• Plug: Pamela Paul of The New York Times asks "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" creator Jeff Kinney about his favorite books from childhood: "...[T]he works that stood head and shoulders above the rest were Carl Barks’s ‘Donald Duck’ and ‘Uncle Scrooge’ comics from the 1940s through the 1960s. Mr. Barks wrote tales of high adventure generously peppered with moments of high comedy.... Classics such as ‘Lost in the Andes,’ ‘Only a Poor Man’ and ‘A Christmas for Shacktown’ left a deep impression on me. Mr. Barks taught me that comics could be high art, and I consider his work to be the best storytelling I’ve experienced in any form. ...Fantagraphics has announced that it is publishing the Barks collection in beautiful hardcover books that do great honor to the cartoonist and his stories, and I can’t wait to buy them for my kids. Proof that great storytelling endures from generation to generation."
• Review: "This volume [Walt Disney's Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes] reprints tales from December 1948 through August 1949, when Barks was in high feather as a creator of breathless adventures and light comedies for his Ducks... Great pop culture, great analysis. Scrooge is always searching for more gold, and there’s plenty here. [Rating] 10/10" – Michael Barrett, PopMatters
• Review: "The finale of the story Jaime has been telling over the past couple of annual issues [of Love and Rockets: New Stories] is a moment of bravura comics storytelling, but the buildup to it in the opening portions of this issue is pretty great as well... Ah, but as nice as these stories are, they all seem to be prelude to the dazzlingly virtuosic end of this chapter in the Locas saga... This could signal an end to the current era of Locas stories, but these characters are less figures of Jaime's imagination than real people alive in the minds of readers everywhere at this point, and even if another story featuring them never appears, we can rest assured that they will continue to live on, somewhere, sometime." – Matthew J. Brady, Warren Peace Sings the Blues
• Review (Audio): Introducing the latest episode of the Wait, What? podcast, co-host Jeff Lester says "we dollop more praise on Ganges #4 by Kevin Huizenga because honestly that sucker could probably use another five or six dollops."
• Plugs: "Fantagraphics’ collections featuring Charles Schulz’s comic strip masterpiece, Peanuts, are fantastic and if you’re a Peanuts fan, you need to be reading these. Floyd Gottfredson probably did as much to shape the personality of Mickey Mouse and his supporting cast as Carl Barks did for the Disney Ducks, yet his work has never received the same degree of attention as the work of Barks. Fantagraphics is correcting that with Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse. The first two volumes of this series are fantastic and the strips probably look better here than they did when they were originally published. It’s a joy to watch Gottfredson develop as a storyteller as Mickey and the gang evolve along with him.... There’s also plenty of background material to place the stories into historical perspective. And the collection of Walt Kelly’s Pogo that hits stores this week is gorgeous. I have some of Fantagraphics’ previous Pogo volumes and this one blows them away. I’m also getting into Popeye for the first time with their collections of Segar’s classic strip." – Roger Ash, Westfield Comics Blog
• Commentary: At Comic Book Resources, Laura Sneddon, who is documenting her experiences in the postgraduate Comic Studies program at the University of Dundee in Scotland, examines the work of Robert Crumb and Aline Kominsky-Crumb for the class topic "Comics and Gender"
• Review: "...Kevin Avery’s Everything Is an Afterthought... chronicles the dramatic life of one of music’s keenest observers, Paul Nelson, and curates his finest critiques.... I read and adored [Nelson] growing up, but reading [him] in the context of today’s critical standards gave me the literary equivalent to the bends. It goes without saying that, in the age of the Internet, the whole idea of a critic has changed." – Jim Farber, New York Daily News
• Review: "It could well be ten years since I last read these stories [in Queen of the Black Black], and I’d either forgotten or never appreciated (my money’s on the latter) how astute and insightful they could be. Like a proto-Kevin Huizenga, [Megan Kelso] repeatedly turns up little rocks of human experience and chronicles what’s going on underneath, reintroducing us to feelings, sensations, and experiences we’d forgotten we’d had but recognize as if they happened this morning." – Sean T. Collins, The Comics Journal
• Review: "This collection of early stories from Megan Kelso shows a natural flair for the form, mixed with a self-critical determination to hone her craft, that’s helped her blossom into a master storyteller.... Anyone looking for a masterful example of the short story in comics would do well to give [Queen of the Black Black] a try. Beautifully written and well illustrated, this a wonderful portfolio of work from a creator showing a deep well of promise from the start." – Grovel
