• List: At MTV Geek, Brigid Alverson names Wandering Son by Shimura Takako one of The Best Manga Series of 2011: "Wandering Son is a delightful, quiet manga about a girly boy and a boyish girl.... This is not your typical gender-bender manga playing a gender switch for laughs (and fanservice); it's a quiet, subtle story of a boy coming to terms with himself."
• Review: "Believe it or not, music criticism was responsible for some of 2011's finest books, with Kevin Avery's impeccably researched Everything Is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson leading the pack.... Avery has done an outstanding job assembling a collection of the writer's work, fully illustrating why he was such an influential presence in his time. But, sadly, especially in our time, it also reads as something of a cautionary tale — ...you might wonder why on earth anyone would ever choose rock criticism as a career in the first place." – Bill Holdship, Detroit Metro Times
• Review: "I have no idea if it was part of cartoonist Johnny Ryan's overall plan for Prison Pit, but this latest book in the growing-to-classic-status series strikes me as a 'step-back' installment. This is where a series that was once less certain in the market place eschews some of the instant gratification of its first couple of books for the sake of layering in additional plot elements that look like they'll pay off further down the line. It's the kind of work that makes you think that its creator is thinking of the long-term as opposed to focusing solely on the short. Prison Pit had some of that particular swagger from the very beginning; this book seems even more settled and confident.... As was the case with the first two books, Johnny Ryan makes his case for mastery at a second, very specific genre, connected to the first through the extremes of expression involved." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
• Interview: At Memory Is Fiction, Craig Staufenberg talks with Wilfred Santiago: "Any subject or theme can work in comics, the narrative has unique, endless breakdowns. It’s a unique prism, anything that’s seen through it is distorted in a comic book way. The author, the cartoonist, just brings to light a particular side of that prism. I try to quit comics but it keeps pulling me back."
• Interview:Network Awesome Magazine has a fun Q&A with Richard Sala about the Invisible Hands animated shorts: "They used stop-motion. The staff would blow up my drawings onto colored paper and then cut out all the figures and movable parts. The pieces were then positioned on three layers of glass – to give depth – with the camera looking down. Next, the director, Denis Morella, carefully moved the pieces around – including the mouths, to match the dialogue – for each click of the camera. I grew up loving stop-motion – everything from Ray Harryhausen to Gumby – so, I thought doing the animation that way was pretty cool."
I always was very fond of the mini-comics format -- take two to four 8 1/2 x 11 sheets, fold them once, staple, and voilà! You have an adorable little 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 comic book for mere pennies. But I could never really figure out what to do with this old-school, low-tech format.
For this catalog season, we have created 21 "FBI•MINI" booklets (most in this format, although there are a few oddities), as premiums for customers who order books directly from us. They are available free with the purchase of their "matching" book or books -- or for those customers who've already bought those books but are desperate to get the FBI•MINI, free with the purchase of $50 worth of any other Fantagraphics mail-order merchandise.
If any of these catch your interest (and if you're reading this blog surely at least one of them will) you can click right on any of them to a more detailed listing on our website -- or just click right here and all 21 will pop up for you to peruse.
