The fresh-popped Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review:Publishers Weekly discusses The Hypo by Noah Van Sciver, "Van Sciver’s psychologically astute examination of what might be termed Abraham Lincoln’s “lost years” (1837–1842) is as gripping and persuasive as the best historical fiction. . .This characterization of Lincoln is thoroughly human and identifiable, tracking a shadowy but formative period in the very uneven life of a man who shows little signs of becoming known as one of the greatest Americans. A thoroughly engaging graphic novel that seamlessly balances investigation and imagination." Wow!
• Plug: Noah Van Sciver's diary comics are showing up at The Comics Journal. Enjoy Day #1, Day #2 and Day #3.
• Plug:Comics Alliance JUMPED at the chance to be the first to comment on Naked Cartoonists. Senior writer Chris Sims comments, "Have you ever wanted to see Dilbert creatorScottAdams naked? Yeah, we haven't either, but apparently [Gary Groth] thought that was a good idea . . . joining artists like Will Eisner, For Better Or For Worsecreator Lynn Johnston, Jeff Smith (feel free to make your own Bone joke here) and . . . legendary MAD artist Sergio Aragones."
• Review:The Mary Sue names Moto Hagio's A Drunken Dream and Other Stories one of the 10 Feminist Manga to Read, that is licensed in the USA. Kellie Foxx-Gonzalez says,"Hagio is not only a storyteller, she is undoubtedly a feminist author, using her manga to explore gender, power, and women’s issues. If extended metaphors in manga as an avenue to explore philosophical questions is as appealing to you as it is to me, please, don’t hesitate to pick up this anthology."
• Commentary: Shannon O'Leary of Publishers Weekly says,". . . with No Straight Lines , the most definitive collection of queer comics to date, [Justin] Hall and Fantagraphics have made the voluminous but largely hidden history of LBGT (lesbian, bi-sexual, gay, transgender) comics finally visible as well."
• Review:The Awl and Kim O'Connor talk about autobio comics and include such underground greats like Aline Kominsky Crumb, Carol Tyler in addition to Chris Ware and Joe Sacco. While on the subject of Aline: "An important part of her project was to promote self-loathing as normal and even funny in an era when to do so was extremely unfashionable." O'Connor touched on the rawness of Chris Ware's work,"there's this sense of playful geometry that's deeply satisfying, even if it sometimes gives you the impression the artist's memory palace looks a lot like the Container Store. But the central delight in reading Jimmy Corrigan, as in all of Ware's work, is how it's painfully awkward and incredibly cool at the same time."
• Review: Rob Clough on the High-Low reviews Jim Woodring's Congress of the Animals: ". . . is interesting because it's much more linear a narrative than most of his comics.. . .Unlike the typical Frank story, there's a greater sense of urgency to Frank's wanderings, as he encounters many temptations and pitfalls along his journey to a destination unknown to even him."
• Review:The Critcal Mob released their short list of summer reads and a few Fantagraphics titles made the cut. Paul Guie looks at Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons: "O'Connor's artwork is frequently abstract and raw-looking. . .Nevertheless, her cartoons are always pleasing to look at thanks to the author's strong sense of composition. Panels are rarely cluttered by unnecessary lines, and O'Connor frequently frames her characters with an eye toward visual balance." Peanuts latest volume is also on Guie's radar: ". . . these later comics remain consistently witty and entertaining, and reflect Schulz's continued mastery of comedic timing within a four-panel layout.. . .Consistently subtle yet always timely, after 30 years, Schulz still had a winning formula on his hands." Last but not least, Guie takes Buddy Does Seattle to the beach,"Bagge's artwork [takes] the public's perception of '90s youth as angry and volatile and pushed it to hysterical levels. Heavily influenced by late-'60s counterculture cartoonists like Crumb, Bagge's drawings are fluid and grimy-looking, with frequent use of exaggerated facial expressions helping to cultivate an atmosphere of chaos."
• Commentary: Best Cover EVER on Forbidden Planet according to Richard: "The absolute iconic image. The raw power. Jaime’s incredible use of black in his art. The faces of the crowd. The stagediver (in heels) who’s just left the stage. But most of all, it’s the best comic cover ever because I swear that I’ve never looked at this cover and NOT heard the music they’re playing." The next best thing for Richard? Buying the new shirt featuring the cover of Issue 24.
• Plug:Comics Alliance and Caleb Goellner collect the most recent Adventure Time covers. James Hindle PLAYS an homage to Jaime Hernandez's distinctive cover. Check it out!
