The cuddliest cat at the shelter of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review:Body Literature reviews The Last VispoAnthology: Visual Poetry 1998-2008 edited by Nico Vassilakis & Crag Hill. Stephan Delbos writes "The Last Vispo Anthology is strange. It is also challenging, eclectic, confounding, erudite, punchy, and, by turns, beautiful. . .overall there is an elegiac note to this anthology, which extends from the title to the feeling, put forth by several of the essays, that visual poetry is facing a turning point.. .visual poetry is the bastard hermaphrodite of arts and letters. In a good way."
• Review:David Fournol looks at The Cavalier Mr. Thompson by Rich Tommaso, a rough translation states, "Exemplified by its beautiful design and the use of only two colors gives the book a slightly dated, authentic look. . . Describing and illustrating people's lives is a major talent of Rich Tommaso's. It is a process that has already been perfected in another of his works. . ."
• Review:Los Angeles I'm Yours gets Barack Hussein Obama by Steven Weissman in a big way. Kyle Fitzpatrick says, "The novel follows a gangly Barack Hussein Obama who is a constant prankster and has absolutely no manners. . . It’s a dark world and Obama is the smarmy asshole king. . . It’s a great pre-election graphic novel with some great, dark laughs."
• Review:Comic Book Resources and Tim Callahan looks at two books from the 'W' section of his library.Barack Hussein Obama by Steven Weissman "seems part of a larger movement (from IDW's Artist's Editions to years of Kramers Ergot) to signify the artwork as the end result rather than as a means of producing an end result. . . And Weissman's work demands ingestion and interpretation rather than declaration. Oh, it's good, too, if that has any meaning after all that abstraction." On Wallace Wood's Came the Dawn from the EC Library, Callahan posits, "This is a serious-looking, important comic, for serious-minded, important people. This isn't some lascivious spectacle. Heck, there's only one female on the cover, and she's facing away from us. No one is carrying around any chopped-off heads or limbs. There's no blood anywhere. No shrieking to be seen."
• Plug: Chris Mautner of Robot 6 looks through our next season catalog. The Endby Anders Nilson, I tend to consider this book. . . to be his best work to date, an absolutely shattering and deeply moving account of dealing with loss and grief." On The Cabbie Vol. 2by Marti, Mautner mentions, "Oh man, I seriously love me some Cabbie. I don’t think the first volume exactly sold like hotcakes, but I’m glad to see their continuing on with Marti’s ultra-dark Chester Gould homage." In reference toStorm P.: A Century of Laughter: "Kim Thompson is going to school us all in the world of Eurocomics or die trying. I, for one, am always eager to learn, however. This coffee-table book features the work of Danish gag cartoonist Robert Storm Petersen, whose work is reminiscent of O. Soglow and other New York cartoonists from the same era."
• Plug:Boing Boing covers a few of their favorite books. Mark Frauenfelder enjoyed flipping through Weird Horrors and Daring Adventuresby Joe Kubert, edited by Bill Schelly. "Best known for Sgt. Rock,Tarzan, and Hawkman in the 1960s and 70s, this anthology of Kubert's 1940s work reveals his versatility in a variety of genres, including horror, humor, and romance." In regards to the Is That All There Is? by Joose Swarte Frauenfelder admits, "I prefer his work over Hergé's (don't shoot me). This anthology of Swarte's alternative comics from 1972 showcases his famous clean-line style that makes reading his work a pleasure."
• Review: Jason Sacks of Comics Bulletin interviews Justin Hall, editor of No Straight Lines, on queer comics, teaching comics and preserving history. Hall says, "I think in general the queer comics underground is – if you could categorize it with anything, there is a directness and honesty to the work – a real rawness that's quite impressive. I think that comes out of the feminist underground comics: Wimmen’s Comix, Tits and Clits, etc."
• Review:Gay Comics List talks about No Straight Lines, edited by Justin Hall. Francois Peneaud says, "Hall wisely chose to follow a (more or less) chronological path instead of anything fancier, but that doesn’t mean he has nothing interesting to say, far from it. The tension between specialized comics (by which I mean comics made by and for a specific group of people) and mainstream audience, the evolution from the urgent need for visibility to the creation of complexified issues and characters, all these and more are covered in a few pages."
• Review: Editor Kim Thompson speaks to World Literature Today about translating Nicholas Mahler's Angelman and other books in the Fantagraphics library. "Humor is far more difficult to translate than anything else. If you translate a dramatic sequence and your words or rhythm aren’t quite right, it still can work."
