Jason Vanderhill of Vancouver Is Awesome dug up these rare 1972 illustrations by Rand Holmes for Rohan's Record Store (not included in our Holmes retrospective The Artist Himself) for "Illustrated Vancouver," a series of articles on visual depictions of the city throughout history. Nifty!
• List: To the surprise of few, The Hooded Utilitarian's International Best Comics Poll tops out with Charles M. Schulz's Peanuts in the #1 spot. HU editor Noah Berlatsky writes, "If you like charming, Peanuts is charming, and if you like dark, it’s dark, but it isn’t just charming, or just dark, or even just charming and dark. There are countless ways to like Peanuts, which is no doubt why it — deservedly, inevitably — tops this poll."
• Review: "The squeaky-voiced character from the animated shorts was especially bold in his daily newspaper comic strip [Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse]. Its memorable continuities were largely the responsibility of one man: Floyd Gottfredson. ...Gottfredson and his collaborators crafted two-fisted tales that remain entertaining, thrilling and funny up to 80 years on.... This inaugural issue in a planned Gottfredson library is a handsome hardback, prepared with the same care as Fantagraphics's archive of Charles Schulz's Peanuts." – Owen Heittman, The Australian
• Review: "Sibyl-Anne vs. Ratticus is a wonderful time and read!... The writing and art are grade A for this, and I cannot recommend it enough. It does have a feeling much like Peyo’s Smurfs, but I prefer Macherot’s Sibyl-Anne over it. His story telling is a bit more better put together, and action scenes are more exciting (if one has to compare to something, that is). Plus Sibyl-Anne is just cute.... Sibyl-Anne vs. Ratticus has something every comic lover can enjoy." – Drew McCabe, ComicAttack.net
• Review: "Knowing me, if I wait until I’ve finished all 624 pages of [The Comics Journal #301], I’ll never get around to reviewing it, so I figured I’d just do it in parts. After a solid Introduction by Editor-in-Chief Gary Groth, in which he extols Crumb’s virtues as a cartoonist, and explains the reason Genesis deserved TCJ’s lengthiest critical symposium ever (the reason is that Groth thinks the book deserves it), we get a long and surprisingly warm and easygoing chat between Groth and Crumb. Neither has ever come off this…normal." – Christopher Allen, Trouble with Comics
• List:The Hooded Utilitarian, nearing the top of their results in their International Best Comics Poll, reveals George Herriman's Krazy Kat at #2, with a brief essay by Jeet Heer
• Review: "...The Comics Journal #301... is crammed with fantastic content. The volume's texture, heft, and text make it the readers' equivalent of a dense slab of chocolate cake.... In short, Gary Groth and his editorial team have produced a stellar contribution to comics history and scholarship. It is a feast for comics aficionados and neophytes alike. " – Casey Burchby, SF Weekly
• Plug: "I second Tom Spurgeon’s recommendation of Bill Mauldin’s Willie and Joe Back Home. I was amazed by how brutally frank the comics are, and how affecting. I actually prefer it to his WWII work — it’s even more impassioned, and the cartooning loosens enough to show off a really expressive, cutting line." – Dan Nadel, The Comics Journal
• Plug: "Alex Chun has a new volume available from Fantagraphics Books in his series which profiles the 'few dollars a drawing' gag writers who sold work to the Humorama line of digest publications during the 1950s and into the early 1970s. As I have been writing on the lesser known artists who contributed, with the scant information available...I eagerly await the book!" – Jim Linderman, Dull Tool Dim Bulb
• Analysis: At Entrecomics, Alberto Garcia examines the Steve Ditko influence/homages in some of Gilbert Hernandez's early work — even if you don't read Spanish, the images will have you going "ah-haaaa..."
