• List: Adam McGovern of ComicCritique.Com declares Miss Lasko-Gross to be Writer/Artist of the Year ("Vividly imaginative in tricky layouts, intricate patterns and hallucinatory neverlands yet starkly perceptive of everyday details and personality, immune to art-star mythology while stockpiling stuff of legend, Lasko-Gross is capable of anything — but can’t help doing right") and her A Mess of Everything the #3 Graphic Novel of the Year ("Lasko-Gross creates the least wholesome and most healthy youth memoirs you’re likely to read. Tales of adolescent insight, creativity, trauma and folly for those who like to learn their lessons with minds of their own"); Gilbert Shelton's "Last Gig in Shnagrlig" from Mome Vols. 13-15 to be Strip of the Year ("With a style that seems strung from spider-webs, popping veins, worried brow-wrinkles and tangled vines and an eye for absurd posturing, both undiminished by five decades and whatever art-supplies he’s been sniffing, Shelton’s dystopian vaudeville is a vision you can never predict of species-wide misbehavior which remains, alas, just like you remembered it"); and Lilli Carré's "The Carnival" from Mome Vol. 14 to be Short Story of the Year ("A bittersweet, tragicfunny story of the luminous, enchanting worlds just beyond the outskirts of nowhere")
• Review: "I spent most of this week reading the new, paperback edition of Blazing Combat ... [T]he artistry on display is so mind-boggling, particularly in the case of Crandall, Heath and Severin, that it seems churlish of me to not recommend this book simply because of a few overly and obviously ironic twists. The creators clearly had a real love for this kind of material, so much so that [I] wish things had tipped slightly in their favor a bit more, and that the market had made at least a little more room for war comics when as the silver age gave way to the bronze." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "...I love the art, with great layouts, nice thick lines, and coloring that's somehow both rich and muted. Even when I don't like the characters or find their actions believable I still love the way everything looks. And the elliptical structure was a smart choice because it adds at least a little bit of mystery; instead of just reading to see what happens next you keep going to better understand what's already happened. I don't know if the stories were published individually anywhere, but Hallorave is basically the first book of King of the Flies, with two more on the way. I'm interested to see how closely they intersect with each other." – Garrett Martin, Shazhmmm...
• Review: "Based on a crime novel by Jean-Patrick Manchette, West Coast Blues is an existential comic by master cartoonist Jacques Tardi. It's colorless crime as only the French can do it, with despicable characters waxing philosophical on film and high-risk sex even while on the run from clumsy assassins. ... Plenty of crime stories revolve around the bizarre preoccupations of its characters and just as many are centered around the plight of the common man thrust into extraordinary circumstances. But Tardi really brings it home, offering a messed up story about messed up people who do some truly messed up things. While only 80 pages, it's a robust read. ... As compelling as this short yarn is in terms of the writing, the real draw here is Tardi. ... His style is comparable to Herge's, if not quite as clean. His characters are expressive and his architecture's pretty damn impressive. ... Big ups to Fantagraphics and editor/translator Kim Thompson for assembling a really lovely English language edition of this book." – Paul Montgomery, iFanboy
• Commentary: "You would think I'd have more to say about teaching 'Human Diastrophism,' one of my favorite comics in the classroom, but this was my fourth pass at the story and most of the classroom surprises have been played out. The greatest remaining challenge is just the problem of extracting one storyline from Gilbert Hernandez's long-running Palomar setting and fitting it into a single week of class discussion." – Marc Singer, I Am NOT the Beastmaster
• Interview:In this video, Vito Delsante talks to Jaime Hernandez at Jaime's appearance at Jim Hanley's Universe in NYC last Friday, April 9 (via ¡Journalista!)
• Interview: "'Digital vs. paper? That’s a totally bogus debate,' [Peter] Bagge told Wired.com in an e-mail interview. 'There will always be both. Whichever one you want, you got it!'" Well that solves that!
• List:Booklist's Ray Olson names the Top 10 Graphic Novels of the past 12 months, including You'll Never Know, Book 1: A Good and Decent Man by C. Tyler ("Alt-comics veteran Tyler fully demonstrates her artistry in a book about her father’s WWII experiences, her childhood and present struggles raising her daughter, and her growing realization of war’s long-term effects on soldiers and their families.") and A Mess of Everything by Miss Lasko-Gross ("With washed and faded and wildly varied artwork and writing that sounds utterly like a teen’s voice, Lasko-Gross makes high-schooler Melissa’s late-teen experience real enough to nip incipient nostalgia in the bud.")
