Due to the somewhat obsessive nature of my link gathering, I had the idea to start calling these posts "Daily OCD: Online Commentary & Diversions." What do you think, readers? Too cutesy-poo? Offensive to sufferers of real OCD?
• List: The Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon names "The Ten All-Time Best Long-Running Comics Series," with Love and Rockets Vol. I at #2 ("The best long-running and organic artistic achievement in serial comic book form... The Hernandez Brothers inspired and outworked a greatest generation of comics auteurs. Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez are each among that handful of artists who must be given serious consideration when talking about the best cartoonists working. In Love & Rockets each created fictional worlds for the ages and used them as a vehicle for enormous artistic development, lapping the majority of their peer group. One so inclined could argue with seriousness a top 25 of American graphic novels where 1/3 of the titles listed came from this series") and Acme Novelty Library at #8 ("...a mind-bending achievement... ACME punched right in the scrotum the notion that every issue of a single comic book series had to look like the others... Its primary value is that it presented [Chris] Ware's giant talent to enough of an audience to bring him thousands of hardcore fans... Ware can dream up a single-page that if it were the only thing he ever published people might still know his name")
• List: The A.V. Club's Noel Murray offers commentary on Spurge's list ("There’s no one definitive L&R storyline; it’s just story after amazing story, accumulating over the past three decades like personal correspondence. [...] Ware... turn[ed] comic books into a kind of readable sculpture...") and lobbies for the inclusion of Johnny Ryan's Angry Youth Comix
• Review: "Miss Lasko-Gross' self-caricature in her autobio stories [in A Mess of Everything] is an interesting mash-up of a typical teen with low self-esteem and that of an indignant outsider determined to make her increasingly confident voice heard -- and loudly. [...] Lasko-Gross' greatest strengths as an artist are her character design, gesture and use of body language. It's the way she stages her characters that makes looking at each page interesting... I love the touch of the exaggerated and the grotesque that she injects into her drawings, distorting faces and bodies to reflect emotional tumult." - Rob Clough
• Review: "Formerly-suppressed, entirely classic, these stories [in Blazing Combat] are all solid examples of comic storytelling and craftsmanship... [T]he teams here make things look too easy. Not surprising since we’re talking about master artists like Toth, Frazetta, Severin, Crandall and others. The stories have all aged surprisingly well... Highly recommended..." - Matt Maxwell, Robot 6
• Events: Portland, your Free Comic Book Day cup runneth over, as Andrice Arp and the other contributors to the excellent free anthology comic Bird Hurdler will be appearing at various locations throughout town -- Andrice has the full itinerary and details on her blog
Now older but perhaps not so very much wiser, the hammer-wielding matriarch Luba has relocated to the United States of America, where she continues to contend not only, as an immigrant, with a brand new and not always welcoming culture but also her tempestuous extended family — her eccentric sisters Fritz and Petra, her nurturing but often disapproving cousin Ofelia, her many children ranging from the fully grown (Guadalupe and Doralis) to the latest brood sired by her husband Khamo (Casimira, Socorro, Joselito, and Conchita) — many of them in turn each with her own network of family members, lovers, and friends (including a number of other escapees from Palomar).
These “America” stories — over 100 of them, ranging from quick one-page blackout sketches to bona fide graphic novellas — were originally published in a number of different comics and reprinted in a trilogy of oversized paperbacks. Luba finally collects in one compact, affordable hardcover the entirety of these tales, showcasing Gilbert Hernandez’s wicked wit, great compassion, and uncanny understanding of how human beings love, squabble, and ultimately find a way to make it through this life. Tales of sex, violence and rock and roll rub elbows with stories of love, sensitivity, and understanding — and thanks to the miraculous alchemy of Hernandez’s peerless storytelling, what emerges is a coherent, exciting, funny portrait of one of the richest group of fictional characters ever to spring from a cartoonist’s mind.
NOTE: Stay tuned for the future announcement of the Collectors Edition of Luba, signed by Gilbert Hernandez, with a special binding, and strictly limited to 30 copies, which will most likely be a convention exclusive starting this summer!
• Review: "The publication of I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planetsby Fantagraphics is a perfect example of publishers saving comics from obscurity. Hanks’ figures are blocky, the anatomy can be clumsy, and the writing is simplistic, yet on each page there is at least one panel that takes your breath away with its energy and power... There are terrifying images amidst his clunky compositions and strange leering grimaces in the faces of the heroes and villains alike. On top of all these aesthetic challenges and rewards, they are great stories, ...lively with a passionate definition of right and wrong, which gives them an infectious dynamism and excitement." - Christian Zabriskie, The Graphic Novel Reporter
All last week and this week we're bringing you a sneak peek at our Fall 2009 - Winter 2010 schedule of releases! Today's excerpt from our latest book distributor's catalog includes Norman Pettingill: Backwoods Humorist, the outsider cartoonist's first retrospective; King of the Flies Vol. 1: Hallorave by Pirus and Mezzo; Scream Queen: Sand and Fury by Ho Che Anderson; and The High Soft Lisp, a new Love and Rockets collection from Gilbert Hernandez. (Note that all the info in this catalog is subject to change along the way to the books' release, including release dates, prices, cover art, book specs, etc.) Click here to download the PDF!
