Let's see what Online Commentary & Diversions are in store for us today:
• Review: "The Troublemakers is something of a titular understatement. These guys aren’t trouble, they’re a disaster waiting to happen. ... It’s an exquisite story. With the characters locked in a tussle of greed and deceit, Hernandez makes his writing craft look effortless. The script is low-key and natural, the characters three-dimensional and interesting." – Grovel
• Review: "...[T]here seemed to be something dangerous, something man was not meant to trifle with, something unnatural, in concentrating all that uncut hilarity in one place [in Tales Designed to Thrizzle Vol. 1]... At its basal level, Kupperman’s sense of humor starts with a susceptible contemporary sensibility driven into survival mode by the open floodgates of mass culture, a modern consciousness threatened by amusement and diversion. The strategic response is one of aggressive accretion, grasping at straws and flotsam and winding up with some very odd however buoyant accumulations." – Rich Kreiner, "Yearlong Best of the Year," The Comics Journal
#1, You'll Never Know, Book 1: A Good and Decent Man by C. Tyler: "A mash-up of family portrait, generational analysis, autobiography and scrapbook, this book was not only the most emotionally powerful work of the year, it was the most attractively designed. The first part of what will likely be Tyler’s masterwork."
#6, Like a Dog by Zak Sally: "This was a stunningly honest account and collection of early work by one of the most underrated cartoonists working today. While the collected early issues of Recidivist ranged from interesting to astounding, it was Sally’s frank and emotional essay following the collection that really struck me as a statement of purpose — not just as an artist, but as a person."
#10, Tales Designed to Thrizzle Vol. 1 by Michael Kupperman: "The first collection from Kupperman’s surprising hit really helped spread the word about his unique and delightfully warped genius as a gagsmith and artist."
#15, Sublife Vol. 2 by John Pham: "This one-man anthology featured Pham fully harnessing every aspect of his skills as a writer and artist. His use of color dominated and provided a sort of visual through-line for his different narratives. Pham alternately pushed the reader away and then pulled them in, depending on the story, a tension that made this his most successful work to date."
And #17, Ho! by Ivan Brunetti: "It’s fascinating to see the two directions Brunetti was headed in with regard to these gags. First, his gags became ever-more boundary pushing, but always in service to the punchline. Second, his line became more and more simplified to the point of nearly geometric simplicity: squares, circles and triangles wound up creating most of his characters by the end of the book."
• List:Paul Gravett names The Best of 2009: Classic Comic Reprints. At #6, it's The Brinkley Girls: The Best of Nell Brinkley's Cartoons 1913-1940: "Trina [Robbins] follows up her thorough biography of Brinkley with this oversized collection of Sunday 'comics,' often more like ravishing illustrated romantic yarns of big hair, clothes and emotions, but stunning to linger over and revealing in their period mood and concerns. In their time, Brinkley’s spirited, vivacious females were as iconic and inspirational in early 20th century America as the famous Gibson Girls before her. They truly deserve this gorgeous commemoration."
• List: On the annual Fun Fifty countdown at Bully Says: Comics Oughta Be Fun!, at #15, Tales Designed to Thrizzle Vol. 1 by Michael Kupperman: "Without hyperbole, Thrizzle is simply the funniest, most guffaw-out-loud comic book they're going to have to pry out of your cold, dead hands when you die laughing. ... Thrizzle's stuffed from front cover to impressive back page blurbs with Kupperman's splendiferous pulps-meet-woodblock-print artwork and lunatic stories, it's one of those rare humor books that actually is downright hilarious."
• Reviews: Nick Gazin of Vice (link NSFW) weighs in on a number of titles:
"I love Unlovable. Take that, book title. ... Unlovable 2 is a fun and funny read all the way through. ... Girls are gonna like this book and dudes are gonna like this book. It’ll remind you of how stupid you were and also of suburban sadness and realizing that your high school crush will probably never love you back."
"[High Soft Lisp] is incredible... The world in this book is one I wouldn’t want to live in but I can’t stop thinking about the story of Fritz."
"...[Almost Silent] is a really good book and Jason is a strong cartoonist. He does a lot with his simple-but-well-drawn characters and little to no dialogue. ... For $25 you get a nice sampler of what Jason can do. This is entirely worth owning."
