• List: For The Guardian, comics creators Bryan & Mary Talbot select their top 10 graphic memoirs, with Joe Sacco's Palestine at #4: "Sacco was trained as a journalist and singlehandedly created the genre of reportage in graphic novel form. Immersing himself in a situation, his in-depth reports use the medium of comics to its full potential. Like his Safe Area Gorazde or recent Footnotes in Gaza, Palestine follows his experiences as he investigates events and interviews residents, explaining the history, politics and dynamics of the place as he goes along. The palpable sense of place and the feeling that we're in the presence of the people who relate their experiences to him (and therefore to us) is a testament to his storytelling skills, his work being far more intimate than that of a filmed documentary. Sacco is a master of this medium."
• Feature: "Compiling the book was a learning experience for Thomas... 'They (the Panthers) switched from a gun-toting paramilitary organization to a more community-based entity offering free food, clothing, and medical care,' he says. And, perhaps, this may be Listen, Whitey!’s biggest strength — and greatest contribution — to future discourse about this topic that has been so distorted and misrepresented in its presentation to the consciousness of mainstream America. Maybe now, 40 years after the histrionics and exaggeration, enough time has passed so the emergence of Black consciousness can be scrutinized with a measure of clarity." – Gregg Reese, Our Weekly
• Interview: At The Atlantic, Steven Heller has a Q&A with Daniel Clowes: "I was trying to get work as an illustrator in the '80s, but no art directors actually ever called, which is what led me to throw up my hands in despair and slink back to comics. Originally, I was hoping to find a writer to collaborate with, since I was much more interested in the drawing part of the equation, but that didn't work out. And so I began writing my own stories."
Today's (and yesterday's when it was slow) Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: "The Dutch artist and designer Joost Swarte has a tremendous reputation among cartoon-art aficionados, given his tiny body of comics work. The answer to the title of his 40-year retrospective, Is That All There Is?, is: 'Pretty much, yeah.'... Plot is beside the point. Swarte is more concerned with formal purity, and with making the deep structures of cartooning visible. He pares his art to mechanical, hard-edged vectors and curves: caricature triple-distilled into symbolic visual shorthand, with every line canted just so. His geometrically precise, nearly architectural drawings are the bridge between the Tintin creator Hergé and contemporary artists like Chris Ware, who wrote this volume’s foreword." – Douglas Wolk, The New York Times
• Review: "Now we're talkin'! The first two volumes in Fantagraphics' Steve Ditko Archives (edited by Blake Bell) were rewarding collections of the offbeat auteur's early work, and among the best archival books of horror comics published in the last several years. But in volume 3, a.k.a. Mysterious Traveler, we see Ditko's lunacy reach its full maturation... The bold dynamism and moody linework that would characterize Ditko's Spider-Man and Dr. Strange work just a few years later, as well as his horror tales for Creepy and Eerie, is in evident throughout.... Volume 3 is essential for classic horror comics fans, and further cements Ditko's reputation as an artist without peer." – Joseph McCabe, FearNet
• Review: "Kevin Avery has compiled an incredibly thorough account of one of folk and rock music’s most important critics of the 20th Century: Paul Nelson. Avery reveals Paul Nelson as not just a music critic, but also a true writer who loved his subject matter possibly more than anything else. After reading, I felt that I knew more about Nelson than simply his life’s accomplishments—I knew him as the man he was: an observer who secluded himself with his books, film and music." – SLUG Magazine
• Review: "Madcap university mystery. Girl detective Judy Drood, with the hapless Kasper Keene, investigates the disappearances of girls on campus. Beautiful young women (some dressed like pirates), monstrous old men (some of them professors), photography, a puppet, and a misguided quest for eternal youth all figure in.... The dark edge in Sala’s other work is fully expressed here [in Mad Night]. The book is incredibly violent (though the dark, woodcut-like art makes it feel absurd). Here’s a body count by how victims meet their end..." – Gene Ambaum, The Unshelved Book Club
• Plug: "Published three years ago in an indie porn comic, Josh Simmons’ 'Cockbone' remains a high water mark for today’s horror comic.... The Furry Trap will collect that story, along with ten others being described by the publisher as 'hard-edged horror.' You already know if you can handle this stuff, so if you can, it’s time to start counting days. Eli is, most definitely, coming." – Tucker Stone, "Flavorpill's 10 Most Anticipated Comics Releases, April-July 2012"
• Plug: "While it’s a bit of an exaggeration to call Dal Tokyo Panter’s lost masterpiece, it certainly hasn’t been the easiest thing to come by. That’s to be the case for anything that’s serialized over the course of multiple years, multiple publications, and two different continents. Thankfully, the entire book has finally found a home at Fantagraphics, and those of us without access to early-’80s copies of the LA Reader can finally experience 'a future Mars that is terraformed by Texan and Japanese workers' as only Gary Panter — one of the most influential cartoonists alive — can provide. For some of us, this book has been a long time coming." – Tucker Stone, "Flavorpill's 10 Most Anticipated Comics Releases, April-July 2012"
• Interview (Audio): Yesterday's Pat Thomas radio guest spot to discuss and spin Listen, Whitey! on The Hear and Now on Berkeley's listener-powered KPFA can be streamed from their website for another couple of weeks
• Analysis (Video):At his blog, Paul Hornschemeier shares video of two "talks given during my recent graphic novelist's residency at Thurber House in Columbus, Ohio. Tammy Birk (Professor of English, Otterbein University) discusses themes in Mother, Come Home while Ryan Jordan (Department of Philosophy, The Ohio State University) examines the nature of paradoxes in general, using Zeno's paradoxes in The Three Paradoxes as a launching point."
