With all of our event announcements today this Online Commentary & Diversions update is blissfully short:
• Review: "Jason’s books are entirely plot-driven, yet delivered with a dry, morose humor that gives the narrative an offbeat tone. Coupled with his ear for snappy dialogue, Jason’s plots become surprising romps that mash up divergent adventure clichés.... All told, Jason’s books, including The Last Musketeer, are pure escapist fun romps.... I’ll be looking for more of Jason’s comics, and hopefully more readers will also check his stuff out." - Michael C. Lorah, Newsarama
• Review: "...I was expecting something offbeat and madcap (and certainly wasn't disappointed in that regard), but I was also surprised by just how emotional Jason was able to make a story about an Anthro-dog murder society and time travelling hitmen. Yeah, the entire thing is patently absurd on every level - self-consciously and humorously so - but it's also a story about the impermanence of rage and the importance of forgiveness, alongside what a goddamn twat Adolf Hitler can be when all you want to do is shoot the bastard.... [I Killed Adolf Hitler] is a quick read and very rewarding, and something I imagine I'll come back to from time to time for a while. Smart, funny and surprisingly poignant, this was VERY GOOD." - David Uzumeri, The Savage Critics
• Reviews: "Locas ll collects a huge amount of comics featuring a more mature Maggie, finding and losing romance with people like Ray (one part Chandler victim, another part mod hobo), 'Frogmouth' (painfully sexy but achingly annoying), and reunions with Hopey and others in a strange relational ballet set in SW America. It’s a weird, flat plain of bizarre sex and twisted circumstance that would be the first collection of comics I would recommend for any adult wanting to get a handle on the aesthetics of the art form since it became culturally relevant to do so.... Meanwhile, Fantagraphics has also just put out a new issue of the Comics Journal #299, which has an incredible narrative by lawyer-outsider art-underground advocate Bob Levin... Levin is the writer of several books on the struggle of comics and the counter-culture and transgressive fringes, and because of him #299 of TCJ is THE book about comic art to buy this year.... Mome... is the current multi-artist series that has critics in the comics world and outside of it regularly amped.... The last few issues of Mome have really hit a hot-run of quality, and though some stories are more straightforward and others are expressionistic, all the art is always sweet." - Chris Estey, KEXP
• Review: "Comics journalism is mostly an oxymoron, but The Comics Journal, on the eve of its 300th issue, is a scholarly, intellectual publication.... [F]or intelligent discussion of current and past graphic storytelling and its creators (the current issue features an incredible story of an ahead-of-its-time genre-spanning anthology from the seventies that was never published), this is indeed an oasis of comics journalism." - Richard Pachter, The Miami Herald
• Review: "...[A]wesome to behold.... When life and love, of a sort, finally do reassert themselves at [The Squirrel Machine]'s end, it's horrifying and drawn in a fashion that makes it look less like a natural thing and more like a terrible apparition, or a special effect." - Sean T. Collins
• Review: "...[T]he velvety ease of the narrative and the facile blend of sexual, familial and natural intimacies on display suggest one of those steps forward with which the comics medium has been blessed over and over again this past decade. One falls through The Squirrel Machine as much as reads it, and the collection of feelings it imparts is as much due to the clarity of its narrative as it is the horror show that occasionally surges toward the reader from some deep place in Rickheit's mind, righteous and angry and wet." - Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
• Review: "Throughout all 179 pages of The Squirrel Machine [Hans] Rickheit tells a rich, fluid tale, all the while approaching, but not quite revealing any implicit meaning the story itself might have. The result, a daring, surreal, often grotesque work, is more visceral than it is cognitive." - Paul DeBenedetto, Wednesday's Child
• Review: "Though far from savage, at its heart, [Tales Designed to] Thrizzle has some rather pointed things to say about the crap we consume on a daily basis. Plus, it's really, really, really funny.... [The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book] is basically Herge by way of the Big Lebowski with a little bit of Repo Man thrown in for good measure.... very funny..." - Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Plugs: The gang at Robot 6 (really just Chris Mautner) looks at some of the titles coming out in our New Comics Day bonanza today (along with the week's other notable releases)
On Tuesday, September 22 at 7:30 PM the 826LA Adult Writing Seminar Series presents "Writing Comics," a panel discussion featuring Jaime Hernandez and fellow cartoonists Lalo Alcaraz, Sammy Harkham and Keith Knight along with moderator Salvador Plascencia discussing "ink and pixels, pigments and politics, and how the love of comics mixes with the sticky waters of the business. Panelists will also answer your thought and question bubbles." More info here; tickets here.
