• Review: "Watch your step as we spiral further down the rabbit hole in the second volume in the King of the Flies trilogy, entitled The Origin of the World. [...] The unease that once crept through the residential basements now spreads vulture wings and takes flight. Volume 2 justifies the previous paranoia and displays it in full view... The Origin of the World's plots coil and ceaselessly shift; the characters tasting and testing one another with serpentine instincts. When the whole thing threatens to surrender under its bleakness, the last page morphs to resemble something akin to hope if the reader squints just right." – Alex Carr, Omnivoracious
• Review: "There is perhaps no better medium to capture the life of Roberto Clemente than graphic novel. After all his skill set when it came to playing the game of baseball was almost superhuman, highlighted by a throwing arm that would surely make the son of Jor-El jealous. As such, it is no surprise then that illustrator/author Wilfred Santiago’s 21 — The Story of Roberto Clemente is a must read for anyone awed by the beauty of the sport. […] This graphic novel seeks to give a proper sense of wonder and the fantastic to a player whose tragic ending is often a stark reminder or our own mortality. At that it succeeds terrifically." – Andy Smith, Bugs & Cranks
• Review: "Where Chris Ware draws a billion tiny boxes to retain his feces, [Johnny] Ryan draws borders mostly so the sewage will have something to overflow. In Prison Pit each body is a busted toilet whose stagnant water births some mangled abortion dragging its placenta over the edge of the porcelain to flop wetly on the cold tiles. [...] The protagonist fights ladydactyls, giant eye creatures, robots, toothy monsters wearing Nazi death-hosen, and his own mutinous oozing hand. But really his main enemy is Ryan himself, the artist as diabolous ex machina, squatting over his creation to spew an endless stream of venomous diarrhea." – Noah Berlatsky, The Hooded Utilitarian
• Interview:Robot 6's Chris Mautner writes: "Freeway is an impressive book from an underrated talent and I was happy for the opportunity to talk to [Mark] Kalesniko about the book and his working methods." A bit from Mark: "I used for inspiration the movie Slaughterhouse Five and how the main character, unstuck in time, bounced back and forth though out his life. Also the miniseries Singing Detective where the main character is bedridden with a skin disease and suffers from hallucinations and flashbacks. I also thought that the reader would relate to this because many of us have been stuck in traffic jams or other places where we can’t move but our mind is free to wander."
Now that our woes with Diamond's weekly shipping list are resolved, the titles we expected to be on last week's list have shown up on this week's list. So while these books may have already arrived at comic shops, now we can bring you what comics-blog commentators are saying about them. As always, check out our previews at the link, and contact your local shop to confirm availability.
104-page black & white 5.5" x 7.25" softcover • $11.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-415-3
"The final collection of Johnny Ryan’s four-panel weekly sunshine, and a remnant of the artist’s interest in pursuing formerly mainstream avenues of cartooning, from magazine gags to comic strips to self-contained humor comics, and inhabiting them with his specific style." – Joe McCulloch, Comics Comics
"I think you should fill in the blanks, walk into your local comic store, go straight up to the person behind the counter and ask for it by name." – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
"If I had enough cash, I’d probably try to get my hands on some of the other books Fanta has out this week, including the fourth and final volume of Johnny Ryan’s Blecky Yuckarella strips, the charmingly titled F*** You A******..." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"The final collection of the hilarious Blecky strips by Johnny Ryan. Now, if only I could figure out what the title is supposed to spell out..." – Benn Ray (Atomic Books), Largehearted Boy
"The first volume of Mezzo & Pirus' European trilogy about suburban horror, sex, violence and drugs was one of the creepiest books of last year; its look owes rather a lot to Charles Burns' Black Hole, but it's also got a sick, surreal vibe of its own. In this follow-up, a bunch of the characters who died last time are still sort of hanging around; it's that kind of story." – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
"The first volume of King of the Flies is showing up on a lot of folks' 'under-appreciated' lists." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
"This is the middle chapter of creators Mezzo and Pirus’ planned trilogy, which publisher Fantagraphics describes as 'A French Twin Peaks graphic novel as written by Stephen King and drawn by Charles Burns.'" – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
"I neglected to mention the first volume when it arrived last year, but it has since gone on to be named one of Amazon’s Top 10 Graphic Novels of 2010. If I could retroactively add a paragraph and pretend I always thought so too, I would, but that would be cheating. [...] It looks like a lot of fun too, and there’s more going on in it that you might think." – The Gosh! Comics Blog
