"Gilbert's stories are typically excellent in this issue, as he manages a certain luridness in one story that brings sexuality to the fore, and goes the other direction in a more oblique, subtle story. Of course, the story that got everyone buzzing was the second half of Jaime's "The Love Bunglers", which is an ending for this thirty-year cycle of stories--and one where Jaime sticks the landing with authority."
"This was Bagge's first feature-length Buddy Bradley story in years, and it's a doozy. Buddy, Lisa and young Harold visit Lisa's parents in a story called 'Hell,' and Bagge truly pulls out all the stops in depicting extreme familial weirdness. His dialogue is as sharp as ever, his line is quite lively and his uncanny ability to depict the creeping weirdness of suburbia is even more disturbing than in the initial run of New Jersey stories in Hate."
"Kupperman's 'Quincy, M.E.' story in this issue is a tour-de-force of twisting narrative structures and just plain crazy silliness. Kupperman's art has become increasingly bland as his aesthetic references have changed from 1920s comic strips to 1950s comic books, forcing the reader to perform double-takes at the crazy juxtapositions he creates. If his comics aren't as visually exhausting and exciting as they once were, he still provides an avalanche of ideas and jokes for the reader to sort through."
• Review: "Norwegian cartoonist Jason has returned with more full-color stories populated by lonely, and at times sociopathic, anthropomorphic characters. Cats, dogs, and ducks steal, fight, murder, and drink themselves into oblivion. Although brimming with black humor, the tales are far from ridiculous; the disjunction between the cute creatures and their actions often serves to highlight the despair inherent in their lives. Text is light, as the images drive the narratives. In these spare, mute panels, infused with flat oranges, greens, and browns, small movements covey great meaning and emotion.... Visually exciting, at times hilarious and at times devastating, Athos in America will only add to Jason’s well-deserved reputation as a star of the graphic novel world." – Publishers Weekly
• Review: "This volume [Amazing Mysteries: The Bill Everett Archives Vol. 1] provides an illuminating look at the artist’s numerous attempts at catching Sub-Marineresque lightning in a bottle for a second time, a task that mostly eluded him. The comics studios of the golden age were product mills that threw any idea against the wall in hope it would stick, and Everett did much the same. Forgotten sci-fi and superhero creations, as well as forays into westerns, historical retellings, and crime comics, populate this loaded volume, which reads like it fell straight out of some four-color twilight zone." – Publishers Weekly
• Review: "Over 150 pages of reprints, a brilliant back-of-the-book by Benson running 26 pages, and an introduction by my old buddy, cartoonist/historian Jay Lynch..., this book is a welcome addition to any comics library.... [I]f nothing else, The Sincerest Form of Parody saves you a lot of time separating the wheat from the chaff. But in and of itself, it is a very worthy book – entertaining on his own, and critical from a historical point of view. You should check this one out..." – Mike Gold, ComicMix
• Review: "[Jordan] Crane’s comic, The Last Lonely Saturday, explores the trials and release of life after loss. Crane’s story beautifully follows a husband’s weekly ritual to pay respect to his wife. In no more than a few pages, Crane retells the husband and wife’s entire history. From the comic’s meticulous book design, with its quaint size and the rounded, hand-lettered type in the first pages, readers can expect the story to be heart-warming. But Crane pulls at readers’ heartstrings with surprising grace. While the story is rooted in the traditional American cliché of lovers reunited in the afterlife, the story is told deftly." – Juan Fernandez, The Tartan (via Robot 6)
• Review: "[Freeway] captures the frustration of being stuck in traffic, particularly the array of images (violent and otherwise) that traffic brings to my mind (even better than Falling Down). Like me, Alex also relieves his frustrations with a lot of swearing." – Gene Ambaum, The Unshelved Book Club
• Plug: "I ran into animator Michel Gagné at the Annie Awards last week (where he picked up an Annie for Best Video Game, Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet) and asked him about his next project. Turns out Gagne had been toiling on a labor of love (literally) that has just gone on sale this week.... That book, Young Romance: the Best of Simon & Kirby’s Romance Comics, is not the usual thing we endorse here at Cartoon Brew – but as a life-long Jack Kirby fan and oddball comic book buff, this project is right up my alley.... I’ve ordered my copy and highly recommend it, sight unseen. Thanks, Michel!" – Jerry Beck, Cartoon Brew
