The most-current Online Commentaries & Diversions:
•Interview:MTV Geek questions Noah Van Sciver about his new graphic novel, The Hypo, and why he chose to focus on the man before the president. ". . . it’s important to see who [Lincoln] became, or I should say how he became is more spectacular when you think about who he was, and where he came from, because I don’t even know if that’s possible anymore, to come from nothing and then become a president, you know?"
•Review: Drew on ComicAttack.net reviews kid-friendly The Adventures of Venus by Gilbert Hernandez. "It’s not quite Betty and Veronica, but it’s not quite Calvin and Hobbes; it’s that special place in between that catches that transition from childhood into adolescence, which doesn’t get captured on the comic book page much, and is a rare treat that Hernandez delivers here to such perfection."
•Interview (audio):ABC News Radio's Sherry Preston interviews Daniel Clowes (at the 30 minute mark) as his work is on display at the Oakland Museum of California. "I was more interested in kinda funny comics and comics about real life situations. And I thought it made no sense that there weren't comics about every subject you can imagine." You'll love the following story.
•Commentary: TURN IT OUT in clothes inspired by Daniel Clowes' Ghost World and America's two favorite juveniles on Trent.
•Plug:Follow the White Rabbit eloquently mentions Jacques Tardi's New York Mon Amour. A rough translation might say, "Altogether, a perfect Edition for the lovers of this French author that already amazed us at 'The cry of the people,' 'The war of trenches' or 'The extraordinary adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec'."
•Commentary: Chris Mautner of Robot 6 gives a nice mention to Michael Kupperman's Tales Designed to Thrizzle #8. "A pretty solid issue overall, the best and funniest part being the opening segment, a parody of coloring books, this time involving trains that … well, it’s not fit for polite conversation, really."
•Review: Greg Burgas of Comic Book Resources breaks down one beautiful page by Archie Goodwin and Alex Toth from Blazing Combat. "This story shows off [Toth's] strengths very nicely, because it’s one of the bleaker stories in the volume (none of them are happy; I mean “bleak” in that the landscape is stripped of vegetation and is dotted with destroyed building, giving this story its post-Apocalyptic tenor) and Toth does very well with that."
•Plug:The Daily Beast features an excerpt from Joe Sacco and Chris Hedges' new book Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt. In this article, they "detail the effects of coal mining in West Virginia, a state destroyed by mountaintop removal."
•Interview: Peering from under a swell hat, Noah Brand from The Good Men Project interviews TCJ contributer and cartoonist Tim Kreider on the art of writing. "Cartooning also seems to allow me to express a much sillier, stupider, more puerile part of my personality than writing. I get all stiff and serious and writerly when I sit down to write prose."
• Interview: On the National Post, Nathalie Atkinson interviews Gabriella Giandelli on her graphic novel, Interiorae., and the retrospective exhibit at the Italian Cultural Institute. Giandelli states, "There are some stories where it would be possible to have the soundtrack of what you listened to during the work for every page of the story. Or sometimes the song is inside my work — nobody knows but for me it’s there."
• Review:The Weekly Crisis solves the weekly dilemma for you with a "buy it" verdict for Gabriella Giandelli's Interiorae. Taylor Pithers says, "Giandelli also weaves magic on the way the other characters speak. There is a certain rhythmic beauty to the dialogue that gives the whole book a feeling of quiet, almost as if everyone is speaking in soft tones."
• Review: The Boston Phoenix gets a slap in the face from Hans Rickheit and asks for more. In the review of Folly: The Consequences of Indiscretion, S.I. Rosenbaum says, "It's as if other masters of visual bodyhorror — Cronenberg, Burns, Dan Clowes, Tarsem Singh — are weird by choice. Rickheit, it seems, just can't help it. There's a conviction to his creepiness, a compulsive nature even in his early draftsmanship."
