• Review: "What to say about Catalog 439? It's a crazy-arse thing, full of richly illustrated intricate drawings of smartly dressed men torturing each other with ridiculous devices. [...] What you get with this book then is not just a fascinating glimpse into a little known corner of American social history, but the template for many of the ad pages from the silver and bronze age comics that so many of us comic collectors love. I really enjoyed it and, although it isn't about comics, I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in the history of comic book advertising." – Dom Sutton, London Loves Comics
• Review: "At this point, I don’t know what else there is to say about Jamie Hernandez or Love and Rockets. I suspect that one day he’s going to make a truly terrible comic, if only because he must feel at least a little bit bad about showing nearly every other creator up so often. ...Penny Century is yet another masterpiece from a guy who turns them out seemingly like clockwork. If you haven’t read it, you need to. ...Jamie Hernandez’s exploration of life continues as an unimpeachable standard for comic book mastery." – Michael C. Lorah, Newsarama
• Review: "[Artichoke Tales] is far and away the best comic I've ever read from Megan Kelso, succeeding on almost every level. Her clear-line style gives an airy ease to her often detail-heavy drawings of nature and the people who inhabit it; similarly, her complex exercise in fantasy worldbuilding — and I don't mean detailed maps with funny names, I mean real worldbuilding, constructing cultural and religious and economic structures rooted in environment and history and exerting macro and micro influence across the lives of all the characters involved — is subsumed into an absorbing, briskly moving house-divided family soap opera. [...] I dug this book to a degree that surprised me and look forward to returning to it. It's a rich vein of alt-fantasy being tapped here." – Sean T. Collins, Attentiondeficitdisorderly
• Review: "Kelso's simple line and rounded forms belie the seriousness of the story. [...] Ultimately, Artichoke Tales is not so much a story about conflict as a story about the people reacting to the conflict, doing their best to live lives of integrity in a land of constant unrest. Although good intentions are often thwarted, it ends on a note of hope." – Brigid Alverson, Graphic Novel Reporter
• Plug: "I picked [A Drunken Dream and Other Stories] up at San Diego and it's one of those 'seminal' manga works that actually lives up to its hype. If you like Tatsumi, this is a good bet." Lydia Park, Ask Yavin IV (Funny, we don't remember seeing her at San Diego... That's a joke because she's a cartoon character.)
• Plug: "This is amazing news — one of my favourite cartoonists finally receives his due. I was starting to think that he had slipped through the cracks of cartoon history. ...[Rand Holmes] was a fantastic draftsman, surprisingly old-school, and his meticulous inking something that I could only ever hope to dream to aspire to." – Rod Filbrandt
• Plug: "...[T]he second volume of [Johnny Ryan's] battle epic Prison Pit... is amazing, nasty, and Lovecraftian." – Ryan Sands, Same Hat!
• Interview: "Newsarama: Billy Hazlenuts is like a children’s fable gone wrong, reminiscent in way of the old, dark Grimm Brothers tales with a modern, high-octane approach. Is that what you’re going for? Tony Millionaire: Take a closer look at those Grimm's Fairy tales, or even better, Hans Christian Anderson, and you'll tell me my stories are chocolate milk sopped on toast compared to that stuff."
• Review: "Early reviews of The Artist Himself: A Rand Holmes Retrospective are heralding it as a much-deserved tribute to a forgotten genius... Around these parts, Holmes, who passed away in 2002, has been a revered figure for decades. [...] Through excerpts from the artist’s own journals and interviews with those who knew him, Patrick Rosenkranz presents his subject as a man of contradictions, both prodigiously gifted and painfully insecure. [...] Holmes’s art was always marked by sharp visual wit and a sometimes astonishing attention to detail. He was indeed a genius, and thanks to Fantagraphics, he won’t be a forgotten one." – John Lucas, The Georgia Straight
• Review: "...High Soft Lisp remains another Gilbert Hernandez winner. Frank and trippy, sexy and creepy, nobody working in comics creates worlds as deep or intriguing as Gilbert Hernandez’s." – Michael C. Lorah, Newsarama
• Interview: At the KEXP blog, Chris Estey talks to Peter Bagge about his band Can You Imagine?: " The main reason I took up the guitar and abandoned the drums was so I could have more control over what type of music my band plays and how. Pop rock from the 60s is obviously my favorite kind of music, but I also loved punk and new wave from the late 70s, since those bands broke free from the self important and self indulgent style of music that was ruining rock. I also loved that the self deprecating humor they all exhibited (or that the best bands did, anyway)."