"If I had enough cash, I’d probably try to get my hands on some of the other books Fanta has out this week, including... the second volume of Pirus and Mezzo’s King of the Flies, a hip crime noir piece heavily influenced by Charles Burns." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"The second installment of Mezzo & Pirus' weird, French, suburban soap opera that's one part Twin Peaks, one part Charles Burns, one part Stephen King and all parts awesome. Here stories that seem unrelated become intricately intertwined." – Benn Ray (Atomic Books), Largehearted Boy
192-page black & white 7.25" x 9.25" hardcover • $19.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-409-2
"I’d be particularly interested in this new edition of a 1998 piece by the great Lorenzo Mattotti and writer Claudio Piersanti, looking to be a real fever of lines in the service of hardscrabble living." – Joe McCulloch, Comics Comics
"Lorenzo Mattotti is one of the great artists doing comics, period, and I can't imagine not snatching up everything he does. While this isn't the major work we're all still waiting for, it's obviously beautifully drawn and contains sequences reminiscent of the early 1990s works through which the Italian artist made his name." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
"This stunning-looking graphic novel about a man who experiences the title phenomenon is a collaboration between Italian cartoonist Lorenzo Mattotti and Italian screenwriter Claudio Piersanti." – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
"Fantagraphics’ incredible Stigmata gets top billing because it’s illustrated by an Italian artist we’d like to see a lot more of: Lorenzo Mattotti..., whose Ignatz book Chimera you’ve undoubtedly seen on our discerning shelves. The award-winning screenwriter Claudio Piersanti provides the bits in the balloons." – The Gosh! Comics Blog
"Fantagraphics has a lot of interesting books out this week, but Stigmata would have to be first on my list as I’ve loved the work of Lorenzo Mattotti ever since I got my hands on a worn copy of Murmur oh so many years ago. I’m happy to see Fantagraphics start to try to get more of his work released in the U.S. and hope this book — about a lug of a guy whose hands start to bleed in Christ-like fashion — encourages that." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
We noticed that our new releases have been omitted from Diamond's shipping lists over the last few weeks, which means they've been arriving in comic shops with little to no notice (which means very few blurbs from the usual blog sources we quote here). We've contacted Diamond about it and we're getting it straightened out (I won't go into the gory details, and I'm not sure if it was a Diamond policy change, but there was a reasonable explanation and solution). Anyhoo, the books below are already out or arriving tomorrow — check with your local shop to confirm availability.
136-page full-color 5.25" x 7.75" hardcover • $22.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-400-9
"These bright, full-color paintings blur the lines between traditional art and comics, between lettering and language. Each piece in Mascots stands on its own, but it also functions within the context of the other paintings as well, to reveal a larger world." – Benn Ray (Atomic Books ), Largehearted Boy
"Ray Fenwick gives you more typographical mania in Mascots, his follow-up to 2008’s Hall of Best Knowledge. It’s a series of full colour paintings on found book covers. In the preview he seems to be going on and on about Cthulhu and the pronunciation of 'Cthulhu,' but more importantly, he engages in superfluous and plentiful footnotes and thus gets top marks from me." – Gosh! Comics
• List:iFanboy's Jason ranks Usagi Yojimbo: The Special Edition at #1 on the Top Collected Editions of 2010: "Fantagraphics has treated us with a 1,160-page, two volume slipcase collection that reprints the first seven trade paperbacks worth of content, as well as 50 covers and lots of never-before-seen backmatter."
• List: "I don’t understand how Medley can write and draw so well. The story is entertaining and well-paced. The art is spacious, smooth with expressive lines. I have no idea why Medley hasn’t won every award everywhere. Volume two picks up where the first left off, telling the stories of a group of people who have retired to Castle Waiting, a refuge in a difficult, quasi-medieval world." – Carol Borden, The Cultural Gutter, "10 Comics I Liked in 2010"
• List:Paul Gravett's Best of 2010 is very, very extensive, including mentions of no fewer than 10 of our titles
• Review: "The unease which Mezzo brings to King of the Flies is ever present in the twisted shapes of his men and women, the oversized drops of an acrid drizzle, the fur like scrub which seem like the myriad hairs of a fly’s appendage, a modern day dance of death choked with the dregs of modern life; the strange underbelly of free will and capitalism — sex, drugs and alcohol; death, lust and tainted beauty; the unsettling horror of kitsch; the nauseating mingling of youth, disease and dementia." – Ng Suat Tong, The Hooded Utilitarian (The Comics Journal)
• Interview: At his Talking with Tim blog, Tim O'Shea talks to Destroy All Movies!!! editors Zack Carlson (quoted here) & Bryan Connolly: "I’m constantly shocked by people’s willingness to forgo the most valuable resources we have — like bookstores and video stores — because of the lazy convenience of the internet. Why don’t people want to leave their homes? Are they afraid they’ll get struck by lightning or bitten by a dog? It makes me nuts."
