Presenting some photos of Megan Kelso's Artichoke Tales book launch/signing/art exhibit opening at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery last Saturday, June 12. Thanks to everybody who came out to meet Megan, get books signed and marvel at her amazingly clean originals. Browse the whole photo set, including more shots of the artwork, on our Flickr page; there's also a slideshow embedded below. The show is up through July 7.
Hokey smokes, hope you've been saving your nickels because we've got 5, count 'em 5, brand new books slated to hit comic shops this week! Read on for more info and to see what the other new-comics-day bloggers are saying [now edited to add Tom Spurgeon].
232-page monochrome 6.75" x 8.25" hardcover • $22.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-344-6
"I absolutely loved this Megan Kelso graphic novel — a kind of anthropological/fictional-historical fantasy/love story thing involving a fractured culture of people with artichoke leaves for hair — and I'm not afraid to say so." – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
"Getting back to much-awaited new projects, here’s Megan Kelso’s 232-page intergenerational fantasy, excerpted/anticipated here and there, depicting struggle and serenity among the fleshily vulnerable artichoke folk. ...Kelso’s visual style remains appealing as ever." – Joe McCulloch, Comics Comics
"Megan Kelso (The Squirrel Mother) returns with her most ambitious work to date..." – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
"Fantagraphics reminds us that they’re more than just awesome, Matt Thorn-curated manga with Megan Kelso’s Artichoke Tales. ... This is Kelso’s first long-form effort, and I’m looking forward to seeing what she does with that length of narrative." – David Welsh, The Manga Curmudgeon
"I'm still digesting this, the oddest book I've read all year." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
104-page black & white 6.5" x 9" hardcover • $19.99 ISBN: 978-1-56097-917-3
"Tony Millionaire’s sequel to his excellent 2006 Billy Hazelnuts, a gorgeous evocation of sprawling, daydreamy adventure strip narratives pairing gritty-but-whimsical hardcases with not-too-sweet innocents. Here we find grumpy homunculus Billy adjusting poorly to helping out with animals on the farm, only to set off on a mission to reunite a baby owl with its mother. It looks really funny and beautiful." – Joe McCulloch, Comics Comics
"Maakies cartoonist Tony Millionaire's 'all-ages' sequel to Billy Hazelnuts, and by 'all-ages' he apparently means that it's the kind of grotesque slapstick farce that could potentially entertain small children while creeping the living heck out of their parents..." – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
"What's MY PICK OF THE WEEK? The Billy Hazelnuts and the Crazy Bird hardcover by the one and only Tony Millionaire. ... In the Billy Hazelnuts all-ages series, Millionaire spins the yarn of Billy, a garbage-homunculus, and the family who loves him. In this installment, the bizarre Billy must return a baby owl to the woods. Rampant weirdness ensues." – Cyriaque Lamar, io9
"Prolific Maakies cartoonist and Sock Monkey creator Tony Millionaire’s long-awaited second Billy Hazelnuts graphic novel finally arrives." – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
"The release of a new Tony Millionaire stand-alone book is an overall world good." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
128-page black & white 8.25" x 10.75" hardcover • $19.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-352-1
"Finally(!), here’s a new 128-page hardcover edition of Fantagraphics’ 1995 compilation of assorted Robert Crumb shorts starring the famous lil’ bearded guy." – Joe McCulloch, Comics Comics
"Fantagraphics is having a pretty damn huge week (and there’s a couple more swell-looking books below)." [Yep!] – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
"This is one of the better Christmas-gift books Fantagraphics ever made... A kind of Crumb-primer, or Crumb for people who might want to get at him from a more standard comics stories standpoint." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
240-page black & white/duotone 7" x 10.25" softcover • $22.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-346-0
"...includes the best of comics creator, character and all-around renaissance woman Dame Darcy’s first decade of Meat Cake comics..." – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
"No, stay in your chair, this close-to-last-of-the-classic-one-artist-anthology-comic-books isn’t going bookshelf for good – it’s an expanded 240-page softcover reissue of Fantagraphics’ 2003 (200-page) hardcover collection of the best of Dame Darcy’s comical fictions and stitched-up Victoriana, with guest writer Alan Moore popping in for a later story..." – Joe McCulloch, Comics Comics