• Review: "...[Rand Holmes] could tell a story, and he hit his stride with lengthy action-comedy epics like 'Wings Over Tijuana' and 'Hitler’s Cocaine,' which explored the shadier sides of drug culture in a style that veered from the shockingly real to the morbidly slapstick. Imagine a Jack Davis MAD magazine piece with heavier overtones; that was Holmes at his best, and that best is well-represented in The Artist Himself. [Grade] B+" – The A.V. Club
• Review: "Drew Weing’s breezy, lyrical graphic novel Set to Sea... tells a simple story about art and experience, delivered in one-step-follows-another fashion. Weing’s cartoony figures and detailed backgrounds — rendered with precise cross-hatching — suit his one-picture-per-page format well, making Set to Sea look like an animated film slowed down to a slideshow. ...Weing’s beautiful art and masterful pacing are so pleasurable that Set to Sea stands up to multiple reads. It’s a catchy little tune that sounds better with each spin. [Grade] A-" – The A.V. Club
• Review: "Fantagraphics has taken care to showcase Hagio’s work in as beautiful a package as possible. ... For the right reader, adult or teen, man or woman, these stories [in A Drunken Dream and Other Stories] can be windows into a world where finally they can see themselves, both their strengths and their flaws. That’s a powerful thing for a book to be able to do and it takes a masterful craftsman like Hagio to be able to do it." – Snow Wildsmith, Graphic Novel Reporter
• Review: "Temperance is a story of awakening and transformation — physical, emotional, and spiritual. A profoundly empathetic reflection upon the systemic societal problems of culturally ingrained violence and brainwashing, Temperance is profound, meaningful, and deserves to be read and reread at length." – Midwest Book Review/ComicList
• Plug: "The excellent graphic novel Special Exits is soon coming out from Fantagraphics. It is a labor of love of more than 10 years by the American comic artist extraordinaire Joyce Farmer. ... Of course another reason I am excited about the publication of Special Exits is because I’ve seen it grow and take shape throughout those years as Joyce Farmer has honored me with her friendship. Some of my students at the Ornerakis Cartoon School would also remember her as she was gracious enough to present her work to them. I am really looking forward to have the book in my hand and re-read it again and again as I think it is one of the best graphic novels ever created!" – Elias Tabakeas, Kailoipalogion
• Review: "A refreshing counterpoint to the vampire meme... In true Jason form, Werewolves of Montpellier neatly packs a chockful of romance, recreational crime, and existential thrills in this full-color 48-pager." – Space 15 Twenty
• Review: "Norwegian cartoonist Jason's book The Last Musketeer is the kind of whimsy that's easy to do wrong and nearly impossible to get right, but Jason gets it very right indeed. ... It's a story that follows a dreamlike, comic logic, always silly and always fun, and every page has several large grins waiting to jump onto your face as you read." – Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing
• Review: "It should go without saying that if you’re at all interested in women’s comics or manga, you should buy [A Drunken Dream and Other Stories]. But in all honesty, I think even if you just like comics and beautifully-told stories, this should be a part of your bookshelf. ... Hagio’s art is, of course, constantly gorgeous. ... Thorn’s translation definitely seems to be true to Hagio’s stories. He is obviously a great admirer of her and he does her justice. ... This is a beautiful book by an incredible creator. Whether or not you knew of Hagio before or this is going to be your introduction to her, it’s a book you need to have." – Eden Miller, Comicsgirl
• Review: "Underground comics were once the bastard stepchild of the industry. ... These days though they get their due as actual art, and their slouch towards respectability gets a big boost with Fantagraphics Books’ The Artist Himself: A Rand Holmes Retrospective. The collection combines a fascinating biography of Holmes... with chapters of his finest work... The Canadian rarely gets his due among comics aficionados, but The Artist Himself should go a long way toward putting this underground legend on the list of greats." – Alonso Duralde, Modern Tonic
• Review: At The Comics Journal, Bart Croonenborghs looks at the work of Olivier Schrauwen: "Here are some keywords though for the unintiated: Belgian, comic genius, graphical masterblender, darkly ironic, perfectionist."
