• Review: "[Fletcher] Hanks' groove, taken back to back like this, is unsettling... It can be downright creepy. Generally, when you talk about a comic auteur's 'issues,' you're talking page count, not whether he has his head screwed on straight. It's multiplied by Hanks' art style, which at first seems crude but is actually quite stylized and consistent. Many images, such as troupes of unfortunates flying in hurtling, screaming weightlessness, have the impact of nightmares... And the twisted comics universe once inhabited by Fletcher Hanks is eerie and unsettling, and fascinating in what it reveals about the man with the pen." - Burl Burlingame, Honolulu Star-Bulletin
• Review: "Tales Designed to Thrizzle Vol. 1, [Michael] Kupperman's recent collection, is brimming with such a dense compilation of Dada-inspired plots, fake ads and comic book covers that it takes a repeated read-through to absorb the book's potent aura of absurdity... Reading Thrizzle is an expeditious experience, and like all treks you will feel exhausted and somehow improved by this entire gut-busting experience... Tales Designed to Thrizzle is beyond recommendation..." - Ascot Smith, examiner.com
• Review: "Jason is one of the relatively few working artists that even a jaded, cynical, complain-first critic like me will happily declare a true master cartoonist, without reservation. Jason is—how to put this?—good. Really, really, really good... So, Low Moon? It’s Jason. It’s new. It’s obviously really, really good, you know?" - J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
• Review: "Low Moon takes 'funny animals' comics in a disturbingly deadpan direction. The bipedal canines and birds that populate these five short tales somehow convey with their blank eyes, flat expressions and minimal movements a whole seething current of emotional subtext. The title story, first serialized in the New York Times Sunday Magazine, mixes Gary Cooper frontier heroics with chess, and it is no less strange or hilarious than the other vignettes, which play with tropes lifted from science fiction, film noir and Jazz Age romance." - "The Best in Comic Books," Michael Berry, San Francisco Chronicle
• Review: "The new Prince Valiant crackles from the page with an energy and enthusiasm that positively dares anyone to deny this strip’s rightful place in the history of the form. Yes, this is another great day for comics history and most definitely a venture worth supporting into the future." - Guttergeek
• Review: "Uptight #3 -- This comic book made me nuts... Look how goddamned beautiful that cover is... That cover illustrates the first part of a new story Crane is working on, 'Vicissitude,' and Holy Jesus it is one of the best stories I've read this year. I'm a tough sell when it comes to out-and-out fiction in comics, but the unbelievably compelling artwork totally drew me into this fantastic story... damn if that cover and those first few, tantalizing pages aren't like some new, more addictive form of crack cocaine you ingest through your eyeballs. By looking at this comic book. God DAMN, I want more 'Vicissitude.' Don't let another day go by without making sure you're getting Uptight #3." - Alan David Doane
• Interview: "I've long felt Peter Bagge is a significant figure in American comedy in addition to deserving his lofty stature in alternative comics, and I'll interview him any chance I get." - Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter; "I was never allowed to play fast and lose with the truth, much to my occasional creative chagrin! Other than that they allowed me to express myself pretty freely, even if some folks on their staff disagreed with some of the points I was making." - Peter Bagge, from the interview, discussing the Reason editiorial process
• Plug: "I don’t always agree with [Peter Bagge's] position [in Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me], but his exploration is always great. And hearing other opinions and positions (especially well-informed like his), is almost always worthwhile." - Corey Blake
• Plugs: "I am slowly making my way through three recent reprints from Fantagraphics... the three books in question are Humbug, Blazing Combat, and Prince Valiant. Humbug’s easily the best of the three, as it includes so many all-time great cartoonists (Kurtzman, Jaffee, Elder, etc.) at the peak of their powers and ambitions, but the other two are worthwhile, too. With people like Wood, Toth, and Heath involved, I knew the art would be fantastic in Blazing Combat, but I’ve been surprised at the quality of Archie Goodwin’s writing... it’s much more satisfying than expected. I’ve barely begun with Prince Valiant... So far, it’s much more fluid and enjoyable than I would’ve guessed — beautiful work..." - guest columnist Timothy Hodler (Comics Comics), Robot 6
Heading into the weekend, here's your Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: "Carol Tyler’s You’ll Never Know [Book 1: A Good and Decent Man] mines similar territory to women graphic novelists before her -- the life of her father and its relationship to her own foibles -- and manages to make a work entirely her own, neither derivative nor overly familiar... with genuinely gorgeous illustration... It’s a gripping mix of biography and autobiography... There’s more for Tyler to explore in another volume, and she manages to make this one immensely satisfying on its own terms while alternately leaving you with anticipation for the next." - John E. Mitchell, North Adams Transcript
• Review: "...[Y]ou could do much, much, much, much, much, much worse than to spend 25 bucks and an inch on your bookshelf on yet agoddamnnother collection of murderously bleak and astonishingly well-executed high-concept existentialism [Low Moon], drawn with an unimpeachable clean line and colored like unto a thing of beauty. Time and time again during these five stories I was almost physically impacted by Jason's skill as a storyteller ...his skill and his bravado left me shaking my head with amusement and/or amazement time and time again. He's one of the best, as is this book." - Sean T. Collins
• Interview: Seth talks a bit about his design work for The Complete Peanuts in an interview with Alex Carr at Amazon's Omnivoracious blog. Sample quote: "The series was meant to be a setting for the jewel that is Schulz's masterpiece. I wanted to make sure that Schulz's work was treated with the utmost seriousness and dignity."
