• Review: "You Shall Die By Your Own Evil Creation!... collects all the [Fletcher] Hanks material not included in the first book. Hanks' hyperactive, colorful, robust, and crazily disproportionate art is perfectly matched to his over-the-top storytelling... There are few artists, from the Golden Age to today, that so deftly blended goofy dialogue with terrifying violence and surreal situations; for better or worse, Hanks was a real original. [Grade] B+" - The A.V. Club
• Review: "[Ho! The Morally Questionable Cartoons of Ivan Brunetti] is a brutally funny and disturbing attempt to push some buttons, either uncomfortably or comfortably mired in taboo. The aesthetic of freaks, geeks, nerds and ugly men and women, all with dark pasts, dirty fetishes, sociopathic tendencies, and murderous habits all play out over 120 odd pages of frenetic cartoon violence, sometimes sexual, sometimes suicidal, sometimes offensive, but always funny." - Geek Pie
• Review: "Explainers [is] a veritable Bible of middle class American dysfunction... [Jules] Feiffer reveals the depths of his subject not only through the dialogue — which are filled with psychological, social and politic depths that few cartoonists have ever plumbed — but also through an amazing skill to capture the body language so crucial to human communication... Explainers is 500 pages of startling truth captured in sequential squiggles on paper, a real masterpiece worth delving into." - John E. Mitchell, North Adams Transcript
• Profile/Review: Robert Birnbaum of The Morning News proposes "a Mount Rushmore of American illustration" consisting of Bill Mauldin, Jules Feiffer, Ed Sorel, Seymour Chwast, and David Levine, adding "American Presidents is a 128-page compilation that assembles Levine’s survey of American leaders and their coteries and skewers them with delightful results. It should be a required text in American history courses—Levine’s images powerfully expose the venality, duplicity, and hypocrisy of the upper reaches of our government."
• Interviews: Inkstuds presents a two-fer of audio talks with newly-minted Mome contributors: first up, it's Noah Van Sciver (whose comics "read like they came from the mind of a crazed hobo. Seriously, they are great"); up second, it's T. Edward Bak (described simply as "great")
• List: Bdzoom reports that l'Association des Critiques et journalistes de Bande Dessinée (ACBD) has placed Bottomless Belly Button by Dash Shaw on their summer reading shortlist (there's Tardi on there too)
• Review: "Nell Brinkley was an icon for several generations of women... The art [in The Brinkley Girls] has been beautifully restored, a task that must have been pure torture given the density of Brinkley's drawings and that sophisticated color work. My hat's off to whoever did that fabulous job." - Allan Holtz, Stripper's Guide
• Review: "At one point in her comic-style memoir [You'll Never Know Book 1: A Good and Decent Man], Carol [Tyler] talks to us directly and says, 'The war was never really buried under tons of mental concrete. Rather, it was an active shaper of life, affecting moods and outcomes ... more than anyone ever knew.' Indeed. This is an important and deeply spiritual contribution to American culture." - David Crumm, Read the Spirit
• Review: "[You'll Never Know Book 1: A Good and Decent Man] is not your blood and guts portrayal of a ruthless soldier but rather an investigation into the emotional costs that war has on the combatant and the family that they sire, presenting a familiar story of the 'greatest generation' in an unfamiliar way." - Quentin Williams, two.one.five Magazine
• Review: "...Supermen! [is] a beautifully designed volume of early American comics... The edition is both aesthetically pleasing and sturdy, featuring clarified reprinting of the colour strips, covers, and scattered elements of advertisements and back matter." - Michael Leader, Den of Geek
• Review: "[West Coast Blues] is everything you would expect from a suspense thriller... Visually the comic book is also great. It's everything you would expect from Tardi... I don't believe that anybody else than him would have been able to visually translate Manchette's novel so well. It's like they worked together and that the comic book is the original material. Bottom line, this is another great comic book by Tardi. If you have never read anything by him you should. Luckily for North American readers, Fantagraphics announced that they that they were going to translate Tardi's work starting this fall." - Patrick Bérubé, Comic Book Bin