• Plug: "...Set to Sea is an astounding visual piece with a simplistic narrative that avoids the saturated complexities of other graphic works. I’ve been a long time fan of Weing’s, and highly recommend this title." – Michael Dean, Slither and Friends
Thanks, that was a nice surprise. Not because I didn't think King of the Flies deserved it, but because I thought it had kind of flown in under everyone's radar.
Well, no one had heard of these guys before here...
Actually, that's not entirely true. Nobody remembers this, but back in 1998, in its death throes as part of the genetically spliced corpse of Tundra, Kitchen Sink released Pirus and Mezzo's Armed and Dangerous. You can find it for about fifty bucks on Amazon if you want. I wouldn't recommend it, the production on it is kind of screwed up, wait for someone to reprint it properly.
King of the Flies is a really odd book. It takes place in France, people pay stuff in Euros and Germany is just a few miles away but...
...But somehow all the names and cultural references are English or American, yeah. I mean, aside from the Gustave Courbet references in this new volume (including the title, and the cover, which is a pop-art parody of the painting of that title, by the way — look it up on Wikipedia, but be warned, NSFW). In case anyone was wondering, that's how it is in the French version, it's not the translator and me changing all the references from Serge Gainsbourg and Johnny Hallyday or anything — although obviously it would've been tough to graphically edit in the Rolling Stones, Jarvis Cocker, and Jan and Dean. King of the Flies basically exists in a weird globally neutral pop-culture realm, which these days means Anglo-American. It's one of its charms. Another charm is that you start off thinking it's realistic, but as you'll see in Volume 2 it starts going pretty far off the rails into the supernatural. It's a really cunningly constructed piece of writing that pulls you down the rabbit hole quite unexpectedly at times...
Have you read the third volume?
No. Mezzo and Pirus are only a dozen or so pages into it — they got sidetracked with some other projects — so I'm just as much in the dark as anyone.
King of the Flies really wears its influences on its sleeve at times...
I've heard that said less gently. There's no doubt that Mezzo — whose earlier work looks quite different, I might add, see the abovementioned Armed and Dangerous — absorbed a number of stylistic and structural tricks from Charles Burns in general, and Black Hole in particular, for this project. The very first time I saw King of the Flies I was a little taken aback myself. But the more I read it the more I realized that Mezzo and Pirus were bringing an enormous amount to the table themselves, and the writing and breakdowns really ultimately don't feel like Burns at all. David Lynch is discernable in there too, of course, but these days Lynch is virtually a genre. There's also some Watchmen DNA in there, I think, in the methodical, gridlike, writer-driven approach to panel breakdowns — and some thematic elements in the second volume. And the funny thing about the Burns connection is that Charles himself has moved so far away from his Black Hole style now that his recent X'ed Out — which borrows heavily from Hergé — looks nothing like King of the Flies. It's all grist for the mill.
The second volume is coming out just 10 months after that first. That's unusually quick.
Well, it's very much a continued story, and I didn't want people to forget it.
Did you consider waiting for the trilogy to be complete and publish it in one volume?
I briefly did, but I was concerned that doing that big of a book would make the price point too high. It's also so dense — I think readers need a breather. And I like the "serial" aspect to it, I want readers to worry about what's going to happen next. Anyway, Americans are getting a better deal than the French, for whom the books have been appearing with three-year gaps. That said, I do plan to release a special edition of the whole damn thing at some point. As I'm sure the French will.
This is one of the few European books you didn't translate yourself. How come?
I'd started realizing that I wouldn't be able to translate every single book we were doing indefinitely, so when I decided to do King of the Flies I had already started to think in terms of hiring a translator. I'd really liked the work Helge had done for Drawn and Quarterly, and she was game, she loved the book when I sent it to her, so it was game on! I've actually hired translators for a couple of other upcoming books next year, so there will be more of our releases that I'm not doing.
How involved are you in the translation?
