Everybody wants to know: what new books will Fantagraphics be debuting at the San Diego Comic-Con? Well, attendees, get ready to be among the very first to feast your eyes on the following, most of these fresh from the printers! Find 'em all at Booth #1718!
• The Adventures of Venusby Gilbert Hernandez A rare foray into all-ages work, “The Adventures of Venus” was Gilbert Hernandez’s contribution to the kids’ anthology Measles which he edited in 1999 and 2000. This super-affordable little hardcover collects all the previously uncollected “Venus” stories from Measles, plus a new story done just for this book!
• The Lost Art of Ah Pook Is Here: Images from the Graphic Novel by Malcolm McNeill (not officially out 'til October!) In 1970, William S. Burroughs and artist Malcolm McNeill agreed to collaborate on a book-length meditation on time, power, control, and corruption that evoked the Mayan codices and specifically, the Mayan god of death, Ah Pook. McNeill created nearly a hundred paintings, illustrations, and sketches for the book, and these, finally, are seeing the light of day in The Lost Art of Ah Pook.
• Observed While Falling: Bill Burroughs, Ah Pook, and Me by Malcolm McNeill (not officially out 'til October!)Observed While Falling is an account of the personal and creative interaction that defined the collaboration between the writer William S. Burroughs and the artist Malcolm McNeill on the graphic novel Ah Pook Is Here. The memoir chronicles the events that surrounded it, the reasons it was abandoned and the unusual circumstances that brought it back to life.
• Barack Hussein Obama by Steven Weissman (not officially out until September!) It’s neither a biography nor an experiment, but a whole, fully-realized parallel America, a dada-esque, surrealistic satirical vision that is no more cockeyed than the real thing, its weirdness no more weird, its vision of the world no more terrifying, where the zombie-esque simulacra of Joe Biden and Hillary and Newt and Obama wander, if not exactly through the corridors of power, through an America they made and have to live in, like it or not.
• Buz Sawyer Vol. 2: Sultry's Tigerby Roy Crane (not officially out until September!) In the last adventure in our 2nd volume, Buz is kidnapped and flown to Africa by mysterious assailants. His friend Chili Harrison bets International Airways chief Mr. Wright $200 that even in this desperate situation, Buz will manage to get involved with a pretty girl. Long-time readers of the strip will have no trouble guessing who wins that bet.
• The Cavalier Mr. Thompson: A Sam Hill Novel by Rich Tommaso (not officially out until August!)Welcome To Big Spring, Texas and The Cavalier Hotel. A place brimming with all manner of colorful characters. And then, Ross Thompson – a slick operator from Chicago — came into their humble abode and turned everything upside down. Big Spring was a just string of yarn for Mr. Thompson to pull and pull at, until the entire community came unraveled! Now you’ll have to crack open this here book for yourself to find out just how he done it...
• The Crackle of the Frost by Lorenzo Mattotti & Jorge Zentner (not officially out until September!)In 2011, Fantagraphics presented the extraordinary Stigmata, a stunning display of Mattotti’s whirling, emotional, black and white linework, as well as his painted illustrations for Lou Reed’s The Raven. The Crackle of the Frost ups the visual ante even on those masterpieces, combining the narrative drive of the former with the lush color illustrations of the latter to create a graphic-novel masterpiece with panel after panel of sumptuous full-color paintings.
• Dal Tokyo by Gary Panter (not officially out until August!)Gary Panter began imagining Dal Tokyo, a future Mars that is terraformed by Texan and Japanese workers, as far back as 1972, appropriating a friend’s idea about “cultural and temporal collision” (the “Dal” is short for Dallas).
• Is that All There Is? (softcover) by Joost Swarte (not officially out until September!) Under Swarte’s own exacting supervision, Is That All There Is? collects virtually all of his alternative comics work from 1972 to date, including the RAW magazine stories that brought him fame among American comics aficionados in the 1980s.
• Jewish Images in the Comics by Fredrik StrömbergJewish Images in the Comics showcases more than 150 comic strips, comic books and graphic novels from all over the world, stretching over the last five centuries and featuring Jewish characters and Jewish themes.
• Love and Rockets: New Stories #5 by Gilbert & Jaime Hernandez(not officially out until September!) In Jaime's story “Crime Raiders International Mobsters and Executioners,” Tonta comes to visit for a weekend and sees what kind of life the Frog Princess is living with Reno and Borneo. On the other-brother side, Gilbert celebrates the 30th anniversary by bringing one of his current characters (“Killer,” granddaughter to the legendary Luba) into the Palomar milieu.
• Sexytime: The Post-Porn Rise of the Pornoisseur edited by Jacques Boyreau(not officially out until August!) An oversized coffee table book celebrating the art of the 1970s porn movie poster, Sexytime collects over a hundred of the most outrageously over-the-top porn movie posters of the era. It includes “classics” like The Sex-Ray Machine, Candy Goes to Hollywood, and The Senator’s Daughter starring such ’70s porn stalwarts as Annie Sprinkle, John Holmes, and Seka.
