• List/Review: "Shouldn't we build a monument of some kind to John Benson? He is responsible for some of the best research, compiling and editing of comics history. [Confessions, Romances, Secrets & Temptations] is... full of excellent and sometimes quite eccentric interviews with St. John romance cartoonists and writers. An indispensible peek inside the industry and its characters." - Dan Nadel's "current favorite books about comics history," Comics Comics
• Review: "...Fletcher Hanks comes across as a villainous sort in his own bylined book [You Shall Die by Your Own Evil Creation!] — a vessel of combined artistry and wrath, whose published legacy is as nightmarish as it is brilliant. The art reproductions capture vividly both Hanks’ aggressive drawing style and the garish colors of the original Depression-into-wartime publications." - Michael H. Price, Fort Worth Business Press
• Review: "[Peter Bagge's] Reason features... add up to a splendidly funny-and-angry new book called Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me... Bagge rejects party-line herd-following in order to raise a uniquely sane voice among political cartoonists... [He is] one terrific cartoonist, with a keen constancy of purpose." - Michael H. Price, Fort Worth Business Press
• Preview: "It's no secret why Michael Kupperman is a favorite of Robert Smigel and Conan O'Brien — he's one of the most weirdly funny writers around... Tales Designed to Thrizzle is the dirtiest, funniest comic book to come out in a long time." - New York Magazine presents an exclusive 8-page excerpt from Tales Designed to Thrizzle Vol. 1
Marvel Comics just keeps on poaching our talent: Tales Designed to Thrizzle's Michael Kupperman contributes a story starring Marvex the Super Robot to All Select Comics 70th Anniversary Special #1, and Sean T. Collins interviews him about it on the Marvel website (with additional previews).
Fans and comedy cognoscenti alike, basking devotedly in the glow of Tales Designed to Thrizzle, have made it the smash hit humor comic of the decade. And now the first four issues of Michael Kupperman’s revered series are finally collected into one deluxe hardcover. Even better, Kupperman has taken the original two-color printing and made the entire book full color! These tales are more thrizzling than ever!
What are tales designed to thrizzle? Tales designed to thrizzle are about evil girls and their owls. They are about Jesus’ half-brother Pagus, the Mysterious Avenger, Dick Crazy, scary snakes, delicious bacon, Private Eye Johnny Silhouette, the Silver Knight, Murder She Didn’t Write, the Mannister, the Space Patrol, portraits where the eyes move, Pablo Picasso, sex blimps (and their logical inverse, sex holes), the hot boy band Boybank, soccer joust, Underpants-On-His-Head Man, Hercules the Public Domain Superhero, Cousin Granpa, Mister Bossman, Mark Twain, the silent robot Citobor and, of course, the Thirties.
The stories in Tales Designed to Thrizzle made their debut in 2009 on the Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim program as Snake ’N’ Bacon. The show, a mix of live-action, puppetry and animation, stars David Rakoff (This American Life), Bill Hader (Saturday Night Live), Kristen Schaal (Flight of the Conchords), James Urbaniak (The Venture Brothers), and Dan Bakkedahl (The Daily Show), and is produced by Kupperman, Robert Smigel (SNL, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog), Scott Jacobson (The Daily Show) and Rich Bloomquist (The Daily Show).
With MoCCA already in the rear-view mirror, it's a bit late to be recapping the 2009 Book Expo America, which took place the weekend before at the wonderfully air-conditioned Javits Center. But who doesn't like convention photos? Don't let the lack of cosplay action fool you, BEA was a great time for myself, Jason Miles and Gary Groth, and we enjoyed hanging out with the likes of Kim Deitch, Monte Schulz, Michael Kupperman, and Dash Shaw.
We flew in Thursday morning, Jason and I waking up at 4:00AM only to get to the airport by 5:00AM so I could get dissed at the Hudson News Stand by Spike Lee. Side note to Mr. Lee: if you do not want to be recognized, even at 5AM, I recommend not wearing the same designer eyeglasses, Yankees cap, and Nike sweatsuit jacket that you were wearing on the FRONT PAGE of the daily newspaper that same morning.
Friday was the start of the show, and here's Jason Miles, unusually well-dressed (sorry ladies, he's taken), prepping for the morning onslaught in our swanky new space within W.W. Norton's mighty BEA pavilion.
Friday was the official "Salute to Graphic Novels" day at BEA, and we hosted signing with Dash Shaw, Kim Deitch, and Michael Kupperman. All three were utter gentlemen, signing books for fans in our booth and in the official autograph area:
That evening, we stopped in at a BEA/DAP party where Jason regaled us with the story of a ukranian giant who, like Izzy in Love & Rockets, can't seem to stop growing due to a botched thyroid surgery. We ran into some old friends like Gabrielle Bell and Last Gasp's Kristine Anstine, and later enjoyed a great dinner with Dash his girlfriend, Jane Samborski. Conversation veered from Alex Toth to David Mazzucchelli to French comics and Manga. Oh, and "The Pussy Generation," as Clint Eastwood calls those of us who dare to question the meaning of life rather than just punch it in the face.
