Since Fantagraphics and comiXology shook hands that fateful weekend last summer, the hits just keep a-galloping through the gate. Here are the books we have kickin' around in our digital stable ready to be rode hard, combed down and fed oats (in the form of your high-star ratings).
Here's a run-down of the digital comics we currently have available to read on your tablets, iPads, eReaders, myPads, ThinkTouches and more. Click on titles to be taken to their page at comiXology.
Memoirs of the artist's misspent youth. Raunchy, hilarious, and often violent as hell, an unsentimentally nostalgic trip to half a century ago — the anti- Happy Days, set to a true rock ’n’ roll beat. - See more at: http://www.fantagraphics.com/index.php?keyword=cruisin%27+with+the+hound&search_type=titles&Search=Search&Itemid=62&option=com_virtuemart&page=shop.browse#sthash.zYJMZj3B.dpuf7 Miles a Second by David Wojnarowicz, James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook.
Note that most of these books are available at your local comic book store or our website in print form but we know you have to save that shelf space. Every Wednesday we have 1-2 new digital releases, sometimes same-day releases as the book. Buy a book for yourself or someone you love today.
Fantagraphics and comiXology release R. Kikuo Johnson's debut graphic novel, Night Fisher , which tells the intimate tale of young teens verging into the alien territory of adulthood.
The setting? First-rate prep school, S.U.V., and a dream house in the heights: This was the island paradise handed to Loren Foster when he moved to Hawaii with his father six years ago. Now, with the end of high school just around the corner, his best friend, Shane, has grown distant. The rumors say it's hard drugs, and Loren suspects that Shane has left him behind for a new group of friends. What sets Johnson's drama apart is the naturalistic ease with which he explores the relationships of his characters. It is at once an unsentimental portrait of that most awkward period between adolescence and young adulthood and that rarest of things: a mature depiction of immature lives.
Visually, Johnson captures the languid tropical climate and strip mall tackiness of Hawaii in a rich chiaroscuro style reminiscent of Milton Caniff combined with the sensual ink work of Paul Pope or Jessica Abel. You can purchase this 145 page beauty over at comiXology today.
"Johnson's debut is not only remarkably assured but astonishingly fresh, one that refuses to trade in the usual hoary high-school cliches... Panels are shuffled together with a cinematic flair that highlights the florid emotions of adolescence far better than any battery of melodrama could. A dark, grand, sweeping dream of a book." – Kirkus Review
"The gritty coming-of-age story also delivers strong plot and dialog like a fistful of poi." – Book Collector
I don't happen across R. Kikuo Johnson's work online too often so I was happy to learn via Douglas Wolk that Kikuo contributed illustrations for Douglas's article on the iPad's impact on the comics industry at Wired. Go for the art, stay for the analysis.
• Review: "21: The Story of Roberto Clemente brings together comics and baseball, two of America's most popular conveyers of epic mythology. Author Wilfred Santiago also incorporates elements of classical and avant-garde jazz in his sinuously illustrated narrative of Clemente's life. It takes an imagination as rich as Mr. Santiago's to tap into various mythological languages to tell the Pittsburgh Pirate's iconic story... Instead of dwelling on sources of obvious resentment, Mr. Santiago defaults to illustrating Clemente's humanity. We're treated to close-ups of his most noble and ignoble moments. The artist refuses to treat him like a plastic saint, because a perfect Clemente would make boring reading, indeed. ...Wilfred Santiago has done as good a job as anyone ever has in reintroducing the longtime Pittsburgh Pirate to a new generation." – Tony Norman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
• Review: "You’d be hard-pressed to find a more downright affable character than blithely blitzed Larrybear, the young female focus of Leslie Stein’s ongoing semiautobiographical comic [Eye of the Majestic Creature ], whose first four issues are collected here.... Stein gives us the slackerly, star-eyed alternative to a cadre of 'misanthropic, self-pitying comics about unappreciated cartoonists,' as Tom De Haven characterized it... But where the aforementioned Crumb-descended misanthropes have all more or less grown up, Stein’s Larrybear is a naïve woman on the verge of Whatever, a cute Candide floundering about in an increasingly complicated world. ...[T]his book [is] such a pleasure..." – Richard Gehr, The Comics Journal