• Review:Page 45 enjoys Special Exits by Joyce Farmer. "No punches are pulled, this is life, specifically the twilight years and subsequent demise of elderly parents, told with such honesty, candour and compassion that I actually find myself welling up again as I'm typing this. . . SPECIAL EXITS becomes a testament to the human spirit and the value of a positive outlook on life, especially in one's latter years when faced with failing health," says Jonathan.
• Review:The Comics Reporter enjoys Buz Sawyer Vol. 2: Sultry's Tigerby Roy Crane. Tom Spurgeon says, "To get the obvious out of the way, this book has some almost impossibly beautiful cartooning in it. Even for someone like me that finds the basic visual approach of Buz Sawyer less thrilling than the more rugged, crude cartooning of Crane's Wash Tubbs work, there are several panels of stop and whistle variety."
• List: YALSA's blog The Hub spotlights their previously-announced Great Graphic Novels for Teens Top Ten 2012: "Shimura Takako’s Wandering Son Volume 1 rounds out the Top Ten list for 2012 with a sensitive look at two fifth grade students struggling with gender identity: Shuichi Natori is a boy who wants to be a girl, and Yoshino Takatsuki is a girl who wants to be a boy. This is a complex and sensitive subject, but Takako handles it very gently, allowing the story to unfold in a way that is not only natural but sympathetic. Takako’s artwork is spare and evocative, supporting the story but never getting in the way of its telling. This one is for teens who like contemporary stories about real world problems."
• List: At LitReactor, Kelly Thompson runs down 10 Graphic Novels for the Literary Minded, with Castle Waiting Vol. 1 by Linda Medley recommended "for fans of fantasy": "Castle Waiting, a brutally funny book with a giant heart, has a new spin on fairy tales with a feminist bent that will draw you in and keep you reading from page one.... Medley’s world is expertly crafted and completely believable, while her black and white artwork is clean and highly detailed with an emphasis on character design and acting."
• Interview: At SF Weekly, J Poet talks to Pat Thomas about Listen, Whitey! The Sights and Sounds of Black Power 1965-1975: "As you can see from the scope of the book, there were hundreds of recordings connected to the Black Power movement. At Fred Hampton's funeral, they blasted The Supremes' 'Someday We'll Be Together' from loudspeakers. Huey Newton loved Bob Dylan's line, 'Something's happening and you don't know what it is, do you Mr. Jones?' The movement was inspired by music and the movement inspired many people, especially jazz musicians, to refocus their sound and energy."
• Review: "Buddy Does Seattle collects the first 15 issues of Hate, in which the protagonist has relocated to the Pacific Northwest and become the consummate slacker.... First published when Seattle was exploding in popularity due to the rise of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and various grunge bands, Hate offered a decidedly un-romanticized take on a particular time and place. ...Bagge's artwork took the public's perception of '90s youth as angry and volatile and pushed it to hysterical levels. Heavily influenced by late-'60s counterculture cartoonists like Crumb, Bagge's drawings are fluid and grimy-looking, with frequent use of exaggerated facial expressions helping to cultivate an atmosphere of chaos. As a work of cultural commentary it's brash and invigorating, and remains so years later." – Phil Guie, Critical Mob
• Interview:Nick Thorburn's tour with his band Islands brings him to Seattle next week and the Seattle Weekly's Dave Lake asks him about his connections to the city: "...I had a comic strip in the last couple issues of Mome, which is a Fantagraphics anthology, which is a Seattle-based comics publisher. I love Fantagraphics. I got a check from them recently for being in those comics and it would have made the 13-year-old me die with joy, seeing a check with my name on it from Fantagraphics. That's beyond my wildest teenage fantasy."