"This collection of Dame Darcy's twisted fairy tale saga was out-of-print and gets a much deserved resurrection, replete with her collaboration with Alan Moore." – Cyriaque Lamar, io9
"Dame Darcy is the canary in the cage as alt-comics makes its way through the catacombs of modern comics publishing. As long as she has a publishing presence, something must going at least semi-okay." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
240-page two-color 8" x 10" hardcover • $22.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-323-1
"I read it a few weeks ago, and it’s easily one of the best comics works I’ve experienced so far this year. It’s an extremely ambitious story set in a fantasy world that explores the various ways in which war and fear can tear people apart while knitting communities together. It’s occasionally touching, occasionally scary, always thrilling and remarkably complex. I hope to review it in this space sometime soon, but I’d like to give it another read or two before I attempt doing so. In the mean time, allow me to at least wholeheartedly recommend it." – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
"...Percy Gloom was perfectly dedicated to its metaphors of human caution as aggravated by society and religion. This new 240-page work promises a similarly-conceived world, this time as built by an amnesiac war veteran forever alert to obscure but surely dire threats. Surely!" – Joe McCulloch, Comics Comics
"Russ Manning Award winner Cathy Malkasian's new graphic novel is a sprawling, splendidly grotesque-looking fable about the kinds of lies that preserve patriarchy and perpetuate war, set in and around a city called Blessedbowl whose inhabitants believe that they're afloat on a sea of fire and at war with evil forces from outside, neither of which are true. It's worth a look for sure." – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
"I'm looking forward to this one because a) I know absolutely nothing about it, and b) I went into the cartoonist's previous book Percy Gloom with every expectation I'd hate it until my legs fell off from the acidic bile collected in them from my hating of it, but ended up super-charmed by like page eight." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
Still not convinced? Check out our previews and excerpts for each book at their respective links above and judge for yourself. As always, we recommend confirming availability with your local shop before toddling on down.
Don’t miss this: The Artopia cultural extravaganza and Georgetown Music Festival take place on Saturday, June 26 from 3:00 to 10:00 PM. It’s all FREE!
Dozens of bands will perform on several stages, including one right outside Fantagraphics Bookstore featuring the Tom Price Desert Classic with our own Martin Bland on traps. Old school carnival games and confections, aerial circus acts, and thrilling Power Tool Races are among the many attractions. You’ll love the demonic chainsaw-powered Daniel Clowes skateboard created by our curator Larry Reid and daughter Bella. Just don’t get too close.
This year’s Artopia features a special appearance by demented actor/comedian/director Bobcat Goldthwait (Shakes the Clown). Drop by the store for a beverage and check out Megan Kelso’s amazing new work as well as a boatload of impressive new books from your favorite artists. See you all soon.
Make plans for Labor Day weekend in Seattle now! The Bumbershoot art and music festival promises to be the best in recent memory. In addition to performances by the likes of Bob Dylan, Neko Case, Hole, the Decemberists, Weezer and countless other bands, the festival includes a large exhibition of contemporary Seattle cartoonists.
Organized by Fantagraphics resident curator Larry Reid, "Counterculture Comix: A 30-Year Survey of Seattle Alternative Cartoonists" begins with Lynda Barry's work circa 1980 and continues through the present. The show reveals Seattle as the ancestral home of the alternative comix genre and examines the role comix played in Seattle's youth movement of the 90s, which penetrated popular culture globally.
Come see readings by Jim Woodring (Weathercraft), Megan Kelso (Artichoke Tales), Lucy Morehouse (Ong Ong), Greg Stump (Dwarf Attack), Zach Mandeville (Funwater Awesome), Max Clotfelter and Kelly Froh (Stewbrew), Raleigh Briggs and Julia Lipscomb. Live music by Helen Parson! [Ed. note: our own Jason T. Miles will also be there with his Profanity Hill zine distro!]
Celebrated Seattle cartoonist Megan Kelso unveils her latest masterpiece ARTICHOKE TALES this Saturday from 6:00 to 9:00 PM at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery. Megan burst onto the comics scene in the early 90s with her provocative self-published zine Girlhero. She has since proven herself to be a master storyteller..