• Lore:Kim Deitch's "Mad About Music: My Life in Records" column returns over at TCJ.com, with more on Elvis Presley and the early days of rock 'n' roll
• Review: "...The Arctic Marauder [is] a gorgeous, sprawling tale that — thanks to translator Kim Thompson's finely tuned ear for tone — boasts chewy Vernian narration... Call it ur-steampunk — one of the works that laid the groundwork for a genre that would, just a few years later, fill bookstore shelves with soot, goggles and gutta percha. [...] Tardi's arctic seascapes and undersea trenches are things to marvel over, as is his ability to evoke the eerie undulations of the Aurora borealis with just a few finely scratched lines. The Arctic Marauder is at once a loving homage and a smart satire; it's also, not for nothing, a rollicking adventure. Pick it up, and get rollicked." – Glen Weldon, NPR's Monkey See
• Review: "Tardi is one of France's most famous creators, and Adele Blanc-Sec, the cynical author turned adventurer, is his most famous creation. [...] I am very happy to see that Fantagraphics has decided to republish the first two stories in a beautiful hardcover book, with another book to follow next year. [...] The adventures are by turns funny, weird, and surprising. They are reminiscent of Tintin, if Tintin was a cynical Frenchwoman instead of an idealistic boy." – John Anderson, The Beguiling
• Review: "...[T]he colorful (in many senses of the word) collection The Artist Himself... is a smorgasbord of senses working overtime, the coffee table book of the year for raunch-loving pop art fans and literary hedonists alike. [...] One of Canada’s best pop cult artists, Holmes lived far too hard and died way too young. I can’t imagine a better book being put together about him, though. The Portland-based [Patrick] Rosenkranz (whose earlier underground comics compilation Rebel Visionsis a tidy and sweet sweep of the entire field) has written a beautiful biography of the 60s-born underground cartoonist..." – Chris Estey, The KEXP Blog
• Review: "You can tell by the cover [of R.I.P.: Best of 1985-2004] that it bodes pretty badly for all those involved, from have-a-go-heroes, souped up for the occasion Charles Atlas-stylee, to those covering their murderous tracks, now newly addicted to cleanliness. Indeed both virtue and godliness play their part here, though neither is rewarded. These very short stories are like ten-second episodes of Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected and really challenge you to think, but they’re so concise and precise that it makes that a joy rather than a chore. [...] The medium employed... is scratchboard: that blank-slate of black upon which you work in reverse, scratching out shivers of white with a needle, sharp compass or random sterilised murder weapon. It works enormously well for stories so penumbral, yet on occasions the panels break out as blindingly as the light which fills them." – Stephen L. Holland, Page 45
• Analysis: At Robot 6, Matt Seneca takes a close look at a 2-panel sequence from Prince Valiant Vol. 3: 1941-1942: "Foster’s composition is wonderfully harmonic: two chords, beautifully struck in a rich and assured ink line, that complement each other perfectly. Though the panels use different camera angles and depict different subjects at different distances from the action, they share a remarkable symmetry."
#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")
• KEXP's Chris Estey names 3 of our books among the Most Rocking Comix 2010:
"King of the Flies: 2. The Origin of the World... is the second volume in a three-book series on the creepy doings of a Twin Peaks-like small city seriously doped and boozed, thrashed by random violence and impulsive sexuality, the old deforming the desires of the young, and unfulfilled ghosts melt through everyday lives. [...] It is a multi-leveled, wide expanse of delicate things falling apart and souls keeping it together somehow, full of... sexy, damaged, freaky people. That you somehow care deeply for, even if they can’t help but hurt themselves, stalk each other, and screw with the universe itself."
"Illustrative Ibogaine, Woodring’s own cartoon-streamlined use of false world-obliviating imagery makes God’s invention of time seem like a quaint abstraction. [Weathercraft] is as necessary as Genesis by Robert Crumb, the Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators, Philip K. Dick’s UBIK, The Art of War by Sun Tzu, and 2001: A Space Odyssey."
"A fantastical study in a Civil War, this exquisite graphic novel [Artichoke Tales] shows how wide-spread political conflict tears at the very fibers of our families and ourselves, the loops of antagonism between loyalties cursing generation after generation. Like the very best indie pop/rock (Bright Eyes, the National), its mastery is in seeming transcendent but revealing immense pain beneath every battle and rejection."