• Plug: "Joe Simon and Jack Kirby created Captain America but they literally created the romance comic genre. The pages [of Young Romance] were packed with dialogue and dramatic art as women fought for love." – Will Harris, KOMO News
• Review: "And now, Fantagraphics has packaged some of the best movie parodies in this ripely-colored book [The Sincerest Form of Parody]. But these aren't Mad comics. They're the imitators which popped up on newsstands in the 1950s -- comic books like Whack, Nuts!, Crazy, Bughouse and Unsane.... Most of the comics in the pages of this book are understandably dated for today's web-weaned generation who may have never heard of I, Jury ('My Gun Is the Jury by Melvie Splane'), What's My Line? ('What's My Crime?'), or Come Back, Little Sheba ('Come Back Bathsheba'), but that doesn't drain these parodies of their punch." – David Abrams, The Quivering Pen
• Plug: "Most of the 21 stories in this great new book collection [Young Romance] haven't been compiled before, and if you're not familiar with them, you're in for thrill after melodramatic thrill. My favorite: 'Norma, Queen of the Hot Dogs.'" – Michael Galucci, Cleveland Scene
• Interview:Mark Kalesniko talks about his latest graphic novel Freeway at the FLIP animation blog; that site's Steve Moore says "Mark Kalesniko’s graphic novel Freeway is a truly brilliant, hilarious look at the hunched and goofy lifestyle in our industry's ground zero. His humor is wickedly honest, his storytelling unflinching."
• List:Love and Rockets: New Stories #4 is ComicsAlliance's Best Comic of 2011, with Jason Michelitch saying "The final 15 pages of 'The Love Bunglers' isn't just the end of a great new issue of a Bros. Hernanadez comic book. It isn't just the sixth part of a fantastic serialized graphic novel that's run since last year. It is the culmination of nearly thirty years worth of nuance, gesture, shading, pacing and dialogue — of angst, mania, fear, friendship, anger, and love. It is the finale to an epic of human scale feeling and drama. It is heart-stopping."
• List: Matthew Price of The Oklahoman names Love and Rockets: New Stories #4 the Best Graphic Novel of 2011: "The Brothers Hernandez are some of the best cartoonists in comics' history, and Jamie Hernandez has one of the high points of his career in Vol. 4 of 'New Stories.'... Gilbert's visceral tale satirizes a societal obsession with vampires by showing their messy, unforgiving side."
• List:The A.V. Club's Noel Murray names The Best Comics of 2011: Graphic Novels & Art Comics in several subcategories. In Original Graphic Novels Mark Kalesniko's Freeway comes in at #4...
"Kalesniko’s animation-influenced style makes Freeway a fluid read, as he emphasizes motion, in striking compositions that guide the eye across the page smoothly. The plot moves just as freely, as Kalesniko renders both the exterior and interior spaces of his protagonist with a mix of loving care and impassioned disgust."
"Farmer jumps between matter-of-fact details and amusing anecdotes about the grind of end-of-life care, while turning the book into a celebration of two people: her father, a cheerful man so determined not to complain that he let serious health problems slide for months; and her stepmother, a steadfast woman whose pragmatism warred with her vanity. The book depicts old age as a wild, lurching ride: from medical crises to euphoric nostalgia to an eerie calm as the end draws near."
"Anyone who’s alive in the world should be moved by this story’s depiction of life as a series of accidents, miscommunications, and embarrassments, which sometimes work out okay regardless. 'The Love Bunglers' is rich with hidden meanings, complicated ideas and superior artistry."
...and Kevin Huizenga's Ganges #4 in the #2 spot...
"The fourth issue of Kevin Huizenga’s Gangescontinues the artist’s increasingly masterful hybrid of direct storytelling and experimental abstraction... The story suits Huizenga’s style, because he can both document the familiar minutiae of daily life and the sense of unreality that takes hold whenever someone is up half the night. Huizenga works in visual motifs of endlessly branching possibilities and spiraling shapes, showing how becoming 'lost in thought' can be terrifying."
"...Lost in the Andes encourages both fannish and intellectual approaches to the material. There are scholarly analyses and bibliographies, but also more than 200 pages of some of the best-written comics ever published, full of square eggs, rubber bricks, golden Christmas trees, and races around the world."
"The early Pogos aren’t as topical as what would come later, when Kelly would become a hero to the counterculture for taking on McCarthyism and promoting ecology. Mostly, these strips establish the world of the Okefenokee Swamp and the animals who dwell there, with Pogo the possum standing as the calm center of a cast that includes the dim Albert Alligator, the not-as-bright-as-he-thinks Howland Owl and the misanthropic, hilariously humorless Porkypine."
