• Review: "Early reviews of The Artist Himself: A Rand Holmes Retrospective are heralding it as a much-deserved tribute to a forgotten genius... Around these parts, Holmes, who passed away in 2002, has been a revered figure for decades. [...] Through excerpts from the artist’s own journals and interviews with those who knew him, Patrick Rosenkranz presents his subject as a man of contradictions, both prodigiously gifted and painfully insecure. [...] Holmes’s art was always marked by sharp visual wit and a sometimes astonishing attention to detail. He was indeed a genius, and thanks to Fantagraphics, he won’t be a forgotten one." – John Lucas, The Georgia Straight
• Review: "...High Soft Lisp remains another Gilbert Hernandez winner. Frank and trippy, sexy and creepy, nobody working in comics creates worlds as deep or intriguing as Gilbert Hernandez’s." – Michael C. Lorah, Newsarama
• Interview: At the KEXP blog, Chris Estey talks to Peter Bagge about his band Can You Imagine?: " The main reason I took up the guitar and abandoned the drums was so I could have more control over what type of music my band plays and how. Pop rock from the 60s is obviously my favorite kind of music, but I also loved punk and new wave from the late 70s, since those bands broke free from the self important and self indulgent style of music that was ruining rock. I also loved that the self deprecating humor they all exhibited (or that the best bands did, anyway)."
"Set to Sea... is the real thing: a one-off nautical action book (a hardcover version of Drew Weing's sweet, lively web-comic) that's a real pleasure to look at and linger over. Every panel-as-page just radiates joy in drawing." – Douglas Wolk
"I positively adore this format. [...] I could pull half or more of the pages in this book and hang them as wall art. [...] I gave this book one of my highest distinctions. I made my girlfriend read it."– Mike Williams
"Man... this book! ...Weing creates a wonderful modulation of tone throughout Set to Sea. [...] Maybe it's corny to call a book about a would-be poet lyrical, but that's exactly what Set to Sea is." – Evan Narcisse
"Set to Sea is just beautiful, emotional in all the right ways, and mixed with unexpected moments to pull it away from sugary sentiment and tweeness... There's such a gentleness here, so much heart, that it's completely compelling, and the way Weing structured it, a panel a page, makes the reading experience wonderfully slow, to match the story. [...] I just really, really loved this book. Like you said, Douglas, this is the real thing." – Graeme McMillan
• Plug:Techland's Mike Williams praises Set to Sea further in his "Panel of the Week" column: "Every page is a single gorgeous cross hatched panel that tells the story of a hulking poet forced into the life of a sailor. Do yourself a favor and go out and buy this small hardcover gem."
• Review: "Portable Grindhouse is a tributary 'don't know what you've got 'till it's gone' love letter to the awesomeness that was the 80s videotape box. [...] Beautifully encased in a faux cardboard videotape box, PG is a stroll through the shameless, sensationalist 'grab me off the shelves!' graphic design exploits and tacky taglines of an era when terrible action films, teen sex comedies, hilarious horror and strange sci-fi oddities still debuted weekly. Airbrushed atrocities and cartoon abominations abound." – Wilfred Brandt, TwoThousand (photo from the article)
• Commentary: "Magic realism in comics is nothing new, of course. The defiance of logic and physics is rooted in its pulp tradition, from superheroes to introspective character studies. Its effect helps us grab on to the ephemeral qualities of our experiences, giving us a shot at understanding their meaning and significance. In that context, its hard not to look at Scott Pilgrim and recall another time-bending tale of the modern comics era, albeit not so epic in its epicness: Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez’s Love and Rockets." – Scott Cederlund, Indie Pulp
• Coming Attractions:Library Journal's "Graphic Novels Prepub Alert" for November releases highlights Linda Medley's Castle Waiting Vol. 2: "Medley's black-and-white art draws on fairy tale standbys to spin a witty, inventive comedy of manners."
