Today's Online Commentary & Diversions. Today's reviews come directly or indirectly via Hans Rickheit:
• Review: "Simmons’ artwork [in House] masterfully cranks up the tension and tightens the suspense as the ill-fated explorers descend into the building’s subterranean depths; as his characters enter the house, his dark frames thicken, becoming the walls of the house. The comic is wordless, but the characters have no trouble expressing themselves as they go from the heights of youthful elation to sheer terror as the house swallows them whole." – Ao Meng, The Daily Texan
• Review: "As both an anthology and as a survey of the times, [Four Color] Fear is incredibly successful, with nary a dud in the whole bunch. Each fun story offers its own brand of chill, thrills and maniacal laughter. [...] But the real disquieting aspect of these comics were probably not intended as such — chauvinistic behavior is rampant among the men, and women are portrayed as either damsels in distress or cold-hearted femme-fatales. These are artifacts of a simpler age." – Ao Meng, The Daily Texan
• Review: "The Squirrel Machine is not for the faint of heart, and features quite disturbing and grotesque imagery — H. R. Giger has nothing on Rickheit’s psychosexual nightmares. [...] Existing on the crossroad of creativity and madness, The Squirrel Machine is a nightmare in a series of gristly tableaus. The psychedelic rooms full of machinery, sex and death are an inward exploration as much as Jim Woodring’s ('Frank') comics are outwardly allegorical. An exploration of an artist’s mind, it uncovers the obscene, the things that were never meant to be brought to light." – Ao Meng, The Daily Texan
• Review: "Blimey, [The Squirrel Machine] is a weird one. Imagine a steampunk version of the last ten minutes of Eraserhead. [...] Its design and tone is indebted to Little Nemo in Slumberland, although far more disturbing. [...] The book is full of strange scenes which accurately convey the claustrophobic atmosphere and slight off-ness of a powerful dream. In no way is it fluffy around the edges. The detail is unflinching, with a refreshing lack of explanation... Is it all a dream? Who can tell?" – Grant Buist, The Name of This Cartoon Is Brunswick
• Review: "Another excellent debut graphic novel, another webcomic-printed-as-book, another beautiful Fantagraphics book-as-object, and another rollicking seafaring adventure. [...] What distinguishes [Set to Sea] from a merely average graphic novel is the excellent pacing, the thoughtfulness of the (unnamed) protagonist, and the minimal use of words in a book about writing poetry!" – Grant Buist, The Name of This Cartoon Is Brunswick
• Review: "A luxurious collection of Moto Hagio’s influential comics, ...[A Drunken Dream and Other Stories] is a valuable sampler of her long career, a compilation of short stories from 1970 to 2007 which feature her innovative panel layouts and expressive characters, and include many of her favourite themes, such as sibling rivalry, postnatal depression and ghosts. [...] This is yet another beautiful book-as-object-of-desire..." – Grant Buist, The Name of This Cartoon Is Brunswick
• Review: "An utter nightmare. [...] Over a hundred densely-drawn pages [of Weathercraft], filled with Woodring’s bejewelled creatures and salamandric hallucinations, Manhog achieves a kind of enlightenment. A great if unsettling work." – Grant Buist, The Name of This Cartoon Is Brunswick
• Review: "The first of Norwegian cartoonist Jason’s books to be published in translation, and one of his neatest and most satisfying stories. [...] If it were a film, Hey, Wait… would melodramatically labour the childhood tragedy it features, but in a Jason book it’s an understated pivot for the two halves of the story." – Grant Buist, The Name of This Cartoon Is Brunswick
• Coming Attractions: "The Arctic Marauder [by Jacques Tardi] – A steampunk story with mad scientists, sea monsters, and futuristic machines at the North Pole. In a 'faux woodcut style.' Fantagraphics continues to be the most consistently innovative publisher of adventure comics around." – Michael May, Robot 6
• Review: "A snapshot of Jason's career from 1997-2001, the stories in What I Did are also loosely thematically collected, circling around guilt as their central emotion. [...] There are many pleasures to be had from Jason's work, among them a wealth of clever cartoon metaphors and a impressively economic storytelling tricks. [...] At his best, Jason pieces together representations of complex thoughts and emotions through simple visual building blocks." – David Michelitch, Comics Alliance
