Brother Mario made a surprise appearance with the rest of the Hernandez clan for their Love and Rockets signing on Friday morning, which I only managed to capture with my crummy, crummy cameraphone.
Moto Hagio was joined for the second half of her signing by Carol Tyler, who brought flowers swiped from outside the convention hall.
Andrei Molotiu and Stephen DeStefano made their first Comic-Con signing appearances with us. Andrei, though best known for his work with abstract comics, is also a whiz with the representational sketch, as he proved in my sketchbook. Stephen obliged another fan with a 'Mazing Man sketch.
I missed getting any actual photos of Johnny Ryan & Esther Pearl Watson during their Friday signing, but here's their whiteboard sign-in. Esther's is particularly funny if you know the secret symbolic code from Unlovable.
Friday's final signing was a special treat as Blake Bell was joined by Wendy Everett, daughter of Bill Everett, subject of Blake's new book (and an almost-immediate con sell-out) Fire & Water.
Gilbert, Jaime, and Natalia Hernandez packed 'em in for two solid hours of signing & sketching mania as fans snapped up the new issue of Love and Rockets: New Stories (not to mention Natalia's new minicomic The Cat Eyes #1). Also, judging by the second picture below, Natalia thinks Adam Grano is crazy.
• Review: "...[O]ne of the collection’s great strengths [is that] it offers an extremely wide range of writing produced over eight years. ... While there’s a great deal to be learned by reading any such collection, Schwartz’s editorial approach makes The Best American Comics Criticism far more entertaining than I would have thought a collection of criticism could be." – Ken Parille, Blog Flume
• Review: "Giraffes [in My Hair]... is a personal lesson in history, love, redemption and all that other crap we look for in a good story — all that, and it's a lovingly illustrated graphic novel that breathes characterization and intrigue from the first page to the last. ... When you toss in Carol Swain's trademark pencil-scratch panels, the whole thing comes together as a great piece of art and story. Sure, it's about sex, drugs and rock and roll, but it's somehow still a new and fresh experience. I wish I'd come across it sooner." – Thorin Klosowski, Denver Westword
• Appreciation: "Even though a variety of comics initially got me interested in graphic novels (or comics for grown ups), the Hernandez brothers created a world which intrigued me the most. ...[W]ith Love and Rockets Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez struck a chord with me. Life, love, sex, action, punk, weirdness, sci-fi, death, art etc it’s all there. ... Overall all of the characters and stories are highly 'recognizable' from real life, in the way that they are human. Some stories are simple and some are surreal, just like life itself." – Matto Fredriksson, Music for Mechanics
• Interviewer:Johnny Ryan's already-legendary onstage interview with Lawrence "Real Deal" Hubbard (along with Dan Nadel's Art in Time panel) is now available for audio download at Comics Comics
• Review: "In this installment [of Hate Annual], Buddy’s wife Lisa takes center stage, discovering her 'Creative Outlet' along with a wife she meets through a parent-teacher conference. Hilarity will ensue, of the inimitable, irreplaceable Bagge vintage uncorked with caustic, mordant glee. ... Here Bagge’s vivid caricatures animate the most routine of actions, effectively suggesting how cozily, in this life, the mundane cohabits with the outrageous. Bagge extends his world-wariness, bemusement and cynicism though the short comics of the Annual..." – Rich Kreiner, The Comics Journal
• Plug: "Is it wrong to think that this will be on my best of year list even before it’s been published? ... Freeway is out in July from Fantagraphics. It will be marvellous." – Richard Bruton, The Forbidden Planet International Blog Log
• Review: "Many books have been written about World War I, but few can truly worm their way into your head like Jacques Tardi’s It Was the War of the Trenches. … The tales here are devastating and heartbreaking, and often disturbing, but readers will nonetheless have a hard time putting it down." – Holly Scudero, Sacramento Book Review
• Review: "Perhaps there is something in Charlie Brown, that the longer I read his adventures, the more I become a fatalist. I look at the history of Europe and I know that there are frequent periods of relative peace, such as the past 60 years in Poland. And since they are rare, sooner or later they can suddenly end." – Konrad Hildebrand, Motyw Drogi (translated from Polish)
• Review: "This, then, was my introduction to the idiosyncratic and fantastically imagined worlds of Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez. ... While the stories and art of each Hernandez brother is unique, they shine extra bright by being juxtaposed, one to the other. Altogether: these rambling, lingering tales are bewitching." – Anna Clark, Isak
• Review: "...[In A Mess of Everything, Miss] Lasko-Gross covers the usual Holden Caulfield territory with brevity and an eye for detail. Her cartooning is very expressive and the book is coloured in subdued wash-like tones of brown, grey and blue that enhance the emotional impact of her cringe-worthy struggles for independence and individuality." – Bryan Munn, Sequential
• Plug: "[Roberta] Gregory is the cartoonist responsible for the comic series Naughty Bits, which is one of the best comic series I've ever read. Seriously, Life's a Bitch is one of my favorite comics ever. It's basically a biography of one normal — albeit kinda hateful — woman, and it's insightful, funny, and true." – Paul Constant, The Stranger (previewing an event on Saturday that, alas, we didn't know about in advance)
• Reviewer:Laura Warholic author Alexander Theroux looks at a new biography of Jack London for The Wall Street Journal: "Readers can be pardoned for thinking it seems not improbable that London, given the chance, would punch Mr. Haley in the nose."
