Next week's Not To Be Missed Event: Paul Karasik and "The Fletcher Hanks Experience," an illustrated tour over the brutally surreal Hanks mindscape narrated by the late Fletcher Hanks, Jr.
Part visionary lunatic, part vengeful alcoholic, part cartoonist, Fletcher Hanks created the weirdest comic book stories of all time. And he did them back before anyone even knew what a comic book really was.
Hanks worked during the first three years of the comic book industry and then vanished leaving behind 51 twisted tales of omnipotent superheroes and sexy jungle godesses. Unlike most comic book artists, Hanks was a genuine auteur: he wrote, pencilled, inked, and lettered his own stories. His work is even undiluted by the hand of an editor.
Cartoonist/editor, Paul Karasik, has edited two volumes of Hanks work. The latest, "You Shall Die By Your Own Evil Creation!" has just been released. Using evidence found at the scene of the grime he has created a composite profile of Hanks the man. The man makes the work and the work makes the man.
"The Fletcher Hanks Experience" is a multi-meda safari over the cragyy harsh landscape of the psyche of Fletcher Hanks. Combining archival audio of Hanks' son with comic book panels, Karasik takes the audience into the mind of the man whom R. Crumb called, "A Twisted dude".
Have a great holiday weekend in the USA; Online Commentary & Diversions updates will resume on Tuesday.
• Review: "If there is a 'true truth' in relation to Jason it is that the Nordic author can resist no genre. From Western noir to science fiction of manners, everything passes through his own personal, non-transferable filter to offer these stories, parsimonious in words but full of 'depth charge.'Low Moon... is no exception to this maxim." - Alita Cómics (translated from Spanish)
• Review: Chris Mautner of Robot 6 says Nikoline Werdelin's story "Because I Love You So Much" in From Wonderland with Love is "one of finest comics I've read this year."
• Interview: Paul Karasik always gives good interview, as you'll find out when you tune in to his chat with the Inkstuds radio program
• Preview: Robot 6 guest-blogger Sean T. Collins has the scoop on this Fall's releases from the Cold Heat crew, including the prequel stories in Mome Vol. 16
• Tweet: "Bottomless Belly Button is a great read. started it last nite, finding it to be patient and inventive. nice!" - Zack Gonzales (zg512)
• Tunes: Inkstuds presents the Jaime Hernandez mixtape: 17 songs selected by Jaime and presented for your listening enjoyment, from N.W.A. to B.Ö.C. to Mötley Crüe to Dölly Partön
• Profile: "[Fletcher Hanks's] drawings, while often clunky, have a kind of primal 'rightness' and a narrative logic so wonderfully bizarre that it wins over readers normally skeptical of the kapow, blam, boom sequences of superhero comics. Beyond the comics themselves, though, it's [Paul] Karasik's smart enthusiasm for the work that tells readers in no uncertain terms that here is something to get excited about." - Sasha Watson, Publishers Weekly
• Review: "[From Wonderland with Love] is beautiful and attractive to such a degree that it makes one feel all proud of one's country. [Rating: 5 out of 6 stars]" - Hans Bjerregaard, Ekstra-Bladet (translated from Danish; link to scan)
• Review: "Beautiful graphic craftmanship and original narratives at a level that could have been drawn straight from the American comics market's avant-garde [in From Wonderland with Love]." - Søren Vinterberg, Politiken (translated from Danish)
• Review: "...Abstract Comics... goes one step beyond to leave the accepted definition of comics outdated, noting that the expressive possibilities of this medium and this language are still unknown." - La Cárcel de Papel (translated from Spanish)
• Interview: At Verbicide, Nate Pollard talks to Zak Sally about his new album Fear of Song and his publishing ethos: "Every La Mano release is something I am intensely proud of, and stand behind 110 percent. I aspire to people trusting La Mano."
Flog readers, here's the official word on our big Comicon news...
