In 2000, veteran rock 'n' roller Lou Reed, legendary director Robert Wilson, and a cast of singers and actors premiered Reed's musical POEtry in Hamburg's Thalia Theater.
An ambitious combination of Edgar Allen Poe's poems and stories and Reeds reinterpretations of same (with a few classic Reed songs such as "Perfect Day" and "The Bed" integrated for good measure, POEtry bridged the centuries to provide a unique vision of beauty and horror for the dawning 21st century.
In 2003, Reed released (under the title The Raven) a double CD reprising the musical, featuring an all-star cast of singers and actors including Steve Buscemi, David Bowie, Laurie Anderson. Willem Dafoe, and the Blind Boys of Alabama, as well as an edited single-CD version focusing on the songs.
Now, for the definitive book version compiling the songs, verses and narratives that comprise POEtry/The Raven, Reed has personally commissioned legendary Italian illustrator and cartoonist Lorenzo Mattotti (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Stigmata) to visualize this extraordinary collaboration. Mattotti's vivid, abstracted and enigmatic artwork brings out all the terror and beauty of this centuries-spanning masterwork.
This beautiful hardcover volume boasts a jacket design by Grammy-nominated designer Jesse LeDoux.
Download a 16-page PDF excerpt (2.2 MB) which includes the Table of Contents and Reed's foreword.
• Review: "This book [Eye of the Majestic Creature] isn't easy to describe, and that's exactly why I love it. Leslie's surreal, funny style is a welcome addition to comics; her world includes a talking guitar and thrift-shop treasures. Though sometimes it's a compliment for me to say I read a book in one sitting, I'll be honest and say this one took me weeks — and that's because my eyes lingered over the detailed panels for perhaps much longer than the author intended. I envy her worldview, though I'm thrilled to have 128 pages of it." – Whitney Matheson, USA Today Pop Candy
• Interview:The Daily Cross Hatch continues serializing Brian Heater's MoCCA panel conversation with Gahan Wilson: "I fit right in [at the National Lampoon]. The minute I walked in and we started talking, I knew 'this is wonderful!' They would egg you on. You would do something that was distasteful or you would attack something, and they’d say, 'oh, you can do worse than that, can’t you?' That sort of thing."
• Plug: "After decades of continually breaking new ground and pushing the boundaries of music, Lou Reed is still as much of a sonic innovator as he ever was. But in the coming months, the Velvet Underground legend is setting aside that aspect of his career in favor of revisiting a couple points in his illustrious career in some rather interesting ways. ...Reed is... readying a collection of drawings that re-interprets his 2003 concept album, The Raven. The 188-page hardcover book, done as a collaboration with Italian illustrator Lorenzo Mattotti, will add another layer to Reed’s reworking of Edgar Allan Poe’s words by giving the songs 'vivid, abstracted and enigmatic paintings.'" – Chris Coplan, Consequence of Sound
On Monday, June 27 at 7pm, join Lou Reed for a very special reading and question and answer session for his book with Lorenzo Mattotti, The Raven, in the Rare Book Room at the Strand bookstore in New York City. This is a reserve seating event with advance tickets costing $35, which includes a copy of the book, a Strand tote bag, and the chance to meet Lou. Tickets are limited so get yours NOW!
I can say, without a doubt, that was the Best TCAF Ever!
...Okay, fine, so Fantagraphics has only done the Toronto Comics Art Festivaltwice, but it truly was an amazing year! Thank you so much to Christopher, Peter, Miles, Andrew, Gina, and all the fantastic volunteers of TCAF!
And, of course, one of my favorite things about TCAF?
Canadian donuts. Oh yeah.
Mike and I woke up bright and early to set-up our table. There was a momentary panic when I realized one of our display racks didn't arrive from Seattle, but the stellar staff at the Toronto Reference Library loaned us one of their carts for the weekend so we could get all of our shipment out! Thanks Ab!!
