Let's see what Online Commentary & Diversions popped up over the weekend:
• Review: "Abstract Comics: The Anthology is an impressive collection of old and new work with unique pages covering exactly what the title says... bold... intriguing... This is a book for readers who like fine art or those who would like to expand their sequential art experiences. A hearty slap on the back for Fantagraphics for choosing to create this marvelous example of a widely unknown artistic expression." - Kris Bather, Comic Book Jesus
• Review: "I had always equated [Prince] Valiant with everything that is dull and lifeless and boring and supposedly good for you, but it turns out I was completely and utterly wrong. On the contrary, it's a rip-snorting good time, full of high adventure and thrilling escapades. And Valiant, far from being the schoolmarmish goody two-shoes I imagined him being, is full of piss and vinegar and quite a bloodthirsty young chap, which makes him a good deal more interesting than some of his contemporaries on the comics page." - Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "Tales Designed to Thrizzle #5, like all the previous issues by Michael Kupperman, did not fail at thrilling or dazzling me." - Brian Cronin, Robot 6 (same link as above)
• Review: "...C. Tyler's You'll Never Know Book One: A Good and Decent Man isn't... much like any other autobio comic I've encountered... It’s a really rather fascinating work, and the longer one thinks about it, the more important and universal it seems to be. On the surface level, of course, it’s an extremely interesting, rather unique story of a couple different life’s stories, and how they overlap, but there plenty of other levels waiting to be discovered and ruminated over. I won’t be at all surprised to see this book taking slots on a lot of best of the year lists in another six months or so." - J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
• Review: "Don’t think of [The Wolverton Bible] as an exception or a bizarre footnote in religious art but one and maybe the 20th century continuation... By the end of the book, pages after pages of doom and destruction, you realize that Wolverton is maybe the only person to illustrate the The Old Testament and the Book of Revelation -- the most 'savage' books of the bible." - Are You a Serious Comic Book Reader?
• Plug: "Tales Designed to Thrizzle Vol. 1: It's the collection of the first four issues of Michael Kupperman's hilarious series, now in color! This stuff is comedy gold, so get it if you haven't read it already, and hell, spend the extra money to see the non-monochromatic version if you want." - Matthew J. Brady
• Events: Jared Gardner reports from a panel he moderated with Arnold Roth, Mort Walker and Brian Walker as part of the celebration of the merger of the International Museum of Cartoon Art with Ohio State University's Cartoon Library and Museum, adding that Jean Schulz has set up a matching grant to raise needed funds for the combined museum to move into a new permanent home
• Oddity: At Guttergeek, Chris Reilly interviews himself: "I actually am a big fan of Michael Kupperman and Eric Reynolds from Fantagraphics just sent me a copy of the hardcover Tales Designated to Thrizzle Vol. 1 and I would like to conduct this interview by commenting on the quotes of this book – would that be cool?" Um, 'kay...
I think we're all caught up on our Online Commentary & Diversions now:
• Review: "It's impossible not to love Jason's hapless cartoon characters; they're dog-faced descendants of Charlie Chaplin in that way, usually placed into situations far beyond their control or understanding... The five stories that make up Low Moon, Jason's newest collection of comics, hark back to the classic golden age of film... Each story reverberates with the little eccentricities that Jason has built a career on (instead of gunfights, the cowboys in the title story battle over long games of chess). Remarkably, none of them seem over-the-top or manipulative." - Paul Constant, The Stranger
• Review: "From Jordan Crane and Fantagraphics, Uptight #3. One of the best covers of the year and the last time, I suspect, that the guys in the crowd will read 'Back soon' and not feel that chill at the back of the neck." - Steve Duin, The Oregonian
• Review: "Sublife weaves a tighter, more focused narrative with intelligently ornate Chris Ware inspired design..." - Raina Lee, Lunch
• Review: "The current issue of theComics Journal (#297) has a wonderful in-depth interview with cartoonist Mort Walker, creator of Beetle Bailey, as well as a stable of other strips including Hi and Lois, Sam and Silo, and Boner's Ark that's a fun read." - Randy Reynaldo, WCG Comics
• Commentary: Looking at our recent spate of Special Edition releases at examiner.com, Spencer Ellsworth says "the notes, interviews and annotations give a look into some of the most innovative of the new generation of movers and shakers in the current comics renaissance."
