• Review: "Knowing full well that I had to be at work at 9:00 the next morning, I nonetheless stayed up past 2:00 with Castle Waiting. And when I got to that last page, bleary-eyed and struggling to stay awake, all I wanted was more. I wanted the story to keep going. ... The stories are captivating and exciting and surprisingly deep. She is never heavy-handed about it, but Medley explores some weighty topics, including domestic violence, religious conversion, and sacrifice. ... I laughed frequently as I read the book, and cried once — not because I was sad, but because I was moved by the story." – Jessica Zellers, Blogging for a Good Book (Williamsburg Public Library)
• Review: "...Hotwire Comics #3... is big in page size, big in color, big in imagination... [M]y favorite work in the entire anthology, 'Keen on a Clown,' [is] Rick Altergott’s straight-faced satire of romance comics of long ago... The final page — and especially the final panel — is a killer." – Rod Lott, Bookgasm
• Plug: "I love Hate, particularly the increasingly oddball Buddy Bradley stories that come once a year with these annuals. ... Every comics fan should have the vast majority of whatever Peter Bagge has in print, and these volumes would be a great value for a cartoonist only 2/3 as talented." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
• Profile: "I get tired of hearing about Mozart. Yeah, he’s a genius and he started composing music when he was 5-years-old. I get it, fine, blah, blah, blah. You know who else is brilliant? Harold 'Hal' Foster, the critically-acclaimed creator-writer-artist on Prince Valiant. He created his most famous and enduring work when he was 45-years-old." – Tom Mason, Comix 411
• List:Flashlight Worthy asks various comics bloggers to name some Great Graphic Novels By Women About Women: David Welsh says "[Linda] Medley's Castle Waiting is as funny and generous a mash-up of fairy tale and feminism was you could wish for. ... Medley focuses on quiet moments that reveal character rather than constructed intersections of fairy-tale tropes. Her small observations about human (or mostly human) nature are always warm and potent..."
• Review:Comics Comics' Joe McCulloch looks back at Paul Ollswang's out-of-print 1992 comic Doofer: Pathway to McEarth: "I’d say they don’t make ‘em like this anymore, but they barely made ‘em at all back then, unless I’ve missed some rich vein of socio-political-sci-fi satire-by-way-of-’60s-underground-homage-by-way-of-early-20th-century-Sunday-funnies running circa the Image Revolution. This actually might be the all-around least fashionable comic of ‘92, which naturally makes it an eminent candidate for revisitation."
• List: Rob Clough's Top 100 Comics of the '00s Part Two (of Two) at The Comics Journal is chock full o' Fantagraphics
• Review: "Fantagraphics' panties-to-the-floor handsome English-language version [of Ici Même], You Are There , may blow its own share of minds some three decades after the work's initial publication. Most modern comics readers are not used to material that functions and frustrates this way. It's great work, though, well worth any effort extended in its direction. I think the key is to take the book for what it is: the kind of general satire where the beauty isn't in watching one specific thing dissected but rather several ideas and concepts collide into another in a way that makes for loud noises and then a satisfying pile of rubble. It's a lost episode of Ripping Yarns in comics form by two in-their-prime masters, the French turned up to dix." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
• Review: "...[A]t some point in the years between the release of Schizo #3 and #4, Brunetti matured into one of our best living cartoonists, an artist with an absolutely impeccable understanding of the craft and construction of comic strips. His timing is perfect; his lines are perfect; it doesn't feel stifling or over-thought or too precious. His strips breathe and choke and swoon in all the right places." – Tim O'Neil, "The Ten Best Comics of the Aughts," The Hurting
• Plug: Jill Pantozzi of SF Weekly's Heartless Doll blog recommends Castle Waiting Vol. 1 to Twilight fans: "Anyone who thinks damsels are meant to be in distress hasn't visited the right castle. Bella and Edward may live happily ever after, staring into each other's eyes for all eternity, but what happens to everyone else in the story once theirs ends? Castle Waiting is a look at all the minor players in the tale of Sleeping Beauty and some you've probably never heard of (the bearded nun, perhaps?) following her exit with Prince Charming. It's a smart, humorous story about strong women helping others and daily life at a castle that was meant for more than just love stories." (via Robot 6)
• List: At The Comics Journal, the back half of Rob Clough's Top 50 Comics of 2009 includes:
#29, The Complete Peanuts 1971-1972 by Charles Schulz: "Twenty-two years into his run on this strip, Schulz was still at his peak even as Peanuts was moving into a new phase."
#31, Mome Vol. 14: "The most consistently excellent anthology in comics, issue after issue."
#39, Uptight #3 (misidentified as #2) by Jordan Crane: "Both [stories] were perfectly suited for this lo-fi yet gorgeously designed comic..."
#43, The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book by Joe Daly: "Daly didn’t create just a story or a set of characters, but an entire community for readers to wander around in and become comfortable with. Equal parts Tintin and The Big Lebowski, this was a stoner detective story, with all sorts of absurd events popping up in everyday life and eventually making a kind of sense."
