•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
• Commentary: "...I have to pay homage to Richard Sala’s incredible and overlooked book, The Hidden. Sure we reviewed it here on the site, but I only just read it, and it’s really quite incredible. Sala’s kind of a pro himself, turning out at least a book a year (much like another visionary, Gilbert Hernandez), and this twist on Frankenstein reads, not unlike that gothic romance, as an allegory for artistic ambition gone wrong, or, maybe because I’m currently reading Simon Reynolds’ Retromania, like a tale of collector psychosis." – Dan Nadel, The Comics Journal
• List: Gustavo Guimaraes of Brazilian culture & entertainment site Ambrosia names "The best comics published in the U.S. in 2011 - Alternative and classic," including Congress of the Animals by Jim Woodring (all quotes translated from Portuguese)...
"The world created by Woodring is unique, beautiful and scary. His stories can be incomprehensible at times, but always intriguing and charming."
"Sala's characters look like something out of old horror and mystery movies, and his plots possess a rare levity for narratives of the genre. The colorful art makes the his twisted drawings even more attractive."
"Walt Kelly was a complete artist, his drawings were graceful, his stories were simple and fun while at the same time provoking the reader with hints of metalanguage and political content. His writing was faceted with the sensibility of a great satirist."
"A masterpiece of old adventure comics continues today thanks largely to Foster's fantastic realistic art. Landscapes and epic battles are played to perfection by the author, turning the limited space of each panel into a window to a world where historical characters live with mythological beings. Careful printing in oversize hardcover as well as meticulous reproduction of the beautiful original colors make this collection from Fantagraphics a model for classic comics publishing."
"Even if you already have all of Carl Barks' comics of you will want to buy this book. It is the first time that these comics are being reissued with the original colors, digitally restored. This deluxe edition, with hard covers and high-quality paper, includes articles on all the comics collected in the volume."
• Review: "To say that it has been worth the wait is wild understatement. Pogo Through the Wild Blue Wonder is beautifully produced — no surprise to anyone familiar with the work of Fantagraphics Books in Seattle — and a joy to read. It comes as a genuine gift to anyone who loved Pogo and, it is to be hoped, as an introduction for younger readers to what many people believe was the best comic strip ever drawn in this country." – Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post
• Review: "Wilson's genuine bravery, as this strip makes clear, is not that he set himself up as a rival to Charles Schulz but rather the directness with which Nuts confronts genuinely painful and baffling topics like sickness, mental illness, and death. When dealing with master artists, any ranking becomes absurd because each creator is memorable by the individual mark he or she leaves. So let’s leave Peanuts comparisons aside and say that Nuts is one of the major American comic strips and we’re lucky to have the complete run in this handsome, compact volume." – Jeet Heer, The Comics Journal
• Review: "Jacques Tardi’s interpretation of Jean-Patrick Manchette’s book [Like a Sniper Lining Up His Shot] is an intense and shocking thriller.... Dark, brutal and uterly compelling, classic thriller fans should lap this up. Put a few hours aside before picking it up though, because you won’t want to put it down and it’s a feast worth savouring." – Grovel
• Review: "I gave Roy Crane’s Captain Easy, Solder Of Fortune: The Complete Sunday Newspaper Strips Volume 1 1933-1935 a good thumbing many, many times before picking it up. The artwork was too simple, the stories silly. One day in my local comic shop with nothing new to read I picked it up. What I failed to comprehend as I stood in the comic shop flipping pages in this book is that Crane chose the elements of his strip carefully, especially those I dismissed it for. Simple character design, bright colours, fictional locations and action with a sense of humour. After finishing the volume I applaud his choices." – Scott VanderPloeg, Comic Book Daily
• Interview (Audio):The Comics Journal presents a recording of the Jack Davis interview conducted by Gary Groth and Drew Friedman at last month's Brooklyn Comics & Graphics Festival (posted here after a slight delay due to technical audio issues)
• Interview:Culture Brats has "Seven Questions in Heaven" with Esther Pearl Watson: "Even though now I have a huge collection of mini-comics, I try not to look at other comic artists as influences. They draw too nice, or have their thing down. Comic storytelling styles can be as individual as fingerprints. We spend years creating our own narrative language. Instead I look at naive drawing and self-taught artists to de-skill."
