Happy New Year's! Here's to a great year of books and the next year and the year after that. We salute you and thank you for your friendship and purchases. Some of you sent in photos reading books from this year (and a few past ones).
We'd like to thank everyone involved in making 2012 a spectacular success at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery. Gifted artists, authors, musicians, and curators coalesced to create a stimulating cultural atmosphere at the space.
Thanks to artists Peter Bagge, Gabrielle Bell, Jeffrey Brown, Nathan Bulmer, Charles Burns, Art Chantry, Jack Davis, Michael Dougan, Ellen Forney, Camille Rose Garcia, Ruth Hayes, Gilbert Hernandez, Jaime Hernandez, Tom Kaczynski, David Lasky, Tony Millionaire, Gary Panter, Joe Sacco, Noah Van Sciver, Chris Ware, and Jim Woodring; authors Jim Demonakos, Susan Kirtley, Mark Long, Pat Thomas,and Nico Vassilakos; musicians Geneviève Castrée, Zachary David, Dennis Driscoll, Lori Goldston, Kyle Hanson,and Molly Nilsson; guest curators J. Michael Catron, Max Clotfelter, Michel Gagne, Ben Horak, Cathy Hillenbrand, Tim Miller, Kristy Valenti,and Jen Vaughn; bookstore interns Lillian Beatty and Lillian Morloch; bookstore staff Janice Headley and Russ Battaglia, as well as our retail partners at Georgetown Records.
Most of all we want to thank you - our wonderful patrons - for your enthusiasm and support over the past six years. Cheers!
The most returned sweater of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Interview: Tom Spurgeon of the Comics Reporter interviews cartoonist Carol Tyler about her You'll Never Know series about her father, WWII and family bonds. He starts of the interview right, "You've lived with these books for a very long time. How did it feel to get some closure on this work?". Click here for the answers and more.
• Review:Comics Bulletin looks at You'll Never Know Book 3: Soldier's Heart by Carol Tyler. Jason Sacks states "You'll Never Know is a breathtaking graphic novel because Carol Tyler is honest enough to know that stories are seldom as tidy nor as dysfunctional as they seem on TV…It's a tremendously real story straight from the heart, told by a master cartoonist."
• Plug:Comic Book Resources and Brian Cronin investigate the legend around the FBI examining Pogo comic strips searching for hidden messages.
• Plug: Geekosystem has suggestions for our 20% sale like Pogo by Walt Kelly. "Are you a Calvin and Hobbes fan, dear reader?…If you are a fan, we’d point you towards one of the strip’s inspirations, Walt Kelly’s classic Pogo cartoons. By turns razor-edged political satire and old-fashioned slapstick comedy gold, these strips are being given their due."
• Review:Reality Studio looks and relooks at Observed While Falling and The Lost Art of Ah Pook Is Here by Malcolm McNeill on his collaboration with William S. Burroughs. Jan Herman writes "Observed While Falling brings a fresh analytical eye to the familiar Burroughsian fixations — synchronicity and doppelgangers, control systems, the word as virus, the number 23 — that dominate this memoir, while still offering a straightforward chronicle of the author’s relationship with le maître. Luckily for us, McNeill is an artist who can write. Really write.…the hard work, the exhilaration and, ultimately, the frustration of a project that failed to achieve its original goal — is largely treated with brilliant introspection and loving grace."
• Review:Forbidden Planet International continues their Best of 2012 lists. Douglas Noble places Chris Wright's Blacklung on the list. "Unforgettable, and Wright's beautiful, scratchy art is a treat, like EC Segar working with Yuichi Yokoyama designs."
• Review:Comics Alliance announced their Stephanie Brown Memorial awards. On Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse: House of Seven Haunts by Floyd Gottfredson, Chris Sims writes, "They're one of the few things that I get excited about to the point of giddiness, and House of the Seven Haunts! was the best volume yet…It's one wild adventure after another, and they're all done with an incredible skill that still holds up almost 80 years later."
• Review:Comics Alliance announced their Stephanie Brown Memorial awards. The Furry Trap by Josh Simmons makes the list "The faux-Batman comic, which details the Bat's horrifically misanthropic ways, might be a reason to check out the contents of this hardcover collection of Simmons stories, but the entire volume is full of troubling tales worth your attention…The unexpected happens, consistently, and that's about the only thing you can be sure of," states Tim Callahan.
• Plug:NO releases its Best Comics of 2012 list and Sean Collins breathtakingly writes about The Furry Trap, "Josh Simmons shits in your heart, again and again in ways that grow exponentially more refined and chilling as the book progresses. A perfect statement of rancid intent."
• Review:Comics Alliance announced their Stephanie Brown Memorial awards. Designer Dylan Todd writes on Barack Hussein Obama by Steven Weissman. "There's something vaguely Peanuts-esque at work here, with a cast of recognizable characters… all with their own quirks and personalities, all delivering punchlines while the specter of death and soul-crushing doubt hangs over their heads. It's funny, but like any good comedy, it's tied up in uncomfortable and relatable truths…It's surreal, nonsensical, and a little depressing -- so, huh, maybe it's an accurate portrayal of political life in the 21st century after all."
• Review: Timothy Callahan of Comic Book Resources looks back on 2012 and Steven Weissman's Barack Hussein Obama is #20 on his Best Of list. "It's just such a fragmented work of narrative, but Weissman plays with repetition and transformation in a near-musical way, and that ends up mattering most…This comic is difficult to discuss without sounding ridiculous, but I can't stop thinking about its unsettling strangeness."
• Review:Paste Magazine's guest writers Nathan Bulmer and Kevin Huizenga pick out some of our books as the Best of 2012 including Steven Weissman's Barack Hussein Obama, Jason's Athos in America, and Chris Wright's Blacklung. Bulmer looks at Weissman, "I have so many feelings about this book. This, to me, is the most gorgeous book of the year and is one that I will be returning to often."