• Review: "It isn’t often that a reference book succeeds at being as entertaining as it is informative, but Destroy All Movies juggles both with masterful ease. The lengths they’ve gone to in order to identify any and all reference to punks or punk rock culture in film is staggering and makes the book the end-all-be-all of its esoteric subject matter. Even if you feel at arms length with the source material, I can assure you there is no shortage of insight and laughter to be gleaned from this glorious time capsule of sociological film knowledge." – Brian Salisbury, Hollywood.com
• Review: "By the time the narrative concludes (sadly in some respects, asking the big questions – ‘why do people leave?’ – thereby combining the lightness and comedy we’ve come to expect with that gradually darkening thoughtfulness that has been apparent even from the days of Sssshh! and Hey, Wait...) all you want to do is flick back to the start and start over again. So you do. [...] All told, Werewolves of Montpellier is easily as good as everything else Jason has produced. [...] You should check out Werewolves of Montpellier. In fact you should hastily work your way through Jason’s back catalogue... Consider it medicine for your soul." – Peter Wild, Bookmunch
• Review: "The suite of stories Gilbert Hernandez contributed to the relaunched, graphic-novel-format Love and Rockets: New Stories might be his most complex work yet. [...] It was only in reading Beto’s stories in all three volumes that the Chinese puzzle-box intricacy of what he’s doing here revealed itself to me. [...] All told, you could wrap these stories up between two covers and come up with a book of absolutely crushing intelligence, emotional heft, and visual power — a book among the best of Gilbert’s career." – Sean T. Collins, Attentiondeficitdisorderly
• Plug: "Seattle-based, world-slobbered, excellent comics and dazzling-arts publisher Fantagraphics is really going all out for their 4th Anniversary Party this Saturday, December 11, 2010. It will be thrown at their awesome store in Georgetown, and promises 'the season’s most festive party featuring amazing music, comix, art, and more!'" – Chris Estey, Three Imaginary Girls
• Plug: "The cartoonist and illustrator Rand Holmes, who died at Lasqueti Island eight years ago, created hippie hero Harold Hedd, one of the more memorable fictional characters of the 1960s. Among the cognoscenti, Mr. Holmes is a peer of R. (Mr. Natural) Crumb and Gilbert (Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers) Shelton. A 328-page retrospective [The Artist Himself] was released this summer by Fantagraphics Books." – Tom Hawthorn, The Globe and Mail
• Review: "This mammoth collection [What Is All This?] presents five decades of Dixon: sex, frustration, and attempts at deeper communication, mostly missed. The 62 stories evoke neuroses, delusion, banality, and everyday absurdities in deceptively simple sentences... There are echoes of Ernest Hemingway and prefigurings of Raymond Carver's lower-middle-class minimalism infusing tales of scrappers and scrapers... Usually sublime, sometimes sloppy, and occasionally bewildering, these stories are a testament to an impressive career spent too much under the radar." – Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) [Temporary link]
• Review: "With its mix of sci-fi, romance, tragedy and comedy, A Drunken Dream is a memorable manga journey that shouldn't be missed or dismissed. [...] Drawing from deeply-felt personal experiences, Hagio draws stories for every person who has felt like an outsider, who has regretted past actions that can never be erased, or who has longed to be accepted for being who they are, not what people want them to be. These ideas sound so simple — but when touched by Hagio's pen, this is punch-in-the-gut powerful. [...] ★★★★1/2" – Deb Aoki, About.com: Manga
• Review: "While they may not be standard children’s books, they are fun and entertaining and full of stuff kids would like, without being obscene or intended for mature audiences. They are the kind of books you would want your kid reading if your kid wasn’t a total dork. [...] You get the feeling of reading old fairy tales, where the Prince wasn’t always charming, the villains would erect down right disturbing and evil plots against the characters and the story, or just the world in general was presented as a harsh reminder of reality. [...] Tony [Millionaire]... really lets his imagination run with his latest book, Billy Hazelnuts and the Crazy Bird. [...] With or without children, you can feel good about reading this book." – Brian Jones, Flash Flood Media
• Review: "Artichoke Tales is by any definition a remarkable book — the first graphic novel by Megan Kelso, who has so far worked largely in the short story form, and a book that displays at every page Kelso’s unique voice as a graphic storyteller and the care and attention she lavished on this project over the past several years. [...] This is a beautiful book, at times a heartbreaking book. One feels the precision and thought behind every word, every line, all of it edited down and arranged to a spareness that is paradoxically lush and textured." – Jared Gardner, Guttergeek
• Plug: "[Rip M.D.] seems to be a comic more geared to a juvenile public, but should be pretty cool because there are a lot of monsters, really violent werewolves, zombies, and best of all, vampires that do not sparkle!" – Submundo Mamão (translated from Portuguese)
• Profile: "Some artists seem to have had greatness as their destination as surely as if a tracking device had been implanted in their genes. Some veer toward it capriciously like a demon had seized the wheel. They start with a talent — to which they feed — in bites and gulps — their times; and, once expressed, the result is… YOWL! One of these was the underground cartoonist Greg Irons, the subject of Patrick Rosenkranz’s overlooked — and fascinating — retrospective You Call This Art?!!" – Bob Levin, The Comics Journal