#46, Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me by Peter Bagge: "This is Bagge-as-Mencken, trenchantly tearing apart stupid ideas from both the left and the right and doing it while actually going out into the field, gathering facts, and talking to people. His hyper-expressive style was a perfect fit for his over-the-top political commentary."
And finally, #50, Love and Rockets: New Stories #2 by Gilbert & Jaime Hernandez: "Jaime’s conclusion to 'Ti-Girls Adventures' managed to combine rip-snorting action and compelling character work. Gilbert’s 'Hypnotwist' was both a callback to his New Love-style weirdness and yet another entry in his 'pulp movie' adaptations. ...[I]t’s clear both brothers were having such a good time following their impulses."
• Review: "Abstract Comics: The title is, in itself, a manifesto. It makes official the existence of these strange objects that some will reject as a contradiction in terms: 'abstract comics.' ... In the abstract comics gathered by Molotiu, sequential ordering produces nothing on the order of a story; but solidarity between the panels is established (in more or less convincing and seducing fashions) in another mode — plastic, rhythmic and so to speak musical. Personally, I do not refuse to make a place for these creations in the field of comics, because I wish that field to be as open and as diversified in its expressions as possible, without excluding anything a priori. Nevertheless, I still note that they have closer affinities with the operating modes of contemporary art that with the ordinary ambitions of drawn literatures." – Thierry Groensteen, Neuvieme Art (excerpt and translation by Andrei Molotiu at the Abstract Comics Blog)
• Review: "Perhaps the best adjective I could employ to describe Castle Waiting would be 'homey.' It’s all about the pleasures of home and the relief of being amongst family who accept you, even if they don’t happen to be related to you or even entirely human. ... Taken on the surface, it’s a perfectly cozy and enjoyable story. If one decides to delve more deeply, themes of tolerance and equality can be found gently at work, though by no means do they take precedence over the characters. Lest all of this sound a bit too quaintly domestic, let me assure you that the story is also quite funny." – Michelle Smith, Soliloquy in Blue
• Gift Guide: At RevolutionSF, Rick Klaw includes Gahan Wilson: Fifty Years of Playboy Cartoons in his "Geek Gift Guide": "The incredible three hardcover boxed set celebrates one of art's funniest and most disturbing cartoonists. ... I promise every geek would be thrilled to find this under the tree. I just hope Santa doesn't throw out his back out delivering this massive collection."
• Gift Guide: Love & Maggie presents a "Los Bros Hernandez Chistmas Shopping Guide"
• Review: "[Gilbert] Hernandez is one of the four or five greatest cartoonists in the world, and it's satisfying to see him work through any plot with any restriction he'd like to place on it. The Troublemakers feels like a movie for more than its story: it's either all exterior information or nearly so, it has opening credits, it has a three-act structure, it uses a wide-panel 'shot' throughout. ... Attaching a world of significance to forms recognizable to most of us as pulp isn't a new thing, but I don't think any of the filmmakers famous for it have done it any better than Hernandez." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
• Plug: "Popeye Vol 4: Plunder Island: Prior to Fantagraphics’ awesome collections of E.C. Segar’s awesome comic strip, this was the only storyline from Thimble Theater I’d ever read before…in The Smithsonian Collection of Newspaper Comics. Does that mean it’s some sort of classic? It should be; it’s fantastic. Anyway, the latest collection is $30 and 170 pages, and, like the first three volumes, it’s beautifully designed and so big and sturdy that it’s practically seaworthy." – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
• Plug: "This is it. The crown jewel in the Popeye crown. If you only buy one volume in the series, blah blah blah. Seriously, hopefully you've been collecting all the Popeye books, because it's one of the greatest comics ever, but this volume contains what must surely be E.C. Segar's finest hour, namely, the 'Plunder Island' storyline, where in Popeye and friends search for treasure and come afoul of the Sea Hag." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Plug: "I've been in long time love with Femke Hiemstra. Her smoky and detailed fantasy landscapes are often coupled with outrageous characters, from vegetables to the floating head of Marie Antoinette. ... [Y]ou can pick up a copy of her splendid book, Rock Candy, which would make a perfect Christmas gift for the art lover or art lover to be." – J.L. Schnabel
• Mutual Appreciation: We love comedy genius Graham Linehan, and he loves us, as evidenced by the set dressing on The IT Crowd (not to mention interviews he's given); apparently he makes it explicit again in the bonus features to the 3rd season DVD set of the show, which we've yet to see, according to the DVD review at Den of Geek
• Things to see: Eric Reynolds comments on this link forwarded by Jason T. Miles: "I love knowing that there was a day in Fanta's past when they could call Kevin Nowlan on the phone for a last minute design job!"
