Blurbs, "Babe" and big bucks in this episode of Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: "The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book features two full-length stories, 'The Leaking Cello Case' and 'John Wesley Harding.' Both stories start off in the every day then morph into oddball mysteries that never go quite where you expect them to. As odd as some of the capers and misadventures get they are always conveyed with a kind of casual, deadpan poker face that manages to make them all the more believable. ... The art is a curious mix of cartoonish realism, and the city of Cape Town is vividly portrayed... Red Monkey Double Happiness Book is a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining read for the mystery/crime comic fan looking for something a bit different than the harder noir stuff that seems to dominate these days." – Brian Lindenmuth, BSCreview
• Review: "...[T]he appearance this week in bookstores of Hans Rickheit’s comix masterpiece, The Squirrel Machine, is a genuine milestone in the... artistic business of reconciling one’s inside to one’s outside, so much so that I must confess that I am truly taken aback by Rickheit’s entire effort, in the best sense of the word. This carefully constructed tale... strikes me as being one of the few original works of art that I’ve seen published in North America over the last two decades, on a par with the better work of Dan Clowes or Charles Burns. ... This is not a tale for the squeamish nor is it a tale for the literal-minded; it is very much a bravura performance in the tradition of Surrealism, or Fantastic Art, or even Symbolism... In short, strongly recommended!" – Mahendra Singh
• Feature: Matthew J. Brady presents "12 Things I Learned from Supermen!" including "In these stories, disbelief must often not only be suspended, but strung up and mercilessly whipped, then drawn and quartered"
• $$$: Via The Beat, somebody sold a mint slabbed copy of Albedo #2 (1st appearance of Usagi Yojimbo) on eBay for $5100, making it possibly the most expensive Fantagraphics comic ever sold (corrections welcome); Stan Sakai comments on his LiveJournal
Now available for preview and pre-order following sell-out debuts at SPX and APE: Ganges #3 by Kevin Huizenga. The eagerly-awaited new issue of this Eisner-nominated, critically-adored series (in our deluxe, oversized "Ignatz" format) finds everyman Glenn Ganges dealing with a bout of insomnia and traversing strange mental landscapes. The first three pages can be previewed here. This issue is scheduled to be in stock and ready to ship sometime in the next 2 weeks and in stores approximately 4 weeks after that (subject to change).
View a photo & video slideshow preview of the book embedded here. Click here if it is not visible, and/or to view it larger in a new window (recommended).
• Review: "It's a surprisingly rare thing to find the great comic artist who can not only draw with poetry and beauty, but write like a demon as well. In this lavish scrapbook of uncollected ads, posters, covers, ephemera and one-offs [All and Sundry], [Paul] Hornschemeier's skills are nearly as verbal as they are visual, his art encompassing many different styles, from richly layered classical surrealism to densely structured and primary color-heavy McSweeney's-style illustrations. But taken together, the work exhibits an instantly recognizable and distinctive panache. The depth of his art truly comes to life in the melancholic squibs of text and short fictions studding this collection. For all his talents, Hornschemeier is a working artist who clearly takes on all kinds of assignments, from bookstore ads and bookmarks to a quirky little piece on Anderson Cooper commissioned by CNN. Perhaps the intrusion of the journeyman keeps an exquisite volume like this so rewarding and yet grounded." – Publishers Weekly (starred review)
• Review: "What I liked [in Abstract Comics], I liked for more than just the strips themselves--I liked them for the proof they offer that comics really is still a Wild West medium in which one's bliss can be followed even beyond the boundaries of what many or even most readers would care to define as 'comics.' That an entire deluxe hardcover collection of such comics now exists is, I think, one of the great triumphs for the medium in a decade full to bursting with them." – Sean T. Collins
• Review: "Hallelujah... for Michael Kupperman! He returns with his second collection, Tales Designed to Thrizzle Vol. 1, which brings under one cover the first four issues of the same-named comic. And comic it sure as hell is. I'm not entirely certain when I've read anything that made me laugh out loud as often as this volume, with the possible exception of Kupperman's debut Snake 'n' Bacon's Cartoon Caberet. Women who've given birth to multiple children and older readers are advised to secure some kind of adult diaper." – Late Reviews and Latest Obsessions
• Review: "Willie & Joe is an extraordinarily compiled and presented tribute to Bill Mauldin, the two-time Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist who chronicled life in the U.S. Army from 1940 to 1945. The set is bound in army green canvas and typeset in the font of an old manual typewriter, the kind an army clerk might have used during the Second World War. The collection is a sensory delight, pleasing to touch and beautiful to see. ... There are many scholarly works written on the topic of World War II, and those books can teach us a lot about the war, but anyone who wants to feel what American soldiers felt during the Second World War should seek out Willie & Joe. ... For the winner of two Pulitzer Prizes, for the man who was once America’s most celebrated enlisted man, Willie & Joe is a fitting, and wonderful, tribute." – David Mitchell, BiblioBuffet
• Review: "[Prison Pit Book 1 by Johnny Ryan is an] over-the-top, ultra-violent, gross-out, juvenile, yet fun and hilarious book... The dialogue that does exist retains his comic sense of disjunction and fights are as demented as you’d expect. This is not a jokey book, but his humor is retained in subtle ways—if you can envision subtle Johnny Ryan humor. ... This is just a balls-out, funny, sicko, good time. My only complaint with Prison Pit is how quickly the story ends, but hopefully the subtitle (Book One) is a promise and not a joke." – Lincoln Michel, The Faster Times [Ed. note: Book Two is in progress and due next year.]
