• List:School Library Journal names Linda Medley's Castle Waiting Vol. 2 one of "39 Graphic Novels That Kids Can't Resist": "Both volumes of Castle Waiting are vivid and enchanting, as any good fairy tale should be. Handsomely bound and printed on rich, creamy paper, the most important element — the story — is charming, filled with slowly building plots and compelling characters, and the slow pace means readers can spend the summer hours with some good company.... With clean black-and-white art and impeccable pacing, Castle Waiting remains a favorite for older kids and younger teens."
• List: Rick Klaw's "Top Ten of the Half Year '11" at The Geek Curmudgeon includes Joe Daly's Dungeon Quest at #9 ("Littered with violence, inappropriate sexual innuendos, misguided bravado and infused with hilarity, Dungeon Quest... promises a uniquely entertaining graphic novel experience.") and 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente by Wilfred Santiago at #3 ("In this emotionally moving biography, the Puerto Rican Wilfred Santiago magnificently chronicles the often tragic life of this icon.... Santiago expertly traverses Clemente's tribulations, losses, and success with ease and skill. His portrayal of the baseball games rank among the finest ever attempted in this medium. Under the masterful hands of Santiago, 21 evolves into far more than just a biography of a sports figure. It showcases a life worth emulating.")
• Profile: "...21: The Story of Roberto Clemente... is drawn with a jagged whimsy that gets at the sudden sharpness of a baseball game's action, the frenzy that comes from out of nowhere to temporarily replace the long, slow stretches of waiting, scratching, spitting and eyeballing opponents that are endemic to the sport. The result is a captivating work that reflects the complexity of Clemente (1934-1972), a dedicated humanitarian as well as an uncommonly gifted athlete.... 'I knew the culture he came from, because I came from the same place,' [Wilfred] Santiago says. 'And there was a mythic aspect to him that was part of the story I wanted to tell. Comic books bring a different kind of narrative that's not possible in any other medium — not books, not movies.'" – Julia Keller, Chicago Tribune
• Review: "A little boy is mistaken for his older sister and is bewildered by the feeling that this stirs in him. Thus begins the story of the Wandering Son, a daring fairy-tale about two unusual children in the time before the riot of puberty and their struggles with who they are and who they want to be.... The artwork in Wandering Son is appealing and sensitive.... Wandering Son mercifully isn’t a political screed and its characters, equally mercifully, are not pressured into making political points out of their inner lives.... They are allowed under that protective charm 'kawaii' to explore their feelings and identity and are treated with the utmost compassion and dignity by their author. That makes Wandering Son a most compelling fantasy... Wandering Son chooses for the most part to dwell on the possibility of choice, of self-knowledge and the love of a friend who knows your secret." – Michael Arthur, The Hooded Utilitarian
• Review: At his High-Low blog, Rob Clough re-posts his Sequart review of the first 5 volumes of Mome: "I can't help thinking of Mome as the comics equivalent of a baseball farm league club. You know you're good if you're invited by the major league club to come on, but there's an expectation of getting better, of being productive, of working hard in order to become great. And the creators in this book seem to range across a wide variety of ages and levels of experience, much like a minor league baseball team. Some are raw rookies, others have been laboring in obscurity for years and are just now getting an opportunity at the big time."
• Interview:The Daily Cross Hatch's Brian Heater continues his conversation with Mome editor Eric Reynolds: "I don’t know if there’s an official reason. I just felt like the time had come. It had been over five years. I’m really happy with it. I’m proud of what we did. But at the same time, there are always compromises you make along the way. I felt I’d already run my course with it. I could have kept it going. I sort of set myself up with a template that was fairly easy to do, three or four times a year."
