Right Thing the Wrong Way: The Story of Highwater Books
October 1st-October 24th
Opening Reception October 1st 6-9pm
Fourth Wall Project 132 Brookline Ave Boston, MA 02215
For seven years (and one miscounted eighth anniversary party) Highwater Books was snobby, high-concept, iconoclastic, poorly-business modeled publishing company that ran itself into the ground. Highwater published books late, promised them and never published them at all and even withheld its books from distributors on principle. The company asked its artists to fold mini-comics and stand behind convention tables and sell their wares to a public that did not know what to make of them. It hatched plans, plots and schemes, and it may have been the most important comic publisher of the early part of the century. Over those seven or so years, Highwater elevated the concept of design in the comics world; It emphasized independent and DIY attitudes in an increasingly corporate society, and it published some of the most important artists in comics. In October, Fourth Wall Project celebrates Highwater and a selection of its artists with a group art exhibition: Right Thing the Wrong Way: The Story of Highwater Books.
Starting with the opening party on October 1st and on view for three weeks, Right Thing the Wrong Way will display new and archival works by the artists central to Highwater Books: Brian Ralph, Greg Cook, Jef Czekaj, Jordan Crane, Kurt Wolfgang, Marc Bell, Megan Kelso, and Ron Rege. Along with the artists work, there will be an installation celebrating the strange history of the company. The organizers (TD Sidell, Emily Arkin, Brooke Corey, Jef Czekaj, and Greg Cook) will construct a mini-museum within the gallery, displaying ephemera (both finished and unfinished), half formed concept pieces, and plain old junk that made Highwater special. In lieu of a traditional catalog the organizers, in conjunction with Bodega Distribution, have put together an oral history of the company that will manifest in a short-run publication (natch!) for the show. Compiled and edited by Highwater artist and Phoenix art critic Greg Cook, the oral history will act as a companion to the show with the artists and "employees" of Highwater telling the story themselves.
• Review: "What to say about Catalog 439? It's a crazy-arse thing, full of richly illustrated intricate drawings of smartly dressed men torturing each other with ridiculous devices. [...] What you get with this book then is not just a fascinating glimpse into a little known corner of American social history, but the template for many of the ad pages from the silver and bronze age comics that so many of us comic collectors love. I really enjoyed it and, although it isn't about comics, I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in the history of comic book advertising." – Dom Sutton, London Loves Comics
• Review: "At this point, I don’t know what else there is to say about Jamie Hernandez or Love and Rockets. I suspect that one day he’s going to make a truly terrible comic, if only because he must feel at least a little bit bad about showing nearly every other creator up so often. ...Penny Century is yet another masterpiece from a guy who turns them out seemingly like clockwork. If you haven’t read it, you need to. ...Jamie Hernandez’s exploration of life continues as an unimpeachable standard for comic book mastery." – Michael C. Lorah, Newsarama
• Review: "[Artichoke Tales] is far and away the best comic I've ever read from Megan Kelso, succeeding on almost every level. Her clear-line style gives an airy ease to her often detail-heavy drawings of nature and the people who inhabit it; similarly, her complex exercise in fantasy worldbuilding — and I don't mean detailed maps with funny names, I mean real worldbuilding, constructing cultural and religious and economic structures rooted in environment and history and exerting macro and micro influence across the lives of all the characters involved — is subsumed into an absorbing, briskly moving house-divided family soap opera. [...] I dug this book to a degree that surprised me and look forward to returning to it. It's a rich vein of alt-fantasy being tapped here." – Sean T. Collins, Attentiondeficitdisorderly
• Review: "Kelso's simple line and rounded forms belie the seriousness of the story. [...] Ultimately, Artichoke Tales is not so much a story about conflict as a story about the people reacting to the conflict, doing their best to live lives of integrity in a land of constant unrest. Although good intentions are often thwarted, it ends on a note of hope." – Brigid Alverson, Graphic Novel Reporter
• Plug: "I picked [A Drunken Dream and Other Stories] up at San Diego and it's one of those 'seminal' manga works that actually lives up to its hype. If you like Tatsumi, this is a good bet." Lydia Park, Ask Yavin IV (Funny, we don't remember seeing her at San Diego... That's a joke because she's a cartoon character.)
• Plug: "This is amazing news — one of my favourite cartoonists finally receives his due. I was starting to think that he had slipped through the cracks of cartoon history. ...[Rand Holmes] was a fantastic draftsman, surprisingly old-school, and his meticulous inking something that I could only ever hope to dream to aspire to." – Rod Filbrandt
• Plug: "...[T]he second volume of [Johnny Ryan's] battle epic Prison Pit... is amazing, nasty, and Lovecraftian." – Ryan Sands, Same Hat!