• List: At NPR.org, Glen Weldon recommends "Tomes With Which to Tough Out Your Turkey Coma," including Linda Medley's Castle Waiting ("a wryly funny fairy tale narrative that's both women-centered and women-powered") and Gilbert Hernandez 's Palomar ("Dense, vividly realized and both literally and figuratively magical")
• Interview: Robot 6's Chris Mautner talks to Dash Shaw about The Unclothed Man in the 34th Century A.D., BodyWorld and other topics: "There’s a meshing going on between film/animation and comics. The meshing is happening in my own interests, the subject matter of my stories, the way my stories are created, and it’s been fueled a little by what’s going on outside of me..."
As the cast pairs off to commence moving Jain and Pin (and a pampered chicken) into the castle, the conversations range far and wide, from romance to war politics. You'll learn that the wise man always has the right goat for the job, and that sometimes you just have to say "Hooray for ridiculous." Plus, you'll find out what happens when a giant moves to your town (hint: making a pie requires semaphore signals).
Pay attention: there's some must-read stuff in today's Online Commentary & Diversions!
• Review: "Castle Waiting #15 - I love that Linda Medley is completely ignoring what makes her setting so interesting for the D&D set and focusing on the characters." - Kevin Church
• Review: "Although aiming at twenty-somethings also interested in getting laid, getting wasted and getting rich, [in Rocky Vol. 2] Kellerman nonetheless manages to move beyond the ever-fertile grounds of the battle of the sexes, bodily functions and morning-after guilt-trips to produce a lot of work that is truly fresh, funny and uniquely personal." - Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Review: "Just like Heartbreak Soup and Locas, Lubais hard to put down, and Beto’s art gets better as it gets more experimental... there’s tons of good material here, and the humongous format can’t be beat in terms of bang for your buck." - The A.V. Club
• Review: "The 'family history' graphic novel subgenre can feel overdone at times... but volume one of Carol Tyler’s autobiographical You’ll Never Knowis the kind of smartly conceived, affectingly personal work that makes comics and memoirs look fresh... Carol Tyler works wonders with colored pencils and offbeat page designs... the breadth of her visual imagination is so impressive that... overreach is excusable. Also impressive: the thematic complexity of You’ll Never Know... [Grade] A-" - The A.V. Club
• Review: "The handsome hardcover collection The Brinkley Girls brings together a generous sampling of [Nell] Brinkley’s work, leaning heavy on her stories of industrious women and the he-men they love... Brinkley’s art is so drop-dead gorgeous that readers may long to razor out every page to hang on the wall. [Grade] A-" - The A.V. Club (same link as above)
• Review: "...the fantastic Brinkley Girls hardcover put out by Fantagraphics... you would be doing yourself a favor by checking it out. Curse you Fantagraphics, I'm trying to save money you bastards." - This Is Why I Hate You
• Review: "Sally gets the cover in this 11th volume of The Complete Peanuts... Schulz is still in top form here in my opinion. There are few books I laugh at more, or enjoy more thoroughly than these fine collections. Highly recommended!" - Todd Klein
Your Online Commentary and Diversions for the day:
• Review: "It’s great to read comics that are fun, inventive, and delighting in the medium instead of dour, 'relevant,' and procedural. Supermen is a teasing look at a truly Golden Age." - Dave Lartigue, Dave Ex Machina
• Review: "Never before reprinted, Fantagraphics recently collected Humbug, complete with new essays, interviews, and annotations, in two handsome hardback volumes. [...] Jack Davis and Will Elder... elevated the comic-book parody beyond the standards of Mad and Trump. For Humbug, Davis produced some of the best work of his long career. Al Jaffee... tackled varied topics... all with equal skill and irreverence..." - Rick Klaw, San Antonio Current
• Review: "Blazing Combat... features a collection of some of the most beautiful black and white comic art you have ever seen... It also features interviews and some of the most beautiful printing I have seen. Honestly, put down those monthly comics for a week and buy something you will enjoy a lifetime. From cover to cover, this book is what keeps me in comics." - Jimmy Palmiotti, Newsarama
• Review: "Supermen! The First Wave of Comic Book Heroes 1936-1941 is the book I've been waiting for - a crazed whirlwind tour through the raw badlands of early superheroes, the best and the weirdest of the early days... Fantagraphics Books has assembled 20 of these quirky gems into a nicely designed, affordable full-color paperback. It's like a roadmap of alternative history, where you can imagine that a character like Stardust the Super Wizard became a star... It's one of the best comic collections of the year. Bring on a sequel!" - Nik Dirga, Blogcritics
• Profile: The University of Cincinnati describes how faculty member C. Tyler, inspired by her graphic memoir You'll Never Know, is teaming up her students with military veterans to tell the veterans' stories in comics format, in order to help veterans talk about their experiences and share them with the civilian public to increase awareness of veterans' issues
Expected to arrive in comic book shops this week: Castle Waiting Vol. II #15 by Linda Medley. Due to the intricacies of shipping and distribution, comic shops get new issues of Castle Waiting before we do ourselves, so you Wednesday warriors get the first crack! As always, check with your local shop to confirm availability.