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."
Two of the biggest icons of 1990s Seattle: Peter Bagge and Ken Griffey, Jr. (along with the lovely Joanne Bagge) at a recent Mariners game at Safeco Field. All that's missing from this picture is Kurt Cobain and J.P. Patches.
• 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
Another short Online Commentary & Diversons update... I guess everyone's too busy talking about Wednesday Comics to pay attention to us, boo hoo:
• Review/Interview: Chris Beckett of On the Fly Publications/Warrior27 looks at two recent releases by Jason and has a brief Q&A with "one of the most exciting cartoonists working today." From the reviews: "I heartily recommend The Last Musketeer for any fan of fantastic adventure yarns as well as anyone who enjoys a refreshing character study with a very real emotional tug at one’s heartstrings. Check this book out... [I Killed Adolf Hitler] is a masterful story that can be read on more than one level, which is always appealing. [It] is unique and tender and will challenge any preconceptions one might have about the book." Jason, from the interview: "I started doing comics when I was around 13 years old, and at that age I didn't have a camera, I didn't have a typewriter, but I had paper and a pencil."
Happy 7-8-9 day... today's Online Commentary & Diversons update is extra short:
• Review: "...[M]y favorite comics collection of the year so far [is] Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me and Other Astute Observations... Think of [Peter Bagge's] strips as angry but really funny protest songs on paper... Bagge wickedly and wonderfully shows a truly individualistic viewpoint, an actual bullshit detector raging full blast (occasionally to the point of anxiety-induced overload), with ideas and observations both fearlessly marginalist and unabashedly mainstream (like the best rock and roll, in my opinion)... it is HOT and FUN. Just out from Fantagraphics, pick it up now!" - Chris Estey, KEXP
• Review: "Jordan Crane is, to be polite, a bit of a disturbed individual... Not that I'm complaining... The [first] story [in Uptight #3 is] a refinement of past themes that, while not as chilling as usual, still can leave you emotionally drained... The second story is "Freeze Out"... The drawing is immaculate... And just when you think the story is over, it twists right at the end from a gentle children's fable... into something else." - squiggly lines!
• 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
Holy moly there's a lot of links today! There's a few major interviews in today's Online Commentary & Diversions, so let's lead off with those:
• Interview: At Amazon's Omnivoracious blog, Heidi Broadhead talks to our own Kim Thompson about translating the works of Jason ("His latest collection, Low Moon... has filmic moments and comic pathos that have set a new standard for me for short fiction") and other Eurocomics. Sample quote: "But I'm also more invested in these books because I work so hard on them, and in many cases, of course, such as Tardi, I'm literally fulfilling a childhood dream by translating them."
• Interview: "Carol Tyler is one of the best cartoonists currently working. She has been for years... Earlier this year Tyler released the first of an expected three volumes that seek to explore her father's time in World War II. You'll Never Know: A Good And Decent Man gently peels back the layers on these seminal experiences while at the same time providing an earnest portrait of the artist and her most important relationships during the time she started on the project. Tyler combines the unflinching eye of the late underground with the self-deprecating portrait of the alternative comics movement with the poetic qualities that some of the best post-alternatives are able to wring from their art. I really love Carol Tyler's work, and I was delighted she agreed to talk to me." - Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
• Interview: "In a perfect and just world, John Kerschbaum would be one of its most famous cartoonists." - Rob Clough, presenting his Q&A with Kerschbaum from The Comics Journal #295. Sample quote: "And when you're doing work for kids you just leave out the cursing… and tits - no tits."