After Jaime’s two-part super-hero epic from Love and Rockets: New Stories #1 and #2, we return to the enthralling minutiae of the “Locas” cast’s lives for the first time in three years. In the main story "The Love Bunglers" (presented in two parts) Ray finally gets his date with Maggie: The couple goes to an art opening and to dinner, they discuss the crazy world of dreams, and Maggie asks Ray for a huge favor. Also in this volume, “Brown Town, Blue Sun,” a new installment in Jaime’s beloved “little kids” flashback series: A ten-year-old Maggie and her family move away from Hoppers to a desert ghost town…
And on the Gilbert side of the ledger, “Scarlet by Starlight” is a story of humans exploring alien terrain, one of whom gets caught up in the natives' mating season with a furry creature who bears a striking resemblance to Fritz (of High Soft Lisp fame). “Killer/Sad Girl/Star” picks up the “Sad Girl” character from LRNS #2, and how no one in her family takes her budding film career seriously.
All this, plus: a letters page!
Download an EXCLUSIVE 12-page PDF excerpt (930 MB) with glimpses of each story.
• Review: "Set to Sea's one-panel-per-page layout lets Weing's visual storytelling shine, but only if you resist the urge to tear through the pages quickly. Go too fast, and you'll miss the touching, wordless way Weing communicates the death of a supporting character. Or, worse, you'll skim over a gorgeous arctic sunset clearly inspired by theGustave Dore engravings for Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner." – Glen Weldon, NPR
• Plug: "Drew Weing’s graphic novel debut [Set to Sea] is a Popeye-esque delight. Weing’s linework — and abundant crosshatching — is a visual feast that well serves the story of a deadbeat poet who is shanghaied and learns to live and love the yarns he’s been spinning." – Benn Ray (Atomic Books), Largehearted Boy
• Plug: "I don't know Drew but I've been reading [Set to Sea] online and I think it's a damn fine yarn worthy of your dollars and a place on your bookshelf." – Steve Rolston (Queen & Country, The Escapists, Ghost Projekt)
• List: "Featuring riotous fake ads, and strips like 'Snake and Bacon,' TDTT is subversive, twisted and awesome. With the 'can comic books be funny?' debate ever-raging, Tales Designed to Thrizzle answers a glorious 'Yes!'" – Max Minor, "Comic Books You Should Be Reading," Nerd City
• List:io9's Cyriaque Lamar recommends the Love and Rockets "Maggie the Mechanic" storylines as one of "5 comic books that will see you through Scott Pilgrim withdrawal," saying "these initial forays into scifi strongly resemble the unexplained weirdness of Pilgrimverse." (via Newsarama)
• Commentary: "Love and Rockets is spectacular, and amazingly approachable (What brought me over to the dark side of actually reading it was free time and finding Locas in my local library...), and the kind of thing that I feel embarrassed to have been reticent to read in the first place, which explains why I admit to it in public like this." – Graeme McMillan, Robot 6
• Commentary:The Hooded Utilitarian's critical roundtable on Popeye concludes with Robert Stanley Martin: "I perceive Segar’s Popeye as a period piece, but I can’t summon a rigorous aesthetic basis for that view. All I can muster is my own idiosyncratic opinion."