•Commentary: BEA was last week and Publishers Weekly couldn't get enough of Associate Publisher Eric Reynolds and new book, The Hypo by Noah Van Sciver. Heidi MacDonald and Calvin Reid teamed up to cover the event: "Eric Reynolds said it was a good show for the house, noting that all the galleys for Van Sciver books were taken and there was “huge interest” in Fantagraphics titles, like the Flannery O’Connor: The Cartoons."
•Review:The Comics Bulletin reviewed God and Science: Return of the Ti-Girls by Jaime Hernandez. In the wake of near-universal criticism for super hero comics, Jason Sacks gives an angsty-yet-positive review: "[God and Science] is indeed very indy and quirky and idiosyncratic and personal and uncompromising as any of Jaime's comics."
•Plug: The blog for CAKE (Chicago Alternative Comics Expo) mentioned the our newest collection, No Straight Lines. "LGBTQ cartooning has been one of the most vibrant artistic and countercultural movements of the past 40 years, tackling complex issues of identity and changing social mores with intelligence, humor, and an irreverent imagination. No Straight Lines: Four Decades of Queer Comics . . . is the most definitive collection to date of this material, showcasing the spectrum from lesbian underground comix, to gay newspaper strips, to bi punk zines, to trans webcomics." Debuting this weekend at Cake in Chicago, you can find editor, Justin Hall, at table 76.
•Review: A short-and-sweet review on Scripp News popped up today. Andrew A. Smith tips his hat to Mysterious Traveler: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 3. " . . .despite the stultifying constriction of the draconian Comics Code of 1954, Ditko managed a remarkable body of work in both volume and content. Even more amazing is his accelerated learning curve, which shoots straight up from first page to last."
• New York City, NY: Are you attending BookExpo America? Hey, so are we! Visit us at Booth #3422. Noah Van Sciver will be signing copies of The Hypo: The Melancholic Young Lincoln from 1-3 PM, and you can catch him at 11 AM on the Uptown Stage as part of the panel "Meet 2012 Graphic Novel Authors!"
Thursday, June 7th
• New York City, NY: You've got another chance to meet Noah Van Sciver at Booth #3422 at the BookExpo America. He'll be signing copies of The Hypo: The Melancholic Young Lincoln from 10 AM-12 PM.
• Worldwide: Our warehouse hero Ajax Wood (occasionally Cannibal Fuckface) can be heard worldwide at 9 PM PT with his old band Last Gasp (cough) on radio station KEXP, streaming online across the globe at KEXP.ORG, or at 90.3 FM if you live in Seattle. (Full disclosure: fine, yeah, I work there, too.)
• Spokane, WA: And Jen Vaughn, the latest addition to our marvelous marketing team, will be making an appearance at the Saranac Art Projects, giving a talk about life at The Center for Cartoon Studies! She'll also be available to review your portfolios, so head over there at 2 PM! (more info)
• Review: "While other colleagues have seen their short stories and graphic novels draw serious attention in literary circles, Griffith remains the 'Are we having fun yet?' guy to many. Perhaps the long-overdue collection Lost and Found: Comics 1969-2003 will change that. Leaning heavily on the stories Griffith drew in the early ’70s for undergrounds like Young Lust, Short Order Comix, and the revolutionary Arcade, Lost and Found shows off more facets of Griffith, putting his obsessions with Hollywood, suburbia, and a certain type of corporate cockiness into a larger context." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "Diane Noomin has seen her work scattered around anthologies like Wimmen’s Comix and Twisted Sisters since she made her comics debut in 1972, but has never received the dedicated study afforded by her new book Glitz-2-Go: Collected Stories, which brings together nearly 200 pages of Noomin’s work.... From the cluttered panels to the bracing honesty, these strips are very much of a piece with the original underground comics movement, and may not be immediately accessible to people unused to that tradition. But for those who fondly remember the glory years of Dori Seda, Aline Kominsky-Crumb, Joyce Farmer, and Roberta Gregory, it’s a pleasure to see Noomin get her own showcase." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "...Nancy possesses in spades the quality common to all great art — a singularity of vision.... The clarity and unity of purpose made it quite impossible to miss a single punch line. Nancy is simplistic, yes — but it is simplistic by design, a strip without clutter, diagrammatic in its relentless formalism. Set against today’s comic-strip landscape, where Doonesbury has the ambition and scope of the Great American Satirical Novel and even gentle family comedies like Zits and Foxtrot boast character casts expansive enough to baffle a new reader, the dumbness of Nancy starts to look like some kind of genius. The roly-poly, Brillo-mopped mischief-maker and her lowlife pal Sluggo stand eternal, as iconic as the puppets in a Punch and Judy show or the Columbines and Harlequins of commedia dell’arte." – Jack Feerick, Kirkus Reviews
• Review: "At 7.6% ABV, Nibiru is a beer that doesn’t pull any punches, but its potency is disguised by the refreshing herbal and citrus flavours on offer. Like its European cousin, Duvel, it's light enough to be easy-drinking, but the intensity of alcohol mean that it’s a beer that demands to be savoured." – Gavin Lees, Graphic Eye
• Interview (Audio): On the new episode of the Mostly Harmless Podcast, host "Dammit Damian" chats with Noah Van Sciver about "how Noah got into making comics, his family and making comics for a living," among other topics
• Scene (Video):Graphic Eye's Gavin Lees captured Jim Demonakos & Mark Long's slideshow presentation of their graphic novel (with Nate Powell) The Silence of Our Friends on video at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery this past Saturday
The first Online Commentary & Diversions post of the year might very well end up being the longest:
• List: Humorist and television personality John Hodgman, asked to name his 5 favorite comics in an open Q&A session on his Tumblr blog, says "Love and Rockets: I don’t like to choose between brothers, but Jaime Hernandez is one of the greatest drawers of human faces and human want on the planet."
• List:Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge: Only a Poor Old Man by Carl Barks is #39 on The A.V. Club 's list of "most anticipated entertainments of 2012": "Only a Poor Old Man will bring Scrooge McDuck, possibly Barks’ greatest creation, into the spotlight. The bespectacled miser will dive around in his money bin and burrow through it like a gopher, and his timeless adventures will get the treatment they deserve."
• List: Tucker Stone, whose Best of 2011 previously appeared at comiXology, presents a slightly modified list for Flavorwire's "10 of the Year's Most Buzzed-About Comic Releases":
"Last year’s Love and Rockets was a huge deal, but this year’s installment is arguably even better.... Comics has yet to provide Love and Rockets with anything approximating 'competition,' but it doesn’t appear that the Hernandez brothers have any reason to be concerned about that quite yet. They’re still way better at this than everybody else on the planet."
"The big thing this year was watching all the great young cartoonists of the early 2000s carving out their places in the pantheon. Huizenga’s a perfect example — he’s been regularly turning out excellent comics for years now, and yet Ganges #4 still reads like a revelation.... It’s a fascinating experience reading these comics, and they’re gorgeous to boot."
"The continuing adventures of Johnny Ryan’s most violent fantasies run amuck, [Prison Pit] is rapidly becoming the comic that I look forward to the way a fat kid looks forward to syrup-encrusted cake. There’s no getting around the hoary old cliche — 'these aren’t for everybody' — so God help you if you can’t figure out a way to enjoy these books."
• List: The prolific Sean T. Collins, after having contributed to CBR's Top 100, runs down his personal 20 Best Comics of 2011 on his Attentiondeficitdisorderly blog AND at Robot 6, withGanges #4 by Kevin Huizenga at #15...
"Huizenga wrings a second great book out of his everyman character’s insomnia. It’s quite simple how, really: He makes comics about things you’d never thought comics could be about, by doing things you never thought comics could do to show you them. Best of all, there’s still the sense that his best work is ahead of him, waiting like dawn in the distance."
