You know the old saying: "If you remember the 60s, you weren't there." For me this cliché also applies to most of the 80 and 90s. Rampant grunge nostalgia has given rise to no fewer than a half-dozen recent or soon-to-be-published books on the subject. As a peripheral player in Seattle's proto-grunge punk scene, I've been asked repeatedly to recount the specifics of my misspent youth to a cadre of eager young "rock historians." Hell, I'm lucky if I remember what happened last week, much less 25 years ago.
Thankfully we had Peter Bagge to chronicle the entire era. His comic book series HATE went far beyond simple satire. Buddy Bradley and his gang of hapless losers helped fashion the attitudes and aesthetics of the movement. It's a sure bet that BUDDY DOES SEATTLE, collecting the first 15 issues of HATE, more accurately reflects the grunge milieu than an entire library of murky oral histories. In a prescient 1992 review, Bruce Barcott of the Seattle Weekly observed, "Twenty years from now, when people want to know what it was like to be young in 1990s Seattle, the only record we'll have is Peter Bagge's HATE." If you too are gripped by grunge nostalgia, or just curious about the period, skip the revisionist histories and pick up a copy of the real deal.
While you're at it...the most splendid comic book of the summer is Peter Bagge's HATE ANNUAL #8. From the first page you'll be reminded why you so closely identified with the series in the first place: Sexy and silly, but with an unmistakable air of familiarity. This book gives you an uneasy feeling like, "Hey, I think I know these people. Omigawd! That's me!" An imperative addition to your summer reading list.
I thought I could keep up with Online Commentary & Diversions while at Comic-Con. Ha ha ha ha ha.
• Coming Attractions: At Robot 6, Chris Mautner takes a look through the 46 (!!!) upcoming books listed in our Fall/Winter catalog (note: listed release dates may no longer be accurate and are all subject to change)
• History/Profile/Review: "What A Drunken Dream reveals is an author whose childhood passion for Frances Hodgson Burnett, L.M. Montgomery, and Isaac Asimov profoundly influenced the kind of stories she chose to tell as an adult. ... For those new to Hagio’s work, Fantagraphics has prefaced A Drunken Dream with two indispensable articles by noted manga scholar Matt Thorn. ... Taken together with the stories in A Drunken Dream, these essays make an excellent introduction to one of the most literary and original voices working in comics today. Highly recommended." – Katherine Dacey, The Manga Critic
• Review: "Anyone interested in the historical development of manga and the women who’ve contributed to the art form should read this book. I hope A Drunken Dream sells well enough for Fantagraphics or other publishers to consider putting out some of Hagio’s longer works. Her short stories are great, but I’d love to see what she does with a longer storyline." – Anna Neatrour, TangognaT
• Plug: "What Osamu Tezuka is to shonen and seinen manga, Moto Hagio is to shojo manga -- a true innovator who challenged and stretched the conventions of the medium by created touching, memorable and truly artistic comics stories. ... Fantagraphics had copies of the absolutely gorgeous hardcover edition of A Drunken Dream available for sale at their [Comic-Con] booth..." – Deb Aoki, About.com: Manga
• Interview:The Comics Journal's Shaenon Garrity sat down with Moto Hagio & translator Matt Thorn for a conversation at Comic-Con International: "I find it very embarrassing to read my very early work, but when you see the stories arranged chronologically it gives a good overall impression of my career. In Japanese, too, it’s common to present an author’s works in a sample spanning his or her whole career, so it’s turned out very much like that."
