This month's issue of Booklist brings a starred review for 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente by Wilfred Santiago and additional favorable reviews of 5 more of our recent releases, excerpted below:
"Nearly every page brings a new compositional marvel, setting energetic, limber figures against stylized photographic backgrounds washed in sepia tones and Pirate-yellow highlights. The in-game sequences, though, are show-stoppers, taking advantage of dizzying perspective shifts to capture the fluid, whirling nature of the game as it moves in fits and starts through huge moments of pause into cracking shots of sizzling drama. It’s not a comprehensive biography by any means, nor does it try to be one. But for a book that matches the pure athleticism, unshakable compassion, and towering legacy of its subject, look no further." — Ian Chipman (Starred Review)
Popeye Vol. 5: "Wha's a Jeep?" by E.C. Segar: "The fifth oversize volume collecting Segar’s vintage 1930s newspaper strip sees two particularly notable events, the introduction of Popeye’s lovable pet from the fourth dimension, Eugene the Jeep, who can foretell the future — a talent that Olive Oyl and Wimpy predictably exploit at the racetrack — and the seafaring quest to find Popeye’s long-lost father, Poopdeck Pappy, who turns out to be even more irascible than his cantankerous son. The out-of-continuity Sunday pages are more humor-driven, allowing Segar’s most brilliant comic creation, the rotundly roguish J. Wellington Wimpy, to take the fore." – Gordon Flagg
Prince Valiant Vol. 3: 1941-1942 by Hal Foster: "This period, with its far-flung story lines and lavishly detailed artwork, is arguably the acme of Foster’s four decades chronicling the bold exploits of his medieval hero. While the oversize pages don’t approach the expanse of the bygone broadsheet newspapers that were Valiant’s original home, this is the best showcase Foster’s epic creation has had since its original appearance more than 70 years ago." — Gordon Flagg
Krazy & Ignatz 1919-1921: A Kind, Belevolent and Amiable Brick by George Herriman: "Although nearly a century has elapsed since these episodes first saw print, nothing that’s appeared on newspaper comics pages in the intervening years has approached their graphic and linguistic sophistication, let alone their brazenly idiosyncratic singularity. The bounty of Herriman’s fanciful masterwork is enhanced by a pair of informative supplemental essays and Chris Ware’s strikingly stark cover design." – Gordon Flagg
The Complete Peanuts 1979-1980 (Vol. 15) by Charles M. Schulz: "Although Schulz’s much-loved comic strip is considered timeless — the continued reprinting of decades- old episodes in today’s newspapers attests to its perennial appeal — it wasn’t immune to contemporary trends. In these episodes, Peppermint Patty advocates for women’s equity in sports and gets Bo Derek-inspired cornrows. In other anomalous sequences, Charlie Brown’s pals express uncharacteristic affection for him when he’s hospitalized, and Peppermint Patty falls in love with — of all people — Pig-Pen. But most of the strips here display the comfortable tropes, from Snoopy as a WWI flying ace to Linus awaiting the Great Pumpkin, that Peanuts fans grew to love during its five-decade run." – Gordon Flagg
R.I.P.: Best of 1985-2004 by Thomas Ott: "With Ott’s trademark scratchboard style affording the highest possible contrast, this is some of the most stunningly crafted work in comics today." – Ray Olson
• Review: "Former Haligonian and Coast contributor Ray Fenwick’s latest book [Mascots] extends the work that he began in this city: typography-heavy painting on found book covers. The books’ loose cloth weave is clearly visible through the paintings, and even though Fenwick’s lettering skills should be studied by scientists, there’s a refreshing sense of the typographer’s hand and thought. Using the traditional idea of mascots as symbolic figures, Fenwick’s collected creatures, characters, mantras and messages, some of which are connected through broken narratives, and others just appear like a slap to the head. Not for those with an aversion to weirdos or absurdity, Fenwick is hands-down one of the most clever contemporary artists and illustrators working in Canada." – Sue Carter Flinn, The Coast
• Review: "Kalesniko is a deft, widescreen storyteller... The final chapters [of Freeway] are paced like an action film, drawing Alex ever closer to his destination/destiny, and Kalesniko does skillfully edit his storytelling at a breathless clip. But the conclusion raises more questions than it answers..." – Brian Winkeler, Bookgasm
• Review: "There’s no doubt that Schulz lost his way in the 80s. But his strip was always about losing its way. As he grew doddering and inconsistent, he moved closer to the doddering inconsistency at the core of his art. The pleasures in this volume [The Complete Peanuts 1979-1980] are fewer, but, for fans at least, when they come they have a special bonk." – Noah Berlatsky, Splice Today
• Review: "Another hardboiled French thriller which violently riffs on the energy of New Wave cinema, Hitchcock and classic James Bond. ...[West Coast Blues] is a bit like The Bourne Identity, except on a lower budget and without anyone half as organised as the CIA involved. The captions are a bit wordy, as you’d expect with something adapted from a novel, but thankfully it’s in black and white — the constant spray of blood and bone fragments might be a bit off-putting otherwise." – Grant Buist, The Name of This Cartoon Is Brunswick
• Profile: The Hartford Advocate's Christopher Arnott talks to Allan Greenier and Tom Hosier, creator of "The Purple Warp" minicomic included in Newave! The Underground Mini Comix of the 1980s, saying of the book "Newave!, which has the same small size, but hundreds more pages than the miniature comics it celebrates, is a handy overview of this largely overlooked subgenre," and getting a frank account of the book's success from our own Eric Reynolds
In a recent spring cleaning at Casa Reynolds, I unearthed these original PEANUTS strips I created in the late-1970s at the tender age of 8 or 9. I apparently thought I was really onto something with the no pants gag. Or perhaps it just reveals something about my id that I'd rather not consider. Either way, I bet the folks at BOOM! are now kicking themselves for not adding me to the creative team of their new PEANUTS graphic novel.
