• Review: "This is too much of an event to ignore: Fantagraphics, Seattle’s eclectic and prolific comics publisher,... is publishing its first volume of manga — comics that may be Japan’s most popular and influential art form. [...] A Drunken Dream and Other Stories is a four-decade anthology of graphic short stories by Moto Hagio, the 'founding mother' and premiere creator of shojo manga... Does Hagio’s work justify the hype? Her visual storytelling and graphic invention, by turns fluid, crisp, and stately, certainly do. ...Moto’s other later [stories] do indeed raise manga to literature." – Eric Scigliano, Seattle Met
• Review: "...[F]ew comics fans should have difficulty getting into A Drunken Dream and Other Stories... The stories in A Drunken Dream range from weird, powerful allegories... to dreamy tales of love and loss... But the best pieces here focus on memories of childhood, of playmates treated cruelly or parents and children misunderstanding each other. [...] Few stories in the entire history of the medium have been more overwhelming than 'Hanshin: Half-God,' a tale of conjoined twins — one haggard, one gorgeous — and their spiteful, symbiotic relationship. It’s a potent metaphor rendered with the intensity of an EC comic. [Grade] A-" – The A.V. Club
• Review: "Blake Bell’s Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko set the recent standard for how to put together a coffee-table book about a legendary comics artist, and Bell takes on another innovator of the medium with Fire & Water: Bill Everett, the Sub-Mariner, and the Birth of Marvel Comics... Because Everett didn’t have as long or as consistent a career as Ditko, Bell doesn’t subject Everett’s work to the keen analysis he brought to Strange and Stranger. But he makes up for the diminished insight with page after page of Everett’s vivid, varied work, showing how it all emanated from a man who was a lot like his most famous creation: a destructive antihero, always a little angry at the puny humans around him. [Grade] B" – The A.V. Club
• Review: "...The Complete Peanuts, Vol. 14: 1977 - 1978... shows just how much Schulz was all over the map during that time. [...] This is still a worthwhile volume of Complete Peanuts, though; it has a charming introduction by Alec Baldwin, the usual top-quality production of the whole Fantagraphics reprint library, and some fun story arcs..." – The A.V. Club
• Review: "Only a brain incubated in the warm, nourishing goo of Looney Tunes and vintage Disney cartoons could have produced Sammy the Mouse. [...] As always, Sally’s use of silent panels and dynamic perspectives guide readers’ eyes toward nightmarish horizons and grotesque situations... A grimy, metaphysical malaise drips from every line of Sally’s lush yet unwholesome artwork, especially when he’s plundering the iconography of innocence and youth in the service of disorienting discomfort. [Grade] A-" – The A.V. Club
• Review: At What Things Do, Jordan Crane writes "In the new issue of Love and Rockets (New Stories, no.3), Jaime has a story called Browntown. It just might be the best thing he’s ever done. In fact, I’d go so far as to say, it just might be the best comic I’ve ever read. Its construction is durable yet intricate, a bunch of simple parts working together flawlessly. It’s put together like a watch."
• Review:Guttersnipe's Shawn Conner on the "Counterculture Comix" exhibit at Bumbershoot last weekend, with photos by Robyn Hanson: "Curated by Larry Reid of Fantagraphics Books, it was an eye-popping display, even if you were familiar, as I was, with most of the work..."