• Review: "Excellent quality reproduction of the cartoons, interesting texts...; a supreme book treatment by a 'bibliophile publisher': something that convinces even the most recalcitrant Disney collectors to buy something that they might already have seen and have read the contents of the first volume in multiple dressings and in multiple languages, and possess it in different forms." – Luca Boschi, Il Sole 24 Ore (translated from Italian)
• Plug: "Mickey Mouse 'Race to Death Valley' has the first MM strips from 1930-32 by Floyd Gottfredson, considered the finest of all the MM artists and much collected. Several complete episodes and a wonderful 68-page section devoted to essays, early Mickey artwork and special features. I'm eager to sit down and digest it all myself." – Bud Plant
• Review: "Schulz's jokes are fine; his characters are likable and instantly recognizable; and Peanuts is never dull. But, in these years, it settled for being a consistently entertaining standard comic strip rather than digging any more deeply than that into the sources of human sadness and discomfort." – Andrew Wheeler, The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.
• Plugs: The latest "Comics College" reader's guide from Chris Mautner at Robot 6 delves into George Herriman and Krazy Kat: "If you... want to dig deeper, the next logical choice is Fantagraphics’ lovely collection of Sunday strips, dubbed Krazy & Ignatz.... If all those books seem like too much shopping for you, Fantagraphics has collected much of the same material in two hardcovervolumes, with a presumed third one coming along the way sometime in the near future.... Fantagraphics has announced their intention to collect the daily Krazy Kat strips as well, but that’s down the line a bit. In the meantime, there are really only two ways to get a solid sampling of the daily strip, one of which is The Kat Who Walked in Beauty, an oversize tome that pairs together strips from the 1910s and 1920s, as well as some other Krazy-related ephemera."
• Plug: "Fantagraphics Books publishes one of my all-time favorites; Jason, short for John Arne Saerterøy. Jason’s animal people inhabit satirical but celebratory genre pieces. In about 50 pages, Jason’s The Last Musketeer tells the story of Athos, the last depressed musketeer in the 21st century. A meteor hits Paris, and Martians start invading. Before too long, Athos stows away to Mars to save the Martian princess in order to save Earth from total annihilation." – Victoria Elliott, The Daily Texan
As we approach the release of the 22nd and final volume of MOME, this weekend I happened to read four recent tomes that assured me that the anthology format is alive and well, present company excepted. BLACK EYE is a remarkably well-curated and lovingly packaged book by editor Ryan Standfest, featuring a host of top notch cartoonists including some MOME regulars including Al Columbia, Olivier Schrawuen, Robert Goodin, Lilli Carré, and many others. SMOKE SIGNALS is the awesome tabloid newspaper produced by Gabe Fowler of Brooklyn's Desert Island Comics; it continues to get better and better and would be worth it for new Gerald Jablonski comics alone, but there's a slew of other great stuff as well (I particularly enjoyed seeing a great, new one-pager by Marcellus Hall). LINEWORK is a relatively new endeavor, the official anthology of the cartooning students of Columbia College in Chicago, as overseen by faculty advisor Ivan Brunetti. One of the students, Nick Drnaso, also contributes to the final volume of MOME. I recommend all three of these titles to anyone eager to explore the nooks and crannies of the contemporary comix scene.
Comics fans know Conor O'Keefe best for his contributions to MOME, but his primary artistic focus is as a painter of iconography in his adopted home of the Republic of Georgia. Check out his new website devoted to these paintings.
• Review: "Of all the comics libraries I've seen, this one has by far the most complete and diverse collection of ancillary material. The intrigue of reading the earliest (1930-1931) Mickey Mouse strips (including a number written by Walt Disney himself) in restored and remastered form would have been reason enough to pick this book up, but the essays, commentaries, character sketches, and archival features all add immeasurably to one's appreciation of Gottfredson, the creator who invented the funny-animal adventure genre." – Chris Barat
• Interview:The Daily Cross Hatch's Brian Heater talks to our own Eric Reynolds about Mome, with part 1 focusing on the anthology's beginnings: "We wanted to publish more people that we weren’t really able to do, in terms of giving them book deals. Oddly enough, it seems like our production on that front really took off along with Mome, as far as publishing new people like Josh Simmons or Paul Hornschemeier, you name it. But that was essentially the reason. I was seeing more and more newer cartoonists coming out that I was interested in, but maybe didn’t have a book in them, yet. And it was really means to an end, as far as working with people that I had been admiring from afar."