• Tales Designed to Thrizzle #8 by Michael KuppermanBreak out your crayons as Red Warren, "America's Grandpa," brings you his highly educational "Train & Bus Coloring Book." The guests at a sophisticated weekend party sure get nervous when a certain mystery writer shows up on her goat. Learn the story of French national hero Bertrand de Copillon, a.k.a. "The Scythe." And originally serialized in the Washington City Paper and online at Fantagraphics.com, the true story of the first lunar mission, "Moon 69." All this and more in the eighth and final issue of the series that changed the face of comic book humor, Tales Designed to Thrizzle!
• Significant Objects edited by Joshua Glenn & Rob WalkerSignificant Objects began in 2009 as a bold online inquiry into the relationship between narrative and the value of everyday objects. It has been the subject of speculation by everyone from NPR to litbloggers to The New York Times’ Freakonomics crew. A collection of one hundred Significant Objects stories is published in this hardcover volume.
• No Straight Lines: Four Decades of Queer Comicsedited by Justin Hall Queer cartooning encompasses some of the best and most interesting comics of the last four decades, with creators tackling complex issues of identity and a changing society with intelligence, humor, and imagination. This book celebrates this vibrant artistic underground by gathering together a collection of excellent stories that can be enjoyed by all.
• Jack Davis: Drawing American Pop Culture - A Career Retrospective by Jack Davis Jack Davis arrived on the illustration scene in the euphoric post-war America of the late 1940s when consumer society was booming and the work force identified with commercial images that reflected this underlying sense of confidence and American bravado. Jack Davis: Drawing American Pop Culture is a gigantic, unparalleled career-spanning retrospective, between whose hard covers resides the greatest collection — in terms of both quantity and quality — of Jack Davis’ work ever assembled!
• Wandering Son Vol. 3 by Shimura Takako; edited and translated by Matt Thorn As shown in the first two volumes of this acclaimed series, Shuichi and his friend Yoshino have a secret: Shuichi is a boy who wants to be a girl, and Yoshino is a girl who wants to be a boy. After an unhurried, almost leisurely buildup that gave us an opportunity to get to know and understand our protagonists, artist Shimura picks up the pace in this latest volume, with tears and laughs aplenty. A sophisticated work translated with rare sensitivity by veteran translator and comics scholar Matt Thorn.
• Castle Waiting Vol. II #17 by Linda MedleyLinda Medley continues to gather loose ends and drop new hints in this new issue of the beloved series. Chess has a surprising revelation about the identity of baby Pinter's father — could it be tied in with the war? The Hammerlings Dayne & Tolly bid farewell to the castle, but not before leaving behind a surprise gift which Rackham discovers later (along with the strange gift Dr. Fell left in an earlier issue). Sister Peace has a tete-a-tete with the demon Leeds regarding religious artifacts — did you know demons collect them? Simon struggles with his reading lessons until Jain helps him have a breakthrough. And Jain faces off with the castle ghost!
• Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons by Flannery O'Connor; edited by Kelly Gerald Flannery O’Connor: The Cartoons, the first book devoted to the author’s work in the visual arts, emphasizes O’Connor’s most prolific period as a cartoonist, drawing for her high school and college publications in the early 1940s. Her cartoons are a creative threshing floor for experimenting and trying out techniques that are deployed later with such great success in her fiction.
• God and Science: Return of the Ti-Girls byJaime Hernandez Originally serialized in Love and Rockets: New Stories, “Ti-Girls Adventures” managed to be both a rollickingly creative super-hero joyride. Aside from being presented in a large format that really displays Jaime Hernandez’s stunning art, God and Science will be a “director’s cut” version that includes a full 30 new pages in addition to the original 100-page epic, including four new full-color faux Ti-Girls covers, several expansions of scenes, an epilogue set back in Maggie’s apartment, and a long fantasy/timewarp sequence that draws the focus back on Penny’s awful predicament.
More Mattotti coming soon! Here's a first glimpse of a recently-arrived advance copy of The Crackle of the Frost, our new English edition of 2003's El rumor de la escarcha by Lorenzo Mattotti & Jorge Zentner. Wait until you see the stunning full-color interiors... keep your eyes peeled for our upcoming previews! The book should be out around the end of August, maybe the beginning of September — you can be among the first to get it by pre-ordering it now.
• Review: At Boing Boing, as part of their "Mind Blowing Movies" series of guest posts, Amy Crehore examines the Ghost World film: "I knew it was going to be good, but I had no idea that the movie Ghost World (2001) would bathe me in such an uncanny sense of deja vu from start to finish. The characters are so real and familiar that they could have been based on my friends and me."
• Commentary:Ashok Karra has a short but thought-provoking analysis of elements of the Ghost World graphic novel: "A ghost world could be three things. Two of them are types of haunting: either by the past (nostalgia for childhood) or the present (the glow of the television). The third possibility is that you pass through as a ghost."