• List: Industry news & analysis site ICv2 ranks sales of The Complete Peanuts at #3 on the list of "Top 10 Humor Properties Q1 2009"
• List: The Comics Reporter reports that at BEA a panel of librarians chose a list of "Hot Fall Graphic Novels," including our forthcoming titles Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 1 and West Coast Blues by Manchette & Tardi
• Review: "Petey & Pussy is surreal, rude, crass, crude with studied obnoxiousness, and bitterly, bitingly funny in a perfect post-modern manner... an utterly captivating world of bawdy, grown-up laughs that only the most po-faced conservative could resist. Adult fun for slacker smart-asses of all ages guaranteed to make your beer spurt out of your nose so read carefully..." - Win Wiaceck, Now Read This!
• Review: "The Humbug set from Fantagraphics is out and it's great. Fine printing and binding will keep this slipcased two-volume set looking good long after the rest of us are gone." - Harry Lee Green, Hairy Green Eyeball
• Review: "Maybe the business was too young, or maybe these characters were just a warm-up for what was to come so they didn't quite stick, but they are just as cool as any early Superman or Batman comic. The comics are all really neat to read, crude and unfiltered... So if you’re a comics fan, especially of the early stuff, this book is a must-have... [Supermen! The First Wave of Comic Book Heroes 1936-1941] is gritty and exciting, so definitely go check it out!" - Tom Hardej, CC2K
• Review: "A fantastic companion to 2007’s Fletcher Hanks retrospective I Shall Destroy All The Civilized Planets!, [Supermen!] is pure pop culture heaven... While it’s easy to see why these characters have been been consigned to the dustbin of history, there’s an undeniable charm to practically every story in here... The only problem with this book is that it leaves you wanting more..." - Kevin Church
• Review: "...Sam's Strip was an interesting comic in its own right. The phrase 'ahead of its own time' is one that's bandied about frequently when discussing it, and even now the juxtapositions within it are occasionally surreal enough to cause amusement through their sheer audacity... As small a fact as it may be, the near-flawless execution of the book helps to make it feel like more of a prestige package, a celebration of the series rather than just a cheap cash-in... [T]his straightforward but well-made collection is a thoroughly worthy purchase." - Andrew Williams, Den of Geek
• Preview: "Illustrator Nell Brinkley's women were the Roaring Twenties' answer to the aloof Gibson Girl. Curly-haired, rambunctious and more than a bit naughty, the Brinkley Girls were a national sensation..." - She's a Betty
• Preview: "For those of you familiar only with [Peter] Bagge’s Gen X tales of angry, lost youth in Hate, the realisation that Bagge has developed into an opinionated, curmudgeonly middle aged man may seem as disturbing as seeing your favourite band of your teens back on stage now they’re all 40 somethings. But there’s no need to fear -- Bagge’s middle age self displays all the angry, hilarious energy of his younger self, just with more direction and purpose. [Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me is] definitely one to look forward to." - Richard Bruton, The Forbidden Planet International Blog Log
• Interview: Amazon.com's Omnivoracious blog sat down for a chat with Jaime Hernandez at Emerald City ComiCon. Sample quote: "I like to get goofy, off-the-wall [comics], just to have a box of 50s or 60s stuff that doesn’t really make sense. You know, I like to open the box once in a while to look at it for fun stuff, inspiration. Looking at an old comic gets me excited to do comics sometimes."
