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!
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
Just announced: The Raven by Lou Reed and Lorenzo Mattotti will be making its debut at the Toronto Comics Art Festival in May! Mattotti, as previously announced, will be a Featured Guest at the festival. TCAF organizer Chris Butcher puts it best: "Look for further information on Fantagraphics’ TCAF 2011 plans, as well as feature events with Lorenzo Mattotti, as the Festival draws closer."
• List:The New York Times's George Gene Gustines recommends Moto Hagio's A Drunken Dream and Other Stories in their "Graphic Books Roundup — Holiday Gift Guide 2010": "This 10-story anthology shifts from young romance to supernatural mystery to kitchen-sink drama, so there will probably be a touchstone tale for everyone."
• List:New York Magazine presents "Dan Kois's Great New Autobio Graphic Novels," including Joyce Farmer's Special Exits at #4: "The final four years in the lives of underground cartoonist Farmer’s father and stepmother, told with honesty and humor. A book that will resonate for anyone facing the loss of a loved one."
• List: At Robot 6, Chris Mautner compiles "Six x-rated comics you can read without shame," half of which are old (mostly out of print) Eros gems: Birdland by Gilbert Hernandez, Small Favors by Colleen Coover, and Nipplez 'n' Tum Tum by Mary Fleener.
• Review: "Authors Zack Carlson and Bryan Connolly spare no one in Destroy All Movies!!! from the moment the introduction starts. Yes, there are swear words in the book. If you appreciated your time during the 1980s this cultural reference goes beyond just scenes in movies that have punks in them. [...] The short reviews of each flick give an honest and hilarious appraisal of each piece. I wish every movie review would be as succinct as these two authors because it would save a lot of reading and muck to wade through in a film review. [...] If you are a punk film buff, Destroy All Movies!!! is definitely worth the purchase." – William Browning, Yahoo! Movies/Associated Content
• Review: "Zack Carlson and Bryan Connolly got the wild notion to write a guide to every movie that ever contained a punk in it, and the result of their labors is the loveably cumbersome Destroy All Movies!!! The Complete Guide to Punks on Film. ...[I]t's a treat that it exists, and we're lucky to reap the benefits from Carlson and Connolly's obsession." – Ned Lannamann, The Portland Mercury
• Review: "Among the 1,100 titles cataloged, mocked and celebrated by [Zack] Carlson and co-editor Bryan Connolly in this future coffee-table classic [Destroy All Movies!!!] are Hack-O-Lantern,Rock and Roll Mobster Girls,Revenge of the Nerds IV and Invasion of the Mindbenders, none of which you have seen, of course, but all of which you will desperately want to experience after dipping into Connolly and Carlson’s obsessive-compulsive masterwork. If you ever wondered what it would be like if the 'Psychotronic' section of sleazebag anti-classics at Movie Madness grew a brain and then threw up on you, well, here’s your chance." – Chris Stamm, Willamette Week
• Plug: "There's no shortage of scholarship about every conceivable genre of film, from film noir to Westerns to crazy-disturbing B-movie schlock. But admit it: when was the last time you found a comprehensive study of punks on film? Well, that appallingly underrepresented genre can boast its own volume: Destroy All Movies!!!: The Complete Guide to Punks on Film, published by our Seattle friends, Fantagraphics Books." – Kristi Turnquist, The Oregonian
• Review: "Being free of logical constraint and internal consistency, Zippy’s daily and Sunday forays against The Norm can encompass everything from time travel, talking objects, shopping lists, radical philosophy, caricature, packaging ingredients, political and social ponderings and even purely visual or calligraphic episodes. It is weird and wonderful and not to everybody’s tastes… The collected musings of America’s most engaging Idiot-Savant have all the trappings of the perfect cult-strip and this latest volume [Ding Dong Daddy from Dingburg] finds cretin and creator on absolute top form. If you like this sort of stuff you’ll adore this enticing slice of it. Yow!" – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Review: "Fear of Comics is a wonderful book, one of the finest short-story collections the medium has ever produced. It’s laugh-out-loud funny at times, filthy at others, disgusting and poetic and black as midnight at still others. And it’s a showcase for comics’ premier naturalist to abandon that style altogether, to take his distinctive and exaggerated figurework to their absolute extremes, to tell stories that feel like neither the magic realism nor the science fiction for which he is best known but rather like fairy tales, or even myths of some creepy nihilistic religion." – Sean T. Collins, Attentiondeficitdisorderly
• Review: "Richard Sala... knows how to skillfully mix humor with horror and the grotesque. [Peculia] is a collection of short stories whose protagonist is a mysterious girl who lives in a world populated by monsters and strange creatures... Dreams are mixed with reality and the stories could go on forever, and even if the book has a conclusion, this does not answer the questions and doubts of the reader. Never mind, because the stories are still entertaining and illustrated with an original style that combines influences from gothic expressionist cinema and even a purely pop style and very fun." – Valerio Stive, Lo Spazio Bianco (translated from Italian)
• Plug: Our pals at Tiny Showcase are excited for Ray Fenwick's new book Mascots and hint that they're scheming something up for the launch
(not final cover)
• Coming Attractions: Bleeding Cool's Rich Johnston notes our May 2011 publication of Lou Reed and Lorenzo Mattotti's adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe's The Raven
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