• Plug: At Flavorwire, Emily Temple includes Ghost World on the list of "30 Books Everyone Should Read Before Turning 30," saying "Clowes writes some of the most essentially realistic teenagers we’ve ever come across, which is important when you are (or have ever been) a realistic teenager yourself."
• Plug/Preview: At The Beat, Jessica Lee posts a 5-page sneak peek of New York Mon Amour by Jacques Tardi et al., saying "This newest Tardi release... is slated for a July release, just in time for Independence Day, where we can all revel in the patriotic depictions of New York that Tardi has provided — oh wait. True to his new realism style, 'Manhattan' retains the same kind of gritty aesthetic as his illustrations of WWI trench warfare as well as Parisian life."
• Review: "The 11 horror stories in [The Furry Trap] showcase Simmons’s possession of a dark and capable imagination, one that has discomfort down to an exact science.... Simmons is at his best in stories like 'Mutant' and 'Demonwood,' where rash decisions and chance encounters lead to nightmarish consequences ... Simmons’s brand of deep unease permeates all of [these stories], even in the opening story, 'In a Land of Magic,' which features a scene of sexual and physical violence that could lead to sleepless nights. The book is also filled with illustrations and short comics that just add to the pile of evidence that Simmons has a wide-ranging talent, with an artistic sense that brings to life his most ghoulish creations. These stories are, hopefully, harbingers of even stronger and more sinister work in the future..." – Publishers Weekly
• Review: "The action [in God and Science] ebbs and flows, but the story remains engaging and exciting. I had to read it all in one afternoon because I just couldn't put it down. I was enjoying it too much to stop reading.... [There]'s another great thing about this comic — there's some subtle philosophical questions nudged in that the characters (and reader) have to answer themselves.... I can't recommend this title enough. I can easily say that I want more Ti-Girls, or at least comic characters like them." – Sheena McNeil, Sequential Tart
• Review: "Prince Valiant Vol. 5 — As the war years draw to a close, the strip finds Valiant settling down — at least a little bit — by finally winning his true heart’s love, Aleta. There’s still enough brigands and evildoers to keep Val busy, but a lot of Vol. 5 is spent with the couple developing their relationship, and Harold Foster deepening and developing Aleta’s character in the process. ...[I]t remains a thrilling, boisterous work." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "Dungeon Quest Book Three — Joe Daly’s faithful D&D fantasy by way of Harold and Kumar proceeds apace, with lots of bloody skirmishes with fierce animals and fiercer bandits and an abundance of jokes about penises, pot, hand-jobs and the like.... His incredibly detailed forest backgrounds are really quite exquisite, and the full panel sequences of his band of adventurers simply trekking along a forest path or walking through a stream were my favorite parts of the book." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Commentary: It's been interesting seeing the evolution of the "hey, they should bring Love and Rockets to the screen" article in the age of the serialized cable drama. Arthur Smith at The Paley Center for Media is the latest to add his voice to the chorus
• Plug: "Got this beautiful Popeye compilation book (Fantagraphics) a couple of days ago. Haven't had a chance to even crack it open, but my son is now running around going 'Arf, arf.' It's a hit." – Ruben Bolling
• Tribute: At The New York Times, Tim Kreider remembers the great Ray Bradbury: "Prescience is not the measure of a science-fiction author’s success — we don’t value the work of H. G. Wells because he foresaw the atomic bomb or Arthur C. Clarke for inventing the communications satellite — but it is worth pausing, on the occasion of Ray Bradbury’s death, to notice how uncannily accurate was his vision of the numb, cruel future we now inhabit."
"Through war, animal make-out sessions and film writing, Kupperman takes Twain through the ringer in a hilariously catastrophic epic that the real-life 'Adventures of Huckleberry Finn' author would surely have appreciated. Although reading it won't score you any points on a history-class term paper, the book will certainly open your eyes to one of the funniest writers working in comics right now." – Brian Warmoth
"The excessive violence is still here, more refined, more imaginative, more disturbing. Ryan pushes himself artistically in the second half of the book, delivering a stunning sequence that still haunts me." – Chad Nevett
"I picture Gilbert Hernandez approaching his drawing board these days like Lawrence of Arabia approaching a Turkish convoy: 'NO PRISONERS! NO PRISONERS!' In a year suffused with comics funneling pitch-black darkness through a combination of sex and horror, none were blacker, sexier, or more horrific than this gender-bending exploitation flick from Beto's 'Fritz-verse.'" – Sean T. Collins
"Leslie Stein burst onto the comics scene this year when Fantagraphics published the collection of four of her self-published comics... The comic is both surreal and mundane, the story of a young woman who moves to a New York complete with humanoid animals and talking musical instruments. ...Stein [is] one of the best independent creators to emerge in recent years." – Alex Dueben
• List:Robot 6's Graeme McMillan picks his 5 favorite books of 2011, including Stigmata by Lorenzo Mattotti & Claudio Piersanti...