• Review: "Longtime [Richard] Sala readers will recognize some familiar tropes right away [in Delphine]: strange surroundings, shady characters who seem to hold malevolent secrets. And Sala's art is familiar as well, but taken to a new level — lovely watercolors on the covers and moody washes on the gray interiors. The creamy paper that's typical of the Ignatz releases lends additional otherworldly, othertimely atmosphere to the story. And the logo itself is so good it deserved to be used for a long-running series. But it's the story that departs from Sala's work in some major ways... so resonant and unsettling that... it has to rank as one of Sala's major works." – Christopher Allen, Comic Book Galaxy
• Plug: "Reading [The Complete Peanuts 1971-72 and 1973-74] in one fell swoop, I've kind of come to the conclusion that this period is really the apex of Schulz's career. ...he was never as consistently hilarious or as poignant as he was in the early to mid-70s. If you're only buying two volumes of this series, it should be these two." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Profile: Dan Taylor of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat catches up with Monte Schulz on his book tour for This Side of Jordan: "'It’s weird doing this,' Schulz said by phone from Nevada City during a break between book shop dates. 'It makes me nervous, at every single stop. I just realized I’m not a very public person.'"
• Interview: At Marvel.com, Sean T. Collins' series of chats with Strange Tales contributors continues with Stan Sakai talking about the creation of Samurai Hulk: "Actually, I tried to make it as much of a parallel to the modern Hulk as possible. Such as his name-he is referred to asSashimono, which means 'banner.' It's a samurai banner. And obviously there's no gamma rays, so he's cursed into turning into the Hulk by a witch called Gama, which is Japanese for 'toad' — she kinda looks like a toad." Oh man I can't wait for that.
• History: Steve Duin at The Oregonian digs up a nugget: Gary Groth on the 50th anniversary of Superman in Amazing Heroes, 1988: "My only interest in Superman, marginal at that, stems from his continuing presence as a symbol of banality and infantilism in the history of the American comic book." And it goes on!
• Random quote of the day: "Guido Crepax: popular enough to have an entire half-shelf in the Fantagraphics library, circa mid-1990s; not popular enough to have his books stolen by the interns." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
• Review: "With The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book, [Joe] Daly maintains some of the psychedelic trappings of his earlier stories but puts them within a framework of stoner noir (ala the film Pineapple Express) buddy story, only with Big Lebowski-style absurdity. However, the book can't really be reduced to familiar genre markers all that easily, and [a] firm, eccentric sense of place is the biggest reason why it works." - Rob Clough
• Review: "Needless to say, one could study the art found within Abstract Comics: The Anthology (published by Fantagraphics Books) for months, or one could flip through the entire thing in five minutes, and the conclusions one could draw from either experience of the volume could easily be justified as informed and insightful." - Alan David Doane, Comic Book Galaxy
• Review: "[Prince Valiant] creator Hal Foster is justly hailed for his stupendous full-pagers, full of panorama and carefully-researched settings.... We moderns are fortunate that superb reprint editions of these classics are readily available..." - Brenda Clough, Book View Cafe Blog
• Review: "I love [Richard Sala's] older work and newer work alike - the evolution of Sala's inky, angular charmers is a treat to see - and [Delphine] (a retelling of Snow White) has been such a wonderful foreboding wander through the twisty, turn-y, dark forest." - Emily Martin, Inside a Black Apple
• Plug: "This week I started reading Prison Pit Vol. 1and ... I ... it ... um ... the thing is ... it's .... wow." - Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Analysis: Blog Flume's Ken Parille on Tim Hensley: "I can’t think of another cartoonist who approaches space -- and what we might call 'spatial color' -- in such a rigorously strange way."
