We have reached the landmark 20th volume of Mome. For those of you who read the box scores, that’s 5 years, 20 volumes, 72 artists, and 2,352 pages of comics.
Much is new in this anniversary volume. Fantagraphics' flagship anthology now boasts a new design courtesy of art director Adam Grano (who also chips in a few pages of art), and we have 4 other artists making their Mome debuts: Steven "Ribs" Weissman's haunting story "This Already Happened" makes its first appearance in print after being serialized at What Things Do; Sergio Ponchione provides a full-color prequel story to his acclaimed series Grotesque (translated from its appearance in Italy's Linus magazine); and we welcome Chicago stalwart Jeremy Tinder and Portland illustrator Aidan Koch to the fold with their new stories.
From our returning champions: another "Blind Date" from Dash Shaw; a forest fable from Sara Edward-Corbett; part 2 of "The White Rhinoceros" from Josh Simmons and The Partridge in the Pear Tree; the continuation of T. Edward Bak's "Wild Man," Derek Van Gieson's "Devil Doll," and cover-boy Ted Stearn's "Fuzz and Pluck in: The Moolah Tree" serials; another atmospheric Conor O'Keefe story; a star-studded story in verse from Nate Neal; and more autobiographical vignettes by Nicolas Mahler. It all adds up to another diverse and rewarding volume of this literary comics juggernaut.
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
• Review: "The Sanctuary is a powerful story, telling of the timeless conflict between learning and ignorance. Nate Neal provides readers with an insightful look at the tension in a community when the balance is challenged by new thinking. In short, The Sanctuary is a very promising debut, and probably one of the best new comics of the year." – Michael C. Lorah, Newsarama
• Review: "In Four Color Fear: Forgotten Horror Comics of the 1950s, editors John Benson and Greg Sadowski and publisher Fantagraphics drive a stake into the notion that EC was the only game in town. [...] There are enough goofy and ghoulish vignettes to satisfy the most bloodthirsty readers... I spent several evenings skipping through the book and reading stories that happened to catch my eye (and drag it down the hall, yuck, yuck), and I was impressed by the economics of storytelling. [...] It’s such a packed package that it may very well last through next October, unless rightfully gobbled up after midnight, long after the trick-or-treaters have retreated to their safe havens. Thankfully, these zombies of old can now lurk atop bedside tables and in four color — the next bite only a page away." – Alex Carr, Omnivoracious
• Review: "A movie guide should make you want to watch movies, and none has ever made me want to watch as many as Destroy All Movies!!! The Complete Guide to Punks on Film. [...] In addition to being wildly informative, the writing is entertaining as all hell. All of the contributors are knowledgeable and enthusiastic about their topic. This is the kind of book that you’ll keep on your coffee table and pick up for a few minutes here and there, and every time you do, you’ll find something amazing. [...] Destroy All Movies!!! is as hyperactive, eclectic, and punk rock as the films it commemorates. [...] But even as spastic and irreverent as it can be, this is also a serious, respectful examination of an overlooked piece of film culture. [...] BUY THIS BOOK. You won’t regret it." – Brent McKnight, BeyondHollywood.com
• Plug: "For the budding or seasoned cult movie fan in your life, Destroy All Movies!!! by Zack Carlson and Bryan Connolly is the picture perfect present." – Tara O'Donnell, living read girl
• Review: Sean T. Collins's "Love and Rocktober" series at Attentiondeficitdisorderly rolls on with Ghost of Hoppers: "Jaime Hernandez has long displayed an infrequently utilized but alarming alacrity for horror. [...] At first I struggled with why Jaime would choose this particular storyline--Maggie Realizes She's All Grown Up, basically--to delve deeper than ever into this aspect of the Locas world. I mean, this thing becomes a horror comic toward the end, easily the most sustained such work in the whole Locas oeuvre. What does any of it have to do with the misadventures of Maggie, the story's protagonist? But then it clicked..."
• Review: "This debut graphic novel [The Sanctuary] ambitiously imagines the purposes of prehistoric art within the context of an imagined precivilization. Most strikingly, his tale is expressed entirely through the actions of his characters — their dialogue is written in an invented, phonetic language. [...] Neal’s dark pen work suggests texture, detail, and light effectively, and shoulders the burden of his almost-wordless storytelling. Despite some occasionally unclear moments, the broad sweep of the book’s action and ideas unmistakably raises thoughtful questions, marking Neal as an artist to watch." – Publishers Weekly
• Review: "A Drunken Dream is America's long overdue introduction to Moto Hagio, in a volume worthy of the honor. [...] Hardbound with gold foil on the cover, A Drunken Dream seems part textbook, and part holy book. [...] It's a demanding read, but one in which your enjoyment will be proportionate to your emotional investment. [...] It's hard to imagine a better release for a manga, or a more deserving artist than Hagio. [...] Very recommended. Grade: A" – Thomas Zoth, Mania
• Interview: At Robot 6, Sean T. Collins talks to Mome editor Eric Reynolds on the occasion of the anthology's 5th anniversary and 20th issue: "There were always anthologies, even when the periodical market was thriving, but I think they’re even more valuable now. There are just not enough publishers to support all the good cartoonists out there. I am constantly having to reject some pretty good work because we just have a ceiling of how many books we can publish a year. It’s my least favorite part of the job. Mome is at least a small way to help offset that reality."