• Review: "Somebody up there likes us. You need Destroy All Movies!!! in your life. It’s heartening to know that there’s people out there who are truly sick with it. Like, really, really obsessed with a single niche. Like cinematic punkers. [... Like] the very best books on cinema, ...this one will make you realise that you’ve only just scratched the surface of b-movies and provide a comprehensive education on some total rarities. [...] Fantagraphics have been sating a personal taste for the esoteric since my childhood, but this one really has blown me away." – Gary Warnett, Gwarizm
• Review: "...Lucky in Love is a very good book with an outstanding story and stellar art. The story is incredibly well written and Lucky, as a person, practically leaps off the page at you. His characterization was spot on... It’s hard to create a character that is so rich that anyone can relate to him, or her, but Chieffet and DeStefano have done it. [...] The influence of animation is evident and the images on the pages practically jump out at you. The book is predominantly 6 or 9 panel pages that are stuffed with detail. It's just fantastic." – Comics And...Other Imaginary Tales
• Review: "Moto Hagio’s stories are... masterful largely because she did not set out to be so. She wrote from the heart, stories that girls could understand, enjoy, identify with. [...] Moto Hagio is a woman, who draws stories for girls. She is a Master of her Craft. She is a groundbreaker in her field. None of these statements are contradictory.A Drunken Dream is a must-read for any serious student of manga. While you’re getting a copy, buy one for a niece or friend – and don’t tell them it’s 'important.' This way they’ll be free to just enjoy it, tropes and all." – Erica Friedman, The Manga Curmudgeon
• Plug: "[Fire & Water] is an incredibly well designed book chock full of amazing artwork. It’s a great biography of comics legend Bill Everett (who was descended from William Blake!) and his journey through the early days of the comic book industry." – A.G. Pasquella, Advent Book Blog
• Plug: "The elusive Golden Age cartoonist Fletcher Hanks achieved a level of surrealism that few comic book creators today can match. The man made simply the medium extremely strange on his own terms (see: Fantomah, his skull-faced jungle heroine). Words don't do his work justice..." – Cyriaque Lamar, "10 Graphic Novels That Make Great Gifts (for People Who Don't Read Comics," io9
• List:Flashlight Worthy polls various online critics for The Best Graphic Novels of 2010:
"Moto Hagio is to shojo manga what Will Eisner is to American comics, a seminal creator whose distinctive style and sensibility profoundly changed the medium. Though Hagio has been actively publishing stories since the late 1960s, very little of her work has been translated into English. A Drunken Dream, published by Fantagraphics, is an excellent corrective — a handsomely produced, meticulously edited collection of Hagio's short stories that span her career from 1970 to 2007." – Katherine Dacey (The Manga Critic)
"Truly the most welcome English translation of the year, this collection of aching vignettes from the mud and blood of WWI [It Was the War of the Trenches] forms a unique human patchwork, fitting for a time and place where bodies and souls went to pieces. Tardi is a skilled artist, placing his soft, eminently fragile human forms against natural scenes so dense and thick (and buildings so heavy and broken) you'd swear that the entire Earthly organism has been put to bed by war's viral infection, but the true power here comes from his accumulation of carefully detailed narratives, ringing sadly as the greater accumulation of corpses remains painfully implicit." – Joe McCulloch (Comics Comics, Jog – The Blog)
"Packed to the gills, surprising, and unabashedly ambitious, MOME 19 isn't just the best volume the series has seen, it's a shot across the bow to a format that's been ceded to fans and friends-only collectives. Anthologies, said Fantagraphics. They're still at their best when there's an adult behind the wheel." – Tucker Stone (The Factual Opinion)
