A new week brings an avalanche of new Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Profile: For the Philadelphia Inquirer, Tirdad Derakhshani looks at the past, present, and future of Prince Valiant: "The release Tuesday of Prince Valiant, Vol. 1: 1937-1938, the first in a new series of gorgeously printed, hardcover Valiant collections from Fantagraphics Books, served as a bittersweet reminder of the century-long rise and eventual decline of a great American art form, the comic strip."
• Review: "...Al [Columbia] decided to dredge up old ghosts, unfinished pieces, trifles he had thrown away then reconsidered and offered them up to us as proof that he hasn’t forgotten us. This 240-page book [Pim and Francie: The Golden Bear Days, Fall 2009]... has certainly filled in some gaps for me as to what goes on in Columbia’s mind... There seems to be something both amazing and horrifying around every corner, in any dark space, in the thick of the forest, in the bulbous eyes of maniacal creatures and the straight realistic lines of buildings that all have a dark window somewhere... It is truly a viscous treat and I am sure this one will never wash off." - Rachael M Rollson, Panel to Panel
• Review: "Though Low Moon doesn’t have the slow-building impact of Jason’s longer works, he’s still one of comics’ best storytellers, and it’s always a treat to spend time in his world of off-brand pulp clichés and not-always-so-funny animals. [Grade] B+" - The A.V. Club
• Review: "Jason is an immensely skilled artist capable of manipulating his self-restricted vocabulary to stretch space and time. Low Moon moves in a slow burn as the two antagonists move closer to their eventual showdown. In what is probably the best story in the book You Are Here, time moves more quickly as a father and son attempt to deal with the alien abduction of the father's wife. The father builds a rocket while the son grows up and has a life of his own. Eventually they pile into the rocket, and things end badly, but perhaps a bit more emotionally than with the other stories." - Michael Buntag, NonSensical Words
• Review: "Rage of a different kind in Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me and Other Astute Observations by Peter Bagge. This collection of satirical rants from the American libertarian magazine Reason... is philosophically more about punk individualism than Ayn Rand, and artistically the heir to 1980s indie comics. Indeed, Bagge is an indie star, famous for his wonderfully elastic cartooning style and punk-inflected comedies." - Roger Sabin, The Observer
• Review: "These are good comics [in Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me and Other Astute Observations], fun to read and definitely funny, definitely searing and when he hits a target he gets it right. Also there’s something to be said for the journalist tone of the writing and the structure of the strips would translate well into a proper newspaper, were he so inclined." - Ibrow
• Review: "For fresh talent in comics, you have to go to the anthologies and there's none better at the moment than Mome... the highlight [of Vol. 15] is Dash Shaw's hallucinatory story about a tidal wave, which uses swaths of colour and elongated panels to create a sense of vertigo." - Roger Sabin, The Observer (same link as above)
• Review: "Schulz had gone from a fairly grounded sense of consensus reality to Snoopy's flights of fancy to outright weirdness... That seems to be the essence of Sparky Schulz to me: even with the pressure of the daily grind and his position as the lynchpin of what had become a vast empire, Schulz wrote to amuse himself... At his best in this volume [The Complete Peanuts 1973-1974], Schulz gave the readers some of the best stories of his career." - Rob Clough
• Review: "Ace cartoonist Jordan Crane makes a curious split comic choice. The first half [of Uptight #3 ], 'Vicissitude,' is the opening chapter of a brooding adult tale of marital dysfunction and deceit, while the second, 'Freeze Out,' is a kid’s story, the further adventures of Simon and his cat Jack, who were featured in Crane’s great graphic novel, The Clouds Above. Miraculously, the pairing works — each is superior in its own genre — but you might want to wait until 'Freeze Out' is collected on its own before showing it to your kids." - John Seven, Worcester Magazine
