The fantastically newest Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review: Over at Read About Comics, Greg McElhatton cracks open a copy of Lewis Trondheim's newest English translation. "Ralph Azham Vol. Oneis a nice little surprise; what initially looks cute and fun is dark and enjoyable, and Trondheim’s gradual reveals of the story’s contents are strong enough that it makes reading the next volume a must. . . I’m definitely back for Book Two; this was a great deal of fun."
• Interview (audio): Robin McConnell of the Inkstuds podcast interviews Noah Van Sciver on The Hypo and his newest work online, Saint Cole on The Expositor.
• Interview:AV Club caught up with Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez during this year, the 30th Anniversary of Love and Rockets! Jaime could not see a future without Love and Rockets: "The only thing I can see in the future is I picture Love And Rockets number whatever way down the road and they have to explain: 'This special issue, Jaime died halfway through doing it. So there’s going to be some pages with just pencils on it and some blank pages. But we thought we owed it to him to finish it, to print it.' A half-issue and then, well, that’s it."
• Review: Steven Heller writes about Dal Tokyo by Gary Panter on The Atlantic: "Dal Tokyo might best be seen as a combination of nightmare, daydream, ramble, and sketch, with a decided stream-of-consciousness tone, which is not unlike Panter's own Texas lilting manner when talking. In fact, for all its eccentricity, Dal Tokyo is akin to a Texas tall tale."
• Plug (video): The short film Objects of Our Desire focuses on the project Significant Objects as part of the The Future of Story Telling series. The book is edited by Joshua Glenn and Rob Walker. “Stories are the foundation of what we do everyday,” Richelle Parham, the vice president and chief marketing officer of eBay.
• Review:Read About Comics and Greg McElhatton looked at Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge: Only a Poor Old Man by Carl Barks. "The more I see of Barks’ comics, the more I kick myself for having taken this long to read them. . . If you haven’t experienced Barks’ Duck comics yourself, I think this is a great a place as any to begin. Definitely check it out for yourself. Highly recommended."
• Review:Blog Critics's Sixy Minute Manga reviews and summarizes Shimura Takako's Wandering Son Vol. 2. Lesley Aeschliman states ". . . the more minimal and simplistic art works for the story being told in this series. . . I would recommend this manga series to readers who have an appreciation for literature that concerns LGBT issues."
• Review (audio):Deconstructing Comics podcast spend the full hour discussing A Drunken Dream and Other Stories. Tim Young and Kumar Sivasubramanian argue and agree on Moto Hagio's work in the book with stories that "dwelt on not fitting in, losing what you love, and other themes that could be depressing, but were usually expressed in innovative and compelling ways."
•Review: Gene Ambaum of Unshelved enjoys his read of Wilfred Santiago's 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente. Ambaum says, "I was intrigued how the author would fit his life story into a brief, illustrated book. It emphasized the major events that shaped his life, and the powerful, stark images made me feel like I experienced the tragic and poignant moments."
• Commentary:ComicBooked talks about the 90s and Fantagraphics' place within the context of pushing out music and the amazing album art of Charles Burns, Daniel Clowes and Peter Bagge.
Our production department has been cranking away and all the rest of our books coming out in 2012 (and one for next year) are now at the printer. I have a bunch of new cover images and excerpts to share, so let's take a peek, shall we?
The fresh-popped Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review:Publishers Weekly discusses The Hypo by Noah Van Sciver, "Van Sciver’s psychologically astute examination of what might be termed Abraham Lincoln’s “lost years” (1837–1842) is as gripping and persuasive as the best historical fiction. . .This characterization of Lincoln is thoroughly human and identifiable, tracking a shadowy but formative period in the very uneven life of a man who shows little signs of becoming known as one of the greatest Americans. A thoroughly engaging graphic novel that seamlessly balances investigation and imagination." Wow!
• Plug: Noah Van Sciver's diary comics are showing up at The Comics Journal. Enjoy Day #1, Day #2 and Day #3.
• Plug:Comics Alliance JUMPED at the chance to be the first to comment on Naked Cartoonists. Senior writer Chris Sims comments, "Have you ever wanted to see Dilbert creatorScottAdams naked? Yeah, we haven't either, but apparently [Gary Groth] thought that was a good idea . . . joining artists like Will Eisner, For Better Or For Worsecreator Lynn Johnston, Jeff Smith (feel free to make your own Bone joke here) and . . . legendary MAD artist Sergio Aragones."