• Review: "Nearly every cover in this collection [Action! Mystery! Thrills! Comic Book Covers of the Golden Age 1933-45] sizzles like a good slice of breakfast bacon. Pop art and the peculiar modernist aesthetic that defined postwar American culture really started here, with the liberation of comics from the funny pages and their metamorphosis into this most dynamic and demented of mediums. As a result, every deli and newsstand in America became its own peculiar gallery exhibit, a nexus of transient mass culture. This magical and immersive communion is now a thing of the past, but flipping through the gory, scary, and often beautiful pages of this discerning and honest anthology is an intoxicating experience." – Publishers Weekly
• Review: "If you think you've seen all the best early comic covers, this'll make you think again.... I have a bias here myself...I helped Greg put parts of this together, with rare and fun covers from my own collection. Here you find the really cool and offbeat stuff... And Greg writes a concise bio of every cover and cover artist, putting each in perspective. I can't wait to show this to my Golden Age collecting buddies, it's a must-have book. You have my word on it." – Bud Plant
• Review: "...[N]o publisher has done more to preserve the Great American Newspaper Strip than the Seattle-based Fantagraphics, which has undertaken an audacious program of reprints in the last decade.... The most recent addition to the Fantagraphics line is the most anticipated: Walt Kelly’s unassailable funny-animal strip about Pogo the possum and his cadre of friends and antagonists in the Okefenokee Swamp. ...[I]f the company can pull off a complete edition of Kelly’s masterpiece — especially a full series as lovely as the first volume promises — ...it will be a publishing masterpiece of its own." – Matthew Everett, MetroPulse
• Review: "Is Listen, Whitey! The Sights and Sounds of Black Power 1965-1975 the coolest book ever published? Yes, it is. Just out from the stellar Seattle publisher Fantagraphics, Listen, Whitey! is a gorgeously designed and smartly written coffee table book... Author Pat Thomas has done major archeological work to unearth albums from the era; for people like me who love classic record designs from the 1960s and ’70s, it’s heaven.... The book is a joy to leaf through.... Black music, art, and culture has been assimilated, and it’s made America a better, stronger place. Listen, Whitey! is an archival project, not a modern one. To which I, a white guy, can only say: Right on!" – Mark Judge, The Daily Caller
• Review: "The page in [The Cabbie Vol. 1] where the cabbie brings his father’s sewage covered remains home and puts them in what’s left of the coffin and then puts the coffin on top of his mother’s recently deceased body tells you everything you need to know. Unless you’re a Prince Valiant dude, this is the best reprint of the year. Impregnable would be the best word, EXCELLENT! will have to do." – Tucker Stone, Savage Critics
• Review: "Prince Valiant Vol. 4: 1943-1944 is not only a great book, I think it could also serve well as a good jumping-on point for those curious about the strip. By this point Foster has gotten a strong grip on his characters and the format of the strip, and with a new storyline beginning so early on in this volume you don’t have to worry about being lost. And while this volume doesn’t end at a conclusion for the last storyline (running a whopping 20 months in all, as it turns out, only the first 7 months are present here), there’s so much meat here that you’ll be eager for Prince Valiant Vol. 5 so you can find out how it ends. I, for one, can’t wait." – Greg McElhatton, Read About Comics
• Review: "Are you a fan of Ghost World? You might not have noticed that Seattle-based Fantagraphics has reduced the price of their Ghost World: Special Edition to a bargain-priced $25.... The Special Edition is packed with goodies sure to thrill the Ghost World geek.... It’s a great item to add to your Ghost World collection — or to get it started." – Gillian Gaar, Examiner.com
"You want a great book that places you directly inside the psyche of a small boy confronting an insane adult world? This is it."
• List:Graphic Eye asks comics creator Ed Luce (Wuvable Oaf) for his Best of 2011, which includes Johnny Ryan's Prison Pit Book 3 at #2: "The Prison Pit series has produced some of the best gay erotic comics in recent memory (particularly Book One), without consciously setting out to do so. It could easily be subtitled 'A Complex Cycle of Penetration and Regeneration.' Johnny pumps this hyper-masculine orgy of violence and sex so far beyond bursting, it can't help but tip over to the queer side. It is a prison, after all."
• List:Publishers Weekly announces the results of their 2011 Comics World Critics Poll, with these titles garnering 2 votes each...