• Review: "Blazing Combat (Fantagraphics, 2009) collects the entire run in a beautiful, incredibly well-bound hardcover book... The stories' tone is very 1960s, ironic with a cynicism stemming from brokenhearted humanism." - Carol Borden, The Cultural Gutter
• Review: "Needless to say, I love the streak of darkness that permeates [Charles] Burns' work. I mean that both figuratively and literally, as his one-of-a-kind illustration style is at-a-glance recognizable because of his heavy use of black ink... That starkness emphasizes the cruel features on the faces of his characters - deep wrinkles, harsh teeth, beady eyes and unflattering noses, to say nothing of the occasional freak. Like the look of his characters, Burns is one of a kind, and Skin Deep is a good introduction to the man's singular vision - a good way to get your toe wet before diving in." - Rod Lott, Bookgasm
• Review: "[A.B.] Frost looked like he was painting with the line…on a half-dozen cups of coffee. Trust me, that’s hard to do... Also, it looks like Fanta-Graphic Books might have brought Stuff and Nonsense back in print in 2003. [Yes. -Ed.] Pick up and copy and be ready to weep - this work is untouchable." - Tony DiTerlizzi
• Plug: "Carol Tyler's You'll Never Know is my favorite book of the year thus far. This memoir/biography/scrapbook is both formally challenging and emotionally devastating. Any critic serious about compiling a year-end list needs to keep this book under consideration." - Rob Clough, Robot 6 (guest contributor)
• Tweet: "Still, the most beautifully designed bk so far this yr is still IMO Fantagraphics 'The Brinkley Girls': http://bit.ly/CSYpH Swoon-worthy." - bookjones
Peter Bagge and Steve Fisk's pop music combo "Can You Imagine?" will be opening for Harvey Danger at Seattle's Crocodile Club this Sat., Aug. 29th for what's being billed as HD's last performance (and they MEAN it this time!). They'll be performing at an earlier 5 pm show, where HD will be doing a "quiet" set -- a perfect time for fuddy-duddies who like to go to bed early!
Tickets are $20, and can be purchased online here:
• Interview: Sean T. Collins's series of interviews with Marvel Strange Tales MAX contributors at Marvel.com continues with Peter Bagge: "The Hulk story's about both the Hulk and Bruce Banner trying to cope with their many issues via the use of modern pharmacology, in the form of head pills, Viagra, et cetera. Needless to say, wackiness ensues."
• Interview: And another one from Sean at Marvel.com, this time with Jason: "With the Spider-Man story I pretty much followed the Stan Lee formula of him being a super hero but a screw-up as a private person."
• Interview: In the second part of his talk with Brian Heater at The Daily Cross Hatch, Seth discusses his involvement and design for The Complete Peanuts series: "The design evolves slightly for each decade, but it’s all about subtle change. For example, the end papers change each decade. The color scheme changes each decade, but it’s a very subtle shift."
• Review: "Fantagraphics' recent release Abstract Comics, while nicely designed and filled with some fantastic artwork (kudos to editor Andrei Molotiu and the Fantagraphics team), brings up an interesting argument...: at what point do you stop calling something comics and start calling it... well, something else?... I'm not sure there is an answer, but it's an interesting debate. Check out this book and come to your own conclusions." - Paul DeBenedetto, Wednesday's Child
• Review: Comic Book Bin's Leroy Douresseaux examines The Comics Journal #298, calling the Trevor Von Eeden interview "scandalous and provocative," saying R.C. Harvey's "Comicopia" column is "both thoughtful and insightful, the kind of exceptional writing that would normally earn a magazine about comic books an Eisner Award," and overall grading the issue an A-
• Plug: "I can't recommend Johnny [Ryan]'s comics highly enough. They go places no one else would dare and, like all great art, show you something you've always known but never have seen before." - Benjamin Marra
• Interview: Sean T. Collins's series of interviews with Marvel Strange Tales MAX contributors at Marvel.com continues with Johnny Ryan. The imagination reels: "Well, there was one joke, now that I think of it, with Galactus that had to be altered a little bit. I don't know if I should reveal the joke—it might ruin the experience. But it was this little detail for that joke that I initially put there, and they were like, 'Eh, can you change that a bit?'"