• Review:The Mary Sue names Moto Hagio's A Drunken Dream and Other Stories one of the 10 Feminist Manga to Read, that is licensed in the USA. Kellie Foxx-Gonzalez says,"Hagio is not only a storyteller, she is undoubtedly a feminist author, using her manga to explore gender, power, and women’s issues. If extended metaphors in manga as an avenue to explore philosophical questions is as appealing to you as it is to me, please, don’t hesitate to pick up this anthology."
• Commentary: Shannon O'Leary of Publishers Weekly says,". . . with No Straight Lines , the most definitive collection of queer comics to date, [Justin] Hall and Fantagraphics have made the voluminous but largely hidden history of LBGT (lesbian, bi-sexual, gay, transgender) comics finally visible as well."
• Review:The Awl and Kim O'Connor talk about autobio comics and include such underground greats like Aline Kominsky Crumb, Carol Tyler in addition to Chris Ware and Joe Sacco. While on the subject of Aline: "An important part of her project was to promote self-loathing as normal and even funny in an era when to do so was extremely unfashionable." O'Connor touched on the rawness of Chris Ware's work,"there's this sense of playful geometry that's deeply satisfying, even if it sometimes gives you the impression the artist's memory palace looks a lot like the Container Store. But the central delight in reading Jimmy Corrigan, as in all of Ware's work, is how it's painfully awkward and incredibly cool at the same time."
• Review: Rob Clough on the High-Low reviews Jim Woodring's Congress of the Animals: ". . . is interesting because it's much more linear a narrative than most of his comics.. . .Unlike the typical Frank story, there's a greater sense of urgency to Frank's wanderings, as he encounters many temptations and pitfalls along his journey to a destination unknown to even him."
• Review:The Critcal Mob released their short list of summer reads and a few Fantagraphics titles made the cut. Paul Guie looks at Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons: "O'Connor's artwork is frequently abstract and raw-looking. . .Nevertheless, her cartoons are always pleasing to look at thanks to the author's strong sense of composition. Panels are rarely cluttered by unnecessary lines, and O'Connor frequently frames her characters with an eye toward visual balance." Peanuts latest volume is also on Guie's radar: ". . . these later comics remain consistently witty and entertaining, and reflect Schulz's continued mastery of comedic timing within a four-panel layout.. . .Consistently subtle yet always timely, after 30 years, Schulz still had a winning formula on his hands." Last but not least, Guie takes Buddy Does Seattle to the beach,"Bagge's artwork [takes] the public's perception of '90s youth as angry and volatile and pushed it to hysterical levels. Heavily influenced by late-'60s counterculture cartoonists like Crumb, Bagge's drawings are fluid and grimy-looking, with frequent use of exaggerated facial expressions helping to cultivate an atmosphere of chaos."
• Commentary: Best Cover EVER on Forbidden Planet according to Richard: "The absolute iconic image. The raw power. Jaime’s incredible use of black in his art. The faces of the crowd. The stagediver (in heels) who’s just left the stage. But most of all, it’s the best comic cover ever because I swear that I’ve never looked at this cover and NOT heard the music they’re playing." The next best thing for Richard? Buying the new shirt featuring the cover of Issue 24.
• Plug:Comics Alliance and Caleb Goellner collect the most recent Adventure Time covers. James Hindle PLAYS an homage to Jaime Hernandez's distinctive cover. Check it out!
• Review:io9 recently created a list of the 10 Comic Characters Cooler than Batman. Jaime Hernandez's Maggie (the Mechanic) and Jacques Tardi's Adele Blanc-Sec topped the list. "Maggie is a survivor, who never stops kicking ass even she's dealing with depression and heartbreak." says Charlie Jane Anders and in reference to Adele Blanc-Sec:"She's a writer in pre-World War I Paris, which automatically makes her cool. . . She's not afraid to shoot guns, drink the hard stuff, or smoke like a man. She spent World War I in cryogenic suspension and then rocked the 1920s."
• Plug:The Last Vispo's editor Nico Vassilakis recently curated an online group of visual artists called Ten Turkish Visual Poets at Trickhouse.
