The organizers of the Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF) announced today that the great Lorenzo Mattotti will be a special guest at the festival and we couldn't be more excited about it. (Unfortunately, contrary to the announcement at the time of this posting, it's very unlikely that we will have The Raven in time for the festival. We will have plenty of copies of Stigmata, however!) It's going to be a thrill having Lorenzo appear at our booth! Stay tuned for updates.
• Review: "Working in frenetic black and white, Eisner-award-winning Italian cartoonist Lorenzo Mattotti illustrates screenwriter Claudio Piersanti’s Stigmata with powerful art that drives a timeless fable of existential dreams. [...] Thanks to Piersanti’s workable script, Stigmata comes across as naturalistic and modernist in an old-school Hemingway style. [...] It’s an old story, but the heart that Mattotti and Piersanti bring to their comic keeps the work interesting.Mattotti’s character designs are as incredibly idiosyncratic as they are intense — their bodies are hulking masses, with exaggerated proportions and faces that don’t feel drawn so much as sculpted." – Ao Meng, The Daily Texan
• Review: "Segar's Thimble Theater was a nearly perfect blend of humor and adventure, with a cast of interesting oddballs (led by Popeye himself, of course) and a tone that could veer from high drama to low comedy within a couple of panels. And this Fantagraphics series is even closer to perfection, presenting Segar's work gorgeously on great big pages — it would be a much better world if all our artistic treasures were treated this well." – Andrew Wheeler, The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.
• Interview (Audio): I haven't yet but you can bet I'll be listening to the entire 2 hours of the Inkstuds interview with the great Carol Tyler
• Interview:Robot 6's Brigid Alverson gets the behind-the-scenes scoop from Rich Tommaso about his work recoloring the Carl Barks ducks comics for our forthcoming collections
• Coming Attractions: The latest "Graphic Novels Prepub Alert" from Library Journal's Martha Cornog spotlights Murder by High Tide: "Belgian artist Tillieux (1921-78) is well known in Europe for tightly plotted mystery-comedies, churning with action and spectacular roadway mayhem. Never before translated for Americans, his work suggests Hergé's Tintin but in moodier, Will Eisner-grimy settings."
Comica, the London International Comics Festival, announces:
"On Saturday March 12th, mesmerising Italian maestro Lorenzo Mattotti makes a rare visit to London to discuss his career in comics and beyond, including his latest graphic novel Stigmata, translated by Fantagraphics, and his collaborations, from his animated terrors in the movie Fear(s) of the Dark to illustrating Lou Reed’s concept album The Raven. Joining Mattotti in conversation will be his friend and fellow artist Dave McKean, famed for his multi-media solo projects, most recently the erotic graphic novel Celluloid, and his works with Neil Gaiman notably on The Sandman. Introduced and hosted by Comica Director, Paul Gravett, don’t miss this opportunity to witness a unique encounter between two of the world’s greatest contemporary visionaries from 6 to 7.30pm followed by book signings at Goldsmiths University in South-East London."
Purchase advance tickets and get more information here.
Now that our woes with Diamond's weekly shipping list are resolved, the titles we expected to be on last week's list have shown up on this week's list. So while these books may have already arrived at comic shops, now we can bring you what comics-blog commentators are saying about them. As always, check out our previews at the link, and contact your local shop to confirm availability.