• Review: "...Kevin Avery’s Everything Is an Afterthought... chronicles the dramatic life of one of music’s keenest observers, Paul Nelson, and curates his finest critiques.... I read and adored [Nelson] growing up, but reading [him] in the context of today’s critical standards gave me the literary equivalent to the bends. It goes without saying that, in the age of the Internet, the whole idea of a critic has changed." – Jim Farber, New York Daily News
• Review: "It could well be ten years since I last read these stories [in Queen of the Black Black], and I’d either forgotten or never appreciated (my money’s on the latter) how astute and insightful they could be. Like a proto-Kevin Huizenga, [Megan Kelso] repeatedly turns up little rocks of human experience and chronicles what’s going on underneath, reintroducing us to feelings, sensations, and experiences we’d forgotten we’d had but recognize as if they happened this morning." – Sean T. Collins, The Comics Journal
• Review: "This collection of early stories from Megan Kelso shows a natural flair for the form, mixed with a self-critical determination to hone her craft, that’s helped her blossom into a master storyteller.... Anyone looking for a masterful example of the short story in comics would do well to give [Queen of the Black Black] a try. Beautifully written and well illustrated, this a wonderful portfolio of work from a creator showing a deep well of promise from the start." – Grovel
• Review: "...[E]asily... one of my favorite horror comics and one of my contenders for my Best of 2011 list.... Not only is the book carefully structured, it looks stunning.... The Hidden is a story that must be experienced to fully appreciate... There is an excellent story of slow-building despair to be found in its pages, with gorgeous depictions and coloring and a horror story that shocks, surprises, and entertains. Don't let this one get hidden on your shelves! It may not be Halloween, but I still give this book my highest recommendation!" – Rob McMonigal, Panel Patter
• Review: "Volume 2 of Fantagraphics' Gottfredson Library, which takes us up through the beginning of 1934, maintains the high production standards and copious ancillaries of the first volume.... Tom Andrae's opening essay emphasizes, with good reason, how Gottfredson "spun off" many of his early narratives from the plots of animated cartoons. IMHO, however, the Mickey strip truly became "great" once Gottfredson gained the confidence to craft his own plots." – Chris Barat
• Profile:Paul Gravett surveys the work of David B. and presents a transcript of his bookstore discussion with the artist this past summer (hat tip to TCJ.com's Tim Hodler)
• Plug: Pulitzer-winning author and known Love and Rockets fan Junot Díaz names Poison River by Gilbert Hernandez (collected in Beyond Palomar) one of his top 10 favorite books in an excerpt from Unpacking My Library: Writers and their Books posted at The Financial Times
• Plug:Oil and Water receives an excellent feature in the new issue of the Audubon Society of Portland Warbler newsletter, which can be downloaded here
• Tribute: At The Comics Journal, Bill Griffith remembers meeting, and later collaborating with, the late Bil Keane: "I was surprised when Bil told me he read Zippy in his local Arizona paper and liked it. He didn’t even qualify his opinion with the usual, “Of course, I don’t always get it.” Until then, I hadn’t paid much attention to The Family Circus, but I slowly began to see that you could read more into it than what appeared on the surface. This was before internet wise guys began mashing up random Friedrich Nietzsche lines for Billy and Jeffy’s and riffing on the strip as unconscious surrealism. But The Family Circus didn’t need hipsters to substitute incongruous dialogue to make the case that it was unconscious surrealism. It was unconscious surrealism on its own."
At his Here Lies Richard Sala blog, Richard Sala (natch) explains this page created for his new graphic novel The Hidden which wound up on the cutting room floor and the scene it was to have been part of. He also hints at a possible sequel to the book!
• Review: "Sala’s new book, The Hidden, does not wholly depart from the campy fascination with the morbid that marks his previous work, but is even darker in tone, despite the vibrant watercolor work. The visual markers of Sala’s humor are present — the affected font, the twisted faces — but there is arguably something more serious and disturbing at play here." – Jenna Brager, Los Angeles Review of Books
• Reviews (Video): "This week on the Comics-and-More Podcast, Patrick Markfort and I discuss Richard Sala's work, including his Peculia books and his new graphic novel The Hidden, perfect books to read for Halloween." So says co-host Dave Ferraro — watch the multi-part video at the link
• Review: "EC is often at the center of the story [of Pre-Code horror comics]... Four Color Fear strives to provide an accessible sampler of everything else. Editor Greg Sadowski is adept at such missions.... Sadowski keeps endnotes, often heavy with hard publication facts and extensive quotes from artists and observers, in the back of the book in order to structurally foreground the sensual, aesthetic experience of reading old comics." – Joe McCulloch, Los Angeles Review of Books