• Review:io9 recently created a list of the 10 Comic Characters Cooler than Batman. Jaime Hernandez's Maggie (the Mechanic) and Jacques Tardi's Adele Blanc-Sec topped the list. "Maggie is a survivor, who never stops kicking ass even she's dealing with depression and heartbreak." says Charlie Jane Anders and in reference to Adele Blanc-Sec:"She's a writer in pre-World War I Paris, which automatically makes her cool. . . She's not afraid to shoot guns, drink the hard stuff, or smoke like a man. She spent World War I in cryogenic suspension and then rocked the 1920s."
• Plug:The Last Vispo's editor Nico Vassilakis recently curated an online group of visual artists called Ten Turkish Visual Poets at Trickhouse.
• Interview: The powerful and deft Friedman brothers were interviewed about Any Similarity to Persons Living or Dead is Purely Coincidental by William Michael Smith of the Houston Press. Josh Alan Friedman talks about his brother's artwork,"Originally [Drew Friedman] worked with stippling technique, using a rapidograph pen. Bent over a desk like a watchmaker, doing thousands of dots. A technique made famous by 'Sunday in the Park with Georges' Seurat, but strictly shunned by art schools in the 20th century."
• Plug: Ron Regé, Jr. is up to something sneaky! At We Can Do It.
The newest and week-old pre-SDCC stinky socks found under your bed-style Online Commentaries and Diversions minus the hullabaloo about Love and Rockets:
•Interview (video):Noah Van Sciver is interviewed by documentary film maker Dan Stafford on his upcoming book about Lincoln's depression, The Hypo, coming out this fall. "Lincoln battled things his whole life. He battled with poverty in his youth; the part that I cover, battling with depression; the struggle of his own fate followed by keeping the nation together, how we know him best."
•Interview: The Advocate and Jase Peeples takes some time to speak to No Straight Lines editor Justin Hall on comics and the LGBTQ community. Hall says, "There are interesting parallels between comics and queers; both have a hard time getting respect by the dominant culture, and both have problems understanding their own history."
•Interview (audio): On the heel's of Pride Month, Comic Book Queers interview a gaggle of people including No Straight Lines editor Justin Hall. Hall states, "We turned the project into a class. I taught at the California College for the Arts and the backbone of the class was bringing in queer cartoonists and had the students interview them."
•Commentary: On The Rumpus editor Justin Hall writes about the history of Queer Comics. You can read more in the anthology!
•Interview:The New York Times and Penelope Green cover uncoventional taxonomy in Significant Objects while interviewing editor Joshua Glenn. Glenn states, "Even if we don’t identify ourselves as collectors, we are collectors of things. And things are collectors of meaning in various ways."
•Commentary:Electric Literature covered the fun book launch of Significant Objects at the Strand on July 10th. Editor Joshua Glenn is quoted by Karina Briski: "the stories become the things of value, all on their own."
•Review:Pop Matters enjoys Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge and Mickey Mouse Vol. 3: High Noon at Inferno Gulch (edited by David Gerstein and Gary Groth) with childlike wonder but still has those nagging questions. Michael Barrett: "There’s still no explanation for how some animals are “humans” while others are just animals, like how Mickey can ride a horse in the West and then come home to be greeted by his pal Horace Horsecollar."
•Review: The Tearoom of Despair takes a look at the Hate Annuals by Pete Bagge. Bob Temuka laments, "Bagge has actually done so many comics over the past decade and a half, that he is almost – shamefully – taken for granted. While new books by the likes of Clowes or Ware are almost an Event, a new mini series from Bagge might get a couple of reviews, most of which will point out that it’s more of the same."
•Commentary: Video gamesite, 1Up features some satirical video game adaptations including Pete Bagge's Hate, Ghost World by Dan Clowes and the most epic Jimmy Corrigan panel by Chris Ware.
•Review: Music magazine and site Under the Radar enjoys the writings of Stephen Dixon's What Is All This? Uncollected Stories. Hays Davis: "Stephen Dixon has a gift for revealing mundane environments as vibrant social microcosms. With that, it seems almost apropos that Dixon's flown under the radar commercially for decades, though he's always garnered respect in literary circles"
The new prepackaged Online Commentaries & Diversion:
•Commentary:The Huffington Post made it over to the Robert Crumb exhibit called "Crumb: From the Underground to the Genesis" at the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville in Paris: "Never one to shy away from his love-hate relationship with women, Crumb invited the world into his most perverted fantasies, one which includes riding on his mother's boot."
•Interview: Zachary Hunchar of Technorati questions Pete Bagge about a long life in comics. "People expect their entertainment to be for free now," said Bagge. "Musicians compensate for it by performing live more often, but the only equivalent to that for cartoonists is more comic conventions."
•Interview:WTF Podcast with host Marc Maron digs into the essentials of Tony Millionaire's work: "[Marc's place] is like my place, I have a very small garage, built for a model T, and it's cluttered. I have all the corners I need to work in."