• Review: "...Tales Designed to Thrizzle... is not all tradition; it's largely a satire, a satire of a pulp fiction oeuvre that didn't take itself that seriously to begin with. Kupperman's humor — a mix of genre, non-sequitur and nonsense — is a kind of laughter in the void, wonderfully lucid and slightly sickening... That Kupperman so masterfully plays to and upsets expectation makes Thrizzle that much funnier and finer. With stunts such as a Twain & Einstein crime-fighting partnership, Kupperman is all goofball, all the time. But Kupperman's line, even in shaping locomotive-sized garden snails, is weighty. And the weight of five years of Thrizzle, is, well, as formidable as a locomotive-sized garden snail." - John Reed, Art in America
• Review: "The story [in Delphine] surrounded me and carried me away to a very real world. It's a cartooned, exaggerated world, but a real world nonetheless... The layouts are impeccable: very clear and superbly paced... I noticed that the story GREW in my mind when I took breaks from reading, allowing me to immerse myself in the story like a dream." - Frank Santoro, Comics Comics
• Review: "...Fletcher Hanks [was] one of the greatest comic book talents you’ve never heard of. Working in the earliest years of comics (1939-1941) Hanks’ contributions walked on the darker side of comic books in a way that managed to take on a timeless quality... In this collection is the work that makes Hanks so incredibly special to the world of comic books. The physiognomics of his evildoers, the strange retributions they suffer at the hands of the heroes, is all really powerful stuff... You Shall Die by Your Own Evil Creation! is an incredible testament to what comic books were once capable of... If you want to understand the essence of comic books in their purest form then pick up You Shall Die by Your Own Evil Creation! and learn." - Iann Robinson, Crave Online
• Plug: "The pieces in The Bradleys are broadly satirical and funny, marked by Bagge’s rubbery art style and a sarcastic tone that should appeal immediately to anyone with a prior awareness of The Simpsons or Looney Tunes. They’re also good stories, full of sharp observations about the impossible expectations that govern the dynamics of a nuclear family, as well as the way a good used Yardbirds record can make a crappy day better." - Noel Murray, The A.V. Club "Recommended First Comics"
• Plug: "All my exploration of the Moon/Ba axis came out of reading their pretty great Comics Journal interview in [#298]. I love it when an interview is so well-done that it convinces me to sample writers and artists whose work I haven't read before." - Alan David Doane, Comic Book Galaxy
• Review: "I’ve just finished the fourth Usagi Yojimbo trade and the fifth is sitting next to me... If you’re like me, throw away your preconceptions about anthropomorphic comics and get on board. As a fan of samurai fiction (to the point of having a Seven Samurai tattoo) and comics, I can’t recommend Stan Sakai’s beautifully drawn, note-perfect reinvention of the genre highly enough." - Kevin Church
• Review: "I Killed Adolf Hitler is a fun, silly and slightly creepy comic, a love story wrapped around a time travel paradox, dressed up with gun fighting. In short, it's a perfect comic book..." - Michael C. Lorah, Newsarama
• Review: "Sometimes the single panel of a political cartoon just isn’t a big enough space for a cartoonist to work with, especially if said cartoonist is interested in providing a detailed, nuanced discussion or honest-to-God reporting on a topic. That’s the sort of political cartooning Peter Bagge has been engaging in for Reason magazine, and a decade’s worth of examples are now available in trade-paperback collection Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me... Bagge is libertarian (as is Reason), and it shows, but one need not agree with his politics to enjoy his work here, perhaps because as a political cartoonist, Bagge’s a cartoonist first and political second." - J. Caleb Mozzocco, Las Vegas Weekly
"COMICS SAVANTS" EXHIBITION OPENING AUGUST 8 -- FANTAGRAPHICS BOOKSTORE & GALLERY CELEBRATES SEATTLE ALTERNATIVE CARTOONISTS
July 29, 2009 - SEATTLE, WA. Since relocating to Seattle from Southern California 20 years ago, Fantagraphics Books has remained committed to nurturing and promoting the diverse practitioners of alternative comics in the Northwest. The country's most successful purveyor of challenging comics routinely employs local cartoonists and publishes the work of regional artists which has contributed to Seattle's international reputation as the unrivaled center of alternative comics. To celebrate this association, Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery presents "Comics Savants: A Survey of Seattle Alternative Cartoonists" opening Saturday, August 8.