• Review: "You Shall Die By Your Own Evil Creation!... gathers all the remaining material that the alcoholic, abusive [Fletcher] Hanks did during his brief tenure as a comic book creator in the late 1930s and early 40s... [T]here’s still plenty of weird and wonderful tales to delight and disturb... [and] there are panels here that are rather stunning in their ability to create tension and drama... The work remains strange, powerful, funny, terrifying and yes, at times beautiful..." - Chris Mautner, Robot 6 (be sure to read the comments for an important clarification from editor Paul Karasik)
• Review: "Fans of Norwegian cult comics star Jason are in for something of a treat with Low Moon... what we have here are five stories, each of which would’ve previously warranted a collection in its own right, delivered together in one delicious hamper of Jason goodness... There’s never been a better time, then, to jump aboard the Jason train... This is as essential as comics gets." - Bookmunch
• Review: "It’s hard to think of a modern cartoonist with a more recognizable drawing style than Norway’s Jason... But Jason’s storytelling is just as distinctive as his drawing style... [and] the artist’s narrative approach has grown more adventurous over the years. Jason’s latest collection, Low Moon, is evidence of this trend... The reader, meanwhile, just lapses into a giddy comics coma." - Casey Jarman, Willamette Week
• Preview: Previews posts 7 pages from Low Moon. Have we mentioned it's in stores today?
• Interview: Brian Heater of The Daily Cross Hatch concludes his 2-part chat with "the visionary" Jason. Sample quote: "I worked in a furniture factory for nine months... I really hated it. So I went to art school instead. Turned out to be not that much of a difference, of course."
• Interview: The hosts of The Comix Claptrap podcast "talk comics shop and try to get LA gossip from talented cartoonist, John Pham, of Sublife, Kramers Ergot 7 and Mome fame"
• Plug: "Low Moon: It’s the latest from Jason. Or, in other words, it’s one of this week’s absolute must-reads." - J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
• Plug: "Pick of the week: Low Moon... [B]y this point Jason has proven himself to be one of the stellar talents in Fantagraphics' roster (which is really saying something, by the way) and this collection of short stories... should likely only cement that reputation as the artist plays with such traditional genres as the Western, film noir, and alien abductions. All offered with the usual dollops of sardonic humor and heartfelt sympathy." - Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Plug: "Low Moon: New Jason, from Fantagraphics. All I need to know... This guy's a treasure." - Jog - The Blog
• Plug: John Jakala of Sporadic Sequential takes us to task for the smaller trim size of Luba vs. Palomar, but concedes "the smaller size is actually easier to handle when reading. OK, you win this round, Fantagraphics"
Let's see what Online Commentary & Diversions are out there:
• Review: "[Michael Kupperman's] work is sublime in the truest sense of the word, speaking to me as a reader in ways that can be discussed and broken down but not quite fully communicated in their Rightness... About the only other humorists who have affected me in the same way were the Marx Brothers... Kupperman saturates each page [of Tales Designed to Thrizzle Vol. 1] with crazed ideas, bizarre connections, and references that aren't really references. Even a reader who may not be familiar with what Kupperman's (often obliquely) mocking is still pulled full-tilt into the gag. No matter what the concept, once Kupperman's laid his hands on it, it's no longer recognizable as anything but his." - Rob Clough
• Review: "...[T]he deadpan expressions of the characters [in I Killed Adolf Hitler] say more than pages of words could say... there’s a kinda sweet little love story in there about the protagonist and his girlfriend, and what they find out about themselves and each other in the process of trying to correct history." - Thinking About...