• Plug: In an interview with Robot 6, MoCCA Festival organizer Karl Erickson singles out Humbug's Arnold Roth & Al Jaffee and Mome's Derek Van Gieson & Sara Edward-Corbett as highlights of the 2009 festival
• Review: "Low Moon, the latest collection from this Norwegian-born graphic novelist [Jason], is certainly as funny as his previous books, but the humor is quieter, more mature. It balances the awkward sexuality and cynical humor of a teenage boy with the disillusionment and longing of an old man... Basically, it's been a while since I read a book and thought, 'This is changing the way I think about short fiction.' So, I've been carrying the book around, like a buddy, trying to understand out what makes Low Moon so perfect." - Heidi Broadhead, Publicola
• Review: "You’ll Never Knowis, for good or ill, going to elicit a lot of comparisons to Maus... Yet while Tyler’s work... certainly deserves any accolades it receives, it’s a much different book — warmer, more overtly affectionate and more personal to a certain extent as well... Tyler’s art is constantly inventive and alive throughout the book. full of color and energy yet incredibly lyrical and graceful when need be... Tyler has long been a cartoonist’s cartoonist, which basically translates as 'Why is no one paying attention to the awesome stuff Carol Tyler is doing?' Both in subject matter and in delivery, she seems poised to finally break free of that term." - Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Plug: "Everybody Is Stupid Except For Me and Other Astute Observations: Damn it Peter Bagge, now what am I going to call my autobiography? This is a nice-looking collection of a decade's worth of the master cartoonist's cartoons from Reason magazine. I'm working my way through a preview copy at the moment, but I can personally attest to the first two chapters being pretty great." - J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
• Plug: "Peter Bagge has become quite the comics pundit in recent years, sounding off on a variety of issues like drugs, gun control and abortion in the pages of Reason magazine. This book [Everybody Is Stupid Except For Me] — love the title, by the way — collects most of them... [I]t’s really funny and you should buy it." - Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Plug: "Bigger, harder, thicker and better colors. Fantagraphics has decided to repackage Hal Foster’s seminal 'knights and text' once again, this time in a hardcover format [Prince Valiant Vol. 1: 1937-1938] and with improved production values... I was quite surprised how entertaining this strip was back in the day." - Chris Mautner, Robot 6 (same link as above)
• Things to see: On the Covered blog, Steven Weissman has some alternate choices for new Avengers members in re Avengers #221
To celebrate, our nominated titles, except Peanuts (for contractual reasons), are now 15% off for a limited time! First buy, then (if you're a comics professional) vote!
Congratulations to all of our nominated colleagues, with special shouts-out to Al Jaffee for his Abrams book Tall Tales (multiple nominations), Chris Ware for Acme Novelty Library #19 (Best Single Issue or Story), and Jay Lynch & the Mineshaft folks for Mineshaft #23 (Best Cover Artist).
I think we're all caught up on our Online Commentary & Diversions now:
• Review: "It's impossible not to love Jason's hapless cartoon characters; they're dog-faced descendants of Charlie Chaplin in that way, usually placed into situations far beyond their control or understanding... The five stories that make up Low Moon, Jason's newest collection of comics, hark back to the classic golden age of film... Each story reverberates with the little eccentricities that Jason has built a career on (instead of gunfights, the cowboys in the title story battle over long games of chess). Remarkably, none of them seem over-the-top or manipulative." - Paul Constant, The Stranger
• Review: "From Jordan Crane and Fantagraphics, Uptight #3. One of the best covers of the year and the last time, I suspect, that the guys in the crowd will read 'Back soon' and not feel that chill at the back of the neck." - Steve Duin, The Oregonian
• Review: "Sublife weaves a tighter, more focused narrative with intelligently ornate Chris Ware inspired design..." - Raina Lee, Lunch
• Review: "The current issue of theComics Journal (#297) has a wonderful in-depth interview with cartoonist Mort Walker, creator of Beetle Bailey, as well as a stable of other strips including Hi and Lois, Sam and Silo, and Boner's Ark that's a fun read." - Randy Reynaldo, WCG Comics
• Commentary: Looking at our recent spate of Special Edition releases at examiner.com, Spencer Ellsworth says "the notes, interviews and annotations give a look into some of the most innovative of the new generation of movers and shakers in the current comics renaissance."
• List: Industry news & analysis site ICv2 ranks sales of The Complete Peanuts at #3 on the list of "Top 10 Humor Properties Q1 2009"
• List: The Comics Reporter reports that at BEA a panel of librarians chose a list of "Hot Fall Graphic Novels," including our forthcoming titles Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 1 and West Coast Blues by Manchette & Tardi
Another late dose of Online Commentary & Diversions:
• List: CBC Radio's "Canada Reads: The Book Club" host Hannah Sung kicks off voting on the "Top 10 Graphic Novels" with Ghost World: "I love Dan Clowes’s clean, graphic style. I love Enid’s glasses, I love how everything is 'lame' and I love that Enid expresses how much she hates Sassy magazine even as she reads it."
