• Review: "...Freeway is often stunning. Kalesniko spent 10 years on the book, and the time and care is evident in the structural complexity. [...] One of the unique properties of comics — utilized well by artists like Chris Ware and Richard McGuire — is the ability to connect disparate pieces of information using the page like a chart. Kalesniko doesn’t draw any arrows or experiment with layouts, but he does convey the impression of a man dealing with his daily frustrations by letting every sight, sound, and sensation send him on a trip through his own head. And in Freeway, Alex Kalienka’s head is as vivid as the book’s depiction of key Los Angeles landmarks. Kalesniko renders both the exterior and interior spaces with a mix of loving care and impassioned disgust." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "This mesmeric saga [Freeway] is deliciously multi-layered: blending compelling narrative with tantalising tidbits and secret snippets from the golden age of animation with rosy reveries of the meta-fictional post-war LA and the sheer tension of a paranoid thriller. Kalesniko opens Alex mind and soul to us but there’s no easy ride. Like Christopher Nolan’s Memento, there’s a brilliant tale here but you’re expected to pay attention and work for it. Illustrated with stunning virtuosity in captivating black line, Alex’s frustration, anger, despair, reminiscences and imaginings from idle ponderings to over-the-top near hallucinations are chillingly captured and shared in this wonderful book..." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Plug: "Freeway by Mark Kalesniko (published by @fantagraphics) is one of the best graphic novels I've read this year." – Ted Adams (founder/CEO, IDW Publishing)
• Plug:Grovel previews Freeway: "This 400-page epic looks set to be a stunning piece of work, as Kalesniko squeezes a lifetime of events into the mental wanderings of a single car journey."
• Review: "Dungeon Quest is unlike anything I have ever seen in the comic world. The closest comparison is some old comic strips in Dungeon Magazine from the mid-eighties but Dungeon Questtakes the level of insanity in those strips and adds +100 in delirium bonuses. If you know a manic dice roller, go out and purchase them both editions without thought. They will love you forever. [...] The story sounds a little like Bilbo Baggins' quest, right? Well, take Bilbo and drag him through a funhouse filled with drag queens and stand-up comedians from the eighties and you might end up with Dungeon Quest. The filth that spews from this book will make you blanch and make you laugh your lungs up." – Martin John, The Outhouse
• Review: "In short, The Arctic Marauder is pure fun, silly and dark camp. It’s a beautiful book, with an appealing cover and a sturdy hardcover binding. Tardi’s narrative voice keeps the proceedings puckishly light and pleasant, while the plot itself explores oceanic depths and throws out characters rife with madness and egocentrism. There aren’t many books quite like it; comics readers are better off for having Tardi available here in the States." – Michael C. Lorah, Newsarama
• Review: "The fun of getting caught up in a story that’s convoluted for its own sake, or the dazzle of pictures that preen the skill and effort that went into crafting them — they’re the hallmarks of a book that one reads to relax. Books that require an effort are ultimately more satisfying, but the smaller satisfactions are occasionally what one needs. The Arctic Marauder is fun, and it was nice to sit down with it after a long day." – Robert Stanley Martin, Pol Culture
• Review: "Screenwriter and novelist Claudio Piersanti's dark tale of a man driven to the depths of despair is beautifully captured in Mattotti's astonishing art [in Stigmata]. No artist is better suited to capturing all the intense violence, anger and despair this character suffers through." – John Anderson, The Beguiling blog
• Review: "Daddy's Girl is a comic book with a difference. Debbie Drechser uses mostly black and white illustrations to openly deal with the dark subject of abuse. [...] This is simply put, a masterpiece. The deeply disturbing subject matter of sexual abuse is brought to life with a startling brutality. It's impossible not to be impacted by the experiences within the pages. [...] It's a memorable, moving, bold, and — at times — emotionally challenging read that definitely rates a 5/5 from me." – Charlene Martel, The Literary Word
