Children reveling in piles of leaves, the sharp intake of breath with the brisk morning chill. Just the other day, I was gazing out the window at the prismatic display of fall, we love the colors and splendor even though it represents the slow annual death of our tree friends. But thank god for that because Richard Sala is creating some gorgeous new work inspired by this time of the year.
"Autumn and Evil" is a alphabetic collection of 26 drawings (if you go by the English Human alphabet) Sala is gradually posting on his blog. Drawings for letters A-I have gone up so far. It's hard not to love his dirty denim color-palette, asymetrical demon faces and ladies who rock thighs of size. Gargoyles and Forgotten Ones lurk above and below. A fan of 'J' myself, I hope to see a Jersey Devil next!
Consider all this Sala's lead up to his next book from Fantagraphics, DELPHINE, which is slated to be thrilling and chilling readers in bookstores this February. Can't wait? Order a copy of The Hidden for a frightful Halloween.
Our production department has been cranking away and all the rest of our books coming out in 2012 (and one for next year) are now at the printer. I have a bunch of new cover images and excerpts to share, so let's take a peek, shall we?
The humming un-tested electric fence of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review:The Comics Journal reviews Dal Tokyo by Gary Panter. Joshua Glenn writes, "Panter’s draughtsmanship is fluid and permeable, it changes from week to week. . . Some installments are so crammed with detail and extraneous scribbles that the eye can’t possibly take it all in; others are stripped down, emptied out, haiku-like. In short, Dal Tokyo is absurd, unimaginable, and perfect."
• Interview: Jason Sacks from the Comics Bulletin caught up with Gary Panter at his Fantagraphics Bookstore signing this weekend and asked him some questions about Dal Tokyo: "I think that Dal Tokyo, because it's experimental, it's continually reminding you that it's being made. Whereas most comics they're trying to draw you into the illusion and keep you there. That's what comics are supposed to do and that's what popular comics do," Sacks points out.
• Review:North Adams Transcript looks and looks and looks again at Sexytime edited by Jacques Boyreau. John Seven laments, "The posters are the ephemera of an artifact called the porn theater that lurks in my ‘70s childhood. A place where sleaze was visible, but contained. . .If you can deal with it, "Sexytime" is a fun and often ridiculous reminder of a world that seemed so dangerous when many of us were kids, but is now gone."
• Review: Nick Gazin on Vice reviews Tales Designed to Thrizzle #8 by Michael Kupperman: "It really feels like something you would dream about, except it is loaded with guffaws. . . This whole comic is basically the best ideas you've never thought of. After reading it you'll be all, 'That is so clever, why didn't I think of it? AND THESE JOKES!' "
• Plug: Rob at Panel Patter goes over some of the books he's looking forward to at SPX this month. "The Hypo is the book I'm most looking forward to. The deep thinker Noah Van Sciver taking on deep thinker Abraham Lincoln at the lowest point in his life? SOLD." And Tales Designed to Thrizzle #8 "finishes up the quirky comic from new Panel Patter favorite Michael Kupperman. It's sure to be packed full of hysterical mashups and general insanity, based on pop culture and puns, both new and old."
• Review:Publishers Weekly reviews No Straight Lines again and is quite happy: ". . . who the volume is aimed at—the LGBT audience or a much wider one? Editor [Justin] Hall guns for the latter, but without softening the edges that define the genre, and he’s quite successful."
• Review: The SFCrowsNest reviews oldie-but-a-goodie The Hidden by Richard Sala. Aidan Fortune says, "The use of watercolours in the art gives it a children’s storybook feel that will stir up memories of reading horror stories underneath the covers by torchlight. Despite this warm look, ‘The Hidden’ is gripping, chilling and certainly not for children."
• Review:Dave's Strange World looks at Kevin Avery's Everything is an Afterthought, "Everything is an Afterthought is a loving tribute to a writer who deserved bigger and better success than his demons would allow. It’s clear from the testimonials and interviews given for this book how loved [Paul] Nelson was by his colleagues and friends."
Continuing right along with Wednesday digital comic releases Fantagraphics and comiXology are very proud and quite frankly, a little frightened, to give you Richard Sala's dangerous and deliciously frightening The Grave Robber's Daughter. Sold out in print, you can now enjoy this 97-page SCREAM of graphic novel for only 4.99 at comiXology.
The mystery starts out a little like this. Judy Drood, the highly strung and short-tempered girl sleuthomething can tell that something very wrong in the town of Obadiah's Glen. The streets are empty. The phones don't work. The cars are all gone ? and so are the people, at least most of them. The ones who are left are hiding and shivering in fear. They know it's only a matter of time before the clowns come and get them. Because the town of Obadiah's Glen now belongs to the clowns. And these clowns have a special secret, one that lies buried in the old cemetery on the hill...The Grave Robber's Daughter is a deliciously scary thrill ride from the author of the critically acclaimed horror graphic novel The Chuckling Whatsit ("A masterpiece!" ? Rue Morgue Magazine). The Grave Robber's Daughter is filled with Sala's unique blend of horror and whimsy that will please his many fans and new readers alike.