• Review: "Thirty years after the debut of their Love and Rockets series, the Hernandez Brothers continue to impress readers with their incredible Love and Rockets: New Stories #4.... More than ever, Jaime demonstrates a mastery of line and pacing, making for emotional realism that is rarely matched in the world of comics.... As for Gilbert, he presents readers with the captivating 'King Vampire,' a story which revolves around killer vampires.... The result is a gripping tale filled with plot twists, violence, and absolutely gorgeous art.... With Love and Rockets: New Stories #4, the Hernandez Brothers establish once more their immeasurable contribution to the world of comics. Instead of producing works that are stale and predictable, the duo is creating comics that are as imaginative and fresh as ever." – Jason Grimmer, 211 Bernard (Librairie Drawn & Quarterly)
• Review: "David B. is one of the most important cartoonists in France. A member of L'Association, his most important work is Epileptic... But I will confess that I like the stories in The Armed Garden more. These are stories about heretics. Heresy is a subject of particular interest for certain storytellers -- for example, Jorge Luis Borges.... These bizarre fable-like tales may seem far from us, but they show want can happen when societies are stressed." – Robert Boyd, The Great God Pan Is Dead
• Review: "The stories [in The Man Who Grew His Beard] are funny, ironic and absurd. In that, he reminds me of his fellow Belgian cartoonists, Kamagurka and Herr Seele. But he also reminds one of the avant garde Belgian cartoonists of Freon (later Fremok). These are more 'art comics,' where the visual aspect is paramount. This is not to say the narratives are unimportant, mere hangers onto which to hang the art. They are amusing, weird and compelling -- the visual aspect makes them all the more so." – Robert Boyd, The Great God Pan Is Dead
• Review: "Told with great confidence and uncomfortable frankness across a sprawling 450 pages, [Today Is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life] is a coming-of-age narrative that inevitably places itself in the tradition of German travel literature, perhaps unwittingly joining the company of such august figures as Goethe and Hesse.... Despite its trauma, the journey ends up being one of liberation. Though its description of the risks inherent to the only semi-aware need for independence characteristic of youth is sobering, the book is never judgmental. There is a distinct undertone of empowerment to this story of one woman’s instinctive search for enlightenment. It is a grand tour." – Matthias Wivel, The Metabunker (Look for our edition of this book in Summer/Fall 2012.)
• Commentary: "Long gone publisher St. John's line of romance comics has a chronicler in the person of John Benson. He edited [Romance Without Tears] from Fantagraphics in 2003. He argues that this line was superior to just about everybody else's line of romance comics and he is good at peopling his argument, particularly in a second book [Confessions, Romances, Secrets and Temptations] he put together in 2007." – Eddie Campbell
• Plug: "Two — count ’em — two books fold into one in Everything Is an Afterthought. First, we get a heartbreaking biography of the late, great rock critic Paul Nelson. Then, to prove the greatness part, the author of the first section (Kevin Avery) compiles Nelson’s most incisive hits." – Jim Farber, New York Daily News
• Plug: On Librairie Drawn & Quarterly's 211 Bernard blog, Jason Grimmer runs down some highlights from Mark Twain's Autobiography 1910-2010 by Michael Kupperman, saying "Come on, that's a helluva CV know matter how you slice it. The least you could do is read about it."
• Review: "Graphic novelist Richard Sala cures the zombie apocalypse malaise with a new book that takes the basic set-up of those tales and turns it into an artsy, comical, downright weird exercise in terror that brings together several slices of the horror genre... into something modern and surprising. Equally, Sala’s art style helps the story ride high -- his dark cartoons manage to suck you into the narrative while still highlighting the meta quality of the story. This is a story about horror as much as it is a horror story, examining the themes that draw us into these stories as much as they are utilized by authors to comment on the real world. Somewhere between those two intentions lies The Hidden, a modernist horror tale that acts like the zombies it evokes, cannibalizing the genres from which it sprang and spewing out something new from those entrails." – John Seven, North Adams Transcript
• Review: "The stories [in The Frank Book] are fantastical, phantasmagorical fables full of transmogrification, mostly silent so that you can bring to them what you will and interpret them as you like, and if you were to sit down with someone else and discuss any given piece you’d find it very revealing – both of yourself and of your friend. I often describe them as 'mind-altering, yet legal.' Enlightening too, as I say.... [Jim Woodring] is a visionary, a veritable shaman with a love of Persian architecture and that rare ability to communicate wisdom — and folly (umm, yes, mostly folly!) — with skill. As a visual craftsman he totally floors me, his wrinkled-line textures placed just-so, leaving each panel on the page a perfect composition. A beautiful, beautiful book." – Stephen L. Holland, Page 45
• Interview:Comics Bulletin's Jason Sacks talks to Gahan Wilson about his new collection of Nuts: "The thing that inspired me and put me on the kids' side, kept moving me along on it, was that the grownups -- and more grownups do it wrong than right -- that they don't understand how complicated that little rascal is. How much they're taking in. How alive they are. How much they apprehend. And how seriously they take it. They are astoundingly alive with bad things and good things."