• Review: "This charming collection of stories from the long-running and much acclaimed Love and Rockets explores friendship and romance through the interconnected experiences of several characters over many years. ... What's impressive about Hernandez's work isn't so much each story on its own as it is how all the pieces fit together into a whole world that's almost but not quite like our own. ... Hernandez's gorgeous art is both expressive and simple... It all comes together to construct a world and people easy to relate to." – Publishers Weekly
• Review: "Tardi's work which is distinguished by an unstinting attention to locale and detail, captures the true horror of war in a way that no other artist has been quite able to achieve. ... [It Was the War of the Trenches] is the story of man against the system, with the system as the ultimate winner. This is a story for our times." – Peter Richardson (via ¡Journalista!)
• Profile: Benjamin Ivry of Forward looks at the career of Jules Feiffer, who says "From my earliest cartoons, I’ve tried to work in front of audiences who may not be happy with what I’m saying. In the then left-wing Village Voice, I criticized the student left and they weren’t happy. I don’t find it fun to work before audiences who would agree with me; I prefer to challenge their preconceptions. My role is to push and prod and challenge, and I try to do it pleasantly rather than otherwise."
• Interview:Robot 6's Chris Mautner talks to Matt Thorn about editing our upcoming manga line: "My goal is to make a line that will appeal to the twenty-something Sailor Moon/Pokémon generation that feel they've outgrown the bulk of what is currently available, and that will also appeal to intelligent grown-ups who just enjoy a good read, but have never seen themselves as readers of manga, or even comics. I'd like to provide these people with smart, high-quality, accessible manga."
• List:Details magazine names Ghost World #10 on The 25 Greatest Gen X Books of All Time: "This caustically funny duo-tone tale follows the iconic cat-eyed adolescent Enid Coleslaw in her quest to find meaning, or at least cruel humor, in an age where everything's disposable."
• Review: "Strange Suspense collects dozens of Ditko stories from the 1950’s... Almost a decade before Ditko moved to Marvel, these stories bear his unmistakable style. His fine line work and flair for the abstract that would serve him so well on Doctor Strange particularly, is on full display. ... If you only know Ditko for his work at Marvel or later at DC, here is the chance to explore Early Ditko, unconstrained by editors or the Comics Code. While all of this work is marvelous, clearly Ditko is best at home in horror where he could let his imagination run wild, creating monsters and demons and the things that go bump in the night. Rediscover Ditko today!" – Tim Janson, Newsarama
• Review: "Brian Kane, author of the [Definitive Prince Valiant] Companion and surely the world’s foremost authority on the strip and its creator, Hal Foster, has once again done a herculean amount of work, and Fantagraphics has once again clothed that work in a sturdy, pretty volume. Prince Valiant hasn’t been treated this well since the ersatz King of England sang his praises. Those unfamiliar with the character – a young man who finds adventure, fame, and even love at the court of the legendary King Arthur – will find here all the background information they could ever want... But even long-time Prince Valiant fans will find plenty to fascinate them in this volume." – Khalid Ponte, Open Letters
• Review: "Delphine is a morbid interpretation of the symbology of fairy tales resounding with echoes of unrequited love and abandonment. This is perhaps Sala’s darkest and most intricate story ever – impressive in its nuance and ever shifting emotions. One can only hope that it is not ignored." – Ng Suat Tong, The Comics Journal
• Interview: From TCJ.com: "Every weekday from now until December 25, we’ll be posting a conversation between cartoonists from The Comics Journal #300, complete and online! In today’s installment, it’s a chat between L’Association publisher Jean-Christophe Menu and Kramers Ergot publisher Sammy Harkham."