Werewolves of Montpellier by Jason: "One of comics' most inventive and offbeat practitioners of the art returned this year with a story that was not exactly groundbreaking for him but still wildly fun and different from most other stories out there. Jason's books are always hard to classify exactly, but this tale of a thief who dresses up as a werewolf (it helps scare people, which helps him pull off his crimes) is one of his most intriguing." – John Hogan
A Drunken Dream and Other Stories by Moto Hagio: "Few creators in the 60-year history of Japanese manga are more important than Moto Hagio, one of the cohorts of the so-called 'Magnificent Forty-Niners' who revolutionized the shoujo genre in the 1970s. A Drunken Dream and Other Stories features a thoughtfully chosen selection of 10 short tales translated by Matt Thorn and published in lavish, oversized hardcover. The title story in particular offers a rare treat, its implacable, mythological cruelty rendered in soft-focus color." – Casey Brienza
• Review: "I finally read Special Exits last weekend. And I am here to tell you: It was tough. It was not fun. But it was truthful. It was specific. And it ... helped. In this, it was utterly unlike the book on grieving that a well-meaning relative pressed into my hands. That book's blandishments felt feathery and abstract; they had nothing to do with Pop, or with how I felt about him. Special Exits, on the other hand, is all about specificity. Farmer captures the tiniest, most mundane — and at times ugliest — details of caring for someone you love, and watching them pass from you. It's bracingly clear-eyed and unsentimental... Her pages and panels seem crowded with detail — deliberately and effectively so, to mirror the way her parents' house, and their lives, fall steadily into clutter and disrepair." – Glen Weldon, NPR
• Plug: "The latest from Fantagraphics... is Special Exits, a graphic novel from 71-year-old Joyce Farmer. Debut book it may be but she’s no newbie: Farmer was part of the whole underground comix scene in the time of R. Crumb... It’s the kind of memoir you can sit alongside Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, or anything Harvey Pekar: a story about her elderly parents’ slow decline." – The Gosh! Comics Blog
• Review: "Usagi Yojimbo: The Special Edition... is the perfect collection for neophytes to the series — it starts from the top, and introduces many of Sakai’s running cast, including the titular wandering samurai rabbit and a selection of his friends, enemies, and allies-of-convenience. The high-glossy, bright-white pages make Sakai’s finely detailed, heavily Japanese-inspired black-and-white art pop off the page, and the collection covers enough of his work to show how he’s evolved as an artist, from the early days when he was finding his feet to art that looks much like what he’s producing today." – The A.V. Club 2010 Holiday Gift Guide
• Plug: "Stan Sakai has been drawing his funny-animal samurai series Usagi Yojimbo for upwards of 25 years now. Usagi Yojimbo: The Special Edition collects the first 38 issues of Usagi's own comics and various other early stories in which he appeared, along with a ton of bonus features and an extensive interview with Sakai — 1200 pages of ronin rabbit action in all, presented as a two-volume hardcover set in a slipcase." – Douglas Wolk, TIME/Techland "Comics Geek Gift Guide 2010"
• Review: "[Jason's] comics are consistently funny and heartfelt, but tinged with a particular brand of melancholy. [...] The new collection, What I Did, takes the first three albums Fantagraphics translated and published in English. The first piece, 'Hey Wait...' is a real heartbreaker. [...] The second album, 'Sshhhh!' is a collection of wordless strips about a bird in a tweed jacket, and his tribulations as a character through life. [...] The strips delicately and comically depict the absurdities of modern existence... The last story, 'The Iron Wagon,' is an adaptation of a Norwegian mystery novel. [...] It’s great stuff, and like all of Jason’s stuff it’s deeply humanist." – Ao Meng, The Daily Texan
• Plug: "Jason's silent comics are so great. The monster ones in Almost Silent and 'Hey Wait' in What I Did especially. They are funny and sad and those are the two things a person wants." – Atomic Books "Holiday Picks"
• Review: "...[Four Color Fear] will... blow your fucking head up. [...] Trying to describe what makes many of these comics strange would take too long. Weird characters, odd behavior, no real logic, the list is endless. What makes this shit gold is the art. [...] Flipping through this it's hard not to think to yourself, 'How did I not know about this until now? Why didn't anyone tell me?' There's a gallery of glossy cover art in the center that is flat out some of the best art I've ever seen." – Nick Gazin, Vice