"Love and Rockets: New Stories Vol. 4, Gilbert Hernandez and Jaime Hernandez: Jaime Hernandez tops his 30 years of peerless storytelling with the conclusion to 'The Love Bunglers' in which two characters we’ve watched stumble through life make a final lurch — that may bring happiness or doom. Heartbreaking yet without a trace of manipulation." – Heidi MacDonald
"The Man Who Grew His Beard, Olivier Schrauwen: This graphic novel is exceptionally inventive, with each story being so very different from the one before." – Glen Downey
...and the following books receiving an Honorable Mention with one vote each:
• Review: "As [Wandering Son] volume 2 closes, the idyllic childhood Shuichi and Nitori have shared thus far, surrounded by exceptionally supportive family and friends, is showing signs of being breached by thoughtless outsiders.... In the insightful, not-to-be-skipped final essay, 'Transgendered in Japan,' translator (and manga scholar) Matt Thorn writes, 'Shuichi and Yoshino are coming of age, not in an idealized fantasy world, but in a contemporary Japan that poses unique challenges to children such as these.' Indeed, to quote a popular film, 'reality bites,' but in creator Shimura Takako's sensitive world, Shuichi and Nitori have better than a fighting chance at becoming strong, confident adults." – Terry Hong, BookDragon (Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program)
• Review: "In spite of its depressive mood (you know, with it being about the end of the world and such), The Hidden exemplifies the effectiveness of Sala's application of a 'less is more' visual style to broad, complex stories.... I can't recommend Sala's books enough, and The Hidden is one of his best works to date. Be sure to pick up a copy if you're looking for something more than global plagues and cannibalistic zombies in your world-ending entertainment." – Tim Mitchell, Titans Terrors & Toys
• List/Plugs: Andy Mansell of Heroes Aren't Hard to Find names a handful of "creme de la creme," "must-have" classic comic strip collections from 2011: "Do yourself a favor – next time you are in the store take a few moments and pick up a copy of Lost in the Andes or Pogo, either Mickey Mouse collection, ...[and] flip through it. Read a few strips.... These are rich, beautiful books and they deserve to be read by everyone."
• Plug:The A.V. Club's Oliver Sava provides a guide to "What makes a good all-ages comic," saying "Animation-inspired art remains the most popular choice for an all-ages series... Carl Barks’ work with Disney’s duck characters is the pinnacle of this school: Barks’ experience as a Disney animator honed his talent for creating sprawling environments and distinct characters that are instantly charming and incredibly rich. Fantagraphics just published its first hardcover collection of Barks’ classic stories, Donald Duck: Lost In The Andes, a beautiful package collecting some of Barks’ most memorable duck tales."
The first Online Commentary & Diversions post of the year might very well end up being the longest:
• List: Humorist and television personality John Hodgman, asked to name his 5 favorite comics in an open Q&A session on his Tumblr blog, says "Love and Rockets: I don’t like to choose between brothers, but Jaime Hernandez is one of the greatest drawers of human faces and human want on the planet."
• List:Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge: Only a Poor Old Man by Carl Barks is #39 on The A.V. Club 's list of "most anticipated entertainments of 2012": "Only a Poor Old Man will bring Scrooge McDuck, possibly Barks’ greatest creation, into the spotlight. The bespectacled miser will dive around in his money bin and burrow through it like a gopher, and his timeless adventures will get the treatment they deserve."
• List: Tucker Stone, whose Best of 2011 previously appeared at comiXology, presents a slightly modified list for Flavorwire's "10 of the Year's Most Buzzed-About Comic Releases":
"Last year’s Love and Rockets was a huge deal, but this year’s installment is arguably even better.... Comics has yet to provide Love and Rockets with anything approximating 'competition,' but it doesn’t appear that the Hernandez brothers have any reason to be concerned about that quite yet. They’re still way better at this than everybody else on the planet."
"The big thing this year was watching all the great young cartoonists of the early 2000s carving out their places in the pantheon. Huizenga’s a perfect example — he’s been regularly turning out excellent comics for years now, and yet Ganges #4 still reads like a revelation.... It’s a fascinating experience reading these comics, and they’re gorgeous to boot."
"The continuing adventures of Johnny Ryan’s most violent fantasies run amuck, [Prison Pit] is rapidly becoming the comic that I look forward to the way a fat kid looks forward to syrup-encrusted cake. There’s no getting around the hoary old cliche — 'these aren’t for everybody' — so God help you if you can’t figure out a way to enjoy these books."
• List: The prolific Sean T. Collins, after having contributed to CBR's Top 100, runs down his personal 20 Best Comics of 2011 on his Attentiondeficitdisorderly blog AND at Robot 6, withGanges #4 by Kevin Huizenga at #15...
"Huizenga wrings a second great book out of his everyman character’s insomnia. It’s quite simple how, really: He makes comics about things you’d never thought comics could be about, by doing things you never thought comics could do to show you them. Best of all, there’s still the sense that his best work is ahead of him, waiting like dawn in the distance."
"...[T]he payoff... feels like a weight has been lifted from Woodring’s strange world, while the route he takes to get there is illustrated so beautifully it’s almost superhuman. It’s the happy ending he’s spent most of his career earning."