104-page black & white 5.5" x 7.25" softcover • $11.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-415-3
"The final collection of Johnny Ryan’s four-panel weekly sunshine, and a remnant of the artist’s interest in pursuing formerly mainstream avenues of cartooning, from magazine gags to comic strips to self-contained humor comics, and inhabiting them with his specific style." – Joe McCulloch, Comics Comics
"I think you should fill in the blanks, walk into your local comic store, go straight up to the person behind the counter and ask for it by name." – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
"If I had enough cash, I’d probably try to get my hands on some of the other books Fanta has out this week, including the fourth and final volume of Johnny Ryan’s Blecky Yuckarella strips, the charmingly titled F*** You A******..." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"The final collection of the hilarious Blecky strips by Johnny Ryan. Now, if only I could figure out what the title is supposed to spell out..." – Benn Ray (Atomic Books), Largehearted Boy
"The first volume of Mezzo & Pirus' European trilogy about suburban horror, sex, violence and drugs was one of the creepiest books of last year; its look owes rather a lot to Charles Burns' Black Hole, but it's also got a sick, surreal vibe of its own. In this follow-up, a bunch of the characters who died last time are still sort of hanging around; it's that kind of story." – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
"The first volume of King of the Flies is showing up on a lot of folks' 'under-appreciated' lists." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
"This is the middle chapter of creators Mezzo and Pirus’ planned trilogy, which publisher Fantagraphics describes as 'A French Twin Peaks graphic novel as written by Stephen King and drawn by Charles Burns.'" – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
"I neglected to mention the first volume when it arrived last year, but it has since gone on to be named one of Amazon’s Top 10 Graphic Novels of 2010. If I could retroactively add a paragraph and pretend I always thought so too, I would, but that would be cheating. [...] It looks like a lot of fun too, and there’s more going on in it that you might think." – The Gosh! Comics Blog
"If I had enough cash, I’d probably try to get my hands on some of the other books Fanta has out this week, including... the second volume of Pirus and Mezzo’s King of the Flies, a hip crime noir piece heavily influenced by Charles Burns." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"The second installment of Mezzo & Pirus' weird, French, suburban soap opera that's one part Twin Peaks, one part Charles Burns, one part Stephen King and all parts awesome. Here stories that seem unrelated become intricately intertwined." – Benn Ray (Atomic Books), Largehearted Boy
192-page black & white 7.25" x 9.25" hardcover • $19.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-409-2
"I’d be particularly interested in this new edition of a 1998 piece by the great Lorenzo Mattotti and writer Claudio Piersanti, looking to be a real fever of lines in the service of hardscrabble living." – Joe McCulloch, Comics Comics
"Lorenzo Mattotti is one of the great artists doing comics, period, and I can't imagine not snatching up everything he does. While this isn't the major work we're all still waiting for, it's obviously beautifully drawn and contains sequences reminiscent of the early 1990s works through which the Italian artist made his name." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
"This stunning-looking graphic novel about a man who experiences the title phenomenon is a collaboration between Italian cartoonist Lorenzo Mattotti and Italian screenwriter Claudio Piersanti." – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
"Fantagraphics’ incredible Stigmata gets top billing because it’s illustrated by an Italian artist we’d like to see a lot more of: Lorenzo Mattotti..., whose Ignatz book Chimera you’ve undoubtedly seen on our discerning shelves. The award-winning screenwriter Claudio Piersanti provides the bits in the balloons." – The Gosh! Comics Blog
"Fantagraphics has a lot of interesting books out this week, but Stigmata would have to be first on my list as I’ve loved the work of Lorenzo Mattotti ever since I got my hands on a worn copy of Murmur oh so many years ago. I’m happy to see Fantagraphics start to try to get more of his work released in the U.S. and hope this book — about a lug of a guy whose hands start to bleed in Christ-like fashion — encourages that." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• List:PopMatters names Four Color Fear to their Best Fiction of 2010 list. David Maine writes: "Four Color Fear is a lovingly accumulated and organized collection of... stories starring ghosts, ghouls, zombies, demons, and monsters of all stripes. [...] Some of the writers and artists are well known names from the era... Others are not as famous, but overall, the consistency of art and story is impressive. Four Color Fear offers some nice bonus features too, which elevate it from being a simple compilation of reprinted stories."
• List: On the Best Non-Fiction of 2010 side, PopMatters lists Destroy All Movies!!! The Complete Guide to Punks on Film. Chris Barsanti writes: "...Zack Carlson and Bryan Connolly’s insanely genius and improbably comprehensive guidebook... include[s] every film even remotely punk ever produced. While authentically underground creations... are given some pride of place..., the authors have a special love for straight-to-VHS exploitation trash of yore, where mohawked gutterpunks (sometimes postapocalyptic) terrorized the citizenry."
• Review: "When a man living a hardscrabble life suddenly exhibits signs of stigmata, his tumultuous journey to find — and accept — redemption is beautifully evoked by Italian screenwriter and novelist Piersanti... and graphic novelist Mattotti... With Mattotti's furious black and white illustrations perfectly reflecting the man's growing inner turmoil, Piersanti's morality tale is haunting yet hopeful." – Publishers Weekly
[In this installment of our series of Editors Notes, Kim Thompson interviews himself (in a format he's dubbed "AutoChat") about Stigmata by Lorenzo Mattotti, now available to order from us and at a comics shop near you. – Ed.]
So... Mattotti, eh?
Yeah. I've long wanted to do a book by Lorenzo. For my money he's one of the most brilliant cartoonists in terms of sheer virtuoso draftsmanship who ever lived. I think among the current breed of Europeans he's rivaled only by Moebius and Blutch and I'd still rank him first. I was just biding my time.