•Commentary: Tom Spurgeon is afraid of all the press releases for San Diego Comic-Con will overwhelm your normall-observant Hernandez Brothers' radar. On the Comics Reporter, he made an impassioned called for Love and Rockets coverage during the 2012 Comic-Con International: "It's vital for the medium we love . . . that we treat San Diego as a place where Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez have been in attendance more than 25 times each more than we treat it as a place Steven Spielberg has been to once. Both Jaime and Gilbert remain vital, exciting cartoonists. . ."
•Plug: Gene Ambaum of Unshelved touches on Oil & Water by Steve Duin, Shannon Wheeler and Michael Rosen: "[an] anti plastic activist and bird enthusiast,” who wears a strange cyclops-like lens to aid his bird watching, says he has 'the poop story to end all poop stories.' He doesn’t tell it until the end of the book, so I had to keep reading."
•Interview: Christopher Irving questions the ineffable Pete Bagge on his vast body of work on NYC Graphic. Bagge says, "With the style of work that I do, I like it to look on the surface like it’s shallow and stupid, but when you read it, the context is really sweet. . ." Christopher Irving reports: "Part of what makes Pete Bagge such an effective writer is his ability to tap into personal experiences that are universal. . . being jilted by a lover, getting angry at traffic, or trying to hide something from your parents."
•Review: Tom Spurgeon sits down for a good read with God and Science: Return of the Ti-Girls on The Comics Reporter: "It's only when you try to unpack the story that you realize what a graceful and economical storyteller Jaime Hernandez has become no matter what genre he might choose to utilize."
•Review: On the Spandexless Reads, Josh Simmons' newest work gets a thorough once-over. Shawn Starr on horror book, The Furry Trap: "The Furry Trap is what your parents warned you about. It’s what Fredric Wertham warned America about. . . Simmons takes the normal, the stale, and adds an “edge” like none other, taking the tropes of each genre to the edge of a sharp cliff and then hurling them off so he can re-examine their splattered remains."
•Review: In a one-two punch by Tucker Stone, both Walt Disney's Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes and Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge: Only a Poor Old Man are reviewed on comiXology. Stone continues on about Carl Barks' work: "Everything I could want out of a comic is there--it's funny, gorgeous, and I'd make a smoke alarm wait just so I could read it in one sitting. . . I'm not blind to the fact that the stories were created with the intent of engaging with children, in fact, I have to wonder how much of what I perceive to be their greatness stems from that basic restriction."
•Plug:Stumptown Trade Review enjoys the book based on Joshua Glenn and Rob Walker's experiment, Significant Objects: "The experiment, in short, was a smash hit. The Significant Objects book features 100 moving, absurd, surprising, and always entertaining stories from the project’s three volumes."
We've written too many obituaries on Flog already this year. I'm saddened to contribute another. We learned this morning that Josep Maria Berenguer, founder of the legendary Spanish comics publishing house Ediciones La Cúpula , passed away last night after a battle with lung cancer. We have lost a friend here at Fantagraphics, and a colleague with whom we've had a very fruitful relationship with for over 20 years.
I first met Josep Maria Berenguer in, I believe, 1995 or 1996 on a trip to Barcelona with my good pal Peter Bagge . We were there for the Barcelona Comics Festival as guests of the Festival and La Cúpula, along with Aline Crumb and Tanino Liberatore, amongst others.
It was the first time in Spain for both Pete and I. La Cúpula had just begun publishing HATE, under the title ODIO , with savvy translations by a young editor/writer named Hernán Migoya and lettering by a talented cartoonist, Nono Kadaver (both of whom have become two of my best friends over the succeeding years; yet another reason to be grateful to Sr. Berenguer). We were treated like royalty and it was a trip I'll never forget. Pete and I have routinely fantasized about moving to Spain over the years since that trip.
Josep Maria was one of the most charismatic and generous hosts I've ever known. He was a natural storyteller, funny, politically incorrect, but also incredibly charming. Not in a typically macho, latin way, he was much more refined. He was an ex-hippie radical with a worldly air about him.
He clearly relished his role as a key countercultural figure in post-Franco Spain, founding the groundbreaking El Vibora and La Cúpula in 1979 (less than four years after the end of Francoist Spain). He greatly admired the irreverence of the first wave of American underground cartoonists, especially R. Crumb and Gilbert Shelton, and published both early on, as well as Robert Williams, Spain Rodriguez, and others. Over the years he published just about every notable American cartoonist you can think of: Bagge, Clowes, Hernandez, Burns, Tomine, etc. I think it would be hard to overestimate his role in raising the prominence of underground comics in Spain.