"Religious fundamentalism... has worn a thousand faces in a millennia-long carnevale procession of war and weirdness, and David B. paints portraits of three of its masks with bloody brilliance. Focusing on long-forgotten heresies and treating the most outlandish legends about them as fact, B.’s high-contrast linework sets them all alight with their own incandescent madness."
"I picture Gilbert Hernandez approaching his drawing board these days like Lawrence of Arabia approaching a Turkish convoy: 'NO PRISONERS! NO PRISONERS!' In a year suffused with comics funneling pitch-black darkness through a combination of sex and horror, none were blacker, sexier, or more horrific than this gender-bending exploitation flick from Beto's 'Fritz-verse.'"
"...[L]et's add to the chorus praising Jaime's 'The Love Bunglers' as one of the greatest comics of all time, the point to which one of the greatest comics series of all time has been hurtling toward for thirty years.... You can count the number of cartoonists able to wed style to substance, form to function, this seamlessly on one hand with fingers to spare. A masterpiece."
"The hype and acclaim surrounding Xaime Hernandez’s conclusion to his 'Love Bunglers' saga has been overwhelming, and every ounce of it is deserved. This is simply a phenomenal achievement in comics. A moving, thoughtful story of missed opportunities, loss and eventual reconciliation that provides in many ways a fitting conclusion to all of Xaime’s 'Locas' stories. I’d be hard pressed to think of a better comic that came out this year."
"More than the new Carl Barks collection, more than the return of Pogo, the resurrected, re-appreciated comic strip I found myself falling in love the most with this year was Gottfredson’s plunky, adventure-loving mouse, a scrappier version of Disney’s iconic creation. More to the point, I was completely taken with the stunning packaging and background information Fantagraphics and the books editor put together for this series. It’s new benchmark for reprint projects."
"Three volumes into this grand guginol series and it continues to surprise and delight, this time introducing a new character and suggesting via an end sequence that Ryan has been reading a lot of Fort Thunder comics."
"Incredibly inventive, Schrauwen, like Yokoyama, seems intent on pushing the comics medium into new and interesting directions. But where Yokoyama is concerned mainly with motion and exploration, Schrauwen is concerned mainly with perception and the interior world of the mind. This is great, mind-blowing work."
• List: Also on Robot 6's roundup of best-of lists from its writers, Tim O'Shea ranks Pogo Vol. 1 at #9: "Damn if this was not worth the wait... Volume 1 of the complete syndicated daily strips of Pogo would be enough to put this book on my list. But the fact that Fantagraphics has a foreword by Jimmy Breslin; an introduction by Steve Thompson; a piece on the Pogo Sunday Funnies by Mark Evanier; and Swamp Talk (R.H. Harvey annotations on the strips) is just icing on the cake."
• List: David McKean's Celluloid gets a "See Also" shout-out on Cyriaque Lamar's list of The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Comics of 2011 at io9: "A decidedly adult erotica graphic novel with no dialogue, this is the famed Sandman cover artist going at page after page of a sexy hallucination, whipped up by a magic porno movie projector. Dreamscapes with boners."
"After 'Browntown' in last year’s installment of New Stories, there was a worry that Jaime might have peaked — how on earth was he going to top that story? The achingly beautiful conclusion to 'The Love Bunglers' in this volume was the answer. Pulling together strands from Maggie’s entire 30-year history in two pages was nothing short of stunning, with his art as cooly confident as ever, making it a real emotional sucker punch. Gilbert’s work developing Fritz’s movie back-catalogue is a real mind-bender, too, weaving inter- and meta-textual strands together that lets his characters say so much, while saying so little. It is terrifying how talented these guys are."
"Forget Pogo and Carl Barks — we already knew they were classics — the real reprint revelation of 2011 was good ole' Mickey Mouse.... To read these strips is to rediscover a love for Mickey and marvel at Gottfredson's amazing grasp of storytelling and humour, as well as his flawless artwork. Naturally, with Fantagraphics overseeing the reprints, the design, packaging and presentation is gorgeous — a real worthy successor to their Peanuts series."
• Plug: "I’m a little mortified to admit that Walt Disney's Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes is my first exposure to Carl Barks (after decades of being interested in finally seeing why he’s so revered as a comic creator), but it definitely won’t be my last. Fantagraphics’ first volume of Barks material is a great place to start; a mixture of epic quests, short stories, and gag strips that are all impressively funny and awesome." – Greg McElhatton, Robot 6
• List: On his Domino Books blog, Austin English explains why Joyce Farmer's Special Exits is his favorite comic of 2011: "Farmer's cartooning allows for her characters to act out their illness and struggles in front of the reader. Farmer's drawing of her aging father is something to behold — it's not Farmer saying 'here is what my sick father went through.' Instead we see a drawing age and wither in front of us, and speak to us with both intelligence and dementia. I’ve never seen anything in comics done with such skill — let alone see a graphic novel (often the territory of poorly conceived topical heart wrenchers) speak about tragedy with so much depth and clarity."