• Review: "Because Theroux knew Gorey personally — and remains a fervent fan — The Strange Case [of Edward Gorey] jumps from memories of the man to a more generalized biography, in between astute analyses of what makes Gorey books like The Hapless Child and The Gashlycrumb Tinies so haunting. The Strange Case isn’t organized like a conventional bio or critique; it’s more rambling and personal, working carefully past the psychic blockades of a man who once explained away the darkness of his work with the non-committal comment, 'I don’t know any children.'" – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "Rendered in an incomprehensibly lovely panorama of glowing artPrince Valiant is a non-stop rollercoaster of stirring action, exotic adventure and grand romance; blending realistic fantasy with sardonic wit and broad humour with unbelievably dark violence... Beautiful, captivating and utterly awe-inspiring the strip is a World Classic of storytelling and something no fan can afford to miss." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Review: "These superb oversized... hardback collections are the ideal way of discovering or rediscovering Segar’s magical tales. [...] There is more than one Popeye. If your first thought on hearing the name is an unintelligible, indomitable white-clad sailor always fighting a great big beardy-bloke and mainlining tinned spinach, that’s okay: the animated features have a brilliance and energy of their own... But they are really only the tip of an incredible iceberg of satire, slapstick, virtue, vice and mind-boggling adventure… [D]on’t you think it’s about time you sampled the original and very best?" – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Interview: At Newsarama, Zack Smith talks to Hans Rickheit about Ectopiary ("one of those webcomics that has everyone talking"), future plans and coelocanths: "The story divides into three parts which do not resemble each other. I wanted to draw an exotic science fiction, although the first hundred pages will contain very little in that vein. These stories aren't written; they simply occur to me. I prefer it that way. Good science fiction writers write about strange and inexplicable things. My job is make the strange things they write about."
• Review: "Whenever Fantagraphics releases a new Popeye book it's cause for manic joy, but this one is extra special because it introduces the mythical beast known as Eugene the Jeep who was possibly the namesake of the car/jockmobile. It also introduces Popeye's foul-tempered father, Poopdeck Pappy, who dislikes Popeye and punches Olive Oyl in the face. [...] This volume is pretty special." – Nick Gazin, Vice
• Review: "I like that Jordan Crane had decided not to play the victim of infidelity/villainous partner dynamic with the story of Leo and Dee. He has stripped them bare, which forces the reader to make his or her own decisions. Of course, the readers cannot do this through a passive reading experience. Being forced to engage isn’t a bad thing, because what we are engaging is a lush graphic narrative told in beautiful greytone art. Believing that Crane is equally good with character drama and kids’ comics may be difficult to accept, but the rollicking Simon & Jack will not only make you a believer, but also an acolyte of Crane. This is an all-ages tale because its sense of wonder and imagination will captivate all ages, and it is not too early to declare Uptight #4 one of the year’s best comics. [Grade:] A" – Leroy Douresseaux, Comic Book Bin
• Profile/Interview (Audio): At ESPN Desportes, Pedro Zayas talks to Wilfred Santiago (en Español) about 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente. An autotranslated clip from the text portion: "Santiago's graphic novel... helps us know more about the mythic history of Puerto Rican child star, before he started playing baseball, right up until his tragic death. It also includes a chapter on Puerto Rico and Clemente's childhood, as well as his life in America. It is an attractive book for all ages. 'When you make a biography the direct and personal life of the person you're writing about is important,' says Santiago. 'But at the same time is very important to the historical context in which that person lives ... It is important to know that when he lived is not the moment in which we live. '"
• Review: "[The Complete Peanuts 1979-1980] is... a genius volume... Some of the pieces here – especially the longer storylines – are absolute classics. [...] Plus, there’s just the sheer kookiness of some of Schulz’s pop-cultural references and inventions, which continues to astound here... Schulz is at the height of his powers as a cartoonist here, as well. [...] Such graphic flair! Such economy of line! A Peanuts nut couldn’t ask for more, really." – Naomi Fry, The Comics Journal
• Review: "Littered with violence, inappropriate sexual innuendos, misguided bravado and infused with hilarity, Dungeon Quest (of which two 136 page volumes are available) promises a uniquely entertaining graphic novel experience." – Rick Klaw, The SF Site: Nexus Graphica