• Interview: "Newsarama: Billy Hazlenuts is like a children’s fable gone wrong, reminiscent in way of the old, dark Grimm Brothers tales with a modern, high-octane approach. Is that what you’re going for? Tony Millionaire: Take a closer look at those Grimm's Fairy tales, or even better, Hans Christian Anderson, and you'll tell me my stories are chocolate milk sopped on toast compared to that stuff."
• Review: "From the start, Cathy Malkasian's turbulent fantasy Temperance reels you in... It is not hard to spot allegories in this to today’s war on terror, and to the Cold War, in Temperance‘s portrait of siege mentality and the exaggeration of external threats. ... No Shrek or Toy Story, Temperance confounds fairy-tale expectations with a disturbing, resonant parable about propaganda, memories and other lies." – Paul Gravett, The Times Literary Supplement
• Review: "First of all, I have to say how much I enjoy the format. Fantagraphics has done a fine job with this book, with a striking cover, sturdy spine, and essentially giving me everything I want in my comic books in terms of collected treatment. ... Jason’s simple, elegant artwork... allows any reader to dive right in. ... He’s a master of pacing out a gag, and he appreciates the fun of genre entertainment while still acknowledging the absurdity of it all. If I had to sum up Jason’s comics in one word, that word would be silly. They’re funny, and absurd, tinged with sadness and loneliness, outrageously goofy, slapstick, human and just plain pretty to look at. But mostly, they’re delightfully, delightfully silly. It’s a treat to enjoy a comic like Almost Silent." – Michael C. Lorah, Newsarama
• Review: "Prison Pit is fucking awesome and you really need to read it. It’s a kids book, in the sense that it very likely was something Johnny Ryan created when he was 12 years old, assuming the man was sniffing a lot of glue and simultaneously watching Cannibal Holocaust and WWF wrestling as a pre-teen. ... Grade: A" – Chad Derdowski, Mania
• Review: "Prison Pit 2 is mental, obscene, and grotesque... But the book is also pretty astonishing and at least several parts awesome... I'm dazzled by the bloody chutzpah and dirty bravado of Ryan's fight comic, the sheer devotion he shows to violence for violence's sake, thoroughly removed from any hollow 'redeeming values' or 'character development.' ...[T]o anyone wondering if Prison Pit 2 really delivers all the weird, filthy violence it promises, the answer is a resounding yes." – Jason Michelitch, Comics Alliance
• Review: "I read Megan Kelso's Artichoke Tales almost in a single sitting, which is probably a good way to do it. ... This book deals with some standard themes — strong women and intellectual, impractical men, the impulse that leads to war, technology vs. rural simplicity — but none is treated in a standard way. Kelso definitely has a point of view, but she doesn't insult the reader's intelligence, and there's plenty of nuance; she's telling a story, not making a point. Also, it's beautiful just to look at." – Bridgid Alverson, Robot 6
• Review: "Honestly, I’m still not sure how I ultimately feel about Artichoke Tales. I was put off by the book’s downbeat, resigned demeanor, yet at the same time impressed by Kelso’s ability to handle such a multi-layered story so effectively. Perhaps my feelings toward the book can be best summed up by the same word that one would use to describe both the political and personal relationships found in the book, and the real-life relationships she no doubt hoped to evoke: complicated." – Chris Mautner, The Comics Journal
• Interview:Robot 6's Tim O'Shea talks to Megan Kelso about Artichoke Tales: "The artichoke people started as a casual doodle. I think I was riffing on The Jolly Green Giant's sidekick, Sprout. So I just started drawing these people whenever I was on the telephone, or just playing around in my sketchbook. The more I drew them, the more ideas I had about their world, and I just slowly started to build a story about them. This was the first time since starting to make comics, that I generated a story from a drawing rather than from an idea, or from something I'd written. It was excitng to me because it seemed more like 'pure comics' to me, coming from a drawing."