• Interview: At The Daily Cross Hatch, part 3 of 4 of their interview with Hans Rickheit: "I can’t work from a script. If the book were really tightly scripted, I promise you I’d lose interest in it, and I might force myself to draw it, but the artwork would just become a lifeless thing. The book would suffer dramatically."
We received the list of our nominees for this year's Ignatz Awards. It's a good lookin' list, and we're especially proud to have staffer Jason T. Miles nominated for Outstanding Comic! As is traditional, we've put all of our nominated titles on sale -- 15% off for a limited time! Click here to browse & buy. Recipients of the brick will be announced at SPX on September 26. For all the nominees, head to the SPX website for the official announcement.
Tim Hensley, Mome (Fantagraphics), Kramer's Ergot #7 (Buenaventura)
Congratulations to everybody, including T. Edward Bak, nominated for Outstanding New Talent even before his amazing Mome story was eligible, and Dash Shaw, nominated for Outstanding Online Comic for Bodyworld.
• Analysis: For Comics Comics, Dash Shaw pens an appreciation of the work of Tim Hensley: "It’s like what he chooses to draw in the environment (and what he chooses not to draw) is determined by some graphic Feng Shui. When his comics are at their most beautiful, these environments function both as the story’s world and abstractly... With his best dialogue, a line that you first read as being surreally disconnected on a second reading is funny and on a third reading reveals a wider scope of the story."
• Review: "Yes, both of these books are like kryptonite to good taste. But there are a couple of big differences between what Johnny Ryan is doing in Comics Are for Idiots!, his latest Blecky Yuckerella strip collection, and what he's doing in Prison Pit, his ultraviolent action-comic debut... The four-panel Blecky strips often feel like a breakneck race to the punchline through some kind of bizarre obstacle course requiring the basic premise of the gag to get more ridiculous with each panel... Ryan's rep as altcomix's premier overgrown juvenile delinquent is well deserved--and don't get me wrong, you can absolutely enjoy Prison Pit on that level--but the poetic savagery he depicts here is the work of a grown-ass man." - Sean T. Collins
• Review: "[Delphine], Richard Sala's contribution to Fantagraphics's prestigious Ignatz Series, is some of his strongest and most personal work yet... He sets his pop-cultural influences aside this time to lead us down a grimmer path... As for the art -- well, what can I say? It's recognizably Sala's, and at the top of his game, but taken to the next level, in that the usual precision of his black-and-white work is here inflected with sepia washes that give an added visual dimension to the murkiness of the hero's experience... The heavy dustjackets, with such gorgeous full-color art not only front and back but on both big inside flaps, deliver a lush visual and tactile experience that no bonus gallery in a collection will be able to duplicate... By whatever route you get here, I highly recommend this." - Curt Purcell, The Groovy Age of Horror
• Review: "Even when she's not especially inspired, Dame Darcy creates superior goth comics: cheerfully mean-spirited, idiosyncratically stylish, and oozing with surreal ichor... In [Meat Cake #17], Darcy indulges her goth tropes and her feminism: men are tormented, sisterhood is affirmed, and light-hearted squick is relished by all. And, as always, Darcy's eccentric drawing is a joy, with perspective, proportion, and visual logic all flattened out to fit into geometrically obscure but oddly elegant patterns." - Noah Berlatsky, The Comics Journal (reprinted at The Hooded Utilitarian)
• Plug: "The big story here [in The Comics Journal #299] is Bob Levin's spectacular essay on Michel Choquette and his never-completed comics anthology... Sadly, the project never got off the ground, and Levin details in his typical stellar fashion why and how. It's a fascinating tale, one well worth your $12." - Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Plug: "This is a particularly excellent issue of TCJ, thanks to Bob Levin's magnificent 50-page... history of 'The Someday Funnies'... You really need to read it." - Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
• Interview: Seth continues discussing his design work for The Complete Peanuts in the final part of Brian Heater's interview at The Daily Cross Hatch: "Schulz’s work is right there in the book. Every line in those strips is his. But the design stuff is just design stuff. It’s a setting to put a gem in. The setting is not the gem."
• Things to see: At the Covered blog, Anthony Vukojevich does a Gilbert Hernandez Birdland cover
• Interview: Sean T. Collins's series of interviews with Marvel Strange Tales MAX contributors at Marvel.com continues with Johnny Ryan. The imagination reels: "Well, there was one joke, now that I think of it, with Galactus that had to be altered a little bit. I don't know if I should reveal the joke—it might ruin the experience. But it was this little detail for that joke that I initially put there, and they were like, 'Eh, can you change that a bit?'"