• Profile: Anthony Mostrom of the Los Angeles Times gives a brief history of E.C. Segar and the creation of Popeye: "Segar had no idea just how fat his checks would become after the invention of Popeye. Indeed, he flirted with the idea of dropping the character after the 'Dice Island' story ended. Who would have guessed that a character so grotesque of face would be so instantly loved, his fame so long-lived that he would become part of a Google logo 80 years later?" (Via Newsarama)
• Review: "Though the episodic flow and gung-ho patriotism of the strips are simplistic in both content and conception, the depth they lack is greatly made up for by the vast, epic compositions that contain Crane’s spring-coiled bigfoot cartooning, the explosive you-are-there immediacy of his dogfights and shootouts, and the sensuous intensity of form and shape he brings to gorgeous women and vehicles of war alike. [...] Crane worked in broad strokes, which is what made him a great cartoonist; but in Buz Sawyer he also sometimes discovers quieter places, ones truly worthy of the sumptuousness with which he imbued every panel." – Matt Seneca, The Comics Journal
• Review: "Kalesniko is a major talent, and this book, which depicts a day stuck in traffic on a California freeway, presents considerable space for reflection, gossip, roman a clef and more. [...] Though the text of the story is rich and interesting, Kalesniko's art is amazing; manga-esque yet thoroughly Western, and richly expressive and subtle. Freeway will inevitably place high on many critic's year's-best lists." – Richard Pachter, The Miami Herald
• Review: "Political commentary often has a short shelf life, but Kreider's collection of cartoons and essays [Twilight of the Assholes] remains potent and pungent, despite its primary focus on the excesses and detritus of the Bush administration. There are no claims of fairness, balance, sensitivity or subtlety here. Kreider's sharp pen skewers holier-than-thou hypocrites, patently phony pious proselytizers, opportunists and idiots of all stripes — gleefully and without fear." – Richard Pachter, The Miami Herald
• Review: "With the core cast established, Segar takes more liberties with the formulas established in earlier books... and Segar continues to find new ways to play his cast off one another. How do Olive and Wimpy react when Eugene predicts Popeye will lose a prize fight for the first time ever? How does Popeye react to being a leader of men? It’s all here, all adventure and all hilarity. Fantagraphics, as you’ll know if you’ve been reading the series to date, continues to provide a gorgeous package – a towering book... with a striking die-cut cover. [...] Popeye Vol. 5: 'Wha’s a Jeep?' stands out as another winning classic comic strip collection, a reminder how great the medium has been and how dynamic it can still be." – Michael C. Lorah, Newsarama
• Review: "The value in this volume [Unexplored Worlds: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 2] is not in the stories themselves... but in tracking how Ditko’s art develops. Amid the stock characters of hapless dullards, five o’clock shadow Everymen and saturnine businessmen and the typical rocketships and ray guns of the day, Ditko gains confidence and consistency in his depictions, and an ability to pack more information into fewer images and to guide the reader’s eye across the page for maximum impact. His ability to convey otherworldly horrors flowers as well..." – Christopher Allen, Trouble with Comics
• Review: "...[W]hy is Sergio Ponchione not regarded as one of the top artists in the field today?! [Grotesque #4] is absolutely gorgeous. Lush, bizarre, and moving. The type of comics art which you dwell on a single panel for minutes at a time. The amount of detail and skill in each drawing is astounding. The tones and colors along with the expressive line and brush work create a mood of deep inspection." – P.D. Houston, Renderwrx Productions
• Interview:The Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon talks to new TCJ.com honchos Dan Nadel & Tim Hodler about taking the reins of The Comics Journal's online presence: "The initial goal was and remains the creation of a genuine on-line comics magazine (as opposed to blog, or series of blogs), with all of the long-form essays, interviews, reviews, and visual features that come with it. In other words, yes, we're attempting a counter-intuitive web site strategy, in the hopes that quality content will draw people in. We're interested in making a magazine that has a place in the larger visual culture, and can be a go-to source for people seeking insightful writing about comics."