• Review: "Of the artists that meant the world to me when I was young enough that lots of artists meant the world to me, Jaime Hernandez is the only one I know of that can still kill me dead with his newest and latest. Your mileage may vary, but Jaime's three-part story in the latest Love and Rockets brought to mind the same sweep of romance and regret and pursuit of all that's sweet in life as much as battered and broken insides allow that I remember all too well from the summer between my junior and senior years in college, when I would have put everything about my wonderful life on hold to climb into a black and white comic book for a little while. There are three or four panels in this newest effort worth some cartoonists' entire careers." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
• Review: "Set to Sea is [an] auspicious debut... Weing's nameless, landlubbing protagonist aches to rhapsodize about the sea but discovers that something's missing. After dozing drunkenly on a dock, he awakes to discover he's been shanghaied. His adventures provide ample material for a volume of poetry in this hilariously violent picaresque tale." – Richard Pachter, The Miami Herald
• Review: "A book like The Best American Comics Criticism invites argument. If you put 'best' in your title, argument will follow. I’ve got arguments, but I wanted to start by praising both the editor, Ben Schwartz, and the publisher, Fantagraphics, for making the effort." - Derik Badman
• Review: "...[T]his story is one where Deitch tries to tie the various unruly strands of his many stories together. In a way, I almost prefer that these overlapping, nesting, and sometimes contradictory stories never really congeal, but The Search for Smilin' Ed is, like all of Deitch's work, a compelling and highly personal piece of work." – Robert Boyd, The Great God Pan Is Dead
• Review: "Although the images are very haunting, they are extremely beautiful. Pim & Francie is a pretty unique book. ... This book as a whole is actually quite creepy, haunting, scary, beautiful, and intoxicating. I seem to enjoy it more every time I look/read through it. With images on almost every single page, this book is worth a lot more than its cover price." – Steven Thomas
• Review: "Wally Gropius ...[is] John Stanley for the 21st century. Not that Stanley doesn’t work just fine in 2010, but Hensley is worthy of that sort of praise. I wish this guy was writing Archie." – Chris Reilly, Guttergeek
• Review: "I loved this book and am glad I... could read something this wonderfully twisted... I really wish I could tell you what genre this is, but The Squirrel Machine defies that sort of commercial branding." – Chris Reilly, Guttergeek
• Review: "Man, Joe Daly is awesome. ...[H]e is back with thunder in his pen and ants in his pants. [Dungeon Quest] is as good as Scrublands on page one and it just gets better and funnier, more bizarre and familiar (if you have ever met or hung out with Larpers) with each page turn. Welcome back, Joe Daly. You rule." – Chris Reilly, Guttergeek
• Review: "The Troublemakers... is Gilbert [Hernandez] doing a Quentin Tarantino, in that he dips into a sleazy old unpleasant genre of crime exploitation films of the 60s and 70s and cherry-picks a bunch of the good bits and smashes them together and cooks them into a really sweet pie." – Chris Reilly, Guttergeek
• Review: "The Culture Corner... is the biggest score for fans of Wolverton since the publication of the Wolverton Bible. I guess you could also say that this is the first reprint collection of Wolverton material since the Wolverton Bible if you wanted to nit-pick. Great stuff." – Chris Reilly, Guttergeek
• Interview: At WFMU's Beware of the Blog, Kliph Nesteroff talks to Drew Friedman: "When I was talking to Albert [Brooks] at this party he said, 'Drew, did you know that Harpo's ex-wife married Frank Sinatra?' I said, 'No, it was Zeppo's ex-wife.' He said, 'No, no, it was Harpo's ex-wife.' I said, 'No, it was Zeppo's ex-wife. Look, we have Andy Marx, Groucho's grandson standing right here. Let's ask him.' I said, 'Andy, which one of your uncles married Frank Sinatra's wife?' He said, 'Well, that was Zeppo's wife.' That's why I love L.A. It's handy to have Groucho's grandson [around] when you need him." (Note: audio of this conversation will be available from the Inkstuds podcast soon; we'll keep you updated)
• Profile:Seattle Times book editor Mary Ann Gwinn reports on the partnership between Rick Marschall's Rosebud Archives and Fantagraphics Books: "Now Marschall's company, Rosebud Archives, and Fantagraphics have formed a joint publishing enterprise that will draw from Marschall's immense collection, reclaiming the work of the great 20th-century magazine and newspaper artists for the 21st-century public."
• Commentary: At The Hooded Utilitarian, Shaenon Garrity kicks off a critical roundtable on Popeye with a 7-part appreciation: "Popeye hangs on, indestructible..., the last of a tougher, smellier, funnier breed."
