carré and Mome-veteran Eleanor Davis are just a couple of the artists whose work will be featured in the exhibit I See What You Say: Visual Stories and Narrative Art.
Opening at the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco, CA, on Saturday, March 16th, I See What You Say explores narrative as expressed through a wide range of illustrative media — in picture books, comics, editorial art, and beyond. The participants are not just artists, but storytellers, joining their artistic practices with their own narrative styles.
Alongside Lilli and Eleanor, there will also be books and artwork on display from Vanessa Davis, Carson Ellis, Jon Klassen, Roman Muradov, Aaron Renier, Christian Robinson, Dasha Tolstikova, Craig Thompson, Sara Varon and Angie Wang.
A public reception will be held on Sunday, April 28th at 5:00 PM, with appearances by guest contributors Jon Klassen, Roman Muradov, and Christian Robinson, among others. Christian will be signing his new book, Rain! by Linda Ashman, and Jon will be joined by local author Lemony Snicket to sign their new picture book, The Dark.
The show runs through July 7, 2013, at the Cartoon Art Museum [ 655 Mission Street, San Francisco ].
The most evolved finch of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review:Tom Kaczynski'sBest Testing the Apocalypse is reviewed on Bookslut. Martyn Pedler states, "Science fiction is notoriously unreliable when it comes to predicting Saturn dreams, laser beams, and 21st century sex machines. It’s fantastic, however, at taking our present reality and making it strange again. Beta Testing The Apocalypse makes us Martians to better let us see what’s happening all around us. Read it and witness the disquieting Gernsback of Now."
• Review:Beta Testing The Apocalypse is reviewed by Comics Metropolis. "…a book with an elegant and agile format, immediate in its communicative ability, and extraordinarily dense in its content. An essential reading," writes Biri.
• Interview (audio): Michael Kupperman speaks to Julie Klausner on How Was Your Week.
• Review (audio): The Inkstuds roundtable talks about the Best Books of 2012. Joe McCulloch, Robin McConnell, Tom Spurgeon and Bill Kartalopoulos talk about Lilli Carré's Heads or Tails at the 2 hour, 2 minutes mark. All agreed there was a lot of work. And good work. "Lilli is very good at short stories," says Bill. " 'The Rainbow Movement' was a beautiful short story and exquisite."
• Review: In case you missed it, 7 Miles A Second was a Publishers Weekly Pick of the Week. "How do you draw grief"? David Wajnarowicz, James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook know. "The author’s prose is poetic, arriving with a light touch while delivering a heavy, dark, and understandably angry message."
• Interview: Originally posted on The Comics Journal, then reposted on Boing Boing, Marc Sobel speaks to Ed Piskor at length. In regards to Hip Hop Family Tree, Piskor states, "I think the value that my book has and will have over time as I keep moving forward is that it really does stand a chance of being one of the most comprehensive histories of hip hop culture. There really isn’t one resource that includes all of this minutiae and stuff that I’m focusing on."
• Plug: The Poetry Foundation revisits The Last Vispo after reading another review. "We’re still reading and looking through our copy, enjoying the sheer abundance and diversity of work gathered together," writes Harriet Staff.
• Interview (audio):Gary Groth appears for a full hour on TELL ME SOMETHING I DON'T KNOW now on Boing Boing. Hold onto your comics, it's a great ride.
The most intricate house sigil of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review:The LA Times enjoys their reading of7 Miles a Secondby David Wojnarowicz, James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook. "Part of the power of Wojnarowicz’s work is that he dealt with such concepts accessibly; he didn’t have time to waste. It was the source of his restless imagination, his willingness to experiment with unexpected forms," writes David L. Ulin.
• Plug:NY1 (New York 1) and Don Kois talk about 7 Miles a SecondDavid Wojnarowicz, James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook. "…this graphic novel is an amazing document of the gaudy, dangerous world of clients and johns and artists and thugs downtown in the 1980s."