• Analysis: At where else but The Hooded Utilitarian: "'Lightning Only Strikes Twice Once, Y'Know': Phallic Mothers, Fetishism, and Replacement in the Comics of Los Bros Hernandez," Part I (focusing on Gilbert's work) and Part II (focusing on Jaime), by Eric Berlatsky
Editor Pat Thomas is bringin' it all back home with a signing and discussion at Booksmith in San Francisco this Tuesday, April 10th!
Pat was living in the Oakland area nearby when he began researching this project, and he discovered rare recordings of speeches, interviews, and music by noted activists Huey Newton, Bobby Seale, Elaine Brown, and others that form the framework of Listen, Whitey! The Sights and Sounds of Black Power 1965-1975.
Today's Online Commentary & Diversions — now up to date!
• Review: "The Locas grow up. Collecting material from Love and Rockets‘ second volume (previously found in Ghost of Hoppers and The Education of Hopey Glass), the latest in Fantagraphics’ perfectly executed series of L&R digests [Esperanza] finds Maggie, Hopey, Izzy, and Ray D. coming to terms with no longer being the life of the party and the heart of their scene — at least not without exhausting effort.... But if there’s one thing Jaime’s Locas stories in general, and this volume in particular, tell us, it’s that sometimes you have to be a grown-up for a long time before you grow up. It’s worth the work, and the wait." – Sean T. Collins, The Comics Journal
• Review: "In the pages of Palestine, Sacco relates his experiences in the first person, with breathtaking honesty and haunting detail. With a narrative style that’s a little bit stream of consciousness, and a lot of oral tradition, he depicts not only his own experiences, but those of the many Palestinians he meets in his travels.... A comic book, no matter how poignant and groundbreaking, is not going to resolve a decades old stalemate. What Palestine does do is shed some light on a near forgotten people, lost behind the name of a broken nation." – Mike Re, Asbury Park Press
• Review: "Where have you gone Ernie Bushmiller, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you. All kidding aside, you sure as shootin' can bet Nancy is happy, and so am I that the crucial years of this strip (or at least the dailies) are FINALLY being reprinted, and in chronological order to boot, by the fine folk at Fantagraphics. ...Nancycontinues to deliver on the fun puns 'n great art for us real-life comic strip fans while all of that extraneous junk that's been hitting the comic pages o'er the past few decades does little but mirror the rest of the contents of yer modern day newspaper industry that deserves to die a quick and inglorious death! ...[A] project like this is but one that really brings out that never-suppressed slobbo suburban kid feeling in me, and with more books to look forward to all I can say is...what the hell do we need Gary Trudeau for anyway?" – Chris Stigliano, Blog to Comm (via The Comics Journal)
• Plug: "Panther power has a way of roaring back to life when you least expect it: Years ago, Mushroom drummer and music archivist Pat Thomas told me he was working on an epic multimedia compilation on the Black Panthers. Now, hot on the heels of The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975, comes Thomas' equally inspired lyrical documents of the Oakland-bred group: a hefty Fantagraphics tome, Listen, Whitey!... and a CD of spoken word, music and comedy." – Kimberly Chun, San Francisco Chronicle
This enormous store occupies an entire city block, and Pat will be guest DJ'ing! You'll be sure to hear some picks from the companion CD of the same title from Seattle-based Light in the Attic Records. Stop by Amoeba on Thursday, April 5th at 7:00 PM to hear what else he might spin, and to get your copy of Listen, Whitey! signed by Pat!