When I work as a translator for an editor, as I have once in a while, I'm grateful for as much feedback as possible, so I did work a lot with Helge. I think we both agree that the final result is significantly better than what either of us could have done alone. But it's probably 95% Helge at least. And certainly every word I changed or fiddled with has been OK'd or approved by her, as well as by Michel Pirus, who speaks English quite well and was able to course-correct us when we missed some stuff. And he and Mezzo very nicely redid all the chapter-heading as needed for us, which is why it looks so perfect.
It's maybe the grimmest, darkest book you've released, except for War of the Trenches, which at least you could defend as historical. And it's hard to see how Volume 3 could in any way become more cheerful.
Yeah, but I love that kind of stuff, and I'm hoping enough other readers do. Besides which, it's often hilarious. The characters are all going to hell, but they're funny about it as they go.
King of the Flies Vol. 1: Hallorave was named one of Amazon's Top 10 Graphic Novels of 2010. Now, here is the second installment in Mezzo and Pirus’s creepily sexy suburban soap opera — a French Twin Peaks graphic novel as written by Stephen King and drawn by Charles Burns.
Eric the fly-head-wearing teenager is back (as well as his hapless mother and her “fiancé”), as are not-quite-ingénue Marie, the worldly Sal, Denis the drug dealer and his now one-handed father, and of course the loopy retro bowling thug Ringo... plus several new cast members, including one who died at the very beginning of the first volume and has now returned to roam the earth.
Once again, the story is told through a series of seemingly unrelated short stories which eventually become intricately braided into one sprawling tale of a community haunted by obsession, rage, regret and despair — in sum, a graphic novel for the 21st century.
King of the Flies is designed as a trilogy of albums, which will combine to form a single graphic novel of stunning intricacy and intensity.
Yeah, we're great, and our books are late. Why, what did you think the headline meant?
Anyway, a new year is upon and it's time to 'fess up about all the late Fantagraphics titles you were expecting to have by now, and don't, because we suck. Specific apologia and weaseling have been added to some titles, others we just pass under mortified silence. 2011 will be better!
The following have been rescheduled: • THE ANTIC CARTOON ART OF T.S. SULLIANT will be reformatted, rethought, re-solicited, and released in early 2012 • FORLORN FUNNIES VOLUME 1 by Paul Hornschemeier will be released in the Summer of 2011 • THE HIDDEN by Richard Sala will be re-solicited and released in July 2011 • HOW TO READ NANCY will be re-solicited and released in 2012 in a vastly expanded version from what we first expected • IS THAT ALL THERE IS? (né MODERN SWARTE, originally announced for 2007) in late Fall 2011: Yes, Joost has turned in all the files and publishers in three countries are synchronizing their watches! • NANCY IS HAPPY will be released in late 2011: It turns out that there was more production work than we anticipated to make the book as perfect as humanly possible.) • POGO VOLUME 1 will be released in the Fall of 2011 - yes, seriously, for real this time
Time for lots more awkwardly-formatted year-end lists, a review from The Washington Post and much more in what might be the longest Online Commentary & Diversions ever:
• List: For the Las Vegas Weekly, J. Caleb Mozzocco counts down his top 5 comics of 2010:
#3: Temperance by Cathy Malkasian: "Blessed with a Dr. Seuss-like ability to evoke the most serious problems and bleakest emotions in personalized, original, timeless fantasy elements, Malkasian has constructed a graphic epic involving a handful of colorful, tragic characters and their interlocking lives."
#5: Werewolves of Montepellier by Jason: "A successful jewel thief disguises himself as a werewolf during heists, eventually attracting the attention of real, actual werewolves in Jason’s latest deadpan dramedy masterpiece. While that might sound like the protagonist’s most urgent problem, his doomed crush on neighbor-turned-friend Audrey is the only thing truly eating him."