• Review: "Overall, the experience of joining this large fellow on his life’s journey is a delight, if a fairly short one. [Set to Sea]’s a small book in length as well as size, able to be read in a single sitting, but it’s good enough that it invites multiple journeys through its pages, allowing explorers to marvel at the fluid movement of the characters, the chaos of an inter-ship battle, the choppy waves and calm harbors, the joys of a life lived and savored." – Matthew J. Brady, Warren Peace Sings the Blues
• Plug: "Gahan Wilson: 50 Years of Playboy Cartoons is as mammoth and daunting a career retrospective as anyone could wish for: a gorgeous three-volume set encompassing a thousand-plus of the macabre cartoonist's drawings, as well as additional features including a handful of short stories he also wrote for Playboy. It's beautifully designed, too — the slipcase itself involves a perfectly Wilsonian gag." – Douglas Wolk, TIME/Techland "Comics Geek Gift Guide 2010"
• Profile: "Throughout the 1990s [Peter] Bagge devoted himself almost completely to a comic book called HATE, the success of which brought him other opportunities, as well as a key choice: 'If I really wanted to play it safe after achieving a modicum of success I would have devoted myself to doing the same thing for life.' Instead, Bagge chose to take on new subjects and continued to experiment. [...] Bagge taught a course at Seattle University last winter. He recommends that students interested in comics and graphic novels visit Fantagraphics Bookstore in Georgetown, as their selection is interesting and outside the mainstream." – Cambray Provo, The Spectator (via The Comics Reporter)
• List: Deb Aoki of About.com: Manga names A Drunken Dream and Other Stories by Moto Hagio the Best New Manga of 2010: "Conjoined twins who share a painful co-existence. A young girl rejected by her mother who can only see her as an iguana. Ill-fated lovers who are doomed to be separated in several lifetimes. These characters came to life in this collection of smart, sensitive and thought-provoking short stories created by master storyteller Moto Hagio."
• Review: "It makes my job as a critic a lot harder when I’ve spent nearly an entire book composing its review in my head only for the final few pages to smash it to smithereens. In that sense, reviewing Luba: The Book of Ofelia is hard work." – Sean T. Collins, Attentiondeficitdisorderly
• Interview (Audio):Destroy All Movies!!! editors Zack Carlson and Bryan Connolly appeared on KBOO-FM Community Radio out of Olympia WA on Monday for an interview with host Erin Yanke — listen here
• Plug:Public School's Will Bryant spotlights Ray Fenwick's Mascots
• Commentary: At The Wright Opinion, Brendan Wright shares his thoughts about the longevity of Las Locas: "I’m as excited as anyone that the graphic novel is gradually becoming the standard model of the modern comic book, but among its many virtues, the fact that Love and Rockets has always been presented as a series is important. This is the comic book that elevated the serial format of comics from soap opera to serialized literature. It’s hard to wait between the annual installments, but it’s worth it to check in with old friends, and whatever else he does with the rest of his creativity, I’m happy that Hernandez always finds time to keep up with the 'Locas' world."
• List:The New York Times's George Gene Gustines recommends Moto Hagio's A Drunken Dream and Other Stories in their "Graphic Books Roundup — Holiday Gift Guide 2010": "This 10-story anthology shifts from young romance to supernatural mystery to kitchen-sink drama, so there will probably be a touchstone tale for everyone."
• List:New York Magazine presents "Dan Kois's Great New Autobio Graphic Novels," including Joyce Farmer's Special Exits at #4: "The final four years in the lives of underground cartoonist Farmer’s father and stepmother, told with honesty and humor. A book that will resonate for anyone facing the loss of a loved one."
• List: At Robot 6, Chris Mautner compiles "Six x-rated comics you can read without shame," half of which are old (mostly out of print) Eros gems: Birdland by Gilbert Hernandez, Small Favors by Colleen Coover, and Nipplez 'n' Tum Tum by Mary Fleener.