• Coming Attractions: At The Forbidden Planet International Blog Log, Wim Lockefeer picks up on our scheduled June 2011 release of Murder by High Tide: Gil Jordan, Private Eye by Maurice Tillieux, saying "Gil Jourdan is one of the most essential BD series ever produced," and that the volume will be "the perfect book to get acquainted with this graphic genius, whose stories, in terms of timing and speed, every aspiring comics writer should read and study."
Online Commentary & Diversions, back from a short vacation:
• Review: "In the first volume of Tyler's planned trilogy of graphic memoirs [You'll Never Know], she dug into the eruptive, violent memories of her father's WWII experiences while simultaneously dealing with a husband who decided to go find himself and leave her with a daughter to raise. This second volume is no less rich and overwhelming. [...] While the language of Chicago-raised and Cincinnati-based Tyler has a winningly self-deprecating Midwestern spareness to it, her art is a lavishly prepared kaleidoscope of watercolors and finely etched drawings, all composed to look like the greatest family photo album of all time. The story's honest self-revelations and humane evocations of family dramas are tremendously moving." – Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
• Review: "Friedman's hyper-realistic pen-and-ink and water-color portraits of show business and political luminaries have made their way into the likes of Entertainment Weekly, The New Yorker and Rolling Stone over the years, and a stunning new collection has just been published by Fantagraphics Books — Too Soon?: Famous/Infamous Faces 1995-2010. [...] To say that Friedman's drawings are unsentimental or unsparing is just to scratch the surface. Known for depicting every last liver spot, burst capillary and wrinkle, his work is truly a Warts and All procedure. [...] You might say the super-realistic portraits are loving ones, but only in the sense that you love your own family members, whose soft spots and selfishness one is forced to forgive. Drew Friedman's heart is as big as his capacious eye for the telling detail. Seek him out or forever hold your peace." – David Weiss, Life Goes Strong
• Review: "...Four Color Fear offers some of the finest pre-code comic book horror tales ever produced. Extensively researched, complete with story notes, editor Sadowski compiled a superior collection of non-EC tales, many of which rarely reprinted in color. A 30-page cover art section and a fascinating article by historian John Benson, who also supplied the book's intro, about the little remembered, but prolific Ruth Roche, round out this sensational historical tour of the Golden Age of Horror Comics. Highly recommended!" – Rick Klaw, The SF Site: Nexus Graphica
• Review: "The wait [for Love and Rockets: New Stories #3] has been long, no doubt, but I dare say that it was not only worthwhile, but it has proved an inspiration to continue to have faith in mankind, because with artists like these, it is worth living. For the third annual issue..., Beto gets really wild and Xaime creates a stunning tapestry of memories and narrative levels." – Mauricio Matamoros, Iconoctlán (translated from Spanish)
• Interview: As part of his ongoing "Love and Rocktoberfest," Sean T. Collins posts his 2007 Wizard interview with Gilbert & Jaime Hernandez at Attentiondeficitdisorderly: "I liked drawing rockets and robots, as well as girls. [Laughs] It really was no big game plan. It was almost like, 'Okay, I'll give you rockets and robots, but I'll show you how it's done. I'm gonna do it, and this is how it's supposed to be done!' I went in with that kind of attitude." (Jaime)
• Review: "Like much of Hernandez’s work, there’s light amongst all this darkness, particularly later in this section of Fritz’s story. But [High Soft Lisp] remains a bleak book, with Fritz’s own cheerful optimism one of the few beacons of hope amongst a cast of incidental characters whose main purpose seems only to exploit her. Hernandez rarely performs below his best and this is no exception..." – Andy Shaw, Grovel
• Review: "Vast swaths of Wally Gropius appear — at least to my eye — to be visual homages to images that Hensley particularly loves. (The alternative is that he lays his panels out in his static, staccato rhythm just for that feeling, which is close to the same impulse.) It's all very loud and manic and bright and bizarre, veering towards and away from coherence often within the same panel. [...] The end result has that go-go energy and restless heat of the authentic products of the era Hensley sets his story in..." – Andrew Wheeler, The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.
