• Review: "The graphic novel King of the Flies: Hallorave... gives us a glimpse of internal mayhem inside a controlled environment, executed with elegance and a touch of mystery. ... King of the Flies has been compared to the work of Charles Burns for its graceful depiction of adolescent suburban horror. This is a weird tale that’s easy to get drawn into..." – Irina Ivanova, The Indypendent
• Plugs: At Largehearted Boy, Atomic Books owner Benn Ray lists his picks of the week, including Artichoke Tales by Megan Kelso ("Beautiful, expansive, lyrical") and The Book of Mr. Natural by Robert Crumb ("Did reading R. Crumb’s Book of Genesis leave you now craving more? The Book of Mr. Natural is your natural (heh-heh) next step").
• Plugs: Douglas Wolk includes a goodly number of Fantagraphics releases on his Summer Comics Preview list at TIME / Techland.
• Interview: At TCJ.com's Guttergeek, Chris Reilly says "Billy Hazelnuts and the Crazy Bird is a tie for best graphic novel of the year with Jim Woodring’s Weathercraft" and proceeds to talk to Tony Millionaire: "Sometimes the story will present opportunities I hadn’t thought of (the personality of the cat for instance), and I’ll go with it if it feels right. Then I jam it all into an ending and hope it doesn’t all end up in a big pile of shit. I’m often nervous that I’m writing a crappy book. I’ve done it before and you can’t tell till it’s done and it is disappointing. So far I’m very happy with the Billy Hazelnuts books, but I’ll have to give the Crazy Bird one more read before I’m convinced of its greatness."
Fantagraphics Books and New York's The Strand Bookstore are proud to present an evening with acclaimed graphic novelists Kim Deitch and Megan Kelso on June 24, talking about and signing their new graphic novels THE SEARCH FOR SMILIN' ED (by Deitch) and ARTICHOKE TALES (by Kelso).
• Review: "Yes, [It Was the War of the Trenches] is an unpleasant book (even extending to the art, which does its job as well as everything else in making the war look ugly, muddy, dirty, and bloody; defining each character well but making sure to show the awfulness of their circumstances), but one that everyone should read, not only for a sense of history, but to see the horror of death and the suffering of those forced to partake in it." – Matthew J. Brady, Warren Peace Sings the Blues
• Review: "In terms of its writing and its art, [It Was the War of the] Trenches is a masterful work. The stories are elegantly and convincingly told. The images show, at once, deep horror and real beauty — though the one is often so visceral that the other becomes abstract. But the book’s true victory is a moral one. For it shows us, clearly and terribly, the thorough destruction of values inherent in modern war." – Kristian Williams, The Comics Journal
• Review: "At the end of its second decade, Peanuts was still one of the best things on the comics page, and as likely to be concerned with loss, pain, and depression as it ever was. As others have said many times before, it really is astonishing how one of the best and most popular works in a very popular medium was almost entirely about loss and failure." – Andrew Wheeler, The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.
• Interview: At Comic Book Resources, Alex Dueben talks to Megan Kelso about her new graphic novel Artichoke Tales: "That was just on my mind. That it's a whole subset of comics and storytelling, making up your own world and playing inside of it. I just thought this would be a really fun world to do a whole involved family saga. I planned out the skeleton of the story pretty much right from the beginning. At first, I thought it was going to be a three chapter thing, and then it got more complicated, but always I had this idea of this family and these generations."
• Interview:Newsarama's J. Caleb Mozzocco talks to Tim Hensley about his new graphic novel Wally Gropius: "Well, it's not like those trapped in derivative mortgages are turning to Carl Barks and Harvey artist Ernie Colon for succor. When I started the story in 2005, I was reacting more to Bush's war money siphon, not predicting the bank collapse/executive bonus siphon we have now. And actually none of the few rich people I know are anything like Wally; they have much different problems as far as I can tell." (At his own blog, Mozzocco adds "if you're wondering, 'Hey Caleb, is this book any good? Should I read it?' Then I would answer, 'Yes, yes that book is very good, and you should totally read it.'")
• Preview: "It's cool to see that those behind the Significant Objects projects are still trying to do more with the concept. The auctions apparently are still going on, but now they're trying something different as well. They're taking those stories and compiling them into a book (scarce). In fact, the story behind the book (infinite) makes the physical book more valuable as well. To make it even more 'valuable,' they've brought on some top artists to illustrate the stories — so even if you read them for free online, there's now more value in buying the physical book to have the physical artwork as well." – Mike Masnick, Techdirt
• Review: "So Fantagraphics recently released The Search for Smilin' Ed, which was serialized a while back but also contains a brand-new story as well. ...Deitch really puts a lot on the page. And, for the most part, it's pretty fascinating. But I was struck by something in the book, and I must ask: Is this comic racist? ... Deitch has a grand time twisting the way reality presents itself, bringing together his entire career in cartooning so that it all exists in the same odd universe. Deitch's intricate artwork completes this surreal adventure — it's an astonishing piece of detailed work, with monsters lurking in panels and scenes shown from different viewpoints to add interesting nuances. Deitch mixes his own, 'real' world skillfully with Waldo's imaginative one into a haunting phantasmagoria, with strange creatures flitting through our consciousness and then disappearing. It's a very wild comic that asks the reader to enter this topsy-turvy world and accept what's going on. For the most part, we do." – Greg Burgas, Comic Book Resources
• Review: "Kelso's... thin lines, empty figures, expressive curves and powerful shading are a delight to look at... I also think that the scope of the story has a lot of appeal, and the persistent theme of every character finding themselves incapable of staying anywhere near their closest family is probably a relatable one to many. ... Artichoke Tales is at its finest when it delivers the banality of life from the pretense of grandeur..." – Jason Michelitch, Comics Alliance
• Review: "At its core, [Set to Sea] is imbued with appropriately romantic notions of what living one’s life truly means. ... Weing is something of a classicist in his artistic approach, from the E.C. Segar influence he clearly wears on his anchored sleeve to his garish use of hatching—but the style suits the subject matter quite well. Much care has clearly gone into every page. And the result is a satisfying, if brief read." – Brian Heater, The Daily Cross Hatch
• Review: "Joe Daly’s Dungeon Quest is at once the most self-aware and metatextual of the recent spate of fantasy-inspired alt-comics, as well as the one most devoted to the sheer fun of exploring a space and dealing with its inhabitants. ... Above all else, Daly is funny, and never pursues cheap laughs. His line mixes clear-line simplicity with occasional psychedelic weirdness; bending the borders of reality is a trademark of his narratives. When Daly lays down a genre story over this template, the resulting stories are enjoyable on several levels." – Rob Clough, The Comics Journal
• Review: "Read 2 pages a day [of The Kat Who Walked in Beauty], every so often, for 6+ months to get through this. I was very inspired by it...the world of it, the forms. The world has changed a lot since Mr. Herriman drew these strips. Some real groaners in here, but some good jokes too." – Kevin Huizenga, Husband vs. Wife
• Interview:Newsarama's Michael C. Lorah talks to Cathy Malkasian about her new graphic novel Temperance: "What I wanted to touch upon was our current state of engaging in distant wars and how these have altered the lives of returning soldiers and their loved ones. This and the increasing taste for violence in our cultural palette. Do these currents rise together? Is the latter a reaction to the former? I still don’t know, but I have a feeling we’re seriously rearranging the role of violence in our collective mind."
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.