• Reviews: "Both of these books — Blake Bell's Fire and Water: Bill Everett, The Sub-Mariner, and the Birth of Marvel Comics and Steven Brower's From Shadow to Light: The Life and Art of Mort Meskin — do fine jobs of chronicling the artists' lives and careers. [...] The Everett book... is beautifully designed by Adam Grano and as much an art book as biography. Filled with great examples of Everett art — some of which is from the Everett family's own archives — this book opens up a whole new arena for appreciation of this almost lost seminal artist. The Mort Meskin book is fascinating, too. Brower and the Meskin sons do a great job in capturing what the artist was really like, both in his career and his home life. [...] Again, it's an impressive package (something I think Fantagraphics has become famous for) and a welcome addition to any comics fan's library." – Gary Sassaman, Innocent Bystander
• Review: "Four Color Fear: Forgotten Horror Comics of the 1950s is... a cool collection of stories that definitely would have given me nightmares if I read them as a kid. ...Fantagraphics... puts together a wonderful package once again. Some of these stories are almost unreadable, but all of them are enjoyable and strange and wonderful in their own way." – Gary Sassaman, Innocent Bystander
• Review: "The Best American Comics Criticism, edited by Ben Schwartz, is a fascinating collection of assertion, appraisals, debate, reconsiderations, and recollections about comics. This thick, superbly-selected anthology features extremely well informed, exceptional voices... With a fantastically rendered cover by Drew Friedman (spot the critic!), this is a huge assortment of fantastic writing about a field that has had many parallels with and tendrils in rock and pop. If you’re yearning to own a non-music comics book of criticism that isn’t something from the academe yet still creates an alternate world of popular culture magic to teach how to rail and rave and expose and detail, The Best American Comics Criticism is the book to buy." – Chris Estey, The KEXP Blog
• Review: "Fantagraphics always produces beautiful books, but this is one of my favorites they have ever published. [...] A few weeks ago, I carefully slid You’ll Never Know off the shelf. I was ready for it. It was time. It was a deeply emotional read. [...] The art and lettering is stellar in You’ll Never Know, filled with little details that make every page - especially full page panels. [...] You’ll Never Know is excellent example of autobiographical/biographical non-fiction sequential art, and has made my short list of favorite graphic non-fiction..." – Syndicate Product Covert HQ
• Plug: "Norman Pettingill is an underground cartoonist's underground cartoonist. His obsessive linework, his out-of-control hillbilly wonderland — and even his medium — wood, all make for a fascinating experience. And yes, the cover of this book is plywood." – Benn Ray (Atomic Books), Largehearted Boy
• Feature:Seattle Weekly's Brian Miller previews the "Counterculture Comix" exhibit at Bumbershoot and talks to curator Larry Reid
• Coming Attractions: "For me, and I admit I have specialized taste, the best news coming out San Diego was the announcement that Fantagraphics is going to reprinting Floyd Gottfredson’s Mickey Mousecomic strips, which really was during the 1930s one of the great adventure strips. This will be hard for anyone who hasn’t read Gottfredson’s work to believe, but his Mickey Mouse was as rousing as Roy Crane’s Captain Easy and as rich in invention as Barks’ longer Duck stories." – Jeet Heer, Comics Comics
• Review: "It's hard not to get swept away your first time reading this book through. The gentle tug of the stories' allure that keeps you reading is hard to ignore so it's recommended you give in. Read it all the way through at your own pace. Once you're done, wait a few days or a couple weeks even, and then read it again. A Drunken Dream and Other Stories is a collection of subtleties as much as it is one of short stories. While the plots themselves are straight-forward enough (taking to mind how strange some can be), the emotional tone of each individual experience is where these stories truly pack a memorable punch. [...] Inside and out, Moto Hagio's A Drunken Dream and Other Stories is a mature collection of stories that aims to provoke thought and feeling and succeeds endearingly at just that. A piece of manga history that only becomes more engaging with each subsequent read, A Drunken Dream presents a great opportunity to experience the charms, both subtle and poignant, of Moto Hagio's craft." – Lissa Pattillo, Anime News Network
• Review: "While reading A Drunken Dream and Other Stories, it felt like I was not so much reading the stories as getting submerged in pure book, and rather than try to explain why that is, I just feel the need to force everyone I know to buy it while making vaguely incoherent happy cries. [...] It is a dazzling treat, and will mesmerize you. [...] If this doesn't win some awards it will be a travesty. Wholeheartedly recommended." – Sean Gaffney, A Case Suitable for Treatment
• Tweet of the Week: "Best story in Drunken Dream is the antisocial girl/puppy one, though it's missing the last page where Mr. A kicks the shit out of everybody." – Joe "@snubpollard" McCulloch
• Review: "...[T]his superb retrospective compilation and biography [The Artist Himself: A Rand Holmes Retrospective] featur[es] scads of sketches, reproductions of drawings, cartoons and the paintings he created in his later life..., preserved with a copious collection of his wickedly wonderful underground and alternative comic strips for fans and soon to be devotees. [...] Rand Holmes was a true artist in every sense of the world and mostly produced work intended to change society, not fill his pockets. This book is a wonderful tribute and one any grown-up art lover will marvel at and cherish." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Review: "As usual with Jason, these stories [in Low Moon ] are blackly funny, with characters whose core motivations are often unknown. [...] He's been a creator of great stories for many years, but there has always been something glancing and surface-y about his works before. Jason has always been deadpan, but he's showing, some of the time, unexpected depths in that pan." – Andrew Wheeler, The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.