• Review: "Riveting... Fingerman [is] one of the meatiest cartoonists going... Fingerman makes [Connective Tissue protagonist] Darla so smart and funny and draws so distinctively, like Daumier might for Playboy..." - Booklist (no link; from print)
• Review: "Boody... is a compilation of the wonky comics work of that overlooked genius, Boody Rogers... Rogers' quirky cartooning style is faintly reminiscent of Al Capp crossed with Basil Wolverton, and his creations are wild and strange to say the least. This is an attractive compilation, wonderfully designed by Jacob Covey, that captures the charm and feel of 1940s-era comic books." - Gary Sassaman, Innocent Bystander
• Review: "Humbug is... sumptuous... It is quite possibly the best designed book I've ever seen come out of any comics company, clean and attractive and perfectly suiting its late 1950s time period. ...[I]t's a perfect little time capsule by five cartoonists and humorists at the top of their respective games." - Gary Sassaman, Innocent Bystander (same link as above)
• Review: "Sam's Strip is a whimsical little humor strip... It's a giant in-joke, charming in its inception and invention... and again, it's one damn fine-looking book." - Gary Sassaman, Innocent Bystander (same link as above)
• Review: "Supermen! [is]... in a format (designed by the editor) that perfectly complements its source material... I'm hoping for a second volume." - Gary Sassaman, Innocent Bystander (same link as above)
• Plug: Decider previews our FCBD Love and Rockets comic: "While this teaser doesn’t feature any of the series’ most beloved characters (save superhero wannabe Penny Century), it’s still a good introduction to Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez’s blend of magical realism, goofy wit, and surprising poignancy."
This issue’s highlight is a career-spanning interview with Beetle Bailey/Hi & Lois creator Mort Walker, in which the veteran cartoonist gives you a front-row seat to post-WWII comic-strip history, with additional commentary from sons/collaborators Brian and Greg Walker, as well as fellow Sam’s Strip co-creator Jerry Dumas!
Also: A conversation with Alan’s War author Emmanuel Guilbert (complete with a preview of his new graphic novel, The Photographer); a generous comics section featuring the work of pioneering British cartoonist Thomas Rowlandson, introduced with an essay on the artist’s life by Art Young; R.C. Harvey on the comics of Happy Hooligan creator Frederick Burr Opper; John A. Lent explores the world of Kenyan comics; reviews of Osamu Tezuka's Black Jack, Jonathan Lethem's Omega the Unknown and Noel Sickles's Scorchy Smith; and much more!
Naturally, we’ve got free previews at TCJ.com — here are excerpts from R.C. Harvey’s interview with Mort Walker, Matthias Wivel’s conversation with Emmanuel Guilbert, and Kent Worcester’s review of two anthologies, the Lynda Barry-edited The Best American Comics 2008 and the Ivan Brunetti-edited An Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons, and True Stories Vol. 2.
• Review: Poopsheet praises Petey & Pussy by John Kerschbaum, noting the "deeply weird cast" of characters, the "unpredictable plots in which everybody winds up humiliated and covered in one horrible substance or other, which is just what they all deserve. All this is, of course, very, very funny. John is a ninja of comedy timing," and a story moment that "makes you happy to read comics."
• Reviews: Andrew Wheeler rounds up a lot of books, including Willie & Joe: The WWII Years by Bill Mauldin ("Not just one of the best books of comics to come out last year, not even one of the best books to come out in 2008, but an excellent, essential, carefully-designed work of real historical importance and vital art... a great monument to one of the best cartoonists of the 20th century"; Petey & Pussy by John Kerschbaum ("Another one of those books that makes me laugh out loud and then feel guilty about it; this is probably offensive to many people, disgusting to more, but uncomfortably funny for nearly all of us... The stories are drawn in a tight, clean style, and are full of things I don't want to describe on the open Internet. I laughed a lot; I'll admit that"); Fuzz & Pluck: Splitsville by Ted Stearn ("...like Mark Beyer's Amy + Jordan, only much better drawn and with a coherent story"); The Maakies with the Wrinkled Knees by Tony Millionaire ("grotesquely gorgeous art"); and The Last Musketeer by Jason ("a wry and very entertaining story")
• Review: Stripper's Guide on Jerry Dumas & Mort Walker's Sam's Strip: "...one of the most delightful and intellectually daring strips that ever appeared in newspapers... And Fantagraphics has done it up in a perfect package. The reproduction quality is top-notch, and they've given us a superb bonus -- a section of annotations by Jerry Dumas and Brian Walker... if you are a comic strip fan and you don't have this book on your shelf then there is something really wrong with you. Seriously. Go buy the book."