• Interview: Nick Hanover of Comics Bulletin interviews Tom Kaczynski on Beta Testing the Apocalypse. Kacyznski writes, "All these stories started to feel like they were linked and eventually things like the noise stories and the themes of sound started to kind of inject themselves into the rest of the material…I'm interested in utopias, and utopian societies. And a lot of what Communism is is essentially an attempted utopia that failed. "
• Review:Art Rocker and Wee Claire look at Delphine by Richard Sala. "Delphine is arguably Richard Sala's darkest tale to date and a brilliant gateway for those new to his whimsical storytelling style…There are comparisons to Snow White dotted throughout the story but Sala's indie-goth execution tinged with a 70s horror atmosphere make for a much more interesting tale."
• Review:The Toronto Star reads and reviews our books like Heads or Tails by Lilli Carré. "Carré’s work, fittingly titled Heads or Tails, probes choice, ambivalence and fate; in her stories, there’s a flip side to everything, rendered in full and brilliant colour,"says Laura Kane.
• Review: Noah Bertlatsky on the Hooded Utilitarian looks at the art of Lilli Carré comics from Heads or Tails through the gendered lens of Bart Beaty. "If art is both hyperbolic masculine swagger and small-scale feminized detail, though, for Carré the form that mediates between the two is something that looks a lot like comics."
• Interview (partial): Dan Nadel of The Comics Journal posts part of the interview of Jacqes Tardi by Kim Thompson from TCJ 302.
• Plug: "It's astonishing to me that The Comics Journal will have outlasted Wizard, Hero Illustrated and CBG, but I'm happy for that fact," says former TCJ editor, Tom Spurgeon. TCJ 302 was co-edited by Kristy Valenti and Mike Dean.
• Review:Mort Meskin gets the full hello-how-are-ya when his collections are reviewed, edited by Steven Brower. "Out of the Shadows was such an enjoyable find that when it ended we were hungry for more of Meskin’s work." So Scoop turns to From Shadow to Light, "Meskin is so skilled in portraying body language that he doesn’t need a face to tell us know exactly what someone is thinking…a thorough and very detailed look at a man’s life, his family and the work he valued."
• Plug:Kotaku and Evan Narcisse get teary-eyed over Peanuts Every Sunday by Charles M. Schulz. "The daily black-and-white comics were great but the full-color Sunday strips gave Schulz a big, beautiful canvas to let his expert pacing and amazing linework breathe in a rainbow of color…it's really the entire mix of characters …and their mix of adult prickliness and childlike naiveté that made Charles Schulz's iconic comics strips so timeless."
• Interview:MTV Geek interviews Charles Forsman about The End of the Fucking Worldand life. Forsman answersEddie Wright's question, "I do love sparse cartooning. Like Schulz which I think comes through in mine a bit. I've heard people descibe this stuff as "Peanuts" all grown-up and violent."
• Review:Nerds of a Feather look at Ed Piskor's Hip Hop Family Tree, to be printed later this year. Philippe Duhart gives it a rare 10 out of 10, "…those familiar with the genre can attest, it's difficult to separate the music from other elements of the "culture" -- b-boying, graffiti, lingo, style. Piskor demonstrates an affectionate respect for the interrelations between these phenomenon, telling a story of a culture, rather than a musical genre."
• Review: Anime News Network reviews and givest The Heart of Thomas by Moto Hagio an 'A-'. Rebecca Silverman writes, "The Heart of Thomas may be the grandmother of the boys' love genre, but it would be shortsighted to simply classify it as such…Heartfelt and dreamlike, it is a window into the lives of those affected by the sudden death of one of their own."
• Review:The Toronto Star reads and reviews our books like The Cartoon Utopia by Ron Regé, Jr. The Cartoon Utopia "is visionary, but also unmistakably influenced by ’70s psychedelia… the thrilling, one-of-a-kind art will stretch your imagination and, at the very least, make you believe in the power of comics to explore the impossible," writes Laura Kane.