• Review: "...Tales Designed to Thrizzle... is not all tradition; it's largely a satire, a satire of a pulp fiction oeuvre that didn't take itself that seriously to begin with. Kupperman's humor — a mix of genre, non-sequitur and nonsense — is a kind of laughter in the void, wonderfully lucid and slightly sickening... That Kupperman so masterfully plays to and upsets expectation makes Thrizzle that much funnier and finer. With stunts such as a Twain & Einstein crime-fighting partnership, Kupperman is all goofball, all the time. But Kupperman's line, even in shaping locomotive-sized garden snails, is weighty. And the weight of five years of Thrizzle, is, well, as formidable as a locomotive-sized garden snail." - John Reed, Art in America
• Review: "The story [in Delphine] surrounded me and carried me away to a very real world. It's a cartooned, exaggerated world, but a real world nonetheless... The layouts are impeccable: very clear and superbly paced... I noticed that the story GREW in my mind when I took breaks from reading, allowing me to immerse myself in the story like a dream." - Frank Santoro, Comics Comics
• Review: "...Fletcher Hanks [was] one of the greatest comic book talents you’ve never heard of. Working in the earliest years of comics (1939-1941) Hanks’ contributions walked on the darker side of comic books in a way that managed to take on a timeless quality... In this collection is the work that makes Hanks so incredibly special to the world of comic books. The physiognomics of his evildoers, the strange retributions they suffer at the hands of the heroes, is all really powerful stuff... You Shall Die by Your Own Evil Creation! is an incredible testament to what comic books were once capable of... If you want to understand the essence of comic books in their purest form then pick up You Shall Die by Your Own Evil Creation! and learn." - Iann Robinson, Crave Online
• Plug: "The pieces in The Bradleys are broadly satirical and funny, marked by Bagge’s rubbery art style and a sarcastic tone that should appeal immediately to anyone with a prior awareness of The Simpsons or Looney Tunes. They’re also good stories, full of sharp observations about the impossible expectations that govern the dynamics of a nuclear family, as well as the way a good used Yardbirds record can make a crappy day better." - Noel Murray, The A.V. Club "Recommended First Comics"
• Plug: "All my exploration of the Moon/Ba axis came out of reading their pretty great Comics Journal interview in [#298]. I love it when an interview is so well-done that it convinces me to sample writers and artists whose work I haven't read before." - Alan David Doane, Comic Book Galaxy
Let's see what kind of Online Commentary & Diversions the weekend held for us... a lot, apparently:
• Review: "Carol Tyler is a unique figure in the world of comics... She's now put together the first volume of what promises to be her masterwork, a 'graphic memoir' about her father's experiences in World War II that effortlessly mixes media in a charming, affecting, and devastating package. You'll Never Know goes beyond biography, autobiography and even as a means a therapy to ask a number of deeper questions that may well not have ready answers. It's a stunning achievement, a perfect marriage of form and content, and is my early contender for not only comic of the year, but comic of the decade." - Rob Clough
• Review: "Jordan Crane's Uptight series is a lo-fi throwback of a series... Crane's line is elegant but unfussy, with slightly scratchy character designs that have a grace and fluidity to them reminiscent of Jaime Hernandez." - Rob Clough
• Review: "Grotesque has been one of the most playful entries in the underappreciated Ignatz line. Sergio Ponchione has a very 'American' quality to his line in terms of his line (thick and rubbery) and character design (a series of homages to masters like EC Segar and more contemporary figures like Charles Burns)... Ponchione's sight gags in this issue were something to behold, like a dead baron's tombstone growing arms and legs and coming after his brothers." - Rob Clough (same link as above)
• Review: "Issue #4 of Delphine was the conclusion of the series, and it certainly did not disappoint... Delphine benefitted from the Ignatz format: big pages that let the backgrounds breathe, nice paper, and creepy one-tone color. It was a perfect format for a fairy tale gone horribly wrong." - Rob Clough (same link as above)
• Review: "When life is on the skids, there are those who just lean into it and those who try to drive their way out. Some get run over, some step on the gas. In Pop. 666 [by Francesca Ghermandi, serialized in Zero Zero], fortunes change at moment’s notice, and events are never anything short of bizarre... This weird and creepy sci-fi horror crime comic is a loopy piece of work, and it deserves to be experienced by more readers..." - Jamie S. Rich, Robot 6