Today's Online Commentary & Diversions is a potpourri:
• Guide: Alex Carr of Amazon's Omnivoracious blog provides a fourth opinion (after ours, the A.V. Club's, and Comic Book Resources') on How to Read Love and Rockets, offering these opinions on new L&R collections: "...pick up the recent Locas II: Maggie, Hopey, & Ray and Luba collections. These round up all the stories from Volume Two's respective creators and make for a superb reading experience.... [W]hat keeps me returning to Jaime's stories [is] the affectionate realism in contrast with disparate narratives, characters, and tones. Not to mention his unmatched artwork. And it's all here in the oversized Locas II.... Gilbert's ability to weave the most implausible and bawdy moments (a busty, lisping therapist named Fritz who conceals a gun-play fetish?) into affectionate fiction is matched only by his frank, playful pencils [in Luba]."
• Review: "It’s all classic Hernandez material, but this volume’s key element that really makes the book sing louder than ever is the amount of focus placed upon Ray Dominguez.... Some of the richest material Jaime has ever produced focuses on Ray’s pursuit of Vivian, a former stripper and wannabe actress that leaves nothing but pain and suffering in her wake.... There’s so much good stuff in Locas II, though, that I could talk about it until my fingers bleed.... Locas stands alone. I highly recommend you read it and see why." - Marc Mason, Comics Waiting Room
• Interview: At The Daily Cross Hatch , part 2 of Brian Heater's Q&A with Hans Rickheit: "I guess it’s sort of a digestive process of the brain where you have the end product on paper and the end product sometimes resembles fecal matter."
• Plugs/Oddity: Jog runs down a bunch of our new books arriving in comic shops tomorrow; also, the issue of The Comics Journal with his favorite ad in it is still available if you want to see it with your own eyes
New comics arrive in comics shops on Thursday this week due to the U.S. holiday. That gives you an extra day to count up your nickels because HOO BOY do we have a ton of stuff scheduled to land in shops this week! Such as:
Get yourself educated on all of the above titles by clicking their links and checking out the descriptions and previews. Check with your local shop to make sure they'll have what you're looking for, then take the hammer to the ol' piggy bank and load up on all these beautiful books!
Some major comics writing out there over the holiday weekend making for an extra-beefy (and late) Online Commentary & Diversions update:
•Review/Profile: "Sure I'd read [Hal] Foster before, but I'd never found a way in. Fortunately, Fantagraphics recently released Prince Valiant Vol. 1: 1937-38, and I was able to absorb the material in a wholly new way.... I found this first book completely engrossing. Prince Valiant opens up a world that I wanted to stay in -- a wide-eyed early 20th century approach to fantasy with a now-vanished sincerity and wholesomeness. It's an all too rare pleasure in comics." - Dan Nadel, Comics Comics
• Review: "Medieval swordplay and adventure have never been as glorious as in Foster's Sunday-only comic strip. Although much reprinted (including an earlier version from the same publisher), this edition has been reproduced from pristine printer's proofs to give the gorgeous artwork its crispest version ever.... Foster's script is literate and full of vivid characterizations, like the headstrong but cunning Val and carefree Sir Gawain. But nothing surpasses his artwork—rich with details of armor, weapons and dress, the story comes to life with a palpable sense of magic and danger. Each drawing is a flawless illustration, perfectly composed; even a battle of 20 men comes alive in a tiny panel, with every action clearly delineated. Prince Valiant is one of the best-drawn comics ever, and this new edition does ample justice to its achievement." - Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
• Review: "Underneath the screaming and plagues, the giddy joy that [Basil Wolverton] seems to take in his art radiates off the page, just like it does in his secular work.... His creatures from sci-fi and horror, his fascination with grotesque bodily exaggeration, his devout Christian faith -- here it all comes together into an operatic and apocalyptic peak.... The Wolverton Bible might seem like a paradox to its religious audience and its alt-comics fans -- even if Wolverton himself never saw the contradiction." - Martyn Pedler, Bookslut
