• Review: "...Artichoke Tales and The Squirrel Mother have established Kelso as one of the most original talents in comics. The dozen stories in Queen of the Black Black show an emerging talent, but not a fully-formed one; Kelso tries out a variety of styles here, from primitivist to expressionistic, and tries out a variety of genres too, from slice-of-life to historical fantasy. This book isn’t the best introduction to Kelso — that would be The Squirrel Mother — but it’s essential for fans..." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "Now collected and translated into English, Approximate Continuum Comics is almost more valuable now than it was at the time, serving as a historical document of one of some of the most significant cartoonists in Eurocomics. The book also exemplifies Trondheim’s distinctive autobiographical style, which allows plenty of room for dream sequences, slapstick, digressions, and all the virtues that make his fiction work such a delight." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "For Isle of 100,000 Graves, Norwegian cartoonist Jason works his animal-headed characters into a rip-roaring pirate tale written by Fabien Vehlmann. The result is a little more dialogue-heavy and a little less existential than Jason’s usual books, but it’s still funny and imaginative, telling the story of a young girl who joins a band of buccaneers to look for her father and ends up meeting a hapless lad who’s enrolled in school for executioners. The action barrels straight ahead to a sweet finish, but the highlights of Isle of 100,000 Graves come in that school, where kids dispassionately learn to maim and torture in ways that perfectly suit Jason’s deadpan style." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "Isle of 100,000 Graves is the first work of Jason's to be written by someone other than himself. Boy, did he choose a good one!... Visually it is much the same as Jason's other works, which in my opinion are stunning in their simplicity. The sparse composition of the panels, the 'ligne claire' art style (yeah, I just got pretentious on yo' ass) and the fantastic use of negative space all add to the understated, dead pan wit of the tale. A fun and entertaining adventure that just goes towards further proving the talent of these men." – 2 Bad Guys from an 80s Movie
• Review: "...Woodring returns with Congress of the Animals, a 100-page book focused on Frank. The style and format will be familiar to Woodring devotees — wordless and surreal, with each panel packed with thick, squiggly lines — but the story’s more clearly allegorical than usual, following the buck-toothed, easygoing Frank as he moves into a new home and learns what it means to work a soul-crushing job to maintain a standard of living. The theme is heavy, but there’s a strong slapstick comedy element too, which endures right up to the point where things take a turn from the merely weird to the mind-meltingly weird." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "If Mauldin’s World War II strips were a needed corrective to the public’s glorification of war, then his post WWII work fulfilled the same function for those who thought of post-war America as some kind of euphoric utopia.... The production values for this volume, like the hardcover edition for The WWII Years, are impeccable.... DePastino’s introduction is jammed with illustrative biographical details and is livened up with promotional materials.... Back Home is a study of an artist in transition, both in terms of his art and his life. At the same time, it’s a study of a nation in transition, where the political and cultural ground was shifting and a battle over the nature of that national discourse was being waged." – Rob Clough, The Comics Journal
• Plug: "I re-read both the Hernanadez brothers collected works about once a year and there’s not a lot between them. But somehow the subject matter and sheer storytelling verve of Locas tips the balance for me. I’m constantly in awe of how they both can chronicle the lives of huge casts of characters. The hardback collections of Locas and Palomar are absolutely essential." – Oli Barratt, Lost At E Minor
Before her comics were serialized in the New York Times Sunday Magazine (“Watergate Sue,” 2007) or released by Fantagraphics Books (Artichoke Tales, 2010), Megan Kelso was a classic DIY cartoonist/publisher, who crafted and self-published her popular minicomic Girlhero from 1991 to 1996.
Queen of the Black Black, which collects these early Girlhero strips (as well as a few from other sources) and was originally published in a limited edition 12 years ago (now long out of print), provides an engrossing chronicle of an ambitious young cartoonist carefully developing her own unique style and approach.