• Profile: "...The Brinkley Girls [was] a sophisticated series capturing the modern American working girl with a combination of glamour, spunk, feminine allure and curly hair..." - "I Want to Be a Brinkley Girl," First Person Singular
I've run out of time again! Hopefully we'll finally be caught up with our Online Commentary & Diversions tomorrow. For now, here's a few links that were sent to me:
• Review: "...Low Moon is the best work I’ve seen from [Jason] yet... I don’t care that 'Emily Says Hello' is illustrated fiction, because it deserves to be on any year-end list of 2009’s finest crime stories, no matter what the format... One and all, these are excellently told tales from a unique talent." - Rod Lott, Bookgasm
• Review: "[Nell] Brinkley was praised for her writing (it’s easy to see why: overblown, yet so satisfying; maybe the only word to describe it is 'delicious') but her drawings made her famous. Each one is an orgiastic, atmospheric feast for the eye... The Brinkley Girls is a tantalizing primer, and a perfect summer read." - Macy Halford, The New Yorker
• Oddity: Dull Tool Dim Bulb has the story of the Gene Deitch-John Lee Hooker connection -- although they misidentify Gene as Czech (he merely lives in Prague) and as the creator of Krazy Kat (he animated George Herriman's creation) so perhaps some of the other details of the story are suspect as well...
Still catching up with Online Commentary & Diversions. There's more, but I'm out of time, so more catch-up tomorrow!
• Review: "The backbone of the family, and also its Achilles heel, Luba is a larger-than-life personality who jumps off every page, whether she's the focus of the segment or just a background player. [Gilbert] Hernandez collects over 100 stories here, ranging from graphic novellas to single-page episodes, with his usual dizzying cocktail of sexual intrigue, humor and soap opera-style angst." - Publishers Weekly (Starred Review - near end of page)
• Review: "There are two excellent interviews in the back of [Blazing Combat]... The interviews are part of what makes the comic so fascinating. Of course, it wouldn’t matter if the stories weren’t good, and they are... [Archie] Goodwin does a fine job keeping each story fresh and even getting into the heads of the characters... It’s a testament to Goodwin’s ability that he manages to write 28 (generally) anti-war stories, but never feels like he’s simply repeating himself... The art helps the book shine, as well... There’s not a poorly-illustrated story in the entire book, and some are eerily beautiful... These are both excellent comics and fascinating historical documents, and Blazing Combat is totally worth a read." - Greg Burgas, Comic Book Resources
• Profile: I don't think I would have guessed that Joost Swarte was influenced by Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, but so says he: The Walrus spotlights Swarte, who provides a cover illustration for the current issue, and whose long-gestating Fantagraphics collection Modern Swarte is still in the works
• Interview: At Newsarama, Zack Smith enjoys a lengthy chat with Jules Feiffer (and breaks the news to him that Explainers is nominated for an Eisner Award... oops, sorry Jules)
• List: Moolies posts his/her (?) "Top 10 graphic novels," including Safe Area Gorazde by Joe Sacco ("It's truly appalling reading, and the reason is because he's such a great artist, and a great listener too"), Peter Bagge's Buddy Bradley saga ("There's so much painful and embarrassing truth in Bagge's work, and it's carried along by a sharp, wisecracking sense of humour"), and Love and Rockets ("A stunning, extraordinary, even feminist (or humanist) body of work... It's always a joy, and I'm so glad they're still writing these stories")
• Plug: "We should all learn about Nell Brinkley in college. So if you’re currently in college, go check out The Brinkley Girls already. And if you’re out of college already, well go check it out anyway, because everyone seriously needs to see this book—Brinkley was that good." - J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
Your Online Commentary & Diversions return from a short vacation. More catch-up tomorrow.