• Review: "Authors Zack Carlson and Bryan Connolly spare no one in Destroy All Movies!!! from the moment the introduction starts. Yes, there are swear words in the book. If you appreciated your time during the 1980s this cultural reference goes beyond just scenes in movies that have punks in them. [...] The short reviews of each flick give an honest and hilarious appraisal of each piece. I wish every movie review would be as succinct as these two authors because it would save a lot of reading and muck to wade through in a film review. [...] If you are a punk film buff, Destroy All Movies!!! is definitely worth the purchase." – William Browning, Yahoo! Movies/Associated Content
• Review: "Zack Carlson and Bryan Connolly got the wild notion to write a guide to every movie that ever contained a punk in it, and the result of their labors is the loveably cumbersome Destroy All Movies!!! The Complete Guide to Punks on Film. ...[I]t's a treat that it exists, and we're lucky to reap the benefits from Carlson and Connolly's obsession." – Ned Lannamann, The Portland Mercury
• Review: "Among the 1,100 titles cataloged, mocked and celebrated by [Zack] Carlson and co-editor Bryan Connolly in this future coffee-table classic [Destroy All Movies!!!] are Hack-O-Lantern,Rock and Roll Mobster Girls,Revenge of the Nerds IV and Invasion of the Mindbenders, none of which you have seen, of course, but all of which you will desperately want to experience after dipping into Connolly and Carlson’s obsessive-compulsive masterwork. If you ever wondered what it would be like if the 'Psychotronic' section of sleazebag anti-classics at Movie Madness grew a brain and then threw up on you, well, here’s your chance." – Chris Stamm, Willamette Week
• Plug: "There's no shortage of scholarship about every conceivable genre of film, from film noir to Westerns to crazy-disturbing B-movie schlock. But admit it: when was the last time you found a comprehensive study of punks on film? Well, that appallingly underrepresented genre can boast its own volume: Destroy All Movies!!!: The Complete Guide to Punks on Film, published by our Seattle friends, Fantagraphics Books." – Kristi Turnquist, The Oregonian
• Review: "Being free of logical constraint and internal consistency, Zippy’s daily and Sunday forays against The Norm can encompass everything from time travel, talking objects, shopping lists, radical philosophy, caricature, packaging ingredients, political and social ponderings and even purely visual or calligraphic episodes. It is weird and wonderful and not to everybody’s tastes… The collected musings of America’s most engaging Idiot-Savant have all the trappings of the perfect cult-strip and this latest volume [Ding Dong Daddy from Dingburg] finds cretin and creator on absolute top form. If you like this sort of stuff you’ll adore this enticing slice of it. Yow!" – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Review: "Fear of Comics is a wonderful book, one of the finest short-story collections the medium has ever produced. It’s laugh-out-loud funny at times, filthy at others, disgusting and poetic and black as midnight at still others. And it’s a showcase for comics’ premier naturalist to abandon that style altogether, to take his distinctive and exaggerated figurework to their absolute extremes, to tell stories that feel like neither the magic realism nor the science fiction for which he is best known but rather like fairy tales, or even myths of some creepy nihilistic religion." – Sean T. Collins, Attentiondeficitdisorderly
• Review: "Richard Sala... knows how to skillfully mix humor with horror and the grotesque. [Peculia] is a collection of short stories whose protagonist is a mysterious girl who lives in a world populated by monsters and strange creatures... Dreams are mixed with reality and the stories could go on forever, and even if the book has a conclusion, this does not answer the questions and doubts of the reader. Never mind, because the stories are still entertaining and illustrated with an original style that combines influences from gothic expressionist cinema and even a purely pop style and very fun." – Valerio Stive, Lo Spazio Bianco (translated from Italian)
• Plug: Our pals at Tiny Showcase are excited for Ray Fenwick's new book Mascots and hint that they're scheming something up for the launch
(not final cover)
• Coming Attractions: Bleeding Cool's Rich Johnston notes our May 2011 publication of Lou Reed and Lorenzo Mattotti's adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe's The Raven
• Review: "Punk and the movies met when the former was very young. When punk eventually grew up, the movies still insisted on viewing it as a child. Their union, nowadays perverted by mutual materialistic bloat, has been rather like an arranged marriage: long-lasting, with moments of real understanding, but fundamentally fraudulent. Zack Carlson and Bryan Connolly's hefty new tome Destroy All Movies!!! The Complete Guide to Punks on Film chronicles this tragicomedic marriage in A-Z encyclopedic form encompassing more than 1,100 movies, 450 pages, and lots of vintage promotional imagery." – Dennis Harvey, San Francisco Bay Guardian
