• Review: "The graphic novel King of the Flies: Hallorave... gives us a glimpse of internal mayhem inside a controlled environment, executed with elegance and a touch of mystery. ... King of the Flies has been compared to the work of Charles Burns for its graceful depiction of adolescent suburban horror. This is a weird tale that’s easy to get drawn into..." – Irina Ivanova, The Indypendent
• Plugs: At Largehearted Boy, Atomic Books owner Benn Ray lists his picks of the week, including Artichoke Tales by Megan Kelso ("Beautiful, expansive, lyrical") and The Book of Mr. Natural by Robert Crumb ("Did reading R. Crumb’s Book of Genesis leave you now craving more? The Book of Mr. Natural is your natural (heh-heh) next step").
• Plugs: Douglas Wolk includes a goodly number of Fantagraphics releases on his Summer Comics Preview list at TIME / Techland.
• Interview: At TCJ.com's Guttergeek, Chris Reilly says "Billy Hazelnuts and the Crazy Bird is a tie for best graphic novel of the year with Jim Woodring’s Weathercraft" and proceeds to talk to Tony Millionaire: "Sometimes the story will present opportunities I hadn’t thought of (the personality of the cat for instance), and I’ll go with it if it feels right. Then I jam it all into an ending and hope it doesn’t all end up in a big pile of shit. I’m often nervous that I’m writing a crappy book. I’ve done it before and you can’t tell till it’s done and it is disappointing. So far I’m very happy with the Billy Hazelnuts books, but I’ll have to give the Crazy Bird one more read before I’m convinced of its greatness."
• Plugs:Library Journal's "Graphic Novels Prepub Alert" for September 2010 releases features A Drunken Dream and Other Stories by Moto Hagio ("When Fantagraphics jumps into magna, they splash big: with the 'founding mother' of modern shojo manga and a pioneer of the BL (boys love) genre. These four decades of short stories feature gorgeous art—some in color — and intellectually subtle plotting"); Pogo: The Complete Daily & Sunday Comic Strips. Vol. 1: Through the Wild Blue Wonder by Walt Kelly ("As THE pioneering humor-satire strip inspiring countless other cartoonists, Kelly and Pogo should need no introduction"); and The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec. Vol. 1 by Jacques Tardi ("A pterodactyl loose in Paris! A fetching young reporter off to tackle mummies! And that’s just the first of ten volumes. ... Wonderful for Indiana Jones fans hankering for even more over-the-top plots.")
• Review: "It's a closely observed story — specific in its details but broadly recognizable from the lives of a million young men — in an expressive, inky style... Night Fisher [is] an excellent naturalistic story of these young men in this closely examined place." – Andrew Wheeler, The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.
• Panel:Inkstuds host Robin McConnell presents an audio recording of the TCAF spotlight panel with Dash Shaw and Paul Pope which he moderated
• Review: "[High Soft] Lisp has its share of tender moments and tragic ones, although it’s relatively buoyant with humor throughout. ... This is the stuff of soap operas, minus the melodrama. Lisp comes loaded with palpable emotions and heaps of honesty, even amid a cartoony backdrop." – Rod Lott, Bookgasm
• Review: "Part one of a proposed trilogy, King Of The Flies Vol. 1: Halloraveis an extremely promising title from French crime comics artists Pascal “Mezzo” Mesenburg and Michel Pirus. ... Its approach to violence and turmoil is surprisingly fresh, although the story bears obvious debts to David Lynch, and the art just as obvious ones to Charles Burns; it all combines in surprising, powerful ways. ...King Of The Flies is a fascinating new take on the nearly exhausted subject of youthful alienation… B+" – The A.V. Club
• History: At Comics Comics, Jeet Heer gives a brief overview and critical commentary on Fantagraphics anthologies throughout the years: "Any complete history of Fantagraphics will have to tell the story of how they slowly learned to put together interesting anthologies."
Yes, Gary Groth talks Manga! What's next, Jim Shooter talking Fort Thunder?! Deb Aoki conducts the interview for about.com, further fleshing out the story of our forthcoming initiative to bring Moto Hagio and Shimura Takako to American readers. Choice quote: "Due to my almost complete ignorance of the manga publishing industry and the editorial strictures that guide it, and my pitiful lack of guile in these matters, I was insufficiently aware of how timid and craven our editorial choices should've been."
A healthy helping of Online Commentary & Diversions:
• List: At The Manga Curmudgeon, David Welsh writes "So you’re among the legion of people who are grateful to Fantagraphics for their recently announced manga initiative, to be curated by Matt Thorn. Who isn’t? I know I am. And you may want to express that gratitude by buying something that Fantagraphics has published. If your comics interests rest primarily in titles from Japan, you may not have sampled other works published by Fantagraphics, so here are some books for your consideration."