• Review: "As an historical object, sure, great. I think it should be in print. Kurtzman was a very important figure in comics, and the art and design of the pieces here are of an exceedingly high quality. I'm glad I can see more examples of Jaffee's, Elder's and Davis' work." Otherwise, Chris Allen gives up on Humbug
• Review: Joe McCulloch of Jog - The Blog has a major review of Tardi & Manchette's West Coast Blues -- I've read through it three times and it's too complex for a simple pull quote
• History/preview/profile/analysis: "The 300th issue of The Comics Journal is soon to hit the stands, and the magazine everyone in comics loves to hate rattles on, chugging and sputtering and picking up disreputable beardy guys like a Toonerville Trolley of spite.... In some Inglourious Basterds-like alternate history, the 1990s ended with the twisted faces of Kim Thompson and Gary Groth hovering, laughing maniacally, over the charred and bullet-riddled corpse of Wizard magazine." - Shaenon K. Garrity, comiXology
• Analysis: du9 presents a new translation by Derik Badman of a 2006 piece by David Turgeon on Poison River by Gilbert Hernandez: "What first strikes the reader about this work is its narrative density. It isn’t uncommon for a single page to show as many places, times, and situations as there are panels." (Via Journalista)
• Interview: Jason Thibault of Optimum Wound talks to Tim Lane as part of their "Masters of Ink" series: "You do what seems the impossible and most absurd: you learn to breathe underwater, and revel in it. Get drunk on the water in your lungs. Cultivate a functional level of positive insanity. And develop tough skin. Stick with it if only because your reasons are inexplicable."
• Interview: The Daily Cross Hatch wraps up presenting Brian Heater's chat with Jordan Crane: "I was in Portugal and I saw a really tiny kid with a really giant cat. He looked exactly like the kid in The Clouds Above. The kid was so small that the cat was the same size as him — it’s not a big cat, but next to him, he was huge. And then I just kind of went from there."
• Plug: At Super I.T.C.H., Steven Johnston takes note of Humbug ("much of it is prime satire from the creators of MAD!") and The Wolverton Bible ("particularly including some genuinely horrific scenes from the Book of Revelations").
• List: An old link that just popped up in my search feed: ComicCritique.com's Adam McGovern gives out some best-of-2008 awards, with The Lagoon by Lilli Carré tied for Graphic Novel of the Year ("Carré’s artisanal eccentricity carves intricate patterns and masklike faces into pages that stand like the folk-art furnishings of vanished but vivid earlier societies") and Carré tied with Grant Morrison for the M.C. Escher Prize for Non-Sequential Art ("Morrison and Carré are two creators at the cutting edge of both storytelling craft and conversational physics who make us uncommonly aware of the presence of time.")
• Review: "Love and Rockets: New Stories #2. The Hernandez Brothers have been producing such consistently good comics for such a long time that I often feel they get taken for granted. But their recent comics [don't] just maintain their high level of previous achievement, they also have a freshness and liveliness that any young artist would envy." - Jeet Heer, Robot 6
• Review: "More than anything, [Peter] Bagge's work does what it always does with perfection, which is capture people doing exactly what people really do, and how they often think when they think that nobody else thinks that they are thinking it (sorry). His art is constantly moving, perpetually fluid, and instantly recognizable to a 21st century American culture raised on Tex Avery and Bob Clampett cartoons. Whether you agree with his politics or not, Everybody Is Stupid [Except for Me] is thought-provoking and, most importantly, hilarious." - Monster on a Rope
• Interview: The Daily Cross Hatch posts the second of three parts of Brian Heater's interview with Jordan Crane: "The art—those are the tools I use to transfer the story. Pictures, words—those are the conveyance of the story. The important thing is the story, so once I get my tools there, I convey the story in a way I want to."