• Review: "There are books that can be easily reviewed — they have straightforward plots that either make sense or don't, characters whose motives are explicable and definable, and settings that relate to places in the real world. And then there are the works of Jim Woodring, where nothing is explained, nothing is stable, and nothing is like anyone else's work. And it's absolutely goddamn genius. [...] There is no one like Jim Woodring, and comics are immeasurably strengthened by the fact that he's chosen this art-form to work in. [...] If you have any feeling in your soul, Weathercraft will confuse and mesmerize you." – Andrew Wheeler, The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.
• Plug: "At the age of seven (right on schedule!) Dylan has discovered Charles Schulz, and has polished off my entire collection of The Complete Peanuts hardcovers, from 1950 to 1976. As a result, by my math, he has read nearly 9,500 daily and Sunday strips. Most published before I was born, let alone before he was born." – Ken Jennings
• Plug (no pun intened): "Michael Kupperman is a funny guy, and pretty weird. His Tales Designed to Thrizzle carries on the madness... This one, however, rises to new heights with its appreciation of DRAINAGE!" – Lichanos, Journey to Perplexity
• Plug: "Drew Weing has finished his nautical adventure Set to Sea, bringing the story neatly back around in a circle. Told in a series of beautifully drawn single panels, Weing’s comic is the story of a sea-loving poet who gets shanghaied and learns the real thing is rougher and yet more beautiful than he had imagined. Fantagraphics has published a lovely print volume, and Weing is selling the original panels as well." – Brigid Alverson, Robot 6
• Interview: Our Italophone readers (or readers with the patience to work through a slightly jumbled autotranslation) will want to check out Comicsblog.it's interview with Set to Sea creator Drew Weing
• Coming Attractions: "It seems like it’s been forever since the gorgeous hardcover collection of the first set of Linda Medley's Castle Waiting stories. Fantagraphics will release 384 more pages of charming comics about the family-of-choice residents of a falling-down castle along the way." – David Welsh, The Manga Curmudgeon
• Review: "Oh, the things men do to torture themselves. [Catalog No. 439:] Burlesque Paraphernalia and Side Degree Specialties and Costumes is an amazing flashback to a time before the Internet, television, radio, movies and pretty much every other form of entertainment. [...] This book is chock full of some of the funniest and most sadistic devices ever dreamed up by the human mind. It’s almost as if the guy from the Saw movies had wanted to get laughs instead of frights — and fans of current outrage cinema may be happily startled to find something actually called 'The Human Centipede' in its pages." – Siobhan Greene, Fangoria
• Review: "It's an odd little notion, the idea that you've lived a better, fuller life for having killed people. That's probably a somewhat unfair aspect of Drew Weing's good-natured, lushly drawn storybook (that's the term the comic practically demands I use) Set to Sea — a tale of a big lummox of a poet whose lackluster verses about life on the open sea are given new verve when he's shanghai'd into service on an actual ship — for me to seize on. After all, Weing's bigfooted style and inviting rather than intimidating illustrative chops place him squarely in the adventure-comics tradition of Carl Barks and Jeff Smith." – Sean T. Collins, Attentiondeficitdisorderly
• Review: "Freed from the burden of making a 'serious' work, Anderson delves into some grim and gritty pulp material, and you can feel his relish and delight coming off the page. [Sand & Fury: A Scream Queen Adventure] basically deals with the story of a murdered woman who comes back from the dead as a banshee and eventually seeks revenge against her killer, who in turn may be a supernatural demon himself. It sounds like a Jim Balent comic, but Anderson creates a lovely noir atmosphere here, full of blood, sex and other nasty goings-on that never once becomes camp. It’s a nice, effective little horror comic." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Plug:The Venture Bros. co-creator Jackson Publick writes: "Venture alumnus, super-pal and yiddish-loving Italian-American Stephen DeStefano premiered his new graphic novel, Lucky in Love at the San Diego Comic Con, and I was fortunate enough to snag a copy. Now it's your turn. Go buy one."
• Interview:Graphic NYC 's Christopher Irving talks to Michael Kupperman. Irving on Tales Designed to Thrizzle: "Toss comic book art from the '40s and '50s into a blender with the dirty brand of humor that runs rampant in underground comics, and give it the pacing and spontaneity of skit comedy, and you get Kupperman’s distinctive Tales Designed to Thrizzle. Kupperman’s slick art has the polish and stiffness of old advertising art, creating a posed disconnect that adds a layer of absurdism to his offbeat stories." Sample Kupperman quote: "What I’m doing is more along the lines of sketch comedy. I grew up with Monty Python and SCTV, and those shows had a profound influence on me, through the writing and tone. My comic is humor for childish adults. I think I’m actually going to start putting that on the cover. It’s stuff that makes me laugh and part of my working method is to make stuff that will make others laugh as well."