FANTAGRAPHICS TO PUBLISH ERNIE BUSHMILLER'S NANCY
As announced at last week's Comic-Con International, Fantagraphics Books - the leading publisher of classic strip reprints including The Complete Peanuts, Popeye, Krazy & Ignatz, Prince Valiant, Captain Easy, Dennis the Menace, Zippy the Pinhead and others - has acquired the rights from United Media to publish Nancy by Ernie Bushmiller, beginning in Spring 2010.
According to Co-Publisher Gary Groth, who inked the deal, Fantagraphics has contracted to publish the first 24 years of Nancy dailies, beginning in 1938 (when Nancy took over the strip from its former star, Fritzi Ritz) through 1961. "If the demand is there," Groth noted, "we will of course want to continue into the 1960s and beyond, if for no other reason than to run all those great 'hippie' Nancy episodes. But we'll cross that bridge in 2016 when we finish publishing the books we've contracted for."
"I was a late Nancy convert," admits Co-Publisher Kim Thompson, who will be editing the series. "It wasn't until Denis Kitchen published his Nancy collections in 1989 and 1990, after people like Bill Griffith and Scott McCloud had been touting it for years, that I finally 'got' it. It's one of the all-time greats -- way ahead of its time in its own goofy way. Ever since then it's been at the back of my mind to do a more extensive reprinting, and our ongoing successes with classic reprint series these past five years told me the time is now ripe."
Each volume of dailies will contain four years per volume and be designed by Fantagraphics Art Director Jacob Covey. Cartoonist Daniel Clowes (Ghost World) will provide the introduction to the first volume. Each volume will be 8" x 8" in flexibound format and retail for $29.99. Information regarding collections of Nancy Sunday strips will be announced at a later date.
"I envision Nancy being influenced by pop art and constructivist design in a way that will complement the geometric style of the strip and also give a nod to Mark Newgarden's deconstruction of Nancy's forms," says Covey, whose designs on books like Popeye, Willie & Joe and Beasts! have garnered numerous awards. "In a word: ‘POP'. Like Popeye, I want it to seem fun so kids can connect with it but smart so adults can look at it more deeply. But where Popeye has a Victorian nod, this will be modernist."
Fantagraphics will begin with the "second" volume, 1942-1945. According to Thompson, "While we have access to great, nearly complete runs for most of the 1940s dailies, it looks like it will be far more trouble to collect the 1938 and 1939 material. So we'll be putting out a call to Nancy fans, both over the internet and in the first book itself, until we eventually secure the missing strips to double back and release the best possible 1938-1941 volume."
The character of Nancy, a precocious eight-year-old girl, first appeared in the strip Fritzi Ritz. After Larry Whittington began Fritzi Ritz in 1922, it was taken over by Bushmiller three years later. In 1933, Bushmiller introduced Fritzi's niece, Nancy. Soon she dominated the strip, retitled Nancy in 1938. At its peak in the 1970s, Nancy ran in more than 880 newspapers.
In addition to being one of the great comic strips of the 20th Century, Nancy is a bonafide pop culture icon, having captured the imagination of such artists as Andy Warhol, Joe Brainard, Scott McCloud, Bill Griffith, Mark Newgarden, and many others.
In Spring 2010, Fantagraphics will also publish an revised and expanded book edition of cartoonists Mark Newgarden and Paul Karasik's seminal 1988 essay, "How to Read Nancy." In addition to explicating the brilliance of Bushmiller's cartooning, it also has become a landmark educational essay about visual storytelling through the analysis of Bushmiller's work.
To quote from How to Read Nancy: "To say that Nancy is a simple gag strip about a simple-minded snot-nosed kid is to miss the point completely. Nancy only appears to be simple at a casual glance. Like architect Mies Van Der Rohe, the simplicity is a carefully designed function of a complex amalgam of formal rules laid out by the designer. To look at Bushmiller as an architect is entirely appropriate, for Nancy is, in a sense, a blue print for a comic strip. Walls, floors, rocks, trees, Ice-cream cones, motion lines, midgets and principals are carefully positioned with no need for further embellishment. And they are laid out with one purpose in mind - to get the gag across. Minimalist? Formalist? Structuralist? Cartoonist!"