"Way back at the end of last year, I called this the best graphic novel of 2011, and if I’m now a little more reticent to make that claim, it has more to do with the high quality of a lot of other releases this year than anything else because this is still a masterpiece that, were I some kind of unlikely comics czar, I’d make compulsory reading for everyone interested in the medium. Just a breathtaking book."
"Another book that I raved about earlier this year, and another one that I’m still raving about as strongly months later. A tour-de-force of cartooning from a creator who just continually improves, and pushes at the medium in almost everything he does."
"It’s a disturbing book in many ways – questions about exploitation and power are very present in the text – but also a beautiful, seductive one. It’s a book that sticks with you for a long time afterwards, and for that alone, it’s one I’ve returned to many times since first reading it."
• List:Panel Patter's Rob McMonigal names his Best of 2011: Manga Edition, with Wandering Son Vol. 1 by Shimura Takako in the #5 spot: "This is one of the most serious manga series I've ever read, and I finished it unable to come to grips with the best way to review it. Dealing with two children who come to realize they are trapped in the wrong gender, it's a story of secrets, revelations, understandings, and occasional cruelty. The book handles the topic with care and respect, however, which is part of why it is so good."
• List: Another top-10 from Panel Patter's Rob McMonigal, whose Best of 2011: Indie Comics, is topped by 3 of our titles: Jason & Fabien Vehlmann's Isle of 100,000 Graves...
"Isle of 100,000 Graves has Jason's trademark deadpan humor, resolute protagonist, and ending that leaves the reader thinking."
"At first, The Hidden feels like a typical apocalyptic story, albeit one painted amazingly well by Sala. But as things progress, the tale morphs and twists into one of the best horror comics I've read, with a twist towards the end that I never saw coming. That's what makes a comic stand out, and puts it near the top of my best of list."
• Review: "I found myself turning back and re-examining the pages often, digging through the many details that the words and images delivered. The story unfolds in earth tone – sepia illustrations, not gaudy, in keeping with the artist’s respect for the story and the subject. Clemente’s early life is here and one gets a real feel for his family and friends, and not without humor.... [21: The Story of Roberto Clemente] should appeal to graphic novel fans, baseball fans, anyone who likes a great 'bigger then fiction' story, and many others." – Mark Hodgens, Skyscraper Magazine
• Review: "Fantagraphics is now giving Barks’ Duck comics a whirl, and based off this first volume alone if there’s any justice in the comics world, fame should finally (belatedly) be coming for the late, great Barks.... The reproduction on these strips are beautiful; Fantagraphics hired cartoonist Rich Tommaso to re-color the works, and Tommaso wisely uses gentle flat tones to keep with the overall feel of Barks’ crisp, classic art. I also appreciated the essays about the different stories in the back of the book.... Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes is a handsome looking book, and trust me when I say it’s just the first of many I plan on reading by Barks." – Greg McElhatton, Read About Comics
• Review: "So cue the squeals, and scan the racks at your friendly neighborhood comics retailer for writer/artist Michael Kupperman’s Tales Designed to Thrizzle #7. Beyond a cover whose hilarity strangely if successfully depends on its all-day-sucker coloring — tangerine, lemon, lime — this dadaistic offering opens with a six-page excerpt from Scary Bathtub Stories, a faux-Golden Age comic, and thereafter spirals further and further into neo-psychedelic weirdness." – Bryan Hollerbach, PLAYBACK:stl
• Review: "I like to imagine [Michael Kupperman] sitting in some tiny hellhole of a studio apartment packed deep into the bowels of New York -- these noble creatures lose their mystique when they own homes -- doing mutant Thrizzle pages until they stop paying him or until he gets a gig in the back pages of Vice. Some feminine if not female voice of reason hovers next to his desk, thumbing through the newest set as he leans back in his chair, wondering if Fantagraphics paid him enough to afford blowing the budget on a beer, wiping entirely imaginary sweat from his brow." – Patrick Tobin, Multiversity Comics
• Interview:The Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon talks to Oil and Water writer Steve Duin: "I'm too new to all of this to fully grasp how the perfect union of writer and artist is formed... and there were times when Shannon [Wheeler] and I struggled to find common ground. But a great deal of my understanding of what we were dealing with in the Gulf owes to Shannon's perceptions and his sketchbook. He was refreshingly aggressive in dealing with the BP clean-up teams disinclined to give us access. His original poster for the group -- a naked woman starring incredulously at the oil derrick in her bed, and saying 'What do you mean, it broke?' -- is brilliant."
• Interview:Bookforum's John Madeira, who says "...Alexander Theroux’s writing... is grandiloquently lyrical, dizzyingly erudite, and often acerbic," talks with Theroux about The Strange Case of Edward Gorey ("a smart, engaging, and insightful monograph asking as many questions about the quirky artist as attempts at answers") and other topics: "Edward Gorey was very ornate — Corinthian! — in his love of language, and when he was in a chatty mood his conversation, crackling with allusions, was rich and often rare, exaggerated, campy to a degree, invariably tinctured with lots of movie-love, sarcasm, irony. Mind you, it was not that the man was trying to be something, contriving, say, to appear a cavalcade of wit, merely that, rather like Dr. Samuel Johnson, he happened to have sharp, remarkable 'views' on all sorts of subjects, almost all worthy of note."