• Interview: Hanna Brooks Olsen of Seattlest talks with Megan Kelso about her upcoming presentation at Richard Hugo House this Friday: "I'm using a series of rotating images on a loop. Unlike when you're reading a comic by yourself, where you can go back and re-read a panel or flip back a page (if someone's reading aloud), suddenly it's going by, almost like a film, and you don't control the page. And I think that that control is what people love about comics. You get to entirely control that space. A lot of the things that are magical about reading comics on a page are lost when they're performed live."
• Review/Interview: "Leslie Stein is a pretty lady who made a comic [Eye of the Majestic Creature] in which she is a cute/gross little humanoid with eyes that are like coins and a best friend who is a guitar. Her comical alter ego is named Larry Bear and her guitar's name is Marshy. They live in a house in a field, but it's pretty clear that almost everything they experience is some joked-up fantasized autobiographical story. It's hard to know what's based on reality and what isn't, and which characters are based on real folks and which are just supposed to be Leslie's internal feelings personified.... Leslie's work communicates an urban loneliness that I relate to a lot, seeing as we live in the same place. It's cute and sad and familiar, especially if you're 30 or under." – Nick Gazin, who also talks to Leslie at Vice: "I think for the most part she represents the lighter side of my personality. I'm happy when I'm drawing and I hope that comes across through her on the page, in whatever situation she is in. She dresses a bit weirder than I do, so that's fun. I'm not really a shy person, but I feel like I'm constantly embarrassing myself. She doesn't have that self-consciousness."
• Review: "Post-apocalyptic stories tend to be grim, but The Hidden is very dark indeed.... The book feels like a modern-day gothic horror. The survivors are metaphors for humanity, with a heroic few battling an onslaught of monsters, human or otherwise. Humanity is on the brink of extinction, and still people bring out the worst in one another.... Sala’s illustration is compelling... ★★★★ [out of 5]" – Grovel
• Review: "[Kevin] Avery’s book, Everything Is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson, is an admirably unorthodox construction that starts with a bracing 180-page biography of Paul followed by a 265 page collection of Nelson’s music writing, primarily that from the seventies focusing on the artists he was particularly drawn to.... What’s impressive about Avery’s biographic half of the book is that he’s produced both an intimate personal bio and a comprehensive professional bio as well. He’s talked to virtually everyone who Nelson inspired or mentored in rock criticism starting in the latter half of the sixties and into the Rolling Stone years. These knuckleheads are a who’s who of American rock criticism, God help us." – Joe Carducci (SST Records, Rock and the Pop Narcotic), The New Vulgate
• Review: "I was looking forward to this new book [Setting the Standard] a/ because it's Alex Toth and b/ because it reprints 60 stories, Toth's entire contribution to the catalogue of a long defunct publisher whose material we rarely see reprinted.... Toth's work has long been admired for its distilled simplicity of black and white design, but these early pages fizz and bubble with life.... The book under discussion is from Fantagraphics, with the original printed pages restored in all their colours by Greg Sadowski, who put the whole package together with extensive notes..." – Eddie Campbell (via The Comics Reporter)
• Plugs: Brian Ralph's choices for his guest contribution to Robot 6's weekly "What Are You Reading?" column include Captain Easy Vol. 2 by Roy Crane ("It’s a fun combination of action and laughs. Sometimes very serious and other times very cartoony, in both story and art style. I just love the way Roy Crane draws these goons. And the colors! The palettes are unusual and beautiful.") and Setting the Standard: Comics by Alex Toth 1952-1954 ("I’ll read one of these [stories] before I go to bed. I like that in a short page count he quickly develops a rich story and twilight zoney twist. Sometimes it’s a bizarre romance or horror story with a stunning conclusion. They’re a fun read.")