This exhibition will feature over a dozen emerging and established artists, including many of the most accomplished cartoonists in the alternative movement. Among them: Peter Bagge, who coined the term "alternative comics" in 1990 and as the highly-regarded creator of the phenomenal Hate comic book series attracted dozens of young cartoonists to the city during the 90s decade; Seattle native Charles Burns, whose teen years are fictionalized in his amazing graphic novel Black Hole, soon to be a motion picture directed by David Fincher; Visionary artist Jim Woodring, one of only a handful of cartoonists to be embraced by the fine art world, having been awarded the United States Artist Fellowship in 2007 and a 2009 Art Trust Washington State Artists Fellowship, who will exhibit work from his forthcoming graphic novel Weathercraft; Ellen Forney, whose collaboration with local author Sherman Alexie won the prestigious 2008 National Book Award; David Lasky, who will exhibit pages from his collaboration with Seattle writer Chris Esty "The Last Testament" from Hotwire #2; Second wave Seattle alternative cartoonist Megan Kelso; emerging artist Eroyn Franklin, who will exhibit hand cut pages from her Xeric award winning graphic novel Another Glorious Day at the Nothing Factory; current and former Fantagraphics Books staffers Jim Blanchard, Roberta Gregory, Patrick Moriarity; Ted Jouflas; Jason T. Miles and Eric Reynolds.
In addition to the display of original artworks, an eclectic array of comics and graphic novels by exhibiting artists will be available. Many featured artists will attend the opening reception of Saturday, August 8 from 6:00 to 9:00 PM. Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery is located at 1201 S. Vale St. (at Airport Way S.) only minutes south of downtown. This event coincides with the colorful Georgetown Second Saturday Art Attack featuring exciting visual and performing arts presentations in close proximity throughout the historic artists' enclave.
COMICS SAVANTS: A Survey of Seattle Alternative Cartoonists
Peter Bagge, Jim Blanchard, Charles Burns, Ellen Forney, Roberta Gregory, Ted Jouflas, Megan Kelso, David Lasky, Jason T. Miles, Patrick Moriarity, Eric Reynolds, Jim Woodring, and introducing Eroyn Franklin.
Opening reception Saturday, August 8, 6:00 to 9:00 PM
Exhibition continues through September 9, 2009
Join us on Saturday, August 22 from 6:00 to 8:00 PM for the publication party of Eroyn Franklin's Xeric award wining comic Another Glorious Day at the Nothing Factory.
Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery 1201 S. Vale Street (at Airport Way S.) Seattle, WA 98108 206.658.0110 Open daily 11:30 to 8:00 PM, Sundays until 5:00 PM
• Comic-Con: Looks like Kelly Kilmer scored a bunch of great stuff at our booth on Sunday
• Review: "The first four issues of Michael Kupperman's awesome comedy comics zine Tales Designed to Thrizzle have been collected into a single hardcover volume that is a superdense wad of funny, surreal, bent humor... This is weird, funny, Subgenius-esque toilet reading that will keep you very regular." - Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing
• Review: "Thomas Ott's Dead End, & Tales of Error, (Fantagraphics Books) - This Swiss artist's comics are a moody blend of irony, horror and silence. (Most of his stories have no dialogue or captions.) The stark black-and-white pages - thanks to Ott's use of scratchboard - bring to mind such German Expressionist films as Robert Wiene's The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and F.W. Murnau's Nosferatu. Like those films, Ott knows how to build suspense and maintain a sense of looming dread as each story reaches its foregone and tragic ending." - Steven Kwan, "Your new textbooks: Comics you need to read," University of Arizona Daily Wildcat
• Review: "The key to [Mome]'s continued success has been flexibility regarding its mission. It's still a place where young artists are sought out and spotlighted... It's also a place where key foreign comics can find a home... Lastly, it's a place where great American cartoonists can publish their short stories... This variety of approaches... positions it as a sort of descendant of Weirdo and RAW. It may not represent the absolute cutting edge of comics the way that Kramer's Ergot does, but it's still the widest available survey of alt-comics in publication and will be increasingly valuable in that regard as it continues to evolve." - Rob Clough
• Preview: The Comics Reporter reports: "I saw John Pham briefly at his studio on Monday. He's a little bit late -- although nowhere near comics-late -- with the second issue of his Sublife series from Fantagraphics, and the original art he showed me was really, really pretty."