"The cartoons in Willie & Joe: Back Home capture Mauldin at a low ebb personally, but ferociously inspired professionally. Over the objections of his editors, Mauldin drew cartoons about estranged wives, limited employment opportunities, heartless fatcats, and an America more petty, materialistic, and xenophobic than the one they’d left behind... Today they’re a blistering reminder that life after WWII wasn’t all suburban bliss and baby boom."
"The highlight of the volumes are the strips themselves which are a lot of fun and show an adventurous side to Mickey that may come as a surprise to those who only know the modern Mickey. It’s also fun watching Gottfredson develop as an artist and storyteller as the strips progress. In addition to the comics there are essays examining the stories, the creators involved (the comics were often inked and scripted by others), and the characters themselves. This series is a long overdue look at one of comics legendary creators and their work."
"...[T]his book is so great and contains all the things you would want from a career retrospective from Jack Davis. Jack Davis is one of America's great illustrators whose career started in the late 1930s and continues to this day. That's fucking insane to think about.... Like I said, this book delivers the goods in a big way. It's 13 inches tall so you can really sink your eyeballs' teeth into the images."
"This issue of Tales Designed to Thrizzle starts out with stories based around the idea that bathtubs are evil or haunted, possibly based on childhood fears of getting sucked down the drain or something. Doesn't matter, it's hilarious even if it's based in absurdity. After that there are comics with funny dialogue about Quincy and St. Peter and Reservior Dogs II that all keep referencing back to the previous comics and have a dreamy feel, but if your dreams were hilarious.... A bunch of stuff is thrown your way in this issue and when it's over you think, 'I liked that. I feel satisfied. Mmm-MM!'"
• Review: "[Wandering Son] has a very well-thought, carefully paced narrative that allows us to explore what goes on inside each character’s head and to watch them develop as people. It’s much more a quiet slice of life affair than it is an over-the-top comedy and/or drama, which might be something you’d expect from a manga featuring cross-dressing... [T]his hardcover book... represents a sophisticated side of literary manga. Translated with rare skill and sensitivity by veteran translator and comics scholar Matt Thorn, much of the story’s original flavour remains intact. Shimura Takako’s gender-bending story has a very quiet, introspective touch to it, and her artwork – with its clean lines, minimal backgrounds and sparse dialogue – beautifully reflects this." – Sean A. Noordin, The Star (Malaysia)
• Review: "Fantagraphics here in the states once again has begun to unearth [Tardi's] body of work into the North American light, the first volume of The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec being another fine edition produced in the best quality possible.... Does it sound a little crazy, imaginative, and probably addicting to read? Yes, yes it is. Which is why you need to read this series." – Drew McCabe, Comic Attack
• Plug: "You can’t start the new year without the end of times. Sala’s new book [The Hidden] features his recognizable palette and quirky, gothic font in an adult tale... The post-apocalyptic tale starts with a man waking up to find that everything has gone wrong; sorta a Rip Van Screwed. Great for those who enjoy zombie movies and dystopian books like 1984 or The Hunger Games." – Jen Vaughn, CCS Schulz Library Blog
Comics and Autobiography:Mark Kalesniko on Freeway, Jason Shiga on Empire State: A Love Story (or Not); Jennifer Hayden on Underwire. Moderated by John Hogan, editor, Graphic Novel Reporter
Both panels take place at the Prometeo Theatre (Building 1, 1st Floor, Room 1101), and the whole Miami Book Fair takes place at the Miami Dade College Wolfson Campus in downtown Miami. The whole weekend is jam-packed with literary good times, so don't miss it!
Steven Weissman is taking the week off, but we have Mark Kalesniko's Veterans Day comic (more about which here) to take up the slack, our weekly Kupperman, and links to other strips from around the web:
In commemoration of Veterans Day we present "Uncle Bob," a two-page story by Mark Kalesniko, which is loosely based on a relative of Mark's who fought in World War II. It originally appeared in the out-of-print 2003 Comics Journal Special Edition. Thank you to Mark for allowing us to host it. Read it here.