• Scene:LocalBozo reports from Lou Reed's The Raven reading at the Strand bookstore last night
My old pal, Stevie Knight a.k.a. "Ribs" Weissman, seemed a bit sheepish when he first suggested contributing a series of Guns 'n' Roses-related strips to MOME 22. I would have liked to think he knew me better than that. I mean, c'mon, Steven, you had me at "Appetite for Delicatessen."
What's particularly odd is that Weissman is one of two MOME regulars who independently decided that Vol. 22 would be the right time to get their Axl Rose on. More on that later...
With only one issue left to put together, I knew going into MOME 22 that I had to make a last-ditch effort to fit in a few cartoonists that I'd been meaning to reach out to for while. Count Chuck Forsman on that list. I've been enjoying Chuck's Snake Oil comics and others for a few years now, and as such was thrilled when he jumped at the chance to do something for the final hurrah. His story, "Francis," highlights one of Forsman's unique talents: a pitch-perfect ear and eye for the 1980s. Which is a bit weird for someone who wasn't even born until 1982.
At Comic-Con in July, we'll be debuting the 22nd and final volume of MOME (that's one-half of Zak Sally's beautifully elegant wraparound cover of the issue, above). It's a bittersweet thing for me, but I couldn't be happier about how the last issue -- at 240 pages, about twice as long as any previous issue -- turned out, so when Mike Baehr suggested I do something for Flog about it, it seemed like a no-brainer. And when I decided the best way to do so would be to post some teaser images from the issue, it took me about half a second to realize where to start: Kurt Wolfgang.
Kurt has been essentially the one constant in MOME from the very first issue (along with myself, I guess), and his main contribution, the ongoing "Nothing Eve," is pretty much the standard-bearer of the kind of work that MOME was specifically designed to midwife into the world, and one of the things I'm most proud to have published in its pages. The simple, dramatic idea behind it -- If you knew the world was ending tomorrow, how would you spend your last night? -- is really just a launching point for what is essentially a charmingly funny and character-driven piece about the way people relate to each other. Kurt resists melodrama every step of the way, and the work is so much better for it.
Also, more than just about any other serial I can ever remember reading in an anthology, "Nothing Eve" functioned perfectly as a serial. In addition to crafting a completely hilarious and compelling graphic novel, Kurt has an innate knack for breaking his story down into compelling chapters that function on their own. You could easily enjoy any chapter of "Nothing Eve" without ever having read another. That's not an easy feat, and regular MOME readers were given a better experience for it.
The bad news is that MOME is ending before "Nothing Eve" ends. The good news, however, is that when "Nothing Eve" is eventually published, it will be that much more satisfying a read.
The best news is that Kurt prepared an alternative, "final" chapter for MOME 22 that is just about my favorite thing I've ever published in MOME. So for those of you who've been following "Nothing Eve" since the beginning, you're going to be rewarded with something truly special that won't end up in the eventual collection.
I'm very reluctant to tip my hand any further, but let's just say, it's right about with this four-panel sequence that shit starts to get unreal:
You can't even begin to guess where things go from here, but trust me in that I promise you won't be disappointed.
• Review: "More than anything, ...21 is a book of huge ambition and formal daring. The storytelling is kaleidoscopic, leaping from Clemente’s final game in 1972 to his childhood to his 1960s heyday and back again, with time out for portraits of both the steel city and the Caribbean island that he loved so much. But for all his overt displays of (admittedly dazzling) technique, Santiago never loses track of his story. Though it’s not an ideal starting point for readers unfamiliar with Clemente’s life and significance — the treatment is far too idiosyncratic and personal for that, though newcomers will find the extensive bibliography useful — it hangs on strong narrative threads. [...] 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente is a mammoth achievement..." – Jack Feerick, Kirkus Reviews
• Interview:Comic Book Resources' Shaun Manning talks to Jim Woodring about the Nibbus Maximus and his new graphic novel: "'The story Congress of the Animals is one I've wanted to tell for a long time. In a lot of ways it's the most personal of the Frank stories and it breaks some aspects of the Frank mold,' Woodring said. 'There's a lot going on that may not be apparent, but I operate on the theory that is, there is something there people will pick up on it even if they don't see it directly. And that if they are sufficiently interested in puzzling it out, the meaning will become apparent.'"