• Review: "The artwork is as beautiful, subtle, and well-crafted as the stories. [...] Significant to Hagio’s stories is her ability to so masterfully communicate emotions in the artwork. Hagio uses body language as well as facial expressions. Her artistic genius is seen in character’s eyes alive with emotions radiating off the page. [...] A Drunken Dream and Other Stories is a wonderful collection of stories for mature readers. The stories embody a complex mix of emotions. Hagio isn’t offering us easily digestible pap, but solid food that will take time to process and absorb properly." – Ed Sizemore, Manga Worth Reading
• Plug: "It's... wonderful to note the imminent publication of Joyce Farmer's Special Exits. It speaks well to comics as an art form that there's a prominent place for powerful work from an older cartoonist that may have more to offer in terms of underground cred than in a modern marketplace track record." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
• Review: "I wasn't expecting to be blown away by Destroy All Movies!!! [...] I was sure I would get tired of reading it after a few pages. The opposite happened — I got hooked and couldn't stop. Zack Carlson and Bryan Connolly, the editors of this mind-bending reference of cinematic trash culture, are obsessives to be sure..., but not the kind who exhaust you with eye-glazing otaku trivia that doesn't matter to anyone but other obsessives. Instead, their reviews (written by Carlson, Connolly and their cohorts) are accessible, insightful, entertaining, and funny in a way that doesn't ruin their usefulness. [...] As usual, Fantagraphics' in-house designer Jacob Covey produced a drop dead gorgeous book that enhances the experience. With a cool flexibound cover and a tub of Jamie-Reid-pink and Photoshop's halftone filter, his treatment feels appropriately retro and timeless at the same time." – Mark Frauenfelder, Boing Boing
Another two-day Online Commentary & Diversions (running a little off schedule, sorry):
• Review: "Hollywood is probably the most likely to misrepresent any culture, but their casting of punks as Neolithic, abusive, drug addicts with candy-colored hair and an inexplicable amount of chains is far too amusing to turn away from. [Destroy All Movies!!!] editors Zack Carlson and Bryan Connolly seem to have noticed this trend, and their commentary about each of these films borders on hilarious at several points. [...] In the end, you get both a compendium of thoughtful ruminations on punk culture and a hilarious collection of movie missteps..." – Thorin Klosowski, Denver Westword
• Review: "[Jason] is without immediate peer, and perhaps the closest I can get to him is Jim Jarmusch, the indie film director... Werewolves of Montpellier is less about the grand sweep of its pseudo-horror set-up (which is utterly demolished by a delicious final page denouement), and more about its mundane aspects, which resonate further than the book's forty-odd pages. ★★★★ [out of 5]" – Michael Leader, Den of Geek
• Review: "...Blake Bell has crafted an excellent look at one of comics' most underappreciated creators: compelling, well paced and entertaining. [...] Bell kept Fire & Water moving at an excellent pace, never dwelling too long on any details but giving us Everett's life in relation to his comic career. And that's the key: Bell is a comic fan and knows his audience is as well so that's the focus. [...] While the tale of Everett's life held my attention the art is the real star. Covering everything from early doodles to his last published page we get to see thirty plus years of material. [...] The fit and finish for Fire & Water is exceptional. A heavy matt paper is used that really shows off the material and gives it an almost period feel. The size is perfect for admiring the art and is easy to read; a new perfect package. I can't get enough of the dust jacket image and its design is stunning: a real eye catcher. At $40 it's a great value." – Scott VanderPloeg, Comic Book Daily
• Review: Sean T. Collins's "Love and Rocktober" review series at Attentiondeficitdisorderly moves on to Gilbert Hernandez's oeuvre, starting with Heartbreak Soup: "Whether in terms of family, sexuality, physicality, or deformity, biology is destiny for the people of Palomar... And although biology is obviously among Beto's primary concerns, destiny is the operative word. I don't think the Palomarians have the ability to escape the way the Locas do. Not all of them need to escape, mind you — there's a lot of really warm and adorable and hilarious and awesome stuff going down in Palomar — but whatever walks alongside them in their lives is gonna walk alongside them till the very end."
• List: At Robot 6, guest contributor Van Jensen names Josh Simmons's House as one of his "six favorite horror comics & movies" (and, by reduction, one of his three favorite horror comics): "Simmons uses no words through the entire story, but his real accomplishment is utilizing the design of the pages to deliver an increasingly claustrophobic, disorienting and terrifying story."