In this volume, Kelso scrutinizes bicycle messengers, venereal diseases, infidelity, unwanted pregnancies, temporary work assignments, family reunions, and classroom daydreams in subtle and unexpected manners, setting herself technical challenges such as depicting music in comics (the virtuoso “The Daddy Mask,” with its sensuous gray swirls of sound on the page), integrating lettering into artwork in creative ways, and generally working her way toward what would become her mature style.
The title story, “Queen of the Black Black,” rendered in lush gray tones, explores the fraught relationship between the ageing, demanding queen of a fairy-tale realm and a hornblower whom she takes under her wing.
There is even a vintage “Artichoke Tale,” predating Kelso recently released graphic novel by a decade and a half. (“I am planning to do a whole book of artichoke tales in the future,” she wrote presciently in her original story notes.)
Queen of the Black Black shows the first flowering (or sprouting) of a major cartooning talent, and its return to print (fully redesigned) is welcome news for the many readers delighted by Kelso’s subsequent graphic novels.
Download a 13-page PDF excerpt (<1 MB) with two complete stories.
Olympia, WA is a city well-known for its DIY ethos, so it's perfect that the guest of honor at this year's Olympia Comics Festival is Megan Kelso, an artist who self-published her influential mini-comic Girlhero throughout the '90s.
And, it's also appropriate that we will be debuting the reissue of her collection Queen of the Black Black at the festival! YES!
Queen of the Black Black compiles Megan's early Girlhero strips, along with a few other things, into a wonderful redesigned volume. The original limited edition pressing of this came out nearly a decade ago and has been long, gone, out-of-print, people. On a personal note, I'm just overjoyed that Fantagraphics is getting to reprint it. This is a book that NEEDS to be out there.
And there are so many opportunities to hear more about it, and all her books, from Ms. Kelso herself, this Saturday, May 21st!
Not only will Megan be there, but Mome artist (and another DIY champion herself) Andrice Arp will be at the festival. I'm waiting for Olympia to explode from the awesome when Andrice and Megan do their panel.
11:00 AM - 1:00 PM // Capitol Theater [206 5th Ave. SW] Introduction and live music by Spiritual Successor(us) Interview with Paul Chadwick Rick Perry presents a classic animated short Super Fun Contest Interview with Megan Kelso Stand-up comedian Morgan Picton makes comics funny again Why Not Do Some Improv About Comics? Interview with Larry Gonick Unintentionally Funny Comics Closing Remarks
We're a little late in reporting this exciting news: Megan Kelso has been announced as a special guest at the Olympia Comics Festival in our state capitol of Olympia, WA! Olympia, of course, has a storied history as a mecca of zine publishing and indie culture, so we can't imagine a better fit. The festival takes place on Saturday, May 21, and we are currently hustling production of the new edition of Queen of the Black Black along in the hope of premiering it at the show. Stay tuned and mark your calendars!
Fantagraphics staffers Eric Buckler, Gavin Lees, and an appearance from head honcho Gary Groth!
Thanks to everyone who visited the Fantagraphics booth at the 9th Annual Emerald City Comicon! It was great to see everyone there, and we hope you're enjoying the books you bought from us!
We sold out of Prison Pit, Vol. 1 and Werewolves of Montpelier pretty quickly -- which I think is awesome and hilarious for this mostly mainstream show. Is Cannibal Fuckface the next great superhero? Clearly, yes.
We hope you all enjoyed getting your books signed by our artists Peter Bagge and Megan Kelso, and editor Jacques Boyreau, seen above talking "grindhouse" with some ComiCon attendees. Thanks to them for spending time with us at our booth that weekend!
And thanks so much to the Fantagraphics staffers who manned the table. I wanna send out an extra-special thanks to the latest member of the Fantagraphics team, Ian Burns, for working all three days of the con! (Congratulations on the promotion from intern to Customer Service Representative!)