• Review: "...[E]asily... one of my favorite horror comics and one of my contenders for my Best of 2011 list.... Not only is the book carefully structured, it looks stunning.... The Hidden is a story that must be experienced to fully appreciate... There is an excellent story of slow-building despair to be found in its pages, with gorgeous depictions and coloring and a horror story that shocks, surprises, and entertains. Don't let this one get hidden on your shelves! It may not be Halloween, but I still give this book my highest recommendation!" – Rob McMonigal, Panel Patter
• Review: "Volume 2 of Fantagraphics' Gottfredson Library, which takes us up through the beginning of 1934, maintains the high production standards and copious ancillaries of the first volume.... Tom Andrae's opening essay emphasizes, with good reason, how Gottfredson "spun off" many of his early narratives from the plots of animated cartoons. IMHO, however, the Mickey strip truly became "great" once Gottfredson gained the confidence to craft his own plots." – Chris Barat
• Profile:Paul Gravett surveys the work of David B. and presents a transcript of his bookstore discussion with the artist this past summer (hat tip to TCJ.com's Tim Hodler)
• Plug: Pulitzer-winning author and known Love and Rockets fan Junot Díaz names Poison River by Gilbert Hernandez (collected in Beyond Palomar) one of his top 10 favorite books in an excerpt from Unpacking My Library: Writers and their Books posted at The Financial Times
• Plug:Oil and Water receives an excellent feature in the new issue of the Audubon Society of Portland Warbler newsletter, which can be downloaded here
• Tribute: At The Comics Journal, Bill Griffith remembers meeting, and later collaborating with, the late Bil Keane: "I was surprised when Bil told me he read Zippy in his local Arizona paper and liked it. He didn’t even qualify his opinion with the usual, “Of course, I don’t always get it.” Until then, I hadn’t paid much attention to The Family Circus, but I slowly began to see that you could read more into it than what appeared on the surface. This was before internet wise guys began mashing up random Friedrich Nietzsche lines for Billy and Jeffy’s and riffing on the strip as unconscious surrealism. But The Family Circus didn’t need hipsters to substitute incongruous dialogue to make the case that it was unconscious surrealism. It was unconscious surrealism on its own."
• Review: "If you've never heard the name Carl Barks, then you probably see this book [Walt Disney's Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes] and wonder, 'What makes this Donald Duck comic so great? Is this, like, an ironic VICE thing? Did I just get VICEd?' This is no goof, this book is the first in a series of volumes collecting some of the best examples of comic bookery ever produced.... In many ways these comics feel more similar to European adventure comics like Tintin or the Smurfs than they do with other American comics. The lines are so clean and bouncy and the stories all seem weirder and more sophisticated than run-of-the-mill children's shit from that era. ...Fantagraphics made my dreams come true with this perfect book. For $25 you get 200 pages of some of the most important comics ever made and about 30 pages of the story of Carl Barks' life along with story notes and annotations. This is a fucking steal. Thank you, Fantagraphics! Your books continue to give me bright bursts of joy even in the grimmest of times!" – Nick Gazin, VICE
• Review/Scene:Pulp Serenade's Cullen Gallagher shares some great photos of Kevin Avery's appearance at the Strand Bookstore in NYC last night, saying of the book: "Kevin’s biography, Everything Is an Afterthought, tells the whole sad story. It’s heartbreaking as hell, but I couldn’t put it down. Paul was a compelling and complex as any of the artists he wrote about — and just as talented.... One of the nicest touches to Everything Is an Afterthought (aside from making the book resemble a box of Nat Shermans, Paul's favorite) is its organization: part one is the biography, and part two is filled with some of Paul’s best pieces (including his Ross Macdonald obit). First you get to know the man through his life, and second you get to know the man through his art. When you finish the book, you begin to realize how Paul’s biography would be incomplete without his own writing."
• Review: "Artists of vision toiling within the gears of a vision-suppressing machine, Carl Barks and Floyd Gottfredson drew and wrote great swathes of the best popular art of the twentieth century, mostly in the least auspicious venues available: comic books and comic strips credited to Walt Disney.... Fantagraphics is currently collecting the work of both artists: Barks's transcendent Donald and Scrooge McDuck comics, and Gottfredson's sprightly Mickey Mouse serials. To the publisher's credit, the books are gorgeous but designed for readability rather than coffee-table displaying. This is great art you can feel guilt-free perusing in the bathtub....
"The initial volume in the Barks series is... all pleasure, a treasury of deceptively simple gag and adventure stories that fashioned with wit, irony, and impeccable craftmanship.... The longer stories here... are suspenseful, surprising, funny, and fresh... These kids' comics are far from kids' stuff -- this is for everyone....
