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Forty years ago, the legendary manga artist Moto Hagio reinvented the shōjo (girls' comics) genre with an ongoing series of whip-smart, psychologically complex, and tenderly poetic stories. Here, now, in English for the very first time, as the debut release in Fantagraphics Books' ambitious manga line of graphic novels, are ten of the very best of these tales.
The work in A Drunken Dream and Other Stories spans Hagio's entire career, from 1970's "Bianca" to 2007's "The Willow Tree," and includes the mind-bending, full-color title story; the famously heartbreaking "Iguana Girl"; and the haunting "The Child Who Comes Home" — as well as "Autumn Journey," "Girl on Porch With Puppy," the eerie conjoined-twins shocker "Hanshin: Half-God," "Angel Mimic," and one of the saddest of all romance stories, "Marié, Ten Years Later."
A Drunken Dream and Other Stories is supplemented with a feature-length interview with Hagio, where she discusses her art, her career, and her life with the same combination of wit, candor and warmth that radiates from every panel of her comics.
• Review: "...[Rand Holmes] could tell a story, and he hit his stride with lengthy action-comedy epics like 'Wings Over Tijuana' and 'Hitler’s Cocaine,' which explored the shadier sides of drug culture in a style that veered from the shockingly real to the morbidly slapstick. Imagine a Jack Davis MAD magazine piece with heavier overtones; that was Holmes at his best, and that best is well-represented in The Artist Himself. [Grade] B+" – The A.V. Club
• Review: "Drew Weing’s breezy, lyrical graphic novel Set to Sea... tells a simple story about art and experience, delivered in one-step-follows-another fashion. Weing’s cartoony figures and detailed backgrounds — rendered with precise cross-hatching — suit his one-picture-per-page format well, making Set to Sea look like an animated film slowed down to a slideshow. ...Weing’s beautiful art and masterful pacing are so pleasurable that Set to Sea stands up to multiple reads. It’s a catchy little tune that sounds better with each spin. [Grade] A-" – The A.V. Club
• Review: "Fantagraphics has taken care to showcase Hagio’s work in as beautiful a package as possible. ... For the right reader, adult or teen, man or woman, these stories [in A Drunken Dream and Other Stories] can be windows into a world where finally they can see themselves, both their strengths and their flaws. That’s a powerful thing for a book to be able to do and it takes a masterful craftsman like Hagio to be able to do it." – Snow Wildsmith, Graphic Novel Reporter
• Review: "Temperance is a story of awakening and transformation — physical, emotional, and spiritual. A profoundly empathetic reflection upon the systemic societal problems of culturally ingrained violence and brainwashing, Temperance is profound, meaningful, and deserves to be read and reread at length." – Midwest Book Review/ComicList
• Plug: "The excellent graphic novel Special Exits is soon coming out from Fantagraphics. It is a labor of love of more than 10 years by the American comic artist extraordinaire Joyce Farmer. ... Of course another reason I am excited about the publication of Special Exits is because I’ve seen it grow and take shape throughout those years as Joyce Farmer has honored me with her friendship. Some of my students at the Ornerakis Cartoon School would also remember her as she was gracious enough to present her work to them. I am really looking forward to have the book in my hand and re-read it again and again as I think it is one of the best graphic novels ever created!" – Elias Tabakeas, Kailoipalogion
• Review: "A refreshing counterpoint to the vampire meme... In true Jason form, Werewolves of Montpellier neatly packs a chockful of romance, recreational crime, and existential thrills in this full-color 48-pager." – Space 15 Twenty
• Review: "Norwegian cartoonist Jason's book The Last Musketeer is the kind of whimsy that's easy to do wrong and nearly impossible to get right, but Jason gets it very right indeed. ... It's a story that follows a dreamlike, comic logic, always silly and always fun, and every page has several large grins waiting to jump onto your face as you read." – Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing
• Review: "It should go without saying that if you’re at all interested in women’s comics or manga, you should buy [A Drunken Dream and Other Stories]. But in all honesty, I think even if you just like comics and beautifully-told stories, this should be a part of your bookshelf. ... Hagio’s art is, of course, constantly gorgeous. ... Thorn’s translation definitely seems to be true to Hagio’s stories. He is obviously a great admirer of her and he does her justice. ... This is a beautiful book by an incredible creator. Whether or not you knew of Hagio before or this is going to be your introduction to her, it’s a book you need to have." – Eden Miller, Comicsgirl
• Review: "Underground comics were once the bastard stepchild of the industry. ... These days though they get their due as actual art, and their slouch towards respectability gets a big boost with Fantagraphics Books’ The Artist Himself: A Rand Holmes Retrospective. The collection combines a fascinating biography of Holmes... with chapters of his finest work... The Canadian rarely gets his due among comics aficionados, but The Artist Himself should go a long way toward putting this underground legend on the list of greats." – Alonso Duralde, Modern Tonic
• Review: At The Comics Journal, Bart Croonenborghs looks at the work of Olivier Schrauwen: "Here are some keywords though for the unintiated: Belgian, comic genius, graphical masterblender, darkly ironic, perfectionist."