• List: Ben Towle names some favorites from 2008 including Most Outrageous by Bob Levin ("...fascinating... a fantastic book..."); Petey & Pussy by John Kerschbaum ("What more can I say? This book’s #%&*in’ hilarious. Oh, I guess this: it’s also beautifully drawn."); and Fuzz & Pluck: Splitsville by Ted Stearn ("beautiful")
• Review: For Robot 6's "What Are You Reading?" column, guest contributor Kevin Church says of Sam's Strip, "It was either going to be the biggest success in the world or end within two years. Since it’s all collected in one volume now, you can likely work out how it went down."
• Review: Las Vegas Weekly gives Sam's Strip 4 stars: "How on earth did Sam's Strip... fail to set the funny pages on fire back in 1961...? The answer -- provided through this complete collection of 500 strips -- is that the time just wasn't right. Well, it's certainly right now."
• Review: Thought Balloonist Charles W. Hatfield examines Bottomless Belly Button by Dash Shaw: "Shaw is very good and getting better... With Bottomless Belly Button he has pulled off something remarkable: a 700-plus page book that doesn't feel like a stunt but rather is perfectly proportioned, intimate, and subtle, a privileged entryway into a private world that nonetheless feels universal in its emotive resonance and applicability... Bottomless Belly Button has depths. It evokes the power of memory and the phenomenal richness of ordinary experience with the sort of Proustian precision of observation and recall that alternative comics have been chasing since Spiegelman."
• Review: The title of The Washington Post's Express Night Out review of The Complete Peanuts 1971-1972 makes what is surely the first reference to Spin¨al Tap in a Peanuts review. From the review: "[These] volumes... are a spectacular tribute to Schulz's work... References to Bob Dylan's age aside (one strip mentions his 30th birthday — yikes!), Peanuts remains surprisingly fresh and timeless. Although Charles Schulz wrote these strips over 20 years ago, the ongoing popularity of the made-for-TV holiday specials... means that the Peanuts gang continue to remain relevant in popular culture. It would be a pity, however, to relegate Peanuts to special occasions only — Schulz's work should and can be enjoyed all year round."
• Review: Sacha Peet says "I finally read Unlovable by Esther Pearl Watson the other day. I love it. The drawings are great, and the life of Tammy Pierce is enthralling."
Now available for preview and pre-order: the 297th issue of The Comics Journal, featuring extensive interivews with Beetle Bailey and Hi and Lois creator (and Sam's Strip writer) Mort Walker and French artist Emmanuel Guibert (Alan's War). Plus a gallery of art by pioneering caricaturist Thomas Rowlandson, reviews and many more features. Check out the full table of contents here and in the preview slideshow photo & video slideshow preview embedded below. Click here if it is not visible, and/or to view it larger in a new window (recommended).
• Review: The A.V. Club "Comics Panel" likes Mome Vol. 14, saying of two featured stories, "Both [Dash Shaw and Lilli Carré] combine striking illustration with a nuanced sense of place and character for a winning mix of the classic and the progressive."
• Review: Italian site Il Sole 24 Ore says our collection of Mort Walker & Jerry Dumas's Sam's Strip is "exceptional... As always, the presentation of Fantagraphics is superb and worth sharing," according to the Google translation
• Review: Bookgasm says of Supermen!: "...any self-respecting comics fan is going to eat [these stories] up like a Saturday-morning bowl of sugared cereal … and slurp up any leftover milk. If there’s a better gift of comics history this year… well, I’d no doubt fall in love with that one, too... Fantagraphics has done an amazing job in assembling this unique and colorful curio."
• Review: Comics Worth Reading gives "a big tip of the hat to the fine folks at Fantagraphics for getting Sam's Strip back into print after all these decades. As usual, they have spared no expense in putting together a visually excellent package... If you ever had more than a passing interest in newspaper strips, you owe it to yourself to check out this collection."
• History: In his Savage Critics post about "vaporware" comics projects culled from the pages of mid-1980s Amazing Heroes Preview Specials, Douglas Wolk digs up our never-produced Alan Moore anthology series and a choice quote from Kim Thompson
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