"Like the goofy, violent, darker-than-expected cliffhangers of the second Indiana Jones flick, Gottfredson's Mickey Mouse -- especially in in its second volume, covering 1932 and '33 -- is an exhausting achievement in can-you-top-this adventure storytelling.... This kids' stuff isn't for kids, either. But it's revealing and thrilling, both a guide to what's long been wrong with this country -- and guide to what's great in its imagination." – Alan Scherstuhl, SF Weekly
• Review: "...I’d been looking forward to the Fantagraphics [Carl Barks Library] series, and I’m happy to say it’s being done right.... I like to think that Carl Barks, an unpretentious storyteller who created for an audience of children whose intelligence, ingenuity and decency he never doubted, would approve and be gladdened by how his work, this time around, is being put back out into the world." – Tom De Haven, The Comics Journal
• Review: "...[I]n this insightful and riveting biography, Avery has brought the flat-capped, sunglassed, mustachioed, Nat Sherman-smoking, hamburger eating, and Coca-Cola guzzling wordsmith back to life; a writer as fascinating -- and frustrating -- as many of his interview subjects.... Thankfully, more than half of the books pages are given over to reprints of Nelson's own work... And while Everything Is an Afterthought will bring renewed attention to the work of Paul Nelson, it's the work of Kevin Avery that resonates most as he tries -- and succeeds as much as possible -- to unravel the enigma of Paul Nelson's mind." – Bob Ruggiero, Houston Press
• Review: "Michael Kupperman’s Tales Designed to Thrizzle #7 has many more laughs than it does pages. It’s jokes that build on jokes that lead to more jokes through left turns, fakes, surprises, and nerdy pop culture references.... One premise leads to the next, like one of the better episodes of Monty Python or Mr Show... – this book is funny enough to make you crack up on a crowded bus." – Tom Mohrman, CultureMob
• Interview: David Fernández of Zona Negativa has a career-spanning Q&A (in English and Spanish) with Jason: "You don’t do comics for the money. You do it for love of the medium, for the need to tell stories in images. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. You feel a connection to other struggling cartoonists. It’s something you have in common. There some humility in it. So there are very few cartoonist assholes. I haven’t met any."
"Kevin Avery has done something heroic here. Avery has rescued the work and the passion, the life and the meaning of the great Paul Nelson. Nelson was a deep and beautiful writer, mysterious and painstaking and brilliant. Thanks to Avery and Everything Is an Afterthought, Paul Nelson's work finally has a home." - Cameron Crowe
What happened to legendary music critic Paul Nelson?
In the '60s, Paul Nelson pioneered rock & roll criticism with a first-person style of writing that would later be popularized by the likes of Tom Wolfe and Norman Mailer as "New Journalism." As co-founding editor of The Little Sandy Review and managing editor of Sing Out!, he'd already established himself, to use his friend Bob Dylan's words, as "a folk-music scholar"; but when Dylan went electric in 1965, Nelson went with him.
During a five-year detour at Mercury Records in the early 1970s, Nelson signed the New York Dolls to their first recording contract, then settled back down to writing criticism at Rolling Stone as the last in a great tradition of record-review editors that included Jon Landau, Dave Marsh, and Greil Marcus. Famously championing the early careers of artists like Bruce Springsteen, Jackson Browne, Rod Stewart, Neil Young, and Warren Zevon, Nelson not only wrote about them but often befriended them. Never one to be pigeonholed, he was also one of punk rock's first stateside mainstream proponents, embracing The Sex Pistols and The Ramones.
But in 1982, he walked away from it all — Rolling Stone, his friends, and rock & roll. By the time he died in his New York City apartment in 2006 at the age of seventy — a week passing before anybody discovered his body — almost everything he'd written had been relegated to back issues of old music magazines.
How could a man whose writing had been so highly regarded have fallen so quickly from our collective memory?
With Paul Nelson's posthumous blessing, Kevin Avery spent four years researching and writing Everything Is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson, which compiles Nelson's best works (some of it previously unpublished) while also providing a vivid account of his private and public lives. Avery interviewed almost 100 of Paul Nelson's friends, family, and colleagues, including several of the artists about whom he'd written.
Kevin Avery Tour Dates for Everything Is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson
Wednesday, November 9th at 7:00 PM Kevin Avery will be joined on stage by Dave Marsh, a rock critic, historian, anti-censorship activist, talk show host and "Louie Louie" expert who has written more than 20 books about rock and popular music. This event will be held in the Rare Book Room on the 3rd Floor of the Strand.
Sunday, November 13th at 4:00 PM Kevin Avery discuss the life and writings of Paul Nelson in conversation with local author (Moon, All Hopped Up And Ready To Go: Music From The Streets of New York) Tony Fletcher.