"...[T]he payoff... feels like a weight has been lifted from Woodring’s strange world, while the route he takes to get there is illustrated so beautifully it’s almost superhuman. It’s the happy ending he’s spent most of his career earning."
"Religious fundamentalism... has worn a thousand faces in a millennia-long carnevale procession of war and weirdness, and David B. paints portraits of three of its masks with bloody brilliance. Focusing on long-forgotten heresies and treating the most outlandish legends about them as fact, B.’s high-contrast linework sets them all alight with their own incandescent madness."
"I picture Gilbert Hernandez approaching his drawing board these days like Lawrence of Arabia approaching a Turkish convoy: 'NO PRISONERS! NO PRISONERS!' In a year suffused with comics funneling pitch-black darkness through a combination of sex and horror, none were blacker, sexier, or more horrific than this gender-bending exploitation flick from Beto's 'Fritz-verse.'"
"...[L]et's add to the chorus praising Jaime's 'The Love Bunglers' as one of the greatest comics of all time, the point to which one of the greatest comics series of all time has been hurtling toward for thirty years.... You can count the number of cartoonists able to wed style to substance, form to function, this seamlessly on one hand with fingers to spare. A masterpiece."
"The hype and acclaim surrounding Xaime Hernandez’s conclusion to his 'Love Bunglers' saga has been overwhelming, and every ounce of it is deserved. This is simply a phenomenal achievement in comics. A moving, thoughtful story of missed opportunities, loss and eventual reconciliation that provides in many ways a fitting conclusion to all of Xaime’s 'Locas' stories. I’d be hard pressed to think of a better comic that came out this year."
"More than the new Carl Barks collection, more than the return of Pogo, the resurrected, re-appreciated comic strip I found myself falling in love the most with this year was Gottfredson’s plunky, adventure-loving mouse, a scrappier version of Disney’s iconic creation. More to the point, I was completely taken with the stunning packaging and background information Fantagraphics and the books editor put together for this series. It’s new benchmark for reprint projects."
"Three volumes into this grand guginol series and it continues to surprise and delight, this time introducing a new character and suggesting via an end sequence that Ryan has been reading a lot of Fort Thunder comics."
"Incredibly inventive, Schrauwen, like Yokoyama, seems intent on pushing the comics medium into new and interesting directions. But where Yokoyama is concerned mainly with motion and exploration, Schrauwen is concerned mainly with perception and the interior world of the mind. This is great, mind-blowing work."
• List: Also on Robot 6's roundup of best-of lists from its writers, Tim O'Shea ranks Pogo Vol. 1 at #9: "Damn if this was not worth the wait... Volume 1 of the complete syndicated daily strips of Pogo would be enough to put this book on my list. But the fact that Fantagraphics has a foreword by Jimmy Breslin; an introduction by Steve Thompson; a piece on the Pogo Sunday Funnies by Mark Evanier; and Swamp Talk (R.H. Harvey annotations on the strips) is just icing on the cake."
• List: David McKean's Celluloid gets a "See Also" shout-out on Cyriaque Lamar's list of The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Comics of 2011 at io9: "A decidedly adult erotica graphic novel with no dialogue, this is the famed Sandman cover artist going at page after page of a sexy hallucination, whipped up by a magic porno movie projector. Dreamscapes with boners."
"After 'Browntown' in last year’s installment of New Stories, there was a worry that Jaime might have peaked — how on earth was he going to top that story? The achingly beautiful conclusion to 'The Love Bunglers' in this volume was the answer. Pulling together strands from Maggie’s entire 30-year history in two pages was nothing short of stunning, with his art as cooly confident as ever, making it a real emotional sucker punch. Gilbert’s work developing Fritz’s movie back-catalogue is a real mind-bender, too, weaving inter- and meta-textual strands together that lets his characters say so much, while saying so little. It is terrifying how talented these guys are."