• Profile:Santiago Garcia uses the release of The Search for Smilin' Ed by Kim Deitch as "an excuse to get an overview of the latest productions of this extraordinary author, who belongs to the first generation of the West Coast underground and has not stopped working from the 60s until now." (Translated from Spanish; via Bill Kartalopoulos)
• Interview:Larry Reid's appearance on The Marty Riemer Show podcast is now archived for your listening pleasure
• Commentary:The Hooded Utilitarian's critical roundtable on E.C. Segar's Popeye continues as Chris Mautner takes a tangential look at the topper strip Sappo
• Review: "Originally serialized in the late ‘90s, this cartwheeling shaggy-dog story begins, like a lot of metafiction, with the semblance of reality... But by the time a frog demon reanimates a 19th-century French peasant whose brains it has eaten, it’s fairly clear that Deitch is making stuff up. The fun of [The Search for Smilin' Ed] is the way it constantly darts back and forth across the line between genuine show-business lore (a favorite Deitch theme) and delirious whole-cloth invention. ... Deitch’s artwork... is... utterly confident, building on the stylistic gestures of both the underground-comics scene that launched his career and the classic animation that inspired his talking-animal characters." – Publishers Weekly
• Review: "Some of the best comics of the last couple of decades are Jim Woodring’s wordless Frank stories. Dreamlike, idyllic and mind bendingly horrific visions are rendered with immaculate penwork and pacing. This tidy, near 200 page collection of black and white stories [The Portable Frank] is sufficient to put a permanent dent in your brain pan." – M. Ace, Irregular Orbit
• Review: "Fantagraphics cycles back to the first three years of Herriman’s Sunday Krazy Kat strips [in Krazy & Ignatz 1916-1918]. I do enjoy these early years of the kat kronikles — a bit more lyrical, a bit more varied, a bit less centered on the kat/mouse/cop routine. Yes, you need it. Of course." – M. Ace, Irregular Orbit
• Interview: In virtue of the Criterion Collection release of Crumb on DVD and Blu-ray, The A.V. Club talks to director Terry Zwigoff: "And I said, 'What did you think of it?' And he said, 'It was mortifying.' I said, 'Is it a bad film?' And he said, 'No, but I’m looking at myself in a mirror, so what am I supposed to say? Is it good? Is it bad? I just don’t want to look at it.' Something like that."