• Review: "[C.] Tyler’s fluid, expressive linework, complemented by subtly overlaid watercolors, gives ideal visual expression to a narrative that’s at once sensitive and hard-nosed. [You'll Never Know, Book 1] is Tyler’s first book-length effort, but decades of drawing mostly autobiographical stories have honed her skills, enabling her to produce a work that ranks in quality with the graphic memoirs of Alison Bechdel (Fun Home) and Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis)." - Gordon Flagg, Booklist (Starred Review; no link)
• Review: "Norwegian-French cartoonist Jason’s new book [Low Moon] is the first premiered in hardcover in the U.S. and contains his most minimally formatted stories... If you’re into genre fiction, have a sense of humor but no time for condescension, and haven’t encountered Jason yet, wait no longer." - Ray Olson, Booklist (Starred Review; no link)
• Review: "This is the best thing I have ever been sent to review. I didn't think that this book would ever exist but now it does and it'd better than I could have imagined... The eleven issues of Humbug are faithfully reprinted in this two-volume hardcover set and it comes in a fancy and sturdy box. The magazines were funny and beautiful with art by Will Elder and Jack Davis and some other folks. If you don't buy this book then I don't want to know you... There is no excuse for not buying this right now. Sell your hair, blood, or skin to get it." - Nick Gazin, Vice
• Review: "Luba encompasses everything a turn-of-the-21st-century graphic novel should be: paraliterary or lowbrow tropes of comics, pornography, soap opera, blended seamlessly with a highbrow literary accomplishment of pathos and familial history. It is as profane as it is dense. Almost postmodern in its self-reference... and frequently silly in its blatant cartoonishness, Luba is surreal and bizarre and arousing and gut-wrenching and hilarious." - Dusty Horn, CarnalNation
• Review: "If you grew up 'different'... you’ll find a lot that’s familiar in A Mess of Everything. [Miss] Lasko-Gross is close enough to this material to keep it particular – she avoids the sweeping gesture and the grand statement at all times – and distanced enough from it to see it as part of her past, fodder for stories rather than a raw wound. It’s a fine book from a very talented creator, and I expect we’ll see much more from Miss Lasko-Gross as the years go on." - Andrew Wheeler, ComicMix
• Review: "...[Miss Lasko-Gross] displays... subtlety and balance in her portrayal of her teen-age years... [I]n its portrayal of the importance and tenuous nature of teenage friendships, [A Mess of Everything] glows with sharp recognition." - Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "[Uptight #3] is very very good... The plot [of 'Vicissitude'] is a bitter little thing, steeped in infidelity, alcohol, career dissatisfaction, hints of class self-consciousness, and frustration with the path your life has taken -- like a Pulp song, almost.... Crane's Sam and Jack stories unfold like the pipes and vents upon which this tale centers: they bend and twist and wind in comically baroque ways, yet Crane's control of his visuals and the story's tone are so self-assured that it all seems completely logical, like a mind consciously built it this way and if you have a little faith, it'll work like it's supposed to." - Sean T. Collins
• Review: "Just a quick mention of what may turn out to be my favorite damn cover of 2009... check out Uptight issue #3..." - Blair Butler, G4 Fresh Ink Online (video; review starts around 1:34)
• Plug: "Jason is really one of the best cartoonists at work today, and you should check out this reading." - Paul Constant, The Stranger, recommending last Saturday's appearance by Jason at our Seattle bookstore
• Interview: Brian Heater of The Daily Cross Hatch got some face time for a Q&A with Jason at the 2009 MoCCA Festival. Sample quote: "I think it’s fun to bring different genres together and try to bring in something new, to see it from a new angle, that it’s a bit more than just a pastiche."
• Interview: "Frankly, I think it's a losing game to try to generalize about the relationship between biography and literature." - Chris Ware, interviewed by Joan Luna at 13 Milliones de Naves (translation from Google)
• Preview: ICv2 takes a peek at our upcoming collection Gahan Wilson: 50 Years of Playboy Cartoons
• Preview: The Geek Curmudgeon looks forward to From Wonderland with Love: Danish Comics in the Third Millennium
• Events: Zane Austin Grant of PopMatters reports from the "Ah, Humbug!" panel with Al Jaffee and Arnold Roth at the 2009 MoCCA Festival
• Things to see: At Truthout.org, a Drew Friedman illustration from Time illustrates a Bill Maher editorial from the Los Angeles Times
• Staff news: Fantagraphics warehouse manager and noted practitioner of visual poetry Nico Vassilakis has a new book, Protracted Type, which can be purchased or downloaded here
Hoo-ee, it's time for our post-MoCCA Online Commentary & Diversions catch-up. It's going to take a while to sift through 4-5 days of the comics blogosphere, so to start with these are mostly links that have been sent to me:
• Review: "In what is obviously a labor of love, [C.] Tyler tells the story of her father's time during WWII and her parents' early relationship, skillfully interweaving it with Tyler's own story... provid[ing] a moving, personal portrait of one member of what's become known as 'the greatest generation.' Tyler's use of colored inks gives the line drawings an inviting depth of emotion... The drawings speak with an even greater richness thanks to the evocative words that appear within and around them, commenting upon and adding to the action portrayed in the panels. An important contributor to independent comics since the 1980s, Tyler has made a name for herself with the quirky warmth of her autobiographical stories, and this wonderful book [You'll Never Know Book 1: A Good and Decent Man] is a thoughtful work that greatly adds to the language of the graphic memoir." - Publishers Weekly (Starred Review; scroll to end of page)
• Review: "Jason’s books have always had a cinematic feel, and he seems to examine this more than ever with direct tie-ins to film concepts playing major roles in several of the stories... [A]ll of the stories in Low Moon are entertaining, and fans of Jason should be more than happy to digest five new comics from one of the best in the business." - William Jones, Graphic Novel Reporter
• Review: "Now, Fantagraphics has brought out The Wolverton Bible... I love that Wolverton's Adam and Eve look like Cary Grant and Rita Hayworth, and that the images of Noah’s Ark have the beautifully clean look of a wood carving. Dramatic scenes such as Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac, the devastation brought by locusts, and Samson’s blinding, showcase the artist’s talent for visceral, visual storytelling." - Leigh Stein, The New Yorker
• Review: "...[T]he newest issue of Michael Kupperman's mind-bending humor mag, Tales Designed to Thrizzle #5. Six Reasons Why Michael Kupperman Is A Genius (A bullet-pointed review...)" by Rob Clough, High-Low
• Review: "Peter Bagge's Neat Stuff saw the cartoonist at the height of his expressionistic style, and marked the beginning of the mature work he would exhibit in Hate and elsewhere... required reading for Hate fans... Anyone interested in fearless pop-culture satire, not just Peter Bagge, should have a look." - Luke Arnott, suite101.com
• Review: "Blazing Combat reprints all 4 issues of the ground-breaking war series... These are fascinating stories... drawn by some of the top talent in comics... [who] did some of their finest works for this short-lived publication. This new package from Fantagraphics Books is a handsome hardcover... the design work is A+, this time by Adam Grano." - Gary Sassaman, Innocent Bystander
• Interview: Comic Book Resources' Shaun Manning talks to editor Andrei Molotiu about the forthcoming anthology Abstract Comics. Sample quote: "I think that, oftentimes, abstract comics do end up maintaining more of that graphic energy [of superhero comics], and I think that they can draw attention to this very powerful tool in the vocabulary of comics that may have been lost in a number of art and alternative comics."
• Interview: Cartoonist Scott Nickel asks 20 questions of "one of the best cartoonists of his generation," Peter Bagge. Sample quote: "The idea of being a cartoonist was an appealing one to me as a kid, though not as appealing as being a rock star or baseball player."
• Interview: I can't remember if we've linked to this 2008 North Shore News Q&A with Peter Bagge before: "Anyone who claims they're speaking for an entire generation should be stoned to death!"
• Events: Thanks to Comic Book Resources' Timothy Callahan for picking some stuff up at our table at MoCCA and posting a photo of Miss Lasko-Gross signing A Mess of Everything; CBR's Kiel Phegley picks up some of the festival buzz; Publishers Weekly has some Fantagraphics scoop in their MoCCA report as well
• Things to see: Spain's Entrecomics presents a gallery of all of Daniel Clowes's front and back covers for Eightball. Clowes's back cover strips are some of his funniest work, and the later issues feature some stunning wraparounds, so it's well worth checking out. Here's Part I and Part II
Online Commentary & Diversions returns (probably) Tuesday next week, as your humble correspondent travels to and from the MoCCA Festival. Fortunately, looks like things are quiet out there (as I doom myself saying that):
• Review: "[Luba] seems more and more like a great book every time I pick it up. I guess I shouldn't be surprised... It's going to be until the end of the year before I can attempt a bigger piece on the book... I feel I can wait that six months before a summary statement because there won't be many works in this calendar year better than this one, and if there [are] I'll be so happy I won't care... For now I just want people to know how good it is and remind folks that it's out there. It's a good read, too... It's going to be a good year spent in this book's company." - Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
• Review: "To say they don’t make them like this anymore is a gross understatement... [The Brinkley Girls: The Best of Nell Brinkley's Cartoons 1913-1940] is a very welcome introduction to an artist whose skills need to be seen to be believed, and an even more welcome reminder that newspapers used to offer readers a lot more than just news and commentary — they also used to offer honest-to-God fine art." - J. Caleb Mozzocco, Las Vegas Weekly
Another late dose of Online Commentary & Diversions:
• List: CBC Radio's "Canada Reads: The Book Club" host Hannah Sung kicks off voting on the "Top 10 Graphic Novels" with Ghost World: "I love Dan Clowes’s clean, graphic style. I love Enid’s glasses, I love how everything is 'lame' and I love that Enid expresses how much she hates Sassy magazine even as she reads it."