This photo serves as proof that we DID bring copies of Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Vol. 1 (see? on the front corner there) and Wandering Son Book 1 (front and center). They both sold out so quickly, some people thought their debut was a myth, but nope! It's also true that Wandering Son sold out in the first two hours of the show!
Not too surprisingly, The Raven was another sell-out, along with Lorenzo's Ignatz title Chimera. (Stigmata was also insanely close to selling out.) And how gracious and kind was Lorenzo Mattotti? I'm envious of everyone who got to attend his panels! He kept modestly insisting his English wasn't very good (it was good!), but his intelligence and great humor shine through in any language! Thank you so much to TCAF and the Italian Cultural Institute for bringing Lorenzo to Toronto!
Lorenzo may have been a "Guest of Honor" at the con, but really, all of our artists were "guests of honor" at the Fantagraphics table! We feel so lucky to work with some of the nicest people in all of comics, like Zak Sally here (seen with fellow Ignatz artist Mattotti). Not only did Zak do beautiful signings, but "Professor Zak" came out, engaging customers (and us!) with his insane depth of knowledge on comic history! [Note to Zak: I totally wanna see that Osamu Tezuka DVD!]
It's not a TCAF without pre-eminent Ditko scholar Blake Bell, and we were thrilled to have Dave Cooperattending TCAF for what we hope was the first of many signings to come!
And, of course, it's everyone favorite: T Edward Bak, seen here modeling his sweet new Popeye shirt. Covey, I know you're jealous. Bak split his time between signing with us and signing with Koyama Press, ran by Anne Koyama, aka The Nicest Woman in Comics™.
On Saturday night, Mike, Lorenzo and I attended our first ever Doug Wright Awards, where this adorable picture was shown during the induction of David Boswell (far left in the photo) into the "Giants of the North." Yes, that isDaniel Clowes with The Hernandez Brothers and a grunged-out Chester Brown. Awesome.
Without a doubt, the most romantic moment of TCAF was when Drawn & Quarterly's Tom Devlin surprised Peggy Burns with the prettiest bouquet on Mother's Day! They were the Prom King and Queen of TCAF!
Another favorite moment was watching T Edward Bak and Lorenzo Mattotti at the TCAF After-Party on Sunday night. The two artists bonded over a crazy book T Edward found featuring Heavy Metal-style artwork. We got on the subject of "First Concerts." Mike and Todd both saw U2 on the Joshua Tree tour, albeit in separate cities. (High fives ensued.) And Lorenzo's first concert? Canned Heat. Just when you thought the guy couldn't get any cooler.
So, as you can see, it was a wonderful time at TCAF! (And there are lots more photos over at the Fantagraphics Flickr page.) Thank you so much to everyone who stopped by the Fantagraphics table to browse or purchase books — we're so grateful for your support and your enthusiasm, and we can't wait to see you again next year!
The Online Commentary & Diversions hamster wheel started spinning a little too fast, but I think I've got it back under control now:
• Feature: For Largehearted Boy's "Book Notes" feature, Wilfred Santiago creates a musical playlist for 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente: "Golden age animation has been a big influence on my work and the graphic novel itself is very musical. It would be interesting to see the shape that it would take as a feature film. So here is what the 21 soundtrack would sound like."
(The following links are via the Largehearted Boy link above:)
• Review: "The graphic novel  is a beautifully wrought Clemente collage, following the hitter from the impactful events of childhood through his career as a Pirate and up to his untimely death. While there were several poignant dramatic through lines, the book’s strength lies in its brilliant visuals, which far outweigh its strictly biographical content. In addition to his many other notable qualities, like his humanitarianism and his greatness as a player, Clemente was a beautiful man, with a striking physicality. Drawing on this aesthetic truth, Santiago stuns and heightens it, with an imaginative and dramatic illustrative style, with its palette of Pirates yellow, and orange and black. The oral tradition of myth-making is put into visual form here." – Ted Walker, Pitchers & Poets
• Review: "The comic book biography is alive and well in 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente... In 21, Wilfred Santiago, who was also born in Puerto Rico, uses the language of comic books to tell the story of Clemente’s life as something like the arc of the hero’s journey or as a heroic epic.... 21 captures what made Clemente unique. However, Santiago uses the medium of the comic book in a unique way to tell the story of man who represents the best of us. [Grade] A-" – Leroy Douresseaux, I Reads You
• Review: "...I love a good graphic novel biography. Well as those of you who are familiar with the great baseball player and humanitarian that Roberto Clemente was already know, it would be hard to tell his story in any media and for that story not to be powerful. ...21 ... is a handsome production... [and] an... EXCELLENT graphic novel." – Ralph Mathieu, Ich Liebe Comics!