• Review:The Toronto Star reads and reviews our books like Came the Dawn by Wallace Wood and Corpse on the Imjin! by Harvey Kurtzman. Laura Kane writes, "In dark shadows, bold lines and intense close-ups, [Wallace Wood] perfectly illustrates the stories — which ran the gamut from B-horror to confronting social issues such as racism, anti-Semitism and sexism." As for Corpse on the Imjin!, "In these violent, blood-spattered pages, [Kurtzman] lays bare the devastation of war."
• Review/Commentary: Eddie Campbell on The Comics Journal compares and contrasts recent reviews of the EC Comics being reprinted at Fantagraphics and how critics struggle and feel the need to analyze comics at literature. Distilling the article to a mere quote is abhorrent so we tried but please read it. "If comics are any kind of art at all, it’s the art of ordinary people. With regard to Kurtzman’s war comics, don’t forget that the artists on those books were nearer to the real thing than you and I will ever be."
• Review: Elliot Bay Books reviews No Straight Lines, edited by Justin Hall. Dave Wheeler writes, "Impossible to be even close to a complete collection of the genre, No Straight Lines instead seeks to trace the parallel trajectories toward visibility for both comics and LGBTQ identities…these are the stories of real people, or they are people transfigured by folklore."
• Plug: Greg Akers of the Memphis Flyer enjoyed reading Love and Rockets: New Stories #4 by Jaime Hernandez and Gilbert Hernandez. "Jaime breaks me every time. The conclusion to "The Love Bunglers" is an all-time great. Tears in my eyes, destroyed emotionally."
• Plug: Joost Swarte sings the blues at Angouleme, thanks to Paul Karasik.
• Review:SequArt looks at Black Hole by Charles Burns. Faith Brody Patane point out "…it’s a story that’s meant to be devoured with intent to possibly make you have freaky nightmares. Black Hole is one of those stories that lingers long after you read it…This group of teens is far from Riverdale and far more desperate."
The most checked-out book of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review: Prison Pit Book 4 by Johnny Ryan is getting the hits this week. Gene Ambaum of Unshelved writes,"This reminds me of nothing as much as the violent, disturbed drawings I’ve seen in some middle-school boys’ notebooks. Next year, I’m going to tell [my daughter] it’s like a mind-map for her male classmates. If she believes me, I hope we can put off conversations about her dating for a few extra years."
• Review: Mark L. Miller of Ain't It Cool News enjoysJohnny Ryan's latest Prison Pit Book 4. "This is the kind of sick shit that would warrant a trip to the school counselor if you found this crudely etched into the back of your child’s Trapper Keeper. Johnny Ryan once again taps into something primal and pure with his crude drawings of gore, sex, and violence."
• Review:The Quietus and Mat Colgate leaf through some of the best books of 2012 including Prison Pit Book 4 by Johnny Ryan. "Every second spent reading 'Prison Pit' is a joy. A violent, scatological, faecal matter, blood and pus smeared hoot.…There's something brilliantly subversive about 'Prison Pit'," chuckles Colgate.
• Review: The AV Club checks out some new releases like The Comics Journal 302, co-edited by Kristy Valenti and Mike Dean. Noel Murray states, "Business as usual for a publication that was treating the cultural significance of comics as a known fact decades before graphic novels were making the bestseller list."
• Review:The Quietus and Mat Colgate leaf through some of the January releases including 7 Miles a Second by David Wojnarowicz, James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook. Colgate states, "Wojnarowicz was fearless about his artistry and aware that the mere facts of a life are barely a percent of the whole, preferring to reveal the truth through dreams, violent fantasy and allusion. 7 Miles a Second is a shocking book, but for all the right reasons."