• List: Esteemed Washington, DC bookstore Politics & Prose has posted their list of "Favorite Graphic Literature of 2011":
"It seems sort of cruel to celebrate the final issue of Mome, Fantagraphics’ premier anthology of comics. But one can hardly resist such a celebratory finale. As to be expected, Mome Volume 22 packs a wallop, throwing in a mind-bending array of cartoonists, some Mome regulars, some first-time contributors. Some favorites: Joe Kimball’s 'Secret Hand,' Tim Lane’s 'Belly Gunner,' Eleanor Davis’ 'Nita Go Home' and 'Loving Bin Laden' by James Romberger. As always, this is a refreshing and eye-opening anthology. So thank you, Mome, and goodbye."
"Jacques Tardi’s wildly inventive The Arctic Marauder follows Jerome Plumier as he tries to uncover the mystery of why ships keep sinking in the arctic. Written to parody a Victorian and Jules Verne-esque style, Tardi’s illustrations look as if they’re out of a much older book; his seascapes and townscapes are scenic and highly detailed; his creative paneling is fresh and interesting; and the abundance of machinery and wild inventions makes this book a real wonder to read. Ending on a strangely ominous, ironic, and humorous note, this is yet another masterpiece by the French master, finally brought to American audiences."
"Jim Woodring’s little anthropomorph, Frank, has been around for quite some time, and his silent, life altering, universe confusing, epic comics finally get collected into one nice book. Frank has graced the comics page for decades now, and his curiosity, foolishness, but utter innocence leaves one always wishing for more, and to have it collected into one volume is an absolute treasure. There is much to say about The Frank Book, but really, you should just pick it up and wander with Frank and his friends and enemies, into a world that is so different, and yet, so similar to our own."
"Stigmata is one of the greatest virtuoso displays of pen-and-ink work in the history of graphic novels. Illustrator Lorenzo Mattotti’s 'raging fury of intense linework' is mesmerizing on every single page, and drives the novel-length story by Claudio Piersanti set in the hellish world of bars and traveling carnivals (with a final redemptive chapter). Stigmata is a recognized classic in the comics world, and was published in Europe in 1998. It has finally been translated and published here."
"Pogo Possum and the bunch of characters that make up Walt Kelly’s colorful, smart, and witty comic finally get the sort of treatment they deserve. It has taken Fantagraphics a long, long time to find perfect copies of all these fantastic strips, and to make sure Pogo was given its due in the best possible way. So here it is: the first of twelve volumes, complete with dailies and Sunday pages (with absolutely gorgeous color). This is quite possibly one of the best things to come out this year, and one of the best books for any library."
"Hot on the heels of popular Mickey Mouse hardcover comics collections, Fantagraphics puts forth a second Disney classic, Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes. While some readers may have been surprised by Mickey’s exploits in the early days, Donald is exactly as you remember and expect him to be: perpetually frustrated with a heart of gold. What is also not surprising is the level of skill behind the cartooning of Carl Barks, whose knack for expressive figures and attention to detail makes this collection an endlessly entertaining read. So well-loved were these stories, that none other than the great Steven Spielberg paid tribute to them in the famous scene of Indiana Jones versus the boulder in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Sure to please any fan of good-humored Golden Age comics."
"I’ve never quite liked Mickey Mouse. He was always a little too tame, too good. And while he was always the hero, he never seemed to earn it. Fantagraphics recent release of the classic 1930’s comic strips has completely changed my mind. While Mickey’s essential character hasn’t changed, he is certainly more bold, more willing to throw a punch or rush into a haunted house, or even into a brawl with Pegleg Pete and his gang. Floyd Gottfredson’s artwork bears the trademark Disney look (given that it is clear and at times inventive), but the limit on panels and the daily format of the strip forced Gottfredson to tell his stories in intriguing, and always brilliant ways. These comic strips are full of adventure and clever satire. With the usual Fantagraphics treatment, there are over 50 pages of supplemental material, so these books provide a wealth of information on the series and on Gottfredson’s life. Also available in a slipcased set!"
"For those who still think that Prince Valiant is simply an illustrated version of your boring high school history textbook, it is time to take heed. Fantagraphics continues to release these gorgeous remastered editions of one of America’s most beloved and enduring comics. This is a story steeped in family and tradition, with a dash of fantasy. Hal Foster’s professionalism shines in every painstakingly-researched and well-composed page of Prince Valiant Volumes 3and4. Each panel’s composition immediately draws you in and invites you to linger in a world of romance and adventure, in which you may spend many Sunday afternoons. Previously released editions were high-contrast, lurid affairs that seemed determined to destroy the good name of the original color artist; however, the impeccable restoration of the comic’s original colors makes it enjoyable for the modern audiences and almost a brand new experience for fans lucky enough to have read it in their youth."