• Profile:Santiago Garcia uses the release of The Search for Smilin' Ed by Kim Deitch as "an excuse to get an overview of the latest productions of this extraordinary author, who belongs to the first generation of the West Coast underground and has not stopped working from the 60s until now." (Translated from Spanish; via Bill Kartalopoulos)
• Interview:Larry Reid's appearance on The Marty Riemer Show podcast is now archived for your listening pleasure
• Commentary:The Hooded Utilitarian's critical roundtable on E.C. Segar's Popeye continues as Chris Mautner takes a tangential look at the topper strip Sappo
• Review: "...[F]or the first time I realized that Prison Pit [Book 2] isn't a fusion-comics exploration of awesomeness in all its forms, but a horror-comics exploration of awfulness — of violence that maims and kills not just body but soul. Ryan is willing, even this early in a series I imagine will be able to last as long as he wants it to, to completely invert his instantly-iconic warrior, to make the audience root against him desperately, to feel dick-shriveling revulsion at his violence and pity for his victim. 'That fucking sucked,' CF says when it's all over. Understatement of the year. This book is a masterpiece of awfulness." – Sean T. Collins, Attentiondeficitdisorderly
• Review: "It isn't every day such a formidable body of work gets handed to us on such a shining silver platter — there are too few artists like Rand Holmes for that to be possible. But when it does happen, the comics world ought to stand up and take notice. Holmes may have been forgotten once, but Rosenkranz has put forth all mortal effort to make sure he won't be again, and in the process created what might be the best reprint book of the year. A must for fans of great comics art, the undergrounds, or the medium's history, The Artist Himself is in the end most essential as a truly great read. Don't let it pass you by." – Matt Seneca, Newsarama
• Review: "For anyone who has not entered Deitch’s universe, fear not: it is remarkably easy to access, one does not need a map to enter or understand. [The Search for Smilin' Ed] will most likely make you want to explore his other works, much of which have also been collected in graphic novels in recent years causing many to at last wake up and praise the Deitch!" – Robert Dayton, Roctober (hat tip: Bill Kartolopoulos)
• Review: "Werewolves of Montpellier stands out as another winner from Jason; in fact, perhaps it is one of his finest books yet. Somber and funny, and packed full of werewolves and romance, jewel heists and parties, Werewolves of Montpellier stands as another reason to make sure you’re reading Jason’s comics. If you’re not, you’re missing out." – Michael C. Lorah, Newsarama
• Review: "...Sammy the Mouse... for me has been a revelation, taking Zak Sally's natural cartooning chops away from some of the more densely-told and even sometimes predictable material from projects past and opening it up to a mix of classic cartooning tropes and the outright weird. ... It's enough for me to watch Sally explore the comics page, and at this point I think I'd watch him adapt the minutes from a school board meeting." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
• Interview:Anime Pulse presents an audio recording of their interview with Moto Hagio at Comic-Con International, with translation by Matt Thorn, as well as a transcript of the answers in Japanese
• Panel:The Comics Journal presents an audio recording from the “Graphic Novels: The Personal Touch” Panel, featuring Gabrielle Bell, Howard Cruse, Vanessa Davis, Larry Marder, Jillian Tamaki and Carol Tyler in a conversation moderated by Shaenon Garrity, recorded on Friday, July 23 at Comic-Con International
Rand Holmes was Canada’s most revolutionary artist in his heyday, the star cartoonist at the Georgia Straight newspaper in British Columbia during the 1970s. His hippie hero, Harold Hedd, became the spokesman of the emerging counterculture as he avoided work, explored free love, and flouted drug laws. The Adventures of Harold Hedd spread across the globe in the wave of underground comix and newspapers of the era and Holmes became famous — or at least notorious. While his comic character was bold and blatant, the artist was shy and quiet, well on his way to becoming a complete hermit.
This book is an intimate and expansive account of a very private man who expressed his deepest feelings in the then disreputable medium of comix. “He didn’t talk much but he sure wrote a lot,” avowed his widow Martha. This biography/retrospective includes generous selections from his private journals and correspondence, family photo albums, sketchbooks, and personal anecdotes from his friends and colleagues. His artistic history began haltingly on the lonely windswept plateau of Edmonton, flourished in Vancouver and San Francisco, and concluded peacefully on Lasqueti Island, a remote backwater in the Straits of Georgia where he lived out his dreams of pioneering and homesteading.
Holmes’ life story is richly illustrated with drawings, comic strips, watercolors, and paintings that span his whole career, from the hot rod cartoons he drew as a teenager, dozens of covers for the Georgia Straight, pornographic cartoons for the sex tabloid Vancouver Star, to complete comic stories from Slow Death Funnies, Dope Comix, All Canadian Beaver, Death Rattle, Grateful Dead Comix, and many more. The full-length Harold Hedd comic novels, Wings Over Tijuana and Hitler’s Cocaine are reprinted in their entirety together for the first time. This unique collection of art documents a lifetime of work by one of the most talented artists of his generation.