• Reviewer: At Comics Comics, our own Jason T. Miles looks at something I'm also fond of: Andy Helfer & Kyle Baker's late-1980s run on The Shadow
• Review: "By the 1980s, however, the anti-establishment sensibility of the underground comix had been replaced by a faith in just 'do-it-yourself' — making your own 'zines,' and that sense of independence is what [editor Michael] Dowers praises [in Newave! The Underground Mini Comix of the 1980s]." – George Elliott Clarke, The Chronicle Herald
• Review: "...Jim Woodring's Weathercraft creates a fantastic alternative universe. ...Woodring constructs a nightmarish tale in which Manhog falls victim to the villainous depredations of the all-too-aptly named Whim and the spells of the witchy pair Betty and Veronica. Those unfamiliar with the Woodring dreamscape may want to pick up The Frank Book collection as a primer, but the stand-alone Weathercraft requires no real prep work — just an openness to disturbing, id-derived imagery." – Cliff Froehlich, St. Louis Post-Dipatch
• Review: "Although King of the Flies... is anchored in a sharply delineated but deliberately generic suburbia, the book plunges us into an often violent, always profane environment that recalls David Lynch's Blue Velvet. Using multiple narrators, the book is an intricately constructed series of interlocking short stories that acidly etch a disquieting portrait of modern alienation and unease." – Cliff Froehlich, St. Louis Post-Dipatch
• Review: "French master Tardi gives an infantry-level view of World War I's meat-grinder carnage in grim vignettes that primarily keep tight, telling focus on the stories of individual soldiers. ...[It Was the War of the Trenches] deserves a place on the top shelf of graphic lit." – Cliff Froehlich, St. Louis Post-Dipatch
• Review: "Reading Jacques Tardi's It Was the War of the Trenches, I realized just how short most American war comics fall in portraying the reality and horror of war. ... Tardi brings every ounce of his talent to the task of trying to articulate the sheer horror of this war. And while he doesn't flinch once, neither does he resort to trite 'war is bad' or 'good versus evil' oversimplifications. He merely puts you directly in the soldiers' viewpoint and then tries to relate their experiences to you. ... It's a raw, uncompromising, devastating book, and, I'm kind of sad to say, unlike anything that's been published on these shores." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "...St. Louisan Tim Lane's Abandoned Cars, one of 2008's essential comics, has recently been reissued in paperback with two variant covers that vividly recall the lurid pulps of the 1930s." – Cliff Froehlich, St. Louis Post-Dipatch
• Review: "It can sometimes be hard to get a grip on what Jason is going for in his stories, since even when he approaches a familiar subject, he takes a strange angle and dwells on the types of moments that wouldn’t normally receive focus in these sorts of tales. Werewolves of Montpellier goes even further afield... Leave it to Jason to dwell on the awkwardness of the 29 non-full-moon days of the month in which the werewolf has to pass as a normal human." – Matthew J. Brady, Indie Pulp
• Review: "What I think is most interesting about [The Best American Comics Criticism] is that in his choices of pieces, [editor] Schwartz is laying out a theory of lit comics. It's a theory that rings very true to me. Part of this theory goes that as literary comics grew, they made necessary a reevaluation and relearning of certain classic comics." – Robert Boyd, The Great God Pan Is Dead (via The Comics Reporter)
• Profile: Steve Duin of The Oregonian talks to Patrick Rosenkranz about assembling The Artist Himself: A Rand Holmes Retrospective: "With rare access to Holmes' journals and sketchbooks, Rosenkranz succeeds in giving readers access to the cartoonist that Holmes denied his closest friends. And he succeeds because of a compulsion, born 45 years ago, to understand the world in which these artists moved 'and how what happened in their lives affected their work.'"
• Comic-Con: At About.com: Manga, Deb Aoki gives a quick report from the Moto Hagio Spotlight Panel at Comic-Con 2010, with a promise of more to come: "...Hagio-sensei charmed the audience with her self-effacing wit and matter-of-fact responses to questions..."
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.