After previous mentions in this space — see previous posts for additional blogger-blurbs — and possible early appearances at some comic shops, the following titles are on the official Diamond Comics Distributors shipping list for this week. Please check with your local shop to confirm availability. (Ordering in advance is always a good idea, too.) Previews and more info about each book, as always, at the links below:
200-page two-color 6.25" x 8" hardcover • $22.99 ISBN: 978-1-56097-892-3
"Wilfred Santiago's beautiful, intricately-told biography of the Pittsburgh Pirates icon manages to come out just in time for major league baseball's opening day. I think this is a work that people can return to a few times, meaning that if it's a novelty gift for someone -- something you buy for a baseball fan in your life that may not read a lot of comics, say -- it represents an enormous amount of value for that kind of book." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
"All I know about baseball is that there are some bases and a ball, but from this PDF preview it looks like one of those books that fools you into thinking you like a sport when you clearly don’t, just because it’s presented so beautifully... Wilfred Santiago’s... art is amazingly expressive. Looks like a good’un." – Gosh! Comics
"Then there’s 21, the new biography of baseball player Roberto Clemente by Wilfred Santiago, which looks pretty fantastic..." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"Just in time for opening day, it's Wilfred Santiago's beautiful biography of baseball legend, Roberto Clemente." – Benn Ray (Atomic Books), Largehearted Boy
344-page black & white 8.5" x 7" hardcover • $28.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-438-2
"One thing that may be lost as we pore over this volume and the next few looking for a shift in tone or approach is that these books are deeply pleasurable and Schulz became in the golden afternoon of his career a highly confident and supremely reliable cartoonist." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
"...that Complete Peanuts Vol. 15 looks pretty spiffy as well..." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"It's been a while since the book was previewed, but I remember the Sara Edward-Corbett cover-featured work being particularly strong, and I'm a fiend for what Josh Simmons is doing right now." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
"… I’d have to make some tough decisions this week. Do I spend my initial $15 on the latest volume of Mome or on [other titles]...?" – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"CONFLICT OF INTEREST RESERVOIR: Okay, a lot of this might have shown up in earlier weeks, but Diamond says it’s now. R.I.P.: Best of 1985-2004 collects works by Thomas Ott, reviewed by Sean T. Collins at this site here; $28.99. 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente is a new sporting biography by Wilfred Santiago; $22.99. The Complete Peanuts Vol. 15: 1979-1980 is a collection of superhero comics by Todd McFarlane, introduction by Al Roker; $28.99. And MOME Vol. 21 complies artists summarized by the link, although I’d be particular interested in new stand-alone Josh Simmons and a piece by Sergio Ponchione; $14.99."
We recently found a whole box of Unseen Peanuts, our 2007 Free Comic Book Day offering, on a forgotten shelf here in our office, so we sent 'em down to our shipping facility and while supplies last we'll be including one FREE copy with almost every order we receive (except, ironically, for single Complete Peanuts orders, since we have custom shipping boxes for those that the comic won't fit in). Sellers on eBay are currently offering copies for anywhere from $5.99 to $24.20, so nuts to them!
If you missed it the first time around, it's a quality 32-page package with dozens of strips from the 1950s-1960s that were never reprinted until we started up our Complete Peanuts series lo those several years ago, with illuminating and amusing commentary by our own Kim Thompson. Scoresville!