• Panel:The Comics Journal presents video of the "International Comics and Graphic Novels" panel at Comic-Con International last month, with Moto Hagio, Émile Bravo and others — part 1 is embedded above, with 4 additional parts at TCJ.com
• Review: "Of the artists that meant the world to me when I was young enough that lots of artists meant the world to me, Jaime Hernandez is the only one I know of that can still kill me dead with his newest and latest. Your mileage may vary, but Jaime's three-part story in the latest Love and Rockets brought to mind the same sweep of romance and regret and pursuit of all that's sweet in life as much as battered and broken insides allow that I remember all too well from the summer between my junior and senior years in college, when I would have put everything about my wonderful life on hold to climb into a black and white comic book for a little while. There are three or four panels in this newest effort worth some cartoonists' entire careers." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
• Review: "Set to Sea is [an] auspicious debut... Weing's nameless, landlubbing protagonist aches to rhapsodize about the sea but discovers that something's missing. After dozing drunkenly on a dock, he awakes to discover he's been shanghaied. His adventures provide ample material for a volume of poetry in this hilariously violent picaresque tale." – Richard Pachter, The Miami Herald
• Review: "A book like The Best American Comics Criticism invites argument. If you put 'best' in your title, argument will follow. I’ve got arguments, but I wanted to start by praising both the editor, Ben Schwartz, and the publisher, Fantagraphics, for making the effort." - Derik Badman
• Review: "...[T]his story is one where Deitch tries to tie the various unruly strands of his many stories together. In a way, I almost prefer that these overlapping, nesting, and sometimes contradictory stories never really congeal, but The Search for Smilin' Ed is, like all of Deitch's work, a compelling and highly personal piece of work." – Robert Boyd, The Great God Pan Is Dead
• Review: "Although the images are very haunting, they are extremely beautiful. Pim & Francie is a pretty unique book. ... This book as a whole is actually quite creepy, haunting, scary, beautiful, and intoxicating. I seem to enjoy it more every time I look/read through it. With images on almost every single page, this book is worth a lot more than its cover price." – Steven Thomas
• Review: "Wally Gropius ...[is] John Stanley for the 21st century. Not that Stanley doesn’t work just fine in 2010, but Hensley is worthy of that sort of praise. I wish this guy was writing Archie." – Chris Reilly, Guttergeek
• Review: "I loved this book and am glad I... could read something this wonderfully twisted... I really wish I could tell you what genre this is, but The Squirrel Machine defies that sort of commercial branding." – Chris Reilly, Guttergeek
• Review: "Man, Joe Daly is awesome. ...[H]e is back with thunder in his pen and ants in his pants. [Dungeon Quest] is as good as Scrublands on page one and it just gets better and funnier, more bizarre and familiar (if you have ever met or hung out with Larpers) with each page turn. Welcome back, Joe Daly. You rule." – Chris Reilly, Guttergeek
• Review: "The Troublemakers... is Gilbert [Hernandez] doing a Quentin Tarantino, in that he dips into a sleazy old unpleasant genre of crime exploitation films of the 60s and 70s and cherry-picks a bunch of the good bits and smashes them together and cooks them into a really sweet pie." – Chris Reilly, Guttergeek
• Review: "The Culture Corner... is the biggest score for fans of Wolverton since the publication of the Wolverton Bible. I guess you could also say that this is the first reprint collection of Wolverton material since the Wolverton Bible if you wanted to nit-pick. Great stuff." – Chris Reilly, Guttergeek
• Interview: At WFMU's Beware of the Blog, Kliph Nesteroff talks to Drew Friedman: "When I was talking to Albert [Brooks] at this party he said, 'Drew, did you know that Harpo's ex-wife married Frank Sinatra?' I said, 'No, it was Zeppo's ex-wife.' He said, 'No, no, it was Harpo's ex-wife.' I said, 'No, it was Zeppo's ex-wife. Look, we have Andy Marx, Groucho's grandson standing right here. Let's ask him.' I said, 'Andy, which one of your uncles married Frank Sinatra's wife?' He said, 'Well, that was Zeppo's wife.' That's why I love L.A. It's handy to have Groucho's grandson [around] when you need him." (Note: audio of this conversation will be available from the Inkstuds podcast soon; we'll keep you updated)
• Profile:Seattle Times book editor Mary Ann Gwinn reports on the partnership between Rick Marschall's Rosebud Archives and Fantagraphics Books: "Now Marschall's company, Rosebud Archives, and Fantagraphics have formed a joint publishing enterprise that will draw from Marschall's immense collection, reclaiming the work of the great 20th-century magazine and newspaper artists for the 21st-century public."
• Commentary: At The Hooded Utilitarian, Shaenon Garrity kicks off a critical roundtable on Popeye with a 7-part appreciation: "Popeye hangs on, indestructible..., the last of a tougher, smellier, funnier breed."