• Profile: Amy Stewart visited Ellen Forney in her studio: "There are only certain kinds of comics that interest me: I prefer the true-to-life ones that are well-drawn, have stories I can relate to, and make me laugh, cry, or think. Ellen does all three, in spades."
It's time for your Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: "[Editor Andrei] Molotiu has created a fun and accessible anthology here, one that’s smart and well-researched but not in the slightest bit obtuse. You don’t need to be an art snob to appreciate it; you just need an open mind. With that, the reward for Abstract Comics is quite lovely. And quite possibly a good opportunity for you to increase your appreciation for the comics format exponentially." - John Hogan, Graphic Novel Reporter
• Review: "...Giraffes in My Hair is a pleasure to read. The insights are genuine and the humanity is quite bare. Once I started reading, I didn’t stop until the book was over. This survivor’s tales were well worth the journey, once again, through two well-trodden decades." - John Hogan, Graphic Novel Reporter
• Review: "West Coast Blues... gets under your skin and remains impossible to resist from start to finish... Darkly amusing and undeniably entertaining, West Coast Blues keeps the mystery and interest alive by carefully doling out pieces of the story and introducing intriguing characters with loads of personality... Tardi does an excellent job of adapting what must be a massively entertaining book into a graphic novel form for all who seek a slightly different but no less thrilling mystery/adventure story to enjoy." - Avril Brown, Comics Waiting Room
• Review: "The Squirrel Machine should be called nothing less than a masterpiece: a true culmination and maturation of illustrative style and story. The atmosphere portrayed in black and white is meticulous and unsettling. Even the banal moments of the story have depth and direction... [a] lovely and blasphemous affair." - R.M. Rollston, Panel to Panel
Today's Online Commentary & Diversions starts with a bang:
• Review: "...[A]n astonishingly rich and convincing picture of uncertain, developing human relationships. Besides the masterful storytelling, [Locas II: Maggie, Hopey & Ray] is notable for superb black and white artwork. Panel by panel and page by page, it's a delight to watch darkness crowding into open space, while supple linework dances freely in its allotted territory. This is a landmark in comics literature." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)
• Review: "From Wonderland with Loveis anexcellent introduction to the part of the Danish comics scene that tries to push the boundaries of the medium – and in particular to the “wild bunch” that emerged at the beginning of this millennium. If you’re an open-minded reader, there’s no getting past this book, even if it – as a Dane – at times feels a bit odd to read Danish comics in English. […] If you love the place where art challenges the status quo and moves the fence posts, gaining new land in the process, you’ll feel right at home here." - Ulf Reese Næsborg, tegneseriesiden (updated with new translation from the author - thanks Ulf)
• Review: "[From Wonderland with Love] is a beautiful book, full of very different temperaments and different styles. All comics are from the 21st century and together they show both the great width and breadth of Danish comics. There are quiet, direct, hard hitting stories... And there are more poetic, allegorical, dreamy stories... And if you want new, interesting and strange, look no further." - Fredrik Strömberg, Sekventiellt (books by Strömberg)
• Interview: At Marvel.com, Sean T. Collins continues his series of Strange Tales MAX contributor interviews with Michael Kupperman: "People are going to be very interested in the changes I've made to the Marvel canon. They're probably going to have to scrap everything they've ever published and start over. The new version of SECRET WARS is going to be called OVERT WARS."
• Interview: The Daily Cross Hatch's Brian Heater kicks off a 3-part talk with Jordan Crane: "Well, I’m trying to make [Uptight] less sporadic. I want to do it two times a year, solid. It’s been kind of a chaotic last couple of years. So now I’m focusing everything I can on it."