• List/Coming Attractions: On Publishers Weekly's "Spring 2011 Adult Announcements" preview, the following upcoming titles rank on The Top 10: Comics & Graphic Novels:
"Many recent comics biographies have been presented as educational material, but Wilfred Santiago's 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente uses a more expressionist style to tell the story of the baseball superstar who rose from poverty to the top of the game and died a hero's death. Long in the making, it arrives just in time for opening day."
"The comic strip gets a much needed new edition of the first volume of Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse, Vol. 1: Race to Death Valley. While perhaps an unexpected gem, Floyd Gottfredson's tough, bold mouse is a seasoned adventurer and these are driving, hard-boiled tales. After reading this volume, you'll never look at Mickey, the tuxedo-clad corporate spokesmouse, the same again."
• List:Carve Your Name Comics' Greg Townley (a.k.a. "Johnny") names his top 20 favorite comics and graphic novels of 2010:
"14) Werewolves of Montpellier by Jason — Jason’s work is haunting and surreal. I love all his books, but this one earns high points for including a character based on Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffany’s. [...] Jason’s allusion to the complex film icon really elevates this book."
"17) Wally Gropius by Tim Hensley — This book is like Richie Rich on acid – one of the most original, visually exciting books I’ve read this year."
"20) King of the Flies- 1. Hallorave by Mezzo and Pirus — King of the Flies, the first part of a proposed trilogy, is surreal and unsettling. It requires repeat readings to unearth the interwoven secrets at play."
• List: At his X-Ray Spex blog Will Pfeifer names Love and Rockets: New Stories #3 one of his Graphic Novels of the Year: "Gilbert's stuff is a lot of fun (and a lot of weird, too), but it's Jaime's shattering look back at Maggie's troubled past that elevates this book above even Love and Rockets' normally stellar standards. 'Browntown' is one of the best stories ever to appear in Love and Rockets, and if you know how brilliant the book is — easily one of the best comic series ever — you know that's high praise indeed."
• List: Also at X-Ray Spex, Pfeifer lists his best Books About Comics of the Year, including:
From Shadow to Light: The Life and Art of Mort Meskin by Steven Brower: "...[W]hen I started collecting in the late 1970s[,] Meskin's art stood out, mostly because his figures and compositions always seemed to explode off the page. And now there's an elaborate book that (a) examines his whole life (b) reprints lots of vintage art and (c) includes plenty of originals? Tell me this isn't the best time — ever — to be a comic book fan."
Four Color Fear: Forgotten Horror Comics of the 1950s: "...[T]his is a great collection, with vintage work from Basil Wolverton, Joe Kubert, Howard Nostrand, Bob Powell and especially Jack Cole, who delivers a couple of twisted masterpieces here. Also, there are fascinating, detailed end notes and a lurid collection of covers in the middle."
• Review: "Jacques Tardi’s It Was the War of the Trenches is pretty brutal. [...] It’s one thing to read about the brutality of trench warfare, another entirely to experience it in the way Tardi details it here. This wasn’t an easy read — I alternated between anger and horror the whole time — but it was a good one." – Brigid Alverson, Robot 6
• Review: "It's all very well told, with realistic details coming through even when the art takes such a cartoony style, but being the first half of a two-volume series, [Lucky in Love Book 1] is somewhat incomplete, setting up themes that will presumably be dealt with later. Still, it's quite good. However, there was one scene that I thought was excellent on its own and stood out in the memory the most. [...] War is hell, with effects reaching far outside and long beyond the actual conflict, and this scene manages to illustrate that rather effectively." – Matthew J. Brady, Warren Peace Sings the Blues
• Plug: "Ray Fenwick's Mascots is... narrated by Cthulu... I think. [...] What Fenwick paints is funny and punny, but also unexpectedly observant with just a little bit of metaphysical musing thrown in. I know that doesn't make too much sense as a combination, so just read these pages and maybe you'll understand." – Julia Pohl-Miranda, 211 Bernard (Librairie Drawn & Quarterly)
• Reviews: "Both of these books — Blake Bell's Fire and Water: Bill Everett, The Sub-Mariner, and the Birth of Marvel Comics and Steven Brower's From Shadow to Light: The Life and Art of Mort Meskin — do fine jobs of chronicling the artists' lives and careers. [...] The Everett book... is beautifully designed by Adam Grano and as much an art book as biography. Filled with great examples of Everett art — some of which is from the Everett family's own archives — this book opens up a whole new arena for appreciation of this almost lost seminal artist. The Mort Meskin book is fascinating, too. Brower and the Meskin sons do a great job in capturing what the artist was really like, both in his career and his home life. [...] Again, it's an impressive package (something I think Fantagraphics has become famous for) and a welcome addition to any comics fan's library." – Gary Sassaman, Innocent Bystander