The New York Times' recent rave called her new book “…surprising and wonderful” with a “consistently sweet and airy approach [that] provides a likable surface for a story with much darker and stickier depths…” The Stranger says “Artichoke Tales feels like series of expansions. The characters and their world grow to envelop the reader in a singular, charming way.”
Please join us on Saturday to celebrate the work is this remarkable artist. DJ Russ "Fallout" Battaglia will spin platters and complimentary beverages will be provided. The reception coincides with the colorful Georgetown Second Saturday Art Attack featuring visual and performing arts presentations throughout the historic industrial arts district.
Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery is located at 1201 S. Vale Street at Airport Way S. in the heart of Georgetown. Open daily 11:30 to 8:00 PM, Sundays until 5:00 PM. Phone 206.658.0110.
Megan Kelso has proved herself a master of the cartoon short story with Queen of the Black Black (1998) and The Squirrel Mother (2006). With Artichoke Tales, six years in the making, Kelso expands her range (and her page count) by creating a family saga spanning three generations and an entire continent.
Artichoke Tales is a coming-of-age story about a young girl named Brigitte whose family is caught between the two warring sides of a civil war, a graphic novel that takes place in a world that echoes our own, but whose people have artichoke leaves instead of hair. Influenced in equal parts by Little House on the Prairie, The Thorn Birds, Dharma Bums, and Cold Mountain, Kelso weaves a moving story about family amidst war. Kelso’s visual storytelling, uniquely combining delicate linework with rhythmic, musical page compositions, creates a dramatic tension between intimate, ruminative character studies and the unflinching depiction of the consequences of war and carnage, lending cohesion and resonance to a generational epic. This is Kelso’s first new work in four years; the widespread critical reception of her previous work makes Artichoke Tales one of the most eagerly anticipated graphic novels of 2010.
• Review: "Over the last few decades, Jim Woodring has been drawing a series of wordless, blissfully cruel slapstick fables, set in a world of grotesque entities and psychedelic minarets: half unshakable nightmare, half Chuck Jones cartoon filtered through the Bhagavad Gita. Weathercraft... flows so smoothly and delightfully from each image to the next that it’s easy to ignore that it has its own idea of sense, which may not jibe with anybody else’s." – Douglas Wolk, The New York Times
• Review: "For those who find the work involving enough, Weathercraft will resonate with them on some emotional level — there's moments that unnerve, moments that touch — and while it is an immersive experience, the comic, especially in its hardcover form, operates most like a testimony of events. It's a comic, through and through, but it hews closer to a religious tome than it does a Love & Rockets installment." – Tucker Stone, comiXology
• Review: "It’s better to experience Woodring’s work than to try and understand it. Weathercraft focuses on Frank’s frequent nemesis Manhog — a representative of humanity at its morally weakest — as he goes through multiple stages of degradation on his way to almost achieving a higher consciousness. The humanoid mongrel Frank hangs around the edges of the story with his loyal pets, but Weathercraft is mainly about how Manhog — and by extension the reader — sees how sick, freaky, and beautiful the world can be… [Grade] A-" – The A.V. Club
• Review: "Megan Kelso is best known for elegant, small-scale comics... with a historical or memoiristic bent. So it’s surprising and wonderful that Artichoke Tales, her first novel-length work, is the sort of world-building fantasy story that comes with a family tree and a map on its endpapers. ... Kelso’s ligne claire artwork is consistently sweet and airy, depicting blobby, dot-eyed characters whose body language says as much as their words. The approach provides a likable surface for a story with much darker and stickier depths, about a land whose cultural heritage is rotting away in the aftermath of a civil war." – Douglas Wolk, The New York Times
• Review: "South African comic book writer/artist Joe Daly’s Dungeon Quest: Book One takes a hilariously askew look at the madness of fantasy quest games. ...[R]eaders with a high tolerance for absurdity and a healthy sense of humor about the subject matter will probably love what's on offer here." – Matt Staggs, Suvudu
• Review: "Watching [Wally] and his equally gangly, geometric cohorts stretch and sprint and smash their way across Hensley's brighly colored backgrounds and block-lettered sound effects is like reading your favorite poem — or even... Wally Gropius itself — as translated into a language with a totally different alphabet. ... And wonder of wonders, the book finds its own way to be really funny amid all these highfalutin hijinks..." – Sean T. Collins, Attentiondeficitdisorderly