• Plug: At Robot 6, Sean T. Collins highlights our duo of creepy all-ages releases, David B.'s The Littlest Pirate King and Stéphane Blanquet's Toys in the Basement
• Interview:The Daily Cross Hatch's Brian Heater concludes his 3-part chat with Drew Weing: "What’s funny is, I’ve got Google Alerts for my name, so if somebody says it on the Internet, I show up like Beetlejuice. I click on it, like, 'ooh, this guy just dissed me.'" [Hi, Drew.]
Online Commentary & Diversions from Friday to today:
• Review: "In The Sanctuary, Nate Neal traces back the history of manipulation, power battles and betrayal to a single cave, thousands of years ago. The story unfolds entirely in a Paleolithic language Neal created, rendering the action subtle as a tribe careens toward possible chaos amidst the battles contained. [...] In the dynamics that Neal presents, you can see your country, your town, your work place and your family, all rolled into one cautionary tale. In stark black and white, Neal’s art exhibits much sophistication, while still maintaining a required roughness, given the time period and level of civilization he’s portraying. [...] Neal’s book digs deep down to the core of our humanity that almost requires manipulation for movement, but suggests that sometimes there are victories for us even if we do require a shifty style of prodding." – John E. Mitchell, The North Adams Transcript
• Review: "As ever, Jason's characters are universal precisely because they're so specific and odd; dog-faced werewolf Everymen, living their lives of quiet desperation. His art is precise and carefully defined, a collection of moments carefully chosen and arrayed to imply so much more than his characters could ever say. His silences are theatrical — he's the Beckett, or Pinter, of comics. And Werewolves of Montpellier is another masterly performance from one of our modern best." – Andrew Wheeler, The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.
• Reviews: Sean T. Collins continues "Love and Rocktober" at Attentiondeficitdisorderly, delving into Love and Rockets: New Stories with Jaime's "Ti-Girls Adventures" from #1-2 ("If 'Locas' has taught us anything, isn't it that women should be the stars and driving forces behind their own damn comic, even if they're dressing up in one-piece swimsuits and punching each other in the process?") and the "Browntown"/"The Love Bunglers" duology from #3 ("Such power! ...[One] of the most devastating — and I mean so sad it impacted me physically — comics I've ever read. I will never forget reading this book.")
• Review: "...A Drunken Dream and Other Stories... sucked me into its stories and made me want to read a lot more of Hagio’s comics. A mixture of romance, science-fiction, and family drama, this ten story compilation is one of the strongest examples I’ve seen of the depth and breadth that the shôjo genre can contain. [...] Highly recommended." – Greg McElhatton, Read About Comics
• Review: "...[Temperance] is an intimidatingly rich work, full of symbolism and moody art... It's all lushly rendered in spooky gray tones, with lively, somewhat pudgy characters always striving forward toward their dubious goals... Malkasian clearly has poured her heart into this story, bringing the characters to life even as they act to make readers think beyond the story itself. It's a beautiful book, and one that will stick in the mind for some time after reading it." – Matthew J. Brady, Warren Peace Sings the Blues
• Review: "...[T]his fabulous tome highlights the astounding wizardry of one of the most accomplished draughtsmen and yarn-spinners of [comics'] incredibly fertile early period. [...] Evocatively written by biographer Blake Bell, with dozens of first hand accounts from family, friends and contemporaries; the sad, unjust life of this key figure of comics art is lovingly recounted here with hundreds of artistic examples... Fire and Wateroffers an opportunity to revel in the mastery of a truly unique pillar of America’s sequential Art establishment. [...] Brilliant, captivating, and utterly unmissable, this is the book Bill Everett deserves — and so do you." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Plug: "Wow, punk is now nostalgic. You can’t stop getting older, can you? Well, you can, but it’s not a good alternative. Anyway, Fantagraphics has announced that next month they will release Destroy All Movies!!! The Complete Guide to Punks on Film, over 400 pages of reference to 'every appearance of a punk (or new waver!) to hit the screen in the 20th Century.'" – Johanna Draper Carlson, DVDs Worth Watching
• Commentary: At Robot 6, Chris Mautner gives you a beginner's guide to Kevin Huizenga in the latest "Comics College" feature: "In the short time he’s been making comics, Huizenga has shown himself to be an author of considerable talent and probing sincerity."