• List: The bloggers at Robot 6 count down their choices for the best comics of 2010:
"7. Set to Sea: The story of a would-be poet who is shanghaied and learns about life at sea the hard way, Set to Sea is drawn in a series of single panels, each of which is a miniature masterpiece on its own. It’s a singularly economical way of telling a story, and Drew Weing makes each of his panels into a tight little world of its own." – Brigid Alverson
"4. You’ll Never Know, Book Two: Collateral Damage: [...] Tyler skillfully handles multiple strands of her story, using a variety of styles and formats for different episodes, slowly building a complete picture from several different sources." – Brigid Alverson
"16. It Was the War of the Trenches, by Jacques Tardi: French master Tardi does to the Great War what the Great War did to the bodies of millions of young soldiers: blow it wide open and root in the mess. Depicted primarily in an unyielding onslaught of widescreen panels, it’s like a slog through the trenches itself. Furious and full of contempt for war and its masters." – Sean T. Collins
"6. It Was the War of the Trenchesby Jacques Tardi: Reading Trenches, you realize just how far afield, just how dead wrong most American (and British) had it in their depiction of war. Even Kurtzman’s war comics (which I love) seem like kiddie sermonizing, an overly sweet, sanitized warning, next to Tardi’s uncompromising depiction of WWI. You want to know how brutal war can be? You want to know how war should be depicted in comics – how to look the utter savagery, inhumanity and square in the eye using only pen and ink? This is how you do it." – Chris Mautner
"15. A Drunken Dream and Other Stories, by Moto Hagio: I gasped aloud repeatedly while experiencing the sheer loveliness of this book, a collection of short stories from throughout the decades by shoujo-manga pioneer Moto Hagio. Best of all, there’s a cake beneath all that icing, as Hagio’s stories are frequently sophisticated, moving, and unwilling to pull punches." – Sean T. Collins
"13. Prison Pit Book 2, by Johnny Ryan: Johnny Ryan journeys deeper than ever before into his inner ickiness and returns with an action-horror hybrid it’s almost impossible to 'enjoy' in the traditional sense of the word — and which thereby takes those two genres in stunning new directions." – Sean T. Collins
"11. Artichoke Tales, by Megan Kelso: A war comic like none you’ve ever read, Megan Kelso’s ambitious alt-fantasy is concerned not with conflict’s immediate carnage, but with its lasting effects on the societies engaged in it — economic, cultural, religious, familial, even geographical. I found it humanistic, unsparing, and fascinating." – Sean T. Collins
"10. Weathercraft, by Jim Woodring: It’s always darkest before the dawn, and the psychedelic body-horror of Jim Woodring has never been darker than it gets here. His hapless, villainous Manhog is made to suffer like you’ve seen few comics characters suffer before in any style or genre…only to emerge enlightened and overjoyed on the other side in a final act that feels like that first breath of fresh cool air after you’ve hidden your head under the covers in terror for minutes on end." – Sean T. Collins
"2. Weathercraft by Jim Woodring: [...] It’s a twisting, twisted, often bizarre, often disturbing but always gripping tale of one creature’s self-redemption and ultimate sacrifice told without words and often as enigmatically as possible. If you had any doubt that Woodring could still deliver after laying low for so long, consider them erased." – Chris Mautner
"7. Special Exits, by Joyce Farmer: ...[N]early every meticulously crosshatched panel [is] drawn as if [Farmer's] life depended on it. Maybe it did. This is a magnum opus no one expected to read, a brutally frank depiction of what it’s like for full lives you love to end, and it has the most painfully happy ending of the year. It made me cry. Don’t do what I almost did and ignore one of the year’s most moving comics." – Sean T. Collins
"3. Wally Gropius, by Tim Hensley: The first great comic of the Great Recession. Tim Hensley’s breakout graphic novel, previously serialized in the Mome anthology, seems like a send-up of silly ‘60s teen-comedy and kid-millionaire comics on the surface, but beneath lies as odd and accurate a cri de coeur about capitalism and consumerism as I’ve ever read. It also does things with body language I’ve never seen in comics, and is funny as hell to boot. There’s nothing else out there like it." – Sean T. Collins
"5. Wally Gropius by Tim Hensley: The funniest comic of the year, Gropius is both homage and raised middle finger to the kids comics of yore, chiding them for their superficiality and yet revealing in their sublime shallowness all the same. That Hensley managed to have his cake and eat it too in such a breezy fashion suggests he will be an artist to watch for in the coming years." – Chris Mautner
"2. High Soft Lisp / Love and Rockets: New Stories #3, by Gilbert Hernandez and Jaime Hernandez: This year I read nearly every comic ever created by Los Bros Hernandez; what a pleasure to discover at the end of my immersion that their two most recent comics are also two of their best, and thus two of the best comics by anyone. Gilbert and Jaime both tear furiously into love and sex in these two collections; what they find inside is ugly; what they do with it is beautiful." – Sean T. Collins
"3. Love and Rockets [New Stories] 3 by Xaime and Gilbert Hernandez: Gilbert’s contributions are great as usual (his work here and in the recently collected High Soft Lisp proves he’s no second banana brother), but it is Xaime’s 'The Love Bunglers/Browntown' that makes this volume so worthy of praise. A harrowing story of abuse, familial neglect and regret masterfully told, I defy anyone not to read this tale and not be devastated by its conclusion. Not a single line goes to waste here. To say it’s the best thing Xaime’s done is a stunning comment considering his lengthy and exemplary body of work, but there’s no question he’s raised the bar once again." – Chris Mautner
• List: The great Washington, DC bookstore Politics & Prose names their 2010 Graphic Novel Favorites, including:
"The Sanctuary by Nate Neal is one of the most adventurous, exciting, complex and beautiful graphic novels. [...] Nate Neal creates a language for the clan, and tells the entire story without any recognizable words, making The Sanctuary a quiet and dark collection of gestures and expressions."