• Review: Forbidden Planet's Daily Planet looks at some new releases from Fantagraphics like 7 Miles a Second by David Wojnarowicz, James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook. Matthew Rosenbery states, "The stories serve as beautiful and brutal snapshots of a brilliant life lived too hard and extinguished too soon. It is not too much to say that we all owe a great cultural debt to Mr. Wojnarowicz and picking up this book and trying to understanding his life is a good first step toward understanding that debt."
• Review: Comics Bulletin looks at Tales Designed to Thrizzle Vol. 2 by Michael Kupperman. Daniel Elkin finds it smirk-worthy: "Tales Designed to Thrizzle Volume Two has its place in the construct. It is 'silver and exact' like Sylvia Plath's Mirror and reflects the 'terrible fish' that has become our understandings of the world."
• Review: The Heart of Thomas by Moto Hagio gets the a full styling by Manga Bookshelf. Melinda Beasi writes "…teens and pre-teens who go to regular, modern public schools essentially live in their own society that is very much separate from the rest of the world, and it’s a society that is, frankly, terrifying…it views that kind of sacrifice as… well, ultimately pointless…Hagio makes it clear that running away is not the answer." Melinda continues on the book as a whole, "I also expected it to be very dated and I thought the story might not appeal to my tastes as a modern fan. Instead, I found it to be both beautiful and emotionally resonant to an extent I’ve rarely experienced—especially in [Boy's Love] manga. This is a book I’d wholeheartedly recommend to any comics fan, without reservation. It’s an absolute treasure."
• Review: The AV Club checks out some new releases like The Heart of Thomasby Moto Hagio. "with small cliffhangers at the end of each chapter to pull readers deeper into Hagio’s fantasyland. The intrigue deepens page by page (and this is a 500-page novel, mind), while Hagio develops her bracingly radical vision of a mini-society where homosexual attraction is so commonplace as to be the norm…" writes Noel Murray.
• Review:You'll Never Know Book Three: A Soldier's Heart by Carol Tyler gets a thorough and thoughtful review from Rob Clough on High-Low. "…this sounds a bit all over the map, that's because it is, but Tyler slowly pulls the strings of her narrative taut in some astonishing ways, especially in the third volume…It's a remarkable example of an artist being totally honest about their own feelings of grief and joy in a manner that provokes growth and fully embraces the relationship between the two."
• Review: Dylan Thomas of Minneapolis' Southwest Journal looks at Tom Kaczynski's Best Testing the Apocalypse. "Kaczynski uses science fiction as a microscope, poking at contemporary anxieties like blooming bacteria in a Petri dish. The genre provides the room he needs to examine the systems that shape our lives, whether they be architecture, urban design or capitalism."
• Review: Hillary Brown of Pasteenjoys the dark ride of Delphine by Richard Sala. "Sala’s rules; like testing gravity by dropping a penny from a building, the coin’s never going to fall up. Delphine is worth reading at least twice. Sala’s spell is strong."
• Review: SF Signal looks at Ralph Azham Volume 1: "Why Would You Lie to Someone You Love?" by Lewis Trondheim. "His humanoid animals, a staple of his work, place the story squarely into fantasy – along with the medieval-esque village and the magic – but the wry humor gives the story a modern feel" says Carrie Cuinn.
• Plug:Paste Magazine looks forward to the most anticipated books of 2013. These include Lost Cat by Jason. "The cranky Norwegian has seemed to soften a bit as he’s aged, and the description (detective searches for potential soulmate) goes along with that impression," write Hillary Brown. On Dash Shaw'sNew Schooland 3 New Stories. "In a few short years, Dash Shaw has proven himself a restless artist, committed to pushing what comics can do and what his own talents can accomplish… it’s nice to see him return with two works, no less."
• Plug: Publishers Weekly also released a list of the most anticipated books of 2013 which included Dash Shaw's New School. "The art disorients the reader and brings you right inside the troubled protagonists’ mind."
• Interview (video): Speaking of Dash, he recently spent a few days at Sundance for his Sigur Ros animated music video. A very short interview awaits you.