• Review: "Birdland is a rare venture into the world of folly and fetish by award winning Gilbert Hernandez. ... [L]ocate a copy of Birdland yourself and enjoy and marvel at the bewildering release of limbs, torsos and groins in a madcap sexual adventure. The term 'graphic novel' will never mean the same again!" – partikal7
• Plug: "Rip M.D. is a creepy, fun-filled all-ages adventure saga... [Mitch] Schauer told ICv2 that the inspiration for Rip M.D. was all those horror and monster movies he saw as a child — movies that made him care more about the fate of the colorful monsters and fiends than the B movies' human characters who always seemed to triumph in the end. Rip M.D. is the logical emotional outgrowth of those accumulated cinematic disappointments, the story of a boy who is able to help the horror and monster movie characters that he loves the most." – ICv2
• Analysis: At Techland, Douglas Wolk looks at The Troublemakers by Gilbert Hernandez as an example of the successful use of a "widescreen" panel layout: "Aside from its title page, the entire thing is laid out as four identically shaped wide horizontal panels on each page, and the movie-screen shape is formally appropriate — the book is supposedly a kind of comics translation of a (nonexistent) B-movie. The Troublemakers is brutally effective as cartooning, though: Hernandez has designed it so that something's happening horizontally in almost every panel, and there's usually a different kind of motion from each panel to the next."
• Analysis:Love & Maggie continue their series of detailed, annotated rundowns of their Top 10 Issues of The Comics Journal with the first part of their examination of issue #71
• Commentary:The Hooded Utilitarian's critical roundtable on Popeye continues with Andrew Farago's look at the character's various multimedia incarnations
• Review: "...[T]his [is] a good-looking book as well as a good reading one. ... [T]his is a wonderfully informative read from where I’m sitting. Fire & Water is a long-overdue chance for today’s readers to get a good idea of what made Everett so special and so revered by older fans." – Johnny Bacardi, Popdose
• Review: "Richie Rich by way of Archie by way of Tippy Teen by way of, oh, I don’t know — The Grifters meets Tao Te Ching and airing at 10:30 CST on Adult Swim; ...it’s easy to admire [Wally Gropius's] all-over-the-place, random ingenuity..." – Johnny Bacardi, Popdose
• Review: "Artichoke Tales by Megan Kelso is a strange, other-worldly story about birth and death, coming of age, dealing with war, finding love, accepting tragedy. ... The simple, comic-strip-like illustrations in teal and white express movement beautifully with a minimum of lines." – Mary Louise Ruehr, Ravenna Record-Courier
• Interview:Avoid the Future calls Set to Sea "One of the most visually breathtaking comics we’ve ever had the pleasure of reading" and talks to creator Drew Weing: "I'm very happy with the final results, but I've got to work differently in the future — if I plan on having finished more than a handful of comics in my lifetime! There's so much fussy crosshatching and detail in Set to Sea. I'm trying to work much quicker and looser in my next projects."
• Coming Attractions: "Oh. Oh yes. Oh yes, yes, yes… Herriman’s wonderful Krazy and Ignatz, facsimile style reproduction of original, unpublished sketches he’d use before finalising his strips, in a big, beautiful hardback, and it’s from Fantagraphics so you know it’s going to be given the love and attention to detail and quality it deserves." – Forbidden Planet International Blog Log on Krazy & Ignatz: The Sketchbook Strips 1910-1913, coming this Fall
• Comic-Con: For MTV IGGY, Deb Aoki covers Moto Hagio's appearance at Comic-Con: "Besides signing copies of her new book and sketching for fans, Hagio also talked about her work at two panels, charming the crowd with her wit and honesty."
• Review: "A book that sticks with you like a virus, Woodring's newest collection of tales of vague morality and definite oddity [Weathercraft] keeps intact his status as one of comics most eccentric auteurs. ... Woodring's wordless story is a looping and circumstantial affair, concerned more with fantastically rendered backgrounds — his starkly layered landscapes play like minimalist woodcuts of the deepest unconscious — than matters of plot and story. There is a creeping message of sorts, about the wages of greed and what happens to curious cats, but it's mired in a universe of deeply strange beauty and not always easy to divine." – Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
• Review: "...[A] gorgeously-produced best-of collection from shojo manga creator Moto Hagio, A Drunken Dream and Other Stories... The material showcased here has been assembled from across thirty years of Moto’s career, and shows her switching nimbly between storytelling modes. On the face of the evidence there was very little she could not do, some things she did well, and a few things she did magnificently. ... This book’s further evidence that 'shojo' need not be thought of as closed-ended and insular a category as “science fiction” once was." – Serdar Yegulalp, Genji Press
• Review: "Where most American gag strips were about the silly things that happen every day, Peanuts was about how to keep on living when you don't get what you want. It was still vital and true at this point [1973-1974], even if more and more of the stories focused on Snoopy quaffing root beers with Bill Mauldin, or writing bad novels, or playing tennis." – Andrew Wheeler, The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.
