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.
Bonus Savings: Order Megan Kelso's Artichoke Tales + The Squirrel Mother together for a discounted price of $31.99 (a savings of about 8 bucks)! Order now and we'll ship you both books when Artichoke Tales arrives in our warehouse.
• List:Only the Cinema's Ed Howard begins counting down The Best Comics of the Decade: part 2 includes Black Hole by Charles Burns at #36 ("Few books do a better job of capturing the fear, and the excitement, of nascent desire and adolescent longing, as these diseased teens are driven mad by hormones and embarrassment"), Epileptic and Babel by David B. at #30 ("With his elegant style, dominated by striking blacks and contrasts, he invents numerous metaphors and visualizations for his brother's disease, treating the fight against the disease as a physical, mortal conflict"), Chimera #1 by Lorenzo Mattotti at #29 ("a rare pleasure from this elusive artist... a powerful work"), and The Squirrel Mother by Megan Kelso at #26 ("Kelso's work can be devastating in the way she pares down the excess to get at the essence of a particular moment or situation").
• Review: "…[A] fascinating treasure trove of an anthology... In addition to work by greats like Artie Romero, Rick Geary, and Mary Fleener, and 50 or so others, [Newave!] serves as the history of a movement." – Publishers Weekly
• Review: "Taken as a book that records a history, it’s pretty awesome. ... Newave! does include essays about minicomics and interviews with some of the creators. These are fun and provide a great look at how all of this came about." – Eden Miller, Comicsgirl (via Wow Cool)
• Review: "[Newave!] is really cool. ... It's great to see the kind of passion that was going on... when there was this explosion where people just wanted to do comics because they had a passion for drawing, for telling stories... It's just a book full of passionate comics... I definitely recommend checking it out..." – Steampunk Willy's Mad Comix Ride - The Comic Book Podcast (via Wow Cool)
• Review: "[I Killed Adolf] Hitler mixes elements of classic time travel science fiction fare with personal melodrama and a strange sense of humor that's unlike anything else in comics today. ... Jason pulls off some nice storytelling tricks when you aren't looking. ... The pacing of his story is refreshing, never getting bogged down, never moving too fast." – Augie De Blieck Jr., Comic Book Resources
• Interview: At Fatally Yours, Sarah Jahier has an enlightening Q&A with Dame Darcy: "My Dad is an artist, so is my uncle, brother, and a lot of my family. We are related to John Wilkes Booth and many of the guys in my family look like him (like a handsome villain). I [attribute] a lot of my family’s talent and good looks to Booth but also the craziness." I did not know that! (via The Beat)
• Profile: At Comix 411, Tom Mason profiles E.C. Segar's Popeye protegé, Bud Sagendorf
• Review: "Imagine then what yesterday — or today's — right wingers would say about The Great Anti-War Cartoons... Sadly... what these cartoons have made us 'see' is how little things have changed 'round the planet, or within our species. ... And while being the spark for various brilliant cartoons over the decades doesn't justify the institutional addiction to war (or its always-looming threat), these cartoons can at least provide some solace. Or good fallout shelter reading." – Mark London Williams, The SF Site: Nexus Graphica
• Review: "Jaime Hernandez’s side of the Love and Rockets anthology may have started in a world of futuristic fantasy, but [The Girl from H.O.P.P.E.R.S.] is the volume where he finds his feet and hits a groove. ... Jaime’s illustration is beautiful and effortless. His characters mix a near perfect clear-line style with cartoonish expression, used with particular aplomb when emotions are running high. It’s a masterclass in comic illustration." – Grovel
• Plug:Library Journal features May 2010's Artichoke Tales by Megan Kelso in their inaugural Graphic Novels Prepub Alert: "A coming-of-age story about a young girl from a family caught between sides in a civil war, set in a world similar to ours but where people have artichoke leaves instead of hair. ... Its delicate, rather impish black-and-white line work comes from the creator of the subtle and poignant Squirrel Mother."
