• List: Rob Clough's Top 100 Comics of the '00s Part Two (of Two) at The Comics Journal is chock full o' Fantagraphics
• Review: "Fantagraphics' panties-to-the-floor handsome English-language version [of Ici Même], You Are There , may blow its own share of minds some three decades after the work's initial publication. Most modern comics readers are not used to material that functions and frustrates this way. It's great work, though, well worth any effort extended in its direction. I think the key is to take the book for what it is: the kind of general satire where the beauty isn't in watching one specific thing dissected but rather several ideas and concepts collide into another in a way that makes for loud noises and then a satisfying pile of rubble. It's a lost episode of Ripping Yarns in comics form by two in-their-prime masters, the French turned up to dix." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
• Review: "...[A]t some point in the years between the release of Schizo #3 and #4, Brunetti matured into one of our best living cartoonists, an artist with an absolutely impeccable understanding of the craft and construction of comic strips. His timing is perfect; his lines are perfect; it doesn't feel stifling or over-thought or too precious. His strips breathe and choke and swoon in all the right places." – Tim O'Neil, "The Ten Best Comics of the Aughts," The Hurting
• Plug: Jill Pantozzi of SF Weekly's Heartless Doll blog recommends Castle Waiting Vol. 1 to Twilight fans: "Anyone who thinks damsels are meant to be in distress hasn't visited the right castle. Bella and Edward may live happily ever after, staring into each other's eyes for all eternity, but what happens to everyone else in the story once theirs ends? Castle Waiting is a look at all the minor players in the tale of Sleeping Beauty and some you've probably never heard of (the bearded nun, perhaps?) following her exit with Prince Charming. It's a smart, humorous story about strong women helping others and daily life at a castle that was meant for more than just love stories." (via Robot 6)
We're a bit late with this update but perhaps your comics will be too, due to East Coast Snowpocalypse '010? It's a big day for Fantagraphics releases at comic shops across the land today, with the following titles scheduled to ship:
Newsarama calls it "adorably dark — or perhaps darkly adorable," Robot 6's Chris Mautner asserts "If you like the Our Gang comics or Archie or the general 'kids pal around, go on adventures and make each other miserable' type of comic, chances are you'll really like this," The Stranger's Paul Constant called it "a doozy of a book," somebody at Austin Books & Comics "is raving about the latest @fantagraphics 'Yikes' collection. Something about most warped kids since Garbage Pail Kids" and webcomic character Lydia Park declares "Weissman is a genius."
Most importantly, Steven says "When you get yours, post a pic to YIKES! friendship and we'll mail you a FREE GIFT!" It's for real!
Robot 6's Chris Mautner declares "See Dennis bother the barber! Pester the construction workers! Annoy Margaret! Confuse Joey! And generally drive Mr. Wilson and his parents up a frickin' wall. All in the name of fun. And adorableness."
Robot 6's Chris Mautner again: "I'm a sucker for discovering unexplored corners of comics history, and this collection of mini-comics from the Reagan era... seems to do just that." The Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon says "A really good book and quite effective as raw" and then forgets to finish his sentence but be sure to read his full rave review. Jog predicts "the real fun will likely be in editor Michael Dowers' selection -- honed in on life signs of the older 'underground' period -- of now-obscure period talents..." There's also a nice plug from Gosh! Comics.
All right, your local shop can let you know if they got 'em (or order 'em for you if they didn't) and of course you can get your fill of previews and info at the links above.
• Interview: In an interview with The Beat's Michael Fiffe, artist Mark Badger talks about his participation in Abstract Comics: The Anthology: "It came out of nowhere. It was absolutely stunning."