• List: Comics writer Vito Delsante declares Love and Rockets: New Stories #4 the Best Single Issue of 2011 on his Best of 2011 blog post: "The Hernandez Brothers, since New Stories 3, have really created the most important mythology in comics since Stan and Jack (and Steve).... Jaime Hernandez should win every single award in comics in 2012."
• List: We rank 4 entries on Renee Lott's Top 10 Comics of 2011 at her Blogwithfeet
• Review: "I've been digging the new Fantagraphics release Jason Conquers America which commemorates ten years of the venerable publisher's relationship with the Norewegian artist.... My favorite story in the collection revolves around a crow who naps in a bed in a field and wakes up obliviously in an entirely new life. (Telling any more would spoil the revelation.) In 23 short wordless panels, Jason creates a powerful and compelling commentary that proves how powerfully expressive comics can be." – Stray Riffs
• Review: "A new comic from the top humorist in comics is always welcome. This issue [of Tales Designed to Thrizzle] is the usual combination of dada and surprisingly tightly-wrapped narrative gags surrounding the sort of cultural detritus mined by Drew Friedman & Mark Newgarden.... 'Quincy, M.E.'... is one of Kupperman's best strips because he keeps adding new layers of plot to an already-ridiculous story.... I still miss the sheer density of detail in Kupperman's older work that made reading it almost exhausting, but the avalanche of ideas remains intact, as does his ability to elicit laughs." – Rob Clough, High-Low
• Review: "...Prison Pit... [is] a marriage of pro wrestling, manga, bromance and filth.... Johnny Ryan has an almost Kirbyesque level of character design, but with obviously more genitalia, and it can at times be a joy just to see what is going to come on the next page.... Johnny Ryan is a cartoonist at the top of his game right now and he may just be the closest thing the comic world has to marmite." – Taylor Pithers, The Weekly Crisis
• Interview:The Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon talks with Todd DePastino, biographer of Bill Mauldin and editor of our Willie & Joe books. Spurgeon says Willie & Joe: Back Home is "one of my three favorite comics-related books from 2011, and, I think, one of the year's best." From DePastino: "When I look at these cartoons, I think of literary critic Dominic LaCapra's claim that some books are good to think about and a very few are good to think with. Mauldin's postwar cartoons are good to think with. They not only provide a window to the times, like, say, good photographs or reporting might, but they also raise fundamental questions and issues that are with us still."
• Review: "These comics are beautiful. Each single-panel comic is blown up to a full page, so that Mauldin’s artistry can truly (and easily) be admired without squinting. The sentiments expressed are astonishing and bravely progressive for the time.... I’d never thought or heard about the poor reception combat vets received after WWII. (I mistakenly thought that only happened to our soldiers after the Vietnam War.) I wish I knew what they experienced. I’ll settle for giving [Willie & Joe: Back Home] to the next WWII vet I meet and hope that it sparks a conversation." – Gene Ambaum, The Unshelved Book Club
• List: Moto Hagio's The Heart of Thomas tops Deb Aoki's list of the Most-Anticipated New Manga of 2012 at About.com Manga: "This 3-volume story from 1974 has been on many manga connoisseur's wish lists for years, so it's a real joy to see that Fantagraphics will be publishing the entire saga in English in one volume."
• List/Review:Manga Worth Reading's Johanna Draper Carlson ranks Wandering Son the #2 Best New Manga of 2011 and recommends Volume 2 in her review: "Shimura Takako’s young figures are adorable. They look unspoiled, with their future ahead of them, which puts their struggles into greater relief.... Translator Matt Thorn’s essay at the back of this volume addresses the issue of being 'Transgendered in Japan' directly, providing valuable information on cultural context, as well as warning us that the children’s lives may be very difficult in years (and stories) to come. There is no more handsome manga than Fantagraphics’ presentation of Wandering Son."