• Review: "[Wally Gropius] has quickly become one of my favorite graphic novels. ... The comic is too odd to be described as 'commentary.' It seems far more synthetic than parodic: it blends recognizable influences into something truly new... The plot of Wally Gropius has been described as surreal or random, but it’s coherent and far more complex than I first thought... The book is an encyclopedia of cartoony facial expressions and bodily gestures, and should be studied at the CCS as such. WG radiates a real sense of joy, of 'cartooning unfettered.' ... Hensley is one of the best, and most idiosyncratic, writers of text in comics." – Ken Parille, Blog Flume
• Review: "[Daniel] Clowes isn’t as zany as he used to be, so there’s a void to be filled here, and Wally Gropius does that ably: The hardcover collects Hensley’s Gropius stories from the anthology seriesMome (with a little extra material thrown in), and his immaculate, vaguely ’50s style owes as much to Mort Walker, Archie Comics, and other vintage teen-humor strips as it does to Clowes. ... [Grade] B" – The A.V. Club
• Review: "...Captain Easy follows a mysterious agent-for-hire as he travels exotic lands, battling bad guys. ...Crane’s art is stunning, combining simple cartoony figures with richly detailed backgrounds in clever, colorful layouts. It isn’t even necessary to read the dialogue or captions to follow the action; just scan Crane’s dynamic lines, which make every panel look like a unique work of pop art… [Grade] A-" – The A.V. Club
• Review: "I was pretty excited when I found out that Fantagraphics was publishing an anthology of The Best American Comics Criticism. ... Editor Ben Schwartz did a great job selecting pieces that comprise a vibrant narrative of the industry. From graphic novels with literary aspirations to comics about capes, the breadth of content in here is really fantastic. ... But of all the essays in the book, only one is written by a woman. That’s a big let down." – Erin Polgreen, Attackerman
• Plug: "Drew Friedman is the master American caricaturist of our time. Not only are his portraits of the famous so realistic, they induce double takes, but he also captures truths about personality and draws out (pun intended) the funny in everyone." – Michael Simmons, LA Weekly
• Plug:G4 drops a nice mention of "the ongoing and lovingly assembled Complete Peanuts series" in their review of the Snoopy Flying Ace game for Xbox 360
• Interview:Comics Comics' Nicole Rudick sat Al Columbia down for his most candid and revealing interview ever: "So, yeah, I can still draw Pim and Francie. They’re a lot of fun to draw. Almost too much fun. You start to get intoxicated working on them. It’s like, 'This is too much fun. This shouldn’t be allowed. This shouldn’t be legal.' I always put it aside because it just gets me too . . . they’re very intense and fun and maybe fun upsets me."
• Interview:The Daily Cross Hatch's Brian Heater concludes his conversation with Gene Deitch: "I hate the term '2D.' That’s bullshit. They put us in that category. They say they’re making 3D. They’re not 3D. What Pixar does is not 3D because it’s shaded. The screen is flat. It’s a flat picture. It’s just an illusion."
• Profile: Taylor Dungjen of University of Cincinnati student newspaper The News Record profiles U of C faculty member C. Tyler: "You might say Tyler is a proud American. You might even call her a patriot. She says she is a liberal hippie chick who supports American troops."
• Review: "Rather than a narrative arc, with ascensions and declines, Artichoke [Tales] feels like a series of expansions. The characters and their world grow to envelop the reader in a singular, charming way." – Paul Constant, The Stranger
• Review: "Without a single word, Woodring tells an enormous tale of redemption and heartbreak. Weathercraft crackles with the power of myth, and it extends far beyond its pages with a life of its own; one could imagine a postapocalyptic culture forming an entire religion based on this one thin book. You've never read anything quite like Weathercraft, but at the same time it feels eerily familiar, like a dream you had last night." – Paul Constant, The Stranger
• Review: "Weathercraftis at once far wilder and more subtle than I could have imagined. The imagery and the surroundings are more hallucinatory, the mixture of cartoon-cute and skittering, undulating grotesquerie more effectively creepy, and the characterizations and themes more layered and nuanced than any version of this book that played out in my head. ... Weathercraft paints small moments of beauty and mystery on a huge canvas of twisted wonder." – Jason Michelitch, Comics Alliance
• Review: "...[Wally] Gropius is more concerned with verbal jazz and abstract gags, all presented in an innocent-looking approximation of the bright, clean style of ’60s Harvey Comics. ... I liked enough of the gags, and Hensley’s overall confidence in putting them over in such a currently declassé comics art style, that I would recommend it." – Christopher Allen, Comic Book Galaxy
• Review: The French edition of Daniel Clowes 's The Death Ray (Eightball #23) was examined on Le Grand Journal on French television network Canal+ last month (YouTube link) — for non-Francophones Kim Thompson summarizes it thusly: "The guy can't stop gushing about the beauty of the drawings, the coloring, the design, the thematic elements of ennui (yes, he actually says 'ennui') and violence 'even against squirrels.'"