"To read a Sala comic is to walk into a baroque world of pen and ink, an experience both jarring and fun." – Publishers Weekly
"...Sala's brilliantly atmospheric art, full of shadows and spikes, is marvelously spooky." – Booklist
•Commentary: Ron Richards of iFanboy writes a con review and 1/2 of his swap was Fantagraphics fun, "I did a little dance when I saw [Love and Rockets: New Stories #5] was available . . . After the amazing #4 of this series, I can’t wait to see what Los Bros Hernandez come up with this time out"
•Commentary: Heidi MacDonald and Cal Reid finalize their digital SDCC thoughts on Publishers Weekly: "Comixology announced [many] new e-book distribution deals . . . . and perhaps most significantly, Fantagraphics, which had been a staunch hold out on the digital front. The Fantagraphics partnership will kick-off with the jewel in the crown: the much-loved work of the Hernandez Brothers starting with Love and Rockets New Stories #1-4 ."
•Commentary (photos): Cal Reid and Jody Culkin on Publishers Weekly photo-document a lot of the fun going on at Comic-Con including the Hernandez Brothers panel and signing.
•Commentary: Sonia Harris enjoyed her Comic-Con experience according to the report on Comic Book Resources. "[No Straight Lines editor] Justin Hall had a big year, speaking on panels about gay comic book characters and hosting a party on Friday night at the increasingly interesting Tr!ckster event for the launch of No Straight Lines."
•Interview:Chicago Pride finds the time to talk to editor Justin Hall on No Straight Lines, "My worry was that the literary queer comics were going to vanish, that there was no one looking out for that work. Especially with the gay publishers and the gay bookstores dying out."
•Review: Tom Spurgeon on the Comics Reporter covers the Tales Designed to Thrizzle digital comics release, "Kupperman's work looks super-attractive in print, which while that sounds counter-intuitive to its digital chances, is actually a vote for the print version having its own sales momentum that digital won't all the wayoverlap."
•Review:NPR hits home with Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons. Glen Waldon: "What emerges is a portrait of a much-beloved artist as a young woman, when the sardonic and even brutal humor behind O'Connor's most memorable creations is still gestating."
•Plug (award): Cannibal Fuckface from Johnny Ryan's Prison Pit is a nominee in the Designer Toy Awards for "Best Toy from a Comic." Cast your vote today or we might bludgeon you.
•Plug (pictures): Can't make it Los Angeles? Check out artwork Keenan Marshall Keller posted from FREAK SCENE art show featuring Johnny Ryan (with Prison Pit pages), Jason T. Miles, Jim Rugg and many more.
•Commentary:A.V. Club enjoyed the Fantagraphics/D&Q panel at San Diego and Noel Murray believes, "real legacy of Comic-Con [is] the elevation of the medium’s literary merit and public profile combined with the preservation of its past . . . The outcome of all that? Handsome hardcover editions of Floyd Gottfredson Mickey Mouse strips . . ."
•Commentary: Cameron Hatheway of Bleeding Cool was a bit livid that Mickey Mouse Vol. 1 and 2 beat out our other title up for the Archival Reprint Collection/Project Eisner. "A part of me thought Prince Valiantwould be a sure thing because of its 75th anniversary this year, and people would be getting all nostalgic. Way to go, majority of voters; Prince Valiant will continue to roam the seven seas and seeking adventure without an Eisner to his name. I hope you’re all proud of yourselves! How do you even sleep at night? A pox upon your castles!"
•Commentary: Directly from the Comic-Con floor, Tom Spurgeon from The Comics Reporter is rich with the compliments, "speaking of Fantagraphics, I was surprised to see the Dal Tokyo book. It looks great. I also really liked the design on the second Buz Sawyer volume, a really atypical image being used."
•Commentary: Tom Spurgeon dishes up the best comics to buy at Comic-Con International and online on The Comics Reporter. On Gary Panter's Dal Toyko, ". . . I'm trying to get over the notion of only recommending comics that catch some sort of big-time marketing hook or novelty current as opposed to just being awesome comics. This is the kind of book that has peers, not betters." In reference to the Kickstarted, Fantagraphics-distributed The Cavelier Mr. Thompson by Rich Tommaso, Spurgeon mentions "It's one of the works that the generation-two alt-cartoonist serialized on-line. I heard three different people on the [Comic-Con] floor waxing rhapsodic about Tommaso's natural-born cartooning sensibilities."