• Interview: The powerful and deft Friedman brothers were interviewed about Any Similarity to Persons Living or Dead is Purely Coincidental by William Michael Smith of the Houston Press. Josh Alan Friedman talks about his brother's artwork,"Originally [Drew Friedman] worked with stippling technique, using a rapidograph pen. Bent over a desk like a watchmaker, doing thousands of dots. A technique made famous by 'Sunday in the Park with Georges' Seurat, but strictly shunned by art schools in the 20th century."
• Plug: Ron Regé, Jr. is up to something sneaky! At We Can Do It.
The newest, brightest bulb Online Commentaries & Diversions:
•Review: Sarah Hansen of Autostraddle looks at No Straight Lines. "I like my queer comic anthologies like I like my women. Handy AND beautiful. . .What No Straight Lines really achieves is putting all of these influential comics in one place. Together, they contextualize each other and the LGBTQ scene at the same time."
•Review:Paste's 'breeder' journalist Sean Edgar cracks open No Straight Lines and has a baller time. "The work in this book illustrates a sweeping chronology of our generation’s greatest civil conflict with all of the tears and smiles that follow. It’s a fascinating read and an essential perspective historically and socially. Even if you’re a breeder."
•Commentary:Publishers Weekly's coverage of Comic Con International in San Diego is THOROUGH. Shannon O'Leary talks up No Straight Lines. " . . .Hall focused on collecting 'literary queer comics in danger of being lost' with the focus instead on literary, self-contained works that would give the reader the experience of being 'satisfied' with each of the stories."
•Review: From the Librairie Drawn and Quarterly Bookstore, Jade reviews her six years of love for Love and Rockets, including keeping the store stocked with them."After all these years, the Hernandez Brothers continue to knock it out of the park with some of the best work in the industry."
•Commentary: Heidi MacDonald runs down the things that stuck out to her at Comic-Con in San Diego. The 30th Anniversary of Love and Rockets was a big one featured on THE BEAT. "While Los. Bros didn’t get the skywriting and theme park they deserved, they got a lot of love, and that will last longer. . . .We’ll give the final word to Jamie Hernandez, because he is the final word."
•Commentary: Eisner Award winner, Charles Hatfield, writes at Hand of Fire speaks about the Hernandez Brothers at Comic-Con International. "I love L&R, and credit it for keeping me in comics as a grownup. Great, great work."
•Plug: Longtime Love and Rockets reader, Robert Boyd, created a long and annotated list of the music found in the thirty-year series. "Each brother does his own very different stories, but both were (and presumably still are) punk rock fanatics and music lovers in general. This is reflected in their work."
•Plug: Sean T. Collins was spotted sporting the newest Love and Rockets shirts on television while discussing the tragic events of Aurora, CO.
•Review:Shelfari picked up two of our titles for the Graphic Novel Friday. Alex Carr starts with Joe Daly's Dungeon Quest Vol. 3: "if you can laugh at your obsession while still poring over weapon and armor upgrades, the Dungeon Quest series should be on your couch next to the game manual and open laptop. . .It's absurd, engrossing, very adult, and pitch perfect." On Jaime Hernandez's God and Science: Return of the Ti-Girls, "It's oversized and billed as a director's cut,ť with 30 additional pages."
•Interview: Timothy Callahan over at Comic Book Resources got the shimmy on new(er) cartoonist, Chuck Forsman, who has two books out next year from Fantagraphics: Celebrated Summer and The End of the Fucking World. "While at Forsman's studio, I saw the finished pages for 'Celebrated Summer' and it's such a fully-realized work, it's no surprise [Associate Publisher Eric] Reynolds was so quick to jump on it, even after seeing only a few pages."
•Commentary: The Best-Manga-Worst Manga panel of 2012 Comic-Con International has transcribed their views a la Deb Aoki at About.com. Shimura Takako's Wandering Son falls into the BEST MANGA (series) for Kids/Teens. Shaenon Garrity said, "I picked this as best manga for kids, but it's really a great manga for everybody. . . It's done in such a beautiful, sensitive way." Meanwhile, The Heart of Thomas by Moto Hagio is one of the Most Anticipated. Garrity again states, "Moto Hagio is probably the greatest manga artist after Osamu Tezuka. . . It's one of the two manga stories that practically invented the boys' love genre, along with Keiko Takemiya's Song of the Wind and Trees.