• Profile: "One hundred-plus years after the newspaper comic strip was born in San Francisco, a reader might well ask: Who was the greatest comic artist of all time? Some scholars say the question was settled in 1924 by New York arts critic Gilbert Seldes, whose book on the American cultural scene, The 7 Lively Arts, devoted an entire chapter to a reclusive cartoonist in the Hollywood Hills named George Herriman and his avant-garde comic strip, Krazy Kat." – Anthony Mostrom, The Los Angeles Times (via The Comics Reporter)
• Profile: Katharine Zarrella of Interview magazine talks to Robert Pollard about his collage art and current exhibit thereof in New York City: "A handful of ex-bandmates are on Pollard's guest list, but what do they think of his artwork? 'It seems a lot of them dig it. I think secretly, and sometimes openly, my peers respect the insanity.'"
• Profile: "One of the most serious gaps that this blog has not yet filled is as follows: having been scandalously silent of the great art of Drew Friedman, one of the most popular and recognizable contemporary American illustrators, a genius capable of combining, with previously unpublished results, a technique of hyper-realistic depiction with the strong sense of the grotesque that characterizes the creative temperament." – Lucca Boschi, Il Sole 24 Ore (translated from Italian)
• Events: At AOL's TV Squad, Aaron Broverman recaps Blake Bell's presentation "Steve Ditko & Bill Everett: Spider-Man, Sub-Mariner, Daredevil & Beyond" at Fan Expo in Toronto, "a panel I expect will be one of the hidden gems of the weekend"
Even if you purchased the fifth pair of volumes of The Complete Peanuts (1975-1976 and 1977-1978) separately rather than in the two-volume set, you can still have this handsome, durable two-volume slipcase designed by Complete Peanuts series designer Seth. This item is exclusively available directly from Fantagraphics. (Books not included.)
This week's comic shop shipment is slated to include the following new titles. Read on to see what comics-blog commentators are saying about our releases this week, and contact your local shop to confirm availability.
two 344-page black & white 8.5" x 7" hardcovers in a custom slipcase • $49.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-376-7
"Continuing Fantagraphics’... presentation of Charles Schulz’s original iteration of eventually finite childhood, in spite of it all. Alec Baldwin greets you at the front. There’s also a two-volume ’75-’78 box set due." – Joe McCulloch, Comics Comics
"I always forget what a smart strip Peanuts was. I just opened this volume to a random page to remind myself of what the vibe of this period of Peanuts was like, and there was a joke about Christo. What comic strips were making Christo jokes in 1978?" – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
"I thought the latest volume was really strong, full of odd Peppermint Patty stories and a lot more bold and confident than I remember the strip at the time. Plus the Alec Baldwin intro was pretty good, too." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
"Covering the years 1977-78, and featuring an introduction by Alec Baldwin (of all things), this latest book features some great sequences, like the one where Charlie Brown bites the kite-eating tree and ends up going on the lam to hide from the EPA. Those who feel Schulz’s best work was in the late 50s and 60s really need to re-evaluate these strips." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
Note to NYC shoppers: Jim Hanley's Universe is offering 25% off all Complete Peanuts volumes for one week 8/25-8/31/10 — click here for details!
"The strangest and perhaps greatest book I saw at last month's Comic-Con International. It's like it was art designed by a tree full of elves that don't quite get human publications." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
"An apparently first-ever print retrospective of postcard illustrator Pettingill, a Wisconsin native whose self-printed drawings documented both calm natural settings and teeming, wrinkled, riotously parodic rural living. With an introduction by Robert Crumb (who published some of the artist’s work in Weirdo), an appreciation by Johnny Ryan, and a biographical essay by Gary Groth (online here)." – Joe McCulloch, Comics Comics
• Reviews: At Vice, it's time for another installment of "Nick Gazin's Comic Book Witch Hunt":
"Name a funnier comic than Popeye. Wrong, idiot, there isn’t one. Not only is Popeye the best ever, but this volume of Fantagraphics Popeye series is the best one yet. Oh yeah? Name a better one. Wrong. ... Like most great strips, Popeye has a strong philosophy. That philosophy is the world’s full of crooks. I wish there was a real Popeye to enforce some sort of rough fist-justice but I’m pretty sure there’s no justice and there’s certainly no Popeye, just crooks."
"The original [Prince Valiant] was a giant Sunday page with some of the greatest illustrations ever done. The colors in the latest reprint series are so superior to those in the previous printings that the old ones might as well have been in black and white. This shit is tremendous. ... Get this book or I’ll get you."