• Review: "Amazingly, I was sucked in by the whole enterprise, laughing and groaning and shaking my head. ... It’s scarcely what I would call 'elegant in its simplicity' but with subject matter like this photo-realistic art and emotional weight aren’t called for. These are ugly characters in a gross situation, and Prison Pit treats them with all the indulgence and nastiness needed." – Mark Hale, The Bureau Chiefs
• Review: "Taken as a whole, Newave presents a portrait of an era that might otherwise be overlooked as a vital link between, say, Zap and Eightball. ... [T]he book is a veritable treasure trove of material that would otherwise have been lost to the ages. And, perhaps most importantly, it’s a hell of fun read." – Brian Heater, The Daily Cross Hatch
• Pre-review: At Trouble with Comics, Alan David Doane takes a look at our preview sampler galley of the forthcoming Stephen Dixon story collection: "What Is All This, based on my reading of this short and enticing preview, looks to be one of the most exciting and intriguing fiction releases of the decade. That I’ve only had a chance to read less than a quarter of its 450 pages is maddening, and thrilling. I can’t wait to read the rest of what Dixon has in store."
• Opinion: At The Comics Journal, Shaenon Garrity's reaction to our manga publishing news and appreciation of Moto Hagio is a must-read: "Is there an animated gif of a unicorn with the head of Jason Shiga devouring the universe and exploding? Because that might just about express the awesomeness of this development."
• Staff: Selections from the forthcoming anthology The Last Vispo, co-edited by our own Nico Vassilakis, will be on exhibit at the Common Ground Art Gallery in Windsor, Ontario, opening this Saturday, March 13 — more info from Crg Hill or on the Facebook event invitation (above example by Dirk Krecker)
Series editor/curator/translator Matt Thorn speaks out on his blog, providing a bit of background and a few more details about the two inaugural releases, Moto Hagio's A Drunken Dream and Other Stories and Shimura Takako's Wandering Son Vol. 1. Be sure to bookmark Thorn's blog for ongoing updates on the project. Meanwhile, The Comics Journal's Dirk Deppey, who was instrumental in bringing the project to fruition, uses his ¡Journalista! pulpit to reveal much more information and background about the line. Both links are must-reads for anyone interested in this project.
We also want to point out that the cover images that we've posted and sent out, as lovely as they are, are still works in progress by Fantagraphics art director Adam Grano and will likely be revised before the final releases.
Various other blogospheric reaction and commentary:
• Icarus Publishing honcho Simon Jones has some great commentary, including: "Fantagraphics’ taste for artistic, compelling, quality comics, and the expertise of Thorn makes for an inspiring combination; Fantagraphics is a risk taker, with faith in art and willingness to see difficult projects through, while Thorn has the knowledge necessary to comb through and make sense of Shogakukan’s immense catalog."
After years of development, Fantagraphics is unveiling a new line of manga. Kicking things off in September 2010 is a collection of short stories from the mother of shōjo (young girl) manga, Moto Hagio. Next, is a multi-volume series from the GLBT manga-ka Shimura Takako. Each book will be released in hardcover form, keeping the original "right to left" manga style for a deluxe, yet authentic reading experience.
The first book, entitled A Drunken Dream, is a collection of literary short stories by Hagio falling into multiple genres, created between 1971-2007. This tome travels through several of Hagio's most revolutionary and poignant tales that span over the years of her lush career.
In December 2010 comes one of the defining transgendered-centric manga, Wandering Son. Shimura Takako's ongoing series follows two young friends, Shuichi and Yoshino. These 5th graders struggle not only with puberty, but also severe identity issues; Shuichi is a boy who wants to be a girl, and Yoshino is a girl who wants to be a boy. The two find solace in their mutual confusion and help each other cope with their gender frustration while embarking on the complicated journey of growing up.
To celebrate the launch of the new Fantagraphics manga, Moto Hagio is making her first ever visit to The United States to attend Comic-Con International 2010 as a special guest. More details on a speaking event and panel at the con will be available soon.
Moto Hagio spearheaded the rebellious shōjo movement in the 1970s. She, along with a few other women, formed an artist collective called the "Magnificent 24." Influenced by radical youth culture of the '60s, American and British rock ‘n' roll, and European cinema, these women pioneered the shōjo genre and helped develop the artistic style that so many manga-ka emulate today. Winner of the Shogakukan Manga Award, Seiun Award, Osamu Tezuka Cultural Prize, Nihon SF Taisho Award and many others, Hagio has earned respect as a Japanese artist superstar and won the hearts of manga fans for the last 40 years.
Shimura Takako is a female manga creator living in Tokyo. Her focus on LGBT issues places her work in a space that's rocked out by The Gossip and on par with Alison Bechdel. Several of Takako's books have been honored with recommendations from the prestigious Japan Media Arts Festival.