• Review: "Four Color Fear: Forgotten Horror Comics of the 1950s is... a cool collection of stories that definitely would have given me nightmares if I read them as a kid. ...Fantagraphics... puts together a wonderful package once again. Some of these stories are almost unreadable, but all of them are enjoyable and strange and wonderful in their own way." – Gary Sassaman, Innocent Bystander
• Review: "The Best American Comics Criticism, edited by Ben Schwartz, is a fascinating collection of assertion, appraisals, debate, reconsiderations, and recollections about comics. This thick, superbly-selected anthology features extremely well informed, exceptional voices... With a fantastically rendered cover by Drew Friedman (spot the critic!), this is a huge assortment of fantastic writing about a field that has had many parallels with and tendrils in rock and pop. If you’re yearning to own a non-music comics book of criticism that isn’t something from the academe yet still creates an alternate world of popular culture magic to teach how to rail and rave and expose and detail, The Best American Comics Criticism is the book to buy." – Chris Estey, The KEXP Blog
• Review: "Fantagraphics always produces beautiful books, but this is one of my favorites they have ever published. [...] A few weeks ago, I carefully slid You’ll Never Know off the shelf. I was ready for it. It was time. It was a deeply emotional read. [...] The art and lettering is stellar in You’ll Never Know, filled with little details that make every page - especially full page panels. [...] You’ll Never Know is excellent example of autobiographical/biographical non-fiction sequential art, and has made my short list of favorite graphic non-fiction..." – Syndicate Product Covert HQ
• Plug: "Norman Pettingill is an underground cartoonist's underground cartoonist. His obsessive linework, his out-of-control hillbilly wonderland — and even his medium — wood, all make for a fascinating experience. And yes, the cover of this book is plywood." – Benn Ray (Atomic Books), Largehearted Boy
• Feature:Seattle Weekly's Brian Miller previews the "Counterculture Comix" exhibit at Bumbershoot and talks to curator Larry Reid
• Coming Attractions: "For me, and I admit I have specialized taste, the best news coming out San Diego was the announcement that Fantagraphics is going to reprinting Floyd Gottfredson’s Mickey Mousecomic strips, which really was during the 1930s one of the great adventure strips. This will be hard for anyone who hasn’t read Gottfredson’s work to believe, but his Mickey Mouse was as rousing as Roy Crane’s Captain Easy and as rich in invention as Barks’ longer Duck stories." – Jeet Heer, Comics Comics
• Review: "Rip M.D. is like the marriage of Cartoon Network and horror comics (perhaps an EC title or something from Warren Publications), because it is nonsensical and kooky like an old Scooby-Doo cartoon, but also steeped in monsters, both of the supernatural and human variety, like a pre-code horror comic book. The best thing about Rip M.D. is the lead character, Ripley Plimpt. [...] This is the perfect set-up: a curious, brave kid and a world of monsters. Hopefully, there is more to come, but our first appointment with Rip M.D. is pure fun." – Leroy Douresseaux, Comic Book Bin
• Review: "Fantagraphics' ongoing quarterly anthology continues here in this third edition ... One of the things I like about Mome is that artists can do almost anything, and sometimes do. ... [I]f you are fond of anthologies and like to be on the edge of indie comics while still being given the comfort of a larger publisher who can exert quality control, then pick up a copy of Mome. I'd recommend this one, if you can find it." – Rob McMonigal, Panel Patter
• Review: "A Schulz library favorite and avid patron, Evan Dorkin, recently donated Alex Chun and Jacob Covey’s retrospective book of The Glamor Girls of Don Flowers... This thick beauty of a book features work spanning several decades (1940s-1960s) and Flowers's dual pen and brush captured all the fashion that lied therein. Flowers gained popularity in newspapers for his gorgeous women, their cutting edge fashion and high-class life. Part of the appeal of this strip lies in the fact that just as many jokes are made by women at the expense of men, Flowers made sure of that." – Jen Vaughn, the Schulz Library blog
• Plug:Funnybook Babylon's Jamaal Thomas gives a "Brief Recommendation" to Jason's The Left Bank Gang: "F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce as cartoonists that pull a heist. Go read this now."
• Coming Attractions: Luca Boschi of Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore reports on our forthcoming editions of Floyd Gottfredson's Mickey Mouse
• Interview: The Minneapolis City Pages talks to Zak Sally about the "2nd Annual Report," a big old hootenanny celebrating and benefitting his small press imprint La Mano which took place at Eclipse Records in Minneapolis last week (which we found out about too late to Flog, dang it): "La Mano is what it is, the stuff I love. A celebration of stuff that people make and create by hand. Last year was great, and if every year there could be a sort of one spot where all that stuff is able to happen in, I'm happy as a pig in shit!"
I thought I could keep up with Online Commentary & Diversions while at Comic-Con. Ha ha ha ha ha.