• Interview: The Daily Cross Hatch's Brian Heater wraps up his 3-part talk with Michael Kupperman. Sample quote: "But of course the point of humor is that you always want it to look easy. You don’t want it to look like you spent two hours on your 140 character line — not that I’ve ever done that [laughs]."
• Interview: The Metabunker's Matthias Wivel talks to Steffen Maarup, editor of From Wonderland with Love: Danish Comics in the Third Millennium, debuting at MoCCA this weekend. Sample quote: "My selection process was pretty much as simple as picking what’s good; so stories that were original, did interesting things with the medium of comics, or touched me in some way."
Opening reception/event: Thursday, May 21, 7:00-9:00pm Free and open to the public
The Cartoon Art Museum presents The Brinkley Girls, a celebration of one of the most popular cartoonists of the early 20th century, Nell Brinkley. This retrospective, guest-curated by comics herstorian Trina Robbins, showcases over 30 lavishly illustrated newspaper tearsheets, magazine illustrations, original artworks and other highlights from Robbins's personal collection.
Details regarding the opening reception and a special presentation by Trina Robbins will be announced shortly.
About Nell Brinkley:
For over thirty years Nell Brinkley's beautiful girls waltzed, vamped and shimmied their way through the pages of William Randolph Hearst's newspapers, captivating the American public with their innocent sexuality.
In 1907, at the tender age of 22, Nell Brinkley came to New York to draw for the Hearst syndicate. Within a year, she had become a household name. Flo Ziegfeld dressed his dancers as "Brinkley Girls" in the Ziegfeld Follies. Three popular songs were written about her. Women, aspiring to the masses of curly hair with which Nell adorned her fetching and idealized creations, could buy Nell Brinkley Hair Curlers for ten cents a card. Young girls cut out and saved her drawings, copied them, colored them, and pasted them in scrapbooks.
Nell Brinkley widened her scope to include pen and ink depictions of working women. Brinkley used her fame to campaign for better working conditions and higher pay for women who had joined in the war effort, and who were suffering economic and social dislocation due to acting on their patriotism. Unlike most of her contemporaries, she drew women of different races and cultures.
Today, except for a small group of avid collectors, she is unjustly forgotten.
But no longer. The Fantagraphics Books publication The Brinkley Girls: The Best of Nell Brinkley's Cartoons from 1913-1940 collects Brinkley's exquisitely colored full page art from 1913 to 1940. Here are her earliest silent movie serial-inspired adventure series, "Golden Eyes and Her Hero, Bill;" her almost too romantic series, "Betty and Billy and Their Love Through the Ages;" her snappy flapper comics from the 1920s; her 1937 pulp magazine-inspired "Heroines of Today." Included are photos of Nell, reproductions of her hitherto unpublished paintings, and an informative introduction by the book‚s editor, Trina Robbins.
Retired cartoonist and current comics historian Trina Robbins has been writing graphic novels, comics, and books for over 30 years. Her subjects have ranged from Wonder Woman and the Powerpuff Girls to her own teenage superheroine, GoGirl!, and from women cartoonists and superheroines to women who kill. She lives in a moldering 103 year old house in San Francisco with her cats, shoes, and dust bunnies.