• Review: "Lewis Trondheim is one of the world’s best cartoonists.... Approximate Continuum Comics is some of Trondheim’s earliest autobiographical work, dating mostly from 1993 and 1996. If you’re read his more recent slivers of life observations... then you already know the sublime wit and casual self-deprecation of Trondheim’s cartooning. Approximate Continuum Comics is where that [tack] begins." – Michael C. Lorah, Newsarama
• Review: "Love from the Shadows is a very strange story. Surreal is such an overused word, but it is the best description I can come up with to describe the tone of the work. There is a disjointed, dream-like progression to the narrative.... As with so much of Hernandez's work, it is beautifully illustrated. The art is suffused with emotion and atmosphere and eroticism. The work Hernandez does is a critical component to his examining all of the societal, psychological, and sexual issues. …Love from the Shadows [is] an intriguing, offbeat story that is open to examination and interpretation. …Love from the Shadows is an intellectually stimulating read. And the artwork is magnificent." – Benjamin Herman, Associated Content
• Review: "The Littlest Pirate King is a wonderful phantasmagoria, as likely to entertain a ten year old as a thirty year eight year old (and I say this having had the book pulled off my lap and spirited away by my own ten year old). There is a lovely innocence to proceedings, a seemingly uncalculated desire to thrill and chill and transport... that has had me flicking back through the book a good dozen times since I’ve read it. This is the kind of book that got me reading books when I was a wee nipper, and it’s the kind of book that keeps me reading now that I’m the furthest possible thing from a wee nipper." – Bookmunch
• Review: "Blazing Combat is a book I'm quite proud to have in my collection. It's a work of art, has a message that's strong even over 40 years after the material was first created, and I'll come back to this at least once every few years." – Philip Reed, BattleGrip
• List:Library Journal's Martha Cornog gathers recommended graphic novels dealing with themes of Health & Medicine, including:
Special Exits by Joyce Farmer: "An excellent alert for those new to the path (for themselves or for relatives) and a validation for those already familiar with this normal yet seemly so abnormal life stage."
Alex by Mark Kalesniko: "This exploration of depression, futile escapism, and the healing power of art has been described as a difficult read but very funny."
Giraffes in My Hair: A Rock 'n' Roll Life by Bruce Paley & Carol Swain: "Hanging out here and crashing there, Paley narrates vignettes of debauchery and daily life in a Woodstock version of American Splendor. Partner Swain's smudgy, black-and-white drawings carry his grimy, nostalgic account."
Mother, Come Home by Paul Hornschemeier: "An exquisitely written and beautifully drawn exploration of grief."
Rip M.D. by Mitch Shauer, Mike Vosburg et al.: "A 'full-color, all-ages adventure' with an animated cartoon series in development, and a promising bet for reluctant readers."
• List:Robot 6's Chris Mautner names "Six noteworthy debut comics," saying of R. Kikuo Johnson's Night Fisher "this tale of disaffected adolescence and drug dealing in Hawaii is certainly compelling and suggests that Johnson is an artist capable of producing great work. Unfortunately, he has yet to follow up on that initial promise. But Night Fisher still marks him as an artist to watch out for."
• Profile:Time Out Chicago's Web Behrens catches up with Paul Hornschemeier: "'It is one of those names: You’re destined to either be a writer or scientist,' says local author-artist Paul, the man both blessed and saddled with the brainy surname. 'You’re not going to be a rock star with a name like Hornschemeier.'"
• List:Library Journal's Martha Cornog recommends Unlovable: The Complete Collection by Esther Pearl Watson as one of her "Graphic Novels for Women's History Month": "A cringe-worthy classic of high school malaise, reportedly based on a real girl's diary found in a Las Vegas bathroom in 1995. Like a Wimpy Kid older sister but more poignant and painful, this features jagged, unpretty art capturing the diarist's inner chaos. For Lynda Barry fans craving a new read and professionals seeking an unvarnished glimpse of female adolescence."