• Conflict of Interest: Our own Larry Reid names Love and Rockets: New Stories #4 one of his favorite comics of 2011 in a guest column at Graphic Eye: "The conclusion of Jaime’s poignant 'Love Bunglers' story alone made this book essential reading in 2011. Almost unfathomably, Love & Rockets keeps getting better with age."
• List:Publishers Weekly announces the results of their 2011 Comics World Critics Poll, with these titles garnering 2 votes each...
"Love and Rockets: New Stories Vol. 4, Gilbert Hernandez and Jaime Hernandez: Jaime Hernandez tops his 30 years of peerless storytelling with the conclusion to 'The Love Bunglers' in which two characters we’ve watched stumble through life make a final lurch — that may bring happiness or doom. Heartbreaking yet without a trace of manipulation." – Heidi MacDonald
"The Man Who Grew His Beard, Olivier Schrauwen: This graphic novel is exceptionally inventive, with each story being so very different from the one before." – Glen Downey
...and the following books receiving an Honorable Mention with one vote each:
• Review: "As [Wandering Son] volume 2 closes, the idyllic childhood Shuichi and Nitori have shared thus far, surrounded by exceptionally supportive family and friends, is showing signs of being breached by thoughtless outsiders.... In the insightful, not-to-be-skipped final essay, 'Transgendered in Japan,' translator (and manga scholar) Matt Thorn writes, 'Shuichi and Yoshino are coming of age, not in an idealized fantasy world, but in a contemporary Japan that poses unique challenges to children such as these.' Indeed, to quote a popular film, 'reality bites,' but in creator Shimura Takako's sensitive world, Shuichi and Nitori have better than a fighting chance at becoming strong, confident adults." – Terry Hong, BookDragon (Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program)
• Review: "In spite of its depressive mood (you know, with it being about the end of the world and such), The Hidden exemplifies the effectiveness of Sala's application of a 'less is more' visual style to broad, complex stories.... I can't recommend Sala's books enough, and The Hidden is one of his best works to date. Be sure to pick up a copy if you're looking for something more than global plagues and cannibalistic zombies in your world-ending entertainment." – Tim Mitchell, Titans Terrors & Toys
• List/Plugs: Andy Mansell of Heroes Aren't Hard to Find names a handful of "creme de la creme," "must-have" classic comic strip collections from 2011: "Do yourself a favor – next time you are in the store take a few moments and pick up a copy of Lost in the Andes or Pogo, either Mickey Mouse collection, ...[and] flip through it. Read a few strips.... These are rich, beautiful books and they deserve to be read by everyone."
• Plug:The A.V. Club's Oliver Sava provides a guide to "What makes a good all-ages comic," saying "Animation-inspired art remains the most popular choice for an all-ages series... Carl Barks’ work with Disney’s duck characters is the pinnacle of this school: Barks’ experience as a Disney animator honed his talent for creating sprawling environments and distinct characters that are instantly charming and incredibly rich. Fantagraphics just published its first hardcover collection of Barks’ classic stories, Donald Duck: Lost In The Andes, a beautiful package collecting some of Barks’ most memorable duck tales."
"...[T]his dark, disjointed story about an assortment of misfit suburban characters plagued by bad luck and their own poor choices is a compelling, bitterly funny read... Despite its obvious influences King never feels like a pale imitation, especially in the second volume, where the ante is upped considerably, both on an aesthetic and narrative level."
"Color Engineering author Yuichi Yokoyama got all the attention this year, but to my eyes Schrauwen is just as innovative and wholly original a cartoonist as Yokoyama. The main difference between the two is that where Yokoyama is focused on expressing motion, machinery and discovery, Schrauwen prefers to explore differences in perception, especially between reality and that of the imagination.... Incredibly inventive and at times darkly funny, Beard is the work of a master cartoonist worth more attention."
• List: Carol Borden of The Cultural Gutter names The Hidden by Richard Sala as one of "10 Comics I Liked in 2011": "The world is ending in madness and blood, as a bearded man flees to the countryside. But what does he know about the end and why is it mostly nubile young women who are being killed? Another tale of mayhem, mystery and mad science from Richard Sala."
• Review: "This volume [of Wandering Son] is absolutely wonderful. It has an overall very gentle feel to it, but it’s punctuated by moments of cruelty and sadness.... It’s a rare thing to get such simple realism in a manga, and Takako handles it exquisitely.... This series can be really harsh at times, but there are some great heartwarming moments, as well. That’s what makes it great." – Kristin Bomba, ComicAttack.net