• List: Graphic Novel Reporter begins their Best of 2009 survey of educators and comics pros; so far A Mess of Everything by Miss Lasko-Gross ("Lasko-Gross’ words and pictures felt incredibly authentic") and Luba by Gilbert Hernandez have been named
• Review: "Rolling in like a slow, fuzzed-out guitar line from an Orange-brand amp, The Red Monkey Double Happiness Booklives up to the good vibes promised in its title. ... Having recently finished Thomas Pynchon's Inherent Vice and Jonathan Lethem's Chronic City, I couldn't help but consider The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book as a distant third-cousin to those titles. ...The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book is a weekend read, best consumed with your feet propped up, opposable digits or not." – Alex Carr, Omnivoracious (Amazon.com)
• Review: "Paul Hornschemeier excels at a sort of cryptic-cute comic that is better read than described. It's a blend of darkness and sharply delineated perfectionism that, whether he likes it or not, sometimes brings to mind his Chicago contemporary Chris Ware What he knows, though, is that he can go places Ware can't — Hornschemeier's style is every style. ... His diversity of styles is most apparent in All and Sundry: Uncollected Work 2004-2009... It's just a stew of stuff that, like the best sketchbooks, offers an intimate invitation to spy on the ramblings of a formidable creative." – Byron Kerman, PLAYBACK:stl
• Review: "For being a company that puts out the reprints of one of the safest comics of all time, Peanuts, Fantagraphics sure lives on the edge of the comics medium, particularly in the realm of anthologies. Blab! is just such an anthology, featuring a variety of visual quirks that hover closer to straight up art pieces than comics work, but still do not seem out of place with the more narrative pieces that slide between the pictorial pages. ...[T]here's probably someone for everyone in Blab!, if you take the time to look." – Panel Patter
• Review: "Richard Sala’s reinvention of Snow White is a sparkling macabre gem. The 2-color art glows in handsome sepia that is pitch perfect for this delightfully demented tale of a strange land. Sala populates Delphine with cast of horror carnival rejects that is diverse enough to both excite and confound the imagination. This issue [#3]’s creepy locales: dark tunnels, a creepy house, and a gloomy castle are the true stars of this chapter. They make this scary tale an absolute winner. ...[Grade] A" – Leroy Douresseaux, Comic Book Bin
• Reviewer: A new book review from Laura Warholic author Alexander Theroux for The Wall Street Journal, this time of an interesting-sounding collection of "literary invective" called Poison Pens
• Plug: "I grew up in the video age and I’m still in awe of the technology that first allowed me to watch thousands of movies in the privacy of my own home. Call me sentimental and nostalgic, but when I first got wind of Jacques Boyreau’s upcoming book Portable Grindhouse: The Lost Art of the VHS Box it made me giddy with excitement." – Kimberly Lindbergs, Cinebeats
Gary Groth and Kim Thompson will be at next weekend's SMALL PRESS EXPO in Bethesda, MD, debuting a slew of new books, including:
• Zak Sally's LIKE A DOG
• Al Columbia's PIM & FRANCIE
• E.C. Segar's POPEYE Vol. 4
• Steve Ditko's STRANGE SUSPENSE
• Kevin Huizenga's GANGES #3
• Hans Rickheit's THE SQUIRREL MACHINE
• MOME Vol. 16
• Jacques Tardi and Jean-Claude Forest's YOU ARE THERE
... and more.
We have some very exciting signings as well. To wit:
KEVIN HUIZENGA: 12PM to 2PM
C. TYLER: 12PM to 2PM
GAHAN WILSON: 2PM to 4PM
HANS RICKHEIT: 2PM to 4PM
ZAK SALLY: 2PM to 4PM
MISS LASKO-GROSS: 4PM to 5PM
AL COLUMBIA: 5PM to 7PM
PAUL KARASIK: 5PM to 7PM
GAHAN WILSON: 12PM to 2PM
ZAK SALLY: 12PM to 2PM
KEVIN HUIZENGA: 12PM to 2PM
HANS RICKHEIT: 2PM to 4PM
C. TYLER: 2PM to 4PM
AL COLUMBIA: 2PM to 4PM
PAUL KARASIK: 4PM to 6PM
MISS LASKO-GROSS: 4PM to 5PM
Plus, several FANTAGRAPHICS-related panels:
Saturday, 12:30PM: Debut Cartoonists
Hans Rickheit (The Squirrel Machine) and Zak Sally (Like A Dog) join Ken Dahl and Eleanor Davis to discuss their new books debuting at SPX. Brookside Conf. Rm.
Saturday, 3:30PM: Critics' Roundtable
Fantagraphics Publisher Gary Groth joins Rob Clough, Sean Collins, Chris Mautner, Joe McCulloch, Tucker Stone and Douglas Wolk to share acute critical insights. Brookside Conf. Rm.
Saturday, 4PM: Paul Karasik's Fletcher Hanks Experience
Cartoonist, editor and educator Paul Karasik presents "The Fletcher Hanks Experience," an illustrated tour over the brutally surreal Hanks mindscape narrated by the late Fletcher Hanks, Jr. White Flint Ampitheater.
Saturday, 5PM: Gahan Wilson Spotlight
This year, Fantagraphics publishes Gahan Wilson: Fifty Years of Playboy Cartoons. Mr. Wilson will be joined onstage by publisher and editor Gary Groth to discuss his life and work. White Flint Ampitheater.