• Plug: Geekosystem has suggestions for our 20% sale like Athos in America by Jason. "Fact: New Jason books are weird, funny, and always bring something new and unexpected to the table. Conjecture: This book probably deserves a place on your shelf…"
• Review: KC Carlson of Comics Worth Reading dives not into a vault of money but Carl Barks' books. While reading Uncle Scrooge: "Only a Poor Old Man"she can't help but write,"One way or another, all of these stories are classics (if not masterpieces) of early comic book storytelling. And not just for kids." When flipping to Donald Duck: "A Christmas for Shacktown" Carlson notes,"It’s probably one of the least sentimental Christmas stories around (and thus a favorite of many fans). It features an early example of Scrooge’s lack of charity, counterbalanced by his steadfast work ethic…I can’t say enough about how much I love these new Fantagraphics collections of this 'should always be in print' Carl Barks material."
• Review: Andrew Wheeler over at Anticks Musings enjoys Peanuts Vol. 17: 1983-1984 by THE Charles M. Schulz. Wheeler states, "they're reliably funny and occasionally moving. The deep sadness that used to manifest in Charlie Brown now comes up, less rawly, . . . For work done by the same one man, day after day, more than thirty years after he started that project, that's not just impressive, it's amazing."
• Review (video): Jon Longhi in episode 2 of Having a Book Moment features Spacehawk by Basil Wolverton "who was an amazing underground cartoonist with exp, surrealist view of reality that created some of the I think, most unique comics ever invented. . ."
• Review:Robot 6 enjoys SpacehawkbyBasil Wolverton. Chris Mautner writes "Wolverton’s Spacehawk has a vitality — at times it practically throbs with life — that the more static Stardust simply does not have. Spacehawk not only the best reprint project of the year, it’s the best reprint project of the past several years. It’s a revelation."
• Review:Comics Alliance announced their Best Comics of 2012. Basil Wolverton's Spacehawk "remind[s] you of some kind of Buck Rogers Technicolor serial as designed by Robert Crumb…Spacehawk is the freakishly charming sideshow to the more popular main event, but everyone who's seen its wonders would find themselves bored with what the guy in the big hat in the center ring is babbling on about," writes Tim Callahan
• Review:Comics Bulletin and Jason Sacks give Spacehawk by Basil Wolverton a rating of 4.5 outta 5 stars. "This book is really fucking exhilarating and awesome and eye-popping, and you have to add it to your bookshelf if you loved I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets…Spacehawk is lunatic, manic genius."
• Review:Delphine by Richard Sala gets BoingBoinged. Mark Frauenfelder writes, "I've long admired the gothy work of cartoonist Richard Sala. He delicately balances the line between horror and humor as few can. His latest graphic novel, Delphine, is his darkest effort to date."
• Review: Comic Book Resources counts down the Top 100 Comics of 2012 and includes The Hypo by Noah Van Sciver at #54. Brian Cronin states "Van Sciver spotlights a fascinating time in Lincoln's life where he barely resembles the man who would one day become one of the most famous presidents in U.S. history…The artwork is strong, as is the research." Cronin's own Top 10 Comics of 2012 listed Van Sciver at #2.
• Review:Panel Patter lists the Favorite Graphic Novels of 2012 and Noah Van Sciver is #2 for The Hypo. Rob McMonigal writes "Given that Van Sciver specializes in characters who are at their wit's end and have horrible things going on in their lives, he's picture perfect in his presentation."
• Interview: Tom Spurgeon interviews editor and fan Marc Sobel on living life breathing Love and Rockets at the Comics Reporter. Sobel started writing, critiquing the Hernandez Brothers work, interviewing them that led to writing and co-editing The Love and Rockets Reader and The Love and Rockets Companion, coming out next year.Sobel pondered, "I decided to read Love & Rockets in its original format and blog about each issue as a way to teach myself about one of the medium's classics while still keeping active as a writer."
• Review:Comic Book Resources counts down the Top 100 Comics of 2012 and #35 is Love and Rockets: New Stories #5. "…the Bros turned in another installment of comics that are simultaneously agonizing to witness and darkly funny while they’re serving up stone-cold dramatic situations," writes Brian Warmoth
• Plug:Gilbert Hernandez receives some attention from Sean T. Collins at Carnival of Souls in regards to upcoming Julio's Day and D&Q's Marble Season. "A now-completed collection of work he serialized during Love & Rockets‘ second volume and a pseudoautobiography, these could send him in the direction of critical and audience reappraisal that the outré sex and violence of his recent comics have denied him."
• Interview (video): As part of the 30th Anniversary celebration, Vegas Seven posted a short interview with Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez conducted at Alternative Reality Comics in Las Vegas.
• Plug: Glyn Dillon writes the Best of the Year 2012 for Forbidden Planet International and shares the love for Jaime Hernandez's God and Science. "I'm not really a fan of the super hero genre, but he delivers it in such a fun way, it's hard to resist it's charm. It almost feels as though it's from an alternative universe, a universe where super hero comics are good."
• Review:The Chicago Tribune gets all fancy to read our EC Library Comics: Corpse on the Imjin by Harvey Kurtzman and Came the Dawn by Wallace Wood. "Kurtzman often evinces a grim humor in these war comics, they don't elicit laughs. His beautiful line-work — thick black strokes and quick black curves — captures the grit of battle and its aftermath: Corpses reach up from rubble, cones of fire erupt from gun barrels." Michael Robbins continues, "Wood's alternately claustrophobic and desolate brushwork lurches into life: spreading puddles and slanting rain, Rock Hudson jawlines and Jane Wyman curves, vertiginous angles, hallucinatory things with too many eyes."
•Plug:NO releases its Best Comics of 2012 list and Sean T Collins recommends Prison Pit 4 by Johnny Ryan. "Choose your monsters-transforming-and-pursuing-ultimate-murder poison: if you favour grossness, reality-breaking sci-fi and heavy manga inflections, go with Ryan."
• Plug:Michael Kupperman'sTales Designed to Thrizzle #8 is ranked 81 out of the Top 100 Comics of 2012 according to Comic Book Resources. "The latest 'Tales Designed to Thrizzle' very well might be the funniest edition of the annual comic yet! Kupperman's outrageously unpredictable sense of humor is on full force in this issue" states Brian Cronin. Cronin's own Top 10 Comics of 2012 listed Kupperman at #4.
• Review:Comic Attack bangs out the Best 15 All-Ages Titles of 2012. Hal Foster's Prince Valiant is on the list as Drew says "the detail and quality of the art alone along with the more literary form of narration provided the base and inspiration for dozens of artists and imitators after that, all these years still being just as entertaining as when first published, here from Fantagraphics never looking as good as collected before."