• Roundtable: Speaking of our own multilingualist Kim Thompson, he participates in The Comics Journal's roundtable discussion on comics translation
Kelso will be making a rare return to New York since moving back to her hometown of Seattle, WA a few years ago. She will give a multimedia talk called "Big and Small": How do you construct a story that includes the big wide world, history, culture, sweeping events like war and political change, but that also includes personal, intimate character-driven things like friendship, family relationships, love, sex, babies and dying? How do you meld the two together into a believable whole? How do you humanize important historical players, kings, queens and presidents, and also show how the personal lives of ordinary people are affected by grand events that take place outside their doors? This are the essential questions that Kelso asked herself throughout the creation of Artichoke Tales, and she answers them through examples of her own work, as well as other artists who are engaged with similar issues, from Joe Sacco to Lynda Barry.
Meanwhile, underground comix and New York legend Deitch will present a visual tour through his "universe," which features a a sprawling, multi-generational cast of characters both fictional and real, spanning comics and animation history of the 1920’s and 30’s through the present day, with a particular focus on his latest epic, The Search for Smilin' Ed. Deitch will explicate his incredibly intricate yet organic page and panel constructions, which he employs with unparalleled excellence in the creation of structurally complex narratives concerning equally complex characters.
These lively talks will be followed by a question and answer session with the audience and book signing.
WHO: Megan Kelso and Kim Deitch WHAT: Multimedia talk and book signing WHERE: The Strand Bookstore, 12th & Broadway, New York, NY WHEN: Thursday, June 24, 7PM
ARTICHOKE TALES is the long-awaited graphic novel from Megan Kelso, a six-years-in-the-making family saga spanning three generations and an entire continent. This coming-of-age story is about a young girl named Brigitte whose family is caught between the two warring sides of a civil war, taking place in a world that echoes our own, but whose people have artichoke leaves instead of hair. Influenced in equal parts by Little House on the Prairie, The Thorn Birds, Dharma Bums, and Cold Mountain, Kelso weaves a moving story about family amidst war. Kelso’s visual storytelling, uniquely combining delicate linework with rhythmic, musical page compositions, creates a dramatic tension between intimate, ruminative character studies and the unflinching depiction of the consequences of war and carnage, lending cohesion and resonance to a generational epic. This is Kelso’s first new work in four years; the widespread critical reception of her previous work, THE SQUIRREL MOTHER, makes Artichoke Tales one of the most eagerly anticipated graphic novels of 2010.
THE SEARCH FOR SMILIN' ED is the latest of Kim Deitch’s graphic novels to showcase his obsessive burrowing into the nooks and crannies of vintage American popular culture. A long-gone children’s show host propels Deitch into a pop-culture investigation.
Where Deitch's earlier books focused on the earliest days of the animation industry (in THE BOULEVARD OF BROKEN DREAMS), the history of comic strips (ALIAS THE CAT), and vintage movie serials (SHADOWLAND), THE SEARCH FOR SMILIN' ED explores the surreal landscape of children’s TV shows. Launched on his latest investigation by a remark from his brother about a shared childhood favorite (“Y’know, I heard that when Smilin’ Ed died... his body was never found!”), Deitch begins to uncover some mysterious things about the kiddie-show host and his malevolent sidekick, Froggy the Gremlin. Ranging across the entire twentieth century, replete with flashbacks and stories within stories, The Search for Smilin’ Ed! is a narrative whirligig that shows Deitch at his wildest and woolliest.
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