The issue also includes the reviews excerpted below:
The Arctic Marauder by Jacques Tardi: "A strong Jules Verne flavor dominates the story’s stew of mystery farce and sci-fi adventure, from the ship named the Jules Vernez to the assortment of just-plausibly-outlandish vehicles and deep-sea mechanical apparatuses. But the real fun comes from marveling at it all in Tardi’s expansive, ice-blasted scratchboard tableaus that feature one breath-stealing scene after another, all the way through to the cheerfully villainous finale. A devious bit of far-fetched fun." – Ian Chipman
Freeway by Mark Kalesniko: "Kalesniko reprises his alter ego, Alex Kalienka, for his most ambitious and accomplished graphic novel yet. [...] Although Kalesniko’s formal storytelling devices, particularly his deft panel arrangements and intelligent compositions, are largely responsible for Freeway’s impressive effectiveness, it’s his distinctive and delicate drawing style that supplies the emotional component, best displayed in the economical character design and in the painstakingly researched, lovingly depicted scenes of a bygone Los Angeles." – Gordon Flagg (Starred Review)
Stigmata by Lorenzo Mattotti & Claudio Piersanti: "Obviously but never verbally a parable of Christian redemption, Piersanti’s story becomes extremely compelling in Mattotti’s hands. ...[H]is swirling realization of atmosphere, the protagonist’s states of mind, and human figures conjures the raw power and compassion of such great Italian neorealist films as Bicycle Thieves and La Strada." – Ray Olson
• Review: "Tim Kreider is a great caricaturist, as his latest collection of cartoons, Twilight of the Assholes, attests. He has a real knack for portraying the unsightly physical traits of modern Americans– the rolls of fat, the paunchy stomachs, the jowls, flabby arms and chinless faces — that make up more of the current populace than we’d care to admit (myself included). Plus, he’s got a nice, razor-sharp wit that really cuts to the absurdity of a particular stance or issue, and he isn’t afraid to get nasty or break a taboo to make his point, which can be refreshing." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "Cleverly constructed, laconically laid out in the classic nine-panel-grid picture structure and rendered in comfortingly mundane style a la Charles Burns, King of the Flies is a landmark in metafictional mystery tales. [...R]eaders will have to wait for the concluding book to discover how this stunning, mesmerising amalgam of Twin Peaks, Desert Palms, Peyton Place, The Omen and Blue Velvet plays out. A stylish and magical portmanteau saga of a community cursed with an excess of human frailty – lust, rage, greed, despair and especially shallow selfishness – this is a story that will surprise, compel, distress and haunt anybody with even half an imagination. Darkly addictive, casually violent and graphically sexual, King of the Flies is 'adults only' and well worth waiting until you’re 18 for." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Review: "This is a story about purpose, inertia, the road blocks we throw up for ourselves and the ways in which we are forced to interact with a demanding and frequently demeaning world. This book feels intimate because unlike his past work, Sammy the Mouse has an immediacy to it that’s quite different in tone from his earlier, more distant (but no less visceral) comics. [...] Sally’s comics have an ugly physical quality to them that I’ve always liked, but the two-color process he uses here pushes the ugly/beautiful tension even further. [...] The care and thought that Sally put into adapting his comic into the Ignatz format shows on every page and makes the story resonate all the more." – Rob Clough, The Comics Journal
• Review: "It’s hard to decide which Ignatz book is the best-looking purely from an aesthetic standpoint, but Leila Marzocchi’s Niger has to be in consideration. It’s another series that’s dominated by two tones (in this case, rust red and a chalky blue) that’s remarkable to behold simply in terms of its mark-making. There’s a lushness to this series, in the way Marzocchi uses a scratchy technique that makes her figures and backgrounds look as though they were less drawn than constructed with dense webs of color. Her figures are fabulously exaggerated, all curves and bulbous noses. Everyone is larger than life, creating a sort of mysterious and slightly dark fairy tale atmosphere for this story. [...] It’s an easy comic to follow and probably the friendliest to non-comics readers in the Ignatz line. While its ideas are original, its familiar feel creates a certain immediate comfort level for the reader as they delve into a strange and beautiful world. It’s as though Niger is a favorite old fairy tale whose memory is just out of reach." – Rob Clough, The Comics Journal
• Review: "Instead of writing about the [Prince Valiant] series as a whole (or at least, those volumes I have read), I decided to do another one-page criticism. After much debate with myself I selected the page... dated December 1, 1940, appearing at the end of volume 2. In some respects this is a typical Hal Foster page, but in many ways it is not, which is partially why I chose it." – Derik Badman, The Panelists
• Plug: "ROY CRANE Mania! Just got my copy of Buz Sawyer: War in the Pacific, this and the Captain Easy volumes are long overdue. Thrilling stuff! Roy Crane is one of the unsung greats! Thrilling, charming, infectious masterful storytelling. Probably in my top five favorite cartoonists. Roy Crane drew some of the most subtly sexy women ever. ...[H]uzzah to Fantagraphics! Okay, I'm insane for Roy Crane. It may look old fashioned at first glance, but trust me, once you dive in you'll eat it up!" – Mike Allred
• Plug: "[Love and Rockets: New Stories #3] was as amazing as folks said it was. No knock against Gilbert, but Jaime murdered it this time around, absolutely killed, fired on all cylinders, drowned it in ink. Jeepers, someone give that man a cartooning medal." – Evan Dorkin
• Plug: "I forgot how much I enjoyed reading Carol Tyler's comics when I was tripping over them in various anthologies in the 80's/90's. I stumbled across this book [Late Bloomer] while cleaning up in the basement where all the comics that don't fit anywhere sleep, and was happy to revisit these pieces, as well as material I hadn't read before. The perils of buying a book and putting it aside for too long. Funny, warm, human, honest, occasionally beautiful/heartbreaking 'life' comics." – Evan Dorkin
• Plug: "I love Roy Crane and I'm super-happy [Captain Easy Vol. 1] is in print. Cartoonists and cartoonist-wonks, take heed, there is some beautiful work to be pored over here. ...Crane = Master." – Evan Dorkin
• Plug: "Regular readers of this blog will be aware of the release of Stigmata (Fantagraphics) just a few weeks ago. Featuring expressionist master Lorenzo Mattotti's swirling, cross-hatched pen line as if the story were recounting the fading memory of a dream about a drunk who one day wakes up marked with stigmata. It's an intense and perfectly balanced story, in hard cover with a wonderful Mattotti painting on the cover and it deserves to be a flagship title for any graphic novel collection." – Dave's Comics
• Interview: At The Comics Journal, Ian Burns talks to Shaun Partridge, writer of the Josh Simmons-drawn Mome serial "The White Rhinoceros" (part 1 of 3): "I think fun is the law. You should really enjoy life and laugh. That’s what comedy’s all about. Which is also alchemical, because you’re taking something that is unpleasant and making jokes about it. You know, Dave Chappelle’s a master alchemist. Larry David’s an alchemist."
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