• Plug: At The New York Times, Mark Dery examines the resurgence in interest in Edward Gorey and works in a nice mention of our book: "The market for Gorey books and merchandise buoys indie publishers like... Fantagraphics, which is releasing a third edition of The Strange Case of Edward Gorey, a portrait by the novelist and longtime Gorey friend Alexander Theroux."
#87:Prison Pit Book 2 by Johnny Ryan: "Absurd, crude, lewd, funny, entertaining, twelve kinds of wrong, one of the most effed-up books I've ever read. It's burned into my brain and I can't get it out. And I love it." – Chad Nevett
#99:A Drunken Dream and Other Stories by Moto Hagio: "I'd never heard of Moto Hagio until Fantagraphics published this best-of collection of her stories, and it's easy to see why Hagio is one of the queens of shojo manga in Japan. The short story 'Iguana Girl' (about a girl who grows up with her mother treating her like she is an iguana) is strong enough to make you feel like you've gotten your money's worth, but the remaining nine stories are also all excellent to boot." – Greg McElhatton
• List: Dave Ferraro of Comics-and-More ranks Moto Hagio's A Drunken Dream and Other Stories at #6 on his 10 Best Manga of 2010: "Moto Hagio's artwork is stunning. Her storytelling is fluid, her characters expressive, and her drawings in general are beautifully arranged and look effortless. Each and every one of the ten stories in this 'best of' collection of short stories... are enchanting, full of warmth and wonderful characters, and brimming with emotion. [...] A very necessary project, done right."
• Review: "Uptight #4 is an example of that increasingly-rare animal: a satisfying alt-comic book. [...] It speaks to Crane’s versatility that he can pull off a slice-of-life relationship story and a fable in the same comic book." – Rob Clough, The Comics Journal
• Review: "...[J]ust about the sweetest graphic novel imaginable... it's a lovely, positive collection, with fine drawing and characters that are well worth spending some time with. ...[T]his is a story about people and how they live together and support each other. That kind of story is so vanishingly rare in comics that it should be treasured when we do find it — particularly when it's as lovely and engaging as Castle Waiting." – Andrew Wheeler, The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.
• Review: "Deitch's mad brew of semi-psychedelic farce and skewed reality takes the actual (and factual) short-lived tenure of an obscure 1950s-era kiddie-show host as source material and extrapolates a fantastical set of circumstances with humans, demons, not-so-funny animals and other characters — including Deitch himself. Reading this book [The Search for Smilin' Ed] is a wild ride; Deitch's prodigious storytelling talents and graphic craftsmanship keep things moving — and compelling." – Richard Pachter, The Miami Herald
• Plugs: At Comics Comics, Jeet Heer singles out The Artist Himself: A Rand Holmes Retrospective and The Search for Smilin' Ed by Kim Deitch as two recent books deserving of more attention from critics and readers, calling the latter book "a delight not just because it gives us one of Deitch’s most deranged meandering tall tales but also because the whole handsome package was designed to highlight the cohesiveness of Deitch’s world-making project, the way his fictional universe and its large cast make up a single unfolding story."
• Opinion: At TIME.com – Techland, Douglas Wolk's "What I'm Grateful For in Comics, 2010" includes "Lots of long-gone creators have been returning to the new-comics trenches, and many of them are as limber and powerful as ever. [...] I... wouldn't have imagined that Joyce Farmer would be doing the best work of her career in 2010, but Special Exits knocked me flat," and "The fact that Jason puts out a book every nine months or so and has a substantical, enthusiastic readership makes me proud of the entire economic structure that makes that possible."