• Review: "Rendered in a simply stunning panorama of glowing visual passion and precision,Prince Valiant is a non-stop rollercoaster of stirring action, exotic adventure and grand romance; blending human-scaled fantasy with dry wit and broad humour with shatteringly dark violence. Beautiful, captivating and utterly awe-inspiring the strip is a World Classic of fiction and something no fan can afford to miss. If you have never experienced the intoxicating grandeur of Foster’s magnum opus these magnificent, lavishly substantial deluxe editions are the best way possible to do so and will be your gateway to an eye-opening world of wonder and imagination." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
We've got a gorilla-sized weekend coming up at APE: the Alternative Press Expo in beautiful San Francisco, CA! Come see us on Saturday, October 1st and Sunday, October 2nd at the Concourse Exhibition Center, and be among the first to get your mitts on these hot numbers:
You can find us in our usual spot at tables 112-115. (Right by our good friends Jim Blanchard and J.R. Williams at table 116!)
[ Please note: this is a chopped-up map, just to give you an idea where you can find us! The Concourse Exhibition Center is too wide to fit on the FLOG, so check out a PDF map here. ]
And panels! Boy, do we have panels!
Saturday, October 1st
2:00 PM // The Comix Claptrap . . . LIVE! Co-hosts Rina Ayuyang and Thien Pham record an episode of their enlightening, riotous, and controversial podcast, The Comix Claptrap LIVE at APE! For four seasons, Rina and Thien have interviewed comics artists in the indie comics scene about their work, creative processes, and experiences in the industry. Each show has included New Comics Wednesday beat reportage from fellow cartoonist Josh Frankel, and new favorite segment, The Comix Cranktrap, where they crank-call a well-known cartoonist listed in their Rolodex. Also featured on the panel: Mike Dawson, Scott Campbell, Levon Jihanian, and Esther Pearl Watson. This panel promises to be total mayhem!
3:00 PM // A Discussion with Daniel Clowes and Adrian Tomine Critically acclaimed, award-winning, bestselling cartoonists -- and APE special guests -- Daniel Clowes (The Death-Ray, Ghost World, Wilson) and Adrian Tomine (Optic Nerve, Shortcomings) are both professional peers and friends, having met over a decade ago when both lived in the East Bay. TheComicsJournal.com editor and PictureBox publisher Dan Nadel talks to the two artists about their work, their friendship, and the comics medium.
4:00 PM // Spotlight on Shannon Wheeler From stapling 21,000 minicomics, to shooting comic books with a .22, to creating operas, to publishing cartoons with The New Yorker, APE special guest Shannon Wheeler must be drinking too much coffee, man. Recently, his collection of rejected cartoons I Thought You Would Be Funnier won the Eisner Award for Best Humor Publication. Wheeler and his trusty sidekick BOOM! Studios marketing director Chip Mosher talk about the best ammunition to use on a comic, Japanese bootleg shirts, and drawing dead granddads in fishnet stockings with swastika panties. Shannon Wheeler once also created Too Much Coffee Man, so they'll probably talk about that, too.
6:00 PM // Drawing Inspiration: The Secrets of Comics Creativity Ever wonder where your favorite author or artist gets his or her inspiration? Now you can find out as moderator Charles Brownstein (executive director, CBLDF) joins APE special guests Kate Beaton (Hark! A Vagrant!), Craig Thompson (Habibi), Matthew Thurber (1-800 MICE), and Shannon Wheeler (Oil and Water), plus Tom Neely (The Wolf) for an in-depth discussion of what gets their creative juices flowing and the secrets of what inspires them.
Sunday, October 2nd
12:00 PM // Indie Cartoonist Survival Guide: Part 3 Cartoonist Keith Knight moderates this panel (in its third appearance at APE), featuring a lineup of successful independent creators who share their stories, methods, techniques, trials, and tribulations concerning making a living as a so-called Indie Cartoonist. Shannon Wheeler (I Thought You Would Be Funnier), Dan Cooney (Dan Cooney Art), Andy Ristaino (Adventure Time), and Rebecca Sugar (Pug Davis) all chime in.
The great Eric Reynolds will be manning the table, so come by and come buy! We'll see you at APE!