• Review: "Every one of Giandelli’s surfaces -- walls, windows, bedspreads, books -- seems alive. Her colors almost wriggle. The darkness she draws is so black it’s wet. She approaches long corridors like David Lynch does in his films: not something you walk down, but something you’re swallowed by. Interiorae is engulfing.... In restored and essential color, this collected edition gives the mood the necessary space to simmer and boil -- just like poetry has the white of the page around it to slow you down and give it weight. Even before you notice the chapter titles are counting down to zero, you can feel that something about to happen. The men and women who live there can’t see it, but everything’s about to change.... In the end, Interiorae isn’t about either mundane, everyday reality or the vivid, symbolic realm of dreams. Its power’s in the precarious space between the two." – Martyn Pedler, Bookslut
• Review: "WhileAthos in America is as widely varied as the author's most recent collection, 2009's LowMoon, its stories employ less deadpan humor. In addition, this new volume presents some of Jason's most experimental comics yet.... One thing that hasn't changed is the ways in which Jason conjures up a kind of understated humor from his somber protagonists that serves to lighten up the serious situations they find themselves in. Athos in America may be darker and relatively more straight-faced than Jason's other work, but it shows that one of the more unique cartoonists today is continuing to evolve." – Phil Guie, CriticalMob
• Review: "The Big Town evokes a lost era through language and flamboyant characters reminiscent of Fitzgerald, Dos Passos, Ring Lardner, etc. Yet it’s also eerily relevant to our own time with its study of the role of business, crime, morality, and love in our lives." – Jack Eidt, Wilder Utopia
• Scene:Paul Karasik has a report from his recent jaunt to DeKalb, IL — "The Museum at the University asked me to curate an exhibition that I had originally titled, 'Hey, Stoopid! Comix R Cool!', but which is now called, 'Graphic Novel Realism: Backstage at the Comics' (whatever that means!)." — with a video tour of the exhibit
Just beginning to catch up on Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Profile: With his big new art book out and his museum retrospective on the way, Daniel Clowes gets the New York Times profile treatment from Carol Kino: "Mr. Clowes can create a striking face with a few deftly placed lines or brush strokes, often seizing on some specific characteristic that summons up an indelible personality. Think of Enid Coleslaw, the snarky teenage anti-heroine of Ghost World, and her big, black nerdy-hip glasses; they cover most of her face, but they can’t conceal the tiny shifts in expression that loudly telegraph her mood."
• List:Daniel Clowes may be headed for a museum retrospective, but he is neither dead nor retired — but that doesn't stop Flavorwire's Elona Jones from naming 10 candidates to carry the torch of "his storytelling skills, interest in surrealism, and eye for biting observations," including Jason, who "receives international acclaim for his brilliant storytelling."
• Review: "The John Benson-edited anthology The Sincerest Form of Parody: The Best 1950s MAD-Inspired Satirical Comics assembles largely forgotten work by the likes of Jack Davis, Will Elder, Ross Andru, and Jack Kirby, parodying everything from Mickey Spillane novels to Rex Morgan, M.D. Some of these pieces can stand up to the best of Mad (or at least match the magazine’s average), but even the stories that are clunky and unfunny are fascinating for the way they rip off Mad shamelessly, including all the asides and mini-gags that Will Elder once labeled Mad’s 'chicken fat.' It’s a testament to how quickly the innovative and subversive can become mainstream." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "Next to Pogo, the newspaper comics collection that fans have been most anticipating would be Ernie Bushmiller’s Nancy, which over the past few decades has garnered a reputation as the purest distillation of the gag cartoon, a triumph of minimalism... Nancy Is Happy: Dailies 1943-1945 joins Bushmiller’s magnum opus in full swing ... Bushmiller’s genius [was] to make everything in his strip so basic that anyone, anywhere, at any time, could get the joke." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review (Video): Video blogger Robert Crayola looks at Nancy Is Happy: "If you like comics or comic strips especially and you haven't read Nancy or if you have and you just want more, I think you'll enjoy this.... Hopefully we can get many more volumes of this. I hope you support it. It's a great book."
• Review: "One of the signature achievements of ’80s alt-comics, Drew and Josh Alan Freidman’s Any Similarity to Persons Living or Dead Is Purely Coincidental: An Anthology of Comic Art, 1979-1985 is now back in print in a spiffy new edition that doesn’t really add anything to the original, but is still a necessary addition to any library that doesn’t already have a copy.... Drew Friedman’s stipple-heavy photo-realism and his brother Josh’s gleefully cruel humor combine to craft an alternate history of American entertainment that’s preposterous and yet feels true. Even now, decades after other cartoonists and comedians have tapped this well, the Friedmans’ pioneering work in the field of 'brattily dicking around with icons' remains unparalleled." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "Folly... serve[s] as a good introduction to Rickheit’s beautifully ugly visions, of a world where cute girls and humanoid stuffed animals commit atrocities against oozing flesh. With a drawing style that resembles Jason Lutes and Charles Burns, and a storytelling style similar to Jim Woodring and Al Columbia, Rickheit excels in making nightmares lucid. Some characters recur from story to story in Folly, but really this book is just page after page of beautiful images juxtaposed with wounds and excreta. The single-mindedness of Rickheit’s approach — and the level of detail he applies to it — is impressively horrifying." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Kyoto, Japan: The exhibit Three Sides Chicago: Squares, Squirrels & Dots, featuring Archer Prewitt, alongside Sam Prekop and Eric Claridge, will be opening at the Trancepop Gallery. All three artists will make an appearance at the opening reception. (more info)
• Columbus, OH: Join Paul Hornschemeier at the Columbus Museum of Art as he speaks with Jared Gardner, a professor of English and Film Studies at Ohio State University. In conjunction with his talk, the museum will display a selection of Hornschemeier’s scripts, storyboards, and sketches highlighting his creative process. (more info)
• Tokyo, Japan: Three Sides Chicago: Squares, Squirrels & Dots spotlights the work of Archer Prewitt, alongside Sam Prekop and Eric Claridge, and they'll make an appearance at the Shibuya Parco B1F LIBRO on this final day of the exhibit. (more info)