• Review: "...Jason elevates his skewering of filmic genres to a whole new level in his latest collection, Low Moon, which sees his unique takes on film noir, westerns and screwball comedy. All of the tales are informed by his signature clean lines, bright colors, sparse dialogue and taste for a particularly brutal brand of slapstick humor and occasional moments of dark, incisive brilliance that are often reached without uttering a word... Featuring tawdry sex, alien abductions, existential crises, betrayal, and a hundred and one different varieties of murder, this is a book that pretty much has it all." - Ian Chant, PopMatters
• Review: "...Jason's Low Moon... [is] a collection full of mostly wordless comedic pleasures." - Richard Gehr, The Village Voice
• Review: "A question regarding the title of Michael Kupperman's Tales Designed to Thrizzle Volume One: Does 'thrizzle' mean 'pee your pants a little from laughing so hard'? Because if so, it just about achieved its promise..." - Rod Lott, Bookgasm
• Review: "[Boody: The Bizarre Comics of Boody Rogers ] is one of the funniest comics I've ever read, and all I do is read comics... Just looking at his drawings makes me laugh... If you like Johnny Ryan, you should check this out. And they weren't fooling around with that title. These comics are as weird as hell... This book is essential. Get it or get out." - Nick Gazin, Vice
• Review: "[Uptight] doesn't come out often enough... Jordan Crane is an immense talent; I just wished he worked faster. He's one of the best new guys of the past five years." - Nick Gazin, Vice (same link as above)
• Review: "This is one of the greatest works of American art of the past century and fuck you if you were ignorant of this. Prince Valiant was and is one of the greatest comics of all time and most would agree that it's the greatest adventure comic... Reading Prince Valiant has the same thrill as reading Sherlock Holmes. He's smarter, handsomer, and a better fighter than everyone around him. Reading his adventures and watching him sneak around castles, swordfight small armies, and romance medieval bitches is more exciting to me than almost any other comic. I'm getting pumped just thinking about it... It's so beautiful. I want to be Prince Valiant and I want to be Hal Foster." - Nick Gazin, Vice (same link as above)
• Review: "Fantagraphics, the gold standard when if comes to collecting and reprinting newspaper strips, has released the first volume of Prince Valiant, covering the years 1937 to 1938 in all-new remastered color, the result is breathtaking! Foster is truly one of the great comic illustrators who ever lived but has never got his just due it seems because he didn't work in the traditional comic book medium. One needs only to read the first few pages of the book to grasp his incredible ability... This is graphic storytelling at its finest and a true treasure! Grade A" - Tim Janson, Mania
• Review: "The cover [of The Pin-Up Art of Dan DeCarlo] sums it up -- a man who looks disturbingly like Riverdale’s Mr. Lodge gazes lasciviously at a lingerie-clad young woman who looks disturbingly like a (very) bosomy Veronica. That is just so wrong... Breasts swell and sag with the weight of flesh, not silicone; thighs press firmly and meatily together, hips and butts strain against fabric, threatening plentiful wardrobe malfunctions. And the wardrobes!... The overall effect is -- well, I can’t describe the overall effect. Let’s just say that in trying to take it all in I may have stretched my eyes permanently out of shape." - Noah Berlatsky, The Hooded Utilitarian
• Review: "...Peter Bagge's new compilation of comics, Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me and Other Astute Observations... turns out also to be a rude form of local history... [H]is craftsmanship - in the tradition of Mad's Don Martin and Nancy creator Ernie Bushmiller - lies in his ability to reduce his drawings to the simplest possible details needed to tell the story. His rants are funny, but the frictionless gag-delivery systems of his panels are an even more effective rebuke to the willful obscurity of contemporary art." - David Stoesz, Seattle Weekly
• Review: "Collecting 10 years’ worth of cartoons originally done for Reason magazine, as well as a few odds and sods, [Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me] finds Bagge as sharp and irate as ever, and his art has improved while still being recognizably his own. Bagge is also, thankfully, still possessed of a great sense of humor, especially about himself—even the title reveals an element of self-mockery among all the self-righteousness." - The A.V. Club
• Review: "There are few comics in the history of the medium as universally beloved as Love and Rockets... The Palomar stories, while extraordinarily literate and often brilliant in how they straddle the line between magical realism and gritty serial drama, are complex narratives which benefit greatly from being read from the very beginning; Jaime’s lighter, simpler approach is probably a better place to start." - Leonard Pierce, The A.V. Club, offering advice on how to start reading Love and Rockets; here's our advice
• Interview: Robot 6's Tim O'Shea talks to John Kerschbaum about Petey & Pussy, self-publishing and other topics. Sample quote: "It’s what it would look like if Elmer Fudd REALLY blew Daffy’s beak off. But I’ve always felt that humor and horror are very closely related. That they naturally play off of each other. The funny bits make the scary bits scarier and vice versa."