• Review: "Medley has a real talent for character, and she does a wonderful job of exploring and expanding upon standard fairy tale tropes. With her signature creation, Castle Waiting, she takes the bare bones of several well-known stories and redrafts them to account for the human element. ... The first volume of Castle Waiting... is available in a gorgeous hardcover edition from Fantagraphics Books... and the finished product is stunning..." – Stella Matutina
• Plug: "Megan Kelso's Artichoke Tales... is earning comparisons with epics like Cold Mountain and The Thorn Birds, and Kelso's nimble, cartoonish two-color art will remind readers of Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis. – Michael Bagnulo, Shelf Awareness
• Interview:Stephen DeStefano talks shop in a "Cartoonist Survey" Q&A with David Paccia of David-Wasting-Paper: "I recall when I first got to DC Comics as a teenager, Joe Kubert lectured me on starting my reference file. This way, no matter what I wanted to draw, I always had a photo to reference. In this age of Google Image Search, the idea of a reference folder seems positively quaint!"
• Interview: At HiLobrow, Joshua Glenn presents a previously unseen 2002 Q&A (missing the Qs) with Kim Deitch: "Yeah, Waldo represents individualization. His edges can’t be smoothed off — even by me. That’s why I try not to over-use Waldo. If I haven’t got a good idea with him, I’ll let him sit on the shelf for years." (Via ¡Journalista!)
• Profile: The Cincinnati Enquirer's Lauren Bishop spotlights the Comic-Con-bound Carol Tyler: "It's sure to be quite a different experience from the last time Tyler attended Comic-Con, in 1988, when she received the inaugural Dori Seda Memorial Award for Best New Female Cartoonist. 'When I went, it was pretty small,' she says. 'I slept on somebody's floor.'"
MEGAN KELSO CELEBRATES NEW GRAPHIC NOVEL AT THE THIRD PLACE BOOKS ON JULY 20
Suffering from Comicon separation anxiety? Fantagraphics Books and Seattle's Third Place Books are proud to present an evening with acclaimed graphic novelist Megan Kelso on Tuesday, July 20, talking about and signing her new graphic novel, ARTICHOKE TALES, which the NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW recently hailed as "surprising and wonderful,” and about which STRANGER Books Editor Paul Constant declared, “[it] feels like a series of expansions. The characters and their world grow to envelop the reader in a singular, charming way.”
Kelso will be making a rare appearance in her hometown of Seattle, WA, giving 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? These 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.
This lively talk will be followed by a question and answer session with the audience and book signing.
• Review: "Exploration, thankfully, is precisely what Weathercraft is all about. Woodring’s latest graphic novel is a deep exploration of Unifactor, through looking glasses, behind tears in the world’s fabric, under sea and into space, this time all experienced through the beady eyes of Frank’s principle antagonist, Manhog." – Brian Heater, The Daily Cross Hatch
• Interview: At Newsarama, Michael C. Lorah discusses Weathercraft with Jim Woodring: "This is Manhog’s book. He’s a more interesting character than Frank in a lot of ways. He’s deep, whereas Frank is bottomless."
• Review: "Fantagraphics has done the world the great service of reprinting Basil Wolverton's Culture Corner... [T]hese strips will delight any Wolverton fan with their characteristic doggerel, gratuitous violence, and slapstick humor that pokes fun at the American self-improvement genre. ... [T]he Fantagraphics edition is well worth the price: it's a handsomely bound item, augmented with the sketches and a nice essay by Wolverton's son." – Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing
• Review: "Foster’s humorous, quick-moving stories charge relentlessly forward. ... Whether Val is plotting a way to upend a larger force or enjoying good times with old friends, Foster’s twist-laden narrative comes across with a casual warmth, as if telling of merry adventures around a campfire. Similarly, Foster’s detailed renderings enforce the earthy grounding of Prince Valiant and his cohorts. ... The artistry, the witty and creative plot twists, and the evocative and charming characters all make for a truly timeless, and utterly enjoyable adventure comic strip experience. Any reader who appreciates the innocent high adventure of yore needs to get on board with Hal Foster’s Prince Valiant." - Michael C. Lorah, Newsarama
• Interview: Mark L. Miller of Ain't It Cool News discusses Werewolves of Montpellier with Jason: "The opening concept, the guy who dresses up as a werewolf and then is chased by real werewolves, I had in my mind a long time. I thought it was a fun, silly concept. But something was missing. It was only when I got the idea to mix it with an Audrey Hepburn movie that the story really took off."
• Interview in the future:Matt Thorn wants to know what you'd like him to ask Moto Hagio at her spotlight panel at Comic-Con