"Forget Pogo and Carl Barks — we already knew they were classics — the real reprint revelation of 2011 was good ole' Mickey Mouse.... To read these strips is to rediscover a love for Mickey and marvel at Gottfredson's amazing grasp of storytelling and humour, as well as his flawless artwork. Naturally, with Fantagraphics overseeing the reprints, the design, packaging and presentation is gorgeous — a real worthy successor to their Peanuts series."
• Plug: "I’m a little mortified to admit that Walt Disney's Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes is my first exposure to Carl Barks (after decades of being interested in finally seeing why he’s so revered as a comic creator), but it definitely won’t be my last. Fantagraphics’ first volume of Barks material is a great place to start; a mixture of epic quests, short stories, and gag strips that are all impressively funny and awesome." – Greg McElhatton, Robot 6
• List: On his Domino Books blog, Austin English explains why Joyce Farmer's Special Exits is his favorite comic of 2011: "Farmer's cartooning allows for her characters to act out their illness and struggles in front of the reader. Farmer's drawing of her aging father is something to behold — it's not Farmer saying 'here is what my sick father went through.' Instead we see a drawing age and wither in front of us, and speak to us with both intelligence and dementia. I’ve never seen anything in comics done with such skill — let alone see a graphic novel (often the territory of poorly conceived topical heart wrenchers) speak about tragedy with so much depth and clarity."
• List: Comics writer Vito Delsante declares Love and Rockets: New Stories #4 the Best Single Issue of 2011 on his Best of 2011 blog post: "The Hernandez Brothers, since New Stories 3, have really created the most important mythology in comics since Stan and Jack (and Steve).... Jaime Hernandez should win every single award in comics in 2012."
• List: We rank 4 entries on Renee Lott's Top 10 Comics of 2011 at her Blogwithfeet
• Review: "I've been digging the new Fantagraphics release Jason Conquers America which commemorates ten years of the venerable publisher's relationship with the Norewegian artist.... My favorite story in the collection revolves around a crow who naps in a bed in a field and wakes up obliviously in an entirely new life. (Telling any more would spoil the revelation.) In 23 short wordless panels, Jason creates a powerful and compelling commentary that proves how powerfully expressive comics can be." – Stray Riffs
• Review: "A new comic from the top humorist in comics is always welcome. This issue [of Tales Designed to Thrizzle] is the usual combination of dada and surprisingly tightly-wrapped narrative gags surrounding the sort of cultural detritus mined by Drew Friedman & Mark Newgarden.... 'Quincy, M.E.'... is one of Kupperman's best strips because he keeps adding new layers of plot to an already-ridiculous story.... I still miss the sheer density of detail in Kupperman's older work that made reading it almost exhausting, but the avalanche of ideas remains intact, as does his ability to elicit laughs." – Rob Clough, High-Low
• Review: "...Prison Pit... [is] a marriage of pro wrestling, manga, bromance and filth.... Johnny Ryan has an almost Kirbyesque level of character design, but with obviously more genitalia, and it can at times be a joy just to see what is going to come on the next page.... Johnny Ryan is a cartoonist at the top of his game right now and he may just be the closest thing the comic world has to marmite." – Taylor Pithers, The Weekly Crisis
• Interview:The Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon talks with Todd DePastino, biographer of Bill Mauldin and editor of our Willie & Joe books. Spurgeon says Willie & Joe: Back Home is "one of my three favorite comics-related books from 2011, and, I think, one of the year's best." From DePastino: "When I look at these cartoons, I think of literary critic Dominic LaCapra's claim that some books are good to think about and a very few are good to think with. Mauldin's postwar cartoons are good to think with. They not only provide a window to the times, like, say, good photographs or reporting might, but they also raise fundamental questions and issues that are with us still."