• Coming Attractions: More Douglas Wolk at TIME.com – Techland, this time listing "What We're Looking Forward To in 2011," including Love from the Shadows by Gilbert Hernandez ("the most twisted, perverse book he's ever created, which is saying something. It's lurid, hypersexual, violent, incredibly disturbing, and totally fun") and The Armed Garden and Other Stories by David B. ("gorgeous work, and unlike anything else in contemporary comics")
• Review: "In reviewing Jaime Hernandez's Penny Century, I could point to the frenetic pace of many of the stories; the cute, odd, and endearing sort of strangeness spawned in this lightly magical universe; or even the beautiful art, which is truly the mark of this master cartoonist. But, no, I am going to hype the very first story, 'Whoa Nellie,' beyond anything else in this fantastic volume. ... Such a wonderful, and grounded, story is a nice start-off point for the still compelling, yet far stranger and sexier, tales that follow. Soup to nuts, this is a great book." – Jeremy Nisen, Under the Radar
• Reviews: The new episode of Easy Rider, the radio show for "rock, punk rock, country, power pop, garage and comics" from Radio PFM out of Arras in northern France, features High Soft Lisp by Gilbert Hernandez and Penny Century by Jaime Hernandez among their Comics of the Week
• Review: "R. Kikuo Johnson's debut graphic novel, Night Fisher, is a compelling yet unsentimental coming of age story. It’s a portrait of awkward adolescence on the cusp of adulthood illustrated with the darker, more realistic tones of teenage life. Night Fisher is filled with bold artwork, psychological intricacies, and mature depictions of immature actions. ... R. Kikuo Johnson has proven himself as a masterful storyteller in his first graphic novel." – Steve Ponzo, Multiversity Comics (via ¡Journalista!)
• Interview: The Los Angeles Times' Noelene Clark questions Tim Hensley about Wally Gropius: "I did grow up in sort of a show business family, so I was continually in an environment of going places where a lot of people were famous, and I was sort of tagging along. I had the idea of somebody who is continually mistaken for someone really famous, but actually has nothing to do with that."
• Interview:The Daily Cross Hatch's Brian Heater continues his conversation with Gene Deitch: "Terr’ble Thompson was a style I adapted for that comics strip. I wanted something that looked like a comic strip, was a little ahead—something that had the UPA influence. ... Of course, if you’ve seen my other book, The Cat on a Hot Tin Groove, my jazz cartoons, that’s a completely different style. I’m used to working in all different styles. I don’t want people to say, 'this is in Gene Deitch’s style.' I want to do everything."
• Review: "It's a closely observed story — specific in its details but broadly recognizable from the lives of a million young men — in an expressive, inky style... Night Fisher [is] an excellent naturalistic story of these young men in this closely examined place." – Andrew Wheeler, The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.
• Panel:Inkstuds host Robin McConnell presents an audio recording of the TCAF spotlight panel with Dash Shaw and Paul Pope which he moderated
First Online Commentary & Diversions post from my shiny new computer:
• Profile: "Published in 1982, the [Hernandez] brothers’ Love and Rockets #1 is considered to mark a creative resurgence in comics, and for good reason. From the beginning the Bros. produced work that was subversive and masterfully crafted, combining the punk ethos with their own crisp intelligence." – Molly Young, We Love You So (the official blog of the Where the Wild Things Are movie — !!!)
• Review: "...Jaime [Hernandez]... confirm[s] my beliefs in the heights of his cartooning powers as he delivers the finale to a raucous, yet still quite moving, tale of female superheroes [in Love and Rockets: New Stories #2].... I'd follow him to the gates of hell at this point. With the brothers still working at such a high level of quality after over 25 years, anything they do is worthy of attention and analysis. I don't think I'll ever tire of experiencing their work." – Matthew J. Brady
• Interview: At Marvel.com, Sean T. Collins's series of interviews with Strange Tales contributors continues with R. Kikuo Johnson: "And I also felt like out of the entire Marvel U., Alicia Masters as a young artist, living and struggling after college, was the character I could put the most autobio into. I think the fact that she's a blind artist is hilarious. She's just a hilarious character."