• Plug: "21: The Story of Roberto Clementeby Wilfred Santiago, a graphic novel by an illustrator and writer from Puerto Rico, received a nice write up in a recent issue of Sports Illustrated (linked here)... If we could only have found it at the book store. Sports shelves? Graphic novels? You give it a shot." – Tom Hoffarth, Los Angeles Daily News
• Review: "...Mattotti is an artist who is equally concerned with complex imagery and sharp storytelling — attention to that combination leads us to what makes Mattotti so great. Claudio Piersanti wrote a very crisp script for Stigmata, and Mattotti illuminates the story deftly, probably because he has a real appreciation for well told stories.... If one’s standard for great cartooning is drawing that tells a story without a shred of vagueness, Mattotti’s work on the events described above is thrilling in its virtuosity. But this is a work of art far more potent than a simple story well-told. Mattotti’s two extremes — that of high level storytelling and drawing that suggests unique emotions — exist side by side without any fuss." – Austin English, The Comics Journal
• Review: "While the core timeline of Freeway is only a few hours of frustration spent in traffic, Alex’s mind wanders through past fiction and reality, present fact, and fantasy. Kalesniko, who himself worked at Disney as an animator, designed his main character as an anthropomorphic dog. The result is a wistful, innocent, and somewhat naive protagonist who is coming to the realization that his childhood dreams aren’t quite turning out as he planned.... It is definitely worth the challenge of meandering through the crammed vehicles to reach those poignant moments of Alex’s life, moments many of us share in our own versions of our adult selves." – Ashley Cook, Giant Fire Breathing Robot
• Review: "Less able graphic novelists might scare themselves silly with the scope of this book, but Mark Kalesniko’s attention to detail in all aspects of his craft — the backgrounds, the emotional ranges of the characters and the slow but steady-paced urbane drama — blends the components together masterfully.... [Freeway] is deeply sophisticated and literary. It deals with humanity’s big questions – love, death, life, and what we do with our time. It’s funny, touching, heart-warming, tragic and very engaging." – Andy Shaw, Grovel
• Review: "Gilbert’s sketches actually give an insight into how he feels about his characters, and as a reader, I found myself understanding the characters a bit more, just by looking at his drawings.... The work in the ‘Jaime’ section is quite beautiful and well drawn, however, it does not give further insights into the ways in which Jaime sees his characters, or what he has planned for them... To sum up, Love and Rockets Sketchbook Volume 2 is pretty awesome." – Lisa Polifroni, lisaloves2read
• Interview: At Inkstuds, a 2008 conversation with Johnny Ryan conducted and with illustations by Josh Bayer: "It’s interesting that you bring it up because people always demand that artists deliver some sort of meaning and truth, and when that truth’s hideous they throw up their arms and get upset and have hurt feelings and it’s 'you’re ruining people’s lives.' There’s conflict; you want the art to be true, but don’t want to be shown stuff that makes you feel bad, you can’t make people feel good all the time, it's not true, the object is to make people feel something. There’s no rule that it has to be something good."
• Interview:The Daily Cross Hatch wraps up their serialization of the transcript of Brian Heater's MoCCA panel conversation with Peter Bagge: "I used to worry about what my peers thought. That’s a big mistake. Never worry about what your peers think, because then you always find out that they would have done it in a heartbeat. [Laughter] If you take anything away from this conversation, it should be 'fuck Dan Clowes.'"