• Reviewer: At Comics Comics, our own Jason T. Miles looks at something I'm also fond of: Andy Helfer & Kyle Baker's late-1980s run on The Shadow
• Review: "With this second hardcover collection, Fantagraphics allows gives fans of the character much reason to rejoice. Thanks to the use of the original proof sheets (and the marvels of modern printing technology), these strips look better than they did when originally published. ... Wherever Prince Valiant goes, adventure follows and every bit of it is breathtakingly beautiful thanks to the work of the legendary Hal Foster. ... I don’t know that I can put into words what I have witnessed on the printed page, but I do know this: If you have any interest in this medium we call sequential art, whether as a fan, a historian or someone who hopes to make a living as an artist, you probably ought to pick up some of Hal Foster’s Prince Valiant. ... There are not enough words in the English language to describe how stunningly beautiful the artwork is in these comics. If there was ever any doubt about whether or not comics are art, an afternoon spent with Hal Foster’s Prince Valiant should put those doubts to rest to anyone with a functioning pair of eyeballs. ... I couldn’t put the thing down and had to tear myself away from it, as I quickly found myself carrying the book around with me and devouring it during every moment of free time. If you like adventure and you like art, you gotta pick yourself up some Prince Valiant. It sets the standard for both. Grade: A" – Chad Derdowski, Mania
• Interview:Anime News Network's Carlo Santos talked with Moto Hagio at Comic-Con International: "For true manga connoisseurs, the real highlight of Comic-Con 2010 was not a movie preview or a celebrity sighting, but simply being in the presence of a living legend. In this interview, Hagio sits down to share the wisdom of her years as an artist, with renowned manga scholar Matt Thorn interpreting." Sample quote: "In any generation, there's only a limited number of artists who can do science fiction well. The biggest challenge of doing science fiction is that, since it's not based in reality ... in order to bring readers into it, you need to have sufficient vision to create an attractive story."
• Review: "...[F]or the first time I realized that Prison Pit [Book 2] isn't a fusion-comics exploration of awesomeness in all its forms, but a horror-comics exploration of awfulness — of violence that maims and kills not just body but soul. Ryan is willing, even this early in a series I imagine will be able to last as long as he wants it to, to completely invert his instantly-iconic warrior, to make the audience root against him desperately, to feel dick-shriveling revulsion at his violence and pity for his victim. 'That fucking sucked,' CF says when it's all over. Understatement of the year. This book is a masterpiece of awfulness." – Sean T. Collins, Attentiondeficitdisorderly
• Review: "It isn't every day such a formidable body of work gets handed to us on such a shining silver platter — there are too few artists like Rand Holmes for that to be possible. But when it does happen, the comics world ought to stand up and take notice. Holmes may have been forgotten once, but Rosenkranz has put forth all mortal effort to make sure he won't be again, and in the process created what might be the best reprint book of the year. A must for fans of great comics art, the undergrounds, or the medium's history, The Artist Himself is in the end most essential as a truly great read. Don't let it pass you by." – Matt Seneca, Newsarama
• Review: "For anyone who has not entered Deitch’s universe, fear not: it is remarkably easy to access, one does not need a map to enter or understand. [The Search for Smilin' Ed] will most likely make you want to explore his other works, much of which have also been collected in graphic novels in recent years causing many to at last wake up and praise the Deitch!" – Robert Dayton, Roctober (hat tip: Bill Kartolopoulos)
• Review: "Werewolves of Montpellier stands out as another winner from Jason; in fact, perhaps it is one of his finest books yet. Somber and funny, and packed full of werewolves and romance, jewel heists and parties, Werewolves of Montpellier stands as another reason to make sure you’re reading Jason’s comics. If you’re not, you’re missing out." – Michael C. Lorah, Newsarama
• Review: "...Sammy the Mouse... for me has been a revelation, taking Zak Sally's natural cartooning chops away from some of the more densely-told and even sometimes predictable material from projects past and opening it up to a mix of classic cartooning tropes and the outright weird. ... It's enough for me to watch Sally explore the comics page, and at this point I think I'd watch him adapt the minutes from a school board meeting." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