• List/Review: "Finally starting to be collected, Gottfredson's masterful first year was released by Fantagraphics, publisher of all good things, in a wonderful hardbound... Aside from the subject matter, the most striking thing about this volume is Gottfredson's art. He demonstrates a supernatural knack for detail and fluidity that remains largely unchallenged in his representation of Mickey, as well as in animation/ cartooning/ sequential art.... As a longtime appreciator of Gottfredson and proponent for his legacy, Race to Death Valley was the best comic release of 2011 — a feat, considering the material is 70 years old. Take that, modern literature!" – Rafael Gaitan, Spectrum Culture "Best Books of the Year"
• Review: "The fact is that Paul Nelson was one of the handful of people who have scribbled about rock-and-roll over the years who might be described as a genuinely important writer, regardless of the (some would say) transience of much of his subject matter. In that regard, while re-reading Everything [Is an Afterthought] I was struck by how little any of it has dated; the various reviews and think pieces Avery has anthologized are as passionate, perceptive and hilarious as they seemed back in the day, and given that most of them have been out of print since forever (in fact, almost all the work collected here has never been between hardcovers) this is a major piece of cultural exhumation at the very least." – Steve Simels, PowerPop
• Review: "The gender orientations of eleven-year-olds just isn’t the stuff of stories here. In fact, it is the stuff of reality. Shimura balances a full plate in this story, all the while offering it with the kind of easy grace that makes the balance appear to be almost magical.... In Shimura’s sympathetic hands, this manga is neither gag nor message heavy: both main characters, their peers, and their family members are credible and developed with enough depth that readers can think about them beyond the bounds of the book. ...[Wandering Son Vol. 1] belongs in every high school library, as well as in public collections that are accessible to both youth and adults." – Francisca Goldsmith, School Library Journal
• Review: "But upon reflection, I wonder if these terrible people’s wholly alien way of interacting with the world isn’t just the writing equivalent of Tardi’s nimble, scribbled line and sooty blacks — a heightened reality in which things are rendered at their loosest, darkest, ugliest, and weirdest at all times. God knows both creators can rigorously focus when they want... Tardi’s backgrounds and lighting effects are a realist’s dream and his action sequences and set-pieces are choreographed tighter than a drum. The absurdist demeanors may prevent everything from gelling as well as they might have done, but overall [Like a Sniper Lining Up His Shot] delivers a fastball to your face so hard that you barely have time to notice that some of the stitches need straightening." – Sean T. Collins, Attentiondeficitdisorderly
Forget about Black Friday. It's time to get in line for Black Monday, when Lou Reed descends upon Brooklyn on December 12th!
Join Lou at BookCourt [ 163 Court Street ] at 7:00 PM. He will be signing and discussing The Raven, his collaboration with legendary Italian illustrator and cartoonist Lorenzo Mattotti, based on the work of Edgar Allen Poe.
The last time Lou signed The Raven, The New Yorker was there to report: "Mattotti's illustrations, which were projected in a slide show, saturated the room with a kind of terror and despair. There was also something about the sound and sudden fits of fury in Reed's voice that seemed to mirror Poe's tormented vision."
As if you needed further convincing, this event is free. Don't miss this one, Brooklyn!
• Convention sketches inspired by song lyrics is a pretty great idea, and an Atlanta comic fan named Erich collects them and posts them on his blog. Above: Lisa Leavenworth + Mudhoney by Peter Bagge (hat tip: CBR)
This interview was conducted by Fantagraphics' Eric Buckler. Thanks to Eric and Lorenzo! (Ed. note: Hi Lorenzo! We miss you in North America! xo janice)
Lorenzo Mattotti is a talented necromancer; his hands give life to some of the most charged and heart-pounding characters in cartooning and illustration today. Having a cabaret of phantoms at his disposal, Mattotti has assembled comics that are a dangerous and dark exploration of human emotion. His latest cartooning project was a collaboration with Claudio Piersanti called Stigmata, which follows a man who bleeds from his palms as he trudges down a dark path that mutates wildly from the straight and narrow.
Mattotti has now collaborated on the book The Raven with Lou Reed, a project where he re-interpreted the works of Edgar Allen Poe and Lou Reed into creatures and situations in painting and illustration. Mattotti creates images from these stories that help to unlock any hidden power the pieces may have, as well as perfectly stating the obvious elements.
This interview was conducted at 3:00 am between Seattle, WA and Paris, France.
Eric Buckler: How did the Raven project come together?
Lorenzo Mattotti: I was contacted by Lou Reed's agency to ask me if I was interested in a collaboration. I didn't understand very well initially what he wanted. He wanted to make an illustrated book involving The Raven. At the beginning, I understood that he wanted to make a graphic novel, but when I read the text, I understood this was impossible. [laughter] So, he informed me that he would like me to make a book inspired by the show he made with Robert Wilson. But really, I still didn't understand it that much, so we decided to meet each other. I went to New York and we met, and I wanted to know how free I could be to make the book. Did he want classic illustration or could I be free to make my own interpretation? Lou wanted me to make my own interpretation, hearing the music. The style could be different according to the atmosphere and the music, in a very free way. I showed him one of my sketchbooks. Normally, it is very free, my personal work. So, I started to do many sketches in black and white, and I sent them to him by mail. He wanted to see everything. He told me what he preferred, and what he didn't really like, and we decided what to make in color. There were different techniques: there was pencil, brush, crayon, and ink.