• Review: "David B.'s newest, The Armed Garden and Other Stories, finds the creator turning his gifts to the world of historical legend. The subject may be different but the artist's mysterious and melancholy style saturates every panel; what's more, the three graphic novellas collected in The Armed Garden provide him with plenty of opportunities to draw the epic battle scenes he so loves.... The Armed Garden and Other Stories is the witty, finely executed work of an artist uniquely capable of capturing both the fervid ecstasy of belief and the dull, heartsick ache left behind once it cools." – Glen Weldon, NPR.org
• Review: "In Mark Twain's Autobiography 1910-2010, Adult Swim contributor and comics creator Michael Kupperman (Snake 'n' Bacon) reworks [Hal] Holbrook's Twain as a Zelig-like immortal cruising through a century of life after his 1910 death.... Some of the tales are hilarious koans of absurdist comedy — Twain as the unknown fourth astronaut on the Apollo 11 mission is fabulous. Although it sometimes has the feel of a Saturday Night Live skit stretched into a feature film — perfect in small doses but unsustainable over a longer haul — the premise is too good to abandon." –Andy Lewis, The Hollywood Reporter (reviewing the book in tandem with Holbrook's memoir Harold: The Boy Who Became Mark Twain)
• Review: "Kupperman is a comedic genius. Filled with deliberately odd syntax, wizards, snarky dialog, vampires, outer space adventures, car UFO chasing, and nearly every significant event of the past one hundred years Mark Twain’sAutobiography [1910-2010] is easily the funniest thing that I have read in a very, very long time. Come to think of it, I don’t think I have ever read anything funnier. Nearly every page had me rolling. It wasn’t just a chuckle or even a hearty guffaw, either. It was maniacal hysterical, snorting, crying, temporarily not breathing, and contorting my body into uncomfortable shapes type of laughing. It’s that goddamn funny. So funny, in fact, that I would be entirely satisfied if Kupperman went ahead and decided to write the biographies of everyone else, ever." – Zack Kruse, A Little Nonsense
• Review: "Love And Rockets: New Stories Vol. 4 contains the conclusion to the recent run of 'The Love Bunglers' stories — again with a heartbreaking digression into the past.... This is incandescent work. At this point, Jaime Hernandez draws comics better than maybe anyone's ever drawn comics. The story is beautifully paced, there are at least two stop and stare sequences in there..., the characters are warm and human and funny, one of the subplots addresses with significant insight and potency Jaime's long-time fascination with the power of memory in providing life with meaning and the ending made me choke up both as a moment with resonance across decades of comics but also for the thematic twist it provides on something we've seen in the last few appearances of Jaime's best character... I don't know that it's something you can pick up out of the blue, but my God, what a remarkable comic. I'm so grateful to have read it." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
• Review: "Congress of the Animals might be my least favorite Woodring book, but it’s still overall strong and compelling. I love the fact that Woodring has made a huge, fundamental change to the world of Frank, and that in doing so it still feels like an old familiar friend. I’m not sure just anyone could have pulled this off so late in the game, but with Woodring it feels like a natural extension of everything we’ve seen up until now. There’s no other comics quite like Woodring’s out there, and I’m forever thankful that we get these amazing, disturbing, wonderful creations from him. After all, a 'merely good' comic from Woodring is still better than most other comics out there." – Greg McElhatton, Read About Comics
• Interview: If you read one interview with Johnny Ryan, make it Jesse Pearson's epic, revealing talk with Johnny at The Comics Journal: "When I was first doing book one of Prison Pit, I felt like even though it was about monster men and fighting and all that shit, it was revealing more about myself than any of my earlier works. I removed a lot of that aggressive humor that was working as my armor."
• Interview:Panel Bound's Matthew Manarino talks to Freeway creator Mark Kalesniko: "I like doing comics, as you saw in Freeway, I like doing some comics with detail, I like to go in and show people a world and paint it and draw it. With Freeway I can take you to downtown Los Angeles and really give you a tour.... With Freeway and even Mail Order Bride I wanted to give you something where it’s not a crude drawing but give you a layout so you really feel like you're there. There is also a joy with that kind of work were you can come back to it over and over again and always find something new." (Mark's advice for submitting work to publishers is great, by the way.)
• Feature: In "Graphic Medicine" at Comics Forum, M.K. Czerwiek (RN) spotlights Joyce Farmer's Special Exits in an article on comics dealing with hospice care issues
Natalia Hernandez, more adorable than three Zooey Deschanels, next to one of her daddy's comics.
Speaking of whom... Partying like it's 1982 (San Diego Comic-Con premiere of Love and Rockets #1, if you'll recall).
It's always sad to see older cartoonists who have become so jaded they can't muster up any enthusiasm when meeting their fans.
Mark Kalesniko, happy to be finally off the FREEWAY (notice clever integration of book title into caption). Also visible, right to left, paying customer, Conrad Groth, Mike Baehr, Eric Buckler, Gilbert Hernandez.
"Well, hello there, do you come here often?" Frank Stack hits on Joyce Farmer by (almost literally) showing her his etchings.