• Interview: Alexander Theroux is interviewed on Rain Taxi by Paul Maliszewski. Theroux, author of Estonia , The Strange Case of Edward Gorey , Laura Warholic and more states, "Revenge—I have written about this somewhere before—is the main subject of the modern novel, if it isn’t that of literature in general."
• Review:The Los Angeles Review of Books looks at Gary Panter's Dal Tokyo. Nicole Rudick writes "Panter’s medium is comics rather than architecture, but the effect of his work is the same: Dal Tokyo questions accepted notions of structure and meaning — taking them not as truth but as convention — and, taking Brecht’s advice, builds not 'on the good old days, but on the bad new ones.' "
• Review:The Weekly Crisis dissects the first panel of "Landscape!" a comic within Blazing Combat and how it contributed to the end of the series coinciding with the Vietnam War. Dan Hill states "At a time when an anti-war stance was tantamount to being a traitor to your country, it was also the beginning of comics beginning to tackle the uglier aspects of war, telling us exactly ‘how it is’. It showed us that comics could discuss and show issues more related to the real world than capes, tights and outlandish fantasy."
• Review:Paste Magazine looks at Linda Medley's Castle Waiting Vol. 1 (softcover). Sean Edgar writes, "Ultimately, Castle Waiting is an elegantly-written, uplifting take on European folklore supported by sterling art. As long as voices as talented and creative as Medley’s are around, stories like this will always be timeless."
• Interview: Robin McConnell of Inkstuds interviews Chris Wright for a second time, this time on his most recent graphic novel, Blacklung.
• Plug:The GLBT Roundtable's Rainbow Project lists best books for teens that encapsulate the GLBT-community issues. The Rainbow Project lists Shimura Takako's Wandering Son series as part of the Top Ten Books of 2012 as the characters "tackle problems such as gender identity, love, social acceptance, and puberty."
• Plug: The GLBT Roundtable also released a list of the best books for adults, Over the Rainbow, and the comics anthology No Straight Lines, edited by Justin Hall,was listed in the top ten.
• Interview: Tim O'Shea interviews Lilli Carré for Comic Book Resources on her process with Heads or Tails. "I went through all my stuff and arranged them not chronologically, but by how they each fed into each other… I don’t know if the dialogue I write or the way I draw is particularly well-crafted or not, but with both the art and dialogue I go with my gut and do what feels natural to me."
• Review: New York Journal of Books takes a turn around the room with The Complete Syndicated Pogo Vol 2 "Bona Fide Balderdash" by Walt Kelly. Mark Squirek writes, "Like the greatest of myths and fables, Pogo travels across time and ages. It is a world much like that of Aesop and trickster tales. It is a world capable of making a six year old smile with glee, a hipster smirk whether they want to or not, and a college professor laugh out loud… So graceful is his work with pencil and pen that you could loose yourself for hours in shear artistry of the panels he constructs."
• Plug:Westfield Blog suggests some books for you likeThe Complete Syndicated Pogo Vol 2 "Bona Fide Balderdash" by Walt Kelly."Walt Kelly’s art is a joy to look at and his dialogue and word play is just stunning. Pogo is a strip that you get more and more out of the more you read it," states Wayne Markley. And for Basil Wolverton's Spacehawk, "In the history of comics, there are very few, if any, that had such a unique style as Wolverton which, while as far away as you can get from classic illustrators like Raymond or Foster, it is every bit as good in its own unique way."
• Review: HeroesOnline looks at the latest Prince Valiant Vol. 6: 1947-1948. Andy writes "…the pace is fast, the action and intrigue are plenty and the violence is un-apologetically bloody. In addition, Foster was a stickler for historical accuracy in depicting everyday life in the 6th century."
• Review: Ryan Sands of Same Hat writes his 'belated' best of list which inludes Nancy Likes Christmas by Ernie Bushmiller and The End of the Fucking World by Charles Foresman.
