• Feature: At Print magazine, Michael Dooley spotlights the new 13th issue of Squa Tront — "...Squa Tront has set itself out to explore every facet of EC's history, through stimulating, in-depth journalism, scholarly analyses, critiques, bios, interviews, and, of course, illustrations. Under the supervision of its current editor, John Benson, it has established a high standard for fanzine professionalism, in both literary content and production values." — with a generous sampling of images and an interview with Benson: "But really, as far as Squa Tront goes, what sustains my interest most is probably my love of print media and the pleasure of creating a physical package."
• Review: "Oftentimes the first volume of an archival project gets greeted with a lot of ballyhoo while later volumes fail to get any ink, even though the later books represent the subject in question better than the earlier, more fumbling work. So let this serve as notice that the third volume of the Blake Bell-edited series [The Steve Ditko Archives] is the best one yet, showing Ditko in 1957, about to turn 30 and learning to deploy his distinctive faces and abstract shapes in the service of stories with real flow. ...[T]he nightmarish visions of stories like 'The Man Who Lost His Face' and 'The Last One' are classic Ditko, with off-kilter panel designs and anguished figures conveying a sense of sanity slipping away." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "...Blood of Palomar is a thrilling book... Hernández’s writing and artwork are excellent. The black-and-white pen work is perfect — there are a vividness and richness to the action, story, and scenes already that would likely be drowned in color. With 34 characters and multiple story threads, a first read can be dizzying, yet all is exquisitely kept in balance. Though certainly most characters are not given much depth, the large cast gives the sense of a real community. The main characters are complex, flawed, and fascinating.... Blood of Palomar haunted my thoughts long after I finished reading." – Michael Stock, The Capeless Crusader
• Plug: "How to best demonstrate the awesome might of Fantagraphics' new Johnny Gruelle collection, Mr. Twee Deedle?... It's more akin to flipping the pages of a wallpaper sampler than a collection of historic comics.... It dominates the largest clear surface in my house — the kitchen island — like a B-52 bomber somehow parked astride an aircraft carrier's deck. And then you open it up. ...[T]he art on the page is massive, but filled with delicate details.... Many of the strips are illustrated from eye-level of small children, and the natural world around the characters seems almost life-sized." – John Mesjak, My 3 Books
• Plug: "Comics have long been home to a variety of races, be it alien or underground or from an alternate dimension. But in the 100-plus year history of comics, one of the toughest for creators to portray accurately is that of black characters. And now Fantagraphics is putting back in print a key work examining that strained relationship, Fredrik Strömberg‘s Eisner-nominated Black Images in the Comics: A Visual History." – Chris Arrant, Robot 6
UK publication The Wire recorded his presentation at Café OTO, and you can listen to it here! Part one is Pat's incredible lecture, and part two is of Pat in discussion with author Paul Gilroy, filmmaker John Akomfrah, and publisher Margaret Busby.
And if you click here, you can hear an interview Pat did on Resonance 104.4 FM, a London-based non-profit community radio station. And we all know non-profit radio is the very best kind, cough. Listen up!
And you can click here to hear an interview Pat did on BBC London! The show is three hours long, but Pat's segment is in the last half-hour, so you can click to fast-forward. Note: this link expires in six days, so... listen, whitey! (or whatever you might be!)
• Review: "This series of short comic book tales is sure to offend the weak at heart and easily excitable. As with some of the best horror, The Furry Trap curb-stomps all expectations, zigs when zags are expected, and taps into areas some are just too uncomfortable to talk about.... There’s some sick shit happening in this hardcover and if you’re brave enough, you’ll crack The Furry Trap open and enjoy the stories free of restraint and convention, yet teeming with unbridled creativity and absolute insanity." – Mark L. Miller, Ain't It Cool News
• Review: "Without the rich cultural heritage of African-Americans, life in the U.S. would resemble Rachel Carson's Silent Spring: A dead zone, the silence broken now and again by the hissing of lawn sprinklers and whirring air conditioning units. Such are the thoughts inspired by Listen, Whitey: The Sights and Sounds of Black Power 1965-1975 by Pat Thomas.... The revolution seemed imminent because the portents were everywhere one turned in those years, and Thomas seems to have captured every single one of the portents in his explosive book. He allows us to see and hear the oppressed flexing muscles and tossing anger directly into the faces of their perceived oppressors.... It's the best of both worlds, a coffee table book with real scholarly heft." – Alan Bisbort, CT.com
• Review: "...I do not believe the details of the demise of the spiky-haired girl’s parents were ever revealed, but it would be uncharitable to assume the spunky, independent girl murdered them in their sleep.... Despite its homogenization, Bushmiller produced a funny and often clever gag strip.... Nancy was good enough to keep our elders laughing through the Great Depression and World War II. Nancy is certainly good enough to keep us laughing through the 2012 elections." – Mike Gold, ComicMix
• Preview: At The Beat, a 6-page sneak peek from Joe Daly’s Dungeon Quest Book 3, with Jessica Lee saying: “If you’re a fan of over-the-top action, heavy stoner humor, and quirky characters in the wildest of settings, now is your chance to catch up on Dungeon Quest. South African cartoonist Joe Daly ’s newest installment Dungeon Quest Book Three is proving to be the most epic of the series thus far.”
• Plug: At 20minutos.es, Ánxel Grove looks ahead to Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons: "That O'Connor is one of the best American storytellers of the twentieth century and that her stories are a must for anyone who enjoys good literature is already known. That she also was an excellent draftsman, writer and creator of cartoons was a secret known only to specialists in her work or dedicated fans." (Translated from Spanish)
• Review: "Record collecting was an engagement with mystery. [Pat] Thomas understands this and his book, Listen, Whitey, which documents the pieces -- both lauded and obscure -- of the recording element within the Black Power movement of the 1960s and ‘70s.... These small discs were part of the overall effort that allowed African Americans to get real information about the Black Power Movement, to let them know they weren't alone, to show them ways to be involved, to stoke ideas and energy, and to provide catharsis. Thomas mines this territory to construct a richly illustrated history of a time when revolution was damn hard, and it left reminders that it once existed." – John Seven, North Adams Transcript
• Scene: Culture blogger Philip Utley of Kellygreen reviews the Daniel Clowes retrospective exhibit — "There’s a quiet, clever intelligence to his work. He can also be harsh and sexually frank. Which, of course, totally offends me. So, when a show of his work came to the newly renovated Oakland Museum of California, I pulled out my dildo and jumped in the car." — with a bunch of close-up photos of the artwork
And it's an extra special event, because it's also a benefit for the Life Enrichment Bookstore, Seattle's only Black-owned and operated bookstore. It has been in business for more than 17 years and has provided healing, history, support, and transformation through educational workshops, book clubs, and celebrations.
He will be joined by special guest, Aaron Dixon, the founder of the Seattle Black Panther Party back in the '60s. His lecture will capture first-hand knowledge of the legendary Black Panthers, as well as Seattle’s contemporary African-American landscape.
Pat will also be joined by Dr. Maxine Mimms, founder of the Tacoma campus of Evergreen State College, which has provided the Black community of Tacoma the opportunity of the Evergreen college experience. In the early 1960’s, when she taught in Seattle, one of her students was Jimi Hendrix!
This is sure to be a very special night to benefit a very special bookstore! Proceeds will help keep the Life Enrichment Bookstore thriving as a business and gathering place for village building activities. The Life Enrichment Bookstore is located at 5023 Rainier Avenue South in Seattle.
• 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