• Review: "Deadpan dialogue, drawings that move from panel to panel with the strange and deliberate force of kung fu performance art, and a subtle interweaving of humor and angst come together to make [Werewolves of Montpellier] a brief knockout of a book." – Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
• Review: "...[T]his cartwheeling shaggy-dog story begins, like a lot of metafiction, with the semblance of reality... But by the time a frog demon reanimates a 19th-century French peasant whose brains it has eaten, it’s fairly clear that Deitch is making stuff up. The fun of [The Search for Smilin' Ed] is the way it constantly darts back and forth across the line between genuine show-business lore (a favorite Deitch theme) and delirious whole-cloth invention. There are stories within stories, unreliable explainers, secret passageways that lead from one part of the tale to another." – Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
• Review: "Wally Gropius is a book that’s constantly lying to the reader, with a terrifying chaos roiling just immediately below its surface. The book is a flood of visual and textual information, but the information itself is near constantly false. ... For me, it’s a book that lies constantly, that lies at its very core, but that nevertheless ends up getting at a greater truth of things. And so, yeah: I thought that was pretty neat." – Abhay Kholsa, The Savage Critics
• Review: "There’s more derring-do [in Prince Valiant Vol. 2: 1939-1940] than you can shake a sword at! Foster’s stories are filled with vivid, colorful characters, none more engaging than the aptly named Valiant and his never-ending quest for adventure. The artwork is breathtaking. Foster’s figures are handsome and graceful whether eating a sumptuous feast or fighting on a crowded battlefield. ... Even if the age of chivalry is not your flask of ale, Foster’s art and storytelling will win you over." — Rich Clabaugh, The Christian Science Monitor
• Review: "This book is why Fantagraphics is one of the best and most important comic publishers in the business today. [Blazing Combat] is a series that could have easily been forgotten to the ages but Fantagraphics always is at the forefront of making sure important works of sequential art are remembered. ... This is a brilliant collection of stories that should be required reading. Intelligent, gripping stories and fantastic art! Grade A +" – Tim Janson, Mania and Newsarama
• Review: "Formally inventive and emotionally acute, Bottomless Belly Button indeed proves to be all those things: as fascinating and affecting a depiction of family ties as Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections or Wes Anderson's The Royal Tenenbaums." – Ed Park, Los Angeles Times
• Plugs: Alex Carr of Amazon's Omnivoracious blog has Weathercraft by Jim Woodring ("I am woefully ignorant when it comes to Woodring’s Frank comics, and this looks like the weirdest place to start") and Dungeon Quest Book 1 ("After The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book, I will read anything Joe Daly produces") on his summer vacation reading list
• History: For the Los Angeles Times, Ben Schwartz compiles an oral history of the 1980s heyday of L.A. alternative comics with Matt Groening, Gilbert & Jaime Hernandez, David Lynch (!), and Gary Panter
This Saturday at 12:00PM I'm honored to be interviewing one of my favorite cartoonists, Seattle's Peter Bagge, for the 2010 Comic-Con International (Room 3). If you happen to be a recipient of a golden ticket and are braving this year's premier comic book convention then I urge you to attend as we'll be wholesaling a satori experience in the guise of humor and loathing for all humankind! The following topics will be discussed: Delusion, Consequence, Death, Study of History, Crosshatching, Super Wackiness, Grim Mundane Reality, and more!
• Plug: "Based on reviews, [Werewolves of Montpellier] sounds really good. The art reminds me of Chris Ware or Chris Onstad, and I’m a fan of deadpan, sardonic humour. Do want!" – Werewolf News
• Plug: Joe Gordon of the Forbidden Planet International Blog recommends the works of Jacques Tardi for your Bastille Day reading: "...[W]ith the always fine folks at Fantagraphics translating and publishing Tardi’s work in English several of his works are now easily accessible even to anyone who doesn’t read a word of French. A long-standing interest in the history of World War One and his own family history lead to his It Was the War of the Trenches, recently published in English and one of the most interesting comics on the period since Charley’s War in my book."
Just announced over the weekend, the Saturday and Sunday programming for Comic-Con international. Our official PR goes out this week but we figure some of you might not want to wait to find out about the Fantagraphics-related panels. See here for Friday's FBI-ish panels.
[Note: this post is updated as we get more information.]