• Review: "The Definitive Prince Valiant Companion is the indispensable guide to the strip and a must have for its legions of fans new and old. Fantagraphics has been re-printing these original strips in chronological order in beautiful hardcover volumes and this guide makes the perfect complement. ... No matter how long you’ve been a Prince Valiant fan…one year or seventy years, you’re certain to find this book informative and entertaining. Fantagraphics has produced another spectacular book! Grade A" – Tim Janson, The Gouverneur Times
• Review: "Similar to Charles Addams and Gahan Wilson, Jason relies on the humorous side of horror in these mostly wordless tales. ... Throughout the sublime Almost Silent, Jason examines traditional relationships and social norms via a deliciously warped lens, quite probably one constructed by Dr. Frankenstein himself." – Rick Klaw, The SF Site: Nexus Graphica (spoiler alert!)
• Review: "I can’t think of a better single volume of what the period style of fast looked like in practice than last year’s Supermen! anthology. Yes, there’s an added winnowing by genre but that just sharpens the sense of the reductive visual and narrative requirements that were standard for the hot new gravy train that hit the business." – Rich Kreiner, "Yearlong Best of the Year," The Comics Journal
• Review: "As a whole, I like Abstract Comics a lot. I’d say that it works like a good art exhibition, or at least an exhibition unburdened by obligations to teach history, one in which multiple formal and aesthetic connections are there but not shouted out, rather left to be discovered (or not) by the strolling viewer according to his or her inclinations." – Charles Hatfield, Thought Balloonists
• Plug: "[Steven] Weissman's work is very often like a brain-damaged Charles Schulz... His newest book, Chocolate Cheeks, raises the stakes in a really dramatic way. I think this might be his last book in this series, but it goes out with a doozy of a book." – Paul Constant, The Stranger
• Plug: "Matt’s response to my squeeing over the announced May, 2010 publication date of Tales Designed to Thrizzle #6: 'Yes, as there were so many plots unresolved in the last issue. Who won, blimps or holes??'" – TofuPunk.com (I don't know who Matt is – ed.)
• Plug: "With new work by the likes of Johnny Ryan, Max Andersson, Sam Henderson, Stephane Blanquet, Doug Allen, Michael Kupperman, Mack White, and Jeremy Onsmith, Hotwire 3 is certain to deliver the psychic jolt it promises." – Richard Cowdry, Love the Line
• Plug: "Since Beatriz 'Penny Century' Garcia is my favorite Love & Rockets' Locas, I'm very excited to see the advance solicitation for the new soft cover Penny Century... In my opinion, the soft cover collected volumes are the best way to read Love & Rockets. They are the easiest way to follow the reading order, and with the cheap price of $18.99, you can't find a better launching point for one of the most regarded independent comics of all time. " – The Star Clipper Blog
• Analysis:Abstract Comics contributor Derik Badman posts an in-depth email discussion between himself and critic Craig Fischer about the book
• Interview:The Daily Yomiuri's Tom Baker talks Usagi Yojimbo with Stan Sakai: "I think the first few years I really tried to make him cute and cuddly like a stuffed animal, whereas the stories tended to [take] a more dramatic turn. So I think the character has changed. Most of it's unconscious on my part." (via The Comics Reporter )
Michael Kupperman is featured on Desktops of the Stars — look closely for what appears to be a teeny tiny icon of what might possibly be the cover to Tales Designed to Thrizzle#5 of course I meant #6 (enlarged above).
A bit late with the Online Commentary & Diversions today due to being a touch under the weather:
• Review: "OK, [Gahan Wilson: Fifty Years of Playboy Cartoons] is very expensive, but Wilson's a lot cheaper than Zoloft. Some people fly their inner freak flags as a sign of liberation. This strange dude isn't sure there's another type of flag out there. In his world, there's always something over the horizon ready to eat you, blow you up or turn you into a homicidal maniac. Sounds a lot like life." – Laurel Maury, San Francisco Chronicle
• Review: "...[An] exemplary republishing of Wilson’s Playboy cartoons... One of the many nice features of the new Fantagraphics book is that it is chronological and dated, so we can see Wilson responding to the changing social and political landscapes. ... As a physical object Gahan Wilson: Fifty Years of Playboy Cartoons cannot be praised highly enough. ...[L]ooking at Wilson’s work at length, eating it up with my eyes, I came to love his work. He is, in fact, a master. ...[F]or all their morbidity and ghoulishness, Wilson’s cartoons affirm the value of cherishing life. As inhuman as his characters often are, Wilson is a deeply humane cartoonist." – Jeet Heer, Comics Comics
• Review: "Published soon after the conflict that it documents, Safe Area Goradze is an intense reading experience and an active call for the condemnation of tribal and international leaders who put politics ahead of humanity." – Suzette Chan, Sequential Tart
• Review: "There’s a remarkably spare and lean quality to the plot and characterization cooked up by Jean-Patrick Manchette’s West Coast Blues. ... It’s a story that’s both grim and strangely detached (or at least restrained), eschewing the sort of cliches that an American might expect from a crime story. ... If the text felt a bit detached, then Jacques Tardi added muscle, bone and fat to it with his delightfully chunky line. ... It’s the first quotidian crime story that I’ve ever read, and Tardi’s commitment to the depiction of the everyday and the way nightmares crashed into daily life are what made this book work so well." – Rob Clough, The Comics Journal (warning: spoilers)
• Feature:Comic Book Resources' Brian Cronin spotlights Michael Kupperman's Tales Designed to Thrizzle as part of "A Year of Cool Comics": "Tales Designed to Thrizzle is one of those books where you might really need to see it to believe it. Michael Kupperman delivers thirty-odd pages of the most delightfully absurd ideas that you can imagine, to the point where I don't know if simply describing the comic would do it justice... I, for one, think it's one of the very best comics currently made."