• Feature:The Seattle Times' Marian Liu previews our Charles Peterson: Taking Punk to the Masses exhibit at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery: "'I was wondering why this kid was bothering to take photos,' said Larry Reid, curator of the Fantagraphics show, of Peterson. Now, flipping through the photos, Reid remembers each scene as if it happened yesterday. Drawn to the energy of the music, Reid was a good decade older than many in the scene then. He shepherded the artists by promoting their shows and allowing them to play in his gallery's basement. 'I can recognize the artists by their shoes,' said Reid, looking through the photos."
• Plug: "For a reality check, I turned to a former Rolling Stone colleague and friend who always seemed to have a better line on all things cultural than anyone else around and a way of stating his position in a manner that set him apart, way apart, from other music writers — make that writers, period — of his time, and boy does he put today’s snarky music press to shame. This would be the late Paul Nelson... (Nelson’s life and work are getting their just due in September with the publication of a long-awaited, diligently researched biography by Kevin Avery, Everything Is An Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson. Full disclosure: Yours truly was among those Avery interviewed. But buy the book anyway.)" – David McGee, The Bluegrass Special
• Plug: "I’m in the process of reading an advance of Everything Is An Afterthought, Kevin Avery’s biography and selected works of the music critic Paul Nelson. Reading Nelson’s writing reminds me how of the role that he and other music critics of the time — our own John Swenson included — played in creating the myth of New York City for me." – Alex Rawls, OffBeat
• Plug: "Back in 2003, Lou Reed paid tribute to poet Edgar Allen Poe with his sprawling The Raven, which didn't exactly strike a positive chord with the many critics and fans at the time. Nevertheless, Reed will now be revisiting that album with a new illustrated book. The book, also titled The Raven, was made in collaboration with Italian illustrator Lorenzo Mattotti.... We originally called The Raven 'bizarre and thoroughly uneven.' We'll have to see if this new illustrated spin helps to make the entire album a bit more rewarding." – Alex Hudson, exclaim.ca
Fantagraphics is thrilled to be heading across the border for the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, this weekend, Saturday, May 7th and Sunday, May 8th! Mike Baehr and I will be on hand, and, yes, it's true... we're bringing The Mouse to Canada! In fact, just look at all the new titles we're bringing with us:
Indeed, we will have The Raven after all, just in time for you to get your copy signed by artist Lorenzo Mattotti, making the trip all the way from Italy for a very rare international appearance! And he's just one of the many amazing artists signing this weekend!
Where can you find all this awesome-ness? Swing on by tables #162-163.
[ click the map to open a larger version ]
And don't forget to take in some of the great panels organized by TCAF! Listed below are the panels involving Fantagraphics artists, but, really, check out the entire schedule, 'cause there are tons of really interesting talks going on! (Mike, for instance, is especially excited about that "Adventure Time" panel!)
Saturday, May 7th
10:15 – 11:15 am // A15: Root Rot Release Featuring: T. Edward Bak, Michael DeForge, Ines Estrada, Bob Flynn, Jesse Jacobs, Hellen Jo, Joseph Lambert, Diana McNally, Robin Nishio, Angie Wang and Mickey Zacchilli Moderated by Anne Koyama Location: Learning Center 1 Koyama Press is proud to announce a launch party to celebrate the release of the Root Rot anthology. Ten of the artists will be in attendance for the book’s debut. Come and meet them! Plus live drawing, signings, giveaways and more!
11:30 – 12:15 pm // A16: Spotlight: Lorenzo Mattotti Moderated by Robin McConnell Location: Learning Center 1 Lorenzo Mattotti is recognized today as one of the most outstanding international exponents of comics art. His books have been translated all over the world. Mattoti, a Featured Guest of TCAF, appears here to discuss his life and his work, including his most recent graphic novels Stigmata and The Raven. Mattotti will be interviewed by the host of Inkstuds, Robin McConnell.