•Review:Jazz-Institute covers Listen, Whitey!: The Sights and Sounds of Black Poewr 1965-1975 and via a rough translation, Wolfram Knauer says, "Pat Thomas's book is a very valuable addition to the musical history of the 1960s and 1970s, precisely because the author attempts to establish and explain the political context. The coffee-table book is generously illustrated with album covers, rare photos, newspaper articles, and ads. A thorough index and a separately available CD with examples of the music mentioned in the text complete the concept."
•Review: Forbidden Planet makes people choose their eight favorite comics should they ever end up on the dreaded desert island. Some of those books included E.C. Segar's Popeye and Daniel Clowes' Twentieth Century Eightball. Across-the-pond artist Steve Tillotson states, "The Fantagraphics collections are great, and the character of Popeye is brilliant- I like how he just punches anyone who pisses him off, but he’s also got a really strong sense of morality, and he talks funny."
•Plug: Did you know Carl Barks was unknown for the first 16 years of his work on Disney comics? He was merely known as the good Disney artist, more on THE BEAT and MetaFilter.
• Review: "Josh Simmons' book The Furry Trap is truly disturbing in its depravity. Makes Ultra Gash Inferno look cute. An inspiring & exhilarating read! How many comics can you honestly say made you sick or upset when you read them? Furry Trap made me question the First Amendment at times." – Sammy Harkham
• Review: "By this point, the reader will know if [Dungeon Quest] is their cup of tea; anyone who enjoys alt-comics takes on fantasy and/or stoner humor will find this a sheer delight. I'd say the sheer level of craftsmanship and the way Daly shifts storytelling modes so quickly would at least interest other readers, especially those who enjoy deadpan absurdism, since that's the core of Daly's sense of humor. For the continuing fan of this series, Daly continues to raise the stakes in each volume and adds richness and depth for those who are looking for more detail. Above all else, he does for the reader what he does with his party: he keeps things moving even when his characters are navel-gazing." – Rob Clough, High-Low
• Review: "...Moto Hagio has more on her agenda than simply trotting out tired 'girly' storylines. Her protagonists struggle with loss, rejection, and insecurity in a manner sure to strike readers as honest and familiar, never reductive or patronizing.... The stories collected here [in A Drunken Dream] span 31 years of Hagio’s career and, while the later stories do seem a bit looser and more confident, the earlier stories certainly don’t suffer by comparison." – Andrew Fuerste-Henry, No Flying No Tights
• Review: "Boasting [Fantagraphics'] usual high-production values and showcasing the genesis of the indie comics icon, [Usagi Yojimbo, Book 1:] The Ronin is a meticulously curated artifact of comics history.... The book is worth buying for the art alone. Sharply reproduced on gratifyingly durable stock, the quality of the lines leap out from the page even in these early stories." – Abhimanyu Das, Slant Magazine
• Profile: At Comic Book Resources, Shaun Manning talks to Nicolas Mahler about his superhero spoof Angelman: "Mahler said he does not have an in-depth knowledge of the major events and storylines [in superhero comics] of recent years, but said he is still familiar with the culture. 'I think my point of view is very '80s, that is when I stopped reading them,' he said. 'After that, I only have very superficial information. I know more about the fanboys, actually. I enjoy the scene around superheroes more than the stories themselves. I like it when people take this very seriously, and can debate endlessly about little faults in a superhero's universe."'
• Interview: Following an introduction in his native Greek, Comicdom's Tomas Papadimitropoulos posts his untranslated (i.e. English) Q&A with Hans Rickheit: "I am compelled to draw these comics.... These stories follow a certain pattern of logic that makes sense to me. I don’t have the vocabulary to explain how it works, that is why I draw them as comic strips."
• Interview:The A.V. Club's Keith Phipps has a great Q&A with Daniel Clowes: "I can look at my early work and see what a pained struggle it was to draw what I was drawing. I was trying so hard to get this specific look that was in my head, and always falling short. I could see the frustration in the lines, and I remember my hand being tensed and redrawing things a thousand times until I finally inked it, and just having this general tense anxiety about every drawing. I think that comes through in the artwork, and gives it this certain kind of manic energy, this kind of repressed energy, so you feel like it’s sort of bursting at the seams or something."