• Review: "Brief but witty dialogue and black humor come together in a brutal satire of deception, torture and the death penalty. This comic is a good comedy that combines the sense of adventure and intrigue of Jason's comics, his 'tempo' and narrative tone, with a trio of protagonists who I came to appreciate in very few pages. Emotion, gags, surprises, and an ending that you do not expect. Isle of 100,000 Graves is an original and very enjoyable read that keeps Jason as a safe bet in the shopping cart. Between tenderness and cruelty, of course the contribution of writer Fabien Vehlmann to the Norwegian cartoonist's particular universe could not have been more successful." – Alita News (translated from Spanish)
• Review: "Warm-hearted, deceptively heart-wrenching, challenging, charming and irresistibly addictive, Love and Rockets: New Stories is a grown up comics fan’s dream come true and remains as valid and groundbreaking as its earlier incarnations — the diamond point of the cutting edge of American graphic narrative." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Interview:The Comics Reporter 's Tom Spurgeon talks to backbone Mome contributor T. Edward Bak about his experience at Boomfest in St. Petersburg, Russia: "There were so many things going on. There were people interested in all of the presentations. They took place over four or five hours, in three or four different centers. A lot of artists were there. For these kinds of presentations, it was other artists attending. It was like APE: you have people that are making comics or are interested in making comics."
• Interview: At The Comics Journal, Matt Seneca enjoys a studio visit and thoughtful discussion with Gary Panter: "That’s one of the games that modern art plays: where does it go, and what does it affect by trying to go? And so, usually in fine art, you’re making a kind of pregnant or puzzling object, or some object that has presence and which calls to people, hopefully. It arrests them for a second and various things happen, whereas in a comic, I want people lying in bed reading it. I want people lying in bed and reading it, and you forget you’re reading it, and you go in the story, and you’re like, 'Whoa! What happened?' And you either remember it or you don’t."
• Review/Interview: Marc Campbell of Dangerous Minds calls Everything Is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson "music book of the year," saying "the thing I really appreciate in reading Paul’s writings is you get to a place where even if you disagree with him you want to really explore why. He challenges you, not outrightly, but through the sheer force of his own enthusiasm and the particulars of why he digs what he digs. That’s what great rock writers do - they send you to the music. Of all the books I’ve read this year, Everything Is an Afterthought is the one that has meant the most to me." Campbell also talks to the book's author/editor, Kevin Avery: "You could tell it was important for him to accurately convey how he heard the work he was writing about; how it made him feel. At the same time, there was often the suggestion that whatever he wrote about was in some way part of his own story. Though it was never overt. There was an ongoing mystery to it."
• Review: "It's fascinating to see the great intentions of good people of liberal Oregon run aground on the slick and complicated story on the ground... Duin and Wheeler spend much of [Oil and Water] showing the kind of cultural imperialism or Liberal Guilt that the Oregonians feel when trying to help their brethren from the South, and the resentment that the Southerners feel back at them. ...Shannon Wheeler's calm, quiet and almost abstract images capture the story in a way that allows the story to stray from straight reportage to a quieter meditation on the events that happen.... The story lives in the present and the past, both itself and something more." – Jason Sacks, Comics Bulletin
• Review: "The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec are extraordinary indeed.... The amazing Jacques Tardi creates a fully realized world in the two stories contained in this book, stories in which strange, almost mythological, creatures live right next to the Eiffel Tower, famous French cemeteries and the Louvre.... Tardi delivers an ending to the second half of this book that is thoroughly shocking. Adele and her friends aren't Doctor Who and his companions, gallivanting across space and time and always emerging unscathed. The adventures that occur in this book are real and terrible in their consequences. They may seem a bit outlandish... but they are real in a way that feels oddly intense for American readers." – Jason Sacks, Comics Bulletin