Due to our hectic release schedule and the geographic vagaries of distribution, our comic shop arrivals are a bit of a jumble lately. Our first two titles here may have been available at some shops last week — see last week's post for additional blurbs — and are on the official shipping list for this week; the titles listed thereafter are not on the list yet but may ship to some shops this week. We apologize for any confusion and as always entreat you to contact your local shop to confirm availability. (Ordering in advance is always a good idea, too.) Previews and more info about each book, as always, at the links below:
64-page black & white 9" x 11.75" hardcover • $16.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-435-1
"One of the most interesting looking releases of the week, this is Fantagraphics’ representation of Adele Blanc-Sec creator Jacques Tardi’s 1972 Jules Verne-esque, Edwardian era 'icepunk' adventure." – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
"Another gorgeous book, this time from Fantagraphics' continued and sustained exploration into Jacques Tardi's album-making career." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
"I found myself enjoying Tardi’s Adventures of Adele Blanc Sec earlier this year, and Chris [Mautner]’s review has tipped me in favor of picking up this latest translation of his work." – Graeme McMillan, Robot 6
"This blog is steadily turning into one comic shop employee quietly humping the leg of Seattle-based publisher Fantagraphics but they are excelling themselves lately, and their line of Jacques Tardi translations is one of their greatest efforts to date. Le Démon Des Glaces or The Arctic Marauder is a 1972 satirical, Jules Verne-esque steampunk tale about a ship in the Arctic Ocean discovering an abandoned vessel. [...] Expect mad scientists, monsters from the deep, futuristic machinery in an 1899 futuristic way, and the most purple of purple prose." – Gosh! Comics
"This is a gorgeous, simply breath-taking example of Tardi's early work. This retro-sci-fi tale involves the mystery of a ship stuck on top of an iceberg. How'd it get there? The answer involves monsters of the deep, mysterious futuristic machines and mad scientists." – Benn Ray (Atomic Books), Largehearted Boy
136-page black & white 6" x 8.25" softcover • $12.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-436-8
"Joe Daly's wildly odd series of archly-told adventure comics continues. What a great initial run of books we've seen from South Africa's Daly, and this one may feature his most potent cartooning yet." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
"Dungeon Quest Volume 2 by Joe Daly is out, giving you another installment of nerdy stories inspired by role-playing games..." – Gosh! Comics
200-page two-color 6.25" x 8" hardcover • $22.99 ISBN: 978-1-56097-892-3
"I’m not much of a sports fan, but there was a lot more to Clemente than baseball, and Wilfred Santiago’s biography has a real richness to it, bringing in Clemente’s background and upbringing and wrapping it all together in deceptively simple, almost primitive looking art." – Brigid Alverson, Robot 6
344-page black & white 8.5" x 7" hardcover • $28.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-438-2
"How dark could Peanuts get during the Peanut President's administration? 'Very, very dark,' Al Roker writes the introduction to this volume. Have I mentioned how much I love the indexes to the Fantagraphics editions? It's useful to know that a Zamboni appears twice in this volume." – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
192-page black & white 6.25" x 10" hardcover • $28.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-417-7
"CONFLICT OF INTEREST RESERVOIR: If you didn’t locate Jacques Tardi’s The Arctic Marauder or Joe Daly’s Dungeon Quest Vol. 2 last week, they’re both probably still worth looking at. Supposedly some stores are getting Wilfred Santiago’s Roberto Clemente book (21: The Story of Roberto Clemente) too, along with a best-of Thomas Ott collection (R.I.P.: Best of 1985-2004) and the ’79-’80 Peanuts book. Build a wall." – Joe McCulloch, The Comics Journal
Charles Schulz enters his fourth decade as the greatest cartoonist of his generation, and Peanuts remains as fresh and lively as it ever was.
(How do we know it’s 1980? Well, for one thing Peppermint Patty gets herself those Bo-Derek-in-“10” cornrows — Peanuts’ timelessness occasionally shows a crack!)
That said, The Complete Peanuts 1979-1980 includes a number of classic storylines, including the month-long sequence in which an ill Charlie Brown is hospitalized (including a particularly spooky moment when he wonders if he’s died and nobody’s told him yet), and an especially eventful trek with Snoopy, Woodstock, and the scout troop (now including a little girl bird, Harriet). And Snoopy is still trying on identities left and right, including the “world-famous surveyor,” the “world-famous census taker,” and Blackjack Snoopy, the riverboat gambler.
In other extended stories, Snoopy launches an ill-fated airline (with Lucy as the agent, Linus as the luggage handler, and Marcie as what it was still OK then to call the stewardess)… Peppermint Patty responds to being leaked upon by a ceiling by hiring a lawyer (unfortunately, she again picks Snoopy)… plus one of the great, forgotten romances of Peanuts that will startle even long-time Peanuts connoisseurs: Peppermint Patty and…“Pig-Pen”?!
• Review: "[The Complete Peanuts 1979-1980] is... a genius volume... Some of the pieces here – especially the longer storylines – are absolute classics. [...] Plus, there’s just the sheer kookiness of some of Schulz’s pop-cultural references and inventions, which continues to astound here... Schulz is at the height of his powers as a cartoonist here, as well. [...] Such graphic flair! Such economy of line! A Peanuts nut couldn’t ask for more, really." – Naomi Fry, The Comics Journal
• Review: "Littered with violence, inappropriate sexual innuendos, misguided bravado and infused with hilarity, Dungeon Quest (of which two 136 page volumes are available) promises a uniquely entertaining graphic novel experience." – Rick Klaw, The SF Site: Nexus Graphica
• Profile: Anthony Mostrom of the Los Angeles Times gives a brief history of E.C. Segar and the creation of Popeye: "Segar had no idea just how fat his checks would become after the invention of Popeye. Indeed, he flirted with the idea of dropping the character after the 'Dice Island' story ended. Who would have guessed that a character so grotesque of face would be so instantly loved, his fame so long-lived that he would become part of a Google logo 80 years later?" (Via Newsarama)