Buckler: Do you have any personal connection with Edgar Allen Poe's work? Is it important to you?
Mattotti: I like his work very much. When I was young, it was strange, because I started to read Edgar Allen Poe done by a very good comics artist, Dino Battaglia. He made a version of a little novel by Edgar Allen Poe in a wonderful way with very evocative drawings. So, then I started to read the stories. I think Edgar Allen Poe is really inside my imaginary world because he has influenced so many other writers and so many other artists. I think he is now part of our collective imagination, really inside my idea of terror. The mystery, you know, the darker, the obsession of the head, of the brain. When I knew that he (Reed) wanted to make a book about Edgar Allen Poe, for me it was really natural. I did Jekyll and Hyde, and for me to go inside the obsession, you know to take the dark side of ourselves, for me, it is pretty much my work. And the idea that I could work with Edgar Allen Poe and Lou Reed pushed me to go really in a very straight way to not be afraid to make very strong images. I was justified. So it was really natural and it was really a pleasure to have the possibility to make these kind of images. It's a part of my work.
Buckler: What about the music of Lou Reed? What kind of a connection do you have to his music?
Mattotti: I knew the music of Lou Reed at the beginning of the '70s. I wasn't really impressed by his way of singing, to use the voice like an actor. Sometimes it was strange the way he changed his voice, sometimes he spoke, sometimes he sang. It was the way he interpreted the words, the expression of his voice. I remember there was a very good record, No Prisoners, I think, a live performance where there was really an atmosphere of the cabaret. I remember that I was thinking of a way to draw in this kind of voice. I was always interested by the music in the way that I draw. Really, I remember that I was thinking what kind of sign could be the voice of Lou Reed: very dry, and black & white with strange variations. I think that it is kind of my thinking with the voice of Robert Wyatt.
Buckler: Who was that?
Mattotti: Robert Wyatt, Soft Machine -- you know, an English group from the '70s?
Buckler: Oh, OK, Soft Machine.
Mattotti: Yes, the drummer of Soft Machine. Also, he has a strange way of singing. So for me it was very good to know that Lou Reed wanted to work with me.
Lorenzo Mattotti, signing books at TCAF 2011
Buckler: You illustrate in different styles throughout the book. Can you talk about how you decided on these different styles?
Mattotti: I found it more and more interesting to make books where I can put inside different ways I interpret images. The idea that the book would be not so monolithic; only one style, only one direction, really intrigued me. I normally use different ways to draw so I can make the same object represent different emotions. I wanted the freedom to interpret it in the same book, to put different emotion in different ways. Always the idea develops not in a closed way, but the book is like a laboratory, a development of different ways to interpret the text. I have always been interested in this. I can interpret one page one way, but I say, “Oh, maybe it is possible in another way, look at this.” I want to give to the reader the possibility to open their imagination, give them inspiration to think about a different way. Always the images must be strong, not a sketch.
Buckler: The book is full of creatures. Can you talk about where some of these come from, how you craft those creatures?
Mattotti: Creatures are always our insides. Its part of a long work that I have always done in my sketchbooks. I think in 30 years, I'll continue to make drawings like that in my sketchbook. They are always drawings about my insides, so they are metaphor, they are symbols, symbols of our natural inside. So, I don't think they are different creatures from us, they are not animals, they are us. They are our brains, they are our ideas. The drawing gives us the possibility to change the form to make signs that interpret the reality. They are the concretization of our imagination. So, maybe sometimes they explain much better than a realistic image would. So, the creature from inside you. You may think that they are creatures of another world but they are creatures of our world; the spider, the monster, the stranger, the character. The distortion is the distortion of our brain.
Buckler: So, you lent the creature inside of yourself to this work to help translate it?
Mattotti: To what?
Buckler: You said that the creatures were a concretization of the creature inside of you?
Mattotti: They are a concretization of ideas, of sensations, of emotions. I don't have an animal in my brain, I have emotion, contradiction, tension, pieces of sensation and emotion. And when I draw, my creatures are the concretization of emotions. I do not know before I draw what will happen on the paper, they go out in a very natural way. They are the symbol of sensations that I have inside.
Buckler: Can you take us through creating one of your images? What your process is?