• Interview: The Daily Cross Hatch's Brian Heater wraps up his 3-part talk with Michael Kupperman. Sample quote: "But of course the point of humor is that you always want it to look easy. You don’t want it to look like you spent two hours on your 140 character line — not that I’ve ever done that [laughs]."
• Interview: The Metabunker's Matthias Wivel talks to Steffen Maarup, editor of From Wonderland with Love: Danish Comics in the Third Millennium, debuting at MoCCA this weekend. Sample quote: "My selection process was pretty much as simple as picking what’s good; so stories that were original, did interesting things with the medium of comics, or touched me in some way."
Your Online Commentary & Diversions for the first day of June '09:
• Review: "Holy cats!... Wolverton's illustrations [in The Wolverton Bible], done in the same unmistakable, stippled style that characterized his grotesqueries, show off the grim, the violent, and the destructive in the Old Testament, putting the blood and guts in the spotlight. The result is like no illustrated Bible you've ever seen... This is a side of Wolverton I never suspected, but it is perfectly him, humorous, grisly, mad and wonderful." - Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing
• Review/Profile: "...Unlovable by Esther Pearl Watson... was for me like discovering a nugget of gold in a sieve! ...really original and fun." - Lezinfo (translated from French)
• Review: "With great candor and wit, [Peter] Bagge tackles [the] issues... in Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me, a collection of his strips from Reason Magazine. As in his previous works like Hate and The Bradleys, Bagge deftly manages to simultaneously anger and amuse the reader with his intensely personal stories about larger topical issues." - Rick Klaw, The SF Site: Nexus Graphica
• Review: "...[T]he comics in this collection [of Blazing Combat] are astounding... The art is reproduced from 'the original printer’s films,' so the work is clear and detailed, with the washes and shading providing depth and a feeling of realism... The stories are still timely." - Johanna Draper Carlson, Comics Worth Reading
• Interview: The Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon talks to Bob Fingerman about his latest projects, including Connective Tissue. Sample quote: "I think if I did nothing but comics, I would end up hating comics. For a while there I was actually beginning to hate comics."
• Interview: Robot 6's Tim O'Shea talks to Supermen! editor Greg Sadowski about the collection of Golden Age hero stories. Sample quote: "I never liked those 'Archive' editions where they bleach out the old colors and replace them with modern coloring methods printed on glossy paper. That whitewashes all the distinction out of those vintage books and transforms them into a cloyingly slick and artificial product."
• Video: From Paul Hornschemeier's blog: "Via Tuono Pettinato on Facebook: A Peanuts documentary (broken into 5 parts on YouTube) where Charles Schulz discusses the making of the animated Peanuts and the role of music. It's great footage, and makes me miss Schulz's genius all the more."
Pay attention: there's some must-read stuff in today's Online Commentary & Diversions!
• Review: "Castle Waiting #15 - I love that Linda Medley is completely ignoring what makes her setting so interesting for the D&D set and focusing on the characters." - Kevin Church
• Review: "Although aiming at twenty-somethings also interested in getting laid, getting wasted and getting rich, [in Rocky Vol. 2] Kellerman nonetheless manages to move beyond the ever-fertile grounds of the battle of the sexes, bodily functions and morning-after guilt-trips to produce a lot of work that is truly fresh, funny and uniquely personal." - Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Review: "Just like Heartbreak Soup and Locas, Lubais hard to put down, and Beto’s art gets better as it gets more experimental... there’s tons of good material here, and the humongous format can’t be beat in terms of bang for your buck." - The A.V. Club
• Review: "The 'family history' graphic novel subgenre can feel overdone at times... but volume one of Carol Tyler’s autobiographical You’ll Never Knowis the kind of smartly conceived, affectingly personal work that makes comics and memoirs look fresh... Carol Tyler works wonders with colored pencils and offbeat page designs... the breadth of her visual imagination is so impressive that... overreach is excusable. Also impressive: the thematic complexity of You’ll Never Know... [Grade] A-" - The A.V. Club
• Review: "The handsome hardcover collection The Brinkley Girls brings together a generous sampling of [Nell] Brinkley’s work, leaning heavy on her stories of industrious women and the he-men they love... Brinkley’s art is so drop-dead gorgeous that readers may long to razor out every page to hang on the wall. [Grade] A-" - The A.V. Club (same link as above)
• Review: "...the fantastic Brinkley Girls hardcover put out by Fantagraphics... you would be doing yourself a favor by checking it out. Curse you Fantagraphics, I'm trying to save money you bastards." - This Is Why I Hate You
• Review: "Sally gets the cover in this 11th volume of The Complete Peanuts... Schulz is still in top form here in my opinion. There are few books I laugh at more, or enjoy more thoroughly than these fine collections. Highly recommended!" - Todd Klein