• Plug: Tom Spurgeon announced the Peanuts Every Sunday book on Comics Reporter. More information tomorrow.
• Plug: Robot6 talks about Great but Forgotten anthologies. Fantagraphics' "Zero Zero ran for 27 issues, a longer run than most of the anthologies on this list received, but I don’t think it’s ever gotten its due as the truly great anthology of the ’90s." Chris Mautner continues with Blab, "I do think people have forgotten how cutting edge and exemplary an anthology Blab was, at least initially. For a while there it was running some seriously incredible work, like Al Columbia’s apocalyptic The Trumpets They Played, and the Jimmy Corrigan story that eventually became Acme Novelty #10, easily the most harrowing and darkest material Ware has produced to date." And finally Blood Orange, "Lasting a mere four issues, Blood Orange offered a mind-bending array of cutting-edge comics." WORRY NOT, we still have issues from someofthese.
The sweetest tea of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review:The Atlantic writes on The Heart of Thomas by Moto Hagio. Noah Berlatsky looks at it from every angle, "The boys' love genre, then, freed Hagio and her audience to cross and recross boundaries of identity, sexuality, and gender…Bodies and character flicker in and out, a sequence of surfaces, tied together less by narrative than by the heightened emotions of melodrama—jealousy, anger, trauma, desire, friendship, and love in the heart of Thomas."
• Plug: David Brothers and Comics Alliance posts a preview of The Heart of Thomas plus a few thoughts on Moto Hagio that works outside of his comfort zone. "What there is, though, isdrama. No -- it has melodrama…the sheer level of theatrical drama in this book is enough to keep a skeptic hooked…Heart of Thomas is a trip, and a good one. I wasn't expecting to enjoy it as much as I did, and it was nice to enjoy something outside of my usual comfort zones."
• Plug: Johanna Carlson of Comics Worth Reading is ready for the world to read The Heart of Thomas by Moto Hagio. "This solid hardcover contains the entire classic shojo series, and it’s a must-read for anyone interested in the development of the genre. It’s also surprisingly gripping in its own right…"
• Review: Chris Mautner interviews Jim Woodring's Problematic on Robot 6. "Problematic is both a stroll through Woodring’s unique imagination and an opportunity to see his working process" and Woodring thinks "having a pocket sketchbook on me at all times means fleeting impressions and ideas that might otherwise be lost are captured…Everything I draw is reality-based."
• Plug:BoingBoing is ready for Jim Woodring's Problematic to come out. "There are many reasons to be grateful to be alive, and owning this brand new facsimile edition of artist Jim Woodring's Moleskine sketchbooks is as good as any," says Mark Frauenfelder.
• Interview/Review:Publishers Weekly looks at 7 Miles a Second, and Grace Bello interviews artists James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook on writer David Wojnarowicz, the gay activist who wrote the comic before dying of AIDS-related complications. Romberger is quoted, "It really is so much about what David was about, channeling his anger into a statement…" "The gay experience is not only 'less invisible'—it’s on prime time TV. But the feral energy and raw hunger in 7 Miles a Second still resonate" states Bello.
• Review: Jason Sacks of Comics Bulletin presents 20 Facts and Opinions on Joe Kubert's Weird Horrors & Daring Adventures, edited by Bill Schelly. "Schelly and the always sterling Fantagraphics production team do a nice job of preserving the look and feel of these comics…the master cartoonist was equally at home doing broad humor as intense action/adventure as well as lighter, Archie-style teen humor."
• Review:Comics Alliance and Caleb Goellner continues their Best of 2012 series with Prison Pit Book 4by Johnny Ryan. "It was like looking at a baby book of bad ideas from boyhood as an adult who'd learned to function in polite society…it's bliss to kick back and watch humankind's most immature impulses play out in the safety of Ryan's Prison Pit."
