• Review: "Expectations are foiled at every turn [in Congress of the Animals] precisely because Woodring is digging deep into the rich soil of his own imagination; he's pulling these stories up from the same place that myths and legends come from, and in that way, his books have the weird weight and unmistakable freshness of myth. These are stories that haven't been told before, but they come from the place where stories are born, so they're instantly recognizable to everyone. And because they live in the prelinguistic language of cartoons, almost anyone on the planet can look at a page and immediately understand what is happening." – Paul Constant, The Stranger
• Plug: Further, Jim Woodring's appearance at Elliott Bay Book Company tonight is today's "The Stranger Suggests," Paul Constant saying "Every one of Woodring's comics is an epic poem, a psychedelic novel, and a deeply personal memoir. If you can't identify with his protagonist, the innocent-but-fickle Frank, there's something wrong with you."
• Review: "In Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse Vol. 1, part of an ambitious, multi-volume reprint project from Fantagraphics, 21st century readers are reintroduced to this largely forgotten Mickey and his unfortunately largely forgotten cartoonist. It’s like meeting Mickey Mouse for the first time — and learning the little guy is actually a total badass. ★★★★ [out of 5]" – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Las Vegas Weekly
• Review: "Mordantly hilarious, this superbly cynical fable [Isle of 100,000 Graves] rattles along in captivating fashion: a perfect romp for older kids and a huge treat for fans looking for something a little bit different. Jason’s work always jumps directly into the reader’s brain and heart, using his beastly repertory company to gently pose eternal questions about basic human needs in a soft but relentless quest for answers. That you don’t ever notice the deep stuff because of the clever gags and safe, familiar 'funny-animal' characters should indicate just how good a cartoonist he is. His collaboration here with the sly and sardonic Vehlmann has produced a genuine classic that we’ll all be talking about for years to come." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Plug: "...[W]hile it seems like an oddball idea to put an individual spin on masterworks like Poe's, [The Raven] actually looks gorgeous, the artwork fantastic and macabre..." – Sydney Brownstone, The L Magazine
• Plug: "Lou Reed has been quite busy these days. When he's not collaborating with Metallica on a record, he's spending time putting together a graphic novel based around his 'spiritual forefather' Edgar Allen Poe, called, appropriately, The Raven. ...Reed's Poe-esque lyrics have been collected into a book and illustrated with paintings by New Yorker cartoonist Lorenzo Mattotti. And yes, the book looks just as creepy as you'd expect." – Jamie Feldmar, Gothamist
• Interview (Audio):Inkstuds host Robin McConnell's latest guest: "Wilfred Santiago’s comic biography of Roberto Clemente  is a great look at a specific time in not only baseball, but also touching on mid century american racial and political tones. Wilfred skillfully tackles a range of issues in this great collection. It was a delight to discuss this great book with him."
• Lore:Kim Deitch's "Mad About Music: My Life in Records" column continues over at TCJ.com, with the new third installment focusing on television
• Review: "...[Wandering Son] is absolutely fantastic and deserves every one of the awards it will doubtless win. ...[I]t’s an honest look at what Shu and Yoshino are going through. There’s no magic pool, no funny crossdressing, no easy solution to the dilemma that these two face. What I also like about the series is that its secondary characters are often just as interesting as the main pair: they’re all in fifth grade, after all, when everyone is struggling with their identities and the consequences thereof. Shu and Yoshino just get the worst of it." – Ted Anderson, The Hub (YALSA)
• Review: "Woodring’s someone whose work demands repeated reads. For longtime fans, Congress of the Animals is another puzzle piece in Woodring’s complicated world of art. For newcomers, it’s likely going to be the first enjoyable step of discovering that world and Woodring’s back catalogue." – Nick Dean, Skyscraper Magazine
• Review: "In this selection [Captain Easy, Soldier of Fortune Vol. 2] Roy Crane’s irrepressible humour comes perfectly into focus and this enchanting serial abounds with breezy light-hearted banter, hilarious situations and outright farce... This superb hardback and colossal second collection is the perfect means of discovering or rediscovering Crane’s rip-snorting, pulse-pounding, exotically racy adventure trailblazer. The huge pages in this volume... provide the perfect stage to absorb and enjoy the classic tale-telling of a master raconteur. This is storytelling of impeccable quality: unforgettable, spectacular and utterly irresistible. These tales rank alongside the best of Hergé, Tezuka, Toth and Kirby and unarguably fed the imaginations of them all as he still does for today’s comics creators." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Interview: At New York magazine's Vulture blog, Jennifer Vineyard talks to Lou Reed about adapting Edgar Allen Poe for The Raven (among other topics): "Do you know what it’s like to try to rewrite one of the most famous poems in the history of the world? It’s a can’t-win situation. No one is ever going to say that the rewrite is better than the original. That’s not going to happen."
• Interview: At the Suicide Girls website, Alex Dueben talks to Dave McKean about his new book Celluloid: "It’s always a bit strange doing something that is exclusively about sex and putting it out for people to look at. There are people who are bound to draw some sort of parallel between you as an individual and the stuff you’re putting in the book, which is not necessarily there to be drawn, but people do. So I tried to keep my identity out of it as much as possible."
• Profile:Time Out Chicago's Jonathan Kinkley profiles local boy Wilfred Santiago: "21: The Story of Roberto Clemente is a lovingly written and superbly illustrated biography of the baseball legend.... Stylistically, he considers himself something of a chameleon, tackling each challenge with a new visual approach. 'Actors change accents to play different characters,' says the artist, 'and I have the same graphic flexibility to interpret different kinds of stories.'"
• Review: "Of all the comics libraries I've seen, this one has by far the most complete and diverse collection of ancillary material. The intrigue of reading the earliest (1930-1931) Mickey Mouse strips (including a number written by Walt Disney himself) in restored and remastered form would have been reason enough to pick this book up, but the essays, commentaries, character sketches, and archival features all add immeasurably to one's appreciation of Gottfredson, the creator who invented the funny-animal adventure genre." – Chris Barat
• Interview:The Daily Cross Hatch's Brian Heater talks to our own Eric Reynolds about Mome, with part 1 focusing on the anthology's beginnings: "We wanted to publish more people that we weren’t really able to do, in terms of giving them book deals. Oddly enough, it seems like our production on that front really took off along with Mome, as far as publishing new people like Josh Simmons or Paul Hornschemeier, you name it. But that was essentially the reason. I was seeing more and more newer cartoonists coming out that I was interested in, but maybe didn’t have a book in them, yet. And it was really means to an end, as far as working with people that I had been admiring from afar."
• Scene:LocalBozo reports from Lou Reed's The Raven reading at the Strand bookstore last night
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."