It's been a while since anyone last published a Mattotti book in English, hasn't it?
Yeah. NBM published his Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde adaptation back in 2003, but before that you have to go all the way back to the early 1990s, when Catalan and Penguin U.K., probably spurred on by his appearances in RAW, published several of his 1980s graphic novels: Fires, Labyrinths, and Murmur. I should note that Mattotti is also a prolific illustrator (you've probably seen his covers on The New Yorker; there was one just two weeks ago), and hasn't published any new comics in something like seven years.
Is he retired from comics?
No, no, in fact, he's working on some sort of huge magnum opus which we're in line to publish when he finishes it, but who knows when that will be?
So what made you pick Stigmata?
I just really liked it. His "Ignatz" comic, Chimera, did pretty well for us, it was one of the few Ignatzes we had to reprint due to demand, and Stigmata is drawn very much in that style, wild, swirly, expressionistic black pen lines. And I responded to the story, about this hopeless miserable drunken lump of a guy who ultimately finds salvation. It's very dramatic and emotional without being hokey. In its own way it's a little reminiscent one of my favorite movies, Breaking the Waves.
Why, are you religious?
Ha! Not at all, I'm a stone cold Bill Maher/Ricky Gervais "religious-people-are-wack" atheist. But there are elements of Christian faith that I find admirable, and the Bible is fascinating, if not as history, then as allegory, and of course for its language. And I think the book's themes of suffering and redemption, of good and evil, even if they're communicated through the prism of Christian thought, are universal. It's a good read no matter what your spiritual inclination, although it may hit home the most with Catholics.
The last third of the book is mostly a long prayer; is that from the Bible? I thought I recognized some Job in there.
Yes and no. It's sort of a mix-tape of religious writing that includes, as you say, a passage from the Book of Job, as well as some lines from a couple of Psalms, and excerpts from the writing of two saints, St. Catherine of Siena and St. Theresa of Lisieux. Some of which I tracked down through the modern secular miracle of Google, some of which the author told me about.
Has the writer, Claudio Piersanti, written other comics?
Not that I know of, he's a novelist and screenwriter. In fact, from what I understand Stigmata was written as a movie script which never got produced. Piersanti and Mattotti knew one another, had a little bit of a mutual admiration society going on, and somehow Mattotti ended up with the script and decided to do it as a comic. Ironically, after it was published as a comic — a decade and a half later, in fact — a Spanish film director decided to make a movie out of it and adapted the comic.
Have you seen it?
I have a DVD of it which I haven't got around to watching, or rather I've only watched a bit of it, but it sure looks beautiful, and very faithful to the book based on the trailer. It's interesting, in order to find someone with the gargantuan physique required for the main role, they didn't even try to cast an actor but hired a world champion shot-putter, who is of course enormous. If you watch the movie it's kind of clear that he's a non-actor, but given the character he's playing it seems to work OK. If it had been done in the U.S. it might have been another great comeback role for Mickey Rourke.
Do you have any more Mattotti projects lined up after that?
Comics, no, not right away, but next year we're releasing an English language edition of his collaboration with Lou Reed on an illustrated edition or Reed's The Raven song cycle, itself of course a posthumous collaboration with Edgar Allan Poe. That'll be pretty cool. And I would like to release one of his color books, either the classic Fires, which was released by Catalan Communications a long time ago, or El rumor de la escarcha (The Sound of Frost), which is his most recent graphic novel and which is just stunning.
We noticed that our new releases have been omitted from Diamond's shipping lists over the last few weeks, which means they've been arriving in comic shops with little to no notice (which means very few blurbs from the usual blog sources we quote here). We've contacted Diamond about it and we're getting it straightened out (I won't go into the gory details, and I'm not sure if it was a Diamond policy change, but there was a reasonable explanation and solution). Anyhoo, the books below are already out or arriving tomorrow — check with your local shop to confirm availability.
136-page full-color 5.25" x 7.75" hardcover • $22.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-400-9
"These bright, full-color paintings blur the lines between traditional art and comics, between lettering and language. Each piece in Mascots stands on its own, but it also functions within the context of the other paintings as well, to reveal a larger world." – Benn Ray (Atomic Books ), Largehearted Boy
"Ray Fenwick gives you more typographical mania in Mascots, his follow-up to 2008’s Hall of Best Knowledge. It’s a series of full colour paintings on found book covers. In the preview he seems to be going on and on about Cthulhu and the pronunciation of 'Cthulhu,' but more importantly, he engages in superfluous and plentiful footnotes and thus gets top marks from me." – Gosh! Comics
He lives day to day and hand to mouth, this shambling lug of a man, wrestling with his demons, picking up work where he can, and drinking himself into oblivion. Until one days his palms begin to bleed… These newfound stigmata lose him his job, and he ends up as part of a traveling carnival, where he even finds love. But his past catches up with him — violently so. Has he lost his last chance at redemption?