"Pirus and Mezzo’s King of the Flies is a dark romp through a strange drug filled, sex crazed world of small town Europe. [...] Pirus and Mezzo aren’t afraid to tell a story full of our darkest desires and needs, but they’re also startlingly poetic."
"Weathercraft, by Jim Woodring, is a beautiful dream and a beautiful nightmare. [...] Weathercraft is page after page of utterly original, outrageous, wordless thrills. Somehow, in a place where confusion and chaos seem to reign, Woodring creates sense. The challenge and beauty of Weathercraft is taking hold of that sense, and letting it go when the dream becomes too beautiful to pass up."
"C. Tyler continues her inquiry into the true story of her father’s WWII experience with You’ll Never Know Book Two: Collateral Damage. Tyler’s colorful panels and line work is a welcome relief to the usual comics format; and her creative shifting of perspective and story... offer just the right amount of energy and relevance to make this book (and the previous volume) one of the best of the year."
"Hinging on one supernatural occurrence after another, the misadventures of Adele Blanc-Sec are surely one of the most welcome events this year. [...] This is a classic which should not be missed."
"...Moto Hagio’s story collection, A Drunken Dream, is a welcome and celebrated relief to the mainstream, translated Japanese comics, giving the reader a meaningful and deeply felt experience. ...Hagio’s exploration of loss... and identity... is equal to the best that any literature offers."
• List: Brazilian site Ambrosia names The Best Comics Published in the U.S. in 2010 — Alternatives and Classics, including:
It Was the War of the Trenches by Jacques Tardi: "The French Tardi is a versatile artist, a thorough storyteller of historical fact and fiction. The clean lines and light of his drawings refer to the style of another Frenchman, the revered Moebius."
The Littlest Pirate King by David B.: "Accustomed to living with sea monsters, plundering ships and murdering sailors, a group of scary undead pirates has its routine radically transformed when they are forced to care for a child. David B.... uses his beautiful and dark art to adapt a fun text by Orlan."
• List: At Comics Worth Reading, Johanna Draper Carlson names Castle Waiting Vol. 2 by Linda Medley the Best Graphic Novel of 2010: "Exceptionally illustrated fantasy revolving around everyday life among a stunning cast of unusual characters who make their own unusual family in an abandoned castle."
• Review: "Saucy, bold, enigmatic, gently funny, reassuringly romantic; brimming with human warmth and just the right edge of hidden danger Castle Waiting [Vol. 2] is a masterpiece of subtly ironic, perfectly paced storytelling that any kid over ten can and will adore. Moreover, if you’re long in the tooth or have been around the block a time or two, this fantastic place can’t help but look like home." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• List: At The Casual Optimist, Dan Wagstaff names Jason's Werewolves of Montpellier one of his Favourite New Books of 2010: "Ostensibly the book is about a thief called Sven who disguises himself as werewolf to rob people’s apartments and incurs the wrath of the town’s actual werewolves. It is, however, as much about friendship, identity, loneliness, and, ultimately, Sven’s unrequited love for his neighbour Audrey. [...] The whole book is achingly brief, but Werewolves of Montpellier is possibly my favourite Jason book to date." (Via Robot 6)
"14. Artichoke Tales(Megan Kelso) [...] Kelso's simple lines beautifully capture the emotional turmoil of the characters and move the action along fluidly. This title caught me by surprise with how much I enjoyed it — it looks deceptively simple, but there's a lot going on in this ambitious book."
"10. The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec (Volume 1) (Jacques Tardi) [...] This story is full of broad characters and is really silly, but it's a really riveting, often funny book that you can't help but love to spend time with, featuring some of Tardi's best art period. Plus pterodactyls in Paris!"