• Interview:Avoid the Future talks to Kevin Huizenga: "I often feel that I’m not really a true artist or a writer, just a fan whose playing make-believe. The inner compulsion I have is to put together something with a kind of complex structure, with some complex arrangement of things that surprises me, or makes me feel like my favorite comics do."
• Commentary: At the Schulz Library Blog, read "Lyonel Feininger: Lost Expressionist Master of the Sunday Comics Page," a comics-history class essay by Andy Warner (CCS, Class of 2012)
• Coming Attractions: Library Journal's Martha Cornog spotlights R.I.P.: Best of 1985-2004 by Thomas Ott and Approximate Continuum Comics by Lewis Trondheim in their Graphic Novel Prepub Alert for January 2011 releases
Online Commentary & Diversions returns from a sick day:
• Review: "With elegant simplicity, this comic-book fable [Set to Sea] unfurls the tale of a life cast on an unexpected course and the melancholy wisdom accrued upon the waves. First-time graphic-novelist Weing has produced a beautiful gem here, with minimal dialogue, one jolting battle scene, and each small page owned by a single panel filled with art whose figures have a comfortable roundness dredged up from the cartoon landscapes of our childhood unconscious, even as the intensely crosshatched shadings suggest the darkness that sometimes traces the edges of our lives. [...] Weing’s debut is playful, atmospheric, dark, wistful, and wise." – Jesse Karp, Booklist (Starred Review)
• Review: "...[A]n absolutely stunning [book], collecting some of the best and most trenchantly funny illustrations by a contender for the title of America’s Greatest Living Caricaturist in a lavish, full-colour hardback. [...] Friedman is a master craftsman who can draw and paint with breathtaking power, and his work is intrinsically funny. [...] His caricatures are powerful, resonant and joyful, but without ever really descending to the level of graphic malice preferred by such luminaries as Ralph Steadman or Gerald Scarfe. Too Soon? is a book for art lovers, celebrity stalkers and anyone who enjoys a pretty, good laugh." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Review: "...A Drunken Dream showcases the full range of Hagio’s short stories, while also granting readers insight into the themes of lost innocence, family dysfunction and perseverance in the face of abuse that underscore much of her work. [...] With distinct character designs, detailed backgrounds and emotive character acting, Hagio’s artwork conveys the full emotional range of her stories, with dollops of humor mixed into sagas of sadness, survival and hard-won contentment. [...] A Drunken Dream and Other Stories finds another important voice in Japanese comics history washing up on American shores. One hopes that Hagio, whose work manages to be both stark and beautiful, finds a welcoming and receptive audience." – Michael C. Lorah, Newsarama
• Review: Sean T. Collins looks at "La Maggie La Loca" and "Gold Diggers of 1969" from Love and Rockets Vol. II #20 as part of his "Love and Rocktober" series at Attentiondeficitdisorderly: "Maggie may just be an apartment manager anymore, she may now get in way over her head (literally) when she attempts to have a fun island adventure like she used to, but the way Rena sneaks into her room at night just to watch her sleep reveals that the aging heroine could use a dose of the community and camaraderie that's part and parcel of Maggie's dayjob."
• List: Sam Costello of iFanboy names House by Josh Simmons as one of "13 Great Horror Comics for Halloween": "Josh Simmons is some kind of horror savant. There are few really, truly, deeply disturbing comics out there. If you’re willing to take the risk of reading a comic that you’ll literally want to cover your eyes while you read, Simmons’ work is for you. House, his nearly wordless tale of a trio of friends exploring a dilapidated, cavernous mansion, is less explicit, but worth a look. Its suffocating, despairing loneliness is affecting." (Via Robot 6)
• Commentary: "It was like the sky: pleasant, visually appealing, reliable. Peanuts had a Picture of Dorian Gray quality; you kept getting older and more decrepit and more cynical, but it didn't. By the time you started reading it, you were already older than the characters in the strip, so it immediately made you nostalgic for childhood. Not necessarily for your childhood, but for the childhood Lucy and Charlie and Linus were having." – Joe Queenan, The Guardian
• Interview: At Comic Book Resources, Chris Mautner talks to Johnny Ryan about Prison Pit: "I think in a strange way the book(s) are very revealing about myself. I felt as if I was really exposing myself here. I was very anxious about that."
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