• Interview (Audio):Daniel Clowes sits down for a chat on Bay Area NPR station KQED's Forum with host Michael Krasny
• Video: Via Meltdown Comics and Boing Boing, a charming short film by Rocío Mesa about a couple of dedicated Daniel Clowes fans
• Plug: "...[W]e recommend checking out Love and Rockets Library: The Complete Vol. 1 from Fantagraphics, which collects every issue of the landmark alt-comic series between 1982 and 1996. In Love and Rockets, Gilbert and his brother Jaime Hernandez wrote stories ranging from satire to political intrigue, and introduced such noteworthy characters as Luba, the temperamental, full-figured mayor of a Central American village, and Maggie Chascarrillo, a punk rock-loving Mexican girl who becomes a solar mechanic. ...[T]here's no better time to become a Los Bros Hernandez zombie than right now." – Phil Guie, Critical Mob
"This book is considered a pioneering example of shonen-ai (boys’ love), often referred to as yaoi in the United States. In a German boarding school, young Thomas Werner kills himself because of unrequited love for a schoolmate, who is in fact in love with Thomas, but secretly. Unpacking the emotional threads among the boys and their fellows leads to a sophisticated and beautifully drawn melodrama."
"Herewith a color and black-and-white sampler from a less-recognized underground of gay comics from the past four decades, including Bechdel and Cruse, Europe’s Ralf Koenig, and 2011 ALA keynote speaker Dan Savage (Savage Love; The Kid; It Gets Better). Fantagraphics promises 'smart, funny, and profound' — and uncensored."
"A serious yet sweet fifth-grade drama about several boys and girls who want to change their gender. Unlike many manga involving boy/girl reversals, this one does not play gender issues for laughs, even if gentle comedy enters the picture along with serious emotional drama."
• Review: "The seventeenth volume of this great series from Fantagraphics [The Compete Peanuts] is just as delightful as all the rest. Yes, the ink line of Charles Schulz is a little wobbly at times, but his humor is just as sharp as ever.... I’ve said it before, but if you want reading material that will make you smile and laugh it’s hard to beat this series. And I’m continuing to admire the subtle and classy cover designs by Seth. Highly recommended." – Todd Klein
• Interview: At The Art Newspaper, Sarah Douglas chats with Robert Crumb about his museum retrospective show in Paris: "The contemporary fine art world has never particularly interested me. They started to embrace me and have big fancy gallery shows and museum shows. I’m one of the few cartoonists who mainly work for print who is now finding their way into the fine art world, and it’s the choice of the fine art world; it’s not my choice. I haven’t consciously promoted myself in that world."
• Commentary: At The Comics Journal, R. Fiore uses Mark Kalesniko's graphic novel Freeway as a springboard to discuss the history of American animation: "The eponymous metaphor of Mark Kalesniko’s Freeway is almost too easy: A transportation network that once granted free and effortless mobility that’s become a morass of stagnation and frustration to symbolize an animation business that promised personal expression amid camaraderie but delivers forced mediocrity in an atmosphere of Machiavellian backbiting. Condemned to a purgatorial traffic jam, Kalesniko’s dog-headed alter ego Alex grinds his teeth to reminiscences about his thwarted career, potentially idyllic but presently in-law plagued romance, and his abortive first expedition into Los Angeles, intermixed with idealized visions of animation’s golden age and premonitions of [SPOILER REDACTED – Ed.]."
• Commentary: "I’d love to see Locas become a well-made animated television series, because I feel like Jaime Hernandez’ work deserves the widest-possible audience. But is such an idea messing with a classic that doesn’t need such 'help'?" – Graeme McMillan, Spinoff Online
We were extremely pleased to learn over the weekend that Moto Hagio (creator of A Drunken Dream and Other Stories and the forthcoming The Heart of Thomas, among many other works) has been awarded the Purple Ribbon Medal of Honor by the government of Japan for her contributions to the arts. "Hagio is the 14th manga creator and the first female manga-ka to receive this award," reports Deb Aoki at About.com Manga, who has the complete story and background courtesy our own manga editor/translator, Matt Thorn (pictured below with Hagio-sensei at the Japan Cartoonist Association award ceremony last June).