• Review: "Wolverton... had a knack, too, for nightmarish drama... [He] saved his most enthralling pieces for the Bible. An ordained minister for a wacky Oregon church, he produced, in the mid 1950s, a series of apocalyptic scenes for the Book of Revelations; men and women, foregrounded in close-up, writhe under dominant skies of fire, plague, and war." - Robert Shuster, The Village Voice, on the Wolverton exhibit at Gladstone Gallery; hat tip once again to Drew Friedman
• Review: "Jason's unique skill of meshing cut-out Hollywood genres with fleeting moments of missed opportunities is like a unique cocktail - one part Hitchcock, one part Kubrick with a dash of Woody Allen... Low Moon is a slow-moving delight. Jason has crafted a perfectly executed yarn that is at once both familiar and bizarre. This collection is an exceptional entryway for reader still unaware of one of sequential arts greatest contributors." - Ascot J. Smith, examiner.com
• Review: "Known for his ability to convey melancholic, deadpan humor, Jason is as on top of his game as ever with this release... Each story expresses a different degree of the author’s range, mixing dark or mature themes with absurdity to varying degrees... Since it demonstrates Jason’s range and is priced fairly modestly..., Low Moon makes for a great starting point for those unfamiliar with Jason’s work." - Anthony Farruggia, examiner.com
• Review: "Jason's work is something to be revered... His comics are stark and morbid and often hilarious. Low Moon presents five beautifully illustrated stories that show a mastery of the craft... The stories range from violent to funny to sad, and the tragedies, murders, and pratfalls therein never seem out of the ordinary. It all fits into four rectangular panels on each page that seem like they were drawn to make you understand something more." - Gabe Bullard, PLAYBACK:stl
• Review: "Ho!... promises the most degenerate and juvenile one-panel gag comics ever penned by a working college professor... You're either loving it or deeply concerned for the author." - Byron Kerman, PLAYBACK:stl
• Review: "Kevin Huizenga introduces a relatable and unusual story with his quirky sequel to the first Ganges in the 'Ignatz' series from Fantagraphics. A tale about morality, realism, and video games, Ganges [#2] spins a web of confusion for those universal questions that lurk at the edge of our minds... 'Pulverize' makes a bold attempt to portray how living in a technological age can confuse as well as enlighten you to great lengths. Touching and unique, Huizenga creates a quirky story for the win." - Melissa Kay, Girls Entertainment Network
• Review: "My choice for the greatest comic strip in history would be Hal Foster's epic adventure strip Prince Valiant. And now Fantagraphics is reprinting the series in a series of spiffy, oversized hardcover collections, with the first volume out this week. And even though I own the whole 40-volume set of the Foster-drawn pages that Fantagraphics published in the 1990s, I’m perfectly happy to buy this new series, with larger pages, better-quality paper, and much better-quality coloring... It’s excellent stuff, and I look forward to enjoying it all over again." - Michael Rawdon, Fascination Tangents
• Review: "The most influential adventure strip ever produced, Foster's gorgeous Prince Valiant inspired generations of artists. While the Sunday-only strip has been reprinted several times, this edition contains for the first time images shot from Foster's own color engraver's proofs. Published at the strip's original dimensions and complete with an introduction by Hal Foster biographer Brian M. Kane and the insightful 1969 Hal Foster interview with Fred Schreiber, the hardcover Prince Valiant Vol. 1: 1937-1938 finally presents these lush tales in a format worthy of the material." - Rick Klaw, The SF Site - Nexus Graphica
• Review: "Like H.L. Mencken, [Peter] Bagge favors a scorched-earth satirical attack, tearing down arguments by ridicule as much as reason. Unlike Mencken, Bagge's work is more playful and less likely to attempt to install himself as a know-it-all (even if he thinks he does) because of his nebbishy self-portrayal... It's rare to see a cartoonist branch out into this kind of second act of a career with this much flourish and skill... his work here [in Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me] demands a reader's attention every bit as much as the more famous editorial cartoonists in America... Best of all, Bagge is still funny... and this is a very good thing for both his hardcore fans and new readers alike." - Rob Clough
• Review: "[Peter] Bagge made his reputation with the wicked social satire of Hate, but since 2001 he’s also produced these short comics [in Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me] for the libertarian magazine Reason... His visual style—in which people are all huge-mouthed, squinty-eyed, rubber-limbed caricatures—is turned up all the way to 'jeer'; it’s also pretty funny on its own. Bagge aims his (constitutionally protected) satirical blunderbuss at both the left and the right, and occasionally points it at fellow libertarians and even himself." - Publishers Weekly
• Review: "...Norwegian cartoonist Jason’s latest wheeze of a graphic novella [I Killed Adolf Hitler] invents a time-travelling professional assassin who attempts to exterminate the Fuhrer with predictably bizarre results... The deadpan humour, pared-down plotting and simple illustrations featuring Jason’s trademark zoomorphic characters make for a brisk and extremely enjoyable read." - 2012
• Plug: "OMG reading Low Moon on lunch IT IS SO GOOD how long can comics stay this awesome?" - Dustin Harbin, via Twitter
• Plug: Portuguese shop Ghoulgear recommends the comics work of Jason, "who reinvented the narrative language of comics... He is an author that is worth knowing."