•Commentary: Director of PR, Jacq Cohen, was interviewed on the Graphic Novel Reporter about her Comic-Con memories and First Second editor, Calista Brill, loves our books: "I got myself the latest in Fantagraphics' beautiful collected Uncle Scrooge series."
•Commentary: Overheard at Comic-Con. Matt Groening was talking to Eric Reynolds about Twee-Deedle in reference to "perfect" comics reproduction and he said, "Speaking of perfect..." and leaned over and grabbed a Donald book and said, "These are PERFECT."
•Plug: Mark Frauenfelder on BoingBoing mentions Significant Objects (because he's in it!): "Culture jammers extraordinaire Rob Walker and Joshua Glenn bought a bunch of less-than-worthless objects at thrift stores and garage sales and then assigned people to write a short story about one of the objects."
•Review:Reason.com reviews Daniel Clowes work making comics into art. Greg Beato says, "Clowes. . . brought a different sensibility to his comics: An obsessive compulsive commitment to craftsmanship. . . Clowes strove to make the comic book as artful as possible, a complex but organic object that was perfect in all its parts. "
•Interview:The Guardian prints a small Q&A with Daniel Clowes who IMMEDIATELY posts his full answers to some the questions since someone had fun in the editing room. "It doesn't take much to alter the tone or meaning of someone's words in an interview with some editing."
•Interview: Gary Groth interviews Gilbert Shelton at SDCC on the Beat and The Comic Books, Heidi MacDonald, "Among the topics were origins of Wonder Worthog and Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, talked about working with Harvey Kurtzman and how he knew Janis Joplin. . ."
•Plug:The Comics Bulletin covers the Comic-Con International and the Fantagraphics panel on new releases. Danny Djeljosevic says, "Fantagraphics is Fantagraphics. They put out killer material and in beautiful packages to boot."
•Review (audio): Dann Lennard of Kirby Your Enthusiasm podcast covers THREE of our books in his Australian-based comics podcast. Is That All There Is? by Joost Swarte "If you like Herge and Tintin, it might not be for you. It's pretty full-on. . . if you're into sex and violence, you might like this." On Sincerest Form of Parody, edited by John Benson: "This full color book . . .collects work from another EC publication called Panic, not quite as good as MAD and didn't last as long, but features quite good artists and humor. It's the pick of the other titles." In regards to The Hidden by Richard Sala, Lennard says its "actually quite a powerful, horrific book of violence, it's really quite sickening in places."
Richard Sala is unlocking the vaults with "Skeleton Key," a career-spanning retrospective dramatis personæ featuring new artwork of characters from his books throughout the years with a short bio in a trading card-esque format. He's posting them in batches on his blog and one by one on his Tumblr, with more to come. It's a real treat for Sala fans (like me)!
Richard Sala has just made available for sale the entirety of the original art for his classic strip from BLAB!, "The Prestigious Banquet To Be Held In My Honor." I always loved this strip, and the price is right. Go here to BUY NOW! Heck, even if this particular strip is more than you can afford, Richard has a variety or other art for sale on the Comic Art Collective site as well, along with art for sale by many other great cartoonists.
Today's (and yesterday's when it was slow) Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: "The Dutch artist and designer Joost Swarte has a tremendous reputation among cartoon-art aficionados, given his tiny body of comics work. The answer to the title of his 40-year retrospective, Is That All There Is?, is: 'Pretty much, yeah.'... Plot is beside the point. Swarte is more concerned with formal purity, and with making the deep structures of cartooning visible. He pares his art to mechanical, hard-edged vectors and curves: caricature triple-distilled into symbolic visual shorthand, with every line canted just so. His geometrically precise, nearly architectural drawings are the bridge between the Tintin creator Hergé and contemporary artists like Chris Ware, who wrote this volume’s foreword." – Douglas Wolk, The New York Times
• Review: "Now we're talkin'! The first two volumes in Fantagraphics' Steve Ditko Archives (edited by Blake Bell) were rewarding collections of the offbeat auteur's early work, and among the best archival books of horror comics published in the last several years. But in volume 3, a.k.a. Mysterious Traveler, we see Ditko's lunacy reach its full maturation... The bold dynamism and moody linework that would characterize Ditko's Spider-Man and Dr. Strange work just a few years later, as well as his horror tales for Creepy and Eerie, is in evident throughout.... Volume 3 is essential for classic horror comics fans, and further cements Ditko's reputation as an artist without peer." – Joseph McCabe, FearNet
• Review: "Kevin Avery has compiled an incredibly thorough account of one of folk and rock music’s most important critics of the 20th Century: Paul Nelson. Avery reveals Paul Nelson as not just a music critic, but also a true writer who loved his subject matter possibly more than anything else. After reading, I felt that I knew more about Nelson than simply his life’s accomplishments—I knew him as the man he was: an observer who secluded himself with his books, film and music." – SLUG Magazine