That's Dash & Jane up top, and Jason and Gary below. I have an exceptional gift for capturing pictures of Jason's remarkably large hands (sorry ladies, he's taken).
Hoo-ee, it's time for our post-MoCCA Online Commentary & Diversions catch-up. It's going to take a while to sift through 4-5 days of the comics blogosphere, so to start with these are mostly links that have been sent to me:
• Review: "In what is obviously a labor of love, [C.] Tyler tells the story of her father's time during WWII and her parents' early relationship, skillfully interweaving it with Tyler's own story... provid[ing] a moving, personal portrait of one member of what's become known as 'the greatest generation.' Tyler's use of colored inks gives the line drawings an inviting depth of emotion... The drawings speak with an even greater richness thanks to the evocative words that appear within and around them, commenting upon and adding to the action portrayed in the panels. An important contributor to independent comics since the 1980s, Tyler has made a name for herself with the quirky warmth of her autobiographical stories, and this wonderful book [You'll Never Know Book 1: A Good and Decent Man] is a thoughtful work that greatly adds to the language of the graphic memoir." - Publishers Weekly (Starred Review; scroll to end of page)
• Review: "Jason’s books have always had a cinematic feel, and he seems to examine this more than ever with direct tie-ins to film concepts playing major roles in several of the stories... [A]ll of the stories in Low Moon are entertaining, and fans of Jason should be more than happy to digest five new comics from one of the best in the business." - William Jones, Graphic Novel Reporter
• Review: "Now, Fantagraphics has brought out The Wolverton Bible... I love that Wolverton's Adam and Eve look like Cary Grant and Rita Hayworth, and that the images of Noah’s Ark have the beautifully clean look of a wood carving. Dramatic scenes such as Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac, the devastation brought by locusts, and Samson’s blinding, showcase the artist’s talent for visceral, visual storytelling." - Leigh Stein, The New Yorker
• Review: "...[T]he newest issue of Michael Kupperman's mind-bending humor mag, Tales Designed to Thrizzle #5. Six Reasons Why Michael Kupperman Is A Genius (A bullet-pointed review...)" by Rob Clough, High-Low
• Review: "Peter Bagge's Neat Stuff saw the cartoonist at the height of his expressionistic style, and marked the beginning of the mature work he would exhibit in Hate and elsewhere... required reading for Hate fans... Anyone interested in fearless pop-culture satire, not just Peter Bagge, should have a look." - Luke Arnott, suite101.com
• Review: "Blazing Combat reprints all 4 issues of the ground-breaking war series... These are fascinating stories... drawn by some of the top talent in comics... [who] did some of their finest works for this short-lived publication. This new package from Fantagraphics Books is a handsome hardcover... the design work is A+, this time by Adam Grano." - Gary Sassaman, Innocent Bystander
• Interview: Comic Book Resources' Shaun Manning talks to editor Andrei Molotiu about the forthcoming anthology Abstract Comics. Sample quote: "I think that, oftentimes, abstract comics do end up maintaining more of that graphic energy [of superhero comics], and I think that they can draw attention to this very powerful tool in the vocabulary of comics that may have been lost in a number of art and alternative comics."
• Interview: Cartoonist Scott Nickel asks 20 questions of "one of the best cartoonists of his generation," Peter Bagge. Sample quote: "The idea of being a cartoonist was an appealing one to me as a kid, though not as appealing as being a rock star or baseball player."
• Interview: I can't remember if we've linked to this 2008 North Shore News Q&A with Peter Bagge before: "Anyone who claims they're speaking for an entire generation should be stoned to death!"
• Events: Thanks to Comic Book Resources' Timothy Callahan for picking some stuff up at our table at MoCCA and posting a photo of Miss Lasko-Gross signing A Mess of Everything; CBR's Kiel Phegley picks up some of the festival buzz; Publishers Weekly has some Fantagraphics scoop in their MoCCA report as well
• Things to see: Spain's Entrecomics presents a gallery of all of Daniel Clowes's front and back covers for Eightball. Clowes's back cover strips are some of his funniest work, and the later issues feature some stunning wraparounds, so it's well worth checking out. Here's Part I and Part II
Another late dose of Online Commentary & Diversions:
• List: CBC Radio's "Canada Reads: The Book Club" host Hannah Sung kicks off voting on the "Top 10 Graphic Novels" with Ghost World: "I love Dan Clowes’s clean, graphic style. I love Enid’s glasses, I love how everything is 'lame' and I love that Enid expresses how much she hates Sassy magazine even as she reads it."
• Interview: The Daily Cross Hatch's Brian Heater wraps up his 3-part talk with Michael Kupperman. Sample quote: "But of course the point of humor is that you always want it to look easy. You don’t want it to look like you spent two hours on your 140 character line — not that I’ve ever done that [laughs]."
• Interview: The Metabunker's Matthias Wivel talks to Steffen Maarup, editor of From Wonderland with Love: Danish Comics in the Third Millennium, debuting at MoCCA this weekend. Sample quote: "My selection process was pretty much as simple as picking what’s good; so stories that were original, did interesting things with the medium of comics, or touched me in some way."