• Interview:Anime Pulse presents an audio recording of their interview with Moto Hagio at Comic-Con International, with translation by Matt Thorn, as well as a transcript of the answers in Japanese
• Panel:The Comics Journal presents an audio recording from the “Graphic Novels: The Personal Touch” Panel, featuring Gabrielle Bell, Howard Cruse, Vanessa Davis, Larry Marder, Jillian Tamaki and Carol Tyler in a conversation moderated by Shaenon Garrity, recorded on Friday, July 23 at Comic-Con International
• Review: "Unlike current shojo manga, Hagio's sentiment is more restrained, recounting a calmer account of destructive sibling rivalry, a quieter portrayal of a romance destined for failure, a subtle unraveling of a young woman in mourning. Her craftsmanship reflects wisdom and exercises the creative strength necessary to unravel and tie together the range of narrative threads that make up the tragedies and slow recoveries of life. ... A Drunken Dream collects stories by Hagio from her beginning, middle, and current career. The consistency of her work is evidence of why she's finally being translated into English and why that was long overdue." – Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
• Review: "Threeyears after her award-winning debut graphic novel, Percy Gloom, Cathy Malkasian delivers her stunning followup, Temperance. This solidly grounded parable — rich with contemporary resonance for Fortress America — artfully and modestly flaunts all the same whimsicality, brutality, quiet heroics, worldbuilding, melancholy, weirdness and surrealism of its earlier cousin, but with ratios altered. ... If this book does not show up on all the comics awards ballots in 2011, the injustices perpetrated by [the book's character] Pa will pale by comparison." – Paul Di Filippo, The Barnes & Noble Review
• Review: "Huizenga’s command over his tools as an artist, the integration of his love of depicting wide-open spaces, and his general restraint in delivering prescriptive messages is what sets him apart as an artist. He’s not afraid to go into exacting detail on some technical point regarding time or consciousness, but it’s always done in the voice of an affable, self-effacing and highly unreliable guide who’s really trying to figure it all out himself. His work feels highly autobiographical in the sense that the artist has always been a thinker, and Ganges reveals the depths of his inquiries, while still remaining playful on the page and appealing to the eye. When the series is eventually collected, it may well be Huizenga’s masterwork to date." – Rob Clough, The Comics Journal
• Review: "Sometimes a comic book comes along and kicks your dick in. This is that comic. Writer/artist Johnny Ryan is my kind of freak. The raunchy and over the top violen-terrific action and splatter-tastic gore that take place in Prison Pit must be seen to be believed. ... Fans of MTV’s old Liquid Television series and Adult Swim’s Super Jail should definitely put Prison Pit on their must have list." – Mark L. Miller, Ain't It Cool News
• Review: "Fantagraphics’ volume of 11 of Basil Wolverton’s Powerhouse Pepper stories (along with 4 starring other characters) works as a great companion to their new Culture Corner volume, despite having come out in 1994. Where Culture Corner showed Wolverton’s skill at doing brief half-page joke strips, Powerhouse Pepper shows how his style worked with longer, 10-page stories — and oddly enough, the difference isn’t as great as you might expect." – Kittysneezes
My picture-taking fell off on the last day of Comic-Con as things got even more hectic with last-minute wheeling & dealing, including our Sunday-only 20%-off-everything sale. Here are a few things I managed to capture:
Peter Bagge chats with Scott McCloud (while our own Eric Reynolds and D&Q 's Jessica Campbell watch from a distance)...
...and with Jeffrey Brown, visiting from the neighboring Top Shelf booth (while our own Jason T. Miles confers with Sparkplug's Dylan Williams in the background).
Pete keeps his Inkpot trophy handy while Stephen DeStefano diligently signs and sketches.
And it was over! Here's me & Janice, all packed up & ready to go, with mixed feelings. Thanks to our booth neighbors at BloodFire Studios for this last shot (and for loaning us their handtruck at the very beginning):
We did a few things differently this year, most notably a smaller booth and smaller staff, but sales and enthusiasm seemed to be greater than last year. And while there are "teachable moments" every year, this was overall as smooth and successful a Comic-Con as I can remember in my brief history with the company. Thanks to all the staff, volunteers, artists, family members, professional colleagues and especially the fans who helped make Comic-Con 2010 another great show!