• List:Forbidden Planet International asks comics creator Martin Eden his 3 favorite comics of 2011: "My attention had been waning a bit with the Love and Rockets comics, and then 2010′s Love and Rockets [New Stories] 3 came out and it blew my mind – it was one of the most incredible things I’ve ever read. So much so, that I found myself re-reading the entire series and tracking down all the issues I’d missed. This year’s Love and Rockets[New Stories] 4... was still utterly mind-blowing, and Jaime Hernandez is producing the best work he’s ever done, in my opinion."
• Review: "One of comics revered masters gets a fresh new reprinting [Walt Disney's Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes ] worthy of his work and accessible to kids.... This volume finds [Barks] at a creative peak, combining the bold adventuring of Tintin with the wisely cynical view of human weakness of John Stanley.... Donald is an everyman of frustration whose life is one big Chinese finger trap—the harder he fights, the harder the world fights back.... Despite the dark undertones, the comic expressions and dialogue is still laugh-out-loud funny. A wonderful project that should put Barks’s name in front of new generations of admirers." – Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
• Review: "This exceptional first volume of the collected adventures of Pogo Possum should remind readers of the substantial legacy left behind by Kelly.... The volume is beautifully put together, including excellent insights into Kelly and his work... One only needs to get a short way into the adventures of Pogo and his pals in Okefenokee Swamp to recognize the impact Pogo has had on so many cartoonists... With Pogo Possum and [his] supporting characters..., Kelly was able to blend hilarious humor, exceptional storytelling, keen political satire, and brilliant wordplay into a strip that could be appreciated both by children and adults. The more one reads this volume, the clearer picture one has of Kelly as comics’ answer to Lewis Carroll, with Alice having changed into a possum and left Wonderland behind for a swamp." – Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
• Review: "The Art of Joe Kubert contains extensive commentary by Bill Schelly that contextualizes Kubert's work with the development of comics as a medium. ...[I]t's an informative and briskly engaging essay. In reviewing the vast panorama of Kubert's eight-decade career, The Art of Joe Kubert allows readers previously unfamiliar with the artist to share an appreciation of his abiding interest in human nature (as opposed to just superhero theatrics) through a surprising variety of storytelling styles and subject matter. Kubert's great influence on other cartoonists came from the way he embraced the comics medium as a whole, instead of just a particular niche or character type." – Casey Burchby, SF Weekly
• Interview:The A.V. Club's Sam Adams chats with Jack Davis: "I’ve said this many a time; I’ll tell it again. When I was going to kindergarten, and that’s a very young age, my mother used to walk me to school. I would go up past a chain gang — that was the old days when the prisoners wore stripes and everything — and I saw that. I would go to kindergarten, and they’d put a piece of construction paper in front of me, and crayons, and I did, probably, a stick figure, but I put stripes on him. And from that, they thought I had talent. My mother thought I was great. And from then, I’ve always drawn. Drawn pictures. I love to draw cartoons."
• Interview:Nerve gets sex advice from a trio of cartoonists including Rick Altergott — "If you want to talk about inking brushes or pens or what kind of paper or even something as broad as 'who's your favorite cartoonist?' 'Do you know Robert Crumb?' 'Do you know the Hernandez brothers?' Once you get the answer, you can fine-tune it from there. Before you know it, you're probably going to end up in bed." — and Anders Nilsen
• Plugs: The fine folks at L.A.'s Secret Headquarters are posting their staff gift suggestions: Julie recommends Leslie Stein's Eye of the Majestic Creature ("Good for: Anyone with an overactive imagination; fans of whimsy and good times") and Malachi suggests The Cabbie Vol. 1 by Martí ("A European (and comically sordid) take on the American crime genre") and Walt Kelly's Pogo Vol. 1 ("The essential collection of Pogo – A comic that expertly integrates social satire into the daily newspaper format")
This week's comic shop shipment is slated to include the following new titles. Read on to see what comics-blog commentators and web-savvy comic shops are saying about them (more to be added as they appear), check out our previews at the links, and contact your local shop to confirm availability.