• Review: "...[C]urrent fans of the [Zippy] strip are in for a surprise, a shock, and, ultimately, a major treat, when they pick up Griffith's new career retrospective, Lost and Found: Comics 1969-2003... The journey from these energy-packed, overstuffed, unpolished early comics to the elegant masterwork of the present is a journey greater than that of Gary Trudeau with Doonesbury or Charles Schultz with Peanuts.... His early reign as an oversexed adolescent-minded wiseacre gives way to a long golden afternoon of wry and wistful philosophizing, with frequent salient eruptions of deserved ire and malice toward all!" – Paul Di Filippo, The Barnes & Noble Review
• Interview: At Literary Kicks, Alan Bisbort talks to Bill Griffith about his career-spanning collection Lost and Found: "When I put this new collection together, Fantagraphics had been trying to get me to do this book for about ten years. When they first suggested it, they wanted some of the early, pre-Zippy work, along with the other non-Zippy work of more recent years. But I told them at first that 'that stuff has got to be hidden. Maybe when I’m dead someone can bring it out' but then over a period of time I grew to accept my arc, so to speak, whatever my arc is."
• Review: "Wandering Son... is a measured, sensible and sensitive series... Part of Wandering Son's hook is a distanced view at discomfort with one's own body. The manga is written to evoke the feeling of being ill at ease in one's own skin, such that everyone who has went through puberty can sympathize with these characters, regardless of their own relationship with sexual identity issues. I'm not so sure how particularly, generally appealing the prospect of reliving those feeling may be, but that sort of identification is a crucial part of what makes Wandering Son a superlatively fascinating manga.... Though it may or may not be an effective mirror to our own lives, it has its reader thinking about everything, both small and significant, [that] shape[s] us. As a result, Wandering Son proves to be deeply involving in an unconventional way." – Scott Green, Ain't It Cool News
• Review: "[The Life and Death of Fritz the Cat]'s beautifully drawn, even the earliest material. Fritz’s face is as expressive as all get-out, though you may be surprised at how dainty Crumb’s line is mid-period. One thing, however, remains consistent throughout and once more it’s Winston who hits the juvenile nail on its dream-addled, sex-obsessed head. 'Oh you’re such a child! Such a self-centred, egotistical child!'" – Stephen L. Holland, Page 45
• Review: "I believe that the Drunken Dream collection of stories lays the groundwork for measuring all of the wonderful components of girls’ comics. It’s a heck of a yardstick, I’ll tell you that.... It’s impossible to read through these panels and not feel your own life in them — and that’s why Hagio is such a brilliant writer. Shoujo manga is all about feelings, and Hagio is the master of feelings. The Queen of Feelings. THE EMPRESS OF FEELINGS.... I had never heard of the 24 Year Group before reading this anthology, but I feel like my life has been dramatically enriched by this collection. I want to buy three copies of it so that I can loan 2 to new people and have a back up loan copy for the eventual time when one of them gets stolen." – NOVI Magazine
• Commentary: At The Creators Project, Emerson Rosenthal talks to our own Larry Reid for an article on "the rise of DIY publishing and the revival of the printed word": "'The "Great Recession" forced us to get better with design if anything […] what you’re getting is a better looking book, more sustainable, and cheaper on the shelf. If anything, it’s a better product,' says Reid. 'At the same time, the self-bound ‘zine is definitely on the rebound.'"
• List: Moto Hagio's The Heart of Thomas tops Deb Aoki's list of the Most-Anticipated New Manga of 2012 at About.com Manga: "This 3-volume story from 1974 has been on many manga connoisseur's wish lists for years, so it's a real joy to see that Fantagraphics will be publishing the entire saga in English in one volume."
• List/Review:Manga Worth Reading's Johanna Draper Carlson ranks Wandering Son the #2 Best New Manga of 2011 and recommends Volume 2 in her review: "Shimura Takako’s young figures are adorable. They look unspoiled, with their future ahead of them, which puts their struggles into greater relief.... Translator Matt Thorn’s essay at the back of this volume addresses the issue of being 'Transgendered in Japan' directly, providing valuable information on cultural context, as well as warning us that the children’s lives may be very difficult in years (and stories) to come. There is no more handsome manga than Fantagraphics’ presentation of Wandering Son."
• List:Forbidden Planet International asks comics creator Martin Eden his 3 favorite comics of 2011: "My attention had been waning a bit with the Love and Rockets comics, and then 2010′s Love and Rockets [New Stories] 3 came out and it blew my mind – it was one of the most incredible things I’ve ever read. So much so, that I found myself re-reading the entire series and tracking down all the issues I’d missed. This year’s Love and Rockets[New Stories] 4... was still utterly mind-blowing, and Jaime Hernandez is producing the best work he’s ever done, in my opinion."