• Interview:The Daily Cross Hatch continues serializing the transcript of Brian Heater's MoCCA panel conversation with Peter Bagge: "I still have ideas for [Buddy] and Lisa. I always have ideas for them. But what I also told myself is that I never want to just do the same character forever. You’re fortunate if you wind up doing something that’s popular. It’s rare for a cartoonist to land on something that’s popular enough that you could do it forever. Maybe I’m projecting, but I always felt sorry for daily strip cartoonists, who — you think up the Lockhorns, and you have to do the Lockhorns forever. They must always be on the verge of suicide."
• Commentary:Robot 6's Chris Mautner takes you to "Comics College" with a reader's guide to the work of Joe Sacco: "The novelty of Sacco’s particular niche tends to obscure some of his rather significant qualities as an artist and storyteller. He’s an endlessly inventive cartoonist, capable of creating incredible detailed vistas that give readers a definitive sense of place and time. He’s capable of moving from near-photo-like realism to a Basil Wolverton-ish exaggeration that can perfectly capture, say, a sweaty, crowded night club. In short, he’s an amazingly gifted craftsman, one of the best people making comics out there today."
• Analysis: "...Prince Valiant is so lush, so rich on a panel by panel basis that I often find a nine-grid of it is just enough for the day, something that unfolds and unfolds in your head long after you've set it aside. Foster makes a world with his artwork, layering in meticulous details that are never arbitrary or belabored, always enhancing the impact of the pictures' content." – Matt Seneca, Death to the Universe
• Interview: The L.A. Times Hero Complex blog's Noelene Clark talks to Jim Woodring about his L.A. Times Book Prize-nominated Weathercraft: "Art is always so reductive, and what I have going on in my comics is so simple and relatively easy to understand compared to real life, which is infinitely complex. So it might relate to real life in the same way that a chessboard would relate to a chessboard with an infinite number of squares on it. It’s sort of similar in some ways, but it’s much, much, much, much, much simpler and reductive and easier to understand."
• Review: "The strips themselves are great. In fact, it’s a crime these aren’t more well known. These daily strips are part of why Mickey Mouse became a popular character and world famous icon. The serialized adventures are exciting and fun, establishing a real personality for Mickey beyond what was possible in the animated shorts. The book has lovingly restored these strips from the original negatives and proof sheets – each one crystal clear and absolutely beautiful. If that were all there was to this book, I’d recommend it highly. But that’s not all. Co-Editor David Gerstein has... loaded this book with over 60 pages of supplementary articles and features that are a MUST for all Disney history buffs. [...] I cannot praise this volume highly enough." – Jerry Beck, Cartoon Brew
• Review: "I had high expectations for Castle Waiting, given that the first volume was outstanding, and I wasn’t disappointed. I found Volume 2 so strong, in fact, that it was my best graphic novel of 2010. [...] I normally am not a big fan of fantasy, but here, the characters are so strong in personality, so interesting and likable, that I want to spend more time with them. [...] The true strength of Castle Waiting, though, is Medley’s gorgeous art. The characters are perfect, distinctive and expressive, and the storytelling so strong you don’t even notice it. Instead, you’re visiting with this self-created family for a while — and it’s never long enough. When I close the cover, it’s always a melancholy action, because I want more time with these people, more adventures, more humor and good-heartedness." – Johanna Draper Carlson, Comics Worth Reading
• Review: "Mome 21 bats a good average, with many stories hitting their mark and a few clearing the fences. [...] Mome plays a unique role in the world of North American alternative comics. It’s one of the only long-form, regularly published comics anthologies out there, providing a vision of novelty and variety for the future of literary comics. When the series concludes later this year, a chapter in comics history will have closed." – Ao Meng, The Daily Texan