Start yer plannin'! These are all subject to last-minute change; we'll try to give advance notice of any changes if we can. We'll have more MoCCA-related announcements in the coming days so stay tuned.
Let's catch up on our Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: "...Monologues [for Calculating the Density of Black Holes is] spare and scratchy where [Anders Nilsen's] other work was detailed; loose and spontaneous where his other work was considered; and funny where his other work was melancholy. It's interesting to see the many influences that inform Monologues; there's a bit of absurdists like Ionesco, elements of Tom Stoppard's wit and philosophical musings, stream of consciousness dada in the style of Tristan Tzara, and oblique New Yorker type gags with the scratchy looseness of James Thurber and Saul Steinberg." - Rob Clough
• Review: "...[O]nce again, I’m engaged in Blazing Combat. What a thrill! And the art!... Highly recommended. Don’t argue! Just buy it!" - David McDonnell, Starlog
• Review: "This collection of the 1965-66 Blazing Combat war comic magazine is a stellar publication... It's a master class on how to tell a short story, and I highly recommend checking it out." - Sandy Bilus, I Love Rob Liefeld
• Review: "Blazing Combat, a new hardcover collection from Fantagraphics, showcases some truly fantastic work from a multitude of comics greats... The collection itself is sharp as a tack... Fantagraphics really packages it nicely..." - Litany of Schist
• Review: "This omnibus of all 11 issues of Humbug is equal parts giddy genius and period piece. The satire is razor-sharp... [T]here are such subtleties here and such rapier wit that the line is clearly visible from the Algonquin Round Table to Kurtzman to Crumb to Ralph Bakshi to Mr. Show to The Colbert Report." - Byron Kerman, PLAYBACK:stl
• Review: "In his way, [Michael] Kupperman's just as concerned with making comics' formal aspects work for him as Chris Ware. In his way he's every bit as effective. Goddammit this book [Tales Designed to Thrizzle #5] is funny." - Sean T. Collins
• Review: "[Beasts! Book 1] is captivating, wistful, funny and truly extraordinary - a Bestiary of the traditionally fantastic for the dreary 21st century where imagination and wonder have been formularised as crypto-zoology... a vivid package of sheer fantasy and artistic excellence..." - Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Review: "Now, with Low Moon, [Jason] has clenched his fist around me and won’t let me go - this is easily my favorite of his works to date... Top to bottom, I enjoyed Low Moon very much... A worthy addition to one’s bookshelf." - Marc Mason, Comics Waiting Room
• Review: "[In Abandoned Cars] Tim Lane presents a personal study of what he calls 'The Great American Mythological Drama,' a fog of events / thoughts / dreams / disappointments in music / literature / North American life... Lane leads to something more introspective and extremely sad." - Churrasco la Naje (from Google translation)
• Review: "...[A]lmost nothing is casual in Bottomless Belly Button and almost nothing is superficial in its narrative structure, nor its authorial intentions... [Dash] Shaw's work delves into the interior of the personal relationships of its protagonists, but also in the basic foundations of linear narrative... Shaw transcends the sphere of intellectual narrative to enter the much more epidermal level of physical sensations... Dash Shaw has composed a monumental work, sometimes puzzling, sometimes bordering on melodrama, but always strong and brave, a work full of qualities and findings that will, we believe, be a reference for future comics. His experimentation, his daring and his solutions can't help but remind us of an equally ambitious and dense work, Jimmy Corrigan... Do not miss this." - Little Nemo's Kat (from Google translation)
• Plug: Jonathan Ross gives us ("the company that flies the flag for independent, ground-breaking comics"), and The Comics Journal ("the only widely read and serious publication of comic-book criticism"), a nice shout-out in The Times
• Interview: The Daily Cross Hatch continues their conversation with Michael Kupperman. Sample quote: "I think the artist I feel closest with is Tony Millionaire, because he really lives in those comics. He could never be anything else."
• Review: "The biggest surprise might be how good these stories are, even if they failed to take off in the way that, say, Superman did... [T]he Notes section at the end, written by editor Greg Sadowski, ...is truly fantastic... His studious efforts are worth the price of the book alone... These stories deserved another look and more attention. Sadowski has done an admirable job of making Supermen! The First Wave of Comic Book Heroes 1936–1941 not only reverent, but exciting and fun as well." - John Hogan, Graphic Novel Reporter
• Review: "I might say [Michael] Kupperman is one of the greatest satirists of our time, if I could figure out what he's satirizing. The basic facts: this collect[ion] of... Tales Designed to Thrizzle... featur[es] dozens of short pieces done on a chaotic array of subjects in so many styles much of it comes across as found art, and almost all of it's hilarious. Any attempt to summarize things like 'Mentally Ill Gangster Comics' or 'Crime Is Pushing the Limits' would miss the point completely. Except to say this is media culture put through the grinder. Top-notch." - Steven Grant, Comic Book Resources