• Review: "This isn't your father's Mickey Mouse (it's more likely your great-grandfather's), and it's a shame we don't see him this way as much anymore. Floyd Gottfredson is one of the most talented artist/gag writers in comics history and it is wonderful to see his talent recognized in a medium and a manner so deserving of preservation. This giant-sized book is only mildly unwieldy, but it is the perfect size to replicate and do justice to every single panel of such a singularly perfect work.... Mickey Mouse is one of the most important and revered characters in pop culture, and no other creator has written him so human, so interestingly, so uniquely fun and vibrant as Floyd Gottfredson has. The cover price is too little to ask, as the stories in this book are a treasury of the highs sequential art can hit." – Rafael Gaitan, Comics Bulletin
• Review: "The Hidden is ridiculously good, silly fun... A great big orgy of schlocky gore and cartoon deaths, the plot is every old horror film rolled into one glorious genre cliché... and Richard Sala’s absurd humour bleeds through the lot like red ink on a crisp white collar.... As ever, the true joy here is seeing Sala in brilliant colour. Layer upon layer of masterfully applied paint creates every shadow, shade and unlikely bright pajama in the cartoon horror. Undead eyes stare from blue and green sunken sockets, blood splashes across the page in spurts of dark crimson. It is, to hammer it home with a bloody mallet, an absolute demented joy." – Hayley Campbell, The Comics Journal
• Interview (Translated): Gerardo Vilches of The Watcher and the Tower says of Joyce Farmer's Special Exits, which was just published in Spain by Astiberri, "I read this comic a few months ago and I think it is not only one of the comics of the year but the last decade" translates Alex Dueben's December 2010 Comic Book Resources interview with Farmer into Spanish, adding "I also wanted to do my bit to raise awareness of an awesome comic I hope has the impact it deserves."
• Feature: At SF Weekly, Alan Scherstuhl provides you with "10 Reasons Why Prince Valiant Bests All 2011's Adventure Heroes" (starting with "He lances giant crocodiles"), saying "Sure, those glossy lips and that pageboy bob makes him look something like ye olde Ramona Quimby, but don't let that fool you. The star of what is arguably the twentieth century's best-drawn newspaper comic strip, Hal Foster's Prince Valiant is all hero, through and through, for his age and ours. The first four volumes of Fantagraphics' collected Prince Valiant reveal young Foster's creation as both the sum total of the heroic ideals that preceded his debut in 1937 as well as a source of serious inspiration for all the heroes that have followed him, in all media formats, in the decades since."
• Review: "War and disorder [in The Armed Garden and Other Stories] from the creator of the much-admired Epileptic and, more recently, Black Paths, visually styled to each story’s setting. The first was my favourite to look at: a forest of spears, a torrent of arrows and a swirling sandstorm of bleached bones and skulls against a velvety, light mushroom brown — a tremendous sense of space.... So there you have it: religion, jealousy, conflict and a great deal of transmogrification. Oh yes, death; a great deal of death too." – Stephen L. Holland, Page 45
• Review: "It helps if you can illustrate your fever dreams as well as Sala can — lavishly watercolored in brown, saturated orange and yellow, punctuated by bright blue and (especially later) red, [The Hidden] is beautiful to look at, and as usual, he gives us memorable grotesques and lovely girls in equal measure. Those who are fans of the artist’s previous work will find more of what they like here, and will be gratified by the deviation from his usual norm. Those who are new to his efforts will be entertained, I think, by the story, which is a bit of a page-turner, and will like his beautifully colored art. His best since he wrapped up Evil Eye a few years ago." – Johnny Bacardi, Popdose
• Review: "Dense, claustrophobic, intense and trenchantly funny, the self-contained [Nuts] strips ranged from satire to slapstick to agonising irony, linking up over the years to form a fascinating catalogue of growing older in the USA: a fearfully faithful alternate view of childhood and most importantly, of how we adults choose to recall those distant days." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Analysis:Robot 6's Matt Seneca performs a close analysis of a page from Al Columbia's Pim & Francie: The Golden Bear Days: "The genius of the page above is almost too simple: in four panels that follow the minimalist logic of the gag-strip format, it speaks to both the artificial nature of drawings and to the nature of sequence as something that breaks comics apart as much as pieces them together."
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