• Review: "One of comics revered masters gets a fresh new reprinting [Walt Disney's Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes ] worthy of his work and accessible to kids.... This volume finds [Barks] at a creative peak, combining the bold adventuring of Tintin with the wisely cynical view of human weakness of John Stanley.... Donald is an everyman of frustration whose life is one big Chinese finger trap—the harder he fights, the harder the world fights back.... Despite the dark undertones, the comic expressions and dialogue is still laugh-out-loud funny. A wonderful project that should put Barks’s name in front of new generations of admirers." – Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
• Review: "This exceptional first volume of the collected adventures of Pogo Possum should remind readers of the substantial legacy left behind by Kelly.... The volume is beautifully put together, including excellent insights into Kelly and his work... One only needs to get a short way into the adventures of Pogo and his pals in Okefenokee Swamp to recognize the impact Pogo has had on so many cartoonists... With Pogo Possum and [his] supporting characters..., Kelly was able to blend hilarious humor, exceptional storytelling, keen political satire, and brilliant wordplay into a strip that could be appreciated both by children and adults. The more one reads this volume, the clearer picture one has of Kelly as comics’ answer to Lewis Carroll, with Alice having changed into a possum and left Wonderland behind for a swamp." – Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
• Review: "The Art of Joe Kubert contains extensive commentary by Bill Schelly that contextualizes Kubert's work with the development of comics as a medium. ...[I]t's an informative and briskly engaging essay. In reviewing the vast panorama of Kubert's eight-decade career, The Art of Joe Kubert allows readers previously unfamiliar with the artist to share an appreciation of his abiding interest in human nature (as opposed to just superhero theatrics) through a surprising variety of storytelling styles and subject matter. Kubert's great influence on other cartoonists came from the way he embraced the comics medium as a whole, instead of just a particular niche or character type." – Casey Burchby, SF Weekly
• Interview:The A.V. Club's Sam Adams chats with Jack Davis: "I’ve said this many a time; I’ll tell it again. When I was going to kindergarten, and that’s a very young age, my mother used to walk me to school. I would go up past a chain gang — that was the old days when the prisoners wore stripes and everything — and I saw that. I would go to kindergarten, and they’d put a piece of construction paper in front of me, and crayons, and I did, probably, a stick figure, but I put stripes on him. And from that, they thought I had talent. My mother thought I was great. And from then, I’ve always drawn. Drawn pictures. I love to draw cartoons."
• Interview:Nerve gets sex advice from a trio of cartoonists including Rick Altergott — "If you want to talk about inking brushes or pens or what kind of paper or even something as broad as 'who's your favorite cartoonist?' 'Do you know Robert Crumb?' 'Do you know the Hernandez brothers?' Once you get the answer, you can fine-tune it from there. Before you know it, you're probably going to end up in bed." — and Anders Nilsen
• Plugs: The fine folks at L.A.'s Secret Headquarters are posting their staff gift suggestions: Julie recommends Leslie Stein's Eye of the Majestic Creature ("Good for: Anyone with an overactive imagination; fans of whimsy and good times") and Malachi suggests The Cabbie Vol. 1 by Martí ("A European (and comically sordid) take on the American crime genre") and Walt Kelly's Pogo Vol. 1 ("The essential collection of Pogo – A comic that expertly integrates social satire into the daily newspaper format")
• Review/Interview: "Leslie Stein is a pretty lady who made a comic [Eye of the Majestic Creature] in which she is a cute/gross little humanoid with eyes that are like coins and a best friend who is a guitar. Her comical alter ego is named Larry Bear and her guitar's name is Marshy. They live in a house in a field, but it's pretty clear that almost everything they experience is some joked-up fantasized autobiographical story. It's hard to know what's based on reality and what isn't, and which characters are based on real folks and which are just supposed to be Leslie's internal feelings personified.... Leslie's work communicates an urban loneliness that I relate to a lot, seeing as we live in the same place. It's cute and sad and familiar, especially if you're 30 or under." – Nick Gazin, who also talks to Leslie at Vice: "I think for the most part she represents the lighter side of my personality. I'm happy when I'm drawing and I hope that comes across through her on the page, in whatever situation she is in. She dresses a bit weirder than I do, so that's fun. I'm not really a shy person, but I feel like I'm constantly embarrassing myself. She doesn't have that self-consciousness."