• List: At his blog Supervillain, Sean Witzke posts a massive Comics of the Decade roundup which includes Ganges by Kevin Huizenga ("The third one fucking rules"), I Killed Adolf Hitler ("I read this sitting in the train station in Philadelphia that they shot part of 12 Monkeys in, laughing very loudly") and The Last Musketeer ("Pompous blowhard saves the universe from Ming the Merciless by stabbing and chivalry. Stabbing and chivalry solve everything.") by Jason, and Prison Pit: Book 1 by Johnny Ryan ("Book of ‘09... If the point of comics is fucked up shit happening, this is the best fucking comic ever made.") (via Robot 6)
• Review: "Family histories isn’t a series of isolated events, in Tyler’s mind, but fluid — and sometimes jarring — tapestries of facts, memories, half-truths, and emotional resonances. Her father clearly doesn’t see things that way, and this first part of You’ll Never Know shows a potential rift in how father and daughter understand their lives, and how they think a war should be remembered. I can’t wait to read how this fracture develops, deepens, and perhaps closes up." – Walter Biggins, Quiet Bubble
• Review: "There's much to like here. I sort of assumed MOME would be more like Raw, in terms of pushing the envelope and extreme artiness and so on, but it's much more readable than that. ... Anthologies are always uneven, but this contains fewer stinkers than most, clearly a testament to Fantagraphics's editorial eye." – Hillary Brown, Shazhmmm...
• Review: "Few artistic creations merit the adjective 'lurid.' Strange Suspense leers confidently from the shadows of that small crowd. ... If the infected, deformed teens of Black Hole inspired the reader to linger on each page of that magnificent book, Strange Suspense is worth a look. And for the Ditko-curious, this isn't a bad place to start." – The Typing Monkey
• Review: "The Squirrel Mother is a compilation of stories created by Megan Kelso between 2000 and 2005, that Fantagraphics Books, faithful to its tradition, made a beautiful object, which delights the eye before the mind." – Pedro Cleto (translated from Portuguese)
Here you go, today's Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: "Locas II, by Jaime Hernandez, combines lush artwork with vivid, heart-in-mouth storytelling. ...[I]f you haven’t encountered its two heroines before, you might find yourself a little lost in the ongoing magic realist soap opera that is Hernandez’s stock-in-trade. It would be a bit like dropping in on Coronation Street for the first time — albeit a Corrie soundtracked by The Germs and Big Black. ... [But] even if you find yourself lost somewhere in the middle of Locas II, the lostness makes a kind of sense. The lives Hernandez chronicles are a little lost. ... Best of all, there's the creamy out-and-out gorgeousness of Hernandez's cartooning, with its echoes of Peanuts, the old Archie comics and 'good girl' art (never, outwith [Russ] Meyer's movies, have so many worn so little so often). Can you fancy a drawing? Look at the portrait of Frogmouth on page 405 and tell me it's not possible." – Teddy Jamieson, The Herald
• Review: "The Good: Prison Pit reminded me a lot of Gwar, professional wrestling and the comic strips my friends and I used to draw in junior high. ... It was gross as hell and filled with blood and gore and just straight-up repulsive juvenile humor. It was a lot of fun. The Bad: It’s probably too awesome for a lot of people to handle. ... The Bottom Line: Dude, it’s great. Just shut up and buy it. ...I’m giving Prison Pit anA and as soon as I’m done writing this review, I’m going to sit down and re-read it." – Chad Derdowski, Mania
Holy smokes, there's no shortage of Online Commentary & Diversions today:
• Review: "...Prison Pit... is nothing less than a continuous, no-holds barred, violent assault on the eyes. It is literally one god damned, bloody fight scene after another... The book's genius lies in Ryan's sheer nerve and imagination in setting up these battles; he constantly ups the ante in the most bizarre and inventive ways possible. ... Ryan's love of body functions goes into full gonzo mode here. ...you've got a book where body horror extends far beyond the repulsive into the truly sublime and inspired. ... Despite the gore, or perhaps, because of it, Prison Pit is a fantastic, accomplished work." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "Page after page [of The Squirrel Machine] features one of the brothers traversing through some odd, off-kilter landscape, either out in the woods, or, more often, in their home. Between the floorboards and walls seem to exist an endless array of paths and rooms, each cluttered with an endless array of junk, machines and the occasional disturbing, inexplicable oddity. The end result resembles more of an old-style adventure video game than a comic. It's Myst, directed by David Cronenberg." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6 (same link as above)