12:00-1:00 Spotlight on Peter Bagge — Comic-Con special guest Peter Bagge talks to Fantagraphics' Jason T. Miles about his work, including the legendary Buddy Bradley stories in Hate and his new graphic novels, Apocalypse Nerd and Other Lives. Room 3
1:00-2:00 Spotlight on Gabrielle Bell— Join Comic-Con special guest Gabrielle Bell (Cecil and Jordan in New York, Lucky). Gabrielle Bell has been featured in McSweeneys, Vice and the Believer. The title story of her most recent book, Cecil and Jordan in New York has been adapted for the screen by Michel Gondry in the triptych Tokyo! She is currently serializing her Ignatz award-winning autobiographcal comics Lucky online. Gabrielle Bell will present a slideshow and discuss her work with Tom Spurgeon (www.thecomicsreporter) Room 3
1:30-2:30 Comics Criticism— Comics are a staple of the arts and book review sections of everything from The New York Times and Publishers Weekly to a current golden age of published biography and history, such as Gerard Jones's Men of Tomorrow, R. C. Harvey's Meanwhile..., and David Michaelis's Schulz and Peanuts. Some of the nation's leading critics discuss the state of the art and the state of its journalism, 2010. Panelists include Gary Groth (The Comics Journal), Douglas Wolk (Reading Comics), Brian Doherty (Radicals for Capitalism), Ben Schwartz (editor, Best American Comics Criticism), R. C. Harvey (Meanwhile...) and R. Fiore (Funnybook Roulette). Room 4
3:00-4:00 Comics Reprint Revolution— For comics fans, the vintage reprint revolution keeps getting bigger and better! Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon talks with Craig Yoe (Krazy Kat, Popeye, Jetta), Dean Mullaney (editor of Library of American Comics for IDW: Dick Tracy, Little Orphan Annie, Secret Agent Corrigan), Daniel Herman (Hermes Press: Buck Rogers, The Phantom), Gary Groth (Fantagraphics: Peanuts, Prince Valiant, Captain Easy), Peggy Burns (Drawn and Quarterly: John Stanley Library, Walt & Skeezix), Steve Saffel (Titan Books, Beetle Bailey, Simon & Kirby Library) and Charles Pelto (Classic Comics Press: Mary Perkins, On Stage, The Heart of Juliet Jones, Big Ben Bolt) about their publications reprinting some of the very best of comic books and comic strips. Room 8
3:30-4:30 International Comics and Graphic Novels— Comics are popular the world over and Comic-Con always includes an impressive gathering of worldwide talent. Journalist Tom Spurgeon talks with special guests Moto Hagio (Japan: A Drunken Dream), Émile Bravo (France: My Mommy is in America and she Met Buffalo Bill), Milo Manara (Italy: Click!), and Kathryn and Stuart Immonen (Canada: Moving Pictures, Russian Olive to Red King) about graphic novels with a more international flavor. Room 4
12:30-1:30 The Funny Stuff: Humor in Comics and Graphic Novels— The world of comics isn't just about dark and mysterious superheroes. There are a lot of great funny books out there. The Cartoon Art Museum's Andrew Farago talks to Comic-Con special guests Peter Bagge (Hate), Howard Cruse (Wendel), Nicholas Gurewitch (The Perry Bible Fellowship), Keith Knight (The K Chronicles), Larry Marder (Beanworld), and Doug TenNapel (Monster Zoo) about the humorous side of comics. Room 8
• Review: "This graphic memoir chronicles the author’s struggle with the aging of her father and stepmother. The subject matter isn’t pretty. Still, [Special Exits] is intriguing, well-written and thought-provoking." – Nick Smith, ICv2
• Review: "You have to be a real expert in Jason-character physiognomy to even be able to tell that the lonely expat main character in Werewolves of Montpellier is sometimes wearing a werewolf mask. After all, the guy's an anthropomorphized dog at the best of times. In the end, that ends up being the gag. You're not some uniquely unlovable monster, you're just a guy with problems, like anyone else..." – Sean T. Collins, Attentiondeficitdisorderly
• Review: "I have always had a soft spot in my heart for the Peanuts comic strip. I grew up on the old paperback collections and it was always a great day when my mom bought me a new one. Now, thanks to Fantagraphics, the entire run of Peanuts is available to fans in their beautiful, year-by-year collections of Charles Schulz’ masterful and hilarious comic strip. This collection puts us into the years of 1975 - 1976 and includes all of the daily and Sunday strips for the period. ... Thank you Fantagraphics! Grade A" – Tim Janson, Mania
• Review: "The most recent issue is probably the strongest [Hate] Annual to date, 36 pages of concentrated hilarity, including the longest Buddy Bradley story in quite some time. Just as impressive are his one-page strips about scientists from DiscoverMagazine..." – Rob Clough, The Comics Journal
• Analysis: "For the first time, this hapless figure, this half-man, half-animal is a picture of heroism and nobility, his metamorphosis achieved not through cosmic dances or tops but by cruelties inflicted on him by that creature of many masks and tricks, Whim. Earlier in Weathercraft , an infernal creature plucked from the pig-man’s gullet sanctions enlightenment. He who once resembled the demons surrounding the decapitated Ravana becomes whole and fully clothed, now cognizant of his true nature." – Ng Suat Tong, The Hooded Utilitarian
• Interview: From last Friday, Chris Mautner's revealing conversation with Tim Hensley at Robot 6: "Sometimes it's infuriating to read about a bunch of attractive saccharine pupils in the suburbs. Maybe [Archie] could add a brain damaged character. Maybe Moose, but more likely he never learned to read — have they already done that? Somewhere off-panel there's a convalescent hospital with all the rejects in it. But I wasn't attempting a Dark Knight makeover where everyone has stubble and never prevaricates."