1:00 – 2:00 pm // A4: Creator Roundtable Panelists: Paul Pope, Brandon Graham, and Sam Hiti Moderated by Robin McConnell Location: The Pilot Paul Pope, Sam Hiti and Brandon Graham are creating modern comics built on a wealth of influences. Joined by Inkstuds host Robin McConnell, they will be exploring the tableau of work that inspires them and how that affects the creative processes in work such as Death Day, Tiempos Finales, King City, Multiple Warheads, 100%, THB and more.
Sunday, May 8th
12:30 – 1:30 pm // U2: Illustration Panelists: Lorenzo Mattotti, Jillian Tamaki, Adrian Tomine Moderated by Caitlin McGurk Location: The Pilot Many cartoonists also have a career in illustration. Come listen to four prestigious comics artists and illustrators discuss the difference between creating in a narrative form (comics) and a static one (illustration).
1:15 – 2:00 pm // U13: Print Culture Panelists: Tom K., John Porcellino and Dylan Williams Moderated by Zak Sally Location: Learning Center 1 From Comic Books to ‘Graphic Novels,’ from the Undergrounds to Art Comics, Fanzines to Zine Culture — the names may change, but one thing remains constant: they are all reproduced, on paper. No matter the decade, subject matter, or economics involved, comics have always been linked to print. With physical objects no longer being a necessity (and the book form itself on the decline), what will be the role of print culture in the next decade and beyond?
• Interview: At Torontoist, Courtney Clinton talks to Lorenzo Mattotti about The Raven and other topics in advance of his visit to the city for TCAF: "For me, it comes naturally to portray solitary characters. In the end we are all alone and at a certain point we have to confront this idea. Solitude can also be an inability to communicate with others. It’s probably something I as an artist feel more than most, even if I try to fight these feelings. On a positive note, in a moment of concentration solitude can help us see our own inner depth."
• List: In light of the impending end of the anthology, Robot 6's Chris Mautner names "The six best stories in Mome" (to date... there's one issue yet to go)
• Review: "Hernandez of Love and Rockets continues his obsessive study of faux Z-movies featuring L&R character Fritz, a lisping, freakishly large-chested post-ingenue. This latest offering [Love from the Shadows] is imaginatively staged, beautifully drawn and deftly dialogued, with odd discordant undertones and psychosexual notes that include incest and insanity." – Richard Pachter, The Miami Herald
• Review: "More stoner/fantasy silliness from Daly. There seems to be more of a focus on plot and creating lengthy action sequences than in previous. The jokes don’t seem as frequent, or at least are more subtle this time around. [...] Dungeon Quest Book Two is still a fun romp, especially if you’re at all familiar with the fantasy genre or role-playing games in particular." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "Crane's drawings are clear, simple, rounded. They combine perfectly with the primary colors used in printing newspapers. His characters were drawn more cartoonish than realistic, with free and lightweight lines, without much concern for details. In layout, Crane was able to explore the space of the entire page of the Captain Easy strip, alternating horizontal and vertical panels to get a more dynamic effect. The author also used horizontal panels to show beautiful panoramic images of fights and persecution." – Gustavo Guimaraes, Ambrosia (translated from Portuguese)
• Interview: At The Rumpus, Ted Wilson has a fun chat with Jim Woodring: "People sometimes avoid me but not because I am or am not a garbageman. I really have no idea what you are asking. Do people avoid garbagemen? Not in my experience. In fact I learned that some women simply cannot resist a man in any kind of a uniform. I’m not kidding."