• Review: "Gottfredson is in much stronger form here [in Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Vol. 2: Trapped on Treasure Island] than in the first volume, drawing upon the early Mickey cartoons for ideas — mad scientists, treasure hunts, mail pilots — but then expanding and developing them in a way those early Disney shorts were incapable of doing. Over time, Mickey’s personality becomes more refined as well; scrappier, tougher and more determined to seek justice (or an adventure) regardless of the odds. Again, part of the enjoyment for me with this series is the rich amount of historical material editors Gary Groth and David Gerstein are able to provide. From foreign material to biographies of various ancillary contributors, supplemental art, character histories and more, this series is rich with detail, both in the strip itself and in the editorial handling of the material, that puts other reprint projects to shame." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "What is good about Love and Rockets: New Stories [#1], however, is that it throws readers and fans a curve. Just what are Los Bros. going to do now? By going back to their early styles, in essence, they’ve allowed themselves a re-launch or at least a chance to throw many surprises at our expectations. Whatever they choose to do, it’ll still be the most interesting comics coming from America’s most literate, experimental, and adventurous comic book creators." – Leroy Douresseaux, I Reads You
• Plug: "In these days of precious art comics and highfalutin graphic novels, it’s often forgotten that comic strips evolved for one (now quaint) reason: to sell newspapers. Cartoonists were commercial artists, not auteurs. [In Drawing Power: A Compendium of Cartoon Advertising] you’ll find Peter Arno, the sophisticated New Yorker cartoonist, endorsing Rheingold Extra Dry Beer; Mickey Mouse and pals flogging just about everything under the sun except, maybe, mousetraps; and Krazy Kat selling Gulfsteel Nails. They are all Joe Camel’s ancestors." – Dana Jennings, The New York Times
• Interview: At Our Town Downtown, Cullen Gallagher, who says "...Everything Is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson [is] a deeply moving biography that captures not only Nelson’s tragedy, but also celebrates the ardor and artistry of his life and work," talks to the book's author/editor, Kevin Avery: "In the mid-to-late ’70s, rock music was still being discovered. There were no hard and fast rules, so in a way criticism was an act of discovery for these writers and they were just expressing what they liked. Paul was able to do that in a way that was not only personal, but also he would draw from film, books and his knowledge of folk music. You also got the feeling that he was a mysterious character. There would be hints dropped that there was an unhappy guy behind all these reviews. His writing was beautiful. This was music criticism that could be read as literature."
• Review: "A powerful eco-report, Oil and Water also manages to be a report on the gap between classes that isn’t about who has what, but rather about what 'having' means to different groups of Americans.... The large black-and-white images are realistic and create individual characteristics for the cast; its smudged texture is an excellent vehicle for the intrusion of oil on beaches, birds, livelihoods, and prospects for the future. Quick to read, but of lasting weight for readers from either side of the divide." – Francisca Goldsmith, School Library Journal
• Review: "...Nelson wrote like Fitzgerald or O’Connor, his prose full of god and anxiety... Paul Nelson knew you were that kid that needed a noir detective to crack the case for you, to demystify the rock god world while not for a second taking the romance and realness out of it. He signed on for a pittance and wrote elegantly and truthfully about an industry that was usually nothing but awkward boasts and queasy lies.... I’m not kidding when I say that you need to get on [Everything Is an Afterthought] ASAP if you do any music writing at all. It’s the Scribes Sounding Off book of the year, in a pretty great year of them..." – Chris Estey, The KEXP Blog
• Interview:Comic Book Resources' Chris Mautner has a fascinating and playfully cantankerous Q&A with Kevin Huizenga about the new issue of Ganges: "I totally would rather work on a minicomic more than working on a 'real' project. Working on something where other people are involved really screws me up. It's some kind of disorder. I assume they're going to be disappointed, and I resent them for that in advance, and then I start to hate the work and half-ass the project. I'd much rather work on something that no one wants, that no one has asked for. This has not helped my career."
• Review: "This slim volume is finely edited, and its narrative tone resides on the border between fairy stories and unbowdlerized folk tales. In other words, it is suffused with equal dismay and delight at the nature of the world. The drawings, printed in two crisp colors, would be worth the price of the book if it were stripped of words. Like Craig Thompson’s Habibi (which it precedes in its original publication date, pre-translation) and Umberto Eco’s Baudolino, it has a great deal of wonder in it, which it conveys in a surprisingly matter-of-fact way. Do note that the book is full of penises and violence (and I mean full), so you may not want to buy it for your ten-year-old niece, but if you are still under the spell of story, The Armed Garden will delight you." – Hillary Brown, Paste
• Reviews:Cosmic Treadmill begins their survey of the complete works of Jason with Hey, Wait... ("What starts out as a series of cute and fun moments of the protagonist’s childhood turns into one of the most memorable comic book moments I can think of.... This should be on everyone’s to-read list"), Sshhhh! ("utterly engrossing... another quite memorable book"), and The Iron Wagon ("Full of deceit, paranoia and some great characterisation, The Iron Wagon won’t soon be forgotten") — all of which are collected in What I Did
• Plug: "I loved [Mascots], and if you're the kind of person that this kind of thing might appeal to, I highly recommend it. It lands a tricky acrobatic mix of poetry, graphic design, painting, and general sketchbook goofballery." – Kevin Huizenga\