• Review: Nick Hanover of Comics Bulletin sits awhile with Tom Kaczynski's new book. Beta Testing the Apocalypse "is weird as all fuck and funny as all shit, a Singles Going Steady for the art comix crowd that merges Burroughs' cut-up commentary with Ballard's keen tech consumer insight and siliconic wit…is where we should be looking if we want to know what comes next, if we want to discern which hip priest had their ear closer to the ground."
• Interview:The Comics Journal's Tim Holder interviews Tom Kaczynski (cartoonist of Beta Testing the Apocalypse)on his comics and publishing endeavors.
• Plug: Jade at the D&Q Bookstore holds onto some serious love for Lilli Carré's Heads or Tails. "Her stories always incorporate some sense of magic realism, where bizarre occurrences are treated as if they were just another aspect of daily life. Equally impressive is Carré’s artistic versatility, always finding the appropriate style, palette and medium to tell her dreamy tales."
• Review:Cosmic Comix reviews The Crackle of the Frost by Mattotti and Zentner. "The story itself is amazing. It’s a story about loneliness, loss, and, most of all, fear…It’s a rare feat in which the words, although separate from the picture, are in perfect synch with it… If you are looking for a book that truly pushes the comics medium, then this is the book for you," writes David Lee.
•Review: Music magazine Ugly Things Issue 34 reviews Kevin Avery's book. Alan Bisbort writes "Everything is an Afterthought would, in another age, be considered 'essential reading' for anyone even remotely hip…these bokos remind us of how deeply some people cared for the music and its larger pop culture that many of us now take for granted."
• Plug: Geekosystem has suggestions for our 20% sale like Joe Sacco's book. "Safe Area Gorazde is a great introduction to his work and to the concept of comics journalism as a whole. This new special edition with notes from the author, updates on the characters, and a behind the scenes look at the creative process is must-own material.
• Plug: Geekosystem has suggestions for our 20% sale like I Shall Destroy All Civilized Planets by Fletcher Hanks. "Weirdness on the highest scale prevails in these collections…these delightfully strange relics deserve a place in the library of any comics art history completist or student of the medium."
• Plug: Filth and Fabulations looks at books for 2013 and The Astonishing Exploits of Lucien Brindavoine by Jacques Tardi is on there. "This book is perhaps a slightly less mature piece than some of Tardi's later self-authored work, but it is filled with a vibrancy and a dark humor that makes it a thing not to be missed, especially so for those who enjoy his amusing riffs on traditional genre pastiches, with a nice dose of violence and sarcasm thrown in". In addition to Goddamn this War! by Tardi and Jean-Pierre Verney. "It looks very promising, and seems to be more of a single narrative spanning the entirety of the war, rather than the looser vignette-style format of the earlier book."
The last peanut of a day of Online Commentaries & Diversions aka the news you missed while present shopping, latke eating and flying:
• Review: The Comics Journal and Rucker crack the two books focusing on Malcom McNeill and William S. Burrough's artistic collaboration, Observed While Falling (the memoir) and The Lost Art of Ah Pook is Here. (the art book) "The art is awesome, the memoir is engaging. . .Ah Pook is in a characteristic style of Burroughs’s middle period. He mixes a true-adventure story with bitter anti-establishment scenarios, gay sexual fantasies, science-fictional visualizations of chimerical mutants, and apocalyptic visions of a biological plague. . .The results are staggering—the best pictures of dicks that I’ve ever seen. . . ."
On the memoir "One of the pleasures of McNeill’s memoir, Observed While Falling, is reading about hear about his conversations with Burroughs. Old Bill laid down some tasty aphorisms. . . Ah Pook is a word/image virus. Study these new books and enjoy the disease."
• Interview:Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez of Love and Rockets are interviewed by Tim Hodler, Dan Nadel and Frank Santoro on The Comics Journal. Jaime talks about becoming more popular cartoonists, "So Gilbert and I kind of set up our own ground where we go. We go, you love Raw? Raw’s East Coast? Love and Rockets is West Coast. And they go, 'So West Coast is primitive and old-fashioned?' Fine. It’s not art school."
• Review:Comics Alliance features several of our box sets on their Holiday Gift Guide: Deluxe Editions. On the Love and Rockets Library Collection, by Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez Andy Khouri states, “This indie comics mainstay has been going for nearly 30 years, making Love and Rockets as intimidating to some new readers as even the densest superhero mythologies. Luckily, Fantagraphics has made the Los Bros Hernandez saga about a massive cast of startlingly lifelike characters digestible in the form of affordable reprint volumes published in chronological order."
• Review: Douglas Wolk reviews Harvey Kurtzman’s EC stories in Corpse on the Imjin! for the New York Times. "Kurtzman’s writing could be bombastic — nearly all of these stories’ titles end in exclamation points — but, as the United States became mired in the Korean War, his reeling disgust at the horrors of war (and his thick, slashing brush strokes) made for shockingly bold rhetoric."
•Review:The Atlantic lists Mark Twain's Autobiography 1910-2010 by Michael Kupperman as one of The Best Books I Read This Year. Chris Heller says "Kupperman’s brilliance isn’t just in his humor, though. Mark Twain’s Autobiography is meant to be read in small doses, no more than half a dozen pages at a time. Trust me: You don’t want to gorge on a book that’s this weirdly amusing. But after a peek into Kupperman’s hysterically twisted mind, you’ll keep wanting to go back for more."
• Review:Comics Bulletin releases its 2012 Best Graphic Novel List and The Hypo by Noah Van Sciver makes it. "Van Sciver's toolkit includes the pens and pins of pathos and pain, self-doubt and angst, as much as it contains determination and fortitude. The Lincoln of The Hypo transcends his time, place, and even (or maybe especially) his name. . . It stands as a true example of the capabilities of this medium to deliver stories in a truly visceral manner," writes Daniel Elkin.
• Review:Unshelved comics review The Hypo by Noah Van Sciver. Gene Ambaum writes,"The mood of Lincoln’s life in Springfield, Illinois, is well-expressed via the rough-hewn, cross-hatched skies, floorboards, and backgrounds."