• Interview:Paul Gravett presents a transcription of the Comica-sponsored conversation between Dave McKean and Lorenzo Mattotti which took place in London last month: "I had read Piersanti’s novels, When he was buying a portfolio of mine, we were introduced. A French publisher wanted a short comic for an anthology about religion, so I asked Claudio because I knew he was interested in philosophy and spiritual problems. He had the idea of a man who finds he has stigmata wounds on his hands and doesn’t know what to do." (via The Comics Reporter)
• Interview: At The Comics Journal, Ken Parille talks to Ivan Brunetti about teaching comics: "To me, art is not about talent, it’s about hard work. It’s about developing one’s intelligence, thoughtfulness, and sensitivity. To some degree, the potential for these things seems to vary, implying they are perhaps innate, but I think anything can be nurtured (or neglected). Something might not come easy, but it can be learned. It’s matter of will, desire, determination, and hard work."
• Feature: At the Drawing Words & Writing Pictures blog, Best American Comics series co-editor Matt Madden spotlights Alexey Sokolin's "Life, Interwoven" from the Abstract Comics anthology as a 2010 Notable Comic: "The comic is made entirely of hatching lines, scribbles, swooping lines, and, way down beneath it all, hints of representative imagery. It almost looks like what began as a conventional comic mutated as the marks and lines broke free of the images. It’s also interesting the way the comic can read either as a six page comic, a series of six drawings (a sextich?), or six iterations of the same page being increasingly overwhelmed with line."
• Profile: At the ABC News website, the AP's Matt Moore talks to Robert Crumb during his recent visit to New York City for his Society of Illustrators exhibit opening: "'It was never intended for that purpose, so it's always odd to see it on a wall, or under glass; it was intended for printing and books. It wasn't made as a wall hanging piece,' Crumb said in an interview with The Associated Press. 'For me, the printed copy is the magic moment. When I see it in print — that was the whole purpose of it.'" (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
• Interview: At Previews, a must-read chat with Gary Groth about our classic strip reprints: "The only criterion is that it’s great cartooning. We wouldn’t waste our time devoting this much time and energy to anything less. Our mission has been to publish the best cartooning — not only in comic strips, but in every 'branch' of the cartooning art — that we can."
• Interview: At Robot 6, Chris Mautner talks to Wilfred Santiago about 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente: "I was trying not to make it … biographies to me have a static feel to them. I was trying to avoid [that] and I feel like cartooning helps you in expressing the story and what you’re trying to convey thtorugh the story. It was difficult too because I wanted it to be cartoony and realistic at the same time. I wanted it to be fun. What’s important was that it was exciting; that it could almost speak. That you could read the book in a very sort of sharp-paced way but you could also take the time and read through it at your leisure."
• Interview: Matthew Baker of Vanderbilt University's Nashville Review has an epic chat with Anders Nilsen: "Really I feel like comics is just the most useful category to drop me into. I don’t feel like I’m wedded to comics as a medium. I draw, and I usually sort of tell stories, but I do make standalone drawings and paintings, and I do make stuff that is probably closer to poetry than comics. I’ve made books before that aren’t really comics — just a series of pictures, or diagrams, or whatever."
• Review: "Stunning and evocative and rendered in a cacophony of swirling miasmic lines, this fearsome modern parable is a fierce interrogation of faith and destiny which asks uncompromising and uncomfortable questions about the price of Grace and the value of belief. [...] Emotive, shocking and utterly compelling, Stigmata is a grotesque and beautiful metaphysical rollercoaster with existential angst and blind faith gripping each other’s philosophical throats and squeezing really hard. No rational reader or mature comics fan can afford to miss this dark shining delight." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Review: "This book beautifully captures the phantasmagoric flow of images that occurs in dreams. Mattotti's art is incredible. There are panels that are so intricate that I wonder how he had the time to draw so many of them. At 32 mostly wordless pages it's a very short book, but the imagery, like the panels of a child throwing a toy at a giant, or the panels showing a huge black bird carrying off a rabbit in a rainstorm, will stay with you long after you finish reading. If you like the intense, emotional, sometimes dreamlike artwork Mattotti did for Stigmata, you will love Chimera." – Jon Anderson, The Beguiling
[Editor/Marketeer's Note: You can get Chimera for half price when you order Stigmata!]