• Coming Attractions: At Robot 6, Chris Mautner takes a look through the 46 (!!!) upcoming books listed in our Fall/Winter catalog (note: listed release dates may no longer be accurate and are all subject to change)
• History/Profile/Review: "What A Drunken Dream reveals is an author whose childhood passion for Frances Hodgson Burnett, L.M. Montgomery, and Isaac Asimov profoundly influenced the kind of stories she chose to tell as an adult. ... For those new to Hagio’s work, Fantagraphics has prefaced A Drunken Dream with two indispensable articles by noted manga scholar Matt Thorn. ... Taken together with the stories in A Drunken Dream, these essays make an excellent introduction to one of the most literary and original voices working in comics today. Highly recommended." – Katherine Dacey, The Manga Critic
• Review: "Anyone interested in the historical development of manga and the women who’ve contributed to the art form should read this book. I hope A Drunken Dream sells well enough for Fantagraphics or other publishers to consider putting out some of Hagio’s longer works. Her short stories are great, but I’d love to see what she does with a longer storyline." – Anna Neatrour, TangognaT
• Plug: "What Osamu Tezuka is to shonen and seinen manga, Moto Hagio is to shojo manga -- a true innovator who challenged and stretched the conventions of the medium by created touching, memorable and truly artistic comics stories. ... Fantagraphics had copies of the absolutely gorgeous hardcover edition of A Drunken Dream available for sale at their [Comic-Con] booth..." – Deb Aoki, About.com: Manga
• Interview:The Comics Journal's Shaenon Garrity sat down with Moto Hagio & translator Matt Thorn for a conversation at Comic-Con International: "I find it very embarrassing to read my very early work, but when you see the stories arranged chronologically it gives a good overall impression of my career. In Japanese, too, it’s common to present an author’s works in a sample spanning his or her whole career, so it’s turned out very much like that."
• Review: "Deadpan dialogue, drawings that move from panel to panel with the strange and deliberate force of kung fu performance art, and a subtle interweaving of humor and angst come together to make [Werewolves of Montpellier] a brief knockout of a book." – Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
• Review: "...[T]his cartwheeling shaggy-dog story begins, like a lot of metafiction, with the semblance of reality... But by the time a frog demon reanimates a 19th-century French peasant whose brains it has eaten, it’s fairly clear that Deitch is making stuff up. The fun of [The Search for Smilin' Ed] is the way it constantly darts back and forth across the line between genuine show-business lore (a favorite Deitch theme) and delirious whole-cloth invention. There are stories within stories, unreliable explainers, secret passageways that lead from one part of the tale to another." – Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
• Review: "Wally Gropius is a book that’s constantly lying to the reader, with a terrifying chaos roiling just immediately below its surface. The book is a flood of visual and textual information, but the information itself is near constantly false. ... For me, it’s a book that lies constantly, that lies at its very core, but that nevertheless ends up getting at a greater truth of things. And so, yeah: I thought that was pretty neat." – Abhay Kholsa, The Savage Critics
• Review: "There’s more derring-do [in Prince Valiant Vol. 2: 1939-1940] than you can shake a sword at! Foster’s stories are filled with vivid, colorful characters, none more engaging than the aptly named Valiant and his never-ending quest for adventure. The artwork is breathtaking. Foster’s figures are handsome and graceful whether eating a sumptuous feast or fighting on a crowded battlefield. ... Even if the age of chivalry is not your flask of ale, Foster’s art and storytelling will win you over." — Rich Clabaugh, The Christian Science Monitor
• Review: "This book is why Fantagraphics is one of the best and most important comic publishers in the business today. [Blazing Combat] is a series that could have easily been forgotten to the ages but Fantagraphics always is at the forefront of making sure important works of sequential art are remembered. ... This is a brilliant collection of stories that should be required reading. Intelligent, gripping stories and fantastic art! Grade A +" – Tim Janson, Mania and Newsarama
• Review: "Formally inventive and emotionally acute, Bottomless Belly Button indeed proves to be all those things: as fascinating and affecting a depiction of family ties as Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections or Wes Anderson's The Royal Tenenbaums." – Ed Park, Los Angeles Times
• Plugs: Alex Carr of Amazon's Omnivoracious blog has Weathercraft by Jim Woodring ("I am woefully ignorant when it comes to Woodring’s Frank comics, and this looks like the weirdest place to start") and Dungeon Quest Book 1 ("After The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book, I will read anything Joe Daly produces") on his summer vacation reading list
• History: For the Los Angeles Times, Ben Schwartz compiles an oral history of the 1980s heyday of L.A. alternative comics with Matt Groening, Gilbert & Jaime Hernandez, David Lynch (!), and Gary Panter
At the Comics Reprint Revolution panel at Comic-Con today, Gary Groth announced that Fantagraphics is partnering with Walt Disney Enterprises to publish the complete Floyd Gottfredson Mickey Mouse strips. Techland's Douglas Wolk talked to Gary on the convention floor and got some exclusive details. There's also coverage at Comics Alliance, iFanboy, and Robot 6 (so far). Stay tuned for more details and a more formal announcement.