• Commentary:Robot 6's Sean T. Collins, on the new TCJ.com: "Since I’m writing for the thing, I may not be in the best position to comment about it, but quite aside from my own minor role in the proceedings, the move is a welcome and long-overdue one. [...] Handing the Journal‘s website to an experienced print/web editorial team with a clear vision of comics and how to talk about them, one that moreover has been on the leading edge of comics criticism for some years now, is a major step in the right direction."
• Interview:The Daily Cross Hatch's Brian Heater concludes his conversation with Stan Sakai: "I own the characters, so I can do basically whatever I want with him, as far as the story goes. Most of it is adventure, I’ve done romances, I’ve done mysteries — I even did Space Usagi, where he goes through outer space. I can pretty much do anything I want with him, so I never get bored. I’m having fun with Usagi, even after so many years."
• Interview:The Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon talks to Renee French: "I've been fishing around. I don't know if it's my age or what, but I'm confused. I have a bunch of obsessions that keep coming back. If I just kind of do something else, like these one-off drawings that I've been doing lately, it's not satisfying. I actually need to feel a little on-edge and crazy, I think."
• Interview:Seattlest's Hanna Brooks Olsen chatted with our own Larry Reid at Emerald City ComiCon yesterday and got "some pretty spectacular insight on what's going on" with us
• Feature:The Seattle Times' Janet I. Tu does her due diligence in her profile of Emerald City ComiCon and asks the president of Seattle's largest comics publisher about the event: "'It's mind-bending how big it is now and how influential,' said Gary Groth, who works at Seattle-based Fantagraphics Books, a graphic-novel and comic-book publisher, and edits the print edition of The Comics Journal, a magazine of news and criticism on comics and cartooning. Groth attributes the growth of such conventions to comics becoming a more integral part of pop culture. 'Or perhaps pop culture has become more comic-book-ized,' he said. 'You see it with comic-book movies or TV shows like Heroes. What used to be seen as essentially kids' entertainment has become grown-up entertainment.'"
• Commentary:Robot 6's Sean T. Collins comments on Alex Dueben's interview with Carol Tyler for that blog's parent site Comic Book Resources: "Having been sucked in by war fever myself several years ago, I find myself more and more moved by accounts of how even the most well-intentioned conflicts make a rubble of countless human lives, both the ones taken and the ones scarred, physically, economically, or emotionally. ...[Tyler is] doing vitally important work."
• Interview:Comic Book Resources' Alex Dueben talks to Carol Tyler about You'll Never Know: "I believe the damage leveled upon an entire generation of (primarily) men by WWII absolutely defined our Baby Boom generation. All that so called indulgence we've been accused of. Emotionally shut off children love hula-hoops! And drugs! Look at the bloody trail of bad relationships and general self-destructive behaviors we got into. Book I says, 'I hurt you to harm your children.' This is the legacy of war."
• Commentary: No list of "great non-superhero comic book fights" would be complete without including Popeye and Captain Easy, and Chris Mautner's at Robot 6 does
This week's comic shop shipment is slated to include the following new titles. It's a great week if you like classic comic strips with adventure on the high seas! Read on to see what comics-blog commentators are saying about our releases this week, check out our previews at the links, and contact your local shop to confirm availability.