• Interview:Graphic Novel Reporter's John Hogan has a Q&A about Sublife with John Pham: "I hope to have established a sort of model for the upcoming issues with Volumes 1 and 2. So basically, continuing serializations of either Sycamore St. or Deep Space, accompanied by various, shorter strips where I can experiment and joke around."
The Harvey and Eisner nominated anthology of action, thrills, chills and trangression is back with a third volume! Anything goes in Hotwire, eschewing literary high-mindedness for a pure, gut-wrenching viscerality that you can tune in and rest your brain on after a long day.
Hotwire the third leaps off the page from the get-go with David Sandlin’s “Infernal Combustion,” about boozing it up in a broke-down caddy, and Tim Lane’s bit of freight-hopping grit, “Spike.” Underground comics legend Mary Fleener returns with “The Judge,” a true tale about her own life fending off thugs… with a .38! Meanwhile, Hotwire Captain Glenn Head spins the biography of German surrealist Hans Bellmer as a down and out Vaudevillian in decadent Weimar Berlin. R. Sikoryak turns in a brand new batch of "Masterpiece Comics", as Dennis the Menace stars as Prince Hamlet! Other creepy delights: Rick Altergott delivers a fable of a child-molesting clown pleasuring himself in the suburbs, while Matti Hagelberg’s “Passion of Atte” is a modern-day Dante’s Inferno of comics.
There’s also more knockout work and crazy visuals by Mark Dean Veca, Johnny (Angry Youth Comix) Ryan, Mats?!, Max Andersson, Sam Henderson, Steve Cerio, Stephane Blanquet, Doug Allen, Michael (Tales Designed to Thrizzle) Kupperman, Danny Hellman, Mack White, David Paleo, Chadwick Whitehead, Onsmith, Karl Wills and Jayr Pulga. Looking for laffs? A psychic jolt? A partner for your next trip? Look no further than… Hotwire!
Download an EXCLUSIVE 15-page PDF excerpt with a sampling of pages from throughout the book (16.5 MB).
FUNNY (not funny) Recent Comic Art Exhibiting Signs of Black Humor Curated by Ryan Standfest
January 22 - February 26, 2010 Reception: Friday, January 22 6-9pm
The University of Michigan Work : Detroit Gallery 3663 Woodward / Suite 150 Detroit, MI 48230
Participating Artists: Ivan Brunetti Chris Cilla Sue Coe Lisa Hanawalt Glenn Head Tim Hensley Ian Huebert Ben Katchor Michael Kupperman Mats!? Daniel Maw Taylor McKimens Travis Millard Tom Neely Mark Newgarden David Paleo Jonathon Rosen David Sandlin Rob Sato Jon Vermilyea
The "FUNNY (not funny)" exhibition seeks to elicit uncomfortable laughter in the realm of black humor-a place where the serious and the taboo are fodder for comic provocation. Artists in numerous media have long sought to overturn convention and challenge what is funny with what is not as a means of producing humor out of the unlikeliest of situations. Work by the twenty artists on view in "FUNNY (not funny)" demonstrates that cartooning is keeping the tradition of black humor alive and flourishing. The very form of the comics page itself is as relevant a vehicle as ever, freed from so many of the commercial restrictions placed on other art forms, to effectively deliver potent images and narratives that carry with them a very immediate and accurate measure of the absurdity of our age.