Sunday, 1PM: Carol Tyler Q & A
Carol will discuss her new book You'll Never Know: A Good and Decent Man with comics critic Douglas Wolk. White Flint Ampitheater.
Sunday, 1:30PM: Source-Based Comics
Kate Beaton, Paul Karasik, Ed Piskor, and R. Sikoryak discuss what it means to make creative works of adaptation, parody, and historical fiction. Brookside Conf. Rm.
Sunday, 3:30PM: Future of the Comic Book
Discuss the future of the comic book format with publisher Alvin Buenaventura, and cartoonists Kevin Huizenga, Matthew Thurber, Hellen Jo and Noah Van Sciver. Brookside Conf. Rm.COMING IN EARLY 2010:
BUT WAIT, THAT'S NOT ALL!
To celebrate the great Gahan Wilson's rare convention appearance at SPX 2009, we have a very special offer for SPX attendees. In early 2010, we will be publishing GAHAN WILSON: 50 years of Playboy Cartoons, a massive, three-volume hardcover collection of his work. Designed by Jacob Covey, it's going to be absolutely STUNNING:
SPX attendees will have the opportunity to PRE-ORDER the book at the show get a limited edition (150 copies) silkscreen print signed by Mr. Wilson at the show! Even better, we are going to include FREE SHIPPING for the book (and believe me, you'll be happy you didn't have to lug this thing around SPX, it's HUGE) when it ships and knock $25 off the $125 retail price!
For $100, you will get the book, an exclusive signed print, free shipping, and the chance to meet one of the great cartoonists of the 20th Century! Here's what the print looks like:
These will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Don't miss out!
A quiet day for Online Commentary & Diversions in the wake of Comic-Con:
• Review: "...A Mess of Everything surprised me. It turned out to be quite worthy: funny, insightful, and at times, moving. It’s not a revolutionary book — it doesn’t stretch or redefine the bounds of its genre — but [Miss] Lasko-Gross reminded me that the beauty of her chosen genre is that everyone’s story is, in fact, different and unique. If the author is a skilled storyteller, it’s as good as a reason as any to read yet another graphic novel about growing up, even if you’ve already read many." - Jillian Steinhauer, The Daily Cross Hatch
• Review: "Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me is as combative, iconoclastic, and embittered as its title suggests it would be. It is also smart, thought-provoking, and funny as hell. Disconcertingly, you'll agree with at least half of what [Peter] Bagge says. Then, gratifyingly, you'll realize that everybody is stupid except for you, too." - Tim Heffernan, Esquire
• Review: "There’s a bittersweet quality to You’ll Never Know, C. Tyler’s disarming memoir about attempting to learn what her father went through in World War II... Tyler’s impressive drawings and inks [are] vividly colored in an amazing array of fluidity... You’ll Never Know is so compellingly honest and unself-conscious that it makes its point all the more poignant." - John Hogan, Graphic Novel Reporter
• Review: "Both visually and narratively, [C.] Tyler keeps [the] threads [of You’ll Never Know] nicely wound into an account that carries readers along and shows how various pasts inform the present, how vulnerable parents can be, and how wartime can create minefields later in life. Her gently colored artwork is expressive and goes far to bring eras of the past to life through dress, hairstyles, and dance moves... [T]he story here will touch those who are just realizing that the older people they think they know have their own burdens and secrets." - Francisca Goldsmith, School Library Journal
• Review: "The cruelties, indignities, rebellion, and lack of self-confidence that form the high school experiences of many teens are well captured in [A Mess of Everything]... This is a spot-on portrait of one girl's struggle for intellectual and emotional honesty... [which] will touch teens who themselves have just succeeded in negotiating the mess of learning to be a mature social being." - Francisca Goldsmith, School Library Journal (same link as above)
• Review: Rui Gonçalves of Portuguese blog Crónicas da (e depois da) Califórnia calls Eightball #22 & #23 "the last two issues of the American comic written by one of the most imaginative and schizophrenic creators of comics from the other side of the Atlantic." (Translation help from Google)
• Plug: "As painful as it is to wait a year for new Love and Rockets now that the Hernandez brothers have switched to an annual format, it’ll be worth the wait if each issue is going to be as good as this one [L&R: New Stories #1]. Jaime Hernandez created the best superhero story of 2008 for this issue, and it should be required reading for anyone who reads or creates comics." - Corey Henson, Newsarama
• Interview: I can't wait to listen to the Inkstuds interview with one of the best and most outspoken artists in comics, Mr. Jordan Crane
Your Online Commentary & Diversions return from a short vacation. More catch-up tomorrow.