• Review: "I realize as I was reading the book that I’d previously thought of Val as a bit of a wimp due to his hairstyle, but nothing could be farther from the truth. In the first volume he kills a giant crocodile, wears a false mustache, scares an ogre to death, enters a jousting tournament in disguise, gets drunk, falls in love with a girl who already has a fiance, pursues girl with said fiance when she is kidnapped by vikings, and fights off a horde of vikings single-handed. That Prince Valiant is a busy guy!... It is really great seeing an essential part of comics history like Prince Valiant being treated so respectfully in this new edition." - TangognaT
• Review: "Imagine a book publisher had released a retrospective on 'The Graphic Novel' in 1976, or that a cinema hosted a look back at France’s nouvelle vague in 1957, or that a gallery exhibit somewhere spotlighted American Abstract Expressionism in, say, 1946. The experience would have been not unlike reading Abstract Comics: The Anthology today." - Sean Rogers, The Walrus
• Review: "[The Wolverton Bible] is a fascinating testimony to the peculiar vision of the life of an original artist and a somewhat unorthodox view of the 'holy book' by a faithful believer." - Iconoctlán (translation from Google)
• Review: "Popeye Vol. 1 would be enthralling if only for the change in the Thimble Theatre order of things, letting the reader watch as a new character takes over and reshapes the strip into his own image. Fortunately, what it's turned into is a thoroughly fun adventure strip that made me eager for more... There are so many fun newspaper reprint projects going on right now that it's easy to miss a lot of them. Now that I know how good Popeye is, I'm making it a priority to read the rest." - Greg McElhatton, Read About Comics
• Review: "[Bottomless Belly Button is a] wonderful book that I strongly recommend for every comic fan... Dash Shaw is a name to remember." - Laurent De Maertelaer, freaky.be (translation from Google)
• Plugs: "Abstract Comics: ...[I]t's fascinating to see what you can do with comics when you're dealing with non-representational, non-narrative imagery, stretching the limits of the medium... Locas II: Oh man, it's another huge collection of Jaime Hernandez's amazing stories from Love and Rockets... Greatness." - Matthew J. Brady
• Plug: "Nobody else’s comics read like these [in You Shall Die By Your Own Evil Creation!]. They’re savage and brutal but have moments of eerie and unexpected beauty... And don’t read this stuff right before bed: strange dreams are a documented side-effect." - Matt Maxwell, Robot 6 (same link as above)
• Preview: Hans Rickheit has a peek at the hardcover of The Squirrel Machine
• Profile: "Michael Kupperman does funny very well... 'Right now, I'm working on two more short pieces for Marvel, one featuring the Avengers, and I'm going to try to get some of that Marvel spirit of the '70s, with the explosive, sound-effect laden fight scenes.'" - Gary C.W. Chun catches up with Kupperman in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin
• Interview: "I've greatly enjoyed Chicago-based cartoonist, artist and animator Lilli Carré's first few forays into the world of comics. Longer works such as Tales of Woodsman Pete and especially The Lagoon were stuffed with undeniably interesting formal techniques... There's a soulful element to Carré's writing that helps greatly to involve the reader in the surface narratives..." - Tom Spurgeon, introducing his Q&A with Lilli at The Comics Reporter
• Comic-Con Rhetorical Question of the Day: "...[H]ow many members of the 501st Stormtrooper Legion do you see at the Fantagraphics booth?" - Sean T. Collins (The Unneeded Answer: we had maybe 2 cosplayers, period, in the booth all week, and no Stormtroopers, although they are more than welcome.)
• Plug: Certain Fantagraphics employees will be excited to learn that Noel Fielding of The Mighty Boosh is a fan of Daniel Clowes and Eightball, as revealed in Brian Heater's interview at The Daily Cross Hatch
• Plug: "You Shall Die by Your Own Evil Creation!, the second and final collection of Fletcher Hanks’ Golden Age superhero and adventure comics work, ...is a bunch more bat-shit insane weirdness and violence. Paired with I Shall Destroy All Civilized Planets!, You Shall Die will comprise a complete collection of Hanks’ small but potent body of work." - J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
• Plug: "Collecting the remainder of material (at least that we know of) by early Golden Age artist Fletcher Hanks, [You Shall Die by Your Own] Evil Creation is pretty much a must-buy for anyone who picked up and enjoyed the first volume, I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets." - Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Plug: "Both books are really good: Sala’s Delphine is the one that will probably get the most attention since he’s the better known cartoonist, but you really should take the time to track down Sergio Ponchione’s Grotesque. It’s a surreal charmer." - Chris Mautner, Robot 6 (same link as above)
• Plug: "I’m always curious as to what other countries get up to, comics-wise, so I’m a bit eager to check out this collection of Danish comics [From Wonderland with Love]. A quick thumb-through suggests a wide swath of styles." - Chris Mautner, Robot 6 (same link as above)