• Review: "Post-apocalyptic stories tend to be grim, but The Hidden is very dark indeed.... The book feels like a modern-day gothic horror. The survivors are metaphors for humanity, with a heroic few battling an onslaught of monsters, human or otherwise. Humanity is on the brink of extinction, and still people bring out the worst in one another.... Sala’s illustration is compelling... ★★★★ [out of 5]" – Grovel
• Review: "[Kevin] Avery’s book, Everything Is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson, is an admirably unorthodox construction that starts with a bracing 180-page biography of Paul followed by a 265 page collection of Nelson’s music writing, primarily that from the seventies focusing on the artists he was particularly drawn to.... What’s impressive about Avery’s biographic half of the book is that he’s produced both an intimate personal bio and a comprehensive professional bio as well. He’s talked to virtually everyone who Nelson inspired or mentored in rock criticism starting in the latter half of the sixties and into the Rolling Stone years. These knuckleheads are a who’s who of American rock criticism, God help us." – Joe Carducci (SST Records, Rock and the Pop Narcotic), The New Vulgate
• Review: "I was looking forward to this new book [Setting the Standard] a/ because it's Alex Toth and b/ because it reprints 60 stories, Toth's entire contribution to the catalogue of a long defunct publisher whose material we rarely see reprinted.... Toth's work has long been admired for its distilled simplicity of black and white design, but these early pages fizz and bubble with life.... The book under discussion is from Fantagraphics, with the original printed pages restored in all their colours by Greg Sadowski, who put the whole package together with extensive notes..." – Eddie Campbell (via The Comics Reporter)
• Plugs: Brian Ralph's choices for his guest contribution to Robot 6's weekly "What Are You Reading?" column include Captain Easy Vol. 2 by Roy Crane ("It’s a fun combination of action and laughs. Sometimes very serious and other times very cartoony, in both story and art style. I just love the way Roy Crane draws these goons. And the colors! The palettes are unusual and beautiful.") and Setting the Standard: Comics by Alex Toth 1952-1954 ("I’ll read one of these [stories] before I go to bed. I like that in a short page count he quickly develops a rich story and twilight zoney twist. Sometimes it’s a bizarre romance or horror story with a stunning conclusion. They’re a fun read.")
• Review: "Brief but witty dialogue and black humor come together in a brutal satire of deception, torture and the death penalty. This comic is a good comedy that combines the sense of adventure and intrigue of Jason's comics, his 'tempo' and narrative tone, with a trio of protagonists who I came to appreciate in very few pages. Emotion, gags, surprises, and an ending that you do not expect. Isle of 100,000 Graves is an original and very enjoyable read that keeps Jason as a safe bet in the shopping cart. Between tenderness and cruelty, of course the contribution of writer Fabien Vehlmann to the Norwegian cartoonist's particular universe could not have been more successful." – Alita News (translated from Spanish)
• Review: "Warm-hearted, deceptively heart-wrenching, challenging, charming and irresistibly addictive, Love and Rockets: New Stories is a grown up comics fan’s dream come true and remains as valid and groundbreaking as its earlier incarnations — the diamond point of the cutting edge of American graphic narrative." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Interview:The Comics Reporter 's Tom Spurgeon talks to backbone Mome contributor T. Edward Bak about his experience at Boomfest in St. Petersburg, Russia: "There were so many things going on. There were people interested in all of the presentations. They took place over four or five hours, in three or four different centers. A lot of artists were there. For these kinds of presentations, it was other artists attending. It was like APE: you have people that are making comics or are interested in making comics."
• Interview: At The Comics Journal, Matt Seneca enjoys a studio visit and thoughtful discussion with Gary Panter: "That’s one of the games that modern art plays: where does it go, and what does it affect by trying to go? And so, usually in fine art, you’re making a kind of pregnant or puzzling object, or some object that has presence and which calls to people, hopefully. It arrests them for a second and various things happen, whereas in a comic, I want people lying in bed reading it. I want people lying in bed and reading it, and you forget you’re reading it, and you go in the story, and you’re like, 'Whoa! What happened?' And you either remember it or you don’t."
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