• Review: "[C.] Tyler’s fluid, expressive linework, complemented by subtly overlaid watercolors, gives ideal visual expression to a narrative that’s at once sensitive and hard-nosed. [You'll Never Know, Book 1] is Tyler’s first book-length effort, but decades of drawing mostly autobiographical stories have honed her skills, enabling her to produce a work that ranks in quality with the graphic memoirs of Alison Bechdel (Fun Home) and Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis)." - Gordon Flagg, Booklist (Starred Review; no link)
• Review: "Norwegian-French cartoonist Jason’s new book [Low Moon] is the first premiered in hardcover in the U.S. and contains his most minimally formatted stories... If you’re into genre fiction, have a sense of humor but no time for condescension, and haven’t encountered Jason yet, wait no longer." - Ray Olson, Booklist (Starred Review; no link)
• Review: "This is the best thing I have ever been sent to review. I didn't think that this book would ever exist but now it does and it'd better than I could have imagined... The eleven issues of Humbug are faithfully reprinted in this two-volume hardcover set and it comes in a fancy and sturdy box. The magazines were funny and beautiful with art by Will Elder and Jack Davis and some other folks. If you don't buy this book then I don't want to know you... There is no excuse for not buying this right now. Sell your hair, blood, or skin to get it." - Nick Gazin, Vice
• Review: "Luba encompasses everything a turn-of-the-21st-century graphic novel should be: paraliterary or lowbrow tropes of comics, pornography, soap opera, blended seamlessly with a highbrow literary accomplishment of pathos and familial history. It is as profane as it is dense. Almost postmodern in its self-reference... and frequently silly in its blatant cartoonishness, Luba is surreal and bizarre and arousing and gut-wrenching and hilarious." - Dusty Horn, CarnalNation
• Review: "If you grew up 'different'... you’ll find a lot that’s familiar in A Mess of Everything. [Miss] Lasko-Gross is close enough to this material to keep it particular – she avoids the sweeping gesture and the grand statement at all times – and distanced enough from it to see it as part of her past, fodder for stories rather than a raw wound. It’s a fine book from a very talented creator, and I expect we’ll see much more from Miss Lasko-Gross as the years go on." - Andrew Wheeler, ComicMix
• Review: "...[Miss Lasko-Gross] displays... subtlety and balance in her portrayal of her teen-age years... [I]n its portrayal of the importance and tenuous nature of teenage friendships, [A Mess of Everything] glows with sharp recognition." - Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "[Uptight #3] is very very good... The plot [of 'Vicissitude'] is a bitter little thing, steeped in infidelity, alcohol, career dissatisfaction, hints of class self-consciousness, and frustration with the path your life has taken -- like a Pulp song, almost.... Crane's Sam and Jack stories unfold like the pipes and vents upon which this tale centers: they bend and twist and wind in comically baroque ways, yet Crane's control of his visuals and the story's tone are so self-assured that it all seems completely logical, like a mind consciously built it this way and if you have a little faith, it'll work like it's supposed to." - Sean T. Collins
• Review: "Just a quick mention of what may turn out to be my favorite damn cover of 2009... check out Uptight issue #3..." - Blair Butler, G4 Fresh Ink Online (video; review starts around 1:34)
• Plug: "Jason is really one of the best cartoonists at work today, and you should check out this reading." - Paul Constant, The Stranger, recommending last Saturday's appearance by Jason at our Seattle bookstore
• Interview: Brian Heater of The Daily Cross Hatch got some face time for a Q&A with Jason at the 2009 MoCCA Festival. Sample quote: "I think it’s fun to bring different genres together and try to bring in something new, to see it from a new angle, that it’s a bit more than just a pastiche."
• Interview: "Frankly, I think it's a losing game to try to generalize about the relationship between biography and literature." - Chris Ware, interviewed by Joan Luna at 13 Milliones de Naves (translation from Google)
• Preview: ICv2 takes a peek at our upcoming collection Gahan Wilson: 50 Years of Playboy Cartoons
• Preview: The Geek Curmudgeon looks forward to From Wonderland with Love: Danish Comics in the Third Millennium
• Events: Zane Austin Grant of PopMatters reports from the "Ah, Humbug!" panel with Al Jaffee and Arnold Roth at the 2009 MoCCA Festival
• Things to see: At Truthout.org, a Drew Friedman illustration from Time illustrates a Bill Maher editorial from the Los Angeles Times
• Staff news: Fantagraphics warehouse manager and noted practitioner of visual poetry Nico Vassilakis has a new book, Protracted Type, which can be purchased or downloaded here
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.