• Review: "Blazing Combat... [is] packed with gloriously miserable... war stories covering everything from the battle of Thermopylae to Vietnam... all beautifully captured by comics legends like Archie Goodwin, Alex Toth, Joe Orlando, and Gene Colan in appropriately murky grays... Fantagraphics has slapped together a nice, hefty... hardbound collection that's worth a read, whether you're a comic nerd, war buff, one-legged veteran, or one of those snooty I-only-read-graphic-novels types. Bombs away." - Jonah Spangenthal-Lee, The Stranger
• Review: "Miss Lasko-Gross's autobiographical comics are the best in the field since [Lynda] Barry and Phoebe Gloeckner put pen to paper. A Mess of Everything is a collection of short (mostly two to three pages) cartoons about high school. All of Lasko-Gross's cartoons are told mostly in shades of gray and brown, and they're brief, unsentimental anecdotes about shoplifting, pointless rebellion, and boys who fall in love too easily." - Paul Constant, The Stranger
• Review: "[Mome] Volume 14 is the best issue yet. About half of the contributors are new to the anthology, and their work — especially 'The Carnival,' Lilli Carré's bizarre, wistful story of damaged love at a state fair, and Spanish cartoonists Hernán Miyoga and Juaco Vizuete's noir about corruption and fame, 'The New Servant' — is skillful, funny, and possessed of a confident literary quality that many cartoonists, try as they might, can never achieve." - Paul Constant, The Stranger
• Review: "...[T]he Luba stories interweave into a panoramic soap opera that are as much about her friends and extended family as about her, a vast, chaotic superstory of a kind most comics creators can only fantasize about creating... [R]ead individually the stories are good, but read as a unit they really take on a surrealistic yet concrete life, infused throughout with a random coherence that nonetheless unifies into a real experience. It's an impressive act." - Steven Grant, Comic Book Resources
• Review: "If [Fletcher] Hanks’s stories were fascinating for their anger, lunacy, and wild urgency, then these rediscovered gems [in Boody. The Bizarre Comics of Boody Rogers] are a revelation for being every bit as strange, but seemingly on purpose. It’s akin to David Bowie coming along and taking the unstoppable id of The Ramones and The Stooges and crafting something much more complex and layered... Get it together, America. Check out this strange book and dare to dream, one last time, because dark days are ahead, and when the bullets start flying you’ll wish you spent more time laughing." - Tom Batten, Brick Weekly
"Poison River, a graphic novel by Gilbert Hernandez, gave me a master lesson in real writing. It was beautiful beyond words and violent and tender and heartbreaking. From that moment on, I knew what kind of writer I wanted to be. It's the great unknown novel of the 20th Century." - Pulitzer Prize-winning author Junot Diaz (The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao), "Life-Changing Art," Baltimore Magazine
We're very grateful to Diaz for his public love of Love and Rockets, and Oscar Wao is definitely recommended for L&R fans.
• Review: Comics Waiting Room on Ho! The Morally Questionable Cartoons of Ivan Brunetti: "...[I]f the material printed Ho! had been created in, say, Soviet Russia, Ivan would be the biggest star in the gulag. As it is, he’s one of the most twisted and funny motherfuckers putting pen to paper right in the U.S. of A. And I’m damned proud he’s one of us... Brunetti’s latest work is as strong as ever, and maybe even sicker. He’s an amazing cartoonist, and I respect his work immensely, even when some of it makes me queasy… especially if it makes me laugh then feel queasy."
• Reviews: The "What Are You Reading?" column at Robot 6 includes Tom Bondurant on Gilbert Hernandez's Heartbreak Soup ("At first I was afraid that Beto was introducing so many characters I wouldn’t be able to keep up with them, but the deeper I go into the book the better he manages everyone. The writing reminds me of Will Eisner’s slice-of-life stuff from his later career..."), Tim O'Shea on The Complete Peanuts 1969-1970 ("The intro by Mo Willems is great insight into what appealed to many about the series..."), Chris Mautner on A Mess of Everything by Miss Lasko-Gross ("[It] shows a good deal of progression [from Escape from "Special"], both in terms of storytelling and artistry"), and Jeff Lester on The Comics Journal Library Vol. 6: The Writers ("for which a more accurate title might have been 'Gary Groth Browbeats Bewildered Comics Writers'")
• Preview: Urban Aesthete looks at the forthcoming Abstract Comics anthology
• Profile: The Seattle Weekly, previewing Jaime's visit to Seattle, nicely describes Love and Rockets: "It’s a mutable universe that skips between characters at older and younger stages of life, where buxom pro wrestling queens, spaceship mechanics, and touring hardcore bands buoyantly intersect. No one stays lost for long; no grievance goes unforgotten; and deep-fried jungle slugs forever remain a delicacy."
• Review: Sean T. Collins on Supermen! The First Wave of Comic Book Heroes 1936-1941: "...[T]his... anthology of early superhero comics is, like Paul Karasik's Fletcher Hanks collection and DC's Jack Kirby omnibuses before it, a real 'here's how it's done' moment. Entertaining, left-field subject matter; eye-pleasing design; tactile paper stock; color technique and reproduction values that neither hide the material behind the haze of nostalgia nor try to mask its primitive origins with out-of-place high-gloss modernity; manageable length and heft; art presented at a powerful but not brobdingnagian size... truly [we are] living in the Golden Age of Reprints."
If you thought you'd never see a new Love and Rockets comic book again: surprise! Our 2009 Free Comic Book Day offering is a preview of this summer's second annual issue of Love and Rockets: New Stories! Official description: "This preview edition includes a sizeable chapter of the second half of Jaime's amazing super-hero romp 'Ti-Girls Adventures,' as well as Gilbert Hernandez's typically unique 'Chest Fever,' both from the upcoming Love and Rockets: New Stories #2, plus selections from #1 and a new cover by Gilbert and Jaime!" Head to the FCBD website for an exclusive sneak preview download, and visit your participating local comics shop (call to confirm participation and availability) on Saturday, May 2 to pick up your copy! (Yes, we will have them at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery; no, they will not be available online.)