• Review: "Perhaps what makes West Coast Blues so captivating is how well it highlights the similarities between film and comics, while simultaneously showcasing its own unique ability as a graphic novel to capture the noir aesthetic through word and image. ... Not unlike many noir films, West Coast Blues is replete with car chases, hit-men, drinking, guns, and the occasional salacious scene. All of this is set in Tardi’s straightforward drawing style which is a good fit for the almost matter-of-fact, unsentimental manner in which violence, sex, and life in general are met with during the course of the book." – Sara Cole, PopMatters
• Review: "Most comic strips today, especially those that are humor strips, often avoid topical subjects. Schulz embraced the topics of the era. They may date the strip, but it never leaves them outdated. ... Schulz was also not afraid to carry on-going storylines for several days or in some cases, even a couple of weeks. ... [The Complete Peanuts 1973-1974 ] also features all the favorite subjects like Linus’ annual wait for the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown’s trip to Summer camp, and Sally’s letters to Santa Claus. This is why Peanuts is the greatest strip ever!" – Tim Janson, Newsarama
• Review: "Jason seems to delight in building firm plots, only to swiftly tug them out of sync. The resulting offbeat dynamic is punctuated with deadpan verbal, narrative and graphic punch lines, which pin the stories down at the same time that they suggest grander meanings. 'Where am I?' asks a prisoner. 'I think I'll do some gardening,' says a murdered man. 'Which way?' a son asks his father in 'You Are Here' — the heartrending emotional core of the collection [Low Moon] — as they search for his mother on a barren planet. Each line and frame could mean nothing or could mean everything in this quiet, gripping book." – Becky Ferreira, The L Magazine
• Interview: Jason speaks frankly about Low Moon with Becky Ferreira of The L Magazine (different link than above): "Low Moon, the story, wasn't long enough for a book of its own, so I had to include some other stories to fill it out. They were just ideas for shorter stories I had lying around. There wasn't meant to be any thematic unity. Death, I guess, is a repeating theme. People die a lot."
• Interview: Tommy Hill of the Columbia Daily Spectator talks to The Comics Journal assistant editor Kristy Valenti about comics criticism and The Importance of Comics: "I teach my interns that nobody cares about them and their feelings and their dog when they were 8; while their experience and perspective is valuable, it’s just a jumping off point to get at bigger things."
• Plug: "You Are There...: More beautiful Jacques Tardi, a seminal work in comics for adults in the French-language market and a first-paragraph mention work for both Tardi and writer Jean-Claude Forest." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
• Plug: "[You Are There] is a strange, wordy, spicy satire, seeing a man struggle to live on the walls surrounding land stolen from him; maybe it's best to see for yourself." - Joe McCulloch, Jog - The Blog (read the rest of his blurb for some interesting background info on the book)
"COMICS SAVANTS" EXHIBITION OPENING AUGUST 8 -- FANTAGRAPHICS BOOKSTORE & GALLERY CELEBRATES SEATTLE ALTERNATIVE CARTOONISTS
July 29, 2009 - SEATTLE, WA. Since relocating to Seattle from Southern California 20 years ago, Fantagraphics Books has remained committed to nurturing and promoting the diverse practitioners of alternative comics in the Northwest. The country's most successful purveyor of challenging comics routinely employs local cartoonists and publishes the work of regional artists which has contributed to Seattle's international reputation as the unrivaled center of alternative comics. To celebrate this association, Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery presents "Comics Savants: A Survey of Seattle Alternative Cartoonists" opening Saturday, August 8.