• Review:The Weekly Crisis lists its Top 10 books of 2012 and Johnny Ryan's Prison Pit Book 4 lands at #2. Taylor Pithers states "he is interested in is fighting and hyper violence, which to be fair, would be more acceptable to the masses if it was drawn by Ivan Reis or another one of Geoff Johns' collaborators…Honestly, there isn't a comic that has given me more belly laughs in my entire life."
• Review: Comiks Debris posts its Best of 2012 books and Johnny Ryan'sPrison Pit Book 4 comes in as #8.Marc-Oliver Frisch writes "structurally, Prison Pit reminds me a lot of Jarmusch's The Limits of Control… The artwork looks ugly, crude and perfunctory. The characters eat, shit, fuck and, most of all, fight their way through the book…It's one mean, sick motherfucker of a comic, and I can't wait what happens next."
• Plug: Tucker Stone on The Comics Journal rates his top comics of 2012. Prison Pit Book 4by Johnny Ryan comes in at 18. "…it’s hard to explain how intense the surprise was for a follower of Angry Youth and Ryan’s humiliation comics to open that first Prison Pit…"
• Review:Delphine by Richard Sala gets reviewed on Comic Book Resources. Kelly Thompson claims, "One part comic book and one part fever dream…Rare is the opportunity that I'm so engaged I consider yelling at an inanimate object such as a book…Delphine is also a nice contrast to the unrelentingly bright and happy fairy tales that are so often seen when it comes to modern reinterpretations of those early dark tales."
• Review:The New York Journal of Books thumbs through Spacehawk by Basil Wolverton. "Basil Wolverton rises to the occasion and gives the reader a detailed and hilarious look at megalomania while throwing in some fantastic aerial fight scenes…Fantagraphics Publishing brings Wolverton’s art to the reader in as detailed and perfect a form as possible. Each wave of space, every geometric shape and all the incredibly ugly aliens look better than they ever have in their entire lives," writes Mark Squirek.
• Review: Crave Online looks at Spacehawk by Basil Wolverton. "This is the medium when there were no rules, no event series and no giant corporations standing watch over what the creators were doing. If you love the Golden Age, science fiction and adventure, nothing compares to the world Basil Wolverton put together for Spacehawk," writes Iann Robinson.
• Review: The Weekly Crisis lists its Top 10 books of 2012 and Josh Simmon's The Furry Trap ranks as #1. Taylor Pithers writes, "The Furry Trap is pure exploitation; violent, disgusting, and bound to make you feel uncomfortable but it also does what the best fiction is meant to, it stays with you long after you have put the book down…Simmons is a cartoonist of the highest caliber. This is not a book for the faint hearted, but if you can stomach it will be a true experience."
• Review:NPR and Glen Weldon write on Books of 2012 they haven't told you about. Heads or Tails by Lilli Carré "The whole collection has the feel of a dream in which remembering how to fly is as simple as forgetting that you can't."
• Review: Noel Murray and The A.V. Club write about the Top 10 Fiction books of 2012. Heads or Tails comes in at #7. "Lilli Carré’s stories are like dreamy what-ifs that take the familiar and tweak it."
• Plug: Whitney Matheson of USA Today's Popcandy mentions her favorite things including Heads or Tailsby Lilli Carré: "…a lovely volume from one of my favorite cartoonists that includes several beautifully strange short stories. I'm a longtime fan and even have a framed Carre print hanging in the baby's room."
• Interview:The Comics Journal interviews Ron Regé, Jr. on The Cartoon Utopia, evolving comics and more. Regé on his book, "People should use bibilomancy—randomly opening to a page—to access the information if they’d like. Nothing in the book tells you to treat it that way, but I think people will get the idea anyway."
• Interview (audio): Erik Davis and Expanding Mind interview Ron Regé, Jr. on the radio about The Cartoon Utopia! Adventure indeed.