• Plug: "New from Fantagraphics Books, Newave! The Underground Mini Comix of the 1980s. At 888 pages this is a substantial collection of the comix art of the New Wave mini-comix movement. Largely inspired by the Underground Comix movement of the 60s & 70s, these artists produced hand-made mini-comix for the pure joy of creating uncensored self-expression without the appeasement and quench of profit motivation." – Skip Williamson
Newave! is a gigantic collection of the best small press cartoonists to emerge in the 1970s after the first generation of underground cartoonists (such as R. Crumb, Gilbert Shelton, and Art Spiegelman) paved the way. These cartoonists, inspired by the freewheeling creative energy of the underground comix movement, began drawing and printing their own comix. The most popular format was an 8 1/2” x 11” sheet, folded twice, and printed at local, pre-Kinkos print shops on letter-size paper; because of the small size, they were dubbed “mini comix.” As they evolved many different artists, one by one, became interested in this do-it-yourself phenomenon. By the 1980’s they became known as Newave Comix, a term taken from England’s Newave rock ’n’ roll movement. An explosion of do-it-yourself artists emerged. Many talented artists went onto bigger and better things, others have disappeared into the fog never to be heard from again. Inspired by the creative freedom of their underground predecessors and unrestrained by commercial boundaries or editorial edicts, their work was particularly innovative and experimental. Here you will find a group of artists who could not get any attention from the mainstream, who were driven by the inner need to express themselves. This group was a pioneering force that still leaves a wake and an imprint on the alternative comix scene today.
Newave! features over 800 pages of comics (click here to read the full Table of Contents), as well as a historical introduction by editor Michael Dowers (click here to read), and interviews with several of the more prominent artists featured, such as Brad Foster, Artie Romero, Steve Willis, Dennis Worden, Bob X, J.R. Williams, Roger May, Tom Hosier, George Erling, and Bob Vojtko.
“Newave is not about artsploitation. Newave is about ideas. Nothing is taboo. Nothing is censored. No one is told what or what not to draw... Newave is social, political, rebellious, humorous, irreverent, libelous, inane, argumentative, blasé, blatant, belligerent, blasphemous, insane, kinky, ridiculous, absurd, loving, sleazy, and topical. Newave is back talk... Newave is the child of instant printing. Anyone can learn it. Anyone can participate. There are no aristocrats of newave, no comix stars. Newave is communication returned to people. It is out of the control of the mind manipulators...” – Excerpts from Clay Geerdes’ Newave Manifesto, 1983
Download an EXCLUSIVE 36-page PDF excerpt (2 MB) with samples from throughout the book.
Today's Online Commentary & Diversions starts with a rave:
• Review: "This is a fascinating book on a lot of levels. For one, it's distinguished by Adam Grano's design work to a degree I think noteworthy: on many levels, Newave! represents better than any book I've seen the clash of comics publishing impulses now and then. ... It says something about Grano's increasingly compelling body of work with Fantagraphics that he provides the work with much of the energy that helps the reader through nearly 900 pages. It's Michael Dowers that makes that trip worthwhile. By avoiding a summary statement and roping in so many cartoonists, presenting 700 pages of their work in doing so..., Dowers lets the reader come to the material rather than shoving it into their face. His confidence is justified: a lot of these comics are fascinating-looking, and the sheer handsomeness of many of the pages, this wall of better-than-expected craft, will probably be the biggest shock to those that kind of dismissed this kind of work whenever one encountered it along the way." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
• Review: "...[Like a Dog] makes for a compelling scrapbook collection — and a beautifully-bound one at that. ... There’s an inspiring breadth of themes and styles on display here, although ultimately they all point to an artist in the depths of an existential crisis." – Will Fitzpatrick, Bookmunch
• Interview:Bookmunch's Will Fitzpatrick, whose review of Zak Sally's Like a Dog is linked above, has a good long email interview with Zak: "I actually enjoy reading comics so much that it’s slightly embarrassing. The stylistic diversity you mention was, again, not that conscious on my part: it was, again, just having this thing or idea and having to find a way to come at it that made sense, to me; and strangely enough, that often meant I had to experiment with what I thought comics were or weren’t to get there. I was just searching for a way to make comics."
Online Commentary & Diversions have seen their shadow:
• List: Our pal Bully the Little Stuffed Bull has started his annual Fun Fifty countdown. In the first installment, coming in at #46, Blazing Combat: "War, huh! What is it good for? Absolutely nothin'... aside from bringing us this gorgeous archive edition of a classic comic every war comics fan oughta have in their library."