• Review: Tim Callahan has nothing but love for Spacehawkby Basil Wolverton on Comic Book Resources. He states, "Wolverton's world is a weird and ugly and beautifully innocently horrible charmingly delightful one, and it has more in common with the absurd genre riffs from something like Pendleton Ward's Adventure Time or Jesse Moynihan's Forming or Tom Gauld's Goliath than it does the bland superhero melodrama of 'Marvel Mystery Comics'."
• Review:Comics Bulletin's Favorite Reprints Books of 2012 include Gary Panter's Dal Tokyo and our Carl Barks reprints. In reference to Carl Barks' Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck, "I would not hesitate to say that Fantagraphics’ reprints of Barks’ Duck comics may very well be the best collection series that any comic company is doing today! . . Each story is funny, smart and just plain fun and Fantagraphics treat each and every panel on the page with care and detail," states Nick Boisson. Jason Sacks writes "[Dal Tokyo is] a freaking godsend from the reprint editors at Fantagraphics because it unearthed an amazing, surreal, brilliant lost classic that's like an artifact from some amazing parallel dimension.. . Readers are asked to bring our perceptions to these pages, to bring our intelligence and passion and appreciation for abstraction and love for everything that feels different and yet the same as everyday life."
• Review:School Library Journal files Walt Disney's Donald Duck: A Christmas for Shacktownby Carl Barks in the Dewey (Huey and Louey) decimal of their hearts. J. Caleb Mozzocco says "[It] features another 200 pages of master cartooning from 'The Good Duck Artist' in a nicely produced bookshelf- or backpack-ready hardcover edition. . . the Barks books are great comics for kids and adult fans of the medium."
• Review: Uncle Scrooge: Only a Poor Old Man makes the Best of or Our Favorite Books of 2012 list on the Village Voice. Alan Scherstuhlstates, “Sprightly, inventive, wise, and more exciting than 60-year-old-duck tales should be, Barks's work already stands at the top of any list of history's greatest comics. It should also rank high among stories, period.”
• Review:Brooklyn Based thinks Sexytime edited by Jacques Boyreau is for youand suggests books for reading and giving. "This book is a journey into the aesthetic of porn," states Jon Reiss.
• Interview: Alex Dueben interviews Lilli Carré on Comic Book Resources about comics and animation. "I loved designing and arranging the [Heads or Tails]. Figuring out which pieces to include and the best order for them took quite a while, since I wanted each story to speak to the one before and after it, and to have a good flow despite the shift in styles. It was like making a high-stakes mix tape."
• Review: North Adams Transcript and John Seven look at Heads or Tails by Lilli Carré. "The multi-faceted Lilli Carre -- author, illustrator, animator -- presents stories that are as gentle as they are cryptic, in which the darkness of her themes meld perfectly with the sweetness of her style. . .Carre’s short work is collected and celebrated, revealing a creator of power, easily on the level with lauded types like Chris Ware."
• Review:Hooded Utilitarian makes it through Josh Simmons' The Furry Trap (probably with all the lights on in the house). James Romberger writes it is “packed cover to cover with shudders that cannot be anticipated, that grow worse as they progressively become less clearly defined. The last narrative is the most frightening because it is a straightforwardly articulated bit of cinematography on paper that, as with the most effective of suspenseful creations, gains in impact from what is never shown, the reader’s mind having already been prepared by the foregoing tales to expect the worst.”
• Review:Comics Alliance features several of our box sets on their Holiday Gift Guide: Deluxe Editions. On The Complete Peanuts Collection box setsby Charles M Schulz. Andy Khouri writes, “Reprinted in chronological order with the highest production values, any one of these books would make an auspicious addition to any bookshelf.”
• Review:School Library Journal looks at Charlie Brown’s Christmas Stocking by Charles M. Schulz. J. Caleb Mozzocco says, "Schulz’s Peanuts has always been unique in its ability to speak to audiences of adults and children simultaneously. . . Nice then to have a comic that can speak to kids, adults and the little kids the adults used to be all at the same time—even if only for a quick 40 pages or so."
• Review: HeroesOnline looks at The Complete Syndicated Pogo Vol. 2 "Bona Fide Balderdash" by Walt Kelly. “Pogo certainly belongs on any informed list of the top 5 newspaper comic strips of all time. The artwork is stunning, the pacing is fast, the characters simply come alive on the page; the plot-lines are crazy and labyrinthine and above all hilarious . . . Fantagraphics does the Kelly oeuvre proud with beautiful production values and insightful introductory material,” states Andy Mansell.
• Review:Dungeon Quest 3 by Joe Daly is the Best ofYear 2012 on the Forbidden Planet International site.Clark Burscough writes, “Deceptively simple looking artwork contains hidden depths, and the mythology that Joe Daly is building up around these characters and their world is starting to get properly out there.. . And on top of that – it’s laugh out loud funny. I can’t go into precisely why, because it’s also laugh out loud filthy. Something for everyone in these books.”
• Interview:Comic Book Resources and Alex Dueben interview James Romberger on his collaboration of 7 Miles a Second (and Post York). On his love of New York-centric books, “It is strange that I'll get used to an aspect of the landscape, but so often, I will come out to find it gone and replaced with something completely different. Still, I also love that shifting quality and the multiculturalism of the city; it is my primary subject,” says Romberger.
• Review:Listen, Whitey!on NPR Music for its MUSIC compilation. Matt Sullivan, assistant to author Pat Thomas, talks to Michaelangeo Matos about the project to accompany the book. "There's no way that Sony or EMI were going to [automatically] say yes to the Bob Dylan or John & Yoko tracks, because they get those requests all day. Years ago, Pat went to Bob Dylan's office and got those guys to approve it. The same thing with Yoko. . ."
• Plug: Speaking of 2013, Johanna Draper Carlson of Comics Worth Reading can't wait for Pretty in Ink: American Women Cartoonists by Trina Robbins to come out!
The cutest Carré animation of Online Commentaries & Diversions*:
• Review: Chris Sims on Comics Alliance looks at the first story (and title story) of the latest Carl Barks collection: Walt Disney's Donald Duck "A Christmas for Shacktown." Sims says, "At 32 pages, it's a sprawling epic (By Barks' standards, anyway) that hits those beautiful Holiday themes of altruism and the spirit of giving. Although to be fair, it does get a little closer to cannibalism than most other Christmas comics.