• Interview: At The A.V. Club, Sam Adams gets Michael Kupperman to reveal some of the secrets of his comedy genius and the future of Thrizzle. For example: "Certainly I enjoy the outré and I enjoy artistic comics and surrealism in comics very much. But the decision I made and have stuck with and refined was the decision to try to be funny and communicate humor. Once you put that ahead of everything else, it resolves those other questions for you."
• Plug: Jog - The Blog spotlights 3 of our new releases from last week
The hits just keep on coming! We just completed this high-quality screenprint of Hanks's Fantomah in anticipation of the NYC book-launch for You Shall Die by Your Own Evil Creation! Don't miss this event. Paul Karasik and Dan Nadel will be on hand to discuss the Hanks legacy and field questions, and the book looks amazing.
that's 7 -9 pm Thursday July 23rd at Desert Island 540 Metropolitan Ave
Fletcher Hanks was the first great comic book auteur. That is, he wrote, penciled, inked, and lettered all of his own stories. He completed an astonishing 48 stories in three years from 1939-1941. As a one-man-cartooning-band, his work packs the wallop of a unique and unified artistic vision. He was a true comics visionary. In the earliest days of the comic book, before censorship, it was “anything goes!” — and in the tales of Fletcher Hanks, anything went!
The superhero Stardust gazes down at evil-doers from space and doles out ice cold slabs of poetic justice with his wizardry. A villain out to kidnap all the heads of state gets turned into a giant head, himself… no body, just a head! The jungle protectress, Fantomah, looks like Jean Harlow in a skin-tight black negligee. But when she sees an evil scientist drugging gorillas to become slaves, her head transforms into a flaming skull and she tosses the villain to the gorillas who proceed to graphically tear the guy limb from ragged limb.
Although the early comic books were meant for the kiddies, today’s mature readers are stunned by their pop surrealism and outright violent mayhem. The first volume of Fletcher Hanks stories, I Shall Destroy All Civilized Planets! (in multiple printings) was an Eisner Award-winning smash hit and a staple on “Best of the Year” lists.
Comics fans were thrilled to come upon a cartoonist of this caliber whom they had never heard of before. Non-comics fans who read about the book in The Believer and other journals were stunned to discover an Outsider Artist in comic book form. Edited by cartoonist Paul Karasik (who also provides an insightful introduction), this second volume, You Shall Die By Your Own Evil Creation!, collects all of the rest of Hanks's comic book work. That’s right... ALL! The 31 tales in this book (more than TWICE as many as in the first), when combined with the first volume, comprise The Complete Fletcher Hanks!
Order this book from us and get an exclusive FREE bonus: Color Me or Die!!, a black-and-white Fletcher Hanks mini-comic with a cover illustration by Charles Burns (pictured here with the dashing Mr. Karasik)! You will receive one of three randomly selected cover colors: yellow, orange, or hot pink. This offer is only available direct from Fantagraphics!