This exhibition will feature over a dozen emerging and established artists, including many of the most accomplished cartoonists in the alternative movement. Among them: Peter Bagge, who coined the term "alternative comics" in 1990 and as the highly-regarded creator of the phenomenal Hate comic book series attracted dozens of young cartoonists to the city during the 90s decade; Seattle native Charles Burns, whose teen years are fictionalized in his amazing graphic novel Black Hole, soon to be a motion picture directed by David Fincher; Visionary artist Jim Woodring, one of only a handful of cartoonists to be embraced by the fine art world, having been awarded the United States Artist Fellowship in 2007 and a 2009 Art Trust Washington State Artists Fellowship, who will exhibit work from his forthcoming graphic novel Weathercraft; Ellen Forney, whose collaboration with local author Sherman Alexie won the prestigious 2008 National Book Award; David Lasky, who will exhibit pages from his collaboration with Seattle writer Chris Esty "The Last Testament" from Hotwire #2; Second wave Seattle alternative cartoonist Megan Kelso; emerging artist Eroyn Franklin, who will exhibit hand cut pages from her Xeric award winning graphic novel Another Glorious Day at the Nothing Factory; current and former Fantagraphics Books staffers Jim Blanchard, Roberta Gregory, Patrick Moriarity; Ted Jouflas; Jason T. Miles and Eric Reynolds.
In addition to the display of original artworks, an eclectic array of comics and graphic novels by exhibiting artists will be available. Many featured artists will attend the opening reception of Saturday, August 8 from 6:00 to 9:00 PM. Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery is located at 1201 S. Vale St. (at Airport Way S.) only minutes south of downtown. This event coincides with the colorful Georgetown Second Saturday Art Attack featuring exciting visual and performing arts presentations in close proximity throughout the historic artists' enclave.
COMICS SAVANTS: A Survey of Seattle Alternative Cartoonists
Peter Bagge, Jim Blanchard, Charles Burns, Ellen Forney, Roberta Gregory, Ted Jouflas, Megan Kelso, David Lasky, Jason T. Miles, Patrick Moriarity, Eric Reynolds, Jim Woodring, and introducing Eroyn Franklin.
Opening reception Saturday, August 8, 6:00 to 9:00 PM
Exhibition continues through September 9, 2009
Join us on Saturday, August 22 from 6:00 to 8:00 PM for the publication party of Eroyn Franklin's Xeric award wining comic Another Glorious Day at the Nothing Factory.
Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery 1201 S. Vale Street (at Airport Way S.) Seattle, WA 98108 206.658.0110 Open daily 11:30 to 8:00 PM, Sundays until 5:00 PM
Mike Baehr, Janice Headley and I are headed down Friday for this weekend's Alternative Press Expo in San Francisco, and we will be bringing along about 150 comics and books for you to browse and get signed all weekend long by our amazing line-up of attending authors:
11AM Johnny Ryan 12PM Kevin Huizenga & Bob Levin 1PM John Pham & Johnny Ryan 2PM Daniel Clowes & Ted Stearn 3PM Jaime Hernandez & Megan Kelso 4PM Jaime Hernandez & Dame Darcy 5PM From MOME: Jonathan Bennett & Tim Hensley
11AM Megan Kelso & Kevin Huizenga 12PM Jaime Hernandez & John Pham 1PM Daniel Clowes & Ted Stearn 2PM Dame Darcy 3PM Dame Darcy 4PM Jaime Hernandez & Johnny Ryan
Meanwhile, Jordan Crane, Esther Pearl Watson, Chris Ware (yes, Chris Ware!), and others will also be appearing at the show. How can you miss it? It runs 11 to 7 Saturday and 11 to 6 Sunday.