This stunning graphic novel, executed in a mad, expressionistic swirl of black lines, is the result of a unique collaboration between the preeminent Italian cartoonist/graphist Lorenzo Mattotti (RAW, The New Yorker, and the graphic novels Fires and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde) and the award-winning Italian screenwriter Claudio Piersanti.
"Wondrous... The reader can feel the main character's pain and redemption through Mattotti's raging fury of intense linework... A moving and thoroughly modern morality play." – Paul Gravett
Special Offer: Add Lorenzo Mattotti's Chimera #1 to your order for just $3.98 — that's 1/2 price! Make your selection with the menu above.
Chimera, with its intricate, hyper-expressive swirls of crisp line work, is a wordless fantasia of birth, death, gods, monsters, and humans, and one of the most astonishing visual narratives you'll ever see.
• List:Hypergeek's Edward Kaye names The Best Original Graphic Novels of 2010, including (deep breath):
Werewolves of Montpellier: "Part lycanthropic thriller, part romantic comedy, and part existential drama, all told with Jason’s trademark anthropomorphic characters. The visuals are minimalistic and haunting, and the sparse dialogue is wry and delivered with deadpan execution. It’s one of the best things that Jason has ever written, and he continues to outdo himself with every new story."
Love and Rockets: New Stories #3: "Los Bros Hernandez return for a third volume of New Stories. The stories in this volume are fun, bizarre, wacky, and at times profoundly moving. The brothers have been at this for 28 years now, and are still telling stories brimming with originality, and illustrated in inimitable and unparalleled fashion. A true watermark of the series thus far!"
Prison Pit Book 2: "Johnny Ryan has outdone himself on this one. It's intensely violent, horrific, grotesque, sickening, and just plain fucked up! That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it! You should buy this book and give it to all of your friends that think that comics are for kids. It will make them cry!"
Weathercraft: "I only discovered Jim Woodring this year, on a recommendation. I was so impressed by this enchanting, silent masterpiece that I went out and purchased everything else I could find with his name on it, which as it turns out is surprisingly little. It's a beautiful and spellbinding book, with otherworldy illustrations that take you to another place. It's hard to adequately describe this story, it's really beyond definition, it's better that you just experience it for yourself."
Billy Hazelnuts and the Crazy Bird: "Tony Millionaire gives readers a sequel to 2006's Billy Hazelnuts. It's an all-ages tale about a golem on a quest to reunite a baby bird with its mother. It's a charming and wacky parable of adventure, discovery, and find one's way in the world. A contemporary fairy tale that is perfect adults and children of all ages. Simply enchanting!"
The Troublemakers: "Gilbert Hernandez releases a second volume of this Love & Rockets spin-off series, featuring B-Movies starring Luba's half-sister, Fritz. This fantastic tribute to film noir is sure to please fans of the genre, while serving as a fantastic introduction to L&R. It's a hard-boiled classic, brought to life with Beto's bold and distinctive artwork. Oh, and did I mention the massive boobs?"
• Review: "It's unlikely I'm telling anyone reading this anything new by suggesting that Lorenzo Mattotti draws like Caruso sang, and that reading this latest work with screenwriter Claudio Piersanti [Stigmata] is at times an assault of exquisite visual pleasure of the kind that makes your whole face sting." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
• Review: "'The Carnival' [in Mome Vol. 14] is an exquisitely wrought piece of melancholy fantasy, and a high point in the blossoming career of Lilli Carré, the most poetic of contemporary North American cartoonists. [...] Lilli Carré’s cartooning has reached the point where she makes everything feel integral; one can’t treasure any of a piece without treasuring all of it. And 'The Carnival' is a rare treasure indeed." – Robert Stanley Martin, Pol Culture
• Review: "...[I]f you’re looking for something awesome to read and start the new year off with, pick up Locas and Locas II. You can even check them out from the library but they’re nice to have around, so when you and your friends are having some funny or interesting conversation and you’re like wait, this seems familiar, and then be like, oh yeah Maggie said the same thing." – Chimatli
• Coming Attractions: At The Comics Reporter, Tom Spurgeon has thoughtful commentary regarding our upcoming Carl Barks books
• List: On WFMU's Beware of the Blog, WFMU DJ Nat Roe's multi-media Top 15 includes Jim Woodring's Weathercraft at #5: "Stick a straw in my brain and suck until there's nothing left but that gurgling sound of air, the remnants of carbonation gathered like patrons in a bar on a Tuesday night 'last call' at the other end of the straw; that's how Jim Woodring makes me feel."