240-page black & white/color 9.25" x 9.25" hardcover • $35.00 ISBN: 978-1-60699-362-0
"Beginning another vintage reprint project for Fantagraphics, this time focused on Roy Crane’s post-Wash Tubbs/Captain Easy series, an initially Naval-themed strip he was given the opportunity to own for himself. I believe this 9.25″ x 9.25″ package is primarily dailies-based, with a selection of the strip’s more comedy-focused Sundays presented as fold-out images." – Joe McCulloch, Comics Comics
"A $35 Fantagraphics hardcover, collecting the first few years' worth of the daily incarnation of Roy Crane's oh-brother-I'm-a-buzzboy newspaper strip, 1943-1945." – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
"Any extra money I find under the couch would go toward another comic strip collection, Buz Sawyer Vol. 1 by Roy Crane. I really enjoyed the first volume of Crane’s Captain Easy that Fantagraphics published last year, and am eager to experience Crane’s other big strip." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"...Roy Crane's Buz Sawyer HC Volume 1: The War in the Pacific... is more amazing stuff from the guy who brought you Captain Easy. [...] This volume collects all of the dailies that were published during the War — in which Buz serves aboard an aircraft carrier, flies combat missions, crashes behind enemy lines and gets nabbed by a Japanese submarine — along with a selection of the best Sundays as fold-out pages. [...] He also meets a bunch of beautiful women along the way, obviously." – The Gosh! Comics Blog
168-page black & white/color 10.5" x 14.75" hardcover • $29.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-404-7
"Also in reprints, the latest in Fantagraphics’ line of huge E.C. Segar hardcovers." – Joe McCulloch, Comics Comics
"Thirty bucks gets you the penultimate volume of the huge, sturdy collections of E.C. Segar's final decade of Thimble Theatre, from Fantagraphics. [...] I'll gladly pay you tomorrow for a Popeye book today, etc." – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
"The most obvious choice (and easily the pick of the week for me) is Wha’s A Jeep, volume five of the classic E.C. Segar comic strip." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"Fantagraphics’ latest collection of E.C. Segar’s original Popeye strips is another gorgeous... tome, featuring Pappy, Swee’Pea and The Jeep." – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
"If you've been hankering for some classic cartoon strips then Fantagraphics have just the ticket: Firstly, there's Popeye HC Volume 5: Wha's a Jeep? which means their spines along our shelves will now spell out POPEY as opposed to POPE — adjective; meaning 'Pope-like, or -ish' rather than just the dude himself." – The Gosh! Comics Blog
"Two handsome collections of very strong work by outright cartooning masters. The only reason you shouldn't be buying them today is because you pre-ordered them somewhere." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
• Review: "Working in frenetic black and white, Eisner-award-winning Italian cartoonist Lorenzo Mattotti illustrates screenwriter Claudio Piersanti’s Stigmata with powerful art that drives a timeless fable of existential dreams. [...] Thanks to Piersanti’s workable script, Stigmata comes across as naturalistic and modernist in an old-school Hemingway style. [...] It’s an old story, but the heart that Mattotti and Piersanti bring to their comic keeps the work interesting.Mattotti’s character designs are as incredibly idiosyncratic as they are intense — their bodies are hulking masses, with exaggerated proportions and faces that don’t feel drawn so much as sculpted." – Ao Meng, The Daily Texan
• Review: "Segar's Thimble Theater was a nearly perfect blend of humor and adventure, with a cast of interesting oddballs (led by Popeye himself, of course) and a tone that could veer from high drama to low comedy within a couple of panels. And this Fantagraphics series is even closer to perfection, presenting Segar's work gorgeously on great big pages — it would be a much better world if all our artistic treasures were treated this well." – Andrew Wheeler, The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.
• Interview (Audio): I haven't yet but you can bet I'll be listening to the entire 2 hours of the Inkstuds interview with the great Carol Tyler
• Interview:Robot 6's Brigid Alverson gets the behind-the-scenes scoop from Rich Tommaso about his work recoloring the Carl Barks ducks comics for our forthcoming collections
• Coming Attractions: The latest "Graphic Novels Prepub Alert" from Library Journal's Martha Cornog spotlights Murder by High Tide: "Belgian artist Tillieux (1921-78) is well known in Europe for tightly plotted mystery-comedies, churning with action and spectacular roadway mayhem. Never before translated for Americans, his work suggests Hergé's Tintin but in moodier, Will Eisner-grimy settings."