"6. Love and Rockets: New Stories #3 [...] The Hernandez Brothers' third annual release of Love and Rockets is their best yet. Gilbert Hernandez has long been a favorite artist of mine and he offers some pretty dynamic stories this time around as well... Jaime develops his characters effortlessly as he produces what may be one of the best offerings of his career."
"4. Castle Waiting (Volume 2)(Linda Medley) [...] This book is overflowing with great characters, the story unfolding cinematically to Medley's beautiful cartoony art. The domestic life that readers glimpse with these volumes is an absolute pleasure to behold, and I really enjoy the time I spend with the people in this title, as they explore the castle and unlock some of its mysteries while settling in. A real treasure."
"1. The Littlest Pirate King(David B. & Pierre Mac Orlan) – My favorite comic that I read this year is David B.'s comic adaptation of the prose story by French writer Pierre Mac Orlan. ...David B. elaborately illustrates this world with amazing mastery of the craft. The coloring, the pacing and panel arrangements, and the world of these pirates pillaging ships and being general menaces all make for a fun, engaging experience. This book contains some of the most beautiful panels that I've seen in years, and confidently sits at the top of my list for best of the year."
• List: On his MadInkBeard blog, Derik Badman lists Love and Rockets: New Stories #3 as one of the Best Print Comics of 2010: "This is Jaime doing what he does best, advancing the lives of his characters, adding to their histories, introducing side characters, and generating an emotional impact." (Via Robot 6)
• List: On The Forbidden Planet International Blog Log, Martin Steenton of Avoid the Future names his top 3 Best of the Year: "...Drew Weing’s Set to Sea is one of the most beautifully-rendered graphic novels you could hope to see ever, let alone from within the past twelve months. [...] From start to finish, Set to Sea feels like a true classic; the graphic novel equivalent of Treasure Island, if you will. If you’re the sort of parent that doesn’t mind exposing your children to a few gory moments, I like to imagine that this is the book you’ll give them to usher them into their lives as comic readers. Think what a cool mum/dad you’d be."
• List: At Imprint, Michael Dooley names the Best American Comics Criticism panel at Skylight Books one of "the best speaker events that involved comics and graphic design" in L.A. last year
• Review: "Four Color Fear is editor Greg Sadowski's commemoration of horror publishers other than dominant Entertaining Comics ... [T]his volume contains many... complete tales, giving the reader a sense of how hard it was to meet the genre's three main requirements: sudden fear, ample gore and twist endings, all in the space of six to 10 pages. [...] One leads off with this fraught question: 'Have you ever heard a strange voice whisper, "Come with me into the Blackest depths of evil"?' To which I would have answered in the 1950s, 'What took you so long to ask?'" – Dennis Drabelle, The Washington Post (via Newsarama)
• Review: "Johnny Ryan is in my mind is one of the best modern humorists in comics today. It's not the kind of humor that's gonna get him invited to lots of prestigious awards ceremonies, but you can not deny that this shit [is] funny! Seriously for all those people who have not read a Johnny Ryan book for whatever stupid reason, pick [FUC_ __U _SS __LE] up. There's gonna be something in here that will make you laugh or puke or laugh and puke at the same time. It's an awesome awesome book. Loved it all the way through." – P.D. Houston, Renderwrx Productions
• Review: "Taking quotes from people who met King, journeyed with him, and experienced his teachings and shortcomings firsthand, the book gives readers an honest and refreshing take on the man that became a legend. The art in King is a sight to behold... While some will undoubtedly walk away with the impression that this take on King’s life somehow lessens his impact on society, others will hopefully find that the humanistic aspect enhances the appreciation of his determination to make a change. Rating: ★★★★1/2" – Matt Peters, Pads & Panels
• Plug: "Mascots is a beautiful new book by Ray Fenwick collecting a series of color paintings on found book covers. [...] You must all surely concur that this new book establishes Ray Fenwick as the foremost satirist-illustrator-typographer-poet-designer of our time." – Matt Forsythe, Drawn
• Plugs: At The Moviefone Blog, David Brothers recommends "Comic Books for Movie Buffs"; his picks for war movie fans and samurai movie fans, respectively:
"...It Was the War of the Trenches shows how war simultaneously dehumanizes and strengthens our connection to life. The dehumanization derives from the fact that soldiers who die in this book tend to do so alone, or by surprise, and life just goes on. The strengthening point, however, is due to how the soldiers eagerly grasp what life they have left, despite their situation. It Was the War of the Trenches is heartbreaking and maybe a little funny, but more than anything, it's fulfilling."