And another extra-special thanks goes to The Comics Journal contributor Gavin Lees who was a welcome weekend-long surprise addition to the team, along with his intergalactic-sweetie Heather (who got to meet Shatner!!!).
The issue also includes the reviews excerpted below:
The Arctic Marauder by Jacques Tardi: "A strong Jules Verne flavor dominates the story’s stew of mystery farce and sci-fi adventure, from the ship named the Jules Vernez to the assortment of just-plausibly-outlandish vehicles and deep-sea mechanical apparatuses. But the real fun comes from marveling at it all in Tardi’s expansive, ice-blasted scratchboard tableaus that feature one breath-stealing scene after another, all the way through to the cheerfully villainous finale. A devious bit of far-fetched fun." – Ian Chipman
Freeway by Mark Kalesniko: "Kalesniko reprises his alter ego, Alex Kalienka, for his most ambitious and accomplished graphic novel yet. [...] Although Kalesniko’s formal storytelling devices, particularly his deft panel arrangements and intelligent compositions, are largely responsible for Freeway’s impressive effectiveness, it’s his distinctive and delicate drawing style that supplies the emotional component, best displayed in the economical character design and in the painstakingly researched, lovingly depicted scenes of a bygone Los Angeles." – Gordon Flagg (Starred Review)
Stigmata by Lorenzo Mattotti & Claudio Piersanti: "Obviously but never verbally a parable of Christian redemption, Piersanti’s story becomes extremely compelling in Mattotti’s hands. ...[H]is swirling realization of atmosphere, the protagonist’s states of mind, and human figures conjures the raw power and compassion of such great Italian neorealist films as Bicycle Thieves and La Strada." – Ray Olson
Get your book signed by Megan Kelso! // Pic taken at the Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery
The 9th Annual Emerald City Comicon is just days away, Friday, March 4th - Sunday, March 6th at the Washington State Convention Center, and Fantagraphics is thrilled to represent the finest in alternative comics!
Oh, and you know what else we'll have? The acclaimed Artichoke Tales and The Squirrel Mother, and on Sunday, March 6th from 2:00 to 4:00 pm, the Ignatz Award-winning artist Megan Kelso will be signing at our booth, space #808!
Jacques Boyreau, editor and cultural historian of the book Portable Grindhouse: The Lost Art of the VHS Box, a celebration of some of the most louche, decadent, minimo-pervo artwork to ever grace a VHS box. Boyreau will be signing, and showing footage from Portable Grindhouse films, at our table on Friday, March 4th from 4:00 to 6:00 pm.
Megan Kelso, Ignatz Award-winning artist who has returned to Seattle after a period in New York, where she published a weekly comic strip in The New York Times magazine. Kelso will be signing copies of her acclaimed novel Artichoke Tales, and other titles, on Sunday, March 6th from 2:00 to 4:00 pm.
Fantagraphics & Top Shelf Presents: Con Artists, the Emerald City Comic-Con After-Party
Performers include: Can You Imagine?: featuring Peter Bagge, and legendary local producer/musician Steve Fisk The Rheas: fronted by Eric Reynolds, Associate Publisher at Fantagraphics Matthew Southworth: frontman for The Capillaries, and co-creator of the comic Stumptown
DJ'ing between sets will be DJ Janice, aka Janice Headley, Events Coordinator/Publicist for Fantagraphics (and Programming Assistant at Seattle radio station KEXP).
Con Artists: Emerald City Comic-Con Afterparty Sponsored by Fantagraphics Books & Top Shelf Productions Saturday, March 5th, 2011 at 9:00 pm Jewel Box Theater at The Rendezvous 2322 2nd Avenue in Belltown Admission $5 (General Public) FREE with Emerald City Comic-Con badge 21 and over with ID
Emerald City Comic-Con March 4th - 6th, 2011 Washington State Convention Center http://www.emeraldcitycomicon.com/ Friday: 2:00pm - 8:00pm Saturday: 10:00am - 7:00pm Sunday: 10:00am - 5:00pm