• Review: Speaking of Christmas comics, John Seven of the North Adams Transcript reads Charlie Brown's Christmas Stocking by Charles M. Schulz. "As with the best of Schulz's work, the humor alternates between deadpan and over the top, and the presentation of religion and holidays both is both irreverent and respectful at the same time. Schulz was a multi-faceted writer and could tackle contradictions through great simplicity. Charlie Brown's Christmas Stocking stands as gift from the past that is greater than the size of the package. It's a real treasure."
• Review (audio):Comic Books are Burning in Hell take you on a whirlwind, family road-trip of a podcast review of Gary Panter, Dal Tokyo and his occasional critics (Andrew Arnold). "Panter is very good at drawing altered states." "What was loose, scrappy and punk rock becomes much tighter." "The later stuff in here is the quote, unquote nicest drawing Gary has ever done, most acceptable comicswise." The evolution of one man's comics.
• Plug: Creator of Barack Hussein Obama, Steven Weissman, runs around looking for vintage comics with Love and Rockets co-creator, Mario Hernandez at the Comics Alliance. Need a hot tip? "They stick a lot old stuff in between the new stuff so I always look for the brown spines,"says Mario.
• Review:On the North Adams Transcript, John Seven enjoys Charles Forsman, Oily Comics and The End of the Fucking World. "When I started, I didn't have a real plan for [TEOTFW]," Forsman said. "I just wanted it to be fun. After laboring over the other book, I wanted to have fun again, because when you're working on something for awhile, you can get bogged down in the details."
• Review:Filth and Fabulations includes Dungeon Quest 3 by Joe Daly in a Best of 2012 list. "The riffing on classic roleplaying tropes is often hilarious, but the true comedic brilliance of the series lies in the way Daly writes the often drawn out pages of dialogue between the main characters. He manages to capture the way people talk in real life perfectly."
• Review:MTV Geek's Best of Graphic Novel 2012 List includes Athos in America by Jason. "A series of short stories that put Jason's insecurities and imperfections on display in an occassionally uncomfortable and frequently moving way," states Eddie Wright.
• Review:MTV Geek's Best of Graphic Novel 2012 List counts Noah Van Sciver's The Hypo as Numbah One! "A big-budget movie can't capture the subtlety of Lincoln's personality like it's done here," states Valerie. Eddie Wright chimes in and says, "In Van Sciver's well-researched, moving portrait of the troubled president, he's painted as a nuanced, difficult, intriguing and most of all, human figure."
• Review: Noah Bertlatksy of The Hooded Utilitarian looks at Johnny Ryan's Prison Pit 4, the importance of genitals in an invulnerable society. "Prison Pit is a hyberbolic, endless series of incredibly gruesome, pointless, testosterone-fueled battles with muscles and bodily fluids spurting copiously in every direction. . . everybody, everywhere, is a sack of more or less constantly violated meat, to whom gender is epoxied (literally, in this sequence) as a means of more fully realizing the work of degradation."
• Plug: David Allen of the Daily Bulletin takes a look at all the comic strip reprints out currently, ready to read Pogo: The Complete Syndicated Strips Vol. 2 "Bona Fide Balderdash" by Walt Kelly. "Through his nonsense-spouting critters in the Okefenokee swamp, Kelly often satirized government and national politics, taking on the Red Scare and coining the phrase "We have met the enemy and he is us. But 'Pogo' also had slapstick combined with wordplay and whimsy. Nice to have 'Pogo' back."
The most symmetrical cake slice of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review:Publishers Weekly occasionally lets smart and famous people recommend books. Jeopardy Master Ken Jennings "skipped the obvious Marjane Satrapi and Alison Bechdel entries in favor of this lesser-known three-volume masterpiece, about Tyler’s complicated relationship with her distant dad, a World War II vet. With her playful, fluid brush line and busy patchwork of watercolor woodgrain, Tyler’s art looks like the past feels." Carol Tyler's complete series You'll Never Know is available.
• Review:Booklist Online cooks up a review from some Pogo (The Complete Syndicated Comic Strips Vol. 2: "Bona Fide Balderdash"). Ian Chipman writes, "[Walt Kelly's] hallmarks of deft wordplay, daft swamp critters, and poisonously sharp sociopolitical satire are in full blossom here. The highlight is the 1952 election season that saw Pogo’s first and entirely reluctant presidential run and the birth of the “I Go Pogo” slogan. Mimicking “I Like Ike. . . A must for all collections of comic-strip history."
• Plug:Forces of Geek throws out some good gift recommendations for kidslike Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge "Only a Poor Old Man"by Carl Barks. "Comic books have always been an excellent gateway into reading, and when it comes to smart, imaginative and engaging, you don't have to go much further than Carl Barks. . . What better way to introduce your own Huey, Dewey or Louie to comics?"
• Review:Paste Magazines's 10 Best Collections of 2012 include two Fantagraphics titles. Hillary Brown loved Young Romance, by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby edited by Michel Gagné who "painstakingly restored them (without making them look exactly new, thus giving the book the feel of a vintage compilation that just happens to be in amazing shape). . . Simon and Kirby tried to bring as much excitement to primarily psychological and interpersonal goings-on as to punching and flying." And this might be the last year anything by Carl Barks is on the list, "We’ll just grant it permanent honorary status as the best of the best, like when John Larroquette removed himself from Emmy consideration after winning four straight for Night Court. . . [Walt Disney's Donald Duck "A Christmas for Shacktown] once again proves Barks to be one of the finest draftsmen and storytellers we’ve ever had." Well put, Garrett Martin.
• Plug:The Scotsman lists some of the Best of 2012 as told by the best scotsman. Withered Hand's singer/songwriter Dan Willson has eyes only for Ron Rege, Jr. and states, "[The] Cartoon Utopia , his magnum opus, is quite a head-trip. Thousands of very dense little drawings and words resemble a psychedelic illuminated manuscript peppered with themes of spiritual redemption and good versus evil. It’s a very unusual and beautiful work."