• Plug: "There's some great material in [Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me], whether you agree with the opinions or not, since Bagge does some great cartooning and good journalism, providing hilarious insights into topics like art, public transportation, homelessness, and gun ownership." - Matthew J. Brady
• Plug: "[Love and Rockets] was like an underground Archie, with Hispanic characters, plus it was literally oozing with a sensuality that simply couldn't be found in mainstream funnybooks... If you have the opportunity to pick up any L&R comics, I highly recommend it, as it is still some of the consistently very best comics that is being produced." - Robert J. Sodaro (former Fantagraphics employee)
• Plug: "I’m currently reading through the latest issue of The Comics Journal, number 298... I’m really looking forward to the interview with Thriller artist Trevor Von Eeden. Also, the Percy Crosby Skippy strips included in the gallery section are a wonder." - Chris Mautner, Robot 6; also, their guest contributor this week is Paul Karasik
• Things to see: Comic Book Resources presents a bunch of work by Terry LaBan (whose Fantagraphics titles are all out of print)
You're all invited to the amazing after-party following Peter Bagge's book launch event at Fantagraphics Bookstore in Seattle next Saturday, July 11. The line-up for this free show at neighboring Jules Maes Saloon includes Peter Bagge's latest power pop combo, Can You Imagine? The evening will feature a special reunion of Bagge's 1990s easy listening sensation The Action Suits whose members include current and former Fantagraphics staffers Andy Schmidt and Eric Reynolds, joined by illustrious musician and producer Steve Fisk. Also on the bill are Reynolds' Fox Hollow (featuring Fantagraphics graphics ace Adam Grano and the lovely Rhea Patton) and Schmidt's new group Hank Adams. Jules Maes is located at 5919 Airport Way South, just one block north of Fantagraphics Bookstore. Heavy mental mayhem man! See you there.
Online Commentary & Diversions will return Monday. Have a great holiday in the US of A.
• Review: "Like many mysteries, there's something initially frustrating about the end of 'Emily Says Hello,' but it's the best by Jason for a while... it's in the new Low Moon collection... Worth it for 'Emily' alone." - Graham Linehan (The IT Crowd, Father Ted), via Twitter (part 1, part 2)
• Review: "A thin line exists between [Basil] Wolverton’s jokey grotesqueries and the horrors of disfigurement and mutilation that appear in his postwar illustrations of the Book of Revelations (recently published in The Wolverton Bible)... Wolverton’s unsparing depictions of nightmarish prophecies are relentlessly grim but absorbingly so. There are hints of Goya’s crazed, melancholic Saturn and predictions of Charles Burns’s brooding mutant teens." - Nicole Rudick, Artforum (reviewing the Wolverton exhibit currently on view at Gladstone Gallery; hat tip to Drew Friedman)
• Review: "Oh my god.It’s like someone wheeled my senile, racist grandfather onto a metropolitan sidewalk and let him free associate.Unfortunately, my grandfather’s psychosis might have more acuity and humor than Everyone is Stupid [Except for Me]." - Ashley Cardiff, CC2K (via Reason link below; don't say we never post negative reviews)
• Review: "Michael Kupperman is the funniest cartoonist alive, and Tales Designed to Thrizzle is his funniest comic book... Thrizzle has the manic joy of a really good sketch-comedy series... Thrizzle was originally published as four comics, and Kupperman has recolored the series for its hardcover release... [It] should amuse just about anyone who can read." - Paul Constant, The Stranger
• Review: "[Fletcher] Hanks's stuff burns itself into and onto the brain like a giant scalding iron of dementedness." - fústar
• Review: "Certainly nobody takes umbrage with the claim that these are four awesome comics, collected in one hardcover edition [Blazing Combat]... Fantagraphics have done us a big favor by reprinting them all." - The Comic Book Haters (streaming video)
• Plug: "...Reason's own beloved Peter Bagge has a fantastic collection of a near-decade's worth of political cartooning coming out from Fantagraphics [Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me]. The content is king but the actual production is nothing short of stunning, filled with the bright, bright colors that Paul Simon used to sing about back when Kodak was still making film." - Nick Gillespie, Reason
• Interview: At comiXology, Tucker Stone interviews The Comics Journal online editor, the ista! in ¡Journalista!, my comrade-in-linkblogging-arms, Dirk Deppey. Pull quote of all pull quotes: "I got the job at Fantagraphics by making fun of The Comics Journal's website on its message board, basically."