"I keep waiting for the quality of the comics in these [Complete Peanuts] books to take a sharp downturn but it hasn’t hit yet. ... So many personality types that I find in adult life were first found in these comics."
"Jason returns with another really good comic [Werewolves of Montpellier]... Jason uses just a few lines but his aesthetics are super superior and he can express intense emotions with simplicity."
"...[T]he art and colors [in Captain Easy Vol. 1] are mind bogglingly beautiful. It’s like Darger. Beautiful candy-colored lunacy."
• Review: "Dungeon Quest: Book One offers an interesting and amusing read, full of lots of laughs about youth and nerd culture, with a surprising layers of sardonic social commentary folded in for good measure." – Jordan Magill, San Francisco Book Review
As the 1970s wind down, the last two recurring Peanuts characters have fallen into place: Snoopy’s brother Spike and the youngest Van Pelt sibling, Rerun. But that doesn’t mean Schulz’s creativity has diminished; in fact, this volume features an amazing profusion of hilariously distinctive new one- (or two-) shot characters!
For instance, in an epic five-week sequence, when Charlie Brown is found guilty by the EPA of biting the Kite-Eating tree, he goes on the lam and ends up coaching the “Goose Eggs,” a group of diminutive baseball players, Austin, Ruby, Leland, and — did you know there was a second Black Peanuts character, aside from Franklin? — Milo.
Also: a tennis-playing Snoopy ends up reluctantly teamed with the extreme Type “A” athlete Molly Volley... who then reappears later in the book, now facing off against her nemesis, “Crybaby” Boobie. (Honest!) Add in Sally’s new camp friend Eudora, the thuggish “caddymaster” who shoots down Peppermint Patty and Marcie’s new vocation, an entire hockey team, and a surprise repeat appearance by Linus’s sweetheart “Truffles” (creating a love triangle with Sally), all in addition to the usual cast of beloved characters (including the talking schoolhouse and the doghouse-jigsawing cat, who gets hold of Linus’s blanket in this one), and you’ve got a veritable crowd of characters.
It’s another two years of the greatest comic strip of all time, full of laughs and surprises.
Download an EXCLUSIVE 15-page PDF excerpt (688 KB) containing all the strips from January, 1977!
A boxed set of the thirteenth and fourteenth volumes of The Complete Peanuts, designed by the award-winning graphic novelist, Seth. Shipping shrinkwrapped, with volumes 1975-1976 and 1977-1978 packed in a sturdy custom box designed especially for this set, it's the perfect gift book item. (For more information on the contents of each volume, see the individual product listings linked above.)
"The Complete Peanuts has framed Charles Schulz’s enduring masterpiece about as well any lifelong fan could’ve hoped." – "The Best Comics of the '00s: The Archives", The A.V. Club
• Review: "...[T]his [is] a good-looking book as well as a good reading one. ... [T]his is a wonderfully informative read from where I’m sitting. Fire & Water is a long-overdue chance for today’s readers to get a good idea of what made Everett so special and so revered by older fans." – Johnny Bacardi, Popdose
• Review: "Richie Rich by way of Archie by way of Tippy Teen by way of, oh, I don’t know — The Grifters meets Tao Te Ching and airing at 10:30 CST on Adult Swim; ...it’s easy to admire [Wally Gropius's] all-over-the-place, random ingenuity..." – Johnny Bacardi, Popdose
• Review: "Artichoke Tales by Megan Kelso is a strange, other-worldly story about birth and death, coming of age, dealing with war, finding love, accepting tragedy. ... The simple, comic-strip-like illustrations in teal and white express movement beautifully with a minimum of lines." – Mary Louise Ruehr, Ravenna Record-Courier
• Interview:Avoid the Future calls Set to Sea "One of the most visually breathtaking comics we’ve ever had the pleasure of reading" and talks to creator Drew Weing: "I'm very happy with the final results, but I've got to work differently in the future — if I plan on having finished more than a handful of comics in my lifetime! There's so much fussy crosshatching and detail in Set to Sea. I'm trying to work much quicker and looser in my next projects."
• Coming Attractions: "Oh. Oh yes. Oh yes, yes, yes… Herriman’s wonderful Krazy and Ignatz, facsimile style reproduction of original, unpublished sketches he’d use before finalising his strips, in a big, beautiful hardback, and it’s from Fantagraphics so you know it’s going to be given the love and attention to detail and quality it deserves." – Forbidden Planet International Blog Log on Krazy & Ignatz: The Sketchbook Strips 1910-1913, coming this Fall