• Plug: From Boing Boing's list of the Best Damn Comics of 2012, compiled by Brian Heater. On Ron Rege Jr.'s The Cartoon Utopia , "The first esoteric text of the new century. The harbinger of the New Aeon. This book will be a staple of Esoteric Lore for millennia to come."
• Plug:Boing Boing makes my job easy by providing the Best Damn Comics of 2012. Compiled by Brian Heater, a lot of creative people offered up their favorite books of the year. Nick Abadzis thinks Kolor Klimax (edited by Matthias Wivel), "feels startling and vital to me and features a wide variety of styles, each as absorbing as all the others contained within these pages. I don't think I've enjoyed an anthology as much as this one in years."
• Plug: From Boing Boing's list of the Best Damn Comics of 2012, compiled by Brian Heater. Box Brown on Barack Hussein Obama, "Steven Weissman does stuff with actual analog comic materials that most dudes can't even do with photoshop." Jeffrey Brown chimes in on BHO, "Strange, funny and beautiful. Weissman reinvents his comics with the kind of book I wish I would make." Will Dinksi agrees, "Barack Hussein Obama is pretty much my favorite book of the year. . . I get a better appreciation for Weissman's craft in the printed collection where it can feel like you're actually looking at the finished artwork." Mari Naomi says,"I just love what this book is. If I didn't know better, I wouldn't even recognize this as Weissman. And I like that."
• Review:Paris Review checks out The Last Vispo, edited by Nico Vassilakis and Crag Hill. Nicole Rudick states,"it makes sense that in visual form poetry would elicit a kind of motion, an unfolding over the space of a page, and that even its sound would be voiced as a series of discoveries. Movement disrupts the continuity of a sentence, a phrase, a word. And language, unsettled, is unbound."
• Plug: From Boing Boing's list of the Best Damn Comics of 2012, compiled by Brian Heater. Box Brown continues to wax poetic on Josh Simmons' The Furry Trap, "Funny, even as it makes your hair stand on end and your skin start to crawl... Horror comics that gash their way below the surface."
• Plug: From Boing Boing's list of the Best Damn Comics of 2012, compiled by Brian Heater. Shaenon K. Garrity says that The Heart of Thomas by Moto Hagio "is a book I've been awaiting for over ten years, and it exceeds my expectations."
• Plug: From Boing Boing's list of the Best Damn Comics of 2012, compiled by Brian Heater. Nate Powell on Interiorae by Gabriella Giandelli, is "just what I look for in a narrative: patient, dreamy, full of seemingly endless layers of shadow, slowly revealing the sweetness inside the rotten, all within the confines of a single high-rise apartment building, surrounded by snow and static."
• Review:Slate finds themselves choosing Heads or Tails, going for broke. Dan Kois says, "Lilli Carré’s short stories are dreamy, unlikely, and unsettling. What transforms the stories from nightmares to fables is Carré’s artwork, which varies with each story. . ."
• Review:Page 45 looks at Heads or Tails by Lilli Carré. "The art reminds me a little of Lynda Barry and the flow of the pages reminded me a little of Walt Holcombe. . .I recently recommended this book to a customer who named their favourite film as Amelie (good choice!) precisely because it has that feeling of whimsy about it."
• Plug: From Boing Boing's list of the Best Damn Comics of 2012, compiled by Brian Heater. Jeremy Tinder on Heads or Tails by Lilli Carré, "A nice encapsulation of many of the ways Lilli has been pushing herself both narratively and stylistically over the last few years. If only there was a way to squeeze her animation in there too." Will Dinksi comments on Heads or Tails by Lilli Carré, "Beautiful artwork. Thoughtfully paced. "Of The Essence" is one of the best comic book short stories I've ever read."
• Plug: From Boing Boing's list of the Best Damn Comics of 2012, compiled by Brian Heater. Robert Kirby on No Straight Lines edited by Justin Hall, "Long overdue, this beautifully-produced, sharply edited retrospective may usher in a new era of respect and recognition for a long-neglected realm of the alt-comics world."
• Review:Nate's Broadcast enjoyed The Hypo by Noah Van Sciver in addition to the recent film, Lincoln, and book America Aflame. "Van Sciver’s contribution to the Lincoln mythology is perfect for those who like their heroes a little troubled and messy, but good at their core- not a bad way to interpret the American ideal."
• Plug: From Boing Boing's list of the Best Damn Comics of 2012, compiled by Brian Heater. Will Dinski continues with The Hypo. "[Noah] Van Sciver is pretty prolific, but this is his best work to date. The line art just drips with anguish." Brian Heater thinks it "puts the cartoonist's brimming angst to a different use entirely, in a book that does precisely what a good piece of historical non-fiction should: finding a fascinating way to tell a story we were convinced we already knew."
• Review: Blacklung by Chris Wright is whittled on by Tucker Stone at TCJ. It's called "the big, trippy brother to Drew Weing’s Segar influenced Set To Sea. . . . [and] Gore saturates this comic. . . Brutality for its own sake is the point of some entertaining movies, no reason it can’t be the point of some entertaining comics as well."
• Review: On Filth and Fabulations, Jeppe Mulich states that Chris Wright's "[Blacklung is] not a work of splatter punk or mindless gore, but rather an engaging, breathless, and humorous tale of the dregs of the sea, including a colorful assortment of pirates and madmen, quite clearly drawing inspiration from both Melville, Stevenson and Peckinpah."
• Review: Paste Magazine reviews Charlie Brown's Christmas Stocking by Charles M. Schulz. "Seeing this work isolated and expanded only reinforces the sheer timelessness and brilliance inherent; Schulz was a master of mood and line in equal measure. . . it’s some of the finest nostalgia porn you can put under the tree," quips Sean Edgar.
•Review:Pheonix New Times unwraps their present early and Jason P. Woodbury interviews Nat Gertler on Charlie Brown's Christmas Stocking by Charles M Schulz. "[Schulz] had done a Christmas book, Christmas is Together-Time, using red and green," Gertler says, explaining the minimal color palette. "We wanted to keep that simplicity and Christmas-sense in there." The stable of Schulz characters transcend fads and time because as Gertler points out "It's not the way kids talk, but they way they feel is the way that kids feel."