• Interview:Illustration Friday talks to Jim Woodring: "Names and labels don’t matter much. Besides, there are things that cannot be said in words. So if you say them in pictures, are they not things being said? If I draw a hill that looks like a woman, it works differently that if i write 'there’s a hill that looks like a woman.' Also there are clues that one doesn’t want discovered too quickly, or not at all. Because one wants the emanations to proceed from an unknown source."
• Plug: "Nate Neal's first graphic novel [The Sanctuary] is dumbfoundingly ambitious: it takes as its subject nothing less than the invention of comics, in the sense of narrative-in-pictures, meaning that its cast is a bunch of cave-people. Cave-people who speak a cave-person language that Neal has invented himself (he offers the translation of a few key words on its jacket copy, but that's it). The working title of the book was a drawing of a bison. A man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?" – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
Today's Online Commentary & Diversions (with one carried over from yesterday's post-less day):
• Review: "Normally I wouldn’t put in a spoiler warning for a few blog notes, but this is a special case. I’m going to be talking about Love and Rockets: New Stories #3, which contains what is arguably one of the best comics stories ever... It’s so easy to take the Hernandez Bros. for granted: they’ve been around so long, put out work regularly, and often use the same characters. So the temptation is to just think that they’re a stable public resource, like the library or a museum: they’ll always be there and we can ignore them for years, checking in on them only when we need to. But really, these guys are among the best cartoonists who have ever lived. Like Seth, Chris Ware, Dan Clowes, and Kim Deitch, they are constantly pushing themselves to do better work, and are now at a career peak. We need to give thanks for this, loudly and publicly." – Jeet Heer, Comics Comics
• Review: "Really, it’s hard to know what to make of [Norman Pettingill:] Backwoods Humorist, the first time you flip through its lovingly-curated pages. [...] I fell in love with it almost immediately, first caught completely off guard by the amateurish art in a book compiled by Fantagraphics. Why, precisely had the publisher chosen to compile these works in such a beautiful volume? There is, however, something disarmingly bewitching amongst Pettingill’s grotesque caricatures of country life. [...] In the great scheme of 20th century art, it’s difficult to imagine that Pettingill’s work will ever be regarded as much more than a somewhat high profile curiosity. For those seeking to discover an utterly fascinating body of work, however, that curiosity is certainly worth the price of admission." – Brian Heater, The Daily Cross Hatch
• Review: "Greg Sadowski and John Benson did a superb job on this collection of early 1950s horror stories [Four Color Fear]... In addition to Greg's attractive design throughout, he delivers meticulous, pixel-perfect restorations... There are 25 pages of fascinating, informative notes by both Greg and John. [...] This book is like time-traveling, a document of an era. [...] This will stand as an important reference work that should be shelved alongside David Hajdu's The Ten-Cent Plague." – Bhob Stewart, Potrzebie
• Review: "...Mome 19... is the best volume of the series so far. [...] Josh Simmons' 'White Rhinocerous Part 1'... is short, makes sense, is funny: great comic. The rest of Mome 19 doesn't fall apart on the job either... But the real prize here is DJ Bryant... Alongside a group of contemporaries who possess some of comic's most innovative talents, he chose refinement. It fucking worked." – Tucker Stone, The Factual Opinion
• Plugs: "Fire & Water... is a look at the life and body of work created by Bill Everett, the man who created the Sub-Mariner - the character upon which Marvel Comics would be built. [... In] The Sanctuary [Nate] Neal uses a cave-dwelling tribe to explore themes of communication and language and reveals himself to be a master storyteller. [...] Ding Dong Daddy from Dingburg... is the newest collection of comics legend Bill Griffith's Zippy the Pinhead comic strip. In this volume — Joan Rivers, Charles Bukowski, God, riboflavin, and more! Surreal and absurd yuks abound." – Benn Ray (Atomic Books), Largehearted Boy
• Plug: "...[I]f you’re in the mood for some dazzling, filthy violence then perhaps Johnny Ryan’s Prison Pit Volume 2 is... up your alley. It’s got CF the barbarian from outer space on the cover, dripping in blood and wearing nowt but pants." – The Gosh! Comics Blog
• Plug: At Comix 411, Tom Mason, profiling Leslie Turner, Roy Crane's successor on Captain Easy, notes "For those interested in the origins of Captain Easy, you can’t do better than Fantagraphics Books which is reprinting Roy Crane’s classic strip, starting at the beginning."
• Almost Plug: The 1930s "Human Centipede" image that Mark Frauenfelder Boing Boinged today happens to be found in our book Catalog No. 439: Burlesque Paraphernalia and Side Degree Specialties and Costumes
This week's comic shop shipment is slated to include the following new titles. Read on to see what comics-blog commentators are saying about our releases this week, and contact your local shop to confirm availability.