• Review: "I read this volume over two nights, and it spoiled both evenings in the best way. It is grotesque and nihilistic, punctuated by moments of thrashing violence. ... Attempts at humor are only steeped in gallows. ... There is a pulse drumming in [King of the Flies Vol. 1:] Hallorave. By the time the second volume arrives in November (just in time for the holidays, kids!), it might very well morph into a low buzzing." – Alex Carr, Omnivoracious (Amazon)
• Guide: At Time's Techland blog, Douglas Wolk tells you "Where to Start with Love and Rockets": "Fantagraphics actually has a guide to navigating the various overlapping reprints of the three Love and Rockets series (and assorted associated projects) to date, since everything's been repackaged and reformatted so many times. That's useful if you want to read everything in chronological order – but I'd actually suggest that you don't."
• Review: "The solid blacks and blocky grotesquerie of The Lagoon strongly recall Charles Burns’ Black Hole, a story in which adulthood is equated with monstrosity. In The Lagoon, too, sexual maturity and horror are linked. But that link is mediated by a third term — a metaphor, a song." – Noah Berlatsky, The Hooded Utilitarian (reprinted from the Chicago Reader)
• Review: "The mind of Tony Millionaire is a funny, wacky and kinda disturbing place, but man do I love it! ... Billy Hazelnuts and the Crazy Bird is an incredible book for all ages. There is nothing else like it being published today and I think that is why it’s so special! In a time when comic fans are counting every penny and scrutinizing every purchase, rest assured this book is worth every penny." – Secret Identity
• Review: "Of course, the Bradleys story remains the best reason to pick up any of these Hate Annuals, and this time Bagge doesn’t disappoint; even though I still can’t stand Buddy in his Popeye the Sailor look, this story of wife Lisa wanting to get out of the house (since the kid is in school) and do something for herself, eventually ending up in a two-woman rock band playing in a strip club, is consistently funny and sharply observed." – Johnny Bacardi, Popdose
• Plug: In the Portland Mercury, Floating World's Jason Leivian recommends Mezzo & Pirus's King of the Flies for fans of Paul Verhoeven's 1980 film Spetters: "Similar stories of fucked up youngsters spiraling into a black hole of self destruction with incredibly rendered artwork that will appeal to fans of Charles Burns."
• Plug: "If you've not checked out Luba by Gilbert Hernandez, you should. Especially if you live in LA. ... Luba is as funny and delightful as ever in these stories (some super short one-pagers, others much longer, over a hundred stories in this collection) of her and her family and the play between their work lives and personal lives is comical and poignant and over the top in classic Hernandez style." – Callie Miller, LAist (via Robot 6)
• Plug: "I've spent most of this week reading "Plunder Island," the fourth and latest collection of classic Popeye comics from Fantagraphics. This is the third time I've read this material... and it still never fails to enthrall me. In fact, I think Popeye has knocked Peanuts and Krazy Kat out of my personal canon to become my MOST FAVORITE COMIC EVER at the moment. There's just something about E.C. Segar's blend of melodrama, adventure and unrestrained, big-footed comedy that really knocks my socks off." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Profile: "Other comics publishers have fallen all over themselves trying to leverage a hoped-for crossover appeal into the mainstream of culture in the last twenty or so years. Meanwhile, Fantagraphics has hung surprisingly tight to their mission statement. But the bigger surprise for me came from learning that Fantagraphics still runs its publishing operation out of the same full-to-bursting house in Maple Leaf where they first planted their Seattle roots in 1989." – E. Magnuson, In North Seattle (Seattle P-I)
• Contest: One lucky person will win a free copy of The Squirrel Machine by Hans Rickheit from Kevin Church, who describes the book as "beautifully drawn, disturbing and sad"
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