• Plug:Drawn blog tops off another the Best of 2012 list with some Ernie Bushmiller. John Martz points out, "Nancy seems to be a love-it-or-leave-it strip, and I am firmly in the Love It camp. . . Often surreal, and always impeccably drawn, there is nothing quite like it. . . these books are a virtual masterclass in cartooning."
• Review: From Boing Boing's list of the Best Damn Comics of 2012, compiled by Brian Heater. Tom Kaczynski on Ernie Bushmiller's Nancy is Happy, "The minimalism of the art, the quirky humor, the amazing consistency, it all started with these strips."
• Review: Getting ready for the hardback release of Delphine by Richard Sala, Carrie Cuinn of SF Portal reviews the tale complete with "dark duotone inking style, little dialogue, and gothic, shadowy, art. . . Overall I think that Sala’s retelling of that well-known love story is affectingly tragic. . . It is, in a word, creepy."
• Review: If MTV Geek knows about The End of the Fucking World then the secret is out: Charles Forsman is amazing! "[It] pulls you in like no other comic this year. Stunning in its simplicity and brave in its subject matter. Charles Forsman is a future force. . . [it] is like stumbling onto the ultimate secret in comic books, but based on how great TEOTFW is, it won't be much a secret longer."
• Review: Ashley over at Bibliophibien looks at Wandering Son series by Shimura Takako, "While the story is focused on transgender topics, I think that this is a wonderfully moving coming-of-age story and captures the complexities of sexual identity, friendships, and family that teens face."
• Review: Rick Klaw at SF Site enjoys the glossy glory of Action! Mystery! Thrills!, edited by Greg Sadowski. "As in his previous volumes. . . Sadowski supplies copious end notes and annotations. Though this time, the information additionally reads as an entertaining history of early comics. . . Sadowski once again delivers an essential book for anyone with an interest in comics history."
• Plug: John McMurtrie of SF Gate (San Francisco Gate) lists Listen, Whitey! by Pat Thomas as one of the Music Books to Buy of 2012.
Now that the mess of Halloween is swept under the rug and Thanksgiving is over or has turned into subcutaneous fat around your middle-section, we can get back to what is really important: egg nog and books to buy for your loved ones be they the birthday-celebrating Sagittarius or Capricorn in your life or for an annual wintertime holiday. Many of our books have been featured on holiday gift guides and we even have thematic releases coming out just in time for the holidays. So peruse while you finish up your holiday shopping lists. (And remember our CYBER MONDAY sale is going on RIGHT NOW for 30% off 2012 titles and more)
For the monster in you and that book to connect generations of family members, look no further than SPACEHAWK by Basil Wolverton. Cory Doctorow of Boing Boing believes "what you read it for is the character design, that amazing Wolverton grotesque that is as unmistakable as it is unforgettable. I mean to say, this guy could really draw monsters [in this] weighty tome that almost strobes with awesome."
For the completist and nostalgic fan, Publishers Weekly gift guide highlights the first three volumes of Krazy & Ignatz: Complete Sunday Strips 1916-1924 by George Herriman (for a whopping $95). PW states "One of the most admired and influential comic strips of all time, Krazy & Ignatz is collected in Krazy & Ignatz: Complete Sunday Strips 1916–1924, which contains the first nine years of George Herriman’s masterpiece into one (of three) handsome tomes."
For more strip and comic book archival collections Tom Spurgeon of The Comics Reporter suggests Walt Kelly's Pogo Vol. 1-2 Box Set. "I love the early Pogo work best of all the Pogo work, and these volumes are attractive in a way that's extremely difficult to guarantee with a post-World War 2 offering. They were cramming the strips into papers by then, making tear sheets and originals an even greater premium than is usual." A little history with your recommendation.
Speaking of historyPublishers Weekly calls it a 'good yarn,' but The Hypo by Noah Van Sciver is also for 'that person who loved the film Lincoln' as Comic Book Resources puts it. "This is an angle of Lincoln that rarely gets seen, and Van Sciver's strong plotting and detailed artwork make this an engaging and easily accessible read to any reader."
In the mood for more biographies or memoirs? Publishers Weeklysuggests No Straight Lines: Four Decades of Queer Comics, edited by Justin Hall. The NY TIMES also featured this "sampling of comic books and comic strips featuring gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender themes and characters has strong language and sexual situations, but a lot of laughs too. It is a wonderful toe dip into the genre," states George Gene Gustines.
"For the person who reads John Hodgman" cartoonist, quippest and sharpest tack on the internet block Michael Kupperman is the man for you. Rob McMonigal at Panel Patter continues, "He's the author of my favorite book of 2011, Mark Twain's Autobiography 1910-2010, as well as the Tales Designed to Thrizzle anthology series. His work features outrageous satire . . . sending Twain off on wacky hijinks with Albert Einstein. Nothing is sacred and everything is skewered by Kupperman, who is a perfect fit for the lovers of Daily Show-like comedy.
For the person who enjoys process over narrative the "punk icon Gary Panter’s angular world of neon brutalism" Dal Tokyo is the perfect gift for the 'Visual Splendor', says Publishers Weekly.
Tom Spurgeon of The Comics Reporter recommends comics for people WHO ALREADY LIKE THEM. #1 on his list is anything by The Hernandez Brothers. "They made some of the very best comics the year that Love and Rockets began; they made some of the very best comics this year." Start from the beginning with Gilbert's Palomar Series in the book Heartbreak Soup or with Jaime's Locas Series starting with Maggie the Mechanic. Is your loved one a huge fan? Get the latest book, Love and Rockets: New Stories #5.
But wait! (There's more) We also have blue spruce trimmed books for your holiday and year-long enjoyment. First up is the perfect stocking stuffer Charlie Brown's Christmas Stocking, this adorable little package collects two of Charles M. Schulz's best "extras" from the 1960s: two Christmas-themed stories written and drawn for national magazines are FINALLY collected in book form. The Comics Reporter says, "There aren't a whole lot of Charles Schulz-related items that have yet to be published; this holiday-related book is one of the few hold-outs." Charlie Brown's Christmas Stocking was also featured on The LA Times Gifts for Under $25 "Charlie, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus, Schroeder, Frieda, Violet, Shermy and Sally all make appearances, and the book also includes a pocket-sized biography of Schulz." Created in the classic square style of Charlie Brown small book collections, this book is sure to warm your hearts without the need of a glowing fire or mug of mulled cider.