• Review: "These comics are beautiful. Each single-panel comic is blown up to a full page, so that Mauldin’s artistry can truly (and easily) be admired without squinting. The sentiments expressed are astonishing and bravely progressive for the time.... I’d never thought or heard about the poor reception combat vets received after WWII. (I mistakenly thought that only happened to our soldiers after the Vietnam War.) I wish I knew what they experienced. I’ll settle for giving [Willie & Joe: Back Home] to the next WWII vet I meet and hope that it sparks a conversation." – Gene Ambaum, The Unshelved Book Club
• Review: "With [Mark Twain's Autobiography 1910-2010] and the seventh issue of his Thrizzle series, Kupperman takes back the crown of Funniest Cartoonist Alive... Whatever direction he moves in, there is a consistent level of dizzying joy to be found in Kupperman’s work, a kind of humor that features dark and occasionally satirical edges but is mostly just a barrage of inspired wordplay, deadpan humor, and deceptively simple images." – Rob Clough, The Comics Journal
• Review: "...Barks truly was a master at the medium. We all have been hearing this for so long and for those who have not yet read any of his comics, this book [Walt Disney's Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes] and the rest of the upcoming series should put all those doubts to rest. Carl Barks used ducks to shine a light on the human condition and make jokes while also making commentary on us all. Despite these stories being published in 1948 and 1949, they truly stand the test of time. But what was truly amazing about his work was that it appeals to both children and adults. ★★★★★" – Nick Boisson, Comics Bulletin
• Review: "Happily, Woodring never tries to offer up his own explanations for what transpires in his stories [in The Frank Book]. The closest he gets is some vague, oblique hints in this collection's afterword, but -- like those occasions when David Lynch pretends to try to enlighten viewers about his similarly challenging movies -- Woodring's clues only lead to more questions." – Dave Wallace, Comics Bulletin
• Review: "The no-nonsense mademoiselle Blanc-Sec returns for another round or two of occult mentalism and monster-mash madness... Don’t expect it to make any sense, you clearly won’t if you read and loved Volume One of Adele’s extraordinary adventures as I did. Indeed much like, what seems an odd comparison on the face of it I’ll grant you, Umbrella Academy you just have to enjoy the ever mounting sense of the ridiculous jammed in page after page, which Tardi is an absolute master at." – Jonathan Rigby, Page 45
• Plug:Newsarama's Zack Smith chats with humorist John Hodgman [squee] about the current state of comics: "It’s funny – when I started writing about comics a few years ago, I discovered a lot of new things, one of them being the Glenn Ganges comics by Kevin Huizenga. I just love his work."
• Review: "Charles Schulz's lovable gang bring hilarity to the Reagan era in the latest volume of The Complete Peanuts 1981-82. Now up to Volume 16, the comic strip shows no signs of getting stale as the years go by and the antics continue.... As usual, the strip reproduction is flawless, each appearing in crisp black and white with 3 daily strips per page and full page Sundays. The handy index to quickly find a favorite character or subject returns as well.... So make sure your trick or treat bag is a big one and fill up on the fun, you’ll enjoy every morsel. It’s almost as if the 'Great Pumpkin' arrived after all!" – Rich Clabaugh, The Christian Science Monitor
• Interview:Comic Book Resources' Alex Dueben talks with Steve Duin, Mike Rosen and Shannon Wheeler about Oil and Water, illustrated by some exclusive looks at Wheeler's sketchbooks from the trip that led to the book. Says Duin: "I approached this project as I usually approach my newspaper column: You have to personalize the tragedies, and celebrations, you're writing about. What's more, I was blown away by the characters we stumbled upon."
• Plug: At O Grito's Jazz Metal, Paolo Floro says No Straight Lines: Four Decades of Queer Comics "...is set to be the most important work of its kind ever published.... For those who enjoy history, investigating the gay world or simply love comics and the endless possibilities that it can generate, this book is a treasure." (Translated from Portuguese)
• Profile: At Giant Robot, a quick introduction to Eleanor Davis based on her participation in the Robots art show at GR2