Mattotti: There is always a different creative process. It depends very much on the work. In this case, I read the text of Lou Reed [Edgar Allen Poe], and sometimes I was impressed by some images. But it was more natural when I put on the music. So, I put on the music and I read some of the text, then I started to draw. The music gave me much more of the images, the atmosphere and tone of my images. Much of my work is influenced by music, so for many other images I let myself go on the melody and the atmosphere of the music. In my history, the music gave me some ideas and perspective for some of the work. It is not always like this, sometimes I must make an illustration and I try to make the composition in a very logical way, much more like a project, I have to make sketches and little by little I change. I do that when I have to make posters, or covers for magazines. When I make a comic it is between that. In a way it is a project, a very rational project, logic project, in another way you must make it possible for the drawing to develop the sense. So it is between the two.
Buckler: Could you talk further about how music relates to your art?
Mattotti: I could give you an example?
Mattotti:Fire is completely influenced by the music of Peter Gabriel and Brian Eno. I remember the first images of Fire were done hearing the music of Peter Gabriel. Always, my books have a sort of soundtrack that I use to concentrate with. The book Carnival, for me it was about the possibility to try to relate the place between music and images.
Buckler: Do you listen to music while you make art?
Mattotti: Yeah, yeah, all the time.
Buckler: You originally went to school to be an architect, correct?
Mattotti: Yeah, but I never wanted to be an architect. I really went into architecture because I couldn't go to fine art school. So, I decided to go into architecture school. There were good subjects. In a strange way I learned many things that I couldn't learn in a fine art school.
Buckler: Did you learn things in architecture school that you have been able to use in your career as a cartoonist and an artist?
Mattotti: I think architecture gave me the notion of space, the structure of the images. The idea of the project. Also, it gave me other influences in how to approach a subject. Not only in an artistic way, but about the historic way, also the logical side of the subject. In a way, it is more scientific. I learned how to be more scientific in the way I work.
Buckler: Can you talk about the difference between creating these kind of illustrations for The Raven and creating comics?
Mattotti: It is a big difference. This kind of book is a sort of a mosaic. I started with some images from one side and another side and little by little the world of this book started to exist. In the comics, I am obliged to start the development of the characters. The structure of the pages are completely different. You must think about the tolerance of the style. If you change the style, it must be justified around the subject of the story. Maybe it is more complicated to make the comics, for me it is more complicated. There must be a tension inside that is done with the images and the text. Here in a book like The Raven, or other books, I am more free, less obligations. In a way I can go on the extreme side, the free way. The relation of the text and the pages is completely different. It is a sort of complimentary thing, you must open the structure of the text that you read, you put a way to interpret it. I don't think it is easier. I think it is more simple than comics. Comics are more complicated I think.
Buckler: Do you believe that this project can be interpreted any further, into another form?
Mattotti: Maybe, yes. It could be interesting. Lou Reed, once in an interview, said that this text could be a ballet. He is always interested to reinterpret this text in a different way with different artists. Maybe it could be a dance, or an animation. I don't know. I remember one idea that could be beautiful: if there is a reading with the music and a projection of the images. Could be interesting to make something with animation or something strange in the theater. I don't know in the future what Mr. Lou Reed will do, he has so many projects -- me, too. It's like a mine, it's a big concentration of images. It's a pity the book is not published with the CD inside. It could be a beautiful addition if people could hear the music and look at the images and read the text.
Buckler: I am sure you get asked this a lot, but I wanted to concentrate on your art. Who are some graphic artists who have influenced you?
Mattotti: There are so many, but I always say that for me one of the big masters is Alberto Breccia, the Argentine master. He opened so many doors, he opened the possibilities in comics, possibilities for the expressionists to be abstract. The explosion of sensation. There are so many other masters. I think about [Dino] Battaglia in Italy. There are many painters; Francis Bacon, Caravaggio. I love Alfred Kubin and Odilon Redon. For me this book is really in the tradition of the symbolic illustrator, like Alfred Kubin or Odilon Redon.
Buckler: Who are some cartoonists who have influenced you?
Mattotti: When I was younger I read all kinds of cartoonists, I was always influenced by the story of the cartoon. In Europe we have different tradition in comics: such good creators like Hugo Pratt, but I also like American comics like Walt Kelly and Dick Tracy [Chester Gould], [George] Herriman. I really fell in love with [Lyonel] Feininger, I use many ideas of Feininger. I grew up with comics history. Jose Muñoz, I am good friends with Jose Muñoz, so he influenced me. The relation with life and work. Also, Art Spiegelman influenced me. Robert Crumb, who opened the door for independent comics. There are so many. I grew up with comics. It was the '60s and '70s. For me comics was like film or literature.
Buckler: Are there any other projects you have in the works that you wanted to talk about?
Mattotti: Now I am working in animation, experimental for television. I will be working in one of my first books Huckleberry Finn Adventures by Mark Twain. We are putting color to it right now with computers, it will be put out in France. I will maybe put out new pages or a new version of Chimera. I want to continue some of my old comics projects, black and white. I had stopped for a while.
Buckler: Is there anything we didn't cover, anything you would like to add?
Mattotti: This book, The Raven, is really a collaboration with Lou Reed, because he wanted to give me ideas, to control and be part of the project. He really wanted to work on this project. The melody of the images was done together.