• Plug: Boing Boing's Mark Frauenfelder hypes The Sweetly Diabolic Art of Jim Flora, relating the following: "Tim Biskup told me the the first time he saw Flora's work (when he was in a used record store) he felt his brain rewiring on the spot, forever changing his approach to art."
• Plugs: Jog looks at some of our new releases arriving in comic shops today
• Plugs: "If you picked up I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets! and delighted in the surreal mayhem therein (and who didn’t) you’re going to have to grab a copy of You Shall Die by Your Own Evil Creation! to make your life complete... It’s completely insane and very funny and will probably encourage you to indulge in a spot of unnecessary exclamation pointing... The Summer 2009 edition of MOME has arrived and, as usual, it's packed... Sergio Ponchione's Grotesque #3... is one of those lovely-looking Ignatz books... If you're a fan of weird Lynchian fantasy you should definitely check it out." - Gosh! Comics Blog
• Plugs: "The Complete Crumb Comics, Vol. 9...: Classic Crumb from 1972 and ‘73, reprinted once again. Lots of great politically incorrect material, including Crumb's assault (of sorts) on feminism. All in good fun, of course... The Complete Peanuts, Vol. 12: 1973-1974...: This one contains what I sincerely think is one of the greatest extended stories in the history of comics, where Charlie Brown starts seeing baseballs everywhere and gets a baseball-shaped rash on the back of his head. Hopefully you're buying the whole series, but if you only want one volume, I'd suggest this one. If you want more, though, you can buy the box set with Vol. 11 included... Mome, Vol. 15 (Summer 2009): ...[T]his one looks intriguing if only because it features both the debut of up-and-coming artist T. Edward Bak and a 16-page story by the Spanish artist Max, who we don't nearly get enough of in these parts." - Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "...Jason elevates his skewering of filmic genres to a whole new level in his latest collection, Low Moon, which sees his unique takes on film noir, westerns and screwball comedy. All of the tales are informed by his signature clean lines, bright colors, sparse dialogue and taste for a particularly brutal brand of slapstick humor and occasional moments of dark, incisive brilliance that are often reached without uttering a word... Featuring tawdry sex, alien abductions, existential crises, betrayal, and a hundred and one different varieties of murder, this is a book that pretty much has it all." - Ian Chant, PopMatters
• Review: "...Jason's Low Moon... [is] a collection full of mostly wordless comedic pleasures." - Richard Gehr, The Village Voice
• Review: "A question regarding the title of Michael Kupperman's Tales Designed to Thrizzle Volume One: Does 'thrizzle' mean 'pee your pants a little from laughing so hard'? Because if so, it just about achieved its promise..." - Rod Lott, Bookgasm
• Review: "[Boody: The Bizarre Comics of Boody Rogers ] is one of the funniest comics I've ever read, and all I do is read comics... Just looking at his drawings makes me laugh... If you like Johnny Ryan, you should check this out. And they weren't fooling around with that title. These comics are as weird as hell... This book is essential. Get it or get out." - Nick Gazin, Vice
• Review: "[Uptight] doesn't come out often enough... Jordan Crane is an immense talent; I just wished he worked faster. He's one of the best new guys of the past five years." - Nick Gazin, Vice (same link as above)
• Review: "This is one of the greatest works of American art of the past century and fuck you if you were ignorant of this. Prince Valiant was and is one of the greatest comics of all time and most would agree that it's the greatest adventure comic... Reading Prince Valiant has the same thrill as reading Sherlock Holmes. He's smarter, handsomer, and a better fighter than everyone around him. Reading his adventures and watching him sneak around castles, swordfight small armies, and romance medieval bitches is more exciting to me than almost any other comic. I'm getting pumped just thinking about it... It's so beautiful. I want to be Prince Valiant and I want to be Hal Foster." - Nick Gazin, Vice (same link as above)
• Review: "Fantagraphics, the gold standard when if comes to collecting and reprinting newspaper strips, has released the first volume of Prince Valiant, covering the years 1937 to 1938 in all-new remastered color, the result is breathtaking! Foster is truly one of the great comic illustrators who ever lived but has never got his just due it seems because he didn't work in the traditional comic book medium. One needs only to read the first few pages of the book to grasp his incredible ability... This is graphic storytelling at its finest and a true treasure! Grade A" - Tim Janson, Mania