80-page black & white 9" x 11.75" hardcover • $19.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-450-4
"I've seen this Marti Riera graphic novel described as Dick Tracy without a moral anchor, which sounds intriguing; the introduction's by Art Spiegelman, and I suspect it's the same as the one that appeared in the 1987 Catalan edition." – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
"Speaking of [Chester] Gould, The Cabbie draws deeply from the Dick Tracy well but in a way that criticizes the excesses of its underlying worldview rather than blindly celebrating its virtues. I'm really grateful Fantagraphics is doing this work, because it's not always easy to read." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
144-page black & white 8" x 8" hardcover • $19.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-454-2
"This is Gahan Wilson's National Lampoon strip, an extended meditation on/reaction to the sugary-sweet quality of most kids strips." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
"Some nice archival stuff turned up this week, including Gahan Wilson’s Nuts! from Fantagraphics (a somewhat nostalgic/somewhat terrifying look at childhood)..." – Mike Sterling
"There’s a lot of great stuff out this week, so with $30 I’d have to... get one of two new books from Fantagraphics — either Gahan Wilson’s Nuts or The Cabbie by Italian cartoonist Marti. I’ve raved about Nuts before–it’s a piercingly accurate look at the pain and perils involved in growing up. Cabbie, on the other hand, is a uber-violent Dick Tracy homage by way of Taxi Driver." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"CONFLICT OF INTEREST RESERVOIR: I first encountered Marti Riera’s bonkers, politicized Chester Gould parody/riff The Cabbie in the 1987 Catalan edition, now re-translated and to be followed by a never-translated sequel per editor Kim Thompson...; $19.99. And reaching even further back, Nuts collects the entirety of Gahan Wilson’s National Lampoon strips from the ’70s, with a new essay by Gary Groth; $19.99." – Joe McCulloch, The Comics Journal
• Review: "Wearing its stylistic debt to Chester Gould’s classic Dick Tracy strips on its sleeve, this Spanish-produced series [The Cabbie] (which was originally printed in the ’80s) revels in a stark and sleazy noir aesthetic that drags the reader on a vicious trip through the scabrous underbelly of 'the Big City.'... An intriguing throwback to the days of heroes with worldviews defined in terms as rigidly black and white as the panels they battled their way through, this visual and thematic love letter to (and simultaneous critique of) Gould’s tropes is highly recommended for grownups with a taste for refreshingly lurid pulp fiction." – Publishers Weekly
• Review: "The Hidden feels like a Poe short story, but Richard Sala actually reaches further back into gothic literature for information, filtering Frankenstein through a zombie apocalypse. Just like Poe, the fun here is all in the telling, and Sala’s campfire-ghost-story illustration is blunt enough to be cynically hilarious and cruelly gory, often at the same time. The allegory is the same as from Shelley’s original, but like the best gothic writing, the fun comes from putting the pieces — all the pieces — together at the end." – David Berry, National Post
• Interview:Robot 6's Chris Mautner has a brief chat with Richard Sala about a book that's not ours (the Nursery Rhyme Comics anthology from First Second) but any interview with Richard is worthwhile
• Review: "The final edition of Mome leaves a vacuum that thus far has always managed to get filled — let’s hope the graphic world hasn’t lost its taste for short stories just yet — but it will always be a shame to file something this sharply curated in the shelf. The fifth installment of Devil Doll is likely the most beautiful piece here, and there’s a terrific streak of humour throughout — Laura Perk’s Hobbesian, malevolent George is the pitch-black highlight, but there’s plenty of other strains — all adding up to an end that’s perfectly fitting, but no less unfortunate." – David Berry, National Post
• Review: "Last month, Fantagraphics released The Art of Joe Kubert, a wonderful oversized art book that traces the career of the comics legend who has worked successfully in all the major 'Ages' of comics. While seeing the art in a larger format is nice, it's the text that winds through the book that opened my eyes to a lot of new things in comics that I had never known before.... Schelly's words opened up a new world of art critique for me.... The Art of Joe Kubert is probably the best DC book I read in September, and DC didn't even publish it. Fantagraphics did, and a wonderful job they did, from the raw materials to the book design and packaging." – Augie DeBlieck Jr., Comic Book Resources
• Review: "Maybe, perhaps, at last, the time is right for a mass re-evaluation of the Duck comics, as Fantagraphics steps into the breach to produce a definitive library of Carl Barks' oeuvre. Not only do they step in, but they do so fearlessly... The series starts in November with Walt Disney's Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes, an impressively affordable $25 hardcover... Happily, the stories look great and the book is a wonder to hold in your hand.... As to the content, itself, it's just as remarkable an achievement in comics as I remembered.... The contents of the book are as good as they're going to get, produced with an eye towards recapturing as much of the look of the original printings as possible, without sacrificing clarity or design. The quality of the black and white line work is top notch, too.... Pre-order today. Just do it. You can thank me later." – Augie DeBlieck Jr., Comic Book Resources
• Interview: Speaking of short interviews about books that aren't ours, there's a Q&A with Michael Kupperman on the Marvel website about his contribution to their upcoming humor anthology Shame Itself