"...Usagi Yojimbo is not only deadly serious, but a fantastic read. Sakai clearly knows the era he's writing stories about very well, and his research shows. If not for the funny talking animals, this series would be fantastically realistic. With them, though, it's a series that hits many of the same high points as classic Kurosawa, but often from a fresh angle."
• Survey:The Beat's year-end/looking-forward survey of comics pros (part one) includes a classic Peter Bagge quip ("What was the biggest story in comics in 2010?" "No one has any money") plus input from Noah Van Sciver
• Analysis: In an academic paper published in the University of Florida's interdisciplinary comics studies journal ImageTexT, Joel Simundich examines "Translation, Transparency, and Genre" in Jason's The Iron Wagon (recently reprinted in What I Did)
• Interview: On his Princess Sparkle Pony blog, Peter Huestis presents a transcription of his 1995 interview with Jim Woodring which was published in Hypno Magazine: "I never use any of my dreams in the Frank stories. I've evolved a way of writing those stories that I adhere to pretty much all the time. I go down into this ravine near my house and hide in the bushes and write in my notebook. I write the stories out in words. I'll write an opening line like, 'Frank has a heavy heart.' If I like that for an opener, I will ask why he has a heavy heart. Sometimes I get an answer and sometimes I don't."
• List/Plug/Coming Attractions:The Millions names among their Most Anticipated books of 2011 two by Alexander Theroux: this month's The Strange Case of Edward Gorey ("Part biography, part artistic analysis, and part memoir of a long friendship, with exclusive interviews conducted shortly before Gorey’s death, this book is generally accepted as the most comprehensive portrait of Gorey ever written") and July's Estonia ("The book emerges from Theroux’s time spent in the former Soviet republic while his wife was on a Fulbright Scholarship. Ever observant, Theroux uses Estonia and its people as a lens through which to look back at America"); elsewhere at The Millions, Theroux himself weighs in on his Year in Reading
See an exclusive 7-page excerpt from King of the Flies Vol. 2: The Origin of the World at TIME.com – Techland! Introducing the pages, Douglas Wolk says "The first volume of European comics creators Mezzo and Pirus' King of the Flies, subtitled Hallorave, was one of the creepiest graphic novels of 2010... The follow-up, The Origin of the World, comes out soon, and it makes the story's vortex of terror spin even faster — the vibe is somewhere between Charles Burns' Black Hole and Blue Velvet, with a soundtrack of Misfits singles, Stones bootlegs and too-intense techno."
• List: "King of the Flies: 1. Hallorave manages to combine dystopia and partying in one particularly morose suburban nabe. Artist Pascal 'Mezzo' Mesenburg’s crisp scenes of druggy costume soirées and bowling-alley liaisons deftly complement writer Michel Pirus’s slyly interlocking tales of depraved jollies in suburbia." – R.C. Baker, Village Voice "2010's Best Comics and Graphic Novels"
• List: Kelly Thompson of Comic Book Resources names Linda Medley one of her Favorite Female Comic Creators of 2010, saying "...Castle Waiting Volume 2 is easily one of the best fiction books I've read this year and that's thanks to years of hard work by Medley carefully crafting these stories and characters and flat out making me fall in love with them. Her illustration work remains truly exceptional."
• Review: "So, the writing and conception are impressive, and Tardi’s art is typically glorious and surreal. [You Are There] looks like a Jean-Pierre Jeunet film, and would be of interest to anyone who grew up with Asterix and Tintin and prefers the atmospheric and character-driven style of adult European albums to the cinematic and genre-driven style of American comic books." – Grant Buist, The Name of This Cartoon Is Brunswick
• Review: "I was a huge Jason fan before this year, but after this year's excellent Werewolves of Montpellier and now this hardcover collection of the artist's most early works, he has officially become my favorite creator making comics today. [...] Reading through this collected edition, you can actually see Jason developing his trademark style. His anthropomorphic figures wearing apathetic faces are ever present, but as one turns the pages, you see a young artist become an expert storyteller. ...I guarantee if you take a chance on Jason's work, you will never forget it. What I Did is beautifully bound and could be a perfect gift for someone who needs to get in touch with their independent spirit this holiday season." – Mark L. Miller, Ain't It Cool News