Rip M.D. by Mitch Schauer & Michael Vosburg et al.
88-page full-color 7.5" x 9.25" softcover • $12.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-369-9
"[Rip M.D.] seems to be a comic more geared to a juvenile public, but should be pretty cool because there are a lot of monsters, really violent werewolves, zombies, and best of all, vampires that do not sparkle!" – Submundo Mamão (translated from Portuguese)
"Rip M.D. is a creepy, fun-filled all-ages adventure saga... [Mitch] Schauer told ICv2 that the inspiration for Rip M.D. was all those horror and monster movies he saw as a child — movies that made him care more about the fate of the colorful monsters and fiends than the B movies' human characters who always seemed to triumph in the end. Rip M.D. is the logical emotional outgrowth of those accumulated cinematic disappointments, the story of a boy who is able to help the horror and monster movie characters that he loves the most." – ICv2
"A 'full-color, all-ages adventure' with an animated cartoon series in development, a promising bet for reluctant readers." – Martha Cornog, Library Journal
208-page black & white 8" x 10" softcover • $22.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-388-0
"It’s probably insultingly reductive to refer to Nate Neal’s debut graphic novel as 'caveman comics,' but that’s generally the sort of two-word phrase that tends to get me excited to read something. The subject matter is indeed a 'Paleolithic cave-dwelling tribe,' but the way Neal handles the verbal aspects of a pre-linguistic, vocal communication seem to be a big part of the work as well." – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
"Nate Neal's first graphic novel is dumbfoundingly ambitious: it takes as its subject nothing less than the invention of comics, in the sense of narrative-in-pictures, meaning that its cast is a bunch of cave-people. Cave-people who speak a cave-person language that Neal has invented himself (he offers the translation of a few key words on its jacket copy, but that's it). The working title of the book was a drawing of a bison. A man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?" – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
104-page full-color 12" x 10.25" hardcover • $24.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-418-4
"Cartoonist C. Tyler continues her comics biography of her Greatest Generation father, wrapped in around a memoir of her own life at the time she was learning his story for herself. If it’s as good as the first book, I imagine it will be one of, if not the, best comics available this week." – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
"Being the follow-up to one of the most widely appreciated comics of 2009, Carol Tyler’s expansive portrait of life rippling from the submerged stone of her father’s WWII experiences. I understand this volume will incorporate an expanded presentation of Tyler’s also-widely-appreciated 1994 short The Hannah Story directly into the larger work. [True. – Ed.]" – Joe McCulloch, Comics Comics
"The best book of the week: a way to have your heart torn out while your eyes feast. The second volume of C. Tyler's project about discovering what her father did in World War II expands its scope to other painful parts of her family dynamics, and incorporates Tyler's extraordinary 1995 short story 'The Hannah Story.' If I started going off about how much I love Tyler's artwork and design and storytelling, we'd be here all afternoon--there's really nobody else doing what she does in comics..." – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
"Your book of the week. I still think this is something that will read 10X better in one volume as opposed to these three serialized books, but wanting to get a book out when its subjects can still read and enjoy it is of course an admirable thing. Plus I'm disenfranchised when it comes to that particular vote. The scary thing is, these books are already stupendous. This new Carol Tyler supposedly has within its pages one of the 100 best comics of the 20th Century, and I practically guarantee you it won't be out of place." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
"I liked the first volume of Carol Tyler’s You’ll Never Know, the story of her father’s experiences in the war, but it left me wanting more, so I definitely want to read the second volume, Collateral Damage." – Brigid Alverson, Robot 6
In Nate Neal's first full-length graphic novel, the author explores the primal mysteries and sordid inner workings of a Paleolithic cave-dwelling tribe, creating an original "silent" reading experience by using symbols instead of words.
When a mysterious nomad girl is offered up as an item of trade, she seeks refuge by forming a tenacious friendship with the local cave-painter turned outcast. Together they set out on a dangerous mission to bring truth to their corrupt tribe with the help of their new discovery (via some psychotropic mushrooms): drawings that tell a story. Subsequently, they become enmeshed in the violent power struggles and sensual intrigues between the alpha males and alpha females.
In The Sanctuary, art, inspiration, and communication is in conflict with tradition and law, and then ovel dramatizes the moral imperative of man facing the truth even at the cost of his, and society's, lives.
Featuring its own delicately crafted Paleolithic language, The Sanctuary breaks new ground by bringing complex ideas to the page with primal immediacy and sophistication through Neal's adroit use of pantomime storytelling that provide many layers of symbolism and meaning. This is a darkly comic journey through a prehistoric re-imagining of art and comics.