• Review: "Madcap university mystery. Girl detective Judy Drood, with the hapless Kasper Keene, investigates the disappearances of girls on campus. Beautiful young women (some dressed like pirates), monstrous old men (some of them professors), photography, a puppet, and a misguided quest for eternal youth all figure in.... The dark edge in Sala’s other work is fully expressed here [in Mad Night]. The book is incredibly violent (though the dark, woodcut-like art makes it feel absurd). Here’s a body count by how victims meet their end..." – Gene Ambaum, The Unshelved Book Club
• Plug: "Published three years ago in an indie porn comic, Josh Simmons’ 'Cockbone' remains a high water mark for today’s horror comic.... The Furry Trap will collect that story, along with ten others being described by the publisher as 'hard-edged horror.' You already know if you can handle this stuff, so if you can, it’s time to start counting days. Eli is, most definitely, coming." – Tucker Stone, "Flavorpill's 10 Most Anticipated Comics Releases, April-July 2012"
• Plug: "While it’s a bit of an exaggeration to call Dal Tokyo Panter’s lost masterpiece, it certainly hasn’t been the easiest thing to come by. That’s to be the case for anything that’s serialized over the course of multiple years, multiple publications, and two different continents. Thankfully, the entire book has finally found a home at Fantagraphics, and those of us without access to early-’80s copies of the LA Reader can finally experience 'a future Mars that is terraformed by Texan and Japanese workers' as only Gary Panter — one of the most influential cartoonists alive — can provide. For some of us, this book has been a long time coming." – Tucker Stone, "Flavorpill's 10 Most Anticipated Comics Releases, April-July 2012"
• Interview (Audio): Yesterday's Pat Thomas radio guest spot to discuss and spin Listen, Whitey! on The Hear and Now on Berkeley's listener-powered KPFA can be streamed from their website for another couple of weeks
• Analysis (Video):At his blog, Paul Hornschemeier shares video of two "talks given during my recent graphic novelist's residency at Thurber House in Columbus, Ohio. Tammy Birk (Professor of English, Otterbein University) discusses themes in Mother, Come Home while Ryan Jordan (Department of Philosophy, The Ohio State University) examines the nature of paradoxes in general, using Zeno's paradoxes in The Three Paradoxes as a launching point."
• Analysis: At where else but The Hooded Utilitarian: "'Lightning Only Strikes Twice Once, Y'Know': Phallic Mothers, Fetishism, and Replacement in the Comics of Los Bros Hernandez," Part I (focusing on Gilbert's work) and Part II (focusing on Jaime), by Eric Berlatsky
• Review: "Barks's output has been reprinted often but either piecemeal in flimsy monthly comics or in high-priced collector's editions. [Walt Disney's Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes], covering the years 1948-49, is the first in a planned 30-volume Barks library that will reprint his entire duck oeuvre in durable, affordable hardcovers.... Above all, Barks's Duckburg rings true because of his cynical world view. He rarely plastered on the sentimentality that dogs other Disney creations.... Although there are moral values in Barks's stories, he was never didactic and never wrote down to his readers. In his words, 'I always tried to write a story that I wouldn't mind buying myself.'" – Owen Heitmann, The Sydney Morning Herald
• Interview: Peter Huestis, a.k.a. Princess Sparkle Pony, writes "Diane Noomin's comics cover quite a bit of territory, from the broad (ha, ha) farce of her Didi Glitz stories to penetrating social satire and revealing autobiography. At her best... she manages to combine all of the above approaches to devastating effect," and presents his 1995 Hypno Magazine interview with Noomin (the intro to which is blurbed on the back cover of Glitz-2-Go): "I consider myself a feminist. Certainly there are people who won't, but I'm a feminist and I think it's good to do sexual material, and make fun of sex, and not think that there are certain bodily functions that we shouldn't talk about because we're feminists. I think that's... fucked up."
• Plug: "Fantagraphics Books reprints the best, from beginning to end, of Robert Crumb's iconic Fritz the Cat comics. Collected here is a sampling from the life of the famous funny animal, the American everyguy, metropolitan college student Fritz whose wise words of 1960's rebellion win him attention from ladies of all species. It's hard not to be charmed by Fritz." – 211 Bernard (Librairie Drawn & Quarterly)
• Plug: "Reading or re-reading Sala's Mad Night seems an infinitely better use of all of our free time than reading anything on the Internet right now." – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Every Day Is Like Wednesday
• (Behind the) Scene(s): Read all about Frank Santoro's visit to the hallowed halls of our HQ and workshop presentation at our swingin' storefront in his tour diary at The Comics Journal