Holmes died in March 2002 from Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and his ashes are buried next to the Art Centre he helped build on Lasqueti Island. A retrospective exhibition of his original work was held five years later at the community hall.
Author Patrick Rosenkranz met Holmes in his salad days and remained in touch throughout his life. The Holmes family gave him complete access to their art collection and personal files, and encouraged him to tell the whole truth about Rand Holmes’ life and work.
Download an EXCLUSIVE 22-page PDF excerpt (9.5 MB) which includes the first 5 pages of the biography, the entire 7-page story "And Here He Is... The Artist Himself!" and the first chapter of "Harold Hedd in Hitler's Cocaine."
• Review: "By the 1980s, however, the anti-establishment sensibility of the underground comix had been replaced by a faith in just 'do-it-yourself' — making your own 'zines,' and that sense of independence is what [editor Michael] Dowers praises [in Newave! The Underground Mini Comix of the 1980s]." – George Elliott Clarke, The Chronicle Herald
• Review: "...Jim Woodring's Weathercraft creates a fantastic alternative universe. ...Woodring constructs a nightmarish tale in which Manhog falls victim to the villainous depredations of the all-too-aptly named Whim and the spells of the witchy pair Betty and Veronica. Those unfamiliar with the Woodring dreamscape may want to pick up The Frank Book collection as a primer, but the stand-alone Weathercraft requires no real prep work — just an openness to disturbing, id-derived imagery." – Cliff Froehlich, St. Louis Post-Dipatch
• Review: "Although King of the Flies... is anchored in a sharply delineated but deliberately generic suburbia, the book plunges us into an often violent, always profane environment that recalls David Lynch's Blue Velvet. Using multiple narrators, the book is an intricately constructed series of interlocking short stories that acidly etch a disquieting portrait of modern alienation and unease." – Cliff Froehlich, St. Louis Post-Dipatch
• Review: "French master Tardi gives an infantry-level view of World War I's meat-grinder carnage in grim vignettes that primarily keep tight, telling focus on the stories of individual soldiers. ...[It Was the War of the Trenches] deserves a place on the top shelf of graphic lit." – Cliff Froehlich, St. Louis Post-Dipatch
• Review: "Reading Jacques Tardi's It Was the War of the Trenches, I realized just how short most American war comics fall in portraying the reality and horror of war. ... Tardi brings every ounce of his talent to the task of trying to articulate the sheer horror of this war. And while he doesn't flinch once, neither does he resort to trite 'war is bad' or 'good versus evil' oversimplifications. He merely puts you directly in the soldiers' viewpoint and then tries to relate their experiences to you. ... It's a raw, uncompromising, devastating book, and, I'm kind of sad to say, unlike anything that's been published on these shores." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "...St. Louisan Tim Lane's Abandoned Cars, one of 2008's essential comics, has recently been reissued in paperback with two variant covers that vividly recall the lurid pulps of the 1930s." – Cliff Froehlich, St. Louis Post-Dipatch
• Review: "It can sometimes be hard to get a grip on what Jason is going for in his stories, since even when he approaches a familiar subject, he takes a strange angle and dwells on the types of moments that wouldn’t normally receive focus in these sorts of tales. Werewolves of Montpellier goes even further afield... Leave it to Jason to dwell on the awkwardness of the 29 non-full-moon days of the month in which the werewolf has to pass as a normal human." – Matthew J. Brady, Indie Pulp
• Review: "What I think is most interesting about [The Best American Comics Criticism] is that in his choices of pieces, [editor] Schwartz is laying out a theory of lit comics. It's a theory that rings very true to me. Part of this theory goes that as literary comics grew, they made necessary a reevaluation and relearning of certain classic comics." – Robert Boyd, The Great God Pan Is Dead (via The Comics Reporter)
• Profile: Steve Duin of The Oregonian talks to Patrick Rosenkranz about assembling The Artist Himself: A Rand Holmes Retrospective: "With rare access to Holmes' journals and sketchbooks, Rosenkranz succeeds in giving readers access to the cartoonist that Holmes denied his closest friends. And he succeeds because of a compulsion, born 45 years ago, to understand the world in which these artists moved 'and how what happened in their lives affected their work.'"
• Comic-Con: At About.com: Manga, Deb Aoki gives a quick report from the Moto Hagio Spotlight Panel at Comic-Con 2010, with a promise of more to come: "...Hagio-sensei charmed the audience with her self-effacing wit and matter-of-fact responses to questions..."