• Review: "The cover [of The Pin-Up Art of Dan DeCarlo] sums it up -- a man who looks disturbingly like Riverdale’s Mr. Lodge gazes lasciviously at a lingerie-clad young woman who looks disturbingly like a (very) bosomy Veronica. That is just so wrong... Breasts swell and sag with the weight of flesh, not silicone; thighs press firmly and meatily together, hips and butts strain against fabric, threatening plentiful wardrobe malfunctions. And the wardrobes!... The overall effect is -- well, I can’t describe the overall effect. Let’s just say that in trying to take it all in I may have stretched my eyes permanently out of shape." - Noah Berlatsky, The Hooded Utilitarian
• Review: "...Peter Bagge's new compilation of comics, Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me and Other Astute Observations... turns out also to be a rude form of local history... [H]is craftsmanship - in the tradition of Mad's Don Martin and Nancy creator Ernie Bushmiller - lies in his ability to reduce his drawings to the simplest possible details needed to tell the story. His rants are funny, but the frictionless gag-delivery systems of his panels are an even more effective rebuke to the willful obscurity of contemporary art." - David Stoesz, Seattle Weekly
• Review: "Collecting 10 years’ worth of cartoons originally done for Reason magazine, as well as a few odds and sods, [Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me] finds Bagge as sharp and irate as ever, and his art has improved while still being recognizably his own. Bagge is also, thankfully, still possessed of a great sense of humor, especially about himself—even the title reveals an element of self-mockery among all the self-righteousness." - The A.V. Club
• Review: "There are few comics in the history of the medium as universally beloved as Love and Rockets... The Palomar stories, while extraordinarily literate and often brilliant in how they straddle the line between magical realism and gritty serial drama, are complex narratives which benefit greatly from being read from the very beginning; Jaime’s lighter, simpler approach is probably a better place to start." - Leonard Pierce, The A.V. Club, offering advice on how to start reading Love and Rockets; here's our advice
• Interview: Robot 6's Tim O'Shea talks to John Kerschbaum about Petey & Pussy, self-publishing and other topics. Sample quote: "It’s what it would look like if Elmer Fudd REALLY blew Daffy’s beak off. But I’ve always felt that humor and horror are very closely related. That they naturally play off of each other. The funny bits make the scary bits scarier and vice versa."
• Interview: At The A.V. Club, Sam Adams gets Michael Kupperman to reveal some of the secrets of his comedy genius and the future of Thrizzle. For example: "Certainly I enjoy the outré and I enjoy artistic comics and surrealism in comics very much. But the decision I made and have stuck with and refined was the decision to try to be funny and communicate humor. Once you put that ahead of everything else, it resolves those other questions for you."
• Plug: Jog - The Blog spotlights 3 of our new releases from last week
Happy Bastille Day, France. Voici les Online Commentary et Diversions:
• Review: "[Michael] Kupperman has been laffing it up for years via cartoons in the New Yorker and animation on Saturday Night Live, but his smart, droll, absurdist humor is best displayed in this compendium of the first four issues of [Tales Designed to Thrizzle]. Kupperman's wit and imagination is only heightened by the stiff, self-conscious woodcut style he often uses for art... The humor never lags in a book that is destined to be a comedy classic and is truly one of the funniest books in years." - Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
• Review: "...[T]he pieces collected in awesomely-named Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me... are wonderfully entertaining and often fall-on-the-floor funny, even when you find yourself at odds with [Peter] Bagge’s viewpoint... While his focus may have changed, his work remains as delightful as it did in the alt-comix heyday. Stupid just confirms what many of us already knew: he’s still one of the funniest cartoonists in America today." - Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Interview: Design website FaceOut Books asks curator/designer Jacob Covey about the Beasts! books. Sample quote: "I think a successful cover design has to distill the essence of a book and not necessarily depict a literal synopsis of the contents. This is a common principle in fiction prose books but is much less commonly applied to something like an art book."