Walt Disney's Donald Duck: A Christmas for Shacktown by Carl Barks is the third book in our Carl Barks Library which chronologically prints stories from this master. "A Christmas for Shacktown" is a rare 32-pager that stays within the confines of Duckburg, featuring a storyline in which the Duck family works hard to raise money to throw a Christmas party for the poor children of the city’s slums (depicted by Barks with surprisingly Dickensian grittiness). The Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon states, "I used to love the unabashed sentimentalism that saturates a story like this one, at least in the initial pages."
The rest of the book is also full of GOLD and not necessarily snow-covered. 240 pages in full-color glory make this a must-have no matter what the season. Featured on The LA Times Gifts for Under $50 "Fantagraphics has been reprinting Carl Barks’ classic Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge work, and this third volume focuses on Barks’ peak period in the early 1950s."
Finally, the second book of Ernie Bushmiller's famous strip Nancy is out for pre-order. Nancy Likes Christmas: Complete Dailies 1946-1948 is three more punny years of the fabulous life of an odd looking little girl. Order through us and you'll receive an FBI mini comic to throw in that stocking over the fireplace (be it real or the Netflix fireplace) as well. Spurgeon again, "it sounds good. I'm pro-Nancy and everything." It's kinda like being pro-education. We all agree it's a good thang.
• Seattle, WA: Join us at the Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery for the book release party for The Last Vispo Anthology, edited by Northwest literary artists Nico Vassilakis and Crag Hill. Their work will be feted with an exhibition, readings, and a musical performance from Lori Goldston (former Nirvana and Earth cellist, and recent Stranger “Genius Award” recipient) performing with former Black Cat Orchestra bandmate Kyle Hanson. (more info)
If you missed our opening reception, then dang it, you missed a truly awesome time. The great Jim Woodring was droppin' some science, although Marketing Director Mike Baehr seems dubious. Local cartoonist Tim Miller pledged his undying love to Noah. (Just kidding about all of that; I have no idea what was going on...)
I also have no idea what's going on in this awesome photo Lasky took of me, Mike, and local cartoonist (and Short Run Small Press Fest organizer) Kelly Froh. But it makes me laugh.
[ Check out more of David's photos at his Flickr page here! ]
David and Noah's exhibit of original artwork will be on display through this Friday, November 23rd, so stop by -- you'll be thankful you did! We even still have a few signed copies left of each title.
Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery is located at 1201 S. Vale Street in Seattle's Georgetown district. Open daily 11:30 to 8:00 PM, Sundays until 5:00 PM. CLOSED on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, but OPEN AS HELL on Friday, November 23rd. Phone: (206) 658-0110.
The strongest umbrella in the wind of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review: Paul Constant of The Stranger looks at The Last Vispo: Visual Poetry 1998-2008, edited by Nico Vassilakis and Crag Hill. "As an art book, it demands hours of investigation. . . For those linguistic pioneers looking to find the future of fiction, this could be one of the most informative poetry anthologies to be published in the new millennium."
• Review:NPR's My Guilty Pleasure looks at the Jacques Tardi graphics novels of Adèle Blanc-Sec who is "young writer with the brains of Sherlock Holmes, the body of Angelina Jolie and the stoic fortitude of the Marlboro Man." Rosecrans Baldwin states, "The books are part adventure comic, part hardboiled fiction. They're terrific whodunits that conjure up all the precise atmospheric detail of, say, a Georges Simenon novel, but with twice the plot."
• Review:Blacklung by Chris Wright gets reviewed on Nerds of a Feather. Philippe Duhart says, "Wright’s genius is further evident in his ability to use these aberrant cartoonish characterizations to convey human emotion, particularly terror. Wright’s portrayal of violence is stark and chilling – despite or perhaps because of his singular style. . . Black Lung worked on all counts. Plus, pirates."
• Review (video):Kapow Comics down in Australia reviews Chris Wright's Blacklung. Al states "this is a complicated book with musings on philosophy, literature, mortality and especially, religion has a big focus." Sonya says, "Every single character changes in this story, their journey changes them . . . [Blacklung] prayed on my mind. It lingers with you."
• Review: Glen David Gold looks at Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons edited by Kelly Gerald in the LA Review of Books. In an attempt to see how the bread is made, Gold, "Cartooning was O'Connor's first artistic passion. . . . An article in the local paper and a pile of rejection slips from The New Yorker indicate how serious she was. . . not an early blush of Flannery the fiction writer at work. But I'd still recommend it to the curious. Come at it without expecting same genius, but look at it because it's an extreme close up of biography."
• Review:Publishers Weekly looks at Jack Jackson's Los Tejanos and Lost Causes. "Comics’ current vogue for nonfiction was pioneered in these two works from the late underground comix founding father Jackson, who died in 2006. Jackson brought an R. Crumb–style crosshatching and love of facial grotesquery to these two densely researched historical graphic novels."
• Plug:Publishers Weekly and Ada Price show a sneak peak of The Heart of Thomas by Moto Hagio. Enjoy 14 pages of pure genius but don't forget to read each one right to left! We're talking manga here.
• Review: Rob Clough of The Comics Journal enjoys The Hypo by Noah Van Sciver."he’s made a fairly significant leap as both a draftsman and a storyteller in a relatively short period of time . . . Van Sciver’s greatest achievement in this book is his storytelling restraint. He lets his cross-hatching gets across the grime . . He wants to show the reader a different side of the Lincoln we grew up reading about in the history books, but also wants the reader to connect this younger man to the future president."
• Review:Fantasy Literature takes a peek at Castle Waiting Vol. 1 by Linda Medley and Ruth Arnell is in love. "the charming ink illustrations have a piquant charming quality that match the story wonderfully. . . Linda Medley has written a gentle feminist fairy tale comic book that truly deserves to have a wider audience."
• Review: Sonia Harris of Comics Book Resources reads Black Hole by Charles Burns all in one sitting, one evening. "Reading Black Hole all at once in a nice, tidy bundle, it is impossible to experience what Black Hole was for all those years while it was slowly seeping out, issue by issue. . . it is visceral poetry, a true expression of the medium with imagery and words working together to create the most intimate impact. Black Hole is beautiful and terrible, it is a treasure."