• Review:Comics Bulletin and Jason Sacks investigate Blacklung. "Chris Wright seems to channel Melville or Conrad in this book as he explores the uniquely idiosyncratic world that he creates…nobody has ever created characters that look like the characters in this book, with their strange faces and lumpy, malformed bodies…This slim graphic novel is a dense read unlike anything else you've read in comics."
• Review: Noel Murray and The A.V. Club write about the Top 10 Fiction books of 2012. Athos in America is #5. "Jason’s blank-faced animal-headed characters reveal unexpectedly deep passion via deadpan tales of dislocation."
• Review: Sonia Harris of Comics Book Resources places Love and Rockets: New Stories #5 by Jaime Hernandez and Gilbert Hernandez as #5 of her Top 16 Books of 2012. Harris says,"Watching these people’s lives change on the page, along with the gradual evolution of the Hernandez brother’s art and writing is the closest thing to real life created in a comic book. Nothing on the screen could ever compare to the life and complexity these two men breathe into their characters year after year with such consistent quality and affection."
• Plug: Tucker Stone on The Comics Journal rates his top comics of 2012. Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez have cause to celebrate as Love and Rockets:New Stories #5makes it at #13. "It was great, and of course it was, because it’s them, and it was great for all the same reasons you’d expect it to be…"
• Review:NPR and Glen Weldon write on Books of 2012 they haven't told you about like Wandering Son by Takako Shimura. "Wandering Son is not the kind of manga in which a happy ending is guaranteed… You'll thus be grateful for the moments of realistic, untempered joy Shimura allows her two protagonists here, as you wait with nervous anticipations for the travails that lie ahead for them…"
• Review:Manga Bookshelf recounts its Favorite Manga Series of 2012 including Wandering Son by Takako Shimura. "This series about two transgender children in modern-day Japan has been a favorite since it debuted last year thanks to its delicate, truthful storytelling and understated artwork…Its most recent volume (three) goes a bit darker and deeper, only heightening my interest in the series" says Melinda Beasi.
• Review: Noel Murray and The A.V. Club write about the Top 5 Archival books of 2012. Harvey Kurtzman's Corpse on the Imjin! landed at #1. "Kurtzman book is especially stunning, almost like a coffee-table art-book combined with a literary collection…an anthology with a strong individual perspective that tries to tell the truth about what war is like from the point of view of the people on both sides of the battlefield."
• Review: Noel Murray and The A.V. Club write about the Top 5 Archival books of 2012. Ernie Bushmiller's Nancy Is Happy: Complete Dailies 1946-48: "bristle-headed Nancy and poor slob Sluggo inadvertently irritate the grown-ups in their lives, in scenarios that Bushmiller illustrated with absurd visual gags—so basic that anyone, anywhere, at any time, could get the joke."
• Review: Nick Gazin of VICE has a pretty fuckin' fancy (his words) edition of The Clouds Above by Jordan Crane. "Jordan Crane is a cartoonist with supreme abilities. He's great at making lines, hand text, and backgrounds and stuff…This is beautifully colored also. Did I mention Jordan Crane's great color sense? His colors are good."
• Review: Steve Donaghue enjoys Prince Valiant Vol. 1 by Hal Foster on Open Letters Monthly. "The ambition becomes most emphatic the more you scrutinize the work. Foster often said he put in between 50 and 60 hours a week on creating the strip, and it shows in these magnificent reproductions, done in a sturdy hardcover with oversized pages and entirely restored colors and shadings."
• Plug:Record Collector magazine (UK) picks Listen, Whitey! by Pat Thomas as one of the top 12 books of 2012. "A socio-polictal account of American racial struggles...an extraordinary study of the way the message of [the Black Panther] movement was recounted and defined on vinyl. "In-depth" doesn't begin to describe it."
• Plug: Tucker Stone on The Comics Journal rates his top comics of 2012. Dungeon Quest 3 by Joe Daly makes the mark at 17. "in times like these, with sandwiches like mine, you have to root for the one who brung you, and that’s dick jokes. Dungeon Quest had so many of them, and they were all wonderful."