• 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.
Today's hot batch of Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: "...[T]he furtive griminess that Jason wrings from his stock character designs is impressive to behold... [Y]ou'll enjoy any number of his typical moments of storytelling grace..." - otherwise Tom Spurgeon is unfortunately somewhat sparing in praise for Jason's Low Moon at The Comics Reporter
• Review: "Miss [Lasko-Gross]' previous book, Escape from 'Special,' launched her fearless plan to produce an autobiographical trilogy. [A] Mess [of Everything]tackles the high-school years, which involve mean girls, mean boys and plenty of awkward social situations. Each anecdote is super-short with cringeworthy dialogue that you'll identify with and will remind you of how fortunate you are to have lived through that rough period." - Whitney Matheson, "Three Graphic Novels You Should Read Immediately," USA Today Pop Candy
• Review: "I’ve read some crazy comix, and while he won’t scare you under the sheets like S. Clay Wilson, [John] Kerschbaum can be as raw as R. Crumb, Peter Bagge, and [Johnny] Ryan, who may be his closest comix cousins... No fan of adult funny animal comics (like Fritz the Cat) will want to miss Petey & Pussy... Petey & Pussy is some funny shit." - Leroy Douresseaux, Comic Book Bin
• Plug: "Fantagraphics is shortly to publish a new edition of Prince Valiant, Hal Foster's legendary, Golden Age comic strip of knights, swashbuckling, romance and chivalry... Foster's artwork is amazing. Foster was an exceptional talent in an era of exceptional talents." - OK Erok
• Plug: "The fifth issue of Tales Designed to Thrizzle is in and it's even weirder than the last one. See aliens give a bloke sexy lady legs! Twain plus Einstein plus enraged badger! Hobo fashion! If you've not read any of Michael Kupperman's stuff before now's yer chance..." - Gosh! Comics
The ever-tech-savvy Strand Bookstore has posted video of last night's event with Miss Lasko-Gross and Gabrielle Bell. Just click the link in the embedded player below; if some time has passed and the link isn't on the main screen, click the "Highlights" tab and scroll for it there -- or just head over to the Strand website to watch.
[Embedded player removed because it was auto-playing a later live event. Please view the video at the link above.]
• News: Publishers Weekly has the scoop on RIP, MD, a new series of youth-oriented graphic novels we plan to start publishing next year in collaboration with animation studio Lincoln Butterfield
• Review: "[Miss] Lasko-Gross... us[es] a dark and biting humor that both self-deprecates and pokes fun at alterna-teens along the way... The art pulls everything together wonderfully, ...and each section receives a beautiful splash page or panel with an embedded title to welcome you into the vignette... Though Fantagraphics has billed A Mess of Everything as the second part of a trilogy, it stands well alone for new readers of Lasko-Gross’ work, like myself, who want to skip straight to the unique uneasiness of the teen problems we carry through adulthood. [Grade] 8/10" - Zane Austin Grant, PopMatters
• Review: "This lovingly restored collection of Humbug's five [sic - it's eleven] issues is accompanied by essays, interviews and annotations, providing a glimpse into what Mad had wrought." - Richard Pachter, The Miami Herald
• Plug: Socio-political blog Third Rate in the Tropics, prefacing a video examining the Israeli/Palestinian divide, says "One of the best works I've ever come across on the topic is Palestine, a graphic novel by Joe Sacco."