• Review: "...[T]he first volume of Mezzo and Pirus’s stunning King of the Flies [was] published earlier this year by Fantagraphics. ... Over just 64 pages, the team known as Mezzo and Pirus tell an impressively complex collection of ten interlinked short stories. ...Mezzo and Pirus are remarkably skillful, and create a deep and believable world. It’s meant as a compliment to say that by the end of this book, it feels as if twice as many pages have passed. ... With its bold style and thick lines, dark hues with splashes of garish colour, Pascal (Mezzo) Mesenburg’s forceful art is absorbing and weird." – Oliver Ho, PopMatters
• Review: "Woodring's wild and wordless story [Weathercraft] seems awfully lysergic, but his stunning symbolism and amazing line work is clever and crafty. Manhog, the creature starring in the strange story, is hardly sympathetic, but Woodring's imagery evokes amusement, bemusement and wonder." – Richard Pachter, The Miami Herald
• Review: "Regular, rectangular panels are the only thing conventional about Weathercraft, which follows the metaphysical mishaps of Manhog, a blank-eyed, snout-nosed creature who wanders naked through Woodring's pages, on a journey of self-realization disguised as a vivid, botanically inventive acid trip. ... But while the creatures and scenarios in Woodring's world are fantastical, they're drawn with the precision of a woodcarving, black-and-white space shaded with ever-present wavy lines. This precision is crucial, with no words to guide the story — as an exercise in purely visual storytelling, Weathercraft is both challenge and reward." – Alison Hallett, The Portland Mercury
• Plug: "Trying to explain Jim Woodring’s art is like describing an acid trip: One never gets the feeling across and inevitably sounds like a crazy person while doing it. ... His work is like Carl Barks’ Donald Duck comics twisted inside out by a black hole. Terrifying, disgusting, funny, silent and beautifully illustrated. See? It sounds crazy." – Casey Jarman, Willamette Week
• Profile: "Jason is perhaps the most unique visual stylists working in comics today. Each individual panel is a work of ligne claire pop art: flat, beautifully coloured and amplified for effect. The deceptively simple stories — often thrillers and off-beat romances — feature anti-heroes, guns, girls, historical figures, b-movie monsters, robots, and aliens. They’re a brilliant mix of silent pictures, film noir, La Nouvelle Vague, classic literature, crime fiction, sci-fi and pulp magazines." – Dan Wagstaff, The Casual Optimist
• Interview: At The Comics Journal, Marc Librescu talks to Gahan Wilson: "When you read about whatever the hell is going on in the art field, whatever the hell the 'art field' is, it’s written by critics and scholars — they’re both sort of the same thing. They’re commentaries, so they tend to emphasize definition and placement: This is chapter 3 of paragraph 7 of Book A. But that’s not the point. The point is that this thing is there and there’s this interaction that occurs, and [the viewer] is analyzing it. As far as the description thing goes, that’s for critics and that’s for teachers. It’s not for artists."
Seattle-based zine distro Profanity Hill (run by our own Jason T. Miles) has updated with a huge number of new acquisitions from local artistes, including some oldies-but-goodies from Peter Bagge and Jim Blanchard — click the images below for ordering info on each item and for goodness sakes browse the site and pick up some other stuff too.