• Review: "Back in the days of Factsheet Five, I used to order tons of minicomix. Most were mediocre, but a few were terrifically good and that made it worth the risk to send in the fifty cents or so that they cost. ... Fantagraphics just released a massively thick (900 pages!) anthology of minicomix called Newave! The Underground Mini Comix of the 1980s , and it's a treat." – Mark Frauenfelder, Boing Boing
• Review: "In Strange Suspense, Ditko already shines as a masterful designer of sinister mansions, ornate gateways and demonic doors and furnishings... And finally, there’s no mistaking those trademark Ditko faces, leering with evil or sweating and wide-eyed with terror, often lit or looking up from below. ... It is a pleasure to follow Ditko’s youthful artistic progression and there is a noticeable refining and streamlining of his drawing, going for greater clarity and impact. ... These morality fables are seldom subtle or surprising... but it’s Ditko’s artistry that elevates these mostly standard comic book nasties. ...[T]he $39.99 ticket is good value, and this is a weighty, hard-packed, deluxe package..." – Paul Gravett
• Review: "Successful art engenders powerful emotion in its observers. How do I know that Al Columbia's Pim & Francie is an amazing work of art? Because it seriously made me feel ill. Uncomfortable. It made me question my sense of aesthetics; played havoc with my expectations. It's unquestionably an amazing book. ... Rating: 8/10" – Jeremy Nisen, Under the Radar
• Commentary: At The Daily Cross Hatch, Box Brown reproduces the epochal letters page from Ivan Brunetti's Schizo #2 (reprinted in Misery Loves Comedy) as part of a new column on cartoonists' letters to cartoonists
• Review: "The third volume of this comics anthology is a whirl-a-gig of vivid color, giddy fun, black angst, and hauntingly disturbing images... The volume brings together carefully crafted stories with eye-searing artwork, packed with scatological humor, violence, and disquieting sexual acts... Hotwire Comics 3 is not for the faint of heart, but those who love underground comics or want an introduction to that world as it stands today, will embrace the volume." – Publishers Weekly
• Review: "Classic kid comics are evoked with a weird, horror-inspired twist in [Chocolate Cheeks]... Weissman has a knack for combining the cute with the eerie and the unsettling, and the art—presented in both b&w and color—is outstanding." – Publishers Weekly (same link as above)
• Review: "But even Jaime devotees should be paying attention to Gilberto’s recent work; since he closed the books on Luba, he’s been flexing his muscles with some astonishingly effective genre exercises, the latest of which is The Troublemakers. A lurid pulp excursion featuring an appropriately leering cover by Rick Altergott, the book uses peripheral characters from Beto’s other works to craft a story about missing cash, hot sex, and two-timing that combines equal parts neo-noir and sleazy ’70s-throwback exploitation. But what elevates it from being a simple mélange of clever genre riffs is Beto’s determination to load it with uneasy surrealist images and clever symbolic elements. The Troublemakers doesn’t read entirely like anything he’s done before, but it may be his best work in years. [Grade] A-" – The A.V. Club
• Review: "[The] Troublemakers follows a cast of conmen as they double-cross one another until they run out of rope and hang themselves. It too features amazing cartooning. It’s very cinematic, but it’s not drawn with attention to realism like cinematic comics frequently tend to be... Instead, the storytelling relies on Hernandez’s masterful use of staging and talent with composition. His ability to spot blacks, place textures, and overall cartooning/drawing skills made this crime story a delight to read." – guest contributor Jim Rugg, Robot 6
• Review: "If you are a student of the history of sequential art, Newave! feels like a must-have for your collection. It seems to be as perfect of a collection of mini-comix as you could ever find and it is informative as well as entertaining. It’s also the type of book that challenges your artistic side as well so that’s another bonus." – Chad Derdowski, Mania
• Interview:Publicola's Heidi Broadhead talks to Michael Dowers about the Newave! book and exhibit: "Well, there are still a handful of us who are completely driven. It is in the very cell walls of our mind, body, and soul. Some of these guys are about to hit 60 years old, me included, and we don’t know how to stop."
• Plugs:The Precocious/Manga Curmudgeon, David Welsh, recommends some Gilbert Hernandez books in recognition of Beto's birthday today: "For those of you who aren’t familiar with Palomar, it’s a small Central American town populated with interesting, complex people. It’s also populated with a variety of kinds of stories and tones, gritty realism one moment, magical realism the next. Hernandez really builds that web of community in these stories, exploring ties of family and friendship, lingering grudges, outside influences, sex, love and death."
• Plug: "...[Almost Silent] is all stellar material for the most part, especially [Tell Me] Something and You Can't [Get There from Here], which trade on Jason's perennial theme of love found and lost in rather odd settings. So if you weren't able to get these books when they first came out, I highly recommend doing so when this new edition comes out..." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6