This decade, I was lucky if I saw Josep Maria even once every couple of years, but when I did, I relished it. In Barcelona, he took me to one of his favorite jazz clubs, and to his beautiful home that the company was named for (a kind of geodesic dome that "La Cúpula" refers to). We ate Moroccan food in Granada, Spain. We drank cheap beers at the infamous Picadilly in San Diego during Comic-Con. The last time I saw him, a couple summers ago, we had sushi together in New York City. He always had great stories, and a warmth to him that made you forget it had been a few years since you saw him last.
Rest in peace, old friend, and long live La Cúpula.
Photo: That's Josep Maria Berenguer on the far left, hosting (from left to right) Tanino Liberatore, Sra. Berenguer, Ana Forcada, myself, Aline Kominsky-Crumb and Peter Bagge at his home ("La Cúpula") in Barcelona, Spain. Photo by Christian Coudurés.
Fantagraphics is rockin' the convention scene from coast to coast this coming weekend, and you can also find us at the 9th Annual Stumptown Comics Fest in Portland, Oregon! Drop by the Oregon Convention Center this Saturday, April 28th and Sunday, April 29th!
You can find us at Booth 101, right near the entrance to the lobby, panels, workshops, and registration!
And many of our fine Fantagraphics artists will be featured in panels this year! Go check 'em out!
Saturday, April 28th
2:00-2:45 pm // WILD MAN: A Confluence of Art, Science and History:T Edward Bak's natural history-oriented graphic novel-biography, WILD MAN: The Strange Journey and Fantastic Account of the Naturalist Georg Wilhelm Steller was serialized from 2009-2011 in the Fantagraphics comics anthology MOME. The artist has conducted his own research throughout SE Alaska and the Aleutian archipelago, as well as St. Petersburg (Russian Federation) where he recently delivered presentations of his work for this ongoing project. Mr. Bak will relate his travel experiences, share WILD MAN artwork, relate the challenges of his process and research, and discuss his recent collaboration with writer Sarah Mirk on the Oregon History Comics project, "Voices from Celilo Falls", which further explores his interest in North Pacific natural history. (Room B111)
1:00-1:45 pm // Frank Santoro's Comic Book Layout Workshop: Frank Santoro (Cold Heat, The Comics Journal) will present a Layout Workshop for comic book makers via Skype. Borrowing lessons from his Correspondence Course, Frank will lead an informal talk and workshop which will revolve around formats available to makers in 2012 - and how comics composed for print might be translated to the web. (Room B113)
1:00-1:45 pm // Spotlight on Peter Bagge:Best known for his comic-book series Hate, which helped to define the grunge generation, and his recent contributions to Reason magazine, Peter Bagge is always willing to confront hard-hitting societal issues with intelligence, wit, and funny bone intact. Join us for a conversation with the multiple Harvey and Eagle Award-winning cartoonist, whose newest series, Reset, has just been launched in the Dark Horse Originals line. Moderated by Ryan Alexander-Tanner. (Room B114)
2:00-2:45 pm // Of Rabbits and Ronin: Spotlight on Stan Sakai: World-renowned cartoonist Stan Sakai has been writing, drawing, and even hand-lettering his beloved rabbit samurai series Usagi Yojimbo for twenty-seven years and counting. Join Sakai for a discussion of Usagi's history and future, as well as demonstrations and all-ages audience participation! Moderated by Usagi series editor, Diana Schutz. (Room B114)
Sunday, April 29th
4:00-4:45 pm // Making History: What do a Victorian robot, theology scholar, and rabbit ronin have in common? They're the stars of three very different stories in historical settings: Boilerplate: History's Mechanical Marvel; Family Man; and Usagi Yojimbo. Join their creators -- Paul Guinan and Anina Bennett, Dylan Meconis, and Stan Sakai -- for a lively discussion of history and storytelling. (Room B114)
2:00-2:45 pm // The New Underground:Frank Santoro referred to the current independent comics scene as a dawn of a new "Golden Age". There is a theory that if you go deep enough underground you hit the actual main stream. This generation is equally fluent in zines and Tumblr accounts; genre exploration and abstract art; printing process and independent distribution. Join panelists Chris Cilla, Max Clotfelter, Farel Dalrymple, Julia Gfrorer, Jack Hayden, Jason Miles, Jesse Moynihan, Emily Nilsson, Zack Soto, Angie Wang and Malachi Ward for a roundtable discussion on the future of underground comics. (Room B116)
Join them Saturday, April 21st and Sunday, April 22nd at the Hynes Convention Center [ 900 Boylston Street, Boston, MA ].
And on Sunday, see Al in the panel Legends of Mad Magazine! The "Usual Gang of Idiots" reunite to reminisce about the creation of MAD, the most influential humor magazine of the 20th century. Al Feldstein and Paul Coker Jr join Al Jaffee for this rare event at 11:00 AM in Panel Room 102.