• List:Drawn contrubutor John Martz picks 3 of our titles among his Favourite Books of 2010:
"Bent is the latest coffee-table art book from Canadian cartoonist-turned-painter Dave Cooper. We get to drill further into Cooper’s psyche in this book, which continues the celebration of his singular, artistic vision — an alien landscape of writhing, female figures and strange vegetation."
"What Charles Addams is to the New Yorker, Gahan Wilson is to Playboy. And here we have three gorgeous hardcover volumes of his work - page after page of full-colour cartoons celebrating the macabre and the twisted. Perfect for the creep or the creepy in your life."
"Jim Woodring’s masterful cartooning is showcased in this latest graphic novel featuring his familiar cast of characters including Frank, Manhog, Pupshaw, and Pushpaw. It’s never easy to discern what Woodring’s comics are about, but there is never any question as to what is happening in each panel. Such is the control and understanding he has of both the medium and his tools. Weathercraft is a silent movie governed by dream logic and the id."
• Review: "I know that it’s still December 2010 – and not even the end of December, the point where we all make our lists of the best of the year – but it’s possible that I’ve already read my favorite book of 2011. Its name? Stigmata. [...] It’s a smart, beautifully written book that refuses to offer easy answers... But, as good as Piersanti’s story is, what made the book a classic for me is definitely Mattotti’s artwork. [...] Mattotti’s line is amazing, so filled with personality and intensity, at once angry and fiercely controlled, and used in the service of some amazing draughtsmanship and visionary visuals. [...] It’s breathtakingly good, no exaggeration." – Grame McMillan, Robot 6
• Review: "Not only does this issue of cartoonist and designer Jordan Crane's series feature a pair of quality comics from his two established areas of strength..., it carries with it all the joys of the format. ...Uptight #4 stings then pleases like a jump for effect off of a swimming pool's high-dive. [...] All in all, this a fine little read, a delectable peek of lasting hand-held value into what one of the really good cartoonists is up to." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
• Review: "Admittedly, these are not special stories in the sense that they represent anything unusual from the norm, but that is certainly at the center of their power. This is something that if we have not faced yet, we know we will, and Farmer’s ability to capture it all is clear-eyed. It’s a remarkable achievement considering the situation, and Farmer has a way of uniting the readership in one collective deep breathing session that lets us know we are not alone in the wider scope of coping with loss. ...Special Exits exists as a graphic novel of considerable depth and meaning." – John Seven, Archive 7
• Review: "Dixon... is a master of the short story, and this handsome volume [What Is All This?] gathers 26 pieces that hadn’t previously been published in book form. An indispensable addition to a formidable body of work, which also includes 14 novels and a pair of National Book Award nominations, it’s classic Dixon. His prose is so taut it would make Hemingway blush, and Dixon’s brutal honesty figures to redden the faces of some readers. He never shies from exploring common neuroses through characters who can be unsympathetic, or worse, contemptible, but his prodigious skill as a storyteller overrides any unease he generates. Wringing meaning from the mundane, Dixon gets beyond mere personality to the interior lives of the people he fleshes out, warts and all." – John Lewis, Baltimore Magazine
• Review: "Delivered in monochrome and a selection of muted paint wash and crayon effects, the compellingly inviting blend of cartoon styles (reminiscent of our own Posy Simmonds but with a gleeful openness all her own) captures heartbreak, horror, humour, angst and tragedy in a beguiling, seductive manner which is simultaneously charming and devastatingly effective, whilst the book and narrative itself is constructed like a photo album depicting the eternal question 'How and Why Do Families Work?' Enticing, disturbing and genuinely moving, [You'll Never Know, Book 2:] Collateral Damage is a powerful and affecting second stage in Tyler’s triptych of discovery and one no student of the human condition will care to miss." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Review: "Andrei Molotiu has compiled an incredible anthology of non-narrativity and abstraction in his Abstract Comics: The Anthology 1967-2009. [...] Covering 43 different artists, Abstract Comics opens with a exemplary discussion of abstraction in comics books and its overlap with contemporary art... The book is an incredible resource of potentiality...; I can't recommend it higher." – Derek Beaulieu, Lemon Hound
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